Beyond the twinge: why you should watch out for classic-related health issues


Author: Martin PortPublished:

I’ve just come back from another visit to the doctor about my bloody dodgy knees.

No, not from spending my time on my knees in the office ‘pleading’ to our publisher for a pay-rise, but more than likely from years of crawling around on cold concrete floors searching for a nut and bolt that suddenly went AWOL during a crucial bit of classic maintenance.

The helpful doc suggested that it was likely that a section of cartilage had come adrift in the knee and subsequently causing some irritation. He also went on to suggest that commuting 550 miles a week in a manual gearbox Scimitar probably wasn’t exactly helping matters.

The situation reminded me of an old friend who happened to be the drummer in a band we once sought fame and fortune with. Obviously it goes without saying that both of those desires managed to elude us for many years despite tireless gigging and hours spent in rehearsal studios – sometimes even playing in time and in tune.

We did have to cancel a number of performances throughout our ‘career’ though – once because I nearly cut the top of my finger off fitting a new drain cover on our driveway (fingers are crucial to guitarists – even bad ones), but several more were canned because of our drummer’s Ford Escort van.

The faded two-tone white and orange van previously belonged to a railway engineering company if my memory serves me correctly, and provided efficient transport for the drummer’s kit several times a week as well as serving as an impromptu bedsit when things didn’t quite go to plan. Or when they did, if you know what I mean.

It rarely gave him mechanical trouble from what I can recall, and seeing as the other two band members owned a 3-series BMW (bass player) and a Morris Traveller (me: guitar and ‘vocals’), it was left to the drummer to provide the only band transport with any credibility when turning up to gigs.

One summer though, we began to notice him shifting uncomfortably on his drum stool rather more than usual but didn’t think any more of it until he called us from the hospital ward to suggest we might want to cancel the next round of gigs.

Turned out that the driver’s seat in his trusty Escort had, through years of wear and miles of bottom application, lost it’s padding. What the drummer once described as ‘being a bit uncomfortable' was almost direct contact with the metal frame and his derrière – eventually
resulting in fairly major surgery ‘round the back’ to remove a large, unsavoury abscess from deep within. I hope you’re not eating while you read this.

So there’s a lesson to you all. Whether it’s a heavy clutch hurting your knee or a threadbare seat causing a pain in the arse: ignore at your peril. Maintaining your classic is key, but sometimes it’s worth paying attention to more than just oil changes...

Vladimir Putin is very exacting about making sure his seat-base is properly padded

This sort of driving posture is just asking for trouble


Chris Martin

Your remark on the last photo reminds me of the scandal in the papers involving a soap star from Eastenders, a Range Rover, and getting caught in the act on the A1 near Welwyn.

Another way a so called 'classic' can injure you? I was used to the old ways in back street garages, working without the ideal equipment and facilities. A typical example would be dropping a gearbox for a clutch change. With the average British four cylinder saloon, if it was easier than removing the engine and ancillaries, you could always put the front up on stands, crawl underneath, remove the driveshaft, then take out bellhousing bolts and starter, and finally the gearbox crossmember and then lower the 'box by supporting it on your kness and crawling out. All normal stuff for a 'greasemonkey'. So when I had to remove a Ford C6 autobox from a '65 Thunderbird I thought the same method would be easiest. Two problems, when I removed the driveshaft from the back of the gearbox, I got a load of hot oil running down the back of my overalls, yukko; then worse. I had not taken into account that a T-Bird's auto' would weight that much more than a Cortina four-speed, so when I had the back of the 'box wedged in my collar, and the front supported on my knees, and then removed the crossmember bolts..................trapped! I slowly managed to wriggle sideways out from under, thinking I had two broken legs and swearing to get another job. Luckily, I was wrong on the first, and right on the second. Chris M.


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