Friday, 28 December 2007

Prop Me Up

This day-glow cowling caught my eye as I passed the hangar. That's a Moraine MS 733 Alcyon looking all colourful, behind that a DeHavilland Chipmunk and in the front is the port end of a Miles Gemini - offering a glimpse of the little Bristol Cirrus. The great thing here is that all this hardware is under the cover of a WW I Bessanau canvas de-rigeable hangar. These incredible structures littered northern France during the Great War and this one still keeps the rain off.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Getting up Steam

By far the easiest way to set the dining room ablaze is to fire up some steam power after a big lunch, very seasonal - and the smell of burning meths and furniture is such an evocative stab. This is the 1965 Mamod SE2 out for an airing. This motor has previously powered a sizeable Meccano crane and a ferris wheel but on this ocasion is just having a no-load test run to provide a postprandial soundtrack for my siesta. If you haven't been able to fire up your steam engine yet this Christmas you really ought to get on with it.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Roll out the Barrel

Christmas treat for everyone. Who could fail to get excited by this ? Here's a barrel and sleeve from a Bristol Centaurus IV. The main reason this has to be here is that an eighteen cylinder sleeve valve radial engine that develops 2500 horse power at 2500 revs can't be ignored. A few years ago I had a Hawker Tempest project, that's the Tempest that superseded the Typhoon towards the end of the war. The mark II actually failed to see service in the war because of engine development issues and was beaten to the spot by the mark V which was powered by the 12 cylinder Napier Sabre. However the II was an extremely slippery machine and, personally, I think much prettier for not having the gaping rad under the engine. Archive's in a bit of a state but I'll post some pics when I find them. In the meanwhile feast your eyes on these puppies. MORE POWER.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Crow in Vane

Early morning shot of the local weather crow doings its job - light Westerly. I quite like the way his mate's waiting patiently for his turn. The sun was just making itself known over the wood-crested hill to the south, bathing the top of the spire and fields behind in a pink wash. Just out of shot is a fine public house where Timothy Tailor's Landlord used to be served to the order, "a pint of grumpy old bastard - please". A friend of mine fell into the fire in the bar and set himself alight, nobody'd spare their beer to put him out so he lost his Barbour coat and most of his hair.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Santa's Grotto

Oh, the seasonal joy of a well organised 'shop. Can't fit everything in one pic so herewith only 8 internal combustion engines. Out of shot, on and around the bench are another 5. There are two Howard rotovators in the corner there, a 350 with a 5hp Kohler and, for'd of that, a Gem with the lovely Hatz diesel, the latter started first swing after 13 years of slumber ! In the background is the old slappy 3 main 2 1/4 series 2A motor, the Wheelhorse has a 13hp Kohler and in the series is the replacement 5 main ex series 3 motor. 4 cylinder International BD154 motor in the 434 and I nearly missed the Briggs & Stratton in the Mountfield, Komatsu stroker in the strimmer, behind the Series bonnet is another B&S for a go-kart project. The photocopier's electric and the bent filing cabinet is ex the A43 incident witnessed by Lord Ashley. Ho Ho Ho

Pickled Cabbage

The B250 was a useful tractor in many respects but having no live-drive rendered it pretty useless for running the topper. What I hadn't appreciated until I came to flog it was just how popular they are with the vintage ploughing community. The guy who came to pick this up arrived in a rotten Bedford TK on trade plates with no windscreen - all the way from a fen. To keep the chill off, he was completely covered from head to foot in old potato sacks. He did bring me some cabbages and his young lad (at least seventy) who was driving wouldn't let go of the lorry for fear of getting lost. This transaction must have been eight years ago now and I saw the tractor again in a ploughing competition this September. The jar on the exhaust stack is ex Branston Pickle.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Flight of the Virgin

I was delighted to catch this lot on their way to New York for a spot of Christmas shopping - "it makes so much sense daaarling, what with the dollar rate and that". I was particularly struck with the idea of the Virgin up there, bulging with shoppers hightailing it across the Atlantic, while down here at this time of year she's bulging with child and heading for Bethlehem to pay some more tax. I also rather like the bronze cross. On a clear day like this you can hear the distant roar of the Rolls Royce Trent 500s - a good soundtrack to any story. FULL THROTTLE.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Wholemeal Toast

I just love the way the countryside is littered with tell-tale signs of excitement. People behave so differently around incidents like this - unfortunately many miss out on the full experience by slipping too easily into panic and rush around failing to take in the basic visual spectacle. Fire in particular has so much to offer, not just visually, but the fizzing and popping sounds of small components giving up their elements can be such a joy - then, of course, there are the smells associated with burning tyres, paint, fuel and the standing wheat crop. Luckily the agricultural community is pretty relaxed about tidying up after itself so we get to appreciate the moment for years to come.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

One For All ......

The Beech Musketeer was never much of an aircraft and this one finished its duties looking even worse than normal. There are very few sounds as attention grabbing (albeit short-lived) as that of a metal prop' at full chat trying to plough a furrow for itself. I'm particularly pleased with the wind sock remnants lodged in the starboard wing, the pole neatly sliced its way through the leading edge as far as the spar before flinging the little four seater to the ground in a flurry of stubble, soil and scrap metal - how satisfying's that ! Definition of a good pilot - same number of landings as take-offs. MORE REVS

Monday, 10 December 2007

Manifold Pleasures

What goes in really needs to come out, and the LaFrance is no exception to the process. Inlet manifold is missing the 2 5/8" up-draught Stromberg carb which was in pieces on the 'bench - sorry. Real simple engineering here, but elegant of course and very exciting, obviously. If you can stand the fun, there's a good glimpse of the Scintilla mag. In the exhaust pic that looks remarkably like a 190 Cosworth in the background which may appear later on in these pages.

Cereal Rain

This picture evokes feelings of despair and disappointment at an un-dramatic, almost resigned pace. As the flood waters rise and fall, so the struggling farmer can appreciate his predicament at the speed of nature. Not a particularly sharp or arty pic I fear but I love the image as a metaphor more than a trick of the light. Rather than shout about the futility of man's struggle against nature, this picture tells me that the farmer has won his battle, shelved the crop and pissed off to the pub for a well earned freshener after a shitty day - job done !

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Drink Up !

A30 Okehampton - roadside brew-up. These little journey breaks were a necessity of '60s trips to the West Country. A scalding pot of tea and much argument about the wisdom of locating the Primus under the petrol filler cap were obligatory details. I'm particularly pleased to see an appearance by the massive home-made first aid kit, this may have had something to do with the Primus. I referred, in comments at Unmitigated Nostalgia, to a fruit cake incident and I think this photo precedes it by a few minutes. The must-press-on approach resulted in many such scrapes including family members being left behind at filling stations, recklessly figuring they had time for a wee while the car was being gassed up. This car did some big trips, most notably one to Elba '69 in time to watch the flag planting trip to the moon by the Yanks on a very decrepit television. A large ham and a round of Parmesan were lost off the roof at a roundabout incident in Turin rushing back to get the car on the train to Paris. MUST PRESS ON !

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Mind Le Gap

Mostly shot through the 'screen or sun-roof at speed I'm afraid. Couldn't resist this typically French piece of engineering - A43 East of Chambery heading into the Alps. The longest traffic jams ever recorded in the universe took place here before the construction of this weaving and lurching flyover. I just love the cantilevered extrusion process that sees sections of roadway head off in the hope of meeting up with their on-coming opposite partner to take the strain before they topple into the valley below. From each set of columns the deck is cast into thin air in both directions, each balancing the other, minor wobblies are taken up by the tensioned steel cable tie-downs - one hopes.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Mi Casa Volante !

I can't believe this is the only pic I have of the Jungmann. The Bucker Jungmann, put to very effective use by the Luftwaffe in aerobatic competitions in the thirties, was settled with the Spanish after the war. It was manufactured and supplied to the Spanish air force as a primary trainer and in use right through to the '80s. Being Spanish built (1958) this is actually a CASA 1-131-E3B powered by the Enma Tigre motor. This plane spent its first month in this country chained to a stanchion in the Customs shed at Southend Airport - some technicality. Beautifully engineered and weighing only 420 kilos this was such a pleasure to fly and sorely missed.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Double Eighty

What are the chances ..? Fancy that - not one, but two brand new Series Ones being delivered by rail, fresh from the factory. I was particularly pleased to catch this picture just as the Willys was scooting over the bridge, bringing together the two great dinosaurs of the off road world. I think there may be a bit of blog weaving going on here but the coincidence was too great not to post. Off to find some more tractor pics in the archive.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Serial Sunshine

Ex military Series 2A '61, although demob'd '71 (hence the K plate). Great litle project truck, this pic on arrival day - beautiful sunshine. Things are a little different now. Engine was a bit slappy so came out (see first entry in these pages). Found a 5 main series 3 motor on e-bay and dropped that in c/w S3 box and tranny. Just been in the 'shop for a spot of welding but pretty much ready for action. Reverting to rag top but keeping the military bumper and heavy grill. No doubt an up-date shortly. I ended up with this truck by standing around at my local fixer's discussing with Billy-Bob, Digger-Bob and Jim-Bob the chances of finding a tax exempt project such as an early series -" what's that blue pile of metal in the brambles over your shoulder ?" - "blimey, fogot that was there - have that one" !!!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Two Stroke Mix

The two stroke engine is such a flexible beast, without the need for a wet sump or oil reservoir the thing can whizz away at phenominal revs in any orientation. This trick has lead the stroker to find itself put to use in some imaginative applications. I include this simply by way of demonstrating what a right pickle we should all be in without it. The number of times a daiquiri making session has failed through lack of power is of serious concern - no excuses now - MORE POWER.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Pisa Expressway

Named after a road, like many Lancias, the Aurelia took its title from the 350 (odd) BC Via from Rome to Pisa. These cars must have nearly killed Lancia, the innovation and engineering was stunning. Conceived by Vittorio Jano (this late B20 coupe being bodied by Pininfarina) the car was based around a 2451cc 60degree aluminium V6, engine speed prop to a rear trans-axle clutch, gearbox, diff and inboard brake package with independant suspension - all very trick. Run-about choice of Mike Hawthorn, these cars really were the thing to drive in the '50s. Whoops - is that another bloody CX in the background ? Can't get away from them.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Tank Tops & Turtle Wax

A seventies feast. The DS was my first Citroen, about '79. This is a '74 D Super 5, a later, 2175cc development of the old 4 cylinder push-rod motor, with a 5 speed 'box. That Beetle was a great car, 1303 S 1600cc (bay screen) - died in a fire, Cromwell Rd around '83/4. The R4 L was around for a few years but took a bad roll near Kenilworth and never really recovered and had to be abandoned in Belfast. Can't see the plate but the GS must have been pretty new when this pic was taken.

Farmer Drama

Right, that's it - Rory has to go! I sort of gave him the benefit of the doubt - seed of the great Brian's loins, conception in the back of the Range Rover etc etc. I had also assumed his presence would be a passing annoyance, not dissimilar to elevator musac, but it looks like he's here to stay. I was wondering if it would be possible for Jennifer to back over him in the Disco', rushing off to get some mixed peel from the deli in Borchester for Jack's birthday cake. In a particularly dark moment I hoped he might get caught up in the bumper and be dragged off down the track obscured by a cloud of farmer's dust - Brian running in pursuit, waving his arms and cursing his long suffering wife. A little hopeful, but perhaps we could convince Sam Peckinpah to capture the scene on celluloid.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Ou est le savon ?

That masterpiece of engineering that is the Barrage de Villefort in the Cevennes was in a spot of bother when I drove by on this occasion. The scene should be of a 450 acre reservoir ! Grateful for the photo opportunity I pulled over to take in the rather sinister spectacle. The sunken boats on the South shore are really quite disturbing and the plan to simply elevate the old road is beautifully exposed here. If you get a chance the D906 from Langogne, South to Ales is a splendid road, hounded much of the way by the even more breathtaking railway - buy a ticket from Le Puy and head South.

Tailgate Tales

Included for the benefit of Jeep Rebuild contributor, Justin. This fine GS Break lost it's tailgate on the Great North Road, it was sadly rendered useless by the following F12 eight wheeler. A few tools were indeed lost over the following months. The modified front and near-side body work is courtesey of an early morning Fallow strike - (one for the freezer).

Friday, 30 November 2007

Questi giorni quando.....

.....vieni il belle sole - Couple of things to note here: that is without doubt the best high speed trailer I've ever had - mind you on the way back from Sterling this day, third lane 90 on the M6 earned me some bonus points ! On arriving to pick the Miura up we were met by the sound of a smoke alarm going off in the house - no answer at the door and a peek through the letter box revealed the cause. The car vendor was face down in a puddle of special brew on the door mat and there was a smouldering 6 inch hole in the carpet producing a very un-pleasant cloud of smoke where his fag had fallen from his burnt fingers. Quick soak from the garden hose through the letter box woke him up and put out the fire. I have vague memories of taking him and his girlfriend (who looked remarkably like Mini the Minx) for a curry after loading up, they travelled in the back of the pick-up with a bag full of Special Brew. On days like these - eh.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Burnt Sienna

It all happened VERY quickly after this moment! No3 in the CX archive (Red 22 Saloon). Coming back from collecting a new Tigre engine for the Jungman in Albacette, I found a handful of 12g shells amongst the debris in the foot well, thinking this might cause a scrape at the next border post it was deemed wise to dispose of them. Not wanting to waste the cordite and pass up the oppotunity of a 100mph whoosh ............. The car actually filled with smoke in a split second and the deluxe velour roof lining caught fire like gasoline vapour, taking most of my hair with it. Needless to say the Spanish motorway police were very cool about the whole incident. Fantastic skid marks (not just mine) which the police wouldn't let me photograph - sorry.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Max torque.............

........from zero revs. Just in case you weren't sure - getting your hands on a flat torque curve is a good thing. Being a novice I was sadly denied the opportunity of hauling some rolling stock to fully appreciate the joy of steam power on this occasion - but frankly, load or not, winding this thing up was a hoot. When you get anywhere near a chance to have a go, fight your way over the push-chairs and get to the front of the queue regardless.

La Belle France

A little more revealing for those with a strong enough constitution. Twin cam side-valve, twin plugs, twin ignition. Outboard of the cam drives, and gear driven also, are the twin output shafts, one driving the coolant pump and the other driving the beautiful Scintilla magneto. There is a secondary coil ignition system running a second set of plugs, switchable to either or both. Unit head/barrels cast in pairs are the order of the day here. The strength of the LaFrance engine design is in simple solid engineering, as a result these run for ever. (84 yrs so far). A few guest appearences here: nice pair of Tilley lamps and a cute little British Anzani outboard hiding in the shadows, and of course the Matchless G3 nosing in.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

On Safari

A tow hitch has proved useful more than once. Leaving The Dolphin Hotel in Gt Yarmouth early one morning I moved off without waitng for the suspension to rise and took 40 foot of railings with me, having snuggly parked the ball hitch in the fence the night before. The incident depicted here was the result of poor hand-brake adjustment, a domino effect resulted in the Fiesta being written off (see the misaligned door), the Astra van behind that badly hurt and the Balisha beacon behind that taking a lie down - three down and hardly a scratch ! This particular CX (number 4 of 5) was a diesel (filler cap patina), very sluggish but a tough old bruiser and certainly did some damage over the years.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Up In Smoke

I may well have been watching a bit of Cheach & Chong when exploding car noises caused me to stick my head out of the window and see my beloved Ami Super going up. Of the 1/2 dozen Amis in the archive, at least 2 were Supers. Fantastic 1015cc of stealth rocket. I reckon to have posted some of my best A-B times in this great little car. Inboard discs were impossible to keep cool and after a hectic few miles could actually boil the fluid and render themselves all but useless. Brake fire was the suspected cause of this disaster. Ooh - is that a bit of Volvo C202 action going on in the background - great truck - swimmer too.


Steady as she goes. So comfortable was the old CX that minor off road excursions generally went un-noticed. Unfortunately this resulted in a write off (bent chasis,as demonstrated by the cracked windscreen). This is only a part of the CX archive, most of them ended up poorly but carry a good tale.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Low Life

Very poor image quality again I'm afraid (this may become a theme).
Ah now then - the old Vought F4U (Corsair). The thing I love about this plane is squirreled away in the design brief - MORE POWER -. Earliest models where producing in excess of 100 horses for each of the 18 cylinders. To get anywhere near max use of the power (later well over 2000 horse power) a massive 13ft+ prop was required. Flying at this sort of altitude becomes a whole new discipline with these statistics in mind ! Piloted here by Pierre Dargue (sadly no longer with us). I managed to snap this shot as I fumbled to get the instamatic out of my pocket. Most of the camera shake is caused by the noise, I'm sure. PS I've just done some basic trig on the full print and calculate the prop tip to be around 22 feet off the ground in the original picture. The second (top) pic is simply included for those who don't think size matters or don't know what 13ft+ looks like.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Chain Drive

Ah - the old American LaFrance '23 pump truck. Shown here in '90 odd, freshly arrived from Mr Halbert E Fillinger III, this litle number is ex Chicago FD and about to be shortened a little, rid of it's twin wheel rear hubs and hit the road for general touring duties. The 9 litre straight 4 side-valve is not the most efficient motor I've ever run but with the flywheel reduced by 28 lbs and the crank balanced it goes some. Braking at the rear only with massive drums is somewhat hairy thanks to the external-band emergency brake preventing the poor cast drums from getting rid of any heat - smell good though.
Is that a bit of early '70s R4 showing itself behind the MF35 ? Wot next ?

Sat Nav 2

At the risk of being repetitive I felt this warrented inclusion in these pages. I appreciate the image quality is poor but my memory is pretty sharp. As you can see this is Portugal, again mid '80s. The sat nav system here is fitted to the bonnet of a rental Renault 5. This modified version includes significant up-grades including the provision of bread rations to sustain adventurers. I notice the positon indicator has a more manicured and altogether more feminine appearence. Not sure about the fags but they could be Fortuna

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Sat Nav

This is the satelite navigation system installed on the bonnet of my '76 Dyane 6. No doubt you've recognised the Ronis car keys as favoured by M. Citroen. This picture was actually taken in July 1984 at some point in an expedition that required much taking of wine and food - this may become a common thread. It is worth pointing out that I have run in the region of 25 Citroens over the years and no doubt some will feature in these pages over the coming months.

Monday, 19 November 2007

A start

I have fired up this picture by way of a start. I happen to be engrossed in a long drawn out rebuild of a Series 2A and the process bears a not inconsiderable resemblance to my blog publishing. As you can see this is what is known in the trade as a "fresh air" workshop (garden). Out of shot is a very decrepit chain hoist tied to the loader bucket on the front of my 434 International.

The title of this blog would suggest a leaning toward transport or engineering as a background but I am sure this will prove not to be the case. The theme was actually inspired by some 16mm footage I saw years ago of blackthorn scrubland being re-claimed to agriculture in the '50s employing horses, traction engines and crawler tractors all working alongside each other - what a fantastic representation of the first half of the twentieth century.

My favourite observation of the last few days would be the scene I came across in my local on Saturday - I did not have a camera with me or you would be able to share the very vivid image I carry in my head - ( now blogging, I will of course be sporting a camera at all times). The image is of a pub table littered with the usual accoutrements of a lunch time social, a pair of pewter pint pots, one a little new for my taste but the other proudly displaying perhaps a century's patina and a few dents, mid-game card hands face down, cribbage score board looking pretty even, (un-used Swan Vestas of course) and an open packet of B&H. The latter giving us the clue as to the where-abouts of the two card card players - outside having a fag ! Poor sods.