How many blokes does it take to reverse a car into a garage?
It’s a question I’d lost sleep over this past week thanks to the imminent installation of a new garage door at my mum’s house. The same garage where I keep my lovely, but non-running MG Magnette, and it’s at the top of a very steep slope.
The problem hinged on the fact the new door is electric, and the switch needed to be fitted to the wall right next to the spot where the car rests, and has rested since the late 80s.
And getting it down the slope wasn’t the problem. It was a worry, yes, considering in freeing the brakes off so we could push the car I actually did the opposite and disabled them completely, making the odds on ploughing through the flowerbeds in across the road’s front garden quite short.
But physics would dictate the real problem was getting it back in its hiding place once the door was fitted.
Anyway, the answer is five, and a lady.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to claim the slope on my mum’s drive is about 45 degrees, and the weight of the Magnette is a little more than a ton at 1,118kg.
That means one person can gently rock the car to a slow roll when it’s in neutral, but the speed required to get it up the hill means you’d be better of fixing the car and driving it up the slope.
For a project with a two-year forecast that was out of the question, so brute force it was.
My brother-in-law phoned around, with the job criteria stating muscles were an essential requirement. I got the job be default, and would play more of an encouragement role based mainly on shouting and slipping.
And as if this wasn’t hard enough, the day had already been an emotional one.
There’s a long sob story to the car and how it came into my possession which will win me the X Factor despite my lack of singing ability and would be impossible to go into here, and when we wheeled it out of the garage I was out of sorts for the rest of the day.
Bumping it down the drive was easy enough, we just made sure it was in gear so the descent down the slope would be nice and slow, and I got to look at the car from a different angle even if doing any extra work was out of the question (a wiring loom as a birthday present to myself is the next job before we can make further progress).
But when my brother and I had the first go and putting her back in her spot, the fact we didn’t even get to the bottom of the drive confirmed we needed help.
The cavalry heard the battle cry, and when we had five of us we decided another go was worthwhile.
My sister sat in the driver’s seat ready to steer while the rest of us heaved in a way which would have won us a rugby union scrum against the All Blacks.
Momentum built, shouting ensued: “Go, go, go, go,” and we were going, it felt fast.
But just as wheels hit the top of the drive, the weight lunged onto our shoulders and calf muscles started to tense. And with my sister at the wheel in a car with no brakes, she had to avoid flailing bodies and the flowerbeds as she swung the car back round to its starting position.
I know how football captains must feel giving a team-talk before a match which has ‘thumping’ written all over it. The kind of games players get done for betting against their own team. With crippling doubt in my mind, and thinking of what to do with a 60-year-old car exposed to the elements, I rattled encouragement to my comrades.
We started a little lower down the road for run five.
The excitement mushroomed again as the dog started barking and the baby joined in with the noise making.
This time, instead of a stop at the top of the slope, the car just slowed. It didn’t lunge forward and gave us just enough grace to slow down slightly and let us give a final push into the garage.
We’re told to be patient and careful when working with our cars, but it would seem sometimes, the best answer is to ring a group of mates and use brute force.
So in no particular order, thank you: Kat, Heapy, James, Rob and Gaz. And do any of you know how to fit a wiring loom?