End of the Road?

I’ll give you a warning in advance… This rant is going to go slightly off-topic!!

Why is it that, whenever something good happens, the bad news is rarely very far away?

To start off on a positive note; this morning, I arrived at a job interview (my first for some time) and left an hour or-so later with the offer of an on-going temporary role that’ll keep the money rolling in through the cold, quiet Winter months. At last, I’ll be able to properly insulate my workshop even when it’s too cold to do any real woodworking! What’s more, I will finally be able to use some of my new-found income to add a suspended floor overhead! 😀 Once that’s done, I should be able to regain a lot of floor space by dumping all the household junk and offcuts overhead!

Now, on to the bad news…

While on my way back from the successful job interview, as I left the M5, I noticed my car was making this very odd noise. As I slowed down to let traffic pass at the roundabout ahead, my car bizarrely stalled, even though I had put the clutch down in good time. Foolishly, I carried on driving for most of the six-mile drive home before deciding to stop and take a look. This noise started getting worse so, eventually, I decided to pull over.

Despite the fact that I’ve done a fair bit of driving around the South West of England recently, I’d neglected to do a full service check of my vehicle before setting off and, on this occasion, I’d managed to let the engine run dry of oil! 😳 That explained the banging, rattling and rubbing sounds I could hear while accelerating…

Managed to get refill the tank before starting the engine again and, with a bit of patience, it was running much more smoothly again. However, a brief trip to let a professional check it over revealed that ‘a noise’ was still present. It isn’t nearly as obvious as it was before; it only becomes clear when the revs are high and you’re about ready to change up a gear [if I knew about car mechanics or even if I could just remember all the technical names; believe me, I’d have posted them here already!!]. While he said that he has heard much worse on the roads today, the unavoidable truth is that I’ve now shortened the remaining lifespan of my 1994-95 Ford Escort Sapphire, pictured briefly below:

1994-95 Ford Escort Sapphire


That’s two machines and now one car – I wonder what I’ll break next?! 🙄

Though, to have squeezed seven-and-a-half years from a now-sixteen-year-old car that was bought for £700 as an eighteenth birthday present… That, in itself, is an achievement. I’ve only clocked 30,000 miles in that time (90,000 overall) but, as you’ve hopefully read by following this blog; it’s certainly helped my woodworking along the way, with various trips to several timber yards around the West Country and, more recently, in the collection of second-hand eBay goods for the workshop.

If only I had checked the oil several weeks; even this morning, before I dashed off for the interview… Still, this does at least provide me with an opportunity to ‘upgrade’ to a car more suitable for woodworking – I’m currently think of an estate-type vehicle; possibly a Ford Focus or Peugot 206 (these two were suggested to me by somebody who knows about cars).

Sadly, there’ll be no more trips to the timber yard for this old Escort. Well, okay; if I need a very small order or a sheet of MDF, I should be able to manage that. It’s almost as if my faithful old car is now living on ‘borrowed time‘… While it remains functional, I’ve been advised to avoid steep hills and anything over 55mph on the motorway; not to push the engine too hard and to check the oil level regularly. Ironically, I won’t be able to reach my new place of work without either travelling along the M5 or, going up and over several hills! 😛

Yes, as always; it could’ve been worse… Had I not been offered a job this morning, I would probably now be in a position where I would possibly be unable to afford a replacement vehicle, let alone get around easily enough to attend other interviews… 🙂

On the new-job front; I should point out straight away that it is not related to woodwork in any way. I’ll basically be working in a warehouse, five-days a week. As I mentioned at the beginning; it’s a temporary, on-going position. At the very least, this job will provide me with an income to pursue other things. Best of all; working 14.00-22.00 each day means I won’t have to get up early and scrape ice of my next-car’s windscreen every morning throughout the coming months!! 😎

Still, I’d like to purchase as few woodworking tools as necessary, so I can at least put some amount of money away for the future. I’ll also be able to take part in some of Bristol’s furniture exhibitions for 2011, as I money I earn will allow me to buy the timber necessary in order to explore the ideas I’ve created since the shows this past Summer.

Does anyone have any particular recommendations for “woodworking” cars?

Whatever vehicle you drive – please take the time to look after and service it properly. Treat it as if it was part of your workshop!

Thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “End of the Road?

  1. As someone who owns a ford focus estate and a van, i’d say get a van – you can fit a certain ammount in the focus but the van (peugot partner) takes way more, and for someone in your line of country it makes no sense to get a car

    Mine was nearly 4k but older/higher milleage ones are much less.

    that said if the escort is otherwise in good nick you could get a replacement engine from a scrappie and have it fitted for about £500 all in

    1. Hi Pete,
      The real bugger here is that my tax is due to expire tomorrow! 😡 As much as I ‘need’ a new car, I also fear it would be a waste of £70 (six-months’ tax) to simply write the Escort off now. But then; for how much longer can I keep it running?! Had I done this a month earlier or, if my car’s tax had another month left to run, things may have been almost perfect.

      You’re probably right about the motor. In fact, the guy I was talking to said as much – he knew someone who could do it but, I’d be spending more than this car is worth. I don’t really want to spend more than £1,000 on my next car, which possibly rules out a Corrolla, as mentioned in the comment above. With a van, I know the tax would also be higher. Plus, I wouldn’t be able to take stuff up the tip and it would less convenient for ferrying people around (which I seem to do a lot of).

      It’s a shame this didn’t happen at the beginning of the year, when I could’ve at least traded it in to get £2,000 off a new model! I doubt it has much scrap value, now. 😛


  2. Ugh! Sorry to hear about the bad luck. If it’s not one thing it’s always the other! As you pointed out, at least you got the job. =)

    Although I am an oil hungry American, I do drive sensible cars. Our Toyota Corolla holds a fair amount of wood believe it or not. It has fold down back seats and anything between 5-8 feet long can slide up between the two front seats. The only problem is that I can’t get a full sheet of plywood in it. ={ I have however been able to cut a sheet down in 3 x 4 foot sheets and put then in the back seat! Luck for me I am trying to work with all hand tools so I rarely use plywood! I am not sure how it is across the pond, but toyota tends to hold it’s resale value very well here so you may not be able to find one that is inexpensive.

    Good luck!

  3. Not sure if you can get them where you are, but a Pontiac Vibe / Toyota Matrix makes a great car for woodworking. Being a 4 dr plus hatchback, the backs of the seats are plastic and the front seat folds forward completely flat, so this small car can carry 8ft lumber without a problem and the hatch closes fully. The rear window also opens separately from the hatch so it can then carry 10′ or 12′ as long as you don’t do too much. Unfortunately it won’t handle 4×8 sheets of plywood very well. They have integrated roof racks that are not very functional for sheet lumber (too short).

    The automatic gets 31MPG and the manual versions get closer to 36MPG.

  4. You can reclaim the road tax if you choose too..

    Have a look for an old van based mpv…

    Citreon Berlingo Multispace / Renault Kangoo

    Both are ideal, as you can fold the seats down and have lots of space..

  5. Sorry about your car.

    I drive a Toyota Tacoma, which works great for me, but that may not be the right vehicle for you.

    Before that though, I had a Honda Accord wagon and I was always very pleased with what I could put in it. I also had a bicycle roof rack on it (made by Yakima I think), which allowed me to put all kinds of stuff on it. Never really put any wood on it, but I tied a small couch on top and a queen sized bed to it on a separate occasion. Anyway, all that to say, give some serious thought to a roof rack whatever you get!

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