Saturday, March 17, 2018

MINI Service Trauma

I collected the Mini last weekend, and I love it so far - it's a proper little dodgem car. Interior reminds me very much of the Rover 75 - same bold shapes/materials, so it's odd that these became trendy while the highly competent 75 never caught on.
First task was a service - the previous owner said it had had no attention for at least 20,000 miles, maybe double that.  After removing the air filter I'm guessing the latter - no wonder it didn't seem very quick.  Plugs didn't look too bad though.  Oil filter was next...

...5 days later, I eventually removed said filter, after much swearing, internet research and grazed knuckles.  It's an element type that lives in a housing on the back of the engine, and they're prone to seizing if not changed regularly.  Needless to say, this one wasn't going anywhere.  I broke the end off my breaker bar :(
In the end I had to remove the whole housing from the car (not easy due to access), then repeatedly attacked it with WD40 and a mains impact gun until it gave up (or was destroyed... I didn't care which at that point).
You bastard!  I smashed the oil pressure switch too, what a donkey.  Also discovered a split inner CV joint boot, that'll need sorting for the MOT next month.
It's all back together now though and much more punchy.  It's done 140K and I believe it's still on it's original Midland gearbox, but it seems healthy enough; slighty rattly in 2nd gear but that's it.  

As soon as it stops snowing I'll prep the Jag for sale.  I'm TRENDY MINI PEOPLE now.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Your* Jag is all snowy

When are you coming to collect the Jag you've promised to buy off me?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Jag fixed

The problem was... a lack of juice in the battery.  I was aware low voltage played havoc with these cars, but didn't realise it would prevent the starter engaging properly.  Cost to fix: nowt. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018


I've been working in the US for the past week, but unfortunately for an office closure rather than opening.  There's been a downturn in the company's fortunes and before long I may realise my dream of not working here any more, but we'll see.

First leg was to Boston; BA 777 in premium economy (business class no longer allowed), not impressed but then I do love complaining, apparently.
It was bloody cold in Boston.  Apart from the civil war stuff, there really isn't much to see apart from the 'Cheers' bars, which we visited maybe half-a-dozen times (the original bar shown in the TV show titles, the one with the set from the show, and the replica).  It was just convenient.  I've never watched it so it meant nothing to me!

At the weekend there was several inches of snow, but they're well prepared for it and there was no disruption whatsoever.
We walked up to 9 miles a day, my feet/ankles will never be the same again.  I see what they mean about the complaining...

Visited the USS Constitution, which I now know is more than just a class of ship in Star Trek.  It's way more boring than that.
Next stop was Washington.  There had been a plan for me and another guy to drive a vehicle containing a load of hard drives from Boston to Washington (a trip of about 8 hours), but it wasn't necessary (boo!), so went on a little A319 instead.

The office is actually in McLean, a suburb of Washington.  It's not much more than a couple of malls, some offices and apartment complexes next to the freeway. I came here 7 years ago, and it hasn't changed a bit.

Check out the cool truck with many wheels.  I was with 'normal' people so couldn't take many photos of faded old cars.  We took a trip into DC one evening on the train, it was surprisingly busy even at that time of day.  Much walking again, and much bellyaching from me.

We bought some Trump souvenirs here, including 'Make America Great Again' caps and other junk.  He's good news for tat peddlers, at least.  None of us were brave enough to wear the caps in public though.

On the final day there was just time for a visit to the Smithsonian museum, mostly 'cos I wanted to see Discovery.  I can't get over how impressive it is in person, it actually made me smile - this hurt my face, but did at least give me something new to complain about.

Amish folks check out what is possibly the greatest technological achievement of the 20th century.

Finally, a gallery of food highlights;

Saturday, February 10, 2018

BINI is here

Look at me, only lagging 15 years behind fashion!  Like the Rover 75, I used to hate these for being an ordinary modern car with ludicrous and overstyled retro pretence applied.  But as the years have rolled by and the Mini has become ever more ugly with each facelift, the styling of these early cars now appears clean and unfussy.  They're also very cheap, which I like.

It was bought unseen from the marvelous Autoshite community, and currently resides at my folk's place in Norfolk.  I've still not fixed the Jag and I'm away with work for a bit, so dunno when I'll get my hands on it.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Jag Broked

Had a bit of a rubbish week.  The Jaaaag is finally broken, it failed to start the other morning but I was running late, so just swiped the CLK instead.  That left Mrs B to take the boy to school in t'Berlingo... but the exhaust fell off that en-route.  I had to leave work to bodge it up with cable-ties so it could be driven home.  I really need to stop messing about with shite old cars.

The starter motor seems to be the fault on the Jag, it sounds like the bendix is mashed; apparently this can happen, though the ring gear is likely to have survived.  Getting the thing off is going to be a bastard, it's under the inlet manifold and one of the bolts comes out from the gearbox end.  Options are to drop the transmission slightly to get a wobbly extension lead on it, or remove the wiper motor/assembly.  I took decisive action... I went back in the house to watch TV and drink tea.

The fact that I had no wheels yesterday is the only thing that stopped me going to look at a pretty cheap XJR.  Paint was a bit faded in places and it had 137K, but nothing serious in it's MOT history.  Interesting fact: a new starter for my car is about £220.  XJR starter: £664.

Put a new exhaust back-box on the Berlingo, £24!  That's why I like shite old cars.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

End of 2017

I've done nothing of any interest this year - didn't change any cars or bikes, didn't go on any proper trips (apart from the Isle of Man, perhaps), no track days were attended, and I didn't even get nicked for speeding. 

What I did do was join the Royal Horticultural Society... but only because it gives free access to Wisley Gardens, not because I have any interest in gardening.  It's like a highly concentrated version of Kew Gardens, we like to hang out there and have picnics.  The Xmas Glow thing is GRAND:

I deffo want to get the MX5 working again next year, but I can't be arsed with it right now - too cold.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Spintires: Mudrunner

I've not really done anything in the real world recently, so here are some scenes from a game I'm playing at the mo.  Basically you carry logs from a yard to a mill on the other side of a map, using a variety of Eastern European vehicles; sounds daft but it's ace:

Here I deliver MANY LOGS using glorious Soviet truck - not need road!  Have 6-wheel drive and diff-locks!
Truck is defeated by soft mud and Western-sympathiser tree.  Not to worry, I employ heroic Soviet SUV to tow out truck!
Oh dear.
This is good, but too slow and too far away, also is possible YANKEE.
Many hours later I eventually tow it out with this.  It gets stuck again 30 seconds later.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

You hear the bass from the truck when I'm on the block

The Jaaag passed it's MOT last week (needed rear ARB bushes, headlamp alignment), which has persuaded me to keep it on for another year.  I was sick of the rubbish audio and playing my meagre MP3 collection via an unreliable cassette adaptor, so I've given it a massive-ish upgrade.
First step: upgrade the front speakers.  Old ones were shot, and an unusual size which meant I had to lash up some adaptors to fit some 6.5" Focals.  I used uPVC soffit board for this - it's cheap, unaffected by damp and easier to work with than MDF.
Snug fit for the Focal ISC165s.  They had good reviews, are reasonably priced, and quite slim so even with the adaptor rings they were no deeper than the originals.
Step 2: underseat subwoofer.
This is with the seat fully forward, normally it's hidden.  It required a permanent 10A feed, which I was able to take from the power-seat feed.  There was also a connection to the system control lead on the head unit, the RCA connections, and the wired remote control.  Routing these cables was a bit of a headache; in the end I removed the seat and ran them in the small gap beneath the seat runner.  It's held in place with some industrial-grade 3M Velcro strips.
Sub remote lives where the ashtray used to.
Step 3: DAB antenna, or rather this stick-on effort that came with the head unit.  The only feasible spot is the windscreen, but it seems to work well enough.  You can get adaptors to split a DAB feed from a standard FM antenna, but reviews suggest it's a bit hit and miss.
Step 4: new Pioneer mechless head unit, with DAB, bluetooth, USB and line-in connections.  It's quite a subdued design without any MEGABASS button or similar bollocks, so it doesn't clash with the rest of the 19th century dash.  It required a DIN adaptor, and a wiring harness adaptor (both from Audioleads).

Step 5: Spotify Premium.  I create playlists on my PC and then download them onto my phone (limit is 3300ish songs).  Get in the car, start the Spotify app, the head unit automatically connects to the phone and starts playing.  Use the controls on the head unit to switch tracks, etc.  Magic!

It now sounds REALLY GOOD, and the sub makes a massive difference.  I left the dash tweeters which are doing an adequate job, and the rear speakers are mostly faded out.  It could probably be improved further by some mid-range speakers in the A-pillars, but at the moment it's very discreet and original looking, which I like.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Wot I did on my hollyday

I wented to DEVON and it rained and TRAFFIC and more rain and CREAM TEAS and really-narrow-roads and BORED. 

I love dodgems!  I am the self-appointed world champion of dodgems, FEAR ME.
This is for sale in a tiny motor museum.  Not rusty but at £1000 is at least 50% too much.
Just 14 miles on this, somebody didn't like biking
Barn conversion we stayed in, which was lovely - just as well given the weather.  We spent 2 entire days eating grub and watching Game of Thrones... I was happy with that.