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My 2017 Season

By Stephen Carr

Stephenson Railway Museum
1940's Weekend - May 1st

My first event of the season was meant to be the Yorkshire MVT Crank Up to York centre, but an MOT failure of the normal car on Friday, forced a weekend of unexpected car shopping to narrow down replacements if the repair costs turned out to be uneconomical. 

The Bank Holiday Monday however was free, and allowed us to get to the Stephenson Railway Museum for their first 1940's event. The weather was breezy but bright, and after a weekend of brain numbing car facts and figure comparisons, it was nice to just relax, listen to the music and ride the train. 

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Breighton Airfield Aerobatics Competition
and Aerojumble Fly-In - May 6/7th

My normal car was still off the road, so my trip to Breighton was by Jeep! I was going to camp for the weekend, so for the first time in a few years, towed the Jeep trailer with 'Jessie', after swapping all the bulbs back to 24 volts. The drive down on Friday saw nice blue sky, but on Saturday morning, passing low cloud interrupted the aerobatics competition, eventually resulting in its cancellation. There were however, many nice aircraft to look at, even if not all flew during the weekend.

On Sunday, it was a Fly-In and Aerojumble, and I had a stall selling some of my Aviation Model Art pictures. I had a few sales and a number of orders placed for other aircraft, some of which were based at Breighton. The low cloud persisted, but there were still a number of unusual aircraft flew in to visit for the day.

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Blyth Battery Goes to War - May 20/21st

Blyth Battery was built during WW1 to protect the port of Blyth. It was upgraded and enlarged in WW2. Today, volunteers maintain the Battery as a museum and hold a number of events. 'Blyth Battery Goes to War' is their main event of the year. With the amount of heavy rain today, I think the event should have been "Blyth Battery Goes to Sea". It didn't rain all day, but when the thundery showers hit, the rain made the most of the opportunity.

Saturday is always the quiet day, but there were still a fair number of public wandering around and a nice selection of WW2 and Post War vehicles. Day two had more settled weather, but the wind turned in from the sea, making it colder than expected. There were a few extra vehicles the second day, and a few less under covers!

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Teesside Airshow - May 27th

With the number of cancellations before the show, and on the day due to weather, it was more of Teesside Show, than Teesside Airshow, but still an enjoyable day out. I saw the BBMF Spit and Hurricane display, but missed the Harvard due to hiding from the rainstorm under a food van shelter. In the static aircraft park, I saw a very nice Bombardier Challenger 350 executive jet that was obviously meant to be mine; as it had my name on it - G-SCAR.

The Slingsby Firefly, Tutor and an aerobatic team flew, plus the Hughes OH-6 Loach heli, and I think that was it, apart from the RAF Typhoon which flew in as I and most of the public were leaving after the thunderstorm passed. The 7 feet tall security fence along the crowd line didn't help with seeing the show or photographing aircraft on the runway. The BBMF were the only aircraft of interest I ended up photographing in the air. 60 years after the formation of the BBMF, they are still shy about showing the top sides of their aircraft during displays!

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Sedgefield Frontline Multi-Period Living History Event - June 17th

Sedgefield Frontline was the first event for 'Hope' in 2017. Fantastic Summer weather was already warming the air as I brought the GPW out of the garage for the 25 mile trip. This event covers many periods of history, from Normans and Saxons, Romans, The British Empire, American Civil War and World War Two. There were displays and combat performed by the various groups in the arena across the day, as well as smaller displays of artifacts and one on one combat around the displays of each living history group.
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Tanfield Railway
Legends of Industry Steam Gala - June 18th

Tanfield Railway is the oldest railway in the world, and will be celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2025. The weekend of June 17/18th was their main event of the year, the Legends of Industry Steam Gala. They had two visiting locos, but unfortunately, on Saturday, one started running two hot axel boxes, and was restricted to slow speed shunting. One of the railway's diesels stood in as a replacement.

On Sunday when we attended, things went from bad to worse, when their main diesel failed first thing in the morning, delaying getting the passenger coaches out of the shed, putting the whole time table back! Their secondary diesel, covered in dust, dirt and bird droppings was called into service to replace the replacement! With the hot weather and lots of visitors, I'm sure they still had a successful weekend. Our Jeeps were on show with a number of classic vehicles at East Tanfield Station.

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Barnard Castle 1940's Weekend - June 24/25th

This was the second year for the Barnard Castle event. We drove there on Friday, and by the time the tent was set up it started chucking it down! Fortunately, the rain passed by overnight, and while Saturday started out overcast and cold and windy, it was at least dry. The vehicles were parked up in the market place, while the various re-enactor displays were up near the castle. As the day progressed, the clouds cleared and by the time the BBMF Hurricane flew over, we had blue sky and white clouds.

Late on Saturday night, there was an under-age drinking incident in town, resulting in a stabbing. This had nothing to do with the event, but on Sunday morning when we turned up to park, the road was closed and police forensics were searching the scene. All the vehicles were now to be parked up at the top of the high street with the re-enactor displays. We found our way around the back streets and parked up in the new location for day two. It was nice weather all day, and plenty of public around.

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Bowes Railway/Springwell Village
1940's weekend - July 1/2nd

Day 1
After almost a week of solid rain, day and night, it finally stopped for the Springwell event. The event involved much of the community, with displays and exhibitions throughout the village. I was on my own for the weekend, so just took the Dodge. A number of people didn't show, so it was just my Dodge and a Kubelwagon. A friend's WC52 turned up later, and parked at the community centre.
There were firing demonstrations and a battle in the railway yard. It made a fantastic setting fighting amongst the tracks, reminiscent of so many war films.

Day 2
Due to the low vehicle turnout, and my house being so close, I suggested late Saturday, that if they drove me home after bringing the Dodge, I could bring the Jeeps. So on Sunday morning, I brought all three of my vehicles. 
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Buckerfest Fly/Drive-In 2017
Breighton Aerodrome - July 15/16th

Our new tow car had recently been rear-ended, so I took the Jeep on the three hour drive in the afternoon. Lynne followed in a normal car after the school run, arriving in time for a barbecue. It rained overnight, and Saturday morning was dull and showery, but slowly brightening up. The Buckerfest was primarily a fly-in for Bucker designed aircraft, and was well represented with several Jungmanns, two Bestmanns and a single Jungmeister.

By around 11:30, people were aviating, and there was a constant stream of aircraft flying for the rest of the day, until everyone began to get ready for the hangar party. 'Jessie' was parked up near the East end of the airfield, along with a number of other military vehicles from the Yorkshire area. On Saturday evening, there was a German themed hangar Party, with live music and entertainment.

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Broussard Flight - July 16th

Late on Sunday afternoon, I was given the chance for a flight in the Real Aero Co., Max Holste Broussard, known as 'Bruce'. The Broussard was a 1950s French six-seat utility, observation and medivac aircraft. Perhaps at some point in its service life, it was in the same location as my Hotchkiss Jeep, which didn't leave French Army service until 2000.

It was an interesting experience flying over the former RAF Riccall, and RAF Breighton. With the noise of the big radial engine drumming away, and when looking out of the window towards the rear of the aircraft at the unusual twin fins, my mind couldn't help but put me in a Halifax heavy bomber.
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Croft Nostalgia - Aug 5/6th

Due to Lynne's spinal injury and medication, we decided it wasn't a good idea for her to drive the Jeep to Croft. The Dodge was off the road waiting for some new brake shoes to be fitted, and because I still needed a Jeep for marshalling duties, this meant just taking 'Jessie'. So for 2017, my display was a little depleted, 'though I did still manage to take the signal square and small wall tent.

We had a number of aircraft fly in for the show and there were several hundred classic cars on display. The military display line was once again along the old main runway, and had a nice variety of vehicles, but Jeeps, Champs and Land Rovers made up the largest numbers. We had two visiting aero engines, a Rolls Royce Merlin V12 and a Bristol Hercules radial. For many, the star of the show was the BBMF Avro Lancaster. We were very lucky with timing as only ten days later, all the BBMF aircraft were grounded after finding a Merlin engine fault on one of their Hurricanes.

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NELSAM Trams & Transport - August 13th

I took the Dodge along to the Trams & Transport day at the aircraft museum. A fair few cars and trucks in attendance, but I think my MV was the only one that doesn't live there.

It gave the Dodge another test run, after which, the rear right shoes were adjusted as they were rubbing a bit once warmed up. The Dodge was taken back to the storage container after returning from the museum, after a couple of weeks stay on the drive for the brake work.

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Wings & Wheels Festival
Eshott Airfield - August 19/20th

There was some confusion amongst the organisers and a lack of space when Chris and I arrived at Eshott, having met up North of Newcastle and convoyed up the A1. Eventually, non-campers were moved freeing up space. After setting up, I had a bit of a wander with the camera and spotted "Echo Sierra" the Eurostar aircraft I flew in three years before at the Great North Fly In. For me, the star of the show wasn't even a real aircraft, but a full scale model of a Messerschmitt BF109E.

There were a good selection of military vehicles and dioramas on show. A surprise visitor was Nick Lee, bringing his Miles Messenger from Breighton. There were many classic cars, trucks, and tractors on show further down the field too, plus the N.E. Land, Sea and Air Museum Morane Bullet replica WW1 fighter aircraft. The weather held out fairly well, apart from one brief but heavy shower that resulted in a very nice rainbow over the Spitfire. 

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End of Season Barbeque - Sept 16/17th

Actually, almost the end of the season! I still had a couple of visits left to do. However, this end of season garden party was held near RAF Topcliffe, close to Thirsk, and organised by Patrick Smart. Patrick is the guy who brought the Bristol Hercules aero-engine to Croft and Breighton earlier in the season. The forecast was for a nice dry weekend, however the weather hadn't seen the forecast! The on and off heavy rain didn't stop the Rolls Royce Griffon and Bristol Hercules turning petrol into noise on a number of occasions, and certainly didn't spoil the party atmosphere. At least there was a decent sized marquee to hide in.

Overnight, the rain got heavier and heavier, banging down on my canvas tent like a snare drum, and by morning, several tents had indoor water features. Fortunately for me, the water stopped at my back door and didn't get in to my tent. Drying the canvas back home was interrupted by more heavy rain, forcing a quick move from on top of the Jeep to inside my workshop. 

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Blackfell Primary School WW2 Visit - Sept 20th

My World War 2 visit to the school has become an annual trip now. This was the third year I've done it. The Year 6 class are just starting to learn about WW2, and what better way than some hands on learning. We had talks about rationing and the Blitz, the 8th Air Force and a British Airborne soldier's equipment. Mr Barrass, Deputy Headteacher, was taking the year 6 class that day, so I felt he should get in on the action, and suitably dressed him up in flying kit, and later gave him some 'off roading' experience in the Jeep around the school field!

When I got home, the Jeeps were given a wash down to get the grass off from the school field, and the mud off 'Jessie' from the BBQ last weekend. Afterwards, I stripped the roof and sides off 'Jessie' ready to be parked up for winter maintenance. There's a number of areas of rust that need dealing with. A couple of these will require welding close to the tank, so the seat and fuel tank will have to be removed.
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N.E. Land Sea and Air Museum
Jeeps & Jets - September 23/24th

After a few years absence due to building works and other priorities at the museum, the Jeeps & Jets event returned in 2017. I took 'Hope' to this event having packed up 'Jessie' for winter maintenance. 

There were a number of vehicles in attendance, in addition to those in the museum's collection. It was a bit lacking on public on Saturday, but there was a local football match on, and Saturday has always been the quieter day. It was surprisingly warm for late September. The Morane-Saulnier monoplane replica is coming along well, with the first parts fabric covered now. A few more public around on day two, and the same vehicles on show, but not necessarily parked in the same order! 

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National Railway Museum Shildon
Classic Car Rally - Oct 1st

Probably the last event of the season for me at 'Locomotion' the National Railway Museum at Shildon. It was my 16th event of 2017, and due to the damp forecast, I decided against taking the GPW a couple of days before the event, in favour of the Dodge. The Dodge hadn't been out much in 2017, so it was a chance to give it a decent run out, around a 60 mile round trip.

It was a very foggy trip down, brightening up later to give us some sun, and not too cold either. Some interesting visiting vehicles on display in addition to the railway exhibits which frequently swap with those at York. My daughter and I also took the mile round trip walk to the other end of the line, to see some of the original buildings and Timothy Hackworth cottage. From 3pm onwards, the cars began to depart, leaving our Dodge the last vehicle there. By the time we packed away the aerials and windsock, it was 4pm, and we headed home soon after, both quite tired, having clocked up a number of miles walking around the site on a railway themed treasure hunt I'd made up to entertain my daughter across the day.

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'Faith' the Flying Control Dodge

While the Dodge didn't go to many shows this year, things behind the scenes were more active. In April, I got short notice that the storage yard where the Dodge was kept was closing. A rapid search over the next few days found somewhere closer and only a little more expensive that would take my 20ft shipping container. So the Dodge came home for a few days while I arranged for the container to be moved to the new site. It's a tight fit getting the Dodge in, but it's secure. 

In addition to the Spring service, which didn't happen until June, there was some waterproofing work to be done on the wooden roof. Then in late July, I stripped and overhauled the brakes. I'd replaced the front shoes shortly after getting the Dodge in 2010, and finally, the rear shoes had worn to a point where they needed replacing. The cylinders were all stripped, inspected, and given a light honing. I got the shoes relined by a company in Newcastle, getting them back and fitted in the second week of August.

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'Jessie' the Follow Me Jeep

'Jessie' is a 24 volt Hotchkiss, and for the whole life of the Jeep in my care, it has eaten brake light switches, arcing the contacts until the lights don't work. Replacing it means bleeding the brakes each time. I tried LED bulbs to reduce the current draw, but that only extended the switch life a little. In June, I fitted a secondary mechanical switch operated by a lever on the brake pedal!

In early September, wifey broke the rear half shaft the night before the Beamish 1940's event. I wasn't impressed, and it cost almost 100 for a replacement which was fitted a week later. In late September, I made some magnetic RAF markings to give Jessie a new look for some events next year where RAF markings would be more appropriate.

In October, I started on the bodywork, cutting out the rotten areas behind the axe handle. There's some rust spots coming through on the corners of the fenders too. Jessie was rebuilt by the French in 1966, so 51 years since the tinwork was last looked at isn't too bad. 

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'Hope' the Station Photo GPW

It took until the start of June to have some nice weather again for my second Jeep service - the GPW this time. It was a hot sunny day, perhaps a bit too hot for hard work! The service and checks went ok.

Checking the gearbox oil on an early, right hand fill gearbox, isn't as easy as the later left fill transmission, as the fill plug is not very easy to reach. While it takes a bit more work, removing the top of the gearbox is the easier way to check the level. The only issue found was a faulty contact on one brake light. After the service, the Jeep was given a good wash by myself and my little mechanic.

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