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Bristol Show, 14-15 February 2004

Wez Vinglun Staff

The queue began some 5 miles out in the Somerset countryside.  Had it been a fine day, and we'd been in the cider-making area then things may not have been too bad - was the jam due to the ever increasing NACC members?  But no - it was only exhibitors turning right off the main road and having their paperwork pedantically checked whilst the rest of the world waited, that caused my late arrival at The Stand.  I did a quick scan to see if I recognised the machines - well Geoff Hudspith's steam-powered bicycle certainly didn't need any introduction, and he was on hand as ever to give a talk on the development process.  Mike Jones was unable to give as much time this year, or to loan some of his rare machines, but he did receive the Avon Engraver's Rose Bowl for services to the section.  So where was Ian's machine(s)?  Hmmm, tricky - there was an original looking '64 Raleigh RM8 Automatic MkII - and I know that is one of Ian's favoured marques, but it was in one piece and looked complete.  Then I spotted a couple of old wheels holding up a wall - ah!that's Ian - but I was wrong - the bike was his but not the wheels.  He hadn't been feeling too bright recently and so didn't turn out his usual exhibition box of "goodies" for the greasy thumbs brigade.

And now back to the show, Keith Cook dropped in with a Power Pak on a nice looking Elswick, and Alan Hibbard with a 1968 Clark Scamp, and Alistair Currie and a 1969 Scamp.  Stan Agar spent quite some time on The Stand with his bristling handlebar moustache looking almost ready to clamber aboard a Mosquito of another variety and disappear into the sunset.  Buzz Nowell parked his 1956 Grey Wolf alongside Stan's NSU 23S.

We've reported on Chris Bowden's 1945 Motobyk before and commented on the excellence of the work, it shouldn't have been in the show, since Chris had ear-marked his latest project, a 1938 Norman, for that honour but couldn't get the wheels built in time.  The photo shots of the restoration are interesting, mostly taken in Chris's garage apart from when everything is finished and ready for assembly, when the photo shot is in the lounge!  The numbers quoted for wheel re-building were eye-watering to say the least - but it all comes down to quality - sure you can have a quick-and-dirty job done and repent at leisure, but the labour intensive approach of plating copper, polishing it off, filling the imperfections, etc, etc, etc, costs.  And you only want to do the job once.  Which took us round to the prize-winner - a stunning Velo-Mosquito with not only freshly chromed wheels but freshly chromed hubs to match.

Dave Casper with his penchant for ciclomotore d'Italiano was left feeling that the judges must have been blinded by his rosso 1948 Motom to have fallen for the machine next door, but maybe, just maybe it was something to do with the headlamp being in primer and a hole where the speedo ought to have been, but a very nice looking bike all the same.

Dave Smith displayed his eye-catching butcher's bike complete with joints of meat, oxtails, lbs of sausage, yards of tripe and the rest of the banned stuff that we used to love, all powered by a 1951 25cc Cyclemaster.

A ménage-à-trois - ugh?  Three VéloSoleXes this year - Frank Warren's fantastically original 3800 with panniers and tool kit, and Paul and Pat Witchard with 1976 Vélo 6000 and 1970 Vélo 5000 respectively.

So another show draws to a close, next year will be the 10th display for the Avon & Somerset Section and Bob has promised something spectacular!

First published, April 2004

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