I know it’s Easter Sunday, and I really am excited and thrilled to know that Jesus rose from the dead, but there’s more – Neddy lives too! It’s clearly the day for resurrections. After several months of being garaged, my lovely Mini is now back on the road, healthy and alive and really loving it!
I was actually hoping to sell Neddy way back in November, when we bought our Ford Escort Ghia X, which was intended to replace our little Mini. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a buyer at the time, what with the credit crunch driving car prices down, so Neddy sat almost completely forgotten in the garage, not seeing the light of day or feeling the tarmac under his tyres. I did make sure the car was MOTed before Christmas, but due to lack of buyers I opted to SORN the car rather than renewing the tax disc, with the intention of getting the ball rolling again in the spring, by which time hopefully the car market would have improved.
A few weeks ago I got the insurance sorted, got the car taxed again, and had every intention of getting the car back on the road. Unfortunately I just never got round to it, what with everything else getting in the way, so Neddy stayed in the garage. Yesterday afternoon I decided enough was enough and I just had to get Neddy up and running again, hopefully so that he can be sold before we move. I pushed the car out of the garage and tried starting it up – not a sausage. A trip out to Halfords equipped me with some jump leads and a battery charger, so I connected the Mini to the Escort and tried to jump start it – again, no joy. The starter motor kicked in and turned the engine over, but it refused to do much more than that. It spluttered and gave very faint signs of trying to start, but nothing more. Not good. In addition, I noticed a small waft of white smoke coming from the engine bay, so stopped what I was doing fairly sharpish.
On further inspection the cause of the smoke appeared to be a wire connected to the fuel inertia cut-off switch (which stops the engine in the event of a crash). I touched the wire and it literally fell apart. No wonder the engine wasn’t keen to start. The insulation around the wire had worn through, by the looks of it through years of rubbing against a nearby bit of plastic in the engine bay, and the wire inside had rusted through. That left the Mini stranded outside the garage, with no clear way of getting it back in (it’s on a slight hill, so pushing it was out of the question).
This afternoon I went back with a little more time and significantly more determination, and set about putting right as much as I could. The wires leading to the switch were my first concern. The wires are actually connected to a plug in the bottom of the switch, so I was able to unplug that end and a gentle tug snapped the other wire too, which apparently was in almost the same condition. A little poking around showed that the wires had rusted along inside the insulation, which means there’s no way of stripping the wires and reconnecting them – the plug can’t be taken apart, so I’m going to have to order a new one. In the meantime I’ve simply connected the two wire ends together, bypassing the switch altogether.
While I was at it I fitted the recharged battery, and tried to resolve an issue I’d had before with the negative battery lead not doing up tight enough and popping off the battery terminal. I eventually got the bolt undone and pinched the ring with a pair of pliers to make the whole thing a tighter fit, and (after accidentally putting the battery in the wrong way round first time and causing a brief spark – oops!) put it all back together without complaint.
So that just left trying to start the engine again. If it still didn’t work my next stop would be to check the spark plugs. But I turned the key, and after a little persuasion the engine lumpily kicked into life, stuttering badly to begin with but levelling out after a minute or two. That’s to be expected after a long time of rest, so I wasn’t concerned too much about that. What joy! Neddy was running again, and my face was beaming! I was standing in front of it, looking lovingly into the engine bay, talking to Neddy again just like I used to.
Of course, that necessitated a quick drive, so I shoved all my tools back in the garage, shut everything up, and got in the driver’s seat. The gear stick felt very foreign to begin with, and the clutch and brake pedals felt very odd indeed, but I soon got the hang of it again – it all came flooding back with pungent familiarity. I took it easy to begin with, driving slowly round the block, teasing the brakes back into life and letting the engine slowly work its way up to normal running temperature. Then it was onto some main roads, trundling along at 30 with an enormous smile on my face and the window down so I could hear that lovely exhaust. The main road turned into a country back road, and with the national speed limit came the familiar temptation to open the engine up and give it some welly! Neddy bounced happily along the road, clearly enjoying being back where he belonged. Back on a main road towards home we met up with a tractor which, at the next available clear straight, presented a nice opportunity for letting loose with the go-juice and doing a little overtaking. Oh the thrills!
The steering actually felt quite heavy after the power steering in the Escort, and the driving position wasn’t exactly perfect either – it’s the case in all Minis, and something we very easily forgive, but the steering wheel is actually off to the left slightly, as are the pedals, which means sitting at an odd angle to drive. Still, it was enormous fun, and brought back many happy memories. The sharp steering, the bumpy ride, the throbbing exhaust, the slight unevenness of the braking, the diddy little windscreen wipers and the pathetic window washer pressure, the amazing ability to stick to the road, the thrill of doing 60 and it feeling like 80. Love it!
The only fly in the ointment really is that now I have to sell my lovely little car. I had delayed putting the adverts up because I wanted to make sure the car actually worked, otherwise I’d have a hard time trying to sell it at all, but now it’s back on the road it means I really ought to be advertising it again in earnest. I shall have to do some research to find out what the going rate is at the moment – before the economic slow-down I would have expected to get around £2200, but I reckon it may be worth nearer £1400 now. I’ll have to see. And of course if I can’t sell it before we move I’ll have to drive it to the Westcountry and sell it there instead. Unless of course I can persuade Ellie to let me keep it for the weekends…