Monthly Archives: February 2009


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From bad to worse

Leapt eagerly from my bed this morning at the unaccustomedly early hour of 6:45 in readiness for my free trackday at Oulton Park. Lunch packed, helmet loaded, jumped in the car and turned to key … Click, whirr, silence – dead as the proverbial.

Quick thump to the battery terminals, more in hope than expectation … magic! she starts.

So off to the garage to top up the tank. Back in the car, turn the key … Click, whirr, silence – dead as the proverbial.

Embarrassing few minutes on the forecourt, then she comes to life – sort of. Misfiring like an asthmatic Gatling gun and with virtually no power, staggered across the road and limped home. Pretty obvious there was not going to be much tracking today.

The starting problem was resolved after a while when I found one of the connexions to the battery +ve was U/S – easily fixed.

But the misfire (and the clouds of smoke from the exhaust) … ??

Eventually spotted exhaust smoke escaping from the manifold/head joint. Decided to whip off the manifold (after first removing the turbo, of course) in the hope of finding a simple blown gasket type problem.

Some hours later, hopes of a simple solution seemed to be fading … with manifold off, this is what I see –


It looks as if I not only have the exhaust leak, but also some oil getting out there! This must mean oil in the cylinder, I guess.

So, does this mean piston rings are knackered, or is there any other way to get oil in the chamber?

If it’s rings, does the engine have to come out?

Maybe mother-in-law was right

Apparently Lesley’s mum’s reaction to my buying the Five was “What does he want to get an old car like that for?”

Maybe she was right.  😦

Spent quite a lot of time in the last few days discovering I have a couple of problems I can’t resolve (easily) …

First of all, there’s more oil than I would like on the garage floor. After a lot of rolling around on the ground and peering into inaccessible spaces under the bonnet, I have succeeded only in confirming I have at least two leaks. I know where one is but can’t figure out how to fix it. Don’t know exactly where the other is coming from.

And secondly, it looks like the clutch on the air con compressor is knackered. I’m hoping for helpful advice from the OC Forum where I posted this plea for help:

I’ve got a nasty noise that I have tracked down to the a/c pulley area.

(click picture for full size image)

It seems the stationary bit on front of the pulley assembly is kind of flapping about and striking against the rotating pulley, making a tinny clanging noise. There is also some gungy black stuff coming out of the from of the assembly, between the stationary bit and the rotating bit in the middle.

I don’t know much about the operation of this area and my workshop manual is sparse on air con — basically saying "You need to take it to a professional".

What’s the likely problem? Is there anything I can do, other than pay a professional?


(1.6 import, 1991)

Hopped Scotch?

Returned rather tired but none-the-less happy from a day spent minding The Boys. It being half-term, we had charge of them both all day, but they really are very little bother.

Jack now sporting 1.5 teeth and seeming in better humour than last week.

Went to the playground in the morning, where (Anna seemed amazed to learn!) Archie and Grandpa played football for a while, thanks to someone having abandoned a punctured football. Remarkable how much easier the pace when the ball is soggy.

Granma negotiating the hopscotch grid while pushing the pushchair prompted me to wonder: what’s the past participle of “hopscotch” – hopscotched or hoppedscotch?

To Pecks for Lunch

To Pecks restaurant near Congleton for a very enjoyable lunch to celebrate Valentines Day. As always, a most pleasant atmosphere and friendly, efficient service from the staff. I’m sure it was a genuine mistake that their first attempt at a bill had an extra G&T on it!

Flowers would certainly have been cheaper, but what benefit would that have for me?  😉

Men’s Night Out

To the Dragon Inn with other gentlemen of the parish for an splendid Chinese buffet.

The supposed diet went by the board, I’m afraid 😦

Very good selection of dishes on offer, and convivial company. A good time was had by all.

Don’t tell the wife about the chocolate fountain 😉

To the Vic for “A Voyage Round My Father”

Went to see the New Vic production of ‘A Voyage Round My Father’ (John Mortimer – think Rumpole of the Bailey)

Excellent production – good evening’s entertainment. We’ve booked up for the three-for-the-price-of-two offer: hope the other two are as good!

In the interval, we met up, quite by chance with Keith and Jennifer, from next-door-but-one. There were also a number of other folk from Wistaston there, apparently. Small world, etc etc.

How could anything so cute …

There’s a line in Three Men And A Baby (I think), when they are struggling to change her nappy, that goes something like: “How could anything so cute produce so much of something so disgusting?”

Grandson Jack reminded me of it today, even though he can’t say a word  :-0

Worst of it is, I think he’s given me a dose of whatever he’s got  😦

(Unless of course it’s the fish we had for tea – maybe I shouldn’t be so dismissive of use-by dates; but it was a bargain, and only a few days over.)

No I haven’t been Tango’d

Spent today at Oulton Park on a marshal’s training day, with about 250 other people in bright orange costumes.

mt1 mt2

Mostly sitting around listening to talks and watching videos.  A good deal of it was stuff I’d heard before (on the introduction walkabout last autumn, or in training as a first-aider at work), but interesting none-the-less. Did get to do a practical fire fighting exercise, just before the snow arrived.

Thought I’d stick out like a sore thumb in my nice new overalls, unblemished by serious use, but thankfully there were about 70 of us in the novice group, many even less experienced than me!

Can’t wait for the season to get under way. Already sent off my volunteering form with many dates ticked. Lesley is a bit aghast at the number of weekends in my diary now marked “OP” – you’d think she’d be glad to see the back of me for a day now and then 🙂

To Garstang to avoid the snow

So the entire country (if your believe the BBC, et al) was brought to a grinding halt by a sudden onslaught of snow; but somehow, we seem to have escaped.

Went to Mother-in-Law’s on Monday for a “weekend in the week” – when you’ve dispensed with full-time employment, it’s so much easier to rearrange your timetable to avoid the hoi-poloi. So instead of joining the masses on the M6 on a Friday afternoon, and returning with them on a Sunday afternoon, you set off sometime after a leisurely breakfast, or perhaps nearer lunchtime, on (say) Monday, and come home a day or two later early afternoon. Hey presto! – no traffic problems 🙂

And thus it was we headed North on Monday.

According to the media, the most dire conditions for a generation had crippled the whole country. Did we have a problem? Did we heck! – pleasant ride with moderate traffic, mostly in bright winter sunshine. Just goes to underline the way them Down-South think the world begins and ends south of Watford (eeh by gum).

Had a nice couple of days, doing what a daughter and son-in-law should: listening to the latest news (and some not-so-new that we had heard before 🙂 ) and making the obligatory trip to Sainsbury’s, etc. As usual, ate a little too much, especially of the oxtail on Monday night.

Ended with a pleasant lunch at The Fleece in Dolphinholme.