Archive for February, 2010

Waltzer sofa project: Yeahyeah, outside’s the best side….

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The short story goes something like this:

I’ve always had a curious fascination for travelling funfairs. The smell of red diesel, onions and sweet candy apples. Sometimes a whiff of chunder. It’s the bright lights and classic scroll paint designs that really catch the eye. As a nipper I couldn’t get enough of the dodgems or waltzers. As an adult, the addiction lingers, to the point where I started getting friendly with showmen (semi-nomadic funfair owners) and searching for a vintage waltzer car. Why? A sofa.

A daft dream of turning one into a comfy easy chair is becoming reality. Slowly. It too a while to find a waltzer carriage that would be sold as a single, as most keep getting renovated and used to earn money. Most of the waltzers you see at British funfairs are probably over half a century old. They just keep going and going, earning and earning.

My waltzer is a Maxwell car. This means it is British built and with a rounded back. The little lump displaying the number on the front of the car is a trademark  of the Maxwell, I’m told.

I bought this car two years ago and have been a lazy arse. Progress only really started in November. Its rotten state explains why this waltzer no longer makes teenagers dizzy on Skegness seafront. The plan is to retain its original hand painted artwork and make it solid. Pete, my chippy mate, has reinforced the floors with 1″ MDF, bolted up some wheelie bin casters and torn out the rubber vertical pew back rest.

The wooden frame is now raked and ready to accept a more chilled backrest. Upholstery comes once I’ve removed the entire french windows of the house to get this 6ft-circular hulk indoors. The wife is delighted.

Metal flake vinyl upholstery is on the cards, to keep that glitzy funfair flavour:

I might get a knock-off Tommy Hilfiger jumper and smother it in hydraulic oil to keep things ‘carny’. Thanks to Paul Harrison, Exec Director,
Communications & Public Affairs at Ford of Europe, for his classic bus/coach contacts. The side trim used on classic coaches will be used as a waistband embellishment on the waltzer. See, there was a car connection somewhere.
Trust me, that was the short version of the Waltzer saga. More coming soon. Oh, and this project was started way before celebrity Big Brother slung one in their diary room. How dare they.

All hail the Lenco

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Met this guy last summer @ Santa Pod raceway with a flawless black pro-street ’57 Chevy Belair. The car was detailed to the nines. You could tell he lived and breathed every billet bit of it. He showed me the Lenco drag gearbox – probably the toughest, most distinct and complicated manual transmissions you’ve laid eyes on. Every lever is a gear. No H-gate. Slam one lever, then move to the next, then the next and so on. Each gear has its own bellhousing, which is bolted in series to the next. Lencos can be built up to five speeds, using manual or air shift. This one will handle about 3000 bhp. And that’s the point of it. Besides looking so damn macho, it’s built to withstand masses of torque and be maintained/rebuilt without too much hassle.

Not sure how it would behave on Southend sea front in stop-start traffic, but it doesn’t really matter. A tranny doesn’t get more hardcore than this. You can keep your DSG, Tiptronic, paddle-shifts and H-gates.

Bought a pick-up an’ that

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Not one needing a garage, MoT or insurance, thankfully. I used to read about these Tamiya Hilux trucks in brochures when I was a kid. They are regarded as the best made RC cars of the time, because the entire chassis and suspension was made of metal. Hell, it even has a 3 speed gearbox which you can shift via the radio unit. I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to own one. All I gotta do now is find a 4 channel Acoms/Futaba radio unit and speed controller. If you think the original Hilux is a tough old boot, its RC dwarf brother is pretty hardcore. Cheers to David Yu ( for parting with his childhood companion. 

Am I the only one who gets a little damp ‘down there’ seeing these mini leaf springs and 4wd drive couplings, all crafted out of precise 1970s Japanese metal?

The advantage of owning a model Hilux as opposed to a real one is that you don’t get hounded by travellers asking if you’d like to swap it for a caravan or dog. Whether you say yes or no, the chances of it being on the drive by dawn are remarkably slim. Allegedly.

So that’s why my wiper won’t work…

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Just discovered why my Mercedes windscreen wiper stopped and started smelling of molten plastic. Interesting shaped fuse.

At least it was a  cheap fix.

Scorching R/C icon reborn 30 years later in snowy Nuremburg

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Which is the 1/10th model, and which is the 1:1 real deal? Just come back from an exclusive photoshoot on the full size homage to Tamiya’s classic Sand Scorcher radio control racing buggy. Built by Walter and his team @, the project started only 4 months ago with a 1968 Beetle bare bodyshell. Why did he do it? Like so many kids, he saved up and bought a Sand Scorcher new in 1980. The addiction only got worse, with Walter starting a VW restoration business and then deciding to build a real Sand Scorcher Baja Beetle to co-incide with Tamiya re-releasing their iconic classic kit. Watch this space for a full feature soon in Evo and various other publications.

The boys at Bug Box don’t let Germany’s record snowfall bother them. Oh no. They were offered a truly battered (but running) mk2 Golf GT for 50 Euros, got the welder and some chipboard out during their lunch hour and turned it into a snow plough for the yard. Throttle stuck half open, the poor Golf made a surprisingly competent snow slave.