The Phoenix Rises
by John Hunter
After longing for several years to be invited to the famous Dorset Steam Rally, KEX 746 had finally been offered a place in the 2013 show.
Leaving Dover with caravan in tow, the journey began undeterred by the M25 traffic which on a normal day is bad, the last week before the school holidays end; there have probably been quieter days than this one. After a steady pace of 2mph I decided to re fuel prior to the A303 traffic!
But KEX’s visit to Dorset was not to be.
After refuelling at Clacket Lane services I was ready to continue my journey but once the engine was restarted it appeared that steam, was coming from under the bonnet. Unfortunately that was not the case, and to my horror and that of the shop assistant and customers; when I opened the bonnet what I thought was steam was in fact smoke with flames, two feet high shooting up from the engine!
Not a good thing to happen whilst on a petrol forecourt but with heroic help from a delivering tanker driver and a member of the public we managed to extinguish the blaze before the cashier passed out.
Once the fire was out, the car and caravan were towed far away from the petrol pumps, the M25 re-opened and customers now allowed access to Clacket Lane.
I phoned my insurers Footman James and their assistance was second to none. Without any fuss they arranged to transport the car and caravan to Peter Thurston, a life-long Jaguar restoration specialist at Herne Bay, Kent.
The car was quickly washed and hoovered (as the window had been down when all the extinguishers were let off) and we waited for the insurance assessor to check and agree the repair bill.
With the green light given, it was off with the bonnet and out with the front suspension, followed by engine and gearbox. The engine bay was stripped, followed by the dashboard so as to remove and refit a new wiring loom. The carbs and manifold were rebuilt while the engine bay was repainted and everything cleaned, painted or polished or if necessary renewed before it was reassembled.
Whilst we were at it, we did a few upgrades. A 123 distributor and a sensor was fitted into the radiator while it was being rebuilt so as to accept an adjustable controller for an electric fan. Hazard lights were also fitted. The bonnet was soda blasted and repainted inside and out and refitted ready to take for its mot which it duly passed as usual with flying colours.
So the Phoenix really has risen from the ashes to fly another day.