When we first arrived in Australia, we had never owned a car, and nobody in our family could drive, so we were dependent on public transport, or friends offering lifts.
When we settled in Dandenong, we attended the Salvation Army each Sunday. It was quite a walk to get there, so we were very grateful when a new friend, Harry, offered to drop us off at home each Sunday after Sunday School, in his beautiful Austin A40.
I was ten at the time, and one day while he was driving us home, he offered to let me steer the car (from the passenger seat of course). So I did, and was doing quite well until we turned the corner into Ross Street, which had a deep culvert on each side to catch the rainwater. I forgot to straighten the wheel after turning, and ended up with two wheels in the culvert.
Luckily, it was the dry season so we got out ok, but Harry never asked me to steer his beloved car again.
During the time I owned the FB Holden (see “My Second Car”) I was also employed by the PMG (later named Telecom Australia, then Telstra) and learned a bit about electronics and electrical work in general. Then I was employed by Bosch (auto-electrical) so I felt fairly confident with my electrical knowledge.
One day, while on a trip with a friend to a brass band engagement, I noticed the car had started to emit clouds of smoke from under the bonnet, and then the motor stopped running.
We pulled over and found the car’s ignition coil had broken free and was dangling in the motor area by a few smouldering cables. I disconnected the battery and checked the damage. Several bunches of cable in the wiring form were severely burnt and smoking. Luckily I had a few rolls of wire in the car, and my multimeter, and the car manual had a wiring diagram. After a few checks with the multimeter I decided the main damage was to the low-tension wiring for the ignition system, and as the wires were all tied up in a form, re-ran all of these loosely and chopped off the ends of the old wiring.
To our relief and amazement, it worked (although some lighting features got lost), and we proceeded on to our appointment, arriving about half an hour late.
Read about my second car.