Stan charged out the door of the coffee shop - wincing at the abuse he and his car had taken. That place was genuinely spooky - the barista with the fangs, the old gents in the corner....however they DID make a great cup of coffee. He took a pull at the mocha/java in his hand, enjoying the extra tang of the peppermint as he contemplated his troubles again.
While he was doing that an older gent walked up the street. A firm step with a slight limp directed toward the coffee shop faltered slightly as a vagrant breeze brought him the smell of carbonizing electrical components, and he turned toward the defunct Tiger with purpose.
"OK, what did it burn up?" he said to Stan, eyeing the otherwise-magnificent lines of the Tiger.
Stan started, his creep-factor meter finally pinning and bending the needle. "Why do you think it burned something? Is everyone in this damn neighborhood a mechanic?"
The old gent smiled, and Stan relaxed a bit. Obviously this guy wasn't some random nutcase and he might be able to tell him where to find a parts shop - or a tow company.
"Well, some of us are - especially on prime British iron. Never been overly fond of Brit cars with American engines, but the lines of the Tiger are just classic. Allow me to introduce myself. " he said, and reached into his pocket for a business card.
Stan read aloud, "Richer Engineering - Have Fedora Will Travel - British cars repaired, serviced and rebuilt." With a bit of wonder Stan realized that a solution to his problem might have just walked up to him on the street.
"So, what did it barbecue?" the old gent said, trying to redirect the conversation. Grimacing again, Stan replied "The generator - damn Lucas components just don't work!"
"Mind if I look?" Al took off his fedora, dug a tactical flashlight out of his pocket and leaned into the engine compartment after raising and locking the bonnet in the open position. he scanned the engine compartment with a practiced eye, noting the clean, tidy appearance that showed a caring owner. The light flickered here and there and then settled on the defunct generator and its control box. Al then started laughing, uttering a muttered curse of "godsdamned bodge artists..." before turning off the light and turning back to Stan.
"OK, so who put the Lucas dynamo on here?" Stan replied a bit defensively, "I did - it's the third one it's cooked recently. I'm just sick of the damned thing."
"Good reason it's cooking dynamos - you've got a Ford control box trying to deal with a Lucas dynamo. That is just a recipe for disaster. it will work for a while, then the overcurrent in the cut-out will eventually bugger the contacts and it will do what you're seeing - stick closed and cook the dynamo when it should be cutting out on full charge."
"This car needs a Ford dynamo - they call them generators - and the proper control box to match. The dynamo on this thing is likely off an Alpine - they used a Lucas setup as they weren't an American/British combination."
"The dynamo that goes on here is generic Ford from the mid-60s - Fairlane or what have you. Cheap and easy to get - they used them on tractors till the mid-70s. If we disconnect the wiring and isolate it then you can drive it over to my shop. I'm about 5 blocks from here and I have the parts you need on the shelf."
"Lastly - let me guess - you bought it this way?"
"Yes, I did. I am going to have a very long conversation with the import company I bought this thing off!"
"Well, that's neither here nor there. Right now we need to isolate the dynamo, and I need to get some coffee in my bloodstream before we fix this. I'm going to nip in and visit Tina and then we can be on our way."
"OK! GREAT! I can do that. Let me warm you, though, there's a couple of guys over in the corner who were giving me grief about the gen..er dynamo and telling me to stick all sorts of junkyard parts on this thing to fix it."
"Oh, bloody lovely. More duct-tape bodge artists - I see their handiwork all the time. This could be fun." Al smiled,, re-donnned his fedora and wandered into the shop, whistling nonchalantly.
Greg and Beej had been observing the situation outside the shop for a few minutes, interested in the goings-on. When Stan started opening his toolkit and tinkering under the hood and the old gent entered the shop their curiosity got the better of them and they got up to talk.
"So, what's the kid doing out there? Not like he's going to find a generator for that thing here." Greg started. Al snickered quietly to himself - he'd been expecting this.
"So, you two the lot that told him to hang a bunch of junkyard parts of that fine bit of British design out there? Why would you even consider that when the repair is simple, and inexpensive to boot? Any road up and using what you can scavenge may be all well and good when you can't get the proper bits, but really now...junkyard parts? Quite improper and totally uncalled for."
Both Greg and Beej were taken completely aback by the stranger's attitude and expressions. Junkyard parts and scavenging? What the hell?
"Now look here, you..." Greg growled, but the old gent started up again. " I have no objection to upgrading components and doing away with the sillier bits of British design, but just hanging random junk on a car to get it running is just unconscionable. "
All heads turned toward the counter, where Tina was brandishing a yardstick - the same one she had just slapped on the counter.
"OK, ground rules. 1. Anything you break you pay to replace. 2. No weapons. 3. Al...Kona, brewed strong, with light cream and Demara sugar, right?"
"Yes, dear, that would be wonderful. Please make it a large - I've a feeling I'm going to need the help this morning."
Greg finally realized he had a full-on Limey in his face - one to match the car. His temper, not tranquil on the best of days, began to rise as he saw the Engllishman winding up for another round of abuse.
"OK, just HOLD IT. We did NOT tell him to hang a bunch of junkyard crap off that engine, but suggested he replace the generator and control box with a Bosch alternator and the proper bracket from a later 289. This way he could eliminate the unreliable Lucas crap completely and move on."
"Lucas - unreliable? Only when worked with by ham-handed mechanics who don't understand the elegance of the systems. Then of course it won't work right!"
"Ham-handed? Who the hell are you calling ham-handed you Limey jerk! I will have you know..."
"Ham-handed I said and I meant! When in danger when in doubt swap in American components - don't understand what's there...no, it would be too easy to just fix and maintain what's there!"
"Dammit, Greg... not again..." Beej moaned.
That did it, Greg swung, and found his punch stopped in midair and blocked. Another attempt produced the same result, and Greg realized that this guy had worn a uniform as well. The realization also seemed to come to the Englishman and he stopped, visibly composed himself and said, "1 Para till I got messed up in the Sierra Leone deployment, then I went REME rather than retire. And you?"
Greg grinned, all heat dissipated. "Red Devils?!? I'm 101 Airborne!!! CURAHEE!!! We're blood brothers from 'Market Garden'!!!"
The Englishman laughed - "Should have recognized another old warrior. So, what the hell did you tell the kid to do, anyway?"
"We told him to get an alternator bracket off a later engine and get a new Bosch alternator to hang off the car - and keep the original parts for the next owner. It would look and perform perfectly, and is a clean solution to the Lucas problem."
Al collected his coffee from a visibly-relieved Tina, added a pastry, and with the other two wandered over to their table in the corner and introductions were exchanged. With a sip of coffee in and a bite of the pastry appreciated, the discussion began in earnest.
"On this we're going to have to agree to disagree. The Lucas problem as you call it is mostly down to the fact that most of the assemblies (other than recent abominations) are a half-century old or more. If rebuilt properly the major components are as reliable as the day is long - and much easier to maintain."
Another round of coffees produced, and the talk flowed amiably until they noticed Stan lowering the hood on the Tiger.
"I think your ride's ready" Beej said. "he seems anxious too get the damn thing fixed - i think he's got a hot date or something." Greg grinned, and handshakes and calling cards were exchanged.
With that, Al walked out to deal with the sickly Tiger.
Stan smiled seeing the Englishman exit the shop - he had seen nothing of the altercation inside. "So, give them an earful did you?"
"Yes, i did, and they gave me one too. If done right what they suggested was a great idea - not something I'd do, but functional and elegant. Now, let's get over to my place and get this thing fixed."
The two men climbed into the Tiger, the engine started, and they moved off.
"The Empire was founded on cups of tea, mate, and if you think I am going to war without one you are sadly mistaken."