by Kevin Thompson
And now... the end is near ....
So all is installed as in last part 13 I couldn't find the engine pictures with it fully built with shiny bits, but having done so i can now show you what it would have looked like in it's prime condition. I wish it looked like that today!
Here are just the engine photos for now. Hopefully in part 15 it will be the end of the blog for this resto as you can see, no expense was spared here everything was new it was just fitting it all as you see it to make sure they was fitting ok so there you have it sorry it's short and sweet but in part15 I'll make it a bit longer in the last part to come soon - enjoy!
by Kevin Thompson
Well time for that unlucky for some part as I left of we had the engine cleaned up and new parts replace I have been looking for the picture of the engine all painted and new parts on it for some unknown reason I have lost them where I don't know where they have gone?
So the picture you will see is the one going into the Reliant now so as you can see the engine has to go under the Reliant no other way it's a to say the least as I have to raise it further into the air ( there must be another way I here you say ) nope that's it underneath sadley
Nope so it's moved into place ready to lift up yes you heard right I had to lift it up but I used jack's to lift this lump up so after a few and a very strong words it was up and in the chassis mounts at the front then had to raise the rear then bolt that up.
Then it was bolt all the rest of the new parts onto the engine rebuild after much rebuilding later it was time to test and run the engine took a few turns but fired up and ran for a few min's let kool down and tighten up all nut's and bolt's etc.
So now I have rolling running electrifying running Reliant after 3 years of rebuilding it but not finished there yet - more to come in part 14
by Tony "Tosh" Brooks
I thought I’d put pen to paper for your entertainment on a cold winters evening.
The following account is fictitious, it has never happened and any resemblance to any persons living or dead is totally coincidental!
I’m sure anyone who has ever owned or worked in a vehicle bodyshop will be able to relate to at least some part of my totally fictional account of why most car restorers/painters/mechanics, despite usually being happy, generous and helpful people, never seem to have many long term friends.....
‘Twas a crisp winter’s morning in deepest darkest South Yorkshire. The birds were singing and there was a distinct smell of pigs in the air. All was quiet and as the kettle clicked to the boil, I made a coffee and sat in the big leather chair my mother-in-law gave me, trying to decide whether to just go back home and crawl back into bed or add a fourth layer of clothing, in the hope to keep warm enough to actually start some work on my beloved classic cars. I don’t do work for “customers”, as a business, it’s just a “hobby” gone wrong. I only work on my own collection of classics, bought between myself, my much aggrieved wife and my brother but usually during the week I work alone.
At least this way, it doesn’t feel like work and we have no-one else to answer to, or anyone else’s time scale and budget to follow. So i’m sat there in the quiet, thinking about how lucky I am to be in this position, until the silence was broken by the skid of a handbrake being pulled slightly too hard to a stop and the slam of car’s front door, just outside my toybox.
“ Hey Tosh, not seen you for a while, how you doing, how’s the world of classic cars going?”
Hiya mate, good to see you. It’s going great thanks, not earning any money at it but it pays the bills and at least i’m doing what I enjoy and don’t have to sit in an office or work in a factory. How’s things with you, hope the family are well. It’s about time we went out for dinner again, not been out for a while. Do you want a coffee, kettle’s just boiled?
“ Yes please mate, one sugar. Yeah definitely mate, i’d love to, my missus keeps saying she doesn’t see enough you and your lass, we’ll sort something out before Christmas. I’ve been seeing some cracking jobs coming out of your place, you seem to do a great job pal, it must be brilliant having somewhere like this”.
It is mate, it’s ace. No pressure, no hassle and playing with my cars all day. What more would you want? Anyway, what you doing driving a “classic?” I didn’t know you had an old Austin A35, are you going for the rat look, like?
“No mate, that’s what i’ve come to see you about. I’ve just bought it, it’s your fault, you got me looking at classics! It’s a bit raggy round the edges but it’s solid enough. Just needs a couple of wings swapping but they are bolt on so no problem. I reckon you could make it look as good as new in no time mate”
Well I don’t really do other people’s cars, I only do my own. I don’t really have the time or the inclination to take work on, i’m busy enough as it is. I suppose seeing as it’s you, i’ll help you out all I can. What you got in mind?
“I haven’t got much cash to spend on it but it’s such a good car I think it’s worth doing up and i’d like to come along to some shows with you next year. It looks like you have a laugh. I’ve been after one for ages and when it came up I couldn’t resist. Our lass loves bright yellow, so I think it would be a lot better than the blue. I’ve found some front wings and it might just need the odd patch welding up cos I think there’s some filler in the bottom of the doors and sills.”
What about all the micro blisters on the roof and the filler in the rear wings and rear panel though mate? There’s only one way to get rid of that and that’s to completely strip all the paint off down to bare metal. The doors are dented too and all the seals and wing fillers need replacing. It’s a lot of work to do a decent job mate.
“I’m not bothered about it being a proper showroom job, I just want it to look nice. It can’t look much worse than it does now eh? Just straighten it up, get rid of the rusty bits and make it all one colour. As long as it’s nice and shiny and doesn’t have all that blistering on the top panels, it will be great once the new wings are on. They’re only second hand wings by the way. One’s green and one’s orange but the don’t look bad for the money.”
Mate, seriously, to do all that including changing the colour i’d probably have around 250 to 300 hours in it. The doors, bonnet and boot have to come off. The engine has to come out to do the engine bay. It’s tons of work mate.
“Well what do you charge per hour?”
I don’t mate. As I said don’t do customers work I only do my own so I don’t really have a hourly rate. If you went to a “proper” car restorer, they quote between £50 and £75 per hour labour! Obviously I wouldn’t be quoting you anywhere near that, you’re my mate. What if we said £10 per hour?
“What’s that work out at mate, as I said I haven’t got too much cash?”
Well to do an half decent colour change job with pretty much a bare metal preparation and swapping the wings you’re looking between 250 and 300 hours so even at proper mates rates you’re looking £2500 and £3000.
“Behave mate I paid less than that for the car!”
Fair enough mate, it does sound a lot. I tell you what. You have the next few weeks off work, come down here every day and help me strip and prep the car and we’ll get it done between us and it wont cost you half as much. Hopefully we’ll get it done in less than three weeks.
“I would do mate but i’ve got to work. I can’t afford to take the time off, my missus would go mad if I was off doing my car instead of earning. I’ve got a mortgage to pay and kids to feed you know”
Ha, ha, I know what you mean mate, so have I. Ok I suppose I could just do odd bits and bobs in between my other jobs and you could come down at weekends and give me a hand. I’d have to have some materials though. I can’t afford to use all my stuff on freebie jobs, it costs a fortune you know. So can you bring me this lot and i’ll crack on with your car whenever I can get on it.
80 grit sanding discs
240 grit sanding discs
Paint stripping pads
5 ltrs paint stripper
A couple of paint stripping scrapers
40 grit flappy grinding discs
60 grit flappy grinding discs
1mm slitting cutting discs
2” masking tape
1” masking tape
Tin sheet for patch welding repairs
Wet flatting Paper
Anti Silicone degreaser
General purpose cleaning wipes
Paper spraying over-alls
Spray mask filters
1200 wet colour sand flatting paper
1500 wet colour sand flatting paper
Farecla G3 polishing compound
Farecla fine finish compound
Machine polishing mop head
Machine compound mop head
Car wash and wax
Quality hand car wax
Vinyl Cleaner etc........
Then we’ll have a chat about the top coat colours
“Crikey mate, what’s that lot gonna cost, I bet you’re talking quite a few hundred quid there. I heard how much Mike Peake had to spend on his polishing kit, so I know for a fact that I can’t afford all that”
Oh right, sorry mate, it does sound rather a lot. Ok i’ll try and do it without using any materials.
Would you be ok to take care of the unit and electric costs though because my unit and electric costs around £150 week, and that’s before I even open the doors. Thank goodness i’ve got a decent landlord who doesn’t rip me off, or it would be a lot more. It also costs me at least a fiver a day in fuel just to get here. As long as you’ll take care of those expenses, lets say a grand or so for the duration of the job. I reckon i’d be able to sort you out.
“I’m not right happy about spending all that just on fee’s and you getting here mate. Is there any way we can get the costs down a bit?”
We can have a go later but we haven’t even talked about what you actually want to paint it in yet. You need to bear in mind that I don’t have any fancy heated or climate controlled spray booths here. I have a £50 plastic gazebo party tent in a dusty scruffy old farm barn and I use a cheap nasty spray gun and compressor that quite frankly a professional painter would refuse to use. The lighting is terrible and there is no heating at all.
“So how come all the cars that i’ve seen come out look great and have quite a professional looking finish?”
The only way I can get round that is by using really expensive top quality finishes like two pack or two pack clear coat over base coat. The gun finishes are by no means perfect. There are flies, spiders legs, dust, orange peel and runs due to the poor gun pattern, bad lighting and insufficient air pressure but I can usually get away with it because I spend hours wet flatting and polishing the finish later. I also spend a long time and a hell of a lot of money on preparation beforehand. There’s no way round it, it’s just hard graft.
“Yeah but that two pack stuff is a fortune. I was quoted £60 a litre at one place. What I haven’t told you yet is I managed to find some Synthetic enamel at just £9 a litre, so I saved a few quid there. It’s not quite the colour I wanted but it’s near enough. Just do it in this mate”
But mate the problem with that stuff is, once it comes out of the gun, there is nothing you can do with it. If there is a fly that lands on it or a spider walks across it, or I get any runs because it’s too cold or I can’t see, there is nothing I can do with it. You are stuck with what you get. I can’t flat it, I can’t polish it, I can’t even take it off and start again if it’s real bad and on top of that it takes days to dry off, especially in this weather before you can start to build the car back up again. It’s really not worth the saving on material cost.
“You worry too much mate. Just crack on as quick as you can. I’ll nip down and have a coffee and see how you are getting on when I can. If I don’t see you just give me a shout when it’s done. I could do with it for that show we talked about soon though, so don’t let me down. Here’s the paint, i’m sure it will be fine. Thanks for the coffee, i’ll see you soon”
SOME TIME LATER
“Eyup Tosh, you managed to get it sorted then”
Well it’s all one colour but I can’t say i’m happy with it.
“Why what’s up with it? It doesn’t look bad from down here”
Yeah it’s a good 10 yard away job, but as I thought, it’s full of dusty bits and a couple of dead flies from the spray tent. It’s a bit orange peely, as the compressor struggled to keep up with pressure and there a few runs on the lower panels where I couldn’t see in there. On the bright side you’ve got a clean looking car that didn’t cost you a fortune.
“Oh right, yeah I can see what you mean when you look close.” (uncomfortable silence) “Cheers, sorry I didn’t manage to get as much cash out as we talked about but i’ll try and see you right as soon as I can. Maybe i’ll see you at the show at weekend”
I can’t make that show mate, i’ve got to try and get this car finished as I need to get it on sale. Maybe i’ll see you at the next one. Sorry we didn’t get chance to go out for dinner. We must get together soon.
AT THE SHOW
“Eyup mate, I see you’ve had the A35 painted then, who did you that?”
“Tosh did it”
“Really?, I’ve seen a few of his jobs and they were great. To be honest this looks a bit ........”
“Yeah, to be honest i’m really disappointed with it, I expected it to be better than this”
“You were going to take it to the NEC show weren’t you? It’s going to look ten times worse under those lights”
“ I was hoping to, but obviously I can’t take it looking like this. To be honest I think I could have done better myself in my garage. What a waste of money”
“I thought about asking him to do one for me but I don’t think i’ll bother ha ha”
“No, I wont be taking him any more jobs either, i’ll take it to a proper garage next time”
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by Kevin Thompson
Well it's that time for the ENGINE the eeeeyuuk time as you can see from it it had not been out since it was put in gleaming from the factory so the 30 years of grime oil spill's (not by me) that collected over the year's
It's a wonder it did not add weight to it even the gearbox was filthy anyway it was part striped as you have to take starter and alternator and the rad off so it would drop from below yes mine has to go from the bottom not the top like some so was a challenge to get the reliant up high enough for it come out so set to stripping all that need to come off.
I took off the rocker and ohh it's looks like I caught it in time the head gasket must have be going explains why it was running a bit rough and few other things the engine mounts were broken too but it did look nice all cleaned down but apart from all gunk it had on everything was all ok it had some new seal's to replace front and back and have the gasket it done as well I had ordered new dizzy and cap new plug's oil filter gasket set piston's look fine crank look ok no score's put new timing chain on and tensioner new engine mounts and gearbox mount's then when everything was back it was time to paint up the engine.
Well that's it for this year will continue after the new year thanks for following my project through these coming month's I promise it will be finished soon not much more to do but paint up the engine tune up and put back in the reliant so until see you in the new year
Thanks - Kevin
by Kevin Thompson
So after being high as a kite with all the gluing etc I had to take a break as it was no good putting in screws upside down so I left it for a while.
So the next day I finished of the back end having all the cut out's done and boarding all the rear out and putting extra cubby hole's in I got it finished just need to carpet it next.
Then it was back to the door cards they need some much upgrading did not like the colour so they got painted too then when that was done I went and did the front dash in the same colour refitted it with all the clock's and dials fitted as well no photo of that am sure I took one might be on another flash drive.
Anyway I got a stage I was almost done within the Reliant so I next thing was the engine that had to be cleaned and painted yes even the engine got the treatment too so I will submit that in next episode.
by Mike Peake
The NEC Classic car show is the largest and most prestigious indoor classic car show in the country and is considered the show season finale. Competition for stand space is fierce and it is therefore quite an honour to be chosen to exhibit.
This honour was bestowed on little old us. We are a non-subscription Facebook collection of cake-eating nutters that share a passion for old British cars. We are certainly punching above our weight and holding our own among the big clubs with their huge budgets and professional staff.
So, it was with trepidation and excitement that I was preparing. The run-up turned into a bit of a baking frenzy with rock cakes by Mother-In-Law of FB, sausage plait by Mrs FB and of course, award winning lemon drizzle cake. Thursday night arrived and caravan packed (thanks Mrs FB) I duly set off for my pitch on the driveway of Cole Towers. Arriving at 9.30, I had to wake up the old crocks in the chuckle wagon so Gar, Gus and Tosh could help push my van into the remaining space on the drive. The Brooks quickly returned to their van and with slippers on and blankets over their knees, they soon dozed off again.
Once my cosy abode for the weekend was set, Gar then gave me a full briefing on the weekend including all the required paperwork and passes and instructions on where to collect Martin in the morning. He also gave me his house keys with strict instructions to make sure the house was locked after we’d used the facilities in the morning as he didn’t trust the Chuckle Brothers to remember as they are in their dotage. (Tosh was 60 this week you know!)
The following morning, I was sat in my PJs enjoying a coffee and a bacon butty when I was rudely interrupted by Tosh banging on my door shouting “Come on, we’ve got to go!” “But the show doesn’t start until 10 today” I said. “9! Definitely 9!” said Tosh. I rushed around getting ready and emerged from my van to find both Brooks already sitting in my car - blanket knee'd and everything.
So it was off to pick up Martin White who had booked himself in the Holiday Inn next to the NEC. Except it wasn’t. He’d booked the wrong one. The one he’d booked was in Manchester. (Ok, OK! Not Manchester. It was about 3 miles further up the road than the one he thought he’d booked though. It felt like Manchester after Gladys the sat nav thought it would be funny to take us on a tour of every housing estate in the greater Birmingham area before arriving at the Holiday Inn.)
Martin collected, we arrived at the NEC car park at 0845 “No time to wait for the bus” chimed the 2 old crocks from their bath chairs. “We’ll have to leg it!” Yeah right! Anyway, we legged it from the car park to the halls breaking the speed record for fat blokes pushing a wheelchair in the process. Flustered and sweaty, we arrived at our stand. We had the cake laid out and by 0900 and were sat waiting for the punters to arrive…. at 10 o’clock! Like I said in the 1st place!
Tosh and Gus slunk away to be traitorous with their Humber on another club stand, leaving Martin and I to say hello to Stan and admire the 3 gleaming examples of British motoring heritage displayed on our rather fine-looking pitch.
So let me introduce the chaps and their cars.
A fine day was had eating cake, chatting to people about cars and eating more cake. Mrs FB and eldest daughter of Mike (Anita and Sophie) arrived too and we had a jolly good nose about the rest of the show, popping back regularly to give the other chaps a break (well check that they were behaving themselves really! They weren’t.) As Nick wasn’t there on Friday, Stan sold the Capri.
Here are a few pictures of some of my favourite cars from round and about the Show.
After a cracking day it was time to depart the show and head back to the traveller site that used to be Gar’s house.
I have to say, I half expected trouble when we saw Gar stood at the gate pounding a rolling pin into his palm and I wasn’t disappointed. As I stepped from the car I was harangued, harangued I tell you. My ears were assaulted but I managed to make out the odd phrase like “Totally Irresponsible.” “I trusted you.” And “You’ve let me down but worst of all, you’ve let yourself down” all punctuated with bashes around my head with the rolling pin.
It took a while, but eventually I worked out what I had done to deserve this assault. You remember I said that Gar left me his house keys because he didn’t trust the Brooks to make sure the house was locked? Well……
Everyone then went out for a jolly nice Chinese buffet. Everyone except me that is, I had to sit in my caravan with a thick ear and reflect on what I had done.
The next day, we did have to be at the NEC at 9am but even with all the rushing around, Gar still remembered to lock his house. Now Gar was driving we also took a much more direct route and we were already for another day of eating cake, talking to Muggles and welcoming an assortment of members that were able to find our stand.
These included Young Paul Cheetham with his trusty camera, old Phil Allin, creator of banners and flags and printer extraordinaire and Dominic Coleman, creator of our group logo and plaques for the cars.
Phil was quite pleased with his efforts as were we. However, he did have a bit of “flag envy” when he saw the 25 foot ones on the Mini stand next door. We assured him however, that size wasn’t everything which seemed to set off his de ja vu for some reason. I’m sure you’ll agree that Phil’s flags and banner look great and whatever Phil thinks they lack in size they make up for in quality.
Daughter of Mike 2 was also visiting on the Saturday (Emily) which meant it was Mini fest for me. We had to track down every Mini in the show as well as the weird and wacky. We had a lot of fun between popping back regularly to give the other chaps a break. (Well, check that they were behaving themselves really! They weren’t.) As Stan wasn’t there on Saturday, Nick sold the steering wheel out of the Jaguar. But as all profits went to the club fund, I didn’t complain.
Here are some photos of Minis and some weird and whacky wonders! I even bought my daughter a Mini but she wasn’t as excited as I thought she would be.
Amongst all the cake, Anita had sent another of her gorgeous sausage plaits for our lunch on Saturday, but it didn’t survive that long and I think it was gone by 11am. I’d learned my lesson after Snowdon though! Emily and I had ours in our own lunch boxes hidden from the greedy so and so’s helping man the stand. So, we actually got some this time!
After 2 long and very busy days, we were blooming tired so we decided to grab a pub meal on the way home and go to bed REALLY early so we’d be fresh for our final day on Sunday. It’s because we were working jolly hard and not that we are all getting on a bit now and can’t cope… honest!
We were back at the NEC bright and early on the final Sunday. Most of us had seen what we wanted, so we were a bit more relaxed and mostly stayed on the stand meeting more members, chatting to more Muggles and yes…eating more cake. I think it is safe to say that we all had a great time and a great laugh with great people.
However, I did have what was possibly one of my most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. Lady Sandra Simpson of Boston had donated a glorious chocolate Malteser cake. At least it was before Tosh stole all the Maltesers off the top so by the time we got to it, it was just a glorious chocolate cake. So being fair it was felt that I ought to send some award-winning Lemon Drizzle over to the Boston Classic Car Club stand to return the favour. The rest of them would only spare 2 slices though, but the thought was there.
Feeling like a bake-off contestant offering up a creation to Mary Berry, my cake was presented. I heard that there was much interest on the stand as my offering was judged. I also heard that it was received quite favourably, even to the extent that one member of the BCC now walks with a permanent limp after being a bit too enthusiastic in his praise and saying that it was more “lemony” than her Ladyship Sandra’s own Lemon Drizzle. No one said whether that was a good thing or not though.
Oh, I’ve just remembered I’m writing about a car show so I best tell you about some cars. The stand behind us was the Crayford Car Club and they had some stunning cars. All convertible Minis including one that had appeared in our group with a tree growing through the middle not long ago but now it looks incredible.
My favourite car of the show was on this stand too with a great history. A Crayford Convertible Wolsley Hornet. You couldn’t buy these but Heinz had 57 made and gave them away as competition prizes along with the picnic set and paraffin primus stove for heating your soup. And yes that is a pullout makeup tray.
The owner had written to Max Factor and after a search of their archives, they supplied all the original make-up to fill the tray. The car radio was also removable and could be used as a portable. The rear storage was converted to cool boxes too. We loved it and could be yours for 30,000 of your British quids! Or it could be if the owner could be parted from it.
Well, all good things come to an end and sadly it was time to pack up and go home, but what a great time I had.
I really want to make clear what a remarkable achievement it is for us to be here and it is solely due to the extremely hard work and dedicated enthusiasm shown by our team of volunteer top chaps.
I really need to mention, and on behalf of the group, praise worship and thank these saints among men.
Finally, a huge thanks to all our members for coming up and saying hello and eating our cake. It was really great to meet you all. (Except Eric Dalton. He keeps being rude to me!)
Thank All. See you soon!
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by Kevin Thompson
So where we left off with windows roof lining fitted the wiring the wheels running gear electric's sorted then came some wood work in the rear of the reliant.
As I was not going to be putting the rear seat's back I though I would lift up the back section a couple of inches so I could fit most of the rear electric's in and fit some box's in too ( did I mention electric's again ? ) sigh yes I added some more complicated wiring
More on that later so did this to the back end of the reliant the first picture show's as it was before I cut out a section next was a big hole cut out as you can see in the next picture it is a big hole but I filled it in with a box I made too on both side's as in the third picture and the forth picture the other side was smaller due the spare wheel being in the way and the was no where for it to go so next in the firth picture went in the frame work for the are to carry spares ect same with the boxes I fitted too they will have door's fitted to them in the sixth picture you see I fitted a back board the go's behind the front seat's that was carpeted later
The frame was going ok till I ran out off timber so off I went to local timber stores for more wood and screws and nail's tell you truth I never used the nail's really as used mostly wood screw's and glue was high as a kite with evo-stick glue ( but it dam nice enough of that back to what you was doing ) oh sorry yes where was I ? WELL have to wait for part 11
by Kevin Thompson
So, after fitting all the wiring and lights for as many weeks and months as it took me, after blowing countless fuses and burning out some wires it was all sorted now. Then I had the task of re-fitting the windscreen and side windows. The back window never came out as it refused to do so. It was left in the door so that was one less window to do any way.
However, I had to fit the roof lining first as this needed doing before the windows. At this stage, Sheila had a say in the colour and did all the stitching. That took her best part of a week due to her hands not letting her do what she wanted through arthritis. She managed it thanks to her determination. So after that was done, it was back to me to fit it as can be seen in the pictures. It was a challenge but I did it anyway.
Now it was time for the windows. Oh God not the windows? Yes, the windows. Well the front screen went first. What a job that was! After a friend gave me a tool to use it was a doddle. Then the side window's went in. They fell in if you know what I mean lol.
While I was at it, I fitted in some speakers In the rear, but I changed them again later in the episode.
So, that was the main thing done, now body back on, running gear was back in, wiring was done, roof lining done and the windows back in. So what was left? We will have to see in part 10.
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by Kevin Thompson
So we are at the stage where all the electrics go and all the lights too. I saved on the back lights as I told you in the last episode (part 7) I got some trailer lights as they were cheaper than the original ones costing £42 each and the trailer one's costing £5.95 each.
I know they're not original but I wanted something different too same as the front ones they are off a Land Rover; I think they are Defender ones but not sure also costing £42 each for the original again saving money as the Land Rover lights cost £5 each. So they were fitted and all working ( as shown in pictures ).
Then was the head lights to be fitted now as least these were still good and original I was thinking down the road of angel lights but thought no - I was trying to keep to a budget here. Then when all was fitted I went back to my laptop just to check my wiring was all ok and check all the circuits.
All was ok to stay. I am not fond of electrics really - I hate them as they always hurt you lol or you blow something and then you know about it. Or you spend ages looking to find a fault but you never look at the fuse until you've torn your hair out. That's why am almost bald!
So that's the electrics all done but I will be fitting more lights for the inside (more on that later) but it was my next challenge to refit all the windows and headlining next but that's in part 9.
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By Mike Peake
Sunday morning dawned grey but actually not raining. However, I still wasn’t dry as my pet swamp had decided to move in with me during the night and as my airbed had deflated again; I wasn’t even floating above it. Fortunately I’d put my clean clothes up out of the way, so at least they were dry. I waded through Celia to the outside world and much needed coffee. (Well as we’d slept together, I thought I should at least know her name.)
Fixing breakfast was as easy as usual and just a matter of shouting “Is my bacon ready yet Gus?” Of course it was because Gus looks after us like that.
The morning progressed and Scumbag Grotto quickly filled as the hotel scumbags arrived and we all waited excitedly for SUPER ENTHUSIAST MAN to appear again to fix young Paul's broken Mini. We weren’t disappointed as with a mighty bound he arrived over the trees carrying Rusty the Mini under his arm.
Apparently, Rusty’s mechanical fuel pump had broken, dumping all the fuel in the sump and causing the vomiting fit and non-running of the previous morning. Super Enthusiast Man quickly had the noxious mixture drained into Gar’s empty curry pots. Then, removing a spare electric pump from the utility pocket in his Y-fronts, Super Enthusiast Man soon had it all fitted up and ready to go.
“Right young Paul, where’s your fresh oil to refill your sump?” Young Paul looked a bit sheepish at this point and said “errrmm….” So we all had a whip round of the rest of the scumbags and rustled up enough 20/50 to fill Rusty’s surprisingly large sump. Gar was the most generous in supplying a full gallon. (Yes, an actual gallon or 4.5l!)
Now it was time for the off, and all 13 cars made past the front gate of the campsite… all the way to the fuel station. Poppy only has a 6 gallon tank so given the scarcity of filling stations in 19th century North Wales I fill up at every opportunity making sure I do it before Nick “where’s the petrol station?” Arthur and his 7.2l Jenson run the bunkers dry.
At this point, Young Paul announces that he has forgotten the key to his locking Petrol cap. The Conversation then went as follows.
“What? Why don’t you keep it on a ring with the Car keys?”
“Ermmm… it broke and won’t fit on the ring.”
“Well why don’t you get a new one cut?”
“Ermm… I’m a poor student.”
“Well why don’t you at least leave it in the F… bloomin car?”
“Ermmm… oh… that’s a good idea!”
We then spent the next hour trying every single key in the scumbags' possession to see if one would fit. Needless to say, none of them did.
“How much petrol you got then young Paul?”
"I don’t know. The gauge doesn’t work.”
"When did you last fill up?”
“How many miles have you done since then?”
“How many miles do you get to a tank?”
“Don’t know… quite a bit…”
We decide to risk it and press on. Andy Gardner had decided he wanted the singular honour of being in Poppy today and I decided to let him drive for a bit. I can’t recall ever sitting in my passenger seat on the public highway before but it turned out quite a comfy place to be as long as I wasn’t listening to Andy’s attempts to change gear.
After a while though, he seemed to get the hang of them and it got quieter. Either that or there weren’t enough teeth left on the gears to crunch anymore. Another great drive was had along the coastal roads with the added bonus of actually being able to see the beautiful scenery today without that typically misty Welsh rain. I even managed to spot Last Minute Liam’s stockpile of marsh mallows that he’d dumped at the side of the road as we weren’t allowed an open fire to toast them on back at Scumbag Grotto.
After a bit, the convoy squeezed into a layby alongside a picturesque river estuary that I can’t remember the name of and probably didn’t have any vowels in anyway. I felt this would be a good time to share the sausage plait that Mrs FB had so lovingly prepared for us. Unfortunately, I made a slight error in counting and there wasn’t enough left for me or Last Minute Liam to have a slice, and I learned a valuable lesson. Eat my bit first next time!
We were about to set off again when an embarrassingly large puddle of oil was discovered under Andrew's VDP Allegro. Andrew swore that it must be the crank case seal failing and nothing at all to do with the overfill his dipstick was showing. We pressed on anyway.
Next stop was the coastal town of Barmouth. We parked along the seafront and rested for an hour or so while some of our number took the opportunity to fill up at the local purveyors of refreshment while Bella and Lady Luna (who is a thoroughbred Golden retriever don’t you know) had fun on the beach. The rest of us chatted to locals and tourists alike who stopped to look at the cars and tell us stories of when they had similar “back in the day”.
Cor! Could almost be a tropical Paradise!
It was soon time to head off again and we made it all the way out of the town before the rusty Mini…er I mean the Mini, Rusty ran out of fuel. Last Minute Liam solved the problem of the missing key by producing his ninja lock pick. A screwdriver and a big hammer and after a whip round for fuel we were off again… for about 200 yards where another grass verge provided the backdrop to young Paul’s embarrassment. We didn’t all get the breakdown message and Stan sailed on in blissful ignorance in his lovely S-Type.
Super Enthusiast Man suddenly appeared out of a bush and pronounced that the cause of the woes was rubbish dragged up from the tank. He soon had this cleared and further fuel was added just to make sure. Some of us were starting to wonder if these breakdowns were genuine or was it all a cunning plan to cadge free fuel? You’ve got to watch these student types you know. Cunning little devils they can be. Repair complete, we prepared to set off again.
We hadn’t even got 2 feet this time before the shout went down the line that we had another faller. Yes. Big Rov was having a bit of a strop this time. Fortunately, Super Enthusiast Man was still there to help and having established we had fuel and a spark, proceeded to blame the tiny little battery in the boot for the woes.
As Andy’s was the car immediately behind Big Rov he was given the honour of performing the jumpstart and prepared the jump leads. Then Liam got out of his P6 and said “they’re not jump leads! ... THESE are jump leads!” as he brandished the biggest, fattest, longest set of truck jump leads I have ever seen - and Big Rov was started. We don’t actually think there was anything wrong with Big Rov, we just think he was a bit cross that the Mini was getting all the attention and wanted some for himself.
Harlech castle was shut unfortunately. For some reason, we were a little later than planned. Weren’t we young Paul? So we drove straight past and headed to porddchllddywchlldd where we parked in an Aldi car park because our Fat Controller wanted some teatime supplies. Aldi was shut too. However, Super Enthusiast Man took the time to do a flypast to check we were ok and as all was good took some great aerial footage for us. which I’m sure will be available to us as soon as he works out how to upload it.
We were joined by a local in what looked like a rally prepped Hillman Imp. He was promptly mobbed and forced to join our FB group. He then directed us to a local Spar shop that was still open and Gar was pleased he wouldn’t starve that evening.
At this point the convoy broke up somewhat. Sad goodbyes were said to Eric who was heading home, others left for the campsite and their hotels leaving just The Brooks, Young Paul, Last Minute Liam, Lincoln and myself as Gar needed us to help carry his tea back for him before we all set off for the campsite.
We set off. I’d wrestled my keys away from Andy and was now driving myself. The pressure to make smooth silent gear changes was immense. Liam was leading the reduced convoy followed by the Brooks, Me, Young Paul, Lincoln and Gar. Liam missed the huge signpost for Beddgelert which, horror of horrors, meant the event we’d all been dreading all weekend had occurred. Yes, a couple of hooligans in a Capri were leading the group.
They immediately started opening a gap to the rest of us. Well the sight of some scallywags hurtling along in a Capri released my inner Inspector Reagan! They’d done a blag and were ‘avin’ it away on their toes. Well not on my watch they weren’t! “Shuut iiiit Carter! I’m gonna feel these Slaaaags collar before the hour is out” I said to a suddenly very quiet Andy as I dropped a cog and Poppy roared off in hot pursuit.
We quickly recovered the lost ground, working the gears as we sped round bends, up and down hills. Poppy gallantly stayed close to the blaggers getaway motor. Gar fell off the back of the convoy then so too did Lincoln - but plucky little Poppy and young Paul stayed on the Brooks' tail all the way back to Scumbag Grotto. As the cars skidded to a stop, I flung open my door, slid across my bonnet and, aiming my service revolver, shouted “You’re nicked my son!”
Young Paul on the other hand had to have his cold, white knuckled hands prized away from the steering wheel before we could force warm sweet tea into him. I’m still not sure whether the spirited driving frightened him or the thought that he’d just burned all that free petrol he’d scrounged.
A mixture of teas was BBQ’d, heated, fried and otherwise cooked and we settled down in a circle outside the gazebo to gaze at the spot our open fire would have been were we allowed one. All except Farty Woodward. We made him sit 40 feet away.
Another spiffing evening was had, as we looked at pictures of the weekend and swapped yarns deep into the night. The party broke up and I headed back to my tent for a last night cuddled up to Celia Swamp.
Monday morning dawned - would you believe it, bright and sunny. Pitches were cleared, breakfast was eaten and then, because Gar had been wittering on about it all weekend, we had to go and see a dead dog. The dead dog was legendary for some derring-do and being hastily killed by a nutty Welsh prince some hundreds of years ago.
If you want to know more just ask Gar. Believe me, he will tell you about it. Several times probably. Or you could just google "Gelert's Dog".
So, dead dog visited it was time to depart. Sad farewells were said and we all headed off to our respective parts of the UK.
Thanks for bearing with me during this tale and I sincerely hope that I have conveyed what a truly epic weekend this was. I certainly had the time of my life. Great roads, great fun and great people.
A big thank you to all the scumbags for traveling to the meet and making it a weekend to remember, especially Gus for his culinary skills and patience. However, a HUGE thank you is due to Gar for his tireless enthusiasm and energy in setting this up and keeping us all in line. I know this must have been a bit frustrating for him at times and a bit like herding cats but we all had the better time because of his support.
Finally, let’s not forget SUPER ENTHUSIAST MAN whoever he may be, for his tireless mechanical support. He will now be kidnapped and forced to attend all future group events.
See you at the NEC in November Chaps!
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