One step forward, one step back - Faine 452

By: Jon Faine

Presented by

engine engine

The results can be equal part hilarious and disastrous

I am sure the early explorers of Terra Australis felt the same as I have in my shed lately. If they just asked the locals for some help instead of shooting them, they would not have starved or died of thirst. Exploring my garage lately has been like that.

Often, I could and should ask for help, but for some stubborn reason, the independence streak kicks in and I try to do stuff that I ought contract out. The results can be in equal part hilarious and disastrous.

My beloved asked if her shed – used for far more creative artistic endeavours than mine – could be insulated before winter kicks in. I enthusiastically agreed, offering elaborate visions of pink batts and lined ceilings as if it was but a few moments diversion.


It took a day to empty out the tables, shelves, books, sewing machines, paints, easel, chairs and assorted paraphernalia from her shed. Another day was spent measuring, staring, drawing out plans of how to do it, visiting the hardware store for long and serious discussions with experts in order to assess insulation options, and drinking cups of tea. A third day involved removing all three of the cars from my garage so I could safely burrow into the stockpile in the roof where plenty of long stored lining boards and batten timbers were just waiting to be free of sedimentary layers of ancient dust and to discover a new purpose in life. At least I was sufficiently self-aware to know that trying to remove any timber with the cars still underneath was asking for trouble.

Finally, fully equipped with nail gun, cleaned and sanded lining boards, bevel, measuring tapes, levels and ladders, it takes me less than two hours to get the silver insulation paper up onto the underside of the tin roof. Then Jan said "It looks fine, do you really have to cover it up with those ugly lining boards, I quite like the light as it is, the reflections are great…". Sigh.


Tatty E-type pews rejuvinated

Tired and grumpy, I have to put all the timber back into the roof of my shed. As I carry the last board in, long after dark and perilously close to the start of the football on TV, I knock the handlebar of the 1970s Solex moped and do not have a free hand to catch it as it falls from its centre stand. As the moped topples, it connects with the 1926 Citroen B2 gearbox which is sitting on a dolly waiting to be installed into the chassis, and the impact smashes the plastic petrol tank on the moped. Fuel pours out all over the floor.

After extensive local inquiries draw a blank, I have found a supplier of Solex moped fuel tanks in France. For a mere $250 including post my new fuel tank will arrive in a month. Getting a local handyman to put the lining into Jan’s shed would have been cheaper and quicker and caused less mayhem in all our lives.

I have also finally got the E-type seats retrimmed. When I bought the car more than a year ago, it wore moth-eaten and sordid dark blue tatty sheepskin covers concealing the dry and torn original leather on both the drivers and passenger side. Chunks of foam were escaping from under the covers, and the runners were half stuck. The headrests were brown while the seats and carpets were original black. Fetching, I am sure you agree.


And looking fabulous in their home

I priced getting the job done in new leather from a highly recommended local specialist trimmer. His quote came with a free panic attack. I had already sold a kidney to fund the repairs to the Citroen SM so that option for the Jaguar was not open to me any more. I suggested to the first born that he would fetch a decent price on the dark web but disappointingly he felt otherwise. The seats would have to wait I decided.

Surfing the internet late one night and looking at Jaguar parts on Ebay USA, I had a pleasant surprise. ‘Richard’ had recently bought a trim set for his car and had unluckily bought the wrong one. He was selling the exact seat kit I needed… unused and in black, the correct pattern for Series 2 and for only $500. Only trouble – he was in the USA mid-west. Like many Americans, he needed a little persuasion to agree to post it to "an Aussie, everyone loves Aussies, I refuse to send anything out of the US but I will send it to Australia though". A mate recommended a different trimmer to fit the new kit, he has done a lovely job and all works as it should, but for one slight problem – the resurrected seats are now significantly tighter than before, I sit much higher and my remaining hair just touches the roof lining. I need someone very large to take the car for a drive to settle the seats lower. Or I could just keep putting on weight and fill that description myself.


From Unique Cars #452, April 2021

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