Monday, 24 August 2009

take a brake

Yet more tinkering with the car. I was out there grovelling under the wheel arch the other day, when Phil wandered by. He was spotless and dapper. I was greasy and speckled with road tar and gravel (they resurfaced the road not long back, and it's still sticky). He accused me of having the car as a hobby. I tried not to be offended.

It's a tricky one though. I have the car that I do have because I like it, and because I can fix it when it goes wrong, and as time goes by and I fix it more and more, I get to know it better and improve my ability to diagnose and fix problems. Which is very empowering. But I think on balance I'd prefer it to be perfect all the time. Or even slightly imperfect.

Which ain't going to happen, of course.

Latest trouble was a seized brake cylinder on the starboard forward wheel. There it is, look.

...which meant that, when I braked hard, the car would try to swing left.

It was quite useful, the other day, when I was driving through an underpass where the road curved round to the left ahead of me. A van appeared, going fast, on the wrong side of the road. I guess he thought it was a one-way system.

Much squealing of tyres and swerving. And in a moment it was all over apart from my thinking thoughts along the lines of "Blimey, I could be dead now, if I wasn't alive".

So I took the old brake cylinder off and put a new cylinder on, and bled the system through, and went off for a test drive. Because I'd rather be driving than fixing, really.

This is part of an underground fuel storage complex, which, during the war, was connected by pipe to London, stopping off at airfields on the way. There's lots of interesting old buildings around here; there was a heavy anti-aircraft battery here, too.

...and this is one of my favourite places for a Sunday afternoon walk. It's a hill near Clevedon, overlooking the Gordano valley on the one side and the Bristol Channel on the other.

There was a very late summer feeling about the place. The green was being strongly flavoured with browns, reds and purples. Loads of butterflies, bees and hoverflies were giving their attention to the marjoram which grows abundantly there.

And the hazel trees were busy with an extended family of long-tailed tits. A very extended family indeed. Maybe long-tailed tits are Catholics.