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May 2014 - redshark1

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    Posted: 23 Apr 2014 at 12:13am

Congratulations on winning May 2014 MOTM Steve! How does it feel to be our exclusive Member Of The Month and having your name up in lights?

I am genuinely amazed as I keep a low profile and didn’t think I’d get noticed. I knew I’d never get Car of the Month (quite rightly) and was happy with that. But now I’ve been asked to be Member of the Month (what a title, chuckle!) it’s kind of got me out of my comfort zone. But I’m happy to come out of hiding if it contributes to the club that’s helped me so much. I guess every dog has to have its day, even when it would rather stay in the kennel.

I wanted to firstly say a BIG thank you from myself and the Club Owners, because the help and all your time that you give, in helping out your fellow club members, with technical and mechanical advice is quite simply outstanding! You sum up, the very core of what this club strives to achieve and we’re a better club for having you as a member here – Thank you so much! Are you generally a helping type of person?

It gives me a good feeling to help people. It also feels good to ask for and receive help. This is one of the more positive aspects of being a human being I think. I guess deep down I want us to care for each other and ultimately care for our planet and our future.

When I’m answering questions on our forum I’m only passing on what I’ve learnt from more experienced and knowledgeable people on here and saving them from having to answer the same questions millions of times. Their efforts are best saved for the tougher questions. It’s a way I’ve identified that I can contribute to the club.

I guess it’s true to say I’m a helping type of person. For example I do about 4 - 5 hours voluntary work at my local school each week. As well as enjoying it, I believe in the phrase “What goes around comes around”.

We’d love to find out about you the person. Please tell us about yourself and what you get up to, away from the NPOC.

Well I’m a 52 year old male who’s fortunately currently employed in a local authority, recruiting volunteers and carrying out much-needed work in their parks and countryside sites. I work a lot of weekends, as that is when many people are available to volunteer. My wife An (yes, that is the correct spelling!) is Belgian and a few years younger than me. She is currently a teaching assistant in a local primary school. Children wise we’ve got the set with James aged 19 and Olivia 17.

I am passionate about a number of hobbies. I am musical, self taught and have passed all my clarinet exams with the Royal Schools of Music. I also have a saxophone and guitar and have played in a number of bands including a full orchestra and played accompanied solo concerts for hundreds of people. Now I just play for my own pleasure and would like to play in a less formal setting in future, among friends.

I love rock music and currently follow over 400 bands. I particularly like bands that experiment and move the music forward and have recently enjoyed The Dear Hunter (rock with cabaret), Akin (rock with string quartet), Thankyou Scientist (rock with brass instruments) and The Mars Volta (experimental rock with a latin flavour).

I love trees, particularly their beauty and the fact that they outlast us and have planted some 73,561 trees through my work on green spaces around the city. I also have a personal collection of 115 specimen trees of 50 different varieties. This week I used the Primera muck-truck to collect free manure to mulch these trees to stop weeds growing and improve the soil.

I have five aquaria and am known on various forums as I have a shoal of twenty year old Clown Loaches that I purchased in 1995, the largest of which is nine inches long. Unfortunately, despite twenty million of these fish being exported from Indonesia annually, it is very difficult to find owners who have also kept their fish this long. My current projects include breeding frogs and catfish. Sometimes I feel like I am running a zoo as we also have a cat, two guinea pigs and I feed the wild birds every morning too.

I’m also very interested in the natural world and have a very good knowledge of British wildlife and the countryside. I particularly like to visit sites and record everything I see living there. I go on a wildlife holiday each year (last year it was to Tayside) and belong to a number of natural history clubs. I help run the clubs and have had a spell as president of the main club in my home city.

I love my garden. I was a wildlife garden designer and built 21 wildlife gardens. However, I decided to design a more formal garden for home as a contrast to my work, though well stuffed with plants. The tree is a Golden Elm which I planted in 1989 and which is supposedly disease resistant (we’ll see…).

I have always been interested in keeping fit. My youngest brother was a good runner and ran for Bingley Harriers winning many trophies. That helped me as I trained with him. I like running the mile as that was the longest distance I could beat him at, me being more of a sprinter. I set the target of running a mile in under five minutes by my 50th birthday, giving myself a year of training to achieve it. When I could do it ten times in a row I went back to running the 3 miles to work. I swim, cycle and walk as well as run now and enjoy mountain biking with my son James, visiting Dalby and Gisburn forests often. We also go to motorsport including Rallycross and Touring Cars together and support Rob Gibson (Metro 6R4) and Jason Plato (MG6).

Unfortunately, heart trouble runs in my family with males of each of the last five generations expiring in their mid fifties. I hope to buck the trend with my lifestyle but you might not need to suffer me much longer!

How did you find the NPOC forums and are we any good? Would you happily recommend the club to other Nissan Primera owners?

NPOC is the best modification you can get for your Nissan Primera LOL! Joining really is essential for anybody who has any interest in their Primera and for me, being part of NPOC has made my Primera the most satisfying car I have ever owned.

You joined as a member in March 2007 and have racked up over 7 years of NPOC Membership WOW! What keeps you coming back and signing in every day here?

My car is still going strong. Everything works due to Primera reliability, the work I’ve done in the past and the fact I keep on top of things. Part of keeping the car in good order is learning preventative maintenance and reading about other people’s problems and solutions and anticipating them with my car. So the main reason I keep signing in is, I am still absorbing useful information from the site.

Now we know your car is a Nissan Primera P11 144 and we’ll get into that a bit later but until then, I’ve been dying to find out what gems you have owned during your car ownership history. Any previous Nissan Primera’s in this list? You’ve had many years of driving now Steve (this is a compliment hahaha!), give us some car highlights over those years, what’s been good, what’s been painful?

I haven’t owned many cars at all really, only five in total, though I drive lots of different vehicles including Land Rovers, vans and trucks at work. I passed my test in a white Mini 1000. On the day of the test I suddenly realised I couldn’t see the required distance, so I had to memorise all the number plates near the test centre as the examiner covered this first. The adrenaline got me through.

Unsurprisingly, my first car was a white 1973 Mini 850cc with 34 bhp and 73K miles that cost me £60 and was called Norman by its female owner. The feeling of freedom when it was mine and I drove it for the first time has never been surpassed even though at 13 years old the car was well past its best and resembled a bath tub having no carpets and a long gear lever. But it was full of loveable character and gave 44 mpg. It did me for a year until I part exchanged it for a Vauxhall Chevette.

My 1984 Vauxhall Chevette 1.3L, brown with gold stripes and with 44K miles, was my only rear drive car. I bought it for £2,400 partly because while I’d been at school I had wanted my parents to buy one but they bought the bigger and better value Vauxhall Viva. I found a decent local garage to maintain it but even though it was an upgrade, I never enjoyed this car and it didn’t do anything particularly well. Four years after purchase I sold it for £1200. I remember speaking to a buyer for twenty minutes and thought he must be very interested. I invited him to view the car but was astonished when he said he couldn’t come over because Corry was on!

The Shove-it was completely outclassed by my next car, a 1987 Vauxhall Astra 1.8 Sri with 42K miles costing £4,500. This was in midnight blue with a cheerful Recaro interior having red lines everywhere for that sporty touch. It felt sophisticated right away and went like a scalded cat. There had been 2.0 litre and 2.0 litre 16v versions introduced so the 1.8 was now very good value. It had double the power of the Chevette but the same fuel consumption. I remember it was both very responsive and economical on the motorway and had a nice exhaust burble on the over-run. However, it did corrode badly and suffered lots of fuel leaks due to rather thin fuel hoses – the new ones were four times thicker. I met a neighbour who worked as a mechanic and he looked after my cars from this point. When we’d had it for seven years and the car was 11 years old he advised me to either sell it for £500 or spend £500 at the next MOT so I sold it for £795. It was scrapped six months later.

My kids were on the way and we decided we wanted a newer reliable car. The Ford Mondeo was a road tester’s favourite and a massive improvement over the Sierra (which I drove at work). We hired one and liked it so we bought a Mark 1 1996 1.8 LX model with 13K miles in aubergine metallic (dark purple or just “black” to many people). It was 18 months old and half its new price at £7250. We had saved up for five years for it. I still think this was a very beautiful looking car but the looks were backed up with quality. I enjoyed driving it, nothing went wrong and I might even have it today but for an unsighted HGV driver, who came out of a side road and hit me, writing the car (and very nearly me) off.

What was your favourite out of all of them and why?

Each of them gave a good feeling at the time, at least initially. The Mini because of the new found freedom, the Chevette because of the upgrade to a “proper car” and the Astra because of the feeling of driving something a bit special but the appeal of the Mondeo was enduring, because although it was expensive it just felt right and continued to feel just as good eight years later. It was a thoroughly engineered car.

If you had to choose between the classics / Old Skool and modern technology based cars, which one would it be?

Well it’s a pertinent time to ask because I’ve just been watching presenter Mark Evans and his excellent series “An MG is born” about restoring an MG. I like the idea of all the parts being serviceable and the amazing opportunity of the heritage shell being available. I hated the rust on Mark’s car and the fact that as he worked on it he found more and more rusty metal. He said the eight weeks spent cutting out all the rust and welding in new metal really dragged him down. He should have got a new shell.

But having a classic to suffer, pay for and worry about is a very different prospect to running my Primera and as long as I love the Primera I’d prefer this kind of ownership experience. I can change it anytime with no financial losses.

What got you into a Nissan Primera to start with, was it on the list of cars to own back in the day, or a chance encounter?

When the Mondeo was written off we didn’t have a large pile of money to replace it with but we did have an emergency fund of £2000, so I looked for a car at that price point. The online Autotrader was very useful for filtering the price, five doors, manual, within 20 miles etc. The best car for the money by far was my 2000 Nissan Primera 1.8 Sport at six years old and 57K miles. I liked the look of it and all the reviews praised it, so I rang the seller and arranged a viewing. It was Christmas 2006, there was a terrible fog and nobody else made it to view the car. I got on fine with the seller and knocked a couple of hundred off to bag it for £2000. That’s for a car that cost £16,000 six years earlier and with the majority of its life still ahead of it! For comparison, a Ford Focus I found of similar age and mileage was £4500, a BMW 3-series £8000 and the Primera was in the bargain basement with Rovers and Fiats which were needing head gaskets and cam belts replacing. I couldn’t find a comparable Mondeo at the time either. Eight years later and the purchase price equates to only £20 per month.

How long have you owned the Nissan Primera P11 144 1.8 Sport now? I know you joined us in 2007 with it but no idea when you actually took ownership.

I bought it at Christmas in 2006. I remember my son, who was about ten at the time, came with me and enjoyed the experience. He had seen a GT with an extreme bodykit for sale for a similar price but that was five years older so it had to be this one.

I was reading back over your old topics before writing this Q&A and found one from 2011, where you said you were only intending to keep the car for another 4 years (until 2015 etc).. Is the old girl still scheduled to be baked bean cans next year?

I think at that time with the car having rusty wings, arches, tailgate etc. I didn’t expect the Primera to be lasting beyond 15 years of age as I thought it would likely be full of holes. Also, with the mortgage paid I’d be in a good position to buy another car. But wait…baked bean cans eh? Now that gives me an idea…

One of the things I like about you, is your passion for keeping your Nissan Primera P11 144 on the road and going, you’re very hands on with maintenance and repairs. What would be the final straw, to see you and the car part company?

It will only be let go if I can’t source enough bean cans to plug the holes LOL! I don’t know what will stop me, but I am sensible enough economically to know when to stop. I don’t regard it as I would say a classic car where I’m economically tied to it because of the investment I’ve made in it. But if I can keep it going I will.

Your car is an outstanding example of a well cared for and very well maintained Nissan Primera P11 144. So what that it’s not a show car, or a massively modified monster, it ticks all the right boxes for what it is!.. BUT have you ever been tempted to follow some of the modifications the other 144 owners take on?

I’m originally from the primera.net forum and on there we were mostly guys running Primeras as daily transport. It wasn’t until we had to come to NPOC when the forums merged that we got exposed to all this modification business! The only modification that my car has is its Powerflow cat-back exhaust. I got this because the original exhaust blew. My local Nissan franchise were not very enthusiastic about supplying a new one and I’d become fed up of buying short-lived pipes from the fast fit centres, so I took the advice on here to buy a stainless system.

All this talk about the 144, let’s find out more about yours please. Let’s see some photos of your 1.8 Sport and tell those of us who don’t know the ins and outs of what a cracking car these are, what gadgets and goodies the Nissan Primera P11 144 is packing:

When I first drove my Primera it felt like what I imagined an older british sportscar would drive like. I think that this was due to the harder sports suspension and road noise from the wide Pirelli P6000s. I later treated myself to Falken 452s which were better and recently two Goodyear Efficient Grip Performance tyres which are great. The tyre noise has now gone.

The upgrades that I most valued at the time of purchase were the passenger and side airbags that I didn’t have before. However, I really rate the alloy wheels and climate control now and wouldn’t want my next car to be without them.

The alloys not only look fabulous but are of great quality and still look good without having been fettled with, in 14 years.

The climate control seems a good quality unit. It does not seem to have a measurable effect on economy and as well as providing comfort through temperature control it is very useful for keeping the car dry inside. I don’t have any problems with the car steaming up. It’s much better than the heated screen in my Mondeo. I had it serviced for £50 a couple of years ago as it had started making noises and it’s been quiet since.

I like the Sport body kit that gives the basic shape a bit more sophistication and I’m glad the spoiler is integrated into the hatch design as the bolt on spoilers I’ve seen have encouraged rusting.

I also like the under bonnet setup, which is a nice combination of black, silver and red with lots of metalwork and components on display. Black plastic seems to dominate the under bonnet of many cars now.

The 1.8 engine is lively and capable of brisk progress. There seems to be ample power available at all engine speeds and it revs smoothly and freely, helped by variable valve timing. It is also very refined.

Did you specifically buy the QG18DE engine for economy over the SR20DE, or was it a case of just buying the car for another reason?

My car popped up at an amazing price at the perfect time so I have no regrets at all. But if I could now turn back time to when I bought my car I would probably like to look for a decent GT. Recently I stopped at a local garage which has an S reg GT in mystic green with silver alloys. Despite having the usual rusty wings, arches and spoiler it still looked very special to my eyes. Now if I could have had that in 2006 it would have been treated to some expensive paint and be mint today. However, I suppose I would worry about it being scratched or damaged and I don’t really worry about such things with mine.

If you could have sat in with the designers of the Nissan Primera P11 144 when it was on the drawing board and the ideas were being thrashed about, with hindsight, anything you would have changed?

The car is perfect for my needs, though fuel economy has improved vastly in the latest cars. But it didn’t sell well enough to make money for Nissan, which is a shame. I don’t think I can relate to new car buyers with £16K to spend. I’m not sure what they want, but I think it is fashion and Nissan is certainly giving them what they want with the Quashqai.

Over the years, we’ve read about your trials and tribulations with maintaining your car and fixing problems as you go.. Do you have any sort of mechanical qualifications or are you a self taught, take your time, sort of car DIYer?

Before getting my Nissan Primera I paid other people to maintain and service my cars. However, one of the things mentioned in reviews of the Primera was ease of DIY so I looked into that and decided I would like to be better informed. Joining the forum led me into doing more and more for myself. A car is the most complicated machine most of us will ever own with 30,000 parts apparently. Knowing how it works and being able to fix it is a fascinating subject that any intelligent human being should have an interest in. It’s quite a challenging subject if you have no mechanical background like myself.

Is there anything you’d never take on or attempt, when it comes to car mechanics?

I don’t doubt there will be areas where professional people are worth their salt but I intend to avoid using them as far as possible, because they seem to need paying in gold not salt! I’m grateful that over 8 years of Primera ownership I have not had a problem I couldn’t solve with the aid of this forum.

Time for the quick fire question round!

What makes you smile? 

The photographer.

What makes you sad? 

My first 14 years of life. Unfortunately not all kids get the childhood they deserve.

Tell us something we don't know about you..

I’m not generally superstitious but I need to clean my car before driving it.

Your favourite colour? 

KLO! (That’s Starburst Silver, the colour of my car). It used to be red, but the appeal faded!

Your lucky number? 

Half a dozen.

What will it say on your gravestone?

He couldn’t repair his brakes so he thought he’d make his horn louder!

Your favourite drink (any)? 

Rodenbach Grand Cru. (a Belgian Beer that’s my wife’s local brew).

Your sub £10K second hand dream car would be? 

Get your minty mystics up for sale LOL!

Your sub £30K second hand dream car would be? 

Something outrageously curvy like a Marcos Mantis (1968 model) with an engine that makes it go as well as it looks!

If you could steal the keys to someone else’s car (on NPOC) for 1 day, which car would you steal and why? 

The Enigma (John’s outrageously basic Primera 1.6) so that I can maybe feel better about not having a GT. Here is a photo of John “Dad’s Taxi” P11 144:

You’ve been on hand in your own neck of the woods (oop North) to help other members with car problems and even met some of them but how comes you’re not a regular at any of our Club Meets?

I’m getting what I need out of the forum. I work weekends so miss most of the meets. I’m busy, I’m shy and I’m tight due to my Yorkshire upbringing. I don’t actually want to drive my car to meets because that’s too expensive, I just want to fix and polish it!

Do you think we’ll ever get you out for the day at a Club Meet - I’d certainly love to meet you and say thank you for all your contribution and help to the Club?

Maybe, next time there’s a meet and I’m not working and somebody can give me a lift (kidding!).

So 7 years of NPOC membership Steve, is there a defining club memory in that lot somewhere?

Yes, several actually. I remember that the good people of NPOC helped me to diagnose my first problem with my Primera. The engine light came on and I had to use the paperclip method to read the code number before replacing my MAF. I really enjoyed doing that, especially when someone with this problem visited the site and said they had spent £1500 paying garages to replace many and various parts before finding the answer here. I remember the quality of the advice I received from member “imckay” and thinking that’s the standard of advice I’d like to be able to give.

The best NPOC related feeling ever was when I replaced my front wings which were rusting and making my car look terrible. I not only got great advice from the site but member “Dad’s Taxi” generously showed me how to fit them at his place. I provided the Manista hand cleaner. I’m not allowed back in my house if I smell of Swarfega but Manista is acceptable.

Finally, when I had the car off the road to replace the kingpin bearings the assembly was seized solidly with corrosion, the drop-link broke, the bearings wouldn’t go in and I made a few mistakes preventing reassembly. However, all the encouragement from NPOC made it so much easier to persevere and I eventually came out smiling. The best advice I remember was early on when needing to separate the seized joint. It went like this: Day 1: “Hit it with a hammer Steve.” Day 2: “Hit it harder Steve.” Day 3: “Hit it harder still Steve it’s a big piece of metal and won’t break!” Then at last it came free! In eight years that was the only time I’ve had any worrying difficulties with the car. I had to cycle everywhere for three weeks but it was still a cheap repair at £140 for the parts and extra tools I needed. Somebody said they were quoted £750 for this job at a garage!

NPOC for life (regardless of what car you own and drive) or leg it when you change car?

I’m still learning and still value the advice on here, so would like to think you’d still have me around.

Tell Carlos Ghosn why he needs to bring back the Nissan Primera brand:

I don’t think I have enough business sense to tell Carlos Ghosn what to do. You have got to think that while we love our Primeras they didn’t make money for the company in the showrooms. But it would be handy to keep the club going if the Nissan Primera brand was brought back.

As I have asked all of the 2014 MOTM winners so far, we all read the debate in the December 2013 COTM about my decision to change the name of our monthly feature to "Member Of The Month" and also change the criteria and so on. I do appreciate as a winner of this new feature, it’s going to be potentially hard to speak out against the new format LOL but did I make the right call in changing things around here? Or should I have left it as it was?

I enjoyed Car Of The Month and found it interesting and it could have gone on if you had enough cars to cover. However, it is good to find out about the people who may not otherwise feature, so I’m hoping it’s a good idea and sufficiently interesting to other members.

One of your most informative topics on the forums and a great help to all Nissan Primera P11 144 owners too, was your “Nissan Primera P11 144 - Common Faults / Guide”, which is located in our How To Section and also linked up below. Firstly, thanks for taking the time with that one! Secondly and as you mention in the Guide, it makes the P11 144 look like a disaster on wheels, which we all know it’s far from (it’s a cracking car!). Use this space to tell us all, why the P11 144 should be on everyone’s list of cheap 2nd hand cars to buy.

http://www.npoc.co.uk/forum/nissan-primera-p11-144-common-faults-guide_topic60539.html

When I joined NPOC I thought that a guide to my car was essential and yet this was missing from the site. So, when I’d gained enough knowledge I wrote one myself. My experience has been that this is a great car to own. It is sensational value, an easy DIY prospect, very practical, well equipped, great to drive and has given me very few problems. Overall it has been my finest car ownership experience. Fuel economy seems poor by today’s standards but is actually slightly better than similar cars of its era. Road tax and insurance may seem a little high too. But a well looked after example would be a bargain today.

Member Of The Month is all about highlighting the unsung heroes around this club and also their cars, should they be driving a Nissan Primera. You won this feature because you have played a massive part in how positively the world see our club from the outside. The majority of posts you make are made in public non paying sections, where you offer your help and advice to complete strangers, who don’t pay for membership and for this reason, this feature gets written into the Club Archives for all time and it’s so truly deserved too. With my thanks out of the way, it’s over to you Steve.. Congratulations once again for winning Member Of The Month for May 2014! Please end this feature, in your own words and feel free to thank anyone who’s made this one possible.

Like the football managers refusing to praise individual players I too would like to thank the whole team at NPOC for making this such a great club. There are too many people to list who have made useful contributions. There are all kinds of contributions made too. Firstly, there’s the provision and running of the NPOC site itself which no doubt takes a lot of work. Then, I’ve had advice, read “How To” step by step instructions, purchased much-needed spares, met people who have helped me out and shared a laugh with people. The club has enhanced my ownership experience and turned my transport into a valuable hobby. For people wanting to share their love of their Primeras, NPOC is essential.



Congratulations once again to Steve!

May 2014 MOTM - redshark1

Written by essNchill
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