procrastination and the art of car maintenance

a wing and a prayer

a wing and a prayer

There are two ways of keeping an old car running*. One is by adhering to a regime of thorough and regular routine maintenance. The other is based on the school of engineering thought which says ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t mess with it’. Except that it uses rather more forthright language than that.

I aspire to the former method, but have enough self-knowledge to accept my rightful place in the latter school of thought.

This morning I finally got round to tightening up the fan belt; what with the winter nights and the cold and damp, the screaming from the engine when I switched the headlights on was getting a bit distressing.

While I was rootling around under there, I noticed that the LT cable to the coil was frayed now down to a single strand of copper wire. I’d done an emergency roadside bodge repair when the engine conked out  on a busy stretch of the A4o near Monmouth, the last time the wire had parted. I just checked. It was just over a year ago. Hardly any time, really.

So here’s the new repair, the crimp connector complete with plastic sheath and some heatshrink tube for good measure. It was fun sticking the heatshrink on, and I took my time over that bit as it was nice using the blowtorch on such a cold morning.

there, good as new, ish

*well, there’s probably more than two ways, but you know how it is. There are things that go in twos, and then things that don’t go in twos.
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14 Responses to procrastination and the art of car maintenance

  1. diaryboybob says:

    have you ever changed the brush springs on a dynamo? from a 73 beetle in this case….i ask because you are full of surprises and might just know a bodge/fix.

  2. Dru says:

    Hi Rob! -I’ve dismantled assorted electric motors, and dynamos on motorbikes… it’s fairly straightforward. Is it the springs that need changing, or the brushes that are worn? Is this any help?

    …I’d be happy to join in if you’re going to attack the dynamo…

  3. diaryboybob says:

    I think an attack on the dynamo in one form or other is on the cards…bloom’n spring is rusted,broken and not pushing the brush onto the ‘stator?’ I hope i can take the pulley off and the end of the dynamo and have some room to push and prod things til it works again. do not fancy the idea of a day taking carb off etc and lots of expense for the sake of a £6 spring . So a £6 spring obtained via ebay today…and with trepidation i shall wield my spanners once more…thanks for the offer of assistance…i shall be waiting for a dry afternoon and attacking it when it’s least expecting….when i have a tin of bits and a blank look….i shall wish i took you up on it….good link…thanks..

  4. anjiknut says:

    I think it looks a lot neater now, but I expect your prefer a comment like Rob’s th

  5. anjiknut says:

    I think it looks a lot neater now, but I expect your prefer a comment like Rob’s that you can get your teeth into.

  6. Dru says:

    I think it’s called a commutator, Rob, where the brushes communicate with the rotor.

    All answers gratefully received, Anji! Thank you! I was a bit alarmed when I saw how near it was to failing.

  7. Jenny Alto says:

    I had to effect a very similar fix on the Rusty Old Wreck a while back. Mine was less neat than yours though, without the nice shroud and heatshrink. The effect of five decades of vibration on a wire connecting something on the engine to something on the bulkhead.

    There is a simple solution to a dodgy old dynamo on a Beetle or any other car. Fabricate a new bracket, and fit an alternator.

  8. Philip Watson says:

    Some would give a Plumber’s Hiss, and talk about originality. Indeed, some did when we put an alternator on Froggie. I prefer to talk about getting home. Getting home does usually trump originality, in my (excessively utilitarian) book.

  9. Dru says:

    Fair points, Jenny and Philip. I have an alternator in the Mog, and v useful it is too for headlights-that-show-you-where-you’re-going…. my big book of Mogs has pages and pages of tweaks, aftermarket goodies and alterations that people began applying to their cars practically as soon as they came out of the factory.
    Mind you, I do feel a little regretful about junking the points for electronic ignition; points are so much more hands-on…

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  11. Philip Watson says:

    I considered electronic ignition for Froggie, but decided against the idea, mainly because
    (a) I had read that it is unmendable by the roadside if it goes wrong; whereas I’ve got away with some ‘interesting’ get-us-home fixes with conventional points; and
    (b) I wasn’t confident of the outcome of attempting to mix anything with ‘electronic’ in the name with eighteen inches to two feet of River Otter, proceeding south at a fair lick.

  12. Suzzy says:

    Maintenance -mindedness – approach ‘a’ – is something to aspire to, I’m sure. But I’d say that approach ‘b’ requires a higher degree of ingenuity, imagination, and resourcefulness, cos when something is already broke or breaking you usually have to extemporise with methods and materials. Like in Blue Peter.

    Either way, Dru, your ability to bend mechanical things to your will is quite something.

    My own approach, of course, is the lazy and scared approach ‘c’ – take it to someone else who has the knowledge and the feel!

  13. federay says:

    Strangely comforting transformation there.
    And I am sure a powerful metaphor (again) for something.

    You use a blow torch for the shrinky-tape stuff? It’s not unlike a ‘creme brulee’-making kind of level of satisfaction then. Am I right?

  14. Dru says:

    Entirely right, Federay; delicately touching the stuff with the flame and guiding it into shape. V satisfying, as is the warmth.

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