Monday, 28 February 2011
The cost of ragging Rachel's little Clio up and down the M5 was starting to take its toll se we resolved to make this the last trip; Molly was going to be in Somerset before the day was done. After a customary cup of tea we got on the phones and rang every poor bugger that owned a vehicle bigger than a defender in a 50 mile radius. Eventually we hit on family run company that moved caravans and motor homes and the deal was done. We sent the bloke off to meet Andy in Shaw and waited for the call.
We heard nothing for hours. When finally we received a call we could barely make out any of the words for either broken signal or provincial dialect. One word, however, we did understand; 'Eight.'
At nine O'clock there were four of us peering into the darkness from the driveway. It started as a distant murmur shaking the still nights air. We couldn't be sure if we'd heard it. We ran out to the lane just as six bright lights came flying around the corner, baring down on our position. An engine roared passed us and with a flash of white, was gone. We look at one another utterly perplexed.
'What the hell was it?' Asked Bob.
'I, I, I don't know.' Zac finally replied.
Then the noise returned. With a roar and cloud of dust a great bounding hulk arrived in the yard.
She was home.
The driver informed us that he loved the vehicle but if it were down to him he’d drop out the current engine and install a Rover V8. We thanked him for his advice and he barrelled off into the night.
Monday, 21 February 2011
O, Molly! How I love thee when it rains,
O, tis true you are of vintage
Friday, 18 February 2011
The Defender, our chosen horse, struggled. Snow had been falling for a week or two and it was trecherous on the roads, especially when towing a ton and half of rotting Bedford. We were delayed several times when the weather came in and one attempt had to be called off half way through because the Landy couldn't hold traction. Molly then, had to spend Christmas in the yard with her new stable mate; a 101 faulklands veteran.
We finally we got the go ahead for the journey down to Somerset and loaded her up. Easier said than done when you have no brakes.
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
The next leg of the journey took us down the drive and toward the A-Road. We pulled up just before hand to check things over. A passer by kindly pointed out there was a gallon of petrol beneath the van. Well at least the fuel tank was unblocked then.
And so, with no brakes, no fuel tank, no way to shut the engine off and no tax, MOT, insurance or registration, we made our merry way down the road and toward the Landrover yard.
Firstly the configuration of the column shift boggled us; namely where in the hell the Bedford company had put reverse. Once we had established that, I tentivley put her in gear and tested the clutch with a few revs. She shuddered a moved about 10mm. A success I'd say. Now we tried to gently rock her out of the ditches that had appeared beneath her tyresover the last ten years. Each time the engine began to come under load it would try and cut out. A finger down the carb mouth revealed a puddle of fuel in the manifold. The float valve was presumed to be not seating properly so I decided to rebuild the carb as a matter of course. A kit was about £15 I think, same Zenith downdraft as the series Landrovers.
Then the spark disappeared again. Bugger knows where because it was back again a few hours later. Electronics is not my forte. In fact, my ad-hoc wiring seemed to have bypassed the ignition switch, so as soon as the batt earth was connected that was it, she was ready to go. This meant shutting her down was a matter of pulling off the battery strap and waiting for her to wind down.
The exhaust manifolds had decades of oil and dirt on them so as soon as a bit of temperature got threw them they began bellowing out with smoke that made your head feel spooky.
We decided to test the brakes at this point. The pedal was very stiff and then, worryingly, went very floppy. No brakes then. Or, more significantly, brakes fully on.
Thus began the circus act of trying to move her from what was meant to be her final resting place. I saddled up while Rachel filled her Fairy liquid bottle. The battery strapped was tapped lightly on so it could be released with a nudge of a toe. Pump primed, ignition on and she jumped into life once again. The exhaust manifolds promptly started profusely smoking. We got loose of the ditches in one great lunge. She would only move in bursts so we roared our way back across the garden. The cabin was now full of smoke and noise and petrol. I signalled for Rachel to jump out. I took the key out the ignition but nothing happened. Rach knocked off the battery strapped but Molly continued to run. We stood by her side perplexed (probably from the fumes) as she slowly wound down. It was a grand moment, we'd moved 13 1/2ft.
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
We shook on the purchase of the two vans and wandered off down the garden to start fettling and exploring. Rachel grabbed Molly's door handle and without hesitation, the door fell off its hinges. A sign of things to come perhaps.
After releasing Molly from the briars we set about taking a look at the engine. The bonnet is about just about big enough to get your head trapped and nothing more. The carb to air filter hose and the engine inspection cover were off already so that made us think that someone may have attempted to start her at some point in the last ten years. We connected up a half knackered battery from my freshly scrapped 405 and tried to jump it off Rachels little golden clio. The engine turned over freely. There was, however, no spark and no fuel getting to the pump, let alone the carb.
We presumed that the diaphram had perished, or, more likely, the fuel tank/ lines were blocked with silt, rust and other crap. I pulled off the pump, took it apart, gave it a nod and put it back together again. It still didn't pull fuel up from the tank so we settled for a bit of old pipe and a fairy liquid bottle as an auxilary tank.
Next was the ignition system; new rotor, coil, condenser, plugs and leads. Still no spark. I followed meters of corroded wiring around the van without any joy. One of the terminals on the starter solenoid looked a bit iffy so we replaced that as well. Still no spark. Then a helpful voice muttered in my ear; 'Have you cleaned the points?' and with a splutter and a puff of smoke Molly merrily woke up and appeared to be rather over come by the whole ordeal.
That makes it all sound rather easy but in reality there was much more head scratching, cups of tea, bleeding knuckles, swearing, kicking, chocolate hobknobs, petrol soaked gloves, electric shocks and shitting in the garden.
Monday, 7 February 2011
Molly sat nestled in the brambles of automobile purgatory for nine years... here is how she looked when we found her last September.
For the truth about Martin Walter and Dormobile - http://www.dormobile.org.uk/Dormobile_History.html
Sunday, 6 February 2011
His clasps the receiver with a frail hand, there is a momentary pause and then a familiar voice shatters the silence.
'You did it Walter, she's alive, and...'
'Tell me John for God's sake.' Said he.
'And, Walter... She's beautiful.'