by Nick Arthur
My passion for motors is intertwined with lots of different stages in life, so here goes!
School wasn't really for me. I learned stuff, but it wasn't the curriculum that was planned, more a series of life lessons, so I left at 15. My bedroom walls at my parents house in Warrington were covered in car pics- e types mainly, spitfires and mgbgt . I dreamed that one day I'd own an e type roadster.
Other kids had pop stars or footballers. I had some from my beloved Liverpool F C but mainly cars. My dad offered me some stark choices when I decided I was leaving school. I had to go to work, earn money and pay rent, or go and get educated.
I opted for the latter, it seemed easier. I went to further education college. I like to think I learned lots in that year. I learned to gamble, I'd buy and occasionally steal ex juke box singles and I'd sell them on the coach going home. I saw myself as a budding if not slightly drunken entrepreneur . College expelled me. My dad offered me some familiar choices. This time with a bit less patience!
I went to work after lazing around for as long as possible. I was 17/18 by now, doing bar work mainly. Then a job on shifts when I was 18 . It was an aluminium smelting factory. Real life kicked in. Job was hard, tough folk work hard in hot and sweaty conditions. It was rightly well paid. I was on shifts and I had plenty of time on my hands and, as I was often reminded, I was living in the cheapest hotel in Warrington.
I needed a car. I badly wanted a car. My dad had company cars so I wasn't allowed near them. My mum had a very faded Red Austin 1100 - I wasn't allowed near that on my own. I wasn't responsible enough apparently. Probably right.
I changed jobs as I was made redundant - I was being taught practical lessons in politics. 'Don't mess with the unions '- as they will strike. Quickly followed by 'Don't mess with the management ' or they will stop investing and make you redundant. Strikes = redundancies, last in first out !
I got a job in a warehouse, stacking pallets, picking loads, brushing up and making tea. It paid poorly, but I got overtime and worked in a pub as well. I got by, I still had the red e type roadster on my bedroom wall .
I got in a fight, admittedly not my first - I was beer brave! Me and two mates took on a group of less drunk, much harder scouse guys in a chippy. They were mucking about, we took them on, Warrington vigilantes - we got badly beaten up. Me a bit more than the others, so enjoyed the hospitality of Warrington General Hospital.
The Coppers took our side as they were sick of Scousers coming to our town and causing trouble. I got to go in a brand new police rover SD1 and bled all over it ! But I'd been in a SD1 nonetheless . I got awarded criminal injuries and I had some savings. I could get a car, my very first car of my own - criminal justice ?
DWB 686H - a very second hand Cortina 1300 deluxe, pale blue, 4 doors, MOT. It had a few corners knocked off it but I loved that car. I did loads of stuff to it. I filled the dinks, sprayed them badly and then did it all over again. I put a 'stick on' heated back window!
I painted the wheels and meticulously cleaned the engine bay. I put a centre console in and fitted switches that kinda just switched on lights as opposed to really doing anything ! I had spot lamps with bright white covers on the front. I had a whip lash aerial.
For the first time in my life I was very nearly cool. I had a job, worked in a bar so I met lots of girls and I had a car! ( I was still a ginger so obviously unable to ever really be cool) . Me and DWB went everywhere.
I learned to drink shandy not beer anymore so we could go places. Me and my mates could go places outside of Warrington. Lock up your daughters Cheshire set, the Warrington boys were upwardly mobile. Knutsford, Nantwich, Alderly edge - even camping weekends in Anglesey. I loved DWB, it never once let me down , what could possibly go wrong..........
About 6.30 am one foggy morning I was on my way to work and an uninsured driver came straight out of a junction and took me out. It was a big hit, I was ok, but DWB was in a bad way. Insurance write-off, way beyond my skills of redemption, it was towed away to a sad and lonely place.
I got about £200 insurance and at the age of 18 was back riding my old push bike to work. Not cool. Time to find a new motor!
by Mike Peake
As you all probably know by now, Poppy has been chosen to appear on the groups inaugural stand at the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show at the NEC. Initially, I was really pleased and honoured that our Events Fat Controller, Gar Cole had chosen Poppy.
However, I realised that as it is a restoration show, we need restored cars, cars being restored and cars before restoration. I’m guessing mine is in the latter category and am not so pleased and honoured anymore. Oh! Wait a minute. I can call Poppy a “rolling restoration”. There. Pleased and honoured again.
Regular readers of my blogs may remember that I left my story with Poppy limping off the M4 having broken the throttle assembly anchor point ¼ of a mile from home after a really good weekend at our Norfolk meet last year.
Well I’m ashamed to say that I abandoned her in the lock up and didn’t go back until the middle of February when I thought I’d better check her out for the NEC. Not all my fault as I had been busy with my nephews 1st car. A 1999 Ford Ka which he bought without taking any advice from anyone! (Perhaps the subject of a blog for the pre-mil group? Well maybe.)
Poppy was really not happy at such neglect and let her disappointment and jealousy be known by having a right strop. It started fairly simply as the throttle anchor plate hadn’t actually broken, merely come adrift due to a loose nut. This was very quickly sorted and I was behind the wheel ready to start her up.
This is where the argument started. All I got was a click when I turned the key. My CR-V was quickly positioned in front of the lock up and jump leads applied. Back behind the wheel, but I still only got a click. So, back to the jump leads and repositioned the positive directly to the starter and was rewarded with a very slow “Errrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhh, Errrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhh, Errrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhh,” and then silence.
Now I was quite proud of my jump leads as they were the 1st bit of kit I ever bought for my 1st car back too many years to mention and probably at the cheaper end of the market. So you can imagine my disappointment when they started smoking and melting. Jump leads were quickly removed and thrown some distance and then 15 minutes was spent picking molten plastic out of by burnt palm and fingers.
Perhaps I should have disconnected at the other end 1st but proper, high amperage jump leads are now at the top of my shopping list. As is a new passenger door mirror which fell off and broke when a Fatbloke tried to squeeze between the car and the lock up wall.
Next came 10 minutes of me pretending to know what to do with a multi-meter. Regardless of where I stuck the probes though…(Stop it ! stop it! No more sniggering at the back!) I was getting approximately 13.5V each time. After all this probing…(I said STOP sniggering!) I decided that Poppy’s starter motor had gone to meet its maker and I set off home to investigate my options.
Some of you may remember that I have had previous experience with starter motors when the one in Mrs FB’s VW Tourette broke, so you will understand the trepidation I felt when I fired up the desk top to go looking. This trepidation was only slightly offset by the knowledge I would have the opportunity to shamelessly plug my blog “Introducing the VW Tourette or Why I HATE newer cars!” which is also available on this website - click here - and where I fully recount that VW repair.
Anyway, back to Poppy. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that James Paddocks could supply me with a brand new starter motor at a reasonable price so I ordered it. When I get bored I may investigate and repair the old one to sell on ebay.
The very next weekend I was back at the lockup with a shiny new starter under my arm and immediately set about fitting it but 1st I decided to reposition Poppy in the lock up so I had more room to work. It was then that I noticed that when I abandoned her, I had left the handbrake on and the rear brakes were now stuck! Another job added to the list.
So, with the added indignity of being squeezed between the car and the wall, the wire was disconnected and I located the bolt head securing the starter at the bottom, identified the correct socket and fitted various extensions and ratchet all by feel as I couldn’t fit me into a position to see it properly. I then proceeded to work the ratchet 1/8th of a turn at a time as this was all I had room for.
10 minutes later, I was starting to wonder why it didn’t seem to be getting any looser or easier to turn. It took another 5 minutes of ratcheting for me to start wondering if there might be a nut on the other end of the bolt rather than a captured thread in the bell housing. There was! I could just about make it out in the dim glow of the head torch I was wearing in my unpowered council lock up. However, I wouldn’t be able to get to it to fit a holding spanner without removing the engine valence 1st. I said rude words as I have been here before.
Yes, I should have drained the radiator and removed it before taking the valence off but I was in a bad mood and really couldn’t be bothered. 5 minutes later, the valence was off and the radiator was hanging in the breeze down it’s left hand side. It wasn’t too loose though and as I now had room to work, I didn’t care. I’d had enough to do fiddling with the wiring harness and fuel line fitted through and around this valence.
Now I had more room the new starter was very quickly fitted and I was back behind the wheel ready to give it a go. I turned the key and…..hark the herald angel sang!.... really, really loudly because the throttle was stuck open. I shut it down quickly, and refitted the valance whilst muttering bad words and thinking of stuck cables, seized linkages etc. I went home to suck it up with the help of some Merlot.
The next morning I was back around to the other side of the car to look at why the throttle was wide open. I wiggled the wiggly thing on the carb body that is attached to the cable and it wiggled ok. (Sorry if I’m getting too technical for anyone?) I also wiggled the cable and that seemed to go in and out of its sleeve ok too, so I was stumped. I set the throttle to low and it stayed there. So I started her up and she rumbled along nicely if a little fast until I pushed the pedal and the revs increased and stayed there when I released the pedal.
I got back out and prodded, poked and wiggled everything in the general area but this got me nowhere. I was about to give up when I spotted a tiny little spring on the floor partially hidden under the suspension. Then it dawned on me. I picked up the throttle return spring and quickly fitted it into the correct location. I then adjusted the cable to reduce the tick over speed and all was well. I was back in my comfort zone of being an incompetent bumbling fool.
I drove Poppy out of the lock up, hoping the rear brakes would free off with a bit of motion. They didn’t. So I drove her back in front 1st and had the back jacked up and on stands and the wheels off before taking a big hammer and attacking the drums with it as I ‘d heard this could work. It didn’t.
So I poured myself a coffee from my thermos and sat and pondered hoping for inspiration which came eventually. I took my big hammer and gently tapped the wheel cylinders back and hey presto! The wheels spun freely. Copper grease was added wheels refitted and I took Poppy and my grin for a spin around my local green lanes and all was well.
The following weekend saw her vacuumed and washed and ready to jointly star on Stand 140 in hall 7 along with the Brooks P5 Camper van, Liam White’s Granada, Andrew Tanner’s Hillman Coatelan, and Lincoln Hunt’s Range Rover. More details of all the cars on our Stand 140 in hall 7, can he found by following this clicky linky thingy.
If you haven’t got your tickets yet, you can still get them if you are quick and use the discount codes below. Come along and say hello, we’ll be on the stand on and off for the whole show. If you’re quick enough, you might even get a slice of cake!
A huge thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible, especially Events Coordinator Gar Cole and Captain Paul Sweeney. I shall let you know of all the japes, shenanigans and happenings when we get back from the show. See you there!
by John Simpson
Moving on a few years, about 1970, and the introduction of the Citroen GS. The first models were equipped with a flat four cylinder air cooled of 1015cc and were fitted with cambelts, something of a novelty! They were a lovely little car and fitted nicely in the middle of the Citroen range of vehicles, selling for just over £1000 they proved very popular.
I remember working on a GS, I was going to change the front inboard brake pads and reached into the car to start it up and put the suspension on full height, they were hydro-pneumatic like the DS, but the customer had left it in gear and the car started off across the workshop with me hanging on to the 'B' post trying to stall it before it ran into the wall, which I managed, phew!!
Also I can't be the only one to have drained the oil out of a car and refilled it without putting the sump plug back, messy!!
One of my jobs was cleaning out the pit, which used to flood regularly, and it was common for the rest of the lads to put the pit boards back and drive a car over, trapping me, we used to get up to all sorts of tricks, bolting tool boxes to the bench, making and throwing water bombs and setting fire to rags mechanics used have in there boiler suit pockets, don't try this at home, it's very silly and dangerous, especial if the rag had petrol on it!!!
1974 and the first Citroen CX's arrive in the country, a totally different car to the DS and I always thought a backwards step, the early ones had an enormous steering wheel and no power steering, they also got through front brake pads at an alarming rate! I went on a technical course for the CX at Citroen's British headquarters in Slough and with other trainees we were able to lift the body off a CX in 20mins, never did it again at work.
Going back to when I bought my first car, around 1972 when I was 19 years old, it was a 1966 Vauxhall Victor 101 Estate, it was a bit rough and ready, but I went miles in it, a special fitment was a mattress in the back, say no more!
Also about this time I started racing a Ford Anglia 105E on the grass, I used to buy the shells from the local scrapyard for £15 each, but I had to remove the interior, glass, fuel tank and engine, but I could keep the gearbox.
The engine I used was from a Ford Consul Classic, 1340cc with modified head and Weber carburettor, off a Citroen DS, the crankshaft was a hollow cast assemble not suitable for high revs, but I regularly used to take it to 7000rpm and it lasted several seasons. It was fun for a few years but I met my future wife so it had to stop!!
Next time, the Citroen dealership loses its franchise and turns Japanese!!
by John Simpson
After I'd been employed for a while, and gained a bit of confidence, my boss, Mr 'R', gave me first big job to do on my own - strip a V8 engine out of a Plymouth Fury. This was something I could get stuck into, learning all the while. Suffice to say that another mechanic, Dougie, reassembled it!
By this time I'd got my own tools which consisted of Britool A/F, Metric & Whitworth ring & open ended spanners, screwdrivers, pliers, hammer etc., in a barn type tool box, how much did it cost? The princely sum of £19 11s! A bit different to my toolbox today, full of Snap On tools, worth about £10,000!!
A job I remember working on a Reliant Regal, changing the brake master cylinder, which is located under the vehicle, similar to a Morris Minor. It was over the pit with the front wheel on two pit boards and me working underneath, I needed to get at the brake pipe union, so without thinking pushed the car forward, crash bang wallop! You've guessed, the front had dropped down the pit causing slight damage to the fibre glass body!! Another telling off!!
While working on a Citroen Dyane I had an embarrassing moment. It was stood outside the workshop doors, gently ticking over. I opened the bonnet and revved it up, panic it lurched forward pinning me against the doors, I shouted for help and it caused much amusement with my work mates.
Some Dyanes were available fitted with a 'Trafficlutch', which was a second centrifugal clutch much like a lawn mower, which enabled you to drive in traffic without depressing the clutch when stationary, so I'd left the car idling in gear and when I revved it lurched forward!!
Baitstrand of Kirton - that was the name of the garage I was working at - were well respected in Citroen circles and we used to get cars from all over the country coming in for their annual service, which took a full day to complete.
We also had a lot of customers from the RAF (there are a lot of RAF bases in Lincolnshire) with their DS's which most had purchased in Germany. I got to meet some very interesting people.
Filter by Author
Filter by Month