Monday, 13 September 2010


Perhaps not re-equipping, but re-grouping.

After replacing our old home with a new one, I had the opportunity to set up my workshop in the old home.
With setting up the new one, most of the inevitable "stuff" that needs moving around went into the old workshop until I couldn't actually get in the door!
Now, I have access again and am clearing the new place, too. I knew I'd find things long in storage, but what a great thing it is to root through one's old stuff.
I found photos I thought I'd lost, drawings done years ago and presumed thrown away and bits and pieces that will once again make life easier.

But why does it take SO long? I seem to be satisfied with opening and investigating one box a day. A friend has suggested it's all part of growing older and I dare say he's right, but I will not go easily into that dark night. I think it is a lot to do with mental plans for how it might look when finished and the assumption, almost certainly false, that things will go swimmingly once finished, without having the slightest idea how to ensure that happens. Consequently, one ambles along not knowing quite what to do next, until the light has suddenly gone and another day comes to a close.

Then I read that my 30 year old son, feeling unwell, has looked up his "symptoms" on the net and found that he is suffering from something called "old". At 30!!
I told him to wait for the next 28 years and resolved to get this new workshop sorted out with renewed vigour.

Amongst the many fascinating things I rediscovered whilst re-equipping/grouping was this old instant photo of the very first job I ever did as a modelmaker in the car design industry.
It is a model, full sized, of the engine cover for the then new, New Beetle. I didn't take the photo as I would have been sacked for doing so and rightly, but an engineer took it and left it laying around, so I kept it. It was made first in clay, then a quick glass fibre mould made over the clay and a moulding made in the mould. Usual processes.
Then it's fettled and filled till it looks smooth and fits the space allowed (not always the case despite CAD drawings!)
Finally it is sprayed from a distance with satin black paint to have that grainy look of much moulded plastic and the name cut out of aluminium sheet and polished. A stock VW badge was added and presto! It took two days to do, I got an instant reputation for working well on my own and being quick. Job done. The fascinating thing was that when I'd had a weekend home and went back on the Tuesday morning, the cover had been laser scanned and working CAD drawings produced and pinned to the wall behind my bench!

Without setting up the new workshop, I'd have completely forgotten about this photo and almost forgotten the job.
I went on to do any number of fascinating jobs for VW, Toyota, Renault, Audi, SMART, Ford, Volvo, MG and Prodrive over the next few years until I was told that computers had replaced model makers and I was too old to re-train at 47.

Skills lost to the world are rarely replaced.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

More attacks on our freedoms

My son has recently decided to get his "project" going. He has a Triumph GT6 Mk1 chassis and all the original running gear, registration and log book.
He just wanted a body of a 50s style to put on it.

It was when we ended up with a superb GRP Austin Healey 3000 body at a great price that we realised we're not allowed any more to build a car without the permission and controls of the "powers that be"
We, in the car game call them the nazis. Pettyfogging busy bodies and nosey Parkers whose only grip on real life is to spoil it for the rest of us in the spurious name of "safety".

I have built cars, my father built his own cars as did my uncle (see earlier blogs entries) and my son spent nine years restoring classic sports and racing cars to the highest level. Cars worth millions of pounds.
So are we to be told we need the permission of some faceless job'sworth on a fat salary before we can touch the rough and ready, poorly designed and executed Triumph chassis with our magic?

Alas, we have no choice. If we touch the chassis with a saw, grinder or welding torch we lose the registration and have to be regarded as a new car and pay them £540 for a short examination, which, if we fail on the slightest item , we have to pay again for a retest.

So by way of the huge middle finger to all these nazis, we are leaving the precious chassis alone and modifying the body which they don't care about. We are moving the front wheel arch back 8 1/2" so it fits the Triumph chassis. As an ex modelmaker for the car design circus, that is not a big deal for me. But for those who do not have my experience it could prove a stumbling block too far.

So all we need to wonder about, having, as my Dad would have said, "shot them up the arse",
is what do we call it? A Trealey or a Healumph?