One of those days. Again

Read through my Blogs and you’ll see that there are days that really test those who like older cars. For some reason, my cars do often seem to conspire to play up all at the same time. Today was one of those days.

Before I start, I shall exonerate the BX. It coped with a 320 mile day recently, despite still being far from entirely healthy. Perhaps I used up all of my car luck on that journey…

Anyway, I got up this morning and headed in to town for some totally unexciting shopping. Things didn’t start well – or at all – when the 2CV’s ignition barrel resolutely refused to take the key. I do have a spare barrel kicking about because the one fitted has played up before, but I was in a hurry to get to Morrisons before the Aberystwyth masses arrived. So, into the Maverick I hopped and off I went.

It was a horrible morning, with mist and rain conspiring to make me very glad of the variable intermittent wipers. Well, until they just suddenly started going continuously all of their own accord. I tried turning them off. They just kept on going. Ok. One of those delightful electrical quirks eh? Switching to fast and then off did make them behave, but then I needed the intermittent setting again – which lasted for precisely two wipes. Gah!

I bought an oil filter for the Mini and  then went supermarket shopping, ensuring that I also filled my trolley with some cheap 15w40 oil for the 2CV and BX. They never get fancy stuff, especially as the BX soon leaks most of it back out. I tried not to get too upset with the wipers on the drive back and thankfully, for the most part, they did behave themselves. It’s either a relay or an earthing issue – probably not a duff wiper stalk as I first suspected.

After lunch, and far too much time spent reading the third instalment of the superb Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy, I eventually got myself outside to tackle an oil change on the Mini. The usual cursing and scraped knuckles ensued, and I had to park the car on pieces of wood to enable me to get my oil catch can beneath the sump. The oil filter is also horrible to get at unless you remove the grille, which involves removing and subsequently losing far too many screws. Ugh.

My mood was not enhanced when after refilling the engine with lovely, fresh 20w50 oil, a distinct dripping sound could be heard. I gawped underneath and watched lots of lovely new oil pour from somewhere at the rear of the engine. What?! It wasn’t from the sump plug or the filter. I was entirely baffled. Also, very, very anxious as the Mini is meant to be tackling a 300 mile drive to Cornwall in the morning – probably the furthest it’s ever travelled in a day in our ownership. I was starting to wonder if I should have just left it, but Minis rely on good engine oil, as it’s also the gearbox oil. And it’s well over a year since it was last changed… (to be fair, only about 2000 miles ago).

I decided to bravely attempt a test drive, as no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to repeat the random oil dumping. It seemed to be behaving.

My conclusion is that the rocker cover gasket is shot. I think I poured so much oil in via the filler that the rocker cover actually filled up with fresh oil. I suspect (by the stains out the back of the rocker cover) that a fair dollop of the fresh oil bypassed the engine and flooded straight down the back of the engine. I hope it’ll be ok…

I try not to get too disheartened as mechanical issues are never far away when you’re dealing with older cars that have plenty of miles on them. Yet weeks can go by with no problems at all! Well, they  did until I bought the BX…

At least none of these issues required a laptop to sort them out, or special tools. And as bad as a Mini is to work on, it’s a lot better than some moderns. Plus, I’d feel really, REALLY annoyed if I experienced mechanical trauma with a car that cost tens of thousands to buy. Ignoring restoration and running costs (of probably £10,000 across the entire fleet) the purchase costs of the fleet are £450 (2cv, 12 years ago), £741 (Mini, 6 years ago), £250 (BX, six months ago) and £500 (Maverick, last month). They may cause me woes at times, but financially, they still make a lot of sense!


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