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Tempus Fugit

I only have to look back at some of the old jottings in my 'Racing Notebooks' to realise how true this is. I can't believe it's approaching half a century since my first ride in a three wheeler. (Well maybe 5 years short but hey what's 5 years when you're counting in 50's.) Shhh ! …listen…. let you into a secret, my Pembleton (affectionately called No2) wasn't the first three wheeler in my life, oh no…. there was quite a few more in the dark and distant past and now in my twilight/semi retired years it's maybe time to come clean and confess…… A life time of riding in, riding on and driving 'Odd Leggers'. Barmy ! Insane ! Should be locked up ! I probably will be after this article goes 'live'. Ah well here goes…….

No information available The first…There's me…in the middle of the picture. Experienced sidecar passenger and only 6 years old, sharing the sidecar with Janet my sister and of course there's Dad in the driving seat. Power plant being a 350cc Ariel. Tyres with tread…Bah humbug ! 'Run um down tat canvas in them days' Poor mum still to this day hangs here head in shame at the thought of the danger she put us in….the sidecar hadn't hardly any floor, but…no problem the biggest holes were covered for our safety with a bit of carpet…. So off we'd go and in no time there would be a brother / sister fall out…..usual reasons….someone's got an extra sweet, and before you knew it the canvas top would be ripped off it's press studs as we sped along and Mum's hand would reach in trying to rattle some sense into us…. Down we'd duck knowing her arm wasn't long enough….ha ha..ha..ha…! .Owwch ! direct hit ! The poor Ariel….worked hard for a living. Notice the rowing boat on the back, stuffed full of camping gear. A Mirror dingy for all you nautical types, anyway Appletree and Litton in the Dales were favourite places to go for the weekend camping trips, but with all the luggage it wasn't easy… the hills were steeper back then and poor Mum had to get off and walk at the side of the sidecar sometimes, as Dad tried to extract every last bit of power out of the motor to try keep forward momentum…

Happy Days……sun always shining……or were they ? ……..well yes ….apart from……. I was forced to wear hand knitted wool jumpers…. short pants……brylcreamed quiff……

I didn't know it then but when Dad upgraded to an Austin A35 van I'd have to wait quite a few years before the next 'Odd Legger' came into my life.

No information available Second….. My first car…..A BMW …. Yes, 3 wheels again. A BMW 300cc Isetta So there's me in the picture, 19 years old. Taking advantage of the rule that allowed motorcyclists to drive 3 wheelers without having to pass a test. well almost.. more of my special test later

The car had stood for quite a few years prior to my ownership outside a terrace house on my route to school. Surely it was for sale and more to the point cheap ! Wheels were wheels way back then in't old days…none of this modern trend of needing the latest 'hot hatch' wi ear splitting sound system. My attempt to buy was unsuccessful…the little Bubble was of sentimental value to the owner and he wasn't for seeing it go to a young tear-away like me. Ah haaa ! This is what parents are for ! Down goes Dad to see the owner and tells a fantastic tale of how it will be just right for his wifes shopping trips. The guy believes him and the Bubble is mine ! !

It's a non runner so a tow home was needed. Once again Dad to the rescue. Lashed to the back of his Ford Capri with a short length of strong washing line the journey home would be talked about for many a year after. (How can parents be so cruel to their offspring ?). There's me, a young trusting fellow experiencing steering a car for the first time when….bang…..woooooh….Dad floors the accelerator on the Capri and the little Bubble goes faster than it's ever done before…..or likely to do again…..50mph….Yep that felt fast alright. Didn't take long to fettle the Bubble and get the engine going….Bit of filler in the holes and all ready for an M.O.T. (Motoring seemed so much easier back then..)

Round come the mates to see the machine and I volunteer to give a demo up the drive. "Ya can't drive yet son"…..I then utter those immortal words that are still with me to this day.. "I know what I'm doing"….Plenty of revs, out goes the clutch, the Bubble shoots forward, Dad leaps backwards, my mates are scattering in all directions. Lucky the garage doors were open, I shot inside the garage and stalled! Not before leaving a 3ft high tyre mark on the garage door, that served as a reminder for many years that at 19 years old it's still best to take advise from older folk.

On the road, well almost, here's the test I told you about. Dad insisted on taking me out just to make sure I was safe….within 2 miles I'm in another confrontation.. It couldn't have been because the brakes were so good could it ? Anyway approaching a roundabout I'm slowing and a scooter runs into the back of me. Must point out at this stage that fitted to the rear was a luggage carrier that was not dissimilar to a motorcycle one. It took the full force. Down goes the scooter, Dad say's "Drive on" and we did. As I said motoring was so much easier 30 years ago. The Bubble was ok……the scooterist ? I've no idea.

At last I'm out on the road on my own, but that means I have to fix the breakdowns on my own too… It tended to be little more than a change of plug, but always in rush hour traffic ! Access to the sparkplug on Isettas is through a panel, behind the seat. So imagine this, the traffic lights change to green and the Bubble stalls. A plug change is needed, quick as a flash I'm on my knees on the seat, (facing backwards) pull the back of the seat forward, pull off the access panel, spin the plug out…ooooowww hot ! in with a freshly cleaned one, seat back in position and engine fired up, all without even getting out of the car ! ! Lights may have changed a couple of times and the queue behind may be bigger but hey… it's fixed now…. ."Keep ya shirt on Mister !" We're off again !

No information available Third.....Ah yes…The original 'Plastic Pig' a Reliant Super-van MK3. In a year I've upgraded ! … swapping the air-cooled 300cc single cylinder Isetta for a water-cooled 700cc four cylinder fibreglass motoring icon…. Bright Yellow it was, with fake 'Buffalo fur' seat covers and a cassette player. A notoriously unreliable Reliant. !!!!! Wonder if it was my mechanical ability or it was the make do and mend applied during servicing / repairs that were the cause.

You know….I've just stopped and reflected on those times after writing the last sentence. Obviously I was only a young lad then and living at home. Dad would help with repairs, he always seemed to have the confidence to do anything…..Stripping engines, making valve guides, riveting new linings on to brake shoes, re-bushing kingpins, spray painting, in fact anything ! Never had a car repaired at a garage….. But no, it wasn't make do and mend at all was it ?… No it was lessons in life skills, passing on to me the confidence to know it's possible to make or mend almost anything. There would have been no Albert Crackleport without them…...Possibly even no Pembleton ! Crikey !.

Noddy Holder type sideburns, (you know him..singer from that 70's super-group Slade) flared jeans, cowboy boots… (I was a typical Reliant driver then ?) Thin Lizzy and Bad Company blasting out of the cassette, life was good. Well it was most of the time, but a couple of memorable incidents spring to mind. - This particular day I'd gone up to the Lake District with a good mate of mine, Dave Chandler was his name. That's what we did in those days, petrol was cheap and off we would go for the day, trips to the coast for fish and chips or motorcycle race meetings, seemed to have so much time then……. Anyway back to the Lake District and it's mid-day. The sun is shining, the traffic is queuing and the Reliant is getting hotter and hotter……and hotter….and hotter. The oil in the engine is breaking down and not pumping enough to the big ends…..we're stuck in the Lake District with no oil pressure. ! Had to park up and drive home through the night when the traffic had died down so we could keep the revs up and oil pump circulating lubricant at a fair rate and of course the air was cooler. Eh lad…we made it in the end.

No information available Second incident..? Dave was passenger again, and off we're going to day release college. It's the midst of winter, snowing like 'joe billio'. Through the blizzard we spot two 'birds' at a bus stop. Hey, lets stop, they're bound to accept a lift today and we can work our charm on them and by the time we get to Leeds we're 'in'. On go the brakes, Doh ! Huge skid as the middle wheel is braking on all the slush……….slid straight into a lamp-post don't we !. The fibre-glass front suffers multiply cracking, paint flaking off and flying in all directions….Didn't bother reversing and offering a lift…..

Fourth…350cc Italjet Trials Outfit. The year 1990 . Shared ownership with a colleague at work…Yes we're going to do a couple of hours practicing and then enter a trials competition run by the local 'Yeadon and Guiseley Motor Club' Which we did………..unbeknown to us also entered were the top guys in the country at sidecar trialing. In fact not just the country but the WHOLE WORLD. Yes Robin Luscombe world champ was in attendance. You can guess the severity of the sections. We did 2 sections before retirement !. The second one was through a stream and up a huge bank, as I gave the outfit full throttle for the bank it shot of to one side, heading for a massive drop. Captains are supposed to stay with their ship aren't they ? Not likely ! I jumped for my life…..my passenger seeing he was now alone also abandoned ship as the outfit descended into the abyss. He never did forgive me for my cowardly act. The outfit was sold soon after…

Fifth….No2 Pembleton. Well you all know the story of the birth of Pembleton and the history of No2 so I won't cover it again. It does give me an excuse to look through the old build pictures though and here's a couple not published before. I'm sure the running repairs, modifications, and epic trips are now giving as much enjoyment to Andy as they did me. Good Old Albertine (aka No2)

Five three wheelers !.... What did I do wrong ?.... Surely I've served my time ?....One's enough ! No way ! I've enjoyed every minute.

Until the next time - Carry on Pembling

Albert Crackleport


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