Just a load of old rambling about me and the different things I end up doing...normally projects and builds of some description!
I have also published a book called "The Project Has Landed..." about the Land Rover Series 3 rebuild I did and it can be bought from any amazon website so please feel free to go and get yourself a copy!
If you feel the need or just want to talk feel free to contact me via Nick@nickysmith.me and I will get back to you asap :)
Mini Days.Posted by Nicky Smith Sun, July 15, 2018 07:53:46 Yea I know I haven't been around much lately and I will not apologise for that because I have been out and about enjoying the weather generally living life. This does not mean I have not been making plans and pottering just a little in the background. The camper keeps getting an extra modification here and there just to tweak it to maximum comfort for the three times a year we seem to be using it. My back garden (and house for that matter) is now covered in fantastically coloured plants so it look likes someone who cares about what it looks like actually lives here and not just an availablecar.com branch. The mini though has taken a bit of a back step.
It's covered up most of the time so you just tend to wander past it without a second glance. On Friday though I had a few hours to kill so I decided it was time to take off the tarp and whip out the front lights. Well it started with the lights then the bumper just had to be removed on the front, with the front off the back had to be removed too because I am a bit of an OCD freak. The bonnet needs some repair so that's in the garage now along with the drivers door because that needs reskinning.
I have put the tarp back over it for now because cars take up lots more space when they are in bits and room is in short supply at the moment...
Oh and the puppy has now taken to barking, she has found her voice. Anything is game including an empty cornflake box placed on the windowsill ready to be taken out for recycling. Apparently it was going to kill us all by the way she was growling and barking at it, what would we do without her protection from such things I do not know!
Mini Days.Posted by Nicky Smith Sun, May 20, 2018 08:59:21 Anyone else got a puppy that's a bit of a twat?
I have to ask because I really don't want to be the only person out here in the big bad world that suffers this particular affliction. Let's have a quick recap about the whole dog situation over the last twelve months. Molly was my last dog. She was a stupid great lump that malted for 11 months of the year but she was part of the furniture and part of the family. She was around for the kids growing up and when she passed away last November she was ten and a half years old. I was devastated. She was my shadow and I didn't realise how much I talked to her until she was gone and I found myself speaking out loud in all sorts of situations only to myself and the empty space beside me. January found me falling down the stairs whilst carrying a basket of washing only to break my foot as I hit the hallway floor at the bottom. I should probably make a better story on how that happened like "I was fighting off an armed burglar with only a slipper when I slipped" rather than "I was doing the washing chores when I didn't look where I was going". Anyway a week or so in of teh forced rest that comes with a broken bone it was suggested that now was the time to get a new pup for company and training. I agreed found a Cockerpoo went to collect one and chose a twat.
I should of figured my mistake out when after two weeks the pup decided to jump off of the sofa in a blind panic because I was carrying a plate of food into the landing funny and breaking her back leg. Thank god for the vets free 4 weeks insurance because that break cost the best part of four grand to fix! Can you imagine having to pay for that! I haven't got forty quid let alone four grand. Quite frankly she hasn't got much brighter in the stupid stakes. She is pleasant enough and there is not a mean bone in her body but when outside she will happily have a taste of whatever is on the ground. On Saturday morning this was a sliver of cut off metal.
Seriously, I was cleaning off the cut areas ready for the replacement roof when I could hear this weird metal on something chewing noise that made my very core crawl. I looked down to see my dumb pup happily chewing on a six inch long by 5mm thick bit of rusty metal. She then had the audacity to give me that dirty look that only the female sex of any species can do when I took it off of her and told her no! That added with the fact that she likes to bugger off next door ninja like to see the old fella there whenever she feels like it certainly keeps me on my toes when trying to work on anything at all. I forgot what bloody hard work puppies were...
I priced up a new roof panel for JD but it came in a little over £400 which is a little too pricey for my tastes. When I bought the mini it came with a donor shell but the roof on it would require a little work to one corner. After all of three seconds contemplation I decided I could live with that and set to removing it.
It came off easily enough with the grinder and those thin discs I found the day before.
I trimmed the gutter off once removed then set to fitting it to JD. A few adjustments here and there saw it put into place so now the old boy has a much better roof than the colander he had before!
When you have finished something that makes such a big difference on the appearance front you really do feel like you are making quick progress. There is still a long way to go on the welding front on the mini though with lots of small award time consuming patches. It'll be worth it though and lets face it, I would only be wandering around the house getting myself into trouble anyway if I didn't have this.
Mini Days.Posted by Nicky Smith Sun, May 20, 2018 08:26:41 I finished work mid afternoon on Friday and quickly found myself stood in my garage looking at the unruly and unkempt state of the place. This is highly unusual for me because I am a proper OCD freak when it comes to tidiness and things put away in their place. There is nothing worse than needing a tool and then having to spend ten minutes looking for it. To me that is a colossal waste of time that could be spent doing something more productive, I have to just walk in and pick up what I need. So how the garage has ended up in a such an unusual mess is beyond me, maybe my cheese is starting to slip off of my cracker.
Anyway as I was putting away the tools and disposing of the copious amounts of rubbish that had seemed to appear from nowhere (I may need to speak to Wifey about that as I know I am getting a little forgetful in my mid years but not to the extent of forgetting when I bought myself a new set of hair curlers and then dumped the box in the garage) I came across a fresh still in the packet set of 1mm cutting discs.
"They would be perfect for cutting the rusty mini roof off" I thought to myself whilst taking the cover off of JD just to check they could.
Of course within about 30 seconds I had dug out the grinder, fitted the disc and double checked the cutting points. It is amazing how quickly you can cut off the roof of a car you know!
There were a couple of holes that needed a quick clean up and patch putting in but that didn't take long. It was at this point my old git neighbour wandered around to ask "What's all that bloody noise about". Smiling to myself and him I said "What's it got to do with you old man?" I best explain here that that's the way we communicate. With abuse. It's good natured and I think the silly old bugger is great fun. He just wanted to see how far I had got with the project so far. He has seen a few over the last couple of years and loves to have a poke around when a new one gets going.
"Thought about maybe making it a convertable?" he asked but believe it or not I had the costs involved in that though are crazy high so nope it will just be a standard roof on this one.
By now it was time to get the dinner on but with Wifey and the girls away for the weekend from the Saturday morning I figured sorting a roof out with my first full day off would be the best way to spend the day...
Mini Days.Posted by Nicky Smith Fri, May 18, 2018 17:18:48 I have only just finished the campervan conversion so my plan was to take a few months off and make JD the mini an Autumn/Winter project. I'm not sure who I thought I was kidding with that thought or statement to my Wife last Sunday afternoon because lets face it, it wasn't going to wash. I cannot sit still for long. I pulled up the old carpet in the hall and stained the floor boards for something to do one evening then the following two I watched a bit of TV and then a bit more. Boredom was never more than a fidget away...
Last night around six pm whilst being faced with all of the chores completed, the garden watered and dinner eaten I was faced with little more to do than hit Netflix to see what rubbish I could watch. I actually made it to the sofa but as soon as my backside touched the cushions it was a "Nope, I'm not sitting here again for hours on end" I told the dog and walked straight outside over the newly varnished floor to the carport.
"May as well have a quick peek at the Mini" I thought to myself whilst slowly peeling the cover off of it with the anticipation of a teenage boy getting to second base for the first time. There it sat in it's full unrestored beauty with the light somehow managing to glint off of it's rather dirty paintwork as if it was happy to just be in the open once again.
I had a look here and then there at what needed doing forming a plan in my mind of the order that it needed to be done in. I had to start from the top first repair wise so all of the windows had to be removed so the headlining could come out without getting torn. The rubbers would have to be freed off with a simple slide of a plastic scraper between them and the body work...where did I leave that scraper?
Yep that's it nice and simple followed by a gentle push of the glass from the inside and "Pop" out comes the window. Best store that safely.
The side windows are a bit tougher if I remember so best be gentle here, yep all good with nothing broken.
Back window must be similar to the front so nice and steady and yep out it comes in one very old unbroken piece! I am four for four here!
Now you have to name your car from the number plate if possible so after about half a seconds thought the mini shall be called JD. Now how did the headlining come out again? Oh yea peel back the glue and start to pop it out of the holes in the roof trying not to break the plastic inserts because they have to be 43 years old now...old git...how old am I this year? Bugger...45. The plastics inserts will be fine then and not break because they are still fit as a fiddle not gained any weight and still look like they did when they were 26. Bugger...snapped one at the end, still not to worry the rest of the headlining looks fantastic almost hip and stylish.
The door seals should be easy to remove and that interior really should come out so I can see what else is lurking around under it all rust wise.
Hmm just a couple of extra little holes here and there so all in all not too bad at all.
It was at this point my ever suffering Wife came out of the front door with a fresh cup of tea stopped dead and looked around the now mini part strewn driveway and carport then said "Well the summer passed by really quickly this year" smiled set my tea down then slowly closed the front door on the chaos that had ensued outside.
It was at this point that I actually realised that whether I liked it or not I had started the mini rebuild. I chortled quietly to myself unsurprised at the way I had yet again got carried away with another piece of classic scrap that would become an obsession no doubt over the next few months.
I don't know if you have ever driven off of a ferry into a foreign country but it can be a bit hectic. You have the entire contents of
a boat trying to leave the dockside as quickly as possible all at
once because those few minutes getting out first just have to make
the difference when you are faced with a long drive ahead.
I hung back and just let them get on with it. Another hour or two
was going to make no difference at all to me with the drive I had
laid out ahead, so I just took in the tarmac and concrete buildings
shimmering in the heat unique view that I had from the low down seat
in the mini.
As I made my way through the port
towards passport control I had the dock workers then even the police
grinning and pointing at the car with talk and shouts of “Coche
clásico" as I passed. I just grinned back and waved as I
passed by at the pace the Queen normally sets whilst humouring her
security checks were pretty painless with the only delay being
questions actually about the mini's set up and year of build etc.
The road now called and I set out building the speed up to a steady
60mph on the three lane road along the built up coastline remembering
to drive on the wrong side of the road as those quirky European folks
do. I had done this drive about a year or so before so was confident
that I would easily navigate my way through the poorly signposted
many road splits. I wove left and right confident in my driving
skills and memory enjoying the clear blue skies and that Spanish sunshine.
not going to lie here, after about twenty miles I really was not
recognising anything I could see along the way. Even the road looked
wrong. Some signage for a service station loomed up in the distance
and I decided that it was time to swallow my manly pride and ask
someone if and where I had gone wrong. Yea, I had very wrong. I was
basically heading towards home in a northerly direction. After some
laughter from the cashier at where I actually wanted to head, no need
for that really, he pointed out the route I wanted on a map, which I
ended up buying because I hadn't brought one with me, I fuelled the
mini up and set off in confidence once again.
diversion wasn't that bad if I am honest. I got to see some of the
country I had not seen before, nor since, and time wise it had cost
me about an hour. No biggy because there was no rush to get anywhere
were not designed initially with mountain climbing in mind. I know
this first hand because the beginning of the run from Bilbao has lots
of very long and steep roads that in a mini that is screaming it's
heart out trying to get to the top of. As this happened a couple of
times early on in the drive I did wonder if I was going to make it to
the other side of the hills let alone to the other side of Spain but
as per usual the little fella just kept on plodding.
second thing that mini's were not designed for in Europe was toll
booths. Modern cars are quite a bit taller than an old mini then
couple in the fact you are on the wrong side of the car saw me
hopping out of the drivers seat, which seemed to become harder and
harder as the day drew on, everytime I needed to pay for my passage.
It was never just a quick pay job though as everyone would start off
the transaction with “Esta Muy Classica” then go onto to asking
me exactly what model of mini it was and that they didn't see many of
those over here any more.
stayed being polite hoping that a little conversation whilst
upsetting everyone else queing behind me would lead to free passage
on the toll roads, but it never did.
the first five or six hours carried on in much the same vein. I
would fill the mini up with fuel then drive until I hit a toll. Talk
for a bit thankful to stretch my legs out for a minute or two then
drive some more on the perfectly smooth european roads until I needed
to fuel up again.
sun rose high in the sky then stareted it's slow desent back towards
the horizon leaving me marvelling at what a wonderful thing life is
and that travel was one of the best things you can do within it.
when the first very nasty painful sounding noise came from just
behind the dashboard...
The clear blue cloudless sky's lasted for the whole trip. I don't
mean just to Portsmouth but the entire trip from the UK to Southern
Spain. The Sun other than having to disappear each day as it has
always done with the perpetual motion of the earth kept me company
from the moment I began this crazy venture for the second time. No,
come hell and high water I cannot say that things could not of got
worse on the adventure thrown at me on this trip. It could have
The trip to catch the ferry on it's second attempt was uneventful.
It was filled with me being a bit of a nervous wreck keeping an eye
on literally each and every new noise the mini made as we settled
into each others company again. A squeak from behind had me thinking
the wheels were going to fall off, then a slight knock from the front
had me convinced the engine mountings were about to sheer. But he
just purred along though at a steady 60mph not missing a beat on the
three hour drive through some of the most stunning countryside the
Cotswold's had to offer.
The fresh paintwork reflected the strong rays of sunshine and people
were turning to smile, stare and wave at the little car as they
overtook us on the motorways then as we passed through small towns
and villages. This was the beginning of what would become the normal
sort of attention the plucky little fella would get throughout the
Soon enough I arrived at the port and once the usual ticket and
vehicle checks were made we were driving up what seemed like a really
steep ramp compared to the size of the mini onto the parking deck of
the ship. The loader fella had a big grin on his face as he directed
me into the correct position so the car could be strapped down.
“Don't see many of these making the trip across the water these
days” he said still with that crazy big grin on his face.
“Probably not the best type of grand tourer!” I replied with a
And there I left it in it's new parking spot for a couple of days. I
didn't need to worry about it breaking down for a bit as we were
going to be pushed along under someone else's steam for a while so
there was nothing else to do other than dump my bag in my cabin and
go and find myself a beer from somewhere.
Have you ever been on boat to Spain before? It's got some really
varied and interesting people and groups on it. You have the bikers
who want to go for a blast in a country where they will actually be
dry and warm for a change. The truck drivers who mostly keep to
themselves whilst being forced away from the vehicle they normally
live in and maintaining the very solitary nature of their existence.
Then there's the groups of lads and ladies, I mean ladies in the
furthest extremity of the definition of the word here, who are using
the crossing as a booze cruise spending all of a few hours on the
Spanish mainland after docking before returning back onboard to start
the whole boozy return process all over again.
There is always a presence of those taking their camper vans over or
returning to their new homes in the sun. There always seems to be a
presence of happiness and planning with these people who quietly plan
what they will be doing and where they will be going.
Then there were a few folk like me. Not mad buggers who thought
driving a classic mini to Spain was a good idea but those that were
travelling by themselves for one reason or another. We are a rare
breed who seem to recognise the happiness in travelling alone. It's
not lonely you just have to be happy with your own company and enjoy
passing the time in any way you see fit.
The boat though has limited things to do onboard. The main time
passer seems to be drinking but even though I enjoy a beer I'm not a
fan of getting drunk for no reason at all nor even if there really is
one. So I spent the time bobbing up and down the waves just
relaxing. I wandered the ship from bow to stern and back again taking
in all of the floors and taking a deliciously long amount of time
deciding what meals I should be eating when.
What I would recommend to anyone sailing on any type of ship though
is this. Book a cabin with a window in it! The inside cabins with no
windows leave you not knowing what time of day or night it is and
that is really rather disorientating.
Soon enough the days passed and I could see the Spanish mainland
appearing on the horizon and a couple of hours later we were docked
in Bilbao and I found myself sat in the mini, engine running, waiting
for the car in from to drive off.
As it did the ships exit ramp appeared with a very Spanish view in
front of me and there was once again that nervous exciting need to
poo yourself a little bit type of feeling in my belly. I selected
first gear released the handbrake and bounced down the ramp off of
the ship into the Spanish heat and sunshine to try and get this
really old little car from one corner of Spain down to the other.
Mini Days.Posted by Nicky Smith Sun, March 18, 2018 07:20:39 Why is it that whenever I want to move a motor around the weather turns bitterly cold or wet? I figure that someone somewhere is trying to put me off even starting the next new project so that I can keep the skin on my knuckles, the curses in my mouth and what little of the non grey hair on my head intact.
Having battled through the icy cold winds and snow showers we managed to get the little Burgundy mini onto my driveway. We did manage to get it running at the collection point and onto the trailer but a strong smell of petrol leading to the discovery of a rather large leak put paid to running it anymore at the other end to get it off again. Luckily my driveway is all downhill so it wasn't that much of a struggle.
Once it was settled into place and the goodbyes to the friends that had helped get it here were done it was time to have a good cursory look around the little fella. And it is a little fella. I had forgotten how small the mini's were once you got them outside into the real world! I remember how when I was young and stupid me and my friends would pick them up and move them around causing the owners no end of stress I am sure trying to find them in the morning. I best clarify they were not random mini's. We knew who the owners were and sometimes would pop back out hiding up the road when they came out of their houses to watch the look of "What the Hell?" on their faces when they saw an empty mini sized slot of the street where their csr should have been.
Back to the inspection though. There are a couple of things I had missed on my first look around it but nothing to worry about in the grand scheme of things. There's the normal welding but in order to start that the interior needs to be stripped out first but I'm in no rush to begin because the campervan needs a little TLC to get it ready for summer first. With that in mind I have put the little car to bed under it's nice and new car cover that will hopefully keep the water out of the holey roof! I do know myself quite well though and with the promise of lighter evenings starting from next weekend I do not doubt that the cover will soon be off and the interior stripped out before we know it.
Mini Days.Posted by Nicky Smith Sun, March 04, 2018 18:25:22 I have been wondering what sort of project to do next for some time now or even if I should bother for a while and just leave things for a bit. But who was I kidding there was never not going to be a project kicking around. For one thing my wife would lose the plot with me being under her feet all of the time and there is no way that I could not have something to tinker with kicking around. My pottering time is where I relax, spending the time to process my days in the background of my mind while bringing something back from the brink of being scrap yard spares to churning up mile after mile of tarmac with a new lease of life.
What to build next though? I have done a campervan, a couple of Land Rovers and tinkered with bikes. I needed something else to occupy my tiny mind but what?
I looked at a toylander type affair, which is still on the cards, but I kept drifting back to the rose tinted memories of rebuilding classic mini's way way back in the past. The more I looked into what could be next the more often I found myself drifting back to looking at mini projects that other people had abandoned or poor old mini's that had just plain got old and tired.
What amazes me is how much the price of these old motors has rocketed. I used to buy these cars up from as little as £20 just to break for spares but now that would be impossible. Rusty old tin cans now that I would not have looked at back then with any thought of restoring them are commanding money in the regions of of four figures which seems like lunacy to me. It is a sure sign though that you are getting older when you start making these comparisons and cars that were common place on the roads of your youth are now classed as classics. Indeed it would seem that I myself am becoming...Retro.
But a friend has made me an offer I cannot refuse on a little 1975 840cc classic mini automatic that is in need of some attention. This little motor will be here over the next few weeks and the rebuild will begin. This won't be a quick fix it up and turn it around job. I want to make a proper job of this one and to do that it is going to take some time along with a fair amount of cash that I don't actually have at the moment. I think it will be worth it though, to do a proper job and have this plucky little survivor looking the mutts once again. Of course I will keep you all in the loop on how it all goes...that's if you want to of course ;)
It was a dull grey late winter morning when the tyres started turning
on the tarmac heading towards Portsmouth from Northamptonshire. The
engine was ticking over nicely as we hummed along the A roads towards
the motorway. I was feeling happy at the adventure about to unfold
and wondered if anyone else had been stupid enough to drive the
horrific mileage from the UK and across the whole of Spain.
The mileage ticked by in the relaxing uneventful way that a good long
distance drive tends to do leaving your mind to ponder on other
issues you have in this short existence of ours while the window
screen wipers thump rhythmically clearing the light rain that was
slowly but continually falling. I was quite content watching the
trees and fields pass by whilst being overtaken by just about
everything else on the road. No rush though I just wanted to enjoy
Up ahead the gantry signs flashing warning of a road closure that
would affect my planned route but even as I was leaning forward to
see exactly what the problem was through the mist I had planned an
alternative way in my mind. It was about twenty miles longer but
motorway miles are easy miles and the ferry wasn't sailing for a long
time. I am a bit of a stickler for being anywhere I am going to
early. I hate being late with a vengeance. Yes yes it's a very
British thing but if you can't make the effort to be on time I think
it says a lot about the sort of person you are.
So I diverted onto a different motorway clocking up more relaxed
mileage when I noticed a two mile marker sign for a service station.
'A coffee maybe?' I thought to myself while thinking about how badly
a stop this far away on a diversion would effect my arrival time.
Turns out a coffee stop and the time it would take to queue up to buy
it and have a quick trip to the loo were the least of my worries as
about ten seconds later there was an almighty explosion of red hot
coolant and steam coming out of the front and sides of bonnet!
It covered the windscreen as instantly as it exploded making me jump
out of my skin and having me pull onto the hard shoulder braking
What went through my mind at this point? You may think it was 'What
the hell happened there?' or 'Was there anything else on the hard
shoulder where I am pulling up blind?' but no that wasn't what went
through my mind.
What I was thinking was 'Shit that's a fresh respray now covered in
boiling coolant!!!!!! Got to wipe it off got to wipe it off as
quickly as possible!!!'
Literally as soon as I stopped I was out of the mini pulling my shirt
off and wiping the bodywork down trying to get the awful coolant off
of that fresh paintwork. Thankfully it was still raining so that was
helping. Only once this was done did I realise that I probably needed
a change of underwear from the bang and panicked blind emergency stop
of the side of the motorway.
'Best see the damage then' I said to myself whilst opening the bonnet
and looking into the tiny engine bay through squinted eyes not
wanting to actually see how bad it was under there.
Surprisingly only the radiator cap was missing which was nice but
what the hell had caused the extremely quick overheating? I had been
keeping an eye on the temperature gauge for most of the journey
seeing as the old girl had been parked up for a good while before I
bought it and nothing had seemed amiss, so whatever had caused this
now was fast, I mean really fast and it was clear that I was not
going to source the problem standing on the side of a motorway in the
A quick call to the breakdown service and within the hour I was on
the back of a flatbed heading back to the mini hospital to get Dr
Bob's help on this one because I had called the ferry company
explaining the problem and they agreed reluctantly to move my booking
to the next boat out in two days time. I then spoke to my friend who
was going to be expecting me at the south side of Spain in a few days
to say it would be a few days longer.
He seemed to have a lot more confidence in me than I had in myself to
sort the problem quickly and get Spain side still in time for his
Wife's fortieth birthday, the day after I was now going to arrive.
No pressure then.
It was early evening when I got to Dr Bobs so we decided to meet back
up first thing in the morning to get the little mini back in order.
At first light Dr Bob said to me 'You didn't run it around for the
couple of weeks before you took it on this expedition of yours did
'No Bob, sorry' I replied whilst looking at the floor feeling like my
Dad had caught me up to no good. Again.
'Idiot' he said with a smile 'Best get it sorted then eh' and with
that we dived into finding the problem.
The problem turned out to be one of those 'What the Hell I have never
seen this before' kind of moments. You see what had caused the rapid
overheating was the heater matrix. It had collapsed and I mean
completely collapsed internally. Classic mini's heater matrix's have
over the years got blocked up causing you to have no heating then
needing either a really good back flush or replacing but this little
heater had just bypassed that stage completely and disintegrated
internally chucking bits of rust metal and crap throughout the
It was a nightmare cleaning it all out. The matrix was replaced
after back flushing the engine time after time ensuring the crap was
cleared. We then ran it up to temp, drained it all off and did the
whole thing over again. Finally later that afternoon the plucky
little mini was sat there ticking over sweetly once more acting as if
nothing had ever been wrong with it.
'Now go and run it. Run it hard and run it far. Make sure it's OK
before you head off tomorrow Nick' Bob said looking at me like he was
my Dad again.
'Yes Bob' I replied sullenly feeling chastised again.
I did run it though. I ran up nearly eighty miles on the longest
drive home I have ever done because I knew what was at stake now. I
had no more breathing room I had to get this little mini to southern
Spain or the surprise would be ruined. So I headed home and crashed
out into an exhausted sleep rising to the sound of my early alarm
which felt like it was going off about five minutes after I had got
I washed got dressed and grabbed my holdall. It got thrown into the
passenger foot well and I fired up the little burgundy mini took a
deep breath thinking 'At least the suns out now' while looking at the
wall to wall deep clear blue skies.
With that I stuck it into first gear and headed of on the long drive
to the port for the second time.
the challenge accepted the hunt was on for a decent little mini that
would be taken to southern Spain as a surprise 40th
Birthday present for my friends wife. Luckily I knew a few folks
that liked to dabble in mini's. They killed them, fixed them, modded
them and generally lived an obsessive mini lifestyle so where better
to start the hunt?
made some calls and knocked on doors ending up drinking lots tea with
mini mad friends. This was not a quick process because once you
start talking to anyone about their passion it is never a quick
conversation, after all this is their life their love their
everything in most cases! It's never a simple 'Do you know of any
decent mini's for sale?' conversation because the reply would be
along the lines of 'Define decent and the type of mini you are
looking for. Have you considered the year? Engine size? Do you want
a particular special edition?' so you can see what the problem was
going to be here.
cut a long story short all roads led me back to a fellow I knew in
Northampton called Dr Bob. He ran a company called The Mini Hospital
that specialised in looking after....mini's! This was the chap who
actually taught me to weld and he was a straight honest chap that
would tell you exactly what he thought and the truth whether you
wanted him to or not. I understand that he retired a few years ago
from the mini repair world which is a great loss to that community
because he was a living Google of mini information and an absolute
whiz on the spanners.
of the nature of his work Bob always seemed to now of a few mini's
for sale and this time was no exception. Sat in his workshop tucked
away at the back was a little burgundy ancient mini that had been
locked away in a little old ladies garage for donkeys years. It had
just been through a light restoration bodywork wise and serviced by
Bob himself too. It was a lovely looking little thing and a deal was
soon struck with a warning from Bobs lips...
been parked up for years Nick you need to run it around for a bit to
see if anything else needs sorting on it. I have literally driven
from here to the MOT station and back so run it around a bit before
heading off for Spain. Polish the new paintwork again too as it's
still quite fresh and with a long drive you want to give it a good
I will do that Bob without fail chap so we can sort any issues before
the long drive' I replied.
that I hopped into the driving seat and drove the little mini the 20
miles home with a big grin on my face and without a care in the
the mini sourced I had to make lots of other arrangements to get it
over to Spain. Time off of work had to be sorted along with European
breakdown cover and the ferry bookings of course. The price of
transport was soon creeping up so I looked to see if it would be
cheaper and easier to send it over by transporter but nope that was
twice the price of driving there so I figured 'ROAD TRIP!!”
I knew it two weeks had passed and the birthday deadline was looming
fast so I pulled the mini out of the garage I had stored it in and
had not really had much of a chance to play with it since I brought
it back. It fired first turn of the key and was soon parked up
outside of my house with spare parts loaded into every available
space so my friend had them Spain side and I had them for the
I kissed my wife and kids goodbye, threw my holdall full of clothes
onto the passenger seat and with a sense of adventure fired it up and
set off. The journey had begun.
would appear you would like to play online games especially Bingo.
Now I understand we all need a hobby in life to while away the lonely
hours of these dark evenings and a little gambling across many sites
is yours. Indeed if this is your vice I agree you should take
advantage of all of the joining up offers that these types of sites
give you. There's nothing wrong with 50 free spins, or £30 added to
your account with "No restrictions on the amount you can
win!!!" Chase your dreams Janice, you just never know when
lady luck will cast her loving favor towards you. You may be able to
buy a new car, finally take that holiday to white sandy sunny shores
afar or even pay off your mortgage.
dreams though Janice are far simpler. I am not a complicated man. I
like to come home from work and relax. When I go to sleep at night I
like to get the three or four hours of unbroken rest my body allows
me with no disturbances from modern technology. So with that in
mind Janice will you please please bloody stop putting my mobile
phone number into the online registration forms. It seems you prefer
a full nights sleep too without the hassle of text messages from
FreeBingo and it's rather shady associates that have now started
offering me services in the early hours that I have never needed
before and don't need now. I have not led a sheltered life but some
of the options that are listed amaze me that there is demand enough
to advertise about it! Janice you play your bingo and your slot
machines. I hope they make you happy but for the love of God go and
buy a disposable phone (seriously you get them for a tenner from
anywhere now) and put that number in your freebie forms. How do I
know it's you Janice? Well that's easy. They are texting you by name
to my phone.
For a short while I worked in Southern Spain on the Ports as a
Shipping agent. I loved the job but like all good things it came to
an end entering the memory banks as one of those good chapters. I
remember my first day on the job standing there with my manager, who
was English but had lived in Spain for over fifteen years and had a
Spanish Wife, and the foreman of the Stevedore's who loaded and
unloaded the ships.
The foreman was talking to me through my manager who was translating
and the conversation went along these lines.
“Do you speak Spanish?” said the foreman.
“Not yet” I replied “But I have lessons booked everyday for a
month so give me that long”
“You NEED to speak Spanish or the men will not respect you”
“Yep, I agree. That's why I am going back to school. Give me a
He sort of then made a hmmpth noise, said something very fast and
loud in Spanish to my manager who then laughed and walked away
shaking his head.
I worked my ass off over that month studying Spanish. I was immersed
in the language and culture and this helped no end. By the end of
that month I could get by just fine when I was sober and thought I
was fluent when I had had a drink.
A rather large coal ship was in port and nearly unloaded about a
month later when the foreman shouted from across the deck on Spanish
“How long until this is supposed to sail?”
“You have three hours” I shouted back “If you need more tell me
now so we can rearrange the pilot” (A pilot is a local sailor that
knows the port inside out and backwards that navigate the ships in
and out of harbour).
“Three hours should do fine” he said followed by “Wait there a
At that he and the crew of stevedore's headed for me from all over
the ships deck. Now I have to admit I wondered what was about to
happen at this point but I stood there hoping I wasn't about to be
tied up and dropped into a hold in some sort of backwater initiation
They all came up close to me and stopped dead in a semi circle around
me looking dead serious when the foreman said in Spanish “Have you
been taking Spanish lessons everyday?”
I replied in Spanish “I must have because I couldn't say a word a
few weeks ago could I”
“We agree” he boomed smiling “We were all just saying how well
you were doing with the language. We have all asked questions lately
and you have been talking very well in Spanish even if you do need
that silly little book every now and then that is in your pocket for
a word you don't know.”
“Thanks” I replied.
Then he said to me in English with a twinkle in his eye and a grin on
his face “Yes yes you have. You have have earned our respect with
My chin hit the floor. They all started laughing as if on cue. “You
speak English!? All of you?”
With laughter booming the foreman replied “ Yes we do Nico and now
you can help us practice it as we have helped you practice Spanish!”
“You bastards! Do you know what a struggle this last month has
“Yes we do Nico. You have pulled that little book out of your
pocket so many times looking for the right words that you have still
managed to get wrong sometimes” There were nodding heads and
chuckling all round now. “But would you have tried so hard if you
knew we spoke some of your language?”
He was right of course. He was also a big fat git for doing it but I
understood why. The laughter between him and my manager on my first
day was after he said that they would not speak English for a few
weeks then to me. After that I was accepted with the guys I worked
with. I ate with them, drank with them and met all of their families
as they met mine. It was a fantastic time and I look back at it all
So what does this have to do with driving a mini across Spain? Well
that would be my managers fault. We became very good friends over my
time in Spain and after we had been back in the UK for a few months
or so I got a phone call from him early one morning telling me that
it was his wife's fortieth birthday in a few weeks and he had
transferred £2000 into my bank account.
I said that I was happy for his wife but why was he giving me a two
grand present instead of her?
“I want you to find her a mini!” he proclaimed. “You know what
you are looking at and I wanted you to bring it over and have a long
weekend too. Take what ever it costs you for your time out of the
money and I will top it up if I need to”
I should point out here that this was back at the turn of the century
so everything was a bit cheaper then....Jeez I sound old.
“Err OK then. Three weeks to find one, fix it and get it to
southern Spain. Should be a piece of cake chap”
He laughed, I wondered how the hell I was going to manage this but I didn't need much of an excuse for a boozy weekend away so the hunt for a decent mini was about to begin.
For those of you that may not have noticed I like to rebuild things.
I am not saying I do it particularly well but I do enjoy the pleasure
of taking something that most other people would think is beyond
repair and bringing it back to life while it kicks and screams in
protest as it is brought back to live just a little bit longer.
Anyone that has worked on old motors knows that they do like to fight
back most of the way, its almost like they begrudge being made to do
more work to cover more miles when everyone else including themselves
thought that it was all over.
My passions for what I rebuild come and go. It can get boring doing
the same type of vehicle over and over again. I mean where is the
challenge in that? As the years have flown by I have rebuilt
everything from motorbikes to Land Rovers and everything size wise
What I started with though was the classic mini. Like thousands of
other young men my age at the time these little treasures where
cheap, cheerful and plentiful. You could pick them up for as little
as £20 but they had one inherent problem that was common to all cars
from this era....rust.
Once they came into contact with a bit of rain and salty winter roads
the steel would just chuck in the towel to the tin worm and rot as
quickly as you could patch them up. I don't think that any classic
mini actually ended its days wearing the same metal it was built
You had to learn to weld quickly to even attempt to keep them in one
piece and the engines though reliable had to be maintained on a
regular basis, every tow or three days, just to keep them running.
This was something I got quite good at over time even if I do say so
myself. I ran a mini, my Wife ran a mini and my friends had minis so
there was plenty of practice to be had keeping my skills honed.
They were a passion. The parts were cheap and you could do any
number of things to make these little treasures your own.
Surprisingly they were not classed as “a girls car” due to their
size. Nope everyone owned one of these things and they were as close
to driving a road legal go cart you could get at the time. You
rallied them, raced them, customised them, fixed them and loved them.
They had a character all of their own and were plucky little buggers
It's important to set the scene on the popularity of these cars
because otherwise you would be wondering “Why the hell would anyone
drive one of these to Spain?” Don't get me wrong looking back I
still wonder why I did drive one of these to Spain but it was an
adventure and when you are young adventures are the best thing in the
world to do!
think we should live life like a puppy. Seriously everything from a
puppies perspective is fantastic. Have you ever seen anything else
that is just so happy with everything that it comes across?
you walk in a room it looks at you and thinks whilst instantly
MY GOD IT'S YOU! I LOVE YOU, YOU ARE GREAT. I HAVEN'T SEEN YOU IN
LIKE TEN SECONDS! WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING? WHERE YA BEEN? OH MY GOD
THIS IS GREAT!!!!! I LOVE YOU, I TOLD YOU THAT RIGHT? I CANT
REMEMBER TELLING YOU THAT BUT INCASE I DIDN'T I WILL TELL YOU AGAIN
ANYWAY...I LOVE YOU! I LOVE MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WHOLE
WIDE WORLD. I LOVE YOU MORE THAN MY CHEWS, MY TOYS AND MY BED. MAYBE
NOT AS MUCH AS WHEN YOU PICK ME AND SCRATCH MY EARS BUT THATS YOU ISNT IT?
SO I SUPPOSE I DO LOVE YOU MORE THAN EVEN THAT!!!
IS GREAT YOU ARE BACK AND LOOKING DOWN AT ME!! I AM JUST SOOO HAPPY
I HAVE TO BOUNCE AROUND IN CIRCLES AND JUMP ABOUT BECAUSE I JUST CANT
CONTAIN THE EXCITEMENT! OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU!!!
YOU SEE MY TOYS OVER HERE ARE THEY NOT THE BEST THINGS YOU HAVE EVER
SEEN? LOOK LOOK HEY LOOK. WHY ARE YOU NOT LOOKING FOR THE HUNDRETH
TIME AT THESE? OK OK YOU DONT WANT TO COME A=OVER AND LOOK AT THEM IN
MY BED BUT THAT'S OK BECAUSE I WILL HAIR ARSE BETWEEN YOU AND MY BED
OVER TEH NEXT FIVE SECONDS AND BRING EACH AND EVERYONE TO YOU WHILST
SIMULTAENEOUSLY SCATTERING THEM AROUND THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR YOU TO
STAND ON LATER THEN YOU WILL SEE HOW HOW GREAT THEY ARE! YOU KNOW I
AM THE BEST BABY YOU HAVE EVER HAD. DID I TELL YOU I LOVE YOU?”
you imagine have that simplicity in life? Everything you see and
come across is a new wonderful discovery. The only things you want
to achieve happiness is a bed, a full belly and someone to pay you
some attention every now and then. You don't even care where you go
to the toilet. Garden, driveway, living room doorway...there's no
puppy broke her leg last week jumping off of the sofa and landing
badly. She has been through two vets, two lots of sedation and a
major operation. You would think in the grand scheme of things this
would slow her down and make her a little miffed with life but no. It
has not tarnished her puppy delight of existence in fact she is a bit
miffed with me trying to keep her calm and not bouncing off of the
walls so her leg heals and doesn't break again. She seems quite
content in trying to give me a nervous breakdown.
I collected her from the ridiculously expensive vet specialist
hospital part of the debrief from her operation by a young intern vet
was as follows:
operation went very well. Lots of technical terms over five minutes
to justify the three thousand pound bill to the insurance company. So
the post op care is as follows Mr Smith. Use this medication every
morning with food for five days. Three weeks strict cage rest with
six or so trips outside on the lead to toilet Clara.”
I will stop you there. Did you say to cage Clara for three weeks?”
Mr Smith. Three weeks strict cage rest before she comes back for
presume you have met a puppy that's not sedated before.” I said.
Mr Smith?” he replied.
presume, being a vet, you have met a puppy that is not under sedation
course I have Mr Smith”
you ever managed to cage rest one for three weeks?” “Not
looked a bit miffed and confused at this point but then again he only
looked like he was about twelve years old.
maybe we should live life like a puppy. It doesn't matter what
happens, if you get pushed from pillar to post from one disaster to
another. It is what it is is, you are still here and life is still
full of simple wonders. Sorry I going to have to run. Apparently the
floor in front of the cooker looks like a great place to take a
dump...and why not eh, have you ever done it there?
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, January 19, 2018 08:37:43 A couple of weeks into the whole "Stupidly broken my foot" thing now and I can honestly say I am going a little stir crazy. I don't do sitting around staring at a variety of different electronic screens all day very well. I am definitely a potterer by nature so this imposed rest for most of the day is sheer torture. Shouldn't complain really because it could always be worse. They could of put my foot in a pot cast and that would have been an absolute nightmare! No baths or showers without lots of fannying about with plastic bags and tape. That I have been spared so no it could always be worse and to all those people out there in pot casts I salute you!
But I have had a large amount of, a little bit painful, time on my hands. What could I have done with that? Turns out that puppy training seemed like a good idea...
Before we get to that let me give you a bit of the backstory. We are a dog family and it has always been that way. For me a dog is an integral part of that family make up and for ten years or so we had possibly the best dog that has ever walked this earth spend her days with us. Molly was a cracking pup. She wasn't little by any means being a Boxer Rottweiler crossbreed but she was as clever as any dog I have met in all of my days and I am pretty sure she knew it. Molly was the family dog for my children as they grew up and left one by one. She was that canine constant also my faithful companion. For most of her ten years she did not leave my side. When I was outside she was outside. If I was sat on the floor she was laying next to me. If I was sad she would turn herself inside out with worry and try to cheer me up. She doted on all of us but seemed to literally be in love with me. In short she was fantastic. When we moved house I literally walked her to the top of the driveway and told her that the kerb was her line and she was not allowed to cross it. She never did without an invite. She got poorly last year though with Cancer and Arthritis and as soon as she was in serious pain, howling one night did it for me, I took her to the vets and said goodbye. There was no way I was going to have her treated extending the suffering, she was far too good for that.
I thought it would be a fair while before another pup would come along. We were going to get Molly to train one for us but we left it a bit too late really. She would of been a bit jealous we think in her later years so we left her her pack in the shape it had always been.
Then I broke my foot.
I sat playing on the tinterweb and just glanced through the puppy section on a website. Then I started thinking about what I would want the next dog to do with us because we are entering a new chapter in our lives the Wife and I. The kids are all but gone and we have started planning on what we want to do next and this involves a lot more being out and about. I have built a campervan and intend to use it so I didn't want a dog that would be too big. I needed whatever comes along to be able to go where we go. It needs to be able to sit under a dinner table in a pub as well as keep up with us walking over them there hills.
"Having this broken foot will give me the time to train it" I thought to myself quietly talking myself into it. I asked the Wife if she was ok with this and she just grinned from ear to ear and said "Of course". After a couple of months without a dog teh house seemed just too empty. I felt a bit guilty like I was cheating on Molly but life goes on. I knew that a pup would also fill my days and help to keep me sane so the hunt was on.
After much looking with dogs that had all sorts of strange names that made no sense to me, Google was my friend at this point because I literally had no idea what was going on, a pup popped up I liked the look of. So we made a phone call and set off to see if we liked her. Just a quick note on these "Designer" dog breeds. Who are folks kidding here? They are mongrels! Don't get me wrong there are some lovely looking pups out there but by giving them a daft breed made up name surely cannot justify the crazy expensive price tags they command?? Is it me or has the world gone mad?
Anyway we went to see these puppies and I am not going to sit here and write that I liked the look of them and after careful consideration chose the best of the bunch. Nope what happened was we turned up and a puppy chose me. I picked her up and she just snuggled straight up and in under my neck. I was hooked. Then another family walked in behind us and my first thought was "You cant have her. She's mine"
So a crazy amount of money changed hands and I ended up with a "designer" dog that cost far too much money...a Cockerpoo. Seriously that's not even a good breed name it sounds like someone is taking the mick. WHo the hell would fall for that?? Anyway we brought her home with the faint nervous aroma of rotten eggs permienting the car, I blamed the dog, and brought "Clara" into her new home.
She seemed to like her new home and she soon settled in. The chaos of a puppy in the house started a couple of days later. Ten years is a long time to forget how much goes into that initial training and with that I have that broken foot.
"Get a puppy" I thought. "It'll be fun" I thought.
There are more toys on the floor than an army of toddlers could leave when passing through. There's squeaking from toys and baby talking voices coming from the females of the house that made me think I had missed the birth of my first grandchild. The pup wakes up when it's time to sleep and sleeps when it's time to get up. It pee's where it feels like it and the smell of it's poo is like nothing I have ever experienced. I should give the military a call so they can weaponize it! She has started to bark at the ghosts in the house because there's nothing there that I can see and she is stuck by my side for the best part of the day demanding play and dropping her guts at regular intervals making me gag.
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, January 07, 2018 09:33:47 Well folks, we are at the end of the first week into 2018 and to say the last twelve months have been a challenge would be an understatement. Myself and my family have been through hell, literally. I am not going to go into details as I am not looking for sympathy here but I would like to say that when times are tough, when you are on your knees thinking that you cannot go on one more step and another disaster arrives to test your metal, to push down on your shoulders just a little harder adding to the weight you are already carrying. You may well be surprised at how you manage to accept that challenge. To take yet another deep breath. To come up off of one knee, then the other and continue to take yet another step forwards.
I have seen each and every person I truly love do this over this last year. They all have coped differently, taken those burdens and dealt with them in each their own ways. The strength, love and support that has bounded among them all has known no bounds. When one needed propping up the others lent a shoulder to do so. I am humbled by what truly is the definition of family.
We are all very different people now than we were last January. The shape of our family pack is different and it will still take time to accept that but as long as we all keep taking that step forwards, one at a time, we will be ok.
Personally I couldn't write at all. There was nothing inside me wanting to come out and that was a bit odd as I use writing to escape the world, kick back and relax but there was no point in trying to force it. That though, unfortunately for you poor buggers, seems to have passed. I have a list of ideas things to chuck down onto paper and I will be making this part of my everyday life once again.
My plan for this year is a positive and busy one, in fact I was going to hit the ground running this week with a change in job roles and finishing up lots of odd jobs that needed sorting throughout the house using up some annual leave.
Instead I hit the ground literally, from a few steps up the staircase whilst carrying a basket of washing and broke my foot...
Yea it's a little bit funny. Ah well it's just a bone that'll heal soon enough but I expect I will have gone stir crazy by the time it does from being housebound!
Breathe deep folks, square those shoulders and lets see what the year brings...
The soldier stood and faced his God, which must always come to pass. He hoped his shoes were shining, just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now you soldier, how shall I deal with you? Have you always turned the other cheek? To my church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders, said "No Lord, guess I ain't. Cos those of us who carry guns, can't always be a saint. I've had to work most Sundays, at times my talk was tough. And sometimes I've been violent, the world is really quite rough. But I never took a penny, that wasn't mine to keep. Though I worked a lot of overtime, when the bills got just too steep. I never passed a cry for help, though at times I shook with fear. And sometimes God forgive me, I have wept many a tear. If you have a place for me Lord, it needn't be so grand. I don't expect or want too much, but if you don't I'll understand.
There was silence all around the throne, where the saints had often trod. As the soldier waited quietly, for the judgement of his God. "Step forward now you soldier, you've borne your burdens well. Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets, you've done your time in Hell
Well due to personal
circumstances I am having to sell “The 110”.
This has not been a
decision that has been taken lightly, in fact it's a decision that I
have been dancing around over the last couple of weeks but sadly it
has to be done.
I hate selling
anything, especially motors, as it always seems to draw out the time
wasters who want to come along and kick the tyres whilst
simultaneously sucking air through their teeth and shaking their
heads in a way that they think this will convince you to sell the
motor for a tenner and feel that they are doing you a favour. So what
you will get here is a warts and all expose on this old D reg 110.
I bought this a couple
of years ago and it was a wreck. It seemed where ever you poked a
hole would form so instead of being the quick patch and play I was
hoping for it turned into rather an extensive rebuild. If you go to
www.nickysmith.me and click
on the category “The 110” you will be able to see exactly what
has been done to it. You will also see in lots of places me saying
that I will never ever sell it. Turns out those words were a
poisoned chalice because here we are with the old boy up for sale.
A quick list of things
that have been replaced are as follows starting from the front:
200tdi engine fitted
Turbo & manifold
Extensive work to the
Hinge upright bits
(forget the name)
Modified for the turbo
Full brake rebuild on
the front including new discs pads and calipers.
Wheel bearings front
Axle fluids changed
front and rear
Full brake rebuild on
the rear inc brake plate, pads, springs, calipers
New shocks and springs
front and rear
¼ rear chassis
Soundproofed where it
Tinted rear windows
Carpet fitted to rear
All lights replaced
front and rear
Discovery transfer box
Clutch slave cylinder
Painted front to back
Power steering fitted
It sits on a set of
Heated front screen
And I am sure there's
more I have forgotten!
I have done less than a
hundred miles in it since it was MOT'd (I think the MOT is until June
18 I will have to check) so it's still being run in after the
extensive work done on it over the last couple of years. The light
bar is fitted but not wired up yet.
The furthest I have
travelled in it is around 40 miles at once. The temp gauge reads a
little high but I think that may more due to the sender as it just
sits there not moving once its got up to temp. On starting it smokes
a little but this disappears once it has got warmed up! Best to be
I was going to under
seal it from front to back but now I am going to sell it I wont
bother so anyone who is interested in buying it can see it for what
it is underneath. Nothing to worry about there just surface rust.
It's old, it's noisy
and the cab rattles inside when you are on tickover. It will break
down on you because it's a Land Rover and they all do. It is an
ex-military model but is 12v with a civvy spec inside. Still manages
to leak oil. At least when it's leaking a bit of oil you know
there's still oil in it!
It is sold with no
warranty implied or given. If it breaks down on the way home it
does. It is what it is, an old Land Rover that has had the base work
on a rebuild done. This doesn't mean it's a new car it just means it
will last a little while longer than it was going to!...hopefully.
It is a sound base for an overlander conversion which was my initial
If you have any
questions please get in touch via message or on 07398103184.
I have the full V5 in
my name and a full receipt will also be given at the time of
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Mon, July 10, 2017 20:12:47 Honestly why do I do these things to myself? I think that deep down somewhere in there I am some sort of sycophant. Oh I am not talking about the hair, well that is looking stupid but not what my thoughts are here, nope I am talking about the brave way I have volunteered myself to walk up yet another mountain on the 9th October 2017. It is a different mountain this time, I shall try to top out Scafell Pike. The mountain will be hard enough but the more immediate problem is my current fitness levels. Especially my rather portly stomach. I look like a Vicar who is at the age of retirement and lost the battle with the belly many years before giving in to the resignation that it is now rather a large part of life.
So the training started today in earnest for this mere little bimble up the mountain side. I arrived home from work and quickly donned my 1987 pair of dayglo shorts along with t-shirt that has somehow been shrunk in the wash (must be the tumble dryer again. Wifey seems to have been shrinking a lot of my clothes that way recently) and a rather fetching pair of running trainers given to me by my Dad and guaranteed by all sorts of clever scientisty type people to make me run like the wind from my first day.
Knowing it has been some time (years) since my last attempt at running, managed to get up to ten minutes constant running or maybe fast walking depending on how you look at it covering at least a mile, I decided that a quick run around the block would be a good first day back on it. I warmed up on the driveway feeling good about myself and what would undoubtedly get rid of my extra stomach on the first outing. The jogging commenced on a slight uphill gradient along our little cul-de-sac that is about 200 metres long and by the time I got to the top of it I had decided that "Interval"running would be best for me so I could actually just walk for a thirty seconds.
Soon I was off once more full of grit and determination for at least 45 seconds before the walking interval had to kick in. This seemed quite a pertinent idea seeing as I was more or less unable to breathe. I felt as out of breath as an overweight ex smoker in his early forties that had done bugger all strenuous physical activity for most of this year. Oh hang on a minute....yea, that would be me.
Not to worry just a bit longer would see the ticker kicking in properly and the muscles catching up with the brain I was sure. Nope. It did get a little easier but my legs were screaming, I could not expand my chest enough to get the required amount of oxygen in and there was enough sweat pouring off of me to fill a childs paddling pool. But the gods seemed to be on my side because the sky grew very dark and the heavens opened! I have never enjoyed being in the rain that much! As I turned into our little cul-de-sac I decided that it would not be very good to let the neighbours see me walking back home and seeing as it was down hill I just kind of lolloped back towards my driveway letting the curtain twitchers think I had been all so very good and healthy. When I pulled under my car port and out of the sight of prying eyes I bent over double to try and ease my screaming lungs which only took about five minutes....not too bad at all for a first time out I would say.
I am sure it will get easier when I try to do it again next month.
It's raining it's pouring the old man is snoring...well I'm not really but I was feeling a little stir crazy stuck indoors so I grabbed my camera and new to me 10mm lense and took shots of whatever I could see in my slippers from under the car port.
The 110Posted by Nicky Smith Sat, June 10, 2017 16:23:30 I woke up to the sound of rain hitting the roof hard above my head. I didn't care at first as I turned back over onto my side whilst pulling the duvet of my comfy bed that I had just spent the first night in a week in. It was cosy, warm and I desperately wanted to drop back off to sleep but the morning held a job that was a week overdue in the doing already, so with a gentle sigh I flipped the covers back letting in the cool air and dragged myself upright to start the day.
The week's holiday we have just taken was lovely. Lots of Spanish sun and far too much good food and drink had been had by all but reality had kicked back in as I sat nursing my morning brew looking out of the front window into the typically British rain. I wondered whether The 110 would start after sitting so long, the battery had been a bit on the low side when I moved it last week but I guess there was only one way to find out. I chucked on my rain hat along with my coat and headed out into the downpour with the landy keys in my hand. After removing all of the various anti theft measures that are put into place because there are so many thieving buggers about hungry for any Defender they can get and also because you could nick one using a wet sponge, I hopped into the drivers seat dripping water all around the cab. The key was pushed home into the ignition and with a quick flick of the wrist the engine roared instantly into life.
"Bugger me, it started" I thought to myself hoping that this was going to be a good omen for the day. What was I forgetting though? Oh yea, the big box of tools that I had set up ready in the garage before going off on our jaunt to Spain. I wandered back down the driveway grabbed the box out of the garage and promptly popped it into the back of the motor.
I needed diesel so the first bit of a drive was to the local petrol station about a mile away. Much to my surprise we made it there without any breakdowns... "Going a bit too well this" I thought moodily to myself because this now meant in my head that the engine would probably explode on route to the MOT centre. Fuelled up and paid for I was once more travelling along the road building up a steady speed keeping an ear on the new noises that The 110 was making. Seeing as this was our first trip out together I was unsure of it should sound like but seeing as everything was still moving as it was supposed to with nothing falling off I figured all must be well.
Our speed built up steadily to 55mph and this seemed fast enough while all of the new components from the rebuild settled down into their own rhythm. The noise though! Wow! It was like sitting inside the exhaust of a B52 Bomber plane that nose diving towards the ground at a ludicrous speed. "Need to sort out some insulation then" I figured mentally adding that to the list of future work to do. The distance passed quickly enough and before I knew it I found myself parking up outside of the test centre. I handed over the keys and wandered out of the way enough to keep an eye on what was happening with the old boy. I have to admit I found myself smiling thinking that even if it failed it still looked bloody good!
The MOT guy meandered back over a fair while later to give me the news...
It had passed!
Grinning from ear to ear I couldn't believe that I was going to be able to start having a play finally in The 110. The next list of jobs to do came alive with the next stage of it's transformation into an Overlander. This next section though can be and will be done over a much longer period of time with no rush involved.
I bimbled home without a care in the world wondering how long I would get before it broke down but no! today he wanted to stretch his legs as much as I did. I will admit to missing the odd gear here and there but apart from that there were no issues at all.
He needed a name now he was alive once more. I thought of "Pukka" at the start of the build using the letters from his number plate but no that just did not suit. Over time on the build I had caught myself calling him "Mator" the same name I gave the Series 3 I rebuilt. So after some careful nosing around online trying to remember where I had seen the recent pictures of the old series 3 I found that the name sticker had been removed and a few other mods made to it.
So bugger it, I introduce to you one road legal, taxed, mot'd and insured Mator Mk2 and quite frankly, I have never been so pleased to see the back of a rebuild in all of my days!
I would like to take a moment to say a huge heartfelt Thank you to all of those people that put themselves out for me and this build especially over the last year which has undoubtedly been the toughest of my life. Thank you somehow doesn't seem enough to say or do but I will pass on the help you have all shown to me as and when the opportunity arises in the future. Life without friends that support, encourage, love but most importantly still take the piss out of you when you are down would be no life at all.
So this motor, The 110, Mator Mk2 has been a labour of love. It has driven me mad had me seething in rage wanting to sell it or burn it but it has also kept me busy when I needed it most. It gave me time to think and reflect on my own and time to spend with my friends as they pitched in helping hold me up when I needed it most. You see these Land Rovers are special. They are fun. They are frustrating. They are money pits. They are also beacons to pull folks together from all walks of life with a common interest that always seems to end up somehow in laughter quite often with a couple of beers in tow.
Oh and I am never ever ever rebuilding another one!
Bit of an issue really and not with The 110...There was a problem with the trailer so The 110 has been rebooked in for a week on Saturday and insured for the driver there instead. A little frustrating but after all of this time another week or so is nothing in the grand scheme of things!
It only seems like last week I was writing away about The 110 but after having a quick nose through the website it turns out is has been a bit longer than that. So I have a few things to tell you now then...
The 110 is sat on my driveway. Not underneath the carport in the "Try and fix area". Oh no, it is sitting proudly upon the gravel of the grown up driveway in front of the house.
This is because many little bits have been completed of late. A shiny new alternator has been fitted after some modification by a friend because I bought the wrong bloody one again. There is now pipework running from the turbo in all directions. I still need to buy a cone filter to get it through it's MOT then I will look at mounting something a little more permanent. The oil flush is waiting to be used on an oil change to clean the engine out a little more as it has been standing for a few years now. It will probably be next week for that now if I am honest. The floors have been secured and painted green again so and the front number plate has been bought and fitted and the spare wheel is once again in it's rightful place upon the bonnet.
The lightbar is also in place as well. I do like a good light bar! May have to head down getting it some LED's fitted though as they look a little nicer.
All in all we are very very close to getting the first MOT now. I will be taking the old boy to the test station on a trailer then hopefully getting him insured so the actual pleasure of driving him can begin.
I feel like I owe the readers of this blog a bit of an apology. I am well aware that the ending of this particular series of blogs on The 110 have been more than a little flat. Those of you that know me and follow regularly know this is because I lost my little sister a couple of months ago and to be honest the pull of writing has been missing for the most part since then. It is coming back in dribs and drabs so my drivel will continue on!
Having said that I have also been busy in the background starting the process of setting up a charity in my sisters honor to give other people with special needs a rare old social trip out at least once a year to the seaside or a show etc. This is because Kazzie my sister loved to be out and about meeting new people and spending time with the friends she had already made.
With that in mind the first fundraiser is going to be from me while we finish the charity bits off. I am not having the hair on my head cut at all for a whole year! I am six weeks in now and have gone from a shaved bald head to some grey haired bugger staring back out of the mirror at me!?! I'm not too sure who he is because I am only twenty six, full of youth and dashingly handsome to boot. My Handsomeness is only outshone by my modesty.
So if you good folks have enjoyed reading the writing I do please feel free to chuck a pound or two into the pot. If you have not enjoyed reading the writing I do then why are you here? Just a chuck a couple of quid in the pot anyway ;)
We really are nearly there in getting The 110 on the road! It will seem strange actually driving it for real, like a grown up. This build feels like it has taken forever to do with moving house, getting knocked off of the motorbike and actually renovating the odd room that Wifey insisted I do to make our home "livable" Still, nearly there now and the pictures from all of the pretty places that I breakdown will soon be coming your way...
The 110Posted by Nicky Smith Thu, April 20, 2017 08:39:58 It's ok I am still around. I am not in the middle of what's become commonly known in our household as "The 110 despair cycle", nope I just have been really very busy with work and fitting life in in general. This is literally the first time I have managed to find twenty minutes to sit down quietly by myself to write a few more ramblings.
It is getting really quite close to MOT time now after putting in a fair few hours on The 110 last week. First point of contact was taking out the faulty steering box again. With all of the practice doing this particular part of the rebuild, I am becoming quite a dab hand at it now. So I popped the bonnet open to be faced with the popped seals unit.
This literally fell out because it has only been in there for what feels like five minutes. All the nuts and bolts came off cleanly, even the ones under the inner wing.
I was going to try and tackle the inner wing bolts with the wheels still on but it soon became clear that this was not going to happen. So the wheel was whipped off to make it a tad easier. Honestly I think I am going to wear out the wheel nuts before this build is finished with the amount of times they come on and off the motor.
With the old steering box quickly removed I went and grabbed the replacement. This is my second and final stab at using a second unit. Honestly if this one is faulty as well I will just bide my time and save up for a new bugger. I could not remove the old steering arm that was on the box for love nor money so in the end I very very carefully cut through it as it sat on the spindles using a 1mm cutting disc. When it got near to the spindle I stopped and using a slightly thicker chisel whacked the cut open with a couple of deft blows. This released the old arm and left me with an intact usable unit.
With that done the box was quickly fitted, it needed some adjustment on the steering column arms to make it all bolt up nicely, and everything centred up steering wise once more.
I have no idea if it works or leaks yet as I have not had the chance to pop out and buy some power steering fluid. No really I haven't, the only parts I have manged to get hold of have been online. These amount to the new turbo oil feed pipe (cost a small fortune), a set of number plates and the bonnet catches. It wont be long before these are fitted and we are then closer than ever towards getting the MOT sorted. Funds and any disasters pending I am hoping this should be within the next month or so. We can then get to the next round of breakdowns and repairs as we tackle the teething problems of the rebuild!
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Thu, April 13, 2017 11:48:17 Well good morning to you all! We fast heading towards the end of the first month of me not cutting the hair on my head for a year. Progress is being made (albeit slowly) on setting up a charity but the good news is that my hair is now long enough to have that much sought after "Just got out of bed look".
For many many years I have literally just got up, had a wash then headed out of the door without a thought of what my hair was doing. Those days it seems are now a thing of the past for the foreseeable future as I learnt to my detriment on Monday morning. I just did the usual wash and off to work routine only to be asked as soon as I stepped through the office door "Sleep in?"
Seemed a bit of an odd comment to me that, that still had me slightly confused when I replied "No, am I late?" The person who asked, who shall remain nameless for now as they have pledged a large sum of money to "make sure you look stupid for a year", then said "Forgot to brush your hair then?"
"Brush it? I mean brush it? Why would I need to Brush, oh of course." I replied and went to find a mirror that soon showed me that one side was stuck excitedly upright whilst the other side was flattened and pushed backwards. Not to worry it was only an eleven hour day to look stupid in so I dunked my head in a sink full of water and sort of pushed it all around to look like a more general scruffy mess. I doubt this will be the last time it happens but I just have to say again the way it's starting to move depending on the heat is freaking me out a little... #yetismith
The 110Posted by Nicky Smith Mon, April 03, 2017 19:03:29 Now you may think that I have not been doing a deal on The 110 but you would be mistaken. The evenings have become warmer and the daylight is lasting longer so I have been merrily pottering around the old wreck getting it closer and closer to it's finished point over the last few weeks.
I have fitted a full set of new lights! I was just going to replace the lenses but when I saw that the whole unit costs only a few quid I decided why mess around? Now the old bay has a full set of shiny new lights fitted. These even work as well thanks to the knowledge and help of a friend who came over and played in the cold dark night time under the car port until we had them all shining up in the darkness. Thanks fella, you know who you are ;)
The floors along with the tunnel needed refitting so I had a happy couple of hours yesterday afternoon playing with those getting it all fitting just right. Beer stopped play though when a neighbour turned up and we sat admiring The view from the car port with a couple of cold ones in hand.
The power steering header tank needed fitting so this has been done on the passenger wing just tucked up to the front maximising the space on the nearside. There were a couple of brackets to make up here and there as well as securing the rear brake pipes now the brakes themselves have been rebuilt.
I am still looking for a turbo oil feed pipe and a couple of bits and bobs but finances are tight so until a couple more bits are sold off they will have to wait.
Realistically I can see it being ready for MOT at the end of the month which would be fantastic! Providing of course that nothing else gets buggered up between now and then...
Sorry for the short update folks but with everything that has happened of late I seem to have lost my writing spirit! Work is stupid busy as well. Got to keep you all in the loop though now the end is in sight!
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Mon, April 03, 2017 18:51:08 Well I have made it to the end of week one of "growing my hair for a year". It's already itching and a mate has pledged to give me a tenner per inch it grows. I thought he was being a tight git until he asked "How long do you think your hairs going to get Nick?" "I don't know" I replied "A couple of inches?" "Best google that mate" he said as he walked away.
So I did Google it...hmm just a tad more than I thought it would be! Around five to six inches apparently!
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Wed, March 29, 2017 09:57:25 I have sat here for the last ten minutes trying to figure out how to write this and I am still none the wiser so I shall just get on with it.
You may have noticed that I have been a little quiet of late and that is because my little sister passed away quite unexpectedly and suddenly a few weeks ago. We as a family are still grieving, and will be for who knows how long there is no set time limit for these things, but the time has come to do something to help channel that pain. We wanted to do something positive.
Let me give you a little about my sister because she was an exceptional young lady. She was 39 years old and had a condition called Williams Syndrome. This is a missing chromosome disorder that affects each person with it in similar but also drastically differently severity ways. This made Karan more than special to everyone she met. There was only love to give from her perspective and once you met her you were a friend for life. She never moaned about the hand she had been dealt in life and took pleasure from the simplest of things like just sitting and watching the world go by. Karan was one in a million and as our Dad has said "If everyone looked at the world and loved the way Karan did, it would be a much better place"
Nothing will replace her loss nor take away the pain of losing her but that does not mean we cannot do something positive from this.
We are going to set up a charity in her honor. This will focus on taking her friends from the day work place she attended, all of which have their own special needs or learning difficulties, out regularly for different events. It could be a trip to the seaside or an outing to the panto at Christmas. The reason for doing this is quite simple. Karan had a better social life than most of us and loved nothing more than to be out and about in this big wide world with either family or friends....sometimes both. It brought a huge smile to her face and those that were with her so we want to carry on handing those smiles and that happiness out.
There are lots of different fundraising activities in the pipeline but the first and foremost is the fact that I will be growing my hair.
"Why is that a special event?" you may be thinking. Well I hate to have long hair. By long I mean anything more than a few millimeters because it literally drives me mad. So what better way to begin and set things off than pledge that I will grow my hair for exactly one year starting from Sunday 26th March 2017.
There were suggestions of growing out the beard at the same time but I think I can only push my luck so far at work! Instead I will become a long haired silver fox with a weekly Sunday photo taken for you all to poke fun at!
Now feel free to make some pledges of money to this, in fact I actively want you to do this publicly until the charity is up and running properly with the correct donation pages set in place.
Seeing me turn into a long grey haired uglier bugger than I am now must be worth the price of a chocolate bar or two from you good people!
I thank you in advance for all of the help that I will be continually bullying you into on a regular basis!
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Wed, March 15, 2017 21:26:12 I have a tale to tell but I don't know the best way to put into words that would do it justice. To start with I want to say that this is not me looking for sympathy from the anonymity of the internet, it is far from that. I have probably taken as much sympathy as I can directly, not that it is not appreciated because it has been but there is a message in what happened to myself and my wife a few days ago that has also indirectly brought a great deal of comfort since.
There is an expected order within life, we do not always acknowledge it but its there nonetheless. Generations come and go, time after time. The oldest leave first to be followed by the new generation that arrives, this is the way of things. We never expect to lose one of our own generation whilst the older is still present but that is what has happened to our family over these last few weeks. My sister sadly passed away quite suddenly at 39 years old. The hole that she leaves behind in our family is beyond measure for each and every one of us and the only saving grace for us all is the love that is shared by each of us unconditionally that has provided support. When one of us could not walk the rest of us have carried...that's as it should be.
I am the big brother of six and if I am honest here it's all I know how to be. I don't just love my brothers and sisters, I would do anything for them if they needed me to. Growing up with such an age gap from the first to the last even installed into me the beginning of who I was to be as a parent. Family is everything. So to lose one of them, the one that was most special to all of us due to her nature and the uniqueness that Williams Syndrome gave her was something I was not prepared for. God only knows what Mum & Dad are going through because at times it takes all that I am to just get up out of bed in the morning. Their strength and love continually amazes me.
Grieving is hard. It's weird in a way that there is no right or wrong way of doing it. It's like after having found your way into Hell on Earth, then there is the worst rollercoaster ever conceived and you have to ride it until some point way way off in the future whether you want to or not.
Sometimes you can function pretty normally throughout the day only to be sideswiped by a song on the radio or a random memory that literally brings you to your knees. You can laugh at the memories that have passed either with yourself or when sharing others. You can be crying every morning when you wake up because the dreams are just too much to cope with and yet another day has begun in which your sister will not be a physical part of.
Sometimes it seems that every single moment is heartbreaking.
I see my siblings suffering, I see my parents suffering more and all I want to do is take the burden of their pain from them but to do so, even if I could, would take away the love of who we have lost. The love we have is what causes us the pain.
So I have to admit I have been quite angry inside of late. This has been a large part of my continued grieving process. I have been angry with "Them" for taking my sister away. My sister who had nothing but innocence and love in her heart. My sister who literally lit up each room she entered with her laughter and smile. I have no idea who the "Them" are that I am so angry with but I managed to talk to my wife about it a few days ago as we sat on the riverside in Bakewell. The sun was shining and we had had a nice morning being out and about. Things almost felt normal for just a while in the spring air until I remembered this was one of the places I wanted to bring my sister to. I had wanted to sit here next to the river with her this summer eating fish and chips whilst throwing the odd bit out to all of the geese and ducks that fight for every scrap. A shadow passed over me as I realised that this would never now be.
I have always had Faith inside of me and even practised it with the Church of England as it suited the way I like to live my life but truth be told I think that there really is more when we are done here but as for anyone particular all almighty being... who knows. I could not give a monkeys which god anyone prays to as I think when all is said and done we will become something more than we are where none of the definitions matter, but that's just me.
Wifey and I started to talk as she saw the shadow pass through me at the riverside. I explained that I had not lost my faith as such as it is but I was not convinced of anything now because who on Earth would take someone so damned special with so very little warning. I was saying that nothing could convince me at the moment that there was some grand scheme that involved taking my little sister, a constant light and love in so many lives, away from us. I admitted I was more than a little angry about it all.
At this point a very golden bubble about the size of a baby's hand floated down in front of us to which I said "I suppose that's a sign that everything is alright really is it" (I was still pretty damned upset at this point) "There's bound to be a kid blowing bubbles somewhere here" So we both looked in both directions. Then we looked a bit harder. Nope nothing. Wifey stood up and looked further afield but no there was nobody blowing bubbles kid or otherwise.
Thing is it was quite busy with folk coming and going along the footpath but not crowded, the views in every direction were clear. The bubble just floated there in front of us moving gently from left to right before pausing from time to time. Then it headed for the ground where we expected it to pop as it touched the pavement. It just gently landed in the middle of the pavement and sat there. It didn't move again but it did not pop. It's golden colour shone brightly even as other people walked headlong towards it but nobody stood on it. Not one footfall got anywhere near it and there were quite enough people to make this an odd occurrence. The birds never bothered it either. These birds are normally greedily eating anything that touches the ground whether it's edible or not but not this. We sat mesmerised looking at it for a couple of minutes as it spread out a touch wider. I looked at my Wife stating "That's just impossible" and decided to see if I could get a picture of it.
This was not a problem because it was not going anywhere. I took the picture and it stayed with us for a few more minutes. Then it just started to go down. It did not pop as you would expect but just very slowly deflated as all of the passing people seemed to subconsciously avoid it. It's golden glow never faded, even when it finally went flat.
But does this mean something? Anything? Honestly I don't know. But what I do know is as I headed into what was one of the fastest plunges into the dark I have experienced so far, this tiny bubble of light seemed to appear as if on cue. When I thought that all the wonder of the world was lost forever and whatever sort of faith I have was beyond being tested I felt something very comforting out of the blue. I am not going to say that this was a profoundly religious moment but it was a very poignant one that seemed to bring me back into a place that was a peaceful harbour from the storm. That storm still rages on and on some days it's worse than others, as it is for all of us, but I know now deep down in the depths of my soul that part of my little sister is always with us.
The 110Posted by Nicky Smith Wed, March 15, 2017 20:05:26 Once again I found myself sat in bed looking at the bottom of a brew thinking about The 110. I had to go and buy some nuts and bolts for the brake back plates and seeing as it was such a nice clear blue sky sort of day I decided to take the motorbike out for a spin to Paddocks. So at 7:45am I found myself cruising into the Derbyshire countryside, there are far far worse places to be in the sunshine. The rolling green hills past me by along with the all of the signs of spring arriving. The daffodils are everywhere and the trees waking up in bud once again, it will only be a matter of a few weeks before we find ourselves sat in warmer weather and the heating turned off.
Since the bike crash I have to admit I seem to have become a bit pants on two wheels. I still enjoy it but my gear changes seem to be all over the shop and don't get me started on my road positioning. The little Bandit needs to come out a bit more often I think so I can get my eye back in once again. Surprisingly there was not a queue at Paddocks and I was in and out in under five minutes...this has to be some sort of record surely! A quick hop back onto the trusty stead and I was headlong back into a different route home enjoying the sunshine and dry roads.
All too soon I was back home and ready to get cracking with sorting out the back brakes on the Land Rover. I didn't want to do it I have to admit here and I very nearly walked away but something said to just get stuck in.
Wheel off then armed with a large hammer the drum soon submitted into rusty cooperation falling off onto the floor with an almighty clang! That was the neighbours up then whether they wanted to be or not. As I looked up into what was exposed the amount of dirt and muck in there was astounding! There was also some sort of unidentifiable slime that I did not want to be playing with for too long so an old rag was brought into to play then promptly dumped into the wheelie bin.
The hub was next which came off with no issues on this side unlike the other side which snapped a bolt in it. That took some serious heating up to remove I can tell you, I thought it was going to be a drill and retap affair but it seems the Landy Gods were looking upon me favourably today. They must have been pleased to see the sunshine as well.
Brake pads then the caliper were soon stripped out, even the brake pipe came off of both sides without snapping! That seems to be just about unheard of to me but why look a gift horse in the mouth eh. The back plate fell off in a rusty heap after a bit of a gentle tap with a 4lb lump hammer and I was left with nothing but the stub axle in situ.
Time to put all of the new shiny bits on then. The back plate along with the pre-fitted new caliper, I mean why struggle once the plate is fitted? May as well sort it out before hand to get the dripping brake pipe back into place asap.
Now it was time to battle with the brake pads and new springs. The ends of teh springs needed a small grind down as they were far too long on the hook end but soon found themselves sitting where they should have been. You may notice in the pictures that there is a set of pads laid out under the The 110 exactly as they came off of the old back plate. I do this to make sure I don't end up fitting the pads upside down or in the opposite way they should be. Helps to remember which holes the springs fit into as well. Looks great with shiny new bits on though :)
Making sure the pads were sitting in the right place I fitted the nice new brake drums too, be rude to scrimp at the very end wouldn't it. In all honestly I figured that if I had to do this job I may as well do it right. The I also fitted all new bearings and seals onto the hub before refitting, who knows how old the the ones that were in them were.
So there you have it the back brakes are done. I didn't want to do them and they took all day but I am really glad I have got them out of the way.
The only stop I had really was for lunch. My neighbour popped around so I figured we may as well ave an egg and bacon cob with our brews. As we chatted away the conversation came around to the subject of scrapyards and how we miss them. We are both old enough to remember hunting around acres of rusty steel looking for the model of car we wanted then rummaging through it hoping the one part that we wanted was still fitted to it. And lugging your heavy toolbox around the place. Then carrying that along with all of the extra parts you had removed "Just in case" you needed them when you were fitting the part you actually had to do. We came to the conclusion that we missed scrapyards. Many a happy hour were spent looking for that extra bit of gold in the motor you were happy to hunt through. It's a shame that most scrappies these days have already removed the parts and put them onto a shelf. Yes it is easier and quicker, less tiring, less work, cheaper, cleaner, warmer and generally less hassle but I did enjoy the hunt...
The 110Posted by Nicky Smith Tue, March 14, 2017 21:16:18 I get up really early in the morning for work which in itself is ok. I like to see the start of each new fresh day before most folks have even stirred in their beds dreading the alarm clock and after sneaking a quick peak at the clock dropping back off for a few more snug minutes of sleep. The problem is when I take a holiday. My body does not seem to want to just relax into the warm sheets of my bed in the morning. Nope, it prefers to just keep the normal routine going regardless and as such I found myself reaching the bottom of a cup of in bed well before 7am this morning.
Wifey had already left for work so unable to steep in my own bed warmth anymore I decided to have a poke around The 110 to see what I could up to with it today. There has been a job I seemed to be pushing back (insert running away from there) for some reason each time I thought about it. This was making up some exhaust mount brackets. I don't know why I was so averse to getting this particular chore done but seeing as I had put it off at least half a dozen times I figured that today was the day.
There were only three mounts in all to fabricate up so off into the garage to the old chocolate tin pile I went. There are probably for or five large chocolate tins in there, the type you get at Christmas that the contents seem to disappear from incredibly quickly. This odd effect is usually accompanied by a sick in your stomach feeling due to a large sugar rush. By the time they hit my garage they are bone dry and what tends to happen is any part, nut, bolt, metal, brace, bracket and something small and potentially useful end up being chucked in them. This is a god send in such situations as having to make up three exhaust brackets from scratch! A good rummage later had me with enough bots on the workbench to make a start. With some whacking, bending and cutting I soon, about three hours later, had the brackets made up and fitted. Not too bad really as they were all made from stuff other folks would just chuck away!
It's so nice to have the exhaust actually sitting where it is supposed to be! SImple things eh. With that done followed swiftly by a cheese on toast sort of lunch I decided that I may as well start putting the odds and sods back into place on the old boy.
I fettled the rear number plate back into position.
Then seeing as funds are very tight at the moment I cleaned up the headlight surrounds and an old grill that was in the shed using some WD40.
I will be replacing these with new items in the future but at the moment they will have to do. Upon closer inspection it turns out that most of the light lenses are cracked or damaged so I need to source a second hand set of these along with another Discovery 1 power steering box. Going to have to be later in the month though as funds are ridiculously tight at the moment.
A quick lick of paint on the bonnet wheel brace along with a cheeky coat on the light bar and it was time to call it a day. Then I had a quick scramble in the parts shed to see if I had a horn because I had forgotten all about that! Turns out I had on old Disco one in there which when tested on a car battery let off a convincing noise load enough to pass an MOT. That'll do nicely then and should get fitted tomorrow....
The 110Posted by Nicky Smith Mon, March 13, 2017 16:09:40 Now there have been a number of reasons why I have not been posting lately but I am back in the saddle a touch more now.
The 110 has had the odd bit of titivating here and there but nothing worthy of note at the time. I drilled then riveted the wing chequer plate into place so now it does not try to rattle itself off when the engine is running.
I have abit of time off this week so I will be trying to get around to having another poke at the old boy when I get the chance. Wifey had a few issues with her little Fiat 500 so my attention on Saturday was on that tiny little car. New drop links along with front discs and pads cured most of it's ails though. Turns out, so I am reliable informed by said Wifey, that I now have to fill my car up with fuel at Tescos so the Clubcard points can be collected. The fact that I never pass a Tescos petrol station is apparently not an issue because my darling other half is taking my car once a week to fill the bugger up. I still have to pay for my fuel it seems but she gets to keep all of the points...
I learnt long ago to just roll with these sort of things so after watching my motor drive off into the sunrise this morning I stood at my bedroom window looking at this little Fiat knowing I had some mileage to do in it because myself and the youngest daughter were off up into the Peak District to get a bit of a walk in.
I shrugged my shoulders to myself figuring "At least I wont be using my own fuel today"
Well I am man enough to stand here and admit I loved driving this plucky little motor! What a machine! It was like driving a geared up go kart that refused to let go of any grip on any corner regardless of the speed you were doing! It never let up. You had to work the gears to get the small 1200cc engine going but my word I was grinning ear to ear by the time we arrived at Mam Tor.
I can see why Wifey likes it so much now, I can best describe as like driving an original proper mini. The fun was done though and it was tome to walk the great ridgeway with my daughter who was doing this for the first time.
It was a little breezy at the base but not too bad but once we reached the first summit of Mam Tor it soon became apparent that the day was not going to be what we expected it to be...
We could barely keep standing upright. After a mere mile we through in the towel and headed back down to the car moving onto Chatsworth house for a cheeky picnic instead.
The 110 is not that far off of completion and I am tempted to throw a "Lets get it finished party" where I will supply good food and drink to those who want to come over and an odd job on it... Anybody tempted?
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, March 03, 2017 09:01:00 I took a walk today, wondering how to say goodbye. Through the fields in the rain and across muddy styles as I walked I thought about your special smile. The way the room lit up with your very presence in it, about the way your innocence constantly stayed throughout your life. Your laughter, your love. None of these ever faded. The spark within your eyes of pleasure just to sit and look around at other people passing by. Your playful banter along with the things you would say, I don't know how to live without these things for another long day. I trudged heavy footed through soaking wet fields with my head hung low, not caring in which direction I go, with images and memories of you so real in front of me I feel like I could reach out and touch you, but no this can never be. So how can I ever say goodbye Kazzie? It took some time to realise the truth. I never will say goodbye my little sister, you will always be in me x
The 110Posted by Nicky Smith Sun, February 19, 2017 08:47:34 I don't booze. No, honestly I don't! The days of that nonsense are far behind me and as I sit here at my kitchen table this morning listening to Radio 2 whilst tenderly nursing a cup of tea I remember why. I cant take it. Really, I am a big Jess who can no longer take his beer and I am ok with that. Two days of evening drinking and my voice has dropped two octaves. My stomach feels about three times it's normal size and sweet Jesus the smell that is escaping from my backside could solve all of the issues in the middle east in a matter of minutes. Even the dog has abandoned me high tailing it for lower ground. But it was worth it. It was a good friends surprise 50th Birthday party last night and it's his fault that I feel so bloated...
The 110 was first coat deep when I went outside early yesterday morning to put the second coat on. The second coat is always easier than the first and the finish was looking really good.
So there I was covered in as much paint as the car drinking a brew whilst the headache of the night before was fading when Wifey came and got me to tell me that I had to somehow get my friend Gromit out of the house for a couple of hours because they had to head over to the hall where is party was and set up. Talk about drop it on me! I was filthy (luckily quite a normal state of affairs) covered in paint and skint to boot. How was I to get my mate out of the house for that long at five minutes notice?
As I wandered along the three doors away to his house with my tea still in my hand I came up with a cunning plan. Well it was cunning in the fact it would get him out but not so cunning that it was going to cost me £50 I didn't have but if I had to spend it I may as well get something I needed. With a grin when I saw him I asked him "Can I borrow you and your Discovery to collect some chunky window sills for the conservatory please chap?" With a returning grin he piped back with "Yea why not"
Then after asking his advice on where to go I lead him towards the furthest away from where we were point and off we set. Well as soon as we were gone so were the women of the two households to get things sorted for the evening. My first problem was that there was no traffic at all. Because of this we were at the wood yard in fifteen minutes. Of course we found what I needed in another 3 minutes and had the car loaded within ten minutes of getting there. Right then I need a back up plan here... "Gromit do you mind if we pop into Alfreton? I need to speak to the folks in the leisure centre about my membership" He looked at me a bit oddly but said "Alright then Nick."
Bear in mind Alfreton was about fifteen miles from where we currently were so a bit of an ask really but in good spirits off we set. Again no traffic so we were soon at the leisure centre and thankfully Gromit decided to wait in his Disco while I popped in for two minutes. Indeed it really only took two minutes to do what I needed to do so what the hell could I do know? I decided that having a coffee while I thought about it was a good idea!
I dragged that out for ten minutes then as I was leaving I sent a text to Wifey giving them all a fifteen minute warning. The reply was almost instant saying "No! drag it out" Seriously!! I thought to myself. my friend is already looking at me like I am taking the michael here. ONly one more option on the way home...
"Fancy a KFC mate?" I asked "Not really Nick but we can stop for one if you want"
I didn't want...no I really didn't. About five minutes before this facade had started I had eaten the biggest sausage cob you have ever seen so the thought of a greasy KFC was more than a little unappealing.
"Yes please chap, I am starving" I replied.
Then there I was looking at the menu wondering what I could have that meant I did not have to eat a great deal but it had to be big enough to look like lunch.
I managed to drag that force fed meal out for another twenty five minutes whilst making small talk. By now I was convinced he was suspecting something but a quick trip to the toilet so I could send the text message that we were coming home now and we were on our way home.
We beat the families back. Not to worry they had sent me a message stating they had gone shopping for shoes so my friend and I had a brew whilst comparing notes on how to cut and fix the newly acquired window sills into the conservatory. Ten minutes passed and the rest of the tribe returned with grins all around and slight nods confirming all was ready for the off in the evening. While I had Gromit there we popped the bonnet back onto The 110 and that in place, the front bumper painted black and the chequer plate resting on the wings the old boy looks pretty damned good to me!!
By now the time had really cracked on so operation "Get ready, get out and get to the party before your mate sees you" began in earnest. We got washed and changed. I had to use a pressure washer to remove the paint off of me. Then we crept out into the darkness of our driveway hopped in the car and sped off to the party hall. My youngest was snaptwatting (I think thats what she called it) Gromits eldest and it turned out he was still sat on his sofa in his pants and t-shirt not relishing the idea he had to go out to a party that evening. A little persuasion (read that as bullying) from his three daughters and wife soon saw our friend washed and dressed and on his way.
He had no idea the party was for him and the grin on his face as he entered the hall said it all! A conversation a little later on with him had him confirming he wondered why I was being a bit of a dick asking to be run around to all these odd places that morning. He said he had just put it down to being out and about...
What a day it had been! The 110 was looking the mutts nutts now and really inspired me to plough on and get it finished. I can see once again what I am working towards and this was sorely needed. But most important of all a genuinely great friend had the surprise of his life with family and friends from all over the country coming to see him...something he has never had before and if anyone I know deserved a surprise like that, well it is him!
The 110Posted by Nicky Smith Sat, February 18, 2017 10:31:07 Bear with me today I have a bit of a thick head. That "One for the road" last night may well have tipped me over the edge. Still, while I sit here at the kitchen table with my hangover cure sausages are grilling nicely I thought it best to tell you all of yesterdays progress.
The roof is now black along with the bonnet and the chequer plate. But what colour to do the main body of The 110 I hear you ask? Well I think you are asking, if not those voices in my head are back. After hours of internet searching looking at pictures, I decided I best start looking at Land Rovers before the Wife caught me at it. These showed me motors in all colours so deciding what I wanted was a tough choice. I ended with Black (obviously you already know that) and......... Green.
Not overly imaginative but I decided upon the semi gloss finish and I think it has come up quite nicely for a first coat.
The front bumper was looking more than a little drab so I etch primed it so that too can be painted black. I do seem to have more than enough paint!
The second coat should bring it all together nicely! I have also added a couple of extra coats to the bonnet and the roof may well want a couple more too yet. The jury is still out on that one as I need to reverse The 110 out from under the car port into the proper light to have a good look.
The 110Posted by Nicky Smith Fri, February 17, 2017 06:14:44 My Wife has a problem with snoring. Sounds of deep rumbling along with what I can only describe as several near death experiences due to what seems like strangled suffocation lead to a Doctors appointment being made before Divorce proceedings could begin in earnest. Not to worry the Doctor says it is probably something simple and that I should begin with losing a few pounds in weight and trying one of those snoring aid things. After standing at one of the pharmacy aisles at Tescos bewildered for about ten minutes looking a shelves full of all manner of things that promised to give me good nights sleep I just picked up one that was in the middle of the price range and headed home.
So a couple of nights back just before bed I found myself stood in front of Wifeys dressing mirror in the bedroom with a packet nose strips in my hand wondering just how stupid I was going to look in a couple of minutes time. After a sigh to myself I spent a few moments (read that as about six minutes) trying to figure out how to take the sticky backing off of the damned thing before squinting into the mirror without my specs on affixing it across my nose attempting my best Adam Ant impression.
I am one hell of a skeptic when it comes to these sort of aid things but to my complete amazement this little plastic strip opened up my nostrils making breathing easier than it has been in years! To cut a long story short I have had the best two nights sleep in what seems like years and so it would seem has Wifey. She has even gone to the extent of putting away the hammer and knives that seemed to have ominously made their way to her bedside table. This bloody chest infection that pitches up each time I have a week off is still going strong though. I will have to pop back to Tescos and see what magic isle they have for that...
To The 110 then. To be honest it has just been a pottering around it sort of week in between coughing a lung up and feeling rather sorry for myself. The second primer coat went on easily giving a nice sound bed for the top coats.
WHilst that coat was drying I skipped off to the parts shed to dig out the wing chequer plate. I have decided not to use the bonnet chequer plate as the wheel will be mounted on there anyway so it seems like alot of work for something you won't really see. If anyone is interested in it before it gets put up tonight for sale give me a shout. The wing plates were offered up just to make me smile while pretending the truck was finished.
Out came the etch primer because these bad boys were going to be black in the end.
Then I walked away letting it all dry properly. After a sleep or two I came back suitably dosed up on cold relief pills to break out the black paint. Firstly a nice coat went onto the chequer plate. This was quickly followed by a good coat on both the roof and bonnet. I will aim to get the second coat on today along with the first coat on the main body. If I can stop coughing long enough that is!
The 110Posted by Nicky Smith Tue, February 14, 2017 16:10:13 I shall open with an apology. I have been rather quiet of late but with good reason. That being family. Mine have kept me busy of late so with work added into the mix I have been rather short on hours. Seeing as I had a week owed holiday wise I have taken the last couple of days to begin the rub down of the bodywork along with adding the first thin coat of primer.
I have to say it is nice to see it nearly all the same colour for a change...
I am now a forty something who has come through most of my mid-life crisis trying to cheat death by now eating healthy foods exercising more and stopping smoking....I doubt this will work seeing as I have abused (no not in that way) my body with booze smokes and doing sod all for couple of decades or so but hey I feel a bit less mental for trying it!
So instead I rebuilt a Series 3 Land Rover, then a Discover, after that A Defender 110 and now I have decided to head more towards enjoying my outdoor pursuits. In comfort. Yep there will now be a campervan build in progress (as soon as I can find a decent base) for myself and the ever suffering Wifey to head out i ...see there is still some joy to be found in life!
I hope you enjoy my rambling drivel and if you do please feel free to share it around using the cunningly disguised "Share" menu at the bottom of each post I believe it does Facewipe, Twitter and those other places all the cool kids hang out in indoors now a days.