Finally on the road and legal
At last it was legal on the road and I would have no more uneasy moments like the time before registration when I was waiting at the lights: a police car pulled alongside (I had no registration plates, no warrant, the car was definitely unfinished) but thankfully there was no problem, and with some encouraging remarks and a bit of friendly banter they were on their way. I'd like to think that the sheer beauty of the car took the policemens' minds off their job but it was probable that they were also enthusiasts.
The first legal trip for the car was back to John Kenny for a final cut-and-polish before heading off to Phil Boyd's garage in Waihi for a tune up. The trip to Waihi was quiet and uneventful with the only problem being a little overheating. We had no thermostat so the bypass was always active and we had been unable to seal and pressurise the radiator to its normal 4lbs. With a little ingenious work from Phil the problem was soon licked and we were off to Thames, roof down, to show the car to Jim Maxwell and the boys at Kopu Engineering who had done some of the work on the car and had shown so much interest. Both Phil and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip - the car went like a dream. Quiet and unfussy, it ate hills like my grandchildren eat ice cream - with gusto. The visit finished all too soon and I drove the car back to Tauranga and put it to bed.
The next trip was a drive to Rotorua for surprise birthday treat for my wife Pat, an "old-car non-enthusiast". By guile I eventually convinced her to get in the car with the hood down. With a warm rug ("I'm not going to get cold for anything!") we set off, but by the time we got to the Mount Maunganui turn-off the rug was in the back seat and Pat was commenting that you don't need a heater when you've got a Hudson motor.
|Again the car behaved very well. A stop for a coffee saw a crowd gather round the car, and we could see that not many people had heard of a Railton. We left Rotorua about 6pm, after putting up the hood, and eventually arrived at Paengaroa for a carefully arranged surprise birthday party with all the family present including her brother Jim Maxwell and his wife Kay.
My son Andrew had returned from London for the party and had brought a few knick-knacks for the family including a beautiful white metal model of the Railton Mobil Special for me. This took me back to the beginning of my story, reminding me that it had all started with my father's gift of a clockwork model of the same car. The circle was complete.
So what have I learned during this restoration? I have met many generous and interesting people who have provided guidance, information and encouragement. The end result is due to the diligence and workmanship of a great band of people who started as contractors and employees, and who ended up as friends; the car is a tribute to them.
I would like to acknowledge and thank:
Bill Davies, who encouraged me when I thought I was beaten and helped me focus on the end point; Steve Simpson, who repaired and made panels, and restored the chassis and rolling gear; Kopu Engineering Limited, who built such a beautiful stainless water jacket, rebuilt the front axle and provided countless nuts and bolts - thanks Jim, Gerard and the team; Phil & Russell Boyd, who painstakingly rebuilt the motor, rewired the car and attended to countless small items needing repair; Geoff Clark, who sourced new gears and rebuilt the gearbox, and provided me with names and addresses where I could source other parts; Dave Nelson of Tauranga Auto Radiators, who cleaned out and refurbished the radiator; Colton Kerr, who used his skills at coachbuilding and finishing, providing a new frame, dashboard, and many other small items - at 78 he has lost none of his skills or enthusiasm for life; Mrs Helen Harrison-Smith, who rescued me with the use of her workshop when I had lost the use of Romsley Museum; Tonci Barcot and Summit Tyre Services, for the battery supply and balancing and fitting the new tyres;. John Kenny, who undertook the painting and was able to create just the colours we wanted; and Gordon Cromb of Tauranga Quality Upholstery, who gave advice on colours and converted the shell into a car.
Lastly, but most importantly, I must mention Jim Maxwell, my 50% partner, a friend who just happens to be my brother-in-law, without whose goodwill and support this would never have happened.