Thursday, 13 August 2009

Sterling Automotive move into to new workshop

Sterling Automotive have just taken the keys to a new 3000 square foot workshop with associated offices.

The new unit is much larger than our current building and will allow us quite a lot of elbow room. As well as being more spacious the workshop area is bright with plenty of natural light and all the striplights that we could need. Being so big, it will enable us to maintain a squeaky clean and tidy working environment.

The best news is that the building is on the same trading estate (unit 1d), so we won't need to completely move away from Sterling Garage's main workshop building and offices at unit 9.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Classic cars at the racecourse

Every year, the “West Berks Classic Vehicle Club” organise a classic vehicle show at Newbury Racecourse (that’s horse racing) to raise funds for Leukaemia Research. This year was the 17th show and the best yet.

As the racecourse is so close to the Sterling Automotive workshops (you could throw an apple across the gap) we decided that we would use the show to announce our arrival back into the classic car scene.

Everything was set for a great day out and to make it perfect, we finally saw the first properly sunny day for a month. Hundreds of classic cars, motorbikes, trucks and military vehicles arrived for the 10.00am start and the visitors turned up in droves.

Having set everything up the day before, I just had the simple task of bringing the cars accross from the workshop one at a time and putting out a couple of leaflet stands. From then on, it was a case of just relaxing and being available to chat to anybody that had questions. I’d already decided that future name recognition was all we should be looking to achieve from the day and frankly, we already had so many signs, flags and banners out, that we weren’t going to benefit from selling ourselves any more than that anyway.

We had a great pitch, right in the entrance and the stunning cars that we lined up to impress the crowds were:

Aston Martin DB4

Porsche 356C

Jaguar C Type recreation

Lotus Elan

Triumph Mayflower

Mercedes 450SL

Mercedes 250S

VW Bay window camper

I wanted to ensure that we had something for everybody on the stand, from the exotic DB4 through to the two ‘work in progress’ vehicles.

The 250S Merc was there to demonstrate how we use soda blasting to remove paint from the cars that we restore. The process gently removes the paint without friction (or heat) to reveal any defects underneath. We showed it at the stage where we had removed the paint from waistline down to assess the remedial processes necessary and had started cutting out some of the sections of rot. Many visitors to the stand found it most fascinating to see a car that was in bare metal in parts but with old fibreglass, filler and previous repairs still showing and ready to be removed.

The camper van which was near completion for our works, was parked in the marquee with photo’s taped to the body showing what each panel looked like when it arrived with us. One of the many complimentary comments overheard was “I can’t believe that something so rotten can be made to look so pretty”. If we had achieved nothing else from the show, that would have been enough to send me home a very happy restorer.

With such a wide mix of cars on display, it’s hard to say what was most popular car but undoubtedly the star of the stand was the fully aluminium bodied C Type. Lot’s of people wanted photo’s of that one!

The chill out zone that we created at the back of our display area proved to be popular and the tea, coffee, biscuits, fruit and beer stocks declined nicely as the day went on. When family and friends arrived later in the afternoon, I knew I had found paradise on earth.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Dedication to the cause

Anybody that has restored a classic car could be forgiven for thinking that they hold the monopoly on dedication. Endless evenings spent in the garage. The lounge taken over by piles of manuals, magazines and spec sheets. Grease stains on the kitchen table.

Oh yes, once you get into restoring, you do live and sleep the subject, and who hasn’t lain awake considering the bolt across the top of the gearbox that curiously seems to be 5mm longer than the others?

Well I have to say that we have competition! My six year old son is into pretty much anything that is engineered, which very very much includes steam trains. So whilst out for the day today, we discovered one of those little narrow gauge rail tracks where you straddle the carriage and are pulled around by a “model” steam train.

A nice little bonus was that we followed a particularly tidy Morris Traveller into the carpark

We had some fun riding around their little 200 metre long track astride the carriage, we ate our picnic and we were invited to take a glance at the little engines in the little sidings before we left. So that’s what we did.

Yes, the detail was incredible and yes the engines had an astonishingly efficient power to them but really, all I wanted to do was to natter to the owner of the traveller. Turns out that he had taken eight years to restore the car, which I was suitably impressed by. Until, that is, he remarked that he had spent more time building what I, up to that point, had rather casually viewed as a toy. “How long did you spend on it then” I asked. “Oh, a couple of thousand hours” was the reply “but that one over there took nearly five thousand hours”.

So next time you’re rinsing swarfega off your hands at 11.30pm, try to do this simple maths test as you cleanse. 5000 hours, divided by 6.30pm through to 11.30pm six evenings per week equals……. How many years!