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A Visit to the New Bubblecar Museum

T
he last six weeks have been a total loss to a foot infection preventing me from doing pretty much anything. Very frustrating as I have a lot to do.

Just before Christmas I found a place selling Falken 145 by 10 Mini tyres right over in Spilsby, Lincolnshire, for £25 a tyre fitted. A saving of £20 a tyre on any other supplier and a considerable saving on 15 wheels. So with the added mission to drop a few parts and collect a 'schmitt monocoque from near Mansfield I set off in the old Pug 405. From there I traversed out to Spilsby via Lincoln, a city of minimal signposting. Fortunately my bump of locality still out performs a sat nav and I chose the correct turning that promised only a hospital and a suburb. Like Oxford, if you are tempted to drive round Lincoln, don't. It is clearly a black hole for Lincolnshire's traffic and added about 3/4 of an hour to my trip for no gain. Tyres sorted I set course for Langrick across country. Again without the map or sat nav I managed to get within about half a mile of the new Bubblecar Museum before a lack of credible signage forced me to refer to a map. I had been diverted in the wrong direction by local directions and restored to route arrived at the new Museum.

This was purely a chance visit and it turned out Mike and Paula were out but, I forget his name, a carpenter using a small unit on site was happy to have tea with me and a chat on the basis he thought they would not be long. An interesting guy, as one would expect, being an intimate of Mike and Paula's. Sure enough Mike and Paula returned and I was given an impromptu tour of the facilities in the last of the daylight. A huge amount of work had been done and to be honest I think a lot of vision prior to purchase to see the potential. The big work is mostly done and some of the exhibits were tucked up at one end of the facility awaiting their places. So a bigger and more permanent looking building all round. The bonus of having made one museum before and being able to adapt to lessons learned was shown in a good sized café/activity area outside the car display area but in the same set of buildings. Immediately off this were the double entranced ablutions and WCs for both museum and camping/event field surrounding. A very much neater layout with some flexibility of use.

Likewise the fields are around the museum block and the whole has a separate, night lit, entrance and drive leaving the private area of the property gated off. So the museum and any event is contained and concentrated onto the central body of the buildings. I would suspect creating a better focus for an event of the same size than that at the old venue. Reports of the first couple of events last year seem to bare that out, though I could not comment on numbers. The fact is the new property is very much more attractive for events and camping and it would not surprise me if the numbers built up over time. There remains much to do but they are open for business this season. In the private area there is scope to build a self contained holiday home or two so a handy additional income stream. Trouble is I cannot see these two retiring to their laurels having done all that as I do not think they know how not to be working. Being lazy what they have created would do for me. You have to work hard to be lazy though.

Interestingly departing for Oxfordshire I found that the trip home, although technically further, was actually simpler and quicker. So for those who live to the west of the A1 I would think it is simpler to access a Bubblecar Museum event. Once in Lincolnshire it seems possible to get to places in reasonable time, save its capital city's environs of course. So the shift of 18 miles odd should not really make too much difference to those in the North Midlands. As Wallace might say to Grommet, a grand day out.

Very little has been achieved since though, other than buying a few bits and bobs. It seems that there are a lot of engine parts coming up for sale. Partly from car sales leaving caches of parts behind to rip but I assume also folks thinning out their stash for fluidity. I picked up a set of matched 200 casings on eBay as in sorting out my bits I found I had the makings of some four more engines if I had some cases to put the bits in. Another set of cases has come in via word of mouth, possibly a third. This activity then led me to discuss a couple of dismantled engines for sale with a chum. The upshot was out of three competing interested parties bidding I ended up buying them for my buddy who is an engine short and fancied a spare as well. Lastly I have now been offered another load of bits, including the base of a 175 unit, from the edge of Birmingham. Hopefully this might help complete a 175 project forming up in the shed, though I fear I will be unable to restore it. Indeed these units will resolve a shortage of engines to be put with complete project cars to sell.

So I am hopeful my foot will at least allow me to sit at the workbench and sort out all this stuff into sets of parts that can then be assembled to create reasonable engines. No doubt there will be spares and defective items to be dealt with. From that I can see if I want any more casings to complete units or if it is better to rest with a spare perfect gearbox as a spare rather than mating it with a part worn clutch assembly, for instance. Quality is all and hard to get.

I will shortly have cleared the first flush of new monocoques into car sets with only one of them remaining here. It is becoming clear that this ongoing problem with infections in my legs is going to prevent my restoration plans from full deployment. So there will have to be a review of what is sensible to keep. Trouble is I need to be fit to get even that done effectively and, with my money hat on, I would suggest now is not the best time to be selling. Beyond that is the prospect that I do need to find a good running Classic that is comfortable to drive even when partly suffering from a leg infection — so good seating and suspension, Citroen DS? Sadly it discounts nearly all microcars. So change is being forced onto me and possibly a financial hit as well as I have created projects I would not have bothered with had I forecast the inability to carry them through to a rolling result.

Interestingly I hear tales of what is effectively a Messerschmitt owners' event in the Lakelands this year. This as reports from those who did the MOC Maryport Rally last year told of what a fantastic area is open for touring created enough interest to go again this year. However while most folk intending to go are 'schmitters of some standing they are looking at taking wife/partners and to use their `other' classic car. So I would not be so outside company as I might have been by obtaining a larger style of older car.

I can report that it looks like the Mivilino is nigh on complete for original parts now. The remaining issue is whether to go for a new dome. Fantastic result and it is to be hoped the car might be seen at an event somewhere next year. It will not be on the mooted rerun of the London to Venice trip by differing Microcars though.

The connection here is Italian, Franki de Cunto. He came up with the missing bits of Mivilino and is aiding Nick Poll with his attempt to create a road trip, suggested for mid August, from London to Venice through the Alps. The timing allows returning micronauts to take in the Burgundian Microcar and Scooter rally over August Bank Holiday weekend on their return. Sounds an excellent idea to me. Details are still being sorted out but if your interested get in touch with Nick.

Russell Church Parts List 2012

Item NoItem descriptionPrice (£)
1King pin bushes (set of 4)17.20
2Flywheel dynostart holding tool, fits all Siba and Bosch11.20
3Front hub puller15.10
4Clutch holding tools11.20
5Clutch puller14.10
6Flywheel dynostart puller, fits all Siba and Bosch15.20
7Wooden window rails (1 pair)50.00
8Floor (please contact for delivery details)127.00
9Exhaust heater jacket skins (1 pair)24.00
1040mm downpipe & top hat section (owner to fit)46.00
11Top hat section for exhaust downpipe1.90
12Exhaust nut, brass alloy10.50
13Camber Adjuster right or left (please specify)ea17.00
14Camber Adjuster squares (per side)ea7.00
15Rear floor corner frame plate, not fitted to old new floors3.60
16Floor rails (set of 4) for front seat20.00
17Track rod cover main floor retaining strips (2 no.)6.00
All prices include delivery, exception item no.8 (floor) for this item please contact me to arrange shipping. Items to come; Nose floor (as original pattern), Fire wall, Silencers. To order any of the above items please contact me either by email or telephone. All queries will be answered as soon as possible, just make sure you leave your contact details.
My Contact Details: email tg500@me.com telephone 01452 812940 (answer phone available)

Another pleasing development has been the integrating of a collection of club magazines I was offered into my collection. I still have only a patchy set of mags as I have not targeted purchase of other collections or missing mags nor remained a member of clubs when loosing interest in differing marques. Much of my collection is the result of magazines coming with cars bought. However with time these collections become more interesting. For instance I have now got some 1975 Take Off magazines. I was finishing taking my O-levels when one of these was issued. Looking at the committee and it is based in the north west of London and home counties. Now 37 years later it is based in the home counties and Oxfordshire. Editor is asking for more articles. Chairman is wondering where everyone was during the holding of the 16th International Messerschmitt Rally at Wickstead Park marking the first in 1959 when the cars were still in production — I wonder if anyone gave a thought to what the cars would mean in 50 years time? The 1975 rally attracted about 65 cars. Another page is advertising the All Makes three wheeler rally at Burford. We all know what that led too. The main item was a presentation of a November 1957 CSMA Gazette road test of a KR201, RHO 771. So proof there that that car was a real Roadster! How little has changed, or has it? Also it underlines I came into these cars at the right time as Burford saw the formation of many clubs as focus of interest in these unwanted cars.

Where will Messerschmitts be in another 50 years time when most of us will have been issued with our wings? Will Messerschmitts even be allowed to be driven, people be allowed to read this archived mag with its subversive ideas of burning oil and suggestions of freedom to do things without recourse to official permission? Will that trillion pound debt have been paid off? (Good luck there chaps.) I think I will settle for the period I was born into.

For those who do not know, Russell Church has been making fabricating reproduction parts for Messerschmitts some 25 years. In that time he has built a replica Super in steel and a TG500 out of a load of parts as well as having various 'schmitts. Russell has now decided to his sell parts direct and you have an opportunity to access quality spares without the need go through any club. I believe that these parts will also appear advertised on eBay and will be supplied worldwide.