News: “Over the graves of the Druids and under the wreck of Rome,
Rudely but surely they bedded the plinth of the days to come.
Behind the feet of the Legions and before the Norseman’s ire
Rudely but greatly begat they the framing of State and Shire
Rudely but deeply they laboured, and their labour stand till now.
If we trace on ancient headlands the twist of their eight-ox plough.”

-Rudyard Kipling
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Author Topic: Cars, Trains, Guns and things  (Read 11718 times)

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Online filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2017, 22:21:34 »
No, never visited, didn't really go to foreign places like Sheppey until later, my sister, however, went to the Sheppey Tech - the strange purple tinged females!
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Offline conan

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2017, 22:14:10 »
Enjoyed that filmer01 especially the reference to the GWR, a tip of the hat to the great George Jackson Churchward is in order I think.
Did you ever visit the garden layout at Warden point?

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/do-it-yourself-railway/query/Sheppey
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Online filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2017, 21:52:41 »
Trains and bits

I have vague memories of watching the signalman at work in the old signal box at Rainham, the traditional large levers being easily visible from below. It seems that this was a favourite place to take me when very young so that I could watch the signal box activity, the level crossing gates being (manually) operated, and of course, best of all, the steam locomotives.

A Hornby Dublo 3 rail train set, a simple oval with a siding, fixed to a board so that I could easily play with it, appeared when I was about four. My oldest sister, her best friend, and the friend’s boyfriend were going out on a Sunday afternoon, but my father was trying to master the uncoupling rail, and show me how to use it. The boyfriend and Dad spent so long playing with this that the outing was abandoned. Excellent priorities!

The train set grew, but once it outgrew its 8x4 board I never had a place to have it set up for more than a day, which I found hugely frustrating. My only Aunt had married late in life, and her husband provided even more track and rolling stock from his nephews.

When we moved to Hartlip Hill in 1958, I was excited to find that the railway ran past the bottom of the garden. A seven year old was not consulted about the new house, the day we moved in was when I first saw and explored it.

The line was the recently upgraded section between Rainham and Newington, now with four tracks on the embankment, and a signal by the bridge over the lane down the side of our garden so many trains stopped there. A copy of “The Observer’s Book of Railway Locomotives” was purchased with the next Christmas book token (remember them?). I still have it. My bedroom was the only one at the back of the bungalow, so I had full view of the tracks, and the night workings as the old tracks were replaced by continuous rails, all arc lights and welding sparks – wonderful theatre.

The embankment was covered with lupins, probably escaped from someone’s garden, and the usual vegetation control was to burn the bank.

An infrequent, but imposing, sight in the morning was The Golden Arrow hauled by a Bullied Pacific, often one still with its streamlined outer. Much as I enjoyed this spectacle it meant that I was late for the bus if I didn’t get a move on real sharpish!

It is worth noting that after a while you really didn’t find the trains intrusive at all. It was only when they were not running that you suddenly realised that something was missing.

An early visit to the Bekonscot model village, with its extensive O-gauge layout was inspiring, I so wanted an outdoor railway, so much more practical than the RHDR that I had ridden many times.

My friend two doors away was less enthusiastic about model railways than me, but being a later arrival to the interest, his was a two rail layout. We even worked out how we could run a track from him to me. The first stage was to lay a cable between us. I say cable, but it was a seriously long collection of every bit of electrical wire that we could find – the resistance must have been huge. Our electrical knowledge found wanting, the scheme was (sensibly) abandoned. I did buy some two rail track and a couple of points, intending to create a small layout and fiddle yard, and a couple of early style GWR coaches were made into more realistic replicas. Time and other interests did not permit it to go further.

Finding out that my church choirmaster actually had a live steam model locomotive really got my interest. He had a portable section of raised 3.5” track, about 100feet long and gave rides at Church Fêtes and the like. By the time I was about twelve I was helping at these events, setting up, taking the money and acting as general dogsbody. I eventually got to drive.

In order to understand driving better I spent time at Mote Park driving the track there, where the necessity to manage the fire, water level and steam pressure were completely different to just shunting up and down a short, straight track, although that taught you a lot about stopping distances and reversing.

Graham had actually built two locos, an 0-6-0 tank engine “Vera”, and then “Bantam Cock” which was based on the Gresley V4 2-6-2 of the same name. Vera was rarely used as it was a poor performer, alright for the fête shunt, but around Mote Park it could easily run out of steam on the way up the hill. Being modelled as a tank engine it had relatively large cylinders, and small wheels and boiler, hence it used steam faster than it produced it, unless carefully managed.

Bantam Cock was great to drive, and with its outside Walschaerts valve gear, looked the part as well. Even the injector picked up easily.

Through my early teens I devoured books on locomotives and railways in general, but found that I was drawn to the Great Western. Isambard Kingdom Brunel became an early hero, and through my contact with the model steam engines I learnt to understand their workings, and be able to interpret the drawings. Curiously, at school I could not take Technical Drawing as it clashed with Physics, most odd, but then the grammar school wanted to produce academics rather than engineers. 

We went to real locomotive works. Ashford and Eastleigh were a bit disappointing, but Swindon, still repairing proper locomotives, was stunning. We actually went to Crewe, the highlight of that was turning the corner to find “Evening Star” standing there, sadly not in steam. Breathtaking.

I kept Vera in my workshop for a while, doing a bit of restoration and maintenance. I tried, unsuccessfully to persuade my parents to let me put up the fête track down our back lawn.

I acquired a small lathe for £5, but spent over £30 getting a decent chuck. Using it I intended to build “Juliet” an 0-4-0 tank engine. I opted for Baker outside valve gear and made a start. Then, only a few months later I discovered motorbikes and girls at about the same time, and the engine didn’t get a look in!

Since then I have usually got to have a snoop about whichever preserved railway was near the holiday destination, and will try to return once again to the North Yorks Moors Railway. I have photos of both our Land Rovers under the Ribblehead Viaduct a few years apart, and my wife just could not understand my need to peer over the bridge into the gloom to see Dent Station, windswept and spooky even on a summer’s evening.

For some years my mug at work was one from the Wensleydale Railway Association.

I gave my old train set to my nephews, and to my joy and amazement, they gave it back a few years later. I still have it, and fully intend to get it out and working once more. It sits, in the same wooden, wheeled box, under my bed, just as it did 50years ago.

My teenage consumption of information (thank you O.S.Nock, L.T.C.Rolt, and others) meant that one evening in the mid 1970s we (the inmates of my rented house) were watching Mastermind, and one specialist subject was The Great Western Railway. I scored more points than the contestant. Smug, or what. I couldn’t even hope to do that now.

My younger son was taken with railways, thanks in no small part to the Thomas the Tank Engine TV series, which I always admired for the model making. I made a layout for him (might have been for me though!)  and my late father in law gave us some Hornby 0 gauge tin train rolling stock, which 25years ago got me £200 of credit in the model train shop as a part exchange. Chris still has it all boxed up, he also intends to play again.

On one of our various family visits to K&ESR we had stopped off on our way elsewhere to have a quick look at Wittersham Road, and as I watched a loco get under way I realised that the fireman was my old choirmaster, the creator of Bantam Cock.

From time to time I still have a look at garden railways, of all gauges, and wonder if I could finally create one. It needs to be dog, cat and duck proof, which adds to the challenge.

My natural inclination towards things mechanical was certainly enhanced by contact with model railways, which attracted me to the remote control not only of the trains, but points, signals and later a better understanding of the basic electrics required. However I still find electronics to be more akin to witchcraft, I have been referred to as a nut and bolt engineer.

The real engineering required to build and maintain the live steam locomotives, and the background of the huge figures who made the real thing, all drew me in, and it was no surprise that I studied Mechanical Engineering at university, even though by than I expected to work in the motor industry. We were, after all, only a few miles up the Bristol Road from Longbridge and there were some close ties between the Department and BL.

However, 1972 was not a good year to be seeking a graduate engineering position in the motor industry. Very few were being taken on, I was quite keen on Girling (brake makers) who were developing anti-lock braking. However I didn’t like the “feel” of the place at all. I therefore came back to Kent, my mother had moved back to Rainham earlier that year, and I stayed there for a while.

I was in the running for an interesting job with a haulage company. They wanted someone who would learn the business from the ground up. Starting with getting an HGV licence (they already ran tuition courses) and then through each department, all under the guidance of the owner and founder. It got right down to when they wanted me to start, and then the anticipated funds from a training initiative were withdrawn and that was that.

So I answered an ad in the KM and went for an interview with a heating company, the boss of which had the same qualifications as me, in a trade almost noted for the lack of technical training. I took the job of running the spares and service department, and basically ended up doing that for the next 44 years in one form or other. Almost got the hang of it...
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Online filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2017, 10:04:36 »
Cars part 5

When I moved to Larkfield I still had three cars. The Morris, a red mini and a Triumph Herald 13/60 convertible. The last two were quickly disposed of and the Morris a while later when I had despaired of Sally ever passing her test.

I now had the pleasure of driving the spare company van. With a growing number of maintenance and repair engineers, as well as the installers and supervisory staff, covering the times when they needed their vehicles servicing or just backup meant that we ran an extra van, which I now drove. This, for my sins, was a Bedford Chevanne (being based on the Chevette, often known as a “shove it”) and being rear wheel drive, when empty had absolutely no traction in rain or snow.

I had little input as regards the vehicle purchases, but often managed the sales. For this I took home the vans, de-signed them (we had early sticker sign writing), cleaned them up and advertised them. Selling four or five Escort vans would only mean one advert in the KM, with one van outside my house, the others hidden round the corner in front of my garage. As they were sold the next took its place and so on. All cash transactions, from which I earned a nice commission.

A Morris 1100 served a purpose when Sally finally passed her test.

Sally got promotion that involved being able to travel around Kent to various SEGAS offices, and needed a reliable car. I went and saw our van supplier and got a part exchanged Hillman Hunter Estate for a sensible price. This was fine until the clutch started slipping, so I changed it, regretting the decision once I found out how heavy the gearbox was, in the cold and dark, knowing that it had to be finished to take her to work in the morning.

We went on holiday to Yorkshire, swapping my van for one of the Surveyor’s Datsun 180B saloons. This had a terrible wheel wobble between 65 and 75 mph, so out on the motorway you either had to keep dodging the lorries or elbow your way along the outside lane. Once in the depths of the Moors, I tried giving it some power halfway round a sharp bend, intending for the tail to come round. No. Terminal understeer as it charged straight at the dry stone wall. Didn’t try that again.

We went up tracks and into deserted places, and had to filter out some of the photos when we got back so as not to incriminate myself. We covered the Moors and Dales, doing silly mileages, often chasing the crew filming “All Creatures Great and Small” around the area. We fell in love with the Dales and have returned many times.

Bob had added to the value of the company car and got a Ford RS2000, white with the blue lining. It was not long before talk turned to rallying, and we went marshalling a couple of times. Eventually we did a local rally that ended in a Cafe out on the Marsh. The last couple of sections were around the Marsh, lots of straights, then tight corners. The navigator can, to some extent, control the driver’s pace by the way he calls the corners. A right angle corner would be called as a “90 right” say, and if you were on the ball a distance given. If the driver seemed a bit hesitant then the distances would be called shorter, and the bends shallower so that they didn’t slow too soon or by so much.

As Bob and I went along these last sections I was over calling the bends like crazy as we seemed to going very quickly. At the end I asked why he had speeded up, that was easy, the brakes were so hot that they had faded away and he stopped using them most of the time. When we got out to go into the cafe the smell was horrendous.

After a close encounter with a tree root while nipping between marshalling controls on a later event we decided to pack it all in before we broke something serious – like me, for instance?

Sally and I moved to Grafty Green to a cottage with an acre or so of land so that she could keep her horse “on site”. At work it was decided that I should drive a car rather than a van, and I was reluctantly given the Granada 2.8 Ghia that the boss’s wife had been driving. I had borrowed it a few times so knew what I was getting. The lady in question was very short, barely 5 feet, so vision out of cars was often an issue. When I first knew her she drove a Citroen DS23 Pallas Estate, a huge beast. I drove it home from the office one winters evening. Heeding warnings I opened the door and adjusted the seat back a few notches before even attempting to climb in. The DS had an impressive single spoke steering wheel which she set low and if you just jumped in, the combination of seat and steering wheel could be damaging to your delicate anatomy.

The brake “pedal” was a rubber button on the floor (luckily in the right place) about the size of a halved tennis ball. It was connected to some really powerful brakes, and the power steering was hugely assisted. That combination saw me stop well short of the junction at the end of the road, and nearly drive over the kerb. Being dark the swivelling headlamps got tested – very strange experience to start with. Both the Lotus and Cooper S had four auxiliary lamps, the mini two driving lamps in the centre with two fog lamps set at an angle at each end. This gave light over more than 180 degrees but until you get used to it, rather like the DS, you think that someone else is coming at a junction.

Anyway, back at the Granada, it had a basic 3 speed automatic gearbox with an annoying habit of dropping into second if you tried to accelerate past someone at motorway speed, then immediately changing back up – grrr! We took it on holiday into deepest Wales, and as I was now paying for the fuel I drove like an absolute granny. Filled the tank, quick calculation, about 24-25mpg. Driven like a loony (as usual) it did 22-23mpg. Back to normal then. I showed Sally the Abergwesyn-Tregaron mountain road remembered from my university rally days. It was best described as unsuitable for big, soggy, Granadas.

The handling in the snow was entertaining. Being an automatic the driven wheels give no resistance when the power is removed, so if they start to slip easing back on the throttle can often restore grip and maintain motion. I never got stuck in it, despite a 4mile trip through the lanes from the A20 to home. I did, however, manage to simultaneously knock the snow off the hedges on both sides of the lane on a few occasions.

I had parked the beast in the drive one night, and walking back from shutting the gate, noticed a light from under the bonnet – odd. Opening the car again I raised the bonnet to find flames. A quick jug of water put them out, but courtesy of that oil fire I now had a five cylinder engine. It was decided that I and the other employed director could have new cars, and we were set a price limit. I moved the Granada on through my trade contacts for shifting cars that needed more than a quick buff up. I was then loaned the boss’s wife’s current car to spend the weekend looking for a new car.

Her high-speed handbag was a Porsche 924 Turbo. The turbo was a bit slow to kick in, there was lag and it wanted medium high revs, and very unsubtle in its entry, easily able to catch the unwary. This coupled with a gearbox layout that put 1st (of five) opposite reverse took a bit of getting used to. The boss hated it, give him his XJS any day.

I quite fancied the small BMW, but their pricing structure meant the small 4 cylinder engine with power steering was easily within my budget, or the larger 6 cylinder engine with no useful toys or extras. All radios were extra. They could sell all they could import so no deals whatsoever. The test car was, of course the 6 cylinder with everything on it.

My entry in the Porsche impressed the local Ford salesman, but he also would not get the price down on a Capri 28 Injection far enough to be below the budget. However, I found out that we were due to replace two estate cars for the installation supervisors, then a saloon for the Commercial Surveyor, with possibly two more estates to come shortly after. Another Ford dealership then did the deal with a Capri and two Cortina estates and it was in stock, in blue (actually blue and silver), and without a test drive it was mine.

I loved the Capri, yes it had its faults, the non-optional sunroof being the greatest, as you developed “Capri drivers stoop” to avoid its contact with your head over bumps. But it was otherwise practical, the boot was fine and the roadholding transformed from the 3 litre that we had a few years earlier. Performance was good, mine was an early one, so had a four speed gearbox (which I broke under guarantee). It could, and did, do 100mph in third if you weren’t careful. I calculated the rev limited top speed to be 131 mph using gear ratios and tyre rolling radius information. It served us well for three years then I parted company with that employer and with three others set up on our own. I missed it.

The new venture meant a return to a van, now a Mk1 Astra diesel. They were an OK workhorse. When we employed additional staff, I graduated to a secondhand Vauxhall Carlton Estate, sign written to match the vans. Its sunroof was not quite water proof, icy melt water down the back of your neck at 8am is not good at all.

A nasty winter convinced us of the need for a 4×4. I bought a short wheel-base Shogun. It was handy for towing horseboxes as well, but on a wet M25 with mud and snow tyres, quite terrifying knowing that your stopping distance was huge and every other driver kept diving into your carefully preserved gap to the car in front.

I also towed a friends old Formula Ford 2000 race car for him, which we kept in our garage for a time. That meant a few days at Lydden for free and whole different perspective on racing. Not for me though.

Meantime my eldest sister asked if I would look at a car that a friend of hers had in a lock up in Rainham. A green Triumph was the only information, and I had hopes of an old TR. It was a 1970 Triumph Vitesse 2litre, the Herald based, six cylinder saloon. It had not run for a couple of years but was I interested, of course. A sensible amount of money changed hands and it was mine. Pump up the tyres, check the oil, put a few gallons of fresh fuel in, connect the jump leads, and it started. I came back the next day, and drove it home. Putting it in my newly created garage was a thrill. Checking the irregular tickover not so much. In the end I took the cylinder head off, and there was a burnt out valve.

That evening we had guests, and they wanted see what I had got in the garage. When it was revealed it turned out that one of them was actively looking for a Vitesse, and so a deal was done, and I never got to play with it, or put the cylinder head back, that went in the boot.

I had learnt that if you had sales contact with Mr & Mrs Public, it was best not to look too flash/prosperous with the car that you arrived in. I ran an early VW Jetta for some time as a company car. Originally bought as a temporary stop gap, it was practical, had a secure boot, and economical. I sold it to a local with over 130,000 miles on the clock, and he nearly doubled that.

Meantime Sally had become a Land Rover driver, firstly with a grey 90 Station Wagon. This was petrol, and so thirsty that it only had about 125 mile range. Even so it went to John O’Groats with the whole family aboard. A friend had found us a roof rack that was almost an architectural work of art in aluminium tube, an offset walkway that lined up with a rear ladder made it very practical. The boys hated it, especially if you turned up at school in it. Very Uncool, but you could always find it in a car park.

A leased Audi A4 was the Jetta’s replacement, an excellent daily driver. However it did not survive being barrel rolled into a telegraph pole by my eldest son. It actually took the impact impressively well, there was a straight panel left afterwards, the rear offside corner!

Meantime the same friend who had found the roof rack, bought the 90, and we found a Defender 110 turbo diesel. This, equipped with a dog guard meant the dogs in the back, luggage in the middle, us in the front. Someone had spent money on this vehicle, the front seats were replaced with Recaro buckets, re-trimmed in Land Rover fabric, and the rears were high backed items. A fancy CD player was under the rear seats, and the windows were darkened. We went all over the country in this, Yorkshire was still a popular destination, staying at the same B&B, as they were happy for us to turn up with two German Shepherds. We kept it for many years.

A VW Golf VR6 was suitably under the radar, a Golf is a Golf to most people. However it was a real performer, but with torque steer in abundance. Its party piece was to join the motorway from the slip road at 50mph in third, and if you weren’t careful by the time you needed fourth it was doing 100mph in the outside lane. I owned this car and the company paid for my business miles, but changes to tax meant it would cost me to drive it, so it went.

Another VW, a Diesel Bora was next, again a modest looking car, but with excellent on-road performance, but also economy, and being the Sport version a bit of extra comfort. Unfortunately my wife did not beat a Renault across a cross roads early one morning on her way to the gym. I always held that going to the gym was not a sane thing, especially at 6.30am. The impact removed the rear axle from its mountings, and did lots of other violent things to the poor car. Amazingly the insurance company had it rebuilt, but I did not want it back and part exchanged it for an even more mundane Ford Focus.

The Focus was a 2litre turbo diesel and so was still quite nippy, and again kept me on the right side of everyday cars when visiting potential customers. One even said that he was pleased that I drove a sensible car as the surveyor from a rival company had turned up in a brand new Mercedes. Brand new vans and second hand cars was always my motto.

My wife, used to her much beloved, and greatly missed, Land Rover Defender 110 drove the Focus through a puddle that was nearly a lake. Unknown to most of us, many modern diesel cars have low air intakes to get cold air, so she sucked water in, which being incompressible basically bends things inside the engine. To my amazement the insurance company paid out a total loss as water damage. Thank you Direct Line!

Meantime as a bit of a toy I had bought a Mazda MX5 so that became the daily driver. It was noticeable that I got comments from customers, usually favourable, but they were noticing what I was driving. At the end of last year, when I could no longer be comfortable getting in or out of it my eldest son took it on.

I had previously bought an MBG GT to replace the Vitesse as my “toy”. I rebuilt the front suspension and upgraded the brakes. Adding a rear anti-roll bar made the whole thing feel much more modern. I used it for a few years, then the overdrive gave up, and lacking the time to repair it, it spent the winter in the garage. My eldest son wanted to fiddle with his car and asked if he could move the B. No problem, but it has no brakes. He interpreted that to mean that it had 1960’s brakes, but I meant that it had NO footbrake. He hit the corner of the stable. I sold it as it was, I had lost enthusiasm some time before, especially when trying to get a better fit for the doors, which saw me taking an angle grinder to the hinge.

I vowed that with the next car I would not have to put somebody else’s dodgy work right. I had been going to kit car shows for some time, but was constrained by my wife’s opinion that a replacement for the MGB should also have at least 2+2 seating. Considering that we hardly ever went out as a family in the MG, and once the boys were larger than the legless dwarves that the BGT was designed to accommodate, that constraint disappeared. I am not good with paint and trimming so although a 30’s touring style of car appealed, (think Morgan look-alike) the work didn’t. I had broken up my brother-in-law’s Cortina Mk5, and kept the engine, drive train and suspension. I rebuilt the engine.

In the end I was allowed to go for a more basic high speed bathtub type, the genre based upon the Lotus Seven. After a bit of looking around I bought a “comprehensive” kit from Tiger Racing to build a Tiger Cat.

A Sierra, with about 5minutes MoT left, was sourced for pennies, and ripped to pieces on the drive, and the useful bits cleaned up and put away. The scrap man dealt with the rest and the unwanted Cortina bits.

Unfortunately life got in the way and after a couple of years the Tiger ended up (as many kit cars do) under a dust sheet in the garage, which now doubled as a company stores and workshop. When we moved, it then spent time (3 years) in two barns before coming to our next home, and its brand new garage. I had driven the car briefly on the private access road to a garden centre on its trip to the first barn.

Even with it now at home very little progress was made until I boldly/foolishly decided to write about it as a spur to actually working on it.

Every two months I now write an article of about 1000 words with a few photos about my progress, that form part of a series in “Complete Kit Car” magazine under the heading “Running Reports”. My main challenge now is having to take a design from before the introduction of SVA (single vehicle approval) and adapt it to satisfy the much more rigorous and closely specified IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) standards. A very thorough test and inspection, lasting a few hours is also required to ensure compliance. Some quite major reworking of previously finished aspects of the car are now required. My lathe skills have been rediscovered as I try to find engineering solutions rather than simple bodge jobs.

That work continues.
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Offline smiffy

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2017, 22:03:43 »
Thanks for confirming my memory :)

Sorry, but I can't remember any petrol pump outside - not to say that there wasn't, of course. The only one like that that I know of was in Brompton High Street.

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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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Online 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?

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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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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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Online 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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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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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.
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Online 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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