The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by DailyDriver » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:06 pm

There I was chatting to a friend of mine about a replacement for my everyday car. A car that I commute to work in every day. A car capable of 35 miles each way on a mixture of A roads and dual carriageway / motorway. A car that needed to be comfortable and reliable and could carry occasional passengers. A car that could be just at home taking things to the tip as it is going out for a nice meal somewhere. Without spending huge money nothing out there got me excited. Do I really want another Euro hatch? Then it happened. My friend mentioned the Scimitar GTE that he used to own. Could that be it? Not too big. Comfortable. Fun. Certainly different. The seed of an idea started to grow. I was intending on replacing my car the following year so I had plenty of time to dream.

A couple of weeks later I was sat having breakfast doing some research and came across an SE5a for sale in what looked like good condition. The words “Oooo…that’s nice” somehow came out of my mouth. In an instant my wife asked to have a look and before I knew it she was encouraging me to call up the number on the advert to go and have a look. She is a keeper that girl. The car had received an engine out restoration some 7 years ago and had hardly been used since then. It looked amazing even if I didn’t like the wheels.

An hour later we were in the car driving to Kent to have a look. A couple of hours later we were driving back in a two car convoy and me with a massive grin on my face.

Here is the Scimitar just 5 minutes after I collected it at our first fuel stop together. I love the way that the first fuel stop was at an old fashioned petrol station with a pump attendant. Very period correct. (Note to self – from now on you will have to leave extra time for fuel stops as everybody wants to talk to you about the Scimitar. “I always fancied one of those” and “Didn’t Princess Anne have one of those” seem to be the favourite comments.)
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After the fuel stop we carry on the journey home. After an hour it has a bit of a strop at being taken away from it’s new owner and fails to proceed. On the middle lane of a busy motorway. Eeek, that was, er, interesting. I manage to get it to the hard shoulder and try and work out what has gone wrong. It just doesn’t rev. With limited tools and no spares I am forced to admit defeat and call out the nice men in orange. The RAC van comes out and manages to get the car going well enough to get to a safe place to have a proper look. Was this really such a good idea?

Here it is at our first breakdown together.
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It turns out that the distributor cap isn’t sitting right for some reason. If you turn it slightly clockwise and upwards towards the passenger side the car works but when it settles back it won’t rev. Some cable ties and a strategically placed cardboard shim and we are back on the road and make it home.

Journeys taken; 1
Breakdowns; 1
I order a new distributor cap and as a precaution a new rotor arm. The car has an after-market electronic ignition on it so no need to do points or condenser. The car seems to run well.

The first commute to work. This is hilariously fun. Keeping up with the traffic is no problem at all. The only problem is that I feel that pretty much every car out there is looking at me as I am driving such an usual car. (Note to self – get used to it, you do the same when you see something interesting.)

The drive back home after the first commute. Middle lane. M25. Rush-hour traffic. Another failure to proceed. It is going to be like this is it? Buying this car was the stupidest thing I have ever done and I have done some stupid things in my life. Well, at least I bought it at a good price and shouldn’t lose any money when I sell it. I pull to the side of the road and somehow manage to get it going again. The next junction is where I come off so round the roundabout I go and onto the A41. It starts to cut out again. Can I get to the lay-by that I know is just up the hill. Yes. Phew.

I spend the next hour trying to fix the issue but all to no avail. Again the RAC is called out. There is good sparks to the plugs. There is no obvious issues but somehow we seem to get the car working again and I manage to make it home.

Journeys taken; 3
Breakdowns; 2

OK, this is crunch time. Do I simply thrown in the towel and admit that I have made a mistake or do I persevere? I remind myself that I had always assumed that there would be a certain period of pain when buying a car like this, even if it looks good. I order a complete new electronic ignition system from the helpful people at Powerspark who work with me to order the right parts even though one of their modules is already fitted to the car. A package is then duly delivered containing new plugs, leads, electronic ignition and coil.

I get my local garage to fit everything. I could do it myself but wanted them to have a general look at the car at the same time to identify that everything was as it should be. They replace everything and also check the timing. It is way out. It turns out that the distributor is not fitted correctly and the timing is massively out. They fix that and also adjust the carburettor at the same time. Hopefully this fixes the issue.

I spend the weekend doing various duties and use the Scimitar at every opportunity. No problems at all. It feels much happier and smoother.

Journeys taken; 11
Breakdowns; 2

The odds are improving.

Monday morning. The first commute after replacing everything. (Note to self – stay out of the middle lane wherever possible. Stay close to the hard shoulder.) I drive to work and back without any issues at all. Woo hoo!

Journeys taken; 13
Breakdowns; 2

Sshhh...don't saw it too loudly but it appears that the new ignition and fixing the distributor have resolved the problem. Fingers crossed.

Whilst all of this was taking place I tackled a few other jobs. First of all I replaced the number plates for black and silver ones. That looks much better.
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Next those wheels. They certainly divide opinion with some people loving them and others being less complimentary. I order a set of Minilites. I decide to go 15 inch rather than 14 inch due to the availability of tyres. It was a good decision as I think they look great. I decided to coat them with Gtechniq C5 ceramic coating before putting them on. Apparently this should help keep the wheels cleaner and protected for up to 2 years. We will see.
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Next is fixing the driver’s seat. The adjustable back doesn’t lock into place properly and if you lean back too much it collapses. I had temporarily fixed it with a wedge but it needed fixing properly. The problem can be seen in the following photo. The rack on the handle was partly worn away.
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It appears that whoever restored the seats had not assembled them correctly and things weren’t lining up, meaning that the teeth on one side had worn away. At some point I will get a new piece manufactured but in the meantime fitting everything correctly seems to have fixed the problem.

The MOT advisories for the car kept on mentioning a lack of water from the windscreen wiper jets. The previous owner had said that this was because he kept on forgetting to fill up the liquid. Yeah right. One look inside the reservoir showed that the real reason was the amount of organic gunk growing in the tank. That was all cleaned up and some new fresh windscreen washer fluid added.

There is going to be a never ending list of jobs to do on this car but this is part of the fun. The Webasto is booked in to be looked at and I keep on adding to the list of things to do. Despite my gut reactions when I broke down I am having huge fun with this thing and will continue to update this thread with our adventures together. And the name? Well, I was brought up to think of cars as being female so was going to call it Anne. However, my wife took one look at the number plate and decided to call it Tom. When another forum member mentioned that they had always know the car as Tom Thumb the name was set in concrete.



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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by DailyDriver » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:07 pm

Sorry, I appear to have messed up the inserting of the images somehow. User error.



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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by scimjim » Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:15 pm

pics fixed - you don't need [img] tags for attachments and if you click "place inline" they'll position where the cursor is :D

great write up and introduction to ownership :D


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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by b.c.flat hat » Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:23 pm

Hi DD, lovely car, best colour ever!
Regards from the Racy Red Bakery Truck.😜



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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by PeteMac » Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:33 pm

Great intro. Your car looks stunning, especially with the new wheels. Glad to hear the running issues have been resolved.

Funnily enough, I'm pretty sure my first fill-up in my 5A was at a small, old-fashioned petrol station with an attendant. (OK, it was 24 years ago - but even then such stations were a rarity.)


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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by _Zeb_ » Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:42 pm

Nice presentation and nice car!
Changing the wheels was a good move indeed.
It make me remember when I bought my Chimaera, I had to stop several times during the trip back to home due to overheating. Normal people would have bring back the car to the seller but too late, I was bitten by the virus :D.



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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by *JP* » Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:40 pm

Nice colour,nice wheels, giving it the correct period look rather than the "too modern " look of the others.

Is the paintwork as good as it seems in the pictures?



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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by MikeT » Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:39 pm

Looks great - new wheels are a big improvement (imo)

Cheers, Mike.


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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by b.c.flat hat » Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:55 pm

On the seat rake geary thingy, I touched mine up wi' weld and filed to profile.



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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by ScimiTom » Tue Nov 20, 2018 8:08 pm

I'm so glad you're enjoying the new acquisition and already making improvements to it - and delighted that I was responsible for naming such a smart-looking Scim! Enjoy! :D


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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by Coupe Racing » Tue Nov 20, 2018 8:59 pm

b.c.flat hat wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:55 pm
On the seat rake geary thingy, I touched mine up wi' weld and filed to profile.

I have done the same previously having purchased a car some years ago that had a spare wheel behind the drivers seat to stop the backrest collapsing back


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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by DailyDriver » Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:33 pm

Thanks chaps, your positive comments are much welcome. I am having great fun with this little car and it never fails to raise a smile both inside and outside the car. It may not do many Miles per Gallon but certainly gives many Smiles per Gallon, which is what really matters.

ScimJim, thanks for fixing the photos and for the explanation.
*JP* wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:40 pm
Nice colour,nice wheels, giving it the correct period look rather than the "too modern " look of the others.

Is the paintwork as good as it seems in the pictures?
*JP* Yes it is. It is far from concours, but it does look good.
b.c.flat hat wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:55 pm
On the seat rake geary thingy, I touched mine up wi' weld and filed to profile.
Ooo...good idea. The fix is holding well but it would probably be a good idea to do that as well. Thanks for that. Yet another job to add to the list.
ScimiTom wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 8:08 pm
I'm so glad you're enjoying the new acquisition and already making improvements to it - and delighted that I was responsible for naming such a smart-looking Scim! Enjoy! :D
ScimiTom, when you and my wife were in agreement and I read about Tom Ogle the deal was done.



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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by DailyDriver » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:59 am

Forgive me readers, it has been way too long since my last confession, I mean update. This may be a long one.

You know when you are on a long journey somewhere and the first thing you do when you arrive is run into the loo as you have been holding on for the last few miles? Well Tom had a similar experience. Due to traffic problems we had an unexpectedly long journey home. He was running absolutely fine and despite the traffic it was a good journey. However, the moment I got home and turned off the engine I heard what sounded like rushing water. Oh no. I got out of the car and had a look and sure enough he was piddling on the road. Clearly he was desperate but bless him, he had waited until we got home before going. Good boy - had he done it on the M25 we would have had had to have serious words. I couldn’t see where it was coming from though as it was dark and seemed to be coming from under the radiator cover (clearly he was keeping his modesty on a public road).

So what to do? My local garage is only about 100m up the road so I quickly got him back up and running and dropped him off before more coolant disappeared. A new thermostat (to replace one that was stuck), a flush of the system, a replacement pipe and everything seemed to be fine. Luckily no damage was done. Overhauling the cooling system was already on the list of things to do but at the moment after that work it appears to be OK so I can probably push a full overhaul down the list of things to do for a while as there is other urgent stuff that needs doing.

Having embarrassed himself on a public road I decided that Tom deserved a present and promised to have his Webasto Roof fixed.
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As you can see from the pictures it wasn’t entirely water tight and each time it rained I dreaded coming back to find the interior flooded. In fact the wind whistled through it and made for quite a noisy drive. I took him down to a local car trimmer who seemed to know about Webastos. I hadn’t used them before but a chat indicated that they knew what they were doing and they weren’t far from me. They did a sterling job of replacing the roof, which is now new, works properly and provides proper protection from the elements.
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I was really impressed with the quality of the workmanship that they do. Opening the roof is now a joy and I can also sleep better at night not having to wonder whether the rain has driven in through the gaps.

I then drove around for a few weeks without a problem until the auto box stopped working correctly. The kickdown seemed to have stopped working and it wasn’t using all of it’s gears. Now call me fussy, but if I am only going to have three forward gears I want them all to work and I want to access them when I want to. Yes, the torque of the engine means that you can get away with only two, but it does rather dent acceleration and fuel economy. This is my first Automatic and frankly I don’t understand them – I think they work on witchcraft. OK, let’s not mess about here, let’s take him to see a specialist…..
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Tom was booked into QRG to get his auto box looked at but I also took the opportunity of getting them to do an overall inspection and service. I took the view that as they know these cars better than I do they could spot things that I couldn’t and I could then start with a decent base level from which I could then maintain him. There were also a couple of other issues that needed sorting out which we will come to in a minute. I could have sorted out some of these things myself but whilst they had Tom it made sense to get them to do them.

I have to say that having used many garages over the years I have been more than impressed with QRG. Nigel and Andy have done a wonderful job and I have been really impressed with the way that they update you by email with photos and videos. Less impressive was the list of things that Tom needed doing to him. The poor thing looks nice but hadn’t been looked after to the standard he deserved over the last few years. The list was relatively long so I decided to break it down into phases. So he was treated to Phase 1, which included the following……hold your breath….

1. A general service including replaced gaskets on engine (there was a slight oil leak)
2. A new trunnion on the driver’s side to replace the one that was ceased up
3. Soaked the gear selector cable and adjusted it so that it used all the gears
4. Fixed the Kickdown cable
5. Replaced a couple of chassis brackets that had cracked
6. Replaced lower wishbone bushes
7. Replaced the lock stop on near side
8. The inhibitor switch on the auto box was playing up so this was replaced.
9. A couple of heater hoses were replaced as they were cracked.
10. Fixed lack of half shaft float
11. Fixed the dragging rear brake drums and replaced shoes.
12. Properly fixed the driver's seat pawl
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Wow, it was like a different car on the way home – much nippier and felt much more solid with fewer rattles. Unsurprisingly really. My wife, in the support vehicle behind, commented that I was pushing on during the journey. Honestly I hadn’t noticed, I was just giving him a bit of a test drive but apparently it was a spirited drive home. It was certainly fun.

As a welcome home present and to make up for being time away from home being poked and prodded by Andy at QRG I had picked up a 1974 Michelin Guide for Tom to keep in his glovebox.
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Yes it is totally useless and completely out of date but it seems strangely befitting and he appreciated the thought. It was interesting reading through it.

Now, I was intending to wait a while before proceeding with Phase 2 but after having seen the transformation with Phase 1 I couldn’t wait to put Phase 2 into place. So barely a week after getting Tom back he was booked back into his QRG retreat for some suspension work. The shocks that are fitted are not adjustable and appear to be the incorrect ones. Nigel thinks that they are from an SE6. The car sits too high as a result. The passenger wheel was also rubbing against the bodywork and I was keen not to use Tom until that was sorted out just in case it did damage to the bodywork. Also on the list was a new trunnion on the passenger side, a new ball joint on the passenger side as the existing one had quite a lot of play in it and finally new AVO coilovers.

So that is where Tom is at the moment – having his suspension sorted out. I must admit the wait to collect him was agony but I should be able to collect him on Saturday. They had transformed the way the car drove with Phase 1 so I was really looking forward to improved handling and comfort that came from the new suspension and Phase 2.

I will give a further update when he is back. I may have a welcome home present waiting for him.......



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The adventures of Tom Thumb the daily driver

Post by philhoward » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:02 am

In the great scheme of things, that isn't a bad job list to be found on an "unknown" car. It's always a pleasure that you can feel the improvement immediately!

That looks like a great job on the roof as well - a fully functional Webasto roof does take some beating IMHO.


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Post by Roger Pennington » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:53 am

Looks good, and with those things properly sorted, should be good for a long time to come!


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