Saturday, 29 March 2014

My lovely new toy...

My dear wife has bought me this little beauty, bless her.
It's an English wheel. With this I can make body parts for my two Specials.  It stretches metal by rolling in certain directions and has been used by English coachbuilders since the mid 19th century.  The old ones are huge cast iron affairs, but this will do me very nicely indeed AND it's made in England. Not some whippy Chinese rubbish.  It comes with three lower wheels known as anvils to control the curvature of the panel.
In concert with hammers, a stump (literally a piece of tree with a dip in the top), slappers, flippers, dollies and planishing hammers, I can make any shape in aluminium or steel.
What a pity the Euro nazis have made owning oxy acetylene welding equipment so expensive and difficult to own, so that the panels can be joined into whole bodies.  But I have ways round that!

Who's a little Pro. then?...

It's time we stopped this fawning, deferential attitude to so-called professionals that we are forced to tolerate when institutions want "certified" copies of signatures, for instance. When will these corporate snobs realise that anyone who works for a living IS a professional and that there are as many, embezzling, lying, cheating, smoking, drinking, fornicating, duplicitous, whoring deadbeats amongst the "professional" classes as any other section of the morass we call humanity. Why is a teacher a professional and a class room assistant isn't? Why is a pharmacist with a degree (probably a 2/2 from some poly turned University) a pro and a pharmacist without, isn't? What a complete crock of shit this all is. I will NOT go running around looking for some smug bastard to sign a photocopy. The chances are he's a wife-beating, drunk with a secret cross-dressing habit anyway. He can just keep it a bit quieter than Fred down the local garage.

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Downright Moronic...

Since I last blogged I have had one of those periods where good stuff has happened and bad stuff has cropped up, culminating the bad with the simply almost primaeval, no-necked, shaven headed, grunting excuse for an alleged homo-erectus that I have met in recent years.
I have owned my nice little Citroen AX for 18 months now.  In all that time it has never missed a beat, started first time every time, whatever the weather, given me a wonderfully smooth ride and a genuinely friendly motoring experience. Sit back in the comfy seat, switch on Radio 4, get up to around 56mph (why do cars so LOVE to do 56mph) and enjoy the ride.  It sailed through its last MoT, only needing the seat tightening up!
But that was with an old boy who, I think, couldn't give a damn if you passed  or not as long as he got his sandwich and got home early.  Previous to him was a friendly, helpful chap who let you look at your own car while he tested it.  THIS time, the concrete floor split and out poured a hunch-backed midget with a prehensile forehead denoting a complete lack of anything surgery would recognise as a brain, who didn't acknowledge my presence, snatched my keys and somehow, instinct maybe, race Gods, who knows?, managed to get the car on the ramp, rev its tits off for the overblown emissions test and bang the underside with a hammer for half an hour until his "meat" arrived n the form of a matchbox sized hole within a foot of a suspension pick up point.  On these last two points he pounced, along with a loose headlight (bollocks!), a tyre with too little tread (checked, bollocks) and NO PEDAL RUBBER!!  Jesus H. Tastyfreez, it's NEVER had any pedal rubbers.  It sailed through last year, so why didn't old Fatso fail it?
The upshot is that adding up all the costs for welding, a new catalytic air fouler (for that is what they do, being a Euro piece of absolute nonsense that is more harm to the atmosphere than help), a new tyre, blah blah, none of which I could get done for sure within the retest period, I realised my little chum would have to be replaced.  I would, in the past have got it tested somewhere else, but Big Brother is watching your every move and would know by pootah! that the car had already come under the slimy fist of Cromagnon Man of Walsoken MoTs Ltd.
It took two days of solid eye-aching searching to find, by chance, through our travelling son, a rather smart little Nissan Micra for £375 with a year's MoT ticket. We liked it, bought it and so far it looks like it will do us nicely.
I checked the AX yesterday. Leaned in, turned the key, started on the button, so to speak, just like it always has.  For someone with an ability to weld and a line on second hand cats, it would still be a cheap reliable car.  But take it to anywhere, but Walsoken MoTs Ltd. for its new MoT.  You'll never get the stench out of it.  £100 cash and it's your's.

Then, I looked into whether I could get oxy acetylene gas bottles so I could do aluminium welding to make my Airline Coupe body for the Baretta.  Yeah, sure, if you want to spend over £350 for deposits, gas, valves, anti flashback valves and worst of all, ally welding goggles!
So, I had to find some other way of making an interesting body on my car. My son suggested what he calls a woody.  This not something half timbered like an Alvis Shooting Brake (I wish!) or a Morris Traveller, but a boat shaped tail made of wood, like a Riva or a Chris Craft.  On considering this, I realised that I could make that, with an alloy bonnet and top to the tail, without the need for rip-off welding gear AND I wouldn't need the flowing wings that the Airline Coupe would have needed, thereby saving me a fair bit of dosh.  I can MAKE the cycle wings a pointy tailed car needs.
So now this is how it could look...I am a BIG Amilcar fan, btw.

HOW??  Why, on my new English wheel, of course, which arrives tomorrow.  My lovely wife has treated me to one all of my own.
We had a nice day out yesterday in the new car at the Sunday Market and I got an amazing haul of tools, modelmakers' and  panelbeaters' for an amazing £25.
THAT is where the Good bits come in......

Saturday, 8 March 2014

A much needed break...

Last Saturday we set off very early to see our friend in Wallasey for a few days much needed break.
I've been very busy for ages, but since Christmas had found no motivation for modelmaking.

The trip up was absolutely fine. We missed all motorways by going cross country as far as Chester when the short bit of M53 takes us almost to our hotel.
It was as if we hadn't been away, when in fact it has been 18 months or so since we were there last.  The lady in the Travelodge was the same one!  Welcoming, friendly and helpful as before.  We settled in and went for a coffee in the Seaside cafe after a fairly fruitless visit to the model shop, who hadn't been able to get my nickel silver from Albion Alloys.  A great company, but why, oh why must I seek out one of their dealers when it would be so much easier to just order direct from them?

After a good old chinwag and the promised "pan of Scouse" at our friend's we headed back to the hotel and were amazed at the amount of activity in Bootle docks across the Mersey view we had.

A late start on Sunday found me looking at a hire van with a flat front tyre.  So, in my "going out to dinner" clothes I had to find the spare under the van and change wheels.  I think some clown had simply let the air out of the tyre as we couldn't find any damage or foreign bodies anywhere on the flat one.
Thinking I'd sorted that out the dashboard then lit up, telling me there was no charge to the battery.  Being a diesel it took us to our friends three miles away, but the AA man confirmed the alternator had decided not to work overnight.
Now this should have been a case of phone the hire firm who would sort out a replacement vehicle for us, as the next day I had a trip to Burnley to pick up an engine, half the point of the trip.  But no, the officious and completely unhelpful people at Healy Hire, Wisbech didn't want to know.  "It's down to the AA", he said.  "They are connected with Renault Warranty and it's their job".  So apart from the arranged dinner, I had to spend the rest of the day arranging getting the van to the local Renault dealer by closely following the second AA man, who pleaded my case for a speedy repair so I could get the thing home on the Wednesday.  I also had to deal with the replacement hire car with Enterprise.  And all this on the day I was supposed to be in Burnley by 1 at the latest.
But this is where the Wirrall comes into its own.  The people must be the friendliest, most helpful in the land.
The Renault main agent, Nissan Wirral, put my job ahead of others with no problem or sharp intake of breath that might normally accompany such a request.  The Enterprise young lady picked me up from the hotel and did all the paperwork quickly and I was on my way to Burnley, where I arrived at 1 o'clock and selected my Coventry Climax FWM engine from the 3 he had.  I was back in Wallasey by 3pm.
There, that unmistakable, world famous graphic.

Well, you can't go to the Mersey and not take the Ferry can you?  So we got down to Seacombe and watched the landing stage heaving up and down on the incoming tide. Shortly, the old Snowdrop turned up and gave us a nice 50 minute tour of the waterfronts of both Liverpool and the Wirral, with a recorded commentary.  On reaching the Liver Building docking point, we boarded the open top 'bus for a drive round the sights of this remarkable city.  
Of course,the Liver and Cunard Buildings and the Anglican Cathedral are pretty special, but it gets even more impressive.  St. George's Hall is the biggest single building I've ever seen!

Next to it is another huge Romanesque hall, which is, I believe, the Library, St' John's Hall with the Memorial Gardens in front and the Hillsborough Memorial, which rather resembles a large street bin, I thought.

Many wonderful ancient old pubs including this were all about

And here is Matthew Street, scene of the Cavern Club, wherein, once upon a tide, the Beatles got their break.

After getting back from the trip we got off at Albert Dock, now much gentrified and full of overpriced retail units and posh flats above, but containing some interesting boats and, of course, the Beatles Exhibition, which I thought was very well done, especially the accurate reconstruction of the Cavern Club , which was so small!

And here, the Casbah, a small cafe where the Beatles actually began and these days never mentioned.

And so ended our wonderful touristy trip to the land of Scouse.  We'd like to thank Kelly and her family as ever for a lovely few days.  And for the pan of Scouse, Kelly, it was delicious!  (Google it folks)