“To travel hopefully is better than to arrive.” Wrote Robert Louis Stephenson in 1881. Red in the Shawshank Redemption narrates at the end of the film, “I feel like a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.”
Two weeks ago, I loaded Mog my 1952 Morris Minor up and prepared to leave on a long journey. Here was a car that hadn’t been on the road for ten years until only a few short months before. After I completed the initial welding work had an immense amount done as what could fail did. The fews week prior had seen me change a gearbox, passenger front wing, weld in two large repair panels due to a bodge creating a rust trap, a rear axle, two brake pipes, several oil seals. Oh, and another oil change. Buying a Morris Minor.
In the days of tall ships, the saying was, one hand for the ship, one for the sailor. The modern version went, the boot is for the car, the interior for me. Carrying more spares and tools than some mobile mechanics. Yes, I was overprepared, but still not enough. With my paddleboard on the roof, clothes, paddles, wetsuit on the backseat off we set. Filling up at Truro the next stop would be just before the M5 at Exeter, not far from where I got Mog from. MX5 Goodbye.
Initial 100 Miles.
Those first 90 miles were a shake down, and if not shake they certainly rattled. We headed off up the A30. Where I found to my pleasure that with all the work completed Mog would sit at 55 to 60 MPH, well unless the hill was steep… The Paddleboard affected her crosswind handling a little, ensuring a mild tail waggle in certain conditions. Nothing to worry about, just to be aware and take account of.
No, the biggest issue was the rattle coming from the gearbox selector cup. One that amplified leading to a deeper understanding of those who suffer tinnitus. Running locally not an issue, but after an hour or so, wearing. Working out that the lightest pressure damped it and remembering that I had a couple of shorter bungee cords in the boot it meant that when we stopped, I was sure it could get sorted.
We pulled into the well known supermarket at Exeter, 90 miles into an initial 230. Filling up cost £14 of the premium fuel, not too bad considering. After giving Mog a quick visual check over followed by her oil and water off we headed for coffee stop at Taunton Deane. With the less steep gradients on the motorway Mog would easily keep up with the slower traffic. The rattle from the gear lever fixed with a combination of bungee cord and hairband. Yet my radar pinged.
It is said that those who have been around older machinery often develop a sixth sense when it comes to problems. I pulled to a stop mine was on overload. Popping her bonnet, oil was fine, but water was down. Clearly there was an issue with her cooling system. After checking all the hoses and fastenings and topping her up we pulled tentatively back onto the motorway. Running the heater and pulling in every 20 miles or so. On the second stop there was a discarded 5 litre container. For once being thankful for our selfish society I quickly wiped it down and refilled it.
For the next 100 miles or so that was how we travelled, slow but steady. Thankfully not to far to our stop, a deluxe garden shed high up on the hills in Gloucestershire.
We had made it, tired, I even had a paddle on the Stroudwater canal.
Tomorrow could wait, time for a beer and dinner.