Up 'Schmitt Creek

Another fine mess...

MarkHindell's blog

Two New Heads

couple of years ago Edward and I took a three day trip to York to visit, among other things, the National Railway Museum. It's a wonderful place with tons of stuff to see, and thanks to entry being free (let's hope that continues) we ended up going in on all three days of our visit. Quite apart from the locomotives, carriages and other physical railway objects housed inside there are loads of video displays and hands-on exhibits, a library with AV rooms, and the staff regularly give talks, demonstrations and even mini theatre performances related to the exhibits.

Amongst all the other goings on at the museum, it is possible to stand on the viewing gallery above the workshop wherein large lumps of railway equipment are in the throws of restoration. This is serious business that makes any kind of car restoration, and especially microcar restoration, look puny and trivial. But while the physical challenge of restoration is on another level altogether, some of the decision making is rather familiar.

Summing Up

he MEC AGM took place last month, a virtual rerun of 2010. In some respects this is good, as it indicates a degree of stability; less so in others, as largely the same issues of more jobs to do than people to do them were still alive for debate. Happily the subscription rates remain unchanged.

The reports and notes that were presented are all available to members on the club website (you must log in) in the Committee Notes section.

Also shortly to become available online is another batch of Bernard Beeston's archive which arrived for scanning and posting, giving (once complete) a total of 20 articles — still not yet half the total that Bernard has contributed over the years!

I'm afraid I never did catch up with the missed month back in the spring, and so the 2011 Volume of Take Off will close with just five issues. However, this month we've got a fairly hefty mag so I hope you don't feel too short changed.

Over the year there has been another good range of contributors to Take Off and so, like last year, I'll just take a moment to acknowledge the following people (in no particular order); Jack Veeke, Nick Poll, Bernard Beeston, Alan Town, Ralph Hough, Stuart Cyphus, Mick Harris, Ian Jenkins, Peter Darby and, of course, Alan Hitchcock and Tony Yates for their regular input.

Running Repairs

Bernard Beeston's KR175Bernard Beeston's KR175

e live in a throw-away world. On modern cars (well, modern manufactured goods in general) the philosophy is not to repair but to replace, and modern manufacturing seems geared to frustrating anyone daft enough to actually consider repairing stuff for themselves. So many parts are now sealed units, pressed together never to come apart. Flaky DVD player? Chuck it — get a new one. Broken washing machine? Nah, that's "beyond economical repair". Endlessly repurchasing the same stuff every couple of years doesn't fit my definition of economical.

And what are you supposed to do when the 55 year old ignition switch on your KR175 suffers an internal failure? Well, I had a visit the other day from Bernard Beeston bearing the article on just this subject that appears later in this issue, and in his case, you carefully open the thing up and replace the failed component with an enhanced design that will probably last for another 55 years.

Now that vehicle technology has moved on so far it's easy to look at 'schmitts with the sentimental eye of a collector where once they were viewed purely as a functional possesion with a job to do. Bernard's car, 855 EMY is a perfect example of a machine simply doing the job for which it was designed and it carries several modifications (including KR200 wings) made for strictly practical reasons borne out of necessity and its owner's many years of experience. The details of many of these modifications have appeared in Take Off over the years.

Thoughts on Domes

Opaque Dome: A GRP replacementOpaque Dome: A GRP replacement

his is Simon Frost's white KR200 lined up at Popham last weekend. My particular interest in this car was tweaked by the opaque replacement glass fibre dome that Simon explained was a temporary replacement for a cabrio hood that the previous owner had retained at the time Simon bought the car.

My own car was similarly equipped at the time I got it 20+ years ago. I forget whether transparent domes were even available at that time, but there was no way that I could have afforded one even if they were. So I stuck with the GRP replacement for a few years before opting for a cabrio hood conversion.

On the Cover

Martin McKeever's KR200Martin McKeever's KR200

ome of you may well know Martin McKeever and his ever growing collection of microcars that includes, among others, a Berkley T60, Scootacar Mk1, a Goggomobil, Nobel 200, numerous Bond Minicars, and... a rather nice KR200. Having a large collection of cars is nice and all, but presents our man with the problems that he needs somewhere to keep them and, distressingly, he can only drive one at a time. The later is usually addressed by periodically roping in some friends to drive out for lunch or to visit something interesting. You can find the gory (somewhat more gory than usual actually) details of the most recent expedition at www.tinthing.net. The last time I drove this car it needed a bit of 'adjustment' to the brakes, but these days it's much more civilized and thanks to a rebuilt engine and one of Russell Church's B&Q table leg exhausts it goes rather well. My only slight quibble with this was that it fell off after a mile and a half ("hmmm, you really do need something to lock the exhaust nut you know").

Tiger Beer

ow this is more like it! After two miserable rotten summers we finally get some warm weather and the chance to sit outside a decent pub, have a drink and look at a TG500.

It seems to have been a long time since that's happened, and with domestic distractions putting a definite crimp in my 'schmitt activity recently it was nice to be able to sit out in daylight till after 10pm putting the world to rights. But before we got too engrossed in that I did remember to take a few photos of Mike Grossman's car, so here they are.

Nothing New Under the Sun

r so they say. This page has an article about the Aptera Typ-1e, a car which looks amazingly similar to the Fend2000, and it just goes to show that the design principles of microcars like the KRs and Fend's other vehicles are just too good to die. Any time the problem of fuel cost or supply bubbles up, from Suez in '56, the oil price shock of '73, or today's sky high petrol prices, the same question gets asked, "How to waste less fuel?", and the microcar principles again prove to be the answer — use a small, efficient engine in a light, aerodyamic body (isn't this obvious yet?).

New Interior

urrah! I've just taken delivery of a smashing new set of interior trim for my KR200 from Joyce and Peter Darby. This set is grey with black piping, not, I'll concede, as per the original red, but I came to the conclusion that would stick with my non-origianal blue paint work rather than go for the red in which it left the factory. But, even if I don't follow through with this plan a grey interior will work with pretty much anything.

In the Works

ur cover image this month appears in a German book belonging to Big Al which covers the history of the various vehicles produced by Fritz Fend and Messerschmitt. It contains lots of original publicity material and photos of the cars in use and also shots taken in the factory in Rosenheim and later Regensburg. However, this one stood out for two reasons; first, it's the only picture I've seen of KR200s actually under construction, and second, it's in colour.

Graham's KR200

Graham Taylor's KR200Graham Taylor's KR200

robably the hottest day of the year so far today (I've not checked, but it seemed so to me) and not a cloud in the sky — perfect conditions for catching some photos of Messerschmitts. So, here are a few I took of Graham 'MEC Treasurer' Taylor's 1956 KR200.

This car is of particular interest to me as it is the same year of manufacture as my own TLF 845 and also because its colour is probably the same as that with which TLF 845 originally left the factory. I can't be sure - all that was left of the original colour was a few flecks on the firewall behind the wiring clips.

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