Monday, 16 June 2008

Wythall - 60th Anniversary of the J Type

I came home from Wythall last night buzzing with ideas. The highlight of the day had been seeing Dennis Bradley's inspiring JB tipper truck, sweetly finished in red and grey. It is an absolutely superb bit of work. I took loads of pictures (incl. detail shots) and a few short films....though, idiotically, I hadn't realised that I was taking the latter side-on, as I took them on my new phone! Dur!

Another highlight was meeting Bjorn and Mona Stensson, who had brought their JB Planner van from Sweden to the show. Bjorn's modifications are not quite my thing, but he has done them all elegantly, turning his van into a camper with insulation and an efficient Volvo heating system running off the Morris Oxford 1622cc engine. He is a clever chap. The ceiling of his van was even timbered!

Harvey Pitcher's van was beautifully finished with the livery of his wife's balloon company, Huff Puff and Away - clever name! A nice touch was helium filled balloons bobbing in the cab.

The only 101, that I am aware of, was Peter Page's fine looking, crested van. Peter, charming and bow-tied, told me about his trip to St Petersburg at a speed never higher than 40mph!

Here we see my mate John standing in front of Iain McKenzie's Meccano van. It was good to see it again. I first saw it at his workshop when I went to spend those few days with him, picking up some tricks of the trade and helping him make me some parts. This is one of my favourite J Types and I do hope that if he ever gets the chance to spend some time on her, he does it sympathetically because the tired look suits her. I appreciate that it isn't an original livery, but this is one where concours finish would ruin her authenticity.

Actually, I did think that about a number of vans there. Sadly, too many vans are used as business advertising and are therefore done in brand-spankingly new liveries and the slickness just feels wrong. People forget, these were working commercials. So, it was nice to see some of the less flashy vans, brush painted - the more human touch.

And speaking of the human touch, it was great to finally meet people who either got in touch via this blog or who introduced themselves as readers. I was pleased to meet Ken and Jill White and their grown-up kids. The Whites are new to J Types and restoring a planner van. (Incidentally, Ken, did you notice Bjorn's wings? I think they are fibreglass.) Steve and partner Teresa were taking research photos when I bumped into them....they were obviously doing serious under-the-floorboards research, so we quickly realised who we were and introduced ourselves Also I met Alex, whose JB is currently based at Iain McKenzie's, where it is about to go under the knife. Alex was anxious about her condition, but actually his JB has loads of potential, even though its rear cross member collapsed when it was being transported and had to be quickly shored up with a sheet of chipboard as a cross-sectional stiffener. Alex is an interesting chap. He drives freight trains, which seems to be a lucrative business - it is one I considered giving up teaching for last year. We will have to talk more about that, Alex!

On the subject of the humanely done van, it was sad not to see Magpie at the show, though of course I knew in advance that he wouldn't be there. A show doesn't feel complete without OBL. Also, I had hoped that Truman would be there; we had talked of it some time ago. Truman disappeared off the scope a few months ago and I am frankly a bit worried, him being in the Fire Brigade. I have just written by snailmail to see if I can raise him.

A real highlight was the official photographer throwing his toys out of his pram about me going up a bus maintenance gantry to take some photos, while the organisers were setting up an aerial shot of the show. In a squealy voice which belied his gruff, beardy appearance he yelled, "Hey, has anyone told him that only I am allowed up that gantry!" Woooooooooooo! LOL Silly man.

Though I know I wasn't exhibiting, I was a bit disappointed not to be invited to join in any of the photos, when all J Typers gathered under the gantry in front of the vans, but Mrs Pitcher stopped me to take my photo at one point, saying she was running a competition for best T-shirt at the show and would be doing a feature. Beth will be pleased!

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