Obit – The Beast

There always comes a moment when it is time to retire a vehicle or sell it on. For me, it is time to retire The Beast. It’s a rather sad moment. The Passat and I have been a large number of places and I’ve had to spend quite a bit on surgery to keep it going safely.

The Beast Retires
The Beast Retires

While this technically wasn’t the first car I owned it was the first one I actually wanted to own. Before I needed to transport p>2 around I had always owned motorbikes. There was a temporary period in my life when I owned a Nissan Micra, this lasted about five months and I’d rather not talk about it.

The Beast arrived in my life in 2006. It already had 90,000 miles on the clock and I think it was used as a rep’s car. There were a couple of odd things about it where paint had been redone poorly and there was evidence that gave rise the to suspicion that it had had a small side impact at some point. Anyway, mechanically it was sound and had a nice “pull” to it.

See this communication for a discussion of repairs and general things Beast related.

The Beast has transported me to the following locations:

  • Hildesheim, Germany (twice)
  • Le Mans, Carrouge and the beaches of Normandy
  • Bordeaux
  • Liverpool
  • The Kingdom of Fife
  • Carlisle
  • The Lake District (four times)
  • Lincolnshire
  • The Midlands
  • Cornwall
  • The ‘Folks, Nor and Suf
  • London town many times
  • RAF Cranwell

It feels like a sad thing. Retiring this car. I’ve owned it for over ten years now. It’s seen me through many phases of my life. But it is now time to move on. To accept something newer.

The Beast In The Lake District (Honister Pass)
The Beast In The Lake District (Honister Pass)
The Beast from Moss Force
The Beast from Moss Force

I know I have a video from inside the Beast travelling around the Le Mans circuit in 2008. I will continue to look for it and post it below when I find it.

So after taking the total to 215,000 miles I will say: Sleep well, Beast.

The Beast At Glenridding
The Beast At Glenridding

It’s A Passat But Not Original

I like my car. It has enough power to be interesting and yet is also comfortable. It is rather family orientated as it’s an estate and full of old sweets and cake crumbs.

Just for fun, here’s a list of things that I’ve had changed on the car because bits broke [I am not listing things you would replace regularly]:

  • Boot door
  • Rear windscreen wiper motor
  • Front headlamp units
  • Rear light units
  • n/s wing mirror (x2)
  • n/s cv boot (x2)
  • both front springs (blame a pot hole)
  • both rear door locks
  • radiator
  • fuel injector on number 4 cylinder
  • Front VW badge

The boot currently contains two bikes, a bass guitar and some shopping bags. What else would you expect?

The wing mirror has some interesting stories [sorry, I wrote interesting, but I meant boring]. The first wing mirror replacement was needed after an incident on Christmas Eve of 2013. There had been storms the day before and various trees were knocked into Pilgrims Way near where I live. Someone had been along and cleared the trees from the road and made the journey passable. Unfortunately at one spot the tree trunk still stuck into the road by about 15cm and perfectly at wing mirror height. The first time I drove this road I noticed this and managed to avoid the tree. However, the next time I drove this way it was dark and my headlights were pretty poor [they’ve since been replaced]. As I came to the point where the tree was sticking out into the road there was a lorry driving towards me and I couldn’t move out to avoid the trunk [to be honest I had forgotten the trunk was sticking out]. I was driving the car in one direction and my wing mirror hit the truck which stubbornly refused to give way or move. My wing mirror was ripped off. A few days later as I drove past this spot I noticed a lot of wing mirrors in the hedgerow, probably in the order of 10s. There were quite a few cars in the village with their nearside mirror broken, I think that tree trunk claimed a number of kills for the week that it stuck into the road.

The next wing mirror I had to replace was because someone drove down the street too fast and clipped my mirror, it smashed the glass and the holding mechanism and so needed replacing again.

The front springs decided to die after I hit a pothole with the near side wheel and this broke the nearside front spring. I didn’t notice this at the time as the car was held up by the off side spring, although I did notice that the car was handling slightly strange. After about a day the off side spring broke on the way to work and for the last few kilometres I was driving without any suspension on the front. The car did not like the speed humps near my place of work and it didn’t like turning corners. It did look rather cool though as the front end was lowered by a few inches! A truck was called and the car got fixed [for a very tidy sum – from the garage’s point of view].

There are a few things I am expecting to need replacing over the next year or so [although I will get a newer car in 18 months so I am hoping that these bits last that time].

  • Driver’s door locking mechanism
  • Driver’s door window (it doesn’t work which makes getting car park tickets interesting)
  • n/s differential or front n/s bearing
  • Air intake trunking

Sometimes I hear a new rattle or noise from the car but I fix that by turning the stereo up a little bit more! That way my car is always working properly.

315 Feet

The car had to go to the tyre and brake people this week. I had noticed the feel of the brake pedal was changing slightly from smooth to a bit jerky when releasing pressure. This didn’t really concern me but the fact that the rear discs were looking rusty and there was only a thin band of clean metal had me worried.

The car went in to ATS Euromaster at 08:30 and I’d had the call by about 09:30. New pads and discs at the rear (I’d expected that), two new tyres as the fronts were worn to just about legal. I hadn’t really expected that but then I don’t hang around and a little sliding when it’s damp is good fun (no kids in the car and only where it’s safe and there’s space). I had mentioned that there was a slow puncture on the nearside rear tyre and it’s just aswell.

When I went to pick up the car it was still on the jacks so the guys could show me the problem that was causing the slow puncture. The inside of the tyre where the join normally occurs and is “welded” nicely was just a split. It had gone down to steel and would eventually have caused some serious issues. They believe it was a manufacturing fault and the tyre has been sent back to Pirelli and I hope I get a refund and I ended up paying for 3 tyres.

An interesting little fact that I hadn’t considered was that the new tyres went on the rear of the car and the worn tyres were swapped to the front. This is to try and ensure that when the car is on the limit it will understeer rather than oversteer. Understeer is much safer that oversteer and so by keeping the grip at the rear of the car (especially an estate where the rear is quite light) the car is safer to drive. Nice.

315 feet is the stopping distance of a car travelling at 70mph. This is the number given in the Highway Code. Most cars will stop much shorter than that. Should you ever be lost for a stopping distance then the formula s=v+(v^2)/20 works to give you the Highway Code numbers. The thinking and reaction time is the same number of feet as miles per hour and then the actual breaking distance is proportional to the speed squared. It’s all down to kinetic energy! See the Wolfram|Alpha stopping distance calculation here.

Stopping Distance Formula