Monday, 15 August 2011

How do you define a working farmer’s car?

Pulled out all parcels and shopping and stood back, while the old Austin Montego finally cremated itself in the middle of the road.

 The old Austin Montego Estate Car, it was a farmers car, or life before we had a Landrover   1970’s / 80’s.   
(This is the Land Rover blog  )

How do you define a working farmer’s car, a car that can pull almost anything, a car that you can chuck anything that will fit in it, a car with a drawbar that is good and shiny not the one with the plastic horses head knob cover.

A car that when the dirt gets thick enough it will peel off in the sun, a car that is always at the ready for the umpteen short journeys be it lanes or fields, and almost invariably low in fuel, no time to go into town to fill it up.

A car that when a big bullock walks up the tailboard it lifts the ass end of the car off the ground, and when he walks to the front of said trailer it almost bury the drawbar in to the mud, (good suspension).   

A few years ago we had an Austin Montego car, a five door estate model, bought it second hand never having seen mud or cow muck, it was in mint condition. It did good service for us but as always it would be almost its last home.

The first thing was to have a drawbar fitted so it could pull a caravan and the stock trailer; the caravan was a nice stable steady pull although only just up to the job.

The stock trailer was another kettle of fish, it all depended on how many beasts were loaded into it, on odd occasions it got positively over loaded, heaving up and down on the drawbar when loading and unloading, and then on the road it weaved as the speed built up to 30MPH.

As it happened I bought the standard drawbar fitment for that make of car, the arm reaching under the car just bolted with four bolts to the tinwork under the spare wheel in the boot.

There was a lip that reached up to carry the weight of the drawbar going up behind the plastic bumper again bolted into tinwork.

As you can imagine after a couple of years work with intermittent use to pull the stock trailer these bolts holes cracked in star fashion round the holes and eventually pulled through to tin bodywork. To remedy this we welded an angle iron to the carrying bracket so as to spread the load all across the back end of the car, if it pulled out again it would take the whole of the back end off the car. I got to know when things were getting dangerous when you could hear a continuous creaking coming from the spare wheel housing.

After the beefing up with the angle iron, the long arm that reached under the spare wheel with its four small bolts started to creak and these were washered up with large round washers, but still it creaked under load. The car then started to over heat intermittently as though the rad was blocked, they did not have a fan belt, but a thermostat connected to an electric fan, and it turned out that this thermostat was faulty , not switching the fan on when it called for cooling.

Everything worked normally when travelling along briskly, the wind blowing through the radiator did its job well, but this one bank holiday weekend we went out into the Derbyshire hills and got stuck in a great line of vehicles mostly stationary, on the run up to a road junction.
As we kept moving up so the car got hotter, we had the heater on in the car (on a hot day) to try to help cooling the engine, then to our relief we got past the junction and onto open road again, the snag then was we had a long two or three mile climb, working the engine hard, and although the wind was blowing through the rad it was not enough to cool the already hot engine.
Then on a long down hill where we cracked on with speed and not too much work for the engine when a cloud of steam burst from under the bonnet and we coasted to a halt in the mouth of a quarry, looked underneath to find a pool of oil, the car had expired in a cloud of steam

After getting a lift home we collected the car a few days later, towing it home on the end of a chain.

As it happened we did get the engine going again and sold it on to a family as a “second” farm car, another rough lane for it to negotiate and a bigger family of kids.

Some months later we heard the they were travelling home from Christmas shopping, loaded up with kids and parcels, going along a remote lane when the engine burst into flames,

The mother pulled out all the kids and parcels and shopping and stood back, while the old Austin Montego finally cremated itself in the middle of the road.

It had not done a big mileage with us or the folks after us, but it had worked hard, pulling the stock trailer, and after us we found out he was pulling a double deck sheep trailer, so it had earned its keep over those few years. This is why we always say “It’s come to its last home when it comes to us”   

If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost a hundred dollars, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.”

Robert X Cringely, Info world

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