Is it Spring yet?

Fairway Driver Rear Shelf

Who says Spring is on hold?

Percy has finally had his passenger compartment ‘personalised’ with a spring theme. Nina has rather enjoyed shopping around for bits for Percy and I’ve had the pleasure of installing them all. It really wasn’t that difficult to be honest but we men do like to make a big deal of it though.
So, a trip to Ikea has brought Percy some solar-powered daisy lights and artificial flowers. A homeware store on High Street Kensington has supplied the artificial turf and above is the result…Hopefully Percy now looks a little more relaxed in his retirement guise and a little less like a working taxi, without doing too much dis-justice to his heritage (maybe when the daisy lights are off).
Fairway Driver interior daisy lights

Flower Power

He might also get new carpets or a rug at some stage. It’s just too much fun, and not for a lot of money either. As we know he’s closer to the end of his life than the beginning, so even though we’re determined to enjoy it with him, we won’t be silly enough to pour too much money into Percy.

One of the joys of owning Percy is that we’re not dependent on him and he’s just for pleasure, as we live and work in the heart of the public transport system in London so there isn’t anywhere we can’t get to without Percy. Even if we did need a car in the past we were, and still are, members of the Hertz on Demand car club.
Percy is also looking forward to a shiny new stainless steel radiator grille and chrome window fittings, which should smarten him up in time for the Cabalcade, finishing at 2pm on 7th April in Marble Arch. We’d be happy for Percy just to look respectable and do himself and his fellow LTI FX4 Fairway Drivers justice on a day dedicated to the soon to be ex London Taxis. We can’t decide whether Mimi the rabbit should join in on the celebrations, but we suspect Percy won’t appreciate having Mimi and her litter tray in his passenger compartment on his big day.

Cold Snap

The cold snap this week has made it very difficult for everyone to get out of bed in the morning, Percy included.

In his old age, he’s decided that taking Nina to work is the last thing he wants do, with bitterly cold winds making it feel like -9oC on Tuesday. Nina had to hail a passing TX4, which had faired better than Percy in the cold, to take her to work.

Reality is that the sub-zero temperatures have made Percy’s engine oil thicken, reduced the efficiency of his rather old battery and generally meant that more power is required than his old battery could give to start the 2.7litre diesel Nissan engine.

Mind you, the battery still had enough in it to power all interior and exterior lights plus the stereo. So I had Percy going like a disco for a few minutes before I was convinced that perhaps the battery still had charge but simply not enough to turn over a big old diesel engine. My suspicions were confirmed when I checked the battery for a date, finding nothing but rust….

Fairway Battery

Looks brand new to me

We’ve also not helped Percy with the majority of our journeys being too short to charge the battery sufficiently.

Car batteries need long journeys every now and then for them to fully charge. Danny our mechanic has suggested a trickle charger but because we only have on-street parking that won’t be possible. His other suggestion was a solar panel on the roof… now that idea I do like… but with the UK having as much sunshine as our shoe cupboard I think we’re better off taking Percy for more days out to charge his battery. Oh well, needs must.

Another tip we received from another working cabbie (great London taxi blogger too) is on cold mornings turn the ignition twice before starting the engine, which should heat the glow plugs sufficiently for even an old man like Percy to start first time.

So, with a lack of cabs coming down our quiet street to offer us a jump we called upon the AA, courtesy of my father-in-law’s platinum, VIP, fly you to the moon and back AA family membership.

The very helpful AA mechanic, Balvir, brought Percy back to life with his portable boost pack (we may have to invest in one of these) and kindly informed us that the battery was still pretty good and holding a charge once he was shocked back to life. However, it’s probably nearing the end of it’s life.

The AA jump starting Fairway taxi

The Kiss of Life

So we went for a longish 30 mile drive around the ‘scenic’ north circular to Ikea in Tottenham for a few things for Percy’s interior (more on this to follow in future posts) before returning home for the Wales vs England Six Nations show down. Well played to Wales but so long as England learn from their mistakes, we should have a formidable team for the 2015 World Cup at home.

After his little hibernation this week, we shall be hunting for a new battery for Percy, probably a Bosch Silver S5 110ah, 12V battery. But until then Percy will be playing battery roulette for a little longer.

And for those of you wondering who the real blogger is behind Percythelondontaxi…

Rabbit on Laptop

This Blogging lark is easy!

Fairway Facelift

Percy has undoubtedly been well looked after by his previous owner, who bought him from new in 1992 and together they worked the streets of London till November 2012. In fact, Percy has been looked after so well he has no leaks, not even the dreaded and notorious leak from the taxi sign on the roof.

However, age is catching up with him and patches of rust are not hard to spot… and as we all know, there’s nothing that defies the signs of aging, no matter how much you’re worth it.

Percy does also suffer from a common Fairway problem, which is a leak in the power steering system. The symptoms of this are a whirring noise when you turn the steering wheel. We discovered that there’s a slow leak coming from just below the reservoir, which requires a top up once a fortnight or so, but we would recommend using some Wynne’s Power Steering Stop leak first… it certainly won’t make the leak any worse even if it doesn’t fix it. A little from the tube (they recommend 5% of volume of power steering fluid) has helped a lot, and it’s now been 2 weeks since we last topped him up with transmission fluid and still no funny noises.

In fact, before we discovered the noise was a power steering problem it got so bad Percy could hardly turn right when stationary, which made it hilarious watching Nina trying to get out of the parking space in the morning.

His heaters are also suffering, hence we have two blankets in the back seats. The hot water from the engine doesn’t pass through the system very quickly, so the heaters never have much chance to heat up. I have flushed Percy’s radiator system but it doesn’t seem to have done much.

So, with Percy looking and feeling slightly tired in his retirement, we decided to treat him to a small face-lift. Nothing too dramatic, as we like him just the way he looks (rust and all) but we bought him a pair of Lucas Foglights from eBay, off an old mini. The Fairway shares a lot of parts with many other British manufactured cars such as the Austin, Land Rover and Mini, so you’ll always be able to find parts for a Fairway from somewhere.

Fairway Driver Foglights

We got the idea for the Foglights from the lovely looking Fairways of our fellow members of the LVTA (London Vintage Taxi Association), as it personalises Percy a little from his working cab days, and they also look great, just in time for the ‘Cabalcade’ organised by the LVTA, which is a procession through central London finishing at Marble Arch, celebrating the years of the FX4 taxi coming to an end due to the Mayor of London’s 15 year age limit on Licensed taxis.

We went for a late breakfast this morning at Cachao Toy Cafe on Regent’s Park Road with Mimi, our rabbit.

Mimi the passenger

Shut the door, it’s cold in here!

We sat outside, which was freezing, but we weren’t sure Mimi would be too welcome inside. However, they were so busy that it took almost an hour for my Omelette to arrive, but the waiter was very apologetic and offered us free teas and coffees… and the food was worth it in the end.

After breakfast, we bought Mimi a jumper from the pet shop next door as she was also cold, before driving down the road to take her for a walk in the ‘Secret Garden’ of Regent’s Park. The beautiful St John’s Lodge Gardens, owned by the Sultan of Brunei, are open to the public during the park’s opening hours. We’re not sure what the resident peacock thought of Mimi in her jumper though.

Hurry up driver!

Hurry up driver!

Finally, we’ve just finished watching the BBC 2 programme ‘The Toughest Place in the World to be… a Taxi Driver’ and an honourable mention must go to London cabbie Mason McQueen for representing London cabbies and Londoners in general with such wonderful warmth, humour and humility.