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Tom's Tour

Tom's Tour - the plan

Earlier in the year Tom Rae invited people to come with him to the German Three Wheeler meet in Bad Malente, Northern Germany, in September. He planned a route that promised to be scenic and exteneded the tour to the lakelands north of Berlin. To keep costs down camping was the prefered option but he always found places which had a hotel nearby.

Preparing for the trip

I had my fuel pump fail just before I returned to Ireland after watching Le Grand Depart. I couldn't get a replacement quickly enough to let me drive back in Quicksilver. I contacted Burden who sell SU low pressure electric pumps and spares which are still available for even very old models. I tried to buy either 'sucker' or 'pusher' type pumps but both were out of stock with no certain date for their availability. They suggested that Charles Ware, Bristol would almost certainly have the 'sucker' type in stock. I phoned and ordered one and it was waiting for me when I returned to Leeds the week before the German trip. The SU 'sucker' type is a very low pressure pump designed to fit on the bulkhead and delivers at about 1 psi in old money which is ideal for my DellOrtos with the higher pressure float needles which are rated to 2.5 psi. I had to find a place to mount the pump, alter the pipework and electrics as the facit type pump had been mounted at the tank rather than under the bonnet. Everything went together - it was a bit of a bodge with too many bends, soldered joints and long lengths of copper pipe. I went for a test drive and the only thing I noticed was the pump ticked a lot - it's supposed to deliver on demand rather than run continuously like the Facit type. I had a problem after parking on a steep hill with the pump clacking away but thought that Holland isn't noted for steep hills so I'd sort out the problem later.

Monday 8th September

I spent a good while cleaning and polishing the car - the idea of painting started to become a good idea but I do like the look of gleaming aluminuim even though it doesn't gleam that often! Before packing the car I needed to do a bit of shopping and refuel Quicksilver. I still haven't got the feel for how much fuel I can put in the tank by reading the gauge so it was filled right up into the filler tube. As I walked over to pay someone pointed out that the car was leaking petrol over the forecourt - at the current prices this wasn't good news! One of the compression joints was leaking and wouldn't tighten up. The manager helped me push it out and got a can and funnel to catch the fuel. Eventually once the level had dropped to the height of the leaking pipe it stopped and I went home to investigate. It turned out I'd test assembled the pipework and when doing the final assembly I had omitted the olive. The continual 'ticking' on a hill was now explained by the pump sucking in air when the tank was well below the pump.

Tuesday 9th September

I loaded up and set off for Hull. I took a cross country route rather than the M1 and M62 which is a rather boring drive - the only excitement being able to view the endless road works on the M1. When I got to the ferry port I noticed oil leaking yet again. Gloom - I thought I was finished with engines leaking oil - after all it's a Moto Guzzi engine not a Triumph or Norton which are expected to leak - the only time they don't leak is when all the oil has drained out! On further investigation it seemed to be from the oil filter housing - perhaps I'd damaged a gasket or something when I did an oil change not that long ago. I'd sort that out the next day.

Wednesday 10th September

After breakfast on the boat I spoke to the staff about finding a Moto Guzzi agent in the Netherlands, they were most helpful and printed off maps etc to get me to Nijmegen which was about 100km from Europort, Rotterdam.

The weather was very pleasant with warm sunshine and after a hesitant start driving on the 'wrong' side of the road in heavy commercial traffic I set off for Nijmegen. I stopped at a rest area just to check the oil and noticed that when the engine was running the oil was leaking from the pressure guage take-off joint on the engine block. Spanner out and ten seconds later the problem was fixed so I turned round to go Den Haag to the Louwman Museum where we had planned to meet.

When I arrived I parked in the undergound parking area and went into the museum. Beside the entrance were the Pembletons. The space was reserved for cars 40+ years old. I commented to the person at the ticket desk about the 'new' cars parked out front. She asked if mine was a similar car and when I said 'yes' and she gave me a token for the car park and told me to join the others. Our party consisted of; Tom Rae in Snotamog, Duncan Grimmond in Silver Surfer II, Dave and Nikki Parr in Silverfish, Bill Davies in Crozier 3 and me in Quicksilver.

The museum is fantastic. It's a huge modern three story building with cars and lots of motoring memorabilia. The galleries were themed and with enough to read about most exhibits but it wasn't overwhelming. The guides/attendants are very knowledgable and mor ethan willing to share their knowledge with us in English. The café area was a fake street with motoring related shop fronts and garages etc. One could spend a couple of days in the museum without any difficulty. I have included a few pictures just to give an idea of the size of the building and the collection. The owner was a car dealer who started his collection by not selling on any interesting cars he bought.

After refuelling we set off for our stopping point for that night in Leeuwarden. We went through the very densely populated area arounfd Amsterdam and then went across the sea barrier separating Ijsselmeer from the North Sea. It was, for me, the most boring 30km drive possible; a high man-made embankment on one side and the grey Ijsselmeer on the other under what had turned into a grey sky.

We found our campsite, put up the tents and thought about food. Tom had been stranded by a land slide in Scotland earlier in the year and had met someone with the same surname whilst trapped on the peninsular. He lived in Leeuwarden and we met on the campsite. We went to a very good chinese restaurant. The prospect of struggling with a chinese menu written in dutch seemed to be more difficult than letting them choose the menu for us - simple for all concerned. The food was excellent and with plenty of beer the evening was most enjoyable!

Thursday 11th September

Duncan had two problems during the night, his airbed had a leak and he was disturbed by a mole burrowing under his tent! An unlikely tale but the evidence was there when the tent was taken down. It was quite misty and everything was wet with dew but the weather looked promising. We set off after breakfast for Bremen leaving The Netherland for Northern Germany. People were complaning about the noise from my exhausts and I was placed at the back of the queue except for Bill who had to endure it. It's something I'm going to have to sort out. The landscape was still a bit flat for my liking but it's interesting to see how other people live and do things. We stopped for a snack lunch and some of us had what was described as an open cheese and ham sandwich which turned out to be, as it said, cheese and ham on sliced pan topped with four fried eggs.

The campsite in Bremen was on the edge of an extensive wooded area and was quite busy but someone said it was the start of the University year and parents were bring their offspring to uni. Tom had arranged to meet Gerd who he had first met at a strip club in the centre of Bremen on the trip to Sweden - see ePAG #46 for a full account of that adventure - who came in his latest car, a rather nice Healey imported from USA. Nikki had also arranged to meet a pen friend with her partner. We met at a pub restaurant in the woods near the campsite.Plenty of banter and beer = a good time was had by all.

12th September

The next morning was very misty and while we were standing around wondering about breakfast Paul from Holland turned up to see our cars. He is building a Pembleton, with a big block Moto Guzzi engine, but had never seen actually one in the flesh. He was planning on going to Bad Malente for the rally in his tin top. The happy campers ate in the campsite office/café and afterwards we packed up ready for the 'off'. No sign of the Parrs - a quick phone call and they had overslept. After grabbing a coffee and a bun they breakfasted in Silverfish.

Someone had mentioned the previous evening that there was a transporter bridge over the Oste.The bridge is a tourist attraction rather than a working bridge but it still operates. As it was a short detour we decided to see it. Once we had arrived it turned out that they would, for ready money, take us for a round trip. The cars were driven on and away we went - great fun. It's nothing like as big as the Newport or Middlesborough bridges.

After that diversion we joined a very long queue for the Wischafen ferry over the Elbe. The tidal flow was very strong - look at how the buoy is leaning over because of the current. The countryside was becoming more interesting with woods, hills and lakes as we approached Bad Malente.

We got a great welcome at the hotel by the mainly German participants in the Rally but there were people from UK (us), Netherlands and Sweden. The majority of cars were Trikings with a few JZRs and of course our Pembletons! Bertil and Berit had driven down from Sweden and it was nice to meet someone who I only knew from the web.

I was asked if I'd take a passenger and said I was willing but I'd prefer an English speaker - I have no German - and Sasha from the Shedlands was booked in for the next day as my riding mechanic! She works as a teaching assistant at Thekla's school.

13th September

The organisers had chosen a route round the lakes via back roads. We were asked to make a prompt start to avoid meeting the train which uses the level crossing in the town. Of course we missed the scheduled time and had to wait in a long queue in the town's main street. There was a lead car and a VW bus, driven by Thekla and Jan, as the last vehicle. At each turn the second car would wait to direct the following cars onto the correct road and then join the rear of the convoy in front of the VW bus. It work well with one minor hitch when we went up a narrow road by mistake and had to turn round. The advantages of having a reverse gear was demonstrated to the numerous Trikings! The weather turned rather dull after the sunshine we experienced at the start which was a pity as we had sunny days up to then. We had a coffee break at a 19th cent castle beside one of the many lakes in the area.

We stopped for lunch on the shores of the Baltic which looked as inviting as the North Sea! We continued our tour through pleasant rolling counrtyside. Our final stop was in a forest with a post box tree - the story was that a girl was interested in a man who the girl's father disapproved and they used the tree as a place to exchange messages. It now has its own post code and people still use it as a lonely hearts meeting mail box. We were offered and accepted sparking wine and a goodie bag

14th September

The day didn't start well. Tom checked his engine oil and there was none! He poked in a cable tie to see if it was completely empty but there was a dreg left. Looking under the bonnet he discovered the problem was a leak on the connection at the engine for the pressure guage and switch. A few minutes work and the leak was stopped. It also solved the supposed gearbox oil leak which Tom had thought was responsible for the oil soaking his brakes. It was a rerun of my oil leak which I had solved a few days earlier. Dave Parr also seemed to be very low on oil but it turned out to be a combination of the car parked on a slope and not allowing for the extra oil required for the filter at the last oil change.

After the oil crisis was over we set off with grey skies and a hint of rain in the air. We were driving eastwards and it was quite obvious when we entered what had once been DDR. The towns and villages didn't seem as prosperous. The sky got very black and then the heavens opened - driving was almost impossible in the monsoon-like conditions so we stopped with great difficulty because the road was tree lined and also has Armco barriers. We found a farm yard and sat under our Pembleton brollies while it lasted. Dave Parr had been worried about the salt air from the previous day causing corrosion but the rain storm washed the cars clean inside and out.

We stopped for a break in Schwerin where the cars attracted a lot of attention - not that there seemed to be much else to look at in the town apart from the restored castle. The sun came out for the last part of the day as we drove through the lakeland landscape. We finally arrived at the camp site in Feldberg - an idyllic spot on the shore of a lake.

15th September

We spent the day driving through rolling countryside, a mixture of forests, farm land and villages and small towns in glorious sunshine. We arrived at the campsite to cheers from a group at the campsite café. It transpired that a wedding party was going on. The bride and groom came over to admire the cars and the bride managed to get into Quicksilver despite wearing a long dress and high heels. The groom managed to bend the metal tonneau on Silver Surfer II which was easily straightened later. After we'd got away from them we pitched our tents but returned to the café for a well earned beer and a meal. The bride and groom were still present and plied us with bubbly and we wished them well. While we were eating and drinking we noticed that the groom had fallen asleep and the bride appeared to be updating her facebook page or similar. It only struck us when we finaly saw them leave for their tent or caravan that they were the only people in the wedding party. Someone said they were Austrian as if that expalned everything!

16th September

We set off on tour round the Luneburg area with our goal being Bremen. I was a bit concerned about getting back to Rotterdam from Bremem in one day so I parted ways and continued on beyond Bremen. I stopped for fuel and when I went in to pay she asked 'der Messerschmitt?' and I replied 'nein - der Pembleton' about the most German I could manage! She took the usual photo - as someone said earlier we should have charged a Euro a pic it would have paid for the trip. I started looking for somewhere to stay and finally stopped in a village outside Rheine near the Dutch border. I parked it round the back and the chef and the rest of the kitchen staff came out to view and talk about my car. I bet the customers were wondering why their meal was taking so long to come!

17th September

I took the easy route to Rotterdam on the motorways which were busy but there were no delays from construction work. They don't seem to dig them up with the same enthusiasm that they do in Yorkshire. As I had plenty of time and the sun was shining I got off the final section of motorway and drove through small towns and villages along the Rhine. I stopped in a small village for coffee and yet again a small crowd of people gathered to ask questions and take pictures. I carried on and rejoined the motorway nearer to Rotterdam. I went to the sea side at the end of the Rhine - on one side of the island was a major port with cranes and all the usual building etc and on the other what seemed to be an upspoilt sand dunes and estuary. Such a contrast! I drove back to the port for a beer and a toastie before I caught the ferry for home. The adventure was almost over.

18th Septemeber

The weather had changed dramatically and it was cool verging on cold and very misty, so thick that I couldn't see the top of the towers on the Humber Bridge. After a struggle in the commuter traffic in Hull the journey home was uneventful and not particularly interesting - a bit of an anticlimax after the days on the road in the Netherlands and Germany.

Overall it was a brilliant trip and I must thank everyone for making it enjoyable and especially Tom for the organisation and Bill driving the car with all the spares one hoped and as it turned out didn't need.

Tom and Bill offered to organise the next meeting in Scotland which was received with inthusiasm by the participants. They are sussing out accommodation and planning interesting routes through a mix of mountains, glens and seaside. I'd guess a distillery is on the itinerary!

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