Shortly after my grandfather finally retired from his building business I assisted him to sort out his garden (now my garden) and help get rid of lots of building materials and tools. These had accumulated following the closure of “The Yard’, a premises on Coity Road rented from British Rail and their predecessors for decades.
One of the items we decided to retain was a semi-portable wooden saw bench with two sources of power mounted beneath the circular saw. There was a chunky electric motor alongside a small air-cooled petrol engine, the drive belt was arranged so either could be used by easily swapping motive power. Grampy decided the petrol engine could go and he’d just keep the electric one so I asked if I could have it, I have no idea why I wanted it, but into the boot of my car it went.
Over the next few weeks I cleaned and dismantled this little engine and re-built it, painting it a bright blue colour, and then after putting a drop of petrol in the tank and winding a rope round the starting pulley and giving it a smart tug and away it went, running really smoothly if a little fast. Adjustment of the governor lever soon had the little engine purring happily at the speed at which it was designed to operate.
In July of that year, it was 1975, I saw an advertisement somewhere for a Vintage Rally in Southerndown on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th of that month, so on the Saturday went along to have a look to see what it was all about. There were rows of engines all putting and banging to themselves, some just like, or similar to mine back at home. By chance I happened to see someone I knew and casually mentioned “I’ve got one like that at home” at which I was marched off to meet the show organiser who immediately encouraged me to bring it down on the following day.
Later that afternoon I set to work to make a plinth to mount the engine on and then painted and lettered it, hopefully it would be dry by the morning. I also made up an information board with a brief history to go with the engine as can be seen here, the first photo I ever took of one of my machines at a vintage rally.
And so began a new era of my life, “The Engine Years“, when old machinery and vintage rallies and shows dominated my life, a period during which I acquired many old and interesting machines and vehicles and a great social life to go with it. Many friends were made in that period and a number still remain as part of my life to this day.
My negatives archive shows I used a whole roll of 120 film in my Balda folding camera, which was an excellent performer with a very sharp lens although a bit fiddly to operate with its non-coupled rangefinder. I used Ilford FP4 film and developed it in Acutol. They are reproduced without visible captions but these will show when you hover over the photograph.