I’m Orde and I’m the web monkey. I went along with this idea and it was too late to back out by the time I realised we were serious about it. I take full credit (and absolutely no responsibility) for us ending up with a taxi - it wasn’t my idea or my decision but I lobbied relentlessly for all of about a half an hour before any lingering resistance caved like a bunch of speleologists on a field trip.
We fixed up an old black cab and drove it to Le Mans.
We got there but it finally died once it had got us back to the UK...
It wasn’t my idea to get a taxi, but I think I might have been the first to proclaim the idea genius. My name is Phil, and if somebody has a bad idea, I will usually go along with it out of morbid curiosity.We are going to Le Mans, but nobody wanted to take their own car. We decided to buy one for less than £500 and take that. The only rule was that it had to have style. There was much talk about getting a Jaguar, and a little talk of other cars, then somebody suggested a taxi. Specifically, a grand old black cab; a Hackney carriage; and ours is certainly hackneyed.
There’s work to do, and we might not make it, but the right kind of stupidity can be heroic, and arriving at the destination isn’t always the most important part of the journey.
I’m in it for a laugh, and because there are no good stories in careful planning and sensible choices. I haven’t made myself particularly useful so far, so I had better get my finger out and start doing something helpful.
I’ve started work on a SatNav setup using only accumulated junk that I wouldn’t be upset to see inside a burning taxi at the side of French Motorway.
A mighty 266Mhz Panasonic Toughbook has been called into service, with the addition of my first GPS (theres a good idea for Fisher-Price) which will need a good wrap of Duck tape to hold the innards in place.
I’m currently wrestling with installing Autoroute 2006 on a machine with only a floppy drive but thats the sort of challenge I must embrace.
I gather Autoroute 2006 will talk to me, I wonder if it will adjust its accent to continental travel ?
Orde : Is it just me or does anyone else keep catching themselves thinking that what we are doing is insane?
Tom : Yup, there’s a slight whiff of insanity about the whole thing, and I’ve got a mixture of looks when explaining the plan ranging from admiration to fear that I’m a nutter. No-one has had a bad word to say about it though.
Phil : No. It makes the most sense of anything we’ve done for ages. I might say different if I’m stranded on some French motorway.
Chris : I don’t think its insane in slightest. I’m just happy that we’ve taken up the challenge to go the extra mile with something, rather than just doing the minimum to make it happen.
Just thought I’d share these photos with you. I’m hoping that the one with the bonnet up isn’t an omen, especially as the spring catch is at the perfect height to catch your head on.
The second shot shews the old sump washer…in two parts which was how it (finally) came off, and the bright shiney new one about to go on.
The third? That’s what I’m going to use to resurface the road outside my house as it’s really not oil any more, even though it came out of the sump. Mmmm…nice.
I really hope that the sump washer isn’t indicative of the state of the rest of it. Oh wait, no I’ve just remembered the state of the wiring underneath the dashboard… I’m looking forward to this …
Rain. Not to begin with, oh no, but just after all the flaky, rusty surface paint had been taken off, and just before any form of primer could be applied. However, once it cleared up, the rust work continued, and the door pillars are now looking a lot better.
The near-side headlight was re-mounted (with a spot of light drilling), and while it’s not perfect, it is more stable than it was. All I need to do now is find the source of the short that’s making it so dim.
The near-side wiper doesn’t work. No problem over here, but a potential problem on the continent. Fixing this will apparently involve taking out the dashboard, and some heavy duty bodging.
Having removed the new fuel filter and re-primed it in the classic way (a length of hosepipe and a lot of spitting - bio diesel tastes better than conventional diesel, but still not nice), the b**tard still wouldn’t start. Currently, we have a taxi with a flat battery, and fuel lines full of air. Great.
On the bright side, the Taxi’s purchase price has come down from £345.51 to £342.41 as I found £3.10 in the boot that had fallen out of passengers’ pockets. Result!
Next day of tinkering is to be Saturday 29th unless I can wangle an evening next week…
I took the day off, and purchased the following items:
- Bottle of injector cleaner for diesels
- 10 litres mineral oil (15w40)
- Fuel filter
- Air Filter
- Oil Filter
- Ducting for air intake (50mm)
- Black Hammerite Smooth Spray
- 40 litres of biodiesel
That sounded easy didn’t it? It took about 2 hours to find the bits, even at that most competent of Motor Factors, Andrew Page.
AP: “Are you going into the taxi business then?”
Me: “No, 3 friends and I bought it to drive to Le Mans and watch the race.
[Five minutes of conversation about how slightly crazy the plan is, and am I sure I know what I’m doing.]
AP: “So, what Engine is it?”
Me: “It’s a 2.7l Nissan Diesel unit”
AP: “What’s that from?”
Me: “Well according to Nissan Customer services, the only 2.7l lump they ever made was in the Terrano.
AP: [Searches] “Nope, not coming up. Can you get any numbers of the existing filters?”
[Cue 15 minutes of fumbling, swearing & skinned knuckles]
Me: “Success! Try these numbers!”
AP: “No, not from a Terrano.”
Still, I got all the bits eventually thanks to the patience of the staff at Andrew Page, York. Incidentally, most of the parts are shared with the Nissan Patrol, so bear this in mind potential taxi purchasers…
Air filter fitted, and a new cruising speed of 60mph obtained as a result, I drove to the stable to sort the oil. Changed the
tar oil and filter, and then changed the (still original) fuel filter.
I freely admit that this is where I ballsed up a little. Having carried out the procedure a number of times on my Audi, I followed the same principle, and didn’t prime the fuel filter with diesel.
Where the Germans and the Japanese engines differ in this respect, is that the Audi after cutting out having used the remaining diesel, can prime the fuel filter before allowing the fuel access to the injector pipes. The Nissan doesn’t, dragging air into the cylinders and pipes.
I finished with the Taxi now unable to start, oh yes, and the ****ing ducting is too small by about 3mm to make an air intake.
I’ll be back on Saturday….
Got a lift to Blackpool to pick up the taxi that will be taking us to Le Mans and back (I hope). We gave it the once over, and all seems to be well mechanically, although the list of niggles is quite long.
A 4 speed auto (yuck) box, and a naturally aspirated 2.7 Nissan Diesel engine, this is apparently the cream of the FX4 taxis. The trip across the Pennines was interesting, as it’s not the fasted vehicle I’ve ever driven. Top speed of 70mph (once, downhill), but I’m not inclined to do that as it felt very much like I was staring into the jaws of death. Average cruising speed of about 55mph.
The steering is vague to say the least, but you can put on a 1930s suit and pretend you’re in an old film as you waggle the wheel from side to side. At least you’ll crash with your sense of humour intact. Once it bites however, you turn, and boy how you turn. Believe everything you’ve read about the astonishing turning circle of these things, and if you’ve read much about chronic understeer and heart-in-mouth moments when exiting roundabouts, believe that as well.
The brakes are excellent though, as the RX8 that I nearly destroyed will testify. My bad, as I was trying to follow the advice when driving automatics, and left foot brake. That’s fine until 10 years of instinct kicks in when going slowly up a hill and reaching to change down.
I think I’ll stick to traditional methods in future.
TB: “Hello, I’d like a quotation please, but before I go any further, it’s for a Black Cab.”
Insurance Conmpany: “Sorry, we don’t do taxi insurance.”
TB: “It’s for Social Domestic & Pleasure use only.”
Insurance Company: “Oh…no sorry, still can’t help/What car? It’s not on our system/Yes, that’ll be £800 third party only limited to 3000 miles.”
[Repeat ad nauseum for approximately 3 hours]
It was suggested by a colleague at work that I try Footman James. What can I say, apart from singing their praises to the sky! After warning me that they probably wouldn’t be competitive, they proceeded to offer me a Fully Comprehensive policy, including European breakdown (very imporatant), with unlimited mileage for less than half of the price of anyone else. I’d recommend them if you have something classic/slightly unusual to insure.