HeliCoils are not related to helicopters

Easter Sunday, a perfect day to get some more miles under the Egg’s belt before next weekend.  We pootled off towards Fallbrook, planning to make it up to Santa Paula and maybe even Ojai for a late lunch.  The temperature was perfect, warm and slightly overcast, and taking the backroads allowed us to watch the nightmare of I-5 rather than experience it.  All was good in Eggland.

And then it wasn’t.  I became aware of pops, bangs and  a sound that can only be described as high speed blender coming from the engine.  Pulling over in somewhere called Newhall, I opened the boot and surveyed the scene.  All constituent parts of the engine seemed intact, no huge sprays of oil & nothing burning.  However, where there should have been a lead disappearing into the valves, I spotted a sparkplug.  Not a good sign.

One Triple A call later….and at this point I have to stop and give them a quick thank you; the service is great, it’s especially great for women.  Whenever I’ve needed roadside assistance, the average time has been no more than 15 minutes, and whoever they sent has been knowledgeable, helpful and really pleasant.  Breaking down (especially alone, which is my usual experience) is one of those moments where it’s all too easy to feel very vulnerable.  I can maintain bravado for up to 20 minutes, and really appreciate that Triple A has never pushed me to try and extend that record….as I was saying; one AAA call later, the Egg was on a flatbed, and I was chatting to the mechanic who would very kindly take us home.

I’ve never professed to be very mechanical.  I understand the basic premise of combustion, having spent many hours watching  vintage cars and bikes being restored or worked on.  Seeing an engine, whether it’s a motorcycle or car, completely stripped down to component parts certainly helps with general understanding…and one thing I’ve learnt is sparkplugs out of their holes when the engine has been running, is not a completely positive sign.

Once back at home, feeling a little distraught, I chatted with a very understanding and more mechanically minded friend, who then kindly sent links to various forums and help pages about Porsche 356 plug removal, replacement and problems.  It quickly became clear that I shouldn’t feel too bad about my inability to work out where the plug belonged, as its apparently one of the less elegant design aspects of this car; and keeping them secure is a more complex problem than I realised.  His instinct that the helicoil may be at least part of the dilemma was borne out this morning, when the Egg doctor removed it from the offending plug.

So, now we wait for the full diagnosis….the clock is ticking, my bags are more than half packed and I’m doing the most extreme version of the Happy Egg dance I can come up with to ensure  we make it to the starting grid on time.




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