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Bloody Minded Bloody Nora

A Friday Story by Mike Rooth

There I was, minding my own business (I do, sometimes) driving along a country lane after dark. No traffic, main beam on... and all the lights go out. Loud raspberry from The Prince of Darkness, hearty guffaw from Bloody Nora, much Anglo-Saxon from Yours Truly. Turns out you can have dipped beam and light, or main beam and gloom. And the poor old genny was whacking out its full twenty amps or so, to produce said gloom. I never realised that darkness took so much generating. Must be a new principle of physics there somewhere. The remedy, of course, was to go and buy a new dipswitch, having ascertained that, yes, they *do* go like that, and yes, we *do* have one in stock.

Now the time rapidly approaches when the MoT farce has to be borne once more, and I knew Nora had a somewhat strained swivel bearing, brought on in part by the acquisition last year of a pair of truly *awful* part worn Pirelli Scorpion tyres. To say it made the steering like a tank was to malign tank manufacturers the world over. Two Bronco retreads effected an instant lightening of *that* situation, but the swivel had to be done, and moreover, I didn.t think I had any shims left that side, so replace the Railco bush was to be my fate. I reckoned that to do the jobs that needed doing would take a couple of days at this time of year, working outside with limited daylight. So, having identified a weather window, I took the necessary two days off work.

The D.A, presumably to avoid any further lessons in Anglo-Saxon, pottered off shopping leaving me gloomily contemplating the offside front wheel. One coffee later (mustn.t rush these things) with the wheel off, it came as a pleasant surprise (albeit a suspicious one) to find that there wasn.t really all that much play present, *and* that I'd several shims left. Furthermore, the removal of the thickest shim, and its replacement by a thin one took out what play there was. I was, of course, by now *deeply* suspicious. Bloody Nora *never* lets you off this easily.

There's a nasty lurking somewhere. Half an hour later, lying flat on the kitchen floor, making funny noises, I thought I'd found the nasty, having put my back comprehensively out removing the jack from the other side. End of work for one day. Nora has, for several weeks past, exhibited a strange tendency to attempt to imitate a steam loco while having her heater plugs activated first thing in the morning. Steam issues from under the bonnet. Lazy curls of white vapour drift past the windshield. This I put down to overnight condensation, or overnight rain, and ignored it. However, on topping up the radiator on the second morning, I did idly wonder where the dickens all *that* much water went. I know Nora is still signalling her dislike of hand me down radiators by dripping at the bottom hose spigot, but it wasn.t *pouring* out. Then I glanced at the heater hose at the back of the block. Bugger! Water all over no4 injector, and no4 heater plug. Mystery solved. "Aha" quoth I, "I'll fix that with a bit of tape". And did so. You know that black self-amalgamating tape that comes in handy in these situations. And then, feeling proud of my resourcefulness rumbled off to the farm. And having returned therefrom, lifted the lid to check on my repair. Nora was *hissing* at me. Sounded really peeved, she did. NOW what? I'd been really clever hadn.t I? The *opposite* end of the hose had burst owing to the fact that the *original*, or taped, end was now pressure tight. Well, almost. Oh all right then, *more* pressure tight than it was before. And that's my last offer. The problem now was to actually get to fetch a new hose. They had them in stock, which surprised me in a way because Nora has the flat Smiths heater which was fitted to relatively few Land Rovers, but then again, I've never stumped these two yet and I hope I never shall. Thanks to an accommodating mate (and the works van) I not only got that hose, but the other one *and* four new hose clips, of the Terry persuasion. Posh job this! By this time Nora was openly sniggering. She *knew* what a sod that hose was going to be. You can see it, but you can.t get a screwdriver on it. The bulkhead end is underneath all that brightly colour coded wiring (black, black, and black on black) that's bunched across the bulkhead. *And* there's the hand throttle linkage in the way. *And* sundry fuel pipes. I cut the old pipe off, in the end, because it wouldn.t move even after, with much struggling and acrobatics, I'd got rid of the old hose clip. The new pipe went on with no problems and the outboard (new!) hose clip tightened down a treat. But the other end... Fortunately these clips have a sawgate for a screwdriver, but they also have a hexagon head. A (believe it or believe it not) no3 *BA* hexagon head. So it was tightened with a tiny 3BA spanner. And with great difficulty. End of second day.

Fortunately the third day was a Saturday, and the weather window had once again confounded the forecasters (they've been absolutely useless since some idiot gave them a computer. They were much more reliable in the days of pine cones and bits of seaweed) and was again dry. Dry, and cold. 'Orribly cold, as in damp and cold. And I'd still got that damned dipswitch to fit. Now I don.t know whether this was the original dipswitch, but it's fastened to the toe board with two 2BA nuts and bolts. Or so it turned out after half an hours excavating with a variety of screwdrivers to remove the tons of assorted debris that actually completely hid the wiring. Which, due to total submergence in the aforementioned crud for eons, does, surprisingly, possess colours other than black. A veritable rainbow down there in the gloom. With two 2BA nuts and... well, yes. At first I thought Joe Lucas had been rather clever and arranged that the hexagon head wouldn.t be able to turn, which left the uncomfortable job of crawling underneath to locate the nuts (*just* inboard of the main chassis rail), which, on its own would be a bugger but not too much of one. Joe Lucas being clever? Pull the other one. I was up against dear old Joe *and* Bloody Nora here. Of COURSE the heads turned. Round and round like a fairground ride. Problem. I don.t have ten foot long arms, or eyes on stalks (Although there is the school of thought that says my eyes stick out like chapel 'at pegs in certain situations, but that's got nothing to do with Land Rovers) so how was I going to hold the bolt still. Mole. Good old Mr. Mole. Clipped on to the head. While I groveled underneath. The thought occurred to me at this point that I never use high beam much anyway and wouldn.t miss it, so I was suffering all this grief for some grubby fingered baby "mechanic" so he could give me a tatty bit of paper stating that in his totally uninformed opinion my vehicle was fit to drive on Her Majesty's decrepit carriageways. And if *that* isn.t a case of misplaced labour, I don.t know what is. However the dipswitch *was* replaced. And I now have high beam and light again, despite the fact that the new switch came fully labelled "LUCAS".

And no, it hasn.t passed its MoT. Why? I haven.t yet plucked up the courage to book one, that's why. . . . . . . .

From the OVLR Newsletter, March 1999


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