New Shoes

When I set off for work this week on foot, I made a slight detour to check on Percy as he’d been parked in the same spot for almost a week, but he looked fine to me, with no windows smashed (I don’t know what I was expecting but I do like to check).

I then came home to find the Percy’s new battery (Banner Buffalo Bull 105AH) had been delivered so wasted no time in going to fit it, mumbling “positive first, negative last” all the way to Percy (didn’t want to fry myself or Percy). I had to borrow my kind neighbour’s trolley to transport it from the flat to the end of the road where Percy was laid up, because it wouldn’t have been fun carrying it by the two tiny plastic handles- dropping that on your foot could win you prizes for Halloween!

I was coming up towards Percy when I noticed that there was something missing, he looked like his wheels had gone! I thought surely not, it’s not the kind of area where people actually put cars on bricks (let alone a 2 tonne taxi) to steal the wheels and they’re taxi wheels for goodness’ sake. As I got closer, trolley in tow, I realised that it was in fact our chrome hubcaps that had been pilfered by some rotten thief. However, perhaps one with a sense of humour, as he’d kindly left us the two on Percy’s left side, but helped himself to the right, which was oddly right under a lamp-post and unshielded by cars.

fairway driver taxi missing hubcaps

Where are my shiny shoes?!

Well, it wasn’t the most pleasing start to the evening but I did manage to install the new battery without setting fire to myself or Percy, and he started up like a dream. However, I still had the small matter of finding some replacement hubcaps for him. I was all set on removing the two remaining hubcaps and just driving him around without but as you can see from the picture above, he looks ridiculous, like he’s floating on a magic carpet. Umm, actually it is Halloween….

I couldn’t stand seeing him without his shiny shoes, so I texted Graham (who sold Percy to us) to ask if he had any spare chrome hubcaps for sale, to which he replied he had several and in different styles. I also searched around on the internet and research told me they were roughly £10 each for new ones, but I didn’t know what size, whether they’d be any good (you can’t really tell on a screen) or how long they’d take to be delivered. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted new ones, just in case the thieving swine returns for the other two he left behind!

A day later, we were home watching TV after work and I received a text from Graham asking if we’d be home in the next hour as he’d be working a late shift and had some hubcaps in his cab for us. I was rather surprised and less than 45 minutes later we heard the honk of a TX1 outside. I rushed down to the street to greet Graham and he took out four new chrome hubcaps which were of an older style (perfect for Percy), showed me how to put wire round the inner rim and where the valve goes. I hadn’t actually decided whether I wanted to purchase them yet at that point, but Graham had so kindly driven them to us and they did complete Percy once again. We would much rather buy them off a fellow Fairway enthusiast than a website anyway. He even had two used hubcaps that matched Percy’s remaining two, so that we could drive around London in those and switch to our new super shiny ones if we go to any London Vintage Taxi Association shows or events.

So thank you very much Graham (if you’re reading) for coming to Percy’s rescue and you must give us your address to post the cheque to.

On a final note, for those who read one of our previous posts about my attempts to find a cabbie to give Percy CPR, we have some pictures of the Chapel/Pavillion cab shelter, and were even very kindly let inside by whom we presumed was the owner (a very kind lady, as only cabbies are allowed inside).

The Chapel cab shelter st. john's wood

Once inside, we were greeted by a hand-painted mural of a Fairway Driver on the walls, beautifully painted by her brother.

mural of fairway driver taxi in the Chapel cab shelter

fairway driver taxi mural side view in chapel cab shelter


Deja vu

After draining the battery by leaving the lights on last week, Percy’s battery actually did hold it’s charge and Nina took him to school and back on Monday. However, she managed to leave the lights on again, just two days after doing it the first time…

So there’s been no Percy activity this week and even I don’t think the battery would have survived another draining so soon after the last, so a new battery it is. I was always planning on getting a new one in time for his MOT in November anyway and with the winter ahead it’s worked out quite nicely.

After work on Tuesday evening I set about disconnecting the battery before sunset, but luckily Percy was parked under a street lamp, so I had some help. I made sure the ignition was off and set about disconnecting the negative terminal first, leaving the wires and connection in a rubber shoe I had brought with me, then it was the positive’s turn. I then unscrewed the bracket that holds the battery in place and proceeded to lift the battery out. I’d remembered a friend had warned me that these batteries are quite heavy but I hadn’t quite anticipated just how heavy… I even thought it was somehow rusted to the tray underneath. It wasn’t, it was just a very heavy (almost 30kg) battery with two small plastic handles. I managed to remove it without putting my back out, though.

I took the dimensions of the battery and was slightly disappointed that it’s shorter in length that the Bosch Silver S5 battery I had wanted, which won’t fit into the current tray and space in the bonnet. Therefore, the safest choice was to buy a new version of our existing battery, a Banner Buffalo Bull 105AH.

Banner Buffalo Bull 12V 105AH Car Battery

I looked for the battery online and after some careful research to make sure I bought the one with the terminals in the same places, positive to the right and negative to the left as you look at the battery, I ordered it and am waiting for its arrival on Tuesday.

With the British clocks going forward again for winter, it should be much easier to spot whether we have our lights on or not when we park up, so hopefully this will be the last time we drain the battery by leaving the lights on until next winter or ever, fingers crossed…

Flat Fairway

We have joined the countless number of Fairway owners to have left their lights on overnight after parking up this week. Unsurprisingly, when Nina went to take Percy to school, there was no life when the usual half turn of the key was made. Percy’s battery was completely flat. No worries, bus to school it is. I had the day off so started thinking of ways to get Percy going again. I couldn’t call the AA as the membership was under Nina’s name. So that left me with chancing upon a friendly cabbie at the nearby ‘pavillion’ cabbie shelter in St John’s Wood, or calling HSBC recoveries but I‘ve already used one life line from them (mentioned in this post) and only have 4 left this year. Since we didn’t need Percy urgently, I decided to save my remaining 4 lives for more urgent call outs.

I texted Graham (the cabbie we bought Percy from) to check that another cab could indeed jump-start Percy safely, which he confirmed and even offered to come round to perform the CPR himself with his working cab when he started work later in the day. However, it didn’t seem fair to take up his fare-earning time, no matter how kind the offer. So, I ventured over to the cabbie shelter and bought a cup of tea and chatted to several different cabbies over the course of an hour. The general consensus was that I would be better off getting the AA out. They were all very friendly but slightly reluctant to help shall we say, and I can fully understand as their cabs are their livelihood, and there’s a risk of harm to their cabs if they were to help jump Percy. One driver even said he managed to melt his jump leads last time he tried to help somebody as he wasn’t paying attention and connected something wrongly. Another cabbie said that with all the high-tech electronics in cabs (he had a TXII) these days, a lot can go wrong with them. I took that as a ‘no’ to my question of ‘do you have a jump lead and would you be willing to help jump start my 21 year old Fairway?

I did have a lovely chat with an elderly cabbie about Fairways; he said it was easily ‘the best cab I ever owned’. He now drives a company-owned TX4. I gave up on the jump starting plan and waited until Nina returned from school with her AA membership card. The AA van arrived within the hour. The mechanic took one look at Percy and giggled ‘how old is this?’ to which we replied the golden age of 21. He jokingly asked if the battery was also that old but we think it is maybe 3 years old. He wasn’t convinced that the battery would hold any charge as it was down to 3.5V (apparently anything below 7V usually means game over) and looked rather old and rusty. It has also been through a tough winter. He suggested it might be worth buying a new battery, whilst leaning underneath the bonnet to connect the jump leads from his ‘mega booster pack’ but had the cheek to suggest ‘not sure if it’s worth it, might be more than the cab is worth’. I’m sure Percy felt the urge to slam his bonnet shut at that moment.

Finally, it was time to start Percy with booster pack connected. I turned the key and there were some very feeble clicks and whirs but no 2.7L diesel action. AA man frowned and said ‘wait, I’ll get the other booster pack out.’ With 2 mega booster packs aiding his tired battery, Percy bounced back to life! And with the 2.7L diesel engine running, the AA man spoke seriously for the first time: ‘wow, it sounds good for a 21 year old cab’. He then tested whether the battery was taking in charge as I revved the engine, and again seemed surprised that it was. He recommended we drive for at least an hour, as we don’t have anywhere to plug in a charger for 24 hours. Before he left he had to take the mileage, which was 460,623. He said ‘what?! Hold on, I didn’t get all the numbers…’ I read it out again and this time he just came over with a smile and took the mileage reading himself with eyebrows raised, I don’t think he believed me without seeing it for himself.

We went for a leisurely drive out to Heathrow T5 (random I know, but I had to find somewhere to turn round and come back) and were back after an hour and ten minutes. We are yet to see if the AA man was right about the battery possibly not holding charge as we haven’t driven Percy since. Fingers crossed…

Fairway Cloakroom

We ordered a bouncy baby chair from a Dutch website last week, which arrived at my office yesterday. However, being too bulky to take on the bus, I decided to come back for it in Percy. The traffic was horrendous. I’ve not driven into central London much, but at 6.30pm on a week night it doesn’t matter which route you take or think is quicker, forget it, it’ll be clogged full of buses and taxis. Percy definitely stood out though- I didn’t see a single Fairway on my journey. He’s a familiar yet unusual sight among the sea of black taxis and red buses on the way to Holborn. Having said that, we’ve seen a handful of private Fairways in London recently, so it does seem that people are buying them to advertise their business or for private use like us.
Boutique fashion Fairway Driver Taxi

Percy’s heating definitely seems to have repaired itself, as I can feel heat almost as soon as I start him but now his left door warning light on the dash is flickering, even though the door is completely shut. We’re not worried though and he’s just so much fun to drive at low speeds around London that we can forgive the odd niggle. Having driven so many different hire cars from Hertz 24/7 around London, not a single one is as fun or easy to drive as Percy and unsurprisingly he is just ideal for London. His only down side is the suspension… with the worsening pot-holed roads of central London you do feel the bumps.

We decided to drive a measly 13 minutes down Marylebone road on Sunday to a birthing class, as we were quite tired and the prospect of 2 buses vs Percy was a no-brainer. On the way back home, we gave another couple from the class a lift back home as they lived in Marylebone. Nina was explaining how we acquired Percy and bought him from a friendly cabbie called Graham, when right at that moment a TX1 taxi pulled up alongside me in the bus lane and honked its horn… and there was Graham on a job with passengers. Percy duly honked back and I waved. Graham continued on his way and our guests couldn’t believe the coincidence, we were just saying that the LVTA is a very friendly club and we often see members driving around London. This is now the second time we’ve seen Graham on the roads and we also saw Gary on the same (Euston) road a few months ago on our way to Globe transmissions.

After that we decided Mimi the rabbit needed a walk and went to Regent’s Park. On our way out and back to Percy parked up on the inner circle, we saw a security guard from St John’s Lodge chasing the resident peacock, who we’ve only seen once before and were too slow then to get a picture. This time the peacock was right in front of Percy, but I will never make a good cowboy in a Western movie as I was pathetically slow to the draw and once again completely missed the opportunity to capture the image with my phone. The security guard eventually managed to persuade the peacock to go back into the gardens and we made the short journey home in Percy.
We went to a wedding in Bishop’s Stortford last night and Percy was very well behaved. I had to take my suit in a suit bag, as driving in a suit for 2 hours wasn’t my idea of fun, but luckily, Percy has a cloakroom, well at least a coat hook.
May I take your coat sir?

May I take your coat sir?

We even saw another Fairway on the way home near Camden with a “no stopping at any time” sign where the carriage licence used to be- we thought it was rather witty.
On a final note, I took the number 9 bus from High Street Kensington back to the office earlier this week and it happened to be one of the old routemasters that is still in use. It was a real pleasure, I felt like I was in a giant Percy. I wondered whether the council will give us 3 parking spaces to park him outside the flat… I even decided on a name before , Reggie the Routemaster.