Sunday, 22 January 2012

Gate valve

    Salt is the enemy of old cars, it makes them rust in all sorts of exciting ways. The council spread it on main roads in winter to allow idiots in modern cars not to have to drive carefully on frosty mornings, so at this time of year a drive of more than a few miles will expose your ride to more of the stuff than is healthy for it.
    So people like me, custodians of Rusty Old Wrecks and their ilk, are faced with a challenge in the winter months. Cars need to be driven, if you don't use a car for a few months you'll find that bits of it no longer work when you return to it. But driving it on main roads brings salt, and that's bad. So we pick dry and fine winter days like yesterday, and venture forth on the most salt-free roads we can find. For me yesterday that was a well-worn run round a couple of the villages near where I grew up, the council never salt minor roads.
    January days can be beautiful. Yesterday saw the sun poking under patchy grey cloud with a bit of haze, lighting up the countryside in rays like the Promised Land. The muted greens of winter roadside verges and fields of winter wheat seedlings were briefly rendered emerald, and the browns and greys of the dormant hedges and trees gained flecks of gold and red.
    The car didn't show its five decades as it started almost on the button. Coolant and oil as they should be, all hydraulic systems responding well to a repeated cycling. The charging was a bit lacklustre, but what do you expect from Lucas, Prince of Insufficient Light.
    Not everyone will understand this, but it's fun piloting a geriatric car through country lanes in January.
    I was assaulted by one thing though. Back in the summer, the Wreck's heater valve started leaking. Car heaters run on engine coolant, so leaks are generally a Bad Thing. New heater valves for a Wreck are only available as reproduction units, and at eye-watering prices, so I simply piped the entire heater out of the system and kept driving. Really, I've paid more for entire Wrecks than what they want for a new heater valve!
    I meant to fix it, I was going to ask a heating engineer friend to source me a microbore gate valve as a substitute. But somehow I never got round to it, so the car still doesn't have a heater.
    Rather cold, bimbling through the British countryside in January in a five-decade-old car with no heater.


  1. I came up to Bristol from Winchester one night long ago, in my Austin 1300, in freezing fog so dense I left the road a couple of times on Salisbury Plain... the heater was u/s and I swathed all my spare clothes over me, and wrapped a greatcoat around my legs. God it was cold. The Mole Wrench! Nature's gate valve!

  2. How does the old wreck pass the MOT?

    Shirley Anne x

  3. Thirty years ago in that coldest of winters where the river and harbour started to freeze over we drove all the way through frozen britain in our then old VW camper van with no heating. Our drinks froze solid in their bottles but I was toasty warm in an ex WW2 flying suit. Highly recommended.

    When your wreck was born, heaters were still sometimes an optional extra!

  4. Oh bad luck! The heater in my Spit is broken the other way... You can either boil, or you can boil with the fan blowing the hot air over you :)

    I don't know many drivers of Herald derived cars that drive in coats in winter - of course that could always just be Leicester drivers ;p


  5. The heaters on my ld Singers always worked, but then singers were classy cars, many newer rides have let me down more often. Just like every other season winter has many joys to offer, we are so lckky to live in a Counry that actuall has four season rather than perpetual summer!

  6. The automatic climate control on my 76 Lincoln has a mind of its own (actually has a rudimentary electro mechanical brain) at first it would reach the desired heating or cooling selected but instead of maintaining the temperature it would turn itself off. Just prior to winter it set itself on hot all the time....perfect for a Canadian winter. Perhaps I will fix in the spring.

  7. Morning all, and thanks for your comments.

    Seems I'm not alone in having heater fun and games then. As it happens it's a modern issue too, the plastic valves fitted to current VWs are I'm told notorious for failure.

    The Wreck passes its MOT because despite my description it's a sound car. :) And last April the heater was plumbed in. Water leaks aren't a failure.

    I'll pass on a mole wrench even though it would do the job. I am eyeing up those Minor items at more sensible prices though, wondering whether a copper flange could be soldered to a short piece of pipe in a reliable enough manner for the job.

  8. I had a ROW once. I remember driving it in my town during the winter, just to keep it running. My town did not use salt. Never mind the fact that we would slide all over the road...but that's life in the Northeast USA.

    I'm thinking that bloke attire may be the better fashion statement in the winter, rather than cruising in style. Skirts, short or long, can lead to uncomfy drafts in un-heated ROW's, I suppose but, then again, how would I know?

    Calie xxx