Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
If you ever gave it a second thought, you will be pleased to know that I have finally assembled the flat-pack Workmate. This was achieved by carrying out the instructions in reverse, or ignoring them completely. What I am going to do today is convert it into a specialised bit of kit for one job only.
In the days before all cars were fitted with primitive computers as standard, I used to carry out my own maintenance on them, and once completely rebuilt the engine of my Volvo Amazon 122s (above) by taking it out and dismantling every moving part of it before reassembling it. To my amazement, it started first time I turned the key.
Every proper mechanic will tell you that you will always be left with a cupful of redundant nuts and bolts which you have no idea about where they came from after such a rebuild, even though you have - as I did - put all the various small parts into labelled paper cups for safe keeping and re-fitting.
They will also tell you that the engine will run perfectly without them, and you will never, ever find out from where they originated. My belief is that there are mischievous goblins whose sole purpose on earth is to confuse humans by sprinking handfuls of metalware around garages at night to amuse themselves.
In the old days, anyone with a basic understanding of mechanics (possibly picked-up by holding a torch for your father as I did) could maintain their cars by referring to a 'Haynes Manual' on their make and model. The Haynes motor museum is quite close to Bath but in deeper Somerset, and they employ a team of people and photographers to take every major make of car apart whilst photographing the procedure, then put it all back together again before publishing it as a manual with text. They are brilliant books if you enjoy the misery that classic car ownership brings.
Since most of my earlier cars are now considered classics, they often came with a Haynes Manual as part of the sale. If you flicked through it before deciding to buy, you could always tell which part of the vehicle had given the most problems, because the pages dealing with that section were covered in black, oily fingerprints.
I work close to someone who fixes classic cars for a living. If I did what he did, all you would hear from my workshop would be a constant torrent of foul language and screams of impotent frustration, but for him these problems mean £50 per hour, so all is quiet. You need a lot of money to keep a good, classic car, and all of his clients are pretty wealthy.
I could - with suffient resources - become quite obsessed with old cars (like a lot of things), but all I look for in transport these days is a reasonably inexpensive vehicle which starts when asked to and pulls me and my load with relative ease.
I would NOT want a car without electronic ignition, fuel-injectors and an on-board engine management system unless I employed a full-time, live-in mechanic on my estate.