Archive for the ‘Vehicles’ Category

What to do with an old tram shed in Berlin

The new academic year starts in a few days’ time. The time immediately before is conference season for us journeyman academics. I’ve been to two.

DSCF0775One way of judging (or being judged, if one is an organiser) is the mid-conference dinner. Last week, at a conference in London, this was held on a cruiser on the Thames. It cost extra. A nice spectacle, particularly those unfamiliar to London. A great opportunity for photographs (left), especially in balmy weather.

The food was a bit…

I’m now in Berlin, one of my favourite European cities. This is an academic corporate-sponsored conference. The venue forDSCF0788 the dinner was inspired. The entrance to the Classic Remise on Wiebestrasse in the North West of the city is modest. Once inside, it seems like a museum, but in actual fact it is one huge second-hand car sales showroom. Everything is for sale, at a price. The VW camper (right) is so valuable, that one has to request the price. It has been beautifully restored.

Clearly, these being vintage cars, supply is limited. But it does seem that, within reason, one could buy – and presumably sell – anything here. Tucked away on a platform, I saw a Ford Capri MkI. Naturally, there are many BMWs, Porsches and Mercedes of various vintages. But American cars also feature. There were three Ford Mustangs as well as a lumping 1930s Lincoln. Magnificent and obscene in equal measure. The resource that went into building it, to meet with GM’s ‘cars as disposable fashion accessories’ industrial design and business approach, must have been huge.

DSCF0792Now I am a white van man (there were a few vintage Citroen vans in various stages of refurbishment), hence prioritising an image of a VW camper over a Porsche. More interesting, however, was the building. I would not have guessed its origin without a trip to the toilet. And, there, on the wall, were some pictures of the very same building with trams peeking out like horses in a stable (left). When first built in 1901, it was Europe’s largest tram shed ‘Wiebehallen’. It is the work of the Berlin architect, Joseph Fischer Dick, who seemingly specialised in these structures. The current owners have been faithfulDSCF0785 to the building. Whilst the tracks are no longer there, the entrance arches are all numbered. The roof glass and steel frame remain. As do the authentic lights (albeit with modern bulbs).

The food was also good.

Vauxhall Vivaros and their engines

These vehicles are bad news. Having just got the gearbox fixed (see post 1 April, 2012), the engine suddenly malfunctioned. I lost power, sometimes altogether whilst driving, and the engine warning light kept coming on.

My regular garage was unable accurately to diagnose the problem. I then booked myself into a diesel specialist. I had to wait two weeks to get a slot. The day I took it in, there was another Vivaro in there with the same problem. Diagnosis? I know not too much about vehicles, but I was told that it was an ‘injector’ of which there are four. Replacing one does not mean that the other three will not also fail. The bill was in the region of £500.

Royal Blue run 2012

Some of my closest friends know that I have some interest in buses. I have a bit of a collection of model buses, but those who have the real thing are special. I have never been a passenger on a bus run. The opportunity to join this year’s run was too good to let pass. So, we boarded a colleague’s 1961 Bristol MW on Friday morning (29 June) and headed out to Salisbury to meet up with a fleet of vehicles that once plied their trade between the South West and London.

It did turn out to be a bit of a tour of bus stations; notably Exeter and Plymouth. The drive through the villages and small towns with their tight bends and narrow entries and exits (the buses sometimes fitted these roads like the tube trains fit the tunnels) was delightful but more often than not frustrating. Whilst the vehicles in their heyday had the roads to themselves, modern tourism meant that we encoutered a lot of traffic in the opposite direction generating tight passing and a lot of reversing.

To illustrate the specialness of some of the owners, one has set up his own museum on his farm near Aveton; this was one of the stops on the tour – and memorable it was, too. Not only is there a collection of memorabilia with suitable descriptions and narrative, but also more buses. Hidden at the back of one of the barns was a truly immaculate Bristol Lodekka. Those in the know, know what I mean.

Vauxhall Vivaros and their gearboxes

My delightful Vauxhall Vivaro has – since I bought it last July – had a reluctant 2nd gear. On Friday this reluctance became obstinance. It ceased to be co-operative. Moreover, it had equally convinced 4th and 6th to join the club.

A quick look on the internet demonstrates that this is not an uncommon problem with these vehicles. Maybe I should have stuck with the Transit and not listened to the salesman? Oh well. It looks like my wallet will need to be opened pretty widely to compensate for this poor engineering.

See new post from 24 July, 2012.