by Callum Tooey
A new coil arrived quickly and I was feeling excited to finally get Nutmeg up and running again, the weekend finally rolled around and I had the idea to try the coil without actually removing the old one. Also worth noting is that in my efforts to cut out any possible 'aftermarket' fault I had swapped all of the HT leads to original spec units, the spark plugs were the same as originally fitted.
Connecting them up I was full of optimism, but my optimism was short lived as Nutmeg simply turned over, so back to the drawing board! I checked voltages across all wires, ignition wires were reading 12v, the secondary coil wire was reading 12v and the battery was reading good levels.
I checked the resistance on both the new coil and the old one, I even tried connecting up the original coil but nothing I did would seem to help, a few comments pointed fingers at the new distributor/electronic ignition, claiming there were known dead units currently for sale; So to cut out a possible issue I swapped the distributor back to the original points ignition but this didn't seem to help get her started.
I started to doubt myself severely at this point, knowing that I had changed so many parts I started wondering was it possible I had completely messed up the car? Was I positive that those HT leads were on in the right order? Was that rotor arm the right one? And more silly questions.
After yet another disheartened post on the group with pictures of my (lack of) progress, a few members suggested directly connecting the coil to the battery, thus bypassing the ignition, I wasn't very optimistic at this idea, as nothing I had tried had worked previously but figuring I had nothing to lose I decided to make up some test leads that Monday after work.
I found some wires that were designed to be used with a modern ECU plug system that had crocodile clips off both negative and positive, cutting the end of the wires I fitted a spade connector onto the bare end and connected it directly to the positive terminal and coil.
Hitting the starter whilst holding the coil lead against an earth I saw some powerful sparks arcing across, figuring what the heck I plugged the coil lead back into the distributor and pressed the starter again and she fired up on the first turn, a very unmanly high pitched triumphant 'YES!!!!' screamed out from the garage in my excitement, she sounded slightly metallic which I found was some loose cables being caught slightly by the fans but other than that she sounded great!
Knowing that the car will fire with a direct lead from the battery told me two things:
I stripped the wire back. Fortunately there was plenty of inner left to make a new join with fresh wire, I made the connection, connected it up and turned the engine over from inside the car. She fired straight up!!!
I gave the throttle a few blips, she seemed to rev strong and clean, no knocks, no rumbles, just nice smooth running. I didn't have any black pvc tape to hand so I wrapped the connection in the rather fetching green/yellow instead, happy my car was working rather than worrying about the aesthetics of the wiring system!
With the engine now running I decided to give the brakes a release and pull her out of the garage, she slid into gear softly and pulled away. Finding reverse was easy and before long I had her parked up on the kerb outside in the glorious British sunshine. I noticed some fine smoke entering the cabin, concerned I killed the engine and opened the bonnet, luckily it appeared to simply be some grime burning off the exhaust manifold, no fires!
I fetched a bucket and car shampoo and gave her a well deserved clean, taking the time to clear out the boot that was overflowing with parts that until now I hadn't had the space to look through, I found various rubber sections (both screens I believe) as well as chrome trims, wheel trims, and surprisingly the original carpet which didn't look in bad condition. My guess is a previous owner pulled it up to restore the car or fix any rust. I haven't yet made the decision whether I will keep or replace it with a different colour.
I must have done something right with her though as whilst she basked in the sunlight a neighbour made conversation and enquired about the possibility of buying her, 'Sadly...' I said 'she isn't for sale!'
Next step, let's get some locks and start on the interior!
By Mike Peake.
Relaxing and peaceful countryside?? Don’t you believe it!! I was woken up at 4.30am by a nest of birds screeching and chirping just outside my bedroom window. They were shortly joined by a cockerel crowing his heart out followed by horses going down the road and tractors firing up! However, I was in a soft comfy and warm bed so it was much easier to doze than on a partially deflated airbed until the alarm went off.
After a wonderful and large full English - sorry - full Welsh breakfast, it was time to head off to meet the rest of the tourists. As I half expected, Poppy didn’t have enough electric left to turn the starter, so Brian produced a set of jump leads that would make even Liam jealous. They were huge and I’m sure he could use them to jump start an aircraft carrier. Anyway, they did the job and we set off. Gar led followed by me, Brian and Eric. Optimistically, I had my roof down.
It was during this trip that Gar made his first bid for the title of “Bumbling Incompetent Fool of the weekend”. He swore blind his sat nav steered him wrong and took us down a tiny narrow lane despite the two big dead end signs either side. Now you could argue that he immediately lost the title because we all followed him down a tiny narrow lane despite the two big dead end signs either side. However, we only did this in order to laugh at him when he came to the inevitable abrupt halt.
We didn’t laugh for long though as 1) I was getting very wet as it was now raining and 2) we couldn’t turn around as the lane was tiny and narrow. Having put my roof back up (which is so easy now it’s mended) the 500-yard reverse back up the tiny narrow lane was accomplished without incident. Well I say without incident but Gar backed Nelson into a ditch and Poppy took out the plastic barriers surrounding some road works, but apart from that it was without incident.
A short time later, 2 Englishmen, a Scotsman and an Irishman drove into a Welsh rugby club. They were perfectly safe though as disappointingly, Thomas and Emily were the only ones there. Oh. I don’t mean it was disappointing that Thomas and Emily were there. I meant it was disappointing that no other cars had turned up…. I’ll shut up now… (And yes, I do know that technically, Brian isn’t Irish and Gar is a bit Welsh but just go with it for the sake of the joke eh?)
Gar had planned a fantastic route through some stunning scenery and extremely challenging roads. It was somewhat more challenging for me as all the electricity in Poppy had now fallen out so I had no lights, indicators, or more importantly today, windscreen wipers. On the plus side though, my ignition warning light had gone out too.
If we hadn’t known we were in Wales the weather proved we were. We had that particularly unique wet, Welsh misty rain that seems to be wetter than any other rain in the world. Needless to say without wipers, I was really struggling on some of those mountain roads. I was still having lots fun though and so was everyone else.
As I’ve said, Gar had planned a scenic route with fantastic views so I thought I’d share some with you.
This is the view from Dowlais Top,
This is the view from the mountain top near Cwm Bargoed on the gloriously named Bogey Road.
This view was so spectacular that Gar parked us all up to take a photo of the cars with the stunning mountain backdrop. Gar was the only one daft enough to get out of his car and brave the elements.
This was my view whilst waiting for Gar to do his David Bailey.
The problem was that this wasn’t a lay-by but a passing place and traffic was building behind us including what we thought was a Police van but turned out to be an ambulance. We hurried on.
Brian was behind me in his rather lovely Triumph 2000 saloon and seemed to be taunting me with his working electrics and running all 4 headlights and the two spots on the front of his car. I was pinned to my dash by the glare and blinded by the beams refracting the rain drops on my windscreen, which wasn’t helping my visibility. He turned them off as we travelled down the A472 toward Nelson though. Or so I thought. However my attention was taken by a 2.8 MK2 Granada barrelling past us at quite a lick, but as he passed Gar, Thomas threw the car into the lay-by that he almost missed.
We all pulled in behind him and as I got out of my car, I was accosted by Brian who started beating me about the head with his Zimmer frame and shouting, “You’re a blooming Jinx you are!!” You see it would appear that Triumph electrical gremlins are highly contagious. Brian hadn’t turned his lights off but had lost all electrics too, after seeing smoke pouring from the switch on the steering column.
Whilst I’ll admit that seeing an ex prop forward being beaten up by Old Father Time may have been amusing to some, I was saved from this particular humiliation by Thomas and his bid for the title of “Incompetent Bumbling Fool of the weekend”.
“I’m overheating, I’m overheating and it’s blown my radiator cap off!” he wailed in despair. I bet it’s having to drive so slowly behind you lot!” he accused before stomping off back to his steaming Granada leaving us all somewhat bemused. Brian had also stomped off and was playing with fuses and taking apart his steering column.
Young Thomas then returned looking rather sheepish and clutching something tightly in his hand. It was the radiator cap which he’d found resting on the inner wing under the bonnet. He was still trying to claim it had “blown off” but we all knew that he hadn’t put it back on after checking his coolant levels. Whilst future events would preclude Thomas from holding the title of “Incompetent Bumbling Fool of the weekend” he will now forever be addressed as “You stupid boy” in the best Captain Mainwaring impression you can muster.
Whilst we were waiting for “Stupid Boy’s” Granada to cool so we could top up the escaped coolant and FIT THE RADIATOR CAP, Brian traced his electrical gremlins and discovered bodgery by the previous owner. The spots were badly wired in, causing the High beam/Horn/indicator switch to melt spectacularly and blow the fuse which also operated the wipers. As this was due to his taunting me all morning with all his working lights, I must admit to sniggering slightly.
We also noticed at this point, that Eric’s Ambassador had developed a bit of a list to port. Apparently though, that was due to hitting a big pothole and knocking some gas out of the funky elastic suspension or something. However, its ability to proceed was unaffected. This left only Gar’s Morris Nelson completely trouble free when we limped into the Llanfabon Inn car park.
The Llanfabon Inn is a lovely, quaint hillside pub still very much in the 20th century and must be one of the last bastions of the “cash only” economy. It was cozy and dry and the beer was good. The pub had a long family history with Gar too and he regaled us with his childhood memories whilst we supped our pints.
We were running a bit late now, the weather was still horrible and we were all hungry for the buffet snack that Mrs Pike was preparing for us back at Maesteg Celtic Rugby Club. (That is Rhiannon Jenkins, Stupid Boy’s Mum) so after another jump start for Poppy, we decided to cut out the photo stop at Castle Coch (excuse me? - Ed) and take the direct route back to the club.
The buffet was superb and copious and enjoyed by everyone. A very pleasant afternoon was spent reminiscing about the day’s adventures and trying not to be put off by the cheers and whoops of a bar full of Welshmen thoroughly enjoying watching the South Africans beat the English at Rugby.
Despite the Gremlins and the weather, we all had a really great time but boy did we miss Super Enthusiast Man and we wish him a VERY speedy recovery.
We retired for the evening as we were all very much looking forward to the weekend’s main event, the South Wales Charity Classic Car Show, organised by the Jenkins Family in aid of the Stroke Association.
I made the most of my “not camping” facilities and filled Poppy back up with electric overnight.
Sunday, if it was at all possible, dawned even wetter than Saturday. Despite this we had a trouble free trip to the rugby club. Well I say trouble free .... both Poppy and Nelson’s engines started missing and Brian still had no lights or wipers, but at least I did now and we didn’t get lost this time.
We arrived safely and set up on the car park. Over the next hour or so the car park gradually filled with interesting vehicles while we hid under the Jenkins gazebo and they ran around like lunatics organising the placement of vehicles, selling raffle tickets and getting very, very wet. Despite the weather, the event was very well supported with over 60 vehicles taking part and a wide variety it was too.
You can see the full selection over on the galleries section of the website (click here to see - Ed) but I will list a few of my stand out cars of the show.
This modified Reliant Robin was the wackiest I think. Must be a hoot to drive and I could definitely have used that gun to clear the jams on Friday.
My favourite non Brit was the Toyota Celica. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of these in the flesh and it looked great in its seventies-tastic purple and metal flake paint.
My personal favourite of the show though was this beautiful Morris 8. It looked stunning in it’s black over blue livery and the original interior looked perfect. Apparently, all it required was copious amounts of leather feed and a little bit of die on the faded bits. I am certainly developing a taste for pre-war cars even if they do all look the same to me.(sorry)
Unfortunately, the rain was unrelenting and it was decided to bring the awards and raffle forward before too many people left.
Furthest Travelled went to our very own mad man Eric Dalton for his epic 900 mile round trip from the wilds of Scotland
Best tractor award went to this rather fine David Brown.
People’s choice was won fairly and squarely by this beautiful Humber Sceptre.
And finally, best car in show was won by this gorgeous Rover P5B.
Eventually it was just us left in the car park and it was time to say our farewells. Eric and I were heading home and Gar and Brian back to the “not camping”.
We set off. Poppy was still missing under load but when I got to the M4 I was able to push up to 60 where it cleared. The weather was appalling but I had a tank full of fuel and a battery full of electric, I was confident. I was confident for approximately 2 miles right up until a loud thunk and a rattle under the car.
Well this time I didn’t put it down to a kicked up stone. I was pretty sure something big had fallen off so pulled to the hard shoulder and Eric pulled in with me. A quick inspection revealed that I am indeed the king of bumbling incompetent fools the world over and jobs would be so much easier with the right tools. You see, my brand new crank pulley nut had decided that it too would make a bid for freedom and is now roaming wild on the side of the M4 near Bridgend.
The AA was called and because I was in a hazardous place assured me I was a priority case. Eric insisted on waiting with me until rescue arrived despite his upcoming epic journey through a principality and two kingdoms. So we sat in his warm car and he fed me cake and I looked online for a 1 & 7/16 socket until help arrived.
I wasn’t the only one that failed to proceed though. Our only remaining fault-free car of the tour needed the assistance of the recovery man too. I leave Gar to fill you in on that though as the diagnosis is still outstanding at the time of writing. But the engine didn’t sound well after putting in a modern oil having left all his 20/50 on a rugby club car park.
As you can see, my recovery truck was much bigger and more impressive than Gar’s.
See what happens when you leave us alone Super Enthusiast Man? Here’s the list of faults developed over the weekend. We all agreed to save them up for you to fix.
1 Listing Ambassador.
1 steaming Granada.
2 Triumphs with dodgy Electrics.
1 Triumph missing nuts.
1 Noisy Triumph engine in a Morris Minor.
We all made it safely home though, albeit with help for two of us and we all had a fantastic weekend.
Big thanks to our loveable Fat Controller Gar for organising the tour on Saturday.
Massive thanks too for the Jenkins Family, for all their hard work and dedication in setting up the Sunday and for the hospitality shown to us all weekend.
Adrian ‘is that a fence?’ Jenkins
Rhiannon ‘Mrs Pike’ Jenkins
Thomas ‘you stupid boy’ Jenkins
Shannon ‘Slugger’ Jenkins
I have never felt so welcome in Wales. Thank you all so much and I can’t wait for next year. Hopefully the weather will be kinder.
PS if you were unable to make it but would like to show your appreciation for all the hard work, Thomas and the Jenkins Family put in, you can still make a donation to the Stroke Association by following this link to Shannon's“Just Giving” page.
Shannon has set this up just for us, so please be as generous as you can. It’s a very worthy cause.
By Mike Peake
My new control box arrived and I was at my lockup like a shot and had it fitted in no time at all. One of the nice things about working on Poppy at the lock up is that people walk past and want to chat about the car and what I’m doing to it and today was no exception.
A young couple with a baby approached and were very enthusiastic about the car. Particularly the young lady who introduced herself as Mel. She wanted to know all about it. How easy to run as an everyday car, who could work on it and how fed up she was with her boring modern car. Well if Poppy was for sale I think Mel would have bought her there and then, but chat over and off they went to continue their walk and I went back to working on Poppy.
Jump leads to the Honda and Poppy fired up. Frustratingly, the ignition light was still glowing. I guess it wasn’t the control box then. I left the car running and attached to the Honda, while I pulled up the diagnostic procedure on my phone, but while I was looking at this, the cut out cut in and the light went out. “Woohoo! Its fixed” I thought and went for a spin to charge up the battery. As I was driving down the High Street, I saw Mel and her family again and they were flagging me down so I stopped to a chorus of “Oh Wow! You fixed it. That’s great! Can I have a ride?” from Mel, Well not wanting to disappoint my public, I took Mel for a ride round Bassett. She didn’t stop talking the whole way and really seemed to enjoy the experience. I also convinced her to join the group because I’m smooth like that.
After I dropped Mel back with her family, I went for a proper blast in the countryside, …Errr… I mean proving run. It all went smoothly apart from a brief thunk and rattle under the car which I put down to a kicked up stone, the ignition warning light came back on and Poppy developed a slight intermittent misfire. Needless to say then, I was a little bit grumpy when I got back to the lockup. Especially so, when the “kicked up stone” turned out to be the crank shaft pulley nut making a bid for freedom.
The next 4 hours were spent prodding and poking with the multi-meter and swearing … a lot. Despite this and my best efforts to look as competent with a multi-meter as Super Enthusiast Man and Lord Simpson did, I had no success whatsoever in chasing any electrickery back into the car or indeed, finding out why it all fell out in the 1st place. I’m ashamed to say that I gave up and vowed to convert to an alternator. In order to have some sense of achievement after a day spent on the car, I serviced the ignition side which cured the misfire and fitted the replacement nearside door mirror which was broken about a year ago when a Fatbloke tried to squeeze between the car and the garage wall.
Another pleasant hour was spent with Mrs FB driving very slowly up and down a certain stretch of road in the Honda, whilst I looked for my freedom-seeking crank shaft pulley nut but it had made a clean getaway so I will have to buy a new one.
Well the group’s Maesteg tour and show was approaching and as it was a charity show in aid of the Stroke Association and organised by our youngest active member, Thomas Jenkins, 17, I decided that I’m going anyway despite my charging issue. The battery was off the car and being filled with electric at home ready for the trip and there will be lots of people there to bump start me should I need it (but they are Brian, Gar and Eric … I’ll take jump leads!). Therefore, Friday afternoon had me refitting the battery and a new crank shaft pulley nut before heading down to Welsh Wales. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a big enough socket or spanner so I did the best I could with a dodgy Stillson wrench I found. I promised myself that the correct sized socket will be ordered.
There was to be no slumming it in a tent for me this weekend. Gar had booked me into a proper B&B! I have to say, it’s a lot easier to go away like this when all you have to pack is an overnight bag. Poppy felt so much lighter to drive too without all my camping gear!
Now I had another decision to make. Boring M4 and take less than 2 hours and only 91 miles or avoid the motorway which the satnav says will take nearly 4 hours and will be nearly 130 miles? Well it was a bit later than I would have liked having fitted the battery and crank shaft pulley nut and not wanting to waste merlot time, I opted for the M4. This was a stupid decision. It turns out that a popular combo band called the Rolling Stones were playing in Cardiff. I entered the motorway at the west Swindon junction to stationary traffic and didn’t get above 20MPH until after the last Cardiff junction. I arrived at the B&B 4 hours after I set off, very tired and hungry but the weather had stayed dry and I had the roof down the whole way.
The rest of the chaps had already left for a local Pub so I made a quick call to Gar to find out which one. Gar said that he was “sending a car” for me. Well the car turned out to be Adrian in his very fine 1989 Jaguar XJ6 manual.
Let me tell you that after 4 hours in a Herald, It was absolute bliss to sink into those soft leather seats. I was whisked along feeling like a Gangster overlord. I just wish I’d bought my camel hair coat, sovereign rings and big cigar. Anyway, the journey to the pub was completed safely without hitting any more fences so well done Adrian!
A very nice evening was had and we all learned a couple of valuable lessons.
Evening entertainment over, it was time to head back to our “not camping” gentlemen’s abode for a relaxing sleep in the peaceful Welsh countryside.
To be continued…
PS if you were unable to make it but would like to show your appreciation for all the hard work, Thomas and the Jenkins Family put in, you can still make a donation to the Stroke Association by following this link to Shannon's“Just Giving” page.
Shannon has set this up just for us, so please be as generous as you can. It’s a very worthy cause.
By Mike Peake
My daughter recently purchased a 2013 ice blue Mini One convertible and it set me thinking about when we bought Mrs FB’s first car which was also a blue Mini. This one was of the British Leyland variety with the 1000cc engine and from 1975. I thought I’d share these thoughts with you.
1988. I’m 19, fit and handsome. Anita is 18 and incredibly beautiful. Sophie wasn’t even a twinkle in our eyes. It was the middle of winter.
2018. I’m 49, fat and balding. Anita Isn’t 18 anymore but is still incredibly beautiful. (Yeah, I know but give me a break! She might read this!) Sophie is 22 and incredibly beautiful. It was late spring.
1988 Anita needed a car to get her from the Nurses home to the hospital in London as we didn’t want her walking late at night before or after shifts.
2018 .It is my eldest daughters turn to buy her 1st car for commuting to work and because she wants to.
1988. Anita decided she wanted a Mini. She’d never driven one but decided she really liked them and it would be ideal for zooming in and out and around London and she’d look really cool, and it had to be blue.
2018. Sophie decided she wanted a Mini (yes, the BMW one). She’d never driven one but decided she really liked them and it would be ideal for zooming in and out and around Swindon and she’d look really cool, and it had to be ice blue.
1988. Budget extremely limited as paying rent and living in London on a student Nurse wage. In fact, our 1st Pram cost more than we spent on this car.
2018. Budget not quite so limited as living with Mum and Dad and able to put almost entire salary into saving up for a car.
1988. Scoured classified advertisements in local paper and Autotrader when they came out on Thursdays.
2018. Set notifications on eBay to notify me when a car that matches my criteria is listed. Ask Local Mini dealership about a car on the forecourt. It was already sold but said he’d let us know if another came in.
1988. Find an ad in the paper for a car that sounded great and was really cheap. Call the number in the ad which rings out as answering machines weren’t in common use and the phone would have been tethered to the wall so couldn’t be taken into the toilet. Finally get through and arrange to view that very evening.
2018. Dean from Mini dealership calls to say he’s just taken in the perfect car as a PX so we arrange to view that very evening.
1988. The address given was on the roughest dodgiest housing estate in Swindon, but the directions were simple. “It’s the only one in the street not on bricks.”
2018 Met my daughter outside the posh main entrance to the dealership under a mini bolted to the wall. So I guess you could say “it was up on bricks”?
1988 It was dark and pouring with rain, but the car looked ok (in the dark). We rang the doorbell. Anita wasn’t insured so the vendor took us to the car park in front of the local row of shops for us to test drive. Here we were able to establish that it moved and stopped. He then drove us back to his house.
2018 It was a pleasant evening and still bright daylight and we were able to have a good look round the car. It was spotless and everything seemed to be in excellent working order. It was however too late to go for a test drive as it was nearly closing time at the dealership.
1988 When we pulled up back at his house, his girlfriend came out and announced that someone was on the phone about the car. Whilst he was inside on the phone we decided to have the car as it was likely to go quickly. Yes, we fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. We handed over the agreed amount and I drove the car back to the future in-laws house. I discovered on the way that it pulled to the left and there was a rubbing noise on full left lock. It had 2 months MOT and Tax though.
We were arranging the test drive for Saturday morning when Dean announced that unless we paid a fully refundable deposit, he couldn’t guarantee the car would be there. Sophie decided that she wanted the car and told the salesman this which rather undermined any negotiating position. However I did get the upcoming service and brake fluid change thrown in along with a tank of fuel.
The Next day, Anita’s Dad decided he would get the car inspected by a local garage he trusted. He then promptly spent another £300 on welding and repairing steering. Oh and the car caught fire on the ramp but they managed to put it out and repair the cause. (Dads are great aren’t they?)
We all test drove the car and came back with big grins on our faces. The deal was done and we arranged to pick the car up the following week to give the garage time to do the service and valet the car.
We got the car back and with insurance arranged, Anita got her 1st proper drive on the road. She hated it at first as it was so different to drive than the brand new Vauxhall Nova she’d learnt on. However she soon fell in love with its handling and practicality and what was intended as a town car purely for the commute from digs to Hospital soon became a motorway car too and was going back and forward from Swindon to London for her days off. This 1975 Mini 1000, KNT 735P gave great service for 3 years until the floor fell off and it became the spares car for the one I helped build as a wedding present.
The day came to pick up the mini and it was sunny and warm. The salesman ran Sophie through all the controls and paired her phone. The roof was lowered and off she went immediately in love with the car. 2 weeks later, we still haven’t managed to prise her out of the driver’s seat or get the grin from her face. I’m also pretty sure this car will provide many, many years of service and I really hope the floor doesn’t fall off.
Somethings are definitely better now than then and I think the "new" Mini is definitely a classic in the making. .... But I do miss that old Mini.
by Callum Tooey
So we left part 1 having returned home via recovery with my first 'proper' classic (well OK technically speaking my previous '85 Reliant Rialto fit our group criteria but having owned Reliants previously this was a totally new experience). It was so late by the time I returned home that my partner never actually saw the car.
With Nutmeg now languishing in my garage, my partner spent the week constantly pulling me away from the windows where I'd be sneaking a peek in disbelief at the fact that she was actually in there. I ordered parts that I knew were needed, a new coil, airbox and paper air filter (it had a K&N fitted directly to the carb), spark plugs. The new coil arrived within a few days but due to work commitments I knew I'd have to wait until the weekend to do any work.
The weekend finally arrived and my Dad and uncle had agreed to come over and help me to fit new parts. I checked the voltages across both the old coil and the new one, they were reading equal which I thought was odd but hey, that was the diagnosis of the recovery mechanic so who am I to question it (I now know this isn't the right way to check coils).
My uncle arrived first but with limited tools (mainly metric) we struggled to remove the old coil from the car, we tried testing it by simply connecting the old coil, I was optimistic but after cranking the engine multiple times she still failed to start.
We pulled some spark plugs and they were dry, strange I thought as fuel wasnt a diagnosed fault? We checked the fuel to the carb, check, somehow it wasn't entering the cylinders, it must be blocked we thought, we decided to check the spark at the plugs, also nothing... 'Two different faults?' I exclaimed 'What are the chances of that!'
My uncle replaced the old coil with the new one, with the understanding that it eliminated the coil as an issue, my Dad arrived with two heavy toolboxes full of AF tools 'You can have these son!' He said, whilst watching me almost buckle trying to lift them out of his car boot.
With the correct tools at our disposal we had the carburettor disconnected and removed, my plan was to find a specialist who could professionally clean it. Deciding nothing more could be done with the car that weekend I removed the battery to charge it and we retired for a well earned cup of tea.
I spent the following week calling around various places to attempt to have the carburettor cleaned, one company enthusiastically told me they could rebuild it for around £300 odd and that they were the sole specialists for this however there were time-frame issues and I would need to send the carb away to be worked which, I spoke to a local firm who said they had never done one before but 'could give it a go' and to drop it off and it would be done 'whenever'. I politely declined and decided to strip it down myself to clean the jets using my manual as the guide.
Stripping it down proved to be relatively easy, in hindsight though I should have wore some eye protection as spraying carb cleaner over-zealously into every nook and cranny of the carb was enough to catch a nice spray of it in my eye which I can say categorically, stings like a b*tch.
After taking a breather and discovering I wasn't going to lose my eyesight I reassembled the carb and stored it again ready for refitting that weekend. This was a big weekend for me as I had decided to work on the car by myself, reassuring myself that you don't learn until you throw yourself into it.
Refitting the carb proved to be a slight hassle as although the right hand bolt is easily accessible, the left hand bolt was impossible to reach with a socket and I could only get a quarter turn on the bolt, I noticed that if I could refit the choke cable and put it 'on' this would move some of the obstruction giving me half a turn which made it slightly quicker.
After confirming the carburettor was refitted I refitted the battery and decided to try to start her again, I don't know what I expected to be honest as she turned over definitely but still refused to start. I tested for a spark at the points and spark plugs, nothing on either.
Becoming frustrated, my Dads voice echoed in my head 'Should have bought a Morris Minor'. "No - I will fix this" I decided, this is 2018 and we have technology now to help! Out came my phone and onto Youtube, testing for sparks the usual search terms but nothing helped.
I had bought another distributor, a new rotor arm and a new electronic ignition so I decided to fit these to the car, again under the perhaps misguided impression that they removed a possible 'reason' for the car not to start. After fitting these parts I tried once more to start her, but all this succeeded in doing was draining the battery. Light was fading now so I locked up the garage, and retired back indoors.
Needless to say, I was at a low point here, I made a disappointed post to vent on the group Facebook page, strongly disheartened by the days events and wondering if I had truly bitten off more than I could chew here. That post instead showed me why I am a member of the group in the first place when another member, Colin, offered to call me and talk me through it.
Taking time out of his work to talk me through the basic mechanics and checks I had performed, he said something that caused me to perk up 'You have checked the coil right?' Of course I have, it had voltage across it 'Yeah that's fine but what about the resistance?'
'The resistance?' I thought, Colin had to dash off for work but told me to look into it, a quick Youtube video later and I realised I'd been checking the coil wrong, I didn't need to check voltages I needed to measure the ohms! After rushing out to the garage I grabbed the old coil and checked the resistance, it was around 3 ohms for the primary circuit and around 9 for the secondary.
With my manual only stating an ohm resistance of 4.5 for the coil I had no idea if this was within tolerable levels so disconnected the new coil and tested it, the first circuit proved slightly higher but there was no reading for the secondary proving that my 'new' coil was actually a dud.. Could it really be that simple?
Well a new coil has been ordered... and I guess you'll have to wait for part 3 to find out!
By Mike Peake.
The scenery couldn’t have contrasted more with our last tour if it tried. I don’t think I have ever been anywhere so devoid of hills. I have no idea how the hill start on the driving test is done round here but as Lady Sandra pointed out, the sky is big.
Let me start by introducing the cars and crews that set off on the tour.
Our 1st stop was Coningsby airfield, home of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, where we parked up at the viewing spot to look at the Spitfire parked on the apron. We were also lucky enough to be there when the DC3 Dakota taxied out and took off. It even did a few fly pasts for us before setting off with a waggle of its wings, for an air show somewhere in the country.
Of course no group meet would be complete without trying to squeeze fat blokes into small cars and this time Gar and I had to shoehorn ourselves into Tosh’s inaccurately named Austin Big 7 for the amusement of all. (It’s really not nice to laugh at the fat blokes you know! Oh…actually… I see your point!)
The next leg had us winding through some picturesque Lincolnshire villages before ending up at the Kinema in the Woods. This quaint, very old fashioned cinema still had the old fashioned organ that came out of the floor at the start of the old silent films and I would love to have had the time to stop and maybe watch some classic Laurel and Hardy.
However, our head count of cars came up short by 3. Missing were Malc and Les in their Pristine 26K-miles-from-new Austin Cambridge, Kevin and Sheila in their candy pink mobile disco Reliant Rialto and Ash and Thomas in their Mini Scamp. The Scamp pulled in a short while later with the news that Kevin’s enthusiasm had got the better of him and he failed to notice the huge Cambridge had stopped in front of him. Fortunately, no one was physically hurt but the mental scars resulting from having pride and joys damaged will stay with everyone concerned. Kevin will now be fitting proximity activated inflatable crash bags to the front of his pink marvel and on future tours will be forced to set off 5 minutes before everyone else.
Drama over, Lord Simpson of Boston announced that there was an outdoor big screen showing of the Dam Busters movie that evening and this was where you could buy tickets. So we did, like a shot.
The next - thankfully uneventful - leg had us winding through some picturesque potholes and broken roads to the Petwood Hotel.
The Petwood is a beautiful Tudor-looking hotel and was also the off-duty home of the officers of the RAF 617 "Dam Busters" Squadron during the war. It is packed with memorabilia, including the remains of one of the famous bouncing bomb prototypes. After visiting Derwent dam on our last tour, it was great to carry on the theme on this tour and I was getting even more excited about the film that evening.
We stopped here for a very nice lunch in the perfectly manicured grounds. It was the perfect experience of how the posh folks like Lord and Lady Simpson live every day. The airborne theme was also continued as other posh types took off in their helicopter from the hotel grounds.
The final stop of the day was at the Thorpe Camp Visitor centre. It is charming little museum largely centred around 617 Squadrons wartime adventures but also into the Cold War with the Lightning and Bloodhound SAM outside. Apologies to all those I bored to death with my commentary.
It had been a great day with some lovely driving and fascinating stops and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but it was time to head back to the camp for tea and chat before going to the film. Anita was with Gar in the 80 year old Austin Big 7 and Howard was leading the small convoy of cars that were returning via the fuel stop.
Howard was driving his lovely Ford Popular but his after-market indicators weren’t working and he was using hand signals very effectively. It was all going well and a couple of right hand turns had been successfully navigated. It was when we came to a left turn that it all fell apart.
Howard executed the perfect “I am turning left” hand signal. However Gar and Anita interpreted this signal as “I’ve decided to go this way but you pass me and lead the convoy the wrong way as you have no idea where you’re going” - which they did. I did know what Howard's signal meant so we stopped at the side of the road trying to phone them to point out their error.
After the petrol station, it was time for a bit of a change around. Gar wanted to have a drive of Poppy so I found myself in the privileged position of driving Tosh’s Big 7 with Anita by my side. Here I was being allowed to drive someone else’s 80 year old car and Anita and I had HUGE grins on our faces. It was so much fun. OK, it wasn’t by any means quick and the brakes were merely “adequate” when compared to more modern systems. When you turned the steering wheel, it was no more than a suggestion that the car may follow if and when it felt like it but all that helped in forming the car’s character and charm. We loved it.
When we got back to the site, we stood around chatting about the great day and the cars. If I thought the mickey-taking about my boot lid was over, I was sadly mistaken. Lord Simpson wanted in on the act and gave me a book called Paint Craft to much hilarity in the group.
Actually, it looks a jolly useful book and I shall study it fully. Thanks, John!
Gus fired up the BBQ and us plebs gathered around to cook a variety of dead animals. Lord and Lady Simpson of Boston however, settled down to a 5 course meal with Lady Sandra’s Lady in Waiting, Bridget and John’s Batman Howard in attendance.
The rest of us looked on longingly and it paid off. Lady Simpson took pity on us plebs and shared a stunning, multi-layered, amoretto soaked, cream and raspberry gateau that she had knocked up in the caravan earlier that evening.
The gateau was quickly demolished and it was time to head back to Petwood House where the outdoor screening was to take place. Stuffing five fatblokes, Mrs FB, Bella the dog and all the required deckchairs into Gars Zafira was a bit of a challenge, but we made it.
Although I must have seen the Dam Busters hundreds of times and almost know it off by heart, it was a fantastic experience to see it on the big screen at such an appropriate venue. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Yes we may have frozen to within an inch of our lives but it was fantastic and a great evening with great people.
Sunday morning started out clear and warm and stayed lovely nearly all day. Our cars were moved over to the show field and were soon joined by plenty of other cars including our ageing hippy renegade Ford sub-section (you know who you are!). A great day was had sitting in the sun and chatting with old and new friends. It was particularly good to see BL Dan and his good lady again.
Cars of note for me were Carl Dennis’s Austin Princess 3.0l Farina. It was probably the biggest car at the show.
John and Elaine Fisher’s Crayford convertible Mini was probably the smallest car in the show. They share my love of these little cars but have taken it to the next level. They have rather a lot of Mini and Mini-derived cars and they kept going home to bring another one of their collection.
Speaking of Mini-derived cars, Ash Lakey and his son Thomas were certainly enjoying their Scamp. Seeing 5 year old Thomas sat on his Dad’s lap and confidently steering it around the site brought back lots of memories of me doing the same with my Dad and my daughters.
Another of my favourites was Dean Berresford’s lovely 1989 XJS. It was the 3.6l straight six FHC. I love this car and would seriously consider adding one to my collection one day. I actually prefer the straight six to the vaunted V12. In my opinion, it is much more usable with 30mpg and with only 6 cylinders. It is much less scary to a bumbling, incompetent home mechanic like me. I also love those “flying buttresses” coming off the back window. Again, in my opinion, much better looking than the convertibles. Looking through e-Bay, it would appear this car is becoming quite rare now so that Lotto win seriously needs to hurry up.
Finally, this gorgeous Riley owned by Barry Holden. Mainly because it just looked beautiful but also because it was experiencing boot lid difficulties. Barry was doing the sensible thing though. He’d sent it off to someone that knew what they were doing.
The show drew to a close and many sad farewells were said. Having sat in one place all day, Anita and I had a bit of wanderlust though and fancied a jolly jaunt. Skegness wasn’t far so why not pop along and get a bit of seaside, we thought?
Lady Sandra did warn us that it was a bit like Blackpool but we’ve never been there either. The drive there was very pleasant despite the ominous clouds in front of us but we made it and stayed dry. Well, Skeggy was umm, an experience. We’ll leave it at that. We did have some of the nicest fish and chips though and we spotted a Mini and Poppy started again despite not charging all weekend. Unfortunately, it started to rain as we were leaving so I manually flicked on the contact so the battery could charge and I could use lights and wipers.
This happy situation didn’t last long as we started to smell something getting really, really hot in a burning plastic electrical way. Needless to say, I stopped and switched the regulator back off and continued with our drive back to base camp peering round the rain drops.
We had a jolly nice evening though and I only had to put up with Anita moaning about sleeping on the floor in a tent for one more night.
Bank Holiday Monday morning now and, unbelievably, it was still warm and sunny. As we had drunk all the Merlot, OK, I’ll rephrase that. As I had drunk all the Merlot, we were able to get everything back into Poppy and all tucked in without having to put the roof up. We were set for a lovely drive home. We said our goodbyes to the remaining campers, Howard and Bridget and Lord and Lady Simpson, during which we had the singular honour to be invited back to the Simpsons stately pile for a spot of lunch. An invitation that we sadly had to decline as we had a slightly poorly Poppy and if we did have to rely on the AA, we wanted to have a sporting chance of arriving home at some time on the Monday.
Thank you for the kind offer though. Maybe next time?
Car loaded goodbyes said; it was time to leave so I turned the key on Poppy. She turned over VERY sluggishly but just as John set off to get his booster pack, Poppy fired up and we were off.
Despite the ignition light, we had a very pleasant ride home. The way the deck chairs were packed also acted as a very passable wind deflector, making us even comfier and allowing us to go all the way home without having to put the roof back up because Anita’s hair was "tired”.
OK, we did need a bump start in the McDonalds car park at Towcester, but I had parked facing down a slight hill and a kind gent offered to help Anita push, so all was good. (What? Anita had the option to be in the driver’s seat but she chose to push! Honest!) It was at this point that we also realised that all our electrickery had finally run out so we had to resort to hand signals.
After Howards brave attempt at signalling a left turn, I realised that he and I were probably the only ones that knew proper hand signals and if other classic car drivers like Gar didn’t know them, what hope did I have surrounded by muggles in their moderns? So I made Mrs FB stick her arm out for the left turns.
We finally made it home after 474 miles under mostly our own steam. The car was unpacked and one more bump start from my eldest daughter this time, Poppy was snuggled up in her lock up and we could put our feet up with a nice cup of tea.
This just leaves me to say a huge thank you to Sandra and John for organising such a great weekend and I’m looking forward to next year already. Thanks also to everyone who joined in and created a fun time and I really Hope Malc and Les Shaw haven’t been put off joining us in the future.
Finally, Anita and I would like to announce our very favouritist car of the weekend. Of course it is Tosh and Gus Brook’s Austin Big 7. I really loved this 80 year old original and unrestored car and a big thank you to the brothers for their generosity in allowing us all to clamber in and around, drive and just enjoy this wonderful piece of history.
Well my new voltage regulator is ordered so I expect you will hear from me soon. Also, our next event in the Welsh Wales valleys is happening soon, so check out our events section both here on the website and on our Facebook page.
See you soon.
Fatbloke and Poppy.
By Mike Peake
I’m still on a high from our Peaks tour, maybe because it took me so long to write the blogs, but now it’s time to get my head around our next event which was the group tour around Lincolnshire on Saturday followed by our meet in the show field at the Boston Bubble Car Museum on Sunday.
There was a lot of "Will she, won’t she?" from Mrs FB, not helped by my bumbling incompetence and double-booking myself. A friend of a friend’s daughter was in need of prom transport and I didn’t connect the dates before I said yes. Therefore Friday afternoon had me making Poppy and myself presentable instead of packing for the weekend.
Kayley and Oliver are a lovely young couple who seemed almost as smitten with Poppy as my family are. I had strict instructions on when and where to be. I arrived slightly early and was ready for the family photoshoot where Oliver’s extended family all oohed and ahhed over Poppy until Kayley arrived looking lovely and they all oohed and ahhed over her.
Despite spending two hours on her hair and makeup and my warnings that it can be “quite blowy” in the back of a Herald with the roof down, Kayley insisted on leaving the roof down, and the 12 miles to the venue was covered sedately in an effort not to completely destroy the “do”.
We made it with all our hair intact and then sat in the queue for the red carpet entrance. There were loads of interesting Promenader delivery vehicles but nearly all too new for our groups. Being a rural area, lots of the kids turned up in tractors which whilst agricultural, actually cost a lot more than the Ferraris, Bentleys and Mustangs that were also delivering young people. One tractor was pulling a trailer with a half dozen girls in their Prom finery, sat on hay bales. My personal favourite though was this old fire engine. Emily (my youngest) had a ride on this at her prom too.
For every time Oliver would point out some flash, expensive modern Ferrari or Mustang etc, Kayley would always say, “ I prefer our ride” or” this one is much nicer”, which was lovely for me to hear. One girl in a modern Bentley Continental even shouted out that Kayley “looked so cute in that car”. Apparently this girl was one of the “It” girls and had never spoken to Kayley before.
45 minutes after joining the queue, I was starting to get a little concerned as Poppy was running really hot, but we were close to the drop-off point, so I just sat there and prayed to the gods of Proms and old cars that we would get the kids to the red carpet without embarrassment . We did. I jumped out and held the door open and the seat up in such a good chauffer manner that even Paul Mattinson would have been jealous. The kids got out and had a professional pic taken with the car. At last I could set off at a decent speed and Poppy quickly returned to normal operating temperature.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a privilege to be part of such a lovely couple of kids special evening and I really hope they enjoyed themselves and felt special in my car. Oliver’s Mum sent me the following message along with some of the photos above which made it even more worthwhile for me.
“Thank you so much for yesterday, you really did make Oliver and Kayley’s day. It was very kind of you to take them and we greatly appreciate it. Kathryn.”
Prom duties complete and feeling that I might actually be a nice bloke, I went home via the chippy for some fish and chips and it was time for the giant game of Tetris. Mrs FB had decided that she would grace us with her presence on this event. So, all the camping equipment, plus all the luxuries that Anita would require like clothes, had to be packed into Poppy. I did have the added space of my boot rack that I’d fitted to hide my painting disaster. However, we were still rather full and couldn’t have the roof down or everything would have blown off the back seat.
Now, I was planning on either driving all the way up and pitching the tent at midnight in the forecast rain or setting off ridiculously early on Saturday morning, but no. I had Anita with me and she had done the sensible thing and booked a Travelodge at Thrapstone about two thirds of the way. A very heavily loaded Poppy arrived at about 11.30 PM in time for a nice cuppa and a good sleep... after we had to unpack everything to find the overnight bag.
Saturday morning, and after unpacking everything to get the overnight bag back in the car we set off. We hadn’t got far though before I realised that my ignition light was still on and we pulled over in a layby to see if I could figure out why.
Well, the new brushes were still in place and seemed ok so I suspected the voltage regulator. Because of the limited space available and the fact that Mrs FB was attending, I only had room to pack the absolute essentials and I’d decided that my multi-meter wasn’t essential, so I couldn’t confirm my suspicions. I decided that I would press on and get as close to the Bubble Car Museum as I could, safe in the knowledge that if I broke down and was close enough, Super Enthusiast Man would sense my distress and come to my rescue. It wasn’t necessary though because plucky little Poppy made it all the way there.
We pulled up on the site and took Poppy's roof down, whereupon all the stuff packed in there immediately exploded all over the ground. Offers of tea and coffee abounded from our fellow Enthusiasts. Anita accepted Lady Simpson’s offer of tea and I accepted the very “below stairs” offer of coffee from Tosh Brooks. This meant I had to cope with 2 drinks, but I managed somehow.
As I had (rather rudely) refused all help from the Snowdonia veterans, my tent went up perfectly. And yes, unbelievably, it was the same tent I had at Snowdon.
Anita was left to pack everything that had exploded out of Poppy into our perfectly erected tent while I opened the bonnet on Poppy and pretended to look for my charging fault. My ruse worked and like bees to honey, Lord Simpson and Super Enthusiast Man were instantly at my side along with most of the men on the campsite. I told them of my ignition light and that I’d only just fitted new brushes and stood back.
It would appear that no one else thought a multi-meter was essential either, as the only one we had was Howard’s which looked like it came with a Happy Meal. Well the two experts prodded and probed and hummed and hawed before pronouncing that my voltage regulator had had it. Disappointingly, they didn’t have a spare about their personages and Howard had surrounded Bridget’s 1200 Herald with sand bags, barbed wire and machine guns to prevent me pilfering hers. SEM and LSB did tell me how to manually close the relay and get a charge though.
Well, with nothing to be done with Poppy without a new regulator, it was time to set off on our gentle pootle around Lincolnshire.
To be Continued…
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