End of July Contest – Tell Us Your Favorite Garage Story

Update: The contest is now closed! We would like to congratulate Ray Whitley on his win which was determined at random from all entries received. We would also like to thank all of those who entered the contest. Entertaining stuff!

I bet you didn’t know that July is my birthday month – well it is. But, I am going to give you the present. Aren’t I generous? We Leo’s are like that!  SThe Philosophy and Psychology of British Car Restorationince this book is proving to be so popular, I thought you might like another contest chance to win a copy of Robert Morey’s Philosophy and Psychology of British Car Restoration. This is a great little book, and a fun read for any fan of old British cars.

So, you might be asking yourself how you enter the contest. I gave a lot of thought to that and decided that it would be fun to have something that kind of goes along with the book. At the same time, I would like to know more about you. So to enter the contest, please leave a comment below and briefly tell us a funny, troubling, or otherwise enlighting moment from your car repair past. The culprit doesn’t have to be you, maybe the story will involve a friend or someone working on one of your cars.

What kind of story are we talking about? How about the time a member of a racing crew went to drill a small hole in the fender of a race car and drilled all the way through the fender and on into the tire? Or how about the time that a friend of mine decided to help me pull the steering wheel off my MGB and proceeded to yank the entire steering column out?

Or there is the really good friend who went to grab his beer while doing a brake job. He grabbed the wrong bottle and took a big ole swig of dirty Castrol LMA that he had been bleeding into a used beer bottle. Lesson? Always look before you drink, and never bleed brakes into a standard drinking container. Maybe keep poison control’s number handy?

Bleeding the Brakes

We won’t even talk about the time I stuck my hand into a running cooling fan…

You get the idea. Let’s hear your stories. Funny, sad, or “duh” moments, it doesn’t matter.

The winner will be chosen at random next Friday, August 4, and announced in that day’s issue of Just British.  Remember that if you want to just go ahead and buy the book, you can pick up copies on Amazon or on Robert’s website.

As always, decisions of the judges are final, one entry per subscriber, by entering you are agreeing to be a subscriber if you aren’t already (lame), no quarreling about the outcome, and blah, blah, blah. You must leave a comment and use a real email address!

The prize will be shipped out to the winner as soon as they confirm our message to them at the end of the contest. No country limits or any of that foolishness – we will ship the book to the winner wherever they may be.

Michael Carnell
Editor at Just British

Michael Carnell is the editor and founder of the Just British Online Motoring Magazine. As a lifelong British car enthusiast, he has owned or driven British cars of all ages from Austins and MGs to Jaguars and Triumphs. He currently owns a 1966 Vanden Plas Princess 1100 and a 1977 MGB. But there is always room for more - no matter what his wife says.


  1. A few of us were working on my car during the winter in Indiana. One of the guys there was not a mechanic, so his job was to keep the pot-bellied stove hot. Well, he did his job well – so well, that it blistered the new paint job on my front fender! That was 40 years ago; and, we still kid him about it!

  2. While working with another machanic doing a black box auto transmission swap we r and r’d the trans and and filled it with the usual amount of fluid. Having done this job many times we didn’t recheck the fluid level. My partner ran the car through the gears on the rack and then went for a test drive. A very short test drive. He ran down the block and suddenly a hugh cloud of white smoke started bellowing from under the hood. By the time he got back you couldn’t see the car for all the smoke. Thinking we had a loose cooler connection we checked the fittings. All ok. Next the pan gasket bolts and the fillet tube. All ok but covered in ATF. Finally we checked the fluid level. To our amazement we found the fluid almost to the top of the tube. It seems this trans came from the rebuilders already filled. We had doubled filled the transmission! The rest of the night was spent cleaning up the engine bay and draing/ refilling the fluid.

  3. I had installed a complete new brake system on my MGB and asked my wife to help me bleed the brakes. Well we started the job and for some reason I couldnt get any brake fluid to bleed, worked at it all day still no fluid, checked everything over and over decided that it must be a bad master cylinder so I ordered a new one, replaced it and still no fluid would come out. Come to find out she was pumping the clutch the whole time.

  4. I have a Mini and I was having a heck of a time getting it to start, idle, and run properly. I checked the twin carbs airflow and mixture, I checked the plugs, I checked the timing…over and over and over again. Then I had the brilliant idea to check the dwell. Well you know the rest. argh

  5. Long before Star Wars, when many and sundry British cars were passing gently through the bottom of their North American market, an impoverished grad student in Halifax, Nova Scotia, used to do all his own work on a Wolseley 6/110 he just about owned at the time. To do this work, he rented a neighbour’s garage next door but one to the rented house he shared with his brand new wife and a boarder, who helped with the rent.

    One fine spring day, the said student had just re-kitted the rear wheel cylinders of the Wolseley, and he enlisted his mercifully tolerant new wife to help him bleed the brakes. She was to pump the pedal, while he, under the car (for it was on axle stands), manipulated the bleed screws and managed the coke bottle that caught the bled fluid.

    “OK, pump ’em up!” he called. There followed the faint clonking of the pedal in the car above, then a violent, pulsing screech in exactly the cadence of the clonking pedal.

    “Stop!” Our student and his bewildered new wife then tried to figure what in hell was making that awful noise. When they operated the brake pedal with the bleed screws closed, there was no sound. Neither of them could think of anything in the Wolseley’s brake system that could possibly produce such a violent cacophony, especially since the car was at rest on stands.

    Yet, when they tried once again to bleed the brakes, the harrowing screeches returned just as the pedal was pumped. In fact, the same ghastly noise persisted through several further attempts.

    By this time, our young couple were inclined to lose patience with one another. The impoverished student joined his exasperated new wife at the door of the rented garage, each accusing the other of some unknown carelessness or omission.

    It was only then, when neither of them were anywhere near the car, that the horrid, pulsing screech sounded again, even more loudly. Our young couple suddenly realized that the dear old lady who rented them garage space was putting out successive waves of wet laundry. The laundry line pulley screeched each time she pushed another shirt out- and the pulley was mounted on the corner of the garage nearest the rear of the parked Wolseley. Simply, her laundry line was, by unfortunate coincidence,in sync with the attempted brake bleeding.

    The impoverished grad student then borrowed a ladder to lubricate the pulley; he is still married to the same, mercifully tolerant wife.

  6. I bought a very rusty Renault R8 for my wife – her first car. After changing the rusted out and broken front wishbone I got it on the road. It was quite advanced for 1962, 4 wheel disc brakes and nice interior touches such as reclining buckets and face level vents. It had trouble with the brakes and the rear shocks. The brakes had Alloy calipers and the pistons sealed with an O ring and when I checked them the alloy had corroded in the O ring groove. I could not afford new calipers so I glued the rings in with silicone rubber cement. Worked great, never leaked again! The rear shocks were shot so I replaced them. Drove it to work – 5 miles – and it rode beautifully but on the way home I heard a noise and suddenly it was bouncing as badly as before. When I got home I checked it and found the top of the steel towers holding the shocks and parted company from the rest of the chassis and they were just waving about. As the towers were an integral part of the unibody I got to be a self taught amateur welder. We did like the car and so continued to fix it and use it until we emigrated to USA

  7. Were it not for my youthful agility and laughter in the jaws of death the following story illustrates what might have happened:
    The Curious Case of the Killer Cat
    “It’s the strangest thing I’ve seen Holmes.” The Inspector flung open the door to the garage, the atmosphere inside still vaguely redolent of automotive exhaust. Holmes studied the scene. A red, 1957 Jaguar XK140 DHC, hood down, bonnet up. Holmes noted that the key was on, the ignition lamp glowing faintly. The temperature gauge indicated the engine was warm. The gear selector for the automatic transmission showed that the car was in drive.
    Moving to the front of the car he noted a young man, his long hair cut in the fashionable style of the day (1978). He was quite dead, a look of surprise on his face.
    “He’s stuck to the wall like some bloody Egyptian Dung Beetle pinned to a bug fancier’s board.” Indeed, the young fellow was trapped by the Jaguar, the front bumper having caught him across the shins.
    “Can’t be suicide,” said the Inspector. “How in blazes could the lad have started the car, popped it into drive and then leapt in front of it? It has to be murder!”
    “Not murder, Inspector,” replied Holmes. “Rather a moronic misapprehension of electro-mechanical principles and the real world ramifications that may result.” Although the Inspector spoke English he had no idea what Holmes had said.
    “Observe these switches where the gear selector shaft penetrates the bulkhead. They prevent the car from being started in a drive gear, forward or reverse. Also note this item here.” Holmes indicated a small metallic cylinder with wiring running to it. “It appears to be a starter relay incorporating a remote starter switch. A bit of clever engineering. It permits a mechanic to crank the engine while working under the bonnet. Key off, the engine cranks but will not start. Key on, it will crank and start. However, key on with the automatic transmission in the Drive position the engine will crank, start and given the tremendous torque of this motor the car will instantly MOVE. You see, the safety switches only isolate the starter button in the cockpit but not the remote starter switch.
    I deduce this young fellow was monkeying around beneath the bonnet, spun the motor and Bob’s your Uncle the young Yank finds himself pinned by the shins to a garage wall by his own car, slowly asphyxiating, too panicked to pull the wire from the ignition coil. Elementary.”

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