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…
By Mike Peake
There is something about a fair that turns perfectly normal and sensible adults into 12 year old children again. So you can imagine what it did to our mob who aren’t any of those things. A great time was had by all with many a ride sampled. My favourite was when we all went on the bumper cars and took over the whole ride.
Rest assured, I did NOT return to the Waltzer. I think I’ve found the maximum level of excitement I can cope with now though.
Back at the campsite and Lyndsey, Gus’s new GIIIRRRRLLLLLLL FRIEEEEEND was still with us. It turns out that she was spending the night with Gus in Apollo. We were all very conscious that this was a new relationship and wanted the weekend to be a success for Gus and his new GIIIRRRRLLLLLLL FRIEEEEEND.
Therefore, we had all been very polite, respectful and doing our best to be welcoming and sensible. We even managed to refrain from ribaldry when the new couple announced that they were very tired and headed for an early night. We merely wished them a good night and bid them sleep well – honest! We did!
The rest of us continued socialising in the Coleman. About an hour later, a look of evil mischief descended onto Allison’s eyes. “wouldn’t it be hilarious” she said “if we all gathered around Apollo and rocked it vigorously side to side?”
Well of course we all thought this was a horrible and mean thing to do to such a nice new couple on their 1st night in Apollo and we tried to talk Allison out of it. However, once Allison has decided to do something, there is no stopping her. The rest of us looked on, shocked and appalled, as Allison soon had the van rocking so hard it almost tipped over. She’s surprisingly strong for such a petite lady. Allison continued the rocking until a loud thunk and a squeal was heard coming from the van. We all ran and hid in the Coleman.
We found out the next morning that the “thunk” was a full cup of tea flying off the counter and landing in Lyndsey’s boot. Well Allison, we hope you are ashamed of yourself! You’ve let the group down, you’ve let Tosh down, but most of all you’ve let yourself down.
Half an hour later, she did it again. We all looked on shocked and appalled, as Allison soon had the van rocking so hard it almost tipped over – again! Allison only stopped when a loud shout of “YER NOT FUNNY THA KNOWS!!” was heard from Apollo’s depths. We all rushed back into the Coleman where the tomfoolery continued. After some discussion amongst the group it was concluded that maybe Gus was wrong as it was, actually, quite funny.
Just in case Allison tries to wriggle out of her guilt and try to implicate others in her dastardly deeds, here is photographic evidence that she was indeed, solely responsible for this heinous act.
The night was still not over though. At about 12.30 AM, as we were chatting and drinking, a lovely Jack Russell dog came sniffing around under the tent wall before wandering off again. We thought no more of it and assumed she was just out for a walk with her owner we couldn’t see. 10 minutes later, an older chap popped up asking if we had seen a white dog around. We said we had seen her and pointed in the last direction we’d seen the dog heading and thought no more about it. 10 minutes later, an older lady popped up asking if anyone had seen her husband.
Some of us found this chain of events amusing but immediately felt bad about it as the lady went on to explain that they’d lost their dog who was a 19 year old stone deaf Jack Russell called Tilly. Of course, we couldn’t have that and all agreed to help look. Various light sources were produced, from regular torches to apps on phones to Windy Woodward’s multibillion watt battery powered floodlight. I pointed out that we were trying to find the dog - not burn it to a blackened crisp - but he wasn’t listening.
Imagine the scene if you will, as 12 drunken enthusiasts and 2 upset dog owners set off into the vast, pitch dark camping area, shouting for a deaf dog called Tilly at one o’clock in the morning.
Tilly was eventually found by Tosh, none the worse for wear and happily sniffing around the bottom field. Tilly was fine too. The trouble was, now we’d lost the owners. So, 12 drunken enthusiasts and a deaf dog called Tilly set off into the vast, pitch dark camping area, shouting for 2 upset dog owners at half past one o’clock in the morning.
The owners were eventually rediscovered back at their caravan where they were tearfully contemplating life without their beloved Tilly. So it was fantastic to be able to provide the happy reunion. All 3 were extremely pleased to see each other again and it was a rather emotional scene. Even Tosh was seen to be wiping his eyes.
Back at the Coleman we toasted our success and felt very proud of our good deed! Tilly was safely back in her caravan and we’d only woken up 80% of the vast camping area to do so. Job done, we went to bed.
For some strange reason, Lyndsey, Gus’s GIIIRRRRLLLLLLL FRIEEEEEND departed quite quickly on Sunday morning. I hope we didn’t do anything that upset her. I can’t imagine how we could have done that though. No. I’m sure everything was fine
Also, for some strange reason, everyone was just a little sluggish on Sunday morning and even bacon wasn’t showing its full restorative properties. This meant that it was almost 10am and the show about to open before we had finished setting up the stand. A bit of a squeeze today as we were joined by John Malley with his Piper and Two Pants Perman with his Blue VDP Allegro.
I’m sure you’ll agree, looking at the finished scooter below, that Pants Perman did a great job. The scooter was certainly a bit nippier round the field but only time will weather it’s range has been increased at all. It’s got to be better than Nelson’s though!
Another dry and warm day progressed with much chatting and laughter and walking miles and miles to try to squeeze in everything we hadn’t seen yet. I know I keep saying it but EVERYTHING is at this show including a great, friendly, family atmosphere.
Here is just a small selection of the things I enjoyed.
Sadly, the end of the show came round far too quickly and sad goodbyes were said to those traveling home on the Sunday, leaving an intrepid few for the final night. The Allins, Little Paul Cheetham, Gar, Jason and I settled for a very chilled and relaxed evening spent polishing off Phil and Lorraine’s leftover food which was jolly nice with interesting “smoky” notes of flavour showing through.
Yes, a very chilled and relaxed evening. Of course, Darren Williamson’s evening was anything but chilled and relaxed. Karen and Carl had abandoned him in the middle of the field and taken the working Ital home. Darren was trying to herd his recovery company into getting his CF back to the chap who rebuilt his engine. Apparently, they didn’t believe Darren when he told them it was beyond roadside repair and needed recovery. They had to send someone out to verify this – from Cardiff!!!
Two hours later, the chap arrived, started the engine, turned off the engine and pronounced it “broken”. “I’ll book a recovery truck" said the chap before abandoning Darren in the field again. 2 hours later and it hadn’t arrived yet so we all went to bed, abandoning Darren in the field.
We didn’t completely abandon him though. We made little Paul Cheetham stay up with strict instructions to take photos of the recovery for the blog. The gods know what we’ll end up with though. Probably frogs frolicking in a pond or something, certainly not pictures of the recovery if past history is anything to go by!
Sorry, I take some of that back! Little Paul has almost redeemed himself it would appear! Not completely though. WHERE’S THE PIC OF THE CF ON THE TRUCK?? Idiot!
Monday morning and no one was in any rush. We were all pleased to see that Darren and his CF were gone and that we had a message in the group chat to say he had arrived home safely at 1.30AM.
Lazy breakfasts were had before we started packing up. The Coleman was first to go and was all packed away properly and it, and everything else, was packed into the tiny Holivan with Tardis-like tendencies.
Next it was time to pack Gar’s car. We had the Wolseley trailer and Jaguchair to get into the Zafira and I have to say, we had our doubts. The first problem came when we tried getting the WD8 Generator in. The two bits of old skirting board that Gar insisted made perfect ramps weren’t - they snapped under the weight almost instantly.
Which as it turned out was probably just as well because we’d have only had to get the damn thing back out again. Phil cleverly confirmed what all eyes except Gar’s were telling us. The car, whilst being wide enough to accommodate the trailer, was far too short. There was nothing else for it but to admit defeat. So Gar towed the engine trailer for temporary storage in my lock up. I followed with my caravan in case the engine didn’t tow well. However, this was not necessary as it towed beautifully, but “Gar’s gonna need a bigger car!”
Well, that concludes our wonderful ……. No. Wait. News coming in as I write … ”Tuesday Morning rush hour and traffic chaos on the M1”, I’m hearing on the national news. Apparently, some idiot in a yellow MG Midget has broken down in the live lanes in a section with no hard shoulder. Motorway closed while the idiot in the yellow MG Midget is towed by the highways officer the wrong way down the carriageway to the nearby services as unsafe to leave the idiot where he was. Miles-long queues on the motorway causing gridlock in all the local towns.
And who was this idiot I hear you ask as if you didn’t already know? Yes, our very own little Paul Cheetham attempting to return the Yellow Peril back to Tosh. And what caused this breakdown? I hear you ask as if you didn’t already know.... yes, he’d run out of petrol!
And why didn’t he simply top up from the can in the back, I hear you ask as if you didn’t already know? Yes, he couldn’t get the filler cap off. Talk about history repeating. Does he never learn?
I guess we have to make allowances for not being strong enough to get the filler cap off. Little Paul is only 7 stone soaking wet.
Tosh took pity and recovered him with the trailer. Then told EVERYONE!
Now that really does conclude our weekend adventures. So, massive thanks for the fun, laughs, commitment and achieving downright stupid stupidity levels required to furnish so much material for the blogs.
Most of all though, huge thanks to the organisers of the whole event SVTEC and their army of volunteers for putting on yet another fantastic show.
They’ve already announced next year’s show date, 31st July to 2nd August 2020. Mark it in your diaries and keep an eye on our events section for details of our stand. (if they let us back in!)
Thanks for reading and see you again soon. I’ve still got to finish Poppy.
By Mike Peake
Windy Woodward is an IDIOT! An evil, conniving, nasty, Idiot! Not only that, but he isn’t even nice!
OK. So something blogworthy might indeed have happened at the fair. That nasty man Ian made me, MADE me I say, get on the Waltzer! Kicking and screaming, he dragged me into that car! Well – ok – maybe it was Merlot and bravado that made me do it, but I’m pretty sure Windy Woodward had something to do with it. He WAS sat next to me after all.
I was fine though. Thoroughly loved every minute.
OK. So maybe I became a little queasy and rather rudely, told the ride man to “go away” when he spun the car faster, but even if I did, no one would have heard over Windy’s evil super villain, uncontrollable laughter. I was absolutely fine as soon as it stopped though. I leapt off the ride as happy as Larry.
Ok. Maybe “leapt” and “happy as Larry” aren’t strictly accurate descriptions but I was absolutely fine just a couple of minutes later when everything stopped spinning. I certainly wasn’t going to be sick or anything like that.
Hmmm… Nice to know you can rely on your mates for sympathy and support when you’re poorly sick isn’t it?! Indeed, the “sympathy” is still on going with no evidence of it stopping anytime soon! At least the hysterical laughter from all of my friends drowned out the noises of my discomfort.
For some reason, the rest of the evening is a bit of a blur but we were back at the campsite at about 10pm whereupon I took myself off to bed as I was still feeling a little off colour. Ok. Grey. I was grey coloured!
Saturday Morning came round quickly and after copious bacon, I was fully revived and we were back over at the group stand setting up for another day. We had 4 extra cars today.
In addition to Chris Ball and Phil Allin, we were Joined by Phil Rendle and Scott Morris Simon Wright in their rather fine Morris Minor traveller, a Triumph 2500S Estate and a hooligan Morris Minor.
Several more waifs and strays joined us through the general public entrances today. My wife Anita, my daughters, Sophie and Emily-Fleur and Emily’s new boyfriend Ryan joined us on the stand. I have to say, I thought it was a brave decision of his to join us and was a little worried about him feeling isolated and left out. I was pleased to see though, that every one of my good mates there made Ryan incredibly welcome by taking him to one side and letting him know that they would be more than happy to give me an alibi or help me hide a body should the need arise. Thanks Chaps. Means a lot to me. I’m tearing up here – sniff - .
Anyway, Emily and Ryan weren’t the only new relationship in the group. Gus has got a ladyyyyy friend!!! “Gus and Lyndsay sitting in a tree, K.I.S.S.I.N.G!” Sorry. That was childish. It was great to meet you Lyndsey. I hope you felt very welcome.
Yet another new relationship, Chris Ball’s new lady, Amy. Things got off to a slightly rocky start when she appeared frightened of Bella and Jake, two of the soppiest, friendliest dogs in creation. Things settled back onto an even keel though when it became apparent that Amy was here to choose a classic for Chris to buy for her. I’m sure Tosh can sort out a good Triumph Stag for you Chris! Great to meet you Amy. I hope you enjoyed yourself.
Ian and Bernard’s wives, Sarah and Thelma, also joined us, but much later than everyone else. Ian said this was because the broomstick park was a long way away this year. Personally, I thought this was very, very rude of him to say such a thing and couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. Especially as Sarah had just agreed to let Ian buy another car! Oh. Sorry Windy. Perhaps I shouldn’t have written that down? Sarah doesn’t read these does she? I hope I haven’t jeopardised the Rover SD1? (Ha! That’ll teach him for making me go on that Waltzer!)
Another day was spent chatting, laughing and ooohing and ahhing at all the exhibits at this fantastic, friendly show until it was time for the classic cars turn around the show ring. Always a great experience this and a chance to show your car off at its best and wave at all the muggles drooling. As always, Apollo was much loved and made a great impression on the commentators.
What didn’t make such a good impression was the eye-searingly yellow and extremely conspicuous MG Midget breaking down in the middle of the show ring. Amazingly, Super Enthusiast Man didn’t have it running again immediately, requiring the Zephyr to leap into action as a tow car again and bring Gus and the MG back to the campsite. Yet more evidence, if it was needed after the Codgers and Peaks tours, that SEM has lost his MOJO.
I have a theory about this lost mechanical mojo. I think it is because – Gus has got a GIIIRRRRLLLLLLL FRIEEEEEND! – and taken his eye off the ball. Back at the campsite, we soon had it narrowed down to dirty points and a swift rub with Allison’s nail file had it running again.
The same could not be said for the poor Bedford CF though. Thirty miles into its journey Thursday evening, the oil light came on. Darren pulled over immediately and found that all the oil had fallen out of his newly and expensively rebuilt engine. He topped it up but there wasn’t enough juice in the battery to turn it over again, so Darren had it recovered to the show. When fired up Saturday afternoon, it sounded awful and was belching huge clouds of smoke. It was quickly shut down and left for the recovery service to deal with on Sunday. The general theory was that by the time the oil light came on, the oil scraper rings had already burnt out. Fortunately, there is a 3 month warranty on the work so Dazzer was taking it straight back to “have words!”
Of course it wouldn’t be a Gloucester Steam Fair unless Tosh did a deal. This year it was more wood from the steam saw mill demonstration area. So yet again the Honda’s tow bar, 5 strapping lads and Paul Cheetham were pressed into service to go and collect. Tosh was busted. Unlike last year, the chap who’d done the deal came back just as we were finishing loading the trailer. Apparently, we had more wood than he anticipated we could take. Tosh had to hand over more money. We could all see his pain.
We were further busted by site Security on the way back to the campsite. After a long, high speed chase around the perimeter road, their flashing light-equipped golf buggy pulled us over. We thought they were going to accuse of stealing the wood but no. Apparently the 5 strapping lads and Paul Cheetham weren’t allowed to sit on top of the wood pile on the trailer while it was moving. They had to walk back. It’s a big site too.
Once back at the campsite, they made me reverse the trailer back into the tiny space between Kurt’s tent and the BBQ where it had come from. I’m sure they were hoping for a belly laugh as I crushed the tent under tons of wood and trailer. However, the one - and probably only - thing I’m not a bumbling incompetent at, is trailer and caravan manoeuvring. It was done on the 1st attempt with millimetric accuracy. They all looked very disappointed, except Kurt.
The BBQ was fired up. Mountains of meat were cooked and there was even salad as there were ladies present. The alcohol and chat flowed until it was time to decamp for the fair again.
As it’s a big site someone, not sure who, thought it would be a jolly wheeze if all of us went up in Apollo. It would be hilarious to watch everyone’s face outside the beer tent as 15 people came out of Apollo’s accommodation door.
I’d bagged shotgun and watched as Gus selected reverse. We went nowhere! Apparently, 15 people weigh about 1.2 tons altogether and this was just too much for poor Apollo. We were right about one thing though. It was hilarious watching 15 people come out of Apollo’s accommodation door.
We had to walk to the fair.
To Be continued…
By Mike Peake
For the 3rd year running, our group had a stand at this truly huge and fantastic vintage fair and oh my, did we have some fun this year. If I included all the material I have for this weekend, I would still be writing this when we turn up next year. Oh Yes, there will be a next year. (Well, if they let us back there will).
So, where to start? Well let’s start on Thursday evening and introduce you to the intrepid, first-to-arrive campers.
As always, the Brooks family were there to support the group. This time, with Apollo the P5B camper van that we all know and love. The Brooks Family this time consisted of Tosh and Allison, Bella and Jake, Gus, Gus’s daughter Julie, her husband Kurt and son Seth.
Gus had also completed work on our scumbag project Wolseley WD8 stationary engine/generator.
Young Paul Cheetham arrived in Tosh’s MG Midget.
Irritatingly, Tosh has re-sprayed both these vehicles and renovated a house in the time it has taken me to mess up Poppy, who won’t be joining us yet again because I can’t get painting right.
Also present were Windy and Breezy Woodward and Bernard Owen with the Zephyr and Maxi.
Jason Wright and Watson had joined us too, but had forgotten his Herald due to welding and painting issues.
So it was just Old Mother Cole and the Williamsons to arrive on the Thursday evening. No disrespect to the Williamsons, but Gar Coles arrival was most keenly anticipated as he had promised to open “Old Mother Cole’s kitchen” and feed us all chicken and bacon stew.
Imagine our horror then, when we received a text message saying that he wasn’t coming on Thursday because he had driven his modern through a river and burnt out his coil pack! Shouts of outrage abounded and many an abusive text was sent as we sat in our field, miserable and starving to death. We did manage to scrounge up a pack of digestives but competition for them was fierce.
Not long after, but just as the hunger pangs were truly starting to bite, the group chat received another message, this time from Team Williamson.
The Bedford CF had broken down too. Were they going to be pathetic wusses about it and go home? Were they heck! No. They called recovery and came on towards us anyway. See, Gar? Some people don’t let their mates down.
We cheered up somewhat on learning that Kaz, Daz and Carl were on their way. Maybe, just maybe, they’d have another packet of biscuits.
We whiled away the hours until they were due to arrive, chatting drinking and playing “I Spy”, although we abandoned the game after the 25th outing of “F” for food.
At midnight, the group chat “pinged” again. Hooray!! Dazzer was at the gates and asking for spanners. Now weak with hunger, we gathered tools, jumped in the Zephyr and hurried down to the gate to rescue Team Williamson and to see if they had any biscuits. They didn’t.
Daz changed the battery in an effort to get the Bedford camper running. As you can imagine, Tosh was incredibly helpful during the procedure but despite this, Darren got the task done quickly. It didn’t work and the engine still failed to turn over. The decision was made to tow the van back with the Zephyr.
We abandoned the CF near our pitch and all went to bed in the hope that sleep would overcome the starvation stomach cramps.
Friday morning dawned to the smell of bacon frying. Obviously we couldn’t have done this last night as we were too focused on the fact that Old Mother Cole” had let us down so badly and obviously bacon is for breakfast not dinner. Funnily enough, Gar arrived just as the bacon was ready. He’d stolen a coil pack from his neighbours Corsa. I’m not sure why he couldn’t have done that last night and rescued us all from starvation? No consideration I guess.
Our bodies revived by the miracle that is bacon, we set off over to our group stand and soon had it all set up and ready for the 1st day of the show.
Friday is always the chilled day of the 3 show days as a lot of exhibitors and visitors are still at work. So a pleasant day was passed listening to the soporific chuff puff of the Wolseley as this mid-20th century technology kept our 21st century phones and Gar’s Jaguchair alive, interspersed with the odd wander around the massive show ground.
Yes Lorraine. Bet you feel Silly now!
After a very pleasant day in the sun, it was back to the campsite. During the day we were joined by some more intrepid campers in the form of our group sponsor and top chap Phil Allin of Alvaston Press and his lovely family with Big Rov the stately P5B Coupe and Chris Ball in his Johnny Cash “one piece at a time” MK1/2/3/4/5/6 MGB Roadster.
It was time to settle around the Coleman and FINALLY enjoy Old Mother Cole’s chicken and bacon stew. It was delicious, filling and lovely. I’m sure it would have been even better last night but it was lovely all the same. Thank you Gar.
As we were settling down with our stew, Phil grumpily went back to his caravan to get a bowl and eating irons as Lorraine had only bought for herself. Whilst Phil was gone Lorraine admitted that this was a deliberate omission as Phil is quite fat enough already.
Two minutes later, we heard a call from Phil saying “Errr, my caravan is full of black acrid smoke” but as we were only on our 2nd or 3rd spoonful of stew, we merely gave each other raised eyebrow looks that said “mmmm, that’s odd? This stew is really delicious. We’ll investigate when we’ve finished.”
After another couple of minutes had passed, we heard Phil’s voice again, this time with a slight note of panic in it. “Actually chaps! My caravan is on fire! There’s proper flames and everything!”
This spurred us all into action. Well, after we’d calmly placed our almost full bowls of stew carefully and securely in various safe places, this spurred us into action. You’ve never seen five fatblokes move so fast as we heroically rushed back to our respective vans to collect various fire fighting equipment. I got a fire blanket and a camera.
Tosh was 1st to arrive, leaping dramatically through the door whilst ripping the pin from his fire extinguisher in a very manly manner. Letting rip in all and every direction, he quickly covered the entire caravan and Phil (who was in there frantically turning off gas and electric) in white powder.
Phil, looking very much like a snowman and wiping powder from his eyes, said “It’s the fridge Tosh. The fire is behind the fridge. You just need to squirt through the vent!”. “Oh” said Tosh, before sheepishly leaping back out the door and giving another good squirt of powder through the vents.*
My contribution was to make sure I had plenty of photos for the blog.
Once the fire was out, our band of heroes returned to their stew where we found Lorraine, still in her deckchair, calmly eating her stew with a knowing smile on her face. The lengths some people will go to, to get a new caravan!
Once the stew was consumed, Old Mother Cole served up a delicious pudding of meringues, chocolate rolls and evaporated milk. I love evaporated milk! It brings back loads of happy memories of childhood camping and parties. I had rather a lot and all washed down with Merlot.
Once tea was complete and washing up done, the contents of Phil and Lorraine’s fridge re-distributed and the fridge deposited unceremoniously in the skip, we decamped for the wonderful vintage steam fair where we all had lots of fun but absolutely nothing blogworthy happened. Nope. Nothing at all. Nothing to see here people. Please return to your normal humdrum lives. Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing at all. **
Oh OK. Maybe, just maybe, something blogworthy happened. Not saying it did, but if anything were to have happened, you’re going to have to wait for part 2 to read about it.
To be continued …
* Actual events may have been changed slightly for literary convenience.
** Actual events may have been changed slightly for literary convenience.
By Mike Peake.
When I write these blogs, I have always tried to picture the readers and their reactions. Recently this became a bit traumatic when Windy Woodward told me he read them sat on the toilet which lead to a short bout of writers block.
This time though, I hear that Phil Allin has finally got himself some reading glasses so I am picturing him sat in his comfy chair, with his slippered feet up on the pouffe, snuggled in his beige cardigan, a tartan blanket over his knees and wearing his new reading glasses with a string round his neck. A bowl of Werthers original within easy reach.
Are you sitting comfortably Grandpa Phil? I SAID, “ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY GRANDPA PHIL?” Then I shall begin
As you may have already read, our recent tour of the Cotswolds and North Wiltshire took us through my home town of Royal Wootton Bassett.
As we were so close, I thought I would show the gang the unfinished results of all my hard work on Poppy. So we all piled into my street and parked up. Everyone gathered round the entrance to my tent ready for the grand reveal. I opened the zip, pulled back the doors and waited for the reaction.
It appears that everyone has learned the lesson that if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. The silence was deafening, eventually broken by Gar saying “it’s a great tent isn’t it? Really sturdy.” I’m pretty sure I could hear them all thinking the same thing. “Yep! That’s what happens when a bumbling incompetent fool sprays a car!”
I can’t say I wasn’t a little disappointed by the reaction, but after a good look over the car, Paint Guru Tosh took me to one side and ignoring my trembling bottom lip, said “Its ok. Its saveable that is”, before offering lots of practical advice on how to do so and telling me where I’d gone wrong in such a kindly way that I didn’t blub like a baby.
So, yet again, my report card read “could do better” and I had a lot more work to do than just 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, wash and polish all the chrome trim on the polishing wheels and then put it all back onto Poppy. I had a lot more work to do before I could even begin that.
I have to admit, I was starting to consider the benefits of vinyl wrap. However, I soon put this blasphemy out of my mind and cracked on. Well I tried, but the week’s holiday I had after the tour was a failure because I’d developed a problem with my good knee and was in too much pain to work on the car. After several visits to the doctors and hospital, I received a diagnosis. Apparently, I’m old and fat. Who knew? Emily Fleur took pity on her old Dad and flatted back those difficult-to-reach lower parts of the car.
Anyway, I did manage to rub down some of the areas with the worst sanding marks. The ones on the bonnet stood out like the proverbial in a punch bowl now they were red. Then Anita masked the car up again and I was ready to re-spray the rubbed down areas with even more high build primer. The trouble was, we forgot to tell the weather that it was JUNE for the gods’ sake! Three weeks of torrential rain and temperatures constantly below 14°C prevented me getting my spray gun out.
Saturday 22nd June. It wasn’t raining. It was 18˚C. Amazingly, weather I could spray in. So the bonnet and the 2 other patches were quickly covered in 2 coats of high build primer and left to dry overnight. Sunday had me flatting the primer back and in true bumbling incompetent style, I also had to flat back the over-spray on the wings and doors which I had deemed too far away to need masking. I was wrong. Then the weather closed in again.
Poppy missed another group tour to the northern Peak District. I missed her terribly especially as the EVIL ONE took an instant dislike to me and tried to kill Tosh and I repeatedly.
The weekend after the Peaks tour I managed to get a coat of red on the whole car. Looking back on my earlier coats of red, I realised that I had used much too high a pressure and most of my paint was lost to the environment and what was on the car, Tosh had told me had gone on too dry. I think I over compensated. So instead of getting 2 or 3 coats on, I had to wait for the 1 coat to dry so I could rub back all the runs and a dead spider.
A week later I managed to get another 2 coats on the whole car without too many bad runs except on the bonnet! Some really bad ones here and as it’s the bonnet I couldn’t leave them. It looked awful. Can you tell I’m getting a bit fed up with it now?
So, the bonnet was flatted back yet again down to primer in some places. As the bonnet has given me problems with runs at every stage but the sides of the car haven’t been too bad, I decided that the next coats will be sprayed with the bonnet open.
The weather intervened yet again but not how you would expect. It was actually too HOT! Yes too hot. Met Office had forecast 30˚C plus and for once they were right. 23rd to 26th July it was 39˚C in my tent when I got home from work. Not at all pleasant for a Fatbloke to work in.
Also, I’m guessing it would mean that the paint would be dry before it hit the car, or flash off too quickly when it hit the hot metal. Well, that’s the excuse I used to sit in the garden with a G&T instead and panic at how quickly the date for the Gloucester Steam Fair was coming around. Poppy has missed out on 3 great tours this year and I really don’t want her missing out on that too. What has really got me fed up though, is that Tosh Brooks has just turned Apollo - a P5 motor home - round and got the Rover bit fully painted in about a week! I’ve been at this since April!! Blooming show off. I’ve gone right off him.
The weekend before the steam fair arrived and I was determined to get it all done. So bright and early I was out with my spray gun and having another go at the bonnet. As I said earlier, I tried spaying the bonnet with it open to avoid the runs I’d had on earlier attempts. It didn’t work, I got the biggest horiblest run ever in the history of car paint runs and really horrendous orange peel. I wasn’t best pleased as it was worse than my last attempt that I’d just rubbed back!
While I was waiting for the bonnet to fully dry, I decided that I would start the flatting process at the back of the car. To be honest, I was really fed up with the whole thing and the thought of flatting back the whole car again wasn’t filling me with a feeling of joy or enthusiasm. Therefore, I decided to do baby steps and do the complete flatting, compounding, polish and wax process on one panel at a time. This way, I would start to have finished panels and this may boost my enthusiasm.
Shiny, but not Shiny Paul Shiny.
This method was working, somewhat, right up until the moment I decided to move the car to make room to spray the boot lid. At this point it became apparent that I had a flat battery. So, my new, super-duper 4000amp jump leads were employed. At this point it became apparent that my fuel pump had packed up again and all the fluid had vanished from my clutch. I blubbed and called it a day. Over a pint of G&T and through teary eyes, I withdrew Poppy from the Gloucester Steam Extravaganza line up.
Sunday morning; I was out in my tent to see if I could rectify the mess I’d made of the bonnet… again. I’d been out to buy a couple of nib files and attacked the run. It actually worked quite well and by the time I’d finished with the files and flatted back with wet 1200, the surface actually felt really smooth. You could still see the difference in the paint though. However, I pressed on with trying to flat the orange peel out of the rest of the bonnet with wet 1200 grit and machine compounding. It didn’t work! Even after hours of effort, it still looked pants. So I gave up. The bonnet is the largest panel on the car and the focal point for anyone looking at it. It had to be right. I decided to flat back with 800 grit and give it another couple of coats. (YES AGAIN! No! I don’t know which attempt this is. I’ve lost count. JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!) I needed to buy yet more paint first though.
I was getting close to giving it all up and was desperate for some cheer-me-up work. So, I decided to start putting the back of the car together.
I started by polishing my over riders on the special polishing wheel I’d invented.
I wasn’t hopeful as most of the chrome was a dull grey but I gave it a go anyway. I was right not to have high hopes as I ended up with clean dull grey rear over riders. I really need new ones but at nearly £200 for the pair, I’ll put up with these ones for now and change them at a later date. It’s only 2 bolts on each. Oh and the removal of the fuel tank to get to them.
Next job was to fit my brand new rear rubber bumpers. I wasn’t looking forward to this bit as all the stories on the internet suggested it was a real horror involving boiling water and KY Jelly. For once though, this wasn’t the case. They went on quite easily with only minor blood loss once smeared liberally in the KY Jelly. In fact, the worst part of the job was the embarrassment of asking for KY Jelly in the chemist. Not for me of course. There was no way I was subjecting myself to that level embarrassment. I made Anita get it for me. After that it was just a matter of bolting on the over riders and fitting and wiring in the rear light clusters. It all went very well until I couldn’t find 2 of the 4 screws that hold the light clusters on. I ordered 4 shiny new ones from Canley Classics.
The back end is starting to come together and I’m almost pleased with it. Well, almost pleased enough to enthuse me to carry on anyway.
To be continued…
By Mike Peake
Lunch in the Fleece was excellent, and a chance to ooh and ahh over the fantastic roads and incredible scenery that Phil had found for us. Tosh also decided that enough was enough and was going to take the Sunbeam back to the campsite by the most direct and least hilly route possible and would hopefully see us there. The brotherhood bond Tosh and I had formed in the face of death that morning was only so strong, so I wished him luck and jumped into Brian’s Triumph. As Tosh turned left out of the pub, Phil was heard to mutter “but we’re taking the most direct route back and the whole area is very hilly. It’s the Peak district.” “and why is he turning left?”
The rest of us mounted up for our next stage and the long climb up to Holme Moss for an ice cream. This leg was surprisingly uneventful in terms of drama and trauma but the scenery was beautiful and the road fantastic. Brian was keeping me entertained with tales of his youth spent in this area. Tales like “Eeeee, when I were t’ lad, all this was completely flat. God hadn’t got around to making it yet.” And “I survived the Great Flood by climbing up Holme Moss and sitting it out. It was actually here where Noah came ashore and I was able to meet him off the boat. His wife was something I can tell you!”
As we all pulled into the busy Holme Moss car park, the views took our breath away. What an incredible place. It didn’t stop us mobbing the ice cream van though as everyone knows, the view is always better when you’re licking a 99.
As I’ve said, the views were stunning. However Shiny Paul Shiny was most perturbed. Firstly, the “viewing frame” left there for tourists to take pictures through wasn’t shiny enough so he spent an hour polishing it. Then he realised that a young family, with their picnic all laid out on a blanket would be in his picture if he took it through the now shiny frame. Now most people would have tried to angle the camera to try not to get them in or just taken the photo with them in it. It’s not as if they were ugly or anything. But no. This wasn’t good enough for Shiny Paul Shiny. Apparently, they weren’t shiny enough. Bold as brass, he went over and asked them to move. Amazingly, instead of telling him where to go before inserting the “frame” where it would cause maximum discomfort, they actually apologised and moved! Shiny Paul Shiny got his photo.
Not long after this, we were all rather surprised to see a rather dishevelled, frazzled, harassed, and frustrated Tosh pulling into the car park muttering “Apparently, this is the most direct route back and the whole area is very hilly. It’s the Peak District.” He then got out, slammed the door and went full “Basil Fawlty” on the Sunbeam.
After we calmed him down with a 99 he decided that he would abandon the Sunbeam where it was and recover later with the trailer. The Sunbeam and Tosh had clearly fallen out. Eric on the other hand wouldn’t hear of abandoning the car in such an unsecured manner and insisted on staying there and acting as body guard.
The next leg was the home stretch. I was in my favourite non-Herald Triumph with Brian, Young Paul Cheetham was with Kurt in the only functioning Brooks car left, the Rover P6. Tosh, not content to have escaped the evil clutches of the Sunbeam unscathed, decided to take his life in his hands again by getting into the Metro with Lincoln.
It became apparent that Phil was now of the mind-set that he had put a lot of work, time and effort into the tour notes and he was going to make us read the bloody things if it killed him. So he set off at warp speed in Big Rov. Not to be out-done and determined NOT to read the tour notes, most of the tourists tried to keep up. Nick and Jo obviously had no trouble holding pace in the 7.2l Jensen and were vastly entertained by the antics of Lincoln’s Metro with two great big fatblokes in it as it bounced all over the road and did it’s very best to remain mostly airborne. Bit of a hooligan is our Lincoln.
Brian and I had a more relaxed drive back enjoying the views and the car while Brian continued to regale me with tales of his youth back at the dawn of time.
We arrived back at the campsite after an eventful, and now I am not staring death in the face, I’d even go so far as to say enjoyable day.
We were greeted by a very smug and proud looking Graham who was telling everyone who stood still for more than a nano second that it was “years and years since I’ve towed anything with a rope and look, we made it back here all safe and sound!” he didn’t stop smiling. The smoke and occasional flame still rising from Henry’s brakes and a trembling Gus sat curled up and gibbering in the corner of the Coleman shelter, provided all the proof needed that it had indeed, been “Years and years” since Graham had towed anything with a rope.
There was no time for me to rest or take the micky out of Gus for having to suffer the indignity of being towed back to the campsite. No. Apparently it was far too time-consuming for Tosh to pack up the camper to take the trailer, and my Honda was the only other tow bar equipped modern there. The trailer was hooked up and Gus and I were despatched back to Holme Moss to recover “THE EVIL ONE”. Tosh shouted “you don’t need me do you?” as he sat down, opened one of Nick’s beers and waved us off.
We were soon done though. 30 minutes to drive there, 20 to load up “THE EVIL ONE” and another 30 minute drive back to the campsite with Eric, “THE EVIL ONE’s” bodyguard, trying to keep up.
Meanwhile, back at the campsite, in an effort to give credence to his excuse that “overheating” was causing him to drive his Jensen like he stole it, Nick had the bonnet up and was moving his hands around pretending to “fix it”.
He “claims” that he traced the source of his “overheating” to one of the fans not operating. He went on to “claim” that he traced the source of the non-functioning fan to a dodgy connection which he “fixed” by tightening up the crimps. His most ludicrous claim of all though was that he did this all by himself with no one helping at all.
As no one has ever seen Nick with anything other than beer in his hand and certainly never “tools” I really don’t think this tale has any credibility at all and Nick just likes driving like a hooligan. There aren’t even any photos of him pretending to do this! So, next time Nick, photos or it didn’t happen.
Not long after Gus, Eric and I returned with “THE EVIL ONE”, Gar Cole arrived in his rather splendid Mk1 Mondeo. After spending time oohing and aaahhing over the new addition to Gar’s fleet, it became apparent that, to our utter dismay, Old Mother Cole’s restaurant wasn’t going to open. What were us starving waifs to do to stop us fading away with hunger? Well, we went to the pub just 200 yards away.
Having enjoyed one of the driest warmest sunniest days for forever, not 30 minutes after Gar arrived, guess what? Yes, it started to rain!! Proof positive that Gar is THE RAIN MAN!!
A pleasant evening of chat, good food, ale and laughter ensued before we headed back to the campsite to continue the party. However, all the near-death experiences of the day had taken it out of me and I headed for an early night at about 11pm. Phil also announced the intention of an early night but managed to get a bit delayed. Thus proving that Phil is the bad influence and not me.
Sunday morning and I was up early (Phil wasn’t) for bacon and to put my tent away. We said goodbye to several tourists but Phil had planned a trip to the Kelham Island Museum which is home to the River Don Steam engine, one of the most powerful steam engines ever made. Those of us remaining set off for Sheffield. I was riding shotgun in John Dickson’s rather lovely Austin A55 Cambridge and Shiny Paul was in Henry. Gus had got him running again overnight.
All was fine and uneventful until we reached the busiest roundabout in the centre of Sheffield when Henry choose that very moment to break down yet again. Shiny Paul and I pushed Henry off the roundabout and into the side street. The trouble was, Henry is so light that we ended up pushing him at bit of a run, which as you can imagine was quite distressing for me and several bystanders.
SEM was still a no-show and Gus failed miserably in his attempts to revive Henry. Phil was keen to get to the museum so as not to miss the steam engine running and said “We’re only 100 yards or so from the museum, lets push Henry there” before quickly jumping into Big Rov and rushing away. This left Just Shiny Paul and I to push Henry.
Shiny Paul soon had the car to the speed of a fast Jog. I did a bit of a “Dad Run” to show willing but decided that Shiny Paul had it handled so jumped into the Mondeo’s passenger seat. I have to say, I’m quite glad I did as Phil’s “100 yards or so” turned out to be at least ¾ of a mile and Shiny Paul looked a little more shiny with sweat and was blowing quite heavily at the end. We’d all made it though and went for a potter about in the museum.
Kelham Island Museum is a fantastic place and absolutely worth the visit. I won’t go into details as the blog is already quite long enough and if Windy Woodward still reads these on the toilet, he’ll be giving himself piles by now. All the details can be found here on the Museum’s website. As I say, well worth the visit. I will leave you with some photos and a short video of the River Don engine running.
A word of caution. If Shiny Paul Shiny had brought his shiny MGB GT, he would have died in shock. All the cars were covered in a measles rash of tiny oil droplets from the running engine. Worth it though
Gus finally got Henry running again, sort of, and we said our goodbyes and all headed our own way home.
So it just remains to thank Phil and Loraine Allin for all their hard work in putting such a great weekend together and to thank my fellow tourists for the laughs, fun, entertainment, friendship and blog material!! Above all though, thanks to Tosh Brooks for keeping “THE EVIL ONE” mostly under control and keeping me not dead.
If you want to follow in our footsteps, Phil’s beautifully created tour notes can be read or downloaded below.
Thanks for reading and see you at the next one.
By Mike Peake.
Now that you know everybody, it is time to regale you with tales of our day.
I’d blagged a seat in Tosh’s beautiful and innocent looking Sunbeam Talbot, the perfect car for a hot sunny day’s touring. Or so we thought. Young Paul Cheetham was in Henry and Shiny Paul Shiny was in Richie’s Mk2 Escort. Already a very shiny and lovely car, but Shiny Paul was up all night making it even shinier before he agreed to be seen in it.
Graham had positioned himself perfectly to video us all leaving the campsite. Unfortunately, we can’t show you the video. Let’s just say that Graham’s grasp of technology isn’t up to scratch. However, I’ll let him tell you in his own words why you are not watching a lovely video of all the lovely classic cars leaving the lovely campsite.
See what I mean about his grasp of tech? Let’s give him a break though. After all, his Rover had tried to run him over again this morning.
Apart from Graham’s “technical hitch” the tour actually started out surprisingly well. Clearly, everyone had read at least the 1st line of the tour notes and just for a change, we all managed to actually turn right out of the campsite to drive down a lovely if extremely narrow lane. The Bentley and the Jensen only just fitted but it gave us all a chance to chat to the dog walkers and cyclists we passed trying to go the other way.
As I said, it was all going perfectly and continued to do so right up to the second junction we came to. This junction turned out to be a bit of a tricky Johnnie. You see, we had to turn left onto the main road and then immediately right into another country lane. 3 or 4 of us made the turn but then it all went wrong. Mick and Gill missed the immediate right turn even though Eric was sat at the junction waiting for them. The rest of the convoy blindly followed Mick’s Victor the wrong way.
I put forward the theory that far from doing his taxi duties as claimed, Gar - in an effort to distract from his embarrassing shenanigans on the last tour - was in fact in the area and trying to sabotage us by turning signs around and disguising junctions with Wile-E-Coyote painted scenery cloths. However, as it wasn’t raining, my theory was quickly dismissed and try as I might, I couldn’t blame Gar for this one.
Blocking the country lane completely, the small remaining convoy waited while Phil frantically tried contacting the others by phone, text, messenger, video chat, carrier pigeon and smoke signals. He successfully managed to get in touch with all except Mick and Gill and our red-faced fellow tourists corrected their course and one by one caught us up. As Mick and Gill were maintaining radio silence, we all decided to press on.
Tosh and I had been loving our drive in the Sunbeam so far. With its low sides and open top, the feeling of freedom, the wind in our hair and the panoramic views was just perfection. However, during this leg, the Sunbeam’s mood changed significantly and she started trying to kill us. It wasn’t just Graham's Rover with murderous intent now.
The Sunbeam has rod-operated brakes and for some reason they decided to apply the brakes on the right side much sooner than the left, resulting in a severe and dramatic lurch toward the middle of the road every time Tosh applied them. This was somewhat disconcerting to both of us and to Nick and Jo who were following. The extreme hills in the Peak District did nothing to alleviate our peril either. However, we made it to the 1st official stop at Stanage Edge Long Causeway car park, where sausage plait and veggy plait - especially for Lorraine who doesn’t like sausage - was served.
Phil finally got a hold of Mick and Gill who were still MIA. They had managed to find their way to our next official stop at Langsett Reservoir car park and would wait for us there. Chats had, photos taken, view and snacks enjoyed, it was time to set off again for the next leg. Tosh and I gingerly seated ourselves back in the Sunbeam and after a quick prayer to the automotive gods, we set off.
Not only was the Sunbeam growing ever more determined to kill us, its plucky little 1150cc engine was starting to struggle to haul herself, a fatbloke and an even fatter bloke up some of the steeper uphill sections and understandably Tosh was taking the downhill sections quite slowly too. This caused Nick and Jo in their 7.2 litre Jensen to get a bit bored and as soon as they could, they blazed past us leaving us choking in the cloud of unburned hydrocarbons and road dust. Nick later tried to claim that this rudeness was due to the Jensen overheating at such slow speeds.
It was shortly after Nick’s irresponsible overtake that the Sunbeam pulled out all the stops in her efforts to end our lives. After a loud clunk, Tosh’s foot went to the floor as we were approaching a tight left hand bend on a downhill section. I have no idea how Tosh managed to get us round that bend as I had my eyes tightly shut and was screaming like a girl. The trouble was, so did Tosh. We made it though and proceeded even more cautiously using engine braking and what was left of the brakes. The good news though, we weren’t veering sharply into the middle of the road anymore. Our slow pace meant we got a bit left behind. I politely declined Tosh’s kind offer to drive the Sunbeam as he seemed to be having so much fun and concentrated on reading the excellent tour notes to ensure we got to our next official stop where we vowed to make Super Enthusiast Man (Gus) sort things out!
After we lead our short 3-car convoy into the Langsett Reservoir car park and had our various fingers prised off the steering wheel and the passenger’s “OMG I’M GOING TO DIE” handle, we discovered to our dismay, that Super Enthusiast Man wasn’t there.
Henry was having some serious ignition woes and had broken down en route. The trouble was SEM wasn’t there either, so Gus was having to try and sort it out himself. (My money is on both the condenser in the distributor and the spare being duff but bearing in mind I’m a bumbling incompetent fool and Gus isn’t, I wasn’t brave enough to tell him my opinion.) After a considerable amount of fettling, it was apparent that Henry wasn’t going to return to road under his own steam, It was decided that Graham would tow Gus back to the campsite on a rope.
Next was a short hop to the Fleece pub where Phil had booked lunch for us all, and let them know we were running a bit late. Minus our casualties and after Tosh and I had stopped trembling, we set off. Tosh had recommended that I get a safer ride in another car, but when two chaps face death together that many times, a bond forms and I couldn’t let my brother face the danger alone. That and it was only a short trip, so I climbed in and resumed my fierce grip on the handle.
The trip was almost uneventful. Uneventful that is until the clutch went too and we could no longer engage low gears quickly enough for engine braking. Only the gods know how we made it to the pub with our lives and the Sunbeam’s paintwork intact, but we did. In fact, we were even in time to partake in a couple of stiff medicinals to calm our nerves before a jolly nice lunch was served.
To be continued…
By Mike Peake
Even though the weather and dodgy knees meant that Poppy was still out of action, our return to the Peak district was very much looked forward to. Phil Allin had done such a great job for our visit here last year and made such a fuss that he had barely touched the surface of the great roads available, that we made him do it again.
Whilst obviously disappointed in not taking Poppy, I have to say I didn’t miss the game of Tetris that is always required when packing all the camping gear into her diminutive frame. The CR-V swallowed it all with ease and space to spare. However, 5 hours in the office had to be endured before I could escape north.
1PM finally arrived. Gladys the satnav was now telling me it would be a 4 hour trip along the A429, A46, M69 and M1 instead of the 3 hour trip on the M5, M42, M1 it was telling me we would take earlier in the week. Apparently Friday traffic meant this route would take 5 hours. I didn’t care though. I was in the mile-munching air-conditioned comfort of my CR-V with the absolute certainty of arriving on site with absolutely nothing blog-worthy to report. Which I did at 17.05. Exactly when Gladys said I would. Oh the dull predictability of modern motoring eh? Wonderful isn’t it?
Many of the crew were already there. The Coleman shelter already erected and full of crew members and Gus and Tosh were fiddling with the brakes and engine on the Talbot. Apparently, it needed new spark plugs as the engine was running roughly so Tosh was dispatched to find them. A forlorn hope we all thought. However, just down the road was one of those blasts from the past petrol stations that was also a proper old school garage with none of this self-serve nonsense. So Tosh showed him the duff spark plug. After quite a while rummaging in shelves of old boxes, a pleased shout was heard and the proprietor returned with a set of matching plugs. Not only that but when price was discussed, the chap in greasy overalls replied, “Well, when I put them in the box, they probably cost me a quid each so how does that sound?” Well of course, this was music to a Yorkshire man’s ears and the deal was done and the Talbot’s engine was running smoothly… and innocently…
Such good service deserves a shout out so if your in the area, this chap is brilliant.
I wasted no time at all in pitching my traveling gentlemen’s abode that was to be my home for the weekend. Yes, it is still the same tent I’d used in Snowdon as the people that weren’t in Boston or Somerset needed assuring. Although I did need to borrow some pegs from the Allins after I’d bent all mine on the stony Somerset soil the last time I’d used it. I could have taken the caravan as I was in the CRV, however, I still hadn’t sorted out the road electrics after the Cotswold tour.
My "friends" put my tent up for me in Snowdon as I was arriving late (picture on the left). How it should look in the Peaks when I put it up. So, never let "Mates" put your tent up!
Home for the weekend was now sorted so I cadged a cold one from Phil (thanks Phil) and joined everyone gathered around the BBQ. An evening of serious cake and alcohol consumption ensued along with much jollity and laughter and getting to know some new faces.
Oh the Yoof of today!
Nooooooooooo,,, Please don't do the Full Monty! Please!
It was all going so well until Phil bought out a bottle of Red Stag which was surprisingly nice and went down far too easily. Our uncouth Yorkshiremen caused utter outrage by mixing it with coke, but what can you say apart from “Tha’s from t’Yorkshire tha knows”?
It all got a bit blurry after this but I’m pretty sure we were all returned to the comfort or otherwise of our beds by about 2 AM.
Next morning, everyone was up and about and all bright and breezy without a hint of a hangover on anyone. Well, after a truckload of bacon was consumed there wasn’t a hint of a hangover on anyone.
Phil handed out the rather fine tour notes and even finer tour plaque to everyone and we were ready for the off. Well almost. We had to wait for Phil’s Dad to return from the toilet block.
So while we wait, let me introduce you to the cars on tour.
Mick and Gill Taylor and Lexy the big soppy German Shepherd actually came back after the Cotswolds so they must have enjoyed themselves and hadn’t been scared away. Mick bought a different Vauxhall Victor, unrestored and gorgeous (the Victor, Not Mick!)
The ever up for a laugh and a tour Brooks brothers were there of course. Tosh in the deceptively innocent and lovely looking Sunbeam Talbot and Gus in the ridiculously fun Henry.
Kurt and Lee had blagged Tosh’s Rover P6 2000.
Phil, Lorrain and Lucas Allin with Big Rov and Phil’s Dad.
Nick Arthur and Jo Tait with the thundering Jensen Interceptor.
Old Father Time AKA Brian Allison. Brian is current custodian of my Triumph 2000, He’s leaving it to me in his will. It can’t be long now. I mean, even God isn’t as old as Brian. (Edit: Nooooooo! He’s selling my inheritance!)
Keith McGovern and Mette Cooper were also new faces to touring with the group. Keith has been very active on the Facebook page but hasn’t joined us in the real world before. However, he was so keen to join us that he even went out to buy a car just so he would have an excuse. A lovely patinated Hillman Minx was purchased for this event.
Our ever-present mad Scotsman Eric Dalton Joined us in his Rover VDP having rolled it all the way down from deepest darkest Scotlandshire to save on petrol (It is all downhill you know. Look at a globe if you don’t believe me.)
Being fairly local to them, our resident aging hippies joined us again and it was good to see them. Richie Moore surprised us by not bringing his gloriously crusty Mk1 Granada but turned out in a rather lovely Mk 2 Ford Escort Ghia. Lefty Wright was in his very well-travelled LHD German spec Mk 2, 2 door Granada, in that well known Ford colour “Eye-searing Yellow”. Top notch car.
Lincoln Hunt with his very bouncy Metro.
Possibly the most luxurious car to attend a tour. Ever. Chris and Ann Howarth in THE BENTLEY. (That's MY inheritance - Ed)
John Dickson's Stunning Austin A55 Cambridge
Steve and Jane Hancock in their beautiful Opel Manta.
Finally, Graham Adams and Sue Clamp in the very very late 1999 Rover 75 that seems to really, really hate Graham. It tried to kill him yet again.
Shiny Paul Clappison refused to bring his shiny MGB GT on the grounds it might get less shiny, Young Paul Cheetham forgot his car altogether and Poppy is undergoing works so the 3 of us planned to car hop.
To be continued...
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