by Gar Cole
Part 2 left off with myself on a high having steered the wedge through its MOT with no advisories, our group meet at Cosford loomed just a week later, having just had the suspension fluid changed and pumped back up I looked forward to the 30 mile drive.
I was awoken the morning of the show by rain splattering against my windows, cursing our bad luck at yet another wet event I none the less set off armed with umbrella and my RAC breakdown card.
To give the old girl credit she ran perfectly in driving hard rain, blower kept the windows clear and me warm, fearing I'd be the only member to show up I was pleased to see David Aikman and his Cortina GT follow me around the island as we left the M56, we were soon joined by 9 other hardy souls and their vehicles.
Good natured banter was then exchanged with folks surprised it had made it, everyone liked it's plush HLS interior but externally she was still an eyesore, as Mark Wilson so dryly put it 'now I've seen it in the flesh Gar I have to say...... It looks even worse than on the pictures ' ?
Determined to try and finish painting the car within a month I stripped out the interior the day following the Cosford show, Bressingham was looming and I had promised BL Dan Bysouth that I would bring it even if it was in pieces on a trailer, now the 4 doors, boot and bonnet are in decent condition as they are from a different car that was Zeibarted, however the original front wings and rear panels were not so fortunate and had more rusty pock marks than a teenagers face.
Armed with a cutting wire wheel I started removing the paint from the wings, filled at first with confidence as the layers of red disappeared followed by primer, excited as I waited for shiny BL steel to appear for the first time since 1981 I was quickly brought down to earth as the only thing that appeared was pitted rust.
Undeterred my amateur enthusiasm carried me on as I continued to sand the rust expecting to reach good steel when I was horrified to see the wire wheel break through the metal, this brought about an abrupt halt as I asked for advice from my friends at the local body shop, realising I was out of my depth with panels this badly corroded the job quickly turned to a 'preservation' job to keep the rust at bay for another 18 - 24 months until funds allow for a professional respray. All 4 panels were liberally coated in Vactan rust remedy before receiving 6 ' yes six' coats of hi build primer.
Working around the weather and when I had access to the paint booth, I painted the boot and 4 doors first along with the interior bare metal, I was happy with the results as the last week before Bressingham approached, however............
The 4 original panels were last to be painted, I had flattened down the primer with wet and dry and they looked fine, I couldn't see any defects in the dull yellow primer at all, loaded the spray gun up and as the first sweep of black came across the wing it revealed a 'moon scape' of pits, grinding grooves and dents I had missed, it was like witchcraft as every pass of the paint gun revealed more and more defects in the panels, frustrated and out of time I abandoned painting on the Thursday in order to refit the interior and pack the car Friday morning for the 140 mile drive to Bressingham in deepest , darkest Norfolk.
The nice drive to the countryside turned into a 5 hour ordeal with 10 mile tailbacks on the A14, however Princess Okk1 didn't miss a beat until the last 20 miles when I lost hydraulic pressure in the clutch, feeling more like a banana than a clutch pedal I nursed the gearbox with double de-clutching through pitch black, windy and wet Norfolk roads until the campsite loomed into view, yesssss we made it, thank you old girl.
The following morning I was assisted by Mike Peake, Phil Allin and Keith Lloyd who had my clutch bled and working within 5 min before we set off for Bressingham steam museum, I loved being part of a classic convoy ' it was my first ' and we certainly turned a few heads.
After a very enjoyable weekend camping the wedge was loaded up for the trip home to Sutton Coldfield, a trouble free 50 miles at a steady and smooth 60mph came to a spluttering halt at Kettering services, now it was at this point that the difference between breaking down in a classic compared to a modern car became clear, within 30 seconds group member John Hone pulled up behind me in his modern car, bewildered at his sudden appearance he sheepishly admitted he was lost and had spotted me on the A14 and had decided to follow me home, his crafty plan foiled by my breakdown, he very generously offered to wait until the RAC arrived but I let him go armed with directions back to the M1.
While awaiting rescue I updated my situation on the group to pass the time, within 10 minutes another modern car arrived carrying group member Mark Finney, they had been to a beer festival but diverted to check on me when they realised they were close by, our group is awesome and so is its members, the RAC man had the car running again after 5 minutes, a blocked fuel filter and pipes the culprit, it seems filling the tank to the brim for the first time in years dislodged a lot of rusty crud, she then drove home the remaining 70 miles without incident and redeeming herself with many friendly waves and smiles from fellow motorists.
Now I've owned the car for 12 months and had a few trips in her I'm certain of a few things, I'm smitten with the car and she's a keeper, the 300 mile Norfolk trip has shown up where more work and parts will be needed over the winter if I want a trouble free season next year, buying a near parts car isn't for everyone and it's tested me to my limits, however that is sometimes the only way to get a foothold into classic ownership and it is very satisfying saving a car from the scrap yard.
Next week we will return to the paint booth to rectify some of the original mistakes i made and dents i missed, and it will soon go to the specialists in Telford to have all 4 hydro units re gassed with Nitrogen to restore it's original ride quality, ongoing project that I'm really enjoying, updates to come in 2017 ?
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