A Tale Of Two MGB GT’S Part Three.

Heading Home, Initial Problems

 

For the first two instalments, please follow these links. A Tale of Two MG MGB GT’S Part One   

A Tale Of Two MGB’s Part Two.

After connecting the sat nav I headed home, ahead of me 250 in changeable conditions and it with it getting dark. For the first few miles it spat back, misfired and generally misbehaved.  

As the engine started to settle down the next issue rose it ugly head. What seemed like smoke started to rise from the dash board. As I pulled over, I prayed to Lucas, the god of old British cars not to let this one burn. 

Now, I have a confession, my sense of smell is not that good, never has been. So there  I was trying see if it was water vapour or smoke. Seeing how it condensed on the windscreen, it must be vapour.  Not ideal. Thankfully I had a few litres with me and it is fairly easy to get more if needed.  This being Britain I could just hold the bottle outside… 

Reading Rush Hour Traffic, Teething issues.

I was guided towards and through Reading. It was now 6 pm and it seemed the city is just a collection of junctions with traffic lights, mostly red. 
When I put the headlights on the fan belt squealed, an indication I should have tightened it. Apart from that and the steam coming from the dashboard the car was settling down.  It wasn’t fair of me to ask it to cope with heavy traffic so soon after getting revived, yet oil pressure was good as was the temperature. 

Finally The Motorway, First Stop, Adjusting The Fan Belt

 

Finally getting to M4, I opened her up. Nothing silly, but this was the first time I’d felt that lovely long-legged cruising ability that MGB’s are renown for. The overdrive clicked in and we sat at 65 mph. After about 15 miles we approached the next service station. An Ideal place for me to tighten the fan belt, check her over and of course stretch my legs. 

The Belt adjusted, wheel bolts checked and I visited the services.  Feeling more confident once again we found ourselves turning west. The next couple of hours was a question dealing with the endless road works and average speed check zones and heading towards my next planned stop at Exeter.  Morris Minor Road Trip Part Two.

 

 

Flat Tyre On The Motorway

 

Entering the roadworks ahead of junction 29 I could hear a flapping, trying to work out what the noise was, for once I was thankful of 50 zone. After almost clearing them, the front right tyre popped. The B was still very controllable and stable as I eased my way towards the hard shoulder. Pulling in behind I large concrete barrier and with road work cone on my right I quickly changed it. Thankful of my foresight of packing a scissor jack. 

A few miles later it started to rain and the drivers wiper  didn’t, the passengers seemed good. It could wait for us to get to Exeter to swap them over.  I pulled into the petrol station not far from where months before I bought Mog from. Finding the best wheel and tyre among the many in the back I used the free air to pump it, then topped the tank up.

 

Diversion, Beans On Toast

 

At this point I should have been heading down the A30, but instead I went down the A38 a few miles to see my friend Jude. After some much needed beans on toast and a mug of coffee. It was time for the final 100 miles or so. Deciding to head back to Exeter and the A30,  rather than the shorter route through the Glynn Valley.

 

Final 100 Miles

 

With the conditions getting worse I carefully eased my way onto the A30. Rain was interchanged with fog. The going was slow, but steady. The rain came down sheets and the fog was thick. The B plodded on, each mile west taking me closer to home. 

Parking her in an unrestricted area, I thanked her,  locked her up and headed to my bed. We made it home, it was 2 am and easier trip than the previous one with Jess.

 

 

Old Friends.


We sat across from each other. Old friends, once been closer, but over the years a little distance, perhaps more than we would have liked. It had been over a year since we last had met.  http://www.classicaraddict.com/motorcycles-and-renewed-friendships/

Far warmer in the pub, beside warm log burner. Coffee, good and cheap. About 15 years ago when I had my Kawasaki Z1000 MK2 my friend had gone for 15 mins and came back 45 later. He later bought a Suzuki Bandit 1200 and now has a collection of bikes that many would envy. Our shared connection being first bikes and then all things with an engine.  

My relationship with bikes, well motorcycles has always been a lot more  ambivalent. When younger, they were my life, freedom at its best. Yet now, and despite having two in the lock up waiting for me to get around to fix them I don’t ride.  

With the brace still on, we chatted about dealing with injuries as we get older. My friend spoke about driving, and how thankfully when he had his wrist problem a while back, he still could. Likewise, now I can drive again, far easier in Tug (Vitara,) than my MX5, yet I can. http://www.classicaraddict.com/no-driving-for-6-weeks/ 

We spoke about what we missed when restricted. For me it is the water. My friends and I despite all of us growing up fairly close to the wild north coast of Cornwall never really got into water sports. My older brother was one of the local surf gods from an early age. I was never that good and to be honest bigger surf scared me. Yet the water and the beach has always there. I moved to the South Coast of Cornwall 25 years ago, here it was more swimming and sailing initially.  For a few years I had my own little boat, sailing all year and every condition.  It was only 3 years ago I fell in love with paddleboarding.  

I’m writing sitting in Beerwolf Books, Falmouth http://beerwolfbooks.com. Across from me there are a couple of students in deep discussion about post modernism and Marxist theory. They remind me of how I used to belong to that group when I reading for my undergrad. Even then, I approached it from my default perspective of pragmatic cynicism. I belonged, but didn’t when studying. Someone once commented that I was too practical to be truly academic. I think they meant that when using a hammer, I didn’t hit my hand.   

I  can drive, which is truly amazing with my leg in a brace. Most days and timing it for 2 hours before low tide I head to Swanpool beach. There, a little group of regulars surf the gentle swells we get. Long boarders and paddleboarders together. What has really amazed me is people know who I’m, they chat before heading to the water. The last few years have seen an explosion of those of in and on the water. I belong to that group, much more than I expected.  http://www.classicaraddict.com/one-more-wave/

As we sat drinking our coffee, catching up. My friend spoke of touring on his bike and how mutual friends also had done European tours on theirs. I laughed, bikes could never be practical, for how could I carry a board? My travels consisting of looking stretches of water and rideable surf, not too big or crowded.  

Two old friends catching up, seeing the difference yet understanding some things are the same. For him, the open road calls, for me, it is the water. 

 

SAAB TOO FAR…

This is the first in number of short stories best entitled, this really did happen… 

 

LOUD KNOCK…
A loud knock on my door woke me from thoughts… It was 10.30 pm and to my shock there were two policeman…

“Mr Small, do you own a blue SAAB 900 convertible?”

“Err, yes why?”

They then told me that it was now hanging over a wall in a local car park. No, not joy riders but simply the handbrake failing and this was it’s resting place.

Where I live, we play the parking lottery every day. There is a free car park behind the main street. It is steep and despite being mostly rectangular at one end cars can park at an angle. This was where I’d left the SAAB an hour or so before…



Assessing the situation. 

I followed the Bobby’s down and there was my car. Resting on the wall it was sitting partly on the petrol tank and across the back axle. We were all amazed that it didn’t touch another car during its 60ft passage. With one wheel was about 3 ft over the wall. The damage was minimal, yet unless I was careful much more might be done moving it. The police told me that couldn’t get an Hi AB in to pick the car up. Did I have any ideas…

The Saab rolled from where the blue car is parked past the garage on the left to about where silver car is. Quite a distance and how steep the car park is clear.

Solution. 

The SAAB being front wheel drive and those wheels thankfully were on the tarmac… So, in theory I could drive it off… Mentioning this to the police, they expressed concerns about the tank rupturing. As I’d helped my banger racing mates, I knew how tough the tanks are. As it was  a pre General Motors SAAB, which meant the tank was super strong. Also, being an older design, the back axle was about 3ft from the rear of the car, or a lot to catch on the way off.

The police agreed that this was the best option. Then told me to take it gently. I sat letting the car warm up for a couple of minutes. They gave me the OK.

This was the point I dumped the clutch at 4000 rpm. I didn’t see the faces of my audience, but as the rear wheel hit the far edge of the wall the suspension compressed and then rebounded. This bounced the rear of the car up as I planned. Clearing the wall, no further damage to the car was done and with only a few scratches in the render of the wall the police told me not to worry about it. Then came the question of where to park it until I could get it fixed. The only level parking space was taken by a scruffy Triumph Spitfire, my Spitfire…

 

Afterwards

After admitting to owning it the Spitfire, I swapped the cars over and in the morning drove it less than a ¼ of mile to my local tyre and exhaust centre to get the back box replaced. Then my local SAAB Specialist fixed the handbrake. Anyone who has owned a proper SAAB knows that they are very well engineered cars, but it takes a while to learn the idiosyncrasies. So easier to get someone who knows what they are doing than to struggle for hours.

It could have been so much worse. Sadly, the one thing that could kill the car did a few years later. With an odd engine and gearbox design, this was the weak spot, and when second gear went, I drove the car to the end of its mot and then sold it to my mate the specialist.

Oddly this car, despite being well made, comfortable, more economical than expected, very stylish, and with good handling I never truly bonded with it.

Having had another front wheel drive, four-seater convertible, a MK3 VW Golf, that one I still miss. The SAAB, glad I had it, but somehow it was less than the sum of its parts.

Oh, and every time I’m in the car park, I remember and grin.
And the Spitfire has its story… Well lots, but there was one story that relates to this one that will be told.