The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Bash Street Kids

Photo: mini van engineMy first car was a blue mini van. Low slung and basic, it carried my wooden toys to Covent Garden market and was my horse and carriage when I went to visit my mum, in Oxford.  In fact it was when I was driving back to London from one of these visits that I heard on the radio that John Lennon had died.

The van had a small recurring fault – the carburettor would stick and we’d slowly grind to a halt. The AA man that appeared on the scene when this initially happened, showed me a handy trick –  he knocked the belligerent part smartly with a hammer. From then on I carried a hammer in the van for this very purpose. Friends were impressed that I could ‘repair’ the van with just a hammer. I never let on.

This knocking trick has come in handy over the years. Our fridge freezer is a temperamental beast that often plays dead. A few weeks ago I discovered that by giving it a good whack and a rocky Strictly Come Dancing hug it eventually sprang back to life with a noisy whirr.

The fridge freezer feigning dead was swiftly followed by the dishwasher refusing to start when required. A smart tap beside the control switch with the back of my hand worked a treat and eventually it returned to normal – clearly averse to this daily beating.

Meanwhile the washing machine no longer likes to be controlled by the onboard computer (who would?) and has to be eased manually through each programme. The toaster has started to grill just one side of a piece of toast – I haven’t tried the bash technique on this yet as it’s rather flimsy. But I’m tempted.

Oh for an appliance that lasts for years. At least the hammer is still holding up after 28 years…

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Everyone

    I really enjoyed all your comments and was intrigued to discover that other Minis had the same problem. Incidentally I found a blue mini van (same year as mine) being listed for sale at just under £7000.00! Perhaps the purchaser will eventually be drawn to this site and invest in a hammer¦

    Like most commentators, I love the idea of whipping dead machines into action. Yes, all those years ago I wept with laughter over John Cleese beating his car with a twiggy branch. I have been there but with lack of a twiggy branch just kicked the side (above the rust) and opened the bonnet to wield the hammer.

    I have tried the laying on of hands too. We call it ‘Off Road Reiki’ here. It often seems to work on machines, Danny and Min Pins. Have yet to test it on plants 🙂

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