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She Passed!!

I spent a frustrating day working on the van last Sunday, trying to get Cibil the campervan running in time for Monday’s impending MOT. I attempted to change the tank fuel filter which meant draining all of the fuel out first. When I tried to undo the retaining nut which holds the filter in-place it was too solidly resistant to cooperate with its liberation. Unable to heat up the nut with a blow touch (for obvious reasons) I resorted to plan B. This was just to replace the fuel line and inline filters. I also replaced the HT leads, and dizzy cap as planned.

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I tried to start the van and she refused to churp into life. It had been raining for most of the day and I was soaked. Later on friend Chris arrived. A fresh pair of eyes, some mechanical logic and intelligence is always welcome. He spotted that there was a loose earth on the Dizzy and a loose jet in the carb. After this the van fired into life. With a slight adjustment to the timing she appeared to be running fine. It was dark by this point so we decided not to test it.

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I played about with the van on Monday morning then, with some trepidation, I drove her to the MOT station.

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Thankfully, she passed with just a few minor advisories! The mechanic even remarked that she sounded like she was running very well…… I think the van heard this because she promptly cut out….. By this time I had the MOT slip printed out and in my hand. She restarted and I drove off. Ten yards from the test centre she backfired which sounded like a shot gun! 200 yards later she cut out again.

I eventually managed to restart her and limped her home. She’s now road legal but still needs further investigation.

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campervan, cars, classic cars, Uncategorized, VW, vw camper

Dubfreeze Show 2o17

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Dubfreeze is a VW show in Staffordshire. A large proportion of the stands are for air-cooled bugs and campers although there is a natural progression towards water-cooled stuff as the years go on. Here is some highlights from this year’s show.

There was the usual collection of trade stands and spare parts in the autojumble.

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This bug stood out as being the best in show in my opinion.

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Dubfreeze always signals the start of the season…. Next show Bustypes…

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campervan, classic cars, History, Uncategorized, VW, vw camper

Cars and the Fossil Record

As most palaeontologists will tell you, we don’t have a complete fossil record of the natural world. There appears to be gaps in the full spectrum of plants and animals that are thought to of existed . This could explain more about evolution and diversity of the natural world. These gaps would help to link all elements of the living world together, but without the fossilized evidence this is just an educated guess. Some people use this to bolster their claims of the existence of an overarching deity, a sentient being with a master plan of the direction of life itself. Others can perceive that in order for a plant or animal to become fossilised, they must die within the perfect conditions for fossilisation to take place. This means that a plant or animal that spent most of it’s life in exposed, dry or upland conditions would not have the same probability of getting covered in the protecting sedimentary debris of those in marshy or coastal areas. Therefore we are not fully aware of the biodiversity of periods of time such as the Jurassic age, we only know what elements of this looked like.

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What has this got to do with classic cars?……

Over the years I have attended many classic car shows. Wondering around I marvel at the gleaming automotive exhibits on show. 65% of the cars on display are usually  sports cars or luxury cruisers.  If you were to take this as a cross section of Britain’s automotive history you could easily conclude  that 1960’s and 70’s Britain was full of men in cravats and sporting jackets driving e type Jaguars and MG’s. You could think that very few people drove Austin A35’s and Morris 1100’s. But from memory and photographs I know this not to be true.

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In this typical 1970’s car park picture there are at least seven mini’s but also cars that are very rare now such as an austin farina of which there are only 68 on the UK roads. Three hillman avengers (of which there are 36 still on the road) and a number of austin 1100’s (of which there are now 346 on the road [the 1100 was one of the best selling cars of the 60’s in the UK]), the Triumph GT6 (876 left on the roads) and Jaguar 240/340 (1427 left) are clearly in the minority.

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Above is another photo of an English car park in 1974. It is peppered in the obligatory mini’s, escort’s and 1100’s with hardly any car that could be classed as sporting or exotic.

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1970’s shrewsbury

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Shrewsbury in 2017. Will any of these cars exist in 43 year time?

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This is what you typically see at classic car meets now.  This is nice, but it does rather misrepresent the era. Sometimes, without the protective embrace of a dry garage and the foresight of their owners, the once commonly  mundane can become the rarest and most interesting. .

The same ‘rose tinted’ views could be said for most cultural aspects of 60’s and 70’s .Britain. When talking to people who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s they will tell you that crime levels were nonexistent, the summers were warm and long and everyone was happy. We know this is not really the case. The Beatles, Stones and Kinks did not solely dominate the charts in the 60’s….  Frank  Ifield and Rolf Harris had hits too!  I believe that we have been very fortunate to have lived through a period of relative economic and civil stability over the last 30 years and therefore we have become disenfranchised from the real issues that are important in this world such as equality and peace. Society now feels hard done by because as humans we have a tendency to only remember the good things from our past. Therefore we need the Austin 1100 and Moskvich 412 to keep the automotive fossil records alive and to remind us how life really was. It’s ok that everyone is not driving a Porsche or an Aston Martin now. The mundane is as much part of normal life now as it was in the 60’s, only with aircon and electric windows!

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motoring and cars, Uncategorized, vw camper

Why classic cars?

I have always loved cars. Much to my parent’s dismay, my first word was not Mummy or Daddy, it was Mini. Toy cars became my favourite things to play with. Even as a small child the motorcar represented freedom and adventure.

It would appear that cars made during and before the 1970’s often displayed many human characteristics. They could be temperamental, unreliable and unrefined. The construction of cars also appeared to done largely by hand. Nuts and bolts were not concealed behind plastic trim and the bare shell was clearly visible from inside which gave them a down to earth feel. Like humans, for no apparent reason car seamed to have their off days and sometimes faults would rectify themselves without any mechanical intervention.

In an old car your senses are often stimulated in a way that the modern Eurobox fails to do. Smells of oil, petrol, wood, leather or leatherette helps to give the car a personally. Poor fitting panels bring in drafts and smells from the outside. Noise and vibrations coming from the engine and drivetrain let you know the car is working. These are traits that the modern motor manufacture has tried to eliminate over years of development. Producers respond to costumer expectations of owning a silently operating, reliable, draft-free  form of transportation. But this often curates an artificial perception of speed, control and invincibility.

In the 1970’s, car’s often became to feel like part of the family. This was certainly true is my family’s case. My father’s first car was a 1967 Morris Traveller which he brought after my younger sister was born in 1975. My father called ‘him’ Denis, after a footballer called Denis Law. Denis (the car) had come out of the factory as a tortoise coloured Morris, but by the time my father had brought it (from a vicar apparently) the rust had started to set in. My father painted the wings with red oxide paint in a vain attempt to halt the rust process. After many years of ownership Denis failed the MOT. My father didn’t part with the car (maybe due to my demands?) and parked ‘him’ in a yard at the back of a friends house. For a year or so we took regular trips to visit Denis as if he was an elderly family member in a retirement home. After a while my father reluctantly sold the car for spares. I still remember going to say goodbye. I still own the chrome hub caps and ornamental bonnet handle, which I have on display in my living room.

a1 Me at the wheel of  Denis c 1977

Over time both my father and my stepfather had various cars that won my affection. At one point stepfather had three Renault 4’s (two for spares) and an very rusty Austin Healey  Sprite. I used to play for hours in these partly dismantled vehicles, pretending to drive for miles. Growing up in a very rural part of Shropshire, this was the best playground for miles. (possibly the best playground in the country!) For years my father had an 850cc Austin mini with the reg YUK 226M. Yuk became as much part of the family as Denis and took all over the country. After this family motoring became very boring, with exception of a Morris minor  convertible  my parents brought a predictably dull series of metros and montegos. leading me to conclude  that anything produced after 1979, particularly if it was British, is soulless, dull and uninteresting

thumbnail_img_20170122_192044409 Me and my mate Jim with YUK

jr26 My dad’s brand new metro  in 1984. He looks like a proud man…. It was the city x model after all!!!

As the years have past and I too had own a series of predictably dull euroboxes. After many conversations with friends I became nostalgic about past motoring icons. In 2001 my friend Chris, who owned many old vehicles convinced me to buy myself a classic car. After reading countless classic car mags I opted to by a Triumph Spitfire 1500. I will write about this at a later date  but needless to say it expanded my mechanical knowledge and highlighted how extremely fortunate I am to have such a supportive and dear group of friend around me who enabled me to experience the ups and downs of classic motoring on a shoestring budget.

joel-spitfire2 A quick engine swap in 2004

Since 2001 I have owned a few spitfires and a number of VW campervans. At home my drive is currently full of vehicles owned by myself and my girlfriend that are in various states of repair. All of which I intend to write about in the future.

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