RCS Motor Club

Look Who’s Back (Rural Life Living Museum Fire Engines on Show Part 1)

It has been a long time since Jez and her crew were able to attend events. It has been an even longer time since this ‘blog’ has been updated – but now that Jez has finally attended her first official event last weekend, I figured it was time to dust off this old thing as well. (We’ll see if it lasts!)

 

It can hardly be said that the event had auspicious beginnings. At the end of May 2021, Jez (and the rest of the vehicles) was kindly invited to the Rural Life Living Museum’s fire engine show in early July by Ed Fagan, long-time friend and avid supporter of the RCS Motor Club. At that time, her carburettor water jacket fitting was still cracked open, and the majority of students were away from London – including the entire committee! Garage sessions had barely resumed after a long stint of inactivity. We had a month to fix the part, ensure that she is in good mechanical condition, and obtain permission from the Union to actually attend the event.

As it turns out, a month passes by rather quickly when it’s exam season, and even quicker still during these strange times. One month on, most of the regular servicing has been completed, and the water fitting had been silver soldered, but not very well. Work continued. Nothing had been arranged with the Union yet, and with four days left to go, paperwork was filled out and submitted. Thankfully, preliminary permission was granted the next day – and on the same day, Jez’s engine ran for the first time since November 2020! Unfortunately, she didn’t run for long at all – the water fitting repair proved to be a failure, and she leaked water all over the carburettor.

Just as we were about to give up on Jez attending the fire engine show that weekend, Andy Pugh piped up and offered to make the new part for Jez (while tutting the students for not upholding the old motor club tradition of ‘midnight welding’), and to help us install it.

Friday rolled around, and things seemed optimistic. Andy showed up at the garage with a very shiny piece of brass and made short work of the fitting. Before long, Jez was ready to go – she even started on the very first try! The drivers were soon reminded of how bad Jez’s brakes were while doing rounds through the campus, but otherwise all seemed fine with the old lady.

 

Alas, we should have known that things were going too smoothly.

 

Saturday dawned slightly gloomy, but soon the sun shone despite the thunderstorm forecast. It was a cheery crew of 9 that set off towards Farnham on Jez. She cruised along quite happily on the A30, and we eventually arrived at Bagshot, where we stopped for a late breakfast (the second breakfast, for some). With less than 20 miles left to go, we had expected to arrive at the Rural Life Living Museum in good time, so Ed Stow took over as apprentice driver under Eric’s guidance. Jez pulled away with a little jolt, and made it up a gentle slope before stopping for a T-junction. We tried to pull away once, twice, thrice – she didn’t seem to want to go. Eric took over the wheel, but Jez still refused to move. It was then we realised something might be wrong.

Her engine sounded fine, her clutch spun, as did the under-floor box joints. Was it the universal joint? The rear box joint? The diff? To our dread, for a moment it looked like the entire visible drivetrain was fully functional, which would have meant there was something wrong in the differential! Thankfully, we were just about able to see that the worm shaft wasn’t spinning – meaning the rear box joint was at fault instead.

After rolling her back safely into a roadside parking spot, Kris volunteered to get greasy and proceeded under Jez to disassemble the box joint. Soon enough the point of failure was unveiled – the rear box joint knuckle had cracked open.

 

Calls were made and people messaged. Ed Fagan expressed his condolences at the news, and attempted to entice us to bring Jez to the Museum anyways by offering the full use of the Museum’s facilities as well as the expertise of the people there. Discussion back and forth concluded that a reasonable attempt at repairs could be made on site, and so we were swayed. Transport was arranged for Jez and crew to bring us onwards to the Museum, to see what we could do there – if all fails, then Jez would be allowed to ‘sleep over’ in one of the Museum buildings until we could get her back to London.

Making good use of the time while we waited for our respective rides, we started coming up with a preliminary repair plan, and took measurements (with the provision of a vernier caliper from a bike shop mechanic) of the parts to help facilitate that. Assessment of the knuckle and worm shaft showed that the thread between the shaft and the knuckle retaining nut was severely worn, and likely caused the entire assembly to loosen and rattle in place until the knuckle eventually tore itself apart along the keyway. More plans were made, and people contacted.

 

Ed Fagan’s friends Pete and Pat showed up eventually with their Land Rovers to pick up the majority the crew, and a low loader soon followed suit for Jez. We arrived at the Museum with much fanfare, and with some help got her heaved into position. It was a somewhat tired crew that settled down for a few drinks with great relief before the excellent evening exhibitor’s meal, where we had more than our fair share of hearty casseroles, shepherd’s pies, and the like. We washed it all down with a fantastic selection of desserts, two bottles of home-brewed cider made from apples grown right there on Museum grounds, and a healthy side of company and conversation.

(Continued in Part 2.)

Contact Us!


Email: jez@imperial.ac.uk
Write: RCS Motor Club c/o Student Activities Centre, Imperial College Union, Beit Quad, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2BB
Tel: +44 (0)20 759 48085 Not always attended
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jezebel.dennis

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