I was watching the Antiques Roadshow in early May which was filmed at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales. Right at the end of the programme the very last person to be filmed was a familiar face. VCC’s very own Jonny Thomas! He was there with 3 rather grotesque pieces of pottery that had been passed down through the family from his grandfather. The pieces were made between 1895 and 1901 by the Martin Brothers of London. The presenter said the four brothers all had ridiculous bushy beards and wild hair. The camera zoomed in on Johnny rubbing his own bushy beard! Pieces of Martin Brothers pottery are highly collectable and valuable so when the values were given Johnny looked surprised but pleased, but said that he shouldn’t have bought them along as his wife will see this. He then added that for now they will return to the cupboard but they will probably turn into a veteran or vintage car,
Elsewhere in this Gazette you can read about how I have been tracing the history of my Wolseley. Some members will be fortunate that they have a full history of their own car from the day it was made, while a few very lucky members inherit cars that have been in the family since new. Although maybe they don’t see it as lucky if they feel obliged to garage and look after their family heirloom. An heirloom of a painting, jewellery or vase is far easier to keep than a car! If your car still has its original UK registration number and you don’t know the early history it’s worth checking if the records are still available for the county in which it was first registered. When the DVLC central records were set up in the early 1970’s some local registration offices around the country destroyed their entire old paper records but fortunately many councils saw the historic value in them and placed them into the safety of their records office. Other records were rescued by the Kithead Trust and transferred to their premises in Droitwich Spa. If you would like to do any research into early registrations a good place to start is the Kithead Trust’s website where they list the location of all known surviving records. I would highly recommend trying to trace a car’s history as it can be fun, fascinating, and at times highly rewarding. Good luck!
Whilst wondering what to write for these notes I was looking through past emails saved to a folder on my computer and came across one that I had been sent two years ago by Mike Sewell about his Ford Model T. I had totally overlooked it. Sorry Mike, but better late than never!
The ‘T Commandments’
Lessons learned in the first year of ownership
I bought my beautiful Model T about a year ago and have also been helping maintain another lovely Model T belonging to a friend of mine. In our first year we have been through a very steep learning curve. Apart from reading everything we could find and being given excellent advice by Richard Rimmer of ‘The T-Service’ who sold us the cars, we have really enjoyed talking to many other owners and enthusiasts and getting a wealth of hints and tips from them. So, I thought I might jot down the main points we have learned in the hope that it might help others in their early days of ownership, for some of the points could lead to very expensive repairs (as we discovered!). I guess they might be known as ‘The T Commandments’, and they can be grouped under the headings of Safety first, Oil second, Water third and Petrol fourth:
- SAFETY FIRST
- Thou shalt not drive the car faster than thou can stop, for the footbrake is not very effective especially when carrying passengers (but then the overall speed limit was 20 mph in those days). If you have time, engaging bottom gear and shutting the throttle sharply helps somewhat, alternating between Brake and Reverse pedals and, in an emergency, Ford advises you to also apply the handbrake sharply, but ….
- Thou shalt keep a careful eye on the rear axle oil level. It must never get too near to the level of the filler hole, otherwise it will leak onto the rear brakes and the hand brake will become totally ineffective. Believe it or not, over time oil can leak from the engine, find its down the prop shaft and gradually fill up the rear axle! A modern version of the oil seal is available, to reduce the risk of leakage, but best to keep the level monitored anyway and to drain it every year
- Thou shalt not assume that other road users understand thy hand signals, for many young drivers have probably never seen a hand signal before, and think you are simply giving them a courteous wave
- Thou shalt keep beaded edge tyres properly inflated at all times, for that high pressure of 55/60 psi. is the only thing that keeps such tyres on the rims when going around a sharp corner. Carry a foot pump, a spare inner tube and two tyre levers or a spare wheel
- OIL SECOND
- Thou shalt check the engine oil level before every journey, for it is not unusual to use one pint of oil per 100 miles
- Thou shalt not go up steep hills with oil at a low level, for the front big-end may be starved of oil, with dire consequences. (An upgrade can be made to improve the flow in the original oilway, and kits are also available to supplement the supply by means of an external oil pipe)
- Thou shalt keep a careful eye on transmission bands, for if they need frequent adjustment they may be disintegrating and clogging up the engine oilways, with dire consequences
- Thou shalt fit a filter to thy transmission cover and check it regularly, for if detritus is circulating in the oil undetected, the oilways may become blocked with dire consequences
- Thou shalt drain and replace the engine oil every 1000 miles, as the engine may otherwise wear itself out rapidly
- Thou shalt grease all the points on the car very regularly, for lack of lubrication on any one of many points can lead to rapid wear and costly replacement. Penny wise, pound foolish!
- WATER THIRD
- Thou shalt check the water level in the radiator before every journey, for the system is not pressurised and some topping up is quite normal, but letting it get too low can have dire consequences
- Thou shalt not enter the autumn without replenishing the antifreeze in thy radiator, for it is easy to fall into bad habits during the summer, and put the car away for the winter with inadequate protection from frost, risking terminal damage
- Thou shalt not take the car on the trailer on a cold day without ensuring the anti-freeze is topped up, for if thou were to be perched on the trailer thyself, thou wouldst freeze solid – so will the car!
- FUEL FOURTH
Thou should always keep the fuel tank as full as possible in hilly country otherwise thou shalt cause Embarrassment to Thouself and Much Merriment to other Members when you Conk out… ( carry a spare can on the running board )
Of course, with the benefit of hindsight some of these might be thought of as common sense. But then with the benefit of hindsight, we could all be millionaires!
I am just wondering what further pearls of wisdom we might uncover during our second year of ownership and would be very grateful for contributions from more experienced owners.
Mike Sewell (The T Commandments) And David Ralph (Section Scribe)