Category Archives: RescueDog

Dude, where’s my car?

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.

AdventureDog came out for a look around Third Tea and there was much excitement and tailwagging as he jumped in to inspect progress. He’s coming round to the sidecar but he does love his Lomax.

 

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Lomaxversary ahoy!

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Failed at the first hurdle! I will pretend this is yesterday”s post just held up in the ether. but now I’ve told you and my cover is blown. Curses.

it is almost a year since I bought the Lomax, which means only one thing – insurance time. A slightly worrying text from my current insurer advised me that my horsebox insurance was about to run out. I know it’s slow and I transport livestock in it, but even so!

So Sunday night I compiled my list of Insurers of Unusual Cars, filled in a couple of call-me-back boxes, and Monday morning I left my phone at home.

I got an email that said “we have been unable to reach you by telephone, please call us.” And when I picked up my phone at lunchtime, it turned out to be true. Honest and helpful – surely a prince among insurance companies!

They have a standard geographic number, not an 0800 one, so when they put you on hold it’s not to make money. They only paused slightly when I asked if they could cover me for business use. And it all came in 40 quid cheaper than last year’s quote.

So£, full of win, I came home and scraped all the paint off Hortense’s front wing on the corner of the house. Just to restore the cosmic balance, you understand.

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“It’s not the despair… I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.”

10688102_1507735742804961_2806663445944654780_oSelling a house turns out to be very stressful. I’ve bought three, but never sold one before.

Sadly this doesn’t mean I own several properties – just that I was married when we sold the first one, and ex-hub did the money stuff; and then we were separated when we sold the second one (to a member of a minor Brit-Pop band, who made it slightly more traumatic than it needed to be); and now I’m selling my third home, but the first I’ve owned in my own right.

So this is new territory for me.

People often say that moving is one of the top ten most stressful life events – but that’s a big fat urban myth! The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale puts it right down at number 32, with a measly 20 life change units – that’s not even twice as stressful as Christmas (12 units, but that might just be the number you need to consume over breakfast to get through the festivities).

If you are a control freak, like me, then the passivity of the whole process is difficult to handle. You take the engine parts out of the kitchen, you polish the bathroom, you hide the junk in the attic, and then you sit back and wait.

Some days you get a call that someone wants to view…and you hoover up the dog hair and cut the grass…and they don’t like it because the stairs start in the living room, or because they wanted something “more modern,” or worst of all, “it smells of oil.”

And then you wait for the next call. And wonder how you can make a 1980s house look more modern without spending any money.

So I did what any sensible person does in these circumstances. I packed my tipi, and my stove, and my dog, and the copy of Mondo Enduro which BiviBag Adventure has loaned to me, and a bottle of wine, and went to somewhere with no mobile phone reception and no internet.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.

You already know that I blame Arthur Ransome for my belief that camping is the most fun anyone can have, next to motorcycling. So where else would I go in my hour of need than to Ransome Field, on the shores of Lake Windermere, at the Low Wray National Trust campsite.

And when they say lake shore, they aren’t kidding. Shakey was most disturbed to find himself nose-to-beak with the local ducks.

I dipped my hands in the lake, and wished, and then settled in for three days of doing as little as possible.

We had a lovely walk along the shore, once Shakey had got used to the idea of sheep.

We watched a family of mad Australians swim in the lake. “Do I have to, dad?” “No, son – you don’t have to. We’ll just tease you all night if you don’t.”

We listened to the swans, whose take-off and landing tracks look like audio waves. Someone should try playing them.

We watched the stars come out and the lights come on across the water.

We watched the rain fall.

And on the day I packed up to come home the estate agents called to say someone wanted to buy my house, so my wish must have been granted.

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We are coming out of the dark.

Instead of standing in the back garden looking at the stars, I am now standing in the back garden listening to birdsong while RescueDog picks a good spot for his early morning pee. 
He does not like to go outside in the dark, so I bought a big torch on ebay to shine on him.  Having a spotlight trained upon you while you go to the lav is undignified, so he is very pleased with the way daylight is creeping in a few minutes earlier each day.
My new responsibilities as Dog Entertainment Facilitator come with just one big challenge. RescueDog cannot ride pillion with me, because his feet don’t reach the pegs. But he has seen Spirit riding with his human, Ara, and he wants his own set of doggles.
So we are investigating sidecars. Opinion on this move is sharply divided among my friends. RescueDog’s Dogfather says that sidecars live only to dive into hedges and are the quickest way to an unplanned death. Others say that an outfit is the most fun you can have on three wheels, especially if it’s a Ural. Perhaps they enjoy exploring hedges.
Sohorider, from the XRV Forum, has an Africa Twin with a motopodd attached – that’s it in the photo. A couple of weeks ago he brought it up from London for me to try it, with a view to buying. We met on a very windy day on the farm where he keeps his workshop. For once this winter the sun was shining, but the puddles gave a great opportunity for a demonstration of the outfit’s off-road capabilites!
RescueDog sat in the chair quite happily, which is a good sign. I sat on the bike quite nervously, which is normal. It feels very odd to sit on a bike and not have to put your foot down. But it wasn’t a bike, it was an outfit, and different rules apply.
We rode erratically up and down a farm track and for about three seconds I managed a straight(ish) line. Given a big enough car park and plenty of time, I think I could get the hang of it, but on something a bit smaller and less daunting.
  • Big thanks to Sohorider, who was very kind and reassured me that he’d enjoyed the rideout and it was no problem that he was taking the outfit home again; and to RBR Jackie and Phil who came to give the bike the once over before I bought it. Or not, as it turned out.

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Cargo Cult Science

Dog appears to be carrying out an experiment. I make him sit down before he gets his tea, because I think manners are important. He’s now sitting down at random moments on the same spot to see whether food appears.

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Comfort and Joy

Well, I have done a foolish thing. I bought a VW Polo, but that wasn’t it.

I have adopted a rescue dog. He has three legs and enjoys sleeping, barking at cyclists and peeing on things.

Obviously this will put a spanner in the motorcycling works. Perhaps it is time to try a sidecar. Though this will make us look like Wallace and Gromit.

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Beautiful Brock

Brock is my sponsor dog at Dogs Trust. He is very handsome and an excellent correspondent — he faithfully sends thank yous for the chews we send him for christmas, which is more than my nephews and nieces ever manage! (no, we don't send them chews too).

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