Blowing a fuse - Faine 448

By: Jon Faine

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I am banished, forced to leave my beauty out on the street

Apparently the brake lights on the Jaguar were not working. A kind, thoughtful elderly lady in a Mazda pulled up alongside the E-Type at the lights and gently scolded me for driving a dangerous car. Astonished I was, as the Jag was roadworthy when I got red plates early this year and since Easter during lockdown has not gone anywhere at all. I have only just got back on the road in this dream of a car.

I politely thank her and, as I am in heavy traffic, drive on but now with one eye on the rear vision mirror terrified at the prospect of needing to make a sudden stop. I get to my destination and am asked not to park in the driveway – apparently my 50 year old English relic left a 10c sized spot of oil on the pristine concrete driveway last time I visited! I am banished, forced to leave my beauty out on the street, and apologise loudly and profusely whilst cursing under my breath.

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It’s only flat on the bottom

I finish my work and gingerly prepare to drive home. Before joining the traffic, I decide to see if the brake lights problem is a simple fix. I have minimal tools in the Jag – just the jack and wire wheel removal tools, foolishly, and as both brake lights have gone I guess it is unlikely to be both bulbs blowing at the same time.

I check fuses with fingers crossed. I undo the two little plastic thumb screws that hold the entire instrument panel to the dash, work my fat fingers into the crevice that hides the fuses, lever out the 30 amp glass tube that looks after the rear lights cluster, check it, confirm annoyingly that it is okay – it would be much easier if that was the problem but it is not – and go to return it to the fuse holder. The two sprung prongs are reluctant to grab the tiny slippery cylinder, and in my efforts to push it home it slips out and like a pinball slowly bounces from fuse holder to wiring harness to hinge and down in behind the radio and speaker panel never to be seen again.

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I am now short of a fuse, on a short fuse and about to blow one in my head. I replace it by borrowing the one from the hazard lights, deciding that was the least likely circuit to be needed. To avoid a repeat, I carefully kneel on the sill, contort myself so that I can get better access to the tiny space where the fuses go, curse my multi-focal glasses as it is near impossible to get the right part of the lens where I need to see, and test every available fuse without finding a fault. I drive home watching the rear vision mirror expecting someone to tail-end me. Off to the sparky. I hate wiring.

As a distraction and to cheer me up, I fiddle with some of the 1926 B2 Citroen bits that are slowly being prepared to go back together. I am entering an exciting phase, where the motor and gearbox are ready to be re-introduced to the chassis rails in front of the restored timber firewall. With the spare radiator rigged up I can then fit the fuel tank onto its brackets which themselves anchor the firewall. Then I can fit the bonnet and that way get an idea of the starting point for the sculpture of the wooden skeleton for the new boat-tail body.

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Ready to be re-introduced to the frame

It sounds easy to write it, but that small progress will require so many items to be attended to. The bonnet is hinged down the middle as well as on each side, meaning that there are four separate panels to it, held together by three full length hinges. The hinges seem to be welded or rivetted onto the panels and painting the pieces is nigh impossible without taking it all apart. Would it be wiser to leave this to some professionals?

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Bonnet requires origami prowess

Meanwhile, to get the chassis stable before dropping the engine and gearbox in, I want to put the disc wheels on and get the chassis off the flimsy rack I built two years ago. I excavate the storage black hole and extract the six Michelin 73 x 130 wheels and tyres that I have not set eyes on for about a decade. The tyres are ancient – cracked and useless. Three of the wheels are in very good condition, needing little work before paint. A fourth wheel has some small patches of rust but the final two are showing serious rot around the rim. I need five good ones. Anyone got two spare 1926 Citroen B2 wheels they want to part with?

 

From Unique Cars #448, January 2021

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