Yes, it is a bit early, but can we wish all our readers an enjoyable festive season. Perhaps Santa might even bring something of interest, especially if it is like someone we met at the local model exhibition who had bought his own loco, only to be told by his wife 'that's your Christmas present taken care of'. Most of the modelling magazines of the period used to publish a 'bumper Christmas issue', so thanks to everyone who has contributed to carrying on this tradition with a truly 'bumper edition', which includes a build article, a renovation, a resurrection from a box of bits and something somewhat unusual. For details see the bottom of the pylon.
In case readers may consider that we are becoming fixated with current commercial situations, we have received an increasing number of emails, informing us of more large collections that are coming up for sale to add to those we have previously mentioned. All of these sadly, have been due to the demise of the original owners, with families needing to realise the assets for whatever reason? There has also been a number of comments from those who have looked on their collections as something of an investment, but are now concerned as to how realistic this is? To put it into perspective, this year alone, well over 2,000 engines that we have been made aware of have come fresh onto the market, and that is not counting those that have been below the radar or those that appear regularly at swapmeets. How many of these have found buyers, we do not know, yet there is the immediate prospect of another 4,500 plus emerging within the next 12 months. The numbers are staggering and there are those that may consider that we are over egging the pudding, yet these are the numbers that have been notified to us or that we have been made aware of. Alongside this are also those enthusiasts thinning out or selling on part of their collections from the odd couple of motors up to fifty or so.
We are currently being bombarded with news of impending financial doom because of inflation, rising costs and shortages, most of which do not affect the collectors with the odd ten million or more spare, yet these are almost non existent within the model community so that potential resale values are significantly more important, especially if the motors were originally acquired as an investment, or as in one case 'my pension'. One recent and very philosophical email pointed out that the writer had thoroughly enjoyed the search and discovery of the rarities in his collection but could not now even consider the monetary value, which to us is a refreshing attitude and very much sums up our own thoughts. Indeed, we come from a background where your entire investment in equipment could be reduced to scrap in an instant, and often was, after all, where would Goodwood be if no one was willing to risk so much as a scratch on their 250GTO or 917? It was a sage and early piece of advice to us that 'if you cannot afford to lose it, then don't use it', but what enjoyment is there in it being stuck in a cupboard or loft and not seen from one year to the next? Apart from boats, cars and engines, we also collect pertinent sayings such as the above and another couple that are pertinent to the situation, 'it's only money' and 'no one died', unfortunately that bit was not always true and puts the concern about hardware into true perspective.
Not everyone agrees with this though, as we saw at Buckminster recently when a heap of bits that just a few minutes before had been a complete model was being surveyed. That the owner was seriously miffed is something of an understatement. Nobody wants to bin something they have lavished time effort and probably a lot of money on, but that is racing and eventually it will either become a museum piece or end up on the scrap heap unless someone else values it as much as you do, and as we continue to discover, what it is and its importance to anyone comes a distinct second to 'what's it worth'.
Much of this edition revolves around the same theme with a Pitbox item that is both unusual and rare, attractive for its engineering but not a thing of beauty and certainly not an investment, but unlike a bottle of Petrus, will still be there tomorrow to admire.
The first of our winter articles has kindly been sent to us by Dougal McIntyre who used the enforced Covid 'lockdown' to restore a vintage hydro that had been in his family's keeping for at least seventy five years. As so often happens during these activities, a fascinating 'back story' emerged that just might provide a clue as to the origins of this as yet unidentified hydroplane?
We are always grateful for articles that encourage the building of new models, and in this case Paul Harris who has his own track near Bristol has come up with a design and construction method that is well within the bounds of possibility for most. Even better is that, apart from an engine everything else is made from stock materials and recycled components. Sidewinder cars are well known as are beam chassis, but Paul has combined these ideas into an easily built car eminently suitable to run on our tracks.
Sale results from Gildings make for interesting reading, unless you were a vendor of course. Hammer prices ranged from a low of £4 a motor to several ranging from £10-£15 for pretty much NIB diesels. A few of the more sought after motors did do better but only a Taplin Twin got away for what might be considered a decent amount. Considering that the sellers commission is 18% there was not a lot to be made there. Gives even more food for thought to our opening paragraph? Compare this with a news item this month concerning a collectable that has experienced something like a five fold inflation in just a handful of years, is it still an investment? £680,000 for a medal, £140 million for a painting, £45 for five boxed engines, no comparison?
Acquisitions will usually come in one of three states, complete but could do with a clean, restoration or renovation needed or desirable and oh dear, what am I going to do with this lot? Faced with just such a situation on the mortal remains of an M&E Wasp, John Goodall set to and remanufactured the missing parts to end up with a couple of complete cars, and what is even better, making spares available for those faced with a similar task.
Last Month's Photo was Bob Curwen's Rolling Road, more correctly it was a dynamometer as it could measure power output, given some mathematics. These are commonly known as brakes and standing next to a 500cc, four cylinder two stroke knocking out 140bhp on one certainly concentrates the mind and clears the wax from the ears. Is it any wonder the audiologist reckoned that there was 'some hearing loss'? At Buckminster in September, Ian Wingfield produced a rolling road that he had built in order to test his car and get settings that would produce its best performance. Demos of this proved fascinating to all and now Ian has kindly provided constructional details and the mathematics that determine how well the car is performing. Torbjorn Johannessen does all his engine development on a dyno and there is one in private hands functioning very successfully in the UK, so we are grateful to Ian for sharing his take on another important tool in improving our cars.
Good news via Adrian Duncan is that the superb website recording the work of that amazing car builder Henri Baigent is back online with a new host. As well as his early work with tethered cars and engine building it goes into detail about the incredible scale cars and engines that Henri created throughout his career.
More bad news with three more national museums being forced to close as landowners want to develop the sites, and two major collections have been auction off as families and trustees have decided to realise the assets. Others are hanging on grimly, but times are changing.
Reminder that as usual all race reports and photos will be removed in the new year to make way for the 2023 events, so if you want to retain any, please download and save as required.
A common thread over the last few years, and certainly post Covid, has been the decline in the number of participants in a whole raft of activities, not just modelling disciplines. The reasons for this are many and varied, and certainly within the the areas in which we have contact, the lack of numbers is having a significant impact on events and even the very future of some of these and the sport they cater for. It is a sad fact that as we lose people through advancing years and ill health, they are not being replaced in similar numbers, if at all in some cases. Often, the lack of suitable venues is a contributing factor with those that are available requiring a very long drive or even a flight, along with hotels and the attendant cost. Some calendars from the past have had as many as thirty events, OK when there is a strong regional presence, but not if you are reliant on entries from far and wide. Unfortunately some, even at national level, have taken the we're all right Jack approach and merely complain about declining numbers but seem unwilling to do anything about it, almost accepting that when they are forced to finish, so will the sport? For many more though, the desire to see new blood and expand their particular discipline is vitally important, but what are the answers, if there are any?
It may well be that what we value has no interest for a new generation, as more hi-tech and adrenaline rooted activities take hold. Contrary to what some may consider, it is not always the lack of money that is a limiting factor, as born out by the hangar full of jets at Buckminster recently. Building used to be the name of the game as the way in, but the facilities, skills and equipment needed are available to fewer and fewer people. Yes, there are still well equipped workshops and people making good use of them and the use of technology can radically alter a sport to such an extent that it becomes unattainable, unless a large wallet is available. The aeromodelling classes are prime examples here with almost every class dominated by commercially built equipment. That is not to say that there is not a lot of input from individuals to get the best from them, but those who are building and competing at the top level are few and far between and far less prevalent than a few years ago.
Returning to the previous point, to encourage new blood, whether it be from outside of modelling or moving over from another interest, it is vital that equipment is freely available, either feeding down from those that trade up, retire, or from commercial sources. This can include anything from the largest company, fairly rare now, down to the enthusiast making small runs or commissioning batches from their own pocket as is still happening, and we are grateful to them for putting this in place and taking the financial risk. Assuming this is all in place, is the newcomer expected to dive straight in to competition at the top level, or is there some entry level category to gain experience? Well, as we have come to appreciate, unless these lesser classes are rigorously policed and tied down, then experienced competitors will view it as another opportunity. It does not matter if it is called entry, junior, novice or beginner then it has to be just that. It was with some disquiet that one highly experienced and lauded competitor entered for the novice category at a recent international event, because, as he said 'I've read the rules'. Similarly, two of our countries most successful competitors have been taking part in Junior events, which with their background, experience and access to equipment left everyone else trailing a long way behind and whilst it shows what is possible, is hardly likely to encourage participation from beginners?
A late addition to the debate about rules and the 'spirit of the rules' was at Buckminster where a very seasoned flyer was waxing lyrical about one competitor who had commissioned a very special engine that relegated all others to also-rans. Only cost a thousand or so instead of £40ish, but as our cricketers found, the 'spirit of the rules' counts for nothing if you really want to win, but is there any satisfaction to be gained? What is certain is that we need to encourage anyone who shows an interest, and make it possible for them to join in, whatever modelling discipline you pursue, the future depends on new blood.
The Pitbox might just prove to be the very earliest Oliver engine yet discovered and fill in a bit more of the history of this iconic marque. We are grateful to Miles Patience for allowing us to publish yet another of his amazing finds, how does he do it?
A long weekend on the road for OTW, with the Midland Model Exhibition taking place for the first time in two years and the final track session of the season at Buckminster, run under the auspices of SAM 35, to include the final round of the Redfin Trophies. The Octoberfest included a large swapmeet to lighten wallets before the inaugural BMFA auction of engines and other model related items at the end of the month.
Significant changes and development at the Buckminster track as, Oliver Monk is stepping down from the work and organisation that has dominated his time since the concept of the track was first mooted. We thank Oliver for everything he has done towards establishing this wonderful facility, but this has necessitated changes in the organisation and running of BTCG meetings there. Hugh and Lynn Blowers have taken on the organisation of the meetings whilst SAM has Nigel Bathe as permanent tethered car secretary. Facebook has several interesting and relevant posts at present, including a new electric car destined for Buckminster as an alternative to 'smelly diesel fuel' and don't we just associate with that as well as constant updates from Witterswill on the amazing amount of work being done by the SMCC to built an entirely new safety fence and track surround.
Two pages that are updated as and when information becomes available are the Market Place and Calendar, both of which have proved very popular. Dates for next year are already trickling in so please check and keep an eye on the Market Place as we are never sure quite what will be advertised and when, but certainly very little stays unsold for very long. If you have any car, boat or engine related items that you want to advertise, then it is completely free, a photo, brief description and a price and it is out there. This month we have a complete and untouched Redfin kit, possibly a one-off chance to get a new Redfin twinshaft at present, a lovely and original SMRU car, a selection of new ABC Piston/liner sets and a boon for builders and restorers, new M&E Wasp wheel discs.
Oliver Monk can always be relied upon to provide solutions to many of the problems that are faced in the workshop and is willing to take on even the most complex task. In the latest of his Occasional Workshop Ramblings he brings us up to date with a long term project that has already created a great deal of interest, more machining set ups for difficult jobs and a sure fire way of getting tapered bores and collets to match up. Thanks for these Oliver. Also an extremely reliable and easy to make clip for glow plug connection.
OTW becomes a year older each October, which gives us a chance to reflect on the previous twelve months, and what a year of contrast it has been? From the depths of the pandemic last autumn and no idea of what 2022 might bring to what became an almost full calendar of events for the first time since 2019. Sadly we lost some good friends and acquaintances along the way and the situation in Ukraine caused upheavals in both car and boat racing. Competitors from both Ukraine and Russia had been an integral part of the sports for many years, but suddenly the Russians were banned and the Ukrainians unable to leave their country until the European car Championships, radically altering the dynamics of many events and causing the cancellation of the World and European Hydro Championships. How and when this might all be resolved remains to be seen, but there is a fear that some events may not restart after the prolonged absence? The question was also raised as to whether championships events can be truly representative when two nations are unable to compete? Added to all this is that the supply of cars, engines and spares from both countries has inevitably dried up and with the demise of NovaRossi left a serious shortfall in the availability of much needed items. The euphoria of finally being able to make our ‘Spring Tour’ has been tempered somewhat by the massive hike in the price of fuel that makes each journey a significant undertaking and the travel chaos that has curtailed trips to events for British competitors.
The continued development of the track and facilities at Buckminster has helped create a really flourishing interest in running tethered cars in the UK, with more cars having been built and run in the last twelve months than at any period since the 1950s. Prime interest has been with the 2.5cc twinshaft classes, primarily through the availability of Redfin, Rytm, Eureka and KMD motors. Other classes are currently being held back by the lack of parts, although a number of complete cars have become available both here and further afield. After a great deal of searching and negotiation, the lake at Hall Farm Maldon seems secure for the immediate future, and whilst there has been an ongoing struggle to get boats round for five laps at racing speeds, there have been some personal bests, none more so than Angela Lara with her tiny A1E boat that has broken records at nearly every meeting. Ron Hankins has also been consistently fast with his AB/R, but breaking IC records is not easy whilst the electric classes have yet to find their limits, if there is one, so a remarkable achievement for Stuart Falconer and Ron Hankins in setting new IC records.
The last twelve months have seen an unprecedented number of important discoveries, cars, boat, engines and archive material, not to mention several collections that have come up for sale or dispersal, including recent news of one of the largest engine collections in Britain. It is always sad though that this usually comes with the loss of another enthusiast and collector of long standing. It is always gratifying when something of importance and a history waiting to be unravelled comes to light, and we have been delighted to be a party to a number of these as well. It never ceases to amaze us that new discoveries and information is still being unearthed. Did not always go according to plan though as we discovered when a long-standing and respected competitor thought we were being thoroughly disrespectful to him. It transpired that our pages are often automatically translated when read abroad, and sometimes the words we use don’t translate exactly and Google, or whichever it is, puts something else in, on this occasion something relatively derogatory. We rely on the phone app that can translate directly from the written word and Google for longer texts, but they are not infallible as the translation of one email to us included some very rude words that did not exist in the original. We also discovered that different systems come up with entirely differing translations of the same text, most confusing. The phone app does a pretty good job on Cyrillic as well, which was most helpful whilst we were still able to deal with Lev Shprints.
As always, we are indebted to everyone who contributes to the website, be it articles, sharing discoveries, photos, results and sale items, thanks to you all, it would be somewhat boring otherwise?
The Pitbox this month is a taster for a longer article that is in preparation. Some time ago we were contacted with photos of a lovely vintage hydroplane, still as yet unidentified, and now it has been completely restored, the restoration being the basis of the article. What has been even more fascinating has been the emerging story of the life and status of the previous owner and father of the restorer.
Good news is emerging as production is getting underway at Alexander Matusha's factory in the Ukraine so there is the prospect of further Redfin items becoming available, and after lots of rumours and false starts, a new company has arisen from the remains of NovaRossi with 3.5cc motors now being produced.
A bit quiet on the Market Place page of late but this time there are some unusual items. With the Buckminster swapmeet and auction this month there might well be items left over that could be worth advertising to a wider audience in the coming months, doesn't cost you anything and the page has been producing results for advertisers. Talking of sales, a rather nice Dooling Arrow appeared on ebay at what seemed a very low price, until the extra photos showed an entirely empty pan that had never even been drilled.
The season draws to a close this month with the last of the hydro regattas, the final Retro Club track day of the year at Gt Carlton, a last blast at Buckminster with the Oktoberfest along with a giant swapmeet, and a new venture, a huge auction at Buckminster to replace the long standing Gildings sale. Having a reasonable idea of just how many engines are likely to be for sale in the near future there is general speculation as to how this might affect values, and indeed how all these might be marketed? In stark contrast, the fees being charged for sellers and buyers at Buckminster are very modest, which should encourage plenty of sale action? One wonders if the hammering the pound has recently received against the dollar might inspire some more transatlantic activity?
The September Speed Trophy regatta at Hall Farm Lake proved memorable for two new IC records. Ron Hankins has worked relentlessly to improve his 15cc, AB/R record, finally being rewarded with a run at a fraction under 140mph. Surprise of the day was Stuart Falconer who broke the Sport 40 record by no less than 9mph, probably the largest margin that will ever be added to an IC record now?
Back up to Kingsbury for the September regatta and a welcome return to the water for Bob Kirtley, who ended up running both his own flash steamer and Ian's, who is still experiencing frustration with the British record holding boat.
The BTCG speed weekend was originally mooted in response to the International speed challenge planned for 2021, but that was stillborn so the group continued with its own event. This time we welcomed Dave Chadwick, a visitor from Australia who had brought a car to run. The Saturday morning was given over to free practice before the competition started in the afternoon, this time run purely on nominated and outright speed. All was going well until the heavens opened, bringing all activities at Buckminster to a premature and soggy end and rendering our results null and void as the round had not been completed. Sunday remained dry, if cold with a good selection of very different cars running with some very close results. A great season for the BTCG with many new cars and even more in the pipeline.
Pila in Poland hosted the combined World and European tethered car Championship and whilst there was still an excellent entry, including a team from Ukraine for the first time this season, there were notable absences though. Travel difficulties and restrictions left several countries without representatives and only Rob Buckley was able to make the trip from Australia. Tonu Sepp created a unique record with a double double WC/EC in Class 4 and Class 5 and only the second person to do a double in these classes since Kurt Zahnd in 1960. Some of those who could have expected to do well faced disappointment, and apart from Class 3, all classes were won on the first day. Lembit Vaher achieved another unique landmark, winning his 50th WC/EC medal. The FEMA flag was passed to the SMCC for 2023, so after two cancellations at last we might all make it to a Basel EC again, thirteen years on?
There are a few recurring questions that are regularly posed at events. The first from casual observers is ‘how fast does it go’ with a follow up of ‘is it radio controlled’. A boat at around 120mph on a relatively long cable does not faze people too much, but mention 200mph for a car and that stretches their imagination. The fact that the cars can hardly be seen on the numerous Youtube films adds to this level of disbelief. Even a relatively leisurely 85mph run at Buckminster takes many onlookers by surprise. It is a sobering thought to many that a 10cc Class V car is running faster than a multimillion pound F1 car?
As far as contact with OTW is concerned the more frequent questions are ‘what is it’ and ‘what is it worth’? The ‘what is it’ we have dealt with fairly extensively and it formed the basis of last month's pylon, yet even in the last few months there have been some fascinating discoveries and items that have turned up. The ‘what’s it worth’ question is something of a lottery although we do try and give realistic guidance. How it must be for those putting their name on the line on TV valuation programmes we do not know, as values for what they are dealing with are escalating on an almost daily basis, with new records being regularly set, more often than not at unbelievable prices. Something that we have a passing association with has seen values escalate five fold in little over four years.
Many will remember the massive hike in prices for cars and engines from the mid 70s onwards? Even if you are fully aware of exactly what the item is, predicting a sale value must be a nightmare and if it sells for way over that, then that raises the expectations for subsequent sales that might well not be realised. There are still (a few) engine and car collectors out there who are prepared to throw silly money around in order to pry the item from a reluctant seller, but as we have remarked previously, put it on a stall at a swapmeet at those prices and it will still be there well into the future.
Our particular interest is almost a haven of tranquillity compared with the volatility of the collecting market in general, so we can advise on values within the limits we know and believe to be realistic, but with the oldest proviso that it is ‘only worth what someone is prepared to pay’. What we do know to be true is that cars, boats and engines sold at open auction or on ebay often take a hit if offered for sale again privately or put back into auction. With auction houses now charging up to 42% commission, what seemed a realistic price to pay on the hammer soon exceeds any likely resale value, unless you are lucky enough to be at an auction that no one else in the engine world had cottoned on to, as happened recently to one of our regular contributors.
Our local auction house has regular toy and model sales, so we keep an eye on relevant lots, yet we see items bought there appearing on ebay and being sold for less than the original vendor received, but as one respected collector remarked, ‘if you need to sell an item, you now have to take what you can get’, be it a hit, or a healthy profit. Really is a case at present of far too much stuff and far too few potential buyers. Just to prove a point, two weeks ago we were made aware of an exceedingly desirable car, complete with a vary rare motor that is probably more sought after than any by tethered car enthusiasts. It was sold for what could only be described as 'a giveaway price', which would have proved us wrong by a country mile if we had tried to value it.
The recent series of Bangers and Cash has clearly illustrated the folly of buying at an open auction and then reselling through an auction. The only way that works is if you have identified a 'barn find', 'sleeper' or rarity that no one else has twigged and can buy it cheaply, as occasionally happens on antique programmes. If you do not have a very deep pocket, then it is down to a degree of knowledge and a great deal of luck.
The Pitbox this month is a representative of both the previous and this month’s Pylon themes. OTW had been sent photos of the car some while ago, but it was only at the beginning of this year that we were able to identify it, confirming the builder and when it was built and some of the racing history. With this in mind, we contacted the owner, who had to admit to having sold the car on, blissfully unaware of its history and provenance, as was the buyer. This raises the question as to whether the car would have been sold had its origins been known, and if it was, would the price have been commensurately higher?
A large turnout of competitors and cars at Buckminster for the August BTCG speed event where we were able to welcome visitors from Switzerland. New cars and lots of interesting parts for us all to marvel at and the prototype of a car that could ease the current supply situation. A very interesting conversation with the organiser of the aeromodelling event on the site who was concerned by the total lack of competitors for his event and wondered how much longer his discipline would survive. The net result was that he was seriously considering running cars as an alternative, to the extent that he had already built a couple of cars and was working on a third. It was gratifying to hear that he was not the only one with cars on his workbench as a number of others we met over the last two meetings also have car projects in hand.
There does seem to be a general air of concern at present as news is also coming from a number of other modelling disciplines where attendance and entries at events is now so low as to be unsustainable. Already there have been cancellations and in conversation with another organiser of long standing who concurred that if numbers did not pick up, he would also no longer undertake to keep running events. Travelling to a venue to set up and put an event on, only to have two or three turn up is really not on. To be fair, this situation had started to become apparent prior to Covid, and now seems to be more serious. Yes, there is the cost of fuel to be considered, but the weather has been wonderful all summer, yet the numbers are not there, so we must consider ourselves lucky to see so many at the Buckminster track. Is it the cost of fuel, location of events or that post Covid people have found other avenues to pursue? Surely not that everyone is getting too old as has been suggested? There is a body of opinion that also puts the blame firmly on those areas of the modelling world that have been far too insular in the past in not encouraging, or even worse, actively discouraging potential recruits and we have remarked on this in the past. This matter must be addressed with some urgency as the very future of some of the modelling disciplines and venues is in question?
On a similar theme and for a variety of reasons, as yet undiscovered, entries for the August regattas at Kingsbury and Hall Farm Lake were also very thin, while the turnout at the first Retro Club track day of the year and entries for events in the Buckminster C/L circle seriously disappointing, so there is a serious message to be assimilated. If you want to keep flying your model, running your boats, cars or steam loco, then your support at events is vital. Without it, venues will be lost, organisers will give up the unequal struggle and national events will cease to exist.
A trip to Gt Carlton along the single carriageway trunk road of Norfolk is never anything less than an adventure with road works, traffic, and of course the inevitable tractors and other associated farm machinery across the fens. Sadly, as alluded to above, the turnout was not what would have hoped for and for those that did make the trip, the extended drought had created subsidence that made running cars at any speed, something of a lottery. Nothing daunted, there was still plenty of track action between the numerous cups of coffee.
In unrelated sales over the last twelve months, two items have emerged from the same company, one relatively common, the other so rare that we are not aware of another example. Thanks to having been passed information and photos of these two, we have been able to fill in a gap in our records of British manufacturers with an update on the activities of the Model Accessories Supply Co, better know by the MASCO acronym. This was another of Douglas Russell's ventures that was short lived that we are now able to provide more information on, thanks to original material that has emerged some seventy years on. Thanks to John Goodall for his help with this.
Regular readers of these monthly meanderings will appreciate that we constantly refer to provenance and history of items that we become aware of, and that is really the raison d’etre behind OTW, to discover, record and then pass on such information. This has been particularly prevalent in the last couple of years where an unprecedented number of artefacts have turned up that have important histories, if only they can be identified as such and then unravelled and documented? John Lorenz has an enviable reputation for doing just that with his ‘Throwback Thursday’ posts that deliver detailed histories of each car he features. In the world outside of models this matters a great deal as establishing the bona fide of an object can add hugely to the value and desirability and long are the arguments as to whether this is a good thing or not? We have had several instances of seemingly unidentified items being passed on, only for the importance to be recognised or discovered later and a subsequent ‘I could kick myself moment’.
Sorting the real from the faux is also high on the agenda as there are an awful lot of replicas, rebuilds and restorations that retain little of the original and any claims on this basis are tenuous to say the least. A recent Facebook post points out the a car being sold on ebay is not original as advertised, as the person posting the comment had built it just a few years previously. An otherwise fascinating TV programme has featured a number of ‘so called’ replicas that have absolutely no connection with the original item, yet feature prominently in the museum in question. Even more annoyingly, one seemingly important motorcycle that was featured has recently gone to auction, yet not a single part was contemporary with the period it purports to come from and even worse, no two parts were ever together and the machine it represents, never existed.
An association with a person or event however, can make an unbelievable difference to the value even though the intrinsic value of the object has not changed, which is where the bike described above has derived its value, not what it was, but a (very) tenuous connection with an important name. A White Star piece of crockery can realise just a few pounds, yet an association with the Titanic, tens of thousands, but does it work the same with cars, boats and engines? The question as to what makes a particular item valuable has baffled us for ages, as there seems little rhyme or reason. Surely a very rare 10cc-racing engine should be more valuable than one mass-produced in the tens of thousands, but no. However, attach the name Carter to it and it acquires a mystique in the UK and a price tag that belies the fact that unless it can be positively attributed to him, then the engine in question is just a modified Dooling or McCoy.
Similarly, the most expensive tethered car sold for something like ten times what it would be expected to make because it was ‘believed to be the Indianapolis owned by Barney Korn’s wife’. In the art and antiques world, the name is everything, not because of the item, but the value it bestows on it. It is sad to see an item on the Roadshow that has been in a family and cherished for years suddenly become a burden when a life changing valuation is put on it. Probably not something we will have to worry about, as a provenance might add a few quid, but not enough to warrant a sharp intake of breath?
For us, knowing who built, used and ran a particular engine, boat or car may not make a jot of difference to the monetary value of the item, but as was pointed out by someone far better qualified than ourselves ‘give an object a name and a history and it becomes an item of interest, otherwise it is just an object’. This distinction exists notably with medals from the two wars, WW1 with a name and a regiment a traceable history and story, WW2 nothing, just a medal.
The Pitbox features a car that was one of the most common 5cc cars on British tracks for many seasons, yet no example had come to light until recently, which in itself was a bit strange? Now five have emerged, but this one is a bit different.
It is difficult to believe that it is twelve years since we published an article on timing systems built for car and boat racing, especially as we are now going through the same process at Buckminster as the engineers were doing from the 1920s onwards. Model Engineer regularly featured these devices and how they had been built, many of the photos being taken by Edgar Westbury. Amongst the extensive Westbury archive we found the Photo of the month, which is an original image of Gerry Buck's electro mechanical system, built in 1944.
Just occasionally, something of interest will pop up on ebay and this item was definitely a ‘barn find’ project. Steve Betney snapped it up and has done his normal, superb job, on rebuilding and finishing off something that was started probably seventy years or more ago. Thanks to Steve for his delightful article on the ETA renovation project.
A momentous few weeks for Angela Gullick, firstly for breaking the A1E record on multiple occasions, and not by small margins, but more importantly in becoming Angela Lara, having lured Norman to Gretna Green for the ceremony. The June regatta at Hall Farm started off with a celebration of the marriage, before Angela broke her own record yet again. Thanks to Norman and Angela for the report and results and Mark Hankins for another amazing set of images. Angela was on form again at the first July regatta with another new record for her little electric boat, which also saw the arrival of a number of new boats, including an AB/R for Tony Collins and Ron Hankins coming within a whisker of his record with the fastest run from a hydro seen for several seasons.
First event of the season at Kingsbury Water Park after the cancellation of the June meeting through the inclement weather, difficult to believe after the month we have had so far? Sad to say that with a few notable exceptions, the Kingsbury jinx struck with a vengeance, leading to much head scratching and muttering.
Something we like to feature on our pages that deal with long lost hydro lakes and car tracks are photos of what remains, if anything, or of the site. Kevin Fleet has again come up trumps with images of the Cheney Manor Lake, once the home of the Swindon Club in its current guise as a fishing lake.
More in the way of photos as through the kind offices of Lyndon Bedford we have been able to scan the originals in his extensive album and replace the photos of the photos in the Bedford archive. We have also added photos of the two original tethered car trophies that now reside with Lyndon.
Department of wishful thinking when a copy of Russell and Wright's Model Race Cars booklet appears on ebay at a cool £195, later reduced to £175. We hear that the Ken Robinson Bullet that was sold at Miquel's sale in 2004 is on the move yet again the other side of the Atlantic. That and a Vega DB car reached a hammer price of £1703 at Christies, wonder what it will make this time round? The Vega is also for sale.
Those that enjoy the Goodwood Festival of Speed will have seen a stark manifestation of something that we often refer to, the instant obsolescence of what exists by a radical departure in design. The 'fan car' that Matt Chilton marmalised the opposition with is not a new idea, but this one works to such an extent that all conventional cars were rendered museum pieces. So, what to do, ban it as happened last time, or has everyone got to get a fan car or better to be able to compete?
A great weekend for running tethered cars, but no so good for flying retro style model aircraft that do not cope well with too much wind. The SAM Retrofest runs over three days with competitions for aircars and 2.5cc cars and a swapmeet into the bargain and again we were able to welcome guests from abroad to the event. The focus of the Sunday was the official opening of the timing hut by Dick Roberts' widow, Babs.
Back to Buckminster for what was forecast to be the hottest weekend of the year and possibly the hottest ever recorded. Luckily the heat arrived two days later so that all attending the garden parties, the warbirds meeting and the BTCG track day were able to enjoy the extensive facilities at the site. The SMAE Centenary Exhibition also opened that weekend and has the hangar full of models, historic to modern along with a plethora of kits and motors in the house. Plenty of fast action on the track as well during practice and competition.
It is always a pleasure to receive compliments about OTW and we will react to criticisms if we can but this is not always technically possible. We will also consider suggestions from readers and correspondent to see if we can incorporate these to improve access, information and the service we can offer. One such was the Market Place, which has been a huge success, and now at the suggestion of John Goodall we are adding a Calendar page of events so that everything we are aware of is on one page, rather than spread throughout the site.
Empty Spaces: Gordon Rae is not a name that would be familiar to most, but along with his father Harry Rae were early converts to running tethered cars. Gordon gave his father a copy of the Russell/Wright booklet for his birthday in 1946, and this was the catalyst for a number of tethered cars and engines that we published as a Pitbox Special. Both Gordon and Harry had close connections with Geoffrey Hastings of 1066, using engines and parts obtained surreptitiously from Hastings on various occasions, usually cash in hand. Gordon is better known in the aeromodelling world for his speed and team racing and publication of his book 'Aircraft Speed and Team Racing' and it was during his preparation of the book that we first met him. The RAE name was familiar to us through articles in Model Engineer, but it is better known for building full sized racing cars and competition. Indeed, in 2010 and at the age of 80, Gordon was able to renew his racing licence and take part in a charity race at Castle Coombe, although he must have rued this decision when he lost a front wheel in practice? Thanks to Andy Housden and Steve Betney for the notification.