A Friday (short) Story, November 1998
by Mike Rooth
So Bloody Nora, sneaky like, bust a spring. Or more to the point, bust a U-bolt then a spring. And taking a leaf (ouch!) out of Dixon's book, I was damned if I was going to replace both rear springs with new ones. Not a chance. Not ever. No way. It so happens that the son of a colleague had recently purchased a very late model S111 (sensible lad, gives us hope for the younger generation yet), and had decided that the springs were tired and required replacing. Further, he had bought a full set at an auto jumble, with U-bolts. So the little red light came on and the bell rang, and I asked the aforementioned colleague to capture the outgoing off side rear spring, and shunt it my way. The lad duly borrowed a fully equipped garage, removed his springs... and found the U-bolts were too short. On a Saturday afternoon. Twenty miles from his home. So off they went in his mate's car to a nationally advertised parts dealer. A shut nationally advertised parts dealer. However, round the back were two employees working on their own wagons, who listened to his tale of woe, and kindly agreed to open the stores and take his money off him. "Wot yerv got is military diesel springs" was the wisdom dispensed. Remind me not to go to this particular nationally advertised parts dealer. What he'd got was standard 88" rears, diesel fronts and a complete set of eight u-bolts for the petrol fronts. 9 leaf as against 11. The downside of all this was that the old rears were completely shot at. Some you win, most you lose. A day or so later, a glum face appeared round my office, well, walk in cupboard, door. Bloke from downstairs, for whom I had obtained batteries, large, two, 24V Nissan diesel-in-101, starting for the use of. It seems he had got one of these on charge whilst working on his 101, which work involved the use of an angle grinder. He was, being one of these safety first individuals, wearing ear defenders. He heard a faint POP and over his head, to settle in front of him, descended the filler cap ex one, very large, battery. Or rather, when he turned round, half one very large battery, the top bit having blown off. It would seem not to be the work of genius to generate sparks with an angle grinder, whilst also generating hydrogen in the same room. Could I get him another battery? And could it be one with the terminal posts on this side rather than that side? Oooh, bugger. Oh no, not again. His existing cross battery lead isnt long enough. He'd been wittering about this for weeks, trying to get me to swap one of the ones I'd got him for one with the terminal posts on the other side. Now these batteries are take-offs from standby generator sets, and are continuously charged from new, and are swapped out every eighteen months or so as a matter of policy. Rather than scrap perfectly good batteries, the firm sells them off at ten quid a go. New? Around sixty quid. Plus VAT. I thought I'd finally got across to him the wisdom of putting on a longer cross battery lead, so that when the time came to renew them, probably in some third world country, it didn't matter a monkey's what side the damned lugs were on. And in any case he'd hardly be able to specify anyway. But no. My persuasive p!owers aren't up to convincing academics that they might, just might, mind you, be wrong.
But. I suddenly remembered that he had resprung his 88" some while ago. Had he still got the old springs? He had? He was going to take them to Sodbury? Nononono. Don't do that. I wus first. The price? Don't ask. Another blasted battery, preferably with the lugs on this side...... or ten quid. To be fair, the spring looks nearly new, and I got the heater switch off the 101 thrown in, as a possible sustitute for Bloody Nora's side and headlamp switch. And don't bother. It isn't.
Reprinted from the OVLR Newsletter, November 1998