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A strange thing happened on the way home

As I was driving through a little town with bumpy roads (that describes about 98% of the roads around here!), I had a brainwave. Well, more like a one watt bulb glowing dimly.
Perhaps some of the clunking noises is the spare tyre?
It's a workable theory. There's a wheel slung under the boot carpet. The tyre is naff and pretty much uninflated, so it's possible the metal rim is touching the plastic?

So to test this theory, I pull over at one of the worker's access roads in the forest. The idea being to raise up the tyre and put some paper towels underneath to act as a cushion.

"Excuse me", said a voice, "What are you doing?" (if French, of course!)
I turned around. Two gendarmes (a youngish no-nonsense guy and a very pretty gendarmette) in their patrol car.
So I begin explaining my pet theory, and notice that he's losing the plot or the will. So I add that I have just finished work, I'm on my way home, and there's a noise that concerns me.
There. Said it in one sentence. A rarity for me.

In return, he tells me that they are looking for three men in the forest, African (which I take to mean black without them directly using the word "black"), violent. If I see them, I should call 17.

Which I take as my cue to forget about the tyre and leave with a smoke trail. Of course I'd call the fuzz if I happened to spot three guys having been told that they're looking for three guys. What, did he think I'd pull out the katana slung under the passenger seat and leap from tree to tree beheading them? That's really not my style...


I'm now 95% certain that the unpleasant scraping noise when I reverse is the brake, particularly on the front left. How I determined this is due to the tarmac area in front of the house being about 30 metres long. So I turned off the engine, put the car into neutral, opened the bonnet, and gave a forceful push to get up some speed. Then I hopped on the front, the metal bracket holding the engine (on one side) and the bumper (on the other). I reached down and felt the side of the brake unit when the noise happened, then pushed the unit away from me and... no noise.

As the car weighs about 400KG (a little over five of me!), it was easy enough to stop. Just hop off, grab the metal strut (not the bodywork, that's just plastic!) and plant my feet into the ground. Didn't even skid.

I don't begrudge having the bearings changed. A car of that age, probably needed it. Might need the back ones done too, but it's the front that steers and powers, they're the ones I'll worry about.
Certainly, it is good to have a working speedometer back. The speedometer is a bit rubbish at slow speeds (say, under 20 or so) and isn't so great at keeping up with speed fluctuations, however comparing with my GPS speedometer app at 30kph and 45kph, it seems pretty much on the mark for both of those. That's what's important, as 45(ish) is the usual driving speed and there are two places with 30kph limits. Under 20? That's for the driveway and all it''s assorted potholes so 18, 22, doesn't actually matter what speed I'm doing there. It matters where it needs to.

I'm not going to do anything about the brake for the time being. I needed to stop quite sharply in the forest (the road wasn't the one I thought it was, so it was a lot narrower) and the car stopped as expected. Plus, kind of spent enough on car repairs for the time being. It'll need to be looked at, but some other day.
As I explained in the past, the brakes don't actually get used much. Only if I need to stop in a manner that cannot be done simply by slowing down (which is my usual way of controlling Felicity, just ease up on the accerator and let friction and gravity counteract inertia).

At any rate, I can grumble under my breath, but otherwise quit worrying about it.


Oh, talking about the speedometer, the repairman said I should keep his receipt to show that the odometer was changed and what the distance was prior to the change... though, usefully, it omits to mention the distance showing on the replacement! I have photos... anyway he said I should keep it in case I wish to sell the car.
Really? Somebody would buy a 27 year old sans permis? I mean, like, somebody dumber and more desperate than me? I wonder what sort of price would be realistic? After all, I paid three grand for it...

As far as trade in is concerned when I come to look for a newer car, my limit is €600. If they are willing to offer me more than 600, then that's good and might help to get a slightly better car. However, if they offer me six hundred or less, I'll hang on to Felicity so that I always have a Plan B. Something I've learned (the hard way) is that the local garage might be awesome with an Audi, but I'm not so certain they're able with an Aixam. And since it would likely need to be towed away to the repair shop (whoever I buy from, they'll be based up near Rennes, not around here) it will need to depend upon how and when they can fit it into their schedule. Plus, the two and a half hours work that was done meant collecting the car on a Thursday and bringing it back on a Friday. It wasn't a problem as I wasn't working either day. But if I was, it would be two days of work missed. So having a Plan B makes sense.
I have, actually, a Plan B right now. If I tolerate a squeeze, I could scrape together three thousand for a replacement today (without bank loans). I don't want to, as I''d end up with another car that was produced when Acorn was a company. I want something younger, better, less noisy! But it does help to at least have options.


Yay DPD! [mower upgrades]

On Monday I had a text message from DPD saying that my parcel was out for delivery and that it would arrive sometime today. Special no-contact delivery, I had to give a code to the delivery person to confirm that I am me.

Oh. My. God. What would the alternative be? Reschedule delivery for Thursday? Would it be dropped off in a random local supermarket (many of them are parcel points)? Would I have to do to... jeez... someplace near Rennes where DPD are based for collection?

Actually, none of that. Since I live in the back of beyond and there's a very prominent notice (laminated paper) stuck to the letterbox saying that if something won't fit in the letterbox, to leave it in the shed (complete with photo and big arrow), the DPD driver used his (or her) brain and figured that leaving it in the box would be acceptable.
It was.

So I now have two replacement mower belts that look pretty solid.

New mower belts.

I was going to say "I hope these last better than the last belt", until I realised that I could probably buy a pair of tights, tie 'em into a loop, and stand a chance of them working better than the last belt!

Looking at the Autoportée Discount site, it looks like it will cost around €30 for some extra mower bits. A replacement air filter (Tecumseh 36356) for €5,90. A mousse pre-filter, for a 36357 but as it costs €1,90 I'll get it and see if it'll fit over my filter to add a little more protection against all the crap that floats through the air. €4,90 for an NGK BPR5ES spark plug (a long one, due to how the engine is built), and a big drive belt for the mower's drive system. It's €12,50 and I'm pretty much guessing that it's a 130801 compatible. The current belt seems in reasonable condition, so I hope it'll stay that way.
€5,90 for postage to a total of €31,10. I might get that when my next pay comes in, treat the mower to some TLC. Change the engine's oil too, I bet that hasn't been done in a while (Aly suggests "probably never"!).

There are no blades for Rally, however I did spot a flattish one (not unlike mine, but then there's a good dozen that all look alike...) with a five pointed star arrangement, 46cm length, for €6,90. I'll need to measure mine, and see if I can undo the bolt on one to see how it fits (or, even, if I can get the bolt undone - it's a bit moot if I can't!). Then, maybe later in the year, I can look at new blades and perhaps seeing if I can do something about the wheel. Maybe a short length of copper (water) pipe, well greased, might do the job? I'd need to measure and see what fits... Oh, and see if I can find any info on the carb. Surely the way it guzzles fuel isn't normal? Still, it runs, so let's concentrate on the easy stuff like new air filters first, eh?

Of course, I hope that I don't need to change the main drive belt. It looks like it would be a monumental pain. In this photo, the lower belt is the mower assembly. The upper belt is the drive belt. The motor is behind the camera. There are various wheels and pulleys (as you can see) with the belt threaded around them. There are guides. And then a big wheel at the back (off in the distance in the photo, I don't think you can see this) that drives the gearbox. The premise is much like the mower assembly, the belt is always threaded and the engine is always turning. What makes things move is a wheel that pulls the belt tight so it engages with the engine and whatever it is driving.
That's the theory. Getting access to it is a whole different question!

New mower belts.

Funny thing is, until this mower, I'd never even heard of Tecumseh engines. If you asked me, I'd have said "Honda" or "Briggs and Stratton". Live and learn...



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David Pilling, 29th April 2020, 01:19
In 2008 there were a lot of cheap cars post crisis - might happen again. Although this time makers have stopped - so far not as if they have built up a stockpile. But may come. 
Pieter, 1st May 2020, 07:51
How about a moped for backup mobility as plan B or plan C? They are cheap, have excellent fuel efficiency and you can probably service a 50 cc all yourself. With a box or basket attached they will backup for Felicity also for shopping. As for "younger, better, less noisy" - quite possible, depending on what you choose.

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