Sorry. Slip of the keyboard. The title should read
‘Wiz and the Oily Car’
So apologies if you were expecting a bit of light Opera. Still, you may as well stay and have a read now you’re here.
On leaving Sudbury Town Chawkey, Wiz and Yours Truly moved up from our cosy little rented semi, to the leafy environs of lovely Ruislip (pron: Raiy-slip) heart of ‘Metroland’ – specifically, a place called Eastcote (pron: Eastcote) – Acacia Avenue, if you must know, where we took possession of a fine, large though dilapidated detached house. We got beautiful light, polished wooden floors, acres of space, prehistoric gas heating, a kitchen ceiling which sagged alarmingly and wilderness back and front. If nothing else, a great party venue.
Here, we (Marión, me: a couple) Chawkey (aka Charles Stewart Hawkey, schoolmaster of the parish of Redcar) and Wiz (aka Ian Vickers, hydraulic hose expert originally of Nunthorpe, Middlesborough) had what, speaking for myself though I think all will agree was an idyllic, largely hilarious and very special time. A shared experience, which continues to bind us as lifelong friends.
Situated close to what was HMS Pembroke on Lime Grove, an outstation of the wartime Bletchley Park codebreaking operation, this damp, but sunny eccentric house used to be rented out to US servicemen posted at the nearby West Ruislip base . Which explains why the kitchen sported an immense 1960s American fridge; but not the surfeit of motor vehicle engines buried beneath the grounds. During our time there we laughed, and laughed at jokes – the sillier the better, tall stories, tales, and many many funny incidents, which one day I will recount in full. However here’s one to whet your appetite.
Wiz bought himself a fancy car, a white Triumph TR6. A British classic. Straight six, gleaming white, Spoked wheels, walnut dashboard, the lot. I used to love how the windows in the house rattled in their frames in response to the engine’s guttural roar. Which they often did, as the car rarely ever went anywhere.
Wiz’s TR6 as I will always remember it: Stationary
You see, what Wiz didn’t realise as he handed over his hard-earned cash for the classic car in question, was that he was in the process of buying the car for which the term ‘mechanical gremlins’ seems to have been invented.
Look at the quality. It’s a shame I never saw either of them turn
One day Wiz says he’s got an oil leak. Not unusual: me and Chawkey both drive Ford Cortina Mk 5’s (I had graduated up from the Marina coupe by now) So someone always has an oil leak. In fact, the drive is so covered with oil it is impossible to distinguish the original ‘crazy paving’ pattern. Maybe not such a bad thing I hear you say.
Anyroad, Wiz, having carefully observed the run of oil on the car’s underside and the distribution of droplets is of the opinion that the culprit is the rear differential. And so, one saturday he puts on his overalls and goes to work as follows. You do follow?
Well to cut a long story short, by the end of the afternoon, Wiz has reached his goal. Gingerly, he takes the differential unit away from the drive and axle assemblies and cupping it carefully, makes to empty out the oil, measure it and see how much it has lost. Highly organised throughout the afternoon’s labour (It would have cost you £420 in today’s money) Wiz has not thought about the practicalities of this aspect of the job. What could he use to measure it? He thinks a while then goes into the kitchen, takes the kitchen measuring jug and carefully fills it with the syrupy black contents of the differential and its housing.
Wiz’s brow begins to knot. He consults his workshop manual.
“Bollocks! It’s got exactly what the manual says it should have in it” Down to the very last drop. “Errr… So it’s not leaking oil from the differential then?” I said, trying to sound helpful. “No it’s not bloody leaking from the differential then” “Oh, I wonder where …” But you can see from Wiz’s face he’s not after help from the mechanically-challenged such as Yours Truly.
So, with a heartfelt “Fuck it” Wiz re-traces his steps and re-assembles and replaces the various components. Miraculously, everything fits, nothing is missing, and he has not been left with half a dozen parts which do not seem to have a home.
By now it is early evening. As he tidies away after his long day’s efforts, Wiz happens to open up the boot (or trunk if you prefer) of the car, to put away some scraps of fabric which he has been tearing up to use as rags.
Not one to normally get het-up over things we are all naturally concerned as to what is the matter.
What is the matter is that Wiz has found his oil leak. It is coming from a five litre can of Castrol GTX which has upended itself and courtesy of an ill-fitting lid is slowly oozing oil which has been finding its way out of the boot and onto the axle via one of the boot drain holes!
Isn’t it great when it happens to someone else?
© Andy Daly 2010 First published 11/06/2010
Today’s star word: surfeit (Thanks Norm!)