by Callum Tooey
It’s a Sunday morning and I’m in the passenger seat of my dads car as we are driving to Cambridge to visit our boats when my phone beeps. ‘What’s that?’ My Dad asks whilst pulling into a supermarket to buy a drink. ‘It’s eBay, that Vauxhall I showed you finishes in 10 minutes’ I replied whilst reviewing the advert. I passed him the phone to take another look at it, ‘it does look clean’ he admitted ‘but I wonder if you could still get parts for it?’
"Good point" I said, so I took a few minutes to check eBay for various parts all of which I appeared to find with relative ease, then left to my own devices as the timer ticked down I entered a bid of the asking price, confident that I’d be outbid. As the timer hit zero, I was shocked to see the green banner informing me I had won. My dad was equally shocked ‘I thought you wanted a Morris Minor’ he said, something that I would be constantly reminded of in the weeks to come.
We arranged to pickup the car the following week. The advert said it was in Hythe in Kent and further contact gave us an address of Port Lympne which my partner said was a zoo of all places. I had visions of finding the car inside an enclosure overrun by animals all week but fortunately that wasn’t the case and the only ‘wild’ animal we saw was a woolly rhino that was being moved.
Once we saw the car we took a look at her condition and were happy she had been described correctly. I decided to name her ‘Nutmeg’ as her number plate reads ‘NMG’. I planned to drive the car home, so after a brief drive around the car park I was satisfied she was driving and stopping OK. We followed the signs back towards Maidstone before picking up the M20. I was checking the instruments and noticed the speedometer and temperature gauge were not working and she was struggling a bit with constant coughing before refusing to accelerate anymore.
I coasted her onto the hard shoulder and we started diagnosis whilst awaiting recovery. Fuel seemed good, no tools to check spark but we presumed it was an electrical fault. The recovery guy diagnosed the coil and she was loaded on the back of the truck.
Getting her home, we blocked the road with the truck whilst we tried to offload and manoeuvre her into my garage, hoping she would fit. This prompted a few of the neighbours to come and see what was happening with one running shirtless to move his car as he thought I’d called a tow truck to move it! (Parking across the dropped kerb has been an issue and metal sign stating vehicles will be towed has been put up).
We got Nutmeg into the garage with a couple of inches to spare. With the garage door shut this was the last I’d see of her for a couple of weeks until part 2 when we could start working on her.
By Mike Peake.
It had been a long day of challenging and fun driving and we’d all loved every minute of it. We were all back at base camp now, putting on our glad rags and making ourselves look beautiful for our evening meal to celebrate a great day and my upcoming 50th birthday. 28 of us set off to the Druids Inn with Anita carrying an intriguing package which turned out to be a fabulous birthday cake she’d made for me. (Unfortunately, I had to share it though.)
Most of us were eventually served a rather lovely dinner but I think the pub had bitten off more than it could chew with such a large party. It took a long time to serve us all, leading to some having finished before others were even served and the final meals out really weren’t up to standard. Unfortunately, it was Windy Woodward, Tosh Brooks and Liam White that were last to be served. Windy and Tosh got the bad meals but they are shy and retiring types and didn’t want to cause a fuss (Ahem).
Liam on the other hand was getting hangrier and hangrier. Spotting the warning signs of an imminent Liam explosion, we shouted at the staff that they needed to serve the roasted vegetable and chicken as soon as they could. Unfortunately, they only heard the vegetable bit and bought out a side plate of vegetables. Realising that it would be extremely life-limiting for the server to attempt to give this plate to our devout and hungry carnivore, Nick’s current carer Jo, ushered them back into the kitchen and returned with the correct order.
It was a shame and I hope it didn’t spoil the evening too much for anyone, but maybe we are just getting a bit too big to expect a pub to cope. On the plus side, my meal was excellent. I really enjoyed it and none of us was laughing at our 3 hungry desperadoes at all… honest!
Everyone except Liam had finished eating. Cake candles were lit, Happy birthday sung and cake cut and eaten. It was time for the awards that I wanted to give out to people I felt deserved them. It was just rosettes though so don’t get thinking I splashed out.
The final award was the “brave boy” award for not blubbing too much when his multi award winning Zephyr didn’t win at our Coventry meet and didn’t win here either. Yes, Windy Woodward is a very brave boy.
Awards done but I wasn’t allowed to sit down. Gar was stood next to me with an extremely well bubble-wrapped parcel saying lots of very nice things about me of all people, before presenting me with the parcel. It took me a while to fight through all the layers, but I eventually revealed the gift and was really quite taken aback. It was an oil painting of one of my favourite pictures ever taken of Poppy with me and my young daughters feeding the ducks at South Cerney Lakes in the background.
I really hope I was able to get over to everyone just how pleased and touched I was at the thought that went into choosing and commissioning such a gift and the generosity of those who contributed.
I was, and still am, somewhat overwhelmed by it all, but a huge and heartfelt thank you to all involved. I will cherish it. Of course I am also quite overwhelmed at the thought that this means some of you do actually quite like me. I thought you just put up with me for the award winning lemon drizzle cake.
We all returned to base camp where we blatantly ignored the “Silence after 10.30 PM” signs plastered all over the site and continued the party. The camp fire was lit, much beer and wine was consumed and the hilarity continued.
Paul Cheetham won the game to see how many marsh mallows you can fit in your mouth (a quite surprising amount it turned out). However, Tosh should get a large credit for this win as it was him that stuffed them all in there.
The award for “who could create the best cave painting using Kurt as a stencil” went to Tosh who chose to use the medium of “squirty cream”. However, Kurt should get a large credit for this win as it was him squirting the can of squirty cream into Tosh’s mouth until he choked.
Eventually, we all made our way to our beds so we would be fresh and ready in the morning.
Sunday dawned bright, sunny and warm. No. Really it did! I know, on an EBMV event too. It must be because it was Phil’s tour and not Gar’s. Anyway it was warm. You get the picture, and some changes were rung. We lost Chris Ball and his MGB, Kevin and Sheila’s support Volvo, Rob Shalcross and his Tempest and Chris Baker and his TR7. However we gained a couple of aging hippies in the form of Richie Moore in his gloriously crusty MK1 Granada and Ian Wright in his gloriously shiny MK2 Granada.
We were almost ready to go but were still waiting for Andy Perman and Liam White who were too posh to camp with us and were staying in a local hotel. It was no surprise at all that Last Minute Liam was late but it was unlike Andy. We were just starting to worry when Andy pulled in looking worried. He got out of his VDP and came up to me. I said “What’s wrong Andy? Tell me? Has Liam broken down in his P6? His fuel line has broken away from his carburettor? Oh No. I’ll get Super Enthusiast Man at once. (Oh my gods! It’s turning into an episode of Lassie!)
The Brooks camper shook, the rear doors burst open. There stood Super Enthusiast Man in all his Glory! No, not that glory. Euww! I mean in his boiler suit, cape, flat cap and Y-fronts over the top! Anyway, with a mighty bound he was in the VDP and off to rescue Liam. The rest of us were left sniggering as it couldn’t happen to a better bloke after all the micky taking he’d done (or was that just me?)
As we have come to expect, Super Enthusiast Man and Liam in a running P6 were soon back at the site and we were ready to head off. We set off to Buxton for the fuel stop of the day, where Liam broke down again, spilling petrol all over the forecourt and needed Super Enthusiast man to work his magic again. (No, I mustn’t laugh. Stop it!)
Liam was soon up and running again and we all set off in a full convoy of 15 cars. Driving through Buxton and other populated areas in a large convoy of classic cars is a lot of fun. It makes a real impact that 2 or 3 cars don’t achieve. Muggles actually stop what they’re doing to watch, smile, point, wave and take pictures. It is great to watch everyone’s reaction as you drive past. Personally, I much prefer driving like this. It really is great fun.
After Buxton, Phil soon had us back on some fantastic fun and challenging roads again and we had a great drive to our 1st stop of the day. The Dam on the Errwood Reservoir. It was beautiful looking out across the water at the scenery. (Oh my gods! It’s just struck me! I was looking at scenery, taking pictures of scenery and appreciating scenery! That’s something my Mum and Dad did! It’s official! I am actually… OLD!)
The rest of the leg to Allgreave was equally beautiful and the roads were fantastic. The Cat and Fiddle road was awesome as the scenery changed from rugged hills to open barren moorland.
After Allgreave we wound our way up to Flash. At 1518 ft, this is the highest village in the country and offered great views as we stopped for a cup of tea. A really nice MGA was also stopped there and of course we all had to have a chat to the owner before watching him drive off. Gus also got told off by the pub land lady for parking Henry in her front garden.
Suitably refreshed, we all headed off again for our lunch stop in Hartington. I was just behind Big Rov at the front of the convoy and Anita was reading out the notes on this leg of the tour to me. She had just got to the bit about how the junction with the B5043 comes out of nowhere and is really easy to miss when Phil pulled us all over and got out of his car and back into C3P0. ”We’ve missed the junction with B5053” he said. “It appeared out of nowhere and we’ve driven straight past it.”
Turning 15 classic cars around on a single track road isn’t the easiest of exercises but we all managed it with minimal mutterings about bumbling fools who can’t even follow their own directions. In no time at all we were back on course for our lunch stop in the lovely village of Hartington and the Charles Cotton Pub. The landlord had cleared the apron in front of the pub and wanted us to park here so he could take promo photos. We wouldn’t all fit and those at the back of the convoy had to make do with the car park out the back. We also met up with Dave Aikman and his MK3 Cortina.
Another lovely lunch of sandwiches and chips was served before we all descended on the famous cheese shop and cleaned them out before heading off on the leg to Tissington via the much anticipated Wetton Tunnel.
I have to admit, we all turned into little boys playing with toy cars only bigger as we queued up to go through one at a time. Photographers, drone operators and sound engineers were positioned at the other end of the tunnel and we were ready to go. Nick and the Jensen went through first and the sound was incredible. No one else came close to matching. It was huge fun though.
Anita was a bit bemused by the whole thing as we sat waiting and watching those in front of us roar through with big grins on their faces. “I just don’t see what the appeal is” she said. Then it was our turn. There we were at the tunnel entrance revving Poppy’s engine and waiting for Phil to finish his run.
Then we were off, accelerating hard and making as much noise we could. With the roof down we could really hear that plucky little four pot reverberating off the tunnel walls. As we shot out the end of the tunnel for our picture, I looked over to see that Anita had a matching big grin on her face too. “Ok, That was fun” she allowed.
It wasn’t all fun and games though. After we went through Gar was approached by a local chap walking his dog who immediately started berating him. “Have some regard for the locals” he shouted at a bemused Gar. “We get this all the time and you lot look old enough to know better!” Then just as Gar was trying to pacify the chap by assuring him that in fact we were mature and weren’t creating too much noise or fuss, Liam wheelspun away with his V8 screaming and shouting “WOOHOO” out the window. The chap just looked at Gar and said “I’m calling the Police” before storming off.
Gar then tried to herd everyone else through as quickly as possible before the police arrived but they were all intent on having their fun and Nick insisted on another run in the Jensen. Eventually though, we did clear the area and despite Liam briefly scaring us with the siren facility on a bull horn that he produced from somewhere, we avoided the Rozzers for the rest of the tour. (Who the hell thought it was a good idea to give Liam a bull horn??)
The rest of the tour passed in a haze of happiness that was periodically broken by Liam shouting rude comments through his bull horn. Even this didn’t spoil the fun though. Far too soon, we were back at base camp and people were packing up, saying their goodbyes and leaving. Everyone was saying what a great time they’d had and I have to agree that this was the group’s best event so far, and this time, I really don’t think we can better it.
So I know that I say this on behalf of everyone on tour. Huge, massive thanks with squirty cream an cherries on top to Phil C3P0 and Lorraine Allin for setting all this up. We all really appreciate the effort and hard work you put into this and assure you it was worth it. I think I can say with certainty that we WILL be back so you better start planning the next one.
Monday morning saw us taking a leisurely drive home with Anita towing the caravan via a more direct and less stressful route following Poppy and me. I even took her for a romantic lunch in the car park of the M42 services. After a total of 519 trouble free miles we pulled up at home.
I would like to thank all who attended and made this such a great weekend. I hope that those of you who joined us for the 1st time enjoyed as much as we all did and that you felt welcome and want to come again. I for one had the time of my life.
Boston next although it might have already happened before I get around to publishing this. So, I’ll see you soon with more tall tales of a bank holiday weekend.
by Mark Smith
Saturday 19th May started well. The sun was shining and the morning was pleasantly warm, very unusual for a British Spring Saturday. After a leisurely breakfast I mounted my Victoria Pendleton bicycle, purchased during last year’s Black Friday Halfords sale primarily for the commute to and from the lock-up garage a couple of streets away where our lovely Triumph Mayflower Mildred is kept and set off for the corner shop to collect our Saturday Times before heading round to collect Mildred.
The usual pleasantries were exchanged with the shop owner who always asks me what I’m up to that day. I explained that I was just off to the lock-up to collect Mildred and that Christine, Georgia and I were heading off to the lunchtime meeting of the Charnwood Custom Cruiser’s at Hathern where we planned to have our usual sausage, egg, chips and beans lunch at Lisa’s Diner before looking around the other cars and chatting to a few of their owners. I had then planned to drop Christine and Georgia off in town on our way home where they were going to pick up a Birthday balloon and banners before delivering them to the Bella Italia Italian restaurant where Georgia was having a Pizza Party with a few school friends the following day for her tenth Birthday.
We set off from home around 12:30pm in good spirits and with the sun still shining, Georgia full of excitement about her Birthday the next day. We had just got to the traffic lights on King Street where it joined the A6 to town when the lights turned red and we stopped with one car in front of us. I looked in the door mirror and watched a Transit sized van pull up behind me. As I looked ahead again, the lights changed to green and the car in front started to pull away. When we had pulled up I had knocked the column change gear selector into neutral and applied the umbrella-handled handbrake, it was a good thing I had! As I depressed the clutch peddle ready to select first gear, there was a terrific snapping sound and the peddle hit the floor and stayed there, we were going nowhere.
I knew the clutch mechanism was mechanical rather than hydraulic so assumed it was cable operated and that the cable had snapped. I got out of the car and went round to the lads in the van behind to explain what had happened and the passenger got out and pushed us the short distance across the A6 and into a lay-by parking area opposite. We ended up parked on the double yellow line area just before the start of the proper parking bays but there was no way we could have maneuvered the Mayflower into a parking bay even if one was available but the car was parked in a safe manner and was not causing an obstruction. I lifted the bonnet to get extra light through to the gearbox area under the car and crawled underneath to inspect the damage. I was amazed at what I saw, the linkage was not a cable, it was a ¼” thick steel rod and it had snapped where the threaded section began that attached it to the clutch peddle. A ¼” thick steel rod snapped clean through!
There was nothing I could do other than call the RAC so I told the girls to continue into town, have some lunch and sort out the balloon and banners for Georgia’s party and I would stay with the car until the RAC arrived. The RAC Call Centre operator told me it would be somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes to get an engineer to me and Text me the engineer’s contact number in case I wanted to call him and I settled down to await his arrival. I had explained to the operator that they would need to send a breakdown truck to take the car back home a it couldn’t be driven and I would have to track down a spare clutch rod and repair the car myself in due course. While I waited for the engineer to arrive, I rang Paul Burgess the Spares Officer at the Triumph Mayflower Club and told him what had happened and asked if he knew if we had any spares in the club. I also had to cancel a planned publicity photo shoot at Stonehurst Farm which we had organised for the Monday evening as I had no way of getting the car back on the road over the weekend.
I had just got off the phone to Paul when I received a call from the RAC’s engineer to advise me he was on his way and would be with me as soon as he could depending on the traffic. He was over at Syston near Leicester and hoped to be with me in around 20 minutes. As I waited in the sun, sitting in the driver’s seat of the car with the door open and the bonnet up, I had quite a few people walking to or from town stop to talk to me about the car. The younger ones wanted to know what the car was and the older ones who knew what it was, just wanted to look at it and everyone that stopped said how much they liked it. Even when Mildred is under the weather, she just seems to generate so much goodwill and you can feel the affection people have for her, which I just find so amazing.
The RAC engineer was as good as his word and arrived more or less to the minute of his predicted time. As he pulled up behind Mildred, I instantly saw he was quite a young chap and the first thought that went through my head was that he wouldn’t have a clue what to do because he wouldn’t be able to plug in a Lap Top. How wrong I was! I walked up to his van door before had had a chance to get out and told him that I had told the operator to send a low-loader as there was no way the car could be repaired. The lad smiled and as he got out of the van, he asked me what had happened.
I explained that the clutch rod had snapped and there was nothing he could do as I would need to track down a replacement so he would need to get a low-loader sent out. He said he had a collapsible trailer in the back of the van and could get the car home for me if all else failed but he’d have a look first. He got a torch out of the van and preceded to clamber underneath Mildred. After a quick inspection, he got up and with evident pleasure on his face said to me, ‘I think I can get that fixed!’ ‘Really?’ I replied. ‘Yes’ he said and went to get a few tools.
Within two minutes of arriving he had removed the broken rod and then returned to his van and made a phone call. He then told me he had rung a local exhaust centre who had agreed to have a look at it and hopefully weld it up. I was amazed for the second time in an hour! He said there might be a charge for the welding so I gave him the £15 I had intended buying our sausage, egg, chips and beans with and he said he would try to get the work done as cheaply as he could and would not mention money unless the exhaust centre did. With that, he got back in his van and drove off saying he’d be back as quickly as he could.
I settled back down in the Mildred’s drivers seat and waited in the sun for the RAC engineer to return, again spending my time chatting with passers by who showed an interest in the car. The time ticked by and as I was talking to a very nice family about Mildred, Christine and Georgia returned from their jaunt into town. We all stood talking for a few minutes when the RAC engineer returned as happy as Larry as he had been able to get the clutch rod welded up and free of charge too! He gave me back my £15 and then refitted the rod to the car. Within a few minutes, Mildred was mended and the engineer had the biggest smile on his face! He was so happy because he had actually been able do some real "mechanicing" instead of plugging in a laptop to diagnose the fault, then stating ‘There was nothing he could do’ before towing the vehicle to the nearest repair centre.
I thanked him and asked his name before asking him to have a photo taken with the car. He told me his name was Jack and he was as pleased as punch to be asked to pose with Mildred for a photograph. We said our ‘Goodbyes’ and went our separate ways. Christine and Georgia got back in Mildred and we drove home full of praise for Jack and the RAC. As soon as we got home I went on the RAC’s Facebook Page and Posted the photo of Jack with Mildred and praised him for his excellent service. Within a few minutes, I had received a reply from the RAC thanking me for my feed-back and asking if I would send my Membership Number in a private message so they could track down the Call Centre that dealt with my initial call in order that they could pass on my thanks to Jack. I was more than happy to do that and again thanked them for their first rate service. I then went outside and gave Mildred a nice wash down and a bit of a polish before returning her to her lock-up.
I later reported my experience on various Facebook car groups and thought that was the end of the matter but it wasn’t! A few days later I received a letter from the RAC. As I opened it I assumed it was either a general circular or a questionnaire about my breakdown experience but it wasn’t, it was a personal letter from the RAC’s Customer Care thanking me for taking the time to praise their engineer and report my experience! I am aware that other people may have different feelings about the standard of service they have had from the RAC in the past but I can only talk about my own experience and cannot praise Jack enough for the service he gave us, it was old school and of a standard we used to expect in a different age.
As I started writing this piece this, I heard from Paul Burgess that he has found a replacement clutch rod among the Mayflower Club spares stock. I’ve put my name on it and will swap it for the welded original as soon as possible. I know people say that a weld can be stronger than the original material but once bitten….
By Mike Peake
We were all up bright and early Saturday morning, lined up ready to go. We were joined at the campsite by Rob Shalcross and his son Luke in their Tempest kit car based on a Reliant Fox. (Yes, I’d never heard of it before and had to ask too.) It is a great looking car though and for a little 850cc engine, it went like a rocket! Mind you, I’m not sure it was your regular unleaded that was being burnt. There was a definite whiff of “Speedway” about the exhaust when I was trying to follow him.
Phil was acting a bit like a worried C3P0 trying to chivvy everyone along as he was concerned we’d be late for our lunch stop, but there were photos that needed to be taken and drone footage to be shot and we all had to stop and laugh at Gus in his get up!
You can see from the drone footage of us leaving the campsite that I was laughing so much, I nearly fell off the road.
We finally left the campsite only 3 minutes after C3P0 Allin’s final deadline of 10AM. It would appear that he wasn’t quite mollified though, as he set off in Big Rov at quite a lick with us all trying to hang on to his coat tails on our 1st leg to the glamorous setting of Sainsbury’s Petrol station. It would appear that Big Rov only has 2 speeds. Broken and 100mph!
We all managed to cling on though and those brave enough to look away from the road and the passengers that didn’t have their eyes shut were able to catch glimpses of the stunning countryside as it flashed by. We all made it through and were joined by Chris Baker in his rather nice TR7 FHC.
16 classic cars filled up with fuel before we let Nick “When’s the next petrol stop” Arthur drain their bunkers for his Jensen.
The next leg was to Edensor via Chatsworth house where Phil “C3P0” Allin assured us that there was a great spot to plant a photographer so that he would be able to get good shots of the cars as they passed with the epic view of the house in the background. To this end, we all pulled over to let Phil shoot ahead with our 2 nominated intrepid photographers, Paul Cheetham and Andy Gardner who had been so unfortunate as to forget to bring their classic cars to a classic car tour.
17 classic cars pulled over on the side of the road does generate some attention from the Muggles. There were lots of smiles, wows and phone snaps taken as they drove by. There was one grumpy woman in a silver 4x4 that shouted “BLOODY OLD CARS!” out her window as she drove by, but we think we spotted a sticker in her back window saying “My other car is a Blue MGB GT” so it was probably that woman from the steam fair last year.
As you can see, the photos taken there were fantastic. However, either they didn’t get the brief or Chatsworth House was just too small for them to notice. Great shots though Guys! Well done.
Shortly after the photo shoots we had a couple of “panics”. My panic first though. We’d just driven over a cattle grid when Poppy started making an horrendous “grinding, rattling clicking” noise that was very loud and alarming. It was so alarming that I immediately pulled to the side and leapt out of the car to investigate whilst other enthusiasts swarmed to my rescue and to laugh at a Fatbloke crawling around on the floor.
To be honest, I was fully expecting to see half the car dragging on the road but after a full 5 minutes laying on the ground searching fruitlessly, Liam piped up. “You know your number plate has fallen off don’t you? I was going to tell you earlier but I was laughing too much”. Yeah Thanks Liam! I was too relieved at the simplicity of the breakdown to beat him up though and I quickly removed the remaining screw and slung the number plate in the boot. The second panic? We realised no one had stopped to pick up our intrepid photographers, so Kevin was quickly despatched in his 1998 Volvo support vehicle to rectify this.
What with C3P0 still having “Light Speed” engaged on Big Rov”, my minor mishap and the abandoned photographers, the group had become split up. Fortunately, Phil’s rally notes were superb and Mrs FB was able to navigate us along the rest of the route with ease through the picturesque village of Edensor and to the car park near Grindleford where we were to stop and admire the view. Unfortunately, as the mini convoy I was leading arrived, the mini convoy that had managed to hang onto C3P0 was just leaving. So we filtered in with them for the 5 minute drive to the Yorkshire Bridge Inn for our lunch stop.
At this point C3P0 relaxed back into the easy going chap we all know and love and we all fully enjoyed the lunch of soup and sandwiches in our own private room that our Phil had arranged.
After lunch we all walked up to the nearby Ladybower Dam to admire the engineering marvel that is the overflow plug hole. Unfortunately, the water levels were too low for it to be flowing, but it was still an impressive site. The views of the countryside from the dam were also lovely. A relaxing few minutes was spent laughing at Liam’s antics as he tried to find the best position to take a group photo.
We left the pub at a much more relaxed pace and stayed in full convoy until our next stop at the famous Derwent Dam. We were between Liam’s P6 and Tosh’s Wolseley but they’d swapped drivers. As we were pulling into the car park after a 13 mile drive, Liam started shouting and gesticulating out of the Wolseley’s window. We thought he was just doing his Father Jack impression again so ignored him, but when we finally stopped, Liam leapt out of his car and retrieved his expensive iPad from the boot of the P6 where he’d left it before we left the Pub. Of course it was my fault though, as I hadn’t spotted it while following just behind for 13 miles. I guess I was still avoiding looking at boot lids.
Derwent Dam is every bit as impressive as I was expecting having seen it so often in one of my favourite films. As we were sitting at the bottom between the towers, it was easy to imagine the roar of low flying Lancasters overhead. It was actually quite poignant to be there so close to the 75th anniversary of the famous Dambuster raid of 1943 and I spared a thought for the 56 airmen that didn’t make it back and the 1600 civilians that died as a result. Well said, Fatbloke - Ed
Sorry. Got a bit deep there. Anyway, after a cheeky ice-cream for everyone, we set off for what was to be the most challenging and fun drive of the tour so far. The long steep climb to Mam Tor. It was fantastic and the scenery was breath taking. I haven’t enjoyed driving so much for a long time and I enjoy my driving. Everyone felt the same and as we got out of the cars at the car park at the top the comments that were on everyone’s lips were “Wow! That was Fantastic!”, Boy that was fun!”, “What a run!” and “Thanks Phil, that was awesome.” As well as all humming the tune to “Days like These”
After giving the cars and drivers a bit of a breather after the ascent, it was time for the 1 in 5 descent through the Winnats Pass. The first time you see the view at the entrance to the Pass really is an “Oh wow!” moment and it just gets better as you go down. It was at this point that Anita asked me why everyone was leaving such big gaps between the cars going down the steep hill? Maybe I should have thought about my reply before blurting out, “in case of brake failure” but it made for a very quiet descent and I could concentrate on enjoying the scenery.
The next stop was Phil’s favourite view of the Peak District. The car park of the Monsal Head Inn. Well OK, it was the view FROM the car park, and I have to say I agree with him. It was a beautiful sight. Very tranquil, relaxing and peaceful… until the busy bee buzz of Gus’s drone spoiled it all! But he got some great footage and supplied the entertainment with the panic displayed when he thought he’d lost it. It was also really good to see Paul Berman and his wife who had driven out to meet us and have a chat.
The last leg was supposed to be down to Caudwell Mill and back to base camp. Unfortunately it was getting a little late so it was decided to head back to the camp site and get our glad rags on in time for the evening meal at the Druids Inn.
To Be Continued…
by Paul Sweeney.
It is our pleasure to present these video clips filmed by Garry "Gus" Brooks and John Ticehurst during the Peaks tour - its available below to view and download if you wish to keep a copy. Obviously, everyone there thoroughly enjoyed the tour - special thanks are due to Gar Cole and Phil Allin for taking on the not inconsiderable job of organising the tour - very well done, chaps!
To view the video, click the 'Play' button above. To download it to keep, click here.
by Gar Cole.
Part 3 of this blog picks up almost a full year from the last instalment (you can refresh your memory of the last part here - Ed).
As with all projects they have taken far longer than predicted, however perseverance has paid off and we're now on the home straight.
I know some of you have a soft spot for classic caravans and my 'Doris' an 8ft by 5ft Holivan Jnr certainly draws attention. Following on from the last blog the interior repairs have all been carried out, a new L shape seating area built and installed which allows for a single 6ft 4in bed to be made up at night. Period correct materials were used to refurbish the inside but it has been kept as basic as the day it left the Fisher workshop down in Surrey almost 60 years ago.
Now repainted in Goose wing grey with Trafalgar blue accents to match her tow car, for your £197.00 you got a bed, 3 cupboards, a sink and 1 gas lamp, but hey it beats tenting, and at just 260kg you could pull it with a small car, for example, a Morris Minor............😀
Nelson, my trusty but slightly tatty 4 door Moggy had been left in the care of the Brooks brothers in November of 2017. By New Year the original A series engine and gearbox had been removed and the replacement Triumph 1500TC engine installed. We even got to hear it running despite having no exhaust fitted and it fired up right away.
Speaking as someone with basic mechanical ability who can just manage an oil change or brake pads I watched in awe as Gus continued to somehow shoehorn vastly larger components into original spaces. The Borg Warner automatic gearbox is twice the size and 3 times the weight of the original, yet with careful fabrication of the original cradle it slotted up into the transmission tunnel without having to alter it at all.
From then on, the car started fighting back a bit. The steering column had to be moved slightly to clear the bell housing, with the carbs and exhaust being on the opposite side to the A series it required a custom made down pipe and exhaust system, all built in-house by Gus.
It's always the final details that are hardest and this was true of this conversion. A custom-built prop-shaft was made for it, and finding a suitable radiator that sat further forward of the new engine proved troublesome until a Peugeot 205 diesel radiator was suggested by a fellow Moggy owner. This worked and with some custom water pipes and a few other tricky jobs overcome he was ready to be collected early April.
Now my intention was never to create a "Hot Rod" - I simply wanted an automatic conversion with a tad more power to pull Doris the Caravan. However going from 48 bhp to 84 bhp was always going to be interesting in a 780 kg rear wheel drive car, so you ask, what's it like to drive?
The short answer is "Huge Fun"! It shoots off the line instantly, it has so much torque it barely uses 1st gear and goes for 2nd at 5 mph, what follows is a rorty and very rapid blast to 60 mph with very smooth changes. Between the twin carb induction noise and the large bore exhaust it's fairly loud, but in a good way; it keeps saying 'Go on ya wimp, push me some more".
Unfortunately I did just that and managed to get a speeding ticket in a 52 yo car, something I'm childishly proud of, and no doubt will be a source of amusement when I attend my speed awareness course - 53 mph in a 40 Your Honour.
During the Peak District tour of 11th to 14th May, the car covered 280 miles and it didn't miss a beat. On motorways, traffic jams and mountain roads it is more than capable of keeping up with far larger classic cars and I had a few fun white-knuckled blasts chasing the V8's on the tour with us. Gus's workmanship is top notch and everything he fitted and made worked flawlessly.
I now need to up rate the rest of the car to cope, number 1 being disc brakes on the front, closely followed by wider wheels and tyres. In my enthusiasm chasing aforementioned V8 Rovers, I hit the engine sump on a bouncy road and cracked it so that it started dripping, it's currently off being welded and I will be having the suspension raised by adjusting the torsion bars and fitting a sump guard.
It's a great fun car but possibly a little bit too powerful. I'm toying with swapping back to a single carb and adding a second exhaust box, this should detune it by around 10bhp and make him a less menacing-sounding brute. I'm now setting about improving his paintwork as he tours in rather exotic company 😀
By Mike Peake
They mentioned the boot lid! ... A lot!.
However it was all a jolly good jest and I’m over it now, so it didn’t stop me enjoying what was to be one of our best meets/tours to date.
It didn’t start too well for me though. Mrs FB had sportingly agreed to tow the caravan up despite only having done the odd short jaunt to Weston and such, so a 3 hour trip to the campsite near Matlock was a bit daunting. However, as the only alternative was my tent that I’m not sure has recovered from Snowdonia, the matter was settled.
Anita coped magnificently though, even when my sat nav had a melt down and decided the camp site was in Brassington and took us there via Middleton.
Now these are two picturesque villages nestled at the top of large mountains, along roads barely wider than the caravan and bordered by stone walls. Anita wasn’t happy and of course it was my fault that the sat nav was useless, but as I was in a separate car and there was no phone signal, I could only faintly hear the screams, shouts and swearing emanating from the Honda so felt I could safely ignore it. That is until it became evident that we needed to turn around. The only place we could do this was at a T-junction. Still on a very steep hill. Still on very narrow roads and still bordered by stone walls.
I got out of Poppy, and from a safe distance, informed Mrs FB of the situation. The scary glare of death directed my way encouraged me to maintain the safe distance but by shouting instructions like “left hand down” and “right hand down”, Anita had that van turned around like she’d been doing it all her life and I quite like the smell of burning clutch anyway. We eventually made it safely to the campsite by Thursday evening, where I was saved from being beaten to a pulp by the presence of witnesses. Tosh and Bella the dog already had the camper van pitched and were waiting patiently for us.
Gar and Phil Allin also arrived and we set about a strategy meeting for the upcoming tour which hardly involved any alcohol at all.
It was during this strategy meeting that we learned just how much effort Phil and Loraine had put into this trip. Tales of Phil scouting out the route earlier in year and being foiled by the conditions abounded. My favourites were when he was stuck at the top of Mam Tor in a blizzard and 10 feet of snow for a week with only his thermos and a cheese sandwich for company.
Then, when he was swept away by the ford at Tissington in full flood and ended up floating in the middle of a lake waiting to be rescued by the RNLI. AND, after all this, Phil and Loraine wrote and produced a fantastic booklet full of detailed instructions on our routes along with maps and notes on the interesting sights we would see along the way.
On Friday morning, we pitched the new super duper events shelter and as I was there to supervise, it went a lot better than the pitching of my tent at Snowdon. There was one moment when the wind got up while Tosh was trying to manipulate the canvas and he looked like Han Solo frozen in carbonite, but we got there in the end.
During the rest of the day, our terrific team of tourists gradually arrived so let me introduce them.
And of course Paul Cheetham and Andy Gardner, who both forgot to bring their cars.
While everyone was arriving we weren’t idle though. Super Enthusiast Man drove Poppy in order to compare to Henry which uses the same engine and running gear and just bodied differently and I drove Henry. They really are very different to drive though, even after Gus pointed out that my throttle cable was too long and I was only using half the travel on the throttle. This wasn’t embarrassing at all even if it had been like it since I’ve had the car…for 18 years! Nope. Not embarrassing at all. At least Gus fixed it for me though, even if he seemed to enjoy telling everyone about it.
Tosh was also busy. He was saving this bumbling incompetent fool’s marriage this time by replacing the hole I’d put in my caravan with a lovely locker door with Ian Woodward helping from the inside.
Jolly useful chaps these Brooks and a huge thanks to you both!
More car hopping was done and just as we were about to settle down for the evening, Gar tossed me the keys to Nelson. Well I didn’t need asking twice and eager to test out Gus’s workmanship, I jumped in. I have to say that as I sped away, wheels spinning across the field and leaving a “Back to the Future” trail of scorched grass behind me, I realised that Nelson actually had rather a lot more power than he did last time I drove him and I had quite a big grin on my face.
When I got back, an apron clad Gar was stirring up his souri… sootykaka… sukiouri… oh heck, it was Greek meatballs in a sauce with peppers and tomatoes and vegetables and stuff and pasta was boiling up in several caravans (I think you mean Soutzoukakia Mike. Ed) anyway, there was 24 litres of it and it was absolutely delicious. Gar could give Nigela a run for her money I tell you. He’d even done us strawberries and cream in brandy snap baskets for pud. He’s a star is our Gar.
After Gar had fed all 28 of us, Anita and I gave out the tour Hi Vis vests. Everyone looked very pleased and very smart in them too. And No. I don’t think we looked anything like council dustmen or a bunch of crims on community service as some of you have rudely suggested!
Much hilarity, fun and games continued into the night but eventually we all retired to our beds with our faces aching from laughter and our thoughts on the adventures to come.
To be continued…
By Mike Peake.
So, my boot lid is looking pretty good in primer and I’m waiting for my colouring aerosols to arrive as well as the next set of instructions from my patient patron of paint, Tosh Brooks. However my new dynamo brushes had arrived at the princely cost of £2.50 so I decided to crack on with this. I cleared an area in the utility room and put down some cardboard to protect the worktop. This was remarkably far thinking for me but proved effective when I was inevitably busted by Mrs FB. I actually got away with just a mildly suspicious “Hmmmmmmm”.
A certain Simon Yeardon of the group, flush with his success of actually being helpful in supplying the dynamo diagnostic booklet, was now filling me with fear on how difficult it would be to get the brush assembly back on whilst holding the brushes back. So it was with trepidation that I began.
I found my really big screw driver and applied lots of force to the stubborn retaining bolts. I got the lid off and had the old brushes removed in very short order. My diagnosis of worn out brushes proved correct.
I quickly fitted the new ones. However, instead of correctly positioning the end of clock type spring on top of the brush, I put it on the side, (Yes. On purpose too) effectively retaining the brush in the fully withdrawn position, allowing easy refitting of the top assembly to the body of the dynamo.
Once all fully fitted and tightened, it was simply a matter using a small screw driver to tease the springs back into position at the top of the brushes and job done in less than five minutes from getting my really big screwdriver out. Ha! Who’s the bumbling incompetent fool now Simon? Eh? Eh?
Feeling smug about my dynamo success and armed with Tosh Brooks latest missive of his step-by-step guide to the Dark Arts, I sat in front of my boot lid with a bucket of water and a cunningly folded sheet of 1500 wet and dry. My gods - is that dull work! After what seemed like days of work later, I was quite pleased with the result and had only gone through the primer in one place on the shaped back bottom edge. So, I dried it all off and applied a couple of coats of primer on the bare bit, gave it the requisite hour that it said on the can and tried to flat that bit back.
The can is a filthy liar! Primer is not ready to sand after an hour and I had a bit of a gloopy mess on my hands… and on the boot lid. Was I downhearted? Of course I was. Bottom lip a-trembling, I gave up and went in doors to have a merlot and pour my heart out to Tosh. Tosh’s advice and the Merlot soon had my upper lip suitably stiffened, and 48 hours later had me sanding that bit back to bare metal and reapplying fresh primer, leaving it 24 hours to dry properly this time, before flatting back again.
A thorough clean with panel wipes and a final wipe over with a tack cloth and I was standing there vigorously rattling my rattle cans. It was Friday afternoon after work and I only had the May Day bank holiday weekend to finish up and get everything back on the car before the Peaks Tour. So, carefully following Tosh’s instructions, I applied the 1st light coat and waited for 15 minutes to see if there were any adverse reactions. There wasn’t. It was looking good. So after another tack cloth wipe over I started adding coats of colour in earnest. Starting at the back bottom edge and working my way the top front edge and starting again at the back. I applied the best part of one and a half 400ml aerosols of colour and then stood admiring my handiwork for half an hour.
It started to rain, so I went to slide my work bench further into what remained of my garage. The boot lid slipped and was heading for the concrete floor but I caught it just in time to avoid complete disaster. However, there was now a thumb print on one edge so I shut everything away.
A further messenger heart to heart with Tosh and I was sure it would come out when I flatted back. On the whole though, the boot looked really good. So good in fact that when I posted the results in the group, Paul Sweeney and Brian Allison were driven to say that I was in danger of losing my reputation for being an incompetent bumbling fool. Even Lord John Simpson of Boston was impressed enough to offer his congratulations and suggest that I crack open the Merlot to celebrate. High praise indeed and who am I to ignore the instructions of such a giant in our field.
It wasn’t all good news though, Mrs FB came home and pointed out that the drive was now red with overspray and the house stank of paint. With hindsight, It may not have been such a good idea to say that it was a red brick drive so no one else will notice. Anyway, it was lovely to catch up with all the gossip and life events of the nurses at A&E who were, as always, very nice
Saturday was a write off when it came to working on Poppy as my daughter took delivery of her 2013 Mini One convertible. We had to drive all over Wiltshire in the glorious sun with the roof down for the whole day. We still haven’t been able to get the grin off her face. This put me in mind of the time we bought Mrs FB’s 1st blue Mini back in the mid 80’s… but that is a story for another blog..
Bright and early Sunday morning and I was back with my bucket of water and cunningly folded 1500 wet and dry. The thumbprint was now almost invisible and I proceeded with my trusty machine polisher, and cutting compound followed by a softer pad and polish followed by a generous application of incredibly expensive wax that promised advanced protection against UV.
I stood back to admire my work and , WOW! Even if I do say so myself, WOW!
It was gleaming, It was stunning, I WAS A GOD!
Considering that a month ago, I hadn’t even heard of most of the terms I’ve used above, I have never attempted anything like this before and I was having a go without any of the recommended expensive equipment, yes, I have to say, I was quite pleased with myself.
I was so pleased with the finish that I went immediately to the lock up to refit the dynamo to Poppy and slowly drive her home from the lock up so nothing would fall out of the boot that was without its lid.
There were a couple of occasions when the bumbling fool put in an appearance though. After fitting the dynamo I realised that it might work better if I actually connected those two wires and being ever so thankful that all the nuts, washers and spacers required to refit the boot lid to the car, were still in the boot gutter where I’d left them before my careful drive home from the lock up.
Poppy’s top deck was treated to a machine polish and lavished with a generous application of the same, incredibly expensive anti UV wax that I’d used on the boot in the hope that she would stay red slightly longer than a week this time.
Just the furniture to fit to the boot lid and the boot lid to the car and I would be ready for the groups Peaks Tour. I would be able to bask in the glory of my mastery of the dark art of body work thanks to Tosh’s patience and his excellent correspondence course. Along with the trouble-free dynamo repair, maybe I would finally cast aside the mantle of bumbling incompetent fool for ever!
To this end, I turned the boot lid over so I could fit the number plate light and cover ensuring that it would remain scratch free by carefully placing a dust sheet underneath it.
It was when I went to turn the lid back over again that disaster struck and my world crashed around me. You see, the dust cover had stuck to the surface and either left an imprint in the paint, left bits of the cover embedded in the paint or pulled bits of paint off exposing the primer. The whole thing was ruined.
I have to say that the air turned a virulent shade of electric blue with all the bad words shouted at full volume. I was devastated. I was heartbroken and after all the hours I had put in, and the finish I’d achieved, I am not ashamed to admit, I blubbed like a baby.
I don’t have enough time or enough paint to repair the damage before the tour, so instead of basking in my comrades admiration for a job well done, I have to put the lid back on the car and suffer the shame and humiliation of having the evidence of my bumbling incompetence glaring for everyone to see.
So, There are some new rules for those of you posting in the group or attending this weekend’s tour and they are as follows:-
To be continued if I regain the will to live.... PS anyone want to buy a Herald with Dodgy paintwork?
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