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The Unsuccessful Owner

by Mike Rooth

Or how to be a jerk without really trying.

It all happened a good many years ago now, when the pony occupied space in a much more primitive stableyard than the one she currently graces with her presence. I was leaning on Bloody Nora one fine summers evening, when a fellow owner hove into view. And having hoved, he commenced to utter. On the subject of his buying a Land Rover. The usual questions, what wheelbase, what engine, you've all been through it. I advised a SWB diesel S111, like Gertie was at that time, said Gert being fortunately present as an example. He looked a bit doubtful, but appeared to agree, and wandered off. That, I thought, was as far as it would go. It is, as no doubt you will agree, as far as it *does* go in 90% of these cases. However, I was (as usual, according to the DA) wrong, since Pat, Gertie's owner remarked a day or two later, that he had been discussing the selfsame subject with her, and with the same answers being given. There was complete silence on the subject for several weeks, then to everyone's complete surprise, he appeared... in a 109" *petrol* SW! S111 admittedly, but as for the rest of our considered advice, suffice it to say that it appeared we were regarded as complete chumps, and anything we said should not be merely disregarded, but inverted! It was, though, a very tidy SW, in Limestone throughout, and the engine was apparently a good one. And judging by his grin, he was enjoying the experience. Until it rained. Oh dear. "It lets wet in". "So what? So does mine, they all do". "Yes but, it drips down my neck". "Bung it up then. Find the hole and sling some mastic at it". Which he did. So it leaked somewhere else.

Now this Land Rover ended up being a victim of its own success. The chap's wife was something of a recluse, and rarely went out. However, in the SW she felt safe, high enough up to see things, and she generally thought it a Good Thing. So go out they did, *much* more, and *much* further than they ever had in his car. Which was, incidentally a Volvo Estate. She loved it. And so did he until the end of the month, when he realised how much the petrol for all this socialising had cost. Sharp intake of breath! The final straw came when he wanted to make an acute angled right turn from some traffic lights in the town. With the 109's usual orbit-like turning circle, it was found necessary to make a three point turn round the corner, much to the delight of other drivers. All of which, we *had* told him... So the SW was sold on. Sad. All say "aaaah".

Six months later, our flabber was once more gasted. He rolled up in a Range Rover. A sandy coloured thing with a suspiciously rattly engine and an odd exhaust note. This, he reckoned was The Bee's Knees. "Petrol" I said, "And the cost therof". "Ah!" He replied, "Got you there, its diesel". Funny, I thought, looks a bit old for a VM engined vehicle. It was two door as well, but not knowing an awful lot on the Range Rover front, I (uncharacteristically, according to the DA) held my tongue.

It snowed. The phone rang. "Er, Mike, can you take Susan to the yard?". (Susan is his daughter). "Well, yes if you like, what's the problem?" "Range Rover wont start, it was OK yesterday, but it wouldn't go this morning". Well, yes, I mused, it was a bloody sight warmer yesterday. Bigmouth: "You want a tow?" I must have dragged that damned heap for miles until a frantic hooting, and flashing of (very dim) headlights, suggested it had, at last, started. It must be admitted, though, that falling snow notwithstanding, people stopping and grinning at the spectacle of this scruffy old 11A diesel, dragging around a stately Range Rover, like a reluctant dog on a lead, did my ego no end of good. A feeling Dixon must know well, by now.

He set off for the yard, with Bloody Nora in lukewarm pursuit, and on arrival parked outside his stable door, leaving the engine running, while he got on and mucked out. Me, I parked in my usual spot, and leaned on the corral rail, while my daughter got on and mucked out. If you don't get 'em trained what use are they? It was snowing heavily now as I idly perused the Awful Beast... hang about, that's not exhaust fumes! Not from under the bonnet its not. . "John!" "What?" "It's brewing up!" "Oooooh sh... " Boiling. In a snowstorm. Takes *real* talent that. I was, eventually, persuaded to have a look at what he'd bought. Under the bonnet was, not a VM diesel, not even a Perkins, but a five cylinder *Mercedes* diesel. With heater plugs "wired" together with copper bar that wouldn't have looked out of place in a busbar cabinet. And, I was pretty sure, wired together wrongly. Advice? Get *that* sorted pronto. Not content with that masterpiece of electrical engineering who ever had fitted the engine had found that the fan was too big. So what was attempting to keep the engine heat within bounds was a nine bladed stump. Someone had cut off the blades leaving three inch stumps, which may just have stirred the fug in there (although I had my doubts about even that), but were certainly not contributing to the cooling at all. He did, eventually, get the heater plugs sorted out. What he did about the tea making aspect of the problem I don't know. I *had*, (of course) warned him about engine transplants before he bought the 109"... Some people are beyond help.

From the OVLR Newsletter, February 1999


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