Steering Party

So you’re thinking life as a 410 driver is all hunky-dory and nothing goes wrong? Well, last Friday afternoon, just moments after a chance meeting with a friend when I told him how reliable these old cars can be, there was an exciting moment involving a sudden funny noise form under the bonnet… I paused, everything seemed fine again, I revved the engine slightly and everything still seemed fine, so I pulled out across the T-junction. That was when I realised what had happened. The steering on the 410 is a delight – assisted, but not over-light, and full of feedback so you can feel what the car’s doing. On this occasion though, as I turned right across the traffic, I discovered what unassisted steering is like. In one word, it’s heavy. Now, I also drive a Rover P6, so I though I knew about heavy steering, but at the slow speed I was going, and given the unexpectedness of the situation, this was really much heavier. I hauled it around the corner, pulled over to investigate, and discovered the PAS pump and all around it covered in power steering fluid. I couldn’t really work out what had failed, as the fluid was everywhere, but eventually, after speaking to SLJ and while waiting for the RAC, I had cleaned it up enough to find a tiny split in the high-pressure hose from pump to steering box. This, clearly, is not a stock item in the back of an RAC van, so even before he arrived I knew he wouldn’t be fixing us by the roadside. When he did turn up (only about half an hour to wait today – the RAC have their critics but they’ve never let me down yet) he agreed with me, so set to removing the belts so I could drive home. Obviously to drive with the PAS belt connected would rapidly overheat the pump and destroy it completely. The aircon belt is straight-forward enough to remove (it’s necessary to remove it before the PAS belt), but the PAS belt stumped us. I’ve never had to remove it, but clearly was one of those jobs that you have to just know how to do if you’re to do it at all, and as I didn’t really want Mr RAC diving in with a mole wrench, I just cut it off instead.

And that’s how I’m now driving around in a 410 with no PAS, which is certainly helping with my upper-body strength! I’ve not gone far in fact, and it isn’t actually that bad to drive once you’re on the move, but maneouvering is needs concentration. The car is due a service anyway, so a very busy Spencer has booked it in for a one-day pit stop next week.

However, that’s also why I arrived at the BOC AGM near Cambridge this weekend in the previously mentioned Rover. I don’t often take it on long trips these days, as that’s what the 410 is for, but it was actually very nice to get it out for a long run. It’s not the fastest car, and isn’t much fun on motorways, but it’s very happy on proper old-fashioned cross-country A-roads. I’ve had it about 15 years now, and through my years of college it took me all around the UK, from Cornwall to John O’Groats, and to France, Spain and even Guernsey. They are now very undervalued, so snap a good one up while you can! The AGM itself was as fun as you would expect – one change on the committee, reports from the Club’s, chairman, regional organisers, membership secretary and treasurer, and so on, then time for a cup of tea and some car inspecting before heading home. The strangest thing was that the village where the AGM was being held was not marked on my map – it was a completely new development around a business park in the countryside west of Cambridge.

So there you have it – an interesting week in the life of a 410. Hopefully next time I’ll be reporting on a how Spencer’s team found nothing else wrong when they serviced it

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