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168. Making Tracks


This last week has seen truly astonishing progress, and for most of it I’ve been in Venice.

Dave Garrett had volunteered to take the trailer south to Bicester behind his LandRover Discovery, and could only do so this weekend. Saturday was ruled out because the single-track road was due to be closed for road works, so I’d left ultimata with three or four people, saying the work had to be completed by then, before disappearing off to Venice, partly for work and partly for pleasure.

The net result has been huge, huge progress. Ian Harris has worked on the side shields continuously  – almost without sleeping – and has done a stunning job.

Rick, despite a very heavy workload, has completed the two finishing-off jobs in the cockpit and as well as the inspection hatches in the cockpit floor.

Steve Moon completed the cowling on Thursday, and Theo collected it from Southampton, then left Dorset with it on the Saturday morning in time to be at Milson for 0900.

While at Venice, I’d not been totally idle. I’d sorted out a good deal for insurance with Jennings Brokers, and made progress about the details of the Flywheel event, but nothing like everybody else, and by Saturday afternoon when we got back we found Rick and Theo fitting the cowling, Ian fitting the side shields, and there really wasn’t room for me as well.

We all went out to the pub for a meal, and then Rick and Thoe and I headed back to the airfield to finish off the last jobs and get everything packed into the trailer ready for the morning. We finally got away about 1230am.

The next morning I’d got to the airfield in good time to have the trailer on the drive ready for Dave to hitch up. We added some more weight to the front of the trailer just to be on the safe side, then headed off  in a convoy; Chris in front, Dave in the middle and me bringing up the rear to pick up any pieces that fell off.

The local lanes are something of a challenge with the trailer...

The local lanes are something of a challenge with the trailer…

Chris peeled off at Kidderminster with everything going smoothly, and Dave and I carried on, gradually increasing speed until by the time we got to the motorway we were doing a steady 50mph. At this the trailer seemed absolutely steady, and even the passing of artics couldn’t disturb its tranquility. It was so VERY different to last week!

2015-05-24 Bristol Scout going to Bicester 005


It took two of us about three hours to rig it; with three or four it would be proportionately quicker.

We’d checked the wing alignment and were trying to work out what still needed to be done before Wednesday when who should walk in through the door, but Jean Munn and Rob Millinship, who’d just suffered an engine failure as they came over the hedge in the BE2! Both were complementary about the Scout and Jean had some very useful comments about a number of features – in particular, the VERY tight cowling which will, he says, require VERY careful ground running in order not to overheat it.

Of course, he’s going to be back on Wednesday for the full, formal inspection, and we’ll have a clipboard with us to record everything he says, but in the meantime it was great to see Jean, and a real pleasure to meet Rob, who is something of a legend among aircraft builders; particularly for the standard of finish on 1264 which is, as we keep telling people, not intended to be Concours d’Elegance material. It’s supposed to represent how it would have been in service in 1916 in the Eastern Mediterranean. If he though he could have made it an order of magnitude neater and better, he was polite enough not to say so!

Jean Munn (L) and Rob Millinship discuss the Scout's tight cowling.

Jean Munn (L) and Rob Millinship discuss the Scout’s tight cowling.

And of course we had one huge moral advantage over him; our engine still worked!

We’re working from home tomorrow, but Theo and I will be back at Bicester on Tuesday to finish of the various bits and make sure everything’s in order for Wednesday. In the meantime, it was a great pleasure to be able to leave it in the company of its big brother, the BE2e.

2015-05-24 Bristol Scout at Bicester 005




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