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Prelude to an Adventure


Paul Straatman

Donor car

As a therapist in a house of detention, I was one of the lucky guys whose pension started at 60 years. Years before I had intended to build a triple steam engine. As the time came nearer, it became clear that it would be a (financial) problem to realize this idea. I had no experience and lacked the necessary equipment. The investments were just too high. However, as a hobby carpenter (boats and furniture) I did need a challenge. I came across the Pembleton site and as a guest I followed it closely for the next two years. In November 2013 I bought a donor car, a 1984 acadyane, and in the following January, I ordered a LHD, LWB, SS Pembleton for a big block (1100) Guzzi.

Cleaning the engine

The dismantling of the donor went straightforward, except for the last nut at the left wheel arm. I broke my 23” long torque wrench on this stubborn nut and a professional garage had to do this job. The bearing and brake cylinder were also not salvageable and had to be replaced. The cleaning of all the other parts took ages and all our old rags.

While I’m known for my patience, after six weeks I did ask Phil Gregory, where I ordered the Pembleton, if everything was ready. The chassis was in the paint shop while I was anxious to start the project. Two weeks later, Phil rang me and informed me that the mudguards were still to be delivered. The next call brought better news and we agreed on a delivery date – 9 April, 10.30 am.

On the 6th of April, my wife, Anke, and I set off for Dunequerke, or Duinkerke as we call it. Near Antwerp we set our navigation system to Dunequerke and to our surprise we were directed towards Bruxelles. It took a few minutes before we realized that Dunequerke was not in Belgium, but in France! Despite this discovery, we arrived safely in our hotel in Grande Sintre, a neighborhood in Dunequerke. In the evening, we followed the directions of the manager for a restaurant. Unfortunately, we got lost and walked for 2½ hours. We ended up eating our cookies.

The next morning, we decided to take a shortcut on our way to the car ferry. Of course, we ran into roadwork and after following the signs we ended up where we started. We were cutting it short to make the ferry and the atmosphere in the car was not getting any better. So we headed back to the highway and were just in time for boarding. While boarding, we were guided via a ramp to the left gangway, 7 feet wide and 8 feet high. This would be a problem with the chassis on top.

Bear Hotel

On the boat, we saw the French coast disappearing in the distance. England was covered in a fog and by the time we arrived in Dover, we were greeted by a drizzle, which later turned into a downpour. In the heavy rain, I missed the exit for the M20, so we found ourselves on the M2. All the potholes made me think of our trip to Malawi. Ultimately, we arrived in the friendly town of Wastage. We checked in at the Bear Hotel, had diner and went to bed.

In the nearby Uffington we went for a hike to the 'White Horse' the next morning. Later that day, we drove to Worchester and stayed at the Severn Hotel. The following day we had to trouble some neighbors for directions, but we were in time for our meeting with Phil. What a kindhearted guy is he! And the view from this backyard is breathtaking!

We took inventory of all the items and started loading our car. To settle our bill we went to Phil's bank in Cleobury Mortimer. The bank refused my creditcard, as they would only take their own cards. This was awkward and embarrassing. The fact that I do not like travelling with a few thousand pound turned out to be a problem. Phil graciously agreed to be paid later, but I could not be completely happy with my new toys! Eventually, we left for the Warpleton Place Hotel. The only room left had scaffolding in front of the windows, but we had plenty space in the large family room.

On the 10th, we drover to Dover and booked a different ship – one that was higher as we now had a chassis on the car. After a two-hour wait, we set sail for Calais. From Calais, we drove straight home. What an exiting trip this had been! And now?

Oh joy, the fun can begin.


Home at last
The build starts with this lot

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