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  • Julian Balme is now friends with Ben Barry
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  •   Antonio Ghini reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    CAR #1932-Ford-Roadster / #1932 / #Ford-Roadster / #Ford

    RUN BY Julian Balme
    OWNED SINCE 2014
    PREVIOUS REPORT July 2018
    IS IT THE END OF THE ROADSTER?

    Plans are afoot. Much as I love the simplicity and usability of the ’32, it just isn’t a hot rod. It makes the wrong noise – something akin to a Ford Granada – and it changes gears by itself. It’s also reliable and, although it’s much-loved by chums in the vintage hot-rod scene, it’s definitely seen as a Street Rod and a product of the late ’60s/early ’70s. My intention, come winter, is to turn the clock back a decade and recreate it as a would-be Rod & Custom cover car from 1962.

    I’m still looking for further information on the roadster’s history, but what I do know is that it was built by a father and son by the name of Olson in Selma, northern California. I fancifully like the idea that he was the Kiwi mechanic who worked for Shelby American in the early days of the Cobra programme in Venice Beach and, in Johnny Cash style, built the car ‘one piece at a time’ from spares ‘found’ around the factory. A smallblock 260cu in V8 dressed with a 3x2 carb set-up and a Cobra ‘Powered by Ford’ sump, along with a Toploader four-speed transmission, have been earmarked for the rebuild – all of which have been gathering dust on my parts shelves for 30 years. Over last winter I gave the car to Deuce guru Jerry Denning to familiarise himself with it and assess how we might go about re-engineering it. His response wasn’t very positive, and for a nanosecond I actually considered parting company with the Ford.

    The original 1932 chassis rails, though partially ‘boxed’ in true hot-rod practice, were in fact bent. The steering box was mounted so low that I would have lost the steering had I have suffered a blowout. A number of odd body repairs were curious rather than dangerous, the cowl vent in front of the windscreen being a prime example.

    Once back in my garage I took Nitromors to part of this panel to see for myself. The vent had been removed at some point in the car’s life – again, common practice among rodders seeking a smooth look – but then had been reinstated later down the road. The resulting seam weld had barely been dressed and so a generous amount of plod was fashioned into creating the cowl’s contours. It might well be all Henry Ford steel, but it’s going to need a lot of massaging so we have decided to split the job into two parts: mechanical then cosmetics. Although, it could well be a long time before the latter is started and, with the Spitfire restoration still ongoing, the first stage won’t be happening until this winter.

    All of this means the roadster has started another season in its reliable- but-pedestrian guise. A chilly but sunny fifth ‘Gourmet Roadster Reliability Run’ in April led our merry band to Dorset, highlights including the deserted village of Tyneham, the Pig on the Beach and a visit to flathead engine-builder Jim Turnbull of Royal Kustoms fame. A month later, we took the roadster to the Red Rooster music festival at Euston Hall in Suffolk, where it joined 20 other hot rods in a line-up leading to the entrance. In June, the ’32 joined its stablemates at the London Concours before being driven to Devon and its summer residency. Winter and its next incarnation are not far off.

    THANKS TO Jerry Denning and Colin Mullan


    Creating an entrance at Red Rooster fest Cowl reveals previous owner’s handiwork. Summer in Devon and trip across Dartmoor. Members of GRRR 5 gather in the Tyneham viewpoint car park, with Studland and the English Channel for a backdrop.
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  •   Paul Hardiman reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    CAR: #Lotus-Elan+2 / #Lotus-Elan / #Lotus
    Run by Julian Balme
    Total mileage 158,256
    Miles since April 2010
    report 18,104
    Latest costs £1100

    STRIP-DOWNIN THE NICK OF TIME

    When you use a classic as much as I do the Elan, it’s easy to take it for granted. To call the Lotus my everyday car is a bit strong, particularly given that living in London I more often use public transport, but being the youngest vehicle in the stable it does tend to clock up the miles. As a result, months go by without checking oil levels or tyre pressures – tasks that I carry out as matter of course with the older stuff. So I was horrified to see that I’d not written about the car for seven years.

    The +2 mainly gets used for the longer journeys that take in motorways, which in recent years has involved trips to Cornwall, Devon, the Isle of Wight and three to Norfolk. The vast majority have been trouble-free, though high engine temperatures have let themselves be known on a number of occasions. The most pronounced was last summer, when a nightmare Friday afternoon leaving London for the West Country resulted in a bout of overheating. The remainder of the trip was fine, but I wasn’t entirely sure that all was okay and consequently booked the Elan into Moreland Jones on my return.

    They confirmed my suspicions by announcing that the head gasket had failed. There was no other damage to report, but the steering rack was showing signs of neglect and was subsequently replaced. The duo, who worked out of two arches under the Metropolitan line in Hammersmith, have since called time and retired, leaving the capital without a Lotus specialist.

    Or so I thought. In an ideal world I’d have the +2 serviced once a year during the summer when I’m using the other cars but, as we’ve seen, annual became more Olympian in its regularity. The next one was going to be a biggy. In the past I’ve trekked up to Paul Matty, who is great but is also more than 100 miles away. Casual conversations with London Lotus types led me to Bruce Thompson, who’s based at Crown Point just outside West Norwood and, more importantly, within walking distance of home.

    I had actually visited his premises about eight years ago when the Lotus’ clutch master cylinder failed more or less outside his door. He and his son work on all sorts of classics, from pre-war Rolls-Royces to ’60s British models such as E-types and Bristols. Moreover, he’d owned Elans and looked after a number of early Lotus-owning clients.

    Top of his list was replacing the clutch release bearing, which was making nasty noises and which required the removal of the engine.

    I’d noticed that oil pressure wasn’t great once the Twin Cam was hot, especially while idling in traffic, so I asked whether it would be prudent to drop the sump and have a look while the unit was out. I must have a sixth sense. Bruce phoned two days later to inform me that copper was showing on all the big- and small end bearing shells. The piston rings were also sloppy, allowing blow-by, but most frightening was the middle main cap that split in two once the shell had been removed.

    Given that the bottom end hadn’t been looked at in over 20 years it wasn’t a total surprise, and I can’t complain – I’m just relieved that we caught it before anything catastrophic occurred. I obviously need to pay more attention in future.

    THANKS TO Thompson Garage: 020 8670 1010

    The Lotus pauses outside Foxhill Manor in the Cotswolds in an attempt to replicate the brochure shot. Inset: main bearing cap broke when removed. Crossing a ford on Kingsbridge Estuary. Bearing shells were worn down to copper. Celebrating model’s 50th at Castle Combe. Ferry ride on the River Fowey in Cornwall.
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  •   Andy Everett reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    CAR: #Ford-Galaxie-500 / #Ford-Galaxie / #Ford / #Ford-Galaxie-Second-Generation / #Starter-Motor / #Starter

    Run by Julian Balme
    Owned since May 1988
    Total mileage 43,373
    Miles since November
    2017 report 740
    Latest costs nil

    STARTER MOTOR STOPS WORKING

    No sooner had I made the decision to sell the Galaxie wagon than more things started to go wrong. Having spruced up the blue and white Ford and stuck an enticing description in the side windows, I attended the last Bicester Scramble of 2017, hoping to swat off a torrent of potential buyers. The car ran faultlessly up the M40, leaving a C-type Jag and an Alfa GTA in its wake, but things weren’t well as I left the motorway. The temperature was rising and there was a misfire on moving away from stationary. The water pump had gone and was throwing coolant all over the electrical system.

    After a lift home with Evans, I found a rebuilt spare pump sitting on a shelf in the garage. So I duly dispatched it to, and had it fitted by, Martin Greaves’ team at Classic Car Performance Engineering.

    A New Year’s Eve trip to the Isle of Wight with five chums provided the location for the next unforeseen drama. After a damp night, the car was less willing to fire up and, after a short burst of cranking, the starter jammed. A bit of rocking in gear usually does the trick with a manual, but an auto? A thump with a copper mallet if you’re lucky. We weren’t and so the RAC was summoned. We all hoped that by removing and re-seating the starter it would be fine, but half the Bendix fell on the ground when Paul (from the RAC) extracted the motor. Several teeth were broken and the rest were pointing in the wrong direction. Finding a replacement or spares on the island wasn’t an option, so when it was time to come home, we abandoned the car only for me to return the next day with two starters.

    Michael Palin would have been proud of me, the journey consisting of three buses, two trains and a jet ferry, all of which got me back to the Galaxie 10 minutes before Paul reappeared in his orange van. By 4pm, I was back on the mainland.

    The trouble now is, all the time the wagon is being improved, apart from being less inclined to sell it, I’m depleting the spares stash I’ve accumulated over the years for the black Galaxie. Hopefully, though, I’m beginning to run out of items to replace, he says wistfully…

    THANKS TO

    Δ Paul at the RAC
    Δ CCPE at Bicester Heritage

    Not all Wight on the night, but Paul soon had Country Squire running again after Balme’s epic trip to fetch a pair of starters from home.

    Stash of stuff that might come in handy… …now lacks starter motor and water pump
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  •   Andy Everett reacted to this post about 2 years ago
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  • Julian Balme created a new group

    Ford Galaxie Second generation

    1960-1964 Ford Galaxie Second generation
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  •   Chris Hrabalek reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    CAR #Triumph-TR4 / #1962 / #Triumph
    Run by Julian Balme
    Owned since October 2015
    Total mileage unknown
    Miles since acquisition a day at Goodwood
    Latest costs £12,000

    GOING DUTCH ON A RACING CERT

    My romance with Bob Pomeroy’s Marcos lasted for four races, two of which were at Cadwell Park over a wonderful weekend that exemplified the low-profile joy of British club racing. I hadn’t competed before at Lincolnshire’s answer to the Nordschleife, so it was all new to me, but, after four attempts at constructing some form of seat, at least I was comfy in my wood-and-glassfibre classroom. Not that it prevented me from using the kerbs once too often and subsequently flattening part of the exhaust.

    Both races were fantastic, particularly the first one in which, after fluffing my debut standing start in the Marcos, I was engaged in a 10-lap battle with the two cars from the row behind. Although I won that particular encounter, I was closely chased to the chequer having eased my pace on account of the amount of oil on the track.

    An oil-soaked surface was also a feature of my last outing in the Marcos at Brands Hatch. Following three tours of the Grand Prix circuit, the race was red-flagged after a Turner had emptied its sump all over Paddock Hill bend. The re-start was equally eventful with an unsighted 911 running into the rear of a stationary Elan prompting the end of the race, though not before I snapped the gearlever in half changing down for Druids.

    Bob had always hinted that he would be open to offers if I liked it and, were it not for the Marcos being a 1600cc, ’67 model and thus ineligible for the more glamorous events, I would have bitten his hand off. It’s more than 10 years since I’ve enjoyed racing as much and the sheer novelty of piloting a car that was working with me, rather than against, was an absolute delight.

    It was never going to end there, of course. James Mitchell at Pendine had mentioned how much he wanted to go racing and how he was thinking about an MGB. But the problem is that there are simply too many of them being raced. How about a TR4, I ventured? Same budget, less common. And that, dear readers, is how I ended up with a half share in a ’62 Triumph TR4.


    I knew that my buddy Steve Francis in Connecticut was struggling to sell his bright yellow racer so I made a cheeky offer and, with our friendship still intact, it was accepted. He hadn’t competed with the car, but it had been run successfully by its previous owner since the early 1980s in American vintage racing. We sent the spec to competition TR guru Neil Howe, who confirmed that, although we would have to change a fair bit of the set-up, it represented outstanding value. As is always the way, an FIAspec example came to market the same week priced at in excess of £45,000. How could we possibly go wrong? Watch this space…

    THANKS TO
    Bob Pomeroy
    Steve Francis
    CCK Historics: 01825 733060
    Neil Howe: 01767 677111


    Jules puts TR through its paces at Goodwood; tall roll-hoop is due to go, but it’ll gain a full ’screen and hardtop. Below right: new toy looks tiddly by Wooly.

    Deft-handling Marcos rekindled Balme’s love of racing, here at Brands.

    ‘An unsighted 911 running into an Elan prompted the red flag, though not before I’d snapped the gearlever‘
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