Wreck of the Week

My search for a wreck of the week brings up this week the hard cash that underpins a lot of the nostalgia boom we have seen recently:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2560739/Now-thats-fixer-upper-Wrecks-classic-cars-selling-MORE-new-models-prices-rusting-roof.html

“Barn Find” vehicles fetching equal to or more than fully restored vehicles; frenetic bidding over dusty relics; a craze for originality between buyers with infeasibly deep pockets.

This is a world that I can’t even tessellate with. The cars described would have been beyond my reach ten years ago and are beyond my reach today.

However, as we have seen with anything carrying a blue oval, the effects of this are not just confined to the rarefied heights of hedge manager salaries.

It has become (and looks likely to continue for a while to be) very difficult for a person of moderate to modest means to get involved in the classic car hobby.

However I remember a similar time in the 1980s where classic cars started to look a great investment. People bought crumbly wrecks gave them a cheap respray and flogged them for serious money.

Then there was a downturn: several people who bought cars as an “investment” got burned. The upside being that the guy who wanted to tinker in his shed got a look in once again.

We can hope that cars will start to return to sensible in the near future. However, sadly the keys to that E-Type I’ve always dreamed off are likely to remain in someone else’s hands in perpetuity.

“Rust in peace” searches this week bring me to this article https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/2092341/stunning-pictures-show-how-nature-has-reclaimed-cars-left-abandoned-across-europe/ featuring the work of Roman Robroek who loves to take pictures of abandoned cars. I took a chance that the name was unusual and believe that I have found the photography site that the article is about:

https://romanrobroek.nl/#transport

It is a fascinating site which causes me to regret the fact that I cannot operate a camera (even if given instructions designed for a five year old).

Some of the pictures are truly beautiful. In the case of the cars I do wonder where they are and if anyone will step up and try to save them.

Even better I have been in touch with Roman and he is happy for me to use some of his pictures in my blog. So I am very happy about that and grateful thanks to Roman. (The featured image in the blog this week is one of his).

This week’s YouTube video is a light hearted effort from Pathé set in Reading.

This shows a very different attitude in 1963 to today – cars having no value at all when they got to a certain age. As a result cars were dumped – quite literally anywhere that a person could find to dump them.

The announcer refers to the introduction of testing, which leads me to suspect that the MOT is not as venerable as I once thought.

It appears the MOT was introduced in 1960 so just 3 years prior to the film. A very large number of vehicles initially failed and so the requirements for testing were enhanced. (Presumably this was because the roads had many unsafe vehicles on them).

Initially cars older than 10 years were tested (many failed). In 1961 this became 7 years, in 1967 it became 3 years. Since then the requirements for the age of vehicles haven’t changed but the items being tested have increased with time.

The film takes a comedic approach which includes a very strange episode at the end involving explosives. This is more akin to something you might have seen a circus clown performing.

Many of the cars in the film would be very desirable today so it is sad to see that they were just discarded.

However the vehicles would have been merely 10 or so years old at that stage and 10 year old vehicles today have limited value. Little has changed.

I checked the example of LJ2393 (the smoking vehicle in the latter part of the film). It is not on the DVLA database. So it did not survive. No wonder that vehicles of this age are valued – precious few seem to have made it this far. The exploding vehicle has registration HH – TR645 which is an odd plate. Being the suspicious type I checked it. It is invalid and so almost certainly the vehicle isn’t a vehicle at all but merely a film prop.

This week I was sent details of some marvellous BBC sound effects which include some early car sounds and car-related sounds. http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/

This is listed as “Cars: 1.6 GL (Manual) 1982 model Ford Cortina. Exterior, tickover recorded near exhaust”. Which for anyone who is wondering what a car of the 1980s would sound like is pretty close to how I remember.

Ford Cortina 1982 Tickover Download audio

Back to Wreck of the Week proper and another ruster drawn from the nation’s favourite auction site.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/192460868689?ul_noapp=true

This one struck my eye because it is just up the road from me and very close to where my partner is working currently.

I say is, however the listing has been ended because the vehicle is “no longer available” so we have to assume it found a buyer, eager or otherwise.

 

Originally listed at £2,300.00 sadly there is no automotive equivalent of the land registry to determine what it actually made in the end. (Even if there was – the absence of any registration details makes such a search impossible).

We’re treated to 5, yup 5 gleaming pictures of marvelousness to sate our nostalgia demons. The text doesn’t do much more to convey anything:

“1966 FORD MUSTANG

SOLID SHELL

WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET

THERE IS NO PAPERWORK WITH THIS CAR

I CAN DELIVER FOR £1.50 PER MILE

CAR LOCATED NEAR ROYSTON HERFORDSHIRE

CASH ON COLLECTION

PLEASE NOTE THE ANGLIA AND FAST BACK ARE NOT FOR SALE”

I’ve left the shouty text in place this time to convey the full-on nature of modern auction site listings. If someone was speaking like this I would rather be at the other end of a very long room.

Now Royston is a big place but for those not of the United Kingdom (or maybe those of its further flung elements of this nation) here is the approximate location of said vehicle:

So what are we getting in this “What you see is what you get” auction.

Shame it is not for sale that Anglia looks much more my cup of tea to be honest. I can’t see enough of the vehicle beyond it to make out what it is, but what a marvellous place with all these pieces of automotive history lined up just ripe for the restorer to feast his eyes upon.

In any case from the text we can ascertain that the car for sale is in the foreground, none of those in the background are so hands off sonny.

All we know about it is that it is 1966. There are no registration details and given there is no paperwork it is easily feasible that the car was never registered in the UK – we’ve covered the niceties of the NOVA system before.

However some comments on the impact where you have no documentation at all are here:

http://www.nsra.org.uk/newforum/showthread.php?61208-NEW-IMPORTATION-RULES-NOVA-(Notification-of-Vehicle-Arrivals)

Put it this way I am not certain I would want to wind my way through the various departments to satisfy them that the vehicle has been properly imported and that all relevant taxes have been paid. It is not clear what happens if you don’t satisfy them but an unregistered car is without value (unless you want to limit it to the race track) and unpaid tax can become an expensive problem…

So apart from the soft-porn focusing (we’re kind of used to that now I think ) what have we. No engine, no gearbox, no front wings, no ancilliaries, no suspension, little or no braking system, no front panels. In fact it appears more like the before in a banger race.

As it stands though what can be seen does not look excessively rusty. So it is possible that this could be used to reshell a car that was completely gone bodywise but had most of the parts.

Unlike a previous Wreck of the Week featuring a Mustang this one has a windscreen and so perhaps there is some hope for the interior.

To be fair, if you’ve been following Wreck of the Week for any period of time then you will have seen much rustier prospects but potentially not cars that have less included with them. (Even the windscreen wipers are absent from this one).

What surprises me from the pictures is that you can fit a stonking V8 between those suspension turrets but scale is something that photographs may not convey well.

Ok, the interior is not quite (but almost) a pond. Heavy moss growth indicates that starting on the car now before it gets much worse is probably an astute plan. The algae covered item may well be the front offside wing although there is no sign of the normal use of car-as-shed approach. This means that there doesn’t appear to be the usual smorgasbord of spares that some of these adverts entice us with.

Not a particularly easy view of much of the interior but apart from the previously noted no gearbox problem, there are no carpets, no seats, no dashboard, a steering wheel which is missing some parts.

On the upside it does look relatively intact metalwise – not much call for Joe le welder here. (Those fans of the welding art form can groan now).

I’m unclear why the rear footwell is a storage vessel for odd fastenings – perhaps it had visions of becoming a shed and never got that far.

Perhaps a better focused version of one we’ve seen before. So no clues about the rear, the boot area, the underside (other than what we can glean from the interior shot), the rear wheelarches – other glass in the car and so on and so fifth.

Well that’s it, no more images to enthral us.

So necessarily a brief one this week. You’ll have to go and do some real work now.

Next week lets hope someone who was a true David Bailey. Preferably one with laryngitis of the advertising text as well.

 

If you took this one home please let us know what you did with her, it would be fascinating to discover what kind of future she has..

 

 

If you liked this article why not follow this blog

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 36 other followers

 

Image source Roman Robroek http://www.romanrobroek.nl

 

Credit to the property website from which the original idea (for Wreck of the Week) came:

http://www.wreckoftheweek.co.uk/

(Whilst that site looks at crumbly ruins this one looks at crumbly panels).

 

Car Ownership Guide

An idea which might appeal to owners of cars out there if you have a car which you are interested in and are knowledgeable about then I am happy to write an article about it and post it on this blog.

The work for you is that (unless you are located very close to me) I will need you to answer a questionnaire (and possibly some follow-on questions) and I will need you to have reasonable ability with a digital camera – the blog is going to need pictures as well.

Although I compiled the following article from an interview in the old fashioned – turn up ask questions – manner. It seems feasible that I could compile a questionnaire from this which I could despatch to whoever was interested.

I am hoping that the idea has appeal and will encourage people to submit cars. If you are reading this blog and you’re aware of someone else who will fit the bill by all means pass along details so that they can profit from it.

A considerable number of years ago, when it was easier to dream, I had in mind that I would like to write for a classic car magazine. At that time one of the magazines was featuring a “Best of the Web” article. I was working in IT and loved old cars and so this suited me well.

For a short while I researched and wrote these articles and fitted it in around the day job.

Sadly there was a change at the magazine and it was determined (probably correctly) that the “Best of the Web” article was as boring as a lengthy parliamentary speech. So it was pulled.

A person less given to dreaming would probably have seen the writing on the wall. I hadn’t yet let go of that writing dream however and so I tried to come up with some ideas of articles that I could do.

I was approaching the very limits of expertise. I had no background in engineering or in journalism but I wasn’t going to let this stop me.

I realised that once in a while a very knowledgeable person drawn from a classic car club would lay out what it was like to own a specific kind of car. Such accounts were no doubt rose-tinted and that suited my somewhat romantically idealised view of ancient machines.

So I set about contacting owners clubs but I was aware that I could not use the cachet of any magazine’s name as strictly speaking I didn’t work for any of them.

Unsurprisingly for a very long time I didn’t get any takers.

Eventually however I had a response from Tom Lucas who was the owner of a Lomax. For those uninitiated to this car it is a vehicle that you could assemble yourself based upon a 2CV.

It turns out that I had been very lucky to find Tom. Not only was he knowledgeable and keen, he was also willing to help someone who quite obviously was no journalist.

I have subsequently discovered that Tom Lucas (surely the same man) published a book called “Lomax the First Ten Years” bookfinder.

The car YSU191 has also been the recipient of prizes.

It is also apparently still taxed and MOTd to this date according to the DVLA.

Tom, if you are reading this, thank-you for your help.

I returned to the magazine in the hope of a new venture but it turned out I was not as good at this writing business as I had hoped. There was certainly no suggestion of the article being used.

As a result I am free to use the article on this blog all these years later and hopefully Tom will get to see it here.

This was the article:

 

Ownership Guide

Engine

This is usually removed from a 2CV, the engine can be taken from an Ami 8, Dyane or from the rarer Ami Super.

Most Lomax are built with a standard 602cc 2CV, Dyane or Ami 8 engine (these are essentially the same being an air-cooled flat twin of 30 BHP).

The older 435cc engine (not found in donor cars after the 1970s) will fit but is rarely used.

Useful power improvements can be obtained by fitting the Ami Super engine (1015cc). This is a flat-four air-cooled engine and requires the 4-speed gearbox from the same car.

Alternatively the later Citroen GS (1299cc) unit is a simple exchange.

The Citroen Visa power plant (652cc) provides a more complex challenge. This 38 BHP motor had electronic ignition requiring sensors on the gearbox bell housing which do not easily fit the 2CV. One method in use is to utilise motorcycle electronic ignition from a BMW on the front of the engine.

Officially any 2CV engine from 1985 will run on unleaded; however engines from the 1960s are currently running on unleaded without detrimental effects.

The exception is the Visa 9 ½:1 compression engine, which requires super-unleaded.

The standard engine is “bullet proof,” even modified engines tend to have a standard bottom-end, as it is very tough.

Valve and seats are very hard and recession tends not to be a problem. Valve clearances are checked then checked again after the first 6000 miles. If no recession is detectable no further checks are necessary.

Oil Changes

It is worthwhile doing regular oil changes at 3000 miles – maintaining this interval gives increased engine life expectancy of 150,000 miles with 300,000 miles a possibility.

10/40 oil is recommended for the 2CV but the Lomax has different requirements due to the absence of the cooling fan from the front of the engine. This means that the engine runs hotter than in the 2CV a 20/50 oil should therefore be used.

Use of synthetic (or semi-synthetic) oil is not required.

The oil filter should be changed at the same time as the oil. This is easily accessible as the bonnet can be removed in one piece. It is therefore considerably easier to access than in the 2CV donor.

Parts are available from ECAS (Eastwood Continental AutoSpares) of Stafford (01785) 282882.

Carburettor

The standard 2CV is fitted with a single carburettor positioned in the middle of the engine over the crankcase (a downdraft Solex).

This requires a long manifold to each cylinder.

Post 1982 2CVs, Dyanes and Amis were fitted with a twin choke version – this yields 2-3 BHP extra.

A common modification is to fit 2 motorbike carbs on short manifolds (for example the flat slide Dellortos from a Moto Guzzi). This modification yields significant performance advantages.

Ignition

There is no standard distributor; instead there is a points box rather like that on a motorcycle engine.

This has a 2-lobe cam producing a spark to both cylinders at every engine revolution via a double-ended coil.

The cylinder that is on the compression stroke is able to use the spark to fire. The cylinder on the exhaust stroke gets a ‘wasted spark’.

Modifications include electronic ignition kits from Lumenition – this replaces the points and box lid with a sensor (£115). An alternative “123” Dutch-made kit is available through ECAS. This replaces the point’s box and the advance/retard mechanism (£112).

Gearbox

All gearboxes fitted since the start of production are the same in that they are all 4 speed.

The internal ratios differ slightly, the Dyane having a slightly higher ratio in top gear.

The gearbox is behind the engine and drive is transmitted via drive shafts incorporating disc or drum brakes.

The low weight of the Lomax and its relatively small frontal area (compared to the 2CV) make the gearing a handicap.

Top gear limits performance to around 80mph, as higher speeds would cause the engine to rev excessively (no taller final-drive ratios are available).

Gearbox rebuilds are very rarely required, as they are very durable. For instance large, quality, bearings were used in the gearbox manufacture. Regular gearbox oil changes at 12,000-mile intervals are recommended to prolong gearbox life. Reconditioned gearboxes are available from ECAS (£220).

Brakes

The brakes are inboard – either drums or discs dependent upon the age of the donor (cars prior to 1982 having drum brakes). Changing pads is easy; changing shoes requires removal of the driveshaft first.

Drum braked cars tend to have a more effective hand brake as the disk-braked cars have separate (small) pads for the handbrake. The lightweight of the Lomax however, means that this handbrake system is still adequate in disk-braked cars.

No flexible brake pipes are employed. The solid brake pipes are coiled to take up any suspension movement. Despite this unusual arrangement no brake pipe fractures take place.

The gearbox from a Citroen GS comes with 11” disc brakes which would seem a useful modification. However, the Lomax is already significantly lighter than the donor car so no changes to the brakes are necessary.

Later Citroens with disc brakes do not use standard brake fluid but LHM mineral oil. The seals on these cars are a different material to those on drum-braked models (which use standard brake fluid). This means that the correct fluid must be used. In addition when replacing the rear-wheel brake cylinder it is critical to select the right one (the LHM version is painted green).

Rust

The body of the Lomax is GRP and hence does not suffer from rust problems; however the chassis is of steel and from the donor car.

Earlier cars had better chassis (those built in the late 1960s) particularly the Ami – these are therefore better donors.

The chassis from an Ami Super is a good choice as it is made from 1.2mm steel. The 2CV chassis is made from 0.8mm steel.

Cars manufactured between 1987 and 1990 tend to be more prone to rust and should be avoided.

Alternatives include a galvanised square section tubular steel chassis produced by The Lomax Motor Company.

Alternatively ECAS sell a galvanised replacement 2CV chassis for £430.

Preservation of the chassis when constructing the car is recommended. To do this, prop the framework against a wall so that it is close to vertical. Pour in Waxoyl from the top and allow it to drain through.

The exhausts rot out regularly due to the small engine and long exhaust, the rear of which remains relatively cool even with prolonged use. This means that acids tend to condense causing deterioration of the back box.

It is common to use a motorcycle silencer on the Lomax, but in this application a stainless one is recommended.

Body

The body is all GRP and the floor is of plywood.

The GRP gelcoat is a popular finish to leave the car in when first assembled.

The colours available include British Racing Green, Pillar-Box Red and Anchusia Blue.

However the finish tends to fade in UV light (i.e. in the sun) dark shades particularly becoming unattractive after a number of years. The car can then be sprayed conventionally to disguise this.

Crazing of the GRP can occur at stress points over extended periods of time. Replacement panels are available or if the body tub is affected it is cheaper to grind away the gelcoat and fill with fibreglass resin.

Suspension

Most Lomax cars are assembled using the 3-wheeler format– this entails removal of one of the rear suspension arms. The remaining arm is modified at the Lomax factory allowing it to be turned through 1800 to be inboard of the rear chassis arm (which is removed).

The suspension is totally derived from the 2CV with horizontal canisters containing the road springs.

The kingpins tend to wear if they are not greased at 500-mile intervals. To replace these, the driveshafts have to be removed and the bushes replaced with a press or a sledgehammer and a drift can be employed for similar results. After 2 or 3 sets of kingpins have been fitted the arm is too worn to accept another set and must be replaced (£95).

The suspension arms turn on taper-roller bearings which can show signs of wear at 100,000 miles (£24.50 each – 2 of per unit) – they are sealed for life so once fitted need no maintenance.

Genuine Citroen telescopic shock absorbers are required (£65) as they are designed to work on their side – conventional shock absorbers would wear out very swiftly if employed.

The Lomax suspension is lowered when compared with the donor 2CV. The suspension arms have tie rods, which are threaded. Releasing these rods a few threads lowers the suspension. This increases the kingpin castor angle improving the self-centring of the steering with a slight increase in kingpin wear as a penalty.

The lowered suspension can “bottom-out” and so modifications have been developed to use both suspension canisters.

Lomax has chosen to use a “rear anti-roll bar.” An alternative is to use the arrangement originally designed for a competing kit car (the Falcon). A front anti-roll bar on the three-wheeler is a requirement to prevent the car banking hard into corners.

The anti-roll bar from a Citroen Ami 8 or Ami Super can be used to make cornering safer (these are now scarce). The Lomax Motor Company now manufactures its own version. Alternatives are available from other kit-car manufacturers e.g. Black Jack in Helston.

Performance Improvements

The air filter is a bulky item which can be improved with a low restriction type, such as that manufactured by K&N.

Removing the front cooling fan and ducting is good for 2 BHP.

Carburettor improvements include use of the later twin-choke version (2-3 BHP over the standard item) or use of twin motorcycle carbs.

Performance cams are now available due to the popularity of 2CV racing.

Modifications include boring out a standard 2CV engine to fit a Citroen Visa piston – this raises capacity to 650cc whilst retaining the same stroke as the 602cc. The downside is that the cylinder side wall is made very thin by this modification and the engine can seize whilst running in.

Swapping the 602cc engine for the 650cc engine from the Citroen Visa is workable (the camshaft in the Visa engine is “hotter” than standard) but this is not an easy modification.

Driving

3 wheeled driving is a very different experience. The car has a sports car stance being close to the ground and alighting requires climbing down into the seats.

The suspension retains the donor’s ability to soak up potholes – only finding difficulty with the taller “sleeping policemen”. If the rear wheel hits a diesel patch or wet manhole cover then the rear can step out, but will swiftly regain traction.

The insurance is very low due to the small engine size.

There is lots of capacity in the boot for shopping or even continental touring.

The car is relatively safe in accidents due to built-in weak points in the Citroen chassis– a built in “crumple-zone”. These fold in the event of accident protecting the cockpit from serious damage.

The performance is better than the 2CV donor with good acceleration and 80mph normal. It will cruise at 70mph easily.

It is equally manoeuvrable handling twisty back roads faster than a number of conventional vehicles.

The controls are conventional apart from the gear change pattern where 1st is opposite reverse. The handbrake is an umbrella version (from 2CV donor) although some builders have opted for a more conventional handbrake layout.

 

 

With thanks to Tom Lucas for advice and information. Tom is the author of “Lomax the First Ten Years” (£10 from most bookstores).

 

 

 

If you liked this article why not follow this blog

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 36 other followers

 

 

Wreck of the Week

This week’s Wreck of the Week pulls up an article on the loss of an old friend.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/11/land-rover-emerges-cornish-beach-30-years-sinking/

Ronnie Hanney drove his family onto the sands at Gwithian Towans Beach Cornwall on January 13th 1990. Completely misjudging the nature of the sands he was unable to extract the vehicle and was forced to leave it as the tide returned. The vehicle was said to be 22 years old at the time (so 1968). It was buried roof down in the sand and remains so to this day only the chassis re-emerging at intervals.

Please someone go extricate it and get it back to roadworthiness. (Mr Hanney is no longer with us and so is unlikely to be doing the work himself.)

My continual searches for new “rust in peace” items brings me once again to Ireland (Ireland was the location of the video in the last rust in peace).

This time a forum with several pictures of cars left to rust away. Despite enquiries no one seemed to be aware where any of the cars actually were. Rather like the YouTube videos that we’ve been watching no chance at all of dragging them out of a hedge and rebuilding them.

Talking of YouTube videos:

This is not the world’s greatest collection and very oddly arranged a very sorry sight indeed. The Americans do seem to be doing this kind of stuff in greater volume than anyone else as far as I can tell. This time there is barely a spare part worth saving as far as I can see. Mostly they are ghosts of former cars just two steps away from compost.

It’s very sad, especially as some of them look like such interesting vehicles.

This week I was sent an article on classic nostalgia abroad. This was obviously something to tempt me to use a travel company’s services. However to me it is fantastic to discover that all around the world people are in love with their cars. Long may that remain the case.

And so to the main subject of this week’s Wreck of the Week.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/302635020119

I’ve no idea what it sold for, it’s concluding label being “This listing was ended by the seller because the item is no longer available”. I take it that the car was listed elsewhere and someone made an offer that couldn’t be refused.

The text states: “Morris Minor

All glass

Gear box

Back axle

Lots of parts on the shell

Comes with v5

Good back wings

For more info call me on

07766542098

Can assist with loading”

In the (now standard for auction site listings) shouty text – I’ve muted it to save your ears.

It was located in Hereford but that’s a large place and there are no other details for me to give you a better map of location than this:

As a classified ad there is no bid history and so no clues as to the keenness of people to have an ingot of automotive history.

(It was originally listed at £250.00).

As far as I can tell it looks good only for parts – and a lot of those were missing. Let’s have a look at her to see what I mean.

There’s a measly 5 images with this listing I’m afraid which is little for us barn-find adherents to hold onto.

So the now standard – (probably has an ISO number) approach to car listings:

1) missing paint – tick,

2) interior used as a shed – tick

3) items resting on roof – tick.

On the face of it much of the car is sat inside it, if you were looking to perform a restoration then you would want some kind of assurances that all – or at least most of the parts were there.

As someone remarked on a classic car programme recently – “all of the parts are never there”.

As you will see later, this shot is beautifully framed and does not in any way prepare you for the quantity of work that is inevitably going to be required.

And now it becomes plain, what there is of the car does not look that bad. The downside being that you only have half of the car.

Given the inner wing on the driver’s side has been sawn off – getting it true and level to the original specification is going to be work taking not a little skill.

Whoever bought it must have felt themselves equal to the challenge. More likely though the buyer had a Morris Minor in better shape but requiring a few parts that this one could supply.

So front end rebuild, new inner wing, valance, outer wings, bonnet, engine, headlights, engine ancillaries and no doubt a whole gamut of items I haven’t given thought to. Sheesh.

Still as we have seen on a previous Wreck of the Week the value of these Morris’s is down in the weeds and it is a brave person who will take one on. The cost of restoring will soon gobble through any differential between its price and the price of buying a good one.

I suppose that there are less outcries of “sacrilege” should someone wish to improve the performance with an engine swap; update the brakes or install a supercharger for example.

I’m rather in favour of people being able to make their cars just how they want them, so maybe the low price of entry is a passport and not a barrier.

I recently met a man who had restored a MKI Escort and sold it to pay for his daughter’s path through university. Another man spent hours of his life restoring a Capri and then sold it – to the shock of his friends.

Whilst the high price of the blue badge ensures that many more are recovered. It also ensures that several people are unable to get a historic Ford due to the high cost of entry now.

And some who have cherished cars find that they now need to sell them to fund other life events because there is now so much money tied up in them. It’s like the story of the elderly people who now have to sell their house (even if to an equity release scheme) because the one thing of value they have left is their house.

Perhaps Morris will become the unsung heroes of the classic world, cars the average man can still buy, tinker with, modify, and ultimately sell without the kind of fear that wallet-breaking prices can engender.

Looking at this I have a sense that whoever bought it might have wanted spares. There are a fair number of spares in that car, including the odd panel; it probably means that this one is not going to see the highway again.

In many ways if it had not been laid about with the plasma cutter it might have been rescuable. There have been some shocking cars we’ve seen in Wreck of the Week which optimistic sellers believe are recoverable.

Assuming that belief is sound – with only a little more attached steel someone might have made a go of this one.

Perhaps someone finished cutting the front off this one and made an interesting trailer of it. (Others have done this before  http://www.mmoc.org.uk/Messageboard/viewtopic.php?t=29444&start=15)

Well at least the claims that the rear wings are in good condition seems to be a valid one. Makes me wonder why it is chopped about so much; another Minor in need of those bits that have been excised maybe?

Well if you bought this car please share what it is that you intend to do with her.

 

 

If you liked this article why not follow this blog

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 36 other followers

 

Credit to the property website from which the original idea (for Wreck of the Week) came:

http://www.wreckoftheweek.co.uk/

(What that site is to buildings this site is to Bonnets).

Fifty Special Things – Longthorpe Tower

When: 04-05-2015

Where: Longthorpe Tower

Price: £6 for two adults £4 for a guidebook

 

Review: Very popular – it was cold the day we went but there were still a number of people there.

Tip: Opening is restricted – limited to weekends and bank holidays – check the English Heritage site before setting out.

This hasn’t been open long, I found it had opened in 2013 by Dr Janina Ramirez (famous historian and TV presenter)

We were determined to go see it because of the well preserved mediaeval artwork. We visited on a bank holiday monday – one of the few that it opens during the year – don’t turn up on a weekday.

We have been National Trust members for a while but haven’t yet stretched to being members of English Heritage as well. If you do a lot of ancient building exploration joining would be worthwhile.

Patience is the order of the day if you want photographs of the walls inside the tower. It was very popular the day we went. I imagine that remains true throughout the year due to the restricted opening times.

Second Floor

The address is Thorpe Road, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, PE3 6LU. However parking is in St Botolph’s church car park. This is no particular hardship as long as you are reasonably mobile. However bear in mind that access to the tower is up a set of external stairs.

The tower is the only part of the site that is accessible as the rest of it is still in private hands. Whilst I’m sure it’s lovely to live in such a prestige location I’m not certain about lots of visitors traipsing past your door every day.

The tower was apparently originally built by Robert Thorpe who was a lawyer. It was an addition to an earlier house.

The tower is a solar tower – added around 1300 but is unusual in that they were usually added to grand houses – possessed by nobles – rather than someone from the legal profession.

The tower or solar contained Thorpe’s private apartments, the second floor contains Thorpe’s bedroom. Thorpe was a Steward of Peterborough Abbey which at the time owned nearly all the land.

As an official of the cathedral Thorpe would have been a well-respected professional in his day. However he is the mediaeval equivalent of a man made good (from humble origins). Thurstan De Thorpe was still a (villein) serf to the manor at Orton Waterville until 1200 (or thereabouts).

However by 1226 his son William was able to buy the manor at Longthorpe. No one seems to have dug too deeply into how they got their cash…

This site however speculates that with education it was possible to elevate yourself (even in an era when to pass yourself off as gentry was illegal).

The family seems to have loved that habit of naming the son after the father: William begat William who built the manor house and the church whose car park you used on the way in. Originally St Botolphs was on the edge of the village. It was for the use of the manor originally but now is the parish church.

Second William begat Robert (which would be easier only Robert then begat you guessed it – Robert).

First Robert is the one we have to thank for the solar – it is a scaled down version of a similar construction more frequently found in castles. Robert became enriched through services to the nearby abbey. However by 1320 was working directly for Edward II. (He received a knighthood).

Second Robert became a steward to the Abbey like his father and the wealth continued. It was he who commissioned the paintings, which were painted around 1330.

As a defensive building it is sadly lacking (Robert was attacked there in 1327 and held to ransom). It was designed to show off the owner’s wealth and status – this it does rather better.

It is likely that connections with the Abbey allowed Robert access to artisans with significant skills (such as those commissioned for work on the 1st floor). However the skills are somewhat variable as some paintings are better executed than others.

Sadly it wasn’t to be for the Thorpes – although the building remained with the family, the final Thorpe – William – died without children in 1391.

Thereafter it was a second home for a while for John Whittlebury. This family retained the house from 1391 and sold it  to the Fitzwilliam family in 1501.

The Fitzwilliam family retained the house thereafter – the tower alone was gifted to the nation in 1948. This was probably because it required some quite expensive structural work which was taken on by the then Ministry of Works.

It is a great shame that the adjoining buildings can’t be viewed as well. After all that history one would imagine that they are magnificent.

The ground floor is unpainted and historically would have been used for storage. (The painted room is on the first floor). But you can’t get into the ground floor in any case.

The second floor is also unpainted but has some interesting displays including this helmet.

On the day we went (probably for everyone on reflection) we were invited to lift the above helmet to discover how heavy it was.

It is extremely heavy, how a mediaeval knight managed this together with a suit of armour I do not know – they must have been very hardy types.

This is the stone seat of a Garderobe – this is a basic form of mediaeval toilet.

Given it’s on an outside wall and would have been exposed to the elements I couldn’t help wondering why the seat wasn’t wood faced as it must have been very cold in winter.

Apparently a good cure for moths was to hang clothes in the Garderobe as the smell deterred them.

The word wardrobe apparently has its origin in this practice of hanging clothes in a small space.

As you can see mediaeval rooves were not hot on insulation the tile pegs can be clearly seen here. The house might be impressive but it doesn’t seem to have been cosy.

All the windows have been glazed over but historically glass would have been very expensive indeed. Certainly areas like the Garderobe were often left open to the elements in order to dispel the odours.

Rooftop views of adjoining buildings to which sadly there is no access.

The existing access is provided by a timber stairwell up through an enlarged former window. Originally the access would have been through a door (now blocked) to the adjoining hall. Additionally there is no direct access from the first floor to the ground floor storage area – access originally being gained through the adjoining building.

The adjoining hall is Grade I listed like the tower.

The narrow stairwell to the first floor.

It is best to avoid people on the way down – passing on those stairs would be challenging.

I didn’t find the rope of much assistance. Pushing against the wall whilst muttering “steep stairs piggin’ steep stairs” in the end being much more efficacious.

An arrow slit on the main stairwell – now glazed.

How on earth did servants get up and down these stairs whilst carrying things? I’m not clear if Thorpe liked to dine in his chamber but the kitchens were elsewhere in the site so it would have involved some trek if he did.

Small room off the recess in the second floor probably originally a latrine.

The First Floor

And so at last to the first floor, this is what the fuss is all about. After the paintings became unfashionable the walls were whitewashed over (around the time of the reformation). The paintings were thus hidden from view for centuries.

After a period of lease to the Home Guard in World War II the tower became part of a farm again in September 1945. The farmer (Hubert Horrell – a nicely alliterative name that) was prepared for decorating. He discovered sufficient of the pictures to make him believe that the tower was of importance.

He notified the owner (Captain Fitzwilliam) who thankfully recognised the importance of the pictures. He decided to fund an expert examination. He spoke to The Society of Antiquaries of London. Eventually a wall-painting specialist, Edward Clive Rouse was determined to be the man to start releasing the paintings from the layers of whitewash.

It took years – until 1948 – to reveal all of the paintings.

It is now regarded as one of the best preserved wall decorations of a mediaeval domestic building (in England if not in Europe).

Sadly the paintings are much faded now but are said to have been very bright indeed on discovery.

They were painted onto dry plaster using pigments including red/white lead, chalk or vermilion mixed with egg and oil. There is also evidence that some of the paintings were gilded.

Some of the depressed lines were made in the plaster whilst it was still wet.

Some of the detail that was evident at their discovery in 1946 can no longer be seen . Thankfully Mr Rouse was an excellent record keeper creating a small scale watercolour of every painting as he found it.

Potentially I assume this could mean that they could be restored. Something that has been done to great effect in some of the Egyptian tombs I notice.

This first floor room is believed to have been the great chamber for the manor.

It probably had several uses including dining room or reception room. The paintings were therefore for the purpose of impressing guests.

The West Wall

This is the Left hand side of the west wall. The west wall consists of a large alcove with a tiny window offset to the right hand side.

This leaves a large expanse of wall – now painted.

However remember that the paintings date to some-time after the building was erected.

Nonetheless this design seems to indicate that painting the walls was always in the plans. Otherwise why leave this large expanse of wall space and such a small window.

The tower has suffered subsidence in the past which lead to some alterations although it is believed that originally the North wall looked similar in construction.

The above picture shows 4 figures on the arch which are identified as the labours of the months – only 4 can be seen here starting with January at the bottom and moving up to April.

The months have an inscription (where this survives). January is said to be a man warming himself by the fire. February is too destroyed to be certain. March is a man digging. April again is damaged but it is speculated that he may have held flowers. This is in common with depictions at the time of rural people and what they were doing in each of the months.

The only other month that remains is December (the other side of the arch).

Close up of the lower left hand side said to be a pecking bird and the upper part of the door in the South wall that used to lead into the great chamber but is now sealed.

The upper picture is said to be St Anthony. Part of the inscription survives. St Anthony is the figure standing praying – asking how to find salvation. Opposite him is an angel sitting making a basket (working) and an angel behind stood (praying).

Overhead – now largely lost was the head and shoulders of God watching from above. The answer to his question – you can find salvation by praying and working.

The inscription read “do thus and you shall be saved” (apparently SIC FAC ET SALVUS ERIS) apologies to anyone who actually understands Latin.

St Anthony was the patron saint of basket weavers which is perhaps why this was the illustration chosen of work.

Alternatively Peterborough is considered the gateway to the fens and basket weaving has for a long time been considered a Fenland craft.

Two rabbits can just be seen behind Saint Anthony although these are less well done – appearing more like Disney Rabbits than real rabbits.

The border below is quite faded but apparently represents textile. It contained images of a lapwing and owl and a parrot apparently although you may find it difficult to pick those out now.

The two large figures are said to be a teacher and a student with perhaps the teacher wearing a doctor’s cap.

To the left of the teaching scene, on the walls of the recess. From the bottom of this picture: a square niche in the wall, above it a Heraldic Shield, above that a creature (mostly lost) and above that a heraldic banner.

Continuing to the left of the teaching scene, further up the wall on the same side. On the right hand side of this picture can be seen more heraldic banners, to the left a figure (unidentified).

On the West wall the lancet window is small and to the extreme right hand side (North). The window was apparently placed so that painting could be presented on the remainder of the wall. This is an alcove to the right of the window – 2 figures and an inscription which is now hard to make out.

The figure on the left wears a garment with a hood, the figure on the right is said to be a child. The hooded figure is saying to the child “Our Lady will absolve us from sin” (NOTRE DAME NOUS ASOUDRA DE LA PECHE)

This is the Right Hand Side of the West Wall said to be representations of a Bittern and of a Crane. (The Bittern is the uppermost picture). These were apparently not often painted from life but from representations of such creatures found in a bestiary.

The left hand side of the window in the West Wall this is said to be Saint Paul In his right hand a sword in a scabbard.

A close up of the same image.

The East Wall

In the upper part of the wall two figures address one another. The one on the left has been almost completely lost (some of the foot can be seen The figure on the right is complete. He is holding gloves and has a dog standing behind him, however the inscription which would have told us what this meant has now been lost.

Below him is a person in a crown standing behind a wheel. This is called a wheel of five senses and originates with Aristotle but found this form in the 13th century. The rim of the wheel has on it a Monkey, a hawk, a spiders web, a boar and a cockerel – of which the monkey (though partially missing) seems the best done.

These had the following meanings:

Monkey – taste

Hawk – smell

Spider’s web – touch

Boar – hearing

Cockerel – sight

The artist made a mistake with the cockerel and his first attempt can be just seen above the current version.

At one time the wheel would have had inscriptions which indicated what it meant – these are now lost.

It is believed that this means the five senses need to be regulated through reason and restraint.

To the right are two damaged creatures said to be hounds and to the left a damaged creature said to be a squirrel.

It can be seen here that the Boar is not very well done (could easily have been an overweight dog). The remnants of one of the damaged hound pictures can be seen.

Above on the ceiling is a representation apparently of an organ player (a mobile or portative organ with 16 pipes).

Close up on the Spider’s web which could as easily be a dartboard I suppose or given the date more likely an archery target.

Above the doorway can just be seen a very faded set of pictures said to be of the apostles.

This image is in the recess for the current doorway (which was a lancet window). It was enlarged to make space for the current doorway.

This picture appears above a doorway that would have led to a latrine. It is a picture to remind the viewer of mortality and was popular in mediaeval times.

Baased on a 13th Century poem originating probably in France. The legend is that 3 men meet with 3 dead and the 3 dead urge them to repent. The poem may have first been told by Baudoin de Condé a minstrel attached to the court of Marguerite II, Countess of Flanders in the 13th Century.

In this representation the first king is now lost, the second has a red crown which you might be able to see, the third is the one speaking with his finger raised.

The three dead startle the three kings and the kings rebuke them for this. But the dead state that they are the king’s ancestors and question them about why they have not said mass for their souls.

The message is designed to point out how fleeting is the existence of man and hence provide a moral message.

The three next to the king with the upraised finger are now in black but the pigment was lead which has oxidised with time, originally they would have appeared as in white shrouds. The last though is without a shroud – naked – and covered in maggots.

Above the current entrance door there is an aperture cut in the 1940s to expose the remnants of the original lancet window. The current entrance was enlarged in the 17th century and is now back in use. It uses a wooden staircase constructed in the 1940s. The hole which you can see here (when viewed from the correct angle) shows the original construction.

The figure just before the hole is said to be one of the apostles. (The Halo is visible – potentially at one time having been gilded).

To the left of the apostle above is this image of an apostle on the same wall. There is no indication as to which apostle is which. This one appears to be writing I think. Traditionally an apostle writing is generally thought of as St Paul – after his letters to the Corinthians and so on…

Facing the current entrance (I.e. looking towards the east wall) there is a niche just inside the door on the left hand side.

It is of a bearded man teaching three pupils the only discernible word when uncovered in the 1940s was apparently OREILLEZ which may mean “hear me” in old French.

The North Wall

This is the Right Hand Side of the North Wall, uppermost is the second half of the “seven ages of man” the last figure is the easiest to see with a crutch he is decrepitude above him is old age (said to show a man with his life savings).

Above you can see the entire seven ages of man of which a great deal is lost. It starts at the left hand side with an infant; above this is a young boy with a spinning top; above that is adolescence but of which little can be seen.

In the centre top is a youth with a hawk; descending the right hand side is manhood – with a sword; old age – with life savings and decrepitude – with a crutch.

Beneath the 7 ages of man is a depiction of the nativity which has been partly encroached upon. (The window was widened in an attempt to counteract subsidence).

Originally it would have been a small window as for the west wall seen above. However what remains is Mary seated on a chair with Jesus. The missing part would have shown the crib , the ass, an ox (parts of these can still be seen).

The ceiling above the North Wall upper left of this shot is a partial figure believed to be a cymbalum player.

In the other quarter of the vault is the Eagle of St John and beneath that the figure of St David. To the right a Psaltery player.

The South Wall

This is the left hand side of the south wall. Above is a coat of arms said to be that of Edward III.

The border was originally of the Thorpe coat of arms and at one time was gilded – not that you can see it now. Apparently fleur de lys were once visible here – but you need better eyesight than mine to make then out now.

Below the border is an alternating checkerboard pattern said to be painted to look like a hanging cloth. It is likely that this once was behind a high-backed chair that sat against the wall in this position.

This is the right hand side of the South wall uppermost is the arms of Edmund of Woodstock. He was the Earl of Kent and a half-brother of Edward II. He was executed following a planned rebellion against the regent Isabella (after the king was deposed).

The Earl is considered to have been Robert Thorpe’s landlord and so it is likely this is the reason for the inclusion of this coat of arms.

Beneath this something which is much more fun, it is a Bonnacon. You can just see the arm and bow of an archer and the rear of a beast that appears to be ejecting poo in his direction.

Apparently you would be foolish indeed to shoot upon this mythical beast which despatched its victims with flaming ordure expelled from its behind with some force.

The Tower

This is one of the buttresses – showing that the knitting together of the walls is no longer that exact.

Buttress and wall look close to separating here – further evidence of subsidence damage probably.

Here you can see external cracks visible in both North and East walls.

Above the current entrance – the outline of the former lancet window which was enlarged to make this entrance can be clearly seen here.

Visible subsidence cracks on the exterior – work to attempt to remediate these resulted in thickening to the north wall and a change to the window aperture.

This is further up the same wall showing that the cracking extends up to the Battlements.

It is a fascinating place and I have had plans to revisit. Indeed given the gradual fading of the artworks (and no obvious sign that they are to be restored) it might be as well to visit sooner than later.

If you are not of the historic nature (but your partner is) you can indulge them and chill afterwards in Thorpe wood which is nearby.

On that day on May it was beautiful and I have no doubt restful at most times of year.

 

If you liked this article why not follow this blog

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 36 other followers

Wreck of the Week

This week expansion of the “wreck of the week” concept to embrace the whole world continues with the United States.

http://www.oldcarsweekly.com/features/smashed_dashes_and_crumpled_fenders. A site which uses the term “wreck” to mean involved in a body-altering accident. It shows how many uses the term can be put to. Some of the cars here are a mystery to me, not having my nostalgia from the correct side of the Atlantic. However my more general sense of sadness at the loss of something once great is certainly called into ascendancy by this site.

This week I found a “rust in peace” in Ireland. It is also a YouTube Video so kills two birds with one stone.

Instantly I must apologise for the dire soundtrack and that the guy filming it was trying to catch a bus at the same time. If I were you I’d mute it before clicking on it. I haven’t found a way of playing videos at a slower speed though.  Any technical person’s amongst you who have solved that let me know.

Yet again no idea where any of these cars are and so we must assume lost forever.

I notice that some images in that video are suspiciously similar to one another. I think some vehicles feature more than once. Hey he put something interesting on YouTube so who am I to criticise.

The Wreck of the Week for this week sold at a price that is within my reach. But given its condition it was going to cost a great deal more by the time it was restored. My partner thinks it needed a miracle. Perhaps not quite but some serious hard work certainly.

Of course the value reflects the fact that it has a blue oval on the nose.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/192451887410

It excited a mass of interest with 27 bids from no less than 13 bidders. People really wanted this car.

The seller was located here:

But the listing states the car location is in West Bromwich B70 which is here:

But is such a massive area you might as well say it’s in Somerset.

It was an interesting car not only imported but actually left hand drive.

Usually I anticipate that people import cars because the cars have spent their life in the blazing sun. Thereby barring a bit of faded paint they need very little work.

The seller (who we assume was open about its faults) lists the following as needing some attention:

“Shell needs a lot of work, sills and corner of the front floors. As it’s a 4 door it’s up for sale with no reserve still a good base to build something out of has all the running gear in place.”

Remarkably he also states that it “comes with a spare roof”.

Given a car stands upright and water falls from above, descending under gravity; normally the sills, floorpan and wheel arches lead in the rush to become one with nature. Once the roof has gone then really you’re dealing with merely compost and memories.

Thankfully it looks like the needed bits of paper have been considered already, unlike some we’ve seen. He states that “Imported, on the nova list, comes with all necessary paperwork to register, no import duties to pay.”

What we don’t have here is a story. As mentioned in previous wreck of the week articles the stories of a car’s history are in many ways its most appealing aspect. It went to Spain with a little old lady who took it drag racing at weekends, that sort of thing.

In fact we do not even know which country it was imported from. Given the need for a new roof I assume Atlantis.

Unhelpfully it is listed as 1966 (sellers please list the full first registration date). There is no visible number plate so I am guessing pretty nigh impossible to derive the full first registration date from any public sources.

I did not know that even though it is tax exempt you still need to apply for a  tax. But apparently if registered pre 1977 now there is tax to pay. This seems tempting until you recognise the incredible rate of attrition of cars that age. Finding a drivable one which is still affordable will be your first challenge.

Teeth grittingly he also lists it as MOT exempt. For my views on MOT exempt see a previous wreck of the week.

He states “Mot exempt from May so you’re able to register it as is and fix it up as you go along. You can even drive it and keep it on the street in this condition like a rat look beetle if you wish”. This sounds jaw-droppingly irresponsible (although I’m sure it sells cars). The car if subject to MOT would have to satisfy a number of safety checks before you can use it. Because it doesn’t need those checks, hey just drive it who’s going to notice?

57 demerits to the seller on that count alone.

So with a heavy sigh let’s have a look at her.

Firstly do not adjust your sets, the quality of the pictures really is of the “soft focus” variety. Given this is usually reserved for pictures of a quite different nature I assume it is not deliberate.

It looks like it has been stock car racing in which the emphasis was on lots of body contact. Where can we find a straight panel?

The LHS front wing looks beyond recovery, the door seems held in with straps, the glass (save the quarterlights) entirely absent.

The bonnet is making a break for freedom, the rear subjected to a bizarre origami experiment.

An odd chunk of metal seems to have been deliberately excised from the  RHS front wing with no obvious purpose other than to disfigure the car. The passenger side door (remember it is LHD) is attached with straps as well but at least superficially looks a useful panel.

The rear door seems to have been the loser in a door kicking competition. The door might be saveable, the wing doesn’t look like it.

From what we can see the headlining is waving the white flag. Given the presence of overriders I’d say the front bumper is inside the car.

Aha the need for a roof becomes plain, my goodness, what has been done to the poor thing. It’s possible it was rolled. Alternatively it’s been in some sunny scrapyard with another vehicle on top of it. Unearthed no doubt due to the escalating prices the Ford badge now attracts.

Even in this state it fetched £1,500.00 (roughly $2113 or €1724), which makes me wonder what on earth is a four door MK1 Cortina fetching now.

Ok here’s a similar one https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C957714 currently at £31000 (roughly $43662 or €35632) pheweee.

Ok now it all makes sense.

Various parts seem stuffed inside (together with a lot of glass granules). However even with my really strong glasses I can’t tell you what they are. In this shot even the intact rear has suffered a big ding on the LHS . There are no rear lights and judging by the vacant hole in the rear no fuel tank either. It is possible the  LHS rear door is saveable however.

Not exactly well disposed with photographs this listing (not that it affected it selling apparently). This is the last photograph in the series. If you remember the  Cortina GT estate you will recall how shocking the state of the bulkhead was. Kudos to whoever bought this – the engine bay is in good condition and remarkably the  strut tops look intact.

Unsurprisingly the LHS front wing looks the worst.

I’m not certain if any of the mechanicals are saveable or how much is there, possibly a carb and a dizzy, parts of the brake system and a rad. However I think it safer to assume at the very least it’s going to need refurbishment and very likely replacement.

So we’re talking a guy (or gal) who is either to metal what Michelangelo was to marble or someone with very deep restoration pockets.

If you are that miracle worker ahem I mean purchaser let us know what you intend to do with her.

 

 

If you liked this article why not follow this blog

Follow The Procrastination Pen on WordPress.com

Credit to the property website from which the original idea (for Wreck of the Week) came:

http://www.wreckoftheweek.co.uk/

(Unlike that site, which is about houses, this series of blogs is and will be all about automotive ancients).

 

The Art of Procrastination

With a blog entitled “The Procrastination Pen” I suppose it is reasonable to expect that at some stage there would be something on procrastination.

To be honest the naming was something that came to light after several days of brain stretching. It was only fixed after I discovered that all my other great name ideas were already taken.

(This is fairly familiar, see my discoveries about the use of the term “Wreck of the Week”).

It was all going swimmingly until Amazon launched a product which is actually called a  “Procrastination Pen”. This consigns my little blog to low down in the Google search results.

Anyway enough of this – suffice to say that the title “Procrastination Pen” was in the search for a unique blog title rather than some manifesto of intent.

However it is not a title without aptness. Throughout my life I have struggled with procrastination. At times I would rather clean the toilet than embark on the task that I regard as the most important. During revision for the various exams I have undertaken in my life I have dusted, hoovered and tended the garden to avoid picking up a single book.

And so it was with great embrace that I greeted the book that is the subject of this post.

If like me you have symptoms of procrastination in your life I recommend that you buy this before any other book on the subject.

Procrastination 1

Bookfinder

My copy is now very precious to me.

John turns out to have been a lifelong procrastinator of the advanced order. This puts him in a uniquely sympathetic position to other sufferers. He is the most positive person I have encountered when it comes to the treatment of procrastination.

If you want a flavour for the author’s style then visit his website here.

He raises the idea of akrasia (apparently originally from Aristotle). This describes why people will do anything other than the thing they are supposed to be doing.

He proposes that procrastinators far from being inefficient wastrels actually get a great deal of work done. However they get that work done whilst avoiding some other task.

Perversely they may be seen to be very hard-working and efficient as a result.

The major outcome of which is that being a procrastinator is quite positive and nothing whatsoever to be ashamed of.

Although he is perhaps the first to propose the term “structured procrastination” to cover this behaviour the first to write about it apparently was Robert Benchley in the Chicago Tribune in 1930. The article “How to Get Things Done” is now the subject of a blog posting.

Structured Procrastination

The benefits of structured procrastination (as opposed I suppose to doing absolutely nothing) is that it is feasible to get procrastination to work in your favour. A great deal of work can be accomplished whilst avoiding the task you really do not want to engage with.

The issue is that mentally (or physically if we can bring ourselves to be that organised) we have a list of tasks which we must accomplish.

Habitually a procrastinator will have the most important task glaring him or her in the face. He or she is quite prepared to exercise his or her self in the performance of tasks lower down that list to avoid that most important task.

The wrong thing to do when you have this mindset is to address the task directly. Worse still is to attempt to minimise the distracting tasks to focus fully on the main one. If you succeed then the only way to avoid the main task is to do something which is not constructive – watch the television, cut your toenails, pick your nose and so on.

One approach is to try to find another yet more important task and to mentally (or physically if it helps) add this task to the top of the list. Now you will be spending all of your efforts to avoid that task. Your previous most important task is now second on the list and is likely to receive attention to avoid the new most important task.

Alternatively, if no likely task presents itself, promote one of the less important tasks to be the most important one.

This means you have to fool yourself that this task is more important. As John points out we fool ourselves all the time anyway in the pursuit of procrastination so we’re already experts at this.

Perfectionist Moi?

Procrastinators are fantasists, unable to complete the task perfectly but nonetheless imagining that they are able to do so.

Finding themselves unable to complete a task to this imagined standard of perfection means the task does not get done.

That is unless the task has a deadline, in which case as the deadline passes guilt kicks in. The procrastinator attains a mad scramble to complete the task. In the process he or she gives his or herself permission to do a less than perfect job.

John states that we would be better using a task triage in this situation. Decide which tasks you can forget altogether, which you can forget until later, and which to start work on.

In the process decide whether a half-arsed job is sufficient or if a perfect job really is needed.

Lists

Surely the bane of any procrastinator and the subject of way too much time-management reading I’ve performed over the years.

Procrastinators keep lists – either mentally or, for the more disciplined, physically.

The lists are pretty pointless. The only reason they are created is to get the buzz from crossing things off the list. Hence the list grows with items that did not need to be on the list simply for the feedback of all those ticks.

Where lists do come into their own is when the procrastinator is faced with a task that he or she cannot face. Something so daunting that nominating some other task as the most important will surely fail.

Here the task needs salami slicing. Each component of the task listed out so that the procrastinator can approach it piecemeal.

The safest time to make such a list is just before sleep – that way you’re less inclined to be distracted.

Music

Motivational music is well worth having.

Personally I think that you can’t go far wrong with this:

You will have your own preferences.

Distractions

These are bread and butter for the procrastinator, email and web surfing for example. Avoiding these is not realistic. Set something that will interrupt you. At least you will stop emailing/surfing the web (or alternative distraction of choice) and do some work before the sun sets.

Desktop

A lot of procrastinators work by spreading papers across the desk. Do not resist this if it is you.

Putting papers into filing cabinets is an almost certain way of never dealing with those papers again. If you are not bound by a clear desk policy feel free to leave the papers exactly where they are when you stop working. That way you can instantly pick up where you left off.

Non-Procrastinators

Procrastinators drive such people mad. Non-Procrastinators are useful to have around. They will insist that you work in a non-procrastinating way. This can be very motivational (if hard on any relationship that you have with them).

Obsessively productive people may choose to do the tasks for you. Make sure that you contribute equally if so.

Positives

A surprisingly large number of tasks don’t need doing at all. By not working on them you gain time that non-procrastinators lose.

Some tasks find better qualified people to work on them and they also disappear from your mental (or physical) to do list.

There are many ways to spend time and many opinions about the best way to spend time. Spending time daydreaming may in the long run be more productive than writing that essay.

Procrastinators may ultimately find better ways to enjoy life.

Unpleasant News

Whilst John is positive throughout about the impact of procrastinators he does reference some material which is likely to bite a bit harder.

Procrastination: Ten Things to Know. (Read this if you’re a procrastinator in a really upbeat mood or a non-procrastinator who needs validation).

For those determined to beat their procrastination into submission John recommends this book:

Procrastination 2

Bookfinder

However as John concludes, procrastination is not the problem. You will only attempt drastic action against procrastination if you are unhappy.

It would be far better to work on the unhappiness rather than the procrastination.

 

 

If you liked this article why not follow this blog

Follow The Procrastination Pen on WordPress.com

Fifty Special Things – Cambridge Gin Laboratory

When: 18-02-2017

Where: Cambridge Gin Laboratory

Price: Free – It was a gift

Review: excellent way to spend a few hours, several different courses available

Tip: take the bus, and then you can spend the rest of the day in the bar next door.

I remember when I was thinking about how to make the fifty special things work that one problem was always going to be budget. Having made the decision to try to make my fiftieth year a special one, how do you afford it all?

So it was with great delight that I received a gift of a gin tasting session at the Cambridge Gin Lab.

It turns out that it is very popular, the day we went it was full up. I imagine other days are not dissimilar.

Gin 1

The Cambridge Gin Laboratory is at 10 Green Street, Cambridge.

Gin 2

There is a board outside to confirm location and a sign on the door.

At the time I was convinced that I was going to rule the world via the medium of blogging – such that there is quite a strong pictorial record.

Gin 3

Gin 4

It was around the time of this visit that I began to comprehend just how fashionable gin had become and just how many people were keen to get in on the act.

Gin 5

The lab is downstairs and is laid out with all kinds of gin-related paraphernalia.

Gin 6

Prior to the gin sampling itself there is a very interesting talk on gin and the history of gin from which I made a few notes.

Gin 7

Note the picture of the black Labrador on the wall, said to be the reason why it is called the Cambridge Gin “Lab”.

There are various events available including a tailoring option to create a unique gin.

Gim 8

Gin is actually juniper-flavoured vodka. The predominant flavour must be juniper. The juniper “berry” is used (which is technically a cone). No sugar.

The nose of gin is often described as “piney”. Juniper was used for medicinal purposes for a long time. However claims that drinking gin is healthy are sadly untrue.

Gin 9

A monastery used to distil wine and float botanicals in it and used this as a treatment. Drinking this though was not tasty so they started to sweeten it.

Gin 10

Traditional gin was produced in the Low Countries (Dutch) in the 15th Century. Jenever was their name for juniper.

Gin 11

The English fought the Dutch in the 30 years’ war. Soldiers began to be given alcohol before they went into battle – it became referred to as “Dutch courage”.

The English then started to make their own gin. The gin craze was between 1720 and 1751.

This could be thought of as the first drug war. In the poor areas of London 1/3 of households were making and selling gin. However there was lots of methanol left in it which is poisonous. Some sellers cut the result with turpentine which is poisonous.

They were drinking 80% ABV in pints – like beer. They became very addicted.

The Gin Acts 1751 started to legislate gin production.

William Hogarth 1751 creates two paintings Gin Lane is political propaganda intended to encourage people to switch back to beer (Beer Street).

Gin Lane
GinLane

Beer Street
Beer Street - Calle de la cerveza

Beer Street and Gin lane
Beer-street-and-Gin-lane

Gin was still allowed to be drunk however.

The theory is that Hogarth was paid by the beer industry to encourage people to drink beer.

The Gin Act was passed. After crop failures and attempts at alternative beverages – they eventually got better at making gin.

Alcohol fermentation, involving yeast processes on sugar, produces heat, carbon-dioxide and ethanol (together with other alcohols).

ABV (ethanol by volume) the maximum that fermentation achieves is 15% ABV. (You can heat the result to make it stronger).

To distil – put the alcohol in a still – heat it. It starts to boil and evaporate. The outlet tube is cooled in water (it is coiled to increase its surface area).

Simple distillation apparatus

Different compounds boil at different temperatures:
Ethanol 78.4oC
Methanol 60oC (ish)

You track the temperature and collect the low boiling point liquid and dispose of it, this is referred to as the “head”.

You collect the middle boiling point liquid and keep it.

You collect the higher boiling point liquid referred to as the “tails” and dispose of it.

In this way you get to concentrate what you want.

In vodka you remove a lot of the impurities, this produces 96% alcohol. In whisky you keep some impurities by retaining a greater heat range, this affects the flavour.

Gin started to be recognisably gin in the early 19th century – juniper is added during the distillation. Juniper flavour becomes incorporated into the gin.

They also started to use continuous distillation – here a huge still uses plates to draw off the distillate at the correct temperature range.


CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Gin now starts to taste nicer – it becomes fashionable to have unsweetened gin.

London Dry Gin became fashionable – today this is a subcategory of gin.
London Dry Gin started in London but not made there anymore.

It is dry – not sweet – you must use real botanicals – these must go into the distillation pot and not be added afterwards.

Gin – is a shortening of jenever the Dutch for Juniper. Today other botanicals (plants) are used e.g. rose petal, cherry blossom, coriander seed, juniper cone.

These react differently to heat – the heat is high so the botanicals are added at different times – this is like adding ingredients in cooking.

You treat each botanical with the level of heat that suits it. The boiling point is related to atmospheric pressure – reducing pressure reduces the heat needed for boiling.

1 botanical is added at a time – you distil different botanicals. What comes out is not a gin, it is a flavoured distillate. Then you blend the distillates.

However it needs a basis of London dry gin. Therefore you can blend your own gin.

The distillery has 100s of distillates. It is tailoring gin to individuals, bars, and restaurants. You can use delicate things in gin e.g. cucumber.

Hendricks add the flavour afterwards – you can make a lot more gin this way – but not a London Dry Gin.

1 gin run takes 1 hour – there are 4 people in the company.

When we arrived we had a gin to start with which was a standard London Dry Gin with a fever-tree tonic. I rather liked this.

However we also got to use atomisers to spray gin directly into the mouth (well after some practice – the first squirt was directly into my eye). Atomisers contain the same spirit as the demijohns on shelves around the walls. They are used to allow tasting without consuming a lot of gin.

Brands feel it is important to be traditional – to have this as part of their brand.

Wheat is the basis of gin, potato potcheen (Poitín). Gin must be a neutral spirit – the basis does not have to be wheat, however if it is not wheat or potato then this fact must be listed on the bottle. Potato vodka is slightly oilier. Rye is slightly spicier (to a trained palette).

To make comparisons involves a system for tasting gin which needs consistency and needs a standardised language. Tasting is an ability that develops from training & experience. Room temperature is best to identify botanicals.

After the initial gin on entry and trying the atomisers there were 3 gins to try, these were sat on the table protected by glass lids.

The first apparently had rose and violet petals in it. The sequence is first mouth feel – it should feel somewhere between milk and water – medium. I have the palette of a straw bale I established.

There is no sweetness added – when you distil – sugar does not carry over, hence the distillate from pineapple has no sugar. What you can have is associative sweetness – this reminds you of sweet things for example florals gives this effect. (It’s all in the mind in fact).

It also had blackcurrant leaf – which gives a fruity flavour and basil, angelica, rosemary. Angelica is very common in gin – it is slightly spicy. In tasting you want to linger a little not too short.

You don’t have to prefer one that wins awards – as this is a measure of how well it is made rather than if you like it.

The Cambridge Distillery make different gins for different bars – Midsummer House has a herbal garden – we use those herbs in their gin.
Pint shop – Peas Hill we use peas in their gin.
College graduation gins – they forage for flowers in their garden – buy the gin which is unique to that year. Usually you have to go to the venue to taste their unique gin.

Japanese gin has become a retail product (this is the second gin that we tasted).
Nobu in London wanted one. It was made with a team of chefs inspired by botanicals used in Japanese cooking. This is light in intensity, the spirit is the same though. The botanicals are different, Juniper, cucumber, sesame, schiso leaf, almonds (it is marzipany), sanshō pepper (a bit perfumy), yuzu.

Botanicals are affected by the weather and are used seasonally. Each year there are seasonal gins. The ones in spring/summer are lighter. The ones in autumn/winter are more warming.

Each gin is therefore non-re-creatable. 100 bottles of each one are made and these sell quickly.

Autumn/winter gin contains bergamot. It has fennel in it, bergamot, rosemary, blackcurrant leaf, and juniper. It can manage a punchier tonic. They tend to use fever-tree as a good “go to” mixer…

The Dog – the black Lab is the lab dog Gin 12 he/she is why this place is called a gin lab Gin 13.

They capture the lightest 1% of stuff that evaporates referred to as the angel’s share of gin. They have made an angels share gin at £2000 a bottle.

They produced about 6 bottles, all sold quickly.

In addition to the tasting which we attended there is also available:

  • Histories and mysteries of gin session
  • Make your own bottle
  • Themed tastings

Given how great our session was these will also be worth a try.
Afterwards they give you a voucher to try a cocktail in the bar next door (accessible underground). The bar is on Trinity Street.

This is at 2648 Cambridge. Great cocktails which may make you want to stay.

As I say take the bus there…

Gin 14

If you liked this article why not follow this blog
Follow The Procrastination Pen on WordPress.com

Photo by Arvind shakya from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/closeup-photo-of-clear-long-stem-wine-glass-724259/