by Gar Cole
The tyres had barely cooled down on my little Fisher caravan following a blisteringly hot long weekend at the South Cerney steam show, just 3 days later I was packing up again ready for the 'Steam and Scrumpy' tour of Somerset, work has an annoying habit of getting in the way of our car hobby which dictated taking the caravan to the Cheddar campsite on the Thursday and setting up my pitch and the group banner, it did mean an additional 260 mile round trip but I didn't think my customers who I was driving to Southampton docks Friday morning would appreciate arriving at the luxurious Queen Mary cruise liner in a taxi pulling a 58yo caravan.
I've always loved Somerset and spent many happy family holidays around the Cheddar Gorge area and I always feel better once I've crossed the Avonmouth bridge , Petruth Paddocks campsite is a conrods throw away from Cheddar village and the owners are petrol heads and were very excited to be hosting our group, upon arrival I was greeted by Thomas Jenkins, his girlfriend Emily and their mate Thomos , thank goodness for the one letter difference or it could have been confusing, TJ's MK2 Granada looked as well polished as ever surrounded by 3 tiny pod tents. Having recently been given the moniker of 'Old Mother Cole ' I decided to fuss over the kids and make sure they had enough food and not just biscuits, I need not have worried, modern mobiles have something called 'App's and before I knew it fresh made hot pizzas were being delivered direct to the site, the wonders of modern tech, I bid the 3 intrepid campers farewell and headed home while tucking into my pre made Cornbeef sandwich, no Apps for this old dinosaur.
Arriving back at camp Friday afternoon I was pleased to see the expected biblical downpours had not arrived, also the campsite appeared to have entered a worm hole in the space time continuem, the front row was filled with classics from Jag XJS, Triumph Stag, Granada and Zephyr and gave the illusion of a campsite from at least 30 years ago, other campers were naturally admiring the cars and asking questions. Tragically I had arrived too late once again to help put up the Coleman shelter and it stood filled with table and chairs, we were still waiting on Mike Peake in Poppy the Herald and Last Minute Liam in the Rover P6 V8, the intrepid Debbie Fizz Berrimen had unfortunately suffered a mechanical issue on her Morris ambulance campervan and was awaiting recovery to Gloucester services.
Hungry faces started looking at me like a pride of lions looks at a steak so Old Mother Cole swung into action preparing a Chicken Chassuer for 12 people, Phil Allin was sceptical I could produce enough for everyone and in a reasonable time in my wee caravan, I shushed him up and set him to work chopping veg, which was soon taken over by wife Lorraine as he was making ' a pigs ear ' of it, just over an hour later a Cauldron full was bubbling and ready with more faces appearing at the door saying ' ooarr that smells noice ' in increasingly stronger and more bizarre Somerset accents, by the end of the night we all sounded more like Pirates ( Aharrrrr Jim Lad )
Arriving last was ummmm Last Minute Liam, with family in tow, we were all impressed watching their vintage 1960s inflatable tent being erected, way ahead of its time, in an effort to be helpful I pumped up the double airbed for them, it didn't occur to me it wouldn't fit through the narrow opening door into the tent, but the thought was there, as the evening drew on those of us in caravans looked eviously at Bernard and Ian's Caravan that was connected to the mains supply, and was boasting such luxuries as a working fridge and heater and lights, those in tents looked eviously at those of us in caravans that boasted such luxuries as a comfy bed, toilet and a waterproof roof ( but more of that later )
Poor Debbie had been messed around all day by the RAC and were now relaying her to Gloucester services where she would have to spend the night in the Morris camper until a suitable low loader could be sent first thing in the morning, having myself driven over 500 miles in 2 days I was the first to retire and left the others happily chatting around the campfire enjoying drinks and scrumptious gluten free cakes made by John's Ticehursts wife.
Saturday arrived in what seemed to me the blink of an eye , I slept a little too well and appeared to be the last to rise, lucky for me other cookers were making breakfast so I made myself a couple of cheeky bacon rolls and packed a bag of essentials for the tour (wine gums etc)
Word reached us from Debbie that she was expecting the lowloader at 9am so we made the decision to await her arrival so she could still join the tour riding shot gun in another car, as I was doing by riding in the back of Ian and Bernards Zephyr for the day. Sadly once again the RAC let Debbie down so she signalled for us to carry on without her, our climate changing convoy of V8s, V6s , Inline sixes and 1 four pot rumbled and thrummed our way out the campsite with that unforgettable smell of unburnt hydrocarbons, there had been concerns the annual Balloon Fiesta in Bristol would make it difficult to reach the SS Great Britain, however after a very pleasant 18 mile drive using the back roads into Bristol the traffic turned out to be remarkably quiet and we pulled in the ship's parking area.
We found a nice empty row and formed our own small classic car display, coach parties just arriving started taking photos before heading towards the ship, we were thrilled to be joined for the first time by 2 group members driving a stunning Austin Sprite, I'm hopeless remembering names sorry but I'm sure his name was Kevin , were always trying to encourage more local members to join us if a tour is passing by your town.
The SS Great Britain lived up to its reputation as one of the UKs best museums, you cannot fail to be impressed by the size of her and the engineering that went into building this ship 174 years ago, you are able to descend below the water line of the ship in its dry dock, a glass case encircles the ship with a thin layer of water on top which really creates the feel of being under water, huge dehumidifiers keep the fragile iron hull from rusting any further. The ship has been restored 1 area at a time in remarkable detail, we marvelled at how small the bunks and cabins were, even in 1st class it must have been quite the voyage on the 6 weeks trip to Australia, in contrast the first class dining room is a grand sight to behold, long banquet tables, gold gilded columns and paintings and even a piano. 1st class or not a tour of the galley kitchen complete with rats running around the cupboards was quite the eye opener, the whole ship is a fascinating glimpse into another time , for those of us who are admirers of Brunel's heavy engineering we found ourselves mesmerised at midships at the sight of the engine, a 4 cylinder monster taking up 3 decks in height, we estimated the stroke on the pistons to be over 12ft, seeing it all in motion again being driven now by electric motors was a real treat and we could only marvel at just how it must have looked in full steam with the pistons shooting up and down, steam hissing everywhere and the floors vibrating, you really must visit this ship if you get the chance.
We bid the SS farewell, after hearing the good news that Debbie was now safe at the campsite we decided to do the route in reverse so we could collect her from Cheddar, the convoy headed off to collect Debbie, however the ' 3 hoods ' in the Zephyr as we were described accidentally took a different road, knowing Debbie was being rescued by the rest of the party we trundled on our way towards the village of Priddy at the top of Cheddar Gorge and it was pure luck we arrived half hour before everyone else and were happily tucking into cheese n onion baguettes and pints before the rest turned up in what was now pouring rain, Bernard, Ian and myself practised our ' innocent smiles '.
Suitably refreshed we said our goodbyes to our new friends in the Sprite and the lovely olde world Victoria Inn and headed down the winding and twisting road that snakes its way through the Gorge, i was sat in the back of the Zephyr in total comfort and took the opportunity to film the steepest segment, as much as the rain, steamed windows and vacuum wipers would allow. Unfortunately at this point we lost Giles and John in the Stag after they suffered an overheating issue, which seemed strange as we were descending the Gorge not climbing it, being so close to the campsite they decided it was sensible to retire and limped back, it was later diagnosed as only being a water pipe not being tightened enough and they had slowly been losing all their water.
From here we drove through the picturesque countryside between Cheddar and Watchfield passing through several pretty but rain lashed villages, Watchfield is home to Richs Cider Farm, another place I've known about from childhood holidays, it has a lovely shop selling not only ciders but all manor of alcohol, exotic cheeses and jams and preserves, Debbie was more than happy to try a few samples of cider after her 24 hour ordeal at the hands of the RAC, the place also has it's own museum with 3 of the biggest oak barrels you've ever seen, one containing over 10,000 pints, plus a vintage tractor and restored delivery vehicle wearing the firm's livery, after helping swell their coffers we took a few photos in the rain and headed for ' Burnham on Mud ' as Lorraine 'Ooarrrr' Allin insisted on calling it. Let's be polite and say Burnham has passed it's heyday, the once impressive Victorian buildings along the sea front now looking faded and with peeling paint and green streaked plaster, in the gloomy rain filled skies it had a forlorn feel to it, undeterred we parked up along the front and headed for the fish and chip shop, the Battered Fryer produced a very decent meal from yet another tired shop front , the rain mercifully stopped long enough for us to enjoy our food and ice cream.
The drive back to Cheddar passed without incident and all cars performed faultlessly, however.... on returning to our campsite we found young Thomos tent had got soaked through, the same had happened to Liams inflatable tent soaking everything inside, living only 8 miles away and with an unhappy partner who doesn't really like camping he did the sensible thing and threw everything into the P6 and retired to a comfy warm home, we all sat in the Coleman shelter with rain drops forming on the roof poles and dripping on the table thinking Liam had the right idea, my reputation for inviting rain fall on our tours was well and truelly cemented, so nothing was left to do but crack open snacks, wine and other goodies and ignore the puddles building up all over the campsite.
Sunday drive out to Haynes museum.
Debbie had asked the more mechanically minded members of our group to have a look at her engine before we headed to the Haynes museum in Sparkford, now our regular blogger and admin Mike 'Fat Bloke ' Peake has recently had some success with the cars he's worked on, mine included, and in the absence of Gus Brooks A.K.A Super enthusiast man, he manfully offered his services, diagnosing the points as the cause of the loss of power and popping back through the carb, as the cover was removed from Debbies engine was removed we expected to see Mike fly past in a blaze or red and white, cape flapping in the Breeze, however Gus is a tad more slender than Mike and he ended up waddling past in star spangled hot pants and red boots, to the theme from Russ Abbots comedy show, all together now ' dun dun dun da dahhhhh, Blunder Woman ' .
I'll give you all a moment to delete that image from your mind 😎
Despite the tightness of the working area in the Morris engine bay and the chafing of the hot pants, Blunder Peake had the points changed in no time and the engine fired up and sounded sweet, a test drive showed Morris to be driving better but still down on power over 35mph, at this point myself and Tom Jenkins agreed it might have a blocked carb jet so I nipped out for a bottle of Redex, we put a whole bottle into only a quarter of a tank of fuel assuring Debbie that it might smoke a bit but would help clear any gunk out of the carb, as a final offer of advice Ian Woodward said the engine sounded retarded and Debbie should have the timing advanced at the first opportunity she had at a garage, feeling confident our convoy headed off on the scenic route through wells and Shelton Mallet to the museum, this time I was passenger in Andy Permans Allegro VDP auto and what a complete treat it was, I've not been in one of these for 36 years and usually when I get back into a car that we had in my childhood I'm always surprised how small they feel, my SD1 a prime example, but the VDP has great headroom and leg room galore, the wood and leather interior is a pleasant place to be and I can see why Andy loves it and is in the process of restoring a second VDP, Debbie's Morris camper seemed to be having no trouble keeping up at 50 mph so we pressed on to Sparkford.
You will not be surprised to hear it was raining at the museum, but now immune to the soggy feeling of wet clothes we lined the cars and camper up for some photos, the museum has been greatly extended since my last visit 7 years ago and is well worth a visit, something for everyone there and a great restaurant, a good place to meet up with friends on a cold winter's day.
At this point we had to say goodbye to a lot of our fellow campers who had to return home for that dreaded word 'WORK'
This left just the 5 of us, me with Bernard and Ian in the Zephyr and John and Giles in the V8 Stag, shortly after our friends departed the sunshine reappeared, not wanting to waste a minute we diverted into Wells, parking in the ancient square and enjoying a walk around the grounds of the Cathedral, I also showed the guys the filming locations used by the Film ' Hot Fuzz ' that was shot entirely on location in the city, Giles very kindly offered me a drive of the Stag back to the site but I politely said no but could I ride passenger, what an absolute treat being driven in this iconic car with it's V8 engine singing off the high stone walled roads, I loved it and can see why owners and enthusiasts hold these cars in such high regard, the evening was a real treat enjoying dinner at the excellent Brent Cross carvery and getting to know each other better as only spending quality time together can do.
A great weekend that triumphed over the weather with determination to enjoy it, oh and in case you wondered, Debbie did have her timing adjusted and made it all the way to Lands End, between 4 of us I think we sorted Morris motor home out 😀
By Mike Peake
WOW! THAT WAS AWESOME!. What a weekend. This is, in my opinion, the best static show that we attend as a group and that I have ever been to.
It is also one of the biggest. Just how big became apparent when I arrived on Thursday evening to find the exhibitors campsite section nearly full already. We were parked up by Marshals as we arrived, so it was impossible to reserve spaces for members arriving later. Fortunately we weren’t so far apart that a short walk couldn’t bring us all together for an evening chin wag.
The Brooks were first on site and caused panic and mayhem when they told us they’d seen a sign to say that gates were locked between 8pm and 8am. This caused me to rush around like a lunatic in order to have both cars and caravan onsite before the deadline and Gar to decide he’d have another night in his own comfy bed and join us Friday morning. (BTW, The gates weren’t locked at 8PM)
Campers the 1st night were Gus, Tosh and Bella Brooks, with the Austin Big 7, Jason Wright with his Triumph Herald 1200 Convertible, Poppy and me. A pleasant evening of chat and alcohol was spent and an early night was had.
Friday dawned a perfect summers morning. We were all up bright and early to set up the stand and were joined by Gar and Hattie Cole with his Fisher Holivan Junior 8 which was pressed into service as the pitch café providing many a tea, coffee, hot chocolate latte etc.
We were also joined by Darren and Karen Williamson with their rather lovely Morris Ital 1.3, one of 3 Itals Darren owns. It was great to see this nice couple hadn’t been scared away on the Peaks tour and had agreed to join us again.
Being Friday, the show was a bit quieter with fewer visitors and exhibitors than were expected for the actual weekend. Many of the Car Club stands were completely empty.
However there was still acres of fine old oily stuff to see with the working steam engines, commercial vehicles, buses military vehicles, tractors, small industrial trucks, motor bikes, emergency vehicles, as well as animal displays, a huge trade area and radio controlled model aircraft. Like I’ve said before, this show is MASSIVE!
Of course, my old favourite was there too. A 1941 Diamond T 980 Ballast truck.
I’ve made no secret in the group that my Grandad drove RT and Routemaster buses for London Transport. What I haven’t made such a fuss about is that it was the Army that taught him to drive and then sent him to North Africa where he spent a brief time driving Austin K2 ambulances, (Yes, just like “Ice cold in Alex”) before being transferred to tank transport and recovery using Scammels at 1st but then the Diamond Ts - a far superior vehicle as far as he was concerned.
Realising that our tanks struggled to drive themselves the large distances required over the rough terrain of the North African Desert, The British Army decided that they would need a lot more tank transporters. Scammel, their supplier at the time couldn’t mass produce the numbers required so the Army approached the American company and commissioned them to supply the Diamond T 980 and 981.
I have seen this truck a few times at this show now. I have always loved this particular Diamond T because it is the only one I have found that was actually in the desert at the same time as my Grandad, but this year it got even closer. One of my Grandad’s war stories was how he was in the team of drivers that unloaded the 1st batch of “Ts” to arrive in Alexandria and in fact, drove the 1st one off the boat.
Well, there was some new information on the show board this year. This particular “T” was in that 1st batch delivered. Well, that is close enough for me to say that it is highly likely that my Grandad actually drove this vehicle 77 years ago (In fact I have decided that he did). Therefore, I have even sat in the same seat he did all that time ago.
Sorry. I went off on a bit of a tangent there. I hope you don’t mind and weren’t too bored, but I was so excited to find this truck was even more closely connected to my Grandad, that I had to share it with you.
We took it in turns to man the stand and wander off to sample the show’s delights but all too quickly the show ended for the day and it was back to the campsite to await some more fellow members. We were expecting Phil, Loraine and Lucas Allin.
We couldn’t wait to hear about Loraine Towing a caravan at the speed of light, trying to keep up with Phil in his newly purchased XJS. The ever intrepid Chris Ball who was bringing his MGB all the way from Cricklade (about a mile and a half from the site) and of course our really intrepid mile muncher, Eric Dalton who was coming all the way from deepest darkest Scotlandshire.
The Allin’s and Chris made it but Eric’s Ambassador finally threw a strop and was heard shouting “I’m an old lady Eric! Have some respect!” as she coasted to a stop near Keele services on the M6.
Missing Eric, the rest of us settled down to a lovely chicken and beef stew provided by Old Mother Cole. Jolly delicious it was too.
Some time had passed, some wine was drunk and chats and laughs had and most of our gathering took themselves off to bed. However, Phil produced a bottle of gin and another of tonic. Well you know me - I’m never able to resist temptation, so I was severely led astray by Phil who kept me up until 2AM drinking sociably and putting the world to rights. (I will be introducing a “Brexit Swear Jar” for future events though. I Know, It’ll be me that fills it. Sorry about that.)
Saturday morning was another perfect summer dawn, I believe. I certainly wasn’t early or anything approaching bright but I did notice that Hattie, Gars dog, must have been at the gin bottle we had left out as we didn’t drink that much and Hattie spent the whole day asleep so that proves it.
As I couldn’t face even the thought of breakfast at that stage, I was blearily peering at my hood, trying to remember how to lower it when Gus bounded up like Tigger and said “ we need your car to put the banner up”. Before I knew it, he had my keys and was driving Poppy up to our stand with a partially collapsed hood and my microfiber cloth still drying on the boot rack.
Resisting the urge to go back to bed, I fell into Chris’s MGB and was driven up to our pitch to supervise the setting up - only to find most of it was done and all I had to do was arrange the remaining cars to arrive. I left them where they landed until I felt a bit better and did some rearranging.
The new arrival on our stand and new to our live meets was Steve Roberts and his MG Metro. Phil Rendle was also supposed to join us with his Morris Traveller but got a bit confused on entry and ended up parking with all the independent owners.
Chris Ball took pity on me and took me off to look at the classic cars on display and search out that magic cure-all that is known as a bacon bap. An hour later I was back at the stand and halfway through manfully taking my medicine when I noticed that Mrs FB and my daughters had arrived on the stand. I was well and truly busted. Now if it was just the bacon bap, I could have talked my way out of it. However, I could tell by the nasty grins on my “friends” faces that they had taken the opportunity to fully grass me up in my absence.
“Hello Dear” I said as brightly as I could manage whilst trying to dodge that “Wait ‘til I get you home!” glare that was directed at me. Then inspiration struck. “Shall we go and look at Minis Emily?” I said whilst moving quickly but trying not to look like I was running away.
When I was finally cornered, I took it like a man… and blamed it all on Phil.
Another day was spent chatting to members and muggles that came on our stand, chatting to each other and looking at old oily stuff in a field. Immense fun was had by all and we even had a parachute display team land in the main arena.
4PM arrived and it was time for the classic cars to tour the arena. I have to say I was very impressed at the marshalling and organisation in getting us from our stand to the arena without killing any Muggles and it was great to drive around with a sea of people all pointing waving and smiling. I do have to say though, that the new commentator tried hard but needs to brush up on his knowledge.
Emily was desperate to drive Poppy again so the keys were passed and I sat in the back for the first time in my ownership. I had also closed my ears ready for the expected grinding of gears on the 2nd to 3rd change which can be tricky for the uninitiated, but no. Smooth clean changes all round.
Many of my fellow stand members seemed to find it hilarious that Mrs FB and I were in the back while our daughters took command. I have no idea why it was so funny but it did mean that there are plenty of photos. It also bought home just how long I’ve had Poppy and how much a part of the family she is.
Well, with the arena tour over it was time to head back to the campsite for a bit of a relax and some tea before heading up to the steam fair. Or so we thought.
One of the arenas has a live demonstration of steam traction engines running a saw mill. This was running for the entire day and as you can imagine, quite a pile of sawn timber was accumulating. Well Tosh, being from Yorkshire Tha’ Knows, couldn’t resist and soon negotiated the purchase of a proportion of the pile knowing that as he’d sold the Austin he would have an empty trailer going home. So, at the end of the day, my CR-V was hitched up to the Brooks car trailer which, let me tell you, seems an awful lot bigger when hitched to the back of my car!
Four of us then headed up to the saw mill area and started loading… and loading… and loading! Well, let’s just say that the weight of the loaded trailer gave the Honda’s clutch a good work out on the way back to the camping pitch.
Knowing how supportive all the chaps would be, I was a little nervous when I discovered I was expected to reverse the trailer back onto the extremely narrow gap between the Brooks camp site and their neighbours. I needn’t have been though as I managed to show my epic towing skills and dropped it back, millimetre perfect in one go! Time for a well-deserved beer then. (After last night I still couldn’t quite face wine.)
Mrs FB then cooked us a lovely BBQ in the van. (it was too dry to have a real BBQ, we’d have set the field on fire.) it must have been nice because Hattie ate most of it.
After our meal, we all set off for the steam fair and exhibitors party. All except Gar who was off to do a taxi run and wouldn’t be back until Sunday PM. Chris Ball also left as he had other commitments on the Sunday. You could tell they didn’t want to go as Gar got into the car and those sad doleful eyes looked back at us to say goodbye. Hattie looked fed up too but she’s a Basset Hound and they always look like that.
If you look closely, you might see a Fatbloke.
You could tell Gar didn’t organise this trip. For the 3rd day running dawned another perfect summers day. In fact it was still “Bloody Hot” to quote the Standard British Temperature scale.
Sunday is THE busy day of the show with every exhibitor space crammed to overflowing and Muggles a-plenty. Our stand was no exception - we had 13 cars and a caravan on display.
We were joined by Andy Perman in his VDP, John Malley in his Piper, which is true dedication driving a car with no opening windows on a day like that. Mark Wilson and his E-Type Jaguar also arrived along with Windy Woodward, Berbo and Ian’s son Johnathon in the Zephyr. The real surprise however, was the special vehicle they were towing but I’ll keep you in suspense about that for now.
Phil Rendle and his Morris Traveller managed to find our pitch this time and bought his mate and fellow EBMV member, Scott Morris and his Tahiti Blue Triumph 2500S Estate. Dave Britton was also on the stand with his rather stunning Rover P5B. Along with Steve Roberts and his MG Metro, This was the 1st live EBMV meet that these 4 chaps had attended, So I hope you all had fun and will be joining us again in the future.
The Woodwards wanted to be with us all weekend but Ian’s daughter decided that she would get married this weekend and, rather selfishly I thought, wouldn’t move the date for us. But it was really great that they came down for the Sunday. It wouldn’t have been the same without them and we wouldn’t have got to see the “Special” that Ian towed down.
Well what can I say? Out of all the fantastic oily stuff that was on display it was this that got my attention. It doesn’t really fit into either of our groups but WOW! I was even allowed the honour of driving it around show field and I was amazed at the out and out power of this single seater. All right! All right! I’ll tell you! It’s a Pihslang 888NR with a 2.5 motor. Never heard of it? No, me neither but click below to reveal this awesome vehicle.
Ok, OK, its a 2.5 KW motor. What can I say, I couldn’t resist it. Sorry. When I heard Ian was bringing this, I wanted to decorate it with tin cans on string, ribbons and a “Just Farted” sign instead of “Just Married” but Mrs FB thought it would be poor taste to mock the afflicted. (I guess she doesn’t know us that well does she?) I hope you get well really soon Ian and the Pihslang can be laid up safely for future generations to admire.
Another great day was had by all as we deep-fried ourselves in sun tan oil. It really was a great show with great people. You can’t really describe the size and variety of this show other than to say that there really is something for everybody and if you’re coming next year, you will need more than one day to see it all.
Because of the traffic problems leaving the show last year, The Allins, Gar and I elected to stay on another night and leave on Monday morning. The organisers had even laid on a party with live music and cheaper beer. Unfortunately all the vintage fair and steam engines had already been packed away and only one food outlet was still open, so we had a nice baguette and a chat and watched another sunset.
To quote a rather clever chap, “WOW! THAT WAS AWESOME!. What a weekend. This is, my opinion, the best static show that we attend as a group and that I have ever been to.” [Me, at the top of the page. EBMV 2018]
Huge thanks to all those that supported me on our stand you all really made the weekend special and I hope you had as much fun as I did.
SVTEC (the organisers) have already announced that they will be back next year on 2nd to 4th August 2019 so put the date in your diaries and keep an eye on our events section for more details. I will be doing my damnedest to get us another stand at this show.
Finally, It wouldn’t be an EBMV event without a photo of our beloved Fat Controller eating now would it?
Well thanks for bearing with me through yet another Blog. Poppy and I will be off on our adventures again on our group’s Steamships and Scrumpy tour this weekend. Please join us if you can we’d love to see some new faces in real life.
All the best.
Poppy and Fatbloke.
By Mike Peake
I AM THE GOD OF OLD CARS!
OK, maybe not but let me enjoy my minor triumph while I can. (Did you see what I did there?) It would appear that I gave up too soon after fitting the big end shells to the Triumph 1500TC engine in Gar Cole’s Morris Minor automatic the Saturday before last.
Those of you that didn’t lose the will to live halfway through my last blog will know that we left the car with the new shells fitted but an engine that wouldn’t turnover. We guessed that maybe Gar had been sent oversize shells in error or I had messed something up. So we went to the pub in disgust to hatch a cunning plan. The plan was that Gar would buy some shells from a reputable Triumph spares dealer instead of eBay and I’d come back up and fit them when we could. (and I could secretly check to see if I had messed it up but not tell anyone and blame the shells anyway.)
Well, it would appear that Gar is not a patient man and having listened to “a bloke down the Pub” who said “Oh they’re always really stiff when newly fitted”, decided to have another go at starting Nelson. Using his Christmas cracker grips and a recovered hand, he managed to turn the engine over a couple of times noticing that it was starting to feel freer. He then tried to start it on the starter… but his battery was flat. After charging, he had another go and after 3 or 4 turns….
Needless to say I was incredibly relieved by this success. I’d spent the last week steeped in self-doubt and worry that I had broken Nelson. So, although a bit disappointed to be absent during my moment of triumph (they are quite rare as you know), my heart soared at the news and I feel that my self-deification above is entirely justified. Especially now that Nelson has been out on a proving run and still hasn’t fallen apart. Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve fixed it. If it does fall apart in the future it will be an entirely new fault and absolutely nothing to do with me.
So, Should anyone else be mad enough to ask for help, please don’t be offended if I don’t. I’m not sure my nerves could take working on someone else’s car ever again. Oh who am I kidding? I’d be elbow deep in your engine before you finished asking! Even if the fault is with the diff.
As if that success wasn’t enough justification for my instant elevation to the pantheon, Poppy’s ignition woes are also a thing of the past. The condenser and LT connector that I ordered from the Distributer Doctor promptly arrived and were quickly fitted. Poppy is running better and smoother than she has for a while and I was finally able to take her out in the sun and test the alternator conversion too.
All was well. In fact, all was more than well. For years I have had an annoying little rattle on the engine that I have never been able to locate and has lead me to check tappets far more than I needed to but now I’ve found it. It was the dynamo! It’s gone now along with the dynamo.
Poppy is now my daily driver while I bask in my awesomeness as a weekend mechanic.
So that was a short blog with nary an incompetent bumbling fool in sight. Maybe I can even consider a promotion from “Bumbling Incompetent Fool” to “Over Enthusiastic Amateur”? However, The Gloucester Steam Extravaganza long weekend is only just over a week away so I’m pretty sure normal service will be resumed very shortly.
By Mike Peake
Wayhay! The good news is that despite the temptation of G&T in a sunny garden, Friday afternoon found me getting sweaty at the lockup - my alternator conversion is complete and my little red warning light is glowing no more!
The bad news is that the new coil didn’t solve the “missing under load” issue Poppy has been having. As I’ve already changed everything else on the ignition side, I am led to conclude that we may have fallen victim to the poor quality of modern condensers.
Several people have recommended the “Distributor Doctor” and a quick look at their website gave quite interesting reading. Apparently they have done significant testing of these “cheap modern condensers” and found them seriously wanting. They only have 1 to 1.5 meters of internal winding and very poor bonding. The original Lucas spec was for 3m of winding. Distributor Doctor manufacture to the original Lucas spec and don’t cut corners. Or so their blurb says.
Well, this and the recommendations by others has convinced me to give them a go. I am sure that they will be considerably more expensive than the competition but if they work and last, it will represent a saving in the long run. If this doesn’t work, Poppy will go electronic! (I have not been paid by DD to say any of this. Which is disappointing!)
Poppy has been fully apprised of the situation and has reluctantly agreed to wait for even more new parts.
I was due to help Gar with Nelson on Saturday so I went home and packed the CR-V with everything I thought I would need. This included my Father-in-Law’s prized socket set which is on permanent loan, a torque wrench that I won as a prize for star letter in Practical Classics. A set of ramps that I was given by the friend that I helped build Anita’s Mini 26 years ago (he vowed never to work on cars again after that), a mechanics creeper given to me by a neighbour who was clearing out his garage to move (I have yet to use it), axle stands and a trolley jack that I actually bought myself - and of course my Po suit.
I set off for Gar’s at 7 o’clock Saturday morning and arrived at a very presentable 8.45AM. I parked on his drive and changed into my boiler suit/Po costume, unloaded my ramps and creeper all before Gar came out to say hello but he promised me he wasn’t asleep.
We then discussed our respective roles in the project. It was decided that I was chief bumbling fool and Gar would be the apprentice bumbling fool. Nelson was then driven out onto the drive and up on the ramps where we made a discovery. Nelson is somewhat higher than poppy and I was able to fit comfortably underneath without getting wedged, even on the creeper. The oil was drained and sump and spark plugs removed all without any bumbling or drama, so we had a celebratory cup of tea.
I was soon back under the car and needed to position the crank so I could get to the cap bolts. We tried doing this by flicking the key on the starter but the engine turned over too fast and we were getting nowhere. The crank shaft pulley nut was too big for any spanners we had and there was no room to get my new super socket on, so Gar got out a pair of grips that he must have won in a Christmas cracker. After considerable fiddling and twisting we eventually got the crank so I could work on pistons 1 and 4.
It was about now that I discovered a couple of disadvantages of the Mechanics creeper. Whilst turning onto my side to better positing myself, I fell off the creeper, tipping it up and sending all the sump bolts that were carefully stored in the tray across Gar’s front garden. Deciding to find the sump bolts later, I got back on the creeper which was actually remarkably comfy with its padding and head rest.
The socket was fitted to a cap bolt and pressure applied. Nothing happened. I repositioned my grip and applied significantly more pressure. This had zero effect on the bolt but me, now being on wheels, shot out from under the car and crashed into an inconveniently thorny bush.
Bad words were said, the creeper was kicked and verbally abused and discarded to the side of the drive.
I went back under without the creeper and soon had the 1st set of shells out. They were showing significant wear with plenty of copper visible.
The new shells, which had been soaking in oil, were then fitted and the cap bolts torqued to 45lb ft as instructed by Mr Haynes. I don’t know about you, but I do become slightly paranoid when working on someone else’s car, therefore I double-checked that it was all fitted correctly. Then I triple checked, quadruple checked and if I could remember the term for checking a fifth time, I did that too. All looked good so I moved onto piston 4 and repeated the process along with my quality inspection regime.
With the big ends of pistons 1 and 4 done, we had a celebratory cup of tea.
I was soon back under the car and we needed to reposition the crank again so I could get to pistons 2 and 3. Gar’s hands hadn’t recovered from his last attempt at squeezing them between the block and the radiator, so we had another go on the starter motor and got very lucky. I could get to the cap bolts. I did notice that the engine was slightly slower than last time but didn’t think anything of it. The remaining shells were fitted and torqued up and checked repeatedly. Everything was rosy so we had a celebratory cup of tea.
I was fed up of the view from under the car so I sent the apprentice bumbling fool under to remove the old sump gasket from the block. This turned out to be a bit of a pain of a job. Several implements were tried from a flat head screwdriver to a Stanley knife before settling on a wood chisel. Whilst Gar was swearing at the old gasket, I refitted the spark plugs. Then I relieved Gar under the car and continued swearing at the old gasket but we eventually had it all removed and the new gasket and leak free sump was in place.
We were both really rather pleased with ourselves and made comments like “that’s going to be a short blog” along with plenty of congratulatory back slapping. Before having a celebratory cup of tea though, we decided that we would fire Nelson up. So Gar got in and turned the Key. Nothing happened except I was starting to panic. Maybe the battery is a bit flat we thought so tried again with Gar’s booster pack. That didn’t work either. So we tried turning the engine by hand but that effort failed too.
The engine was properly stuck and would not turn over at all. We were a little dejected. Foolishly, Gus Brooks had said to phone him if we needed any advice. So, with bottom lips a trembling but resisting full blown tears we placed a call to the all-knowing Super Enthusiast Man.
“You pair of blithering idiots! “ he said. “You should have tried turning it over BEFORE you put it back together!” Gar and I shared a sheepish look. “Well unless the shells you’ve used are oversize, you must have pinched something together or done it wrong somehow. Whatever the case, you’re going to have to strip it down again!”
We thanked Gus for his advice and waited until we’d hung up before breaking down in tears on each other’s shoulders. When we’d pulled ourselves together, we had a bit of a think about our Guru’s words of wisdom. Because of my paranoid quality regime, I was fairly sure I had put them in correctly. Gar got the e-Bay listing out and checked that he had actually ordered standard shells. He had. The listing said “Standard size Heavy Duty”. However, it was eBay. He may have been fobbed off.
Thinking back about the job, I recalled that the engine had turned over slower after completing the first two pistons and was seized fully after the remaining two were done. This gradual tightening would suggest that the shells were slightly over size. I ran my theory past Gar and he agreed but did add, “Unless you messed up on all of them!” Well I had to accept that, given my history, this was a distinct possibility but I am confident I did them properly. (I reserve the right to retract that statement when we take it apart again.)
So, Did we knuckle down and take it apart again to see what the problem was? No. We went to the Pub! We’ll have another look when shells from a respected Triumph dealership turn up.
To be continued…
by Mike Peake
Wouldn’t you know it! As soon as we get back from South Wales, the weather turns into the best summer since 1976 and I can’t enjoy it properly because Poppy is having a strop!
Well 3 strops to be precise. 1st, she isn’t charging despite new brushes in the dynamo and a new voltage regulator/control box. 2nd, she’s missing under load again despite the points, condenser, leads, cap and plug change, and 3rd, I have two crankshaft pulley nuts roaming the roadside wilds.
I know, I know. “Easy 5 minute jobs” I hear you greasy-knuckled folk say! Well not to an incompetent bumbling fool with work commitments, a business trip away and a family that insisted I spend some, what they called “quality time” with them. Oh and lead time on parts and then the lead-time on parts that I didn’t realise I needed and forgot to order.
Well my new crank shaft pulley nut was the 1st to arrive along with my 2nd hand 1 & 7/16” socket from flea bay. (Boy! It’s a bigun! As the actr…ahem well never mind). This was when I discovered my 1st problem. The square hole for the socket drive was really, really big. Bigger than the biggest drive I had. So I resorted to a tape measure and it turned out that I needed a 3/4” drive and I only had ½”, ¼” and 3/8”. I briefly flirted with ordering an expensive ¾” ratchet drive, but as this is the only job I would use it for, I opted for an adaptor, again off flea bay. However, Poppy had been outside on my drive in the sun for a whole week and her paint was fading faster than my will to live when forced to watch this powder puff ball World Cup. So I risked the trip to the lock up with the nut just hand tightened and I’m pleased to say it made it.
Next to arrive was the adaptor and my new coil so I was back at the lockup with all the tools I would need and incredibly, the right ones for the job! 1st job would be to secure the crank shaft pulley nut. The socket and adapter were fitted together and placed onto the nut. This was when I spotted the 2nd problem. There wasn’t room for my ratchet. The radiator and the chassis cross-member were in the way.
I was just starting to get grumpy and think that maybe I’d have to buy that expensive ¾” ratchet, when I spotted the gap between the cross-member and radiator. I couldn’t be that lucky could I? Well actually, and unbelievably, I was. The extension fitted through and slotted straight into the adaptor and I was tightening away like mad. Except I wasn’t. The engine was turning and not the nut. So, I put it in 1st gear and tried again. The engine turned over and the car moved backwards. So, I chocked the back wheels and I’m sure you’ll be as pleased as I am that t he crank shaft pulley nut is now fully tightened.
I also fitted the new coil but couldn’t test it as I hadn’t sorted out my charging issues.
Oliver Truewhisstle purists, look away now. OK, I tried, I really did. I replaced the brushes in the dynamo and a couple of hundred miles later the charging light came back on so I replaced the control box. That didn’t cure it either, so I decided to convert to an alternator. Sorry about that but as I now run halogen headlights and a 12v socket for all sorts of charging and I’ve spent hours with a multi-meter but I’m still none the wiser as to what the fault could be, I’m cutting my losses and feel that the alternator is the way to go.
I was lucky enough to be gifted a brand new Lucas alternator by a very good and generous friend ”in the trade” and it is very gratefully received. So I set about the task. The dynamo was removed and I was going to use the pulley and fan from that on the alternator. However, the gods were not smiling on me at that moment as 1. I couldn’t get the nut undone and 2. They wouldn’t have fitted anyway as the shaft on the dynamo was much thinner than the one on the alternator. I found the correct parts on Amazon and ordered them but another weekend of glorious weather passed and my car still wasn’t fixed.
While I was waiting for my new parts I had a look at the new wiring requirements. The interweb advised that I needed to join the warning light wire to the thinner of the 2 wires coming of the alternator, connect all the wires that had brown in them together and disconnect the earth entirely.
The warning light and earth were sorted very quickly but the biggest problem was going to be joining all the other wires together. Well the blogger I was reading had just twisted all the wires together and covered the ends in solder and insulation tape. A perfectly adequate and functional fix but looked a bit, well, untidy. Fortunately though, James Paddocks have published the fitting instructions on the page for their alternator conversion kit and the solution they were proposing seemed much tidier.
By joining 2 of the connections on the control box together, it magically becomes a connection box. So it was time to get out my trusty soldering iron that had been my Granddad's . (The bus Inspector not the driver.) This soldering iron is older than me and possibly older than my Dad but it has served me well through all my physics and electronics club days at school and had even helped me repair the voice box in my eldest daughters Woody doll.
However, it would appear that the piece of solid copper mains wire that I was using and the metal of the connectors acted as a much bigger heat sink than anything my trusty iron and I had attempted before. The job was done and the multi-meter confirmed that the connection was good but they are 2 of the ugliest solder joints I have ever produced and I’m really quite ashamed of them.
It’s a good job they will be well hidden when the box is back in the car. I could have splashed out on a beefier iron and got a neater finish, but it would have felt as if I was being unfaithful. I did briefly consider getting the blowtorch that I use for plumbing but decided that the plastic housing may not have coped. As I said though, job done but i'm not showing you a photo. Doing it this way should also make it a bit easier to fit a fuse box in the very near future.
My new pulley wheel and fan arrived along with a couple of spacers so I set about putting them together. Easy job eh? Yes, I thought so too. The problem started with this little tiny “D” shaped key thing that you are supposed to balance in the slot of the alternator shaft which is supposed to then lock all the spacers fan a pulley wheel via a slot cut into them. Well it turns out that this tiny “D” shaped key thingy, whilst looking and feeling like metal, is actual a new super bouncy material developed by NASAl. I discovered this fact when I dropped it. It took me a good half hour to find it across the other side of the room to where I’d dropped it.
Attempt 2 was then made. Key was balanced, 1st spacer slotted onto shaft and key. Fan slotted off shaft and key. Pulley wheel … knocked the key out. After another half hour of searching, the reason the pulley wheel dislodged the key was discovered. The slot in the pulley wheel for the key was too small! Many rude words were said and doubt was cast on the quality of modern parts.
I considered sending it back to the vendor with a strongly worded letter. However, I reckoned it could be sorted with a couple of minutes fettling with a needle file. If only I had one. … My father in law had one so I took it round there and watched him sort it with a couple of minutes fettling with a needle file. Another couple of minutes and it was all assembled and ready to be fitted to the car.
By now it was about 11am on Sunday morning and 30 degrees so I had a decision to make. Do I spend an hour at the lockup getting sweaty or do I sit under the umbrella in the garden with a large G&T?
I’ll do it one evening this week. I promise. I’ve got to because, now don’t laugh, I’m spending next Saturday helping Gar rebuild Nelson’s bottom end! What could possibly go wrong? I know. Even after reading my blogs he still wants me to help!
Keen to read more?
by Callum Tooey
A new coil arrived quickly and I was feeling excited to finally get Nutmeg up and running again, the weekend finally rolled around and I had the idea to try the coil without actually removing the old one. Also worth noting is that in my efforts to cut out any possible 'aftermarket' fault I had swapped all of the HT leads to original spec units, the spark plugs were the same as originally fitted.
Connecting them up I was full of optimism, but my optimism was short lived as Nutmeg simply turned over, so back to the drawing board! I checked voltages across all wires, ignition wires were reading 12v, the secondary coil wire was reading 12v and the battery was reading good levels.
I checked the resistance on both the new coil and the old one, I even tried connecting up the original coil but nothing I did would seem to help, a few comments pointed fingers at the new distributor/electronic ignition, claiming there were known dead units currently for sale; So to cut out a possible issue I swapped the distributor back to the original points ignition but this didn't seem to help get her started.
I started to doubt myself severely at this point, knowing that I had changed so many parts I started wondering was it possible I had completely messed up the car? Was I positive that those HT leads were on in the right order? Was that rotor arm the right one? And more silly questions.
After yet another disheartened post on the group with pictures of my (lack of) progress, a few members suggested directly connecting the coil to the battery, thus bypassing the ignition, I wasn't very optimistic at this idea, as nothing I had tried had worked previously but figuring I had nothing to lose I decided to make up some test leads that Monday after work.
I found some wires that were designed to be used with a modern ECU plug system that had crocodile clips off both negative and positive, cutting the end of the wires I fitted a spade connector onto the bare end and connected it directly to the positive terminal and coil.
Hitting the starter whilst holding the coil lead against an earth I saw some powerful sparks arcing across, figuring what the heck I plugged the coil lead back into the distributor and pressed the starter again and she fired up on the first turn, a very unmanly high pitched triumphant 'YES!!!!' screamed out from the garage in my excitement, she sounded slightly metallic which I found was some loose cables being caught slightly by the fans but other than that she sounded great!
Knowing that the car will fire with a direct lead from the battery told me two things:
I stripped the wire back. Fortunately there was plenty of inner left to make a new join with fresh wire, I made the connection, connected it up and turned the engine over from inside the car. She fired straight up!!!
I gave the throttle a few blips, she seemed to rev strong and clean, no knocks, no rumbles, just nice smooth running. I didn't have any black pvc tape to hand so I wrapped the connection in the rather fetching green/yellow instead, happy my car was working rather than worrying about the aesthetics of the wiring system!
With the engine now running I decided to give the brakes a release and pull her out of the garage, she slid into gear softly and pulled away. Finding reverse was easy and before long I had her parked up on the kerb outside in the glorious British sunshine. I noticed some fine smoke entering the cabin, concerned I killed the engine and opened the bonnet, luckily it appeared to simply be some grime burning off the exhaust manifold, no fires!
I fetched a bucket and car shampoo and gave her a well deserved clean, taking the time to clear out the boot that was overflowing with parts that until now I hadn't had the space to look through, I found various rubber sections (both screens I believe) as well as chrome trims, wheel trims, and surprisingly the original carpet which didn't look in bad condition. My guess is a previous owner pulled it up to restore the car or fix any rust. I haven't yet made the decision whether I will keep or replace it with a different colour.
I must have done something right with her though as whilst she basked in the sunlight a neighbour made conversation and enquired about the possibility of buying her, 'Sadly...' I said 'she isn't for sale!'
Next step, let's get some locks and start on the interior!
By Mike Peake.
Relaxing and peaceful countryside?? Don’t you believe it!! I was woken up at 4.30am by a nest of birds screeching and chirping just outside my bedroom window. They were shortly joined by a cockerel crowing his heart out followed by horses going down the road and tractors firing up! However, I was in a soft comfy and warm bed so it was much easier to doze than on a partially deflated airbed until the alarm went off.
After a wonderful and large full English - sorry - full Welsh breakfast, it was time to head off to meet the rest of the tourists. As I half expected, Poppy didn’t have enough electric left to turn the starter, so Brian produced a set of jump leads that would make even Liam jealous. They were huge and I’m sure he could use them to jump start an aircraft carrier. Anyway, they did the job and we set off. Gar led followed by me, Brian and Eric. Optimistically, I had my roof down.
It was during this trip that Gar made his first bid for the title of “Bumbling Incompetent Fool of the weekend”. He swore blind his sat nav steered him wrong and took us down a tiny narrow lane despite the two big dead end signs either side. Now you could argue that he immediately lost the title because we all followed him down a tiny narrow lane despite the two big dead end signs either side. However, we only did this in order to laugh at him when he came to the inevitable abrupt halt.
We didn’t laugh for long though as 1) I was getting very wet as it was now raining and 2) we couldn’t turn around as the lane was tiny and narrow. Having put my roof back up (which is so easy now it’s mended) the 500-yard reverse back up the tiny narrow lane was accomplished without incident. Well I say without incident but Gar backed Nelson into a ditch and Poppy took out the plastic barriers surrounding some road works, but apart from that it was without incident.
A short time later, 2 Englishmen, a Scotsman and an Irishman drove into a Welsh rugby club. They were perfectly safe though as disappointingly, Thomas and Emily were the only ones there. Oh. I don’t mean it was disappointing that Thomas and Emily were there. I meant it was disappointing that no other cars had turned up…. I’ll shut up now… (And yes, I do know that technically, Brian isn’t Irish and Gar is a bit Welsh but just go with it for the sake of the joke eh?)
Gar had planned a fantastic route through some stunning scenery and extremely challenging roads. It was somewhat more challenging for me as all the electricity in Poppy had now fallen out so I had no lights, indicators, or more importantly today, windscreen wipers. On the plus side though, my ignition warning light had gone out too.
If we hadn’t known we were in Wales the weather proved we were. We had that particularly unique wet, Welsh misty rain that seems to be wetter than any other rain in the world. Needless to say without wipers, I was really struggling on some of those mountain roads. I was still having lots fun though and so was everyone else.
As I’ve said, Gar had planned a scenic route with fantastic views so I thought I’d share some with you.
This is the view from Dowlais Top,
This is the view from the mountain top near Cwm Bargoed on the gloriously named Bogey Road.
This view was so spectacular that Gar parked us all up to take a photo of the cars with the stunning mountain backdrop. Gar was the only one daft enough to get out of his car and brave the elements.
This was my view whilst waiting for Gar to do his David Bailey.
The problem was that this wasn’t a lay-by but a passing place and traffic was building behind us including what we thought was a Police van but turned out to be an ambulance. We hurried on.
Brian was behind me in his rather lovely Triumph 2000 saloon and seemed to be taunting me with his working electrics and running all 4 headlights and the two spots on the front of his car. I was pinned to my dash by the glare and blinded by the beams refracting the rain drops on my windscreen, which wasn’t helping my visibility. He turned them off as we travelled down the A472 toward Nelson though. Or so I thought. However my attention was taken by a 2.8 MK2 Granada barrelling past us at quite a lick, but as he passed Gar, Thomas threw the car into the lay-by that he almost missed.
We all pulled in behind him and as I got out of my car, I was accosted by Brian who started beating me about the head with his Zimmer frame and shouting, “You’re a blooming Jinx you are!!” You see it would appear that Triumph electrical gremlins are highly contagious. Brian hadn’t turned his lights off but had lost all electrics too, after seeing smoke pouring from the switch on the steering column.
Whilst I’ll admit that seeing an ex prop forward being beaten up by Old Father Time may have been amusing to some, I was saved from this particular humiliation by Thomas and his bid for the title of “Incompetent Bumbling Fool of the weekend”.
“I’m overheating, I’m overheating and it’s blown my radiator cap off!” he wailed in despair. I bet it’s having to drive so slowly behind you lot!” he accused before stomping off back to his steaming Granada leaving us all somewhat bemused. Brian had also stomped off and was playing with fuses and taking apart his steering column.
Young Thomas then returned looking rather sheepish and clutching something tightly in his hand. It was the radiator cap which he’d found resting on the inner wing under the bonnet. He was still trying to claim it had “blown off” but we all knew that he hadn’t put it back on after checking his coolant levels. Whilst future events would preclude Thomas from holding the title of “Incompetent Bumbling Fool of the weekend” he will now forever be addressed as “You stupid boy” in the best Captain Mainwaring impression you can muster.
Whilst we were waiting for “Stupid Boy’s” Granada to cool so we could top up the escaped coolant and FIT THE RADIATOR CAP, Brian traced his electrical gremlins and discovered bodgery by the previous owner. The spots were badly wired in, causing the High beam/Horn/indicator switch to melt spectacularly and blow the fuse which also operated the wipers. As this was due to his taunting me all morning with all his working lights, I must admit to sniggering slightly.
We also noticed at this point, that Eric’s Ambassador had developed a bit of a list to port. Apparently though, that was due to hitting a big pothole and knocking some gas out of the funky elastic suspension or something. However, its ability to proceed was unaffected. This left only Gar’s Morris Nelson completely trouble free when we limped into the Llanfabon Inn car park.
The Llanfabon Inn is a lovely, quaint hillside pub still very much in the 20th century and must be one of the last bastions of the “cash only” economy. It was cozy and dry and the beer was good. The pub had a long family history with Gar too and he regaled us with his childhood memories whilst we supped our pints.
We were running a bit late now, the weather was still horrible and we were all hungry for the buffet snack that Mrs Pike was preparing for us back at Maesteg Celtic Rugby Club. (That is Rhiannon Jenkins, Stupid Boy’s Mum) so after another jump start for Poppy, we decided to cut out the photo stop at Castle Coch (excuse me? - Ed) and take the direct route back to the club.
The buffet was superb and copious and enjoyed by everyone. A very pleasant afternoon was spent reminiscing about the day’s adventures and trying not to be put off by the cheers and whoops of a bar full of Welshmen thoroughly enjoying watching the South Africans beat the English at Rugby.
Despite the Gremlins and the weather, we all had a really great time but boy did we miss Super Enthusiast Man and we wish him a VERY speedy recovery.
We retired for the evening as we were all very much looking forward to the weekend’s main event, the South Wales Charity Classic Car Show, organised by the Jenkins Family in aid of the Stroke Association.
I made the most of my “not camping” facilities and filled Poppy back up with electric overnight.
Sunday, if it was at all possible, dawned even wetter than Saturday. Despite this we had a trouble free trip to the rugby club. Well I say trouble free .... both Poppy and Nelson’s engines started missing and Brian still had no lights or wipers, but at least I did now and we didn’t get lost this time.
We arrived safely and set up on the car park. Over the next hour or so the car park gradually filled with interesting vehicles while we hid under the Jenkins gazebo and they ran around like lunatics organising the placement of vehicles, selling raffle tickets and getting very, very wet. Despite the weather, the event was very well supported with over 60 vehicles taking part and a wide variety it was too.
You can see the full selection over on the galleries section of the website (click here to see - Ed) but I will list a few of my stand out cars of the show.
This modified Reliant Robin was the wackiest I think. Must be a hoot to drive and I could definitely have used that gun to clear the jams on Friday.
My favourite non Brit was the Toyota Celica. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of these in the flesh and it looked great in its seventies-tastic purple and metal flake paint.
My personal favourite of the show though was this beautiful Morris 8. It looked stunning in it’s black over blue livery and the original interior looked perfect. Apparently, all it required was copious amounts of leather feed and a little bit of die on the faded bits. I am certainly developing a taste for pre-war cars even if they do all look the same to me.(sorry)
Unfortunately, the rain was unrelenting and it was decided to bring the awards and raffle forward before too many people left.
Furthest Travelled went to our very own mad man Eric Dalton for his epic 900 mile round trip from the wilds of Scotland
Best tractor award went to this rather fine David Brown.
People’s choice was won fairly and squarely by this beautiful Humber Sceptre.
And finally, best car in show was won by this gorgeous Rover P5B.
Eventually it was just us left in the car park and it was time to say our farewells. Eric and I were heading home and Gar and Brian back to the “not camping”.
We set off. Poppy was still missing under load but when I got to the M4 I was able to push up to 60 where it cleared. The weather was appalling but I had a tank full of fuel and a battery full of electric, I was confident. I was confident for approximately 2 miles right up until a loud thunk and a rattle under the car.
Well this time I didn’t put it down to a kicked up stone. I was pretty sure something big had fallen off so pulled to the hard shoulder and Eric pulled in with me. A quick inspection revealed that I am indeed the king of bumbling incompetent fools the world over and jobs would be so much easier with the right tools. You see, my brand new crank pulley nut had decided that it too would make a bid for freedom and is now roaming wild on the side of the M4 near Bridgend.
The AA was called and because I was in a hazardous place assured me I was a priority case. Eric insisted on waiting with me until rescue arrived despite his upcoming epic journey through a principality and two kingdoms. So we sat in his warm car and he fed me cake and I looked online for a 1 & 7/16 socket until help arrived.
I wasn’t the only one that failed to proceed though. Our only remaining fault-free car of the tour needed the assistance of the recovery man too. I leave Gar to fill you in on that though as the diagnosis is still outstanding at the time of writing. But the engine didn’t sound well after putting in a modern oil having left all his 20/50 on a rugby club car park.
As you can see, my recovery truck was much bigger and more impressive than Gar’s.
See what happens when you leave us alone Super Enthusiast Man? Here’s the list of faults developed over the weekend. We all agreed to save them up for you to fix.
1 Listing Ambassador.
1 steaming Granada.
2 Triumphs with dodgy Electrics.
1 Triumph missing nuts.
1 Noisy Triumph engine in a Morris Minor.
We all made it safely home though, albeit with help for two of us and we all had a fantastic weekend.
Big thanks to our loveable Fat Controller Gar for organising the tour on Saturday.
Massive thanks too for the Jenkins Family, for all their hard work and dedication in setting up the Sunday and for the hospitality shown to us all weekend.
Adrian ‘is that a fence?’ Jenkins
Rhiannon ‘Mrs Pike’ Jenkins
Thomas ‘you stupid boy’ Jenkins
Shannon ‘Slugger’ Jenkins
I have never felt so welcome in Wales. Thank you all so much and I can’t wait for next year. Hopefully the weather will be kinder.
PS if you were unable to make it but would like to show your appreciation for all the hard work, Thomas and the Jenkins Family put in, you can still make a donation to the Stroke Association by following this link to Shannon's“Just Giving” page.
Shannon has set this up just for us, so please be as generous as you can. It’s a very worthy cause.
By Mike Peake
My new control box arrived and I was at my lockup like a shot and had it fitted in no time at all. One of the nice things about working on Poppy at the lock up is that people walk past and want to chat about the car and what I’m doing to it and today was no exception.
A young couple with a baby approached and were very enthusiastic about the car. Particularly the young lady who introduced herself as Mel. She wanted to know all about it. How easy to run as an everyday car, who could work on it and how fed up she was with her boring modern car. Well if Poppy was for sale I think Mel would have bought her there and then, but chat over and off they went to continue their walk and I went back to working on Poppy.
Jump leads to the Honda and Poppy fired up. Frustratingly, the ignition light was still glowing. I guess it wasn’t the control box then. I left the car running and attached to the Honda, while I pulled up the diagnostic procedure on my phone, but while I was looking at this, the cut out cut in and the light went out. “Woohoo! Its fixed” I thought and went for a spin to charge up the battery. As I was driving down the High Street, I saw Mel and her family again and they were flagging me down so I stopped to a chorus of “Oh Wow! You fixed it. That’s great! Can I have a ride?” from Mel, Well not wanting to disappoint my public, I took Mel for a ride round Bassett. She didn’t stop talking the whole way and really seemed to enjoy the experience. I also convinced her to join the group because I’m smooth like that.
After I dropped Mel back with her family, I went for a proper blast in the countryside, …Errr… I mean proving run. It all went smoothly apart from a brief thunk and rattle under the car which I put down to a kicked up stone, the ignition warning light came back on and Poppy developed a slight intermittent misfire. Needless to say then, I was a little bit grumpy when I got back to the lockup. Especially so, when the “kicked up stone” turned out to be the crank shaft pulley nut making a bid for freedom.
The next 4 hours were spent prodding and poking with the multi-meter and swearing … a lot. Despite this and my best efforts to look as competent with a multi-meter as Super Enthusiast Man and Lord Simpson did, I had no success whatsoever in chasing any electrickery back into the car or indeed, finding out why it all fell out in the 1st place. I’m ashamed to say that I gave up and vowed to convert to an alternator. In order to have some sense of achievement after a day spent on the car, I serviced the ignition side which cured the misfire and fitted the replacement nearside door mirror which was broken about a year ago when a Fatbloke tried to squeeze between the car and the garage wall.
Another pleasant hour was spent with Mrs FB driving very slowly up and down a certain stretch of road in the Honda, whilst I looked for my freedom-seeking crank shaft pulley nut but it had made a clean getaway so I will have to buy a new one.
Well the group’s Maesteg tour and show was approaching and as it was a charity show in aid of the Stroke Association and organised by our youngest active member, Thomas Jenkins, 17, I decided that I’m going anyway despite my charging issue. The battery was off the car and being filled with electric at home ready for the trip and there will be lots of people there to bump start me should I need it (but they are Brian, Gar and Eric … I’ll take jump leads!). Therefore, Friday afternoon had me refitting the battery and a new crank shaft pulley nut before heading down to Welsh Wales. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a big enough socket or spanner so I did the best I could with a dodgy Stillson wrench I found. I promised myself that the correct sized socket will be ordered.
There was to be no slumming it in a tent for me this weekend. Gar had booked me into a proper B&B! I have to say, it’s a lot easier to go away like this when all you have to pack is an overnight bag. Poppy felt so much lighter to drive too without all my camping gear!
Now I had another decision to make. Boring M4 and take less than 2 hours and only 91 miles or avoid the motorway which the satnav says will take nearly 4 hours and will be nearly 130 miles? Well it was a bit later than I would have liked having fitted the battery and crank shaft pulley nut and not wanting to waste merlot time, I opted for the M4. This was a stupid decision. It turns out that a popular combo band called the Rolling Stones were playing in Cardiff. I entered the motorway at the west Swindon junction to stationary traffic and didn’t get above 20MPH until after the last Cardiff junction. I arrived at the B&B 4 hours after I set off, very tired and hungry but the weather had stayed dry and I had the roof down the whole way.
The rest of the chaps had already left for a local Pub so I made a quick call to Gar to find out which one. Gar said that he was “sending a car” for me. Well the car turned out to be Adrian in his very fine 1989 Jaguar XJ6 manual.
Let me tell you that after 4 hours in a Herald, It was absolute bliss to sink into those soft leather seats. I was whisked along feeling like a Gangster overlord. I just wish I’d bought my camel hair coat, sovereign rings and big cigar. Anyway, the journey to the pub was completed safely without hitting any more fences so well done Adrian!
A very nice evening was had and we all learned a couple of valuable lessons.
Evening entertainment over, it was time to head back to our “not camping” gentlemen’s abode for a relaxing sleep in the peaceful Welsh countryside.
To be continued…
PS if you were unable to make it but would like to show your appreciation for all the hard work, Thomas and the Jenkins Family put in, you can still make a donation to the Stroke Association by following this link to Shannon's“Just Giving” page.
Shannon has set this up just for us, so please be as generous as you can. It’s a very worthy cause.
By Mike Peake
My daughter recently purchased a 2013 ice blue Mini One convertible and it set me thinking about when we bought Mrs FB’s first car which was also a blue Mini. This one was of the British Leyland variety with the 1000cc engine and from 1975. I thought I’d share these thoughts with you.
1988. I’m 19, fit and handsome. Anita is 18 and incredibly beautiful. Sophie wasn’t even a twinkle in our eyes. It was the middle of winter.
2018. I’m 49, fat and balding. Anita Isn’t 18 anymore but is still incredibly beautiful. (Yeah, I know but give me a break! She might read this!) Sophie is 22 and incredibly beautiful. It was late spring.
1988 Anita needed a car to get her from the Nurses home to the hospital in London as we didn’t want her walking late at night before or after shifts.
2018 .It is my eldest daughters turn to buy her 1st car for commuting to work and because she wants to.
1988. Anita decided she wanted a Mini. She’d never driven one but decided she really liked them and it would be ideal for zooming in and out and around London and she’d look really cool, and it had to be blue.
2018. Sophie decided she wanted a Mini (yes, the BMW one). She’d never driven one but decided she really liked them and it would be ideal for zooming in and out and around Swindon and she’d look really cool, and it had to be ice blue.
1988. Budget extremely limited as paying rent and living in London on a student Nurse wage. In fact, our 1st Pram cost more than we spent on this car.
2018. Budget not quite so limited as living with Mum and Dad and able to put almost entire salary into saving up for a car.
1988. Scoured classified advertisements in local paper and Autotrader when they came out on Thursdays.
2018. Set notifications on eBay to notify me when a car that matches my criteria is listed. Ask Local Mini dealership about a car on the forecourt. It was already sold but said he’d let us know if another came in.
1988. Find an ad in the paper for a car that sounded great and was really cheap. Call the number in the ad which rings out as answering machines weren’t in common use and the phone would have been tethered to the wall so couldn’t be taken into the toilet. Finally get through and arrange to view that very evening.
2018. Dean from Mini dealership calls to say he’s just taken in the perfect car as a PX so we arrange to view that very evening.
1988. The address given was on the roughest dodgiest housing estate in Swindon, but the directions were simple. “It’s the only one in the street not on bricks.”
2018 Met my daughter outside the posh main entrance to the dealership under a mini bolted to the wall. So I guess you could say “it was up on bricks”?
1988 It was dark and pouring with rain, but the car looked ok (in the dark). We rang the doorbell. Anita wasn’t insured so the vendor took us to the car park in front of the local row of shops for us to test drive. Here we were able to establish that it moved and stopped. He then drove us back to his house.
2018 It was a pleasant evening and still bright daylight and we were able to have a good look round the car. It was spotless and everything seemed to be in excellent working order. It was however too late to go for a test drive as it was nearly closing time at the dealership.
1988 When we pulled up back at his house, his girlfriend came out and announced that someone was on the phone about the car. Whilst he was inside on the phone we decided to have the car as it was likely to go quickly. Yes, we fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. We handed over the agreed amount and I drove the car back to the future in-laws house. I discovered on the way that it pulled to the left and there was a rubbing noise on full left lock. It had 2 months MOT and Tax though.
We were arranging the test drive for Saturday morning when Dean announced that unless we paid a fully refundable deposit, he couldn’t guarantee the car would be there. Sophie decided that she wanted the car and told the salesman this which rather undermined any negotiating position. However I did get the upcoming service and brake fluid change thrown in along with a tank of fuel.
The Next day, Anita’s Dad decided he would get the car inspected by a local garage he trusted. He then promptly spent another £300 on welding and repairing steering. Oh and the car caught fire on the ramp but they managed to put it out and repair the cause. (Dads are great aren’t they?)
We all test drove the car and came back with big grins on our faces. The deal was done and we arranged to pick the car up the following week to give the garage time to do the service and valet the car.
We got the car back and with insurance arranged, Anita got her 1st proper drive on the road. She hated it at first as it was so different to drive than the brand new Vauxhall Nova she’d learnt on. However she soon fell in love with its handling and practicality and what was intended as a town car purely for the commute from digs to Hospital soon became a motorway car too and was going back and forward from Swindon to London for her days off. This 1975 Mini 1000, KNT 735P gave great service for 3 years until the floor fell off and it became the spares car for the one I helped build as a wedding present.
The day came to pick up the mini and it was sunny and warm. The salesman ran Sophie through all the controls and paired her phone. The roof was lowered and off she went immediately in love with the car. 2 weeks later, we still haven’t managed to prise her out of the driver’s seat or get the grin from her face. I’m also pretty sure this car will provide many, many years of service and I really hope the floor doesn’t fall off.
Somethings are definitely better now than then and I think the "new" Mini is definitely a classic in the making. .... But I do miss that old Mini.
by Callum Tooey
So we left part 1 having returned home via recovery with my first 'proper' classic (well OK technically speaking my previous '85 Reliant Rialto fit our group criteria but having owned Reliants previously this was a totally new experience). It was so late by the time I returned home that my partner never actually saw the car.
With Nutmeg now languishing in my garage, my partner spent the week constantly pulling me away from the windows where I'd be sneaking a peek in disbelief at the fact that she was actually in there. I ordered parts that I knew were needed, a new coil, airbox and paper air filter (it had a K&N fitted directly to the carb), spark plugs. The new coil arrived within a few days but due to work commitments I knew I'd have to wait until the weekend to do any work.
The weekend finally arrived and my Dad and uncle had agreed to come over and help me to fit new parts. I checked the voltages across both the old coil and the new one, they were reading equal which I thought was odd but hey, that was the diagnosis of the recovery mechanic so who am I to question it (I now know this isn't the right way to check coils).
My uncle arrived first but with limited tools (mainly metric) we struggled to remove the old coil from the car, we tried testing it by simply connecting the old coil, I was optimistic but after cranking the engine multiple times she still failed to start.
We pulled some spark plugs and they were dry, strange I thought as fuel wasnt a diagnosed fault? We checked the fuel to the carb, check, somehow it wasn't entering the cylinders, it must be blocked we thought, we decided to check the spark at the plugs, also nothing... 'Two different faults?' I exclaimed 'What are the chances of that!'
My uncle replaced the old coil with the new one, with the understanding that it eliminated the coil as an issue, my Dad arrived with two heavy toolboxes full of AF tools 'You can have these son!' He said, whilst watching me almost buckle trying to lift them out of his car boot.
With the correct tools at our disposal we had the carburettor disconnected and removed, my plan was to find a specialist who could professionally clean it. Deciding nothing more could be done with the car that weekend I removed the battery to charge it and we retired for a well earned cup of tea.
I spent the following week calling around various places to attempt to have the carburettor cleaned, one company enthusiastically told me they could rebuild it for around £300 odd and that they were the sole specialists for this however there were time-frame issues and I would need to send the carb away to be worked which, I spoke to a local firm who said they had never done one before but 'could give it a go' and to drop it off and it would be done 'whenever'. I politely declined and decided to strip it down myself to clean the jets using my manual as the guide.
Stripping it down proved to be relatively easy, in hindsight though I should have wore some eye protection as spraying carb cleaner over-zealously into every nook and cranny of the carb was enough to catch a nice spray of it in my eye which I can say categorically, stings like a b*tch.
After taking a breather and discovering I wasn't going to lose my eyesight I reassembled the carb and stored it again ready for refitting that weekend. This was a big weekend for me as I had decided to work on the car by myself, reassuring myself that you don't learn until you throw yourself into it.
Refitting the carb proved to be a slight hassle as although the right hand bolt is easily accessible, the left hand bolt was impossible to reach with a socket and I could only get a quarter turn on the bolt, I noticed that if I could refit the choke cable and put it 'on' this would move some of the obstruction giving me half a turn which made it slightly quicker.
After confirming the carburettor was refitted I refitted the battery and decided to try to start her again, I don't know what I expected to be honest as she turned over definitely but still refused to start. I tested for a spark at the points and spark plugs, nothing on either.
Becoming frustrated, my Dads voice echoed in my head 'Should have bought a Morris Minor'. "No - I will fix this" I decided, this is 2018 and we have technology now to help! Out came my phone and onto Youtube, testing for sparks the usual search terms but nothing helped.
I had bought another distributor, a new rotor arm and a new electronic ignition so I decided to fit these to the car, again under the perhaps misguided impression that they removed a possible 'reason' for the car not to start. After fitting these parts I tried once more to start her, but all this succeeded in doing was draining the battery. Light was fading now so I locked up the garage, and retired back indoors.
Needless to say, I was at a low point here, I made a disappointed post to vent on the group Facebook page, strongly disheartened by the days events and wondering if I had truly bitten off more than I could chew here. That post instead showed me why I am a member of the group in the first place when another member, Colin, offered to call me and talk me through it.
Taking time out of his work to talk me through the basic mechanics and checks I had performed, he said something that caused me to perk up 'You have checked the coil right?' Of course I have, it had voltage across it 'Yeah that's fine but what about the resistance?'
'The resistance?' I thought, Colin had to dash off for work but told me to look into it, a quick Youtube video later and I realised I'd been checking the coil wrong, I didn't need to check voltages I needed to measure the ohms! After rushing out to the garage I grabbed the old coil and checked the resistance, it was around 3 ohms for the primary circuit and around 9 for the secondary.
With my manual only stating an ohm resistance of 4.5 for the coil I had no idea if this was within tolerable levels so disconnected the new coil and tested it, the first circuit proved slightly higher but there was no reading for the secondary proving that my 'new' coil was actually a dud.. Could it really be that simple?
Well a new coil has been ordered... and I guess you'll have to wait for part 3 to find out!
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