The Continuous Car Thread of S_S - Skodas, BMWs, Austins...

BarryPort

RMS Regular
Location
Portstewart/North Sea
Drives
Sierra Cosworth
Incredible story. The RR owner sounds like a good guy. Nothing beats a pleasurable buying experience especially if it’s the right money, but the TD5 Disco has me green with envy. Been after one of those for a while!
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
After a few weeks of ownership, I don't much like the Discovery for towing. It's too hard and too soft at the same time. My estimation is that it's rock hard springs with done rear shocks. It's too stiff for normal driving but I thought it would be better with a trailer on - nope, even worse! The trailer ends up bouncing everywhere, and because the Disco doesn't sit down any with the weight on, the trailer is nose up and unbalanced, with all weight on the back axle, causing weave and instability.
So I bought an X5, what I was looking for to start with.

A facelift with pre-facelift wheels. a 3.0i auto, totally not what I wanted, but it was cheap and local. The advert had about as much detail as three poor incomplete photos and the title "X5 for sale" can really give you, and talking to the owner the fault list just kept mounting up, so I went to see it and ended up buying it anyway for a "sold as seen, take it away" kind of bargain price.
The good points are that is has a towbar, is extremely clean, and has a very extensive service history.
The bad points are, it's a petrol, it's an auto, it has a months test left, the heater doesn't work, rear windows don't work, EML is on AND on the way home after 15 miles or so, the DSC tripped an error and switched the 4wd off (so the dash says). It then goes into limp mode and has no power. So well done me, another paperweight.
Still using the Disco, then...

On a slightly brighter note, and with less stupids, the bike has moved closer to being road-worthy again!

I had bought all the service and repair parts needed for it, good quality stuff, and the only bike mechanic I know, still 20 miles away, refused to work on it using my parts, would only supply his own. Which would be cheap rubbish, not the likes of the OEM Shell oil I'd imported for it, etc. So a buddy suggested I go all of 600 yards from work and ask the bike racer/engine builder that lives over the bridge and round the corner (literally), so after some cajoling I persuaded Ryan Farquhar to service my bike and set it up a bit better, and it's just back from that. Had to buy a new battery for it too though, my old one had died from sitting too long. Just one more job to do, needs the front fork seals done but I have the name of someone to who can do that now too.
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
Here's a report covering the last 6 or 7 weeks since the last post then.

It has rained a lot and been cold.

Oh, cars? Sorry.
I had at last count managed to purchase a Range Rover, Land Rover and X5.
I first used the X5, and ran the MOT out of it, suffering the 22mpg and no heating, didn't once use it for towing because it kept throwing itself into limp mode erratically, but it was OK to use just for commuting. I've had worse, to be quite honest.
Meanwhile I used the Land Rover as a van for work, doing some towing duties (it had to do, I had nothing else) and with all the seats folded up, there was a decent sized space in the back for moving car parts about.
After the X5 ran out of MOT I hadn't likened to it so it wasn't offered the chance to go through another one, so the Range Rover was fired up again. I gave the battery a full charge and got driving it, and the more miles I put on, the better it got. The gearbox started working again and all the electrics sorted themselves out, even the LPG system was working properly.
That saw me fine into the new year, until I looked down at the gauge as I was on a MPG calculation week, brimmed the tank, drove half a tank out of it, and refilled. This picture will give you some clue to how that went:

That's just over half a tank, and 181 miles covered. At around £125 a tank, this was a dear experiment.
Anyway I will tell you what a P38 4.0 does - it does 16.6 MPG. Not a problem I hear you say, it has LPG, right? Well, on LPG, it does 10.1 MPG. TEN! It actually works out exactly the same running costs on either fuel due to the price difference.
So that started to sicken me a bit... and then this happened:

The battery went flat AGAIN. For about the third time in a month. I'd swapped over several times and had to jump it a few times but this was just starting to get to me. I'd actually taken the charged one I carried in the boot as it had been behaving - so I was stranded in the middle of a junction and had to call a friend to rescue me.
Drove it to work once I got it going... and that spelled the end for the brute.
Well, almost.

I had nothing else to drive so it got a reprieve for a day or two more but it's end was nigh.


The obvious answer would be the Disco, but, just before Christmas, just when I desperately needed to move something, the key stopped working in it.

It was bent a little and worn out and it just ceased to function. So there was no using that - in fact there was no moving of that done until just a couple of days ago when I finally got through to my (very busy) locksmith who made me up a new key and coded it, and a spare as well, so just now the Disco is back.

But meanwhile at the start of January I saw an advert for a van and I recognised the yard it was in. A very nice man I knew through work, a serious restorer of many old BMWs, had suddenly passed away last year completely without warning, and I'd only found out a few months later. The van I then recognised as his personal one, and I knew it would be looked after despite highish miles, because he did a lot of commuting in it for work, but not with much weight onboard. So I went to see it and bought it there and then - older than I wanted, shorter than I wanted, more miles than I wanted - but one owner, well cared for, no bodywork damage (nothing drastic anyway), FSH, towbar - those were things I did want, and the price was appealing, so I got myself a silvery-grey MWB Fiat Ducato 120 2.3jtd. It's nice and clean and I can feel like I like it because I knew the man who owned it from new, it's not some battered old thing with 15 owners and dodgy mileage. I had a good - no, a brilliant - van, and I didn't want to replace it with just any old thing.

So with the van taxed once I'd got it home, the Range Rover was destined for the field behind my mum's old house, and once I'd got every last drop of mileage out of it, I bounced it over the stones and through the grass and left it there. I'd quite like to give it a proper offroading bash someday, or I'll rip the engine out of it... who knows! Will decide later, right now it's even handily storing a load of things from my house in it as it is at least fairly watertight.
Unlike the Land Rover, which has a broken window regulator, so despite now having a working key, is wet and gusty inside.

Home again in the van. Most of our work vans get a name, but this one has none as yet.

And one more thing. Bought 9 Skoda wheels this morning. Interesting enough for me, but what was more interesting was the other information I received at the same time. There will be more to this story!
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
I couldn't just keep driving the work van indefinitely but there was no immediate solution.

A couple of texts at the weekend from a mechanic nearby who I'd dealt with before saw another X5 arrive on Monday morning.
This one was registered in ROI but half the paperwork and NOVA had been done and it was already MOT'd in the North... well, that's legal in my eyes. No wheels though but conveniently enough I'd just parked up that other black X5 which had excellent tyres on it...
I'll tell you what else, heated seats are for winners. And, as if that wasn't perfect enough, it started snowing the same evening. Yesh! I bought a half-priced 4WD on the very day the snow started, and long term readers will know that this is a repeat feat from last year as well! (Forester).
All this went swimmingly until I was driving along a country road enjoying my heated seats and quiet, dry interior...

And "check injector system" flashed up and it coasted to a complete halt. And would not restart.

Ended up towing it back to the yard. Well, that scuppered my plans! I was quite enjoying it too, even more so because it came with a quarter tank of diesel so was basically costing me nothing to run!

But other works were also underway and in a short space where there was nothing on the lift in work and no parts or cars blocking access, I fired up the blue monster and snuck it in.


Again if you're a long term fan (ha!) you'll remember the 540i was bought with a few issues, one of which was the rear beam bushes, which got worse until I stopped driving the car and self-imposed a ban on driving it until they were done.
Richard I bought it from had given me a box of spares, which has since been mixed in with other E34 spares I've had or found in other cars.
So, Meyle or ECP bushes?


The old bushes were cut out...


Pressing in beam bushes did not appeal to the guys in work so they cried a lot and insisted we use the polybushes that were bought for the 740i (same beam). Until after plenty of searching one of my buddies popped in and then revealed that he had "borrowed" them for his car! and had told me he would replace them... which he hasn't as yet.
So his penance? Well, you can fit the rubber ones then!

I've only photos of them empty hole, you will have to use your imagination, that is if you want to bother imagining what new rubber bushes look like.


And last job, as per usual the cold has sapped the life out of the battery, which in this case was a monstrous Bosch unit. I hoiked it out - difficult due to the bulk of it - and stuck a charged up Varta in, keeping it in the family, and immediately pressed it into service, so the 540i is my daily again as of right now!


At some point I'll have a proper sort-out of all the extra cars lying around, like the Range Rover, two black X5s, there's a Mitsubishi MPV and a Fiesta and a couple of BMWs are knocking around that need to go bye-bye, but right now there's too much going on, but soon maybe we will have some order restored!
 

colin84

RMS Regular
Location
Newtownabbey
Drives
E60 M Sport
I couldn't just keep driving the work van indefinitely but there was no immediate solution.

A couple of texts at the weekend from a mechanic nearby who I'd dealt with before saw another X5 arrive on Monday morning.
This one was registered in ROI but half the paperwork and NOVA had been done and it was already MOT'd in the North... well, that's legal in my eyes. No wheels though but conveniently enough I'd just parked up that other black X5 which had excellent tyres on it...
I'll tell you what else, heated seats are for winners. And, as if that wasn't perfect enough, it started snowing the same evening. Yesh! I bought a half-priced 4WD on the very day the snow started, and long term readers will know that this is a repeat feat from last year as well! (Forester).
All this went swimmingly until I was driving along a country road enjoying my heated seats and quiet, dry interior...

And "check injector system" flashed up and it coasted to a complete halt. And would not restart.

Ended up towing it back to the yard. Well, that scuppered my plans! I was quite enjoying it too, even more so because it came with a quarter tank of diesel so was basically costing me nothing to run!

But other works were also underway and in a short space where there was nothing on the lift in work and no parts or cars blocking access, I fired up the blue monster and snuck it in.


Again if you're a long term fan (ha!) you'll remember the 540i was bought with a few issues, one of which was the rear beam bushes, which got worse until I stopped driving the car and self-imposed a ban on driving it until they were done.
Richard I bought it from had given me a box of spares, which has since been mixed in with other E34 spares I've had or found in other cars.
So, Meyle or ECP bushes?


The old bushes were cut out...


Pressing in beam bushes did not appeal to the guys in work so they cried a lot and insisted we use the polybushes that were bought for the 740i (same beam). Until after plenty of searching one of my buddies popped in and then revealed that he had "borrowed" them for his car! and had told me he would replace them... which he hasn't as yet.
So his penance? Well, you can fit the rubber ones then!

I've only photos of them empty hole, you will have to use your imagination, that is if you want to bother imagining what new rubber bushes look like.


And last job, as per usual the cold has sapped the life out of the battery, which in this case was a monstrous Bosch unit. I hoiked it out - difficult due to the bulk of it - and stuck a charged up Varta in, keeping it in the family, and immediately pressed it into service, so the 540i is my daily again as of right now!


At some point I'll have a proper sort-out of all the extra cars lying around, like the Range Rover, two black X5s, there's a Mitsubishi MPV and a Fiesta and a couple of BMWs are knocking around that need to go bye-bye, but right now there's too much going on, but soon maybe we will have some order restored!

What do you think is the issue with the X5? Injector pump?
 

Markhall

RMS Regular
Location
Limavady
Drives
Ax gt, defender
I love this thread and I know you break cars but I have to wonder . You bought a rangey a defender a van and two x5’s none of which have been anything but utter ball ache.
Do you never just think balls to this I’m gonna spend a bit more money and get something less bother ? Or do you genuinely just enjoy a challenge lol
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
I love this thread and I know you break cars but I have to wonder . You bought a rangey a defender a van and two x5’s none of which have been anything but utter ball ache.
Do you never just think balls to this I’m gonna spend a bit more money and get something less bother ? Or do you genuinely just enjoy a challenge lol
Actually the van has been spot on!
I don't know what it is, I think it's just in me. Despite my parents both being skilled entrepreneurs, they just never caught the breaks and we grew up in abject poverty, so while you'd think that would mean now I can afford to buy one good car and forget about the horrid junk we endured back then, instead I keep on doing the same thing...
And yeah, I know people that have newer, "better" cars - they keep having to throw money at them to make them "reliable". No car is less bother and I learned that very early on when I worked in a dealership and saw brand new Fords, Mazdas and Hyundais coming back regular for engines and all sorts. Nothing is reliable so I have a blast driving around various junk instead of being tortured by one millstone on HP.
Don't forget I also have the Alfa 156 and MG ZT in the drive both of which have been impeccably reliable needing nothing more than servicing. But I don't want to drive them over winter.
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
What do you think is the issue with the X5? Injector pump?
Probably. Imma have to get a mate out with his INPA because I am currently sans diagnostics, but it looks like that or the ECU. Very electrical like, power cut, did not feel like a physical fuel supply problem.
 

Alan_B

RMS Regular
Location
My house
Drives
320d/Tracer
Probably. Imma have to get a mate out with his INPA because I am currently sans diagnostics, but it looks like that or the ECU. Very electrical like, power cut, did not feel like a physical fuel supply problem.

My Rangerover did the same thing, showing plenty of fuel on the gauge but added some more diesel and away she went . . . . Never did it again either
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
Maintaining a slight modicum of inertia, the youngest guy at work took some initiative and sourced me a window regulator from a local scrappy (which I had to go pick up myself, the cheek of it!) for the Disco. He pulled the door card off and found it bent out of shape although the motor still worked.



As we then pulled it out we found that the grab rail that the glass is held in to, had rusted at the tab joints. The tabs screw on to the scissor arms on the regulator - so with them not holding, the window was free to swing about. and so the regulator arms had got twisted as the rusty metal sheared its way off, and rendered it fairly unusable.

So we had a good piece of glass, but a rotten support rail. We had a good regulator, but no tabs to attach it to.

Thankfully the scrappy we used is incredibly rash and they had smashed the glass off the regulator rather than unscrew it properly. Which meant there was still a support rail bolted to it - full of glass shards.

They did this because as we took our glass out, we found that it involves many rusty 10mm / T40 torx bolts, and then the top half of the door slides out! The whole frame lifts up - but we managed to do it without taking the whole thing off, just the front - as there was a bolt or two on the rearmost end of the frame we didn't fancy snapping.

So, peel apart the rail with the broken glass in it - one difficult job. Two, take the rusty rail off the window without levering against the window and smashing it. Then, aided by copious amounts of washing up liquid, squeeze the good rail back on to the good piece of glass.

I say squeeze:

Many dubious activities were utilised in the process.

But it worked! And after dousing the rail and the rubber grippy insert in warm water to flush the washing up liquid out, fitting was the reverse of removal. Slide in, get it into the channels, slot the door frame into place, tighten bolts, undo bolts, put the weather seal on, slot the door frame into place take 2, tighten bolts, bolt up regulator, test, fit door cards, and now

there is a working window in the Landy again, the window isn't stuck at half mast (which is why it was cold and wet inside) and maybe that means I can use it semi-comfortably again.
Not that the 540i has been a bad daily during the (tiny skiff of) snow or the -1 temps, but more because the Land Rover has half a diesel in it, and the 540i is doing 19mpg and it's out of petrol now seeing I've been using it for a week.
Ha! That sounds so cheap!
The Land Rover has been getting damp inside and we all know that's not good for them - a car needs to be driven to clear that and get it dry inside. The 540i was the same, it was fusty inside and condensation on the inside of the windows. Driving it around for a few days has rightly cleared that up (and yes I'm careful about inhaling spores and what have you) but the answer to having lots of cars and them not being manky inside is to use them.
Which, by the way, is something also that surprised me last week - I went to check on various members of the fleet and found that the only car that is totally dry inside is the Fiat Regata! No damp at all in the cabin! The boot area is a totally different story, you could rent it out for breeding Koi, but that's a bad boot seal causing that. But very surprising.

Anyway there you have it. An almost fully functional Discovery 2...
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
...for about four days!

I had a lot going on this week, unpleasant circumstances which don't need discussed right now. So I was taking the Disco home in the middle of the night earlier this week and noticed the fuel was low - really low - but it made it home fine, as there was nowhere open since the local 24hr petrol station is now only an 18hr.
Next morning it started fine - and conked out, literally, after 4 metres of movement. Yeah, it moved roughly one car-length.
That had the added boon of being enough to block any possibility of getting another car out of the drive past it. So I had to call in reinforcements.

A can of diesel and a fat battery didn't get it, so I got a lift to work and took the 540i home.
Such were the circumstances of this week I ignored the LR blocking my drive and just used the other car.

Today I set into it again. Twice I went and got a drum of diesel so it ended up with nearly half a tank in it. I followed the bleed procedure for a TD5 engine about fifty times, hooking up first one big battery and then another as they got all used up.


Bleed procedure requires a few ignition on, accelerator pumps, resets, etc. Or you can just jump the relay to prime it...


Which still wasn't getting the system loaded up. I read on a LR forum about cracking off the return line to help air escape, although it's a self bleeding system and shouldn't need it, but it is a Land Rover and it is nigh on 2 decades old.
That is way easier written than done though. It's not exactly easy access.

Lean over, look down the side...hmm.


Using a spanner to undo the QR connection


I also managed to get the water trap off the bottom of the fuel filter and there was diesel in there too, and plenty poured out when fuel pump was running so it was feeding the system OK.

After all that, back to the pump relay and get it to send up some diesel. It was actually bleeding up alright. The problem was now what it was bleeding!


That's, well, I'm not going to get done for running red, that's for sure!

I stopped and started it pumping for a bit until it seemed to be running clear(er). Then tried it again and it was even more milky! Waited until it seemed clear... one more go... nope, white again! Ach. eventually it was constantly semi-clear, so I just stuck it back together and cranked it over, foot to the floor as start-up procedure after bleeding requires.
It was still a no go and LR actually recommend cranking for 30 seconds, then re-prime, then do it again - well, the battery was flagging towards the end of 30 seconds cranking!

So, the mighty MG came to the rescue again! Started it up, apologised to it for not using it over winter, then asked if it was OK if it would kindly jump start the LR which takes more than twice the CCA that the MG does...or has in it's puny battery.

So it did :laughing:
Good MG!
And the LR chugged into life, and now we're back, almost, to a fully working driveway!
Oh, the window regulator that was replaced a few days ago...erm, that's not working again! But at least it's stuck fully up, not halfway down, so it's dry. I'll just leave it alone for now...
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
Here comes the last couple of months, all at once.

Last post was early in February. There I alluded to certain circumstances that weren't to be mentioned, simply because I still didn't want to talk about it, but what happened that two of my friends were killed in a car accident. Both were only in their 20's and one in particular was definitely one of my best car buddies, and searching back over the last page or two of this thread will find stories with him in them.
Personally it was a huge blow and shook me badly, and as far as even this thread goes, it's stymied much of my car plans given that he would have been often helping me with bits and pieces - especially anything Skoda related as he had a little bit of interest in them as well.

Now that was enough to stop me doing anything, or wanting to make any posts for a while. Coupled with that, I was in the process of moving house and ended up in the grey in-between area which is sometimes also known as sleeping on yer mates sofa. That also meant cramming cars in everywhere and with a lot of project cars at my house, I ended up engaging a lot of ropey moves to find them homes. One mechanic I know ended up working on about 6 different cars for me, meaning I could leave one off every time I picked up the fixed one thus effectively getting free parking for a month. Anyway I made it work and it's somewhat sorted now - more on that later.

Let's start at the start. Thankfully Samsung phones save pictures using the date and time so I have a timeline of sorts to work with.

February:


This was my old garage. It was a great garage but truthfully a bit small. Perfect for Austins though. These were a pain to move but a couple of guys came and added strength and we just bulled them into the back of one of my vans, where they stayed while I moved. A friend drove the MG over for me while I took the van, and no longer decries the MG but understands the appeal now. A small victory! The Fiat was taken via recovery lorry to work where it stayed for three weeks with my TV inside it, seeing as it was the driest car inside as mentioned previously.

March:

This is the part of Land Rover ownership I had hoped to avoid! 25 miles or so from home and it suddenly lost power, temperature gauge reached for the sky and steam billowed out the bonnet edges. When I pulled off the M1 it conked out, and after a moment, trying to restart it span over much too enthusiastically - just the way you would expect a motor with low or no compression to do.
I was heading down to meet someone - refer back to the last post where a selection of Skoda wheels are pictured. So I rang him and apologised, rang my buddies who were meant to be coming down later, and sat forlornly for about ten minutes.
Then I threw in the contents of a jug of water - it had lost coolant from the expansion tank once before so I was carrying a small bottle's worth - slammed the bonnet down and turned it over. For what? I think I just hoped I could get it to run enough to drive a mile and get it off the motorway. Rescuing from a service station is much more workable than the side of an increasingly busy stretch of fast carriageway.

So things actually improved from there - it started up just fine, and tippled off merrily, with no issues presenting. So, it's fine now?
I was collected from there by a man who does not suit a purple Micra. Nevertheless we left the old bus parked up and embarked on a bit of a mission round the doors.
First he took me to see a car that he had left a deposit on but wasn't going to get round to.
That would be this one:

I spoke to the owner and agreed to complete the sale and collect soon.

Next I was ferried through the bustling traffic and darkening rain, to another remote location, to be presented with the subjects of another uncompleted sale:


I felt like this was a terrible time to be buying projects. Bear in mind at this point I was, for the second time, technically homeless, and had less than zero storage capability for clunky old cars. But at least I had put the deals off for a bit, so I didn't need to worry right now? Well no, because the buddies who were meant to be following 20 minutes behind me down the M1, were about two hours late, but that sort of panned out anyway as I'd been being driven round County Down by this strange (but also strangely likeable) man for about two hours as well, so we convened back at his workshop.
Which - wait, what..! - was at an old farm which I had just been at with the same buddies only 6 days earlier, agreeing to buy an old car from another one of the workshops!

So anyway, it was now utterly pitch black, he had no outside lighting, it was miserable with rain, and eventually, with many many lateness, an E61 diesel arrived with my trailer attached, with two young men more interested in the old motorbikes and Cadillac limo in the unit than helping me get out my new purchase.
The futility of trying to move a car out of a stuffed unit that was meant to be already cleared out, a week later than first planned, a month later than first actually agreed, three hours later than agreed on the day, with two hours of stuff to move before trying to release seized brakes (not too bad thankfully)... was lost to all but me. But we persevered and eventually it was released, loaded, and careened back to my work yard to live upon the trailer for there was no other space for it.

Another one!



Not totally rotten either, but missing a drivetrain. No matter...
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
Now, you may ask, how did the Land Rover fare out? Or maybe you were so appalled by my terrible car purchases that you left already.
Well, I got dropped off by leather-upholstered E61 beside my annoyingly cold Discovery, in the rain, at a closed petrol station, from whence I headed off home using the country roads rather than the motorway, stopping every 10 miles to check coolant level and top up as necessary. It used some but didn't empty itself.
Thus it returned home and was immediately diagnosed as thermostat, as the heater also refused to provide warm air any more and I was abjectly frozen on my long return path.
That was delivered to the previously mentioned mechanic with the new part, ordered from a specialist in England for not a huge sum, and I went back to one of the many crappy BMWs I'd recently bought for breaking but was taking advantage of their MOT'd-ness.

Still in early March, and here's a picture of my Fiat because, well, it's my thread.


Right, the LR is now out of action temporarily. My old van is full of Austins, my new van is full of furniture, my MG, 540i and actually the LR too are all full of books, clothes and tea-towels.
I've no tow vehicle, the trailer is supporting the weight of a Regal Red Rapid anyway and we have a lot of equipment and parts to move in work.
So, the classifieds get an extra hard hammering one particular day and an advert pops up for something that would maybe suit the immediate need - one of the immediate needs also being that we have no time to run about looking at stuff miles and miles away, so something in the next village north-ish would do nicely. A quick phone call at lunch time, throw the rest of the cuppa down our necks and 20 minutes later we're (thoroughly) test driving our new 'Veco.

There wasn't a squeak in it, mileage isn't totally offensive and with the strong 2.3 16v plant in it which I rate highly, it was as good as sold. All I had to do was argue over the price for almost three minutes and then our new "Pikey Wagon" (TM) was put to work. Drop sides were removed, scrap shell was loaded and it was at the recycling yard within the hour. It's 3.5T gross which means any of us in work can drive it, with a 1.4 ton payload. That's useful.

Next problem - that grey-blue Skoda. Never mind having nowhere to put it, it also was up to it's ankles in muddy clay and all the tyres were perished and flat.
I dug out some wheels I had kicking around and found them some tyres


Can't tell if its looks better right way or wrong way round...


And a couple more


Got that all done on a quiet Saturday, then spent an hour or so fixing an old Land Rover for someone. We were arranging the logistics behind exporting it and it needed to run well, and after so much tinkering we had to test drive it.
One over-excited youngster, one of the ever-nonpunctual ones, pointed down a lane and suggested we drive that way. That 'way' soon became a muddy lane and with nowhere to turn, into the field at the end we went.


That seemed like a class idea, until I saw those tractor tracks and realised this wasn't going to go so well. True enough, we immediately stopped forward momentum, and all the shifting into low-box, sticking undergrowth under the massive off-road tyres, and counter steering was getting us precisely nowhere. Light was slightly fading now and we were a long uphill mucky walk away from anyone civilised.
Then we heard, then saw, another Land Rover come down the lane behind us. And lo! there was a winch on the front of it! Except... except, why is he shouting at us? Why is he calling us names and chastising us in all sorts of unfamiliar ways? And then - why is he driving off?! Why - what - where is he going? And off went the grumpy old man in his Land Rover with the winch.
Probably to get his shotgun!
So we waited around for five minutes trying to figure out who to call, which was nobody because we were the ones with a proper 4wd, and then our best solution was to walk back and get my Disco. So we climbed a fence and started hiking cross-field towards the nearest road.
Halfway through a cut field we spotted the roof of a fairly large Massey Ferguson going down the lane we were lodged at the bottom of. We turned back and ran to meet what turned out to be the nearest farmer with the angry old man in the cab beside him. We hooked a chain up, while also being told off some more, and the little LR was pulled out with ease.

The farmer was fine, but the old man, well actually he settled down then after I started having a conversation with him, and then he was interested in the Lightweight, and then I suggested he jump in the back with the two other lads while I drove back up, which he was quite delighted to do. So because there was no turning in the lane, the problem from the beginning, I reversed all the way, far too quick, muck flying everywhere, with three voices yelling out of the back "whoa there", and we made a friend out of the now-less-grumpy old man, explained who we were and who we knew, for it's all about who you know in this country and then everything's fine, oh you're such and such, that's yer cousin, I know yer uncle, I know a man that bought a tractor off yer man ten years ago, ach I know who ye are now sure...etc etc.
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
That exhausting Saturday over, the next day, I was pottering about on my tod, and decided playing with the spacers and wheels I've had waiting for the S110R for 6 months would be a good, and long overdue, plan.

First up was getting the 15" Revolutions off:

Easier said than done as the car is pretty tightly squeezed in.

And then, an issue:

The centre bore in the spacer doesn't fit over the large Skoda centre. That's when I recalled differences in the hub sizes of various old Skodas. All that information was locked away a decade ago and I'd forgot.

But what was also recalled is that the rear is smaller. So:

Yep! The adapter fits there. So, 4x130 now ready for a 4x100 wheel. Grab that ATS!

Sling on that low offset 7j rim.


Which, well, erm...

This may not work!

Here's a top shot.

That's a full inch and a half sticking out. Which is a little bit more than the width of the adapter.

So that hasn't progressed from there. I dropped the wheel onto a piece of timber and left it while my cranial cogs try to figure it out. I need to run 7j wheels for reasons of dishiness. 6j don't have the dished look and are hard to get anyway. The spacer is because 7jx13 are very hard to get in the right PCD, and any of these wheels in the right PCD, no matter what size, are a fortune now. Like, £800+ fortunes. That's not a huge shout off Image prices and the point of choosing ATS Classics was to avoid having to splurge a grand on wheels and tyres for the next couple of years. After that, sure, when I paint the car, but for now I just want it looking period correct but also cool, so I can use it.


Right, continuing some of the unwiser moments. The Iveco, known alternately as "The PikeyWagon" or "Rico the Veco" or "The Truck" or "The Pickup" was doing a sterling job, but was devoid of a towbar, or of covered transport. I had been continually on the alert for a suitably priced interim van and had spied a Sevel production a while back, but communication had stalled while a private plate was removed from it. Once the V5 came back the seller's missus contacted me to see if the interest still existed.
Then a situation was presented to me which was that of the two never-punctual cronies had to go rescue one of their brothers' car some 60 miles away where it had ceased to run. Their plan? What plan??! Borrowing a car with a towbar from one of their dads was a good start... but they didn't have a trailer. It was also after 6pm and the hire place was closed. Of all the idiotic... wait, where is the car? Oh, that works out well, that's ten miles from where this van I want is! So I presented them with a FAR better plan, one that involved taking the Skoda off my trailer, towing that there with their dad's car (which I then found out was not only devoid of towbar electrics, but ALSO not even there! Another son had borrowed it for the day!) and... oh this is terrible.
So I took number one son to his brothers work to argue then retrieve car, set him to wiring up the electrics, then delegated the trailer emptying process to the other accomplice who was supposed to be doing the driving, then rang the van vendor, made arrangements, and had us all on our way a mere hour later than planned. My plans generally operate on a 1-2 minute margin of error. I can play by those timescales and I leave when I need to and arrive when i say I will. These guys, they like to leave ten minutes after they should have arrived there, no matter where "there" is.
So an hour after that, we drive down a very bouncy road, four up, looking out for a bungalow with a van outside it, which we find, and we go in to poke around. We reverse the car in with a transporter trailer and get it lined up exactly in line with the van. The man selling it looks extremely apprehensive but one of the others ruins it by telling him we're not going to load the van on the trailer. Shame.
I take a look around it, clambering through the back and lying on the concrete drive to poke at the sills - except I am not lying on the drive, I'm lying in a pool of rainwater and now I'm soaked! At least the sills were OK. In fact the whole van is rather sound, so without the time or desire for a test drive, it's wait 10 minutes while three young'uns talk nonsense to the seller, then barter, haggle and get 10% off the price, or maybe not even that much, and go inside to do the paperwork.

Five minutes later we walk back out and the van is gone. As are the three, very funny, young men. As we walk round the house we spot them, up the road, in a wider drive, unhitching the trailer from one BMW car and attaching it to the new van. It's cheerio to the seller, and then go to make sure my new purchase actually has working electronics and a stable towbar. All those things that you would think would be better verified before this kind of undertaking.

And we're off.

Half an hour later, one Ibiza bottomed out on air-ride is pushed on to the trailer - four of us plus a couple of university hipster-students who felt very macho then having helped push a whole car by themselves.
At this point I asked the three others if they had, in all their great plan making, remembered to bring straps? The blank stares were - well, embarrassing. But, I do it to help them remember, so they don't keep making the same mistake. Then I tell them to check the boot of the BMW, where I put some.
And that is thankfully the end of the shenanigans, because the new addition to the fleet drove just fine, if rather underpowered because it's just a Citroen HDi engine, not a proper 2.3jtd 16v, and I drove the BMW back and everything was fine. Almost everything - my trailer was doing an awful lot of shaking and skipping when empty. It's been doing that a while now. But we replaced the tyre that had been causing an issue on that side. Hmm.

A couple of days later in the Citroen...


Followed, just a mile later, by


That's not bad miles at all for a 14 year old commercial. It has a wooden floor and a workbench in the rear though.

And to round off this post, the next Sunday, I gathered up a few bits and jumped into an E46 330i to take a run down to see my dad, as he was sans car at the time having returned his year old Yaris Hybrid piece of nonsense scrap. I turned round for one second and the Collie pup from next door, who had been following me around all morning, decided he wanted to go too!
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
Alright, continuing on.

Just in case anyone was wondering about it (unlikely!) the blue Skoda estate is still sitting waiting for painting. My friends that were killed had been prepping this, and not only this but I had lent them my DeVilbiss paint gun, which immediately went walkies after people came round to the parents house to offer condolences. As did two motorbikes and a load of tools, but that's another story. Anyway I still have the Skoda and it's still waiting. I'm hoping my friend Vinny will paint it for me but he is very busy.


At the end of the month, sort of three-ish weeks after I'd said I'd pick up that Skoda in two weeks... I figured, now that I have a van, and the trailer is empty... and those two buddies of mine owe me a favour... I managed to talk everyone into a 9am Saturday morning job.
So an early breakfast

and I headed down with the Citroen Relay van and the trailer. I was supposed to be followed down with them in another car, and then we could load up, and I could run back to work and open up and they could finish loading and strapping and drive down at their leisure in the van.

But true to form they were there about 45 minutes late, so it was all rather panicked, well except it wasn't because they're that laid back they're nearly flat.

The doors were seized shut, because Skoda latches seize shut, it's a thing. The handbrake was up and the steering lock on. So the seller and I made a policy decision and cut the rubber seal to a rear window, and took it out. Then when my buddies arrived, we took the skinny one and put him head first through the quarter window! While he was wriggling in I took his shoes off him, which took him by surprise, but then I told him to look at the immaculate beige interior he has climbed into and he understood. We got the car straightened up, then tried to winch it, and it stayed put.
All those wheels I had prepped ages ago, remember? Useless. The wheel bolts were so rusty that they were impossible to remove. Never mind the jack sinking straight into the clay and the car sliding off it.
We ended up using a combination of the jack, a long wooden board, a longer pole, and brutality, and we go the car to move forward... and after that the winch took hold and it slid onto the trailer. Not rolled. Slid.
This time there were straps on board (because I'd packed them) and while one did that we went to find all the extras, and loaded up more glass, panels, three spares engines (all stored outside so not great) and another couple of wheels.
I left them to it then after lifting the heaviest of the parts in, and just as I went to leave (after having paid the man of course, far too much of course), he handed me a folder, which was actually impressive!


And he didn't mind me taking a picture of one of his other stalled projects...



I hadn't any firm plans for this car but the diagnosis once back at the yard was fairly obvious.


It's really, really bad. But lots of good parts.
Now at this point I've stripped quite a few of these and it's a little depressing to be the guy doing that. BUT - these are actually pretty bad ones, and I have high hopes of being able to build one complete, very nice car out of what's left over from the two last year I stripped and this blue one. And the red one will, I think, provide the means to fix the red one I already have, which was in danger of not getting done, so actually it might work out OK. And there's still the other two shells that I was shown that dank dark night.


Finally having got into my new house, I was able to empty the stuff out of my cars, and that meant that I could throw a bag in the 540i, the only car on-fleet that I'd actually want to take for a long drive right now, and the only one big enough to take down to the Odyssey Arena. For why, you wonder? Well, a while ago, I'd put in a request at the cinema counter, and they'd taken my details, and sent me an email, and were keeping me something until the end of the month. So I headed on down, met up with a friend who'd gone ahead and ordered in the pizzas, and then we went round and I picked up my new lifestyle necessity.

As I went down, a couple went up, and the guy was looking quizzically at me, and I said, "You just gotta ask!" and he burst out laughing. Nice moment.


Stayed up chatting for a long while then headed from there in the wee hours down to my dad's. Stayed up chatting, kipped, then went for a spin down the coast on Sunday afternoon to get some fish n chips. Managed to catch a nice sunny day for it, and sat looking at the edge of Scotland on the horizon, spotting ships (there are three in this picture) and talking about nothing very much.


The 540i doesn't quite have a role even yet, but this was a day when it did a particular job very well, and that is a great thing.


That was March. April comes after.
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
Finally we were into April and now I was fully installed in the new house - a good job, as I haven't quite got the knack of camping just yet...


Now at least I could crack on with some of those jobs that were just dragging out.
First the Alfa. The 156 that is. It's sat around all winter avoiding the salt and of course that has resulted in a dead battery.

I dislike changing it because it means removing the intake, and the positive terminal is very fiddly, and the strap over the top has no slack in it so only the exact right height battery will fit.
But enough being enough, that was changed over so it can be moved around, although I'm still not driving it any more.


With that moving, it could be backed away from the doors of the old barn at the new house, the barn being 88.2% of the reason I moved here, giving me clear access so I could fill it up. But first, I needed to tackle the not-so-sliding door.
As you can see, this was not ideal.


I got it lined up but it kept jamming and bucking off the rail again.

A bit of sweeping revealed the real problem, a mis-aligned rail in the ground. I cleaned at it, tried a few things then resorted to thumping it with a hammer until it had a bit of a curve in the leading edge, and thus the door could just about get over it.
Seeking to make the whole thing easier, I decided to raise the door a bit on it's hangers.
I was hampered by inadequate tooling inventory at home, not having got all my usual kit over yet.

What I did have was in the boot of the Regata and between a great many adapters I managed to find a socket the right size, and scampered back up the ladder to adjust the door hangers.

A 6ft ladder, and 6ft me tip-toeing on the top of it trying to wrench on a rusted solid bolt a foot higher than my head didn't go well at all - no catastrophe, just no result.

So I took the big spanner, and a brush shaft, and with a bit of grunting and shoving I got the door to lift up onto the rail where it belonged.

It was tight, but at least it was on. I went to puch it along and it jammed solid. Like, SOLID. It wasn't even in the right position, and annoyingly, both doors need to be slid open to get proper access in.

Straight then to plan J. There were probably plans for all the other letters after A&B as well but they were too sensible or took too long.
The previous day when driving along I had spotted a strap off a lorry lying on the main road and had lifted it before it smashed a windscreen or ruptured a tyre.
So I got that out of the car...

and together with some other bits of rope and such, I managed to use the ratchet to form a solid strapping around the bottom of the door, through that rotten hole in it, around the frame, and pulled with all my might and got it freed off. Not only that, once I had it pulled back into the right position, where the pieces of C channel on the bottom of the door, the guides if you will, where they don't need to go near that hump or any of the other spots in the guide rail where they were sticking - well, I tied off the strapping to an inner frame post of the barn and now the door cannot be over-opened, and will never be able to jam again.
That, I am sure, is a legit and well engineered fix.

Moving on!

Land Rover. We've been here before. This buried me, I'll be quite honest. Suggestions have been made about why I have bought unreliable car after unreliable car, and persisted rather than just sacking them all off and buying one decent thing - well, actually, I thought the Discovery was sort of decent. No longer...


The thermostat change hadn't actually changed anything. It was still pumping out cold air, threatening to overheat and using up coolant.
So, a full flush (after checking, it was only water in it) and out came some rust-coloured water from deep in the engine recesses.

But it was very thorough, blocking off each pipe one after the other, making sure to get every avenue cleansed.

Diagnosis had revealed a coolant related problem to the drivers side of the engine.
Around here:

You can see the evidence.

What there is no picture of is the £40 bottle of Steel Seal that was then mixed and pumped in to the system. It's fully, independently guaranteed to resolve head gasket failure, or your money back, but my issue was not a HGF.
It was this leak right here:


To be fair it wasn't the worst drippy drippy ever seen, and it was only a bit of coolant being used. It doesn't drain or boil the lot, just uses a little bit and has done since purchase, making me think it's just been a leak the whole time. The radiator has always stayed full except that once, twice that it overheated due to running out of refreshing liquid.

So I had high hopes that the Steel Seal would cure my sort-of minor leak.
While lying under the big bus, I also spotted a worryingly oily bit


and another oily bit


Maybe that's just normal? No, didn't think so.

Still, that should be it fixed now...
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
Fixed?! You must be joking! This is a L-R product. So no, the leak got worse. Immediately.
What had been a minor drip drip from a core plug was now a full on stream and my expensive snake oil elexir had not cured it. Of course the core plug is also located behind the engine mount, so that's nice and handy then, not.


Another thing to deal with was my dad not having a car. We talked about a nice MG, almost going to look at one or two, and considered a newer 1 series, all the while looking out for an auto Suzuki Swift as the ideal. So then when a diesel auto BMW 320d Touring came up for an attention grabbing price, it was an empty evening instantly filled, and an immediate departure on a 95 minute drive into the hilly bits of the country.
The thing is though, with hilly areas, you eventually get to the top of one, and then:


So I arrived, many gallons of petrol later, at a nice little bungalow down a very bumpy road, and found the steed in question.

No significant rot was detected, a few small issues were, and after I was thrown the keys and blazzed down the bumpy road which I then realised, although unpleasant in a lowered E34, was very good for road-testing high mileage E46s with unknown suspension, and probably other cars too.
But it was good. I left a deposit then rang my dad on the way back, to let him know he had a car now. He wasn't as thrilled on the phone as I'd expected - I guess he had been secretly looking forward to a nice black MG with heated seats, not some far away clapped out 3 series that he'd never seen. Of course it wasn't clapped out really, but anyway, he soon cheered up when I told him my sister was over for a visit and we could make a mini-roadtrip out of picking it up a couple of nights later.

So, a nice lead-in - my sister had come over from Scotland for a week and was staying at that house I'd literally just moved in to, still without furniture or cutlery because, well, because I work 100 hours a week and the rest of the time I'm asleep and don't care about towel racks. Not that I particularly care about them when I'm awake either.
That meant having to go get some stuff for the house. Stuff I had crammed into cars and abandoned all over. Two in particular were at my mum's old place, the old farm, the "home place" as old people would call it; the Range Rover V8, and a Mivec 2.4i Mitsubishi Grandis. The MPV some friends of mine were going to scrap, and I commandeered it as a van-sized load-all self-propelled storage container.
At this point I'll clarify some people involved - there are two clampits previously referred to as "youngsters" and other endearing terms. We've got a pair of 22 year olds called William and Matthew, two guys I knew for a while but who were also friends of Ali and Patrik, our friends that were killed. Since that event, these two and I and another 20 year old, Jordan, spend a lot more time doing unwise things with cars that previously we all did separately. So when I say we threw a youngster through a quarter window, that would be the very skinny William, whose brother is also called Matt, the one with the broken down Ibiza, which helps keep things in a state of confusion. And Matthew, well he's the one that likes driving a lot, likes towing because he's farming stock and a total culchie, and doesn't mind picking things up for me as long as everything is insured and I pay for their chips. Which suits me well as I can't be bothered running the country, being a full decade older and a full decade more cynical.
Which nicely brings us to the next photo. Matthew and I were embarking on a pre-arranged trip to collect an E36 M3 I was buying for work, when I rang the seller just to let him know we were on our way, and he stated then that he had sold the car to someone else. No matter that we had helped him value the car for insurance, or that we had made arrangements, or spent probably a couple of hours on the phone with him over the last week... but not even the decency to cancel our arranged trip to drive some two hours to him, never mind that his word clearly meant nothing to him.
So we sat there dumbfounded for a few minutes, then just took the trailer back to where I was storing it - and then decided, seeing it was hitched, we'd bring the Mitsubishi out and trailer that and also bring the Range Rover over to my new house so I could empty them out.
Now, that meant we had a free evening, and the Range Rover needed moving out of the field I had abandoned it in 10-12 weeks previously. But, why not have some fun first?!


Now we're talking! This made everything WAY better!


It even got a bit of slide on through the wettest bit of the field


Right then, fun's over.
Mitsiwibsi would not start. This became annoying and we then decided it needed tow-started. With the RR of course!


But it would not start in the yard, which isn't that long really. So now, pointing down the yard, the clear answer was to pull it around the field and start it on the tow during that.

That went... wellll...


Yeah, not good.

Really not good.


What happened, although we didn't know it until we dug later, was that there were wooden logs there, overgrown, and while the RR could clear them, the Mitsuwoohoo couldn't, and it stuck firm, and the RR couldn't get any grip to pull it over.

Anyway it was still funny at this point.


Even at this point.


And also... oh, what's that smoke?! That's when we discovered the logs, after the exhaust made one start smouldering under the back bumper!


We dug the wood all out and then started to realise the significant difficulty we were in.


DEEP!
 

surprising_skoda

RMS Regular
Location
Dungannon
Drives
Skoda/BMW/Austin
Alright then, that was all a bit of fun. But really, both of these vehicles had a lot of stuff from my house in them which I actually needed, and leaving them buried down the field until it dries out in summer wasn't a practical solution.
So that's when things became a bit more serious - and stupider.
I'm not sure whose incredibly dopey idea it was, but a few minutes later, Matthew's Navara was also driving into the field,


Hooked up to the RR and low box engaged...


And it moved!


Downwards!


So now the Nissan was also bogged in. It was unstrapped, unladen and much rocking was attempted but it just wasn't going.

The light was going. There was a metal bar and shackle that could be used as an anchor, way down the field. Quite far away, but we got all of the straps, all of them, and just managed to reach it, and I started ratcheting on them while Matthew tried to drive forward.


To say that nothing changed would be incorrect, because, the Navara was definitely getting deeper.


Alright, we were now getting a little bit less giddy about this whole thing.
We realised that we were only getting out with the help of a tractor. We didn't have one - well I don't, his family does, but 30 miles away.
So we went on the scrounge. Thankfully we still had my Citroen Relay sitting there to drive or we'd have been walking. Could I think of anyone along the road where I grew up that had a tractor? Not a hope! Everyone I knew was dead. There is my grandad's "home place" but it was sold a few years ago by my uncle, and the Massey 135 in the shed probably wouldn't be the answer anyway! Oh, then I remembered, sure they sell tractors from my Aunt's house, I'll go up and see her. Except they were on holiday for three days, as I'd been told that morning, so that was really quite inconvenient! I went to see a guy I know up the road, who might know someone. "He's dead, he's away, he sold his, and that guy, he would have lent it to you for sure, but I used it yesterday and I broke it"
Well that's just typical! Between us there wasn't a tractor or tractor owner available within a five mile radius and at 10:15 at night now there wasn't going to be anytime soon.

We drove back down the road towards the house, and nipped down a long lane looking for someone I met, once, who might have had one, but the house was in darkness and I had to reverse the van all the way back up the lane. We were almost back when I spotted the back of a blue cab and hit the brakes. "There's a tractor!" I exclaimed / "There's a New Holland 600 with double attachment forks!" Matthew exclaimed; at the same time. Umm, yeah, did I mention he's a total culchie? That's probably not exactly what he said, but it was something overly specific like that for only having seen the top rear of the cab.
So we drove in and there were lights on, and we knocked, explained ourselves, pleaded a bit, and got a positive response that meant rescue was coming soon!

So we raced back down to the house to make space for a big tractor, and in a few moments it was there and driving into the field complete with bucket on the front and lots of lights.


First off we got the Navara towed out and onto some less muddy field, and it drove out then.


Then it was the RR.

It was in deep. This is the door not being able to open fully. Remember this RR is jacked up too.

So, lets tow it out.


Hmm. That looks an awful lot like a tractor spinning it's wheels, doesn't it? Well, that's because, that is what happened! The tractor sunk in, and started to get bogged down too! He then took to reversing up to the bonnet, then racing forward, jerking a heavy chain shackled to the front of the RR, while I kept it planted, in Low 2nd, and after several dozen attempts, it started to creep up and out of it's dug-in emplacement. Except we had a bigger problem now, literally. The tractor was stuck!

But, that bucket was suddenly very useful, because it provided ample leverage for a skilled tractor driver to lift his axle and drag himself free of the mire, and my noisy RR with it.

Bearing in mind that this was now nearing 11pm, and my Range Rover is an almost unsilenced V8, we figured that was enough, and stopped to recover after thanking our noble rescuer and trying to clear the clods of mud he dragged out on to the road, and up the road, all the way up the road....



Two mucky pups! We tidied up, grabbed our stuff, put the trailer in the drive and scarpered!
 

Coog

Admin
Drives
MK2 Golf
Perfect example of how things can go so wrong so quickly. We lost about half a dozen guys on the top of a mountain up near Cookstown one afternoon and ended up having to leave a few vehicles up there for someone with a unimog and a winch to rescue a few days later. I guess they thought they could go anywhere they wanted in their landies 😂
 
Top