I have spent two days rebuilding the Lomax. I was supposed to be in a luxury dog-friendly hotel in the Malverns, thanks to a Christmas present from a generous friend. The 2CV had other ideas and shed its exhaust before we got there. While annoying, I take this as vindication of my diagnostic skills, because I have been certain for about 10 months that I could hear an exhaust leak but couldn’t find one. Should have looked at the back of the torpedo…
So instead of checking in, on Sunday afternoon I was trucking back to Coventry with the lovely Lukas from Poland. We had a chat about how to pick a good Ural, how to make it better, what kind of top speed a 2CV with a working exhaust would do, and how terrifying it is to take on a mortgage. About 10 miles from Coventry he asked “And what do you think about Brexit?” Given that my last three recovery drivers have been from Eastern Europe and have all cheefully scooped my temporarily-expired machinery off the road and taken us home, I was able to tell him quite truthfully that I think it’s a bloody stupid idea.
But I didn’t come here to talk about politics….I came to talk about the Lomax. Last May all of its oil fell out as we were coming over the Lecht home from an excursion to the North Coast 500 and the engine has never been right since. Then I went for an MOT and the crack on the number plate wasn’t the only one the tester picked up – he also spotted a large crack in the chassis. **DANGEROUS,** said the failure certificate, just so I was clear. No, he couldn’t weld it. Try the boys behind the log heater shop in Tayport. No, they couldn’t weld it either, because it was right underneath the fuel tank and they didn’t want to set themselves on fire.
The Proprietor of the Northern Rest Home for Distressed Machinery said he would do it. I paid a man with a recovery truck 170 quid to move the Lomax even further north for its surgery and in the end all of the insides had to come out and the body come off the chassis so we could get the fuel tank out. Welding done, the body went back on and then it got dark, I went back to the forest, and about a week later, went back to England.
The Proprietor and I met a little over five years ago. We were on for a while, then off, then friends again, but like the engine it was never quite the same and now he seems to have moved on for good, with a request that the Lomax be removed from his front garden by the end of January. I organised an overnight dash with a big truck and a borrowed burly chap, and I asked whether he had ever got a chance to refit the insides. “It’s all there,” was the slightly careful reply. It turned out, in the sub-zero small hours of a Scottish winter, that yes, it was all there, just not attached. Some tears.
Since January the poor thing has been hiding behind the garage in my landlady’s garden because I have been scared of the rebuild, and thinking about it made me sad because it felt like such a demonstration that something that had been good, in parts, was now very firmly over. Also it has been snowing. But rebuilding can’t be ducked for ever. A couple of weeks ago I cut the new carpet and made holes in the right places, and on Monday with the sun shining it was time to get stuck in.
Monday was scraping, de-rusting, treating and painting, and trying to work out which bolts went where. Some of them were too mangled to re-use. Tuesday began with a search for four M6 x 130mm coach bolts, the moral of which is go to your neighbourhood Brown Overall Store first rather than last. But if I had followed this excellent advice Dog and I woudn’t have had fun in the sidecar touring the building supply depots of Coventry. Then it was swearing, cursing, wrestling the steering wheel back in, reattaching the gearshift, and putting the drivers seat back in. And tea. Lots of tea.