View from the Pylon
First the bad news. For all those confirmed addicts of swapmeets, the rumour that Watford was to be cancelled has turned out to be all too true. The largest get together in the country for those in search of a bargain has fallen victim to reorganisation at Garston leisure centre, and with Andrew being unable to find other suitable venues he has pulled the plug on it for all time. This could put pressure on some of the smaller meets with the thousands of items usually at Watford looking for new owners elsewhere.
Gildings sale had masses of the more mundane motors that could be had for very little money and a few craftsman made pieces that realised good prices, with £6000 being paid for a scale DH Gipsy engine. A Russian 'school car' kit got out at just £85 which contrasts very favourably with what is being paid on the open market.
In the last month four complete M&E cars have come to light of which three are the 'Special' version. As there were around 5-600 made during the life of the Company and each chassis numbered, it is relatively easy to keep track of them. The M&E must now be the most common of the British cars that come on to the market and with the exception of the Christies sale must now have established a fairly accurate resale value.
John DeMott returned from Coniston with a world record to his credit although he would be the first to admit that the speed was way below what he was looking for. It seems that the problems with the power plant are solved but a great deal of work needs to be done on the hull configuration.
This month we are able to publish an extended article that sums up exactly what the site set out to achieve. OTW was contacted recently by the son of an extremely well known tethered hydroplane enthusiast, active during the 50s and 60s. He had photo's, boats, engines and memorabilia from his father's racing days and asked if we would be interested in publishing some of the pictures. As there was so much information available we were able to put together a more detailed record of Jim Bamford's boats and racing career and we are grateful to Rob Bamford for all his help in preparing the article.
Work Bench introduced last month seems to have met with approval and we would welcome any contributions of work in progress, completed projects, restorations or old photos related to tethered cars, boats and the people involved.
It is a long way to Leamington and the Midlands Exhibition but well worth it as OTW had arranged to examine and photograph one of the very oldest tethered hydroplanes still in existence. Thanks to the Chairman Frank and Secretary Alan of the Northern Association of Model Engineers for all their help and information. The photographs have allowed us to complete the story of this historic boat ‘Evil Spirit’. Click here for article.
The Kingsbury Water Park Club featured a selection of modern tethered boats while the Blackheath Club and Phil Abbott had a superb display of early straight runners and associated steam plants including examples by Arthur Cockman and Alan Rayman, both ‘gurus’ of flash steam. Thanks to Phil for all his information and help. OTW enjoyed an afternoon in the sun listening to racing reminiscences from Arthur and Brenda Wall and Stuart Robinson.
John DeMott, better known for his tethered hydro activities and engines forsook the pylon for records week at Coniston Lake where he was hoping to break the worlds record for a flash steam powered hydroplane. Full sized that is, not a model. On the Flash steam front, Paul Windross, well known for his sprint and drag racing exploits on motor cycles is close to challenging Bob Kirtley’s record. With the rumoured reappearance of Ian Berne there could be three of the very best exponents of flash steam in direct competition to beat 120mph.
A 1066 Products update. The 10cc Falcon 2 engine has been elusive to date with only Gordon Williams’ version known but another has turned up at the Bristol Exhibition having been found as a set of castings at a church Jumble sale in Birmingham. So it would seem likely that a set of dies for the engine did exist but either size, cost or running problems stopped it being put in to full-scale production. Begs the question, are there any more out there? The 24" hydroplane from 1066 is still proving impossible to track down. Not a sign of a plan, box, fitting or finished boat has come to light even though it was advertised for ten or so years. Can anyone shed any light on this boat before what hair is left is torn out in frustration?
New departures this month are a section entitled ‘Work Bench’ which will showcase new builds and restorations from contributors, and updates to ‘Pit Box’ following up items that have been featured there.
Being inquisitive by nature, can land you in all sorts of trouble. It started when we attended a couple of tethered car events in Europe and I naturally expect to be able to do the same at home, only to be told I was 50 years too late. Never mind I'd look up the history on the web. I found Uncle Ron's site (Model Engine News) which deals primarily with engines and a few references to tethered hydroplanes, which were still active, but nothing that referred to the past history of either disciplines. So I decided to try and rectify that situation. Looking back I suppose it was a fairly naive decision but this month OTW celebrates its first anniversary and to mark this event there are two articles being published, 'Surrey Model Car Club' and 'Historic Hydro Faro'. Both have taken a lot of time and research and I would like to acknowledge the hard work contributed by my husband Hugh. I thought it would also be a great opportunity to express my thanks to all those people who have shown their support by giving their time, sharing their knowledge, by writing articles and for their kind words of encouragement.
I feel that to name everyone would run the risk of missing someone out, but a special thank you must go to Peter and Brenda Hill, to Brenda for wonderful lunches and Peter who has been most generous with his knowledge, allowed me access to his archives and exposed us to his humour. I am grateful for the continued support of Stuart and Heather Robinson, Ken Smith, John Goodall, Jim Free, John DeMott, John Scott Scott and Mark Russell.
We have thoroughly enjoyed the research involved in producing the articles published so far and those still in the pipe line. It has taken us to places we would otherwise never have known existed and in the process met some fascinating people and been privileged to view extensive collections of cars, boats, engines and related material. Meeting all these people and seeing projects like the rebuilding of Sparky, the restoration of Faro and the documentation of the 'Manley collection' has made all the work seem worthwhile.
October has seen the last tethered car meeting of the season at Piste Micox in Lyon. A sizeable contingent from Britain joined others from all over Europe enjoying a 'final blast'. The website www.speedmodelcar.com is always worth visiting for information and links on modern car activities.
A new member of the Retro Racing Club has set himself the task of building replicas of each of the 7 'pioneering' cars from D.A. Russells' 1945 Model Race Cars book. A significant undertaking which should keep him busy for the foreseeable future!
Two interesting restoration projects that are currently underway by members of the RRC are the tethered hydroplanes Chrysis built by L.J. French (S66) and S30 from the same South London Club built by Harry Sharvell. Chrysis featured in a recent pit box and is currently minus the original engine but the Sharvell boat has its original Sharpe inspired 30cc four stroke and dates from 1934/5.
For those that like hunting out a bargain Dominic Winter of South Cerney has the second of his collectors sales early in November and already there is an engine collection entered. Dreweatt Neate also have their gallery sales at various venues which can turn up some interesting items. (Arthur Cockman's Iffit 9 went through their Honiton saleroom)