Wreck of the Week

Hello corrosion fans and welcome to another week of car wreck fantasy.

Following on from last week’s example:

https://magic-phil.co.uk/2018/02/07/wreck-of-the-week-5/

I thought that we could again focus on the expensive.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1966-Austin-Healey-3000-MK3-Phase-2-U-K-R-H-D-/273036416368

This one is an Austin Healey. These are suitably famous so that many people may have heard of it. Like other things famous it is high cost.

Posted at £24,995.00 this is a car where the wealthy need only apply.

The closest I could find in shiny was this one:

http://www.rawlesmotorsport.co.uk/car-brokerage/cars-for-sale/Austin%20Healey%203000MKIII%20Phase%20II%20UK%20RHD%20from%20Monaco.html

listed at £65,000 so there is quite a bit of money that you could sink into this project Healey and still be ahead. (Assuming you’re ruled by your head rather than your love for metal corroding things which some of us are victim to).

You can tell things are getting serious when the listing has to state the specific model number 1966 Austin Healey 3000 MK3 Phase 2 U.K R.H.D as if any Austin Healey 3000 was not going to be of interest. This car is for the connoisseur or the collector.

And one of these must have caught up with it because I notice that it is now sold.

So what were you getting for your £25,000: (about $35000 US, or €28250)

Firstly a very crisp and accurate listing, how many have we seen where it lists the exact date of first registration 16/02/1966. Would that more sellers would do this.

I can’t be the only person searching for a car that is exactly as old as he is, and that is rendered impossible if the closest description is “1966”.

So according to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin-Healey_3000 the Healey 3000 was made between 1959 and 1967. That makes this quite a late one. 91% were exported – mainly to North America. This must mean that a great many are LHD. This must be why the advert is at pains to point out that it is a RHD car and an original RHD car at that. Judging by this advert RHDLHD conversions are very popular in the UK http://www.rawlesmotorsport.co.uk/car-brokerage/cars-sold/austin-healey-3000-mkiii-bj8-phase-2.html.

Healey 1

In comparison to some we’ve seen on Wreck of the Week this is in pretty good shape. Some serious rust in that door I notice and who knows what’s under the replacement wing.

The advert indicates that “finished in the car’s original combination of British racing green with black interior”, obviously discounting the large quantity of grey primer.

Healey 2

One of the great things about a quality car from a commercial seller is the range of photographs on offer – 12 for this one. This side looks healthier. I’m hopeful that they’ve kept the chromework somewhere although perhaps if you can afford these numbers buying new chromework is a minor obstacle.

One thing that you don’t get is the interesting tales about what is wrong with it. – No clues here as to whether there is more here than meets the photograph.

However even cheap cars can be a victim of this my favourite recent listing stating “needs work” with no further clues as to what that actually meant.

Healey 3

This one is a BJ8 which apparently is the more powerful of the Healeys with some desirable additions like power assisted brakes. If you’ve never driven a car without a servo believe me this is a thoroughly worthwhile development.

Healey 4

Apparently with only 2 owners from new it’s a shame that they never thought to spray it with wax. But after 52 years it’s a bit much to expect a restoration project to look any better than this. The shiny versions having been through the restoration process sometime in the recent past.

In the 1960s rustproofing was not what you expect today and an 8 year old car was commonly considered fit for little.

Healey 5

I‘d always wondered at the term “matching numbers” as used in this advert. Apparently this is where components are those that were originally installed.

In this case I am only aware of chassis and engine numbers being registered so I imagine it is these which verifiably match what they should be.

Healey 6

Well that’s a relief – the chromework is present, rechroming gives beautiful results but you do need to be resourced to fund it.

These parts look in good condition. Perhaps the last owner (who apparently had it since 1978 – so took it over only 12 years after manufacture) took more care of it than it appears. Chromework tends to pit rapidly unless cared for.

Healey 7

Apart from the grillwork, bumpers, hood, light there are quite a few items I cannot identify although no doubt bringing a gleam to the restorer’s eye. I’m not clear about the covers upper LHS (radiator muff or similar?) Healey 3000 fans please enlighten me.

Healey 8

Apparently under this is a gearbox (with overdrive) having covered only 51,000 miles which seems incredible. That’s less than 1000 miles a year since registration.

For those who have never encountered overdrive: in these days of multiple ratio gearboxes it has probably been forgotten that at one time gearboxes tended to operate up to direct drive. So when you had selected top gear the engine was driving straight through the gearbox. The output shaft of the gearbox turning at the same speed as the engine. In many cases the most fuel efficient ratio was lower than this i.e. that the output from the gearbox would be turning faster than the engine.

On modern cars the 5th, 6th and so on gears achieve this in the same gearbox.

On cars of the 60s a separate gearbox was hung behind the main gearbox (often being bolted to it). This was an overdrive gearbox. They were often electrically controlled – a little switch would kick in overdrive. Effectively the car gained a couple of extra gears. The downside was the extra weight of the additional gearbox.

It was popular on larger-engined cars, for those who could afford it (it was an option).

Healey 9

This is a 2,912cc petrol engine. This was a bored out version of one designed for more stately cars like the Austin Westminster A99, the Wolseley 6/99 and the Vanden Plas Princess 3 litre.

The difference with the Healey could not have been more marked. It strikes me more as the type of car that Terry Thomas (in character) would have liked to have owned.

Healey 10

I remember that this rear end would break out under pressure. Oversteer being the order of the day. In fact somewhere I think it was described as a “hairy-chested” car (presumably because you needed large cajones to drive one swiftly).

Healey 11

Years ago I think the Austin Healey 3000 was considered a cheaper alternative to the Jaguar but with just as much fun. Now no longer cheap, as we can see here you need to dig deep to afford one.

This looks like the floor is going to need welding. There appears to be daylight shining through here. When even the gearstick is rusty it’s quite likely the whole interior is flaking.

The glovebox looks like the veneer has taken a hammering. But whether you could write that down to patina and keep it like that in a car this valuable is debateable.

Healey 12

They made proper steering wheels in those days, none of your tiny rally wheels here. This looks like it would be at home in a Routemaster. I’m guessing driving with the wheel polishing your thighs was all part of the experience.

However those gauges are to die for. Proper chrome bezels and manufactured by Smiths, how lovely.

Well sadly it has gone so all you lottery winners will have to look elsewhere for your old car fix.

Alternatively be back here next week for another edition of Wreck of the Week.

I realise that there might be some new visitors so here are all the previous Wreck of the Week postings in order:

https://magic-phil.co.uk/2018/01/08/wreck-of-the-week/

https://magic-phil.co.uk/2018/01/14/wreck-of-the-week-2/

https://magic-phil.co.uk/2018/01/22/wreck-of-the-week-3/

https://magic-phil.co.uk/2018/02/01/wreck-of-the-week-4/

https://magic-phil.co.uk/2018/02/07/wreck-of-the-week-5/

If you liked this article why not follow this blog

Follow The Procrastination Pen on WordPress.com

The property website from which the original idea (for Wreck of the Week) came is due credit:

http://www.wreckoftheweek.co.uk/

(Unlike that site, which is about houses, this series of blogs is and will be all about rusty vehicles).

Wreck of the Week

This week I’m starting to wonder at the value of things well the cost of old cars mainly.

I realise, being in my fifth decade, that things are bound to have been cheaper “in my day”. However it does seem to me the reason we are seeing so many classic car wrecks of late is about how much money they bring.

People who formerly would have left rotten hulks under a damp tarpaulin are now listing them as “barn find”.

Recently I have seen cars which are barely more than a V5 and a set of panels.

Cars which at one time would have been reasonable projects are now attracting startling amounts of money.

Take this week’s example:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1970-Dodge-Charger-1969-1968-/.

This is listed at £13,440 – or for those persons who prefer your currency in American that’s roughly $18,548 at today’s exchange rate or €11961 for the European readers out there.

I’m not in tune with the prevailing view on classic car prices but £13,440 seems to me a great deal of money.

According to a recent article, that’s the sort of money that you will pay for a second-hand Porsche Cayman.

It is wonderful that this rush to buy old cars means that a lot of “barn finds” are blinking their way into the light (and the pages of this blog). But it does show me that nostalgia has a hefty premium associated with it.

The listing is ended and so I was filled with wonder at the depths of people’s pockets (or their ignorance of more modern alternatives – take your pick). However I notice that the advert quotes a website. Looking at this website the car is still listed there.

It looks like it didn’t sell after all. The photos seem to be better quality on the website but not to any huge degree.

The adverts are subtly different on the nation’s favourite auction site than on the main website.

I was fascinated by the exhortation to “PAINT IT BLACK, CUT A HOLE IN THE HOOD AND BURN THE TIRES OFF JUST LIKE IN THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS” (shouty text is in the original).

I wonder if a film connection adds a few £ to the value. In addition if you were paying northwards of £13,000 is it in order to cut holes in it? not that it doesn’t come without holes in any case.

Charger 1

So the subject in question is a 1970 Dodge Charger which is accurately described as a “project car”. On the face of it a quite serious engine fire has taken place. The bonnet (or hood I imagine – USofA looks like its natural home) is badly rusted all over and seems to twist upwards on the nearside. (Passenger side given this is a LHD vehicle).

However neither advert mentions anything about an engine fire so the cause of such localised paint removal remains speculation.

Charger 2

Ok, so this looks less like fire damage and more like someone went crazy with paint stripper, the paint leached off all down the RHS. Sadly the photo does not zoom well enough for great detail. But it looks like a former filler job is starting to lift away at the front edge. Conceivably the wing is going to need replacing/rebuilding.

Charger 3

Blimey so it is also two colour. Judging by the spray it might be that someone tried to respray it in pea soup at some point in its life. It would be laudable if it had saved the car. But as we can see the rear wheel arch is going to take some gentle treatment. The sill and front wing are not looking too brilliant even at this magnification.

Charger 4

Possibly the most engaging view of the car – a lovely shape – if only more of it were like this (well minus the overspray in any case).

Charger 5

This is obviously where the “Needs some welding” part of the advert asserts itself. Large amounts of daylight where floorpan used to be.

The advert is careful to state that “All parts [are] available at www.rockauto.com”. Given that includes all the steel panels this would be very helpful (that can’t be true of many cars from 1970).

Charger 6

The advert states “Complete car except for interior” and certainly the engine bay parts seem present. The colour here looks different to either of the colours on the exterior of the car so I’m guessing it’s had an “enthusiastic” previous owner or several. At least two separate attempts to paint it with non-toning colours (in varying degrees of effectiveness).

Still there is enough refurbishment time here to keep a restoring man humming in his garage.

The ad states that this enormous thing is a “383 V8 Big Block” which “ran when parked”. That seems nothing short of miraculous when you look at it. Cars sometimes defy all predictions. However later on the description states: “Straight out [of] the barn. Not cleaned, not tried to start, nothing done to make it look better.” So perhaps we should not be overcome with enthusiasm. The engine probably needs exactly as much work as it looks.

Charger 7

When it states no interior it means, no interior, although the ad states “Included are 2 good 1968 Mopar seats” . I think that’s just the start, carpets, door cards…

Charger 8

… and whatever was in front of this originally, surely some kind of rear seat?

I’m intrigued by this: “Charger expected in Holland end of March 2018.” Which makes me wonder where it is, surely not a sunshine state with that amount of corrosion?

The advert states “US Title and all EU taxes paid.” In the UK however you’re going to need a NOVA.

The process for this can be quite involved: http://fbhvc.co.uk/about-us/news/_article/22/hmrc-issues-guidelines-for-registering-restoration-projects-imported-prior-to-nova/.

So consideration of these unexciting requirements should probably precede any “reasonable down payment”.

Helpfully they’ve given their location which turns out to be here:

“500 meters from the DFDS ferry in the harbour of IJmuiden in The Netherlands.”

According to the website: www.hotrodharbor.nl: contact Barry on hrharbor@gmail.com for more details.

Oh and you’ll need to arrange your own shipping.

(I hope someone is brave enough. But I’m fascinated how people find this money before they start the restoration.)

If you liked this article why not follow this blog

Follow The Procrastination Pen on WordPress.com

Credit to the property website from which the original idea (for Wreck of the Week) came:

http://www.wreckoftheweek.co.uk/

(Unlike that site, which is about houses, this series of blogs is all about vehicles – rusty ones at that).

Wreck of the Week

The weekly blog item for fans of rust and nostalgia – welcome.

Once again it’s a rusty piece of Ford history, from 1966 this time (MRA835D currently there is no listing on the DVLA database https://vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk/ConfirmVehicle):

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CORTINA-MKI-SUPER-GT-ESTATE/272999163648

Some brave person has already decided that this is the car for them as it is now listed as sold. The amount of rust in this one really does cause me to pause and praise nostalgia for all it is worth.

s-l1602

Looking at this the front wing appears to be attached by gravity and there are signs of corrosion in the front, in the roof, in the sill, in the wheel arch…

It’s registered in July 1966 and according to the advert has done only 60,000 miles since then.

I do like the single spotlight attached to the front bumper and those wheel trims are lovely.

s-l1602

This view confirms that front wing is flapping like busby. The rear presents as just surface rust however. The description confirms why – it has been in poor storage – presumably storage in which water gained fairly frequent access at the front end of the car. How many great cars have been lost like that I wonder?

s-l1602

This interior shot gives some idea why you would want it. Hopefully whoever now owns it has the skills to match. The advert states “The interior of this car is in superb, un-touched condition with a patina that you cannot buy new. With only one minor tear on the offside front seat base. The dash has never been to bits and the headlining is perfect. Door cards are good and all the GT bits are present and in excellent condition. There are some factory fitted switches and sockets under the dash, and a factory fitted pillar mounted spot lamp.”

The listing goes to some length to point out that this is a genuine car. This leads me to suspect that there are a few fake MKI Cortina GT Estates out there. This site gives you some guidance on telling the difference:

http://MKIcortina.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=24:how-to-spot-a-real-gt&catid=5:useful-links&Itemid=5

This site gives a review of the MKI Cortina in general:

https://classics.honestjohn.co.uk/reviews/ford/cortina-MKI/

There are not many MKI Cortina estates for sale in any spec currently. But looking at the saloon cars a GT spec version seems to add a healthy premium over the standard version.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/FORD-CORTINA-MKI-GT-MKI-CORTINA-GT-CORTINA-GT/332127396159?hash=item4d5455e13f:g:CxAAAOSwB-1YowCM

The history declared is rather interesting: “Believed to be one of 12 or so made for an order in Kenya, which was never completed, so the cars were sold through Ford dealers around the country…” Sadly there is that “believed to be…” so we can’t be certain, but that would certainly make it a very rare beast indeed.

This image is enough to strike dread into the heart of anyone who has wrestled with a welder – and lost. When the advert states that it needs major reconstruction work it is not being short with the truth.

It states “the front end needs major re-construction, with work required to both A posts/ panels, chassis legs/outriggers, sills, heater plenum/bulkhead, offside screen pillar, plus other areas of minor repairs…”

s-l1602

I look at this with the words “where would you start” in the back of my mind. However perhaps the old girl is due for a less venerated fate as the advert states: “all of the GT running gear is original and the 1500 GT engine turns over.” I have a sad suspicion that someone may just re-shell the car and lose part of the history in the process. (Although given what it looks like in the photographs I can’t say I could blame anyone for restoring it that way.)

s-l1602

Amazingly the floor pan looks intact in this shot. But the inner wing is history and without a good one to measure from I have no idea how anyone would reconstruct it.

s-l1602

A very shabby looking bulkhead (although compared to some of the other parts of the car this is almost reassuring. There is at least some metal to take measurements from.

s-l1602

The advert states that “there is not a servo fitted, as it was omitted, in favour of a properly plumbed-in Redex lubrication system (presumably to overcome the poor fuel quality in Kenya)”. Looking at this shot I imagine a servo could be fitted although that Redex system would be a lovely part of the history of the car to retain.

Unsurprisingly both strut tops are showing signs of having been plated before. But at least it means that they still look intact in this photograph.

s-l1602

I’m assuming this is the spot lamp referred to in the advert. Unfortunately it seems to be held there by the power of prayer.

A nice touch for this advert is the inclusion of the original log book:

s-l1602

This shows it as a Super GT (which according to Internet sources log books, for other genuine GT cars, sometimes do not show).

The interior still looks lovely as the advert describes and is the main appeal of this car.

s-l1602

It looks like you could scrub it and get in for a drive from this angle. I particularly like the line of Gauges across the centre of the dash.

This small rip apparently the only sign of interior damage (and I wonder if a skilled man could patch that.

s-l1602

If only it hadn’t been stored so badly…

However I am reassured that someone has already taken it on. If they happen to read this blog please send in some progress shots of how you get on with it.

If you liked this article why not follow this blog Follow The Procrastination Pen on WordPress.com

Credit to the property website from which the original idea (for Wreck of the Week) came:

http://www.wreckoftheweek.co.uk/

(Unlike that site, which is about houses, this series of blogs is and will be all about vehicles).

Photo by Mikes Photos from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/equipment-machine-machinery-metal-190539/

Hero Story

From one of my courses I was asked for a story about a hero. I chose Stanley who was a hero to me. I hope that you love him as I did.

“Sodding James Bond I mean where would he be if that guy Q hadn’t invented the exploding pen or the rotating watch I ask you that?” Stanley muttered distractedly attacking the edge of a piece of metal with a brutal looking file.

“It’s the engineers that save the day not some jumped up toss-pot in a bad-fitting suit”.

“Oh yes I’m certain he has all the beautiful girls, sex life of a bonobo chimpanzee that one. But without a rocket launcher in that car of his he would have been toast long since.”

Stanley was nursing a particularly fearsome hangover. He had retreated to a favoured part of one of the many sheds in what had once been termed a garden.

The previous evening had been another unsuccessful one.  His normal prejudices returned in force as he mentally revisited the experience.

“It isn’t as if I have any need of company” “I’m never in need of anyone when I have a broken Morris Minor and a new clutch kit”. “I just sometimes feel that it would be nice to have a drink”. “Is it my fault that all the places which sell respectable beer also seemed to be the popular ones?” “It isn’t that I actually want to meet anyone”.

“The problem is that I am invisible” – “All engineers have to be invisible”.

In Stanley’s mind the world had no respect for engineers or engineering things. The evidence for this perspective was scanty. Currently this evidence consisted of the preference for meddling secret agents over dependable engineers who provided their toys. Nonetheless Stanley was firmly of the view that this was the problem.

At times, despite the need to rewire the reversing light on the Series III Land Rover, something would push Stanley to go to the Skink and Partridge, the Rat and Falcon or the Snail and Marten to stand, and drink, and watch.

“When you’re an engineer you should just keep your gob shut,” Stanley said to himself, “Especially if you’re drinking Old Thumper”. In Stanley’s mind he was never more translucent than after a nice half of Old Thumper or Mainwaring’s special.

He had to proffer large sums of money across the bar even for the landlord to notice that he wanted to order something. It was even worse if he tried to talk to someone whilst the beer evolved itself onto the bar in front of him.

“For some reason when I mentioned the internal diameter of the O-Ring seal on an MGA Brake Master Cylinder it’s as if I never existed”. “I’ve seen People look straight through me, talk with people who were stood behind me or try to walk through me as they dash for the door. (I’m never certain what the damn hurry is either)”

“If I could just stay silent”

The idea of staying quiet had come to Stanley following many such visits. It was a reasonably effective idea at least initially. However then the second half of Old Thumper would take effect

“I was quite happy to stay silent” he said to himself despairingly.

Stanley would prop himself against his favourite oil-stained corner of the bar. He would maintain a careful silence – at least at first. However The Rat and Falcon did sell such excellent bitter. Many a nearby person would consume rather a lot of it.

By the time that Stanley had consumed the second half of Old Thumper someone would lean on the bar next to him and would begin to talk to the wall. At least Stanley was pretty certain it was the wall so convinced was he that he was invisible.

Stanley had learned that in these moments of “addressing the wall” the imbibers of the Rat and Falcon would have nothing to say which was of interest either to him or the Verdigris infested horse brasses behind him.

The conversations always went along similar lines. It could be the problems with the mortgage payments, the girl who was so fine that no later woman had been her like. Sometimes it was the late-diagnosed illness from which the imbiber would not recover.

The conversation was always about the people themselves. It was as if Stanley wasn’t there.

At this point Stanley had learned it was wise to nod and not to say anything.

The talking seemed to make his invisibility much worse. However he seemed unable to control his impulse to talk.

Last night for instance a very nice lady had drifted over.

Queenie was a little heavily made up. This was unfortunate given the mascara staining – a result of the liquid pouring from her eyes.

“No one respects me” she had said. Stanley hoped that the horse brasses were making notes in case she asked questions afterwards. “I mean I’m a nice person”. Stanley wasn’t clear what relevance this could be to the green flock wallpaper but like him it was keeping its own counsel on the issue.

Encouraged by the wallpaper’s silence she continued. “Cliff seemed such a nice one; he didn’t hit me very often, only on his days off”. “But then” (and she raised her voice at this point) “he made off with all my money. I came home Sunday – no rent, no food…”

Stanley wasn’t clear under which definition not hitting someone often was a positive feature. But he was prepared to take Queenie’s view on the subject.

Over the next hour, Stanley exchanged petrol and grease smudges with the bar stool. Queenie at intervals wailed and sobbed. Stanley developed an understanding of the problem. Apparently no one respected Queenie. (“Everyone” appeared to be male, and from Queenie’s description males who Stanley would not be keen to meet).

So many men had offended, assaulted or departed Queenie. She was now convinced that her value rated that of a penny stamp.

Stanley’s mind had begun to wander and he was thinking again of that missing 3/16″ multi-point socket. It was at this point that he forgot that he was invisible: “Do you know that today I found a long shank pop rivet set.  They are just the most useful things. I can now solve the problem of the sill covers on the MK1 Capri, that’s been bugging me for ages”.

Queenie had looked at the horse brasses with a strange expression. It was as if a set of curtains had drawn across her eyes. She had departed in the direction of the ladies. Stanley looked at his beer and realised a refill was needed. After a few more halves of Old Thumper and waiting for an hour he had realised that Queenie was not about to return.

Stanley had wobbled home the 5 miles with that familiar emptiness intact. He had no idea what one was supposed to do with that feeling once the Rat and Falcon was closed. He finally passed out on the rear seat of the Morris Ital. (The one propped up on axle stands in the lean-too car-port).

This morning the problem kept returning to him. He considered it whilst attempting to extract an offensive Head Stud from an Austin Mini. It seemed to him that the problem was an engineering one.

If he examined it from an engineering perspective he would be bound to come up with something – time for a cup of tea and the back of an envelope.

“So problem – vague feeling of emptiness as yet unidentified” mumbled Stanley – the stub of a grimy pencil protruding from behind one ear.

“Solutions so far attempted:

1) Old Thumper – advantages: tendency to remove feeling of emptiness. Disadvantages – feel sodding ill for days afterwards, hmm,

2)  Listening to people in the Rat and Falcon – advantages: the empty feeling abates for a short while. Disadvantages it returns multiplied manifold times a short while afterwards,

3) Staying home and changing the piston rings on the Austin 3 litre – advantages: enjoy myself. Disadvantages: empty feeling keeps nagging at me the whole time”

Stanley reasoned that he had not identified the correct solution. He thumped the top of the valve television set and sat down waiting the 15 minutes for the picture to appear.

He read once that the digital revolution would mean the end of the old television. But a bit of soldering a few circuit diagrams and he had a digital enabled valve TV from the 1960s.

“Now if I can solve the problem of the digitally-enabled TV set I should be able to resolve the emptiness problem”.

“OK emptiness what is that now? Something missing usually but it’s unlikely to be food” Stanley looked down at the snug fitting overalls a little ruefully.

“Old Thumper seems to assuage symptoms but not for long – so it isn’t drink then”

“Meeting people – initially looked promising. But in fact makes things worse; right about the time they start talking.” Stanley chewed the pencil end bitterly.

“What do we have left?” Hmm, now we have “drugs, sex, medical treatment, prosthetics…”

Stanley’s eyes lit up, now here was a solution he could metaphorically get his teeth into – “prosthetics, yes. I solved the motorised legs problem for that young lad just last week”.

Stanley had used his engineering skill to manufacture legs for a paraplegic. It had looked as if he had functional legs. These enabled him to move at speed whilst remaining upright. It had been a satisfying challenge.

“I wonder if I should just try the sex thing first, that could be promising…” Stanley’s thoughts returned to the previous evening…“heaven forbid…” he said to himself.

“Now if the problem seems connected with being invisible and I get more invisible when I talk – how can I overcome that problem…?”

That evening Stanley was evicted from the Snail and Marten. The use of a brightly painted flying helmet (with the attached flashing lights) and a chest-mounted sign (which repeated his every word in a strobing yellow colour) had seemed to him an excellent idea.

“Sodding Landlord” he said.

Sadly the evening had not been a success. If anything people seemed to find him ever-more invisible. Looking everywhere but actually where he stood.

“Attempt 4)” he said to the envelope – with his tongue sticking out “high visibility suit – complete failure”.

“OK, so attempts to make myself more obvious, talking, high visibility suit – no success”. “Making myself quiet and hidden – attracts people – some success but temporary effects only”. “Hmm” “OK so in fact I need to find a mechanism to be completely hidden and very very quiet”

That evening Stanley slipped into the Snail and Marten early. Making certain the landlord’s back was turned he unscrewed the back of the juke box and squeezed inside pulling the panel in behind him.

After a long and dusty evening during which he had scorched his nose (the Juke Box selections sending sparks through the end of it). He was forced to admit this was not the solution.

“So attempts at hiding – well the hiding was very successful” “however still invisible to people and the feeling remains” “so that is attempt 5”

At this point Stanley made an extra strong pot of tea. The obvious things had been eliminated. Yet he remained invisible and he retained an unidentified empty feeling which he could not seem to address.

“Hmm, so it looks like the specification of the problem is wrong” said Stanley to himself. “The invisibility goes with being an engineer, I like being an engineer so I have to stay invisible. I don’t actually need people at all in fact – I am quite happy with machines”

For some reason the empty feeling chose that moment to make itself very forcibly known. “Oh God I feel so miserable” Stanley said to himself “Why in heavens name can’t I just give up and die right this minute?”

Stanley unconsciously hugged himself – feeling wretched. “Ok so I am an engineer therefore I am invisible. I don’t need people but I feel horrible”. “Hmm, so it would appear that I need to address the feeling horrible part”.

Stanley took his spectacles from the upper overall pocket and pulled them on.  One lens was now near opaque but he was very proud of the repair job he had done on the frame. He’d reversed the Rover over them whilst road testing that wheel bearing replacement.

He turned to the old bookshelf. (This was now his favourite piece of furniture after he had reinforced it with 3mm Angle iron cut from an old bed). He leafed through some medical reference books.

“Hmm, so for each of these drugs it seems that the side effects are equally as bad if not worse than the things that they are treating”. Stanley shook his head in some confusion “I think I will stick with the engineering solution”.

“Now what was that list, oh yes hmm, drugs, sex, medical treatment, prosthetics…

Now the drugs seem a bad idea, the prosthetics didn’t work, so we have the sex”. Stanley realised he had no idea how to persuade someone to engage in such activity. After all – he was invisible.

“It appears I have to hope that sex is not the answer as it doesn’t appear to be a basic engineering problem

…or is it”?

A very congealed looking cup of tea and one very large envelope later – “yes it appears that isn’t too difficult actually”. Stanley set to with wire cutters and soldering iron.

Several days later: Looking at his creation Stanley couldn’t help but have a twinge of satisfaction “say what you like Stanley you are a very good engineer” Stanley enthused to himself. 6ft tall, long long legs, a chest that in any human would have meant substantial surgery and a heart melting voice. She moved with flawless poise like a cat with attitude.

After a really great cup of tea Stanley reasoned that it was time to put his android to the test. However he was forced to admit that, sexy as the android was, he didn’t really want sex with her.

Florrie (as he had named her) wasn’t actually filling him with any overpowering sexual urges. “Still Stanley old man, never find out if this is the answer unless you give it a go”. Five minutes later a very red-faced Stanley lay asleep in Florrie’s arms snoring enough to shake the remaining doors on the old sideboard.

Some time later:

“Attempt 6, machine for delivering sex on demand machine very effective – empty feeling remains, abject failure”

Stanley sat down and ran his calloused fingers through thin greasy hair. “I thought you were a bright one Stanley old man – can’t see how you’ve let this beat you”.

For 3 days Stanley sat completely motionless looking at the wall:

He knew that the crankshaft oil seal on the Wolseley 16/60 was weeping and he didn’t care.

He saw that mould was growing on the teapot again and he didn’t care.

He sat as silent and as still as the wallpaper which he was certain could be seen right though him.

Eventually the demands of thirst and bladder drove him to pull himself from the overalls-sized depression in the sofa.

His lungs were absolutely full – so shallow had his breathing been. He coughed forcefully for several minutes his lungs crackling like fine paper.

“It looks like the medical treatment then old man” Stanley said with some trepidation “that’s all there is to it. Better get yourself a few library books”

Stanley had once been a member of the library. He had a vague memory that the process had not gone well. It was difficult to apply for a library card when the librarian couldn’t see you.

Initially things had looked promising. Until he’d mentioned that the timing cover stud on a Vauxhall Chevette had a left hand thread. (And what a fascinating job it was to cut one by hand). His invisibility had asserted itself completely. It was all he could do to wrest the card from her pale resisting hand.

“On the plus side” Stanley reasoned “if I’m invisible then it won’t be much of a problem taking books from the library”. He chuckled sadly “after all no one will be able to see me”.

As Stanley entered the library the librarian fixed him with a look of such disdain that he was convinced that she could see him. Stanley shuffled across towards her. But she turned to her computer as if he didn’t exist – he realised that he had been mistaken.

“Reference section Stanley – that’s what we are looking for” he mumbled and turned towards the stairs.

After many weeks of visiting the library Stanley realised that he was going to need a computer. Many of the books now referred to computers attached to an Internet. That was going to be a resource that he could not do without. This would be his biggest project ever.

After hours with circuit boards and soldiering irons, Stanley built himself a computer. In fact Stanley had built a phenomenal computer. It would have embarrassed Intel had they realised that it had been built. Stanley had no appreciation that encryption even existed such was the computing power of this device.

Over time he accessed the records of military and medical establishments invisibly and unremarked. He assembled research and records without awareness that he was doing anything wrong. Finally he had what he was looking for.

“Florrie MKII then Stanley I think”

Stanley started again with soldering iron. Florrie watched the creation of a sister, wire by wire, limb by limb.

Florrie MK 2 could have been a pianist, with her long slender fingers. But her eyes held the intelligence of something quite terrifying. “I say again Stanley; if you could only have been happy with what you are you might have made a difference in this world.”

“Still there was no settling this emptiness; it is time to face the solution then.”

Stanley knew that he could not face another night in the Rat and Falcon. So he contented himself with a mope through the local off license. Eventually finding something foul and plastic coated. It might have been considered drinkable by human beings but God alone knows where. However it was effective in silencing the chasm within for just a short while.

Stanley slept, a slow drool from his lip now mixing with the stains on his cheeks – carbon left over from the decoking of the MG.

As he slept the Florrie MK II programme commenced. She gently administered the anaesthetic and watched as his breathing slowed to a regular whisper.

Monitoring him closely Florrie opened the skull of the anesthetised Stanley. Carefully she cauterised connections within the brain.

Wherever research had propounded that social centres were to be found a small section was cauterised away removing the function, excising the need. Establishing (so Stanley had reasoned) a haven of contentment for a fully-formed, self-contained engineer.

After the final stitch she raised Stanley into a semi prone position. She carefully watched his life signs as Stanley, smiling-blissfully, slept.

In the morning Stanley awoke and smiled to himself. Waving his oil-stained arm in front of him – he wondered what it was.

He cooed slowly to himself.

He looked at the thing watching over him and wondered what it was.

His eyes parted with a hazy wonder as he looked around him.

He stared in an unfocused way at the Jensen Healey mouldering away just outside the window and he wondered what it was.

He raised his leg and looked at it for several seconds and wondered if it was part of him or part of this big thing he seemed to be lying on.

Outside the welding set lay untouched, the lathe was silent, and the trolley jack lay as he had left it – in the hallway beside his next-best overalls.

Stanley looked around at this magic place and wondered how he had come to be here.

He smiled a wide-innocent smile and he drifted off to sleep quietly …

Wreck of the Week

Not a lot of feedback this week.

I seem to have more people reading the blog who are keen on a) the writing material b) the counselling material.

However I will persist with this on the basis that the rust aficionados are not quite so outspoken.

The concept is based upon the property website:

http://www.wreckoftheweek.co.uk/

Although I feel that there should be something similar for things with an engine.

This week has had so many potential examples of wrecks that I was struggling to know what to choose.

That is until my partner pointed out that this week’s car is a “gangster car” which meant it was the top choice.

I have no firm feelings about what a “gangster car” should look like so this one may well fit the bill better than most.

This is the car I’m talking about:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1953-ALVIS-TC21-FOR-TOTAL-RESTORATION-MANUAL-GEARBOX-DELIVERY-POSSIBLE-/122865998941

Unlike last week this one is a classified ad so that I can only guess at what it finally fetched.

On the upside it is very well served with photographs.

These give a very good idea about what is involved in restoring it.

I have little familiarity with Alvis. So I thought this time I would take a quick look around to see what they are, how desirable they are and so on.

Wreck 1

It turns out that all car production ceased in 1965 which is a bit before I was born.

The likelihood of significant replacement panels being available is unlikely.

From the above photograph the front bumper might stand re-chroming. But there is a lot of rust worm obvious in front of the driver’s side front wing.

The TC21 was noted for its bonnet scoops – which this one is missing.

Perhaps only one variant actually had them.

Wreck 2

It looks like production was between 1953 and 1955 only. At 1953 this is an early one.

Those running boards look like they are going to need significant attention.

A quick scan of the available TC21 cars out there reveals that £20,000 – £45,000 is needed to buy a good one.

So perhaps this justifies the interest in this.

Wreck 3

However there is no V5 and only the seller’s say-so that getting hold of one is straightforward.

Of greater interest in any case are the fabrication skills that you’re going to need to resurrect this car.

It looks though like a number of TC21s are now on wire wheels. So the steel wheels – and what look like good condition tyres are a bit of a surprise.

Wreck 4

This side view is a lot more revealing.

The rear wing is apparently attached by prayer and the boot surround needing a touch of magic.

I do love the rear wheel arch covers though – give a look of style to the car, although I bet they are a devil to keep clean.

Wreck 5

The boot floor in need of more than a polish.

The lack of underside shots means we have to speculate about the chassis’ condition.

I notice that some Alvis cars were built with an ash frame. I’m not clear if it includes the TC21.

If it does welding might well be the least of the problems that you would have to encounter.

Wreck 6

The nearside view doesn’t look any more awe-inspiring than the offside.

It definitely looks like it is going to need some specialist skills to put that back.

Wreck 7

The engine though looks amazing; apparently a 3 litre and 100bhp in the day.

Despite having the aerodynamics of a cocktail cabinet it could apparently reach 100mph.

Piling along at 100mph in a mobile stately home is an achievement particularly in 1953.

Twin SUs at least look like the kind of thing that can be recovered in 2018.

Wreck 8

Perhaps we should focus on the interior:

Wreck 9

Oh dear it looks like Mr and Mrs Mouse moved in a little while ago and fancied a meal of leather and horsehair.

No escape from a complete reupholster from the looks of this.

Wreck 10

But what a dashboard and what door cappings, a period of style and grace which it appears worthwhile trying to recapture (if your pockets are deep enough).

I love how far the speedo is from the driver as if watching one’s speed is for lesser people.

Wreck 11

And lastly another view of that engine.

It looks like it was on for £3750. So there is some ceiling for that £22,000 asking price.

But with this quantity of work I have to hope the buyer is very skilled as that could be swallowed in bodyshop fees.

It would be sad if it had only been purchased to supply parts for another TC21.