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...
By Mike Peake
Part 4?? Part 4?? Sorry about this, but this really is the last part. I promise.
The eventful and unintentionally long drive from the campsite to Caen Hill locks and the stop there meant it was already 2 o’clock - the time I had roughly planned to be leaving Avebury after having our lunch there. So a change of plan was improvised and we set off for Silbury Hill.
Not long after we left, having driven through Devizes, we got another phone call from the back of the convoy to advise of another casualty. Now, some of you may remember from the Isle of Wight tour that Tosh and Gus ran out of petrol in their Rover P4. I may have mentioned it once or twice in my blog.
Anyway, after that experience, you would have thought they would have learned a lesson wouldn’t you? Apparently not. Tosh had run out of petrol in the P6 Rover. Topped up from a jerry can, we made our way to the next petrol station which was just down the road. Other, sensible people also topped up their tanks as well as Tosh. Gar wasn’t going to, but I forced him.
The rest of the trip to Silbury Hill was brief and uneventful and everyone pulled into the small car park for a short photo stop.
Silbury Hill is the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe. Probably built over a short period between about 2470 and 2350 BC, it is part of the Avebury World Heritage Site. On learning this, Gar said “Hold my beer!”
Next on the agenda was Avebury. Avebury henge and stone circles are among the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. Built and much altered during the Neolithic period, roughly between 2850 BC and 2200 BC, the henge survives as a huge circular bank and ditch, encircling an area that includes part of Avebury village. Within the henge is the largest stone circle in Britain - originally of about 100 stones - which in turn encloses two smaller stone circles.
It is a spectacular site and a great place to get some fantastic photos of our cars driving past the great stones. So, before we left the car park at Silbury our official photographer, Young Paul Cheetham was given the brief. He would be dropped off as we drove through the stone circle the 1st time and take pictures of the cars driving passed the stones as we drove back through.
What I had envisioned was something like the next picture with our cars passing on the road. There might even be photos good enough for next year’s calendar.
So, young Paul was thrown out of a car, camera in hand as we went through the 1st time. He had plenty of time to position himself while we drove out of the village and circles, turned around and came back through enjoying the magnificence of this mystical landscape. The last car through even remembered to stop and pick him up again unlike a similar episode at Chatsworth house last year.
Mission accomplished! Or so I thought… here are the pictures Young Paul took.
He’s a blithering idiot isn’t he? Not a blooming stone in sight. I know, I should have known better than to rely on him after his failure to get Chatsworth House in the pictures of our cars passing Chatsworth House last year. (Idiots! I’m surrounded by idiots!)
The next leg of the tour took in one of my favourite local roads from West Kennet, through Marlborough, and over the Downs to Hackpen Hill and Whitehorse, one of my favourite viewing points in Wiltshire. Pictures were taken of the cars with the lovely view behind them and chats were had before bumbling incompetence struck again. Graham managed to run himself over with his own car. Fortunately, he avoided serious injury.
This brush with death must have shaken Graham more than we thought though, because as we were leaving, it was only 2 Pants Perman’s lightning reflexes in selecting reverse and backing up faster than Graham was, that prevented the VDP wearing a nice new Rover 75 shaped bonnet ornament. Disaster and a new recipient of the “Kevin Crown” avoided, we pressed on with the tour which was taking 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 “It's ok. It's savable 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.
All that was left now was the last leg home to the camp site taking in one last photo stop at the lake where I used to take my girls to feed the ducks when Anita was asleep after working nights. It’s where one of my favourite pictures was taken and the subject of the painting that was my 50th birthday present from the group.
Back at the campsite and it was clear that everyone was tired and hungry after a long day. SEM went for a snooze while the rest of us pondered what to have for dinner. No one could be bothered going out again so the decision was taken to empty all the caravan fridges, chuck it on the Barbie and share the results.
After my 2nd intravenous Merlot fix, I came out of my caravan to find Phil at the BBQ prodding sausages with a really big fork. Foolishly, I decided to do the polite thing and see if Phil wanted any help - fully expecting him to say “No thanks Mike. I’ve got it, you’ve worked so hard to make a success of the tour you deserve to sit down with a large glass of Merlot.” However, to my utter horror he didn’t say that. He handed me the really big fork and sat down.
Well I didn’t know what to do, so I stood there and prodded a sausage or two. Anita was so shocked to see me stood at a BBQ that she took a photo and posted it in our family chat group. Sophie sent back a GIF of a caravan exploding.
One of the things in someone’s caravan was eggs and Tosh decided he was going to crack a couple onto the BBQ hotplate. I didn’t know what to do with them either. So I prodded them with the big fork too.
Now, if there is one thing Gus hates more than bumbling incompetence around a car, it’s bumbling incompetence around a BBQ. On seeing my performance he was out of his camper van in a flash. He snatched the really big fork from my hand and pushed me away towards my Merlot. When I sat down, I could see Gus, happily prodding away with the really big fork and muttering “Eee Ba Gum! Who puts eggs on a BBQ?” and “By ‘eck someone’s murdered these sausages!” as well as other Yorkshireese. Anyway, our improvised meal turned out to be delicious because of Gus’s culinary skills and we settled down to our final evening of laughing, eating and drinking.
When I looked out the caravan window the next morning, people were wandering around and starting to clear up. So I went outside to help take the Coleman down with the other chaps. Then I remembered that I still needed fix the caravan road lights. I was pretty sure that it was going to be the adapter that goes between the 13-pin socket on the car and the 7 pin plug on the caravan.
So, I decided to take a leaf out of Gar’s book. I got the adaptor out and stood there looking pathetic with a random tool vaguely pointing at the item I needed fixing. It worked a treat and Windy Woodward took the bait. Before I knew it, he had the adapter apart, exclaimed at the dreadful amount of bare wires showing, fixed it and put it back together.
We went to plug it into the car and caravan. It still didn’t work. Before I knew it, Windy was crawling all over the floor, looking for fuses, stripping out wires and prodding things with a multi meter.
It still didn’t work. It did work when we plugged the Zephyr directly in to the caravan though but my van is too big for the Zephyr to tow. So, Windy was back at it with Phil’s multi meter but it had us all completely baffled so we eventually gave up.
So, there ends this epic tale of Codgers in the Cotswolds. I hope you’re all still awake? Windy Woodward? If you sit there any longer, you’ll give yourself piles!
I have to say that as always, I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend with the chaps. It was great to see the new faces too, Mick and Gill and Brian and his wife. I really hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and that we will see you again at other events.
A huge thanks to everyone involved but especially to Phil Allin for the fantastic tour plaques and his last minute printing of the tour notes (although I guess he needn’t have bothered) as well as Bernard Owen and Windy Woodward for allowing Anita and me to clutter up their cars all weekend.
Also huge thanks to Gar for entertaining us with bumbling incompetence all weekend. Sorry, you seem to have been the butt of most of the jokes in this series of blogs. You know we love you really though. However, if you ever complain about herding cats on a tour again, well …..
Finally, if you want to know more or follow our footsteps through the Cotswolds, you could do worse than read the tour notes. It has step-by-step route guides and a little interesting information on the sites visited and passed on the tour. They are on our website under “Codgers do the Cotswolds Gallery".
In other words, will someone, anyone, please … READ THE BLOODY TOUR NOTES!!!
By Mike Peake
Believe it or not, I’ve still only got to Saturday evening even though I’m on Part 3, so buckle up. This is turning into a tale to rival War and Peace, in size if not the literary elegance. Someone warn Sarah Woodward that she won’t be using the bathroom anytime soon!
So, just to remind you, we’ve had a full day’s touring with its attendant mishaps and incompetent tourists who can’t follow instruction or even other cars and don’t fill up with petrol when they are supposed to. To say I was in desperate need of Merlot would be an understatement of the grossest proportions. So I went to set up an intravenous drip.
Whilst I was bracing myself after a rather frustrating day, Super Enthusiast Man (SEM) set about a more permanent fix to Nicks car. Apparently, it has something called and “exciter coil” which Nick was having trouble getting excited. A situation that his partner Jo says she is more than familiar with. Anyway, I have no idea what SEM did, but Nick headed off the campsite on Sunday morning with no trouble at all. (Edit: It was a bad crimp on the Exciter coil feed at the solenoid)
Nick’s coil wasn’t the only electrickery being fiddled with though. Two Pants Perman had bought an ignition amplifier kit with him to fit to Nelson. A process that seemed to require probes attached to a flappy needle, a flashy lighty thing and copious amounts of beer.
Whatever he did to it he seemed happy with it. SEM wasn’t happy at all though. His poor little crestfallen face had us all nearly in tears. You see a bonnet was open, an engine was being fettled and SEM wasn’t doing the fettling. He spent some time trying to peer over shoulders or squeeze between the bodies, but Two Pants Perman was having none of it and SEM sloped off to stare wistfully at his strangely unemployed tool box for 20 minutes before disappearing into his campervan.
With the car fettling finished for the evening it was time to fire up the BBQ. It seemed as though every pig in Gloucestershire was sacrificed to the automotive gods and cooked up by a newly invigorated Super Enthusiast Man, who was happier now he was needed again. Many beautifully cooked sausages, burgers chops steaks and even chicken made its way to our hungry tummies. There was even, dare I say, salad as there were ladies present. Oh, and there might have been just a little bit of beer, wine and cake.
Now, you may think that driving classic cars through the countryside and picturesque villages was reason enough for a get-together like this and you’d be right. However, we were also there to celebrate a birthday. Not just any birthday, but the Fiftieth birthday of stalwart member, generous group sponsor and all round top chap Phil Allin. Well we couldn’t let that go by could we? We’d all had a whip round and with the 50p raised we bought Phil a present from the group he does so much for. Sue Clamp whipped up a very fine Birthday cake too.
Gar sent off for the Heritage Certificate for Big Rov and had it framed along with photos of the car from previous tours and left two spaces free for Phil to add his favourite pictures from this tour. He seemed quite pleased with it. We didn’t leave Lorraine out either and bought her the new caravan that she has been badgering Phil for, for the last year.
Of course, we all had another fantastic night of it after this, especially when someone produced a large bottle of gin and led Phil and I astray again. I really don’t know why this keeps happening.
Sunday Morning dawned a bit grey but still warm enough for shorts. For some reason, everyone seemed a bit sluggish compared to the previous day but bacon helped the situation considerably.
We were down a bit on cars today as Nick had to return for a wedding, Mick and Gill were heading back to a previously booked car show as was Brian to a different car show and Berbo decided he’d rather be a passenger today, leaving 8 cars for the trip.
The selected departure time of 10am arrived and 7 of the cars were ready to go. But the Allins weren’t. Phil was claiming not to be hung over in the slightest and was trying to blame the family’s tardiness on poor Lucas taking too long in the shower. (Yes mate! We believe you!)
Despite knowing that everyone had been to Tesco last night where there is a big petrol station, I took the opportunity provided by the Allin’s lateness to check that everyone had fuel so we could miss this stop and try and catch up with the timetable. Everyone agreed that they had enough petrol for the day’s driving.
Finally, at 10.30, the Allins were ready and we all set off where it all went wrong immediately. Nelson refused to start. As if by magic, SEM appeared … instantly! With a great big grin on his face! SEM was cock-a-hoop to be elbows deep in Nelson’s engine bay after being excluded from last night’s fettling. SEM soon identified that a crimp on one of the new wires had missed the copper. Once fixed he took great joy in telling everyone that would listen that it wouldn’t have happened if SEM had been allowed to play in the first place. Finally, we could leave.
Now, if everyone had read the tour notes, they would have known that unlike Saturday, we were turning right out of the campsite.
Ian was lead car with Bernard, Anita and me as passengers. We turned right as did Darren, Tosh, Two Pants Perman and Gus all turned right. Then Gar arrived at the campsite entrance … and turned left! Graham turned left too and was chasing Gar and flashing his lights to advise him of his error. The Allins, who had read their tour notes turned right and phoned me to advise of the situation. We pulled to the side of the road in disbelief that it had all gone so wrong already. Henry, Gus’s JC Midge, was so disgusted that he blew his electrics again and coasted to a stop behind us.
By the time a suitably embarrassed Gar arrived trying to blame Graham for the mistake, SEM had Henry running again so we set off, driving past the big Tesco with the petrol station that everybody said they didn’t need.
A pleasant drive through the countryside ensued. We did encounter a couple of light showers but nothing like the apocalyptic weather we get on Gar’s tours and we were able to laugh at the Zephyr’s vacuum powered windscreen wipers. Anita and I were making the most of the Zephyrs gloriously comfy back seat. (No! Not like that! For goodness sake, you filthy minded lot!)
We had almost made it to Calne, the halfway point for this leg of the drive, before we had a panicked call from Gar. Yes, he needed fuel. It would appear that Nelson has developed a thirst … and Gar hadn’t topped up at Tesco last night! Fortunately, there was another big Tesco coming up. While Gar topped off his gas guzzling monster, the rest of us took the opportunity to visit the facilities or buy a coffee or stand around chatting in the picturesque setting of … a bloomin’ Tesco car park!
Once we were all ready again we set off. We’d got all the way to the second roundabout on the Calne by pass (about 100m) when the call came down the line that Henry was on fire! Well of course we immediately turned around and rushed back to help. When we arrived back at the Tesco car park, we discovered that “fire” was a slight exaggeration. Gus had spotted a wisp of smoke coming from under the dash. Gus quickly rewired something and we were off again.
The route after Calne took us along the A4 to Derry Hill, then left down the A342. So far so good. From the A342 Devizes road was a right turn into a single track country road. We turned right, Darren turned right, Tosh turned right, Gus turned right 2 Pants Perman turned right and the Allins turned right. Gar went straight on followed by Graham. Lorraine phoned Gar to tell him of this error and they waited at the junction so Gar would know which one to take when he eventually came back. The rest of us stopped and waited blocking the track to all but cyclists and the odd horse rider, which Windy tried to recruit.
Eventually, Gar and Graham joined the back of the convoy. However, they’d somehow achieved this without being spotted by the Allins. Phone signal was sketchy so Graham had to go back and find them. Once we were all together again we set off towards the beautiful village of Lacock. Anita and I were a bit worried that Lacock would be closed to traffic as it often is due to it being a popular site for filming period dramas. It was all open though and we were able to enjoy the village in all its glory before heading for our first scheduled stop of the day at Caen Hill Locks… Finally!
Caen Hill (pronounced ‘cane’ ), is one of the longest continuous flight of locks in the country. Opened in 1810, it has a total of 29 locks with a rise of 237 feet over 2 miles with a 1 in 44 gradient for anyone who's counting! The 16 hill locks are designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument – the same level of heritage protection given to Stonehenge and was the final section of the Kennet and Avon Canal to be built. The locks became derelict after the Second World War, but were restored and reopened by the Queen in August 1990.
It was the perfect place to stop and watch the narrow boats traverse this marvel of Regency engineering. (even if one of them did smash into one of the gates that the pilot hadn’t noticed wasn’t fully open. Fortunately, the boat just bounced off.) It was also the perfect place to enjoy some sausage plait and a rock cake or two.
To be continued …
By Mike Peake
When everyone finally bothered to turn up at the car park in Bourton on the Water, we set off again. Well we tried, but we had our 1st casualty of the tour. Nick’s Borgward was dead. He had all his dash lights but nothing happened when he turned the key, even when a box of new electricity was fitted.
Of course Super Enthusiast Man was straight in there and decided that the quick fix to get it going was best and stuck a great big screwdriver into the engine bay. There was a huge spark, a bang and SEM was looking a bit singed around the edges, but the car was running. Nick was advised not to turn it off again until we got back to the camp site.
Anita and I had switched over to Windy Woodward’s Gorgeous Zephyr and were followed by Nick in his Borgward. Two cars that you’d have thought to be gloriously conspicuous among the modern traffic wouldn’t you? Well apparently not.
At the give way sign at the end of Bourton on the Water, we continued straight on as instructed in the notes and Nick continued to follow. The convoy had got a bit broken up with the busy traffic so the Zephyr and the Borgward pulled to the side to wait for everyone to catch up. We waited and we waited. It turned out that everyone else followed Gar when he turned left having not spotted the two most conspicuous cars ever had gone straight on.
The problem was further compounded when Gar stopped for fuel that I thought he had got already. Some of the convoy stopped with him but Bernard, 2 Pants Perman and the Allins blatted past and ended up on the A429 headed back to Cirencester.
It was about this time that I was getting numerous phone calls from Gar and the Allins all telling me something had gone wrong. However as we couldn’t work out where everyone was, I calmly decided that it would be best if we all went our separate ways and regroup at Burford.
So Ian, with Anita and I on board and followed by Nick, continued along the prescribed route enjoying the lovely country lanes and the picturesque Rissingtons, Barringtons and Taynton before driving through Burford.
The Allins, when they realised the error, actually READ the tour notes and managed to find their way back to prescribed route enjoying the lovely country lanes and the picturesque Rissingtons, Barringtons and Taynton before driving through Burford.
The rest went down the main A361 straight to Burford the boring way. Well, all except Bernard who was still on the A429 being chased by Two Pants Perman who was trying to attract Bernard’s attention to tell him of the errors.
Eventually, we all met up again in a lay-by at the top of the town and continued with the tour taking us to Lechlade. Ian offered to let me drive the Zephyr for the next leg and on hearing this, Anita decided to return to Bernard’s Maxi.
Imagine my horror when I discovered that Ian still hasn’t fixed his car and put the gearstick in its proper place! Ian had the patience of a saint though and tried to guide me through the complexities of a column change. Despite this, almost every gear change was proceeded by fumbling around in the air looking for the gearstick in the correct place and swearing when it still wasn’t there.
Frustration not helped by a micky taking Yorkshire man beeping his horn and shouting obscenities behind me!
Unfortunately, the scheduled stop at Riverside Park in Lechlade had to be abandoned because someone had inconsiderately organised a music festival on the site so an impromptu detour through Highworth and Hannington was required. We did see a Routemaster in Lechlade though which everyone asked if I’d seen. They all seemed to know that my Grandad drove them too. I wonder how they all found out?
Anyway, after Hannington, another grass verge provided the location for our afternoon photo shoot. It was also the location where Nick forgot he wasn’t supposed to turn his engine off and required the use of SEM’s special starter key again.
Extremely rare footage of Nick driving PAST a pub ... twice!
The next leg of the run was back to the big Tescos to stock up on bbq items, alcohol and fuel for team. No sooner had we set off than the call came down the line that we had a breakdown and as the number 1 rule of our tours is “no one is left behind”, we all went back to laugh at the latest victim. In fact, Gar was in such a hurry to turn around, he broke Nelson’s steering wheel!
Imagine our delight to find that Tosh had broken Henry! Yes SEM’s very own car had actually failed to proceed. We were astonished and of course, very sympathetic. Apparently, the fuse supplying the fuel pump had blown. Needless to say, SEM had it sorted in no time although he denies using rolled up tinfoil to fix it.
The rest of the run back to Tesco was uneventful and all the cars were soon packed to the gunwales with supplies and fuel and it was time to head back to the campsite. I’d managed to blag a drive in Henry for this bit but he broke down again almost as soon as we left the store. The tinfoil… er… I mean the replacement fuse had blown again. SEM was my passenger and he leapt into action and had it going again apparently without resorting to a nail.
The rest of the drive back to the campsite was fantastic! Henry is a ridiculous amount of fun to drive and it took ages for my silly grin to subside.
Finally, we all arrived back to the campsite tired but happy. The day’s fun wasn’t over yet though. Not by a long way.
To Be Continued…
By Mike Peake.
As seems to be the norm for me these days, it didn’t start well. Poppy wasn’t ready! Despite my best efforts and working my little socks off, it would appear that along with the delays due to duff primer, I had grossly underestimated the time it would take me to do what is becoming the “epic” re-spray project. I still had to 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. All this in the 3 evenings left before the Cotswold tour.
To say I was disappointed is somewhat of an understatement but Mrs FB and I resigned ourselves to leading the tour in in the Honda. So, Friday PM after work, we loaded all of Anita’s baking into the car and went to collect our caravan from its temporary storage at the in-law’s, hooked up and away we went.
Things didn’t get any better. Just as we were pulling onto the dual carriageway, all the road lights on the caravan failed and ALL the alarms in the car went off. The CRV was telling me that ABS, power steering and tyre inflation systems among others were all on the fritz. However, this being a very local meet for me, we only had about 10 miles to the campsite, so I pressed on.
As we pulled onto the site where Gar was, it started to rain, proving without doubt that it is Gar who causes this. Anyway, we arrived safely and pitched the van with the others on the rather steep hill, connected gas water and electricity - and things didn’t get any better. We didn’t have mains electric in the van.
Turned out the breakers in the van and at the supply had tripped out. So, I switched them back on and they immediately tripped out again. What followed was a lengthy period of trial and error with plenty of advice and suggestions from our fellow campers and the site owner's 13 year old son. Despite this, we narrowed it down to the water heater in our van and isolated it. We now had power but had to resign ourselves to a weekend of cold water. Fortunately the shower block facilities were excellent.
Finally, we were settled in and things finally got better. Well for us anyway. Fellow members joined us over the afternoon including Andy Perman in his VDP Allegro all the way from Portsmouth. He’d had a very good trip up until he went to check in at the hotel and discovered he’d left his bag with all his clothes and weekend provisions back at home. Of course, when he told us this we were all very sympathetic and didn’t take the mickey in the slightest. Andy was all for heading home to get his bag when I pointed out that there was a Tesco Extra just down the road and for the cost of the additional fuel required for the return trip to Portsmouth, he could buy all he would need for the weekend.
So we jumped in the VDP and I directed him to the big shop where he bought 2 pairs of Y-fronts, shower gel toothpaste and a toothbrush and returned to the campsite where he continued to enjoy everyone’s sympathy. I have no Idea how it happened, but somehow, during all this sympathy, he gained the nick name “Two Pants Perman”.
An evening of jollity and a little bit of drinking ensued during which we were regaled with the shenanigans that occurred before we arrived. Graham had also bought his cocktail making supplies but despite this, we all still had fun.
The shenanigans? Well, It became apparent that we weren’t the only ones that had had a bad start. Nelson’s downpipe had cracked and fallen away from the manifold. Gar, in his usual, lovable way, had bodged up a repair with coke can and some string. He arrived at the campsite, pitched Doris and then stood around looking forlorn, waiting for someone to take pity on him. To be honest, I thought he was pushing his luck this time as a proper repair would require the use of a welder and who is going to have one of them in a traveling tool kit? Well of course, Super Enthusiast Man did, didn’t he!
Nelson was put up on the trailer ramps And SEM leapt into action and had the job done in very short order. They did have a bit of a panic when they were caught red handed by the campsite owners and expected expulsion from the site. However, the owners were great and were merely interested in what was going on.
On another note, my plan to lead in the Honda was quickly and rudely rejected by the gang and we were ordered to blag places in one of the classics.
Saturday morning dawned dry and warm. Believe it or not, it was actually warm enough for shorts! Again proving that it is Gar’s influence that causes the rain.
Everyone was up and happy and ready for the off and the non-campers (the posh lot) had arrived so let’s introduce them and their cars.
There was also Graham and Sue in their very late 1999 Rover 75 and of course, Paul Cheetham, Anita and I who had forgotten to bring a classic car.
Route notes were distributed to everyone (available here) and despite previously making it clear that everyone needed a full tank as there were no petrol stations until Bourton on the Water, I checked with everyone that they were OK for fuel and that everyone had been to the toilet. Everyone agreed that they didn’t need the toilet and that they all had plenty of fuel, so we set off. Bernard had drawn the short straw so Anita and I piled into his Maxi with all our supplies.
Now Gar has often complained that leading a car tour with our lot is like trying to herd cats and now I knew what he meant. Who do you think was the worst culprit? Yes, our glorious Fat Controller himself, Gar Cole. Not 15 minutes of wending our way through pretty countryside and we get a call from Gar telling us to ask Bernard “Stirling Moss” Owen to slow down a bit as we were losing people off the back of the convoy. “Oh and when is there a fuel stop as I could use one?” I refrained from screaming down the phone at him and we dropped from 50 to 45 and everyone caught up.
A grassy verge just past the picturesque village of Naunton provided a suitable place to stop, hand out sausage plait, take some pictures, have a chat and recruit a passing cyclist who’d stopped to chat. Gar also enquired further into when we would get to a fuel station. Of course it was also time to squeeze the two fatblokes into the smallest car on tour and that honour fell to poor old Henry.
I hadn’t driven the actual route for the next stage and we came upon Lower Slaughter from an unexpected direction but we managed to detour slightly to go back to Upper Slaughter and as Lower Slaughter was so pretty, we went through it again. Which was of course completely intentional and I don’t think anyone noticed.
We continued on to the beautiful town of Bourton on the Water passing a couple of petrol stations on the way where I expected Gar to top up and catch us up at the British Legion Car Park for which the post code was included in the tour notes for his sat nav.
I’d set aside a couple of hours for everyone to wander round the quintessentially Cotswold town, take in the wonderful and highly recommended car museum, have a paddle and get some lunch before meeting back up at the cars.
However, lunch for certain members of the group turned out to be a lavish 7 course meal which caused them to be somewhat late in returning to the cars. We had plenty of time though and I managed to remain completely cool.
To Be Continued…
PS. Rather alarmingly, I found out where Windy Woodward goes to read my blogs. Time to flush and leave the bathroom Ian!
By Mike Peake
As soon as I got home with my new primer kit, I was back in my tent. Poppy was tack clothed and panel wiped yet again. The primer was mixed 3:1 as per the instructions and filtered into the top of the gun. With great trepidation, I pointed the gun at yet another piece of cardboard and pulled the trigger….
YES! Success! An almost perfect spray pattern on the first attempt! A slight tweak on the fan, a slight lowering of the pressure and I was good to go. I pointed the gun at the car yelled “Tally Ho! Bandits at six o’clock” and off I went. I entered a Zen-like trance of concentration and thought of nothing else but my spraying technique. It was very therapeutic until the tank ran dry. I topped it back up and vowed to check the level more often. That bit will flat out I’m sure.
After what felt like an hour to my head, 3 days to my knees but was actually about 3 hours, Poppy was now a ghostly white. So, following the sage advice of my paint guru that stated, “when you’ve finished spraying LEAVE IT ALONE!!!!” I dutifully resealed the paint and hardener cans, disconnected the gun and carefully extracted myself from the tent before sealing that too. I had a big smile on my face for the whole time I was cleaning the gun and felt justified in my celebratory birthday pint of G&T and strongly worded email to my original paint supplier.
The spooky ghost of Poppy
I have to say that I was greatly relieved that all that angst in part 52 of the blog wasn’t down to bumbling incompetence and was just inexperience. Irritating as it was, if I had ever seen raw HB primer in a can before, I would have known it was wrong and saved myself hours of mental strife. I know now though, so if there is ever a time I choose to subject myself to this torture again, I won’t make that mistake.
The following day, I rushed home from work and before even going indoors to change, I was back in the tent inspecting my work. It wasn’t perfect by any means. There were a couple of spots where I could now see that my feathering of sanding marks wasn’t quite up to scratch. There were a couple of marks from an errant air hose. (Why can’t they invent a means of putting paint in a can and doing away with a great long unwieldy air hose?) There was also the bit where I accidentally sat on the bonnet while it was still wet. Oh, and a dead fly right in the middle of the bonnet.
However, for my first-ever attempt at spraying a car and in less than ideal conditions, I was actually quite pleased with myself. Poppy looked good and I feel that the blemishes listed above can be put right by rubbing down, filling and reapplying primer locally.
So, it was time to get back on with it. Filler was applied to the couple of areas where the sanding marks were showing and locally covered in primer on Friday afternoon after work. Saturday was spent flatting back the primer coat with wet 800 grit.
Now the boot lid, which appears to be cursed. I’d already rubbed it down to bare metal on the top because of the accident with the dust sheet after I sprayed it last year with rattle cans, but only lightly rubbed down the bottom as the painting was good here. Or so I thought. I’d then sprayed half the top with seagull poo and had to rub it back again.
Then I sprayed the whole top with seagull poo and had to rub the whole thing down yet again. I had been storing the boot lid in the conservatory between jobs as it was getting in the way in the tent. Long term readers will know the terrible risk I was taking doing this but I learned my lesson and made sure I disguised it so Mrs FB wouldn’t notice.
Well I had my new primer now so used the last of it to spray my boot lid. Well, the top came out beautifully. However, it would appear that there was a problem with the paint I used last year. The primer that had gone over the paint on the bottom of the lid had wrinkled and cracked and red was bleeding through! I left it all to fully cure and went indoors muttering some very bad words. I am wondering if maybe I had put too much paint on too quickly last year which prevented it fully curing? This would also explain why it stuck to the dust cloth having been apparently dry?
Anyway, Sunday found me back in my tent and spraying my car red. 2 mist coats and 2 proper coats. The time it took me to spray the car and return to the 1st bit for the next coat ensuring I didn’t put too much on too quickly. Once again, when done, I sealed everything up and LEFT it alone.
I returned to boot lid and had it back to bare metal. The primer sanded off easily but last year’s paint seemed really soft and kept clagging up the discs and smearing. However, I got it all back to bare metal eventually. Unfortunately, I’d run out of primer. So it was time to retire with a G&T followed by a fine Sunday roast!
Monday 20th May had been booked off work a couple of weeks ago so I could fit all the trim, lights and fuel tack etc so I would be ready for the Cotswold Tour. It would appear I was being rather optimistic though and suffering from the wasted time with duff primer.
So, instead I was back at the local paint supplier buying another litre of 2K HB white primer, which was applied to the boot lid immediately on my return. All was good! I finally had a boot lid in primer.
Poppy was now on the drive so I had room to properly spray the boot lid in the tent and I decided to leave her there while the boot lid dried. It was also better to see the results of my spraying in daylight rather than the dimmer interior of the tent.
Well in some ways I was quite impressed with myself. Even the bit I thought had run wasn’t really visible and I had a good even coat over most of the car. However, it wasn’t as shiny out of the can as I was expecting and I’m guessing that maybe I had the gun pressure too high as there was a lot of overspray settled onto the upper facing surfaces of the car.
After 8 hours of flatting back with wet 1500 grit paper I’d done most of the car. Just the bumper areas and front grill area were left to do. The overspray was removed quite easily however 8 hours of close contact with the car had revealed a further couple of sanding marks that I’d missed on the primer stage and I was a little bit grumpy until my daughter came home and was very impressed with the work so far. Then Anita came home from work and pointed out even more defects. She did finish by saying that it wasn’t bad for a 1st attempt, which is praise of the highest order from Mrs FB.
The light was fading and so was I, so the boot lid was moved and disguised back into the conservatory and Poppy went back into the tent for the night. I retired to the bath because I was red too. On the plus side, I have no finger prints anymore, so a life of crime is now open to me.
All I have left to do now is spray the boot lid red, finish flatting back the car, flat back the boot lid, compound polish and wax the whole car, put the light lenses and front grill through the dishwasher, (that conversation with Mrs FB will be interesting) wash and polish all the chrome trim on the polishing wheels and then put it all back onto Poppy… Refit the petrol tank and new rubber bumpers. All this in the 3 evenings left before the Cotswold tour.
It looks like Anita and I will be doing this one in her modern Mini or my CRV. Sorry chaps. Letting the side down aren’t I? (Of course you're not! Not even a little bit - Ed).
To be continued...
By Mike Peake
OK, I left the last blog with the car ready to spray. Or so I thought. You see, apparently 180 grit isn’t fine enough before the primer coat and I need to use 240 now. Yes, my paint Guru had already told me that but I forgot, ok? So, Saturday found me spending another day rubbing down again with 240 grit. This was mostly by hand as I’d had a row with my sander. It sanded my knee and we weren’t talking anymore. Also, as Anita had already masked the car up, I wanted to keep dust to a minimum. Of course my Guru was quite correct and everything felt much smoother now and I was ready to get the primer out.
To be honest, after my temporary success with rattle cans last year and everyone telling me it’s easier with a spray gun, I was expecting this to be the easy bit. Oh how wrong could I be?
It started badly when I plugged in my compressor. Nothing happened. I remembered my compressor Sugar Daddy telling me not to press a particular off button as the corresponding on button was broken and it was really fiddly to switch it back on. Well I hadn’t pressed it but it had been pressed. I’m guessing in the car on the trip back. Anyway, after much fiddling, panicked messages for help and the removal of a cover, I eventually found the hidden emergency on switch and normal compressor service was resumed. It’s a lot quieter than I expected.
The next problem occurred when I connected my brand new hose and was treated to the sound of a Hissing Sid convention. The hose leaked at the tool end. Tightening the connection didn’t help so a trip to my local hardware store was required and roll of PTFE tape was procured. It was liberally applied to the problem connection thread and tightened back up. It worked. The leak was cured. It would seem compressed air plumbing is pretty similar to water plumbing after all.
It was now time to assemble the brand new spray gun with the brand new pressure regulator and the brand new water trap. Every joint leaked and required further use of the magic tape but eventually, it was all airtight and I was ready for the paint.
It’s a messy business is paint, isn’t it? Eventually though, after thoroughly stirring the pot of primer and shaking the hardener as instructed, I had my 500ml of 2k primer 4:1 mixed and filtered into the paint pot at the top of the gun, all the spills mopped up and clean gloves applied. The pressure regulator at the gun was set at 3.5bar. (instruction was between 3 and 4 bar.) I pointed the gun at my test piece of metal and pulled the trigger. It was horrible. It was all spotted and spattered and not good at all. I then spent an eternity aimlessly fiddling with all the controls but whatever I did, I couldn’t get it any better at all.
Now the instructions for the primer stated “for high build use minimum thinners, however, up to 10% maybe needed”. I added 10% of thinners to my pot and stirred. It was still all spotted and spattered and not good at all. I spent another eternity aimlessly fiddling with all the controls but whatever I did, I couldn’t get it any better at all.
So, I added another 10% thinners to my pot and stirred. It was still all spotted and spattered and not good at all. I spent another eternity aimlessly fiddling with all the controls but whatever I did, I couldn’t get it any better at all.
My test piece was now completely covered in a horrible layer of paint and I couldn’t really tell how the new paint was going on so I did something really stupid. Yes, for some completely unknown reason, I decided to try it on the car. For another completely unknown reason, I had painted the inside of the boot, the back deck and the fins before finally coming to my senses and realising it was all horrible.
So, I did the only thing left that I could do. I left the tent, flung my PPE in every direction, sat on my drive and blubbed like a girl. Then I put my PPE back on and strip cleaned the gun, reassembled it and went to have a bath, a pint of G&T and a heart-to-heart with my paint Guru.
Sunday morning had me back in my tent and rubbing the back of the car down again to remove all evidence of my bumbling incompetence. This involved rather more of the car than I had anticipated. You wouldn’t believe how far it had spattered! Anita helped me again but I think this was to stop me committing suicide as I was really quite depressed.
Poppy was now ready for paint again and getting really quite impatient with me. Armed with start point settings for the gun (Paint flow at max, airflow at min and pattern turned down) I mixed up some more paint with 10% thinners, pointed the gun at some scrap cardboard and pulled the trigger. It was horrible. It was all spotted and spattered and not good at all.
I then spent an eternity methodically taking all the controls through their complete range but whatever I did, I couldn’t get it any better at all. Every single piece of cardboard in Wiltshire is now white and speckled, and I couldn’t really tell how the new paint was going on so I did something really stupid. Yes, for some completely unknown reason, I decided to try it on the car. On my doomed boot lid this time.
I stopped much sooner though with just half of the top of the boot lid looking like a photo of the night sky. I know, you don’t have to tell me. I have reached previously unattainable levels of bumbling incompetence.
When stripping down the gun for cleaning, this time I noticed that there appears to be some damage or swarf in the nozzle paint hole. So, like all bad workman everywhere, I leapt at this opportunity to blame my tools and ordered another gun for next day delivery.
In the meantime, I did some research on the interwebby thing and found a great website run by Hot Rodders that explained gun set up in simple steps that a bumbling incompetent fool could understand. I know, but if there is one thing Hot Rodders know how to do well, it’s paint. So, here is the link if you are interested. http://www.how-to-build-hotrods.com/set-up-hvlp.html
So, with the new gun set up as instructed by the Hot Rod chaps there I was again with it pointed at yet another piece of cardboard. It wasn’t the gun.
Another 3 hours was wasted fiddling with settings and pressures on the new gun, as well as another half a litre of paint and acres of cardboard covered in what could only be described as seagull poo. I was still no closer to a decent spray. Was I down hearted? Well yes, I was devasted. Especially as I had sprayed seagull poo all over the boot lid because I’d run out of cardboard – again! It is also now very unlikely that Poppy will be ready for the Cotswold Tour.
That evening, Anita and I had a bit of a brainstorm. Could I really be this incompetent? (Don’t answer that!) So, we hatched a plan. I had booked the following day off work as it was my birthday. I planned to have a nice relaxing day with Anita, have a nice Pub lunch and enjoy the sun. Well, change of plans. Anita volunteered to rub down the boot lid, while I would have a crack at spraying the red paint to see if I could get a decent pattern with that and thus prove if I am completely incompetent or not.
My Birthday morning found me in my tent on my drive, setting up my 1.4mm spray gun. I dropped a small amount of my “ready to use” top coat into the gun. Surprisingly, It turns out that I am not completely incompetent. A perfect spray pattern was achieved almost immediately.
So whilst cleaning this gun, I got to thinking about the quality of my primer. It was CONSIDERABLY more viscous than the top coat appeared to be. Maybe, just maybe, I had a dodgy batch of primer?
Well, there was only one way to find out. I bit the bullet and went and bought a new 2k primer kit, this time from a local supplier.
On picking up the can, the difference was immediately obvious to me. When shaken, you could hear the liquid sloshing about inside. This didn’t happen with my original batch. I was starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
As soon as I got home I was back in my tent. Poppy was tack clothed and panel wiped yet again. The primer was mixed 3:1 as per the instructions and filtered into the top of the gun. With great trepidation, I pointed the gun at yet another piece of cardboard and pulled the trigger….
To be continued…
By Mike Peake
Oh my good gods what have I done?
OK, I’ll back up a bit. As regular readers will know, I’ve been struggling with Poppy’s ageing, fading paintwork for a number of years. For the last 3 years I’ve learned to machine polish really quite well and been very impressed with the results (and I still can’t believe the cost of polish!).
However, it would only last a matter of weeks before it would return to what has become Poppy’s natural colour of “Signal Pink” and you can only machine polish so many times before you start to run out of paint. (yes, from personal experience) There are also a couple “battle scars” that are in need of attention.
So, I’ve made a monumental decision! I’m going to do a full re-spray! Don’t pull that face! I know you’re doing it! And before you ask, like everyone else does. Yes, I’m doing it myself and no I’ve not done it before. I said, stop pulling that face! Why does everyone pull that face? Come on. What’s the worst that can happen? (you don’t have to answer that. Poppy is nervous enough as it is.)
Due to the incredible generosity of fellow group members, I am now the proud owner of a large super duper compressor that only cost me two award winning lemon drizzle cakes and a pub lunch. I have also been supplied with all the required primer, paint and consumables, to crack on with the job. I won’t name these lovely generous chaps here as they like to project the image of tough, hard bitten cynical men and I don’t want to reveal their true “fluffy teddy bear” natures to the world, but you know who you are and thank you very, very much.
As my rented council lockup doesn’t have power and there is not enough room for a fatbloke to squeeze between the walls and the car, working up there was ruled out almost instantly. However, I had the bright idea of erecting a 6m x 3m garden gazebo on my drive and bought one for £60 off the great bay of flea.
It was PANTS! The poles were rather flimsy and already dented in several places before we got it out of the box. There were also several unstitched seams to contend with, but this was “fixed” with Gaffer Tape and we pressed on with the erection. (I won’t continue until your minds are out of the gutter! Finished now? Pathetic!)
Anyway, having roped in the entire Peake household, we had nearly completed the task when disaster struck! A pigeon, in a neighbour’s tree, passed wind and the whole useless structure collapsed. To be fair to the manufacturers, they clearly state “not to be used in high winds”, but as pigeon flatulence doesn’t usually register on the Beaufort Scale, I was a little annoyed. I telephoned the purveyor of useless gazebos and told them the tale. They asked me how far up the tree the pigeon was? I said it was about 6 meters up. They said “Well that’s pretty high and we clearly state ….” (Sorry. No more of those, I promise)
The next day, my in-laws were visiting their cousin somewhere in the East and whilst they were regaling him with this tale of woe and no doubt laughing their socks off, said cousin remembered that he had a “portable garage” that was really quite sturdy and had survived a year pitched outside his house and was now all boxed back up in his loft. It was soon pitched on my drive and provides a much more robust and suitable workspace so Poppy was soon snuggled into her temporary home.
The following weekend was the weekend of the Brecons tour. I’d already said I wouldn’t go because I wanted to work on the car and the weather was horrible. However, It wasn’t so bad when I woke up Saturday morning, so I went. I had a great time despite the odd text from Mrs FB saying Storm Hannah had hit and she was spending the day hanging onto tent poles.
I made up for it on Sunday though with a full 8 hours working on Poppy and by the end of it had her stripped down ready for washing and rubbing down. I also tackled one of my long term niggles. Some years ago, in a bout of bumbling incompetence, I backed the car onto some ramps. I went too far and fell off denting the back of the offside sill. As these aren’t available at the moment, I borrowed a set of hammers and dollys from local fellow enthusiast Jason Wright and attacked the sill with a will. It’s better than it was... honest.
Mrs FB? Still traumatised and not talking to me.
Best of all though, like all “proper” car restorers, I now have a couple of “you should have seen what the last bloke did!” stories. He’d only gone and riveted the window weather strips to the door caps instead of using the proper clips AND used spire washers to hold the “TRIUMPH” letters on the bonnet instead of the plastic doobries.
Needless to say new weather strips, clips, letters and doobries are now on order along with numerous other screws and gaskets that aren’t good enough to go back on the car. I have also ordered a bottle of rust converter due to some unfortunate discoveries. So again like a proper car restorer, It’s already turning into a bigger job than I thought and become a “light restoration and re-spray”!
I just read that back. I sound really quite heroic don’t I? Well that won’t do will it? I know no one will believe me if I elevate myself from bumbling incompetent fool all the way to resto hero in one mighty bound. So, here is what actually happened.
As part of the strip down, I decided to remove the original rubber boot mat which proved a bit problematic as it was completely perished. If it hadn’t disintegrated, it had stuck like glue to the boot floor and I had to resort to a wallpaper scraper to get it all out. Once this was all removed, the dreaded rust was revealed and I’m not ashamed to admit that I screamed like a girl and cried for a bit.
Once I calmed down, I investigated a bit further and decided that it was just surface rust after all. After a once over (ok, maybe a thrice over) with my wire brush drill attachment - OK my Father-in-Law’s wire brush drill attachment - and a liberal dousing with rust converter, all is now good with the boot. Except now I have to re-spray the inside of the boot too. I hope Tosh told me to buy enough paint!
My other “discovery” was a bit of paint bubbling on the offside rear wheel arch. However after a bit of rubbing down it didn’t look so bad. I thought a bit of rust converter and a tiny bit of filler and all would be good. Then, I made a terrible rooky error. Yes, I poked it and picked at it. When I’d finished poking, I was left with a 30mm gap in the folded under bit of the wheel arch.
So, out with the angle grinder to cut out any remaining rusty bits. A piece of sheet metal was then carefully shaped, offered up and neatly welded into place. You’re secretly impressed aren’t you? I can tell. Well don’t be so stupid! That’s what I should have done, but as I have never welded anything ever and don’t even own a welder, I resorted to aluminium mesh and body filler.
I’ve never done this before either, but it seemed a more viable option and it was only a very small hole anyway. Looking on the bright side at least it will give the next restorer something to moan about. Before this though I spent a lot of hours with the first rub down with 80 grit paper in my sander.
When Mrs FB heard what I was going to do with the filler, she decided that, as it would be “just like royal icing a cake”, she would be far more qualified to undertake this task and I didn’t argue.
Anita didn’t stop with the wheel arch though and she soon had all the rest of the dinks, dents and gouges filled, including the two dents in the boot lid that I didn’t spot when I did it last year. Once all the filling was done, I spent the rest of the day on the final rubdown with 180 grit paper on my sander and by hand. The car was incredibly dusty by this point as were all the floor coverings, so I reconnected the fuel tank and drove round the block to blow the dust off and shook the dust off the tent floor coverings.
It was Sunday evening and I was now ready to go over the car with tack cloths and panel wipes and spray the primer on the bank holiday Monday - or so I thought. At this point, Anita came out to do a surprise inspection of my work so far and proceeded to point out all the bits I hadn’t rubbed down properly. I have to admit that I found this incredibly irritating. Even more so because, of course, she was perfectly correct.
So, instead of applying the primer in my usual gung-ho manner on the bank holiday Monday, we - yes WE - spent the day completely rubbing Poppy down again until she met Anita’s exacting standards. We then went over the whole car with tack clothes before masking off the bits where I don’t want paint to go. Well, I say “we” but really it was Anita who took over the masking after suffering complete frustration at my ham-fisted attempts.
So, after spending last Saturday holding onto tent poles to stop storm Hannah blowing it away and then spending her entire bank holiday Monday rubbing down the car, Anita seems to be under the impression that I owe her a weekend in Rome.
OH MY GOOD GODS, WHAT HAVE I DONE???
To be continued …
By Mike Peake
Time to introduce the rest of the exhibits on our stand. This one is a bit unusual in that it isn’t a car. Often on our group meets and tours we are camping without mains power for 3 or 4 days which can be a challenge, but we had resisted getting a modern generator due to their noise and they aren’t popular on campsites.
The idea came about one evening to acquire a vintage, quiet running stationary engine and connect it up to a basic generator. It would be both useful and a period correct addition to our shows. To this end, Gar recently acquired this 1947 Wolseley 1.5hp. It's a real group effort as it was restored and painted correctly as it would have been when it left the factory by Bernard Owen, our resident expert on such things. (He used to sit in front of his caravan all day at shows and watch all of his wonderfully restored engines chug away to power a light bulb. Or if he was feeling in need of the exercise, connected to a pump so he’d have to get up every now and then to swap the buckets over. Oh come on! You’ve laughed at these strange sorts too!)
In the near future it will be connected to a generator of some sort and be able to provide power to charge phones, caravans etc. when we are off grid. The Wolesley that is, not Bernard.
Now we come to another pair of group stalwarts. The ever reliable and entertaining Brooks brothers, Gus and Tosh and their lovely 1946 Talbot Sunbeam. The brothers only bought this car 6 months ago at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor show here at the NEC. In that time Gus has set about sorting the temperamental electrickery side of the car. As you can imagine, with 73 years of modification and bodgery to the wiring loom, it resembled a large bowl of unidentifiable spaghetti. So, rather than spend the rest of his life tracing each wire through individually, Gus took the decision to strip it all out and replace it with a new wiring loom. He then had to reinstate 73 years of modification and bodgery to get it working.
In the meantime, Tosh has been itching to get his hands on it and give it one of his trademark re-sprays. This desire of his has led to a few disagreements as many of us rather like it in its current state, patina and all. However, I’m pretty certain that Tosh won’t be able to resist returning the car to its former shininess. (Probably not as shiny as shiny Paul Shiny’s shiny MGB GT though. Tosh doesn’t have a spare toothbrush.)
What about this 1931 Humber Super Tourer? I LOVE this car. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it was my favourite car in the show.
Ian Booth bought the car in August of 2015 becoming it's 6th registered keeper. At 1st glance, the car looked very much as it does now. however, as we all know, digging deeper reveals hidden woes.
The dashboard was a homemade affair and not particularly well executed with a mixture of original and aftermarket dials. The wiring loom was a nightmare of botched repairs and additions and was a 'rats nest ' to quote Ian. Fortunately the car came with the original dashboard and Smith-Jaeger instruments in a box albeit in very poor condition. Ian set about repairing the dashboard and glove boxes and the clocks were sent to Richfield Speedograph in Birmingham who did a fantastic job refurbishing them. The rare Jaeger Le Coultre time clock was sent to a master watchmaker, Paul Shrouder in Repton, who fully reconditioned it.
After repairs to the brakes, clutch and gearbox , new custom wiring loom , distributor, rear leaf springs , new hood and carry bag plus a myriad of other bit and bobs the Humber returned to the road in heroic fashion. No pampered trailer queen is this car! Ian and his friends in his car club took the brave decision to do a tour of Spain.
The car performed beautifully but there were still one or two “adventures” of note! My favourite ones were getting a police escort and when friends in front driving a 1933 Rolls Royce braked very suddenly. Unable to stop in time Ian had the split second decision to either hit his friend’s car or turn into the crash barrier, naturally he went for the barrier. As it happens the Humber is so solidly built it escaped with nothing more than some extra 'patina ' on the front wing.
Favourite car status was achieved in no short measure by Ian Booth being a thoroughly nice chap and fine fellow who was more than happy for us plebs to clamber over his car and be silly. I think I rather suit the role of rich 1930s industrialist don’t you? Obviously Gar Cole knew his place.
Now for the “pièce de résistance” of the stand. Nay! The show! A 1902 James and Browne. I’m sure you’ll all agree that it was an incredible coup have this important piece of motoring history on our stand and we might as well all go home now because I really don’t think we can better this. Huge thanks must go to Gar Cole, Matt Harris and the Students of Imperial College for bringing this about.
The 1902 James & Browne is 1 of only 2 survivors. The other is a 1904 example residing in Europe. This car was originally purchased new by a blacksmith believe or not! (I’m guessing a rather successful and wealthy blacksmith!) It was purchased by students of the City and Guilds in 1932 from a travelling fair of all things. It has been a mascot ever since and currently resides at Imperial College London as their official mascot. It is a regular on the London to Brighton run and is regularly used to ferry the students to the pub where they have found it incredibly useful for scrounging free pints from landlords and rich bankers keen to have a good look over the car.
At the show, the engine cover was removed to reveal absolutely nothing familiar whatsoever to those of us used to modern fare. (Yes, I’m calling 60s and 70s cars modern!) No, that’s not completely true. I spotted 2 spark plugs but not where you would expect them.
It’s bonkers! It features a 2 cylinder engine of 2.5 litres developing 9 RAC Horsepower, (approximately 15 modern HP). Although they are laying on their side and run front to back. It is lubricated by a “total loss” oil system and ignition is by something called a trembler coil. It has two, yes two, gearboxes and is chain driven direct to each rear wheel. Brakes are on the rear wheels only and are of the external contracting bands type.
Like I said, bonkers but we all loved it!
All the students were fine fellows and a pleasure to spend the weekend with. They were more than happy to spend their time explaining the workings of their marvel to all and sundry. They were even allowing visitors to sit in the car for photos. Although it has to be said, most of those I saw sitting in the car were of the young and pretty variety. We were further surprised when they brought lunch back to the stand. No Pot Noodles for these chaps. No, they turned up with sliced artisan bread, smoked cheese, honey roast ham and halloumi and proceeded to make sandwiches.
They redeemed themselves to “typical student level” on the Sunday by turning up late and hungover after discovering how cheap the beer is in Birmingham compared to London.
As you all know by now, we were again shortlisted for “best online presence” at the National Car Club Awards. This time we chose our finest and most sensible members to represent us at the awards dinner. Yes, Phil Allin from our print sponsor, Alveston Press and your celebrity admin (what do you mean “who’s that then?” It’s me!) We were with Sue and Nigel Hains from the Boston Classic Car club (and fellow members of this group). They were representing John Simpson who was up for Club Ambassador of the Year, but couldn’t make the show.
The meal was excellent as always with good company on our table and free wine flowing. It was at this point that I spotted the flaw in our plan to send to send our finest and most sensible members to represent the group. You see, Phil is a dreadful influence on me. Whenever I drink with Phil, he makes me drink far more than I would normally. I should know this by now after several long evenings at previous events but I guess I had forgotten.
Mike Brewer was in excellent form again this year acting as compère. He really earned his money too as he had to fill for about 10 minutes while the missing page of his script with the 1st 3 awards was found.
No. We didn’t win. We missed out to the rich-as-Crassus MG Car Club and John missed out to the Volvo chap.
I suppose I should say that it doesn’t matter and that we did really well as a non subscription club just to get shortlisted blah blah… but I really wanted to win this year!
Anyway, I kind of lost interest (and almost consciousness) after these two were announced so I wasn’t paying attention for the other categories but I’m sure our super organised glorious leader Paul Sweeney will be able to insert the link where you will be able to find all the results (https://www.necrestorationshow.com/winners-and-highly-commended). Thanks Skipper!
The evening progresses and Phil and I had a lot of fun and a lot of wine but I think we got away without embarrassing anybody or anyone noticing how inebriated we really were.
However, next morning was a different matter. Let’s just say I wasn’t at my best and was very sympathetic to the students in the same state. At least we made it to the show though. Phil felt the urgent need for fresh air so went to watch his son play rugby instead.
Copious coffee and sugar in the form of cake is my miracle cure though and I was soon back to my normal self, enough for Tosh to take me shopping and spend far too much of my money on equipment and stuff for my upcoming secret project on Poppy.
It really was a great weekend at a great show and I had a great time wandering around as well as manning the stand. Here are some of my favourite pictures from the show.
The end of the show came round far too quickly as it always does and as hundreds of car horns greet the tannoy announcement it was time to pack up and say a sad farewell for now to lots of good friends.
Special thanks as always to all the owners of the cars on the stand, all our members for visiting and especially Gar Cole and Paul Sweeney for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to put on these events.
A huge well done chaps. I think that was our best showing yet. So on behalf of our members, Congratulations and thank you.
Thank you for reading and see you all soon.
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