Category Archives: Martha & Me

MOT…!

So yesterday I took Martha alllllll the way to Worcester for her MOT (about a 50 mile round trip). It was a great drive – the weather was acceptable, if a little chilly, and it was excellent to be driving her again. You know, it’s easy to forget just how different it is to drive a classic car – noisy, different driving position, MASSIVE STEERING WHEEL, gearstick very different, and of course, you have the lack of a 5th gear (sorry about that, Martha), but it really was great to have her out on the road again.

We arrived a little early for the test, which was all good, as the appointment before me had cancelled, so Martha went straight in and onto the ramps, and off I went to wait out the result!

An hour later I returned, to find out she had failed 😦

Saying that though, it’s nowhere near as bad as I had thought it would be – Steering rack gaiter is split (I had a replacement in the boot), the brake switch needs replacing (had a spare one in the boot), she has European headlamps that kick up the wrong way, and the front brakes need adjusting.

So, there is nothing at all major, and probably nothing I wasn’t aware of, and best of all, nothing too expensive, so she will be going back for her re-test in a week or so, and will pass with flying colours, naturally 🙂

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Happy Anniversary!

Today it is a whole year since I went with my mum to Leicester to pick up a 1968 Morris Minor, who has fondly become known as Martha.

It was a long day, it took us 8 hours to travel back from Leicester, involving a long drive round the ring road looking for a way out, which we finally found, in the wrong direction, many stalls, and a leaking fuel pipe, but we got back home relatively safely, and that was the first meeting.

A year on, Martha and I have had our ups & down, but never for one second has my love for her waned, she helped me pass my driving test, and helped me grow confidence, she has helped me when I am sad, by being a cheerful little car, and so comfortable too.  We have broken down together, been stranded, and I have spent a lot of time under her (ho ho ho).  She has spilled her guts all over my driveway, and has been treated to many, shiny new parts.  All this in just one year.

One thing I will always love Martha for, however, is the fact that she has introduced me to some really wonderful people (some complete arseholes too, but we will skim over that).  So here’s to you Ashley, Chris and Matt, thank you for sharing my passion for Morris Minors, and thank you for being such a big help when a damsel is in distress 🙂

A bit of fixing and then the dreaded MOT

Martha has been off the road since 7th December 2011. Yes, it has broken my heart to hear how great these cars are in the winter and I have not been able to experience this, but we are on the way to getting her fixed.

I say ‘we’, I mean my hero, Ashley, came down yesterday (in the rain and hail) and got to work on getting the beast back in working order.

The halfshaft had broken as I was coming down a big hill full of potholes, leaving me stranded on a very busy roundabout (big thanks to the two police cars that drove past me by the way).

It was very interesting seeing the inner workings of the rear axle, which I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise (gee, thanks Martha! Educational or just plain annoying?!). The part in question had shirred off about an inch from the top, which was pretty impressive, in all honesty!

So, Ashley got out all the bits he needed to, and Martha is on the way to recovery!

Then it is the dreaded MOT which is a very scary prospect! EEP!!

Once again…apologies!

I am astounded at the length of time it has been since the last post (again), however, the blog did seem to be turning into a ‘look what’s gone wrong now’ type thing, which although is part & parcel of owning a 43 year old car, it just seemed a bit of a downer.

So this post will be the ‘downer’ post, and the next few at least will be about the good times we have!

Perhaps I will start with a little picture…

Martha The Morris Minor gets a new engine

That would be Martha without an engine.

Yes, on 24th September 2011, Martha pegged it.  As yet, we aren’t sure of the (many) causes of the break down, but it was a MAJOR breakdown – un-drivable, new engine required breakdown.  Just in case you wondered, the old engine is the one on the hoist.

I managed to acquire a refurbished engine from a local fella (known only as ‘The Engine Man’), and on 14th October, my lovely friend Matt Tomkins travelled up from Oxford to help me put the new engine in.

Matt worked so hard all weekend, the poor lad, and I did what women are best at, I scrubbed the engine bay, and painted it a lovely gloss black with Hammerite (it prevents rust, don’t you know).

Martha The Morris Minor without Engine

Pre cleaning!

As well as the engine being buggered (to put it politely!), the majority of the fittings had to be replaced too, so it ended up being rather expensive as you can imagine!  Having just started university, it was important that Martha was back on the road as soon as we could manage so I could actually make it there!  It was touch & go as to whether it would happen or not…!  Being a 43 year old lady, as happens to us all, a lot of bits had siezed up on the poor old girl, making things take a little longer than they probably should have done!

Marthas new engine!

After going on for 24 hours worth of work, the new engine was finally in!


Thank goodness! It was a hard weekend, I did my back in and could barely walk on the Monday, but I’ll tell you what, it was worth it to have the beast back on the road!

Matt, you’re my hero! xxx

HEATER!

So this is the heater out of the car and drying in the bath after the matrix being flushed (eat your heart out Neo!).

I spent the majority of the day trying to remove a badly corroded bolt from the exhaust strap, without success, so Martha is, once again, laid up on the drive. The rest of the exhaust replacement should be a doddle, but this bolt is currently pissing me RIGHT OFF!!!!

New exhaust and a little bit of fame!

Today I picked up the new bits for Martha!

Morris Minor 1000 exhaust

New exhaust and fitting kit, and while I was at it, I finally bought the new gearstick gaiter!  This is something I have been wanting to sort out since I got her, so she will be happy (and I will stop getting a draught up my arm!)

I didn’t have chance to do any work on her today as I helped my mum move house (she has been living with me & Jones since April, so as you can imagine, I didn’t mind moving her out & not doing the car…!!!).  Tomorrow, however, I am going to replace the exhaust, and hopefully get around to taking out & stripping the heater (finally) in preparation for winter!  As well as replacing the gearstick gaiter, of course!!!!

Onto other news, Martha & I have been getting a little fame this past few weeks!  We are featured in the September issue of Minor Monthly !  We have a whole page to ourselves, and it is quite a lovely little piece, I must say 🙂

Then this Monday just gone, we were on This Morning!!!  The show had asked for people to send in pictures that summed up our summers, so I thought it would be fun to send in this pic:

Martha has made my summer, she has enabled me to meet some wonderful people, and of course, I learned to drive in her, so she will always mean a lot to me.

Anyway, they only bloody showed the picture!!  I didn’t know until Steph Holloway called me to ask if I had been on TV!!!  (Should you wish, it’s on the ITV Player, Monday 5th September, at around 1h 7m)…

Fame at last, eh?!

A (realtively) quick catch up!

Once again, life has sort of been getting in the way & I have neglected you somewhat, dear readers.  I apologise profusely for this, but from now on I plan to set aside specific time  for blogging, I know you appreciate the effort 😉

So, my last post was over a month ago, and by god it has been one hell of a month, both in Morris Minor and ‘real’ life!

The ‘real’ life bit isn’t overly exciting, so I shall skip right to the Martha business…!

After getting her back with a new gearbox, the next thing to go was the brakes.

One evening when I went to take Jones to practice, I noticed that the brakes were jolly sloppy, and  not even as good as they had previously been (which is really saying something!).  I noticed the following morning that there was a damp patch under the drivers side front wheel, so knew right away that it was the cylinders.

That weekend, Ashley & I sat outside and had both front wheels off to fit new cylinders & brake shoes.  Unfortunately, the shoes I had been given were the wrong size, so had to be taken back & replaced, and one of the front cylinders was siezed so badly that we couldn’t get it off, but that seems to be par or the course with the old girl!

So I was on my way to Tamworth again last Tuesday, and after dropping mum off at work, I got about a mile own the road and she cut out.  Just completely died.

It was a cold morning, so I was trying my best to get her going again, but nothing was working and I couldn’t see an obvious problem.

45 minutes later, a tow truck turned up.

Now, I have to put this out there, but I was exceptionally annoyed with the service from this man who supposedly knew what he was doing.  He had no idea what it was, even tried hitting her (which pissed me right off) but she didn’t start.  He said to me ‘well I dunno what it is’  He said it could be the ‘starter’ and asked if I wanted him to take it to the arage so they coul ‘have a proper look and find out what the problem is’.

Excuse me, but should he not have ‘had a proper look’ when he was there?!!

Apparently not, he was in a big rush to get to a car that was ‘booked in for 9am’.  He was driving like a bit of mentalist on the way back, in case he should be late to pick the other car up.

To cut a long story short, after a lot of asking around, and testing, replacing the points, condenser & rotor arm, it turned out it was the coil.

The funny thing here, is on the same day mine went, Steph Holloway’s car, also Martha, had her coil go too!  Her tale is much worse than mine though, and involves some kind of renegade chappy in a white van and a landrover coil…but that is another story!

So, after all this, last Thursday I fit a new coil, and voila!  Martha was on the road again!

Mr Jones Snr had suggested taking Martha to his garage & getting her serviced & checked over to see if anything obvious needed looking at, and she was taken in yesterday.

She came back to me with lots of new bits, her brakes had been sorted out & the new shoes put on, new air filter, oil filter, she had her nipples greased (snigger), and various other routine bits done.  He also gave me a little list of things that would need looking at in the months coming up to MOT which is due in January.

One of them was the exhaust.

Which went today.

This was the result.  Noisy, huh?!

I think that this is what you call Sod’s Law…

Until next time folks!

Katie xxx

That’s My Girl!!

First of all, I realise there had been a bit of a drought when it comes to posts, for which I apologise profusely!

On Monday 18th July, I started a new job in Tamworth. Martha was in the garage for the whole of that week, which not only meant I had to be up at 5.30am for 5 whole days, but also that I missed her far too much than can be considered healthy.

So, where to begin?

As you know, Martha was in because her gearbox had gone. On Saturday 16th July, I dropped her off at the local garage with a new old gearbox, hoping I would have her back for Tuesday.

Alas, things are never quite so straightforward, are they?

The new old gearbox was also shot, and the guys at the garage discovered that the clutch was extremely badly worn & needed replacing. Double whammy!

Luckily for me, I have some very kind people close to me, and one way or another, we were able to get the money together for a refurbished gearbox and clutch kit which the lovely guys at the garage were able to fit with no problem.

So, on Saturday 23rd July, ater a WHOLE WEEK without her, I went to pick Martha up from the garage, and I’ll be honest with you, readers, she is like a completely different car! She purrs like a (…n asthmatic) kitten! She is much smoother and much, much less noisy, and even more beautiful to drive, if that is even possible!

The spending didn’t stop there, however. When I got her, the front tyres were badly worn, and yes, I had put off getting new ones due to lack of money, but as I had started the new job in time for a couple of weeks worth of pay, I went and splashed out on 4 new tyres for her. Not just any old tyre, either, but NITROGEN filled tyres (all together now, say ‘oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!’). Apparently the nitrogen means that the tyres stay inflated for longer as the miniscule particles do not ‘escape’ through the tyre wall like hapens with aire filled tyres. Which is good, it means I don’t have to pay 20p for air. TWENTY BLOODY PENCE FOR AIR?!!! What is the world coming to?!

Since being back with me, we are really racking up the miles, travelling to Tamworth & back each day, which totals around 60 miles each day. She has no problem at all, although lorries seem to have a problem with her. As do BMW & Mercedes drivers…

I do enjoy having a long dive, and I have seen (and honked & waved at) a few other classic car drivers (it’s impolite not to, you know!). There is one car I have seen a couple of times in Wilnecote – a red Beetle, driven by a lady. I think it may be called Gloria… If, by any chance, you hapen to be reading this post, I’m not mental, I just get overexcited when I see other nice cars 🙂

Also got a lovely smile from a gentleman driving a Mini today. Seriously, I think all these people just think I am insane. I wouldn’t tell them otherwise…

TTFN

Katie xxxx

A word of advice for modern car drivers

After an experience this morning, I have been compelled to write this little post.

Many modern car drivers seem to think that Morris Minors (or indeed, any ‘old’ car) can only do 30mph, the breaks are rubbish, and bits fall of as we drive along.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  As mentioned in my previous post, Martha was up to 85mph on Sunday, and there were no problems with her at all  (Martha is also pretty quick off from a standing start, so I am happy to race any boy racers at traffic lights, and have done 😉 ).

However, old cars do have their drawbacks, one being trouble with speedbumps.  The old suspension on a Moggy is not as good as that of a brand new car, hence my having to actually slow down when going over a speed bump.  For anyone who has been in a Moggy that has gone over a speed bump at speed, you will know how much it can hurt as your head hits the roof, not to mention the damage it can do to your car.

People still get exceptionally annoyed when having to slow down behind me though.  For instance, this morning, I had a fella right up my arse along a road, with a college AND a school on it, so really, I wasn’t going to be speeding along anyway.  The said road had those awful speed bumps that are just squares on each side of the road, so naturally I went quite slowly.

Despite me almost slowing to a stop, he kept so close to me I couldn’t see the front of his car, yet he didn’t overtake either (which is most annoying). Past the speed bumps I put m foot on the floor (as it were) and went up to 30mph, and he stayed quite a way back, most odd, thought I.

This went on, until I turned off to go to the petrol station, when HE CLAPPED!!!

Seriously, he clapped at me turning off.

Martha could take you on any day you silly little man!

But my advice to modern car drivers is this – if you ‘get stuck’ behind an old car, deal with it, you can always overtake, and I know a lot of moggy drivers are like me, we see you getting annoyed & trying to intimidate, and lightly tap the breaks, you know, a Moggy can do 5mph comfortably…

MMOC National Rally 2011 – Knebworth

This past weekend, Ashley & I made the trip from Birmingham to Knebworth for the annual MMOC National Rally.

A weekend of camping (after my last camping trip at Glastonbury in 1998) and Morris Minors, what more could you ask for?!

We arrived late on Friday afternoon and found the rest of the Young Members, and set up camp.  It wasn’t long before we decided on a YM run to Tesco;

MMOC Young Members Take Over Tesco Car Park

I had been looking forward to the National Rally, and I am glad I went, however, I have so say, I found some of it very disappointing.  A number of people were exceptionally rude, and the lack of organisation was rather astounding, for such a big even that is now in it’s bazillionth year.

I am not going to focus on the negatives though!  It was wonderful to meet some of the people I have been talking to online.

Peter certainly brightened up my weekend, and certainly made me giggle with his wig on Saturday night!!

How Many People fit in a Morris Minor 1000?Craig & Bobbie also deserve a mention for helping Ashley & The Other Ashley see how many people we could fit in a Morris Minor (there were only 5 of us, and we all fit in), and The Other Ashley (Wakeling) was an absolute joy to be around!

Steph ‘Minor Mafia’ Holloway was obsessed with the communal showers, and took every opportunity to make sure everyone knew this fact & how appalled she was by the thought of showering in a big room with other people 😉

There were ups & downs to the weekend, but on the whole, it was a lot of fun, and my first motorway drive too!

Ashley led the way there and back, and we even had walkie talkies to keep in touch on the journey.  I particularly like the call names Ashley came up with – Black Devil & Blue Angel 😀

I picked up some great little bits for Martha – new light rims, as the current ones are exceptionally badly rusted on the inside & veryPicnic Table bent out of shape, I also got some fuzzy seat covers, as vinyl seats aren’t great for travelling long distances in any kind of heat, unless you particularly like having a sweaty bum.  Steph got me a ‘Happy Passed Your Driving Test’ present too – and it really is an amazing piece of kit for the car – a picnic table! Oh yes! All I need now is a drive in movie theatre and I’m sorted!

In other news, plans are underway for the first cake run.  The first run is via Stoke & Blackpool, across to Leeds, then back home via Nottingham & Derby.  This is going to be taking place very soon – leaving basecamp on Friday 22nd July, and returning on Sunday 24th.

If you donated to Katies Car Fund, please please please make sure you send me your address so I can add you to the trip!!  Email kdexeter@yahoo.co.uk