All aboard the Fail Duke

Well, I expected a fail and a fail’s what I got!

Have to say, before I say anything else, that Wingfield Engineering are a good first choice if you’re anywhere near Reading and need your Land Rover looking at. I knew they were going to be good when I pulled into their yard, drove past a collection of old tractors and parked next to a very smart looking Series 1! They were polite, speedy and down to earth; giving me some really helpful feedback, rather than the “your brakes are broken, it’ll cost £1000” you normally get at Kwik Fit. LRSeries were also excellent – going out of their way to ship my emergency order of replacements within two hours of me placing the order!

Anyway, let’s not get carried away just yet, there’s a long way to go before The Duke is back on the road.

We were running a bit late this morning, so it was well after 7:30 by the time I gingerly reversed The Duke out onto the street and headed off into the sunrise, Lorna following in Marvin the Mondeo. Took me a while to get used to the choke and the number of revs needed to change up but I guess that’s because I’ve been driving a modern diesel, not a badly tuned two ton petrol beast. Almost gave up and came home when I lost power at low revs on the A33 but I’m glad I soldiered on because in the end I just needed to “Man Up” and press harder on the money pedal.

Got the hang of it and started to tootle happily along Lower Earley way. Apparently I hit a top speed of somewhere between 45 and 50MPH at one point. Marvin’s speedo works, so Lorna was able to let me know the time. Little did they know that my foot was mashed through the floor in top gear and the vibrations were spine-breakingly severe. We hit traffic shortly after that, so I got to do a bit of first gear crawling. Apparently I pulled out in front of one of Lorna’s work mates, who later submitted a rather terrified account of what he saw. In the end — mostly because of the traffic — it took 45 minutes to drive the 9.5 miles from our house to Wingfield’s. Furthest The Duke has driven in a decade I think!

Got a call just before lunch with the bad news. Turns out it’s slightly more serious than I’d expected, but not as bad as it could have been…

  • The brake lights aren’t working – This could be because the switch has come loose again or because they turned the light switch onto “blackout”. Lorna claims that the brake lights were showing on the way there. Anyway, not a big fix, regardless.
  • The brakes look dodgy – He didn’t do a brake test because he wasn’t happy to go on the road with no brake lights, but he did say that the wheel cylinders and flexi pipes look ropey. I expected this and have ordered genuine Land Rover replacements to fit this weekend.
  • The fuel tank seals are cracked – True, the cork ones are a pain to fit and I think it was me that snapped them. New rubber replacements are in the post!
  • There are a couple of patches required on the chassis – Now this is the kicker. It’s grotty weather and Johnson’s using his welder this weekend. Not sure where the holes are, but I suspect at least one is on the underside of the chassis, so it’s going to be fun and games sorting that out.

I actually asked Wingfield to do the welding, but they didn’t fancy it, so I have to do it myself. If I win the lottery I’m getting a huge garage and a car lift, that’s all I’m saying!

So, we’ve failed our first MOT and there’s a huge amount of work to do in the next couple of weeks – including welding and the dreaded brake light switch. Despite this (or maybe because of this) I am actually feeling very jolly. I drove a Land Rover today for the first time and I also have a stack of practical and interesting jobs to keep me occupied. Bliss!

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