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.
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