The Yank's Return Part 1

On Tuesday June 12th, 2001 I embarked on another engine man's adventure; a return to England. Hard to believe it was a year ago that I made my first trip across the pond to experience the English engine rallies and the incredible hospitality of Jim & Dolly French. Even harder to believe, they were having me back!! 8-)) Wednesday morning I arrived at Birmingham airport, cleared customs and immigration and headed out to meet Jim & Dolly. Have you ever seen the uniformed limo drivers with their signs waiting to pick up VIPs? Well, Jim & Dolly gave me the VIP treatment!! There they stood, holding this huge sign reading "Professor Waxman." I knew right away this was gonna be a helluva fun trip! (Professor Waxman is one of Gary Larson's Far Side characters who I seem to resemble from time to time.) Sure do wish the camera had been handy!

Poor Jim (having just turned 40 the day before) had a "senior moment" on the roundabout leaving the airport and I was shown how to "take a lap of honour" like a proper English gentleman (twice). 8-))

When we arrived at Chez French I was promptly fortified with lunch consisting of pork pie, stilton cheese, Marmite & Cheese spread on bread, and a lovely
Black Wych stout.
(rumour has it that Dolly posed for the
Black Wych label)

And for dessert, some of Dolly's homemade fruitcake. YUM!!! Dolly had made this for Jim's 40th birthday. This is some very special
high-proof fruitcake!! 8-))

After unpacking it was off into the garden* to meet
the new love of my life, Sophia!! "Sophia" Lorenz that is (don't ALL of your engines have names?). Jim introduced me to the two-finger starting technique.

I also got to have a look at the "Tillie Book" that Dolly had made for Jim's 40th birthday.

Dinner was a delicious baked lamb dish with beans and carrots. We enjoyed a nice bottle of
Old Git wine that Jim had gotten for his birthday. To get a feel for just how abusive that was consider the following background from Michael Quinion's superb World Wide Words site which examines the meaning behind words. Here is his explanation of the word Git. - From before 1300 a 'get' was what had been begotten, a child or offspring. But by about 1500 it had started to be used in Scotland and northern England in the sense of 'misbegotten', a bastard; from there it became a general term of abuse for a fool or idiot. By about 1700 'get' seems to have lapsed into slang or dialect, only to reappear in the wider language in the 1940s with a different spelling and lacking the associations with illegitimacy. James Joyce uses the older spelling (and meaning) in Ulysses in 1922: "The bloody thicklugged sons of whores' gets!" These days, it's a widely known and used term of abuse in Britain for somebody regarded as totally worthless or useless, most commonly appearing in cries of frustration such as "that stupid git, now look what he's done!" Gee, and he's ONLY turned forty!! 8-))

Off fairly early to bed as I was knackered!

Thursday - June 14th

Dolly was a (day)dream and let me sleep in till 10 am. Then we were off to find a really
neat old pub that Jim and Dolly had discovered in Stamford when they were showing Reg & Marg Ingold around their part of England.
We found
The Hole-in-the-Wall pub in Stamford and just in time for lunch (fancy that…). I had the sardines - Damn those were BIG SUCKERS!! Not at all what I was expecting. Took forever to eat. Very bony these big sardines! Very tasty though, as was the ale. And with the meal taking sooooo long to eat, there was a lot of ale.

Dolly impersonated Sarah, referred to in Drunken Barnaby's Journal as the landlady of The Hole in the Wall: "Her I sued, suited, sorted. Bussed, boused, sneesed, snorted: Often sat she, when she got up, All her phrase was, 'Drink thy pot up'.

Sure as hell is nice to not have to drive! 8-))

You can find out more about Stamford (a market town in Lincolnshire)
here.

After lunch we took a walking tour of Stamford, starting at
the museum where they have a recently created tapestry depicting the history of the town to the present day. The tour specifically focused on the vast array of different chimney styles. Part of the reason for that is a long tradition of stone work and the development of a major terra-cotta industry in the 1800's. Actually as this series of pics shows, the whole damn town is a feast for the eyes. It's clearly one of my favorites. I really need to go back.

Unfortunately, the locals were quickly "onto me" this trip and
put the word out.

Having learned about Daniel Lambert on the last trip, I was keen to learn more about him.
Daniel Lambert was famed across the country for his great size
- due to a presumably glandular condition as he didn't eat or drink to excess - and he enjoyed his fame as a curiosity. He weighed 52 stone (that's 728 pounds for us Yanks), his waist was 112" and his leg girth was 37". He loved horse racing, which is why he was in Stamford when he died. He was in a pub then known as The Waggon and Horses: they had to take a window out to extract his body and it took 20 men to lower his body into the grave in the churchyard. I made sure to visit the cemetery where
he was buried

I think it would be appropriate to do honour to Dan Lambert by sinking a few pints in his
namesake pub on the next trip.

But having done a bit more research, I think I need to visit a few more… The George deserves a second try. And the following have been added to the list! The Bull and Swan, Lord Burleigh, The Dolphin, The White Swan, The Green Man, The Periwig, and The St Peters Inn. Yup, Stamford just might become one of my favorite places in England! Here's
more info

Dinner was a really yummy breaded chicken dish with new potatoes.


Friday June 15th - Move engines

Rain!! This was one of the few days when I failed to provide great weather. Good chance to just kick back and be lazy and read. Also make a beer run (where does it all go?) Jim and I moved Andy's latest toy; a
4 hp Ruston-Hornsby AP over to the Unit where French Brother's Insulation does their fabrication work.

While there we checked out Andy's Petter Light and Jim's new Petter Handyman. Sweet!! Also the "coffee maker" on Andy's 6 hp Ruston-Hornsby AP.

I spotted a neat little Lister water pump looking lonely and ignored. Jim mentioned that he thought Andy was selling it. Memo to self - talk to Andy about the pump.

Dinner was Chinese takeaway with fresh strawberries and cream for dessert. YUM! And I took this opportunity to introduce the French clan to Fortune Cookies. Can you believe their Chinese places don't have Fortune Cookies??? Bloody primitive country!!

Saturday June 16th

Late Friday Jim got a call from Len Gillings. We were all invited to a private engine rally at Phil & Sheila Laight's place. Phil was going to do a "proof run" on his newly restored 1929 9HP
spring injection Blackstone before the 1000 Engine Rally at Astle Park next weekend. Phil has it belted to the original generator with the electrical panel. Quite a sweet running showpiece.
This invitation was a real treat. Due to the Foot & Mouth outbreak, the Lister-Petter rally that had been planned for this weekend had been canceled.
Signs like these were everywhere.

Jim started us all off with a proper full English breakfast. Wot a TREAT!! Thick slices of bacon, pork & leek sausages, fried toast, baked beans, and eggs. I was pleasantly surprised that the fried toast and baked beans went down really well. Not a combination usually found in the States. Washed down with a little port - now THAT'S not a combination usually found anywhere but in the French household!

When we piled out of the car at Phil's place I immediately took a look round to see all the unusual English engines. And what do I see but a row of four
Fairbanks-Morse Zeds (three 3 hp and a 6 hp) all happily thumping and steaming away! Sigh! 8-)) It was also pretty neat when later in the day, the owner of the 6 hp Zed spotted an original trolley for it under a Bamford engine and Lister pump. Happily he was able to talk Phil into parting with it.

It was great to see some familiar faces from last year's rally at the
Rushdon Cavalcade. Len Gillings was there with an awesome 1908, 5HP National and Dave Shortland had one of the Zeds, an early ignitor model, beautifully restored. There was a lot of "catching up" on what everyone had been doing since Rushdon. Len has grown skeptical of my "tales of enginedom" and Dave has committed his "rally philosophy" to paper as a part of his display.

During my wanderings at Phil's place I took a turn through his barn; wot an incredible
collection of engines. Only a couple made their way into my notes. I was really impressed by Phil's 1900 Hardy & Padmore hot tube engine. Note the cross-mounted "sideshaft" on the head end of the engine. This lovely
engine graces the back cover of the May 2002 issue of Stationary Engine
Magazine. Among other things he had a really nice, complete, original
Amanco parrafin engine. I took a lot of pics and dimensions of the dual compartment fuel tank, tool box, and plumbing as I need to do all that for my 3-1/2 hp United.
Phil also had his
1913 7 hp Blackstone hot bulb oil engine out and running. Even has a nice collection of Blackstone accoutraments on display with it.

With a purely evil twinkle in his eye,
Phil introduced me to scrumpy or as it's sometimes called "rat tail" cider. Good stuff!! 8-))

Since Wednesday whenever Jim and I were running
Sophia, we'd been hearing a really sharp, hard "clack" from the atmospheric intake valve and noticed that when it did it, the main intake valve (driven from the cam on the sideshaft) just "bumped" but didn't actually open. As we studied it, we traced it down to wear on the edge of the cam lobe that was allowing the rocker arm roller to slip on and off occasionally. Old Hawkeyes Jim noticed that it looked like the cam lobe was a machined bit fitted in a slot in the cam. Sure enough, there was setscrew! Pulled the cam lobe and reversed it. YEE HAW!! Problem sorted! She ran sweetly for the rest of the holiday! Way to go Jim!

Jim brought his
Fairbanks-Morse Eclipse model (called Douglas - can you guess why?) and it ran to perfection all day.


The
next outing is to London to visit Tower Bridge and the Kew Bridge Steam Museum.

* Revision here by the Web Mistress - he didn't even get as far as the HOUSE before being introduced to Sophia. I seem to recall that the first cup of English coffee was served outside, with baggage still in the car, while her curves were admired from every angle!!

Stamford, Phil Laight's Engine Show
London, Boston, Duxford
Portsmouth, 1000 Engine Rally
Hot tub, guns, Kibworth, Ironbridge
Abbey Pumping Station

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