Monday, 29 December 2008

Lost in France.

It’s been a pleasantly uneventful run down through France, but tonight, in Valence we stumbled across a bar near the station with a barmaid who resembled Pocha Hontas. Several beers later Kevin and I ducked out leaving Ian and Steve to finish off the many beers. The photos show; a line up of us four somewhere in France, a meal (quite good from memory) some bread and water, as our budget is smaller than last year, and our new mate in Chalons en Champagne who photographed us pumping up tyres. This is the build up to real adventure.... it says here. This is Toby Savage for 1943 Jeep Rebuild Blog 29th December 2008. Just.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Oily Rag.

I know it’s really sad blogging on Christmas Day, but I was so moved by this picture my Mum made a card from that I had to share it. This was a Jaguar XK140 fixed head coupe my pal John and I ‘did up’ back in 1970. We bought it for £1000 and sold it for £2000 after fitting a replacement engine and respraying it. The engine came from a 3.4 Mk 11 scapper and we transferred the ‘C Type’ head from the knackered engine. She was sweet. It also had J.A. Pierce mag alloy wheels and Jag XJ6 tyres. John is bent double sanding with a pneumatic sander and I am sporting a flat cap sanding manually on the left. It looks as though we were flatting down the first coat of primer. It was a lovely car. Happy Christmas.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Red tape.

I’m going to hijack my own blog to bring live coverage of this years folly to Libya. There are a few dust filled internet cafes in Libya and if I can get to them it should work. The trip involves my Land Rover, so there is a vague Jeep link.

On Monday, I went to ‘dat’ London. I had to go, to present myself, in person, at The Libyan Embassy, the only shabby building in Knightsbridge, to apply for a visa. This is a change to previous years when it was all done by remote control. In a tit for tat retaliation against our own immigration, who make it very difficult for any Libyan to enter Britain, the Libyan’s have made it pretty tricky for us. 12 of our team of Geographers and Archaeologists pitched up at 9.30 to start the process. Each application had to be accompanied by air, or ferry tickets, a bank statement, and an invitation from Libya. Then our application would be considered. In-Sh-Allah we may get the passports back in about ten days. My ticket proved I was sailing from Marseilles to Tunis on 30th December, but this was accepted in a marvellous piece of North African logic. We then were led, one by one, into a back room to have our fingerprints scanned to add ‘biometric details’ to our passports. Whilst there we picked up the passports of those members of the group who had been through the same procedure two weeks ago. No sign of any ‘biometric details’ in their passports. The whole lot will be filled away on a CD somewhere and left on a London Bus.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Homeward bound.

And so, the day arrived when I drove the Jeep home from Matlock to Leicester. Saturday 6th December. We had been camping up in Edale for the weekend and swung by Matlock on the way back to pick the Jeep up. By 6.00 pm it was a little chilly so I opted to wear ALL my clothes. This would be the biggest journey the Jeep had done in 5, 10, 20, 30 years. Anybody’s guess. Jo was able to drive the Land Rover and act as back up. A tall order as she had not driven it in over a year, but she managed. I chose the M1 route, out of simplicity. We set off at a cracking pace with Matt following for a short distance. Within a couple of miles he sped by, stopped me, and said the rear lights weren’t on. My fault. Funny military switch. Once on the Motorway we settled into a steady 50 mph cruising speed and yes, I was a bit chilly, but I thought of all the young soldiers who had frozen driving identical Jeeps in the War. I had nothing to complain about and the risk of being shot at was minimal. Though I was shot at on the M69 once! The Jeep ran very well, its new engine feeling powerful and no alarming noises. It was great fun! We made it back in good time. Tucked it up in the garage, where it will probably remain until the Spring.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

DVLA Dealings.

The process of registering the Jeep has now taken two months. Firstly I had to join the Military Vehicle Trust (£30), then they sent a chap to verify the age of the Jeep, which I know to be 1943. (His travel expenses £45). Then I had to swap my old Land Rover insurance cover over to the Jeep. (£20). Finally, today, armed with; The Californian log book, the importation document, the M.O.T., the insurance cover note, the MVT Age verification, two forms of identification and the Vehicle Licence Application Form V55/5, I drove to the nearest DVLA office, Nottingham! I was expecting a wait of about half an hour following a tip off from my mate, ‘Wet Paint’ Tony, so took a flask of coffee and the Daily Telegraph. I took a seat in a waiting room with about 5 other people and was called to the desk within about 3 minutes. Things were looking good. I was seen by Phil, a man of a certain age, who looked like he still lived with his Mum and had an unhealthy interest in train sets. Within ten minutes I was back in the car heading for Leicester. Job done. Within 72 hours I should have an allocated registration number and a zero rated tax disk. What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Fully recovered.

It all started off as a pretty normal Monday. Work not quite kicked in for the week and the gentle fall of drizzle outside. I try to fill quiet days with Landy activity and am starting the lengthy process of preparing my Carawagon for a trip to Libya in Jan ‘09. Rather than leave things to the last minute I try and get the truck well sorted at least a month beforehand. There has been a slight rumble in the back axle for years and it has been fine for the last few Sahara trips, but I found a ‘new, old stock’ one on the internet at a main dealers in Chester. We did a deal over the phone and I set off. I noticed the old girl seemed a bit lacking in power, but would plod along at 50 and got me there okay. On the return journey though it got progressively worse. A call to Landy supremo - eldest son Matt, suggested a failing fuel pump. In rush hour traffic on the A51 I was becoming a liability so, 20 miles south of Chester I pulled into the car park of The Old Barbridge Inn and called Matt for assistance. Poor chap was already running around taking the boys to football/rugby practise, but he was up for it later. Not a problem. I went in the pub and had two lovely pints and a 10 oz Ribeye steak with all the trimmings, then fell asleep in the back of the truck until he arrived at 10.15. It was actually quite easy getting the Land Rover back to his place in Matlock. Up over the Peak District, black roads, no traffic and no sign of any coppers. I seem to have ended up with his Land Cruiser and the relieve that the breakdown was here and not there.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Torque to me.

A billion lbs. feet of torque here, generated by this is one, of four, steam engines that pumped Leicester’s sewage from the city up to Beaumont Leys from about 1860 until it was no longer big enough to serve the city in 1964. This week I was privileged to get the full lantern lit tour, even right down into the basement, surprisingly free of odour. There is something irresistible about the slow, rhythmic, almost sexual, movement and hissing of these great engines that has a lasting schoolboy appeal. It looks so powerful that if one were to shove a tree trunk in the gears and stop it, the World would probably spin off its axis.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Three sheets to the wind.

Popped over to my Dad’s this week. He had cooked an excellent curry and Annie, his wife and I saw off a bottle of Dolcetta picked up recently in Comboland. As it was a lovely evening I took the 1948 Land Rover minus roof. Always a thrill to drive. It’s so dangerous, lacking seat belts and with doors that fly open round bends. Leaving their house in Pitsford at around midnight I felt it might be prudent to take the back roads home, via the lovely villages of Tur Langton, Carlton Curlieu and Burton Overy. There is no thrill quite like driving a sixty year old Land Rover on a moonless night down narrow country lanes. Pathetic lights, appalling handling, freezing cold and wishing I had worn more layers. I took the picture on my phone, having left the Canon at home, but it represents about the right view. The gloom pierced by a mixture of original ‘Butler’ headlights, as fitted to tractors of the day and a Lucas spotlight from the fifties. Motoring does not get better than this.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Let’s Off Road!

An opportunity to write a report on Bures Pit Off Road site for 4x4 Magazine heralded a baptism of fire for the Jeep this month. As it’s still not registered so I trailered it down to near Colchester behind the Land Rover. I borrowed Matt’s ex Gas Board Box Trailer, into which the Jeep just about fits. Heaving the trailer around in his workshop nearly brought on the long overdue heart attack. The toll of a the previous week spent in Comboland nearly proved fatal as the pulse quickened and the beads of cold sweat gathered on my brow. A half hour sit down in a darkened room sorted me out and the following day at the site was a great pleasure. The brakes packed up after a few applications, but who needs them anyway. So. The Jeep now has 12 miles on the clock. 4 from its visit to the MOT station and 8 done in the Pit. Great fun.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Dad’s Army

Operation Market Garden. A warm sunny day and a lot of people dressed up in forties costume. All rather nice and jolly English. These WW2 re-enactments are growing in popularity. Presumably because it’s the last thing this country of ours did well, with the exception of the 1966 World Cup, of course. Diplo is correct in that there were many Jeeps to keep me amused and a few Tanks, two of which were offering rides for a very reasonable £7 and Jo was kind enough to treat both of us, giving us the opportunity to do something we had never done before. Ride in a Tank. Great fun and clearly designed before the days of Health and Safety. More like Danger & Excitement.

The actual battle was great fun and reinforced the fact that your average WW2 soldier was 19 ish, not mid fifties and carrying a healthy girth! Luckily there were no heart attacks on the Sunday. Sadly we could not drive there in the Jeep. Still not registered, but we did take the 1948 Land Rover. Open air motoring at its best.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Three little letters.

M, O and T. we tend to forget it stands for Ministry of Transport and the final word ‘test’ is missing from the abbreviation. It just gets shortened to ‘M.O.T.’d, or not M.O.T.’d.
Delighted to say that the Jeep, as of yesterday, is M.O.T.’d!! Matt drove it over the hills and down the valley’s to the local testing station, screen off. (That negates the need for wipers and washers at a stroke). With the whole process now being linked by computer to Gordon Browns spies, there is a set time allowed for the test, be your car a complex supercar , or this, the humblest of vehicles. The tester has a real job stringing out the job to fill the time. Fortunately these tests are still carried out my humans and Derbyshire blokes have a sense of humour and a realistic approach to the situation.
With the Jeep now finished, the next job is for me to register it for use on the road. A process I am a little daunted by, as it will involve dealing with beaurocracy. Something the middle aged, self employed are not too good at in general. I’ll keep you posted as despair and frustration take on disproportionate aggression.
As you will have noticed the Jeep is a replica of those used my the Long Range Desert Group and the S.A.S. in North Africa during the War. This is significant. More later!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Twin Heaps.

Like something from a David Lynch film, I stumbled upon this long gone car dealership in the South Derbyshire town of Church Gresley this week. A mixed array of 10 grotty seventies cars lined up in a welded steel cage and covered in a thin film of dust caught my eye as I drove past. Closer inspection and a look through the window revealed a 2002 calendar on the wall and a pile of paperwork. The signs of desperation on top of the cars further fuelled the mystery and I regret to say, I have no answers. Maybe the owner went bust in huge and dramatic circumstances and the legal battles persist to this day, or maybe he died a bitter and twisted man. Only car worth a cent was a 1971 Beetle, but never worth £2500 ‘bought with all faults’, even in 2002.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

One in the oven.

After nearly a year in the building, the end is in sight. Young Teddy and I did the final (easy) bit of sanding of various bits as the masked figure of Matt’s number one helper appeared with a spray gun full of primer. Half an hour later the whole thing was dull grey and we sat out in warm sunshine, gazing at the Ryber Valley waiting for it to dry. It’s a lovely view from the doors of the workshop. Most conducive to sitting in with a cup of tea and a biscuit. Next, on went several layers of top coat and as Capt. Sprayer coughed up a lungful of paint and thinners we wheeled the Jeep out into the Matt Savage Spray Booth Oven (sunshine) to dry off properly. All that remains is to fasten all the bits back on and it should be ready for an MOT.

Monday, 11 August 2008

One small step.

With great excitement I took my first faltering drive in the Jeep on Friday. I spent the day up at Matt’s place near Matlock - mainly getting in the way, but I did manage to sort out the hand brake and rear lights, then made a battery securing clamp. That done we connected a few wires together and hit the starter button. Matt had already driven the Jeep last week, so we knew it was okay, but for me it was a very nervous first drive. The throttle pedal was a bit jerky, but I think we can adjust that a bit. The four tyres John Carroll has lent me feel a tad too big at 235-16. I think 215-16 would be plenty big enough. Maybe even 205-16. They do seem to raise the gearing too much. Anyway it was a great way to end the day and next time there will be less bare wires and tools lying about and I am sure I shall feel more relaxed.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

One Wheel Drive.

Before an interest in 4x4’s took a grip, my sole passion was 3x1’s. I had a few, Messerschmitt, Isetta and finally this Hienkel built under license in the U.K. and badged as a Trojan. Myself and the Mk 1 wife, on a budget of nothing, went camping in Wales. Our tent was the simple affair amongst the big frame tents that dominated the camp site. I had a lot of use out of the Trojan, commuting up and down to Salisbury, where I was at Art College, from Leicestershire and averaging 80 mpg! This particular jaunt to Wales went pretty smoothly until 5 miles from home on the return journey. I was thrashing it at a heady 50 mph and the exhaust valve burnt out. With only one cylinder, that was that and Dad came to tow us in.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Carefree biking days.

Bikes seem to be pretty prominent amongst the collective, so I thought I’d pitch these in. I was looking up some old photos from my own Pentax era to illustrate an article on the resurgence of camping and found these gems. This is my brother, the renowned yachtsman, Captain Haddock, fiddling with two bikes he abused in the early seventies. First was the Matchless 500 single. No doubt worth a fortune now, but picked up for less than a fiver then. The front mudguard soon went, to be followed by the fitting of a ‘peanut’ fuel tank from an NSU Quickly and some Ape Hangers. Essential kit back then. It looks SO dangerous. Marvellous! The workshop picture is the one we had at Appletreewick Farm and I was astonished to find that I have that workbench her e, now, in my garage complete with the very same vice and buffer (on the extreme right). The bike was a Bultaco Sherpa trials bike. 250, two stroke, bags of torque. he competed at club level with mixed success. I’m confident Fred Fibonacci will take up the story.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Two Dimensions

With the Jeep now finished and thoroughly tested on the Matt Savage ‘Tansley’ test track, I was finally allowed to take it for a spin. I chose a cafe at the War Tunnels Museum, in Jersey for its first outing. Handling was commendable the small patch of and under the tyres, but once on the ceramic tiles the old bar grips felt a bit two dimensional. I am hoping to get some better tyres soon for the authentic military split rims I have, now painted to match the rest of the chassis.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

It goes!

Behold. An mpeg of the Jeep on the extensive Matt Savage test track near Matlock.

Click on the question mark!

A chat afterwards confirmed that all was well. The gamble was that the gearbox, transfer box and axles may have been duff as these are the (only) parts not new, but they were fine. Even the radiator held water okay, but a laid back Californian mouse had made a nest in there some years ago. Debris cleared all was fine. Next is finish off the rear lights (me!) and give it a coat of paint, then an MOT.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Twisting wires together.

A flurry of activity on the Jeep last week sees it very nearly running. I was entrusted with sorting out headlights, bolting in the seats, screwing on the rear reflectors and a few other menial tasks. Matt connected up the fuel pump and plumbing. By the time we had finished for the day another hour would have had it running, but these things are best not rushed, so that highlight will wait for a few more days. Still on the shopping list is a pair of seats. All I have is the steel shells and even with my ample padding, I shall need the original style canvas padded ones to maintain any vague comfort. A pair of old sofa cushions will do for the MOT though.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Chasing Rainbows.

Nothing to do with the Jeep (of which more very soon), but this was the view through the Land Rover screen yesterday on the M69. Torrential rain and yet the sun was out, causing a 60 mph following rainbow, just visible here. Never any Global Warming when you want it is there?

Monday, 23 June 2008

Another mindless purchase.

After writing in Land Rover World, last month: ‘Tucked behind a barn, was a 1952, 80 inch. It looked as though it could have been there for about 20 years. I resisted asking the farmer as to whether it was for sale or not. I have a weakness for such things and really, really, don’t need any more.’ And here it is, safely tucked up in Jo’s garage. It’s the male equivalent of buying a new pair of designer shoes. Illogical, but irresistible and I know I’m preaching to the converted. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, but the signs are good. Yesterday I managed to get the engine to turn over, first on the starting handle, then on the starter motor. There was a spark, but the petrol had been in there for ten years, so ignition was not forthcoming. Lovely patina though, eh?

Monday, 2 June 2008

Leaps and Bounds.

A surge of activity last week sees the Jeep looking more Jeep like, and these latest pictures give a clue to it’s intended use, for those in the know. Purists will be pleased to see that it is a repro grille, from the Philippines, that has been butchered with the angle grinder. We have saved the 1943 one, just in case it is ever restored to a ‘normal’ green Jeep again. Next stage is the wiring and I have to lift a finger and restore the two ‘Italian’ rear lights. I have an old trailer board with some lights on it and hope to incorporate those feeble plastic lenses into the 12 gauge steel of the original lights. Built when Men were Men and stuff was built to win Wars!