Sunday 23 April 2017

A Day Out at Summerlee

We had a pleasant meet up today at the Summerlee Industrial museum in Coatbridge where there was a rally of classic cars. We were busy yacking about bikes but I managed to take a few snaps.

Daimler SP250. This was a 2.5 litre V8 sports car from 1959. It was unveiled at the New York motor show where it was called the ugliest car there. Well I think it's pretty cool. The  police in London operated a fleet of there cars to catch the reckless cafĂ© racers of the day.

A rare Alvis TB14 (one of only 100 built)

Classy interior

Jaguar XK150

Jim was showing his Trabant.

Fun details under the bonnet. For safety reasons the fuel tank is located in front of the driver and above the engine! The engine is hiding under a vinyl cover and what's with the huge ignition coils?

Of course the car has a fuel gauge. It's this rod that you dip into the tank to find out how many litres are left.

This huge locomotive was built in Glasgow and operated in South Africa. Depressingly it and me are the same age. I hope I'm in slightly better condition! 

They have some old trams running. This one came from Dusseldorf.

Some of the old machine tools used in local factories.

This a favourite photograph of mine in the museum. It shows boy workers in the Coltness Iron Works in 1900 preparing beds for casting pig iron. Note bare feet. Aye, youngest nowadays - they don't know they're born!

Friday 21 April 2017

Featured Bike - 1928 Brough Superior SS100 "Moby Dick"

This bike had been in the news recently because it is being sold at auction and is likely to achieve a world record price.

The bike is a 1928 Brough Superior SS100. These bikes were considered the "Rolls Royce of motorcycles" and were guaranteed to achieve 100mph - an amazing speed in their day. But for its original owner, Charles Hobbs, this was not enough. He commissioned the engine supplier, JA Preswich, to manufacture barrels to increase the capacity from 980cc to 1,142cc. Along with hot cams, twin carbs, high compression pistons and special fuel the bike became the fastest road bike in the world with a top speed of 115mph. A later owner claimed 126mph on public roads.   

The bike is being auctioned by Sotherby's next month. Estimated price is £585,000/€700,000/$750,000.

The bike was last sold in 2011

As a footnote….. Brough motorcycles were started in Nottingham in 1902 by William Edward Brough. His son, George Brough, worked with him and then started his own company in 1919. Now you can imagine that Pops wasn't impressed when his boy called his bikes Brough Superior. "What does that make me, Brough Inferior?" he was reported to have said.

Saturday 15 April 2017

London - In Praise of the Train

For our trip to London we took the train. In the past we travelled by rail but then switched to flying when budget airlines started to offer cheaper and quicker journeys.

But I'm not a fan of flying and we found out that the train is a good option these days. Firstly the journey time for the 400 mile route is four and a half hours. This is pretty amazing given that it made six stops en route. The plane takes an hour but once you add on get to and coming from airports, security, etc there's not much difference. Also the train is just a lot more civilised.

The Pendolino trains travel at 125 mph. A thing to remember is that, unlike many other European countries, the track is not a modern high speed line but one constructed in the 19th century. The Pendolino train can bank over like a motorcycle to provide comfort when cornering at high speed.

By booking well in advance the return journey was quite good value at £60. Flights can be cheaper but you have to add on a taxi or parking at Glasgow airport and a train journey from Stansted airport 30 miles north of London where the budget airlines fly to.

Thursday 13 April 2017

London - The Knowledge

A common sight in London is someone on a scooter with a large map on a holder in front of them. They are trying to gain "The Knowledge" necessary to become a taxi (or rather hackney carriage) driver. 

To pass the drivers' exam they have to know 320 routes in Central London along with tens of  thousand of roads and places of interest. Gaining the knowledge takes an average of three years.

In the era of satellite navigation and Uber cabs this may seem like an anachronism, but the British like their traditions.

Wednesday 12 April 2017

London Trip

We're just back from a long weekend in London. We've been visiting the capital on a regular basis for well over 30 years but it's still easy to find new areas and landmarks. The weather was very good (blue skies and up to 23C/73F) so we spent most of out time outside. London is a teeming metropolis but has many green places. No Tower of London or Buckingham Palace - here's my alternative London.

Covent Garden - this highland soldier advertised snuff

Opera singer in Covent Garden (bottom right)

Somerset House

Victoria Embankment Gardens

Al fresco dining in South Kensington

A modest terraced house is over £1m in Chiswick

Putney Bridge underground station (overground at this point!) was the starting point for our days out 

Chiswick House conservatory


Chiswick House

Barnes Common - this is a wide place in the middle of West London

A spooky discovery, an abandoned and overgrown cemetery in Barnes Common

The Eight Bells provided refreshment after a hard day sightseeing

Gwen gives Chelsea's Diego Costa a taste of his own medicine!