Clutching at Straws….

You have no idea how hard it is to find a clutch kit for a series 1 or 2 XJ6… There are some specialists who’ll relieve you of many hundreds of pounds for one because it fits an E Type, therefore you must have one and ergo you have more money than sense. I have more sense than money and my sense is rapidly becoming incensed.

Twice I’ve hit the buy it now button from the well known retched hive of  villainy, otherwise known as E-bay. Twice I’ve been told “we don’t do them any more” so take the twatting listing down you moron – I thought.

Finally I came across a listing claiming to have the very part in stock, and cheaper than the others too. Northern Components were the vendor, I clicked the link, paid (again) and sat back for the “we’re sorry we don’t have that part in stock” email. But No, the next email was a dispatch notification, followed by a txt advising when the driver would be here and shortly after a new clutch kit was in my office. Thats office, not orifice, which, incidentally is where I was going to shove the ebay’ers non existent listings.

E Type Clutch kit

Genuine parts, and a snip of a price. Rear water jacket cover fitted…

XKE engine rear

Next job was to replace the flywheel, this had previously been skimmed and balanced by W Drake in Bradford. New locking plate, of course, just the six bolts and ta-dar…

E-TYpe flywheel

The Pressure plate locating holes needed opining out a little to accept the three flywheel dowels, just a paint thickness, and it all bolted up nicely. I kept the pressure plate finger tight so I could still move the friction plate as the alignment is tricky. The friction plate to gearbox clearance is bugger all of nothing and I needed to ensure adjustment.

E Type clutch

E-Type clutch

I also did the last few minor jobs and we’ll call the engine complete as it need to be at this stage. I’m using new mountings and this will need adjustment, hence the manifolds are going to stay off until after the rewire (which is the next major job).

For now I just want to take a minute to compare where we came from….


Rebuilding the engine has been a journey interspaced with long periods of inactivity. Meanwhile the end is in sight and once the wiring is done – along with new brake lines – the engine and box can go back in and after a few smallish jobs are tackled, I’ll finally be driving the old girl!

Can’t wait…..


Heading for Victory

XJ6 cam chain

Whats missing from this picture? well,  the rest of the engine, obviously, but specifically I should have added the cam speckets at this point, more of this later… The other thing I didnt do is check that the upper chain tensioner moved smoothly. I didnt and, once assembled, it didn’t.

So back off it came and sure enough the bugger wouldn’t budge.

e type cam chain tensioner

Time for some light persuasion… With the aid of a deep socket I tapped the tensioner free

xk cam chain

It didn’t take much and there wasn’t any real pick up, it was just held in with crud

XJ6 cam chain tensioner

Once cleaned up it was all re-assembled and then it was time to add the timing cover, which was easy enough. I borrowed Jerry’s technique of seating the crank oil seal in the timing cover and sliding it along the crank. Worked well and didn’t damage the seal.

The sump came next and, again, all very straight forward.

Now to add the new head bolts. I unpacked the parts sent by David Manners many moons ago. I’d gone for the 4 long studs pack as I like the look of the lifting lugs. I would use them to actually lift the lump, but they look nice….

Here’s the set unpacked…

XK xj6 head studs

I have three long studs to match the 4 mounting holes. Something has gone awry…

So, armed with my best argumentative voice I called David Manners to tell them the parts they supplied… cough… two years ago were, in fact, wrong.

Called the help line, gave them my postcode, waited…

Sorry sir cant find the order, oh, it wasn’t 2015 was it?

Well, yes, as a matter of fact it was. Can’t rush an engine build….

No problem, what do you need?

Well, just another long stud…

No problem, I’ll get it in the post tonight.

Next day it turned up, express courier, FOC. Now thats what I cann customer service, if you need parts for your Jag, go there first. Top company….

david manners

So, equipped with the new studs, re-assembly can continue….

Oh, there’s a new water pump in there too, that came to DMG as well, as did the new core plugs.

Now time to drop the head on. Freshly painted in the correct Harvest Gold, specially mixed by HMG paints, and add the new head nuts and lifting lugs.

E type engine

This picture shows the cam sprockets fitted. This wasn’t actually as easy as you might think. Early on in this post I advised that I’d forgotten to fit these before the head. I found out to my cost that there’s no way they’ll fit with the cams in place, to time to pull them out again. Its not actually the worst idea, the head was built up over a year ago, so pulling the cams allowed me add new oil to the bearings and fill the camshaft oilway at the same time. Once the cams are out the sprockets need to be pulled apart. Remove the circlip and pull the inner sprocket from the splined on outer (should have photographed this as its a work of art) slide the inner home and then – like a Chinese puzzle, feel the sprocket outer into the chain.

Re-installing the cams needs a little jig to hold the cam in the right position whilst the journal caps are torqued down. Without it there is no way to hold the cam as it pushed just one valve almost fully down and therefore, the force of the spring spins the crank.

With the cams torqued back down align the sprocket mounting holes, noting that they are off set on purpose, and then re-engage the splines before replacing the circlip and tightening the bolts… It can be done – but I wouldn’t call it easy…

Once that’s done, there’s just a few bits and bobs to add, such as the flywheel, beforerI can call the block built.

It is a work of art though. Modern engines could never look as pretty…

built 2


I think I’m just one blog post from closing the Engine chapter, happy days!

The (woodruff) Key to Success

As I was finishing up my last stint in the garage, I realised I’d lost my first part. Despite a pathological need to bag every single piece in zip lock bags with sharpie written descriptions I’d lost a bit. Bugger.

The bit is question was only a woodruff  key from the end of the crank (the other two identical keys had made it into and out of the bag). Could be worse, I’ll just get onto SC parts and order a replacement. So I did. Then things took a turn for the worse. Read on….

The reason I like SC Parts is they lay the site out like the Jaguar parts manual, making it easy to find stuff. Here’s the page…

xj6 woodruff kek

The fella I need is part 88…

woodruff key - e type

Now SC parts are a bit pricey and yes £4.33 seemed a bit steep, but time is valuable too (check out the we buy any car advert, now with added desperation) So I added it to the basket and checked out…

Right about then Dick Turpin came riding on to my PC. It wasn’t so much “stand and deliver” as “how much to deliver?”

SC Parts £12.95?? for a sodding woodruff key? It’d be cheaper to send a taxi for it. Must be a mistake, said my misguided faith in human nature, I’ll give them a call. So I did.

Nice chap answers the phone, I tell him what it says on the screen and he says,

“yep, that’s right. We only have couriers”

Cant you use royal mail?

“Err it’s policy to use a courier, but” said the man positive he could turn round the situation with a special offer, “you could by loads more stuff and it wouldn’t cost any more.”

“Really, so anything else I want I get for free?” (smartarse mode is firmly engaged at this point.

“Er, no, but the postage wouldn’t cost any more.”

“But I don’t need anything else, otherwise, (you thick twat – I thought), I would have bought it”

“Ah”, said the man, drawing on his never fail, reserve argument, “you could buy a couple of gallons of oil, it will always come in handy”

“Listen pal, if I had any more oil I’d have to join OPEC”

“In that case, ‘Sir’ (sir being an anagram for ‘bastard customer’ – some letters need to be added, obviously) I can’t help you”

Finally, some kind of sense.

Back to my Jaguar parts book, google the part number, stocked by David Manners, a far more reasonable 81p  and £5.50 to deliver, total, with vat, £7.57 almost a tenner less than SC Parts or 56% less if you like percentages.

David Manners

It arrived, two days later, by post…

Well done David manners I’ll start with you in future.

Rebuilding old cars can be a bloody mine field and an expensive one at that. It really does pay to shop around, even at the bottom end of the price bracket.

Bet I lose the bugger before it gets fitted…..


The Big Build….

After the trauma of the first attempt, the block and main caps had been line bored, time to see how much of a difference that made. The call came mid week “your block is ready” which translates roughly to “you bank account will soon be empty”. Still, full of the reckless abandonment of hope, I sent off in the company van to recover said block, I drop off my worldly net worth at the same time.

The chap at Drakes has build the crank into the block to check the results of the line boring, but stressed to me that it needed stripping back down again and cleaning thoroughly before re-assembly…

So I did as I was advised and for the second time went about cleaning the block and all the oil ways, I had previously invested in a borescope which comes in handy for checking the main oil way.

All was good and using the 12 bore shot gun brush I’d bought previously cleaning the last remnants of remaining swarf was a doddle.

That done, time to replace my feeble first attempt at the rope seal, any more problems with the rope and I think I’d be hanging from one… This time all went to plan and it seemed like I’d done a half decent job. I checked the two haves whilst the crank was out and they were tight but moving – not dissimilar to me on a night out.

Main shells back in, upper rope seal mounted, and crank laid back in. Center main in place and end float was good. So torqued all the caps up and, thank the lord, we still had movement.

Jaguar crank assembly

Pistons next, lets just take a minute to savor the lovely box of Mahle goodies.

Mahle pistons

All the old circlips and gudgeon pins came out easily, and the new ones slipped on equally easily. Word of caution, circlips were originally invented as a Japanese fighting weapon. They have been know to take the eyes out of invading enemies before vanishing from the face of the earth. Beware and treat them with the reverence they deserve.

Before inserting the pistons check the rings, they came from the factory with the ring gaps all lined up. Not good, the gaps should be spaced apart to avoid blow through. I always avoid blow through, it can be painful at times….

Jaguar piston rings

Rings positioned cirrectly and with a squirt of oil it was time for the ring compressor.

Oiling the bores thoroughly before insertion and making sure the pistons all pointed to the front as they should, tapping each piston home with a hammer shaft – feeling for the click as they slip home and making sure a ring didn’t pop out of the clamp. All this while first making sure that the con rods were all on the right journal and facing the right way. Job done.

All done and still turning freely.

I sat the engine up again before inserting the distributer/oil pump drive. Positioning is a rough process as the timing will be set later and it just a case of getting the off set slot in the distributer roughly in the right place at TDC.

Jag oil pump

Another simple task crossed off.

Next was to put the partially assembled block on to the engine stand and assemble the cam chains.

The upper cam chain is like an origami puzzle, specifically the chain catcher bit.

but what’s a few fingers between friends?

Its the puzzle of getting the bolt through the cain catcher and the casting, into the spacer (which you have to hold with long nose pliers because your fingers wont reach) through the chain guide and into the block. Sounds easy doesnt it?? I’ve decided the Jaguar engine line was staffed by these guys…


That was it for that day, except to say I’ve found my first missing part from the strip down, its only a woodruff key and should be easy enough to replace. Until next time….

thats all folks


At braking point….

given the debarcle with the crankshaft, I used the rest of the day to fit the   OBP pedal box. Its a nice piece of kit but as the master cylinders are the other side of the bulkhead 38mm holes have to be drilled and there not much clearance between the master cylinder body hole and the mounting points..


You can see the problem in the above picture. My drilling is about as accurate as a Jeremy Corbyn manifesto, so I needed and ingenious solution.

Its easy to line the pedal box up and drill the mountings, using and 8.5mm bit to mark the centre and then pilot drill before going full size. I did thin and bolted the box in place.

Next I’ll need a hole saw, as opposed to a sore hole (I miss  Janet and John )

Next came a rare flash of inspiration which might be of use to others, so here goes. The hole diameter required is 38mm, so with a 38 mm hole saw I drilled a pick of 25mm timber.


I carefully prised the slug out of the hole saw. The slug is smaller than 38mm so I wrapped gaffer tape around it until it was back to the correct size


I then used it as a guide to mark the centre of the master cylinder hole.


Pilot grill through the centre, and hey presto…


Next the fairly simple job of adding the master cylinders, set to 50/50 for the brakes front to rear.

The brakes will be treated to all new lines, but that’s a job for another day.

Rage against the Machine (shop)

Engine rebuild day dawned, finally all the little bits in the garage would become one big bit, or at least that was the plan.

Block mounted on the engine stand, old shells in place, crank positioned


So, time to attack the dreaded….

e type rope seal

The rope seals had been soaking in premium engine oil for two days….


The two seal holders were clean, and we were ready for the off. I added an inch of gasket sealer to the leading edge of the holder (when viewed from the rear the crank spins anticlockwise)


Then it was time for the dreaded rolling, I used a hammer shaft and starting at the centre worked the seal into the slot moving outwards. This took about 20 minutes and all looked good.

I used a stanley blade to shave off the excess and then clamped it to the crank.


BUGGER, it way just too tight. I took the two halves apart and then lightly hammered the hammer shaft I’d used to roll the seal into place. One half did give a little, clamped them back up and the fit was fine, tight but could be rotated by hand. Problem was that extra bit of give left me with a 3mm gap.


Double bugger and a new set of seals required.

Oh well, on with the setting of the crank on the mains.


Lovely new shells in place. Lowered the crank into position and added the centre main cap (as this has the thrust bearings in and I wanted to check end float). As soon as I got beyond finger tight on the bolts the crank locked up. I needed a breaker bar to shift it – not good.

I spent the next two hours faffing around shells out and cleaned, old thrusts tried, the remaining bearing caps fitted loosely, every time the crank locked up.

Something isnt right.

The crank mic’d up as 20 tho under standard (as it should, having been ground) the shells mic at 10 tho each over the originals (matches the crank) maybe the mains have been ground a little eccentric. That I cant check though. So, strip it all down again, pack up in the Landy and back to the machine shop so they can figure out whats wrong.

The crank was as free as a bird, pre regrind, something much have happened during the grinding. I’ll report back when they’ve done the investigation and can shed some light on the problem….

Meanwhile, its back to the brakes, oh and order some more….

e type rope seal


We’re off again….

There’s been something of a hiatus on Lady Marilyn its been the best part of a year since I made any meaningful progress. Obi-wan Preston-Ladd asked how things were going and I had to admit they weren’t. He then proceeded to tell me of his latest Challenger adventure and my enthusiasm crawled out from the rock it had been hiding under and decided to make its presence felt.

I needed a list. So here it is.

  1. properly fit the new column (kindly donated by Anthony Terence Jones)
  2. Fit the new main dash panel
  3. buy and fit the pedal box.
  4. Rebuild the engine (this just gets one entry on the list)
  5. New brake pipes and fuel lines
  6. Make the engine fit
  7. Replace / remake the internal panels
  8. Full Re-wire
  9. Fit the screen properly.

That’s the starter for 9.

These things always start with shopping. A flurry of activity saw me locate a new Pedal box (top mounted) send the block for honeing, purchase various known bits for the engine rebuild.

The column was a five minute job, but I needed a new boss for the wheel, remember the old one with the screw in it?


I am still undecided where the wheel will end up in relation to the seat and pedals, so I went for a cheap boss in the first instance, just to have something to use as a datum.

steering wheel boss

Heres the new boss, cheap as chips and will allow me to get all the relative dims sorted.  Now, study the picture carefully, are there any other uses of this boss that spring to mind? No? Well when the paypal invoice came it, its from “Sexual Healing” Christ know swhat they were healing with that….

sexual healing

Jag owners are a strange bunch….

Back to relative normality, next I trial fitted the dash panel, I lined this up with the glove box which hasn’t been off but It left a gap between the dash top and screen. Taking the gap away left the rec-counter hitting the column bracket. Then I realised the screen wasn’t correctly installed, and needed new seals. Plus Jerry advised that this sometimes happens and a piece of seal can be added to the dash top to cover smallish gaps.

I refit later and it started to look better…


Meanwhile the the retarded world of brakes, I removed the old brake and clutch master cylinders. For reasons know only to fully paid up members of “Exit” the original twin circuit had been replaced with a single circuit system. This was unnecessarily dangerous and look shite too.

master cyl

A couple of bolts later the assembly was on the bench and I could marvel at its fully glory…

What a piece of shit.

Next came the top mounted OBP pedal box. Out of the box  and straight into a problem. There is a 25mm x 25mm box all the way around the end of the footwell. If I spaced the pedal box back 25mm the master cylinders would be poking out of the endplate and be impossible to seal, If I dropped the pedal box down 25mm to sit under the rail then the master cylinder fouled a chassis member. Bugger.

Only one thing for it, go for a floor mounted pedal box (which is available with the 25 x 25 cut out) and bang the top mounted one on Ebay. So that’s what I did. I few days later the top mounted version sold for what I paid for it and went to a chap building a 6R4 replica. The floor mounted version turned up and tits lovely. Everyone’s a winner.

The new pedal box is here and spot on. Mounting holes drilled just waiting for a 38mm hole saw.  You really cant beat a hole saw, it’ll make it worse.

Meanwhile the block was back from the machine shop, bores nicely honed and with the added advantage of having gone through their parts washer.

Its such a heavy block lifting gear was required before I could get it out of the borrowed works van.

e type block

but a little while later it was on the engine stand again.

The Rope seals are the next job…. Yes, you heard, its the…..

e type rope seal

In preparation the two rope seals are soaking in engine oil, soon their time will come….

Meanwhile a couple of minor jobs, painting the head in the correct Harvest Gold, specially mixed for me by HMG paints, and looking very dapper it is too.

e type head

The Mahle pistons have turned up, they’ll get fitted after the….

e type rope seal

More in a few days when the “you know what” gets done.

e type s1 ots



The thing about old cars is someone’s always got a tale to tell, well so it happened one day at the office. I got into a conversation about an old MG that had been parked up with a petrol leak and then forgotten.

Now for a word of advice, any sentence that starts with “I could take a look at….” is going to end in an experience similar to trapping your knob in your fly, in so much as you have to ask “how am I going to get out of this”

Not heeding my own advice I sailed headlong into the sea of good intention with “I could take a look at that” Little did I know that voyage would end up marooned on the island of “for fucks sake”, but that’s later in the take.

The MG was slowly dissolving in a rural barn, I turned up full of the optimism of a 5 minute job followed by the glow of victory and the adulation of all concerned. Initially, like these projects often do, the MG played along. The fault had been diagnosed, by others, as a leaking fuel tank. I took that at face value and ordered a new one from Midland Sports and Classic Ltd ( via ebay (seller beckerman06) and it duly arrived.

Armed with the new tank I went to meet the old girl. First thought, “thats a new tank poking out from the rear valance” and so it was. It turns out the leak was just the carb balance pipe. Sheepishly I asked if I could return the tank that was now surplus to requirements… Absolutely no problem and I got a full refund – cant say fairer than that.

A quick replacement of the carb balance pipe plus a battery recharge and she’s up and running. Nothing seized, most of the car working, it even drove…..


Whats more it drove lovely. Suddenly I was back in the early 80’s, that unmistakable exhaust note between shifts, the cosyness of the cabin and the near masturbatory flick of the overdrive switch


This hazy afterglow of 10 minutes work, like the pied piper, lead me dancing into my next offer, let me MOT it for you I said.

“If you’re sure? ”


So, off I set to take the beloved MG home before taking it to a local test station. When I say taking it home, lets say nearly home. Nearly home before it started to be a 7o’s MG again. Coughing and farting its way along the road before finally coughing to an asthmatic stop.

OMG became MGF, (actually FMG – but doesn’t fit the model line up) this icon of British motoring became the little green twat in an instant.

Now we need to consult The Gospel according to StPetrol. In the beginning there was dark, then God asked Joseph Lucas to shed some light, and there was light. However, by the end of the second day all the electrics were shagged so God created the sun and sent Lucas to work with British Leyland – or something like that.

It seemed the ghost of Lucas past had returned to the MG….


I called my brother for a tow, he was suitably concerned by my plight and, when he stopped laughing, he agreed to meet me in his Land Rover. What I didn’t know was my dad had chosen that exact time to visit, as had his eldest son. A little while later the Land Rover full of hyenas arrived and laughing round two began. All very funny….NOT.

What they didn’t bring was a rope, or tools. So this wasn’t so much a rescue mission as the evenings entertainment. What a set of Bastards.

In an effort to break up the relentless piss taking I tried to start the car again and it burst into life, so, like something from a Le-Mans start, I hurled myself inside and floored it. In a roundabout way I made it home.

Next was the MOT, but before then a bit of a history lesson. The MG had belonged to a chap who had sadly died. His daughter had decided to renovate the car and taken it to Snowden’s of Harrogate. Mr Snowden relieved her of around £18,000 to restore the mechanical’s of the car. £18,000. Sorry I need to say that again, £18-fucking-thousand

The price when new (in 1978) was £3,897 and the value now? £3,000 (Max).

This was not going to end up with a glow of victory so much as a shower of shit, but it was too late to go back now.

The coughing and farting was diagnosed as a points issue and this was quickly rectified. The MG was alive again. It passed the MOT like a pub in dry January and “all” I had to do was sell it.

I went to a local specialist, nice chap, helpful but his price was £1,000. I was going to get lynched for this. Unperturbed I went to the Colosseum that is ebay and threw myself in with the Gladiators, Tigers and fucktards that populate the site.


I got the usual questions, well I say questions, here’s an example:-


How much u looking for cash. When did not last get one

Clearly master Yoda was interested in my car,  to answer his question, I am looking for cash a lot, I’m always looking for cash, in fact I am the stereotypical cash hunter. As for the second bit “not” still hasn’t got one, as far as I am aware. Though to be fair I don’t actually know who not is.

After more of the same, the bidding continued until at last the auction was over and Brian of Tarth, actually  brianoftarth, bought the car. Well I say bought it, actually he didn’t. Mysteriously Brian the fuckwit lost the ability to type, but more than that he lost the ability to pay for the bloody car he bought. brianoftarth you’re a twat.

So, after Brian disappeared I waited until after Christmas and relisted the MGB GT.

This time there were nice people who were interested, asked reasonable questions and could type words in actual English – what joy. This time the auction ended with a sale to a really nice chap who wants to keep and restore the car further. Plus it sold for more than Brian of Twatt, so this little story seemed to be drawing to a close.

New owner turned out to be an exceptionally nice chap. He travelled far and brought the gift of cash money. Looked around the car, started her up, and all seemed good. She was left ticking over whilst we did the paperwork and then off they went on their mammoth first journey to take the car home. Mammoth in so much as a couple of hundred yards later the MG expired….

Much tinkering later it still wasn’t having any of it so I took new owner back to the train station from whence they came and paid a visit to the pit of despair… It seemed like all the world to be a points or condenser issue again. So a full electronic ignition system was ordered for the nice people at Powerspark ( ). The parts turned up and in a jiffy the new system was installed and the car was running well again. Just to be safe I checked the compression, which was fine, and then the tappets (given that the rough running happened when the car was warm) I found a tight exhaust tappet and reset it.

To add a belt to the braces that were the new ignition system, I dispatched the car to by favourite mechanic. The mad Irishman looked it over, took it for a long test ride and pronounced that “derrr’s fook all rang wid it” this I took to be a good sign and the new owner took yet another long train ride to gods county.

This time the old MG made it all the way to the petrol station, received a tank full of Morrisons finest and merrily set off on the mammoth journey home.

Turns out that on this occasion, it made 20 miles before “derrrs fook all rang wid it” became just plain “fooked”. I knew nothing of this until a text later that evening to say that the MG had performed flawlessly on the back of an AA truck for most of the journey, having died 20 miles into it.

There are two lessons to learn from this.

The nostalgia of old classic British sports cars is matched only by the time it takes to fix them.

There are still some thoroughly decent people in the world, one of them bought the MG

In many ways it was good to have an MG in my life, however in more important ways is better to say good bye. I hope it becomes the car its should always have been and wish the new owner well.

So the MG chapter is over, thank fuck for that!






Finding Never-ever Land

A winter hack joined the fleet. I was taken by a sudden urge to buy a PanEuropean, which is odd as I only ever rode one once, back when I was 20 (ish). The Pan was a new model then and I was browsing one of the local bike shops, in Harrogate, deciding what I would by if I had any actual money… The shop owner had another bike shop in York and needed some paperwork taking there. Would I like to test ride the new Honda, a test ride that would end up at the York shop? Sure thing!

Now in those days I was all about max revs, max noise and maximum accidents. The wasn’t a hedge in the immediate ares I hadn’t visited and I was getting good at it.  So I hopped on the Pan and thrashed it to death all the way to York.

The Pan isn’t a sports bike, it weighs precisely a shit ton and torque is its secret weapon, not high RPM. I took it back and said it was shit. I’ll never, ever have something like that, I said….

The years have rolled on and I’ve come to enjoy vehicles for what they are, not specifically crotch rockets. The XR is way too full of newness for the salt infested winter months and I fancied something different. If I could have found a cheap Goldwing I’ve have been there like a flash (much to the amusement of my riding buddies) but a Pan? Why not, quick ebay – which is the correct way to gauge the price of anything – revealed they are as cheap as chips.

Next check out known faults, this is where the internet is at it worst. Google any medical condition you think you may have and the diagnosis is almost certainly that you’ll be dead before you’ve finished reading the article. So it is with cars and bikes, check out Aprillia’s “triangle of doom”, Ducati’s knackered clutches, KTM’s – well everything and then theres BMW, crap dealers, unreliable bikes – I mean I only got 70,000 miles before the tail lamp packed in…. etc.

Go what about the Pan, rusting swinging arms, alternators, fork seals and radiators rusting. All items exposed to the elements and at the same time hidden from view by lots of bodywork. so, not cleaned that well then? Still, I was mindful of potential disasters at the cheap end of the market and didn’t want to acquire anybodies basket case . Pan’s with circa 70K miles are all around, then one caught my eye. 140,000 miles, now its got to be something to own a bike with that kind of mileage, even better it had been owned by an enthusiast of anorak proportions. Better yet it had once belonged to plod as an under cover surveillance machine. It was the James Bond of bikes, how ever bad it was it was worth bragging rights down the pub.

The owner-cum-restorer had You-Tubed some video of the work he’d done, and boy had he done some work.

It was an Ebay auction and I was away when it ended, but I got a friend to bid for me and I was soon the owner of a Pocket money Pan.

Here she is, waiting for me in Morecambe


Quick jaunt home and all was well, in fact, other than the heated grips don’t work (now replaced with new ones) shes been a cracker and 1000 cold and salt laden miles later she’s not missed a beat.

There is a lot to be said for a winter hack that just needs riding and pressure washing every now and then.

Never say never! I got one in the end….



Third time lucky

So, in the two wheeled arm of the fleet there have been some comings and goings. The most convoluted story is that of Wolfie… Here goes…

Herman came along because the Ducati was just too sports bike for my aging frame. Yes, I was Carl Fogarty round the twisties though the Yorkshire dales,


excepting the whinging of course, but even a short bit of town riding left me more like Barry Sheene  – the post Daytona version, not wold champion.


If a road trip even smelled like there might be some slow work, I’d reach for the excuse handbook to find a reason to politely decline a ride out. Its amazing how quickly you run out of reasonable excuses and stretching believablity just a little each time, it wasn’t long before being “drafted to Vietnam” was the only unused excuse in the book, yeh right was the response, ah, rumbled, better come up with something here…. “Vietnam is….. the local Asian restaurant, actually,  and….. I have been asked to replace the old door, which was a bit… er…drafty”

Enough of this nonsense, the Ducati is a thing of beauty, but a thing of torture if you’re in traffic.Nothing, but nothing, compares to the beauty of a Ducati 996 though, and I just couldn’t part with her, so it had to be ‘as well as’ not ‘instead of’, I mean just look at it…



So, I bought Herman, the R1200GS, as well as mot instead of, and riding became a joy again, regardless of where and when. All good then? well, not exactly….

Hermans sizable 12oocc engine was first designed by DaVinci (possibly) and constant evolution had managed to to extract a heady 96 BHP and as everyone knows that equals precisely not enough. It didn’t take long to get used to the riding position and the grip levels from the dual surface tyres, which inevitably leads to a need for more go. Thrashing a GS to the edge of its operating envelope is like riding a torsion bar. Full noise twists the frame to such an extent that a clutched gear change feels like ringing out a flannel. Lovely bike, needs to be quicker.

Enter the XR… The BMW S1000XR has a 16% smaller engine but produces 66% more power, a whopping 160 BHP… It still retains the GS riding position, more or less, so it seemed on paper like the bike for me. I casually arranged a test ride (the proper term is to bullshit a test ride as I had no intention of a purchase at that point) and I turned up at Allen Jefferies, the Leeds BMW dealer for a try out.

Now I’m not one for txt speak by OMFG….. A mile into the test ride I was hooked, an hour into it I was enslaved. Had to have one and have it NOW.

and so it was that I returned from the test ride, opened my wallet and parted with a considerable amount of wonga for a 9 month old S1000XR with just 2000 miles on the clock.



First run out was exploratory, but still faster than I’d ever been on the GS. Felix and KC came along too and a great time was had by all.


As we headed back I started to feel a grinding vibration through the pegs and seat. Fairly sure it was just a chain that needed adjusting I gave it no more thought. It wasn’t the chain though, I didn’t know what it was, it was that itch you cant scratch, that fly in the bedroom that buzzes when you’re trying to sleep, that indeterminate insect that’s eaten its way into your scalp and is trying to burrow its way to your brain (that last one might be made up, a bit).

Eventually I gave in and headed back to Jefferies for some investigation work – that’s the great thing about warranty, let some other twat sort it out.

But sort it out they didn’t. I rode off on the loaner, a R1200RS, something I just don’t get the point of. I mean its not fast, same engine as the GS but not as comfortable, not pretty, not especially good at anything (that I could find) why would you buy one?



Any how, the XR came back, unfixed, but at least they accepted it wasn’t right.

There is something that says when a new bike is repaired then it isn’t new anymore, someones had their spanners on it and somehow the newness escaped. Jefferies response was unexpected, best thing is to swap yours for another one they said. That got me thinking, I was already smitten with the bike so why not upgrade to a brand spanker, I mean for a couple of thousand I could have a virgin, untouched by anyone else, my one and only. Yes, that was the thing to do, after all I’d never bought a brand new motorcycle before, loads of cars but never a bike. Enter the next problem….

I had a biking holiday in the Pyrenees booked for three weeks time, but that should be OK, surely? Er no, there were no stock bikes available in my spec anywhere in the UK it would have to be a factory order and there was a delay at BMW as they were switching to the next model year specification. Bugger.

Here came the next Jefferies  home run, we’ll lend you another bike for your holiday… Hang on a minute, did I enter a parallel universe?  All dealers are bastards and you have to fight tooth an nail for everything you get, surely? So I asked again and the answer was “we have another used bike, your spec, similar mileage, just serviced and with new tyres. We’ll register it in your name and you can use it for your holiday, when you get back you new one will be on its way.

And that’s what they did. Here is S1000XR number 2….



So, up we packed and off we went. 2000 miles on the best roads in Europe, from the bay of Biscay over countless Col’s to the Mediterranean and back via Andorra, the wonderful N260 and yet more of the best  passes the mountains had to offer.


Home again, a set of tyres later, and third time lucky, my wonderful, brilliant and epically quick S1000XR was ready to meet her first owner. She is a cracker too.

All good things to those who wait!


And that’s the Story of Wolfie, the third and final BMW S1000XR and the latest addition to the fleet.