Autumn Extravaganza Debrief

ight, you 'oribble shower, the outcome of the Autumn Extravaganza, by the numbers... wait for it, wait for it...

Day One

Arrived at the Vermuyden (microcar carrier currently on patrol in the Fens as part of an ongoing projection of Albanian naval power in the region) at just before 10am and Martin cranked himself over on the chain ferry. David K was already present having camped over after arriving late the previous night in Mostyn the Austin, and Martin's other pal David McKee had driven his own accommodation. Vermuyden: The Albanian Navy's Finest...Vermuyden: The Albanian Navy's Finest... At various points during the next couple of hours we were joined by Juliet (Control) and Jim (via motorbike, obviously), and Martin's recent new acquaintances Jeff and Sheila in their yellow Bond Mk F, and Arthur (another of Martin's local friends) and his adult son. After a bit of breakfast and nattering we had a nose round Martin's vehicle collection with a view to choosing the day's toys ("no, that one's not working, nor's that. That one is, that one should be alright, it was last time I used it...") followed by fuelling and general fiddling.

Ready To Go?: Deciding which of Martin's cars to take.Ready To Go?: Deciding which of Martin's cars to take.By mid morning we'd settled on the initial driving arrangements: Jeff and Sheila would stay with their Mk F, the Davids would take Martin's Mk1 Scootacar, Arthur and son would take Martin's Mk G, I would try to raise my Messerschmitt hormones by taking the KR200 and Martin would take Control in his yellow Berkley T60, with Jim biking at the rear (imagine the fumes!).

Right chaps, pay attention...

Plan A: Head out for a fairly long run (approximately 25 miles) to the Kings Lynn Sailing Club, described by Martin as effectively a private pub with a nice view out onto the river and good (and remarkably cheap) food, followed by a visit to Martin's favourite MOT station that got caught in a time warp 50 years ago along with its owners. Good plan, yes? So, we headed out in a pall of blue smoke onto the A134...

Berkley TroubleBerkley TroubleAfter about an hour our party was to be found about a mile down the road. In the intervening time we had lost the Scootacar from the back of the group, the yellow Bond had conked out for no clearly apparent reason, the Berkley, having stopped for the Bond couldn't be restarted as its starter hadn't the guts to turn the engine over, and the exhaust had fallen off the Messerschmitt. Of the cars that had set out only the Bond Mk G was still running.

The 'schmitt exhaust ("what --- you didn't use a clamp on the ring nut!") was reattached once the engine had cooled a bit (some bottled water helped with that) but only hand tight plus a couple of taps with a screwdriver and hammer, and having lost its gasket it seemed likely that it wouldn't hold for long. The Berkley was given some attention from some piece of electrical gear that Martin had brought along and was coaxed reluctantly into life again. After a while DavidK and Jim arrived having headed back to the boat to swap the Scootacar for the red Bond MkA after it turned out that its brakes were almost nonexistent.

But, Jeff's yellow and white Bond just wouldn't cooperate. Sometimes it would start, sometimes it wouldn't, but it wouldn't run and pull for more than a couple of seconds before stalling. Fuel? Hmm, the inline filter looked empty but the float chamber was full. Spark? Took out the plug and watched whilst the engine was turned --- no problems there. Flooded? Could be, but that usually passes once you get running. Coil? Perhaps the spark is too week if the starter is running. Let's try some push starts. Well, that got the thing started but it always died again shortly afterwards.

By this time it was well past 1pm (1300 hours --- Control) and frustration and hunger had started to displace the cheerful atmosphere of problem solving. But with the yellow Bond still not running, the 'schmitt likely to lose its exhaust again and still more than 20 miles to drive it was decided to switch to Plan B...

Crikey skipper, what now?

Plan B: Leave the yellow bond, head 7 miles or so up to Cockley Clay to a pub called the Twenty Churchwardens for an alternative 'good yet reasonably priced' lunch, and then return for another go at fixing or trailer rescue.

Lunch (finally)Lunch (finally)Jeff found a space in the Mk G while Sheila had the pleasure (?) of a ride in the back of the 'schmitt (with the roof down), and with the exception of some fighting with the down-changes in the 'schmitt and a quickly corrected wrong turn we all arrived at the Twenty Churchwardens in one piece and (almost) one group for an overdue lunch that was, as advertised, very good and very inexpensive.

Back to the BondBack to the BondBack at the field some time later there followed another period of tinkering before an electrical fault (I forget what it was) was identified as the reason for the Bond's erratic running. With the Mk F apparently back in action but with no hope of making it to the MOT station that time forgot we instead headed off to March for a nose round Jeff's 'shed' and the vehicle collection it houses. And what a shed and what a collection! This just shows what you can really achieve with a barn conversion --- a nice house with a BIG shed attached. Lurking inside were another Bond (painted up in Noddy red and yellow) a Lomax, an MG Midget a white Ford Popular, a black '50s Ford Prefect (nicely inconspicuous) numerous motorbikes and a '70s Rolls Royce Silver Shadow converted to LPG. Obviously this lot (plus the supply of doughnuts and teacakes from Sheila) kept everyone well content until it was time to leave (in the dark) for the drive back to the Vermuyden.

Omnidave: How did he do that then?Omnidave: How did he do that then?

Day one concluded with a long session of Transport videos from the McKeever archive and highlights from Hell Drivers (1957,

Day Two

Plan A: Martin, David K, David M and me to head out to Stretham to collect the luscious Lucy (friend of Control) from her boat and thence on to Juliet and Jim's for a barbeque and trip out on Jim's newly restored boat.

Following a bit of fiddling with the Scootacar it was decided that the brake problem of the previous day wouldn't be so easy to fix. Also, the front suspension and tracking on the 'schmitt were looking rather suspect and in need of correction, so in the end it was decided to take just two cars, the Bond Mk G that was alone in that it had performed without fault the previous day (David M plus me) and the Nobel 200 (Martin plus David K). With the exception of a bit of a wagging tail on the Nobel (traced to insufficient tyre pressure) both cars made good progress in excellent weather, and the trip out to Stretham took in the crossing of a bridge that wasn't there (BUMS like doing that sort of thing --- see following panel), apparently constructed for the convenience of crossing one of the many channels that criss-cross the countryside out there but never added to maps or satnav systems --- pretty steep thing it was too.

After a good hour or so of noisy driving ("God, it's nice when it stops" --- David M"God, it's nice when it stops" --- David M) Lucy was picked up (so to speak) and a last hop made to Juliet and Jim's waterside chalet where we found the barbeque ready to roll and the boat moored at the bottom of the garden ready to go. General chatter and eating ensued before we boated off in search of a pub. Jim's Boat at the PubJim's Boat at the PubAlthough large enough to carry six of us standing at the back or holding on to the sides the boat was not so big, so it was surprising to hear that its previous owner had lived on it for 20 years!

By the time we floated back the daylight had gone, and I dare say that we didn't impress Juliet and Jim's neighbours much when the Bond and Nobel fired up. Well, the Nobel fired up but the Mk G, having worked flawlessly up to that point, finally decided it needed a bit of fussing before we could crash off over the residential speed humps and head back.

BUMS who log in can see more pics from this nonsense; all mine are here: --- perhaps David K has some more?

A Bridge Too Thin

The following took place during the evening of one of the East Anglian Microcar Club Hengrave Hall rallies (I forget when, it doesn't matter).

Eccles, being a former inmate of Hengrave Hall was very familiar with the surrounding area, and had located a bridge (I forget where, it doesn't matter) that was closed to motor vehicles (I forget why, ditto) and defended with strategically placed bollards at each end that prevented any "normal" car from crossing. Eccles sensibly interpreted this as simply a device that ensured that the bridge remained exclusively available for microcars. Granted, microcars couldn't actually fit past the bollards... but they could be carried!

So, after giving the idea careful consideration as the last item on the Saturday evening agenda ("that's insane... let's do it!") the BUMS set of aboard Bumbly (Trojan) and Tealeaf ('schmitt) to do the deed.

In both cases it turned out to be possible to get the cars through gap between the bollard and the bridge provided that the gap was approached at an angle (the front end passing through with sufficient clearance) and the back end then manhandled round so as to clear the edges. In the case of the Trojan this was largely down to its width being close to the limit of available space: For the 'schmitt clearance was fine, but its atrocious turning circle meant that it couldn't thread through the gap unaided. Both cars then crossed the bridge and negotiated the exit successfully, and after a quick bit of self-congratulation the BUMS then decided on the logical next step... to cross back the other way!

This should have been easy having gained the experience of the first crossing, but perhaps this made people a little less careful, and somewhere along the line one of the 'schmitt's indicators got pranged off. But the pieces were rescued and restored using superglue, so that's alright.

Sadly no photographic evidence of this adventure exists. Sorry.

No microcars or BUMS were injured (badly) in the performance of this manoeuver.