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Author Topic: Cars, Trains, Guns and things  (Read 1930 times)

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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2017, 18:51:40 »
Smiffy, they were almost opposite Lucas.

I had got some odd SU carb needles from them I recall - vast stock.

Did they still have a petrol pump outside that the hose had to go across the pavement, no longer in use maybe, or am I in the wrong place, or a few years earlier?
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2017, 18:47:20 »
Talk of Lucas at Duncan Road triggered another memory. The MG would hardly turn the starter one day, but once turned started and ran OK. A bit later it would hardly get the inertia to throw the pinion into engagement with the flywheel, until it turned, and being hot started immediately.

There was a curious whining noise, like a turbine, as I blipped the throttle, then the inevitable Bang! and the engine ran smoothly. I turned the engine off, inspected under the bonnet, but could see no problems. Back in the car and the starter now did not turn at all. As time was pressing on a Friday afternoon I cadged a lift to Lucas, got an exchange starter and got back home to change it. Simple enough. Jumped in, turned the key, no starter and the throttle pedal went to the floor with no resistance - odd.

Back under the bonnet all was revealed, as the really hot throttle cable was poking out of its super slippery nylon outer like a cheese wire. The earth strap had failed and the only earth for the engine was through the throttle cable which in the end got so hot trying to pass the starter current it had simply melted its way out. Change cable and earth strap and all was fine again.

I had a look at the old starter. It had jammed in engagement as the engine started so was spinning at astronomical revs when I hit the throttle. The commutator had basically exploded, and when I slid the access sleeve for the brushes back, lots of little fragments fell out. I quickly slid it back and calmly returned the debris in the new box to claim my deposit back for the exchange.

The best lessons are learnt the hard way :)
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Offline smiffy

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2017, 18:32:03 »
I remember going to Burton's, the carburettor specialists, to get some parts in the '70s. Were they also in Duncan Road - or is my memory playing tricks?

Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2017, 16:36:28 »
Your comments have stirred the memory cell jimawilliams. I believe that the modified regulator on the Lotus was intended to give even an higher output, hence its marking was unknown to the good souls at Duncan Road. I do remember that it was very similar to the expected number, but with maybe a digit different. I dealt with (boiler) spare parts for over 40years and all the storesmen that I encountered were quite capable of a bit of what we called numerical dyslexia for one particular sufferer, swopping numbers around. A healthy suspicion that I had misread or corrupted the number was only to be expected.

Having been fitted with heated front and rear screens, four additional Cibie Oscar lamps, as well as the additional loads of fuel pumps and navigator aids there could have been a serious consumption at night on the ice and snow. However back in Kent such prolonged use was unlikely. I couldn't tell you now if the dynamo was even the original, higher output, model.
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Offline jimawilliams

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2017, 22:35:00 »
Referring to your paragraph below, my apprenticeship was as an automotive electrican in the Medway Towns (Strood) and often had dealings with Lucas, Duncan Road, Gillingham. So I thought my comments may be of interest/curiosity to you.

 
"At one point it began to charge erratically, so the regulator was checked and found to be faulty. I wandered in to Lucas on Duncan Road, Gillingham and asked for a replacement, quoting the number. No such part, mate. So I got him to actually come out and look and he agreed that was the number on it. Back in Birmingham we had been to Lucas’s Competition Department (sounds imposing but was a glorified shed up some white wooden stairs) so I phoned them. Much thumbing through lists later it turned out that my car was fitted with a high output dynamo and matching regulator as a comparison to other cars that were being fitted with the early alternators. This feature, he said, confirmed that it was built for the Monte Carlo Rally as an ice note car. Bottom line, was just used as a standard regulator, should be fine, and it was."

The standard Lucas dynamo fitted to most British vehicles of that period had the model number C40 which had a maximum regulated current output of approximately 22 amps, with a regulator part number Lucas 37563.  Higher performance vehicles had a longer dynamo fitted (C40L) with a greater regulated output of approximately 25 amps.  A function of the regulator included limiting the current output of the dynamo to prevent overheating of the dynamo.  I would suggest that a Lucas 37563 was recommended as the replacement regulator, thereby limiting the C40L to an output of only 22 amps.  Unless your vehicle had significant additional electrical accessories which were being frquently used, the 22 amps would be sufficient.  Lucas at Duncan Road at that time may have been known as "Globe and Simpson" and It could well have been a Rodney Snowden that served you.
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2017, 14:36:18 »
 Cars Part 4.

I had a vague idea about what I was getting into with the Lotus. Its worth repeating that Lotus translates into “Loads Of Trouble, Usually Serious”.

It was an ex-works rally car, first registered by Ford in December 1965 as NOO 29C. The bodyshell was pre-airflow, which means that it did not have the eyeball vents at the ends of the dash, which was superceded in 1964, which set the scene of something created from what was around and what was in the parts bin. It had leaf spring rear suspension with a Watts linkage. Body seams were welded, the fuel tank was a huge 25gallon affair in the boot, behind the rear seat, filled from behind the rear screen. All the brake lines, fuel pipes and cables were inside the body. There were two electric Facet fuel pumps in the boot, each switched from the dash and with a fuel tap on the floor by the driver. A heated front screen was a novelty, as was the Twin Halda Tripmaster thingy for the navigator, which we never mastered.

Safety equipment consisted of a roll cage, proper seats, full harness seat belts and fire extinguisher.

Curious items were the umbrella handbrake (it pulled up alongside, and parallel to the steering column) and an additional silencer fitted across the back of the car, which I removed. It was on steel wheels with off road tyres.

It did not like town traffic, and the idle would become erratic in the time it took for the average set of traffic lights to sequence. A blip of throttle and the twin Webers would make as much noise as the exhaust and a steady rumble would resume. The clutch was mighty heavy. However it always started for me, even when under a pile of snow. Get in, switch on the lower power fuel pump, wait for the pump noise to slow (a bit like a mini or morris minor) two full presses on the throttle, then hold a touch of throttle and turn the key. As soon as it fired hold a nice fast idle while you did up the belts. Do Not, under any circumstances touch the choke.

I found some Dunlop alloy wheels with nice road tyres, which made it much more civilised, given that I was now living in Queenborough (someone has to) and working in Snodland. Detling Hill was my daily challenge.

At one point it began to charge erratically, so the regulator was checked and found to be faulty. I wandered in to Lucas on Duncan Road, Gillingham and asked for a replacement, quoting the number. No such part, mate. So I got him to actually come out and look and he agreed that was the number on it. Back in Birmingham we had been to Lucas’s Competition Department (sounds imposing but was a glorified shed up some white wooden stairs) so I phoned them. Much thumbing through lists later it turned out that my car was fitted with a high output dynamo and matching regulator as a comparison to other cars that were being fitted with the early alternators. This feature, he said, confirmed that it was built for the Monte Carlo Rally as an ice note car. Bottom line was just use a standard regulator, should be fine, and it was.

Martyn and I had entered the November Rally run by my old B.U.M. Club (I said they were unfortunate initials!) but the delay getting the Lotus meant a change of plan. We therefore decided to use his Anglia, I would still drive and he navigate. I picked up the Anglia from Reading, and did our usual middle of the night run through central London. When I got to the end of Blackheath there was an old van coming around the roundabout, no indicators used (times don’t change) and I braked to a comfortable halt to let him round. At this point I was hit quite hard from behind with just a short tyre screech as a warning, which enabled me to take the brakes off. The impact took me to the centre of what was quite a big roundabout. I got out and was surprised to see a flashing blue light already there. That was quick I thought, then it dawned on me it was the Police Rover 3500 that had hit me.

We had to wait for the Station Sergeant to arrive, and everyone was very civilised about it. The Anglia took it quite well, probably the only solid bit of the car was the rear, which was now an inch or so further towards the front.

Everyone happy with the paperwork and I went on my way. Only a few hundred yards down the road and the exhaust fell off. So I stopped at the next phone box, called the police and explained. A few minutes later a police van arrived, the driver chucked the exhaust in the back and just said “follow me”. He took off a fair rate, me with open exhaust just behind having a great time. He took me to Clifton’s on the South Circular roundabout where at about 2am a bleary eyed mechanic did a good job of bodging the exhaust back together with couple of new bits.

I don’t know about now, but back then the Met Police were not insured, they had deposited a bond and simply paid out claims themselves. Martyn did quite well I believe.

Our expedition on the Rally was not so good, somewhere in deepest northern Oxfordshire there was a bang and the ignition light came on. A quick look and the fan belt had gone missing. A quick reverse to where it happened, and there it was on the road. But… we were unable to refit it because the crankshaft pulley had lost the front section. They were simply spot welded together, and a properly uprated engine would use one machined from solid. The engine was a bit tweaked, as were the brakes, but this had not been considered. We then reported to the next control so our position was known to the organisers and set off back to Reading, with the heater on, high gear, low revs, no lights if there were no other cars, apart from my pair of Cibie Oscar driving lamps that had been fitted for the occasion.

We made it just before dawn, with a misfire at any speed over about 40mph as the battery slowly died, the windows wide open despite the November chill outside, as the heater tried to keep the engine cool, just.

We never rallied the Lotus. We did a couple of Sector Marshalling roles on a Maidstone and Mid Kent M.C. rally.  That was fun. The first one was around Bicknor, with our finish control near the water tower at the top of Hollingbourne Hill. The second one was along the Military Road from Appledore towards Rye. Out of interest we stopped where we knew the section start was and did a lowish speed cruise along to where we were to man the finish control. Back to the start and this time absolutely flat out, with the engine hitting the rev limiter on the way. Martyn timed it, looked at me and uttered some choice words as we would have dropped a load of time. In the parlance of the day, the watches were “tuned” to make that section impossible to clear.

I kept this for about 18 months, rebuilt the 1650cc engine, the man who rebalanced the engine was mightily impressed when he saw “Cosworth” on the con rods.

I met a Capri on the Paddlesworth Road near Snodland, he braked, locked up and blocked the road, I had nowhere to go and we had a relatively gentle impact. Some months later I sold the engine to one person, the gearbox to another and the rolling shell to a guy who wanted it for grass track racing. I doubled my money by doing this, old cars were just that at the time.

By now I was living in Culverstone, near Meopham. I took over the lease for a four bedroom house with a 3 acre field, 3 Nissen huts and an open fronted shed that could hold four cars. I sublet the other rooms, and if everyone paid up on time, and in full, I lived for almost free. It rarely happened.

Some fairly mundane cars followed, typically a horrible beige Austin 1100 with matching rust. However, browsing the KM one day I found, went to look at, and bought, a Fairthorpe Electron Minor for very little money. As I had virtually memorised my 1954 and 1960 copies of “The Observer’s Book of Automobiles” in my youth I knew what it was. I was, and am, a bit of a sad soul. These cars had grown out of the “specials” movement and were based on a Standard 8/10 or early Triumph Herald chassis and running gear. It was bodied in fibreglass, open two seater with a pram hood in fetching beige. It was slow, reasonably ugly and quite rare. After getting it home and checking the fluids I went to the petrol station just up the road and while filling it up struck up a conversation with one of the locals who was interested in what it was. He was a known car enthusiast, had previously had a Lamborghini 350 or 400GT. Again old cars were still affordable. By then he had an early Aston Martin DBS, 6 cylinder, ex show car with a pinkish leather interior. Very questionable taste!

How much did I want for it?  Hang on, I’ve only just bought it, but we parted with his insistence on first refusal. Only a couple of weeks later we met again, my enthusiasm literally dampened by the ingress of weather, and his sharpened by it now looking a bit clean and tidy. We parted this time with me doubling my money and him a happy chap.

Motoring News (aka Muttering Nudes) was the weekly paper with the classified ads to use to buy and sell competition and interesting cars. I went after a part-built Ford Escort. The owner was being sent to the Middle East for work at short notice and he needed it gone in a hurry. So a mate from work and I went to see it, I think it was Dorking but maybe not, taking the firms dropside Austin FG (the strange one with little curved windows by your knees) we did the deal. A black RS body shell, with front suspension fitted and most parts to build a Mexico. The truck had a tail lift, we wheeled the front wheels on, wheelbarrow style holding the rear aloft, then the tail lift took it up and we pushed it on. The rest of the bits followed.

We took it initially to my boss’s house near Barming, as he had a nice wide garage, and the rear axle, steering and brakes and fixed glass were all fitted there. Helped at times by his large black Great Dane, Cleo, who did a Scooby Do impression and was under the car with me, licking my face while I tried to tighten the suspension. By now I had modified one of our Nissen huts to make a garage so it was time to get it home. Bob from work, who had helped collect it, drove a 2litre Cortina Estate which he used for towing a caravan, so we did no more than attach the Escort and tow it to Culverstone. I had no instruments so had no idea of speed and was a little surprised to be charging along the M20 passing many other cars, foot hovering over the brake pedal very close to the Cortina. Bob later admitted that for a short period he had forgotten that I was there, it weighed so little.

Eventually I admitted defeat. Whenever I had the time I didn’t have the money, and if I did have the money we were probably in the pub. I advertised it back in MN and got a huge response, the best being a guy from Hoo. I accepted his offer of his Mini Cooper S, with some spares, and cash. Only a few weeks later he turned up to show us the car. Nicely done, but not how I had wanted to do it.

The Mini was wonderful, quick enough and huge fun through the lanes that I used to get to work in Snodland. Part of the pile of spares was the original gearbox, the one in the car was from an unknown source, but used a standard mini final drive, which boosted acceleration at the cost of top speed. 80Mph on a motorway got you a noisy liver massage.

Returning home one night with my friend Mick (the one who used to live down the road and had the old Ford on L plates) we went through the kink on the Gravesend Road just before the Vigo pub, and had a huge slide as we hit some black ice. Keep the power on, do not lift off and most certainly don’t brake. Heart rate still high we crept up to the Vigo where there was a police car parked on the forecourt. I started to get out, but to my surprise, he stopped me. I said about the black ice up the road, to which he replied not to get out, as it was here as well. With that we headed off, hardly able to get traction until around the corner.

So impressed with this performance, Mick nagged me for weeks to let him buy the Mini, showing me ads for interesting cars. In the end he took me see a Triumph TR5, which he paid for, then we settled for a little more for the Mini and we went on our ways. The TR5 was a high speed lorry, huge chassis, and the fuel-injected straight six engine a dream. The previous owner had spent a lot getting the notorious Lucas injection system to work properly.

Unfortunately I tried to fit between a Peugeot and an oncoming Escort, which in doing so made a bit of a mess of all three. I got into a fair splash of hot water for that, and the TR5 was sold off to a workmate who put it in his garage and left it there.

A reasonably clean, white Morris 1000 saloon came my way, as Bob’s neighbour knew it had problems but was mechanically ignorant. The front suspension lower pivots (or trunnions) were worn and needed replacing, I knew the symptoms as mine on OMO 876 had failed, tucking the nearside front wheel up into the wheel arch. It was dark and wet (of course) when that happened, roughly by the Doddington & Newnham war memorial, I was doing alright, I thought I had it all under control as I held it into the bank to slow it down, and then one of the three young ladies in the car started screaming, very off-putting when you are trying to concentrate.

This new Morris served me well, and I got brave enough to try and teach my girlfriend (now wife) to drive. How to start an argument, or what. The usual example that I use is approaching Wrotham Heath traffic lights, London bound, I suggested that she should slow, no response, brake, no response, and with queuing traffic ahead I heaved on the handbrake. Minors can have excellent handbrakes and I had fettled this one with this job in mind. To my amazement, with the rear wheels locked, she calmly applied opposite lock as the rear stepped out on the slight bend, still not braking. We never tried that again, she was packed off to BSM.

The next door neighbours were an older couple, Eddie a plumber from South London, and she a very shy thing that we hardly ever saw. He made a point of finding me one day as his Rover was very sluggish. I opened the bonnet, and with it running there was a very pretty fireworks display from the ignition HT leads. These were the early suppressed ones that really did not last and I ended up replacing them with copper cored ones and suppressed caps. This was a Rover P5B, the fastback, V8 engined, heavyweight flagship of their range. The motor club had been to Solihull and I had seen these built, with an endearing memory of a very large gentleman with what looked like a simple bit of 4x2 wood using his strength to “Adjust” the fit of the doors. Ahh Leyland build quality…

Anyway I was asked to test drive it, which I did once I had reversed out of his horribly narrow drive between the house and our wall. What a beast, no doubt the memory is rose tinted, but I could love one of those today. Sadly so would a lot of other people and the prices reflect that.

One of our inmates came with a non-running TR3. He never touched it and when he moved on simply scrapped it.

Another resident was a New Zealander car salesman. After a while we came up with a moneymaking scheme. If someone wished to part exchange a suitable car, one that his employers would simply put out to the trade, he would suggest that to clinch the deal he could get a little more if they sold it direct to the trader – me. Pete would effectively negotiate the price, all I had to do was turn up and make sure that it was what it seemed, and pay for it. We usually stuck to Minis as they were easy to tart up, and quick to sell. A purple automatic was horrible to drive, constantly changing gear, but made good money. A 3litre Capri was such a handful in anything other than bone dry conditions, we got rid of that before we broke it.

I fell in love with a 1300 Alfa Romeo Guilietta Sprint. A rather understated dark blue, I could forgive a few of its quirks, like interior releases for boot and fuel cap, but on the left hand side of the passenger seat. However, one wet night coming home I basically spent most of the descent of Star Hill in Rochester trying to get it to point down the road, not across it. It went.

I paid for a pristine Spitfire myself, meaning to keep it for a while. That was until I drove it. It was still on its original Dunlop Groundhog cross ply tyres, and the first serious corner I went around you could feel the swing arm rear suspension deciding whether or not to kill you today. No thanks. I sold it to another girlfriend who had fallen in love with it, and drove in a far more genteel way.

Pete also brought home other interesting cars, although officially he was meant to drive a “nappy brown” Allegro, which, unsurprisingly, he hated. An Ro80 saloon stands out, super to drive, once you get the hang of the semi-automatic gearbox with the clutch operated by touching the gear knob. An early, brand new XJS was a thrill, and a Triumph Dolomite Sprint was a superb mixture of smart interior, understated exterior and good performance.

Then our Rental Agents announced that our landlord, who worked for Royal Dutch Shell in Holland, had died, and his widow wanted her house back. I had accumulated about £1200 in my car fund, being torn between a BMW 2002 Tii, or maybe an old DB4 Aston Martin as I was increasingly interested in what were becoming known as classic cars. I found out later that the definition of an optimist is someone who thinks that they can just about afford to run an Aston. The alternative definition is of a Motorcycle Courier with a pension plan – I actually knew one!

So dreams of a decent car were put on hold and I used the money as a deposit to buy a house.

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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2017, 18:50:14 »
I have little knowledge of the rally scene in Kent at that time, but all manner of (often inappropriate) cars were used in the 50s and 60s. It was generally just about having fun rather than serious competition, that came later at this level.
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Online conan

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2017, 00:38:25 »
Talking of rallies I seem to remember back in the 60s there was one called the Grasshopper rally that ran through Kent and Sussex.Is this just my memory playing tricks or did it exist?.I seem to remember a chum of mine entering a moggy 1000 in it and telling me he went through one checkpoint with all four wheels off the ground.
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2017, 14:43:58 »
Cars Part 3

Actually this is more like Part 2 addendum, as I realise that I had omitted events and explanations, plus the next bit.

I should make it clear that the autogyro had never flown before. The pilot was therefore even more cautious than I had expected. The thing hanging in front of the shot taken from the air is a quick release toggle for the tow rope in case of emergency. It was also used once, successfully, to give a flight without the downward pull from the rope once up to speed and height, when confidence had been gained in the machine.

The venue for the flights was Long Marston. The edge of the runway was lined with the hulks of what I believe were DUKWs, which formed a useful fence between us and the cattle. Mind you we had to drive along them checking for gaps before we started, the last thing we needed was a cow wandering into our path.

By the way, the pilot’s name was John, the spotter in my passenger seat was John, and I’m also John. That got confusing at times. Too many Johns meant that for many years I was known by my middle name of Filmer, there’s not so many of us.

The pilot, John, was employed by Perkins Engines, and had obtained a Garrett turbocharger which he had fitted to his brother’s Series 2 (petrol) Land Rover. This had a manual waste gate to activate or by pass the turbocharger. On one occasion we went into the Lickey Hills and had a wonderful time with six of us experiencing off roading for the first time. When the turbocharger was engaged the exhaust was through the front nearside bodywork, where later diesel Land Rovers have their air intakes. John’s had an RAF “Caution Turbine Exhaust” triangular sticker around it. On the way home we had a drag off a set of lights with a Hillman Avenger Tiger – horrible car, even worse use of the Tiger name. John backed off at about 50mph and let the (very) disheartened Avenger driver pass as we turned left.

The turbine exhaust was very hot. We once stopped at a parade of shops for some supplies, and as we left had to pause for traffic. The turbo was hot, and as John eased his way forward he saw a gap, revved up to go, and at that time a child walked past clutching an ice cream, turbo exhaust versus ice cream… We left promptly, the screams faded quickly.

We returned to Long Marston in a different context to witness a very early Rallycross style meeting. I don’t think that it was open to the public, we probably got in under cover of one of the Motor Club members who worked as the B L Special Tuning technician for Patrick Motors.  A mini stood out as it had holes about 35mm punched out from all over the bodywork, the strength of which was, I presume, meant to have been replaced by a substantial full cage assembly. It had then been simply covered in masking tape and painted over – badly. I also think that a rally had been cancelled as many of the competitors were in some serious rally cars.

My flat mate Pete and I took his mini into the depths of north Wales to watch a couple of stages on the 1971 RAC Rally at Clocaenog. His father was a professional photographer and Pete could take a fair snap. He captured a Datsun 240Z pointing straight at him, a marvellous oncoming shot, except that it was actually travelling from right to left at a considerable pace on the forest track with the back of the car flirting with the considerable drop into the trees below. Roger Clark was equally impressive.

For a change of sport we went to Santa Pod Raceway to see a drag meeting. We were seriously impressed with the bravery of one guy hanging onto a supercharged 1000cc motor bike, and various trick cars. However the engineering of some of the lower orders was open to question. A Jaguar XK engine was fitted in a small dragster, the “fuel injection” to which appeared to consist of a pipe into each intake, which all teed together and were fed from a pressurised tank, controlled by a cable operated tap arrangement independent of the throttle linkage!

The Motor Club kept us busy, social events mixed with competitions. Treasure hunts were huge fun and designed to be navigator training with cryptic clues if you found the right place. I’m biased having been the Champion one year. Twelve car rallies were a step up, run at night, the limited numbers and distance kept us outside the main regulations for bigger events. Mind you they still took a lot of organising, and we frequently went a fair distance before they started. The old OS map 111 around Derbyshire was a favourite haunt.

One of our number, Andy, was doing really well in the Midland Area Autotest Championship. He tried, and failed, to teach me some of the more entertaining manoeuvres so I stuck to designing and running the tests.

We went en masse to see the Italian Job when it reappeared at Selly Oak fleapit. As we left Andy put on a display in his mini worthy of the film and he left the car park to applause, and not only from the club members.

Andy sold his mini and bought an Austin Healey Sprite (very inferior to an MG Midget), only to then be told that he had qualified for the finals of the autotest championship, in the front wheel drive class. He did no more than hire a mini, swop over the wheels and tyres and fettle the handbrake. All went well until the drive shaft constant velocity joint let go. Ooops! No worries, he changed the wheels back, got it towed out onto the M5, and phoned in a breakdown. Probably got compensation!

He had form with hire cars. Ford ran a challenge where motor clubs could enter a team to work on an Escort. Rear wheels had to be removed, various other bits, and then the distributor. Stop the clock. Engine is spun over with the starter, clock restarted, refit parts, start engine and move forward a couple of feet. Stop clock. None of us had an Escort, so Andy hired one, from the dealership putting on the event, and we practised. We knocked out a couple of other teams but in the last round got the distributor in 180degrees out and lost time sorting that out. Still it was a chance to look at the goodies in the showroom which had been supplemented by works rally cars and the new GT70, a very rare bird indeed.

We were heavily involved in the Castrol Quiz, University Challenge format, but motor clubs competing with wide ranging motoring questions. Our team, of which I was never a part, always did well and one year got to the final, question master was Raymond Baxter, and they won.

Fast forward 10-12years and I’m driving home late one evening. I happen upon a motoring quiz on the radio, apparently the final of a series like Mastermind that I had completely missed. That will do for the way home I thought, then on comes the next contestant, and its Andy, who goes on to win.

After Birmingham I went to stay with Martyn, an old school friend and my rally navigator, at Sonning, where he and other students still had a bit of lease left on their cottage. We were asked if we could restore for sale a Daimler DH19 limousine. This was over 18feet long, 6feet tall and over 6feet wide. Very upright and pre war in style. I have never found a reference to this model, but that is what the plate said on the car, and I suspect that it is a DH27 fitted with the smaller 19hp engine, which tallies as I recall that it was about 2500cc straight six, complete with a brass build plate on the side with the name of the person who assembled it. The rear compartment contained a twin seater sofa at the rear, with two fold up armchairs just behind the electrically operated glass partition. The small, arched, rear window had an electrically operated blind.

The front bench seat was leather, with a vast metal rimmed steering wheel, no power steering, a pre-selector gearbox and an imposing view down the long bonnet and huge headlamps. It carried two spare wheels in covers set into the rear of the front wings. The substantial scissor jacks were built onto the car. At the rear there was a drop down platform on which to strap your luggage. It was, of course, black.

A minor detail was that although we had an ignition key, there were no door keys. So initially the residents of Reading were treated to the sight of this huge car pulling up, and half a dozen students piling out of the windows. About the fourth locksmith that we tried made a couple of keys. These were like an old back door key, but had a shallower and more complicated business end.

The steering was appallingly stiff, and we traced that to the steering box. My first year project had been to redesign the power steering of the Jaguar XJ6, which was notoriously vague in the dead-ahead position. It was made by Adwest, who we had visited in the course of the project, and they were the other side of Reading. We went over to see them clutching the lower steering column and box and were really pleasantly surprised to find that the Daimler DC Ambulances made for the LCC and others in the 1950s used the same box, and yes they had one at the back of the stores. A £25 donation to their Christmas fund saw us walk away with it. It helped, but the steering was still ridiculously heavy.

Some re-trimming and a quick coat of paint (not by us) and it was done. The owner wanted it back for a week or so, then asked us to take it to Manchester to the shippers, as it was off to America. Now the owner was a slightly dodgy character in that he was known to be on the fringes of the drugs world, and we wondered if we had just delivered a “French Connection” car.

Part of our payment was a 998cc Mini Cooper, just two snags, it was in Richmond, and the cylinder head was in the boot. We were loaned an Austin Gypsy breakdown truck (think poor man’s Land Rover) and we ended up hanging on to it for a couple of weeks. It was a (crude) diesel, and had a missing tooth from the flywheel ring gear, so that if the engine stopped there the starter could not engage. Pop it in gear, rock it to and fro, try again, usually worked. It was a bit embarrassing with a car hanging on the back though…

We kept the Cooper for some time, Martyn eventually using it as his daily driver. He drove us home to Queenborough after Tony Young’s wedding in Sittingbourne, cutting through Milton, and as we went around a corner there was a bump. I accused him of hitting the kerb, which was vehemently denied. The next day his father suggested that we come out and look at the Mini. I expected some evidence of kerbing, but we both walked around it a couple of times and saw nothing. He then suggested that we get lower, and there was the battery sitting on the ground. The bump had been it escaping from its little cage under the boot. The base was completely worn away, probably by 2” or more at the front and a little less at the back. It was still connected, which why it was still there, the plates flattened together.

Before we left Reading I started to look for a car, something different, but sporty. A Porsche 356 was dismissed as being a glorified Beetle, and eventually I found a Lotus Cortina Mk1 being advertised for £350 (1972 remember), and only a few miles away. The embarrassed owner didn’t have the car there, he had sent back to the garage where it had come from in London, because he couldn’t start it after a few weeks standing. This dragged on for a couple of weeks, then he contacted me and we arranged to pick it up.

When I got there it still was in London, so he put me up for the night and drove me to West London the next morning. It was still reluctant to start, but the mechanics eventually coaxed it into life. I paid him £320 in the end, and drove off through the middle of London on a Saturday morning, back to Kent.
Illegitimus nil carborundum

Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2017, 20:59:39 »
I transferred the plate to the first SAAB, but could not sell it for a  hundred pounds. I also had no luck selling OMO 876 a couple of years earlier. Times change.
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Online conan

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2017, 19:35:42 »
That MG reg would be worth a lot of money in this day and age
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2017, 13:35:35 »
Next two
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2017, 13:34:25 »
A quick check and the picture size had returned to its default setting. Now resized, I'll try again, but with two at a time.
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2017, 13:20:58 »
Hmmm, the news paper picture displays correctly if I view it, but rotated in the thread. No idea!

Also I posted four photos of the autogyro, and that posting has simply disappeared - help!
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2017, 11:29:08 »
I found a couple of newspaper clippings that my mother inevitably took when ever we got in the local rag.
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