A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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06 December 2014

It's Just My Luck...

... that it's going to be the New Year before I can get going again on the racing car.

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The local council's grave digging machine came in for a bit of a spruce up and that took a couple of days to put right. I'd never had a go on one of these so I had some fun in the yard before taking it apart for servicing. Then, I attended a dealer meeting for Avant Loaders. I'm not a dealer, I just get sent out to do the servicing every now and again. It takes me to interesting places - parts of the Norfolk Broads for instance where, because some of the roads are made of wood chippings, you get a sort of sinking feeling as you drive very carefully down roads deeper and deeper into.... if you've ever seen the film 'Deliverance', you'll get the picture - so to speak.

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A year or two ago, you might recall that I had a few laps around Silverstone in a Ferrari racing car; it was the same company's dealer meeting and, because Snetterton was quite close to the head office (where this year's meeting was to be held) Learned Counsel and I got very excited about the prospect of another few laps in the team-building exercise. However, I have to say that we were slightly crest-fallen when it was announced that the big treat was to go and look at a private collection of tractors. What? Tractors? Do we have to?

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There were about 250 or so in a farm building that was over 100m long by about 30m wide. Rows and rows of old tractors, most if not all in working order, was a sight I was pleased not to have missed. Each tractor had its own descriptive plaque and the collection had examples from the very early 20th century to about the 1980's. This extraordinary hoard was the work of a gentleman called Paul Rackham.

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Among the most impressive machines was this Holt 75. Made in Illinois and operated by the British Army during the 1st World War, the Holt's were employed in towing howitzers around the battlefields. This one is the sole surviving example of the literally 1000's that were enlisted at the time.

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And, as it was the first Saturday in the month and, it seemed, the first decent day for a month, a fellow Magneteer accompanied me to our local VSCC lunchtime meet. The Hillman went very well and it especially seems to like the cooler weather. I must sort out the nearside front brake though; its lagging behind the offside brake means that you have to put in quite a lot of left rudder to keep the ship on track when pulling up smartly.

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Which neatly introduces another distraction I had this week; I went to the restorer to collect a picture I'd had cleaned. In a box of miscellaneous frames that I'd picked up at an auction for about sixpence, was a picture of a sheepdog that someone had cut from a magazine. I took the mounting apart and there underneath, to my surprise and delight, was this charming water-colour of a 'Brigantine close-hauled in the English Channel', dated 1896.

It's nice to have a bit of luck every now and again.

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