As soon as you mentioned you used the little blue strap on the bike, my heart sank. Hope it made the trip ok!
I wasn't too keen myself! There was one yellow strap still on the other side of it and the blue strap held on OK so the bike never moved in the end and it made it home unscathed.
It rained on the way home, it rained overnight, it rained the day after I got back and so before I had even ridden the bike, it had seen more wet days in my week of ownership than it had probably ever seen before it's whole 19 year long life!
But it's sitting here at work waiting on me making a nice cosy spot for it at home. It's managed to remain un marked and unblemished but I'll have to give it a wipe down to get rid of the rain spots now. It's a long time since I've looked after anything as carefully!
So eventually the truck had to be looked at so it could go into service.
The Ducato known as Mildred that was scrapped earlier this year gave up a decent engine - I still can't make sense of it because it was definitely a 2.8 8v van but the engine removed from it is definitely a 2.3 16v. Well anyway that means that the power steering pump from the engine could be removed for the new truck. Also as it turned out the engine mount that was broken had not only snapped in two, but two of the bolts had sheared off in the other side of the mount. The mount is effectively three pieces - an alloy part with rubber bushing that is bolted to the chassis, an alloy piece that bolts to the top of the engine, and a cast part that bolts to both of those. It wasn't possible just to buy the cast piece by itself, the whole rubber bushing and alloy housing around that had to be purchased at at around £230+vat from Fiat I opted for the Febi replacement at about £65 instead - just to get the cast iron linking piece. The alloy piece bolted to the engine block was not possible to get at all, and with two steel bolts sheared off in it I was glad of that spare engine again that had a decent condition one still attached.
The mount went in and the engine now held itself up. The truck actually got used before it was fully fixed and I had to take a car from one yard to another yard with no power steering. It wasn't that bad.
The PAS pump was inaccessible without getting it in the air so a great undertaking was undertaken to get the rather long truck swung into the workshop. Thankfully the lift had no problem with it. Our 3T OMA lift couldn't get my Discovery more than a foot off the ground and it's a comparable weight (2250kg-ish) so that's why I got a 4T lift installed for doing work on the bigger vehicles.
The PAS pump was swiftly changed. While it was in, given how long it had taken to navigate that, it was checked over and I didn't like the handbrake which didn't seem to do much, nor did the brakes. That turned out to be because the cables to the rear brakes were very slack. One wheel had what appeared to be no braking at all so drums were removed to investigate...
And one came out like this. With no lining at all on one wheel, another with a damaged lining, the other two totally out of adjustment and the linkages and cables all slack, a brake overhaul was swiftly arranged. What wasn't swift was figuring out what the brakes actually were. My first assumption was that these were Alko axles but they were not Alko hubs so that idea was out. One of the shoes said Lucas on it so an internet investigation was started that took quite some hours but eventually it was determined that the brakes looked very like the ones on the smallest payload size of the previous generation Ducato. The local motor factor, not a half mile away, had a set on the shelf, surprisingly. They let us take them to check if they would fit, which they did, so I got another set and new fitting kits with the retaining springs, so everything was new and the cables were all adjusted up and lubricated as well, so now it has working rear brakes, a working handbrake, and working steering. It got an oil change, but there was no time for a diesel filter change as after it had been up there on the lift for about 3 days at this point I needed to collect something suddenly. I had taken a car up to MOT and been given a "thou shalt not proceed" notice by the examiner (for a loose brake hose that was barely weeping, what an over-reaction) so I had to get collected, and go back down for my own car, which it barely noticed on the back of it, no change to performance or handling (or lack of) which is good, it feels very capable of carrying anything I might ask of it. It's been on a few local trips in the last week or so now and one excursion to Belfast (40 miles each way) so it's almost getting to the point of being reliable. Some wipers, a fresh Exide battery and that fuel filter and it will be tip top. The reflective red tape is off it now and the winch works fine with a battery and jump cables for now, until I've time to fix that power cable.
Oh, most importantly
It had busted speakers. Now it has a mish0mash of what I could find (one Vibe, one Fli) and a headunit with USB so I can put some decent music on and turn it up loud enough to hear over the drone of an 18 year old 300k recovery truck.
There's lots more work for it to do but at least it's capable of doing it now. Now that it has brakes and steering and all 6 litres of oil instead of the 2 that came in it...
Although it's been a month now there's been virtually nothing to share. I've been spending a lot of time with someone that was going through a hard time so car stuff has taken a back seat.
The only two things of note are:
Bought a new runaround for work:
That replaces the silver one that's been going for a couple of years. 1.4 diesel 3-door, makes a great reliable cheap to run (£30/yr tax) way to scoot between the two work yards 13 miles apart.
And I put the MG (the Solar Red ZT 190+) back on the road for July. It hadn't been out since the end of last summer and was looking pretty forlorn. A wash and a polish and a charged battery and it's back in daily service and behaving perfectly. And it reached a milestone!
(I also have pictures of it at 99999 and 100000 exactly, but I've posted up the picture in which the speedo is at zero, just to be safe )
and I got this stripped E30 shell as a p/x in work. No idea what to do with it, it's got some rust that would need patched up including the roof, so it's not good enough to sell or to get good cuts from, and too good to just scrap. Sorely tempted to put a GRP skin on the roof, over-fender it and put a rollcage and a stupid engine in. Thoughts?
The MG performed faultlessly (of course) through July and even got a spin out into the countryside in the sunshine
However someone in a Toe-rag thought that they would like to park in the middle of the road, right where the MG's rear bumper was
That left a scar
Hopefully I'll be able to buff most of that out, but it looks like another step closer to the full repaint it's going to need soon. The front bumper paint is getting a little flaky and the mirror caps very lacquer-peeled, so it's almost time.
At the end of July as well, the blue Favorit estate went to a new custodian who has been promising to take it off my hands for about a year now. It just needs painted and serviced, but I don't have the time for this one. And I needed the space badly.
Took the Land Rover up a mountain
And a customer arrived down to bring some parts for his ongoing E30 restoration, but about 5 miles away his E61 stopped boosting and he decided he'd sunk enough money into it and left it with me. Some diagnostics, a map sensor and a throttle body (all sitting to hand) sorted it out, and I've got a 520d M Sport touring to use for a while now as well.
Haven't decided what I'm doing with it yet but might sell the sought after 19" wheels and run it for a while as it's a lot more economical than everything else I've got on the road.
surprisingskoda , anything to share with us? Did nothing break in 2 months ? :-) Digging out a disco somewhere?
Plenty of stuff broke! Not just cars either..!
Actually it's amazing how time flies. It's only 8 weeks or so since last posting but so much can change in such a short time, and not always for the better. Things have happened over summer that have floored me. I'm saddened further to come on here and see that georgeb has passed away. He definitely encouraged me on in my threads quite a bit and was a real "internet friend".
My motivation to do car things - well, more specifically, the time to undertake any serious work - has been absent for these couple of months. More than any fixing, I've been trying to rationalise, trying to tidy the fleet up.
So two cars went to die. The BMW 728i in Glacier Green:
And the BMW 325ci in Mystic Blue:
Both I had finally had enough of. The 728i had constant battery drains and electrical faults that I couldn't sort out, and the Cabrio, well, that has been well documented on these pages. Both fell to the sword when customers in work asked for those particular engines and I thought it was time to conveniently thin the herd.
Having a few dry days in October and some things to go to and be sociable, I needed to be as typically unsociable as possible and use a loud bike. I grabbed the Monster out and with a few minutes to spare decided I'd had enough of the crappy bodge-job on the rear tail tidy. A bolted on aluminium plate (bent of course) trying to hold on a thick but not very deep steel bracket that was a broken remnant of the original part... no thanks.
Once I'd been at it a few minutes, it was tucked away better and the same penny washers were utilised to clamp the bracket on, so there's no cutting involved, it's tidier, more secure and (very marginally!) lighter.
I still want to get a short reg change on the bike so I can get a tiny plate on the back instead of the full-size on it has now.
More recently, my mum, living in the highlands of Scotland, took her Subaru Forester in to the local garage and rang me later in a panic when they told her it was losing coolant, the brakes were shot and the back axle was paper thin. And some other stuff. I got on the phone to them and they told me the same. Then they tried to convince me for 20 minutes that she needed an 8 grand Corsa. Later when she picked the Subaru up, they tried to tell her that too. She's still fairly savvy so she played along but did not commit to anything, then rang me and told me to sort her out with a new (to her) car.
So, what's a guy to do in an insane used car market where there's nothing good for sale and what is for sale is also three times more than it was six months ago, except now it has no MOT and needs a load of work? Well, I tell you what, he goes to the line-up of cars he's bought for breaking but nobody has bought anything from yet, and picks out one that he's driven a fair bit (before the MOT expired) so he knows it's good, and then proceeds to fit every conceivable new part on to it so that it's in perfect condition. That's what I spent the last 2 weeks doing with this 225k 2005 BMW X3 2.0d (also in Mystic Blue).
I'd done a right bit of mileage in it during May and June after I'd bought it with a suspected transfer case failure. It was traded in to a local driveway dealer by an owner who'd had it either from new or from 1 year old - I can't remember exactly what they told me, as it wasn't relevant then. But it was clearly looked after and drove superbly. The transfer case (or actuator?) fault was the only reason they had decided to change to another car. Nevertheless I proceeded to fit every suspension balljoint, control arm, bearing, bushing, TRE and brake component (including backplates) in sight, and some new bolts and sensors. A rear ABS sensor was found to be gouged and worn, and the other side was new. So on a hunch (and it needed it anyway) the sensor and contact ring were replaced, and the 4x4 and traction control lights all disappeared from the dash. Transfer actuator / box - all good!
Time was running short and so I called on a mate's garage to get an alignment done. This was Wednesday. My mum was over in NI waiting on this car to be finished and we were driving back on Friday. No pressure. I sent her over to another garage to get tyres - changed the Pirelli 235/55/17s for a slightly easier to get Hankook 225/60/17, as the Pirellis were down to about 3mm and with a Scottish winter looming, I didn't want her on those tyres. I checked and re-checked the online booking system until I managed to find an MOT appointment that same evening. Currently they are booking for Decemeber and January so finding a slot the same day was a miracle! Normally they take about half an hour to do the MOT test, but not only did the MOT tester take the X3 in early, it was back out in just 10 minutes. Obviously they were impressed by all the shiny stuff as that just never happens here.
So on Friday we took off towards Scotland - I drove about 320 miles through the night, and got her to do the last 30 as the day dawned, as I was knackered.
The reason I was driving over was to try and recover the Subaru. I figured it would be possible to make it back home despite the leaking, as long as I checked it often and kept it topped up with fluid. Water of course, not coolant, as if it's leaking out I'd rather just spill ordinary water on the road and not any contaminants. I took over some containers to fill, and I reckon there was about 60-70 litres of water in the car as I headed back, as well as a spare set of steel wheels and a very unhealthy amount of energy drinks.
I set off home with the Subaru on Sunday evening.
This is it overlooking the skyline of Inverness. Peachy! Made it here with no drama. No coolant loss yet.
This is it about 7 hours later (stopped for a middle-of-the-night phone chat for an hour) having done some several hundred miles without needing a single drop of coolant, or showing any signs of overheating. The biggest issue I'd faced was that the bonnet catch was sticky so it hadn't secured down right a few times after I'd checked the engine fluids, and as I drove, in the gustier areas especially through the mountain passes, the wind had lifted the bonnet a bit, but the safety catch had always held it from flipping up. A few stops happened before I realised why it wasn't holding, and by moonlight I poked the latch with a screwdriver until I was able to get it to stay shut. I stopped at the beginning of the trip every 30 min / 30 mile or so, but by the end of the drive I wasn't checking the fluids at all.
I got to the ferry port at 6am sharp, exactly to the minute when I had planned it when I'd set off over 300 miles before, which was quite pleasing to get it spot-on as I haven't done this trip since some time in late 2019.
So the Subaru will need looked over to see what the plans are with it. Is it fixable? It's been a great car for my mum for 5 years living either right on the coastline of northern Scotland, or inland up a mountain, and I do like to reward a car that's given good service. Or is it too far gone? Can it be an engine donor for something else?
A few weeks ago, I clicked on one of my permanently-open ebay search tabs, just to see if there were any cars for sale that I could tick off my "list". And there was! A lovely, well-cared for, low mileage maroon one with a lovely beige leather interior. Except I want a black interior, but that can be rectified. The car is old enough and worthless enough to be rare now. So I went after it, put my bid in, messaged the seller to sound them out, etc. I had to up my bid later but for some reason I didn't put in a bid that would shut the game down, instead I got sucked in and played the game of just bidding a bit more when someone else came close. Weird. So it ended up going for a price I would have been happy to pay for it but for some reason I'd only bid lower than that and hadn't checked it for the last 6 hours. So I annoyed myself and realised I'd mucked up trying to buy one of these cars that I've only seen a very odd one for sale, maybe half a dozen in the last 6 years. D'oh!
But as these things so often have a way of happening, about a week or so later I checked ebay to see if it had fallen through and there had been a relist. But no - even better! Another one was up for sale! And even better this one had a black interior and a not so good green exterior. As I want to paint it white anyway, the colour is irrelevant, but poor paintwork and scratches mean I have a good excuse to. Painting over perfectly good paint seems more of a waste.
So I punted in my bid and made sure it was going to win this one. Except the bidding didn't go anywhere near as high so I was in absolutely no danger of being outbid, and I sounded out the seller and they seemed reasonable enough. All in all it proved very easy and a week later I was on my first flight since February 2020 - ready to endure the full draconian experience for the sake of a mere voiture.
But actually it was only the usual level of terrible, and after a trifling 50 minutes shuffling through the queue at security, I had only a short 1/4 mile sprint, two flights of stairs and another sprint to cover before I could sit bolt upright for 1.5 hours and try to catch an uncomfortable nap.
I got into Luton on time, made my way by bus and train to St Albans, where, while I waited for another bus, someone opened my backpack and tried to rummage in it for valuables. Thankfully I felt something happening and turned but the man was deft enough to have moved backwards so I didn't catch him red-handed... not that it would have done much good, looking around, there was nobody that was going to aid me if it got nasty, rather the opposite, so I zipped the pack back up, and got myself somewhere safer. All the money was stowed at the very bottom so it was safe, but that was a close call. 45 minutes later after the bus arrived and got stuck in every little village in the vicinity, I spotted the stop I'd been instructed to get off it, and the car was only a 2 minute walk from there.
The car was owned by an older gentleman who was basically not driving much anymore, with his son ferrying him about most of the time now (which is who I dealt with). I got offered the obligatory cup of tea, filled out the V5 with a pen like in the olden days, handed over the monies and set off for a completely unprepped trip through the midlands.
Somewhere in the heart of England I stopped for a picturesque moment.
So yes, I flew to England for a green Peugeot 406 with 180 thousand miles, cloth seats, some (unmentioned) dents, and a towbar. I had only a short drive, just a hair under 100 miles, to a friend of mine, and I annoyed him at work and took advantage of the offered hospitality and stayed there the night. I could have hammered it to the ferry home and been away the same night but I thought I would just take this drive nice and easy. So I had a nice long lie in, stayed around all afternoon making tea for the guys in his work and having a bit of banter, then got ready to head to the ferry at Birkenhead (Liverpool). However the guys were wary when I said I hadn't booked ahead and was just going to drive up and pay, as is my usual style; so this time I checked and the ferry was booked out! I rang to confirm and yes, it was so. There were no spaces!
Faced with no other better choice, I figured that I would just drive to Cairnryan in Scotland and get the ferry there. A 6.5hr drive instead of a 2h45. That's not too bad eh? Usually I would have gone to Holyhead and caught the ferry to Dublin, but since Brexit that seems to be a hit and miss disaster with paperwork and forms and scrutiny about where you're going, and I guess other people had also realised the same and hence the overnight ferry from Birkenhead to Belfast was full up. So I headed north instead. It was already getting dark when I started off, but the car was impeccably reliable, everything worked, and it was as comfortable as a 90s Peugeot would be expected to be. I realised that because of the change of plans, I would be going past another good friend and so I got in touch with him and arranged for a stop off. We had a good long chat and a catch up, having not seen him for probably close to 2 years in person, a sad consequence of the world of 2020-21, but that was good and his charming children actually remembered me too which was heart-warming. We had a good chat about how cars were just things and people and health were more important - and then we had a poke around his current fleet at which point we got talking about one that I didn't realise he had. I don't know where he had found it, but somehow, somewhere, he'd turned up a very rusty example of a car that is basically top of my wanted "list". He'd made a start on restoring it but was lacking motivation as he had no real intention of keeping it after restoring it... so very quickly I made it clear just how much I want one of these cars, and even more specifically in either yellow or red, and this car being one of those colours was just perfect. My friend restoring it also is meaningful to me, and he said that me getting it when he finished it would be meaningful to him, and would give him the motivation to get working on it again... OK, I'm sorry, I'm gushing a bit, but this is exciting. The trip to go tick one car off the list had, through an unexpected twist, now become two cars ticked off the list, two of the rarer ones (although also two of the least expensive). It's weird how these things happen. Well, it's not weird. I know why. The rest of the 5 hours more driving through the night ( I have no idea how a 6 hour route on googlymaps took over 7 hours total driving time in a V6 that's very competent at speed) and I made it to the ferry in Scotland in good time. I haven't driven those roads for years so it was all a bit of a refresher course. A couple of hours kip on the boat and I was bleary eyed at work for about 11am after a short retail therapy stop in Belfast as well.
540 miles covered exactly, from sellers driveway to my work.
You know the way I'm always getting more cars (because of work and many contacts made over the years) and then I sometimes end up with a glut of cars? Well that's happened. Not all of a sudden, but one here, one there, and next thing you count up, you have a dozen.
Every so often I realise this, realise I can't drive that many cars, realise they are taking valuable time away from the cars I really do like, and are not actually worthwhile.
The rundown of those is: 1. BMW E61 520d MSport, the touring shown a few posts up. Great car. Made some memories over the summer using it. 35mpg though, poor show. 171k, 6 speed manual. Given to me as part payment on a bill. I changed the valuable 19"s for some less valuable 19"s with less grip in the rain. Then I lost the key. 2. BMW E87 118d, a 5 door with cloth seats and grubby silver paint that hadn't seen the dangerous side of a sponge for at least a year. 130k, 6 speed, 40-odd mpg, cost £300 or so. Ran until the MOT was up. 3. BMW E53 X5 3.0d. A black manual facelift X5 with the 211hp engine, heated seats, and 22" wheels. A good shout for a daily with some 18"s fitted. Being a manual avoids the gearbox and diff woes of the automatics and makes it slightly more frugal. Has dents in every panel and I don't need it for breaking. Needs an alternator otherwise drives fine. 4. Mini R50 1.6 - silver with some dents, a panoramic roof, 5 speed manual. Cost £320 delivered, immediately removed the 17" alloys and made it a free car. Needs an alternator and would want a bonnet to be tidy, has lots of MOT but it started steaming the other day - I'm not sure if it's dead or just annoyed at idling too long but given the perplexity of alternators on MINIs I'm tempted to just avoid this hassle and park it in the field. 5. Forester. I haven't checked the coolant once since I brought it back from Scotland, and I've likely done 1000 miles in it now. Plenty reliable. Hasn't even got annoyed at me never mind got hot-headed. Only issue is the cost of running it - I'm sure it's eating £60-80 a week on petrol. However I do need a large, flat boot space. 6. BMW E46 320d Auto. A Silver 4-door with black leather and a glass sunroof, which came into work but I kept to one side as it's very clean body-wise and rare in an auto. Haven't done anything except let the tyres go flat. 7. BMW E36 323i Cabrio. Picked this up for breaking, with 10 months test. Drives OK but a bit lumpy, on account for the 1999 2.5 M52 auto drivetrain being swapped out for a 1992 2.0 M50 non-vanos manual setup. Que? What weirdness is happening here? Also it has a weird mix of wheels, and it has sea-green paintwork with a bottle green interior.
On top of ALL of that, I currently have the recently-acquired 406 to enjoy, and the blue MG tourer which hasn't been seen on these pages for a long time but still resides in the background, ready to go collect a load of dirty old car parts at a moments notice (that's exactly what it's job is). The black Discovery is parked behind the 406 on the drive as it's too rusty to get an MOT. The red MG V6 is just out of MOT now but will go through just fine.
In a calamity of errors I had also just picked up a car load of damp logs from a friend, so over the last few weeks while I searched and re-searched every conceivable place, the damp attacked the inside of the E61 and the headliner is all mouldy as are the belts. Yuck.
Also, missing from their correct places was a starter motor belonging to a neighbour, one trade plate, one phone charger, one head-torch and three good batteries, all of which were in the '61.
So there was only one thing for it. Tape.
The guy I got this car from, a mate/customer/supplier, reckoned he had a spare key from the time he had lost the original too. So he got that up to me, but it didn't work. No surprise, probably flat. So best solution at this point was to get into the car, then the key should work in the ignition slot.
So here goes.
That (the tape) actually worked quite well.
And so I was in. But the key didn't work in the ignition, so alas it's not the right one. The car was deadlocked, so none of the doors would open, and the alarm was going off. I climbed in through the window, and gathered up all the things I needed from inside.
Then, one by one, I threw each of the damp logs out of the drivers window with the aim of getting to the back of the car. Once I had enough out, I could sprawl over them, and access the emergency release on the tailgate, and clamber out that way.
I got my batteries, and then I also removed the one from the car. No it didn't stop the alarm, that has it's own battery to prevent thieves disabling it that easily. But just to utilise it elsewhere. And also because while I was standing there, another customer rang me and asked if I had a repair section of wiring for an E61. They have a common problem of letting water into the spare wheel well, and frying all the modules and plugs that BMW stupidly decided to locate there. It's a major issue on E6* cars. So I cut a chunk of wiring out of the back of my E61 and that was that, it's consigned to go to the great highway in the sky now. Ah well. Consolidate. Concentrate on something else!
For now I continue to daily the Subaru, but I'll need something more frugal soon. It's not usually a concern, but with prices fast approaching one and a half pounds for a litre of fuel, which amounts to only 7 miles of forward motion in this car, it's now something I'm taking note of!
Some of you may recall, that I operate two separate premises under one umbrella in regards to my business. Both of those yards, due to their own characteristics, require what we call "shunters" which is exactly the same thing as what shunters are in railroad terms. In one yard it is currently a black E39 530d auto with 15" steel wheels fitted. In the other, the more difficult terrain, it's my old silver Discovery. That was only meant to be temporary and it was duly replaced with an L200, which was absolutely useless with a pathetic turning circle and inability to get things pulled off some rough ground, so the Discovery was returned to service. It's been a champ but lately it has repeatedly been blowing off its PAS hoses, and the immobiliser receiver has been moving from "intermittent" towards "nevermittent". While debating this dilemma in my head, considering how to bypass immobilisers and/or replacement entirely of said vehicle, a guy that turns me up terrible old cars on a frequent basis sent me a message about this:
Bought over Facebook Messenger without seeing it, I and one of the guys in work headed the 13 miles away to see if we could resolve the issues and get it to go. Issue one was that one of the injector feed pipes had sheared off flush at the pump. It therefore pumped diesel straight out the resulting hole on every rotation of the pump - i.e. it was chucking away a fair amount of diesel... Issue two was as simple as a flat (totally kaput) battery... Issue three was an immobiliser lockout... Issue four was no MOT and rusty outriggers...
No.1 was resolved by loading it with a load of diesel as there was no way to effect a roadside (well, carpark) repair. The stupid thing was that it was parked behind a well known repair garage - the owner of which also came out and sneered that we hadn't brought a battery "to a breakdown" ... No.2 was resolved by quickly driving back to the workshop to get a charged up battery. No.3 was resolved by duckduckgo'ing (will that phrase ever catch on?..) the issue and finding out how to reset the immobiliser, which actually worked! No.4 was resolved with trade plates.
And off we set. For essentially only slightly more than what this would weigh in at, I procured a manual M51 (2.5tds diesel 6cyl) Range Rover in shiny blue with beige leather, which is the perfect shunter barge to replace the Disco. I got my mechanic to replace the broken metal pipe as soon as we got back to the workshop, took him a couple of hours to pull the manifold off and replace it with one from an E34, and then I drove it over to the other yard. There was no ABS or servo assistance so the brakes were pretty hairy, and a few times people pulled out on me, weirdly, and also everyone drove at 31mph, which meant that even driving the slowest iteration of Land Rover since the Series 2.25, I still had several overtakes completed by the time I'd covered 25 miles or so in the old beast.
There is little car news and I'm still dailying the very thirsty Forester, so let's roundup on the other work vehicles.
Fiat Ducato Van:
Full suspension overhaul. The local AlfaFiat dealership in NI (one franchise has them all) is USELESS so I contacted one in Wales, and got a shocker when the (hmm, accidental pun ftw!) quote for the front suspension parts came back at almost £2k! I hunted around and found a firm that does campervan parts (many of them being based on these Sevel-produced vans) and got brand new OEM front shocks for £60 a side instead of £260+Vat. I got the OEM springs from a similar firm, and Meyle droplinks from ECP. Rear shocks came from an ebay source, Bilstein OEs, and I had some custom rear double leaf springs made up at North Belfast Spring Works. Standard springs on the SWB and MWB vans are single leaf, only the LWB got the heavier doubles. Given I use the van for carrying engines and such, or occasional towing, I wanted the extra capacity. The full suspension renewed (shackles, dust covers, etc all done too) for less than half - maybe even a third - of the dealer quote for the front assemblies.
Fiat Ducato Revovery:
Stupid thing refuses to start. Been bump started a couple of times lately. Battery has been swapped out several times, no difference. The wiring from battery looks a bit tired on both sides, but not terrible. I tried all manner of jump cables and replacement bits of wiring, thinking the leads were bad as I've had on a few vehicles this year. But no, after various things were done over the last 2 weeks to get it going as we also used the truck, the last attempt I made saw some smoke puffing up from the general direction of the starter. Seems like the starter is earthing out, causing all power to die when cranking, and might explain the slow power drain. Will be replaced pronto. Sigh. Neverending bother with this thing. Just years of neglect.
Iveco C15 flatbed:
Took it for an MOT, which it failed on brakes and rust, as expected. Everything else passed so actually I am quite happy with this one. Other than basic fluid changes this thing has been faultless since I've had it, and it gets terribly, mercilessly abused on a regular basis. Also been well neglected prior to us getting it, but it gets a little bit of TLC here and it has earned itself some repair work and new front discs.
Last autumn I started moving cars into a field as I needed somewhere to store them. One of the cars needing moved was my spare/donor MGZTV6. A few years ago I used this car for a couple of months despite its head gasket failure, and then parked it up. That was added to by a 1.8 petrol tourer also in red. Both of them started right up with a fresh battery - MGs are great! The V6 had no wheels on - but when I'd picked up the Forester from my mum, she'd given me a set of wheels she'd bought as spares for it. Knowing that MG/R and Subaru share the same PCD, I bunged on the spare wheels and made an interesting combo.
I parked that down the field along with some other cars. Then it rained a lot. I needed to get one of those cars out and thought I'd use my Land Rover to pull them out. I reversed it in to the field - and got promptly stuck in mud up to the axles. So I arranged with a friend to pull some stuck stuff back out of the field. He brought over his rather huge Massey Ferguson and pulled out four cars in total. Land Rover, BMW, A Peugeot van I wanted to scrap...
...and my FavorAt! Woohoo it has been rescued out of the field it's been residing in for probably the better end of a decade. It had went in there due to failing an MOT on rust in the sills. I had a quick peek at the floor of it and to be honest it's not really gotten much worse since. I won't make promises about getting it back on the road in any unrealistic time-frame, but I will say, bringing it out, makes it much more likely.
The Subaru Forester started doing an annoying thing which was the lights staying on ALL the time. I decided that I didn't want to waste time trying to fix it given it's propensity for petrol and lack of MOT, so I parked it up too and pulled the battery out. I used an E38 740i that I have for sale for a week or so, while I emptied out the blue MG ZTT from the last time I collected a load of old car parts with it. That done, I pressed it back into service. A slightly flat tyre inflated, and a fresh battery, and off it ran. Happily it had half a tank in it too. MG's are great!
One day it eventually needed some diesel and so I went to a replenishing station. As I cranked it to start, it coughed and died. It thereafter refused to start. I tried a few wiggles, checked under the bonnet, locked and unlocked, and hoped the immobiliser hadn't randomly packed in. Then I noticed a smell of diesel when peering around the engine bay. I turned the ignition on and checked the diesel feed but at that point could hear the sound of running fluid. Looking underneath I saw that the fuel was pouring out! So I turned it off (diesel is dear!) and continued looking. I found a head-light in the car so I could look in all the hard to reach areas, and found that the diesel feed pipe to the HPP had come away due to a very rusty and now broken clamp connector.
With no tools and no jubilee clips in the car, I rummaged around until I found the oddest of things that could work - a piece of costume jewelry I remember finding in a car I was breaking. Why I kept it or put into my MG I don't know - but I pulled it wider, slid it over the end of the hose, pushed the hose on as far as I could, and squeezed the ring as tight as I could get it.
I was on the way round to some friends for dinner, and was getting late, so I motored on wondering how long the ring would last - well, about a week and at least 100 miles actually! And when it failed, it just came off, and I pushed it back on and it was OK again, but then I actually did get a new jubilee clip stuck on to it.
Continuing with MG news - just before Christmas I was contacted by a recovery driver who then sold & delivered to me a Trophy Blue MG ZT saloon diesel, with a years MOT that had "dieseled" and was a non-runner. A plan was formed which took until late January to get into action. The navy blue MG ZTT that I had tried several times to fix last year, currently non-running, was pushed into the workshop. A really good, clean, high spec car, but one that continually burned out fuel pumps and seemed to have never-ending issues. Well, having replaced the engine in that car with a known working lump from my 06 silver ZT saloon (this is making sense, right?) - I knew the engine and box were good. So, the whole front end was dropped out of the navy ZTT. This also included something I was waiting for:
A set of halogen projector headlights for a Mk1. These will go into my Trophy blue ZTT (the daily one). It needs headlights as the adjusters are broken in it's standard non-projector ones.
So, the engine and box from the Navy ZTT (formerly from the silver ZT) were due to go into the newly-acquired Trophy ZT saloon. We should have done this first, but we popped the bonnet of that car, preparing to pull the engine and box out ready for swapping, and my mechanic decided to have a check around it first.
Something didn't add up. Mainly, this:
"Dieseled" cars don't normally have holes in the intake.
So he pulled the injectors to see what was happening inside. If it had indeed had a diesel run-away, the oil level would have been higher and thin with diesel (it wasn't) and the injectors wouldn't be dry at the tip, as two were. So we decided to try out some things. Injectors were fitted (from a BMW 530d as it happens), and the manifold replaced with one without a hole blown out of it. The inline pump, located in the engine bay, was only giving a small flow of diesel. However we got the engine to crank and cough.
It didn't sound like the engine was dead at all. We checked the in-tank pump and it was audibly working. However we still had no pressure in the lines. So we traced the hoses to the fuel cooler at the back behind the driver side wheel. We spent hours trying to figure out the system and still cannot. It seems the tank pump feeds the cooler and then returns to the tank, in a circular system, which the engine supply also draws off, which the engine return line also feeds back to. It's beyond our comprehension.
So we ripped it off and connected the hoses straight from tank to engine.
At this point, it ran! But still not well. It wouldn't rev over 2.5k, unless the fuel filter (with fuel warmer) was unplugged, in which case it would rev, but display the EML. Blah!!
We spent many hours on this, but eventually after testing and re-testing things, we noticed the inline pump wasn't really helping much, and flow was not that great. So it was replaced, and the flow got better. But pressure was still low and it seemed that the fuel pressure wasn't high enough to maintain revs over 2.5k. So having read up that the pumps are a common failure on these cars, I decided the in-tank pump needed replaced. We hadn't done that as my mechanic had found the original pump in the boot, and a replacement one in the tank, which was obviously working, but as it was branded Rover, I surmised that it was a used replacement, and must be weak and not delivering the pressure we needed. No surprise given the sheer volume and length of hose-pipe it had to fill and pump around! So, the pump was pulled out of the housing and BMW 330d one was utilised as it was almost identical in fitting,size and shape, and immediately that was connected, we had strong pressure at the fuel rail and HPP, and the car fired into life!
It ran poorly for a short while, then settled down and maintained a good idle and was able to rev freely. It does still run a little bit lumpy, but that is minor, maybe a vacuum hose or similar. We also found this while buttoning it all up:
Intercooler changed out for the one from the navy car, and we were able to guess at a likely sequence of events. 1. In-tank pump weakened, eventually failing. 2. Inline pump did more work than it should be. 3. In-tank pump was replaced. We can see where wires have been joined to test that it works. 4. Easy-start was sprayed into the intake. Intake and Intercooler exploded. 5. Owner gave up, sold car as "dieseled" as it probably over-ran on the easy-start and the bang would sound just like a turbo going pop. 6. Recovery driver picked up and then sold car to me. 7. All the work I've described above. During our testing, the over-stretched inline pump also failed. 8. Fuelling issues fixed with replacement of both pumps despite both originals seeming to work (but not delivering enough fuel pressure) 9. Exploded engine components replaced. 10. Fuel pipes re-routed (I made joiners from the hoses and quick-release connectors from the navy car) and fuel cooler assembly 'deleted' entirely from the system.
So after just a huge amount of hours figuring it out, we have a driving MGZT diesel worth slightly more than scrap money, and now I know why (probably) the navy tourer wouldn't stay fixed. It's extremely likely that the inline pump on it kept failing as the in-tank pump on it must also be humming away but very weak and close to death. But the whole front subframe with engine, box and suspension is all dropped out if it, and it's not worth (IMO) spending multiple hours rebuilding and fixing it.
The Trophy Blue saloon will be got ready for sale and I will bring my Trophy Blue tourer in the the workshop for some MOT prep (up in a few weeks) - including fitting the projector lights and also investigating the heavy clutch/gearchange.
Are MG's still great? Hmm.
No idea what I will be driving by the end of the week.
So my ZTT Tourer is in the workshop at the moment, and so far it has gained a large bill for rear brake parts so that it can have a handbrake again, and some polished projector headlights:
Still to do is investigate the stiff gearchange, and then it's MOT ready. I'm considering fitting 16" Rover wheels to it as well. The 18"s look good, but this car gets used as a van and goes to and fro on country roads - not even B roads - and the extra comfort of some taller tyres is appealing. And it'll help with grip in the wet conditions. This is my winter car too, in the summer the nicer things get to come out, so the MG's primary uses are in poor conditions, and for bumping through potholes with a load of tools and spare parts in the back.
The other MG ZT that was just fixed is what I'm driving at the minute
Although not driving it much when I can barely get out of the drive, never mind getting into town...
Country living eh? This particular house is actually quite poor for a multiple-car owner/driver, despite a big yard, and no good for projects with no actual workshop space. So on top of all else, I'm also moving house. Been in the pipeline for a while as I did some renovations to the other house, but deadline is now set at March 31st. Only 14 cars to move. 2 non-runners. No panic.
At last post I was driving the MG ZT saloon. Heading home one day and I noticed the fuel needle was dropping rather quickly... It conked out in a really annoying place just around a bad corner on an A road with no verge. About 200 metres short of a fuel station I was trying to make it to. Anyway I investigated by torchlight and found the cause.
Seems that every MG has issues with their stupid fuel hoses!
I mentioned a 2006 X5 also. Dropping the 22"s off and toying around with Land Rover Discovery 3 wheels. They're 18" which looks OK on the LR, but on the X5 they look like baby wheels! I ordered some spacers and special collars and long bolts to enable them to be fitted properly. LR wheels onto other cars is pretty common. BMW wheels onto other cars is also very common. BMW wheels onto LRs is common... but LR wheels onto a BMW is completely unheard of, and getting the right bolts took hours of researching.
And I got the van detailed. It took a week but its SO SHINY!
What else? Hmm. There was a guy that worked for me a few years ago and now has his own small garage in a unit I used to rent. I was round there to get something from him and noticed a set of wheels up on his wall - a set of wheels I'd sold him to go with a car I'd also sold him - a blue E34 525i Sport with a now quite chequered history. He'd sold the car on but kept the wheels. And I got to thinking, those wheels are the perfect blend of racing pedigree and street-cred. So I asked him about them and we thrashed out a deal - for almost three times what I'd sold them to him for lol. Such is the way of it. Conveniently I had a set of brand new tyres in the exact right size for 17x8.5j rims on an E34...
Now I just need to get them popped on to the 540i and maybe try it for an MOT soon?
Land Rover was being stupid and wouldn't run. The immobiliser is playing around and now it's like the other ones, have to keeping pressing the keyfob for ages until it plips and then it'll fire up. Currently looking into immobiliser delete options.
Being doing this for the last week:
That's a JCB-535 Telehandler with a 17m boom, which is insanely large (comparative to a car, not so much if you work in a quarry) and this was used to move 16 cars out of the work yard. Mainly rubbish that was buried at the back, that would have taken weeks to extract otherwise. Chiefly an E38 750iL, a 2 ton car that was missing a rear and the front two struts, but still had it's engine and gearbox. It was a difficult extraction and this was the only machine that could do it. Doing that has gained me access to some long-lost project cars. Not that they're going to get done any faster, let's be honest!
The black 320ci passed MOT. The X5 failed on a couple of suspension arms.
And I took the MG Tourer for MOT as well. Failed on missing wheel bolts! Unimpressed with the guy who put the wheels on last week.
However I am impressed with the new MPG. This car always disappointed me with low-to-mid 30s, but now it's fluctuating between 44.8 and 45.5 mpg. That is what I need from a daily especially these days. I can only attribute that to the brakes being overhauled and one front caliper being replaced. They must have been dragging all this time?
And now down to 10 days to finish moving house. Still haven't tackled the 14 cars issue...
So here's the summarisation of the last 6 weeks. I moved out. I gave myself an arbitrary date of the 31st of March to be out. I moved into that house on the 21st/22nd March 2019. So that meant moving all those cars. My recovery truck was being stoopid so everything non-running was done by trailer by a couple of pals. The Skoda Cabrio needed towed out of the barn but it rolled quite nicely and wasn't any trouble for the MG which was on tractor-duties that evening. The Alfa 164 was an absolute champ and started up and drove itself out, but it still hasn't got any brakes so onto the trailer it went. And lastly the Skoda Felicia diesel had to be dragged out and pushed onto the trailer. Now the Felicia had driven into the yard, but living next to a small cattle farm, there are brown devils over there and though thankfully I've never had any problems from that, they had chewed up the engine wiring (right at the bulkhead!) on the Felicia. In one way I'm glad that it was that car - call it sacrificial if you will, because it was only one raised thin tin barn side away from the 164 and Skoda and I would have needed serious therapy if they had suffered rodent damage. Nevertheless, out I was. The Alfa 156 sat out of the way monitoring the situation
until it was time to go.
It was tight enough, time wise and space wise, but here we are, all moved...
So yes the eagle-eyed (or bleary-eyed) among you will recognise that as the same yard that the first few pages of this thread depict. A decade has passed but I am back. Back in the old family home. Now it wasn't supposed to be quite like this. This house is quite run down - to be honest, it has always been. It's a 1930's farmhouse that's been altered, extended, patched up and never quite right. It's a bit of a "project". My brother was the last of us to get out of it last year. My dad lives by the coast about 90 minutes away, close to where he lived before getting married. I'm the eldest of four and the next brother after me was here, and moved into town as he has no interest in outdoorsy things or countrysiding. My mum, younger brother and much younger sister are in Scotland, near the top, the bit that's closer to the Norwegian coast than the English one. And I wasn't supposed to be doing this house up by myself, it was meant to be a joint project, somewhere to put down some roots and build a family, but instead it's just me, an empty shell of a house, and a very expensive (and very unused!) ring in a box to keep me company.
So what's a guy to do? First off, as you can see, I don't fit here. Well, my stuff doesn't. Given that my brother had zero interest, the shed space was all freely utilised by me to store some work project cars in. So when I moved back, I had to clear them all out first. I got that almost all done, but there was so much. I forget just how much car stuff I've accumulated in 15-20 years of this hobby and 11 years now doing it as a job. So I put several cars up for sale. One sold, the E46 320ci. I bought it just before lockdown, and then never had reason to use it. It flew through an MOT and then sold to the first viewer. The black Discovery and the mG and the 740i are all for sale too but still here.
Ten days after moving in to this house and spending every waking minute (that I wasn't at work) doing wiring, plastering, plumbing, roofing, plumbing and fixing everything else that can possibly be wrong in an old house, some good friends of mine asked me to dog/house-sit while they went to another country for a family funeral. I got to babysit a Große Münsterländer but had to stay in their house. Their warm, dry, non-draughty house with working lights...
The sacrifice! Oh, the indignity, I hear you cry! No? No, you're right, it was great, the weather at the start of April was great but it turned just after I got to theirs and I was very glad to be coming home to a sorted out house and not a project. Anyway that meant no car stuff AND no house stuff got done as I was away for long enough between the extra half hour commute on top of work. Responsibilities of being a dog carer, something i've not had to do for about 8-9 years now.
Man this is a babbly post. let's make the last thing brief. In amongst all of that, another friend is moving house. In fact, in amongst all that, I also helped another couple move house, and I'm currently helping anothe... I think I must be in the removals business now, somehow... Anyway, so this one friend, he of many car purchases back and forward over the years, only recently told me he'd bought a project car over a year ago, one he thought I'd like. Which I do. And he was preparing to move house, and with a daily, an MX5 and a motorbike, he wanted to offload the project so he could find a house easier, and be able to move to something that might not have a garage. This is still to wordy. The point is, I bought a car! And it's interesting and cool enough and it's on the list so I'm allowed to draw it out because it's EXCITING!! It's one an old lady bought new in Northern Ireland, has only a couple of previous owners, ALL the paperwork right back to original sales invoice, lots of new parts, all the hard work is done already, and I've always wanted one. I've had three before and had to get rid of them, for reasons, and now, well, guess! I'll be back later with pics. When I get internet in the house that is, and don't have to come to work to post ridiculously long winded stories.