Break Down Story Number 14

Break Down Story Number 14.

1978, I had moved from Coffs Harbour to MacLean but I was still a member of Coffs Harbour and District Sporting Car Club and I had travelled to Coffs to attend the club’s monthly meeting.

On arriving in Coffs I stopped to purchase petrol and the Mini Cooper S was a bit reluctant to start, the battery seemed to be a bit down, I did not think much of it.

After the Car Club meeting the car would not start, the battery was flat, everyone from the meeting was still there so I had no trouble getting a push, the car fired up alright and as the alternator light was not on I concluded that the problem was the battery not the alternator, so as long as I did not turn the engine off or stall it, I would be alright.

I was wrong. It was not that long and the head lights were getting dimer and dimer but it was to late now, so I pressed on. I latched on to the tail of a semi trailer and trusted my luck. The semi must have been empty as he was low flying and without head lights it was an exciting ride, but about 10km outside Grafton near the airport turn off, the engine just stopped, there was no life left in the battery to run the electric fuel pump.

It was now after midnight, I only had two options, stay with the car till morning, or walk into Grafton and find a phone, I decided to walk. About two km’s down the road a car came along so I stuck my thump out in the hope of a lift; it went straight past but stopped a few hundred metres further down the road. By the time I reached the car the driver was filling his car with petrol from a 20lte drum, he had not stopped to give me a lift, he had run out of petrol, but he said he would give me a lift to the MacLean turn off.

I walked the last two or three km’s home, my father was not too impressed with it all, but there was nothing we could do but go back and get the Mini. My fathers HQ Holden Ute had no petrol in it and there was nothing open at that time of night to get some so we had to take my sisters Ford Cortina (the Holden’s battery was too big to fit in the Mini).

We drove the ½ hour trip back to the Mini, tied a tow rope to it and towed it home. The Mini had power assisted brakes but they still worked, so that was alright, but no lights was a bit of a problem. The battery had revived a bit so I had parking lights but only for a few minutes so every time a car came up behind me I would turn the parking lights on until they passed us. It was an interesting trip but we got home without incident.

Once the battery had been charged the Mini started up without problem. The lucas alternator was replaced with a bosch unit which was still working when the car came to the end of its days.

So ends another break down story and for a change it did not involve a Triumph.

Jim Pope