By Mike Peake
May the MOT man be cursed by Beelzebub’s huge hairy bottom forever!
Poppy failed her inspection in case you were wondering. Not only that, it was left to the 11 year old apprentice to tell me. Obviously, the 1st thing apprentices learn is how to deliver bad news with a huge grin on their face. His grinning response to my “Well? How did she do?” was “She nearly passed!”
Resisting the overwhelming urge to blub like a girl, I enquired as to the nature of the failure. He said he’d get the boss. Well now I was really fearing the worst. Boss arrived and grinning like a Cheshire cat let me know that the rear outrigger was in need of some welding. Just a couple of hours work he said. He also told me that “At least I got the horn to work 1st time for once!”
I wasn’t too alarmed at his quote for the work. Whilst slightly more than a box full of polish, it wasn’t going to induce stress fractures in my flexible friend. Not knowing my TIG from my MIG, I booked Poppy in for the following Friday.
It was carnival day in Royal Wootton Bassett and our local classic car club was having its semi-annual display round the town hall on the High Street. I had planned to attend with Poppy and as it was on my direct route from the MOT station to my lock up, I wasn’t going to let the trifling matter of a failed MOT test stop me. (and my old MOT hadn’t quite expired…. honestly)
I was one of the 1st to arrive and managed to blag the prime parking spot under the Town Hall. A pleasant morning was spent chatting to Muggles, “My Dad had one of those”, “I learned to drive in one of those”. “No, A Vitesse has the 2 litre straight six engine and twin headlights”.
It was also a chance to catch up with the other classic car locals and compare hubcaps and recent adventures. In short, I had a really good morning and managed to put my Ministry woes to the back of my mind. I even got to meet fellow EBMVBB1985 Member and Herald owner, Jason Wright who’d made a special trip all the way from West Swindon so we could meet up and talk Triumph. Thanks Jason. It was great to meet you at last.
However, not content with letting me down in front of the Ministry man, Poppy further disgraced herself by leaving a large puddle of oil under the Town Hall. Yes, even larger than her usual incontinence. It would appear that my petrol pump installation wasn’t as trouble free at I 1st thought.
You see, it was very difficult, nay impossible, to get a socket onto the bolt on the bulkhead side of the pump. The hand priming handle partially obscures the bolt head and my open ended spanner was too long to get in and manoeuvre. I thought I had managed to get it tight enough but clearly not. It was time to invest in a set of imperial “stubby” spanners and a visit to Amazon secured just such a set. (Wahay! Shiny new tools! Don’t you just love shiny new tools?) Calm down, calm down! - Ed
Well the shiny new tools arrived and it turns out that even stubby spanners are too long to get onto the bulk head side bolt head. So I am now faced with a dilemma. Unless any of you know of a magic way to tighten the bolt up, (PM me if you do!) I’m either going to have to take off my shiny new starter motor to give me the room, which would mean taking the valance off again too, OR, I can buy a bigger drip tray.
The good news is that the garage completed the welding and poppy has a fresh MOT. Now I just need to pluck up the motivation to cure my new oil leak.
A couple of weeks of truly atrocious weather passed without me finding any motivation until a momentary dry period encouraged a “drive it” moment. Although the usual grin was induced, I was slightly alarmed by a smell of petrol not usually present. On investigation, the slight kink I’d managed to put into the fuel pipe when changing the pump was weeping fuel.
I said the usual array of naughty words cursing my incompetence. I didn’t have a replacement pipe and it was a full 2 weeks to payday, therefore, bodgery was needed. I cut the kinked section out and replaced it with a section of rubber fuel pipe. I then put the car away quickly before Mrs FB could ask why I was messing about with Poppy when I was supposed to be baking ciabatta, focaccia, making a tiramisu and generally helping out with the preparations for our big family meal to celebrate our Silver wedding anniversary (It was an Italian themed meal!).
I did manage to get time to laugh at those suffering the torrential rain and gales at Crich, but mostly I concentrated on having a very nice celebratory few days. (Although I was still a bit upset at not being at Crich myself, but if I had, my 25th may well have been my last!).
The following weekend came round and the weather couldn’t have been more different. It was hot. Damn hot. And sunny and dry and generally rather nice. So, did I use this good weather to fix my oil leak and bodged fuel pipe? Of course not! I went for a drive with Mrs FB around our local and not so local green lanes which somehow turned into a 70 run which included stopping at camper van shop in Newbury so I could exclaim at the £50K price tags and Mrs FB could look wistfully and dream.
However, as well as being a lot of fun, this drive also proved a really good shakedown run during which, my bodgery held and most of the oil stayed in the engine. I was so pleased that I decided I would now attend Thomas Jenkins' Charity classic car meet in Maesteg, South Wales. I immediately messaged Gar and arranged to meet at Cardiff Gate service station next morning.
With hindsight, perhaps I should have let Mrs FB know I was going as well as Gar. If I had, then maybe, just maybe, she wouldn’t have been quite so upset when my alarm went off at 6.30 Sunday morning.
Sandwiches were hurriedly made along with a “nice cup of tea” to try and placate Mrs FB. Factor 50 was applied, shorts, sandals and a shirt was donned and my ubiquitous jacket left at home. I made my escape and headed for “The Valleys”.
To be continued…
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