Spark out of luck

OK – calm down, deep breaths…

Today has been ‘interesting’, kicking off with a visit to AutoClassica, who I thought were in Wakefield (close to work), but have moved to Knaresborough (NOT close to work). The chap at AutoClassica, Andrew, is meant to be a bit of a Concours prep guru, so I went to talk to him about my options for the Mantis & this year’s shows. Apart from buying some Swizol stuff off him (I WILL beat Phil Ward one day! Honest! I’m not too proud to cheat!), I enquired if there was anything that could be done about the stonechips on the bonnet, which have started to mount up. It was then pointed out to me that the bonnet (which had been resprayed as a condition of sale from the dealers, Optima, when I bought the car) had been done in a slightly different colour green to the rest of the car! Argh! Now I have had the car for 18 months & never noticed this, but now it has been pointed out to me… You know what I mean! Obviously(!) AutoClassica recommended a respray to do the job properly, but I most definitely can’t strech to £££ at the moment, however creative my accounting! In the meantime we agreed I would return the car to them after the Stoneleigh show for a couple of days polish/wax, & then maybe get the bonnet done sometime this winter. Oh well, at least I got the cleaning kit, which looks quite cool. Andrew did a quick demo on a patch of my bonnet & it was looking pretty nice after about 5 mins work! Shame about the rest of the car!

So, why ‘interesting’? (apart from discovering that I have a 2 tone car!) Well, what has ***ked me off so much is that, for the first time since I’ve had it, the car wouldn’t start this morning, straight out of a dry garage. Then, having established that turning on the A/C knackers all my dials (see previous diary entry), I discovered that it also disables the windscreen wipers (in driving BOOM! BOOM! rain at 80 mph on the M62…). Finally on the way back home tonight my Speedo just died for no reason. Mileometer stopped too. I now have quite an impressive list of things to be fixed when the car goes into the garage on Thursday!

I can take it though! Bring it on! Grrrrrr……


Woohoo! Finished building the shelving in the garage yesterday! Two days of slog to produce something with the structural tolerances of a Hurricane Shelter! (Now I am beginning to wish I had my own garage instead of having to borrow other peoples… Unfortunately that is £££££ round here.). If only Marcos had taken my approach to engineering I wouldn’t have things dropping off a five year old car left, right and probably center (but I haven’t spotted it yet). Then again, the Mantis would’ve had a cast iron body shell, a traction engine power plant and a 0-60 time measured in phases of the moon! Couldn’t there have been a half way point somewhere between us?!? Ah well, too late now! The benefit of this new garage (& the shelving which allows the Mantis to fit in) is no more full lock (x3) every time I have to try & get the car in or out – should save on the tyres a bit. And it’s only 500 yards from my house, which should save on my stumpy little legs a bit too!

My delight at my (somewhat limited) prowess with a hammer & saw was slighted dented when I discovered that turning on the air conditioning religiously blows a 20A fuse every time, which rather bizarrely then kills all my dash gauges with the exception of the clock & rev counter. Some prodding around the fusebox reveals the fact that the fuse layout does not bear an enormous resemblence to the one illustrated in the owners manual. Allegedly the fuse I am blowing with the A/C is the main ignition circuit. I think not… To add insult to injury I also discover a short somwehere in my front fogs circuit, which blows a 15A fuse on demand. Wow! All these ‘undocumented features’!

The postie also brought the diagnostic lead & software that I have been expecting from Racelogic, the manufacturers of my after-market traction control system. I am looking forward to plugging everything in & finally ascertaining whether the TC is working properly or not. Excellent!

Starter for ten

Result! Well, sort of. The starter is fine, the fault eventually being traced to a connection below the motor from the battery. As I understand it, the main lead from the battery is connected to the starter via a ring connector held on by a threaded nut & bolt. This nut had worked loose & the contact had started arcing onto the bolt, thus destroying the thread giving the nut even less to hold on to etc etc. To fix it, the bolt was re-coiled & another nut fitted, with the exotic addition of a vibration-proof washer to stop it happening again. Sometimes I wonder how Marcos produced such a beautiful car, charged £50K for the pleasure (worth every penny!) and then skimped on seven pence for an extra washer. Aaaargh! Anyway, it’s working again, and I am thinking ‘Phew – that nearly cost me a bucket load for a new starter but in the end it only cost me £xxx (censored) to get it fixed’. Is this how all Marcos owners end up thinking? Expect the worst & when that doesn’t happen you feel much better about ‘only’ spending some more money. Stupidly, with all the problems I had a few weeks ago not being able to start the car due to the dead battery, I had forgotten that I can bump start the car even without a starter. Instead I forked out for some guy to trailer the car in to the garage – Doh!. To make myself feel better I went out for a mega blast by myself; I had been pining for that lovely V8 burble for the last few days – and it was still sunny!!! A string of ‘Cor’s and ‘Wow’s from a gaggle of schoolboys make me feel much better about life! Thumbs up all round!

False start

The sickening click of a dead starter motor greets me this morning. A flying visit by the auto-electrician confirms the diagnosis, and I wonder if it is April 1st. A combination of unseasonably warm temperatures & bright sunshine make me want to go out and DRIVE BABY! However, a sheepish call to my local garage is what actually happens, and I enquire when he might be able to ‘fit me in’ – again. We are both reminded of the fact that a sump plug has been on order with MH for the last six weeks, so how long might a new starter motor take? Erk! Visions of missing Le Mans & the various car shows this summer loom… A glimmer of hope in that the starter might be repairable, but this will require more investigation before a verdict is forthcoming. Nothing I can do but wait, fingers crossed, wallet whimpering.

Ditched the idea of dry sumping the car for the foreseeable. Any spare funds look like disappearing into the car anyway.