By Mike Peake.
Sunday had us back in the hall bright and early ready for another day of playing “who’s got the best car layout”.
Well, of course WE did so let me introduce the rest of the cars on our stand.
Dale Scutter’s 1952 Hillman Minx is a proper “family car”. It was purchased by his father, Brian, in 1998 who took 4 years to restore it to the level we see today and it is an absolute credit to his skills. It really is a beautiful car. Sadly, Brian passed away last year but Dale has bravely and proudly picked up the baton of keeping it on the road for the rest of us to enjoy. There is even another generation waiting keenly in the wings as Dale’s daughter seemed just as proud as he is. Dale is also the custodian of another Hillman, a vintage caravan and a scooter courtesy of his father’s passion so we really are hoping to see much more of Dale in the future. He’s a top chap too!
Of course, no BEBVBM1598 event would be complete without another Brooks masterpiece and this show is no exception. This time it is the recently completed 1958 Standard Pennant. (Yes, Poppy’s Grandad!) As we’ve come to expect, it is absolutely stunningly beautiful. Even the chairman of the Standard Owners Club was heard to grudgingly admit that it was the 2nd best Pennant he’d ever seen, just before pointing out that it had the wrong hub caps. Praise indeed.
The Pennant is another celebrity with several appearances in ITV’s Heartbeat and the Royal.
The last car on our stand was supposed to be a favourite car and owner of mine. The lovely 1948 Rover 16 owned by Alan Crown. Sadly he had to pull out at the last minute due to ill health and was sorely missed by us all. We’d all like to wish you the very best for a full and speedy recovery Alan.
So, huge thanks are due to the Brooks brothers for stepping in at such short notice and bringing a vehicle that needs no introduction, but I’ll introduce it anyway. Apollo the Rover P5B Camper. Yes, I said a Rover P5B camper. For those of you that have been members for any length of time and haven’t been hiding under a rock, you will already know and love Apollo who has become somewhat of a mascot and flagship of our group.
For those of you that have been living under a rock or new members, put the shot guns and pitchforks away. Apollo was converted into a camper by his original owner way back in 1972 when you couldn’t spit without hitting one of these cars. No one is really sure why he chose this car to convert but he did and created a unique vehicle. The Brooks bought him at this show some years ago and worked their magic to produce the glorious, mad as a box of frogs, vehicle we see today. A wonderful mix of the old and new, he was, quite possibly, the most popular car of the show. There wasn’t a moment when he wasn’t surrounded by admiring muggles and he bought a smile to everyone that approached our stand.
Saturday had been ram packed full of visitors, so much so that it was very difficult to get around or close to anything. Sunday was a little quieter and I didn’t have any more celebrity showings so it gave us a chance to chat on the stand and get around and see a bit of the show in a much more relaxed manner.
First though, at 11 o’clock a 2 minute silence was held to commemorate the Armistice 100 years ago. At the sound of Big Ben’s chimes, all halls fell completely and eerily silent. All the hum and noise of thousands of people just cut out while everyone reflected and remembered. It was actually quite moving and impressive.
Unfortunately, we did have a bit of an incident at about midday, when Gar and Gus were arrested by site security for stealing the seats out of a car in the car park, but we managed to smooth it all over in the end and I was able to have another mooch around the halls between manning the stand.
Now I make no big secret out of being a bit of a Triumph fan and have always quite liked the little front wheel drive 1300 but never really been up close to one until now, and this one had the bonnet up. Imagine my surprise then, when I noticed that someone had put the engine in the wrong way round!
It’s a front wheel drive car with the engine fore and aft instead of transverse. Why on earth did they do that? I thought Issigonis had already proved that the transverse is a much more efficient way of mounting an engine on a FWD car? (Answers on a postcard please) It was a jolly nice looking car though.
This is another car that caught my attention.
I’m seriously thinking of getting one of these for our tours as it could be very useful in keeping away pink Rialtos that get too close to members cars. What do you think? Crowd Fund anyone? (What? Too soon?) (Sorry Kevin, Couldn’t resist)
Of course we then had to play "Squeeze the fat blokes in a small space" and it fell to the Flat-Nose Morris to provide the space. Actually it was surprisingly roomy, but I don’t think the suspension will ever be the same again.
There were lots of others cars we wanted to play this game in, but unfortunately, the owners weren’t keen. Can’t imagine why.
Oh, and keep a close eye out for this car in the future. I’ve a feeling we may be seeing a bit more of it soon, but Shhhhh, don’t tell Allison Brooks
The show was coming to a close so our thoughts turned to a group photo for the annuls. As you can see, our early attempts weren’t up to much and we were having trouble getting everyone in the same place at the same time.
So, we decided to kidnap the Boston Classic Car Club stand to make us look busy and happy and slightly less scary. Most of them are our members too. Much better, don’t you think?
Of course there was a moment when we heard that the Artisan Bakery stand was having an end of show sale, so, as we hadn’t had enough cake over the weekend apparently, a small stampede ensued.
I think this was my favourite group picture of the weekend though. It shows what a family group this is with 3 generations of members attending. Grandad, Gus Brooks, Dad Kurt Lawrence and little Seth Lawrence whose favourite car was definitely Bernard’s Moggie. The photo was even shared by the NEC Classic car show Instagram account. As Gus said, when our club gets together, it really is like a family outing.
Sadly, the show came to an end and apart from breaking up a potential fight between the Austin 7 Club and the Period and Classic Caravan Club, the breakdown went well and sad farewells were said to all.
So, a massive thank you to John and Elaine Fisher, Matt Harris, Ian ‘windy’ Woodward and Bernard Owen, Dale Scutter and Gus and Tosh Brooks for showing their beautiful cars and manning the stand. A weekend like this is a huge commitment in both time and money and we really appreciate your support. Thanks also to all our members that came and said hello and shared cake with us.
As always, it is great to see you all and put names to faces. It was also great to see so many members on other stands with their cars. Paul Clappison, Lincoln Hunt, Chris Allan, Andy Gardner, Graham Boxhall and the Boston Classic Car Club, to name but a few. Keep spreading the word chaps!
Biggest thanks of all go to Gar Cole and Paul Sweeney whose tireless behind the scenes organising and form filling made all this possible along with the help of our sponsors Dave Youngs of Lancaster Insurance and Phil Allin of Alveston Press.
Finally, no event report would be complete without a picture of our glorious Fat Controller of Events, Gar Cole.
See you all soon,
Your Celebrity Club Administrator.
By Mike Peake
Saturday morning found me winding down a country lane looking for the Brooks who needed a lift in. Needless to say, Gladys the sat nav wasn’t very helpful and I was reduced to asking the local postie for directions. I finally found them and whisked us all to the NEC, trying to blank out the continuation of last night’s micky taking.
The 1st hour and a half in the halls is a bit of a haze for me as I was a quivering nervous wreck with my time split equally between the “facilities” and hiding behind Apollo blubbing like a little girl.
Mrs FB arrived with my daughters and then bolstered my confidence by beating me around head and telling me to “pull myself together”.
It was time to head to the stage and I felt like a man on the “gallows walk” but I made it there and mounted the stage with my fellow death row inmates from the Jowett club and 2CVGB.
I perched on the ridiculous “boy band” bar stools and just waited for the axe to fall in the shape of the rowdy chorus of “who ate all the pies” that I was expecting from my friends. It didn’t happen and I felt a modicum of relief and thought that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
Danny Hopkins (Editor of Practical Classics) introduced the segment and we were off. He then asked the 1st question … directed at … ME! It was quite a simple question. He asked me to tell everyone my name and which group I was representing. Of course I immediately forgot the answer to both but it didn’t matter because as I tried to stutter out something, anything, bumbling incompetence struck. My microphone didn’t work. I don’t think it was my bumbling incompetence as I really hadn’t had it long enough to break it, but it wasn’t working. It was soon swapped for a functioning one and having accidentally gained some thinking time, I finally stuttered out the correct answers.
Between trying to maintain my balance on the ridiculous stool and concentrating on the questions and my answers, I forgot my nerves and made it all the way to the end without completely embarrassing myself or the club. There wasn’t even the slightest heckle from my friends! I’d like to think this was out of respect for me and my position with the club, but suspect that it is far more likely that they were scared into good behaviour by a glaring Mrs FB and the threat of the withdrawal of cake privileges.
Well, with that ordeal over and done with, it was back to the stand for a celebratory slice of cake and a cup of coffee. Everyone was polite enough to say that it had all gone well and I’d done a good job, but I was holding a knife at the time.
With my adrenaline levels ebbing I could relax and mooch around the halls for a bit with my family and we had a very nice time of it. The highlight for Emily-Fleur was when a celebrity even higher in the lists than me actually spoke to her. It was Lewis Hamilton’s Dad and I don’t think she’ll ever forget his words. He said “Oh! Sorry! I didn’t see you there.” I’m sure that this was all down to my own new found celebrity status.
My celebrity status also made it possible for Tosh Brooks to smuggle Nick and I into the VIP auction area. I could really get used to this. However, he soon had me thrown out again when I started bidding on an SS Jaguar using his auction ID number.
Jaguarless, I returned to mooching the halls with my family having a great time discussing which cars we would take home with us if we could. Of course Anita and Emily were going to take all the minis home but Sophie was torn between the TR7s and MG Midgets.
Me? Well almost everything! However, this little gem caught my attention.
Yes, I’m sure it’s not to everyone’s cup of tea but holds a place in my heart as it was my Mum’s 1st car. Hers was a Talbot Horizon, but otherwise identical to this one. Mum learned to drive later in life and actually only passed her test (1st time) a year or two before me. Therefore my Mum, me and my younger brother all learned to drive in this car. The poor thing. My brother is the only one in our family, including my daughters, that didn’t pass his test first time, but we barely mention it these days. We barely mention the fact that there wasn’t a single undented panel left after he’d finished with the car either.
Whilst on our mooch, we bumped into fellow member, Andy Gardner on the TR youth stand where amazingly, he’d actually remembered to bring his classic car with him this time. It’s a jolly nice TR7 that he has shoe horned a really, really big V8 into. He immediately fell back down to young idiot status again when he admitted that both Harris Mann and Lewis Hamilton’s Dad had been chatting to him on the stand but he forget to get photos with them or get Mr Mann’s signature on his boot lid. Like I said, Idiot! He’s even got a rosette to prove it.
Of course there was plenty more to see in the vast acreage of displays and here are a few of my favourites.
No selection of my favourites would be complete without me boring you with yet another pic of that 1930’s Triumph Dolomite. But no! it’s not the red coupe this time but a black saloon showing off that incredible waterfall grill.
Oh OK. The red coupe was here again too.
Another car that grabbed my attention for personal reasons was this absolutely mint Vauxhall Viceroy with its 2500 straight six engine that I believe it shared with the Bedford vans. Only 2290 of these cars were made by Vauxhall. Not out of any ideas about limited editions, I just don’t think it sold very well.
Why do I like it so much? Well I had one. It was my 2nd car when I was 19 or so. It used to waft me effortlessly between Swindon and London to see the future Mrs FB in velour clad luxury. Nothing puts a rose tint on your glasses more than nostalgia, but I did love that car. I had to sell it in the end though, because I took a job in Reading and I couldn’t afford the petrol bill this monster was producing on the daily commute from Swindon. Ahhh… happy days. Mine was white with a black vinyl roof registered RLF 410W and sadly, hasn’t survived. I hadn’t seen another one in the flesh since I sold mine back in the early 90’s so this was a real treat for me.
It was soon time for my ladies to head to their various homes and I headed back to man the stand for the last couple of hours and eat cake before a pleasant evening meal in a Harvester. I had a much more relaxed evening than the last one.
To Be continued …
By Mike Peake
How about that then? Nick Arthur came up with a new title for me and I like it much better than Bumbling Incompetent Fool, so I think I’m going to use it for a while. I’ll explain later, but don’t worry, I won’t forget my roots!
Well that was another epic success at the groups 2nd showing at this prestigious event. The Lancaster Insurance Classic Car show with Discovery, at the NEC in Birmingham.
Our beloved Fat Controller of Events, Gar Cole, outdid himself yet again with a wonderful collection of cars and owners all beautifully displayed in Hall 8. The cars looked great too. Annoyingly, work got in the way a bit so I missed set up and didn’t arrive until Friday afternoon to be greeted with a very professional looking stand.
So let me introduce you to some of the cars and their owners.
First up is this 1966 Mini Crayford Convertible owned by the delightful, if slightly bonkers John and Elaine Fisher.
Oh! Sorry. Wrong pictures. This isn’t how it appeared on our stand, but how it was discovered. Now, most people would have looked at that and thought ”how sad, a lovely rare little Mini that has gone to meet its maker, fallen off its perch and is, indeed, an ex Mini.” But not John. He looked at it and thought, “that will fix up alright”. Yes, as I said, “slightly bonkers.”
Quite an Improvement isn’t it? So, although bonkers John was correct, but before you witty wags start, it took a lot more than the miraculous “bit of T-Cut”. It took an epic and substantial rebuild which eventually turned the rusted heap into the car we see before us today. A sympathetically rebuilt car that retains the heart of a really great and rare little Mini. (let’s just hope that Stephen King’s “pet cemetery” isn’t true.)
Now whilst this provides quite enough evidence of bonkersness, John and Elaine provided even more by admitting that they actually have 761 other Mini’s and mini-based cars at home, AND they spent the weekend camping in a field … in a tent … in the middle of November, just to be at the show! Yes, as I said, “slightly bonkers.”
Next in Line is Matt Harris’s 1928 Morris Flat Nose Cowley and as you can imagine, it has seen a lot in its 90 years of life.
The pick-up truck actually left the factory as a 4 door car and is believed to have been converted to its current configuration during the 2nd World War. The reason for the conversion is thought to be because as a commercial vehicle, it would receive the larger petrol ration than that received by private vehicles. Apart from a little woodwork, the car is believed to be completely unrestored since its modification.
It has a 1546cc 11.9 HP side valve engine which, after a rather complicated starting procedure, ran as smooth as a sewing machine. I noticed it could be a little smoky when revved hard though. It took me ages to get the soot off my face and clear my lungs and I decided not to stand behind it anymore.
The Morris has a 3 speed crash box with a cork clutch but I was reliably informed that no bottles of merlot will be harmed when it comes to be replaced.
There is also evidence that the car was used on the BBC TV show, All Creatures Great and Small as the sign written doors bear the legend “Jeff Mallock, Fellmonger, Darrowby 308”. He was the knacker who collected dead animals in the fictional village. An ex BBC Props manager also confirmed that the truck was hired from Action Cars for filming, but Matt confesses that he hasn’t yet waded through all 7 series and 90 episodes to find it.
Finally for now, Bernard Owen’s immaculate 1962 Morris Minor 1000.
Bernard is one of our groups elder statesmen. (That is the polite way of saying that he is really, really old. See? I can be polite when I need to be.) Bernard is a lovely chap and everyone’s idea of a favourite Grandad but he has a wicked sense of humour with one liners that can cut you dead. He also turns into a berserker whenever there is sausage plait being shared out.
The Minor is just like him too. All cute and cuddly on the outside but a bit of a sleeper underneath. You see, the mystery engine has been identified. It turns out that a 1.3 Marina engine and gearbox has been fitted at some point during its life, along with the larger SU carburettor.
Having a “modified” car on the stand, however lightly and sympathetically, inevitably attracted a “Norman Shufflebottom”. (See my “Spotters Guide to the Classic Car Enthusiast”)
Norman furtively approached the car and then in a stereotypically nasally voice pronounced “The brake master cylinder is in the wrong place. Why isn’t it under the floor where it should be?” We had the last laugh though, because although he had spotted this minor modification, (did you see what I did there?) he’d failed to notice the much larger engine and gearbox swap so Gar took great joy in pointing this out. Norman’s face was a picture of horror as he stumbled off in shock, muttering “Ohhhh, Its been modified!”
There'll be more on the rest of the cars later, but Friday afternoon was spent pleasantly chatting with old friends and getting to know new ones and continuing this over a very nice Chinese Buffet in the evening.
Well, I say “chatted pleasantly”, but most of my “old friends” just wanted to take the micky. You see, our group had been approached and asked if we would like to put forward a representative for a panel discussion to be held on the main stage … in front of an audience. I had volunteered.
Well, I say “volunteered”, but what actually happened was that whilst I was trying to understand the question, the rest of the admins had instantly run off and hidden behind the furniture. “Thanks Mike” said Captain Sweeney. “Be on stage at 10.45am on Saturday”. (Hence the “Celebrity Club Administrator” title)
I really hadn’t been all that nervous about it on the run up to the show, but I should have known I could rely on my friends to change all that. So when I went to bed, I had the nightmare of walking on stage to a rowdy chorus of “Who ate all the pies?” from my friends and the rest of the hall joining in. This played on an endless loop in my head all night so needless to say, I did not awake refreshed and relaxed on Saturday morning.
To be continued…
By Mike Peake
It’s the morning of Sunday the 7th October 2018. The sun is shining and a few of us are having an informal meet at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon.
It may have been sunny, but 8am found me scraping the ice off the Honda so I could get Poppy from the lockup. When I got there and opened the garage door, I remembered that I had completely neglected her since I put her away after our superb Isle of Wight tour. I hadn’t even washed her! She glared at me crossly. She soon cheered up though when she realised we were going for a run.
As is my way, if nothing is falling out of the sky, the roof is down and we set off for a lovely green lane run up to Gaydon. It was a lovely day and we had a great drive up although, I may have underestimated the chill factor as it took a while after arrival for me to regain the feeling and use of my hands. Several others were out in their classics too and I “spotted” several lovely cars including an XJS, a Vauxhall Manta GTE in a convoy of MK1 and 2 Cavaliers and even a Triumph Saloon.
I pulled into the museum car park to be greeted by Ian Woodward in his Zephyr, Bernard Owen in his Morris Minor and Kevin Norris in his MK1 3100 RS Capri. This was a tad confusing as the last time we saw Kevin on the Somerset tour, he was in a Frogeye Sprite.
Brian Allison and Darren Vel Satis were also there but without their classics as were Thilo Bell and his partner all the way from Germany. Gar and Phil were on their way but Big Rov needed a jump start from Nelson at the services. They soon arrived, as did Mark Wilson in his E-Type. Mark is a big wuss as he had his roof up but at least I didn’t need to push start it this time.
Sorry Mark. Darren didn't take a photo of your E-Type
We stood around the car park chatting while Darren took pictures until I reminded everybody that I still couldn’t feel my hands. We headed into the Museum for a warming cup of coffee and a cake. It was a jolly nice apple and lemon drizzle bun. Thanks Gar.
The museum was every bit as good as I remembered from our last trip and we had a great time.
This is my favourite car photo of the day. It shows the two most famous, iconic British cars ever made and side by side. When the world thinks of British cars, these are the two that they picture.
Yes, yes, I know. Some of you will want to argue and suggest that perhaps the Morris Minor or Land Rover or whatever, should be there, but it’s my blog and I’m an Admin so its these two. OK? (That and the others weren’t conveniently side by side for a photo.)
The Museum has loads and loads of interesting stuff including prototypes and concept cars, royal vehicles and racing cars. We were in “Car Nut Nirvana”.
As a lifelong F1 fan, I was also very interested in the various racing cars that they had on display.
We were particularly interested in an ancient single seater. Initially because Gar was having a measure up to see if he would be able to get in (he wouldn’t), then we were alarmed at the proximity of the gearbox to the drivers gentleman furniture, considering he would have to sit with a leg each side. Then we couldn’t find the gear selector. I spotted it finally. It was outside the cockpit to the right of the driver. I was so involved and overexcited that I committed a slight faux pas. I gave the gearstick a bit of a wiggle and took it through the selections. It was at this point that an angry museum guard shouted “DON’T TOUCH THE EXHIBITS!” and chased us away like naughty school boys. (This is why we don’t have a picture of it)
Out of breath from the chase, we finally lost the angry guard and found ourselves in the children’s play area. It was brilliant! There were all sorts of working models and cutaways explaining how everything works. How disc brakes are better than drums are better than a block of wood on the tyre and why the steering column is a BLOODY STUPID place to put a gear stick. There were even cars that you could touch and play on.
In the end, Brian and Bernard had to drag us out by an ear each as they wanted to see the rest of the museum like grownups.
It was just as well that they did though as we found another treasure-trove. The collections building is a separate building that houses all the exhibits that they don’t have room for in the main building and it housed all sorts of wacky prototype and safety testing cars. It was brilliant and a good mooch was had before going downstairs for a gander at the Jaguar Heritage Collection.
When our stomachs started rumbling, we realised that we had been there for all of 5 hours but it had flown by. We’d had a great time but we were starting to fade away with starvation. Some of the chaps decided that they fancied going to the pub for a chat about the day and grab something to eat. We followed Gar in a 5 classic car convoy and Brian’s Modern to a fine hostelry on the Fosse Way called The Stag where we had a very nice salad and mineral water and a jolly good chat before we all broke off and headed home.
Poppy and I had a fun and spirited drive back down the Fosse Way which took me almost to my doorstep. At only 130 miles covered it felt like it was just a local trip for me but Poppy did them all extremely well. AND, no one ran out of petrol this time.
So thanks to Gar for having the idea and really sorry our Skipper and head Admin, Paul Sweeney, couldn’t make it as originally planned, despite only living just down the road in Napier … New Zealand. A great day was had by all and the British Motor Museum comes highly recommended by us.
Well winter is upon us and only the Lancaster Insurance Classic Car Show at the NEC is left for this year, but what a year it has been for our group. Don’t forget, you get discount tickets as member of the group. Just use the code when buying your tickets and see you there.
As always, the pictures above are a mixture of mine and stolen from others attending the event. Particular thanks to Darren Vel Satis as I stole most of them from him.
Until next time.
Fatbloke and Poppy.
By Mike Peake
Roger had excelled himself this weekend. A fantastic day of driving on the Saturday and the Osborne House Classic Car show on the Sunday. However, with the weather being so wet, there was some doubt as to whether they would want their perfectly manicured lawns chewed up. So we were waiting to hear if it was cancelled.
My alarm went off stupidly early for a morning after a night of jollity, but did I actually have to get up? I filtered out the man using a jack hammer inside my head and listened carefully. I could hear Gar snoring blissfully, so I didn’t have to get up yet. I snoozed my alarm. 30 minutes later I heard Gar’s alarm go off. There was some snuffling, a couple of beeps and then The Norfolk Beast was in full flow next door and I could safely assume a cancellation and rest my weary head a bit longer.
Some amount of time later, I was roused by the smell of cooking bacon which immediately dispelled any residue “tiredness” I may have felt from the night before. In no time at all I was up showered and dressed and sat round the table with Andy and Gar, ready for another one of Old Uncle John’s cracking fry ups.
As it was still raining we relaxed in our van drinking coffee and chatting comfortably when we noticed that it was brightening up somewhat. With that, the caravan door burst open and there stood Super Enthusiast Man!
“Have you run out of petrol again?” said John, rather bravely I thought. (You see, SEM Ran out of petrol on the way down on Friday.) But no. Having already fixed the brake lights on the Rover that we didn’t know were broken, he wanted to “have at” the lights and fuel pump on John’s MGB GT.
The light switch was dismantled and no apparent faults found so reassembled. The lights then worked perfectly so it was on to the fuel pump. The MG was started and ran perfectly. So, it would appear that the mere presence of SEM can scare recalcitrant components into order. (Even if it can’t keep enough fuel in the tank.)
It had actually stopped raining. Yes really. Not only that but the sun came out and we all had a case of itchy accelerator feet so we decided to go to Ryde as that was one of the very few towns on the island that didn’t feature on Rogers spectacular tour yesterday. Yes, “We got a ticket to Ryde, and we don’t care.” (sorry. I’ll get my coat…)
We set off through the green lanes of the island which looked even better when not shrouded in mist and rain.
It wasn’t long before we were on the seafront in Ryde and as we stood admiring our cars and watching the hovercraft, I thought it might be time to get out Mrs FB’s legendary sausage plait. However Mrs FB had been as busy as I was in the run up, so we outsourced the project to Mrs FB’s Mum, who came up trumps and did us proud.
I have to say, the seagulls were more polite about grabbing the sausage plait than my fellow humans and it wasn’t long before the fights broke out. It was Bernard who got the best of it though as he waded through the group with haymakers swinging left and right. The sausage plait was gone in a flash but this time I’d made sure I had my piece before I told anyone else.
It took a short while to recover from the sausage plait and Bernard’s berserker interlude, (it’s extraordinary the lengths an OAP will go to for sausage plait, purple Quality Street or cake) but then we found out that we could drive along the pier. Well who could resist that? We even had a coffee at the end whilst watching the hovercraft and hand-me-down London Transport tube trains from the 60s that run on the island.
Photo opportunities abounded on the pier and we made the most of them. We even positioned Gus half way along to snap us as we drove past. I’m sure you’ll all agree, he did a good job. Do SEM’s talents know no bounds? (except remembering to put fuel in the Rover, obviously.)
As is usual for our tour, we have to laugh at the 2 fat blokes in a small car and Poppy was the smallest car this time, so Gar joined me in Poppy. The sun was out and it was now a lovely day, so we decided to revisit Military Road. Poppy was leading the convoy.
Once out of Ryde, the coastal road was fantastic. Lots of twisty, turny, uppy, downy stuff and great views. Gar and I were having fun with the roof down and I got a bit carried away with myself. Despite having the smallest engine in the convoy and carrying the 2 fattest blokes in the convoy, the convoy may have got left behind … just a little bit. Gar was urging me to slow down for them to catch up by beating me about the head with his cap so I slowed … reluctantly. She’s a plucky girl is Poppy.
Once we reached Military Road, we had a bit of a swap around. The Brooks ended up with Poppy and I was left to pilot the P4. Well it couldn’t have been more different to Phil’s P5. It still oozed charm and grandeur out of every pore but the driving style was much more upright and sedate than the P5. The P4 is a pipe and slippers gentleman’s car through and through. So is the P5 - however, in the P5 I got the feeling that if you swapped the pipe, slippers and panama hat for a cigar, sovereign rings and a camel hair coat, Big Rov could be a bit of a bounder and a cad if he wanted to.
I thoroughly enjoyed the P4 and the upright style gave the impression that you were looking down on the other Plebs. I even got to the end of my stint in the P4 without running out of petrol which was a bit of a bonus not enjoyed by everyone.
Gus was using the unrestricted views from Poppy to take plenty of action photos and display his acrobatic skills.
We found another couple of parking spots along the way with great views across the coast and stopped to make the most of them.
In one of the stops we came across this Mk3 Cavalier which made me feel very old. You see, my very first brand new company car was a burgundy 1.7TD Cavalier Mk3 hatch back (M573 MTF) and I have very fond memories of that car as it is the only one I’ve had written off.
What made me feel very old is that I can’t remember the last time I saw one of these on the road and that a car that I had new, is now considered to be a “classic” and is 25 years old! It was very good to see such a lovely example and we had a good chat with the owner. (I think I convinced him to join our Pre Mil group.)
We had managed to contact Nick in his Jensen and he said he’d join us so we waited … and waited. Apparently, he managed to get lost on this tiny island. Our hunger was getting the better of us though, so we set off for the Bugle Inn in Brading and said we’d meet Nick and Jo there, if he could find it. (It sold beer so we were confident Nick would find it)
Newbie to our tours, Graham Adams took the helm in Poppy for this leg and to be fair, we made it to the pub with most of the gear box still in the car and I don’t really need those teeth anyway. He got the hang of it though and judging by the grin on his face, even started to enjoy himself.
I do find it a bit odd to be sat in Poppy’s passenger seat but not as odd as when I watch her drive away without me. That odd feeling is more than offset though because I will be driving something incredible. I’ve said this before a few times, but In my experience, this is one of the few places where owners of exotic and posh cars mingle happily with owners of the more battered and mundane without a hint of snobbery or envy. (well, ok. Maybe a bit of hidden envy.) Not only that, but everyone is more than happy, perhaps even eager, to allow other members a go in their pride and joy (although this isn’t compulsory and no one is offended if you can’t bear to let yours go.)
A nice meal was had with more good-natured banter and chat and soon it was time to head back to the caravans. I was given the great honour of the keys to Ian’s beautiful Zephyr. An honour that paled slightly when I realised that it came with 3 passengers so all my mistakes and misdemeanours would be under the critical gaze of Ian’s nearest and dearest eager to report back to the proud owner… AND, I have to say it. What a BLOODY STUPID place to put a gear stick!
It all started quite well. Ian gave me a brief instruction on the column change and warned me that it occasionally gets stuck in second and what to do about it. He neglected to tell me where reverse was but thank goodness I didn’t need it. Ian dived into Poppy’s driver’s seat and we set off after John in his MGB. We soon lost John in his MGB as he whizzed off but Ian’s wife, Sarah had sat nav on her phone and all was well with only the odd crunching of gears. All was well that is until I heard the words. “Oh. We need to turn left here” from Sarah. We weren’t going that fast so an emergency left turn was made without any words about more warning required passing my lips.
The problem was, I was now faced with a very steep hill with all momentum gone and still in top gear. Precious moments were wasted while I fumbled about searching for the gearstick where it would be in a proper car before remembering it was in a BLOODY STUPID place. It was too late though. I was now stuck on a very steep hill with an ineffectual hand brake and I was starting to panic. I couldn’t get the gear stick to move but in my panic I thought mayby it had selected 1st and tried to pull away with plenty of revs. However, I was slipping backwards to the smell of burning clutch plates. My “audience” was no help either and actually seemed to be enjoying my display of utter bumbling incompetence.
Fortunately, Ian was right behind us and having dealt with Poppy’s ineffectual hand brake, came to the rescue. He patiently selected 1st gear for me and normal service was resumed for the rest of the trip with only the odd crunch from the gearbox and the lingering smell of very hot friction plates. (I’m really sorry Ian)
After this baptism of fire with my 1st experience of a column change, I settled down and started to enjoy the experience. Ian’s car is stunning inside and out and evokes the spirit of the rockin’ fifties with every USA influenced bit of bling and fins and curves. I fully expected my hair to grow into a DA and my lip to curl like Elvis. I loved it. Especially knowing that I should never be allowed near the car again.
I felt even more guilty when I remembered that I’d left the hood down, it was now dark and Ian was wearing nothing more than his club T shirt. (Of course he had his trousers on too! Honestly! What are you lot like?!)
Once again, we all piled into the Brooks' van for one of the funniest evenings I can remember. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time and by the end of the evening my face and sides ached. “What was so funny?” I hear you ask. Well I can’t tell you. This is a family site and what goes on tour stays on tour. I guess you’ll just have to join us at future events.
The next morning was our final chance for one of old Uncle John’s superb breakfasts and we made the most of it. He even sprung for 2 eggs!
It was time to pack up the cars, say sad farewells and head for the various ferries. We’d left plenty of time to get to ours. Or so we thought, but we were to discover that Newport has a rush hour at 8.30 on a Monday morning. Who’d have thought?
Once through the heavy traffic, Gar engaged Mach 1 again and we scraped into check-in with seconds to spare.
We made our way to the back of the boat and bade a tearful cheerio to the island that had made us so welcome. Clutching our passports, we made ready for our return to Olde Englande and the 21st century.
Being so close, it would have been rude not to visit Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and his small car collection. So, Gus and Tosh, Gar and I did just that and spent a very pleasant morning supping tea with his Lordship while he showed us his cars.
So, after a fantastic weekend and nearly 400 miles in a 48 year old car, Poppy safely deposited me home to Royal Wootton Bassett.
Thank you all, for staying with me over these 3 parts and I hope I have managed to convey just how much fun we had despite a soggy Saturday. Hopefully you have enjoyed reading about our exploits and you have been inspired to join in our adventures next time. Keep a close eye on the events section and sign up to our newsletter to find out where and when.
Once again, a massive thank you to Roger Spaven and his friends from the island for a great tour and an even better welcome.
Thanks also to my fellow tourists new and old for the belly laughs and great time. I really hope that our 1st time tourists enjoyed it too and will join us again in the future. We certainly enjoyed your company and cars.
See you all again soon.
Fatbloke and Poppy.
By Mike Peake
It’s Saturday morning on the Isle of Wight, (approximately 20 hours after SEM ran out of petrol) and residents of our caravan, John, Andy, Gar and I were all up, bright tailed and bushy eyed and eating a full English lovingly prepared by good old uncle John. Watch out Gus, he’s after your breakfast crown!
As we’ve come to expect on an EBMV event conceived by our beloved Fat Controller of events, the weather was horrible!
However, this didn’t stop Super Enthusiast Man leaping into action and rescuing Ian who had developed a large and rather embarrassing swelling… on his CAR Tyre obviously! (honestly! You lot! Can’t take you anywhere!) It was too wet and early to fix the lights on John’s MGB GT though. We took every opportunity to rib him about too. (Or was that just me?)
Needless to say, Poppy’s hood remained firmly UP and as waterproof as Triumph expected. Yes it leaked… A lot! But to be fair, the rain did end up as biblical.
Roger Spaven from the IOW Chapter of the Jaaaag club turns out to be a bit of a slave driver and expected us to be at the Osborne House departure point by 8.30. Yes! 8.30… In the MORNING! …on a Saturday! Anyway, we all made it despite having to go the long way round as the new chain ferry across the River Medina was being a bit temperamental.
The car park was already quite full with Jaguar owners and some members of the Vectis Historic Vehicle Club. (Vectis is the old Roman name for the Isle of Wight don’t you know. See? Educational as well! I’m too good for you lot!)
Anyway, at this stage the rain was just that fine drizzle so not too bad. We chatted and admired cars for a bit including welcoming some more EBMV members on their first event with us. Don Everest and his partner Louisa in a rather stunning white Triumph Stag, Jamie Denson in his Land Rover and Bud and Karen in their TVR Tuscan. Another very, very late 1999 car.
Unfortunately we didn’t see much of Jamie as we think he suffered a “Failure to Proceed” about a mile after leaving Osborne house and we didn’t hear from him again. Rumour was the SEM had syphoned his petrol to prevent further embarrassment to himself. (He ran out of petrol on the A34 you know.) Bud and Karen were fine chaps as were Don and Louisa who lasted almost to the end but that’s a story for later.
Cars of interest for me were a pair of Fords in matching livery.
The Cortina, owned by Kevin Froment was a 1600L and at the risk of sounding like a Muggle, my Dad had one of these. Not only that but it was the same colour and he painted the garage door to match it. The Capri owned by Graham Farrar, was a Mk1 3.0L that our Keith Lloyd would love. I loved it because it had one of those 70s louvered grills on the back window! When did you last see one of them?
Osborne House Clock bells chimed 9 O’clock and it was time for our 22-car convoy to set off. I have to say that Roger was very organised with him at the front and his friends acting as marshals in the middle and at the back and they all had walkie talkies and everything.
Anyway, we set off through the Island lanes to the first stop at a lovely viewpoint overlooking a valley and a bit of the sea. Roger’s presence and organisation must have been having some influence in counteracting the Rain Man’s baleful presence as we could actually see this view and the rain was still holding off a bit. We had lost the Land Rover though.
We continued through the villages of Yaverland and Rookley to our tea break stop at The Old Smithy in Godshill where we were joined by a Triumph Spitfire among others and I had the biggest chocolate cream éclair I have ever seen. It was gorgeous and surprisingly, not too sweet.
By the time it came to leave The Old Smithy, Roger’s influence over Rain Man Gar’s presence was waning as we now suffered heavy rain. We were not downhearted though. We had come here to enjoy ourselves and enjoy ourselves we would, and we did! We headed off to our lunch stop at The Needles via more picturesque villages and lanes until we got to the best road on the Island in my opinion. Military Road up the west coast.
We were able to stop at a viewpoint overlooking Military Rd and the Needles in the distance so we could appreciate where we were going. The road looked fantastic and really piqued our excitement, but we couldn’t see The Needles because of the rain.
This road was every bit as good as billed with great driving and great views when we can see them. By this stage the rain had got to biblical proportions and I had a very wet right leg because it was dripping in above my window. My rally notes were an illegible pulpy mess because of the drips from the same place on the passenger side.
I still had a great big grin on my face though and was revelling in the fact that since my alternator conversion, I had working wipers and lights unlike the South Wales tour, and unlike John's MGB GT. I was behind John and flashed my lights at him occasionally just to remind him. As we also saw on the South Wales trip, electrical gremlins are extremely contagious in old cars as Don lost the brake lights on his Stag too.
We caused another stir as we pulled into the Needles car park for our lunch stop and no, it wasn’t because of my wet trousers but our cars. Muggles appeared from all over the car park to look, take pictures and chat. The brand new Maserati Quattroporte, and equally expensive and sparkly Range Rover were completely ignored. (Except by me. I love the Quattroporte!) Their owners took it well though and even they came over for a chat and a photo or two.
I have to say that the Needles attraction wasn’t at its best in this weather. In fact it was a bit grim. I still didn’t see the Needles but I did buy a couple of those jars full of layered coloured sand for my girls. I also spotted a bottle of local Royal Navy strength gin and another of rum at 57% proof. It was £50 a pop though, so I had to forcibly remove myself from temptation.
Rain Man Gar had by this time completely reasserted his control of the weather and rain was falling at a rate that would give Noah cause for concern as we left for our last leg of the tour to Carisbrooke Castle. Don had asked me to follow his Stag and act as his brake light man.
I’m not sure I did any good as I don’t think the cars behind could see my car let alone my brake lights but it was still a fun a challenging drive and the castle looked very forbidding and hauntingly beautiful as we approached. Unfortunately, the rain was now so apocalyptic that most of us were content with a quick look through the castle entrance before rushing back to the shelter of our cars. (Somewhat dubious shelter in some cases.)
I’d managed to con Phil out the keys to Big Rov and was enjoying the luxury of the soft leather seats as I wafted along in the stately home on wheels whilst being lulled by the comforting V8 soundtrack but best of all, I was both warm and dry. I did however spare a thought for Phil who would have been neither warm nor dry as he drove Poppy back to the camp site. I did have to laugh as Poppy’s driver’s door flew open on a left hand bend and it became apparent that she was trying to eject him Harry Potter fashion. I bet he’d crunched that 2nd to 3rd gear change one too many times.
Once back at our vans, there was some slight concern that Gar and John seemed to be taking a long time and we were about to head back with SEM… honest… well ok, after we’d had a warming cup of coffee we were going to head back as in addition to his headlight failure, the MGB GT had thrown a proper strop and wasn’t starting. Before we’d finished our drinks though they’d got it started and running mostly well enough to get back to the site. We added it to SEM’s list of jobs for the morning.
It had been a fantastic day’s touring despite the weather and on behalf of the group, I would like to thank Roger for all his hard work and effort in organising such a great day. I’d also like to thank the rest of the locals for making us all so welcome. I for one, have fallen in love with your island and will be back. Thank you.
The day wasn’t quite over yet though as we rounded things of with everybody in the curry house (except the Woodwards and Owens. (Apparently, Indian food gives Ian wind.) The rest of us had a jolly nice ruby followed by a bit of a party in the Brooks caravan where a bottle of Talisker appeared miraculously and equally miraculously disappeared. We had another early night though and headed back to our beds for another classics day on the morrow. What? 2.30 AM is early isn’t it?
To be Continued ...
By Mike Peake
Super Enthusiast Man BROKE DOWN! I’ll say that again shall I? Super Enthusiast man BROKE DOWN.
Not only did SEM BREAK DOWN, but he broke down in the most bumblingly incompetent foolish way imaginable. Yes, HE RAN OUT OF PETROL!! I shall pause for a moment to let you get over your bout of hysterical laughter. This is our 1st indication that Super Enthusiast Man may actually be only human after all and proves that there is hope for the rest of us. He now joins Young Paul Cheetham as the only people daft enough to run out of petrol on tour.
Sorry, but I couldn’t help but lead with such momentous news. I know, I should start at the beginning of the tale which I will do... In a minute… when I’ve stopped laughing….
Right. Here goes… no wait, I’ve gone again…
OK. Deep breath… I’m composed.
As is becoming the norm before one of our tours, enthusiasts from all over the British Isles were getting excited. Number of sleeps remaining were being counted, cars were being packed and prepared ridiculously early and partners were slapping us round the head and telling us to “grow up!” (or was it just me getting slapped?). Anyway, I was up early on Friday morning and waving my womenfolk off to work before a quick slice of toast and a cup of coffee. It had been a bit of a manic week so I still had to pack some clothes food and merlot and put the bags in the car, check the fluids and top up with fuel before I was off east on the M4. It helped a lot that we were staying in Static Caravans and camping equipment wasn’t needed. It meant much more room for Merlot.
Gar in Nelson, Nick and Jo in the Jensen, Ian and Sarah and Bernard and Thelma in Ian’s Zephyr and the Brooks Brothers in their Rover P4 had all met up somewhere oop norrf before coming down the A34 and meeting Poppy and I at Chieveley services. This was shortly before Gus ran out of petrol.
Greetings made, pit stops pitted and we all set off together and headed down the A34. Gar was leading at a very respectable speed followed by Poppy, Nick’s Jensen, The Rover P4 and Ian bringing up the rear because of his noxious emissions’. I really had to fight Poppy to get her to turn south as she has become far more used to heading north for our meets and she was really quite confused.
Gar decided to start showing off his new engine and diff and increased speed to approaching Mach 1 to get past a line of lorries. Poppy and the Jensen kept pace but the Rover and Zephyr were lost in the dust. We thought it was that they were just slow but by the time we reached Rownham services they were still nowhere to be seen and we started to worry. It wasn’t long before we heard the truth of it though and we stopped worrying and started chortling. You see, SEM had RUN OUT of PETROL ON THE A34!
At first I was extremely disappointed in Ian not taking a photo of this momentous event but after he explained that they were all laughing too much to hold a camera straight, I forgave them.
After hearing that they’d scraped enough fuel together to get to a petrol station, the 4 of us settled down for lunch. As the Brooks weren’t willing to pay motorway prices as “Them’s from Yorkshire Tha Knows”. We agreed to meet up at the ferry so they could go in search of more acceptably priced fuel.
Does anyone know where Yorkshire Tha Knows is? I’ve found Yorkshire on a map but not met anyone from there yet. I’ve met quite a few from Yorkshire Tha Knows, but can’t find it anywhere.
Anyway, the rest of the trip was uneventful and coincidentally, both convoys arrived at the ferry port at exactly the same time from opposite directions. We were turned away and told to come back in 10 minutes as we were too early.
10 minutes later, we were allowed in and parked in a row causing a bit of a stir and attracting lots of muggle attention before being loaded to set off for foreign climes.
We also welcomed fellow members and lovely couple, Graham and Sue in their very, very late 1999 Rover 75 as they joined us in the real world for the 1st time. (Ok it was a 2003! I was all for keel hauling them on the return crossing but as they were so nice and a lot of fun, I let them off.)
Despite the storm warnings and high wind, the Solent was kind and hardly rippled our coffees as we stood in the bracing wind on the foredeck. As Bosun, I was tempted to set my crew to holystoning the decks but the Brooks brothers were looking particularly mutinous so I let them all relax. (They had run out of petrol after all.)
It wasn’t long before we convoyed off the ferry and headed to our caravan site with Graham and Nick peeling off for their more luxurious digs.
The caravans were luxury indeed and best of all, they weren’t tents. Actually, that wasn’t best of all. Best of all was that the farmer’s wife had left a homemade Jam and cream sponge cake in each of the caravans! Wayhay!
Bags were unpacked, kettles boiled and we settled down to a nice brew and a slice of cake while we waited for fellow tourists to straggle in from various different crossings. John Ticehurst was the 1st of the stragglers in his lovely MGB GT, followed shortly after by Phil Allin in Big Rov and bearing the Rally Plaques.
Nick and Jo, and Graham and Sue re-joined us at the site along with the man of the moment, Roger Spavin who was the organiser for Saturday’s Tour. He was also in a very, very late 1999 registered car but this time it was a Jaguar XK-R. (Phwoar!!) We were really quite hungry by this time so before proper introductions could be made, Roger was bundled back into his car and forced to lead us to the Shanklin Fish and Chip shop he’d promised us was the best on the Island.
We had a pleasant relaxed drive across the Island with our convoy attracting more attention than is usual among the locals. We all thought they were admiring our classic cars, but Roger assured us that they weren’t used to seeing anything so modern as motorised transport on the Island. (Sorry. A cheap shot I know but they would have taken away my writer’s guild membership If I didn’t make it.)
Arriving on Shanklin sea front we parked up and were welcomed by some more of Roger’s friends from the Jaguar Owners club – IOW Chapter in their lovely selection of Jaaaags and a very, very nice Mini which, (puts on nasally geeky voice) having an MW number plate, makes it a Swindon car I believe. (takes off nasally geeky voice).
Andy Perman, despite only living in Portsmouth and being the most local of the visiting tourists, didn’t arrive in time to meet us at the caravan site so we arranged to meet him at the chip shop.
It hadn’t all been plain sailing. John was telling anyone who would listen that his dipped and main beam headlights on his MGB GT weren’t working. Not many of us were listening as we were HUNGRY, but a rather sheepish Super Enthusiast Man (He’d run out of petrol earlier) agreed to take a look while we waited for Andy
Unfortunately, Andy arrived in his VDP Allegro before a resolution was achieved so we decided that the moon was out so what did he need lights for anyway? We went and had our long awaited, and very nice Fish and Chips.
The trip home was even better for me as my hood was down and it was night. I don’t know what it is but I think driving at night in an open car is particularly special and I love it.
We made it back to the caravans and as the Brooks van had the biggest seating area, we piled in there for a bit of a party. Most of us were taking it fairly easy as it was an early start and a big driving day tomorrow. However, Bernard was going all out. Despite the many wrist slaps from his wife Thelma, he still managed to overdose on purple quality street!
The Party broke up about midnight and we all headed off to bed. Except the Brooks and Phil. They had to tidy up!
…. Ran out of petrol indeed! Tee hee hee…. Ha ha ha… AAAH HAHA HAH HA … Oh…. I might have just had an accident….
To Be continued…
By Mike Peake
WOW! THAT WAS AWESOME!. What a weekend. This is, in my opinion, the best static show that we attend as a group and that I have ever been to.
It is also one of the biggest. Just how big became apparent when I arrived on Thursday evening to find the exhibitors campsite section nearly full already. We were parked up by Marshals as we arrived, so it was impossible to reserve spaces for members arriving later. Fortunately we weren’t so far apart that a short walk couldn’t bring us all together for an evening chin wag.
The Brooks were first on site and caused panic and mayhem when they told us they’d seen a sign to say that gates were locked between 8pm and 8am. This caused me to rush around like a lunatic in order to have both cars and caravan onsite before the deadline and Gar to decide he’d have another night in his own comfy bed and join us Friday morning. (BTW, The gates weren’t locked at 8PM)
Campers the 1st night were Gus, Tosh and Bella Brooks, with the Austin Big 7, Jason Wright with his Triumph Herald 1200 Convertible, Poppy and me. A pleasant evening of chat and alcohol was spent and an early night was had.
Friday dawned a perfect summers morning. We were all up bright and early to set up the stand and were joined by Gar and Hattie Cole with his Fisher Holivan Junior 8 which was pressed into service as the pitch café providing many a tea, coffee, hot chocolate latte etc.
We were also joined by Darren and Karen Williamson with their rather lovely Morris Ital 1.3, one of 3 Itals Darren owns. It was great to see this nice couple hadn’t been scared away on the Peaks tour and had agreed to join us again.
Being Friday, the show was a bit quieter with fewer visitors and exhibitors than were expected for the actual weekend. Many of the Car Club stands were completely empty.
However there was still acres of fine old oily stuff to see with the working steam engines, commercial vehicles, buses military vehicles, tractors, small industrial trucks, motor bikes, emergency vehicles, as well as animal displays, a huge trade area and radio controlled model aircraft. Like I’ve said before, this show is MASSIVE!
Of course, my old favourite was there too. A 1941 Diamond T 980 Ballast truck.
I’ve made no secret in the group that my Grandad drove RT and Routemaster buses for London Transport. What I haven’t made such a fuss about is that it was the Army that taught him to drive and then sent him to North Africa where he spent a brief time driving Austin K2 ambulances, (Yes, just like “Ice cold in Alex”) before being transferred to tank transport and recovery using Scammels at 1st but then the Diamond Ts - a far superior vehicle as far as he was concerned.
Realising that our tanks struggled to drive themselves the large distances required over the rough terrain of the North African Desert, The British Army decided that they would need a lot more tank transporters. Scammel, their supplier at the time couldn’t mass produce the numbers required so the Army approached the American company and commissioned them to supply the Diamond T 980 and 981.
I have seen this truck a few times at this show now. I have always loved this particular Diamond T because it is the only one I have found that was actually in the desert at the same time as my Grandad, but this year it got even closer. One of my Grandad’s war stories was how he was in the team of drivers that unloaded the 1st batch of “Ts” to arrive in Alexandria and in fact, drove the 1st one off the boat.
Well, there was some new information on the show board this year. This particular “T” was in that 1st batch delivered. Well, that is close enough for me to say that it is highly likely that my Grandad actually drove this vehicle 77 years ago (In fact I have decided that he did). Therefore, I have even sat in the same seat he did all that time ago.
Sorry. I went off on a bit of a tangent there. I hope you don’t mind and weren’t too bored, but I was so excited to find this truck was even more closely connected to my Grandad, that I had to share it with you.
We took it in turns to man the stand and wander off to sample the show’s delights but all too quickly the show ended for the day and it was back to the campsite to await some more fellow members. We were expecting Phil, Loraine and Lucas Allin.
We couldn’t wait to hear about Loraine Towing a caravan at the speed of light, trying to keep up with Phil in his newly purchased XJS. The ever intrepid Chris Ball who was bringing his MGB all the way from Cricklade (about a mile and a half from the site) and of course our really intrepid mile muncher, Eric Dalton who was coming all the way from deepest darkest Scotlandshire.
The Allin’s and Chris made it but Eric’s Ambassador finally threw a strop and was heard shouting “I’m an old lady Eric! Have some respect!” as she coasted to a stop near Keele services on the M6.
Missing Eric, the rest of us settled down to a lovely chicken and beef stew provided by Old Mother Cole. Jolly delicious it was too.
Some time had passed, some wine was drunk and chats and laughs had and most of our gathering took themselves off to bed. However, Phil produced a bottle of gin and another of tonic. Well you know me - I’m never able to resist temptation, so I was severely led astray by Phil who kept me up until 2AM drinking sociably and putting the world to rights. (I will be introducing a “Brexit Swear Jar” for future events though. I Know, It’ll be me that fills it. Sorry about that.)
Saturday morning was another perfect summer dawn, I believe. I certainly wasn’t early or anything approaching bright but I did notice that Hattie, Gars dog, must have been at the gin bottle we had left out as we didn’t drink that much and Hattie spent the whole day asleep so that proves it.
As I couldn’t face even the thought of breakfast at that stage, I was blearily peering at my hood, trying to remember how to lower it when Gus bounded up like Tigger and said “ we need your car to put the banner up”. Before I knew it, he had my keys and was driving Poppy up to our stand with a partially collapsed hood and my microfiber cloth still drying on the boot rack.
Resisting the urge to go back to bed, I fell into Chris’s MGB and was driven up to our pitch to supervise the setting up - only to find most of it was done and all I had to do was arrange the remaining cars to arrive. I left them where they landed until I felt a bit better and did some rearranging.
The new arrival on our stand and new to our live meets was Steve Roberts and his MG Metro. Phil Rendle was also supposed to join us with his Morris Traveller but got a bit confused on entry and ended up parking with all the independent owners.
Chris Ball took pity on me and took me off to look at the classic cars on display and search out that magic cure-all that is known as a bacon bap. An hour later I was back at the stand and halfway through manfully taking my medicine when I noticed that Mrs FB and my daughters had arrived on the stand. I was well and truly busted. Now if it was just the bacon bap, I could have talked my way out of it. However, I could tell by the nasty grins on my “friends” faces that they had taken the opportunity to fully grass me up in my absence.
“Hello Dear” I said as brightly as I could manage whilst trying to dodge that “Wait ‘til I get you home!” glare that was directed at me. Then inspiration struck. “Shall we go and look at Minis Emily?” I said whilst moving quickly but trying not to look like I was running away.
When I was finally cornered, I took it like a man… and blamed it all on Phil.
Another day was spent chatting to members and muggles that came on our stand, chatting to each other and looking at old oily stuff in a field. Immense fun was had by all and we even had a parachute display team land in the main arena.
4PM arrived and it was time for the classic cars to tour the arena. I have to say I was very impressed at the marshalling and organisation in getting us from our stand to the arena without killing any Muggles and it was great to drive around with a sea of people all pointing waving and smiling. I do have to say though, that the new commentator tried hard but needs to brush up on his knowledge.
Emily was desperate to drive Poppy again so the keys were passed and I sat in the back for the first time in my ownership. I had also closed my ears ready for the expected grinding of gears on the 2nd to 3rd change which can be tricky for the uninitiated, but no. Smooth clean changes all round.
Many of my fellow stand members seemed to find it hilarious that Mrs FB and I were in the back while our daughters took command. I have no idea why it was so funny but it did mean that there are plenty of photos. It also bought home just how long I’ve had Poppy and how much a part of the family she is.
Well, with the arena tour over it was time to head back to the campsite for a bit of a relax and some tea before heading up to the steam fair. Or so we thought.
One of the arenas has a live demonstration of steam traction engines running a saw mill. This was running for the entire day and as you can imagine, quite a pile of sawn timber was accumulating. Well Tosh, being from Yorkshire Tha’ Knows, couldn’t resist and soon negotiated the purchase of a proportion of the pile knowing that as he’d sold the Austin he would have an empty trailer going home. So, at the end of the day, my CR-V was hitched up to the Brooks car trailer which, let me tell you, seems an awful lot bigger when hitched to the back of my car!
Four of us then headed up to the saw mill area and started loading… and loading… and loading! Well, let’s just say that the weight of the loaded trailer gave the Honda’s clutch a good work out on the way back to the camping pitch.
Knowing how supportive all the chaps would be, I was a little nervous when I discovered I was expected to reverse the trailer back onto the extremely narrow gap between the Brooks camp site and their neighbours. I needn’t have been though as I managed to show my epic towing skills and dropped it back, millimetre perfect in one go! Time for a well-deserved beer then. (After last night I still couldn’t quite face wine.)
Mrs FB then cooked us a lovely BBQ in the van. (it was too dry to have a real BBQ, we’d have set the field on fire.) it must have been nice because Hattie ate most of it.
After our meal, we all set off for the steam fair and exhibitors party. All except Gar who was off to do a taxi run and wouldn’t be back until Sunday PM. Chris Ball also left as he had other commitments on the Sunday. You could tell they didn’t want to go as Gar got into the car and those sad doleful eyes looked back at us to say goodbye. Hattie looked fed up too but she’s a Basset Hound and they always look like that.
If you look closely, you might see a Fatbloke.
You could tell Gar didn’t organise this trip. For the 3rd day running dawned another perfect summers day. In fact it was still “Bloody Hot” to quote the Standard British Temperature scale.
Sunday is THE busy day of the show with every exhibitor space crammed to overflowing and Muggles a-plenty. Our stand was no exception - we had 13 cars and a caravan on display.
We were joined by Andy Perman in his VDP, John Malley in his Piper, which is true dedication driving a car with no opening windows on a day like that. Mark Wilson and his E-Type Jaguar also arrived along with Windy Woodward, Berbo and Ian’s son Johnathon in the Zephyr. The real surprise however, was the special vehicle they were towing but I’ll keep you in suspense about that for now.
Phil Rendle and his Morris Traveller managed to find our pitch this time and bought his mate and fellow EBMV member, Scott Morris and his Tahiti Blue Triumph 2500S Estate. Dave Britton was also on the stand with his rather stunning Rover P5B. Along with Steve Roberts and his MG Metro, This was the 1st live EBMV meet that these 4 chaps had attended, So I hope you all had fun and will be joining us again in the future.
The Woodwards wanted to be with us all weekend but Ian’s daughter decided that she would get married this weekend and, rather selfishly I thought, wouldn’t move the date for us. But it was really great that they came down for the Sunday. It wouldn’t have been the same without them and we wouldn’t have got to see the “Special” that Ian towed down.
Well what can I say? Out of all the fantastic oily stuff that was on display it was this that got my attention. It doesn’t really fit into either of our groups but WOW! I was even allowed the honour of driving it around show field and I was amazed at the out and out power of this single seater. All right! All right! I’ll tell you! It’s a Pihslang 888NR with a 2.5 motor. Never heard of it? No, me neither but click below to reveal this awesome vehicle.
Ok, OK, its a 2.5 KW motor. What can I say, I couldn’t resist it. Sorry. When I heard Ian was bringing this, I wanted to decorate it with tin cans on string, ribbons and a “Just Farted” sign instead of “Just Married” but Mrs FB thought it would be poor taste to mock the afflicted. (I guess she doesn’t know us that well does she?) I hope you get well really soon Ian and the Pihslang can be laid up safely for future generations to admire.
Another great day was had by all as we deep-fried ourselves in sun tan oil. It really was a great show with great people. You can’t really describe the size and variety of this show other than to say that there really is something for everybody and if you’re coming next year, you will need more than one day to see it all.
Because of the traffic problems leaving the show last year, The Allins, Gar and I elected to stay on another night and leave on Monday morning. The organisers had even laid on a party with live music and cheaper beer. Unfortunately all the vintage fair and steam engines had already been packed away and only one food outlet was still open, so we had a nice baguette and a chat and watched another sunset.
To quote a rather clever chap, “WOW! THAT WAS AWESOME!. What a weekend. This is, my opinion, the best static show that we attend as a group and that I have ever been to.” [Me, at the top of the page. EBMV 2018]
Huge thanks to all those that supported me on our stand you all really made the weekend special and I hope you had as much fun as I did.
SVTEC (the organisers) have already announced that they will be back next year on 2nd to 4th August 2019 so put the date in your diaries and keep an eye on our events section for more details. I will be doing my damnedest to get us another stand at this show.
Finally, It wouldn’t be an EBMV event without a photo of our beloved Fat Controller eating now would it?
Well thanks for bearing with me through yet another Blog. Poppy and I will be off on our adventures again on our group’s Steamships and Scrumpy tour this weekend. Please join us if you can we’d love to see some new faces in real life.
All the best.
Poppy and Fatbloke.
By Mike Peake
I AM THE GOD OF OLD CARS!
OK, maybe not but let me enjoy my minor triumph while I can. (Did you see what I did there?) It would appear that I gave up too soon after fitting the big end shells to the Triumph 1500TC engine in Gar Cole’s Morris Minor automatic the Saturday before last.
Those of you that didn’t lose the will to live halfway through my last blog will know that we left the car with the new shells fitted but an engine that wouldn’t turnover. We guessed that maybe Gar had been sent oversize shells in error or I had messed something up. So we went to the pub in disgust to hatch a cunning plan. The plan was that Gar would buy some shells from a reputable Triumph spares dealer instead of eBay and I’d come back up and fit them when we could. (and I could secretly check to see if I had messed it up but not tell anyone and blame the shells anyway.)
Well, it would appear that Gar is not a patient man and having listened to “a bloke down the Pub” who said “Oh they’re always really stiff when newly fitted”, decided to have another go at starting Nelson. Using his Christmas cracker grips and a recovered hand, he managed to turn the engine over a couple of times noticing that it was starting to feel freer. He then tried to start it on the starter… but his battery was flat. After charging, he had another go and after 3 or 4 turns….
Needless to say I was incredibly relieved by this success. I’d spent the last week steeped in self-doubt and worry that I had broken Nelson. So, although a bit disappointed to be absent during my moment of triumph (they are quite rare as you know), my heart soared at the news and I feel that my self-deification above is entirely justified. Especially now that Nelson has been out on a proving run and still hasn’t fallen apart. Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve fixed it. If it does fall apart in the future it will be an entirely new fault and absolutely nothing to do with me.
So, Should anyone else be mad enough to ask for help, please don’t be offended if I don’t. I’m not sure my nerves could take working on someone else’s car ever again. Oh who am I kidding? I’d be elbow deep in your engine before you finished asking! Even if the fault is with the diff.
As if that success wasn’t enough justification for my instant elevation to the pantheon, Poppy’s ignition woes are also a thing of the past. The condenser and LT connector that I ordered from the Distributer Doctor promptly arrived and were quickly fitted. Poppy is running better and smoother than she has for a while and I was finally able to take her out in the sun and test the alternator conversion too.
All was well. In fact, all was more than well. For years I have had an annoying little rattle on the engine that I have never been able to locate and has lead me to check tappets far more than I needed to but now I’ve found it. It was the dynamo! It’s gone now along with the dynamo.
Poppy is now my daily driver while I bask in my awesomeness as a weekend mechanic.
So that was a short blog with nary an incompetent bumbling fool in sight. Maybe I can even consider a promotion from “Bumbling Incompetent Fool” to “Over Enthusiastic Amateur”? However, The Gloucester Steam Extravaganza long weekend is only just over a week away so I’m pretty sure normal service will be resumed very shortly.
By Mike Peake
Wayhay! The good news is that despite the temptation of G&T in a sunny garden, Friday afternoon found me getting sweaty at the lockup - my alternator conversion is complete and my little red warning light is glowing no more!
The bad news is that the new coil didn’t solve the “missing under load” issue Poppy has been having. As I’ve already changed everything else on the ignition side, I am led to conclude that we may have fallen victim to the poor quality of modern condensers.
Several people have recommended the “Distributor Doctor” and a quick look at their website gave quite interesting reading. Apparently they have done significant testing of these “cheap modern condensers” and found them seriously wanting. They only have 1 to 1.5 meters of internal winding and very poor bonding. The original Lucas spec was for 3m of winding. Distributor Doctor manufacture to the original Lucas spec and don’t cut corners. Or so their blurb says.
Well, this and the recommendations by others has convinced me to give them a go. I am sure that they will be considerably more expensive than the competition but if they work and last, it will represent a saving in the long run. If this doesn’t work, Poppy will go electronic! (I have not been paid by DD to say any of this. Which is disappointing!)
Poppy has been fully apprised of the situation and has reluctantly agreed to wait for even more new parts.
I was due to help Gar with Nelson on Saturday so I went home and packed the CR-V with everything I thought I would need. This included my Father-in-Law’s prized socket set which is on permanent loan, a torque wrench that I won as a prize for star letter in Practical Classics. A set of ramps that I was given by the friend that I helped build Anita’s Mini 26 years ago (he vowed never to work on cars again after that), a mechanics creeper given to me by a neighbour who was clearing out his garage to move (I have yet to use it), axle stands and a trolley jack that I actually bought myself - and of course my Po suit.
I set off for Gar’s at 7 o’clock Saturday morning and arrived at a very presentable 8.45AM. I parked on his drive and changed into my boiler suit/Po costume, unloaded my ramps and creeper all before Gar came out to say hello but he promised me he wasn’t asleep.
We then discussed our respective roles in the project. It was decided that I was chief bumbling fool and Gar would be the apprentice bumbling fool. Nelson was then driven out onto the drive and up on the ramps where we made a discovery. Nelson is somewhat higher than poppy and I was able to fit comfortably underneath without getting wedged, even on the creeper. The oil was drained and sump and spark plugs removed all without any bumbling or drama, so we had a celebratory cup of tea.
I was soon back under the car and needed to position the crank so I could get to the cap bolts. We tried doing this by flicking the key on the starter but the engine turned over too fast and we were getting nowhere. The crank shaft pulley nut was too big for any spanners we had and there was no room to get my new super socket on, so Gar got out a pair of grips that he must have won in a Christmas cracker. After considerable fiddling and twisting we eventually got the crank so I could work on pistons 1 and 4.
It was about now that I discovered a couple of disadvantages of the Mechanics creeper. Whilst turning onto my side to better positing myself, I fell off the creeper, tipping it up and sending all the sump bolts that were carefully stored in the tray across Gar’s front garden. Deciding to find the sump bolts later, I got back on the creeper which was actually remarkably comfy with its padding and head rest.
The socket was fitted to a cap bolt and pressure applied. Nothing happened. I repositioned my grip and applied significantly more pressure. This had zero effect on the bolt but me, now being on wheels, shot out from under the car and crashed into an inconveniently thorny bush.
Bad words were said, the creeper was kicked and verbally abused and discarded to the side of the drive.
I went back under without the creeper and soon had the 1st set of shells out. They were showing significant wear with plenty of copper visible.
The new shells, which had been soaking in oil, were then fitted and the cap bolts torqued to 45lb ft as instructed by Mr Haynes. I don’t know about you, but I do become slightly paranoid when working on someone else’s car, therefore I double-checked that it was all fitted correctly. Then I triple checked, quadruple checked and if I could remember the term for checking a fifth time, I did that too. All looked good so I moved onto piston 4 and repeated the process along with my quality inspection regime.
With the big ends of pistons 1 and 4 done, we had a celebratory cup of tea.
I was soon back under the car and we needed to reposition the crank again so I could get to pistons 2 and 3. Gar’s hands hadn’t recovered from his last attempt at squeezing them between the block and the radiator, so we had another go on the starter motor and got very lucky. I could get to the cap bolts. I did notice that the engine was slightly slower than last time but didn’t think anything of it. The remaining shells were fitted and torqued up and checked repeatedly. Everything was rosy so we had a celebratory cup of tea.
I was fed up of the view from under the car so I sent the apprentice bumbling fool under to remove the old sump gasket from the block. This turned out to be a bit of a pain of a job. Several implements were tried from a flat head screwdriver to a Stanley knife before settling on a wood chisel. Whilst Gar was swearing at the old gasket, I refitted the spark plugs. Then I relieved Gar under the car and continued swearing at the old gasket but we eventually had it all removed and the new gasket and leak free sump was in place.
We were both really rather pleased with ourselves and made comments like “that’s going to be a short blog” along with plenty of congratulatory back slapping. Before having a celebratory cup of tea though, we decided that we would fire Nelson up. So Gar got in and turned the Key. Nothing happened except I was starting to panic. Maybe the battery is a bit flat we thought so tried again with Gar’s booster pack. That didn’t work either. So we tried turning the engine by hand but that effort failed too.
The engine was properly stuck and would not turn over at all. We were a little dejected. Foolishly, Gus Brooks had said to phone him if we needed any advice. So, with bottom lips a trembling but resisting full blown tears we placed a call to the all-knowing Super Enthusiast Man.
“You pair of blithering idiots! “ he said. “You should have tried turning it over BEFORE you put it back together!” Gar and I shared a sheepish look. “Well unless the shells you’ve used are oversize, you must have pinched something together or done it wrong somehow. Whatever the case, you’re going to have to strip it down again!”
We thanked Gus for his advice and waited until we’d hung up before breaking down in tears on each other’s shoulders. When we’d pulled ourselves together, we had a bit of a think about our Guru’s words of wisdom. Because of my paranoid quality regime, I was fairly sure I had put them in correctly. Gar got the e-Bay listing out and checked that he had actually ordered standard shells. He had. The listing said “Standard size Heavy Duty”. However, it was eBay. He may have been fobbed off.
Thinking back about the job, I recalled that the engine had turned over slower after completing the first two pistons and was seized fully after the remaining two were done. This gradual tightening would suggest that the shells were slightly over size. I ran my theory past Gar and he agreed but did add, “Unless you messed up on all of them!” Well I had to accept that, given my history, this was a distinct possibility but I am confident I did them properly. (I reserve the right to retract that statement when we take it apart again.)
So, Did we knuckle down and take it apart again to see what the problem was? No. We went to the Pub! We’ll have another look when shells from a respected Triumph dealership turn up.
To be continued…
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