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Beginning | Engine | Electrics | Underbody | Following Year | Second MOT - Brake Pipes | Third MOT | Brake Pipes | Stereo | Passing Time | Upper Body | Fuel Pipe | Suspension | Air Cooled | Snow | Wales | Commuting

The second MOT - April

Now, I thought, nothing can go wrong! I've fixed all that I can see wrong with it, I'd already had it welded up this time last year, what could possibly go wrong at the MOT? Maybe a little patch here and there, if anything. No. Estimated at over six hundred pounds of work to make it pass, I went into shock. I still had a few weeks left on the tax disc so I decided to shop around and try to get a cheaper price for the work, nobody wanted to know; they told me stories of well over a thousand pounds to put it right, and they wouldn't want to touch it themselves.

After several weeks had passed and I'd had time to think things over, I realised that I either kept it or sold it. One was expensive, the other made me some money. Wiping away a silent tear I put an advert in the paper: 'VW Beetle, needs some welding, 500 pounds'. To my bittersweet relief nobody answered. I wanted to keep my car, so I plucked up the courage and had that welding done, at a cost of five hundred pounds (including VAT). A lot poorer, and a little wiser, I opted to replace the brake pipes myself, with the help of my father of course. The car went back to live near Scarborough while this work was done, and I stopped renting that stupid garage.

The brake pipes - September

This was one learning experience I shall never forget. I bought the brake pipes from the same place that did the welding, and the guy said to me "good luck!". Hmmm. Firstly we had to remove the old pipes, simple enough to do - some brute force, a bucket to catch the fluid as it leaked out, and a hacksaw to cut off those awkward pipes that were rusted solid. Fortunately all of the nuts did come out in the end so we had good threads to put the replacements into. We replaced the T-piece which had been badly fitted and cross-threaded, and cleaned out the master cylinder. We also discovered that the brake sensor contacts had rusted away so my father went back to the scrap dealer and got a replacement.

All of the brake pipes came out, except for the mysterious one going across the back of the car between the two rear brakes; we couldn't even see it let alone reach it, but from the little bit of it we could see which was attached to the T-piece it was untouched by corrosion so we thought better to leave it where it is.

When we came to replace the pipes we discovered quite alarmingly that most of the new pipes were the wrong length, only a couple sufficed, all the rest were either too long or too short. We took them back to the garage that sold them to us, who promptly got in touch with the people who they'd bought the kit from with the measurements that we'd made from the old pipes. The guy at the garage was very good to us and made our pipes up to the right length there and then, so we went away happy.

The next few weeks would be how I spent a lot of my days off work this year - fitting brake pipes in and under my Beetle. The most interesting part was bending them to the correct shapes, around the chassis and suspension arms, under and over, round and round. The bleed nipples were also rusted so we had to replaced those that we could actually get off. At least one of them is as one with the brake so we just left it.

With all the pipes skillfully laid and fixed in place, new fluid was put into the system and the air bled out. All worked fine, at last! It was time to make some final niggling adjustments and get to that MOT.

The second MOT (take two) - December

We nervously sat in the waiting room at the test centre garage. It took nearly two hours to do, and when they'd finished they failed it. Excuse me? Failed? On what? Well, it turned out that over the last seven months some rust had crept onto the front inner wings, and one of the sills was poorly welded, the sill which was originally welded for the first MOT. I was stunned and very angry; I almost shouted at the guy before my dad calmed me down. The work was to cost another 180 pounds, which included a replacement steering track rod end (which I heard was a right little sod to get off!) I paid, wincing as I did. Being the kindly soul my father is, he also chipped in.

So the car finally rolled away working and legal. I returned the next weekend to pick it up. As I got in the car I noticed that the wing mirror was misaligned so I reached out to adjust it, as I did so it literally came off in my hand! It had been glued on with rubber solution. I was angry, but then recalled that the garage had given us a pretty generous discount on the work, and now I knew why. I got over this, and tried to start the car. A fuse blew, then the whole thing went dead. The money pit sneered. Fortunately I am a brilliant man, so I replaced the fuse, checked all that I could think of and eventually traced the fault to the hanging-off live terminal connector on the battery; the guys hadn't reconnected it properly when they did the welding, doh!

The car started up, I drove off, and started out on a new adventure - driving without a wing mirror! It's quite an experience as you approach the main carriage way from the slip road and desperately look round and try to see if anyone is coming, through the rear side window and blind spot. It is legal to drive the car like this, but I am going to try to get a replacement wing mirror as soon as I can.