For someone as motor-afflicted as I am, I find myself in an odd position. Completely without wheels. The Rollerskate is briefly off the road as it waits for an MOT test due to the mechanic having to postpone its original appointment, the bike needs a new battery and the Wreck? Well, the Wreck, always my backup vehicle in these situations, has burst its radiator.
To be fair, the rad was in a bit of a state. Its predecessor sprang a leak years ago when I was an impecunious youth, so instead of a new item it's a part from a later Wreck that came from a friend's stock of second-hand parts. In other words, it probably sported more than its fair share of limescale and other assorted crud accumulation which has never made it the most reliable cooling device. At various times I've used Magic Bottles of Stuff from Halfords to flush it, but the car has always been a little prone to overheating.
So earlier in the week I was driving across town and heard that chilling steam-whistle sound of high-pressure coolant escaping. Opening the bonnet, there was a split at the side of the rad. Damn.
The best thing to do if you want to get home in these situations is to let the pressure out of the system so your precious coolant doesn't all spray away. Now that's pretty dangerous, you can't just open the radiator cap because boiling water will spray everywhere. The technique is to use a rag, and to gently turn the cap while pressing down hard on it, letting the pressure off without the drama.
I didn't do too badly. No drama, no spray of boiling coolant. But I didn't reckon for a jet of superheated steam when the pressure first let off. The rag is supposed to protect you by absorbing the steam, but mine didn't quite manage it and I thus now sport an impressive blister on my middle finger.
Painful business, this old car lark.
The World Expert on Rusty Old Wrecks was sympathetic. He has a couple of radiators appropriate for my model of Wreck in stock, each reconditioned with brand new cores. And best of all, they're affordable, cheaper than the cost of reconditioning my original Wreck rad. The world of old cars is a funny one, these rads are cheaper than you'd expect because their new cores follow a slightly more modern pattern than the originals, therefore originality enthusiasts won't use them. Me, all I care about is an efficient cooling device that won't leave me by the road.
So thanks to an extremely obliging friend picking the part up for me, I should have the Wreck back on the road tomorrow morning. My finger however, will remind me of the event for a week or so to come.