Tyred and horny


Wow!  Less than a year since the last post!  Be still my beating heart!
The car has been going well recently. It had a service at Spencer’s back in the spring and has seen regular use through the rain and sun we call summer. There was some excitement when I managed to break an exhaust manifold, but that was sorted pretty quickly. Luckily it was the right-hand manifold, of which some are available. Apparently the left-hand side is much harder to find. I’ll try not to do it again however. My car does sit rather lower than it should which I’ll have to address one day, though it does make it look rather more rakish. On Father’s Day we made it down to Tyntesfield House (above) near Bristol for a picnic in some unusual June sunshine. There’s still no seatbelts in the back so trips en famille have to be taken with Mrs Bristoleer unsecured in the back, as Bristoleer Junior gets the passenger side belt!

This week, however I can share a very simple and cheap tip that might transform your car’s handling. It will only take a few minutes and could have an enormous effect. It’s this:  check your tyre pressures. Simple, eh? I had become concerned that the handling seemed a bit more ponderous than it both should be and used to be. There was a bit less precision and rather more understeer, accompanied by a feeling that it could dig in somewhat at the front and suddenly break away to oversteer. In short, it did not inspire confidence or leave the driver (me) feeling secure mid-corner. For some time I put it down to the fact that I knew the tyres were getting a little worn, but embarrasingly, I eventually realised that it had been some time since I had simply checked the pressures. This is possibly the problem with using a car regularly but only occasionally. It is used often enough for me to rely on it working and not going wrong, but just infrequently enough for small jobs to be missed. The tyres were all still more or less evenly inflated, but all down by 7-9psi.  Back up to 35psi and the car is a joy again. The car’s handling has been transformed by a very simple and cheap trick which I am happy to share with you.

I still need to replace the tyres, as they are wearing out. I’ve always had Falken 215VR70 15s on, as that’s what it had when I got it. 215s are probably wider than the wheels should be wearing, as they would have had 185s when new. I don’t know whether to go down to 205s, or all the way back to the original 185s. If anyone has any thoughts I’d be happy to hear them. Availability and cost is also relevant. Some sizes seem to only be available at £300 a corner, others half that. I am unsure of which way to go.

Stebel air horns
One thing to go wrong recently is the horns. One of the horns packed up some time ago in France, and while trawling the classic car parts section of Ebay for horns (be careful what you look for), I found another option: period-correct, brass air horns, made in Italy by Stebel. (Stebel are the air-horn masters it appears; their website lets you play the sound of all the horns they make, from little motorbike ones right up to ships’ fog-horns!)  They came with instructions from the vendor on how to set them up and tune them so they both blow correctly, which is tricky and I’m still not sure they’re quite right. He’d taken them out of his Mini, where they would not fit after an engine change. There’s plenty of room under the 410 bonnet of course, but I put them on the existing brackets under the slam panel at the front, although sadly you can’t see them there. As well as the horns there is a small compressor to run them, and it’s this which I suspect has packed up. I’ve put it behind one of the outer headlights, but I think too much road gunk may have knocked it out. I must investigate, and hopefully before the BOC concours next month. I also plan to polish the car for the first time in ages. It’s washed regularly and kept cleanish, but it’s looking a little scruffy at the moment and a lick of polish can make a huge difference. Somewhere I even have a jar of paint left over from when it was painted, which is very useful for touching in stonechips and the like. I don’t propose to do anything you might find on Detailing World, as I am neither skilled nor patient enough for that, but a day spent cleaning and polishing polish would make it easier and quicker to wash, so saving me time in the long run. Or at least it will if I get around to it. Come along to Hardwick Hall on the 16th September and see for yourself!

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