Tuesday, 27 July 2010

It's still not going well...

Just a short update for now.

It's still dead. Very dead in fact. I'm not best pleased, it;s taking up valuable space at Area 52 and I'm not driving it, which makes me sad. I like driving it, it's fun.

The dizzy was replaced by Ant and then he spent his day trying to get it to run, but it was having no dice. Not one little bit. The only thing that can be at fault is the dizzy cap, so a new one has been ordered and hopefully that will sort the problem, if not, we're in big trouble. The Retro Rides gathering is coming up in a week or two and I need my car to be there. Here's hoping the new dizzy cap fixes all...

In the meantime, have a recent snap of the old girl.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

It's not going well...

Brilliant! Old cars eh, who'd have them? Well, for the best part, me. As ever though my particular brand of automotive luck has reared it's annoying head and struck the Zodiac down in its prime. Not only that, it had the good grace make my car break down in Bracknell. Nobody wants to be broken down in Bracknell.

There was some coughing and spluttering all morning, but I put it down to something in fuel. As I trundled through Bracknell however, it became a bit more severe and the car stopped and then decided to not start again. I did some investigation, but couldn't see any issues so I called the breakdown people and they recovered me to Area 52 in Bristol. That's where we figured out the problem...

..turns out the monkey bargain bucket electronic ignition had failed, resulting in a dead car. The six0pointed lobe had smashed the granny out of the magnetic pick up which had shifted at some point. The most annoying bit though, is that we couldn't save it as the lobe isn't the original one, so a simple swap back to points and condenser isn't the simple option we hoped it would have been.

Luckily though, there was space for the Zodiac to live in at Area 52, so as I type it's residing there. There is a new dizzy on the way thanks to Zodiac Motor Services too, so it should all be up and running by the weekend.

All I have to do after that is fit the clutch, and no doubt wait for the next thing to go wrong. Old cars, eh?

Friday, 9 July 2010

Ahh, today is a good day. By this time next week, just in time for the Retro Show at Santa Pod, the Zodiac will have new goodies. Gone will be the awful, crappy exhaust system that's on it now as it's having a custom stainless steel system made for it by the good people at Essex Racing Classics

It should hopefully be bit quieter, but still raspy. The main thing though, is that it will allow the engine to breathe a bit better. The current system/manifold thing-a-ma-bob is awful...look...

...see? It'll all be shiny steel soon though, yay!

So, mad props to Essex Racing Classics for doing it, and yay for the Zodiac! Expect an update soon which should include shiny pictures of manifold joy!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The MOT-day road trip!

Owning an old car is a joy, not a chore. As such, it's only right that adventures are had at any given opportunity. That said, it's always the impromptu ones which are the best, just like the one had by myself and two good mates on the day of the MoT.

The test was at 11am, so I rocked up to Area 52, the Zodiac's surrogate home, at around 10:30am. Half an hour was plenty of time to get to the garage...right? "Who's doing the MoT?" asked Bruce. "Oh, Tim said he'd do it" says I. "And it's at 11am, right?" enquired Bruce...

Turns out I'm a geographical recluse, as I'd confused Westbury-on-Trym (10 minutes away) with Tim's location of Westbury...which is not 10 minutes away, not by a long shot!

An apologetic call was made to Tim, we went into panic mode and maps, people, cameras, a dog, a Bruce, myself and bloke from Wales all got piled into the Z. The MoT adventure was on!


We attacked Wiltshire and Somerset in true retro straight-six-burbling power! Spirits were high and banter was flowing, and to be honest, at this point I really wasn't concerned about the car passing an MoT, I was just enjoying the ride. I had high hopes though, which also alleviated my pre-MoT worries. With that in mind, we were off to the MoT station...


...and as you know from my last post, it passed! Whoo-yeah!

*Chris does un-rhythmic happy dance*

Then we were on with the journey, and next on the list was tax. Normally a painful investment, taxing this car was a joy. But why wouldn't it be? After all, it cost a meager £0.00 to take the old girl for 12 months. Nice!

After that we headed home via a different route through Bath. Then we stopped off to see friends in a local pub, while having a refreshing pint of lemonade. Well, I was on lemonade, Bruce samples the local cider!

Drinks downed, we headed back to area 52 at a steady, burbly pace and it was quite simply brill. An MoT is only an hour-ong affair t most people, but we made it an adventure. As a day out in an old car goes, this was one of the best! Next time you take your old car for an MoT I suggest you book it at a distant garage and make the most out of the journey. We did, and it was brill!


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Lagality! Whoo, yeah!

So the Zodiac went in for the dreaded MOT yesterday. I was a little concerned as well I should be, it is after all a fifty year old car. Still, it was running well, the brakes worked after consultation and there seemed to be less blue smoke than normal emerging from the over sized tailpipes. It'd be fine, of course it would be!

The car even got an unexpected shakedown too, as I may have slightly underestimated how far away the MoT station was. You see Westbury and Westbury-on-Trym are two very different and very distant places! Still, we love a road trip, so road trip we did!

Once there it was all fairly painless! It went though the Mot with flying colours along with surprisingly strong brakes! To describe myself as a happy chappy would be a bit of an understatement! Twelve months test for the win or what! All I had to do then was tax it, and let me tell you that getting twelve months tax for the princely sum of £0.00 is rather satisfying.


After that myself, Bruce, Kev and Jed the dog wen on a bit of a road trip around Somerset and Wiltshire, but more on that on the next up-date!

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Rescue...

So, the first thing to do was collect the bugger. It wasn't running when I bought it as there was an issue with the electronic ignition. I don't why I'm saying 'was' as it is still very much 'not running' anyway, I digress. More about that in another update.

To make a long story short I needed to get it from the ex-owners house to Bruce's gaff as he had very kindly agreed to let me keep it there for a week or two. For those of you who don't know Bruce, let me tell you this: he's good people. This project may not have come to fruition were it not for his generosity, so for that I thank him!

Within the realms of Bruce's generosity was a willingness to not only store the old rust-bucket, but to also collect it for me. Rich, another 'good people' kinda guy also helped too by risking his life, dignity, manliness and general well being by offering to steer the old girl while she dangled at the end of a tow rope. Thanks Rich, I owe you.

The best bit about this towing though, was the vehicle used. Bruce isn't 'normal' when it comes to cars, not by a long shot. Hence the Zodiac being rescued by a post-apocalyptic Mitsubishi Delica, complete with mesh windows and flashing beacon. Brilliant.

If you're the owner of a sheddy old car and you need help to relocate it to a safe place for short period of time, and if you can find them within the seedy underworld of retro-car modification and welding, maybe you can hire, the Area 52 team.


And so it begins...

...a blog all about this:


If you're here it's probably because you read the brilliant publication that is, Retro Ford Magazine. First of all, thanks! Second of all, welcome!

The purpose behind this is to give you a more regular and detailed insight into the world of owning this old bus. Hopefully Morley will do the same with his cars too, or at least some of them. He probably won't though as he'll be distracted by boobs or beer or something.

Anyway, on with the blog.

The car in question is a 1961 Zodiac. I owned it some years ago, but due to having a kid I had to sell the old girl and put money towards Pampers and baby-wipes and so on. Not a sacrifice I minded making though, although I would have obviously preferred to keep the car.

In the end I swapped it for this...


...which looks rough, but was actually a lot closer to an MOT than the Zodiac. I drove it for a while and all was well, yada yada yada.

Roll on to 2010 and I get phone call. It's Carey, the guy I swapped with. He asked me if I wanted to buy the Zodiac back. I said yes. I then jumped about like a school-girl for a while and shrieked a bit too. I'm manly like that.

That's about where we're up to at the moment. This weekend (2nd July) I'm hoping to get it sorted and ready for an MOT, then with any luck I can drive it back home...hopefully.

This may be a success, it may be a failure. Either way, it should be an adventure!