French leave

Another busy couple of weeks here. Yet another wedding to attend, and this time in France, mean another good run for the Bristol. An early morning departure put us safely aboard the Normandie Express for a very rough crossing to Cherbourg. I don’t mind rough seas, but the foul smell and sound of people being sick that permeated the whole vessel was not an inspiring start to a holiday! The car was completely unscathed obviously, thanks to the sturdy chocks the crew had used in preparation for the heavy seas. We were heading for just south of Tours, and had a very nice, trouble-free drive down, via Le Mont St Michel and a nice picnic in the middle of nowhere.
The next two days the car was left in the market square in Richelieu, attracting quiet attention as usual, but quite happy until a monumental, apocalyptic storm in the middle of one night. I woke up and spent 20 excited minutes watching the light show before heading back to bed. In my dozy state, I was vaguely aware of a warning siren sounding somewhere, but thought nothing of it until the next lunchtime, when another wedding guest said they had heard my car horn sounding all night, until it eventually stopped with a presumed flat battery! I went to investigate, and all seemed in order, the car started fine and everything seemed as normal and I began to think the he must have been mistaken, until I tried the horn and it resulted in a stony silence. I couldn’t find anything obviously wrong, but presume the rain must have caused a short somewhere and burnt out the horns? I haven’t actually looked into any more yet, but I disconnected the horns under the bonnet just in case.

The last day there, we headed off to Chambord, one of the enormous châteaux strung along the Loire valley. With a car full of people, one of the other little quirks the car has developed recently reared it’s head… For a while now, the car would, very occasionally, completely die, while driving along. All electrics, ignition, just off without warning. All it took was to switch off an on again, sometimes without even stopping, and it was fine again. When serviced last month, SLJ’s team replaced the starter inhibitor relay as this was extremely corroded and a possible suspect for the cause. However, this was a red herring it turned out. On the drive down, it happened a few times more, and was clearly getting worse. But there was a clue – sometimes the car would die and burst back into life before I could do anything about it, but once it burst back into life as soon as I touched the key, but before I turned it. Ignition switch itself maybe? En route to Chambord however, it died and flatly refused to restart. No ignition circuit at all, but other electrics fine. I put in a call to SLJ, and even during his lunch break, Nick Cooper agreed with the likely fault and swung into action to retrieve the circuit diagram and issued instructions on hotwiring a 410. Put to the test, and we burst into life, to general applause from the assembled passengers. As it turned out, we needed the key also to connect up the remaining charging circuits, but by hotwiring at every stop we made it on to Chambord, back to Richelieu for the night, and home to England the next day. And in fact it stayed like that for another week or two until I had the time to fit a new switch. I hope it doesn’t need to put into practice again, but I think knowing how to hotwire might be a useful piece of knowledge to have acquired…

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