Well the Mantis managed two local journeys before something went wrong. Coolant temperature went above 120 degrees C. No fans. Fortunately this was not far from home & got back. Ran the car today on the drive & it did the same thing. Fan fuse is fine so f**k knows.
The emotional rollercoaster that is Marcos ownership continues.
Sooooo… We are into February & the Marcos Mantis is still, alas, dead. I confess to being at somewhat of a loss as to who to give the car to in order to get it fixed. Bring back Eddie from Cross Street Motors! (Actually, shame I don’t have his number as he won’t have been able to play golf for most of last year due to Lockdown so should have had a lot of time on his hands). Oh well! So long as the car is working for September. Why September I hear you ask? Because I will be taking the car down to display in the hoi polloi section of the Concours of Elegance in the gardens at Hampton Court Palace. One of only 10 Marcos cars invited no less! It would, therefore, be jolly nice if the car could actually move by then.
Well goodbye 2020. A year that, to borrow a phrase from our ex-colonial cousins… truly sucked 😠. Or in Britspeak, the year has been a tad underwhelming. Like many Marcos owners, 2020 will have seen my lowest annual mileage ever 😭. The silver lining? Lowest fuel costs ever. 😂
As we enter Lockdown 3 (in England) 😷😷😷 there have been some lovely crisp driving days over the last few months but unfortunately the Mantis hasn’t moved since it was dead in August 😔. The new Optima Yellow Top battery continues to show as fine & hold charge. Unfortunate I cannot find anyone local to entrust the car to to get fixed.
So… what else? After a very quiet 2020 in terms of car events, I have formally handed over the baton as Club Marcos International area organiser for the North West to Debbie & Darren Morrison. They are already on the case with emails going out & plans afoot for the Carfest North, which is great! A pleasure to see & just reinforces my conclusion that things were getting a bit stale under my stewardship & some new blood was required. The Morrisons are also much nicer people than me, know a lot more about Marcos, are experts on their own car & absolutely brimming with enthusiasm for all things Marcos. Basically it’s an upgrade all round!
Like a lot of Planet Earth currently, I am wondering what 2021 will bring. IBM have finally decided to ‘spin off’ Global Technical Services to concentrate on Cloud and AI, so that will be the end of an era this year. I may just about make my quarter century with IBM (May 2021) after which it’s a voyage into the unknown & that includes my company car allowance that keeps the Marcos Mantis on the road. (OK, well, technically incorrect but… you know what I mean).
Too late for Santa now but in hindsight I should have sent a letter up the chimney asking for;
Standard cam to replace the thirsty/hot/bumpy Fast Road cam, plus a retune of the ECU
Better engine cooling with a whole year of going without dramatic overheating & blasting coolant into the atmosphere
New rubbers for the hood frame
A new gasket to seal the rear brake LED light strip
A new interior
A new hood which actually keeps the rain out
No more mice…
A smooth run up to Scotland to revisit the fantastic scenery around Callendar
Gosh, where to begin! Nah… just messin’ with you. 😉 Nothing new. Went to go for a spin to get some fresh air in the Mantis last week & car wouldn’t start. Alarm LED still flahing, DRL illuminate, clock still working, stereo fine (mighty fine! Oh yeah!) but f**k all from the starter. The new(ish) NOCO starter did… nothing. Bit of a bummer seeing as this is a new deep-cycle Optima yellow top. So, lots of stuff that should work that didn’t. No drive that day then, eh? Any road up, put the CTEK charger on & fully charged a day later & the car started fine but didn’t have time to actually drive it. Jumped in the car today due to unexpected sunshine (on a Bank Holiday, what’s going on?) and nothing from the starter again. However, battery is at 12.65V so that’s not the problem. Some electrical issue… I guess I am just not destined to drive the car at the moment. C’est la vie. Texted an auto-electrician so let’s see if they respond & can help (although they are in N Wales! Not had much luck with the local ones).
So, shiny stuff. The filler cap is getting stiff. Wondering if I should get a replacement Aero 400 from Newton Equipment.
Some nice trips out in the car recently as the weather has been decent & the cooling issues seem to have gone away. One of these was a little trip up the M6 to Wigan to see the legendary Morrisons, Debbie & Darren. Their LM500 is still on the ramp as they await the refurbished wheels but they have made good use of the time & the car is… immaculate. Everything is either colour coded to match the striking purple on the LM, polished to a shine or carbon dipped. It looks stunning (must be the neatest car in the north… or at least equal with Dave Barlow’s Marcos). Shame this horrible Covd-19 lockdown is preventing car shows to allow everyone to appreciate it.
Darren also spotted that my bonnet catches are very corroded & one of them is moving around enough that is is wearing a hole in the bonnet. Yikes. New ones ordered from Marcos Heritage but not sure how I will fit yet. The nuts & bolts are so heavily corroded there is a risk they will snap in situ. I did think about replacing the bonnet catch cup & latch in the car body. At least, until Rory from MHS explained that this required the front mudguards to be cut out from the body to get access, then re-attached with industrial quantities of poly-urethane mastic. Probably reasonably straightforward given plenty of time, space & tools. But…
A request on Facebook for Marcos photos from Nick Marsh, one of Jem’s sons & a painter, has thrown this image up which I suspect is the Marcos Mantis launch. Great picture & lovely looking car which Phil Cunningham still runs (& occasionally washes).
After a lovely morning drive with my daughter around the lanes of Cheshire, it was time to get the stereo working so I headed to Manchester Car Audio who had fitted the current unit & amp. (For added excitement, the windows stopped working on the way). It only took a few minutes for them to diagnose the problem.
Mice had set up home behind the stereo & chewed through several wires including the RCA leads. They have made it remarkably cosy, as you can see from the picture below.
By the time I left a couple of hours later the stereo was working but the windows were not, so booked in Monday for a more thorough investigation.
Overheated today a couple of miles out from home & lost lots of coolant. Topped up with water but only made it half a mile before it went again so wasn’t going to get home. Inevitably the only time I have ever gone out without my phone… D’oh! 🙄 Fortunately the chap in the house I had pulled up (aka broken down) by came out to talk, & kindly lent me his phone to call The AA. What a thoroughly nice chap who turned out to own one of the local butchers. The AA then informed me I had no MOT… nightmare. The downside of cycling to work instead of driving… out of sight, out of mind 😮. Anyhooo… The AA won’t attempt to fix anything without an MOT but agreed to recover me home. Nice chap rocked up in a low loader a few minutes later (really… I have waited longer than that for the kettle to boil!). Very complimentary about the car & really looked after it loading it onto the flatbed. A few minutes to get back home then a hard-to-disguise-from-the-neighbours-with-all-the-flashing-lights unloading of the car.I drove it into the garage shortly before midnight.
A little disappointed I got one day’s driving before the car broke down again but c’est la vie. I now need to figure out how to clear the airlock (if that is what it is), & get the car MOTd before the tax is due at the end of the month.
Wonderful day today, as the car was driveable for the first time since Christmas Day. After much pondering (& quite a lot of checking what batteries were in stock locally) I bought an Optima Yellow Top YTS 4.2 from Advanced Battery Supplies in Stockport. A tiny place on a side street but nice staff & a small discount was very welcome as Optima batteries are not cheap.
A quick wash down was very definitely in order, leaving the Mantis gleaming in the sun. Went out for about an hour driving round Cheshire lanes in the sunshine. Being a little cautious but everything went well. The stereo isn’t working but I can look at that at home. Very happy.
My daughter wanted a spin (can we go the long way round to the shop 😁) so went out again, this time through Dunham & Lymm. Stopped for fuel & had trouble pulling away from the pump. Felt like fuel starvation so wondering if there is still an issue with heat evaporation in the fuel rails. Turned the engine off for a few seconds & it restarted again without issue.
Looking forward to driving the car every few days to uncover any gremlins from being stood for five months. To do list is stereo, bonnet mesh & fuse box(s).
The NOCO Li-Ion starter has arrived… and wouldn’t start the Mantis. It did start the Mini One however, so the NOCO unit is OK.
The CTEK battery charger/tester also arrived. I removed the Optima Red Top battery from the Mantis, & it was at 4.2V across the terminals. Left it on charge from the CTEK & it got to 11.6V but the CTEK & battery were both getting pretty hot so I disconnected it. A day later, not having connected it back to the car the voltage is back down to 5.4V. 😭
At this point I have decided that the Red Top can’t be reconditioned or brought back to life & I don’t fancy cooking my new CTEK charger either. So now I need to find an alternative battery which will fit in the tray & will last a little longer. And, of course, figure out what is draining the battery.
The black mesh for the front bonnet cooling vents has arrived – Huzzah! Being aluminium, it is very light in comparison to the current steel mesh. However, that should be OK as it’s not load bearing bar the odd stone & occasionally someone who thinks it’s funny to put their rubbish down the hole! The gaps are a lot bigger so fingers crossed this means improved airflow & better cooling.
Of course, cooling is only relevant if the engine is running! 🤣 Despite charging the Optima Red Top 35 R battery with my trusty CTEK XS3600 more than once over the last few months, the engine still wouldn’t start. It is clearly a lack of juice as there is a barely audible click upon first attempt, then nothing. No luck with my DBPower 600A Portable Car Jump Starter either (disappointing).
That said, I did manage to start the engine using jump leads to feed off our trusty family steed, the Honda CR-V. That would seem to rule out a wiring issue. Why might there be a wiring issue? I’ve been slightly nervous since I found those mouse droppings oin the wheel arches in the engine bay (although the culprits are no longer with us I’m afraid 💀).
I’m still at a loss as to why the battery is not at full charge. I can’t figure out what’s draining it & suffice to say in Coronavirus lock down, getting an auto-electrician is not happening 🙄. I’ve also found both the CTEK unit & the battery getting quite warm, which can’t be good. Inevitably the battery is a few months out of its 2 year warranty, and at £150 a pop, I am not in a hurry to replace it if it can be reconditioned. Therefore, in the spirit of self-diagnosis & resolution, I have decided to invest in a better battery charger and car jump starter. Step forward, the CTEK MXS 5.0 Test and Charge, and the NOCO Boost HD GB70.
After much Googling, the NOCO Boost HD GB70 has another 2kMA on the DBPower 600A & is rated to start petrol engines up to 8 litres. Plus, the next DBPower unit up, the 800A, doesn’t seem to be available in the UK.
I have high hopes that the CTEK will give me some insight into whether it is the battery or not. 🤔 If so, my love affair with Optima may be at an end! At least I can prove the NOCO car starter, which allows me to travel in the car with a bit more confidence. Covid-19 Lock down looks set to run on into the summer so I am not missing out too much, despite the lovely weather. In the meantime, the Marcos Cars Facebrook is very active with lots of great pictures resurfacing, including some nice ones of the Mantis. 😁