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 🙂
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!!
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…
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).
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!
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
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!!!!
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…
For anyone who is friends with me (or Martha) on Facebook, or Twitter, you will already be aware that Martha is currently sat in the garage down the road.
On Wendesday, as I was driving from work to home at lunchtime, Martha’s gearbox kind of went…THUNK, then she made an awful clunking noise, but only in 2nd gear.
Stupidly, I drove her back to work, then I managed to get stuck on a corner coming back. It seems as though she is trying to select 2 gears at the same time (reverse being one of them). I had to be picked up in a tow truck and taken home!!
So yesterday, Bob (my boss) and I went to Flitwick to pick up a new gearbox. Well, new to me, anyway. And tomorrow, the lovely men at ATS are going to take out the old gearbox, and put the new one in.
The funny thing is, we have no idea if the ‘new’ gearbox will work or not, so this could just be a whole waste of time (and money).
The thing is, tomorrow I am starting a 2 week trial as a graphic designer, which requires me to travel to Wilnecote, near Tamworth – a 30 minute car journey, or a 1 and a half hour public transport journey! So really, I need to try what I can!!
I am crossing my fingers that she is ok tomorrow, and will be able to take me to work. And hopefully to Leeds next weekend too!! EEK!
On a lighter note, Thursday saw me get a tattoo in honour of Martha!
(a not too great picture, I apologise!)
GET WELL SOON MARTHA!!!!
So finally I got round to taking a picture of what I did at the weekend;
Hells yeah! I fit a CD player in Martha! Complete with speakers so I can actually use the thing 😉
Once I had figured out exactly what I needed, and had got round to buying them, it was relatively simple to install. The major problem was finding somewhere to put it. My first thought was under the passenger glove box, next to the cigarette lighter, but there is a lip on the underside, so although the bracket for the stereo would go on with no problem, the actual unit wouldn’t have fit in! My second thought was the shelf underneath the dashboard, but this has a round ‘lip’ so the bracket wouldn’t fit on there. I ended up getting another bracket (the kind you use for putting up shelves) and attaching that to the underside of the shelf so i could attach the stereo bracket!
The speakers fit into holes cut in the kickboard at either side of the dashboard as there is a convenient little hole in the bodywork there, however there is no picture as the cutting out was pretty messy! It all works though, which is the great thing!
After sorting this out, I was very excited as Steph & Cat, who I had ‘met’ online through the MMOCYM, were coming to visit!
My Pop Up Mechanic, Ashley, was going to have a look at Cat’s car, as he needed some work doing on him (the car, not Ashley), so after a bumpy start, involving spilled pancake syrup, stolen hash brown and breakdown recovery, the girls made it to Halesowen!
We had a trip to a curry house & then a night of dancing at Zombie Club (goth, anyone?!). It was a really great weekend, and as Steph put it ‘who knew my car would choose my friends?!’. It’s true! Having Martha had meant I have met some lovely people, and I am very much looking to National to meeting some more of my internet buddies!
On Sunday, Steph decided that the Bullring carpark was the perect place for an impromptu photoshoot;
You may notice the still missing bonnet flash in this picture, you may also be please do know that today I got the flash back, with the old bolt drilled out & re-threaded *joy*
Whilst in the Bullring, eating ice cream, we noticed the Shell Roadshow, being hosted by *drumroll* Quentin Wilson, or Top Gear & Fifth Gear fame!
We couldn’t resist, and the Minor Mafia cheekily asked for a quick pic!
It was an absolutely great weekend, and it was fantastic to meet people from the interwebs! I know for sure that Martha really has helped me gain some very special friends 🙂
I was exceptionally happy to learn, when I joined the MMOC forum that there was a fellow young member in the same town as me (technically this is not true, actually, it is the outskirts of Halesowen & Quinton, but I digress).
I caught Ashley having a sneeky look at Martha one Sunday after I was having an afternoon nap, and was awoken by what I thought was someone stealing my car (those Morris Minors make a very distinctive noise).
On that day I learned an awful lot about Martha, mainly by asking stupid questions, like ‘what’s that then?’ and ‘what does this do?’ and Ashley was everso patient with me, gowd bless ‘im!
Ashley has since become my ‘pop up mechanic’ (will you even fit in my boot, Ashley?), and has visited a couple of times to help out with various things; he made a little box to hide my cigarette lighter in, and yesterday he came down to help me check the gearbox oil (see previous post!). Turns out the gear shift problem was down to my funny changing of gears due to wearing bracelets – it hasn’t happened since.
Not only is Ashley a great help with Martha, but he is a top lad too, they don’t make boys like him often! I promise I will be making your cake very soon (i.e. when I get some eggs!)
Anyway, Ashley, here’s to you & your massive tool box!
So, maybe some of you are thinking ‘why the hell is she still asking for money, she has the car!’.
Well, for starters, I thought you might like some cake, and I am still saving to get some bits & bobs for Martha, so I figured, why not keep it open, until I am doing the actual road trip, then I can visit even more of you! Of course, you are under no obligation to donate, but then you won’t get any cake, so it’s a fair deal, right?!
So, do you want to know what I have planned?
No? Oh, well, you’re here, so I’m going to tell you anyway.
First of all, I’d like to get a new gearstick gaiter, as the one currently in my car is looking a little worse for wear, shall we say! I also need to get the heater fixed (last night was the first time I have really wished it was working! It was so cold in there!!), I also need new buckets & rims for the headlamps as they are quite misshapen & rusty, I also want to clean up the chrome on the bumpers & the bonnet, as well as get new rubber for the windows, fit static seatbelts in the back (she currently has none), and get some clip on quarterlight mirrors, I have to get speakers so I can hear the CDs I will be able to play, and the cover on the indicator stalk has broken off, so that is at least a new cover! So not much to start with, huh?!
I would also like at some point in the future to re-spray Martha, a lovely red. I know, I know, some of you will be mortified, but I like red. I’d like to have her body red & the interior black, which involves new carpets, new seat covers & new door panels, parcel shelf & so on! The carpets I intend to make myself, but I need black carpet for that, I am also wondering if I could make some of the other bits myself, such as seat covers, but I’m not sure about that.
So, if you are able to donate anything at all, it will all be going to good use, and you will be put on the road trip map for a nice cake delivery! If you happen to have any bits lying around that you think may be of use, get in touch, all donations are very gratefully received, be it £1 or (I can still hold out hope!) £100, a bit of rubber for the quarterlight, or a brand new bumper! All in return for masses of cake, of course!! Don’t forget the cake!
I have been thinking ever since I got her what I would like to do with Martha. First off I had to fix the windscreen washer, which I did, and did very well. It works, what more is there to say?!!
I also fixed the sun visor that was held on by a screw! The plastic at the side towards the middle had broken at some point, and the previous owner had put a screw in place of it to hold it onto the clip above the windscreen. It was a simple case of yanking out the plastic that was left & flipping it around so that the other side of the plastic was sticking out! Simple!
I also gave te visors a good clean, they were pretty filthy! I was exceptionally suprised at the change of colour when I started cleaning them!
Marthas left eye was also a bit broken, it was very dim, and I wasn’t sure if it was the bulb or something more serious. I took the headlamps out & swapped them over, and found it wasn’t as simple as a broken bulb, but someone suggested looking at connectors on the wiring, and polishing them up to see if that helped. Sure enough, when I looked at the connector, it was exceptionally grubby, so I cleaned it up using a bit of sandpaper, and voila! A perfectly working headlamp!
Other little things I have done include getting new rubbers for the pedals, replaced the original glove box liners, and a gorgeous crocheted blanket for the back seat (it had to be done!!).
Onto ‘The List’.
The list is a little reminder for myself of all the work I would like to (one day) carry out. And here is the list;
In no particular order;
- Weather strips front & rear
- Flash & bonnet handle
- gear stick gaiter
- CD player
- Replace windscreeen washer jets for twin jets
- Clean & re-chrome bumpers
- New light buckets & rims
- New interior
- Sort out wiring (tidy up!)
- Clean engine bay
- Quarterlight mirrors
- Seals on quarterlights
So not much eh?! If you have some bits you would like to offer in return for cake, drop me a line!!