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Adventure Stories & Humor

Exhausted by Mike Rooth

So it came to pass that yet again Bloody Nora wanted to spend some of my money. Its not that I mind the exhaust bellowing in pain, I don't even mind the smell in the cab. After all, there are enough draughts built in to this thing to dissipate diesel fumes fairly quickly even with the windows shut. I suspect this was an early fresh air ventilation design, which the Lode Lane engineers modestly didn't publicize. No, *I* don't mind, its those wretched busybodies in dark blue uniforms who tend to wake up, take notice and object. It *has* to be noisy to distract them from the local rock radio station, that they are sitting in their flash motors listening to. Mind you, to be perfectly fair, even then if they're only halfway through their sandwiches they don't bother. Of course, this was never destined to be an easy job. Added to which, readers will be aware of my; shall we say antipathy?; towards exhaust systems. Actually I've some sympathy towards the poor mug that gets the exhaust design to do. I've got the strongest suspicion that he's inevitably the least popular bloke on the team anyway, and by the time the others have had their go at the space underneath, his design prowess; supposing he ever had any in the first place; is reduced to finding a way from front to back using a bit of string.

However, not to worry, we'll chuck real money at this. NINE quid for the centre pipe. Phew! And *another* one and a half quid (be it noted) for all NEW nuts and bolts! I even tried to get brass nuts, but fort... er... UNfortunately he didn't have them. Just goes to show doesn't it. You adopt high engineering standards and the retail trade doesn't want to know. Well, they've had their chance now. They can go bust, it's the last time *I* try to help.

Naturally, having spent this vast amount of money, it rained. And rained. It flooded half of Wales. *That* much rain. So the new centre pipe stayed *inside* Bloody Nora. OK, so I'm a wimp. So much so I've never even *thought* of applying for the Camel Trophy. But it couldn't rain forever, so I couldn't put the job off forever either. Assemble tools of destruction. Hacksaw, two sizes, and angle grinder. Lower self gingerly underneath. Find out immediately that the underside of an 88 becomes an efficient wind tunnel in a howling gale, and if said gale is howling in Autumn there are high speed leaves and other debris mixed in with it. Having considered the problem from all possible angles; which beats working on it hands down; we take the decision to separate the front pipe from the one in the middle. Now if the three bolts thereon ever had threads; and I'm sure they must have had, once upon a time; there is no sign of such now. And what is more, the aforementioned designers bit of string must have run out at this point, and had to be knotted onto another bit. You can *see* the dratted bolts, you can even touch them, just, but can you find room for the angle grinder? Of *course* not. This is a Land Rover. Maintain it in a field. More so it's easier to dig a damned great hole in the ground to get under it than for any other reason. Large hacksaw then? Oh come on! *Small* hacksaw? Oh, OK then, if you must. Now people swear *at* Junior hacksaws more often than by them, but I've found by observation (its called "research" these days, and governments pay for it) that most people expect the poor little carbon steel blade to last their lifetimes. And in some cases to become a family heirloom. Then they spend hours trying to *rub* their way through the job. Tip. Try a new blade. Yes you *can* still get them, no they aren't expensive, and yes, they do actually *cut*. And when you get fed up with sawing inverted, with luck you can snap what's left.

That's all right then. Centre pipe to back box, silencer, muffler, whatever takes your fancy. It's just the same, about fourteen quid. And four not long interfered with nuts and bolts. TONS of jollop... um. easing oil. Oh hell. Oh damnation. I could maybe get the angle grinder on these Unco-operative swine, but I shouldn't *have* to. More grunt, that's what's needed. Bugger the effort, just grunt louder. Aaah! Gotcha! Careful of the gasket, its not that old. Yes, I know I've got a new one, but that's for best.

Gosh! Progress. Wonders never ceasing. Miracles all *over* the place! Now the dolly dangler, otherwise known as the pipe mounting bracket. Not a chance, mate. You used up your luck when the silencer bolts came out. Grinder. Zzzzzzapp. Lovely. Well, half lovely, you pillock, there's still the bolt at the top. Which goes round a treat, what fun, but the nut wont shift, and its all floppy and wont stay still. bugger buggerbuggerDAMN. Throw the spanner at it. Go on, do it. What happens is that the two halves of the bracket separate and the pipe just obediently drops off. Genius, sheer genius, that's what it is. Repair to rear tub. Be seated. Observe the nice new pipe sitting there, and the nice new nuts and bolts just waiting to go on. 5/16" UNF x 1" as per Repair Operation Manual, 5/16" UNF x 1 1/4" as per. . well, you get the idea. Fine. Back underneath again, to the windy area, pipe in hand, nuts and bolts in overall pocket. Offer up pipe to front pipe, and insert three 5/16" UNF as per... lovely! Now we're cooking with gas. Hook up dolly dangler, insert one 5/16" UNF... LIES! THE MANUAL IS A PACK OF LIES!! 5/16"UNF my Aunt Fanny. MILES too big. Oh God, now I suppose its hours sorting through the biscuit tin looking for something that will fit, and then *more* hours looking for a nut that will fit that. Ah! That looks like a 1/4"UNF bolt about the right length. Its even got threads on it. That's a turnup for the book. Now, nuts, nuts... there! It fits! Thank you God, I'll never touch another drop. Not until this evening anyway. Back to windy hollow, clip up dolly dangler, fit nut and bolts *not* as per Repair Operation Manual, round the back, hold silencer somewhere near with knees while inserting bolts. Warning! At this stage, DO NOT RELAX! What you now have is all the exhaust bits hanging loosely from the oily side. And this is where the Exhaust Design Engineer (or plumber) demonstrates his true capacity for sheer unadulterated evil. You think it's a big vehicle, don't you? Well, you're right, but The Plumber, in order to use the maximum amount of mild steel pipe (for which, no doubt, he got a handsome emolument from the steel tube industry, and being truly modest, didn't tell anyone in case he had to buy a round)has run the damned thing as close to the chassis as possible. If, therefore, you don't tighten all the new, shiny 5/16" (and 1/4") UNF bolts correctly you are going to proceed on all future journeys with a percussion accompaniment. The Manual? This is the true evil. The Manual is UTTERLY SILENT! Not a word. Not a peep. You're on your own sunshine. Really. Because *I'm* not telling you either. . . . . . . .

PS I've disproved the adage that reassembly is the reverse of dismantling. A Land Rover will dismantle itself. But it won't put itself together again.

Copyright Dixon Kenner, 1995-2011. Last modified March 15, 2005.
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