Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Mishaps, Jams, & How To Get Out of Them.........

One of these fine days, I will actually blog about something to do with boating and the beautiful waterway on which we live.

No doubt, hardened boaty bloggers click their tongues in deep disapproval of wb Pippin, her faintly bonkers crew, and our insistence on blogging about life in general, rather than life aboard......

But hey, each to their own.

(If you fall into this category, by the way, caveat! Not much boating in this post either, I'm afraid, so perhaps you needn't read on.....)

Anyway, to business.

Today I drove the old Suzuki out to the scrapyard on the Bottisham Road.

Not, I hasten to add, to leave it there to a slow and lingering death, but rather to replace some parts that had been removed when we fitted a temporary replacement battery a week or two ago. The problem was, Jackie had got a bit over excited down at the recycling centre and had thrown away some left-over bits for which she couldn't possibly see any further need......

Now I'm all for recycling, but, as was pointed out, (gently, I hope), throwing away anything to do with the car, restoration projects, seemingly redundant bits of old tat, or whatever, is a complete and absolute no-no.

Unless, of course, I have been asked first.........

Yes, I know I would now be sitting atop of a man-made mountain of junk visible for miles across The Fens, were it not for Jackie's frequent and timely interventions.

But, this time, she got it wrong.

Some 'important for the MOT test' bits of Vitara were slung, namely a battery tray, the threaded rods that hold the battery securely in place, and various fixings.

No big deal, I thought. I'll just nip down to the scrappy that Andreas has been using and, if I can't get the bits from an actual Vitara, then I'll get something close from another Japanese job that can be adapted to fit.

And this is what I did, parting with the princely sum of £4.00 for some Honda Vetec and Nissan Micra bits. Ten minutes with the angle grinder and a spot of percussion engineering, and Bob's your Uncle, I thought.

Oh no.

Oh dearie me, no.

Oh no, no, no, no, no.......

Nothing so simple........

You see, Clever Clogs had opened the bonnet to check sizes of various bits of knackered car against what was required, (and, in fairness, had done a truly outstanding job: the bits I got will do the job brilliantly with the minimum of fettling).

What I neglected to do was check that I had shut the bonnet properly before I drove off.......

Can you see what's coming?........

Well, I couldn't, when the inevitable happened and the bonnet lifted at 35 mph, snapping both hinges as it flew back to crack the windscreen.........

Fortunately, the 'B' road I was on was very quiet. The one car behind me shot past (bastard!), and I pulled over onto the ample verge to survey the damage and shake quite a lot.

(I have never understood The Adrenaline Junkie's desire for life-threatening excitement. Whenever it happens to me, I always get the trembles something dreadful......)

A quick systems check showed:

- bonnet: bent beyond repair.

- bonnet hinges: split in twain, Master Gunner.

- windscreen: mortally wounded but hanging together.

- driver: on automatic; shocked but functioning......

And so it was that I picked up the bonnet, lumped it into the back of the car, checked steering, brakes, lights, wipers etc (all Condition Beige)and drove home.

The Law of Sod dictates that in this situation, driving a bonnetless car up the A14 the three miles to Milton and then onto the A10 to Waterbeach, I would doubtless be descended upon by the full might of the Cambridgeshire Constabulary's Traffic Division.

Well, they must have all been taking a (doubtless thoroughly well earned....) tea-break, as I made it back to the mooring without any earnest roadside conversations with representatives of the East Anglia Law Enforcement Community.


Eat your heart out, Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues!

As I parked up, our landlord's daughter Bree wandered up.

"Everything okay, John", she said.

At this point I realised I couldn't actually speak.

The brain is a funny thing. It will continue functioning under extremes of stress, allowing the body to successfully achieve highly advanced motor skills, like driving, but then won't allow simple stuff, like talking (something I've been doing a very great deal of since the age of about two....).

It's called 'shock', I suppose.

Anyway, when I had recovered my composure, I explained what had happened.

Bree's Dad, Martin, had, by then, arrived.

He decided what was needed to get me back to normal was a can of Fosters lager.

The first one seemed to be working, so we tried again......

Ah,......... Condition Beige!

With powers fully restored, we set about sorting out the mess. I rang Jackie and explained that I had very foolishly and carelessly broken the car. She was brilliant about it, got straight on to various scrapyard websites asking for new bonnets etc and said she'd ring back with any results.

Martin, meanwhile, suggested I try an Auto-Dismantlers at the gorgeously named Grunty Fen, near Ely.

Jackie's internet guys were by this time quoting £70-140 for the required bits, so nothing ventured, nothing gained.....

Grunty Fen had not one, but two Vitaras of the same vintage as ours!

A new-to-us bonnet would cost £45.


Martin very kindly drove me to the yard to pick up the bonnet. A chat with the chaps in the office lead to the very real possibility of the windscreen being fixed too.

I'm going up there again tomorrow with a shopping list........

Meanwhile, I feel the need to soothe my shattered nerves with lots of nice malt-and- hops style beverages.

Gooodnight, blogworld......

1 comment:

  1. Blimey! What a calamity. glad you're OK. See you tomorrow at 10am?