President's Report - March 2009

Greetings All,

A couple of weeks ago, Sue and I decided to take our 404, which is on historic rego, for a test run. A simple Sunday afternoon task one would think. How wrong can you be! Despite having not been driven for a few months, the 404 started easily (I disconnect the battery between infrequent drives). Not far from home we struck our first problem - road works and a long queue waiting to filter past the road crew and associated machinery. No big deal, we thought, just wait patiently.

Second problem - brakes start to fade with foot brake continuously depressed. Again, no big deal, use handbrake and hopefully allow brakes to recover. Third problem - engine stalls just as traffic starts to move past the road works. Fourth problem - engine will not start again. Starter motor working fine; engine refusing to fire. Pull over; miss our chance to clear road works. Engine restarts a few minutes later. Had this problem intermittently, before; most noticeable on hot days. Brake pedal still not working; hand brake used when needed.

Fifth problem - pull over again, this time to check brakes. Check reservoir fluid level; a bit low, but not too much; top it up anyway. Sixth problem - brakes now locked. Disconnect hose to brake booster tank to release brake pressure. Brakes no longer locked, but still no foot pedal. Mental note - the thermostable, boosted drum brakes, on my 1967 (NZ assembled) 404, are normally fantastic. Might be wise to get the booster checked over asap, but not today - still need to get home.

Seventh problem - engine stalls again and will not start (see fourth problem). Another minute or two before proceeding with no foot brake. Eighth problem - see seventh problem.  Ninth problem - see sixth problem. Tenth problem - see seventh and eighth problems!

Anyway, we finally made it back home, driving several kilometres with only the handbrake for stopping power, and the stalling problem unresolved. A testing test run! I should add, for clarification, that the stalling is not a simple idle speed problem. It normally occurs when pulling away from a stationary position. With the engine being so quiet in the 404 it's difficult to judge the rev speed when disengaging the clutch. Maybe I've been driving automatic Pugs too much!

Unfortunately I will miss the next two club activities - travelling again, this time to India. So, my apologies for absences at, firstly, the Wheels Exhibition on Sunday, 22 March (from 9.30 am) and, secondly, the monthly club night on Tuesday, 24 March (dinner at 7 pm; meeting at 8 pm). I'm sure that, given fine weather, Wheels will be as enjoyable as ever and I look forward to seeing pictures of the event in due course. Neil Sperring will be manning the club marquee on the day.

Keep on Pugging,

Brad Pillans

Picture of Brad