Spare time to chill

1972 Alfa Romeo Spi­der S2

Classic Cars (UK) - - Our Cars - Owned by Russ Smith (russ.smith@gmx.com) Time owned Nearly seven years Miles this month 29 Costs this month £223.74 Pre­vi­ously Fresh brake sys­tem and MOT

The salt-spread­ers didn’t al­low much time after I fi­nally got the Spi­der’s 2017 MOT be­fore spread­ing their wares. Just enough for me to be con­vinced that weld­ing the er­rant end of the front cross­mem­ber back onto the in­ner wing has sharp­ened the car’s steer­ing re­sponses. Though that could pos­si­bly also be at­trib­uted to my over-ac­tive imag­i­na­tion.

How­ever with – for the first time in about a year – noth­ing that needed to be done to make the Alfa work, I could look at some more his­toric en­tries on the car’s to-do list. In­spired per­haps by the cold draught com­ing un­der the garage door, I chose to fi­nally tackle the heater. I say heater, but it’s a de­vice that has barely ever jus­ti­fied its name in all the years I’ve had the Spi­der. Time to find out why.

As with most cars the heater is prob­a­bly the most in­ac­ces­si­ble and hard-to-re­move com­po­nent of all, some folk on Alfa fo­rums sug­gest­ing you need to take the dash­board out first. I chose to be­lieve those who dis­agreed with that route and, after just tak­ing off the sides of the cen­tre con­sole and spend­ing a cou­ple of evenings con­torted into im­prob­a­ble shapes while nick­ing knuck­les on sharp edges and drain­ing coolant into an old ice cream tub, the heater emerged into the light for the first time in 45 years.

Along the way I dis­cov­ered that the con­vo­luted rub­ber hoses that once car­ried air to the screen vents had per­ished and col­lapsed, and that one of them con­cealed the trip-me­ter re­set knob that was miss­ing-pre­sumed-lost from its bracket be­low the dash­board. Need a nut for that.

A com­pletely wrong scut­tle drain tube was an­other reve­la­tion that ex­plained why rain has al­ways trans­ferred it­self to pas­sen­gers’ feet or handbags rather than the out­side world. Oh, and the foam that once sealed the heater to the scut­tle is now in pow­der form. There’s a rub­ber re­place­ment for that but it’s cur­rently out of stock, which will de­lay the job.

So a fast-grow­ing shop­ping list, to which I added a new heater matrix at £90, heater mo­tor – which failed to do any­thing when I con­nected its leads to a bat­tery – for £108 and a lower heater hose, £5.40, be­cause it’s much eas­ier to re­place when the heater’s out of the car. I also need to check that the out­let to it from the wa­ter pump isn’t blocked – a com­mon prob­lem, so I’m told.

Work for now will fo­cus on free­ing up the var­i­ous sur­face-rusty hinge points of all the in­ter­nal flaps, clean­ing ev­ery­thing up – the unit’s full of foam rub­ber dust along with over­spray and filler dust from the car’s 2007 body resto. I’m go­ing to re­place all the fix­ing screws too be­cause they’re all rusted to some ex­tent. It’s all a bit of a voy­age of dis­cov­ery be­cause there’s noth­ing to do with the heater unit in ei­ther of the work­shop man­u­als I’ve bought for the car. I’ve taken lots of pho­tos to re­mind me where it all goes. By the time all that’s done I’m hop­ing Clas­sic Alfa’s new batch of rub­ber scut­tle seals will have ar­rived.

It only took a few evenings to per­suade the heater to leave the con­fines of the Alfa’s cock­pit

Not a dead mag­got but one of the screen vent hoses

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.