"It can happen to anyone" - your vehicle breaks down, so Murphy's law will immediately kick in. Usually it will be dark, you are probably in the middle of nowhere and your torch batteries will be flat. In any event everywhere will be closed, it's almost certainly pouring with rain or worse still snowing, you didn't bring a coat and, it goes without saying, that you will have no 'phone signal.
I could go on but would still have missed something. Actually Murphy must have over indulged the previous evening as on the morning of Monday 26th February he was clearly off form.
A group of us were leaving the Malvern show ground the morning after Tractor World, at about eight. The sun was shining although the wind had a distinct edge to it, we had breakfasted, hitched up and were ready to roll. All was well with the world after a successful show.
It's about four hours home for me and although a weather warning of snowfall in East Anglia was in place it looked like being an easy run. The usual leave taking completed, engines were started gears engaged and clutches released, we were off except one, there's always one, isn't there? Ken's lorry didn't move, a quick inspection narrowed the fault to a failure of either the clutch slave or master cylinder, the result being much the same - it was not sensible to attempt the long trip home without repair.
We are both subscribers to the Caravan and Motorhome Club's Mayday breakdown cover that is provided by Green Flag. We all know people who have experienced the cost of a motorway breakdown and just how expensive that can be and a while ago discovered this, I think, very inexpensive insurance policy.
I do not believe in covering every eventuality as far as insuring against risk is concerned and, in general, insure against three classes of risk. The first are risks I am compelled to by law to insure against, the second is against losses that I cannot afford to take and the third is optional and purely for peace of mind, I don't carry much of this type of cover. Breakdown insurance is a good example of this third category. Of course when you take out such protection one hopes never to be forced to use it and, personally, I have always had a nagging doubt as to whether it will actually work when required.
On this occasion it most certainly did, Ken made a phone call and a fitter was promised within a couple of hours. He arrived sooner than that, confirmed our diagnosis as the probable cause but was, unfortunately, unable to repair the vehicle, as he did not have the necessary parts. However he called in and a recovery lorry was organised which arrived before lunchtime. Ken's lorry complete with tractor on board and caravan still hitched were loaded, strapped down and they were on the road to Essex soon after lunch reaching their destination before dark.
It is really good to know that this policy actually does what it says on the tin, and having witnessed it in action I can thoroughly recommend it to you.
DVLA and VOSA's announcements and other matters have featured prominently on these pages for a quite a while and I had hoped to have a break from them this time. However the EU's Roadworthiness Testing Directive has been adopted by the government and is likely to remain in force whatever the eventual outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
As much of this ground has already been covered in the previous issue and because tractors are relatively unaffected, I will say no more here, but suggest that any of you who own vehicles that fall into either Historic Vehicle or Vehicle of Historic Interest categories should consult 'The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs' website for the latest position and guidance. If you own such a vehicle the onus to make the correct declaration is entirely your responsibility and the regulations are time sensitive - so be warned.
'Ford Tractors' is a new soft cover book by Jonathan Whitlam from Amberley Publishing measuring 234mm x 165mm with 96 pages and some hundred and sixty-five matt illustrations, priced at £14; the book is not on glossy paper. It covers similar ground to "100 Years of Fordson, Ford and New Holland Tractors 1917 - 2017" by the same author, a volume published last year which is a glossy, hard back edition with 598 pages and is profusely illustrated, costing £29.95.
It gives a quick gallop through Fordson and Ford tractors from Henry's initial experiments through to the final true Ford tractor, the 7840, that survived in production until 1998. It covers Ford's acquisition of New Holland in 1985, followed by the 'merger' of Ford New Holland with Fiatagi that actually amounted to a take over by Fiat of Ford's tractor division. I would have preferred rather fewer pictures and more facts, but it may suite some interested in a brief overall outline of the marque's history. Should you consider purchasing either book I would strongly recommend that you compare both versions before deciding which is for you.
From around the Country:
Tractor World held on 24th and 25th February, what a brilliant way to begin the season. Malvern is traditionally our opener and the Club again won the prize for the "Best Club Stand" for the fourth year running, surely this must be a record.
On top of that Nick Bryne's immaculate 1927 Fordson F won the show prize for the "Best Vintage Tractor up to 1939" and if that was not enough Tony Wyslocky's lovely 4WD Dexta was awarded the show prize for "The Best Original Tractor from 1952 to 1964".
Three prizes in one show for the Club and members is an achievement any one should to be proud of! But make no mistake it's the members and their exhibits and enthusiasm that make it happen - so thanks to all who took part and contributed to make this our most successful display ever at Malvern.
Mark changed the area we were allocated in the top Wye Hall the week before the show which entailed our having to rejig the stand's layout that had remained basically the same for the previous three years. In actual fact it was no bad thing; otherwise any display does tend to become stale without change after a while. We could, however, have done with a bit more room particularly as the other end of the hall was half empty and we were forced to place some tractors rather ignominiously in a corner well away from our stand area, which was a pity.
Tim Pearman's 946 Versatile certainly made its presence felt standing proudly at the top of the central gangway in the hall, you couldn't miss it and his 9600 looked stunning as usual.
The Club's judges, although judging is never easy, do have a rather simpler job than the show officials as they are only concerned with our member's exhibits and no-one has far to walk. By mid-day on Sunday they had completed their deliberations. Mr Steven Hodge won "Best in Show" for his 7000, it was a pity that it was rather poked away in a corner, but that was not our choice. The Club's prize for the "Best Unrestored" was awarded to Jonathan Boaz for his Morris Commercial that resided in Peter and Luke's shed.
Although not a Fordson product, Jonathan and his brother can always be relied on to produce an interesting exhibit and few had seen a row crop version of a Dexta entered by his brother Nicholas.
The Judge's favourite this year broke the mould and, instead of being given for a single tractor, was awarded to three exhibits gathered together because they made such a wonderful display. The group comprised of Peter and Lyn Nutley's new 'Land Army Display' flanked by Nick's Fordson F to one side and the Harris Bros' 1924 Fordson F Half Track on the other, it was an absolute delight and certainly caught the public's attention.
The Club's AGM was held in the Friesian Hall on Sunday following the Show's prize giving and was well attended. In brief, committee members eligible for re-election after serving for three years were myself, Jane Broomhall, Graeme Clark and Keith Broomhall; all offered themselves for re-election which was confirmed by members present on a show of hands. Luke Burgess who was co-opted to the committee during last year, was also confirmed.
I gave the Chairman's report and that was followed by the Treasurer's report from Jane Broomhall; which showed the Club to have had another successful year and to be in a very satisfactory financial position. Copies of these reports are available for inspection on the website, together with information on forthcoming events and much more.
Kent Heritage Transport Show and South East Bus Festival held 7th April. This is two shows in one on the same day on the Kent Showground providing many interesting types of transport.. Different buses and coaches of all ages up to modern day gave free rides around the showground all day and you could hop on and off at various stops around the site.
Ford and Fordson had a stand in the John Hendry Pavilion with sales, teas and three tractors on display, a Ford 2000, an Orchard Dexta and an Orchard Super Dexta.
Outside the pavilion we had four more tractors a Dexta, a Fordson Power Major, a Ford 3000 and a Ford 3910. Also in the pavilion and on display outside were various makes and models of tractor and horticultural machineryalong with commercial vehicles, classic cars and military vehicles.
The day started with drizzle but changed to sunshine, making it an enjoyable day for everyone.
Andrew Green from Devon writes:
Mother Nature interfered with the end of our winter evening programme and brought an abrupt end due to snow and the loss of our final get together. Julian Pratt's visit to tell us about his life with motor racing had to be postponed, it was a great shame but he has promised to rearrange this for the autumn. Please do come forward with ideas for our next winter evenings, as it is quite difficult to come up with original ideas, so your help would be much appreciated.
Moving on, the Show season is looming and we look forward to this. The first major event on the calendar is our County Show on 17th to 19th May at Westpoint and I am delighted to inform you that Pat and Sue Pawsey and Ken Bailey want to come down again and take part despite all the delights of the overdose of liquid sunshine in 2017! I suppose it means they enjoyed themselves and I am really pleased to welcome them back again. As I said to them last year, don't forget your passports! If you're coming to the Show, make sure that you do call in.
I would like to invite you all to my local village of Coldridge for our biennial Fete, Vintage Rally, Flower & Dog Show on 30th June. It would be great if you could bring an entry of a tractor, engine or a steamer or just bring yourself and your family. We would be delighted to see you.
Looking Forward - firstly a few reminders
FFA Working Day- 1st and 2nd September will be held at Rix Farm, Langham, Nr Colchester CO4 5NJ. Bring your plough for some practice or an implement and put your tractor to work, it will do you both good and you will enjoy. Entries will be limited to 35 tractors so don't delay, contact Ken Bailey on 07702 202311 or Roger Starling on 07860 745249. Entry is £10 with proceeds to Essex Air Ambulance.
Southern Area FFA Ploughing Match is on 6th and 7th October by kind invitation of Henry Castle of Friends of Ferguson at Hall Farm, Fornham St. Martin For details contact Ken Bailey 07702 202311 or Henry Castle 01824 728422. Entry forms may be downloaded from our website.
British Ploughing Championships - 13th and 14th October at Orton-on-the Hill, Nr Atherstone Warwickshire CV9 3ED. In the last two years the Club has successfully held our Championships at this prestigious event. We have been allocated plots again this year that are open to ploughmen that have previously qualified. Members interested in entering should contact Jane Broomhall on 01379 677886 or 07884 115089 for further details. I warned you last time that places are limited, and Jane tells me that there have already been enquiries, so if you are interested in entering, do get in touch.
Tractor Shows and Rallies for the coming year - a provisional list was published in the previous issue and the final decisions as to the shows the Club will attend and have a stand are now clearer. However, if any members wish to represent the Club at any of the events mentioned that are not already marked FFA, your committee would be only too pleased to offer whatever support is required. Of course members who want to help on the stands are always welcome.
I have said many times, and make no apology for repeating it here yet again. We simply do not have enough committee members to attend all the shows we are invited to. I do bring this problem to your attention on a very regular basis and put simply it is your Club and if you want a presence at your favourite show then sometimes you must do something about it yourself. Some members do absolutely splendid work and we are very grateful to them for their support and will do what we can to assist them. But just look at the list below take July for example there is an event every weekend and of course lots more not listed here - we just can't have a stand at every one. (Those rallies where a stand is already planned are marked FFA in the listing but it is still not set in stone, updates will be available on the website and in forthcoming issues of the magazine.)
Some shows & Rallies for 2018:
17-19 Devon County Show. Contact Andrew Green on 01363 83791 FFA
27-28 Carrington Steam and Heritage Show, Boston, Lincs
2-3 Woolpit Steam Rally, Stowmarket
2-3 Tinkers Park Steam Rally, Hadlow Down, Uckfield, East Sussex
2-3 Grantham Steam and Country show, Colsterworth
9-10 Aldham Old Time Rally, Whites Colne, Essex
9-10 Tractor Fest, Newby Hall, Ripon, FFA
16-17 Journey Through The Ages, Palgrave, Nr Diss FFA
6-8 Kent County Show, Detling, Maidstone, ME14 3JF FFA
7-8 Hollowell Steam and Heavy Horse Show, Hollowell, Northampton
7-8t F.M.P.S. Melford Rally, CANCELLED I suspect this one now be at an end - a great pity!
14-15 Cambridgeshire Steam and Vintage Vehicle Rally, Stow- Cum- Quy, Nr Newmarket FFA
20-22 Weeting Steam Engine Rally and Country Show, Weeting, Nr Brandon.
27-29 Welland Steam Rally, Nr Upton - upon - Severn FFA
28-29 Kedington Steam and Vintage Show, Kedington, Haverhill, Suffolk
28-29 Dacorum steam and Country Fair, Hemel Hempstead FFA (John Worley)
3-5 Gloucestershire Vintage and Country Extravaganza, South Cerney Airfield, Nr Cirencester
4-5 Weald of Kent Steam Rally, Woodchurch, FFA
11-12 Starting Handle Summer Show, Marsham, Norwich
18-19 Lincolnshire Steam and Vintage rally, Lincoln show ground
26-27 Shrewsbury Steam Rally, Onslow Park, Shrewsbury
23-27 Great Dorset Steam Fair FFA - (merchandise only)
1-2 Working Day at Langham airfield FFA
8-9 Haddenham Steam Rally, Nr Ely FFA
14-16 Bedfordshire Steam and Country Fair
15-16 Grand Henham Steam Rally
6-7 Tractor World, Newbury FFA
6-7 FFA Southern area ploughing match
13 -14 British Ploughing Championships, Austrey, Nr Atherstone, Warks, CV9 3ED FFA
10-11 Newark Vintage Tractor and Heritage Show FFA
Finally although I am writing this in late March , the weather is on the up and spring is in the air. I am not too sure about the sap rising - in my case, perhaps I'm just getting a bit too old for that sort of thing and unfortunately there is certainly not quite the spring in my step as there once was, but life is good and one mustn't grumble. The first day of spring is a movable feast, it either begins in March on the first, if using the meteorological method, or this year the twentieth by the astronomical system, so take your pick. Anyway the days are getting longer and I am at last getting my shed sorted with the tractors back where they should be Warmer weather is hopefully on the way.
Last year I changed the front tyres on my truck to one's with a wider cross section and that made an enormous difference in soft ground conditions, I didn't need to be towed either on or off site once as a result. It's often the little things that make the big difference. I've also fitted a separator in the fuel line, after continuing the problems with contaminated fuel that I've mentioned before - the dreaded black slime. I will let you know how successful this is in due course We all have similar problems from time to time and if something works let people know, it is one of the prime benefits of any club
I have made no secret of my intention to relinquish my roll as Chairman of the Club, and a rally or event does not pass by without my being asked, usually several times about it. I have enjoyed my time but I'm afraid my answer is yes I do mean to retire from the Chair but have no intention of putting unnecessary pressure on the committee. I am happy to remain on the committee if re-elected at the AGM at Malvern in February and plan to continue to assist members to register their tractors with the DVLA. I will do whatever I can to support the new chairman or woman, for example I am quite prepared to continue to help with the Club pages for a while if requested.
At the Club's AGM at the Yorkshire Museum of Framing in October 2013 members present adopted a revised constitution. One of the important changes was to the chairman's term of office and election. The chairman is elected by the committee at the first committee meeting after the AGM and remains in post until the first meeting following the next AGM. In short the chair is held for a year and the incumbent can stand for re-election if they so choose. Previously the chairman had been elected for a fixed three year term at the AGM, but could stand for re-election when the term expired they wished.