Stalling for time. Again
When I ventured into the garage recently I found a box containing some nice Carboniferous-era plant fossils. It’s been so long since I was in there – renovating a house soaks up infinite time – that they may well have been healthy, living ferns when I last worked on the Scimitar.
My pal Richard Hamer administered the arse-kick I needed, ‘I’m not doing anything next Thursday, why don’t we get your Scimitar going?’ I could hardly refuse. The engine, still resplendent in new paint from its rebuild at Brayon Engineering near Loch Lomond, was minutes away from running for the first time, or so I thought.
Richard and I fitted an electric fuel pump and pressure regulator, plus a blanking plate for the old mechanical pump mounting. But the fuseboards had been out and the photos I took of their wiring were AWOL. Then, while fitting some expensive new silicone coolant hoses and over-engineered Mikalor clips, I discovered one of the connecting steel pipe sections had rotted at one end.
I thought my luck was in when I spotted a piece of Alfa Romeo exhaust pipe of the right diameter, so I cut the length I needed and welded it on. After a fashion. Ever tried making a gas-tight butt weld with paper-thin, unevenly-corroded pipe and an ancient MIG machine with a dodgy wire feed? Having wasted two hours on this, I stopped and decided to spin the engine over with its plugs out to make myself feel better. Richard had worked out the fuseboard connections, but announced that the battery live cable seemed to be missing. Why? How? A jump lead did the trick. Or rather it didn’t; all we managed to do was release some smoke from the cable. So next time I’ll be removing the starter.
Soon after, I was visiting my parents and had a chance to meet my father’s new pet, a patinated but very original 1938 Lancia Aprilia. The little Zenith 32 VIM carb was crusted with the crud of ages and the linkage was maladjusted, but with a hurried rebuild and most of the oil wiped off the spark plug connectors, it ran well enough for us to drive it up and down the road. Until it boiled, anyway. It’s a total joy – light, well-suspended and with such a good ‘crash’ gearbox you can almost treat it like a modern car. Now I want one too.
Work finally resumes on the Scimitar after a lengthy break, but it’s anything but childs’ play
Nigel’s dad has a new toy: a 1938 Lancia Aprilia