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What to Carry (In the event of…)

A question that pops up from time to time is just what items does one need to carry in the car in case of a breakdown? What items are most vulnerable? In my case having run ancient cars virtually all my driving life, like others of my generation we do carry some ‘vital spares’ that experience has shown necessary. In a modern car all one needs is a recovery/breakdown membership card and a mobile phone, but the older vehicle can often be fixed by its owner at the roadside. This is just not possible with today’s motorcars so complex are their systems.


The most common fault on older cars is invariably electrical, and the most common electrical fault is the ignition. So if you have not yet converted to electronic ignition, carry a spare set of ignition points, a spark plug, and a rotor arm. Also include a length of wire with small crocodile clips each end to assist in isolating a fault. Spare fuses should be in the clips in the control box on the YA/YT and on the side of the fuse box on the YB. It is worth carrying more spare fuses in the little box you carry a spare set of headlamp, sidelight, tail lamp, festoon bulb for the semaphore indicators and if you have fitted flashing indicators, a flasher bulb.


blowoutbObviously you will have a starting handle, a wheel brace and a suitable scissor jack if your Jackall system is defunct, but you might consider carrying a spare inner tube and a cylinder head gasket plus a set of BSF spanners. A litre of engine oil and a big bottle of water will also fit into the spare wheel compartment, you can use the centre of the spare wheel for more storage. Do not forget the coach key normally kept in the little pocket on the front passenger side panel, for undoing the spare wheel compartment coach locks. A small bottle of brake fluid is a good idea as well. A spare fan belt is a necessity as is a windscreen wiper blade. I have seen these get stolen and thus leave the car with no wipers.


The tool kit will need a set of BSF spanners as mentioned already, but a pair of pliers, snips, small adjustable spanner, plug spanner, set of flat and cross point screw drivers, pair of tyre levers, a torch, a foot pump and a small tin of Swafega. Add to that a can of WD40, a bottle of Radweld and some clean cotton cloths and we are nearly ready to move. All of this will fit into the spare wheel and its compartment, it does on my YB. If you do have to fit a new inner-tube you will also require a little Schroeder valve remover, often part of the valve cap.(This will confuse the modern car driver who has never had a puncture with a cross-ply tyre fitted with an inner-tube. If you get a blow-out the tube is often ruined as you brake to stop, but the tyre OK.)


Not necessary but I also carry four wooden blocks for the feet of the Jackall jacks ( for soft ground) and two wedges to chock a wheel as well as a spare half-shaft! Why a half-shaft? Well, one broke on me once! ( A very real problem on the earlier YA/YT Morris spiral-bevel axle.) When I go on long trips I have a small suitcase that contains the ‘fly-away-pack’ (an old RAF term for the spares box). In this case I have a spare set of water hoses and jubilee clips, a spare water pump and gaskets, a spare dynamo, wheel nuts, full engine gasket set, clutch plate and release bearing, distributor cap complete with ignition leads, set of spark plugs, one inlet and one exhaust valve and collets, coil of wire, SU petrol pump, rubber fuel pipe and clips, another fan belt, a clutch cable and a towing rope. The suit case is about 5”x12”x15” and goes into the boot.


In the boot at all times are two fold-up stools, a blanket, an emergency triangle, the half-shaft and the Jackall wooden blocks. Inside the car we have a modern map and an old AA Members book as it has the market days in of most towns. These days the map needs renewing every couple of years, such is the rapid changes in road numbering and townscapes.


Have I ever needed any of this? Yes I have many times in the last seventeen years. The photo is of the inner-tube of my rear n/s wheel on route back from the Yorkshire Dales Run caused by nail on the road.


Neil Cairns