By Mike Peake
Just in case you weren’t aware, WE WON AN AWARD!!! More on that later though in its proper place. Sorry but I’m still excited that WE WON AN AWARD!
I wasn’t able to make set up on Thursday due to not having much leave left. However, I hid in the beer barrel for a while when I got there on Friday and got all the gossip as the rest of the group chatted freely without realising I was there. You see, the chaps are starting to wise up and realise that everything stupid that they say and do WILL be used against them in the subsequent blog. Therefore I am having to take ever more drastic measures to get the scoop. Hence hiding in the Everard’s beer barrel.
Of course, when Gar got it to the NEC, Super Enthusiast Man Gus Brooks was there to save the day. Yes, the beer barrel started immediately, leaving Gar and Nick very red faced and claiming it must have been the damp. I guess now would be a good time to give you a bit of the history behind this unique vehicle.
WE WON AN AWARD! (Ed. Yes Mike, they know, but you haven’t reached that part of the story yet!) Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, the beer barrel.
Well it was originally built on a Morris J2 chassis and running gear for Whitakers of Halifax and promoted their “Cock o’ the North” brand (Stop sniggering!) before moving onto a wine company and finally ending its working life at Everards Brewery. Fast forward to 2011. The finance boffins at Everards noticed that they’d been paying a farmer a monthly fee for a number of years but no one could remember why. When they went to investigate, they rediscovered the beer barrel languishing in a barn. Yes. This actually is a proper “Barn find”. It was in a bit of a sorry state, so Everards pulled it out from the farmers barn and delivered it to the National Brewery Centre.
The museum has a team of volunteers who were very keen to get to work on the van and have worked hard on restoring it back to its former glory. The project has taken over 5 years with the volunteers working on it once a week every week. They have done Everards proud and they now have a fully running, fantastic looking, unique publicity vehicle. The Barrel is now on permanent loan and displayed at, the National Brewery Centre. (Unless Everards need it.)
This fantastic vehicle caused a bit of a stir with the show-going public but especially with the chaps on the Morris J2 Register stand. Before the show, they knew nothing about this vehicle for the 30 years they’ve been running the register and boy were they excited! They were asking lots and lots of questions and clambering all over and under the barrel, taking pictures and finding the chassis plate. I think they spent more time on our stand than they did their own.
Of course, this wasn’t the only stir on the stand. Dave Youngs of Lancaster Insurance caused a bit of a flap too when he bought a couple of tickets for the awards dinner and insisted that we be represented at the event. Well, Gar had a taxiing job at stupid o’clock on Saturday morning so he wasn’t up to it and no one else had bought the posh frocks that are necessary at such events. In the end, Nick Arthur and I took one for the team and said we’d go.
Not having a posh frock wasn’t my only issue though. You see, I had been invited to stay in Windy Towers this weekend. I was to have the impressive mobile suite fitted with every luxury your sophisticated chap around town could possibly need. (Of course I mean me!! Cheek!) It even had staff quarters in a small brick building at the other end of the drive where the aromatic butler and long suffering Housekeeper would prepare a breakfast of kings for me in the morning. Unfortunately, it would prove a bit difficult to get to after a free bar at the awards dinner. There was nothing else for it, I would have to slum it in the spare room of Gus’s AirBnB. The things I have to do for this club!
It was now 7pm and I should have been at the event but I was still on the bus heading for the car park for a quick spray of deodorant and a splash of aftershave and didn’t get to the Hilton (told you it were posh) until 7.20. The only door that remained open to the hall happened to be right down the front next to the stage, which, to my utter horror already contained eminent people giving speeches. My utter horror was elevated even more utterly when I realised that table 25 was in the diametrically opposite corner from where I was standing.
Well there was nothing else for it so, as surreptitiously as a fat bloke can, I waded through the tightly packed tables and chairs. Needless to say it wasn’t very surreptitious at all and was accompanied by many utterances of “excuse me”, “sorry”, “can I just…” as well as the scraping of chairs, much tutting and a loud gasp. (I am so sorry Madam!)
Much to my relief, when I reached the table The four Scotsmen from the TR register and Nick who had already made themselves comfy on table 25, were drinking beer. This left a full, unopened bottle of wine just for me. I poured myself a large one and relaxed.
The evening progressed and after a very, very nice curry followed by cake, err… I mean gateaux. (Well it were posh weren’t it?) it was time for the awards. I have to admit, my hopes weren’t high after our previous experiences of awards dinners, so imagine our surprise when we heard our Group name called out. I carefully made my way to the front through the tightly packed tables and chairs again to graciously receive our award with dignity and to polite applause from the audience.
Oh who am I kidding, people were diving over tables to get out of my way and the remaining tables and chairs seemed to fly aside like the parting of the red sea as I ran to the stage shouting “in your face!” to the runners up and air punching like a hooligan.
Well OK, maybe that’s not strictly true either, but by some means, that probably fell somewhere between the two methods above, I got my hands on the award and I was jolly pleased.
Oh yes, What was the award for? It was the “Sponsors Award for the group of cars that they would most like to take home” and when they were announcing us as the winners, special mentions were made of Apollo, the Everards Barrel and the Vauxhall VX 490, which Dave Youngs of Lancaster Insurance would “Give his right arm” for. I thought that would be a bit silly of him as it’s not an automatic.
I have no idea who else won what as we were celebrating with my full bottle of wine and laughing at Nick who was reduced to minesweeping unopened bottles of beer on other tables as he and the 4 Scotsmen had drunk all of ours. I’m sure there must be a website with the list of winners somewhere though. (Click here to see the list)
The evening wound up and our carriages arrived to take us home. Well Gus picked me up in my CRV and took me back to the AirBnB where, to my horror, I discovered that Phil Alin was also staying. Long term readers will know that Phil is a very, very bad man who leads me astray and always makes me drink far more alcohol than I am comfortable with.
This was no exception and we were up until the early hours “celebrating” because WE WON AN AWARD!!
To be continued…
by Nick Arthur
My passion for motors is intertwined with lots of different stages in life, so here goes!
School wasn't really for me. I learned stuff, but it wasn't the curriculum that was planned, more a series of life lessons, so I left at 15. My bedroom walls at my parents house in Warrington were covered in car pics- e types mainly, spitfires and mgbgt . I dreamed that one day I'd own an e type roadster.
Other kids had pop stars or footballers. I had some from my beloved Liverpool F C but mainly cars. My dad offered me some stark choices when I decided I was leaving school. I had to go to work, earn money and pay rent, or go and get educated.
I opted for the latter, it seemed easier. I went to further education college. I like to think I learned lots in that year. I learned to gamble, I'd buy and occasionally steal ex juke box singles and I'd sell them on the coach going home. I saw myself as a budding if not slightly drunken entrepreneur . College expelled me. My dad offered me some familiar choices. This time with a bit less patience!
I went to work after lazing around for as long as possible. I was 17/18 by now, doing bar work mainly. Then a job on shifts when I was 18 . It was an aluminium smelting factory. Real life kicked in. Job was hard, tough folk work hard in hot and sweaty conditions. It was rightly well paid. I was on shifts and I had plenty of time on my hands and, as I was often reminded, I was living in the cheapest hotel in Warrington.
I needed a car. I badly wanted a car. My dad had company cars so I wasn't allowed near them. My mum had a very faded Red Austin 1100 - I wasn't allowed near that on my own. I wasn't responsible enough apparently. Probably right.
I changed jobs as I was made redundant - I was being taught practical lessons in politics. 'Don't mess with the unions '- as they will strike. Quickly followed by 'Don't mess with the management ' or they will stop investing and make you redundant. Strikes = redundancies, last in first out !
I got a job in a warehouse, stacking pallets, picking loads, brushing up and making tea. It paid poorly, but I got overtime and worked in a pub as well. I got by, I still had the red e type roadster on my bedroom wall.
I got in a fight, admittedly not my first - I was beer brave! Me and two mates took on a group of less drunk, much harder scouse guys in a chippy. They were mucking about, we took them on, Warrington vigilantes - we got badly beaten up. Me a bit more than the others, so enjoyed the hospitality of Warrington General Hospital.
The Coppers took our side as they were sick of Scousers coming to our town and causing trouble. I got to go in a brand new police rover SD1 and bled all over it ! But I'd been in a SD1 nonetheless . I got awarded criminal injuries and I had some savings. I could get a car, my very first car of my own - criminal justice ?
DWB 686H - a very second hand Cortina 1300 deluxe, pale blue, 4 doors, MOT. It had a few corners knocked off it but I loved that car. I did loads of stuff to it. I filled the dinks, sprayed them badly and then did it all over again. I put a 'stick on' heated back window!
I painted the wheels and meticulously cleaned the engine bay. I put a centre console in and fitted switches that kinda just switched on lights as opposed to really doing anything ! I had spot lamps with bright white covers on the front. I had a whip lash aerial.
For the first time in my life I was very nearly cool. I had a job, worked in a bar so I met lots of girls and I had a car! ( I was still a ginger so obviously unable to ever really be cool) . Me and DWB went everywhere.
I learned to drink shandy not beer anymore so we could go places. Me and my mates could go places outside of Warrington. Lock up your daughters Cheshire set, the Warrington boys were upwardly mobile. Knutsford, Nantwich, Alderly edge - even camping weekends in Anglesey. I loved DWB, it never once let me down , what could possibly go wrong?
About 6.30 am one foggy morning I was on my way to work and an uninsured driver came straight out of a junction and took me out. It was a big hit, I was ok, but DWB was in a bad way. Insurance write-off, way beyond my skills of redemption, it was towed away to a sad and lonely place.
I got about £200 insurance and at the age of 18 was back riding my old push bike to work.
Not cool. Time to find a new motor!
By Mike Peake.
Oh my good gods! it's a miracle! An honest to goodness, I've found Jesus, water into wine (that's my favourite) MIRACLE! The photo above was taken by Paul Cheetham - and I can't quite believe I'm saying this - he has actually managed to get the famous landmark AND classic cars in the same picture! What do you mean where? Right there above Poppy's boot. That's the Needles that is and the famous lighthouse! Well done Paul!!!
Sorry, I got distracted by the miracle.
Anyway, it was time to leave the beach side car park for our next leg to the Sammy Miller Motorbike Museum. It was about now that I realised I should have listened to my subconscious and parked nose 1st. You see, the inside of my windscreen and all my rear view mirrors were now covered in sea spray which, when you try and wipe off, just smears horrendously. I’m sure this leg was full of lovely scenery and great roads, but all I could see was smeary green bits, smeary grey bits and a smeary red Corsair.
Windy Sweet Kitten came to my rescue when we got to the museum with some fresh clean water and a clean cloth; my sight was miraculously restored.
Some of the crew needed to stock up on food and disappeared into the museum café. Phil only wanted a baked potato but they’d run out so he made do with cake. Others braved the long waiting times for more substantial meals while Anita and I were still full up from our HUGE breakfast.
The museum was AWESOME! Even for someone like me that knows very little about bikes, but now, I want a classic motorbike! Hundreds of fantastic bikes on display and every single one of them runs. (I asked) The really early ones were a bit nuts though and were basically an engine strapped to a bicycle.
Others had leather belt drives with the belt running uncomfortably close to where ones gentleman parts would be should you be daft enough to want to ride one or have the sudden urge to sing soprano.
For some reason, I was particularly drawn to the Triumphs in the display, especially the 1942 War Department bike.
Lots of other makes were there too to evoke nostalgia. Brough Superior, Norton, BSA, Ducati and even Harleys including an Indian.
Once we were able to tear ourselves away from the museum, it was time for even more photos in the car park.
It was now time to head for the final stop of the day. Well, it would have been, but the greedy guts Jaguar boys had waited so long for their food that they’d only just made it into the Museum. The siren call of the Ringwood brewery had already snared the rest of us, so we said we’d meet them there and headed off through more of the twisty turny uppy downy roads of the New Forest to fill the small brewery car park with classic cars. The Greedy Guts Jaguar Boys caught us up too.
Now I know what your thinking. Is visiting a Brewery on a driving tour a good idea? Well, for the drivers I guess not. Limiting yourself to one was tough but we made sure we all bought a different one and therefore were able to at least sample all the beers on offer and decide which ones we’d buy in the shop to take home. There was also a Bedford ‘O’ series truck in the car park but despite everyone’s best efforts, Mrs FB Just wouldn’t see the benefits of a camper/beaver tail conversion.
Whilst relaxing and supping our pint, we decided that after the super posh nosh we’d enjoyed the night before, we needed to bring ourselves back down to earth. We all fancied fish and chips. However, the weather forecast for the evening was atrocious so we felt an indoor experience might be a good Idea. So, on Pants Perman’s recommendation, Phil booked us all into Bertie’s, a fish and chip restaurant in Lyndhurst. Phil doesn’t like battered fish. (I know! Clearly there is something very wrong there.) However, he didn’t mind the dinning choice as he would have a Pukka steak and kidney pie with gravy and mushy peas like a proper northerner! We could all see the Homer Simpson drooling as he thought of it.
Dinner rendezvous agreed, the great day’s touring came to an end. We said cheerio to the Greedy Guts Jaguar boys, Pants Perman and Don and Louisa before setting off for our accommodation to dress for dinner.
What? Really? End of a tour and not one breakdown? I hear you say. Well, it’s true. Not one breakdown during the tour. However, It did become apparent that the electric passenger window, this time on the Jensen got stuck open on the way back to the hotel. Again, Nick tried to claim he managed to get it closed but Jo immediately cut him off at the knees and claimed credit for the fix. I believe Jo. Two reasons for this; 1) I’m scared of Jo and 2) as I may have mentioned, I’ve never seen Nick with a spanner.
What? Really? End of a tour and only Don and Nick got lost? I hear you say? Well I’d like to say this is true but as none of us had read the tour notes, Gar could have been leading us around completely lost all day and none of us would have known.
So after a jolly nice trouble free day, we all met up again in Bertie’s fish and chip shop with a few tables stuffed in a corner so it could call itself a restaurant, for a jolly nice, trouble free meal. Well, I say trouble free, but you remember Phil drooling over the Pukka steak and kidney pie, chips, mushy peas and gravy that he was going to order? Well they’d only gone and run out of Pukka steak and kidney pies hadn’t they! This, on top of not having his baked potato at lunch time, proved just too much for our normally mild-mannered Phil. He had a full-on teenage strop and decided that he “might as well just have bloody chips then!”.
The rest of us were in a state of utter shock at this outburst from the normally quiet Phil and it took us a full 10 seconds of silence before we all burst out laughing. On the upside, I think we may have finally found a nickname for Phil when Nick tried to console him by saying. “Never mind Pukka Pies Phil, our dinner is lovely.” Pukka Phil it is then.
The Next Morning, Mrs FB and I decided that, after a leisurely breakfast, we’d have a bit of a drive around the forest park and get lost for a bit which we did and found three great river fords. After driving the 1st one, we thought we should have filmed that for the blog. So when we came to the next one, Mrs FB got her phone out and filmed. Except she still had it on photo mode.
When we were home, I let the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” chaps know that I was home and that if they hadn’t passed me they were welcome to pop in for a tea and a wee stop.
Well they hadn’t passed me as Gar was leading and he still had his sat nav on “Taxi Driver” mode so had taken a route via Weymouth and Reading according to the rest of the chaps. So, 30 minutes after my text, I was crushed in the stampede for the facilities shortly before being crushed in the 2nd stampede when the chaps smelled the freshly cooked rock cakes that Mrs FB had made specially.
So after a great weekend we all made it home without any problems at all.
Apart from Nick. Electrical gremlins struck again when Nick pulled into a petrol station to refill the Jensens Bunkers. The little electric motor that opens the fuel cap lock refused to cooperate and wouldn’t open the fuel cap. Yet again, Nick tried to claim credit for taking covers off and prodding the manual release and thus saving the day with a flourish. I don’t know about you, but I’m calling bull poopy on that one! It was Jo, wasn’t it Nick?
So once again, massive thanks to all the chaps of all genders that joined us for the weekend and made it such fun. Particularly Gar Cole for all his organising and enthusiasm. None of these events would happen without him. THANK YOU GAR. WE ALL LOVE YOU!
Photo credits to everyone I stole pictures from but especially Paul Cheetham from whom I stole the most.
I hope you enjoyed the blog and I hope it has inspired lots more of you to join us on our adventures. We’d love to see you so keep an eye on the events section.
See you all at the NEC then chaps! Don’t forget your discount tickets using our club discount code.
By Mike Peake
After one of the most enormous and tasty breakfasts I’ve ever had and checking Poppy’s fluid levels, we set off to meet the crowd at “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this”. No one was in the car park yet so we went round to Old Mother Cole mansions for a chat and to see if we could scrounge another coffee. We couldn’t but we did get hold of one of the wonderful tour plaques that our group sponsor Alveston Press of Derby had made for us. (That’s Phil Allin that is. Top chap and excellent printer for all your printing needs)
When it was time to head to the car park, Poppy had a bit of a tantrum and refused to start. The strong smell of petrol suggested to Windy Sweet Kitten that she was flooded and suggested a bump start would be the cure and along with Mrs FB’s assistance immediately started pushing. He was right and Poppy was running again.
Poppy hasn’t had a proper run since I rebuilt the carburettor at the start of the year, so I suspected that the mixture wasn’t as good as it should be. I decided I would have a bit of a fiddle with it in the car park while we were waiting to leave. As Super Enthusiast Man wasn’t there, no amount of staring mournfully at the faulty part drummed up any help so I had to do it myself - which is where my bumbling incompetence struck again.
In reaching my hand through to the mixture nut on the base of the carb, I burned my hand on the manifold. Then in my rush to withdraw my hand I first impaled, then sliced open my palm on the end of the choke cable. So, with blisters on the top of my hand and blood dripping from the palm, I looked around sheepishly. No one had noticed. The down side of this was no sympathy for my injury. The plus side was that no one would know about my bumbling incompetence unless I was daft enough to put it in the blog and I’m not going to do that! (Oh …. Damn!)
Despite my injuries, I manfully struggled on and manage to tweak the mixture a bit. Whatever I did worked to some extent and mostly cured her reluctance to start when warm. More fiddling required when I get home though.
It’s time to start the tour so let me introduce the participating cars and their owners.
Representing the Isle of Wight Jaguar owners club, we have :-
The Enthusiasts were made up of the following:-
Actually, Nick and Jo weren’t there. Nick claimed he was fixing the window in the Jensen and that we weren’t to wait. They’d catch us up.
10 minutes after we set off, we got a message to say that he was passing the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” car park, so the convoy pulled into a parking area to wait. They soon caught up & Jo let slip that it wasn’t Nick doing the fixing but actually the mechanic from the garage 2 doors down from the pub they were staying in. I had an idea that this would be the case as I have never ever, ever seen Nick with a spanner in his hands. Beer? Yes. Spanners? Never!
Now the convoy was complete, we set off again for a very pleasant drive through the New Forest.
This leg of the run took us through the lovely town of Lyndhurst made not so lovely by the huge traffic jam caused by the traffic lights in the town centre and the fact that every car in the New Forest was there. It had us all nervously watching our temperature gauges as they steadily rose and also broke up the convoy.
Gar’s usual philosophy of “Leaving no man behind” seemed to have gone out the window now he was in his comfy and reliable Mondeo instead of Nelson. He pressed on at only fractionally sub sonic speeds. Phil, Pants Perman and I managed to hold onto his coat tails, just. The 4 of us arrived at our 1st official stop in a car park in Milford on Sea. Gar takes us to all the best places! To be fair, the view was spectacular.
As we pulled into the front row overlooking the Sea, I was going to pull in nose 1st but the rest were reversing in so I followed suit as it would make great photos with the Needles behind in the distance.
It was some time before the rest of the convoy arrived, but arrive they did. Except Nick and Jo in the Jensen and Don and Louisa in the Stag. Don was getting hopelessly lost and Nick was blindly following having learned nothing from our previous tours. They caught up eventually.
To Be Continued …
By Mike Peake
A wet and windy run down through the lovely green lanes of Wiltshire ensued - all rather uneventfully. We did get a call from Gar though. After his antics on the last tour, I was expecting a fuel requirement, but no. He needed another “facilities break”, so we stopped at the next petrol station. It didn’t have a customer toilet. We were only 30 minutes from the holiday resort that the chaps were staying in, so it was decided that he would try and hold out. We put him in the lead though, just in case.
Poppy gave me a bit of a scare by not starting straight away but she got there after a few turns of the key and we were off again. The exit from the garage joined the road after a set of traffic lights and Gar and Phil nearly killed themselves when they exited. I waited until the lights turned green and the rest of the convoy re-joined the road at a more sedate pace. Gar and Phil didn’t wait though. Luckily, I had the destination programed into Gladys the sat nav and we pulled into the New Forest resort, “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this”. Yes, It really is called that. Well, nearly, and yes, we all sniggered like school boys every time the holiday resort was mentioned.
We pulled up in the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” car park and waited for Gar to book us all in. This took somewhat longer than expected as the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” staff wouldn’t accept the booking without the “Booking.Com” reference number that Gar hadn’t bought with him. An hour later we made it to the caravan.
To call the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” accommodation "a caravan” grossly understates the opulence that greeted us when we opened the door. Comfy sofas, fully stocked kitchen including a dishwasher and digitally controlled climate control that no one could operate until young Paul Cheetham arrived. Gar had already bagged the double room which turned out to be a whole wing of the building. A huge super king size double bed and an en-suite BATH room. Yes, a massive bath in a caravan! He’d done quite well for himself. Even the bath had more room than the Holivan Junior 8 that is Gar’s normal accommodation on tour. Windy Sweet Kitten and Berbo had 2 single cots stuffed in a broom cupboard. They weren’t quite as pleased as Gar was.
We decided to leave the chaps to explore the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” stately home and set off to check into our weekend accommodation. No, not a tent. Mrs FB insisted on accommodation with a proper roof and beds if she was going to grace us with her presence. Gar had excelled himself by booking us into a rather nice B&B with the rather less amusing name of “Little Forest Lodge”. It was beautiful. We were welcomed with complimentary tea and homemade banana cake while we checked in, and if it wasn’t for the single beds Gar had booked us, it would have been very romantic. (In his defence, he had booked it for Phil and Paul before I hijacked the booking)
We all met up again at the Compasses, where Nick and Jo were staying, for an exceptional dinner only spoilt by all of us imagining Tosh Brook’s Yorkshire exclamation of “Ow Mooch!” when we looked at the menu. We had to imagine it, as Tosh hadn’t bothered turning up for this one because the New Forest is a long way from Doncaster. I know - what a lightweight! This also meant that we were touring without the comfort blanket of “Super Enthusiast Man” Gus Brooks. I have to say that we were all rather worried about the prospect of fixing our own breakdowns.
I say we all met up for dinner but Nick and Jo were late due to a “Hamlet moment”. Those of you who are old enough to remember tobacco advertising on TV will know Nick’s problem. For the rest of you, the electric window on the driver’s side of the Jensen had stuck in the open position. Have I mentioned that it was freezing cold and chucking it down with wet rain?
We were all extremely sympathetic to their plight and hardly laughed at all when 2 bedraggled, wet and cold people finally arrived at 9.40pm. We hardly laughed even more when they found out that the kitchen closed at 9.30pm and were no longer taking orders for food. However, Jo used her feminine charms on the chef and scared him into rustling up some nachos and a sandwich. (That was a direct quote from Nick when I asked how he got the food. Nothing to do with me. Honest Jo! No, really.)
The fun and laughter had to end as we all left for our respective accommodations for a good night’s sleep in preparation for meeting the Isle of Wight Jaguar boys in the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” car park the next morning, ready for the tour.
Oh, you may have noticed that Ian Woodward’s nickname has lengthened slightly to “Windy Sweet Kitten”. Well you have Sarah “Cup Cake” Woodward to thank for that after their romantic and moving Wedding Anniversary Facebook posts. (Oh No! I’ve just been a little bit sick in my mouth again!)
To be continued …
By Mike Peake.
So very nearly almost there! Can I get to the end or will bumbling incompetence ruin everything?
The next job was fitting the back of the hood back on to the rear deck. The previous chap had done this with a mixture of self-tappers and pop rivets. I’d been clever though and bought the correct quantity of the correct self-tappers from Canleys. However, when I went to fit them, they were too small for the holes drilled in the bodywork. So I went out and bought bigger ones. No 7 self-tappers. They were still too small and number 8 heads were too big to fit into the male popper studs.
Cursing the previous chap for pointlessly drilling out the holes, I decided to resort to pop rivets. These didn’t work either as they just pulled up onto the back of the finisher rather than the bodywork. I was stumped. Whilst doing all this, I decided that the popper studs I’d taken off really weren’t good enough to go back on, so went to order some new shiny ones and ponder my dilemma.
Whilst looking at the parts diagram to get the part number for the studs, I noticed something that had previously eluded my attention. They weren’t self-tappers that Canleys were selling to hold the hood and finisher to the rear deck. They were, in fact, No 6 bolts. Well, that’s not embarrassing at all is it? So I ordered some No 6 nuts and washers to go with the new studs and gave up any thought that I will ever be anything other than a bumbling incompetent fool.
The parts arrived and the hood was fitted with the help of Mrs FB who fitted the washers and nuts on the inside while I fed the bolts through from the outside. Correct quantity? Well maybe not. I was two short. Oh well, I’ll add them to the order for the driver’s door mirror. The bracket broke when I tried to fit it.
The headlights, sidelights and front grill all went on without any dramas at all. Well, apart from when I tried the right indicator, my left sidelight flashed and vice versa and my indicators came on with the sidelights. This was very quickly rectified with the judicious use of my multimeter. Now, I know what you’re going to say. “Why didn’t I look at my wiring diagram and identify the wires by their colours or simply look at the photos I’d taken before disconnecting?” Well, I’m glad you asked. No really, I am. You see, I’d forgotten to mask them and they were now all red. I’d also put the badges on the grill upside down.
Thanks to BL Dan’s advice the Triumph lettering and centre bonnet trim actually did go on without a hitch.
It was now time to put the inside of the car back together again. Whilst the gearbox tunnel was off, Mrs FB took it upon herself to re-spray the “Trinket tray” as she called it. The black paint I’d applied a long while ago was badly chipped and the white fibreglass tunnel was showing. She did a fine job. I also checked and topped up the gearbox oil, as it's much easier to do it from here than under the car.
The tunnel, speaker, door cards and handles were all refitted easily. However after fiddling with the door and window handles for ages to get the tiny cotter pin located, I realised I hadn’t fitted the escutcheons. Also, after fitting the gearbox tunnel with its 24 bolts and washers, fiddly to fit gaiter, carpet and speaker, I got out of the car and there, lying on the floor was, the insulation pad that goes under the tunnel. Eventually though, the inside was ready for a good and thorough clean. Mrs FB volunteered to do this too along with refitting the offside hood window again as the previous repair hadn’t stood the test of time.
That just left me to do the boot area. Fit the new carpet, refit the fuel tank, reconnect the fuel tank sender and number plate light to the wiring harness and fit the boot lid hinges and stay. Oh and four new tyres.
I really was on the home stretch. I tried not to get excited and concentrated on finishing it with no more moments of bumbling incompetence.
I succeeded – mostly. I was finished. I’d done it! - for now.
At this stage, I would like to offer massive thanks to my sainted paint Guru Tosh Brooks for his advice, mentorship and above all patience. Couldn’t have done it without you mate. Thanks. All the good bits are down to Tosh. All the cock ups are mine and mine alone. Of course I’d also like to thank everyone else who offered advice and material help. It’s part of what I love about this group and the proper real life friendships I’ve found here.
So, have I enjoyed the process? Well, looking back, now the pressure is off, I’ve got the finished article to look at and can see the funny side of my various incompetent episodes – NO I BLOODY DIDN’T!! Well, maybe I did. Just a little bit.
Would I ever do it again? Well, I have learned loads of new skills, I have the proper equipment so – NO I BLOODY WOULDN’T!! Well, maybe, if the right Mini came up. Right now though, I am very much of the opinion that I would happily give the car and a shed load of cash and another shedload of award winning lemon drizzle cake to Tosh Brooks and let him get on with it. He really is the god of painting.
Am I pleased with my work? That’s a tough one. It depends of the light. It certainly isn’t the perfect glass smooth, mirror finish that I expected and Tosh Brooks turns out time and time again, but maybe I’d set my expectations too high for a 1st attempt. It is red now though and not pink.
I have certainly come to see that it is absolutely true that EVERYTHING is in the preparation. There are a lot of dinks and dents and even some sanding marks that I hadn’t feathered out properly. I really thought I had got them all and filled or feathered accordingly. Both Mrs FB and I had gone over the whole car in miniscule detail and thought we’d caught them all. However, I guess our inexperienced eyes and fingers missed some. Ok, missed a lot. That, or the fairies attacked it with tiny hammers in the night. In fact, that’s it. It was the bloody fairies and little folk! The evil things.
To me, all those little marks under the paint stand out. However, short of sanding it right back down and starting again, there is nothing I can do about that now, so I’ll have to live with it along with the remaining orange peel and the odd scratch from heavy handed flatting back.
So, to answer the question, No. Not really. I am very pleased with the fins, I just wish I knew what I’d done there and been able to repeat it on the rest of the car. The boot and bonnet aren’t too bad I guess.
I’m thinking that maybe over the winter, I might pick a panel or two and flat it back again with an even finer paper to try to improve it, but right now I’ve had enough.
She looks good in the photos and from about 3 meters away, so I will just have to bring Kevin and his triangle back to enforce a 3 meter exclusion zone around the car.
So, when you see her, lie through your teeth and tell me what a great job I did unless you want to see a grown Fatbloke cry.
In addition to the flatting, I still have more to do. I need to re-spray the white stripe,. I also need to sand the inside boot from the seagull poo primer I’d sprayed it with way back in the early stages and re-spray that too along with the inside of the doors.
However, I’ve run out of paint, gumption, will power and the will to live for the moment so that can wait until next year. You can’t see it with the boot closed anyway. I could also do with taking out the wooden dash and giving it to my father in-law for a spruce up.(I'll fit the wheel trims on Friday after the new tyres are fitted.)
Not yet though. Now? I need to drive her!!
By Mike Peake
With the boot lid now red and the very last of my paint used up, I was finished with spraying. Thank the gods! The isocyanates hadn’t killed me despite all the horror stories and neither did the cellulose fumes, so that is good news. I gladly threw away my disposable gas mask. Dare I say that I’m on the home stretch and there is light at the end of the tunnel?
After my adventures with rattle cans and boot lid last year, I’m leaving it well alone for at least a week before touching it. So I turned my attention to the unmasking. Following advice, I ran a razor blade along the edge of the masking before very carefully removing it. I even managed to do it without removing the paint from where it was supposed to be – this time. However, I was somewhat alarmed at the amount of red that was staining my windscreen and white stripe. Most of it turned out to be from flatting water and wiped off easily but some was paint that had managed to get through. Even this came off easily with some wet 1200 grit paper though. A razor blade flat on the windows had a similarly cleansing effect.
Mrs FB, with her steadier hands used touch up paint to go over the bits of damage I did to the white stripe when sanding the car as well as a few battle scars. It was now that we found out that my white stripe isn’t Triumph White 19. It turns out that Triumph White 19 is in fact a creamy colour and it looked almost yellow against my white. Anita and Sophie were dispatched to The Range and Halfords to look for a more suitable touch up. They came back with Vauxhall’s Summit White, which, whilst not perfect, will do until I can re-spray the stripe.
I then machine polished and waxed it. I will re-spray the white stripe eventually, (when I’m feeling particularly masochistic) but want to make sure my new red paint is fully hardened. I don’t want to risk putting masking tape on new paint.
I then spent a full day at my polishing wheel getting all the chrome ready to go back on the car. There seemed a lot more of it than I remembered but it was quite a satisfying and therapeutic task and many of the parts came up really, really well considering I’d only ever used Autosol on it before.
Next were the front bumpers which were a little more problematic than the rear ones. They slid on easily enough but getting them to sit correctly on the bendy bits was nigh on impossible. I did the best I could but it didn’t help that all 3 were too long and needed cutting whilst on the car but I got there in the end. That was the job I was fearing most about the build-up because of all the horror stories I’d read online. It’ll be much easier now won’t it?
Nope! If I thought that was fiddly, I should have waited until I fitted the aluminium bumper end caps before complaining! Good grief that was a pain! It took half a tube of KY Jelly, a very sharp knife, blood because of the very sharp knife, brute force, perseverance, ingenuity, bad language and a whole morning just to fit four aluminium bumper end caps.
Still, the rest of the fitting up will be easy - won’t it? Of course not! I keep forgetting that I’m a bumbling incompetent fool, albeit an optimistic one with delusions of competence!
It was time to turn my hand to fitting the weather strips to the top of the doors. This’ll be easy as I’ve even bought the special tool and all new clips and strips to do it.
Needless to say, it wasn’t easy. Hours of trying to squeeze the special tool, weather strip, clips and my fat fingers between the window and the door skin produced no success whatsoever. I was beginning to see why the previous chap had resorted to pop rivets and self-tappers but I was determined to be the better man. I thought it might be easier to take the window out, so I removed the interior door handle, window winder and door card in order to get at the window mechanism. At this point I decided that, no, it wouldn’t be easier to take the window out. It was fiendishly complicated in there and my workshop manual hadn’t even bothered to try to explain how to do it. At least I was able to recover all the clips I’d dropped into the door though.
In the end, I managed to do it by fitting the clips to the strip first, and then stuffing it all into the gap and pulling the clips up into place using the special tool. I then carefully wiggled the rubber back up into the correct position. The second door went much quicker but I still had to remove the interior door handle, window winder and door card in order to recover dropped clips.
It took me a whole day just to fit 4 weather strips (inside and outside the widows). Traumatised and tired, I called it a day and had a pint of G&T in the garden.
I could put it off no longer. It was time to flat back the boot lid. Have I mentioned how much I hate flatting back? I moved the boot lid into the back garden. However, having suffered the consequences of turning the garden table white after flatting back the primer, I made sure I covered the table in used polythene masking. The marathon began and the boot lid and my fingertips gradually became smoother and smoother.
It was time to get the machine polisher out to compound and polish the boot lid. I’d even learned a lesson from the last time I did this. I’d bought small polishing pads for my drill which is much easier to manoeuvre around the fiddly bits reducing the risk of inadvertently burning through the paint with the top of the polishing disc. It actually worked too. I didn’t burn anything. After a lavish application of wax, I was actually pleased, yes pleased with the result. I know! It’s a miracle! Of course it’s not perfect, but as I had no more paint or patience, I was pleased with it.
I was so pleased that I decided to fit the furniture. Another lesson learnt from last time, DON’T TURN IT OVER TO FIT THE FURNITURE!! I turned the boot lid up onto its edge and got Mrs FB to hold it so it didn’t fall over while I fitted it up. The finished boot lid was then VERY CAREFULLY carried through the house and placed safely on the back of the car. There is still lots of work to do in the boot so I didn’t fit it yet, but it was the safest place I could think to store it.
So very nearly almost there! Can I get to the end or will bumbling incompetence ruin everything? I really wish I knew!
To be continued …
By Mike Peake
The last time I wrote about my efforts to restore Poppy was about a month ago and I was in a bit of a funk with her. Well quite a bit has happened since then and surprisingly, none of them involved petrol cans, naked flames or tall buildings. It came close though, believe me.
So, I had an awful bonnet, a boot lid still in primer in the conservatory and I’d run out of paint – again. The clutch hydraulics were dry and the fuel pump wasn’t pumping. It was far too depressing to go anywhere near the front of the car but I needed to do something to enthuse me again. So, I flatted the rear deck, fins and wings and refitted the bumpers and lights.
To see things starting to come together gave me the boost I needed and I now had 2 weeks off work to crack on. I ordered another litre of paint and in the meantime, I started working my way towards the front of the car flatting, then compounding, then polishing then waxing one panel at a time.
It was going ok. Well I didn’t hate the results anyway. The panels were red and starting to take a bit of shine. That is until I got to the front off side wing where I flatted through the paint on the sharp edge above the wheel arch. I did say rude words however, as I still had painting to do and some new paint, the rude words weren’t as bad as they could have been. I could just add more coats to that wing at the same time I did the bonnet.
It was now time to address Poppy’s new-found immobility and give myself a break from bodywork. The refusal to start was due to lack of fuel getting to the carburettor. As many of you will know, after a long story, I’d rebuilt and fitted an original AC Delco pump back in 2017, so I was a little fed up that it had failed after only 2 years. However, I put this down to using an older stock rebuild kit and perhaps the rubber parts weren’t up to the 5% ethanol in our petrol now. I ordered another rebuild kit.
The refusal to change gear was due to the fact that all the dot 4 fluid had fallen out. Now, it was only 5 years ago that I rebuilt the clutch master cylinder and replaced the slave, so I topped it up with new fluid and bled it through, having completed the fiddly and time-consuming task of removing the gearbox tunnel and carpet. It didn’t work. The pedal was still very light and the clutch wasn’t disengaging. I decided that the minor scoring I’d seen in the master cylinder during that last rebuild had got worse so I ordered a new master cylinder along with the petrol pump kit. Now I know what you’re thinking. How would that cause all the dot 4 to fall out? Well I hadn’t thought that far ahead had I!
Whilst I was waiting for these new parts to arrive I had a go at removing the paint that I’d accidently sprayed the hood with. My Paint Guru with the patience of a saint had suggested it would come off with thinners. I have no doubt he is completely correct, but splashing thinners around from an open can near new paint just seemed like a recipe for disaster for a bumbling incompetent fool like me.
When casting my eye around the garage, I caught sight of the three extra cans of carb cleaner I had accidentally bought when rebuilding my carburettor. Well why not? An aerosol can is much easier to control than a 5 litre can of thinners. So, being ultra, extra careful not to get any on my new paint, I squirted a bit on an inconspicuous part of the hood and when the hood material didn’t immediately curl up and melt, I tried it on the errant paint. It worked a treat and my PVC hood is now black again
My shiny new parts arrived and I decided to start with the fuel pump. The pump was removed and all the parts quickly replaced and the pump returned to the car all in about 20 minutes. My patented hex headed bolt replacement working brilliantly on the RHS where you can’t get a spanner or socket on because of the manual pump handle.
It was all going brilliantly. So well in fact that - flushed with this success - I decided to fit the new fuel line I had, to replace the bodged rubber pipe linked one. (Yes it was me who bodged it when I kinked the pipe fitting the pump the last time.) The new copper pipe was bent into shape, quite imaginatively in some places, and it was time to fit the union and olive and screw into the pump outlet. Disaster struck - I dropped the olive which immediately vanished down a wormhole into an alternate universe never to be seen again. I gave up looking after an hour and went indoors to order another olive and have lunch.
The new olive arrived the next day and I was straight into my tent and slipping the olive onto the end of the pipe. Then taking it off again to slide the union on 1st before putting the olive back on. Disaster struck - I dropped the olive which immediately vanished down a wormhole into an alternate universe never to be seen again.
I didn’t swear too much this time as when I ordered the new olive, I enacted a canning plan. I bought 2 of them. I finally had it all secured and gave the manual handle a few pumps to fill the pipe back up with fuel and turned the ignition key. Poppy fired straight up and ran beautifully.
Now time for the clutch master cylinder swap. Another easy 10-minute job because the gearbox tunnel and carpet was already removed. Normally, 4 or 5 full pumps on the pedal is enough to fully bleed it through but not this time. At the end of every pump I still had air spitting. After 4 pots full of fluid, I gave up and concluded that my 5 year old slave cylinder was kaput and indeed, was the cause of my vanished fluid.
The pedal was quite a bit firmer so the master replacement wasn’t a complete waste of time and money, but the clutch still wasn’t fully disengaging. With much gear crunching, I did manage to get the car turned around though. The bonnet was now facing uphill and in the lighter end of the tent. I would now be able to see much better and hopefully have fewer runs now the bonnet is at a new angle.
I was ready to flat back the bonnet yet again so I immediately shut everything up and went to sit in the garden with a pint of G&T and ordered the new slave cylinder.
Next morning, I was stood at the front of the tent with 800 grit paper and a bucket of water. I couldn’t face it. So I tidied my little workshop, arranged my bottles and cans of cleaning product into alphabetical order and sorted my nut and bolt collection. Then my new slave cylinder arrived so I fitted that and bled it through, achieving a satisfyingly firm and fully-functioning clutch pedal.
I could not think of any other little jobs to do to put off rubbing down the bonnet any longer, so I settled in and set to. Many, many hours later, I decided enough was enough and went in search of a bottle of merlot.
The next morning dawned and it was time to get the spray gun back out. The rest of the car was covered in polythene sheet and the bonnet tack clothed and panel wiped. I had decided that whatever happened, this was going to be the last time I sprayed the bonnet. Life’s too short and I can’t afford any more paint. So, it was with some trepidation that I pointed the gun at the car and began. I soon found my rhythm and settled in to the job. I was going to put plenty of paint on so I knew I’d have leeway for flatting out any defects afterwards. I put 4 coats on, making sure to allow a full 30 minutes between coats to flash dry.
I then left it all well alone and went to flat back the primer on the boot lid in the back garden. Have I mentioned I hate flatting back? This hatred was further advanced when I flatted through the primer on a couple of edges which meant I needed to spray a couple more coats and flat back again. More bad words said. More merlot required.
The next day, Poppy was moved out of the tent to give me room to spray two more coats of primer onto the boot lid.
The bonnet didn’t look too bad though. Yes, it was orange peely and yes, there were a couple of small runs but I knew I had plenty of paint so yet another marathon flatting back session commenced while I waited for the primer on the boot lid to dry.
Twenty four hours later, the boot lid was flatted back and sprayed with 4 coats of red and I continued to flat back the bonnet while it dried.
I also machine compounded, polished and waxed the bonnet. It came up reasonably well and whilst saying I was pleased with it would be a massive exaggeration, I don’t completely hate it and it is definitely the best attempt yet.
So, just a matter of flatting, compounding, polishing and waxing the boot lid, removing the masking from the white stripe, cleaning up the white stripe and putting the car back together again and I’m done. Easy peasy lemon squeezey!
To be continued…
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