Friday, March 28, 2014

Collected 'Spare' Engine(s)

After many months of lurking in the background on Ebay, watching and waiting, finally last Sunday I bid for and won an engine that was in my price range and in the condition I wanted. Problem was though, I wasn't free to pick it up until Friday. That's nearly a week of childish excitement to deal with which peaked on Thursday night, resulting in a lack of sleep!

Friday morning finally arrived and I knew that my window of opportunity was between the two school runs. The engine was in Cumbria, up to 2 hours away, so that was about 4 hours travel with about half an hour pickup time, bringing the whole trip to 4.5 hours. I had 6 hours to spare, so that left 1.5 hours contingency.

Once I was back from the school run in the Mini, I switched to the Vauxhall Astra. Being a hatchback, it was the only real choice I had for picking the engine up. Problem was it had been stood unused for a while and the battery was flat. A quick battery boost later, I was ready to set off, except I noticed that the rear tyre was nearly flat! Why oh why didn't I check all this last night? Out came the foot pump and I went round all the wheels making sure the pressure was correct. Now we were ready.

Finally on my way however, I noticed that I needed fuel. Great! Tesco is by far the cheapest at the moment, so off I went to grab a tank full, along with what seemed like every other motorist in the area. The place was heaving! Glad of the 1.5 hour contingency, I patiently waited and was eventually on my way up the picturesque M6 to Cumbria.

Luckily, the motorway traffic was no problem and I arrived well before the 2 hour estimate which removed some of the earlier stress and also meant I was on time. Thanks to Google, locating the house was a doddle and after a quick knock on the door, I was met by a friendly guy who directed me around to his garage and the awaiting engine.

After a good chin wag about engines and where this one came from, what I wanted it for and many other things, I realised yet again why I loved owning that ridiculous old Mini of mine so much. Yes, I love the mechanics, but more than that, it's the adventure of meeting like minded people and exchanging stories and experiences of Mini ownership, both good and bad.

I could have nattered on all day, but this engine wasn't going to jump into the boot all by itself. I wasn't quite sure how heavy a Mini engine was, but I am very thankfull Phil was willing to help. Unsurprisingly, they are very heavy, but somehow the two of us managed to heave the cumbersome lump into my boot. Phew, job done.

I was just about to leave when Phil threw me a complete swerve ball and said he had another engine he wanted rid of. How could I say no! It was a bit knackered and probably only good for scrap as the block was cracked, but it had a gearbox, a head, clutch and other bits that were useful. Plus having a spare, spare engine would mean I could make all my mistakes on this one and be all the wiser when I come to strip the spare engine down. So after another session of heaving and straining, the second engine was safely in the boot.

The journey back was equally pleasant and stress free and every now and then the rattle of my new cargo reminded me of what I was doing. Back home, I cheekily begged the help of the builders to give me a hand in getting the oily beasts out of the car and into my shed. Thanks to Dale for his considerable efforts.

Engine 1

Engine 2
Once in the shed, I had about an half an hour to enjoy the new sights and smells they brought before normal duties were resumed in the form of picking the kids up from school.

All in all this was a great Mini adventure and I was a very happy man: I'd had a nice drive, met Phil who was a top bloke, bagged not one, but two engines and the sun was shining. Life my friends gets no better than this. Either that, or I am very easily pleased!

<Next Post> - 'Spare Engine - Block Inspection'
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