by John Lonergan
Growing up as I did in a North-east pit village with a keen interest in motorcycles from a very early age and fortunately next to a large expanse of woodland, it seemed almost inevitable I would end up riding motorbikes - the tracks through the woods were just perfect as were the old pit heaps from the then disused colliery.
It would be around 1967; me and my best friend Brian were 12 and 13, Brian was about 9 months older than me and he bought an old Ambassador motorcycle fitted with the almost bulletproof Villiers 197cc engine for the princely sum of £6. It doesn't sound much but back then a lot for a young lad to save. Well what fun we had on that old bike flying through the woods (well it seemed like flying), open exhaust, chunky scrambled tyres and no mudguards . We were covered in clarts (mud) every time we went out and loved every minute.
When the Ambassador finally died and he couldn't afford to fix it Brian sold it on and between us we went half's on an old BSA D7 Bantam. This we stripped back to just the frame and engine (they were so simple to work on) ditching all unnecessary items like lights, wiring, mudguards and battery. We didn't need electrics as the engine would run straight off the magneto; we hand painted the frame red with the swinging arm and forks yellow for no other reason than that was the only paint we could find in Dad's shed! It looked quite alright actually if a bit bright.
As my Dad was a motor mechanic and had taught me much from a very early age I was designated "Head of Maintenance" (hmmm!). We did fit some short alloy mudguards cut down from some discarded ones lying in a friend's outhouse. He was also a biker but a fair bit older than us. We were also given and fitted scrambled tyres (also second hand) and the one new part we had specially made and ordered through Motorcycle Mechanics magazine was a 60 tooth rear wheel sprocket which was fitted as soon as it arrived through the post (keen, we were!) cos we couldn't wait to try it out. Yes it lost some speed but we didn't need that through the woods and on the pit heaps, but what it did gain was a lot of bottom end. It would climb anything and wheelie great, which was what we wanted.
We had great fun on that bike until one day we couldn't select one of the gears, so it was down to me as "Head of Maintenance" to sort out (13 going on 14 I was by then). So this one Saturday Mam went out shopping in town and I knew it was an all day trip - it always was and as Dad was at work I decided to tackle the gearbox on the Bantam.
So out with the engine, only a few bolts and a couple of wires, the Bantam engine is very simple and I made good progress stripping it all down and laying out the ancillaries so I would have no trouble on reassembly (Dad taught me that, always be methodical he would say). Now we were down to the crankcases which had to be split as this was a unit construction and the gearbox was inside. All bolts out and parted the casings the oil oozed out and a broken selector fork lug dropped out as well. We did have some spares, half an engine no cylinder head or clutch but inside those old casings there would be a selector.
I stripped the old part out and was just finishing installing the gearbox when in walked mother dear. Oh she wasn't best pleased and had a face like thunder as I was working in the kitchen and had the engine in her new plastic washing up bowl. (Well I thought I was being tidy using the bowl and I did put some cardboard underneath and there was no mess on the floor. I really couldn't see her problem!).
I was immediately expelled from my workshop but on the plus side she let me keep the plastic bowl, that was thoughtful of her. I was then relegated to working outside and it was quite cold (has she no heart?) so I finished off reassembling the engine using homemade gasket (Dad had shown me how to make gaskets using gasket paper and a small hammer) and copious amounts red Hermatite which seemed to be all over me as well.
Before refitting the engine I clamped on the gear lever and tried engaging the gears ….yeah success I could select all three, so the engine was refitted and duly track tested. It worked brilliantly, a total success mechanically and personally I was full of pride at my expanding skills. We had that bike a couple of more years with only minor problems to sort.
At the age of 15 I started working as an apprentice HGV technician and my mate Brian went into clerical work. But a couple of years later Brian bought proper scrambles machine an AJS 250cc Stormer - a brilliant and very fast bike. I got to ride it quite a bit and it was I have to say a bit faster than the Bantam. Brian also bought an ex GPO Morris Minor van to transport the bike to events each Sunday and I was always with him as " Head Of Maintenance" and got free entry to all the events.
In those early years I only had one brush with the law; our local Bobby didn't like us riding our bike in the woods but couldn't stop us either. We never rode on the paths or roads but pushed the the bike to and from my Dad's garage. It was during one of those pushes up the back street that the said officer popped up. He read me my rights and charged me with using a motorcycle on a public road with no tax, MOT or insurance and some other spurious things as it was an off road bike.
It actually went to court, I think I was 14 or 15 anyway it was before I left school. I did have witnesses to prove I wasn't riding and after the officer had read from his pocket book the Magistrates looked at each other and seemed quite annoyed and I thought "I'm for it here", then one of them looked at the policeman and said "Have you really nothing better to do? ...case dismissed!". Phew relief, he never bothered us any more after that . I had many bikes after that but that little Bantam held a special place for me in my early years.
Over the next few years I had several Japanese bikes that served me well, then the inevitable girlfriend (later wife) which necessitated the purchase of my first car, a lovely Wolseley 1500. Many more cars followed then in 1998 with family grown and flown the nest there was no stopping me - I wanted another motorcycle (no, not a Bantam - I wanted a big bike) .
A lad I grew up with just happened to own his own motorcycle shop and attached workshop so I popped up to see him. After many years he looked a lot older than when I saw him last nearly 25 years before (so I told him so and he told me so right back 😂). I told him I wanted a bike but it must be a Brit. He said the only one I have is a Triumph Trophy 900cc. Wow I said "that's big but it's beautiful can I take it for a run?". His reply was "we don't usually but in this case you can as I know you ". "Alrighty then lend me a couple of lids - Cath wants to come too" I said.
"OK, take mine and the wife's" he said. "Just bring it back in one piece". Well I was gone for two blissful hours and when I returned OK he looked mightily relieved. Straight away I said " don't worry I'm buying it but I've got no kit so if you chuck in two A class helmets and some gloves I'll give the price you're asking", Deal done, I never did tell him I hadn't ridden since my early twenties.
I had the Triumph for about 16 years and kept it pristine. Now that little Bantam I had all those years ago was never far from my mind and although I loved the Triumph I was getting more and more drawn to wanting another (and the force grew stronger). Yep all those childhood memories were flooding back, until one day in May 2008 I spotted one for sale on eBay only about 20 miles away.
It was a 1966 D7 Bantam 175cc just like the one we had - only this one was complete. The owner got it from his friend with a view to restoring it, but that never happened. I arranged to go and see it and as the auction was close to ending with no bids, I made him a there and then cash offer which he accepted. Well now I had a wee problem; I'm 20 miles from home in my car and no way to transport the bike home.
After a short muse I phoned my brother-in-law who had a trailer, but that was no good as he'd loaned it to someone but said he could borrow his brothers Transit van. He arrived 90 mins later. Now during the negotiations the owner was about to back out of the deal as there was a problem with the Bantam engine, when it started it sounded awful and was spewing fuel/oil mixture out of every orifice.
It was a mess and he didn't want to sell it like that, but hold on I said I'll still take it regardless. What he didn't know was I knew what the problem was. I remembered from years back if you didn't shut off the fuel tap petrol mix would leech through the carb and collect down in the crankcases causing this exact problem when started.
"Got any spanners?" I said and he pointed to a toolbox. "Watch" I said as I slid an empty tin under the engine and removed the little bolt at the bottom of the casings. Out poured about a pint of fuel. It was very clean, so I just poured it back into the tank. I left the plug out and one swing on the Kickstarter and it was running, a bit roughly but sounded healthy enough. After a short while it started to dry up and I refitted the plug. "How did you know what it was?" he asked. I said, "you had it running yesterday and you said it was fine but I'd spotted you'd left the petrol tap open and it's something I've seen before". "Blimey I thought it was knackered" he said.
Well we loaded up the Bantam and headed over to my place and parked in the garage next to the Triumph. There were some other items to sort out - there was no battery, the front brake cable was badly frayed, the lights and horn didn't work, there was a nasty hole in the seat and the handlebars were bent plus the levers were badly corroded.
I sorted the lighting and horn easily as this was just corroded wiring connections and fitted a new horn/ dipswitch. I got a suitable battery off my old friend at the local bike shop and ordered new handlebars, levers and a brake cable from a specialist Bantam dealer. The seat I took to a local repairer who saved the seat base and recovered it. The little Bantam was now looking quite tidy and always started first or second kick. I booked an MOT at the bike shop where my old friend gave it the once over and nod of approval. It passed the MOT with no advisories. I really loved this little bike - it transported me way back to my youth and put a smile on my face every time I rode it.
I even used it for work. It was brilliant for weaving through the traffic and you could guarantee that every time I stopped, someone would engage in conversation about it. I kept this for about 8 years, first selling the Triumph and about a year later the Bantam - a bitter pill to take, as I had to give up bikes due to work related health problems otherwise I'd still have them both.
At least I have my MK2 Escort Popular which brings me great pleasure and I can see plenty of bikes at classic shows and look on jealously as they arrive and leave.
By Mike Peake
As soon as I got home with my new primer kit, I was back in my tent. Poppy was tack clothed and panel wiped yet again. The primer was mixed 3:1 as per the instructions and filtered into the top of the gun. With great trepidation, I pointed the gun at yet another piece of cardboard and pulled the trigger….
YES! Success! An almost perfect spray pattern on the first attempt! A slight tweak on the fan, a slight lowering of the pressure and I was good to go. I pointed the gun at the car yelled “Tally Ho! Bandits at six o’clock” and off I went. I entered a Zen-like trance of concentration and thought of nothing else but my spraying technique. It was very therapeutic until the tank ran dry. I topped it back up and vowed to check the level more often. That bit will flat out I’m sure.
After what felt like an hour to my head, 3 days to my knees but was actually about 3 hours, Poppy was now a ghostly white. So, following the sage advice of my paint guru that stated, “when you’ve finished spraying LEAVE IT ALONE!!!!” I dutifully resealed the paint and hardener cans, disconnected the gun and carefully extracted myself from the tent before sealing that too. I had a big smile on my face for the whole time I was cleaning the gun and felt justified in my celebratory birthday pint of G&T and strongly worded email to my original paint supplier.
The spooky ghost of Poppy
I have to say that I was greatly relieved that all that angst in part 52 of the blog wasn’t down to bumbling incompetence and was just inexperience. Irritating as it was, if I had ever seen raw HB primer in a can before, I would have known it was wrong and saved myself hours of mental strife. I know now though, so if there is ever a time I choose to subject myself to this torture again, I won’t make that mistake.
The following day, I rushed home from work and before even going indoors to change, I was back in the tent inspecting my work. It wasn’t perfect by any means. There were a couple of spots where I could now see that my feathering of sanding marks wasn’t quite up to scratch. There were a couple of marks from an errant air hose. (Why can’t they invent a means of putting paint in a can and doing away with a great long unwieldy air hose?) There was also the bit where I accidentally sat on the bonnet while it was still wet. Oh, and a dead fly right in the middle of the bonnet.
However, for my first-ever attempt at spraying a car and in less than ideal conditions, I was actually quite pleased with myself. Poppy looked good and I feel that the blemishes listed above can be put right by rubbing down, filling and reapplying primer locally.
So, it was time to get back on with it. Filler was applied to the couple of areas where the sanding marks were showing and locally covered in primer on Friday afternoon after work. Saturday was spent flatting back the primer coat with wet 800 grit.
Now the boot lid, which appears to be cursed. I’d already rubbed it down to bare metal on the top because of the accident with the dust sheet after I sprayed it last year with rattle cans, but only lightly rubbed down the bottom as the painting was good here. Or so I thought. I’d then sprayed half the top with seagull poo and had to rub it back again.
Then I sprayed the whole top with seagull poo and had to rub the whole thing down yet again. I had been storing the boot lid in the conservatory between jobs as it was getting in the way in the tent. Long term readers will know the terrible risk I was taking doing this but I learned my lesson and made sure I disguised it so Mrs FB wouldn’t notice.
Well I had my new primer now so used the last of it to spray my boot lid. Well, the top came out beautifully. However, it would appear that there was a problem with the paint I used last year. The primer that had gone over the paint on the bottom of the lid had wrinkled and cracked and red was bleeding through! I left it all to fully cure and went indoors muttering some very bad words. I am wondering if maybe I had put too much paint on too quickly last year which prevented it fully curing? This would also explain why it stuck to the dust cloth having been apparently dry?
Anyway, Sunday found me back in my tent and spraying my car red. 2 mist coats and 2 proper coats. The time it took me to spray the car and return to the 1st bit for the next coat ensuring I didn’t put too much on too quickly. Once again, when done, I sealed everything up and LEFT it alone.
I returned to boot lid and had it back to bare metal. The primer sanded off easily but last year’s paint seemed really soft and kept clagging up the discs and smearing. However, I got it all back to bare metal eventually. Unfortunately, I’d run out of primer. So it was time to retire with a G&T followed by a fine Sunday roast!
Monday 20th May had been booked off work a couple of weeks ago so I could fit all the trim, lights and fuel tack etc so I would be ready for the Cotswold Tour. It would appear I was being rather optimistic though and suffering from the wasted time with duff primer.
So, instead I was back at the local paint supplier buying another litre of 2K HB white primer, which was applied to the boot lid immediately on my return. All was good! I finally had a boot lid in primer.
Poppy was now on the drive so I had room to properly spray the boot lid in the tent and I decided to leave her there while the boot lid dried. It was also better to see the results of my spraying in daylight rather than the dimmer interior of the tent.
Well in some ways I was quite impressed with myself. Even the bit I thought had run wasn’t really visible and I had a good even coat over most of the car. However, it wasn’t as shiny out of the can as I was expecting and I’m guessing that maybe I had the gun pressure too high as there was a lot of overspray settled onto the upper facing surfaces of the car.
After 8 hours of flatting back with wet 1500 grit paper I’d done most of the car. Just the bumper areas and front grill area were left to do. The overspray was removed quite easily however 8 hours of close contact with the car had revealed a further couple of sanding marks that I’d missed on the primer stage and I was a little bit grumpy until my daughter came home and was very impressed with the work so far. Then Anita came home from work and pointed out even more defects. She did finish by saying that it wasn’t bad for a 1st attempt, which is praise of the highest order from Mrs FB.
The light was fading and so was I, so the boot lid was moved and disguised back into the conservatory and Poppy went back into the tent for the night. I retired to the bath because I was red too. On the plus side, I have no finger prints anymore, so a life of crime is now open to me.
All I have left to do now is spray the boot lid red, finish flatting back the car, flat back the boot lid, compound polish and wax the whole car, put the light lenses and front grill through the dishwasher, (that conversation with Mrs FB will be interesting) wash and polish all the chrome trim on the polishing wheels and then put it all back onto Poppy… Refit the petrol tank and new rubber bumpers. All this in the 3 evenings left before the Cotswold tour.
It looks like Anita and I will be doing this one in her modern Mini or my CRV. Sorry chaps. Letting the side down aren’t I? (Of course you're not! Not even a little bit - Ed).
To be continued...
by John Lonergan
In 2010 the only Classic car meet I attended was "Cars in the Park" in September as I wanted to see what the classic car club scene was like and this was held on the Shafto estate near Spennymoor Co Durham only about 7 miles from home.
As I pulled through the gate there was quite a bit of head turning (who's this? never seen him before) I was a total stranger on their club meet which was open to all . I did feel a little conspicuous but needn't have worried as Cath and I were made very welcome by all. I was asked a bit about the car and gladly told my tale and within minutes the word had spread. I heard one guy saying "Have you seen that Escort? It's only got 3,000 on the clock!". His mates reply "Aye they're still popping up now and again" . One guy made me smile as he popped his head inside and said "you've dun a cracking job on this interior and only 30,000 miles". His face was a picture when I told him to look more closely at the odometer and that the car had not been restored at all but genuine original condition . We had such a good time there we joined the club and are still members to this day .
The car was given the Zeibart treatment from new and although good protection it looked quite ugly especially under the bonnet, so in 2011 Cath and I removed all the Zeibart visible topside and under the bonnet - that is front and rear valances, sills, doors and inner wings - using white spirit, rags and a plastic spatula. It was left intact on the underside, this improved it's appearance greatly though there is still a little bit under the bonnet still to do.
There was another minor niggle; on opening the NSF door it caught the wing, this was due to badly fitted replacement wing when Keith the original owner had a minor scrape with a gate. As it was not an original part I had no qualms about removing it and having it replaced and correctly fitted.
We continued to take the car to shows and meets and it was at one show (the Durham MG show at Houghall College Durham in 2013) again the little Escort was getting loads of attention when at about 12.30 pm two guys in particular were very interested in its history and supporting paperwork. They asked loads of questions and seemed to go away two happy chappies .
By this time I was quite in need of a loo as I had been drinking heavily (tea) and Cath was in a similar situation so off we went - it was a few hundred yards and the queues were massive. On returning to the car I could see something on the windscreen and with a bit of a scowl I said "somebody's stuck something on our windscreen - cheeky sods " but as I got closer and my eyes focused better my scowl turned into a very large grin as it turned out to be a red rosette awarding the Escort "Best classic car". The two guys who were so interested in the Escort and it's history turned out to be judges.
This was my first MG show and hadn't realised that the car would be judged or indeed that there were prizes . So at 3 pm I was at the presentation to be presented with the Escort's very first trophy. I didn't stop smiling all the way home.
Since then the little Escort Popular has won quite a few trophies with many more 2nd & 3rd places and has brought much pleasure driving it around. It's also been the subject of several magazine articles. My greatest pleasure though is not trophies, but interacting with people who like to see it and relaying it's history. On the one hand I quite often get nods of approval or congratulated for keeping it in original spec, on the other I get people telling me what mods they think I should do. Hmmmm... I know which way I'm leaning!
One funny moment was when Cath and I were travelling to an event one Sunday morning when we found ourselves surrounded by motorcycles on the dual carriageway heading north past Newcastle. They all slowed down giving the car the once over - nodded, gave the thumbs up and sped on. Marvellous, the reaction this little car provokes.
And on more than one occasion has caused someone to shed a tear bringing back fond memories. For me this is what it's all about. I know Keith the original owner often looks at it with approval and sometimes comes over if I'm washing or polishing it just to see it and I'm pleased he is happy with my treatment of his lovely old car to which he still has a sentimental attachment.
By Mike Peake
OK, I left the last blog with the car ready to spray. Or so I thought. You see, apparently 180 grit isn’t fine enough before the primer coat and I need to use 240 now. Yes, my paint Guru had already told me that but I forgot, ok? So, Saturday found me spending another day rubbing down again with 240 grit. This was mostly by hand as I’d had a row with my sander. It sanded my knee and we weren’t talking anymore. Also, as Anita had already masked the car up, I wanted to keep dust to a minimum. Of course my Guru was quite correct and everything felt much smoother now and I was ready to get the primer out.
To be honest, after my temporary success with rattle cans last year and everyone telling me it’s easier with a spray gun, I was expecting this to be the easy bit. Oh how wrong could I be?
It started badly when I plugged in my compressor. Nothing happened. I remembered my compressor Sugar Daddy telling me not to press a particular off button as the corresponding on button was broken and it was really fiddly to switch it back on. Well I hadn’t pressed it but it had been pressed. I’m guessing in the car on the trip back. Anyway, after much fiddling, panicked messages for help and the removal of a cover, I eventually found the hidden emergency on switch and normal compressor service was resumed. It’s a lot quieter than I expected.
The next problem occurred when I connected my brand new hose and was treated to the sound of a Hissing Sid convention. The hose leaked at the tool end. Tightening the connection didn’t help so a trip to my local hardware store was required and roll of PTFE tape was procured. It was liberally applied to the problem connection thread and tightened back up. It worked. The leak was cured. It would seem compressed air plumbing is pretty similar to water plumbing after all.
It was now time to assemble the brand new spray gun with the brand new pressure regulator and the brand new water trap. Every joint leaked and required further use of the magic tape but eventually, it was all airtight and I was ready for the paint.
It’s a messy business is paint, isn’t it? Eventually though, after thoroughly stirring the pot of primer and shaking the hardener as instructed, I had my 500ml of 2k primer 4:1 mixed and filtered into the paint pot at the top of the gun, all the spills mopped up and clean gloves applied. The pressure regulator at the gun was set at 3.5bar. (instruction was between 3 and 4 bar.) I pointed the gun at my test piece of metal and pulled the trigger. It was horrible. It was all spotted and spattered and not good at all. I then spent an eternity aimlessly fiddling with all the controls but whatever I did, I couldn’t get it any better at all.
Now the instructions for the primer stated “for high build use minimum thinners, however, up to 10% maybe needed”. I added 10% of thinners to my pot and stirred. It was still all spotted and spattered and not good at all. I spent another eternity aimlessly fiddling with all the controls but whatever I did, I couldn’t get it any better at all.
So, I added another 10% thinners to my pot and stirred. It was still all spotted and spattered and not good at all. I spent another eternity aimlessly fiddling with all the controls but whatever I did, I couldn’t get it any better at all.
My test piece was now completely covered in a horrible layer of paint and I couldn’t really tell how the new paint was going on so I did something really stupid. Yes, for some completely unknown reason, I decided to try it on the car. For another completely unknown reason, I had painted the inside of the boot, the back deck and the fins before finally coming to my senses and realising it was all horrible.
So, I did the only thing left that I could do. I left the tent, flung my PPE in every direction, sat on my drive and blubbed like a girl. Then I put my PPE back on and strip cleaned the gun, reassembled it and went to have a bath, a pint of G&T and a heart-to-heart with my paint Guru.
Sunday morning had me back in my tent and rubbing the back of the car down again to remove all evidence of my bumbling incompetence. This involved rather more of the car than I had anticipated. You wouldn’t believe how far it had spattered! Anita helped me again but I think this was to stop me committing suicide as I was really quite depressed.
Poppy was now ready for paint again and getting really quite impatient with me. Armed with start point settings for the gun (Paint flow at max, airflow at min and pattern turned down) I mixed up some more paint with 10% thinners, pointed the gun at some scrap cardboard and pulled the trigger. It was horrible. It was all spotted and spattered and not good at all.
I then spent an eternity methodically taking all the controls through their complete range but whatever I did, I couldn’t get it any better at all. Every single piece of cardboard in Wiltshire is now white and speckled, and I couldn’t really tell how the new paint was going on so I did something really stupid. Yes, for some completely unknown reason, I decided to try it on the car. On my doomed boot lid this time.
I stopped much sooner though with just half of the top of the boot lid looking like a photo of the night sky. I know, you don’t have to tell me. I have reached previously unattainable levels of bumbling incompetence.
When stripping down the gun for cleaning, this time I noticed that there appears to be some damage or swarf in the nozzle paint hole. So, like all bad workman everywhere, I leapt at this opportunity to blame my tools and ordered another gun for next day delivery.
In the meantime, I did some research on the interwebby thing and found a great website run by Hot Rodders that explained gun set up in simple steps that a bumbling incompetent fool could understand. I know, but if there is one thing Hot Rodders know how to do well, it’s paint. So, here is the link if you are interested. http://www.how-to-build-hotrods.com/set-up-hvlp.html
So, with the new gun set up as instructed by the Hot Rod chaps there I was again with it pointed at yet another piece of cardboard. It wasn’t the gun.
Another 3 hours was wasted fiddling with settings and pressures on the new gun, as well as another half a litre of paint and acres of cardboard covered in what could only be described as seagull poo. I was still no closer to a decent spray. Was I down hearted? Well yes, I was devasted. Especially as I had sprayed seagull poo all over the boot lid because I’d run out of cardboard – again! It is also now very unlikely that Poppy will be ready for the Cotswold Tour.
That evening, Anita and I had a bit of a brainstorm. Could I really be this incompetent? (Don’t answer that!) So, we hatched a plan. I had booked the following day off work as it was my birthday. I planned to have a nice relaxing day with Anita, have a nice Pub lunch and enjoy the sun. Well, change of plans. Anita volunteered to rub down the boot lid, while I would have a crack at spraying the red paint to see if I could get a decent pattern with that and thus prove if I am completely incompetent or not.
My Birthday morning found me in my tent on my drive, setting up my 1.4mm spray gun. I dropped a small amount of my “ready to use” top coat into the gun. Surprisingly, It turns out that I am not completely incompetent. A perfect spray pattern was achieved almost immediately.
So whilst cleaning this gun, I got to thinking about the quality of my primer. It was CONSIDERABLY more viscous than the top coat appeared to be. Maybe, just maybe, I had a dodgy batch of primer?
Well, there was only one way to find out. I bit the bullet and went and bought a new 2k primer kit, this time from a local supplier.
On picking up the can, the difference was immediately obvious to me. When shaken, you could hear the liquid sloshing about inside. This didn’t happen with my original batch. I was starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
As soon as I got home I was back in my tent. Poppy was tack clothed and panel wiped yet again. The primer was mixed 3:1 as per the instructions and filtered into the top of the gun. With great trepidation, I pointed the gun at yet another piece of cardboard and pulled the trigger….
To be continued…
by John Lonergan
I have lived at my present address since 1985 and didn’t know my close neighbour Keith had a car until about 7 years later ( @ 1992 ). Another neighbour who had lived there a lot longer than I had stopped for a chat and during the conversation he looked across the road and pointed to the garage and said “ye nar , eez gor an auld car in there and it’s dun nowt “.
A few days later that same garage door was opened for the first time that I could recall since moving there and revealed a white S reg. MK2 Ford Escort. A stranger started working on the car and later that day it was running. A few days later I found out he had taken the car for MOT which it passed, then my neighbour Keith and his wife Maria took the car for a run, returning a couple of hours later and the car was put back in the garage where it remained until July 2010.
I had asked if he would ever consider selling his car and if so would he give me first refusal. I also told him I didn’t wish to sell the car on, but wanted to recommission it and take it to classic car shows. I was politely told it was not for sale, but if ever he wished to sell he would let me know. I asked why he didn’t use it and he said public transport was quite adequate for his needs.
In early 2008 Keith had quite a bit of work done on his house and the garage door was going up and down like a yo-yo with workmen going in and out, revealing the car again covered in dust and boxes. I guess a lot of people saw the car and around that time and Keith was inundated with strangers knocking on his door asking to buy the Ford but again he would not sell.
I think all the attention troubled him somewhat as he is a very private person. Then one evening mid-2008 Keith approached me and asked if I still wanted his car. I said I would be delighted to own it and with a little haggle the deal was done. I asked why he had not sold it to someone else and he said he would like the car to be looked after by someone he knew and would take care of it and not just sell it on.
Not long after that I suffered some health problems and the car had to wait until July 2010 to come out of its hibernation. First I had to enlist some help from friends and relatives; the first job was to tie back the overgrown bushes on the drive, then I lifted the garage door and there it was covered in dust, boxes and an old carpet. All the tyres were totally flat, the inside was covered in a white dust and the handbrake was on. I got inside and let the handbrake off while my son James dragged over the portable compressor. He inflated all the tyres then he and my wife Cath gave the car a shove. There was a little clunk and the handbrake came off, I couldn’t believe it - 18 years it was on, and it came off so easily. Next all the rubbish on top of the car was removed and then it was pushed out of the garage and over the road onto my drive.
The car looked in great condition though very dusty inside and out so Cath and myself started the task of cleaning the car. The speedo read an amazing 3,131miles - it had covered just 30 miles since that 1992 MOT, and it looked great.
The next task was to get the engine running. We changed the oil and filter, air filter, plugs, points and condenser, fitted new plug leads as the old ones were green-looking, fitted a new battery, the car was jacked up and put on stands, then the 18 year old fuel was drained off and then in with a gallon of fresh petrol.
I then tried to start the engine. Everything looked fine but it would not fire up; a little investigation led to the coil, so straight down to my local auto centre for a new one, once fitted the engine fired up without hesitation and soon settled down to a smooth tick over. So a quick check, oil light out, there was oil to the rockers and a check under the car for leaks showed all ok. What really stood out was the condition of the underside - it was immaculate having benefited from the ziebart treatment from new. The only job under the car was to change both rack boots which had split when the wheels turned for the first time. The parts were ordered and fitted a few days later.
Next items to be checked were the brakes, all wheels jacked up and removed , rear hubs were removed, Cath worked the brake pedal and handbrake all checked out ok. There was nothing leaking, nothing sticking, all going on and off with each application - unbelievable. The wheels were then refitted and the stands and jacks removed. I started the engine, engaged 1st gear and slowly released the clutch pedal and let the car drive a few yards forward and then in reverse. Again all seemed fine, personally I have never known a vehicle stand so long without something sticking , seizing or leaking, so I carried on and checked out the rest of the vehicle. Everything was working as it should , so it was time to book an MOT.
The MOT was booked and insurance arranged, and as the MOT station was a ten mile drive, I took my wife Cath along for its first trip in 18 years. The car performed well once the brakes had settled in, though I have to say not having a brake servo felt a bit weird for a while. The only thing to show up on the trip was those 32 year old tyres; it was like driving with three-penny bits for wheels (fifty pence pieces for you post-decimal types).
When we arrived at the garage the examiner was very pleased to see it at last. I asked if Cath could stay in the car and he replied, “She should be ok as she is age-related”, just as well he was out of reach. "Mileage?" he asked. "3141 miles" I said. "Bugger off!" he said and put his head round to check, then said you lucky b*****d.
All through the test all I could hear was him repeating expletives and “I don’t believe it“. He even had his workmate and some friends come have a look. It passed with flying colours and after a steady trip home all the wheels were removed. I had them blasted and repainted at Stella Blasting and Painting of Pelton Fell Chester-le-street Durham and had new tyres fitted at Tyre Plus Durham and now it drives as it should.
The only downside to the Ziebart treatment is they sprayed the stuff everywhere, under the bonnet was totally black but I am slowly removing it a bit at a time to reveal the pristine original paint underneath. There was an issue with the n.s.f. wing to address where Keith had a minor scrape many years ago and this was attended to by Dick Francis and his team at Carrosserie of Barnard Castle .
Keith the original owner came over to see me the other day to see how I was getting on and is very pleased with its progress. He gave me the original purchase invoice from the Heaton Motor Company of Consett plus it’s handbooks, along with the last test certificate he had showing a mileage of 03101mls, and a service invoice from 1982 showing the mileage of 1,600mls.
It doesn’t get any better than this - a one owner ultra low mileage vehicle been locked away for years and taking very little to recommission. Am I ecstatic? ..... you bet! .
Since then my little Escort popular has won quite a few trophies, not that that's why I go to shows. Many I go to are just displays but it is nice that the originality of this car is recognised as there are so few base models left, most having been modified to mimic RS models or Mexico's.
This car is in exactly the same spec as it left the dealership in 1978, and I aim to keep just like it is .
By Mike Peake
Oh my good gods what have I done?
OK, I’ll back up a bit. As regular readers will know, I’ve been struggling with Poppy’s ageing, fading paintwork for a number of years. For the last 3 years I’ve learned to machine polish really quite well and been very impressed with the results (and I still can’t believe the cost of polish!).
However, it would only last a matter of weeks before it would return to what has become Poppy’s natural colour of “Signal Pink” and you can only machine polish so many times before you start to run out of paint. (yes, from personal experience) There are also a couple “battle scars” that are in need of attention.
So, I’ve made a monumental decision! I’m going to do a full re-spray! Don’t pull that face! I know you’re doing it! And before you ask, like everyone else does. Yes, I’m doing it myself and no I’ve not done it before. I said, stop pulling that face! Why does everyone pull that face? Come on. What’s the worst that can happen? (you don’t have to answer that. Poppy is nervous enough as it is.)
Due to the incredible generosity of fellow group members, I am now the proud owner of a large super duper compressor that only cost me two award winning lemon drizzle cakes and a pub lunch. I have also been supplied with all the required primer, paint and consumables, to crack on with the job. I won’t name these lovely generous chaps here as they like to project the image of tough, hard bitten cynical men and I don’t want to reveal their true “fluffy teddy bear” natures to the world, but you know who you are and thank you very, very much.
As my rented council lockup doesn’t have power and there is not enough room for a fatbloke to squeeze between the walls and the car, working up there was ruled out almost instantly. However, I had the bright idea of erecting a 6m x 3m garden gazebo on my drive and bought one for £60 off the great bay of flea.
It was PANTS! The poles were rather flimsy and already dented in several places before we got it out of the box. There were also several unstitched seams to contend with, but this was “fixed” with Gaffer Tape and we pressed on with the erection. (I won’t continue until your minds are out of the gutter! Finished now? Pathetic!)
Anyway, having roped in the entire Peake household, we had nearly completed the task when disaster struck! A pigeon, in a neighbour’s tree, passed wind and the whole useless structure collapsed. To be fair to the manufacturers, they clearly state “not to be used in high winds”, but as pigeon flatulence doesn’t usually register on the Beaufort Scale, I was a little annoyed. I telephoned the purveyor of useless gazebos and told them the tale. They asked me how far up the tree the pigeon was? I said it was about 6 meters up. They said “Well that’s pretty high and we clearly state ….” (Sorry. No more of those, I promise)
The next day, my in-laws were visiting their cousin somewhere in the East and whilst they were regaling him with this tale of woe and no doubt laughing their socks off, said cousin remembered that he had a “portable garage” that was really quite sturdy and had survived a year pitched outside his house and was now all boxed back up in his loft. It was soon pitched on my drive and provides a much more robust and suitable workspace so Poppy was soon snuggled into her temporary home.
The following weekend was the weekend of the Brecons tour. I’d already said I wouldn’t go because I wanted to work on the car and the weather was horrible. However, It wasn’t so bad when I woke up Saturday morning, so I went. I had a great time despite the odd text from Mrs FB saying Storm Hannah had hit and she was spending the day hanging onto tent poles.
I made up for it on Sunday though with a full 8 hours working on Poppy and by the end of it had her stripped down ready for washing and rubbing down. I also tackled one of my long term niggles. Some years ago, in a bout of bumbling incompetence, I backed the car onto some ramps. I went too far and fell off denting the back of the offside sill. As these aren’t available at the moment, I borrowed a set of hammers and dollys from local fellow enthusiast Jason Wright and attacked the sill with a will. It’s better than it was... honest.
Mrs FB? Still traumatised and not talking to me.
Best of all though, like all “proper” car restorers, I now have a couple of “you should have seen what the last bloke did!” stories. He’d only gone and riveted the window weather strips to the door caps instead of using the proper clips AND used spire washers to hold the “TRIUMPH” letters on the bonnet instead of the plastic doobries.
Needless to say new weather strips, clips, letters and doobries are now on order along with numerous other screws and gaskets that aren’t good enough to go back on the car. I have also ordered a bottle of rust converter due to some unfortunate discoveries. So again like a proper car restorer, It’s already turning into a bigger job than I thought and become a “light restoration and re-spray”!
I just read that back. I sound really quite heroic don’t I? Well that won’t do will it? I know no one will believe me if I elevate myself from bumbling incompetent fool all the way to resto hero in one mighty bound. So, here is what actually happened.
As part of the strip down, I decided to remove the original rubber boot mat which proved a bit problematic as it was completely perished. If it hadn’t disintegrated, it had stuck like glue to the boot floor and I had to resort to a wallpaper scraper to get it all out. Once this was all removed, the dreaded rust was revealed and I’m not ashamed to admit that I screamed like a girl and cried for a bit.
Once I calmed down, I investigated a bit further and decided that it was just surface rust after all. After a once over (ok, maybe a thrice over) with my wire brush drill attachment - OK my Father-in-Law’s wire brush drill attachment - and a liberal dousing with rust converter, all is now good with the boot. Except now I have to re-spray the inside of the boot too. I hope Tosh told me to buy enough paint!
My other “discovery” was a bit of paint bubbling on the offside rear wheel arch. However after a bit of rubbing down it didn’t look so bad. I thought a bit of rust converter and a tiny bit of filler and all would be good. Then, I made a terrible rooky error. Yes, I poked it and picked at it. When I’d finished poking, I was left with a 30mm gap in the folded under bit of the wheel arch.
So, out with the angle grinder to cut out any remaining rusty bits. A piece of sheet metal was then carefully shaped, offered up and neatly welded into place. You’re secretly impressed aren’t you? I can tell. Well don’t be so stupid! That’s what I should have done, but as I have never welded anything ever and don’t even own a welder, I resorted to aluminium mesh and body filler.
I’ve never done this before either, but it seemed a more viable option and it was only a very small hole anyway. Looking on the bright side at least it will give the next restorer something to moan about. Before this though I spent a lot of hours with the first rub down with 80 grit paper in my sander.
When Mrs FB heard what I was going to do with the filler, she decided that, as it would be “just like royal icing a cake”, she would be far more qualified to undertake this task and I didn’t argue.
Anita didn’t stop with the wheel arch though and she soon had all the rest of the dinks, dents and gouges filled, including the two dents in the boot lid that I didn’t spot when I did it last year. Once all the filling was done, I spent the rest of the day on the final rubdown with 180 grit paper on my sander and by hand. The car was incredibly dusty by this point as were all the floor coverings, so I reconnected the fuel tank and drove round the block to blow the dust off and shook the dust off the tent floor coverings.
It was Sunday evening and I was now ready to go over the car with tack cloths and panel wipes and spray the primer on the bank holiday Monday - or so I thought. At this point, Anita came out to do a surprise inspection of my work so far and proceeded to point out all the bits I hadn’t rubbed down properly. I have to admit that I found this incredibly irritating. Even more so because, of course, she was perfectly correct.
So, instead of applying the primer in my usual gung-ho manner on the bank holiday Monday, we - yes WE - spent the day completely rubbing Poppy down again until she met Anita’s exacting standards. We then went over the whole car with tack clothes before masking off the bits where I don’t want paint to go. Well, I say “we” but really it was Anita who took over the masking after suffering complete frustration at my ham-fisted attempts.
So, after spending last Saturday holding onto tent poles to stop storm Hannah blowing it away and then spending her entire bank holiday Monday rubbing down the car, Anita seems to be under the impression that I owe her a weekend in Rome.
OH MY GOOD GODS, WHAT HAVE I DONE???
To be continued …
by Gar Cole
The date was Saturday 20th April, just 1 week before our first tour of the year and officially declared the hottest Easter Saturday on record. My spirits soared as I gave the Moggy a wash in the sunshine with the anticipation of more good weather to follow, and to be fair the following Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning were beautiful.
Then Storm Hannah decided to pay us a visit; I watched in almost disbelief as this monster headed right for the south coast of Wales and our tour destination predicted to hit it's peak on Friday evening.
Several of our regulars and a few locals wisely pulled out of the tour and I must confess I almost pulled the plug on the whole event. Spectactular as the scenery is, it's not much to look at in heavy rain and mist and those roads can be dangerous.
However the spirit of the weekend was revived by Brian, our 76 year-old Yorkshire sage who resides in Ireland with the following profound quote "I've paid fer them there ferry tickets and I'm going no matter what".
How could we ignore a call to battle like that? So I packed up the caravan with supplies in howling wind and rain on Thursday evening much to the amusement of neighbours; "Should have gone last week Gar, it was beautiful over Easter" they hollered. I don't think my muttered reply was very 'Christian'.
The drive down on Friday was interesting to say the least. After meeting up at the services with Ian 'Windy' Woodward and his son Jonathan 'Breezy' Woodward, we enjoyed a bucket-sized cup of Costa Coffee and I admired Ian's Zephyr and the matching caravan which looks great with the burgundy stripe and matching chrome script down the sides.
Once on the road however despite stabilizers both our caravans started swinging back and forth reminiscent of 2 fat bottoms in a hula hoop competition. Safety dictated a slow-down to 40 mph in places, which made us popular with other motorway users but thankfully after braving wind, the heads of the valleys roads and steep climbs we arrived on site some 3 hours later ( even if Ian overshot the entrance ) 😉
We were relieved to see the pitches were on a rock hard standing and not grass and quickly set about getting the caravans pitched, electric connected etc. The 3 of us then attempted to put the group Coleman shelter up, not easy in wind but we managed and took no chances, all 4 legs had 4 heavy duty pegs in them and extra guide ropes. We filled it with chairs, tables, lights and the all-important cooking stoves while cautiously watching the approaching black clouds and increasingly ominous whistling winds (and that was just the Woodward boys).
One of the things I most enjoy on our tours is cooking a basic evening supper for everyone, and one by one the weary travellers arrived:
These sensible folks had all booked hotels. Despite the shelter starting to flap a bit and the rain coming down fairly heavily we all remained dry inside enjoying home cooked choice of sausage n chicken cassoulet or sweet n sour chicken, followed by apple crumble n custard or chocolate brownies for desert. We're not exactly the Rolling Stones and after a few drinks we all retired to our abodes around 10pm to warm up and get a good nights sleep.
After a very rocky night for those of us on the campsite we awoke to a much calmer morning. The Coleman had survived the night with just a few guide ropes pulled out the ground. There was still a few hours to go before the tour started, so the smell of bacon cooking soon filled the air from several caravans.
At this point were were joined by the 'day trippers' - Mark Wilson and his father Keith in a stunning V12 E type Roadster and Phil Gunn and wife in a lovely mint green Triumph Stag. Printed directions handed out, I jumped in the Zephyr to be lead car with one walkie talkie and gave the other to Mike Peake who had unexpectedly turned up in his modern after originally saying he couldn't make it (he can't keep away really), so Mike was in Eric's Rover and I asked them to be last car so we could keep an eye on our convoy, but as with all the best laid plans they quickly go 'udders up'; the Zephyr pulled in for fuel within the first mile with us expecting the convoy to follow when they all sailed by one by one. So much for being the lead car! 😄.
I had picked Grawen campsite for its proximity to the National Park and within 5 minutes of leaving camp we were greeted with scenery that had us passengers taking shots out of the windows; the cultivated arable fields quickly giving way to much steeper wooded forests and narrower lanes with a canopy of trees giving that eerie dappled light.
Passing through several small hamlets with just a dozen or so houses, one shop and a pub we pushed on towards Sennybridge and the town of Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales' smallest town and home to the Heart of Wales micro brewery.
This award-winning stop was first on our list and was planned for group member Andy Perman (who likes his rare ales) but sadly couldn't make the trip due to oil seal failure on his Allegro driveshaft. We managed to catch up with the convoy as we arrived in the town and promptly parked (I suspect illegally) in front of the local fire station, ahem, but passing locals didn't seem to mind - it's the sort of small town where a cat stuck in a tree makes the local front page, so we created a bit of a stir.
The brewery proved harder to find than first thought with the satnav taking us to a car park behind some shops??? Turning on my best smile and trying not to frighten her, I accosted a local lady for directions to the elusive watering hole.
Lo and behold - it turns out the brewery is located inside the charmingly olde worlde 'Neuadd Arms Hotel'. Well it would have been rude not to go inside and sample what was on offer, however a few of the ladies had food on their minds and disappeared to a local shop only to return armed with bags of cakes, doughnuts and other assorted goodies.
We were so impressed with what they were munching that we all vowed to also join slimming world once we were home on Monday.
The Neuadd Arms is one of those places that almost hugs you as you enter, charming if slightly worn wooden bars and stairways, friendly collie dogs wandering around, soft leather sofas in front of huge open fires with logs cracking inside. Having been a hotel since the 1780s it has some amazing memorabilia on the walls and frame after frame of locals who had won the local 'Bog snorkelling ' championship (I kid you not ).
Now here's where fate intervened; the landlord had heard from a local that Nick's Jensen had just parked outside. By remarkable coincidence the landlord owned a Jensen CV8 and he and his wife welcomed us all with open arms.
Nick works for Everards brewery so he knows a good ale or 2. We were surprised at the strength of the brews on offer with most averaging at 6.5% with the toe curlers rated over 10%. Naturally we all sampled various brews (including me who doesn't drink at all), but their Brecon gold cider was beautiful and potent at 6.4%.
Nick pronounced it a good and balanced beer and everyone enjoyed their drinks except Ian Woodward who had a cup of tea in a china cup (because he's a big girls blouse). We had expected to maybe just see a small counter selling beers but our man Nick talked the owner into giving us a full tour of the micro brewery. It turns out to be located in a converted barn in the rear garden of the hotel with three holiday chalets above on the second floor. He proceeded to give us a very thorough and interesting talk on the brewing process; he didn't even flinch (much) when Jo our resident lawyer started questioning him on how he declared the tax on each batch ( can't take em anywhere 😂 )
Bidding our new friends farewell and dragging Nick and Jo out as they were tempted to forego the tour in order to stay and continue sampling what the Neuadd Arms had to offer, back on the road the satnav was programmed to take us to Lynn Brianne Dam via the infamous Devils Staircase road, which was voted one of the top 5 best driving roads in the UK. It's also in the top 5 most dangerous roads.
The satnav displayed lone unnamed roads with ominous warnings that they were not suitable for larger vehicles or caravans (yikes Scooby, let's turn back!). After taking the lead in the Zephyr the scenery increased in beauty at the same rate as the roads became more challenging. As we approached the tiny hamlet of Abergwesyn we were on single track roads with few passing places.
Large areas of the forest had been felled by the Forestry Commission but lots of trees had been upended by yesterday's storm Hannah. We gingerly avoided large puddles and fallen branches as we increased in height through a deep valley with breathtaking views, so good in fact we stopped and jumped out for photos. Braving the winds and steep cliff edges just a few feet from the roads edges, our convoy stopped for 15 minutes and we never saw another car approach in either direction. It felt very remote and being a city boy I loved it - no sign of other humans anywhere except our convoy. I even braved climbing a rocky outcrop to get good photos but soon discovered I'm no mountain goat after slipping twice.
Reluctantly we left this mountain that so resembled something out of a Tolkien novel. Soon we saw the signs for the descent I'd warned everyone about, "25% use first gear' it warned us. All the cars performed brilliantly down this twisting steep mountain road with no crash barriers and in places drops of over 100ft. Congrats to all the drivers for keeping a cool head; the road levelled out in the bottom of yet another picturesque valley, however in 3 places this one crossed the river we had been driving alongside.
The little bridges were barely above the water level normally, but following last night's storms they were in full flood with just the posts and metal pipes marking out the actual roadway over the bridge. Being the big kids we are we stopped and primed cameras and dashcams ready to record. The first one wasnt too daunting with maybe just over 4 inches of water flooding over the bridge deck.
We splashed through like extras from Jurassic Park, all cars through we made our way to the next one and promptly halted. The second crossing looked very foreboding and considerably deeper, much less of the bridge side markers were visible and nervous swearing could be heard muttering from the open windows of the cars. A modern 'soft roader' approaching from the other direction paused for several minutes before the driver braved the crossing. We estimated from the vehicles submerged wheels that it was at least a foot deep this time 😮
Feeling less cocky this time, we led the intrepid convoy through the water with it splashing up the sides of the doors in quite spectacular fashion. Things got very windy inside the Woodward vehicle but we made it through, rounded a corner and eyeballed crossing number 3.
This looked even deeper than the previous one; the water was flowing at a faster rate plus once you had made it across, the road almost immediately started the 25% opposite climb to the earlier descent. Having forewarned Ian the slope carried on for nearly a mile I told him to not lift off. Naturally Ian's a very good driver and the Zephyr was in first gear, flat out pulling 3 fat blokes up a 25% incline at 8 mph. Several minutes later we levelled out on the summit and stopped to see if everyone had made it.
We noticed at this point that 4 cars were missing including Brian's Triumph which Mike had jumped into and was acting as rear car. We had zero phone signal, so I grabbed the walkie talkie and tried to reach Mike 'come in fat bloke, everything ok at the back of the convoy?'. Eric who was standing by me then says in his gentle Scottish tone 'are ye tryin to reach Mike on that thing?' Yes I nodded, 'aye well you see, the thing is Mike is in Brian's car but he's left the walkie talkie in mine'. "#$£¥*&£#****!" clean translation "Oh bless my soul that's unfortunate").
As we pondered going back on a rescue mission Jo emerged from the Jensen with delicious goodies she had made and brought along. Nick informed us that much munching had been going on and the Jensen was basically a '7.2 litre mobile picnic'.
Luckily the missing 4 cars heroically arrived at the summit, despite making it through the last flood both the Ital and Triumph saloon couldn't make it up the mountain at first with clutch slip. We surmised some river water must have gotten into the clutch covers during the crossing. Happily after around 10 minutes of drying out in the increasingly warm sunshine all cars were fit to proceed as we hunted down the elusive dam - hey it's only 220ft of concrete wall so how hard could it be to find?
The unknown road that the satnav said it was on announced we had arrived but we saw nothing but forested hillsides full of beautiful bluebells and the odd sheep. Pleasant as this road was after 4 miles of nothing I declared we had missed it and ordered a full turnaround when I spotted a sign for Lynn Brianne back in the direction we had come - no indication of how far it was but we all managed to turn around one of those tiny triangle junctions you get in the country.
Not wanting to take any chances I spotted a pair of local ladies walking along the road and asked Ian to pull over. They appeared to be mother and daughter and may have felt slightly unnerved at a bunch of blokes in old cars pulling up beside them, so I adorned my best cheesy smile and asked the mom for directions.
The daughter was a very attractive country type in black jodhpur-style tight shorts and boots,. Just as I was about to take in the directions from the mother, Ian and Jonathan turned into Benny Hill and Frankie Howard 'phwoarrr look at that, oww stop it, corr Matron, get a photo quick'. It's not easy trying to listen to directions, not laugh and ignore the innuendo coming into my right ear all at once but somehow I managed while biting my lip. Directions got, we pulled away as I filled the car with language that shocked even Ian, before myself succumbing to childish laughter. I made the situation worse by saying she had 'paid £3 for those shorts but was chewing £1.50 worth with her bottom'. Ian's face turned red with laughter and I did fear for a second we were going over the cliff.
Fortunately Mike now was in possession of the second walkie talkie but unfortunately messaged me the following ' come in Fat Controller, we have a puncture and need assistance'. The Zephyr headed back to help as the rest carried on to the Dam. Breezy Woodward soon had the tyre swapped and we made the final trip to the Dam.
Iin our defence the tiny road leading to it has no sign posts and you can't see the Dam from the road. Once arrived we parked in line in the Dam car park and enjoyed the magnificent views while the wind nearly tore our eyebrows off, but we had made it through some very challenging terrain and it felt really good.
It was at this point the day trippers went their separate ways. The journey back to Merthyr passed without incident except for the rear tyre shredding itself in spectacular fashion on Darren's Ital. Luckily being in convoy a few folk stopped and we were on our way again within 15 mins.
A fabulous days driving and a big thank you to everyone who braved the forecast to join us. Afterwards we headed for a Chinese buffet and a few drinks to round off the day.
Normally I'd end the blog there as on Sunday we just visited the Brecon mountain railway, however while we were there another driving group arrived and turned the car park into an impromptu and quite impressive car show; it was a real bonus with lots of ooohs, ahhhs and misty-eyed looks.
Bring on the next tour in the Cotswold Hills on Whitsun weekend 😀
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