Luggage Cover

Posted on June 23rd, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Estate cars of the 70’s made little or no concession to hiding whatever you were carrying in the luggage area behind the rear seat. Modern hatchbacks have large rear parcel shelves and estate cars have spring loaded covers but the Cortina mark 3 has neither.

IMG_2160Over the last year or so I have pondered this problem coming up with a wooden shelf behind the rear seat, this was about a foot deep and together with a car blanket covered my tool box. The rest of the luggage space remained uncovered. I also looked at the possibility of fitting a cover from a modern car but these are usually made for a certain model and difficult to adapt,  Paying out for something I might bin was not on.

Enter a £12.99 roller blind reduced to £10.38 at a local store. It was a blackout blind 4 feet wide and 5 feet long. The width across the car being slightly wider than 4 feet allowed space for the fittings.

IMG_2162I attached the roller mechanism to the top of the rear seat; this being metal allowed a good firm fixing with self tapping screws. I now raided the garage for inspiration on how to attach the other end of the blind. My brief was it had to pull the fabric tight but be readily removable to allow bigger items of luggage to be loaded.

IMG_2164Cutting a piece of chromium plated copper water pipe to the width of the car I then fabricated an “L-shaped” bracket to which I attached a pipe clip. I again used a self tapper to fix this bracket to the metal structure at the rear of the car. A second bracket and pipe clip was attached to the other side of the car. I removed the length of plastic supplied and fitted into the hem of the blind and replaced it with the chrome tubing. The chrome tube being wider than the blind allowed it to clip into the pipe clips.

IMG_2165Having proved the system worked I removed all the brackets and fitting and sprayed them black to match the car. If I need to carry a large load I simply unclip the pipe and roll up the blind, I can then tip the rear seat forward. The type of blind I used is one with a continuous loop of cord on the side to operate it, but I imagine it would be possible to use the spring loaded type.

IMG_2161Whilst I am a believer in keeping cars as original as possible it is also necessary to address modern issues of car crime etc. By keeping the installation of this blind as simple as possible it has provided a effective screen for my luggage with the only permanent impact on the car being the drilling of six small screw holes for the brackets.

Nissan Primera Rear Light Bulb

Posted on May 14th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

A diversion from my usual tinkering with the Cortina was brought about recently by the failure of the offside rear lamp on my Nissan Primera. (Yes I do have a “modern” as well.)

Having discovered the failed tail lamp I was perplexed by a seemingly sealed lamp unit which appeared to be invisibly affixed to the body. Now, on the Cortina, you simply unscrew four self-tappers and, low and behold, you have access to the bulb, not so on the Primera. Time for the owners manual.clip_image001


The tiny drawing in the manual gave me a clue. Pulling off a piece of plastic trim, located between the boot lip and the lamp unit, revealed two 10mm bolts, which I undid.





The lamp unit now wobbled around but stayed resolutely attached to the car. It appeared to be clipped.Further study of the manual indicated pulling the lamp away from the car. I gave a gentle tug, nothing happened. Knowing the love manufacturers have for plastic clips, and knowing how  easily they snap I tried again, and again. The lamp unit came away from the car body, the clips stayed intact, success.


The secret is to pull the lamp unit straight out from the car and not to twist it, easier said than done when the clips are both on the same side and there is not enough room to get your fingers in the gap.

clip_image003Although the lamp unit is now free it is still connected by a  multi-plug, which the manual indicates you simple pull out. It does not however indicate how tight it is, and I had to resort to gentle prising with a screw-driver. (Make sure the lamps are switched off before doing this or your next job will involve changing fuses.)


One the unit is free of the car place it face down on a clean cloth, (the plastic lens scratches easily), and remove the three self tapping screws holding the plastic bulb holder assembly from the lamp unit.




The relevant failed bulb can now be changed.

Assembly  is simply the reverse of pulling it apart, I would however recommend checking everything works before attaching the lamp unit back to the car, otherwise a second fight with the plastic clips will be required.



Despite initial misgivings I was pleasantly  surprised with the thought Nissan had put into this. Being able to remove the lamp unit from the car to carry out fault finding and diagnostic work is really useful, especially as the car gets older and contacts get tarnished.

The only downside is that this is not a five-minute job on the side of the road, especially on a cold wet night. (I was working in my drive on a warm pleasant spring day). I always carry at least one bulb kit in my cars, but I had to use a 10mm socket to undo the two securing screws and a socket set is not something I routinely carry around in a modern car in case of bulb failure. Maybe I will in future or perhaps I will just call out the AA.

The East Coast Run 2012

Posted on July 6th, 2012 in Shows | No Comments »

East Coast Run25The East Coast Run is a road run for historic vehicles of all types and was held this year on June 10th. This is the 44th running of what is becoming an increasingly popular event, and has been organised by the East Yorkshire Thoroughbred Car Club since 2005.

The event is open to all classes of vehicle, including buses, trucks, cars, motorbikes and military vehicles. All vehicles entered must be at least 20 years old, unless they have special historical interest, in which case the organisers may give them special dispensation.

The day starts at East Park in Hull, where all eligible vehicles assemble and the public can wander around looking at the vehicles and chatting to the drivers. This year was the first decent day for quite a while and the warm sunshine brought the citizens of Hull out in their hundreds.

From eleven o-clock onwards the vehicles make their way along the A165 towards Sewerby, which is just north of the seaside town of Bridlington, where they assemble on the headland overlooking Bridlington Bay. Releasing several hundred vehicles from East Park on to the public highway takes quite a while, as they have to fit in with the Sunday morning traffic. It took us about an hour but eventually we hit the road.

East Coast Run57The journey north was the high spot of the day. Although we were amongst the last to leave Hull, there were still people parked in lay-bys and gateways watching the vehicles go by. We had our photos taken numerous times and by the time we arrived at Sewerby I had waved at so many folk I felt like the queen at the jubilee celebration.

The weather remained kind and, for most of the afternoon, pleasantly warm despite our elevated position overlooking the North Sea. Again there were large crowds wandering around the vehicles and auto-jumble stalls. Along the headland is Sewerby Hall and Gardens, an historic country house set in beautiful countryside and well worth a visit. A land train runs throughout the summer months between the Hall and Bridlington town.

East Coast Run32The East Coast Run is an event, which has grown significantly from its origin in 1969, when only a handful of buses took part, to be a significant day in the East Yorkshire calendar. With the current interest in historic vehicles continuing to grow its future looks good.


View my East Coast Run photos and other events at clivescortina on flickr

The Travelodge TV

Posted on June 26th, 2012 in Miscellaneous | No Comments »


Recently a trip to North London was required and an overnight stay was booked at the Borehamwood Travelodge, for my son and me.

When making the booking I requested a twin bed room for two adults, and ticked the box to say I would accept a disabled room. I am not a wheelchair user, but having reduced mobility prefer a room that doesn’t require climbing lots of stairs.

On arriving we were allocated the requested disabled room, made up with a double bed and one set of towels; back to reception. The receptionist couldn’t have been more helpful, separating the double bed into two singles, and providing a second set of towels.

A cup of tea was brewed and we settled down to watch TV. A press of the tacky ‘pound shop’ remote illuminated a red light but the TV stayed steadfastly dead. Yes, it was plugged in and switched on, we pressed every button on the remote, we tried it in DVD mode, VCR mode, Satellite mode, TV mode and any other mode it was capable of. The TV continued to be unimpressed.

Being mounted on the wall about head height,the TV was an impressive model with manual controls along the top. Presumably there was some indication as to what each of these controls did, but being less than 9 foot tall this information remained a mystery so we pushed buttons until, Hey Presto it sprung into life.

In this age of multi-channel TV a remote control is an essential piece of equipment as one valiantly moves from channel to channel to find something vaguely interesting, that hasn’t been shown a hundred times before. However, most of us can get up and change channel if we have to, but this one was in a room for disabled/wheelchair users!

Borehamwood Travelodge (1)Imagine the scenario, we have a flashy new TV, we have controls on the top of the TV eight foot off the ground, we have a person in a wheelchair whose head is lower than the bottom of the TV screen. Are we to imagine even the most patient of reception staff is going to be happy popping along to the room each time the channel needs changing, I think not. Are we then to expect the wheelchair user to hop up and change channel manually.


I have stayed in a number of budget hotel rooms over the years and a broken or inoperative remote is not uncommon. But this is a disabled room for pity’s sake, is it too much to ask that the staff ensure the TV and remote work when they are preparing the room, and why does the TV have to be so high up the wall anyway? I once stayed in a tiny hotel room in Manchester and the TV was on top of the wardrobe, but that, as they say, is another story.

Final note: the mental image of granny balancing in her wheelchair whilst trying to work the TV kept me amused all weekend.

Borehamwood Travelodge (2)

Sorry, don’t have a picture of that mental image (shame) so I took one of my son instead

Goathland Car Show 2012

Posted on June 22nd, 2012 in Shows | No Comments »

IMG_0172April 22nd 2012 was the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) “Drive it Day” and at 8.45 we set off for Goathland in Colin Cortina. The instructions informed us that we had to be on site by eleven o‘clock and, despite having only 65 miles to travel, I was worried about being there on time.


The weather during the week prior to the show was pretty awful and cleaning and polishing time was limited to gaps between showers. Mechanically the car was fine and I had treated it to four brand new tyres on Thursday. The tyres, which were taken off, appeared fine but were of indeterminate age so had to go. Tyres have quite a short life span and can deteriorate even if not used. Classic cars and caravans often cover low mileages and, as a consequence, don’t wear their tyres out in the same way as a car in daily use. It is however just as important to ensure your classic does not run on “old rubber” as a blow out even at 50 mph can have serious consequences. I shall cover tyres and how to decipher the date codes in a future blog.

North York Moors  4A small detour to Driffied was necessary for fuel and I then decided to let the sat-nav take the strain and take us to Pickering and then over the A169 to Goathland. Thomas, the satnav, was clearly of the opinion that we should avoid main roads and take a more scenic approach to the journey. My local knowledge of the area told me that we were going in the right general direction so I followed Thomas’ instructions and discovered some parts of Yorkshire unknown to me. The downside to this was the muddy puddles that lined some of these minor roads, and in places my driving took on a drunken look as we weaved around trying to keep the car as clean as possible. We need not have worried as a little later on we ran into a hailstorm.

The road from Pickering across the North Yorkshire Moors is considered by many to be one of the best drives in England and can get very busy. Unfortunately not everyone is there for the scenery and some very fast and dangerous driving/riding is frequently witnessed. Since owning an historic car I have noted that driving a forty-year-old attracts some very interesting behaviour from other motorists. For many you are ‘just another car’ but an increasing number are genuinely interested, showing courtesy and often waving or watching you pass by. A small number see you as something that must be passed at all costs; their ‘street cred’ couldn’t possible cope with being seen behind an old vehicle. As a result they come up quickly behind you, tailgate until a gap appears then gun it past only to slow to the speed you were travelling at anyway.

IMG_0181Our journey over the moors, past the early warning station at Fylingdales, was uneventful being joined by a Sunbeam and an MGB. We arrived at the station car park in good time and were shown to our spot. Space is limited to perhaps 40 vehicles but attracts visitors arriving and departing on the steam trains, which run, regularly between Pickering and Whitby.

Being exhibitors of a classic car in the station car park entitled us to discounted rail tickets on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Being too good an opportunity to miss we purchased two tickets and took the next train to Pickering. We travelled in carriages, which would have been a common sight in the 1950’s and 60’s, behind British Rail steam locomotive number 75029. This locomotive was built in Swindon in 1956 and known as, The Green Knight.


The journey was uneventful but picturesque, providing photo opportunities both en-route and at Pickering station where the locomotive was disconnected and moved to the rear for the return journey.

On returning to Goathland a walk around the village was in order, past Scripp’s Garage, The Aidensfield Arms and other landmarks familiar to viewers of TV’s Heartbeat, the fictional village of Aidensfield being in reality Goathland.

Despite the weather’s changeable nature the rain stayed away, the sun attempted valiantly to shine and the cars attracted a lot of attention. We returned home by a more direct route, Colin Cortina having travelled the 130 or so miles without a hitch. We parked him in the garage and put the kettle on.

Drive it Day 2012

Posted on April 15th, 2012 in Shows | No Comments »


On the April 23rd 1900 a total of 64 cars set off from London on a one thousand mile drive. This was quite an event so early in the history of motoring and to celebrate it, the nearest Sunday to the 23rd of April every year was chosen by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) to be Drive-it-Day.

This year Sunday April 22nd 2012 is Drive-it Day. All over the country events are taking place, ranging from drives through the countryside to classic car shows, all with the intention of getting historic vehicles out on the road where they belong.

In my area, the East Yorkshire Thoroughbred Car Club (EYTCC) is having a gathering at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway at Goathland. For fans of TV’s Heartbeat, Goathland is better known as Aidensfield and a very popular tourist spot.

North York Moors  1

The event is very popular and places on the show ground are quickly booked. I was one of the lucky ones and my Cortina, who has now acquired the name of Colin, will be on show.



Feel free to visit as there is adequate parking for visitors to Goathland, together with shops, pubs and places to get a meal or snack. The surrounding countryside is beautiful and the trip on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is an easy way of seeing it all, as it wends its way from Pickering, through Goathland and on to Whitby. Most trains are steam hauled with some famous locomotives present.

North York Moors  11

For me the journey to Goathland is about 65 miles and will be the longest trip I will have undertaken in the Cortina to date. This week will see me cleaning, polishing and generally making sure Colin Cortina is up to it. Hopefully the weather will be good, the journey trouble free and I will have some good photos and a good story to post in a few days time.

Brake Saga Part 3

Posted on April 11th, 2012 in Brakes | 9 Comments »

The Master Cylinder

Click to go to Part 2

Having successfully replaced the rear wheel cylinders and front callipers I was now confident that the brakes would be approaching the standard that Henry Ford designed them to be back in the 1970’s. The new brake pipes and hoses further reinforced my confidence that, if I needed to stop in a hurry, I would be able to without the fear of a hose or pipe splitting. With age, rubber hoses can deteriorate and, even if they do not split, they are more likely to bulge under heavy braking thus reducing the amount of effort we transfer from the brake pedal to the brakes. Put simply, we are putting our effort into expanding the hose rather than putting the brake on. This is why rally cars, high performance cars and a lot of motorbikes now use steel braided hoses.

Master Cyl (1)I now turned my attention to the master cylinder. When I first checked the car over I noted the brake fluid in the reservoir appeared to be dirty with what looked like sediment in it. As I did not wish any of this fluid to go into the new callipers or cylinders I had already disconnected the two pipes connected to the master cylinder and drained the system.

IMG_0025 (2)The master cylinder and reservoir are secured to the servo with two nuts and a simple matter to remove. Once on the bench it was clear that the cylinder bore was badly deteriorated. An attempt to dismantle it further was thwarted when the plastic reservoir steadfastly refused to detach itself from the metal cylinder. Although, only a push fit, the plastic appeared to have bonded itself to the seal and, despite careful prising and pulling, the reservoir eventually cracked. According to the internet this is not an unusual problem.

I now needed a new master cylinder and reservoir. Research had already informed me that master cylinders for mark 3 Cortina’s were like gold dust and fetching ridiculously high prices. A used one had recently been sold on e-bay for almost £200, and I wanted a new one. I didn’t want to chance second-hand. Internet forums referred to using Land Rover parts on some Ford Capri’s and Ford based kit cars but nothing specific to Cortinas.

More research confirmed that a pre 1980 series 3 Land Rover master cylinder had the same external dimensions, but that the piston diameter was bigger. My knowledge of hydraulics told me that the bigger piston would move more fluid in the system for the same amount of brake pedal travel. Simply, if the brake pedal travel was originally 50mm, with a piston that is twice the area the pedal travel would be 25mm. Would this be a problem, only one way to find out, buy one and try it.

IMG_0018 (2)

I ordered a cylinder (part number 90577520) from Paddock Spares at a cost of £53.94. This was delivered promptly and I set to work. The first difference was the reservoir, on the Cortina the master cylinder slopes up towards the front and the reservoir is shaped so the top of it is level. I guess not all Land Rover cylinders slope, and, despite the picture on the supplier’s website showing the shaped reservoir, the one they IMG_0020 (2)sent had a reservoir that was intended to be fitted level. Undeterred I attached it to the Cortina servo and, using a spirit level, I could see that, despite the reservoir not being level, the amount of fluid could still reach the maximum mark. So far so good.


IMG_0028 (2)Next to fit the two brake pipes, Cortina’s have metric brake pipe unions and, as I discovered, Land Rovers have UNF. Hence the brake pipes would not screw into the ports on the master cylinder. A quick look under the front of the car revealed that both the brake pipes terminate at unions under the front of the car so removal was quite easy. My initial thought was to ask my local garage to cut the metric unions off and fit appropriate size UNF ones, but we decided it was best to have new pipes made up with metric threads at the lower end and UNF at the top. This way the original pipes could be archived and reused if it was subsequently found the Land Rover master cylinder was not suitable. This, of course, would still be dependent on locating a Cortina cylinder.

The pipes were made up and fitted without any problems and the reservoir filled with new fluid. Before fitting the master cylinder to the car I “bench bled” it. This process requires you to pour fluid into the master cylinder outlet ports and reservoir and gently work the piston in and out with a clean non-metallic object. The idea is to ensure the seals are lubricated with fresh fluid and that no air is trapped in the bores. This is particularly important with the Cortina as the master cylinder is mounted on an angle. Having completed the “bench bleed” I used two plastic bungs to seal the outlet ports whilst I fitted the cylinder onto the car. A quick removal of the bung followed by a quick fitting of the pipe ensured only a small amount of fluid leaked out. Be quick but careful when fitting the pipes and do not use a spanner until you are certain that they are not cross-threaded. A damaged thread could cost you another master cylinder.

There are some good videos on YouTube on bench bleeding master cylinders, but I found the above process works well.


And so to bleeding the system. I had purchased a Gunson Eezibleed pressure bleed bottle from Halfords for £19.99 and I would recommend this as a worthwhile purchase. There are cheaper alternatives but they are little more than a pipe with a one way valve and, in my opinion, are of limited use.

With the Gunson kit fitted and pressurised and, starting at the wheel furthest from the master cylinder, I opened the bleed screw and bled the rear brakes. I then bled the front brakes and, full of confidence, pressed the brake pedal down. Yes, it felt like a good brake, I pressed a bit harder and the pedal went slowly to the floor. There must still be air trapped in the system. I bled the brakes a second time, then a third, the pedal always went to the floor. Give up for the day!

The following day, after much thought, I removed the master cylinder and repeated the “bench bleed” again. Refit the master cylinder and bleed the brakes again. Exactly the same. At this point I noticed that as the pedal went down the level in the reservoir went up. It appeared that the master cylinder was in fact allowing the fluid back into the reservoir rather than feeding it out to the brakes. Time to contact Paddock Spares, I explained the situation and was given a returns number. They said that the cylinder would be examined, and if faulty, I would receive a refund. As I still needed a master cylinder I had to order and pay another £48.94, however I was not charged postage and it was sent express delivery and arrived by 11.00 am the next morning. Within half an hour it was bled, fitted and worked perfectly. Time to put the wheels on, clip the brake pipes neatly in place, and go for a road test.

Westwood  (3)A gentle drive and application of the brake gave me a good feeling, the pedal was firm and the car came to a halt with a significant dip of the front end. A longer road test and I was happy and confident with the cars ability to stop. Conclusion, Land Rover master cylinders, whilst not being a direct replacement, are an acceptable alternative and preferable to putting new seals in a worn master cylinder or buying a used one of unknown condition. With new callipers, wheel cylinders, master cylinder, pipes and hoses my overhaul of the brakes was complete.

The Brake Saga – Part 2

Posted on March 16th, 2012 in Brakes | No Comments »

Front & Rear Brakes

Click to go to Part 1

On removing the Cortina’s rear drums I discovered that the brake shoes were serviceable but one of the wheel cylinders was partially seized. I am not a believer in fitting new seals to 40-year-old hydraulics, so I decided to replace the wheel cylinders on both sides. As it was unlikely that brake pipes would oblige and unscrew easily the best plan was to replace the pipes as well. Wheel cylinders were bought from Firstline via eBay for £9.00 each and brake pipes made to pattern by a local garage.

Different wheel cylinders were used on the Mark 3 Cortina during it’s production dependent upon year, model and engine size. Significant changes were made to the rear brakes from 1973 onwards and little will interchange with earlier cars. The wheel cylinders supplied by Firstline were exact replacements and fitted, together with the new pipes, with a minimum of fuss. The handbrake cables and  linkages, pivots and self adjusting mechanism were all in good order so the brake drums were replaced awaiting bleeding.

Brake Cyl NSR Inner3

Rear Wheel Cyl (1)

The front brake strip-down showed the pads and discs to be ok; however I decided to remove the pads to check the calliper pistons. Having removed them and gently pressing the brake pedal down there was no movement, more force and the pistons moved enough to close the gap and stop me putting the pads back in. An hour later, and the use of large crow-bar, I had managed to push the pistons back sufficient to insert the pads. Having changed many sets of pads over the years experience told me that gentle force with a short bar moves the piston back into the calliper. Substitute laying on the drive with both feet on the hub and pulling wildly on a crow bar! Clearly something was not as it should be.

Front Brakes  (4)The callipers looked original equipment and the ten years of dry storage had done them no favours. Brake fluid, although it is oil, has the ability to absorb water from the atmosphere. Modern service schedules require brake fluid changes every few years but this was uncommon thirty or forty years ago. Possibly the frequency with which seals leaked back then resulted in brake fluid being replaced quite often anyway. As a point of interest most garages can check the water content of brake fluid quite easily. A small sample of the fluid is taken from the reservoir and heated until it boils, the lower the boiling point the greater the water content. Pure water boils at 100⁰C, brake fluid with no absorbed water may be double this. High water content in the brake fluid can not only cause metal parts to corrode but, under heavy braking, the heat generated may cause the fluid to boil or vaporise causing brake failure.

Back to the Cortina: It’s my guess that the lack of use and old brake fluid had caused the pistons to corrode and seize. The brake fluid in the reservoir was cloudy and not at all as it should be. Replacements were required. Most replacements these days are refurbished units and there are a number of companies that provide quality products. When ordering, a surcharge is payable against the return of your old units. I sourced two refurbished callipers from  Brakes International for £139.40 including the surcharge of £36.00.

This £36.00 was dented somewhat by the cost of posting them back. Weighing just over 10 kg postage cost nearly £16.00. The old returned parts must be complete with no broken lugs etc.They will be inspected before the surcharge is repaid. The company websites generally list what is and what isn’t acceptable. Despite postage costs it is important that old units are returned, as these provide the basis for future refurbished units. Without them we would struggle to obtain quality spares.

The new callipers arrived promptly and fitting commenced. The mounting bolts also hold the Tab Washer Templatebrake hose bracket in place. This bracket has tabs that fold over onto the flats of the securing bolts to prevent them from coming undone. One of the nearside tabs broke off. A spot of fabrication was now required. Using a scrap piece of metal a new locking tab was sawed, filed and drilled until a functional, if not particularly pretty, component emerged. This fitted between the brake hose bracket and the bolt heads. Prior to fitting I placed it on a sheet of paper and sprayed black paint over it. I now had a painted bracket and a paper template for future use.

Fluid is fed into the callipers by a short length of intricately shaped brake pipe; this snapped off when I undid the unions. Another trip to the local garage for new brake pipes to be made. Whilst waiting for the callipers I ordered two new front brake hoses to replace the aging ones fitted. Three of the four nuts, which hold the two brake hoses to their brackets, came undone with the application of WD40 and Herculean strength, the fourth one had to be sawn off, but at last all parts were removed and new ones were ready to fit.

IMG_0042Fitting the new ones proved less stressful than removing the old one. The only snag was that the new brake hoses were supplied without the securing nuts so another trip to the local garage was required to raid his useful bits and bobs selection of nuts and bolts. At last two new callipers, brake pipes and hoses were fitted and I was ready for the next stage. The master cylinder.

To be continued!

Click to go to Part 3

Fort Paull Car Show

Posted on March 4th, 2012 in Shows | No Comments »

On a beautiful Sunday morning in September 2011 we packed the Cortina with deckchairs, sandwiches and drinks and headed for our first car show. The venue was Fort Paull, an historical site on the north bank of the River Humber just east of Hull in East Yorkshire. Now you can be forgiven for thinking that beautiful weather, River Humber and September don’t often feature in the same sentence but this truly was tee-shirt weather.

The short journey was uneventful and we were on site soon after 9.00. Being ushered to a parking space by a marshal of the East Yorkshire Thoroughbred Car Club we were soon joined by a variety of vehicles ranging from a 1930’s Rolls Royce to a home built scale model of a tank. The former was prominently displayed; the later spent its day driving around the site giving rides to children and the occasional “30 something”.

Fort Paull Sept 113

The Cortina had been the subject of a lot of polish and even more elbow grease during the previous week and was looking its best. A brief history of the car was fixed to the window for anyone who passed by to read and the deck chairs erected at the rear. Off for a coffee and a bacon buttie.


Fort Paull Sept 119Alongside us was a Rover 2000, to the rear an MGB and a Triumph Spitfire. The local Mercedes club had their own area set aside with a number of good looking cars on show; there were a few lorries and tractors in another area and a considerable number of motorbikes on show. One of these took me back to learning to ride back in the early 1970’s, namely a 250cc BSA C10, dating from 1953. Mine was the overhead valve C11 model, and cost me £20.00 when I was still at school. I rode it on the road for the first time on my sixteenth birthday (the law on riding motorbikes was much different back then). Up until then I went everywhere on my trusty pushbike, motorcycling was much better, when you came to a hill you just twisted the throttle and it went up the hill. Brilliant, my pushbike days were over!

Fort Paull is the permanent home of the last Blackburn Beverley aircraft. The four engine aircraft was a static exhibit at the Army Transport Museum in Beverley until the museum closed. It was dismantled and taken by low-loader to Fort Paull in 2005, reassembled and now forms part of the attractions. The Blackburn Beverley was made at Brough, also in East Yorkshire, and saw service with the RAF in the 1950’s and 60’s. Its role was that of a military transport aircraft. This plane’s last flight was into Paull aerodrome, just outside the village, it remained there for ten years before being taken to the Army Transport Museum in Beverley and subsequently returning to Fort Paull. Clearly this is an aircraft that belongs in East Yorkshire. Picture provided by

Hawker HunterAlso refurbished and on static display is a 1957 Hawker Hunter F.6 jet fighter. For many years it stood proudly outside the Humbrol factory in Hull, the manufacturer of Airfix models. The aircraft was mounted on a stand similar to that supplied with the Airfix kits. When the factory closed in a few years ago everything, including the Hunter, was vandalized. Thankfully it was rescued, refurbished and is on display in a secure location.

Fort Paull has been a strategic military site for centuries, the first fort being commissioned by King Henry VIII and opened in 1542. Its last military role was in the Second World War when, amongst other things, it was involved in degaussing, a process which decreases unwanted magnetic fields. This process was applied to ships in the Humber Estuary to help protect them from German mines which had magnetic triggers.

Fort Paull was closed by the Ministry of Defence in 1960 and taken over by a group of volunteers in 1964. It opened as a heritage museum in 2000.

The beautiful day continued with a large number of visitors wandering around looking at the vehicles on display. The Cortina attracted quite a lot of interest, not in the way that a Rolls or Bentley might, but in a nostalgic, familiar way. Comments of ‘my dad had one of those’ and ‘I had a Cortina when I worked for…’ were heard as people passed by. As it was the only Mark 3 on display, it got all the attention.

Three o’clock arrived and with it the judging. The big black cloud I had been watching for some while was indeed heading our way. Being as the awards ceremony was centred around the Beverley, and given my dislike of getting wet, standing under the considerable wing of the aforementioned aircraft seem eminently sensible.

NGX 87L Front Interior

Fort Paull Sept 1111

The prizes were awarded as the first spots began to fall. I was not expecting a prize; there were after all some beautiful vehicles on show. We did however get a small plaque for our attendance which is now fixed to the wooden shield that came with the car. The other plaques on the shield are from the Bromley Motor Pageants of the 90’s where the Cortina was a common sight.

Plaque in hand, an aged sprint to the car, and the heavens opened. We took our leave in a downpour, we now know the sun- roof is watertight, and made our way home.

A thoroughly good day for our first show in an interesting and beautiful (when the weather’s good) location.

Here’s to the next one. Clive

The Brake Saga – Part 1

Posted on February 29th, 2012 in Brakes | No Comments »

Within a few minutes of setting off towards home with my newly purchased Mark 3 Cortina I met a car coming towards me on a narrow section of road. It was at this point that I discovered the joy of forty-year-old brakes. Apart from a short trip to the MOT station the car had covered little mileage since being put into storage in the late 90’s. Whilst meeting the MOT standards the brake performance not only fell short of modern standards but also of my memories of these cars when they were new.

NGX 87L 5

Driving steadily, with a heightened awareness of stopping distance, the next few days saw the brakes improve to a more acceptable level. It was however clear that an inspection of the brakes was high on the priority list. Before I could get around to any significant work I came to an unscheduled stop when the brakes locked on. For a few miles I had been aware that the brake pedal travel was getting less each time I pressed it and eventually the brakes were on without pressing the pedal at all. I pulled off the road to the accompaniment of smoke from the front brakes and a nasty hot smell.

Master Cyl (1)

Having owned a 1965 Beatle many years ago, which had a similar problem, I was aware of a ‘quick fix’ to get me home. This took the form of slackening off the front brake pipe union where it screws into the master cylinder, at the same time recruiting a passenger to gently press the brake pedal down about half way then tightening up the union while the pedal is held at the half way point. This was then repeated for rear brakes by slackening the rear brake pipe union. Checking that the brake pedal travel was normal, I made my way cautiously home. (If you ever have to do this yourself make sure the brakes are working correctly before rejoining the traffic and clear up any lost fluid from the road surface). Serious brake overhaul required.

More to follow

Click for Part 2