We didn't really go anywhere much in Bertha for the rest of the year - a few local trips but nothing major.

Pretty much her last trip of the year was a drive out on Christmas afternoon to one of our local towns.

Christmas Day

Shortly into the New Year we contacted Silchester to make THE booking! We agreed that we would take her there on 25th February 2019 for repairs to the rear wheel arches (behind both of which are large holes), repairs to the wheel arches themselves (those horrible chrome trims are hiding a world of rust and pain) and an engine rebuild to sort out her oil consumption and smoking habit.

Clara In Langscheid

After another fantastic trip to the Harz Mountains in Clara - story here - we delivered Bertha to Silchester Garage again.

Delivery To Silchester

Big things are starting to happen for Bertha at last!

A couple of weeks or so after we left her there we had a call from Silchester. It went something like this...

Silchester: "Hello, Julian, you need to come and look at what we have found in your car".

Me: "Can you not tell me over the phone?".

Silchester: "No, you need to come and look for yourself".

Me: "Ok, we'll be there this afternoon".

This doesn't sound good at all. My wife and I set off later that day - rather worried and wondering whether the news was going to be so bad that we would have to abandon our plans for the restoration and cut our losses.

On arrival, the news wasn't quite as bad as we had feared, but it wasn't good. Having removed the engine to send away for complete reconditioning they had discovered that there was a lot more rust in the engine bay - or put another way, a lot less engine bay - than had previously been apparent. We knew that a lot of welding was going to be required but it now transpired that there was a lot of fresh air and not much else below the battery tray and we needed to confirm to them that we wanted to proceed before they sent the engine away. This job just keeps getting bigger!

Anyway, having had a ball-park figure for the extra work (the Managing Director, who does the official estimates, was on holiday) we said that if the estimate was within the upper and lower figures of the educated guess we would be happy to carry on. To be honest, we had little choice as the rust was so bad that the car would have been pretty much worthless if it was left unfixed. The official estimate for the additional work was bang in the middle of the educated guess figures, so work continued.

Sadly I don't have any pictures of the engine bay before it was fixed but here are a couple of the engine bay and surrounding areas after the work:

Behind The Left Wing
Engine Bay
Engine Bay
Engine Bay

We were delighted to see that the engine is back and looking great!

Rebuilt Engine

A massive amount of work was required to fix not only the rear wheel arches and the areas behind them but also the areas of the chassis just behind the rear wheels. They were FULL of holes!

Rear Wheel Arch
Nearly There

Happy to say that the engine is now back in and running beautifully! She has never sounded so good now that she doesn't have cracked piston rings... The guy in the picture is my friend Nigel, one of the staff at Silchester. All the staff are great but I guess I know Nigel better than most as he has also done a lot of work on my 300CE.

Engine Reinstalled
Nigel And Bertha

And finally, we are there and she is ready to come home!!!


A forty-five minute drive later - carefully, of course: the engine needs to be run in - we are back home and Bertha goes into our garage for the first time in a while!

Back Home At Last
In The Garage
In The Garage

This has been a long process but so worth while! We're somewhat over budget due to the extra work required in the engine bay but she looks better than she ever has in all the time she's been with us. The engine feels soooo smooth now and is beautifully quiet. Running in is going to take us a few months but it will be incredibly enjoyable to have her back and to be able to take her out again! In fact we ended up going for some round trips just for the sake of putting some more miles on her.

The trouble is that she is now a couple of different colours! That is the problem with doing restorations in several bites. There is quite a bit more work to do to sort out rust around the front and rear screens, plus the sunroof has never worked, so when we get that done we will have a complete respray so that all Bertha's parts match.

After 500 miles we went back to Silchester to have an oil change as recommended. We want to put 1500 miles on her as we are going abroad at New Year and I don't really want to have to do any motorway driving at running in speeds if I can help it!

Show Time And Trips Out!