by Mike Peake
Summer 2015 and the re-conditioned driver’s seat is wonderfully comfy and looks great (when compared to how it was and from a distance). However, it showed up how bad the passenger seat was and I’d been feeling a little bit guilty that my wife and daughters had to suffer it.
So, when no-one bothered on Father’s day, I decided to treat myself to the necessary to re-condition it (among some other insignificant car related items.)
My Father’s day treats to me arrived and I thought I’d start on something simple.
My 1st job was to repair the intermittent horn that is the bane of my MOT man’s life. It never works for him but I arrive, give it a press and hey presto a working horn and a baffled MOT man. (I know just where to position the wheel to where it works…is that bad of me?) Anyway, I fitted a new slip ring and brush and all in perfect working order now. The only problem was that without resorting to acrobatics and contortions I wasn’t able to work out how to remove the cable trunking under the column to run the new wire from the slip ring. So, it is temporarily taped to the outside of the column until I am more inclined to go upside down in the foot well to work it all out.
Next, it was finally time to tackle the passenger seat. Having already done the driver’s seat, I was fairly confident. I pulled out the passenger seat, stripped off the covers and swept up what was left of cushions from the floor. Nearly all the back straps were broken but I had anticipated this and ordered new ones along with the cushions. I also removed the diaphragm which promptly and catastrophically fell apart. It had looked ok when I inspected it in the car, so I hadn’t ordered a replacement but that was soon rectified. Well, when I say “inspected” what I meant was, given it a casual glance when the seat was raised to allow a back seat passenger access and thought “oh good, it’s not broken!” There was one surprise though. When I pulled the base cover off, a car key fell out. It fitted the ignition perfectly and started the car. It looks like it might be an original key which I think is quite cool.
The seat frame was actually in rather good condition having benefited from not having had a fat bloke sitting in it but the “clip rails” still needed slight straightening and I rubbed it all down and gave it a couple of coats of Smoothrite and left it to dry and await the arrival of the diaphragm.
This left me with the opportunity to “have a go” at one of my other long term niggles with the car. No, not the incontinent gearbox, but the extremely faded paint on the top decks. It was more dusty pink than signal red and I was fed up with having to defend it at car shows etc. Why do so many people expect all classic cars to be pristine trailer queens capable of a good showing at a concourse event? They seem to enjoy and think they have the right to point out all my cars defects! I KNOW WHAT THE DEFECTS ARE. I drive mine regularly and the paint is 25 years old. Unfortunately, I don’t have the money, space, equipment or time to re-spray it every couple of years or spend hours and hours cleaning every nook and cranny with a toothbrush! It’s a CAR NOT A SCULPTURE!.......Oh dear…sorry….I got a bit carried away and went into full on rant mode… no disrespect intended to owners of trailer queens, concourse winners or toothbrush wielders…It’s your car and I admire you for your dedication and results…just not my thing…sorry again and rant over….
I’d tried to tackle this problem several times before with various types of paint restorers from t-cut to Autoglym’s paint restorer and got mixed results. So I’d started to flirt with the idea of trying to re-spray it panel by panel with rattle cans but there was one process I hadn’t yet tried as I didn’t have the equipment, cutting compound and an electric polisher.
A Silverline electric sander/polisher was the other “insignificant” car related item purchased, along with Maguire’s Ultimate Compound which is formulated for use with electric polishers. So, I lovingly removed my new toy from its box and assembled it and plugged it in. Then, with a maniacal laugh, I attacked the car!
I’d never used an electric polisher before… The good news was that the bonnet, rear deck, fins and door tops all looked fantastically red and shiny again. I was really pleased with them and they way they came up. On these results, I would recommend the process as a last resort to anyone, and the bad news? Well, I was planning on re-spraying the boot lid and lower passenger door anyway. At least I have an electric sander for the preparation!
A couple of weeks later, and for the 1st time in my ownership I now had 2 plump and padded front seats to match the plump and padded driver! All new straps, diaphragms and padding were assembled to the restored frame before refitting the original covers to the passenger seat.
It all went surprisingly smoothly benefiting from the experience gained on the driver’s seat earlier in the year. I even managed to hide the horn wire without resorting to ungainliness.
Obviously I then had to take her out on a test drive after fitting the seats in case she now goes any faster after all that work and it was on this test drive something happened that made my day.
I was at a roundabout in the left hand lane and an Aston Martin DB9 convertible pulled up in the lane next to me. A white van man stuck in traffic on the roundabout shouted "nice car mate!” the chap in the DB9 waved nonchalantly and white van man says, " No. Not you, the red one!"
I might have smiled smugly...just a bit...and waved nonchalantly at the white van man or I might have laughed out loud and given White van man a huge thumbs’ up. What do you think?
Later in the summer, we had Ana, an American exchange student from Gar Field Virginia staying with us and she seemed very impressed by Poppy and insisted on being driven everywhere in her. (Who said Americans have bad taste!) Poppy caused quite a stir with the rest of the American students and their teachers when I turned up to collect them from various events during the week. We had great fun introducing Ana to the sites of England and the pleasures of open top classic motoring
The summer continued and we continued having fun days out in Poppy. This included a great day out at the Gloucester Steam Fair among others, with my cousin and his Boys. It’s a really good show if any of you are in the area. I think I might have talked my cousin into buying a Triumph Spitfire too, but shhhh... I don’t think his wife knows yet!
The rest of the summer passed in a blur of green lanes and the wind in what’s left of my hair until it was time put her away for the bad weather, only to be taken out on those bright cold frosty days.
That is ... until Gar Cole announced the groups Coventry meet for November. It’ll be one of those bright frosty sunny days though won’t it?
to be continued
by Mike Peake
Well I’d only gone and done it hadn’t I? It’d been 14 years since deciding it needed doing but in April 2015 it got so bad that it had to be done! Fanfare and drum roll please!!..... I actually sorted out my driver’s seat!! No. Really. I had. I’ve even got photo’s to prove it.
Here’s what happens when a fat bloke sits in a 45 year old chair for 14 years!
I actually started preparing for this daunting task in 2014 when I saw a very distressed and lonely 13/60 Herald seat on the great Bay of E. The covers were in a dreadful state, all covered in mould and tears with the foam padding leaking out of the holes. However, from the photos, the frame looked OK and I needed a frame so I put in a desultory low bid and to my surprise, I actually won it for 6 whole English Pounds plus the diesel to collect it. Quite a bargain I thought.
When I got the seat home I stripped off the offending covers and foam (and boy did they offend!) to reveal that all straps and diaphragms had also gone to meet their maker. The frame was also covered in surface rust and the rail that the base cover clips onto was rather severely bent.
So I immediately threw out all the rubbish and hid the frame in the shed so Mrs FB wouldn’t laugh at me.
I then started buying the 2 new foam cushions, diaphragm and back straps one piece a month as well as a vinyl/leather repair kit. I had decided to repair and reuse my existing covers. Possibly because shiny new ones would stand out like the proverbial in a punch bowl among all the nicely patina’d interior of the car, or, I couldn’t afford shiny new ones but I now had all I needed except the courage to start.
It took a couple of weeks to psyche myself up to the task and thought it best to start with the spare seat frame which I immediately attacked with a hammer and various shaped bits of metal and surprisingly quickly had the bent rail straightened. AND…apart from a “Tom and Jerry” thumb I hadn’t actually broken anything!
It probably doesn’t look straight to all you perfectionists and experts out there, but for my very 1st attempt at trying to “shape” metal, I’m quite pleased with myself and I WILL cry if anyone is rude about it.
Next I rubbed down the frame to remove the worst of the rust before brush painting it with 2 coats of black “Smoothrite” (It’ll all be covered up anyway!).
After it was dry, I fitted up all the strapping and after drilling new holes, the, what turned out to be a TR6, diaphragm. Then I had to touch up all the scratches resulting from the metal hooks and my ham-fistedness.
It was now time to get my long-suffering old seat out of the car. I very carefully removed the covers and took very careful note of where all the various clips and springs came from and stored them carefully in a jam jar. Which I then knocked over and spread them all across the patio.
I cleaned the covers with “soft top” cleaner and left them in the conservatory to “condition” in the hot sun. (I know! April? In the UK too?)
Actually, when I got my old seat stripped down it doesn’t look as bad as I thought. What do you reckon? Do you think I should put it up for auction?
The inevitable then happened; Mrs FB came in and asked why there were bits of old car seat all over her conservatory. I think she was a bit taken aback by my reply that it was because I didn’t think she’d want them in the dining room, but hey, my black eye soon faded.
The two new foam cushions were put in place and now the wrestling match really began as I tried to fit the covers as neatly as possible. I won in the end and had them all fitted and clipped into place. The final job was to use the vinyl/leather repair kit on the two small tears which was really rather fiddly but the repairs look OK from a distance (quite a big distance) and I’m really rather happy with the results.
Before you look at the culmination of all this hard work and artistry, please remember that I wasn’t aiming for a showroom, concourse winning seat and in that I think I have definitely succeeded! But at least my bottom is now as happy as the rest of me to be driving around in Poppy!
Poppy went through the MOT with no problems and the mechanic even complimented me on the driver’s seat as it had crippled him last time!
to be continued
by Steve Favill
Do you dream about discovering a forgotten classic in some corner of a dusty garage? Or tucked away in a barn? Always some other lucky S.O.B. Never going to happen to you, right?
About twenty years ago now, I was collecting my older son from his friend's house, about a third of a mile from my own just outside of Milwaukee, WI. The house was, and still is, rather run-down and poorly maintained, being occupied at the time by the boy's divorced mother.
The garage is situated at the end of a dirt driveway at the front of the house, with the house being set back behind and above the garage. Two old-fashioned doors are set with a number of small windows, all of them dirty, and one of which was broken. The opaque plastic sheet that was taped up to cover it had come away. I had to walk across the front of the garage to access the entrance to the house, and I do not know of any car enthusiast who will walk past a garage without looking in if the opportunity was there. Not that I would open the doors, or clean a window so that I could see in, but if there is a missing window, and you are walking past it, I would defy anyone to resist a quick peek.
What I saw made me stop in my tracks, and go back for a proper look. It was a steering wheel. It sat in the cockpit of what was obviously an open car, but quite what was not really apparent until my eyes adjusted to the gloom inside the garage.
The wheel was large, white, with four spokes and a Jaguar's head on the boss. The car itself was white, or used to be, and from the shape of the car, buried under old sheets and debris, it was old. Very old.
I went to the house, collected my son, and mentioned as casually as I could that I had noticed the car in the garage, and was it a Jaguar? Yes, came the reply, it was, and would I like to take a look at it? Silly question…
She unlocked the doors to the garage, which had obviously not been opened for some time, and there, under a few sheets and a lot of clutter, sat the car. I recognised that this was an XK120 and as you can understand, a little surge of adrenaline kicked in. I asked if I could pull the things off the car, which was okay with her, and I began to "take a look".
There was no rust, anywhere, on the body. The spats that covered the rear wheels were off the car, leaning against the far wall. There was rust on plenty of other things in this garage, but none on the car itself. Was this one of the alloy bodied cars? Not saying anything I made a mental note of the Chassis, or VIN number, which was 670010.
I asked her who this car belonged to, and was told that the car was her ex-husband’s. He had nowhere else to store it when they divorced, and so the car stayed in the garage. The Jaguar had been left to him by his father, who was the second owner, and the car had been brought on a trailer to Wisconsin from New Jersey. The New Jersey plates were still on the car. The Jaguar, which hadn’t run since before the old man had died, was then partially stripped, at which point the son had lost interest, and left things where they were. Then came the divorce, etcetera.
I asked if he might want to sell it, in the hope that he didn't know what he had. She said that he knew it was special, but that he might want sell it. He had, apparently, been making plans to drop a V-8 in the car and making it into a hotrod…
I went home and dug out my books. Sure enough, the chassis number corresponded with an alloy-bodied 1949 Jaguar XK120OTS. I can still remember the thrill at the time. Here was something that I had only dreamed about, and it had happened, but it was obvious that I was getting out of my league, and if this car were to be saved I would need to give the chance of ownership to somebody who could do it justice.
I called a guy that I had known for a couple of years, who already had an extensive collection of British cars and who, I knew, was looking for another car. After explaining what it was that I'd found he grew very quiet, and told me that he'd be down here as soon as he could.
That weekend he drove down, not being able to leave any earlier due to business appointments, and he was as excited by the car as I was. Having put the two parties together, I stepped back and let them get on with negotiations.
My friend the enthusiast finally bought the car, and it was obvious that the owner had not known just how special that car really was.
The XK120 has now been totally restored, no expense spared. I have seen it, and it is gorgeous! The new owner, following that restoration, won every prize possible on the JCNA show circuit, and has since been driving it regularly in classic events including two trips with the car to the UK.
I am thrilled that the old girl found such a good home. I could not have afforded to restore it to this standard, and for such an early, important car as this no other course of action would have been right.
This is the car as it is now:
What a difference money and a lot of attention to detail can make!
If you keep your eyes and ears open while you are going about your daily routine (especially in areas with older houses) you never know what you'll find. If it's happened for me then it can happen to any of us! The "before" shots were taken the day that I went to help the new owner drag the car out of its long-term storage in the damp garage. The "after" shots were taken in the summer of 2010. It was dragged, as well, the brakes being seized solid!
As a postscript, the friend who had bought the car was killed in a hit-and-run in Thailand several years ago. Where his XK120 is now I do not know.
by Mike Peake
It is now early Spring 2015, Poppy and I ventured out for our first trip this year when it was beautifully sunny.
We had a blast. She was pressed into service as my daughter’s taxi for the weekend as well as running all my errands and taking me for a grin-laden pleasure cruise around the green lanes of North Wilts. She performed faultlessly.
However, as is always the case it would appear, my incompetence reared its head again! I lost my one and only key to my council lock-up. It must have fallen out of my pocket at some stage during my taxi and errand running duties. I searched the inside of the car and then I fully retraced my steps to carry out a thorough search of all the areas I'd left the car which included being on my hands and knees peering under various cars in four different car parks.
This led to a number of strange, slightly hostile conversations with several members of the public and narrowly talking myself out of being arrested by the local plastic plod. However, all to no avail!
Poppy was now having to brave the worsening weather on my exposed and windswept drive. A call to the council landlord on Monday revealed that my one and only key was indeed THE one and only key - but not to worry - they could send out a locksmith to change the locks as long as I handed over a large wad of money with a debit or credit card. Oh but he won’t be able to come out until the end of the week.
On the plus side, I was now "forced" to use Poppy for my daily commute all that week. If she was going to be out in the rain, she might as well provide some enjoyment - I can't remember the last time I drove with the roof up!
Anyway I now had a shiny new lock on my lock-up and was provided with two new keys which are now attached to both sets of car keys rather than on their own. I have also had another spare cut! Poppy was then snuggled up back in the lock up.
Another plus is that I now had the motivation as well as all the foam and straps and spare frame to FINALLY repair the driver’s seat so watch this space.
I will keep you informed of what else I broke when I tried this at home!!
to be continued
by Brian Allison
If you are paying attention you'll know that I'd just re-commissioned and re-sprayed my bargain buy Mk 2.
She sat on my newly concreted drive looking pretty as a picture, all gleaming red paintwork and twinkling chrome. The Simca 1000 that Anne was running looked positively tatty compared. Correction - the Simca was positively tatty! Of all the cars I've owned I can't think of one that rusted with quite such enthusiasm.
The newly concreted drive was courtesy of the job. Any readymix company frequently finds itself with surplus concrete to dispose of, mainly due to over estimated orders. In such cases the customer of course still has to pay for the full amount whether they use it or not. As a consequence of this a list was kept of people who would take smaller amounts at short notice and discount prices.
Usually these waste sales were put into a pot and shared among the workers for a bit of a Christmas booze up. When we bought the newly built house (£2,950) the drive was going to be an extra £150, in the event it cost me about £25 plus a pint or three for the mate who helped me lay it. Even allowing for inflation it would be great to have those prices now.
Anyway there I was pleased as punch showing off my gleaming new steed to all and sundry, and basking in the praise for a job well done. The Cortina ran like clockwork for about 2 months or so until......
We were in an amateur dramatic group at the time and rehearsing for the next production two nights a week. The hall were we performed was directly opposite the multi storey car park, so parking was never an issue. This particular night I arranged to meet Anne there after I finished work as the rehearsal was for 7.00 o'clock. I parked as usual in the multi storey, noticed Anne had parked on the road outside the hall,got through the rehearsal and leaving Anne at her car and telling her I'd see her at home went into the car park for the Cortina.
When I'd arrived I'd been running a bit late, so when I saw a space where I thought I'd parked I just put it down to being rushed and thought I must be on the wrong level. Not so! After searching all four levels and the street I had to admit to myself that my , by now beloved, Cortina had been stolen. Fortunately the Police station was only about 5 mins. walk, so off I went.
Arriving at the station I was greeted by that quintessential English sight, a completely deserted front desk, which remained that way until I rang the bell for a second time. This prompted the arrival on the scene of a quintessentially English Desk Sergeant. He proceeded in a leisurely fashion until settling himself behind the counter he eventually asked me if he could help me.
I started to tell him about my stolen car, only to be interrupted while he found the correct form to use. After taking down my own details, name, address etc., we finally got round to details regarding the car. "Make?", "Ford", "Colour", "Red", "Model", "Cortina" , a quiet chuckle, then, "Ah, the favourite". I can't tell you how good it felt to find some-one who found some humour in the situation. Barely able to stop myself joining in his chuckles, or was it barely being able to stop myself trying to strangle him, we eventually got it all down on paper. His parting words as I walked out were, "Don't hold your breath". so I set out to catch a bus home and break the news to Anne that she'd be catching the bus to work for a while. That went down well!
I notified the insurance co. the next morning and was told that if it didn't turn up within three weeks they'd pay me out average market value. Average! After all that time and effort it felt like an insult.
I didn't have the cash to buy another car so had to wait the three weeks until the cheque arrived. I looked for a Cortina in comparable condition but they were all too dear, so off to the auctions I went, and finished up buying a Vauxhall Victor. The Victor looked really good and I was feeling pleased with myself for having bought a bargain. For all of two days.
The Victor obviously had a bit of an artistic streak, because it decorated my nice clean concrete with a beautifully shaped oil stain. This turned out to be from the rocker cover, so I fitted a new gasket. The following day it was leaking again and after close examination I found the rocker cover was warped, so I fitted a new one.
Within two or three days it then decided that three cyls. were quite sufficient and checking the plugs I found one of them resembling a wet afro wig. It ran for a couple of days then fouled up again. By this time I hated the sight of it, sat there seemingly mocking me every time I looked out the window. It had to go! And go it did, straight back into the auction with a new set of plugs I fitted about 200 yds. from the gate. If I felt any guilt at all about selling such a lemon it was tempered by the thought that nobody had felt sorry for me when I bought it.
The whole Victor fiasco left me seriously out of pocket, so when I was told about some-one selling a 2ltr. Triumph Vitesse that I could afford I was round there double quick. No impulse buying this time. I went through the Vitesse with a fine tooth comb. And - found absolutely nothing wrong with it. No oil leaks, no knocks,no rattles , no rot, all instruments and switches working and driving perfectly.
The lad who was selling it was at university which brings me to the one thing I wasn't keen on. The colour scheme. For some reason known only to himself and whoever supplied him with whatever he was on at the time he'd decided to customise the paintwork. Now you're probably thinking it was something outrageous like dayglow orange or some such. Oh no, he'd been much more inventive - it was in camouflage complete with the Allies white star on each door and the bonnet. Different to say the least. I didn't fancy the idea of another paint job, especially with the amount of time it would take to remove the paint now on it, BUT, I told myself, it's in perfect condition apart from that, and the test drive had been great. A really enjoyable car to drive, so I bought a Vitesse masquerading as a world war two staff car.
Next time :- more Cortina capers.
by Mike Peake
No further spannering had been done for a while that summer of 2014, but there was lots of driving and lots of fun.
I went to the Tetbury car show with my local "Royal Wootton Bassett Classic Car Club" and had a great day out. 12 of us set out in Convoy from RWB and all made it to the event. The event was great with over 500 vehicles present plus a Dalek...which one of our members bought!
On another trip, 20 classic cars left RWB for the Defence academy in Shrivenham where we spent the evening clambering over and in all sorts of military vehicles (Well the ones I could fit in anyway - the Russian T34 was definitely not built with humans in mind let alone FB's) this was followed by fish and chips in a car park. Another great evening!
It was capped off by my clutch pedal going all floppy and refusing to disengage the clutch on the way home. It was very dark so I pressed on and Poppy didn't let me down and got me home yet again but it was an interesting and challenging drive!
So I had an excuse to do some investigative spannering and discovered that all my clutch fluid had disappeared! I traced the system from the master cylinder all the way through to the slave and found no obvious signs of leakage so topped it back up and gave a quick bleed and all was working tickety boo, but decided to do something about it to prevent re occurrence.
After seeking advice, general consensus was that the culprit would be the slave cylinder so I decided to replace all the seals in both the master and slave cylinders and bought the seal kits accordingly. Removing the Master from the car was a simple job, helped by the fact that I've already removed the brake MC twice this year. The 2nd as a result of my ham fisted, heavy handed incompetence leading to a cross threading of the pipe union in the MC resulting in the need for the new MC and brake pipe detailed earlier in my tale. (I promised to try to be more careful this time!)
I also had previous experience of the working on the slave so, from the dubious comfort of my unpadded driver seat, I set about removing the gear knob, radio speaker, carpet, gear lever grommet, gearbox tunnel and insulating pad which was all much easier than trying to reach the slave from underneath. Once all that was done, the slave come out quite easily and both were taken home for re sealing.
The parts arrived and because I've learned my lesson, I wall papered the utility room in newspaper so Mrs FB wouldn't have an excuse to hospitalise me for inappropriate car maintenance within the household boundaries.
Once all surfaces had been hermetically sealed in this fashion, I set about the master cylinder and very quickly had a nice clean and resealed part ready for service. As this had all gone according to plan I set about the slave.
The "no longer available" metal cap was gently prised off with a big screwdriver and a pipe wrench with very little damage and set aside for reuse later. All the grease was removed followed by the circlip and the piston was coaxed from the chamber and rubber seal removed.
The work area was somewhat cluttered now so I decided to clear away all the greasy paper towels and no longer required parts and chucked it all in the wheelie bin. This was shortly before I discovered that the slave cylinder seal kit did not include a new circlip like the MC kit did! As none of my usual stockists sell this particular part, I had to decide whether to just buy a new slave or to wade through the wheelie bin to find the old circlip.
Well a new slave cylinder is 30 quid and as regular readers will know I am terminally skint so I waded through the 10 days of rubbish in the wheelie bin.(2 weeks between collections!!) After an hour of this unpleasantness, I finally located the circlip which had, of course, worked itself to the very bottom of the bin!
I was lovingly cleaning the circlip as I walked back into the utility room where I promptly stood on and crushed the "no longer available" metal cap which had rolled un-noticed onto the floor. I may have said some bad words as I was cleaning up before going to order a new slave cylinder.
The new slave cylinder arrived and was quickly fitted along with the resealed clutch Master Cylinder. All was bled through and Gearbox tunnel carpet and radio all refitted. As I could now change gear, I went for a nice sunny ride in the surrounding country side.
Does anyone know how to get newsprint off of utility walls?
to be continued
by Mike Peake
It was still the summer of 2014 we were having plenty of “Bring your classics to work” days. (30 mile round trip) and a longer trip to the Bristol Classic car show but other than that, she very quickly fell back into the role of family fun vehicle and we loved every minute.
As mentioned earlier, the blown headlamp gave me the excuse to fit a halogen conversion which turned out to be just a simple and straight forward direct replacement.
Poppy then leapt into action to jump start my girls Daewoo which had been standing around since my Mum died. She left it to the girls but it’s waiting to be got back on the road when we can afford the insurance.
After all the usage she was getting, I noticed, she was running a bit lumpy until fully warmed up and then problem cleared. One morning though, she threw a tantrum and refused point blank to take me to work! I had to use the company Civic so eldest daughter wasn’t amused when she woke up and discovered she had no car to use that day. (I really should have got her Daewoo on the road.)
At least Poppy had the good grace to break down on the drive rather than the roadside so I forgave her and can still say that that she has never let me down on the road...well...apart from when the points closed up on me...oh... and when the security cut out switch melted...but apart from those 2 occasions, she has never let me down on the road. (And I got her going again both times without resorting to recovery men so they don't count do they?).
A very quick check revealed that fuel was getting to Stromberg’s finest achievement so I suspected the ignition side. I planned to work through the ignition system replacing plugs points and leads at the weekend. If that didn’t work, I would replace the coil which was still the one that came with the car when I bought her.
Although I was a bit miffed at not driving to work in an open car on this gloriously sunny day, and as much as I love driving Poppy, it was nice to slip into the air-conditioned comfort of the Honda and enjoy the absolute confidence of being able to complete my drive... oh dear. Did I say that out loud? I've let the side down haven't I? Does this mean I will be banned from the Classic Car Community? I will bring cake if that would help?
Anyway, the following weekend found me back at work on my dear old girl trying to find the source of my ignition woes. I'd changed the condenser, points, rotor arm, dizzy cap, leads and plugs and still she wouldn't ****** start!!
The only thing I hadn't changed was the coil...which was on order from Canley. There was definitely fuel getting to the carb and I was fairly certain it was getting to the chambers as I could smell it when checking for a spark at the plugs.
When the new coil arrived, I changed that too, but still no joy. So I decided to replace all the low tension wiring but still to no avail. So I did the only thing left to me, I fiddled about with stuff! I did get her going in the end but it’s too embarrassing to tell you what was wrong…oh ok then…
The timing was 90deg out....well ok...somehow the HT leads had been fitted the wrong way round which wasn’t embarrassing at all was it? I think the original problem may have been the condenser or maybe a worn heel on the points so would have been a cheap and easy fix if I... er ...I mean someone...was competent enough to fit the HT leads correctly.
Further, with the amount of driving I'd been doing, the front seats had finally given up and really were dreadfully uncomfortable. So much so that I was forced to actually do something about it. So, I stole some of Mrs FB's scatter cushions from the lounge. I don’t think she noticed.
On the plus side, Poppy was running sweeter than ever now that the HT leads were in the right place and all other HT and LT parts have been replaced!! Funny that.
to be continued
by Mike Peake
17th May 2014. The last weekend before the Prom found Poppy back in pride of place on the drive at home next to a huge pile of cleaning products (Halfords had a 3 for 2 offer!)
As the weekend progressed The pile of cleaning products diminished as Poppy 1st returned to being red and then became steadily shinier and sparklier and she was almost ready for the Prom the following Friday.
A quick wipe over on the afternoon of the Prom and now, she was ready to transport my youngest to her big night. Poppy got her there in style and performed faultlessly. Again both Poppy and my daughter received lots of positive comments and a great night was had by all. I even managed to keep my cricket bat unused!
Well Poppy was now well and truly back on the road and I was looking forward to enjoying a glorious British summer of top down classic motoring (ahem), but, as always, there were jobs still to do...
Did I set to and get these jobs done as soon as possible? …Of course not! I was having much too much fun driving her around the green lanes of England!
One Saturday in July the green lanes took me on a trip up to TSSC's Triumfest at Donnington Park, on a whim (to avoid a list of jobs prepared for me by Mrs FB!) and to see if I fancied joining up again.
As you can see from photo's earlier on in the blog, I went to TSSC's international weekend in Stafford several times and enjoyed it enormously. There was plenty to do even for day trippers. There were full exhibition halls and plenty of cars in the "car park" in addition to the full evening entertainments. Therefore I was expecting similar this time.
Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed with the show. It was £17 to get in with a day ticket, and then very little there when I got in. There were hardly any cars in the car park. They were all still in the campsite, next to no traders and no exhibition halls. It must have been disappointing for the organisers.
I’m sure I was just expecting too much and It was probably just me and being a “day tripper”. I'm sure it would have been much better if I'd gone up for the weekend with my local section. (Unfortunately, there isn't a local section local to me!) I would have certainly fancied watching the Italian Job at the "Drive in" on Saturday night and the evening socialising reports did sound good.
On the plus side I did get to see the ADU 1B Le Man Spitfire in action and I spent a few very pleasant minutes chatting to a couple of clowns... No really...they were professional clowns with a really beautiful red Herald Coupe and a green convertible with a (Shorrocks?) supercharger fitted. Thanks Chaps! If you’re here, I'm sorry about my "Do the doors fall off?" joke but it was out of my mouth before I had the time to think that you may have heard it before...once or twice...
One more plus was the 230 mile round trip in Poppy with the roof down on a glorious day! I took theA361/A429 which was fantastic fun and then picked up M40/M42/A42. Not so much fun but a good endurance trial! The drive there and back was a blast and Poppy performed faultlessly.
by Mark Smith
I passed my driving test in August 1976 at the second attempt.
The first test didn't go to plan when I accidentally selected third gear instead of fourth on the hill start and got stranded in the middle of a busy junction (Toledo gearboxes) and followed that with a sideways emergency stop, luckily on a quiet road!
Well it was hardly my fault that my test took place on the first morning of rain after a long dry and warm Spring - didn't stand a chance! Anyway, the second one must have been deemed better as the Examiner handed me a pass slip and I was then free to take to the open road. This was handy as I had a Morris 1000 parked on my parents drive that I had bought for the grand sum of fifty quid the previous Easter.
Now you didn't get much for fifty quid even in 1976, so I had bought a car with three fibre glass wings. It did come with a fourth which was the only surviving metal one as fitted by the factory. The colour was interesting, it was Safari Yellow. For those of you too young to have first hand experience of this colour, it is difficult for me to explain in printable terms its exact shade. I'm not sure if I could describe it in printable words so we will gloss over that and just add that it was quite a popular colour in the 70's. Mind you, any colour that required the use of dark glasses to look at it in the 70's, even in the dark, was a popular colour. But I digress.
This car had been sat on the drive and not stirred a wheel for near on five months but I had kept the engine running and the battery topped up. I had also been 'smartening up' the paint. Not having the equipment, the space or the skill to spray paint a car was a handicap but thank God for those tins of touch up paint! I must have cleared out the local auto-factor of every tin of Safari Yellow he had and it's only now as I sit writing this that I realised the significance of the shop owner standing at his doorway rubbing his hands together as he saw me coming down the street and the thick layer of dust that seemed to coat every tin I bought. He only lacked a stutter and a 'buy two for three' offer on the stand and he would have given Ronnie Barker a run for his money! In fairness, the result was not too bad considering it was applied with a brush and was quite passable at a distance of ten feet. It looked particularly good under the lights of the local petrol station at night.
Well, test pass in hand, I set about insuring the car and obtaining a Road Fund Licence. In those days the only way of taxing a car for the first time was to send off to the DVLA. I can't remember the full details of my financial status at that time but given the price of the car, I can't imagine I was going to be a millionaire anytime soon but I do recall I paid for the Road Fund Licence with Postal Orders. I then taped the receipt parts to the inside of the passenger side of the front windscreen as proof of 'Tax in Post'.
A few weeks later and still awaiting the arrival of my Tax Disc, I packed the fishing gear in the car and picked up my then girlfriend and headed off for a Sunday afternoon at Little Britain lake near Iver in Buckinghamshire for an afternoons angling. After an hour or so we retreated to the car for a cup of tea from the flask we had taken. As we sat there, a white Police Rover came past us. It stopped and backed up. One of the officers got out of the car and walked up to us. I wound down the riverside window and the following conversation ensued:
Police Office (in official voice): "This your car sir?"
Police Officer (still in official voice): "Had it long sir?"
At this point I got out as the Police Officer started to walk round to the boot.
Me: "I bought it at Easter but just passed my test so only had it on the road a week or so."
Police Officer (still in official voice): "Original colour?"
Me: "I should hardly think so but this is the colour it was when I bought it."
Police Officer (still in official voice): "Original number plate?"
We (getting worried now): "Yes, as far as I know! Why? It's not stolen is it?"
Police Officer (now very excited): "No! Mate of mine owned this car a few years ago, one of the last cars to come out of Anglesea with an Anglesea plate on it! Worth a fortune if you can sell it for the plate!"
I couldn't believe what I was hearing! He totally ignored the almost quarter of the front window screen obscured with Postal Order receipts and was just ecstatic that he had seen his mates old car! Suddenly I heard the radio crackle into life in the Police car and his colleague stuck his head out of the driver-side window and shouted that they had to go. The Officer I had been talking to apologised and said he would have to go and ran back to his car and the two of them drove off.
Sadly, the car was eventually scrapped as by the time I got to it's first MOT under my ownership, the drivers seat had all but collapsed and was falling through the rotten floor. There were a number of other expensive problems too and being perpetually skint, the car was deemed uneconomical to repair.
Oh, the number plate of the car? LEY 148
by Brian Allison
After I left Wimpenny's I didn't have much to do with the Cortina's, save the odd service on Anne's father's car. That is until we jump to 1975, which finds me a responsible?, married, mortgaged young man running a 2ltr.Triumph Vitesse, and working on fleet maintenance for a ready mix concrete company
Steetly had a large number of ready mix plants throughout England, plus quarries and chemical plants and later became part of what is now Redland.PLC. One could be forgiven for thinking that such a large thriving concern would have thoroughly modern facilities : not so! The garage at Brighouse was what I'd describe as functional but in no way luxurious. A large shed with a long pit, small office in one corner, even smaller canteen area in the other corner and the stores , compressor and generator in built on lean to's. There was mains electricity, the generator had been installed in 1973 due to the three day week imposed by the government.
Our younger readers who don't know what I'm talking about should Google it, they may find it gives them some insight into what life was like in the 70's, it wasn't all glam rock! One thing we did lack was mains water. Tea being an absolute necessity for the smooth running of any garage this meant we had to bring in fresh water on a daily basis. This was done from the local café along with the best bacon and tomato teacakes I've ever eaten. Before anyone starts casting aspersions about strange eating habits I should point out that contrary to most of England, in West Yorkshire a tea cake is a plain bread cake and does not contain currants. The washing facilities could only be described as primitive consisting of a 45 gallon drum which was outside so as to catch rainwater off the roof. Any other water needed came courtesy of the canal.
The site had originally provided access across a canal bridge to a gravel pit operation which was now flooded and used as a fishery stocked with trout. The ready mix plant was sited on the opposite bank of the canal and drew it's water directly from it. Above the ready mix plant was the garage, and directly across from that was a large barn with a pit that served as a overflow garage when needed. Also on the site was the regional lab facility where sample concrete cubes were tested. The area served by us covered West and North Yorkshire where we had about 6 ready mix plants and about the same number of quarries which supplied the aggregate for the concrete. The mixer fleet was mainly Leyland Reivers with a couple of Fodens and later on two Ford D1000's. The latter it must be said gave more trouble than any of the others. The tipper fleet again was mostly Foden. This was were I came to appreciate just how good Gardner engines were.
So you've got the background, now to the Cortina.
When I started at Steetly's I noticed a dust covered 1967 MK2 Cortina parked outside the Lab looking rather sorry for itself. When I'd been there a few months and settled in I found out that the Cortina belonged to one of the junior lab technicians called if I remember correctly his name was Mark. The body work had a fair few battle scars but nothing majorly wrong with it, and Mark said it had been stood for over a year after the front suspension struts had started knocking and ceased doing their job. He'd started using a motorbike as it was a lot cheaper and he preferred the bike anyway. I was definitely interested. Although he assured me that it had been running perfectly apart from the struts I wanted to be sure before buying it, so fitting a spare battery and checking the points, I tried the starter and was pleasantly surprised when after only a few cranks the engine spluttered into life.
It quickly settled down to a steady tick-over and when revved sounded perfect. When I tried to select a gear however all I got was a terrible clatter and a stalled engine. The clutch was obviously not working and a quick check of the release lever movement confirmed my suspicion that the centre plate was stuck to the flywheel. Starting it in gear I proceeded to drive it around the yard , all the time changing up and down gears to try shock the centre plate free. It did eventually break free and operated perfectly afterwards. This little exercise also confirmed that the gearbox synchro's were in excellent order. So I bought myself a Dark red 1600 super. I can't remember what I paid but it can't have been much knowing me.
The garage manager was called Jack Schofield and I'd got on really well with him from day one, probably in part due to a scrap of shared history that came to light when we were chatting after I'd accepted the job.
Somehow the conversation turned to his past career as a speedway rider for Belle Vue and his dalliance with the early days of stock car racing. I'd never been to a speedway meeting but I had been to one of the first stock car meetings at Odsal Stadium in Bradford. This was one of the very few times that my elder brother had actually taken me anywhere in his Austin 7. I told Jack about this, and also told him that my abiding memory of that outing was the sight of a large white car with a piece of corrugated iron where the sun roof had been filled in.
This amused Jack greatly, and he explained that that was quite likely him as the description fitted his car perfectly. He also explained that the terms of speedway driver's contracts prohibited them from taking part in any other motor sports, and if you look at any of the very early stock car programmes you will find quite a few obviously fictitious names used by speedway riders racing against orders. Anyway, as I said I got on well with Jack and he readily agreed to let me use the barn out of my work hours to do up the Cortina.
First job was the struts. Cheap enough and easily fitted, whilst also affording access to check over the steering which was all good. I then stripped the brakes, found nothing apart from cleaning was needed, so far so good. I was now at the point where I had to decide how far to go before actually putting the Cortina back on the road. The interior was in perfect shape and only needed a good cleaning. The body had, as I said before got a fair few dents and scrapes but was still good with no rust at all. I decided that with some minor repairs and a decent coat of paint I could have it looking good as new. Always assuming that the boss, Anne, agreed to splash out on the materials of course. In the event she agreed much more readily than I expected and the fate of many evenings and weekends was decided.
Having decided to repaint the car I thought I may as well do the job as well as possible and completely strip it of all external fittings. Then after beating out the dents and scrapes as well as possible I set to with filler. Bear in mind I had never even tried using filler before and you'll get some idea of the amount of time and quantity of filler it took before I was satisfied with the result. I swear some of those dents must have had 6 or more skims, and the bin was full of production paper and wet and dry.
Eventually I got to the stage where the whole body was actually all rubbed down nice and smooth ready for paint. This raised another problem: I'd never even held a spraygun let alone sprayed a full car. We had the spraygun and air supply courtesy of Steetly - all I needed was a tutor. This I found in the shape of Hubert. We ran a two shift system. The day shift, 8-00 to 6-00 did repairs and breakdowns and the night shift,10-00 to 8-00 did servicing and minor repairs as time allowed.
Hubert was the night foreman, who apart from saying good morning to,I hadn't really spoken to prior to starting work on the Cortina. I'm sure all of you who work on your own know how easy it is to lose track of time. So it was with me. No mobiles then, and the promise of just working a couple of hours after work led to a lot of ruined dinners. I was still working one night when Hubert arrived for work, saw the light on in the barn, and scared me out of my skin when he appeared apparently from nowhere. After I explained my plan he very generously offered to give me a few tips on how to spray. He even came in early to do so. He was quite a character was Hubert, full of fun and bad jokes. He once asked me if I fancied doing a bit of fishing. Turned out he was in the habit of going fishing at first light for a trout or two for breakfast.
A coat of primer. Rub down. Another coat. rub down. Same process with two top coats. Then get rid of all the orange peel with compound. The amount of time and effort put any idea of working in a bodyshop right out of my mind, but eventually a really good looking car emerged. A good layer of polish, refit all the chrome , handles, repainted wheels etc., and though I say so myself it really did look good as new.
Tax and insurance were soon started and at last I had my Cortina on the road.
Next time :- What happened next.
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