Saturday, 18 January 2014

One for the beer drinkers

"When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. So, let's all get drunk and go to heaven!"


George Bernard Shaw

Ford Corsair races the Windsor Castle to Southampton, England

This was brought back to my memory by the customer I am restoring the 1971 Hillman Imp for.

Ford Corsair – that’s calling back the past. They never seemed to catch-on here for some reason.
I remember well a publicity stunt organised bewteen Ford and the Union-Castle Line. Departing either Southampton or Cape Town (I forget which it was) at the same time, bound for the other port, the mailship and the Corsair were pitted against each other in a race. I have an idea that it was from Cape Town to Southampton and the ship was the “Windsor Castle”. I remember seeing newspaper photos of the car parked on the quayside (“A”-berth it then would have been) in Cape Town with the ship also in the picture. I can’t remember how it ended, but the marketing people of both companies I’m sure would have engineered a simultaneous arrival of both ship and car so as not to lose face! The car made it anyway.
Do you recall anything of this? It would have been circa. 1960-63 I think.


Both the Ford Corsair and the mailship were proud products of Merseyside, what happened, they build ships like this on the Mersey no more and Ford moved out too?

Note, the cars number plate dates it to 1967 by the way.


Another photo pulled from the Ford media photo collection, this one a nice color shot of Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers posing with their Ford Corsair in front of the Windsor Castle following their race with the luxury liner from Cape Town to Southampton. The caption for the photo on the Ford media site claims that Jackson and Chambers beat the liner in the race, but the website for the London-Algiers-Cape Town Rally notes that the results of the race weren’t so cut-n-dry:

Ford were pleased with Eric’s effort in the Cortina (Jackson and Chambers had set the London-Cape Town record in 1963), so a couple of years later in 1965 they planned a publicity stunt to race the liner RMS Windsor Castle from Cape Town to Southampton. This ship, the last passenger liner built at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead and last of the Union-Castle mailships that sailed between Southampton and South Africa, would average 24 mph and Captain Hart thought it a no brainer – he would win. Jackson set off in the Corsair but lost time with a string of punctures. He used Firestone cross-plies, and found the inner tubes were rubbing badly by the ribbing inside the tyres. Cross-plies, he argued, are available all along the route and have stronger side-walls – but it proved to be a duff choice, and the car’s progress suffered. At one point, Eric was changing tubes, fixing a puncture, on the move!
Cameroon refused the car so it had to be flown in an air-lift – and at a stroke was no longer keeping the wheels on the ground. They then drove non-stop to England, reaching a hotel at Gatwick the night before the day the ship was due to dock, the crew took a hotel room for a few hours rest and then drove to Southampton. Ford publicity chief Walter Hayes had agreed with Captain Hart that due to the air-lift, they would call it a draw, and the Corsair made it to the dockside as the ship entered the harbour.
The Ocean Liner Virtual Museum has a more elaborate version of the story that places the race in 1967:
In May 1967 the RMS Windsor Castle was involved in a dramatic race from Cape Town to Southampton against a motor car. It began after Union-Castle Line claimed sea travel was the fastest means of travel from South Africa after air. The Ford Motor Company disputed this and threw down the gauntlet for the ship to race one of their cars from Cape Town back to England. So the RMS Windsor Castle took up the challenge and in May 1967 raced home against a Halewood built Ford Corsair 2000E in a dramatic and nail biting race between these two Merseyside built machines. Sadly despite the high profile nature of this race sadly press coverage was muted. The ship and the car (with rally drivers Ken Chambers and Eric Chapman), left simultaneously from Cape Town dockside to a great send off bound for Southampton. The liner’s 7,000 mile sea voyage was pitched against the 9,700 road journey. Chambers and Chapman had many adventures along the way. Including a moment when the Corsair fell into a 6ft, water filled pothole and had to be rescued by 30 locals and 200ft of rope. Other challenges included petrol shortages (nuns once gave them beer as a substitute!), armed Congolese soldiers forcing frequent stops (their support team and plane were locked up for several days), plus 24 tyre changes and 37 puncture repairs. Even, just before reaching Southampton, they were pulled over by West Sussex Police and cautioned for having a dirty number plate! Accounting for the driver’s air travel, the race was declared a draw, although the Corsair arrived the evening before the ship sailed in.
The RMS Windsor Castle was broken apart for scrap five years ago. Anybody know the ultimate fate of the Corsair that raced her? And anybody know the exact year the race took place?

Posted in boats,Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car,motorsports,road trips and cruising

13 Responses to “Racing the Windsor Castle in a Ford”

  1. johnfromstaffs says:
    The oddities of the British registration system come to light in this. The plate on the car appears to be “UVW 999E”. If this is so the car will have been registered in Essex between 1st January 1967 and 31st July 1967. The year suffix changed to “F” on 1st August that year because the motor industry said that changing both the year letter and the year on 1st Jan was causing bunching of car sales. The effect of the change was to bunch new car sales on August 1st!
    One assumes that the car was new when the “race” started, as the Essex registration suggests that Ford supplied it, so the year 1967 looks like a good call.
    • Thanks for the confirmation of the date, John. I constantly forget how useful British registration numbers can be when researching old cars. A gallon of blinker fluid for you!

- See more at:

Curved wall shelves for all sorts of use and reasons.

The ask today was can we make some curved  shelves to support some gear.

Superform Bending plywood will work fine, we have been importing for twenty years now?


Wall shelves which are curved are really possible using Superform bending plys and Flexiform veneers.

Made deep enough you could also do a stack of wine bottles too?

 They would  look rather like these companionway steps!

Yes,  Superform bending plywood is also water proof, contact me for a stockist in your area.

 Each year we try and make some new design with Superform bending plywoods,we are the importers and distributors to southern africa (retail agencies are available)we work with the local Cape Technical Design College, when their design students are given a design and manufacturing task,Superform plys and Flexiveneers often are the only way to produce the complex forms they have designed.These steps involved a lot of design and manufacturing,jigs had to be made to form the steps,in this case laminated from three layers of 8mm Superform ply,we laminated the teak Flexiveneers to the top and bottom faces at the same time,it is important to use the correct hard grade of glue,especially when the solid teak front and rear edge strips are formed

Odd one but true.



Friday, 17 January 2014

Hillman Imp gets a Samcor Ford Electric Metallic Blue paint finish

The car is a one owner 1971 Hillman Imp Deluxe, its done around 90,000 miles and was imported to Cape Town when the owner emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, since which time the car was in the care of two others but never registered as such.

The engine bay was sprayed some weeks back and in 2013, now we are into 2014 the work was done in the cars front compartment.

Work wise there were  at least four days spent cleaning and etch priming the area, the application of the  electric  metallic blue base coat and twin pack high gloss paints were the easy part! the choice of paint colour is a very close match to the original Roote/Chrysler one that was the cars original when built. The body paint you can see is not correct and in natural light has a purple shade to it, the entire car will be re painted to the electric blue metallic soon.


Thursday, 16 January 2014

BAR - Honda wrist watch

There is a simple reason why we do not see very many of these watches, they had only 100 made and this is number 99!

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

A friend of mine was given this very collectable wrist watch, its certificate came with the gift.

Can I find number 100?
Why be choosy, anyone of the others will suit me fine.

The story is about a talented South African race mechanic who specialised in gear boxes while working in the UK he was sent by his company to work in house at BAR-Honda.


Biaxial Glass Cloth, what is it?

This is a favourite of mine, its so easy to use!

The weave is around 45 degrees which makes it very easy to accept shapes and go into and around corners, use it with epoxy or polyester resins.

The link shows a Holiday 23 rudder under construction and using the same glass cloth, epoxy and biaxial glass cloth are normal stock items .


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Toylander Series 2 motor and metal parts

We have parts in excess of our requirements and available as long as they are unsold.

The 12 volt motor, control switch, 40:1 reduction gear box and drive gear, the drive gear requires fitting to the shaft, which we can have done for you. Note, this drive gear is far better than the bicycle gears normally used.

A selection of the metal fabrication parts, incomplete but I think about 75% of the parts in the manual are there. There is also steel wheels and inflatable tyres.

Prices on application and depending what you take, we are in Cape Town, South Africa but can post world wide, payment by Pay-Pal accepted.

CNC cut body panels can be supplied to order, please buy the plans direct from Real Life Toys in the UK before you place your order.


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A Cape Cutter 19 stainless steel drop keel by Jorgen

Jorgen was a customer for a 316 stainless steel package from us, he built his boat from plans.

He has developed a method of fabrication of the drop keel, we normally supply these in a solid steel
plate with milled edges as per the plans but check Jorgens ideas out.

My thanks for Jorgen showing us his drawing and related pictures, click on the image for a larger view.


Hello Roy,

I have told you before about my ideas

of a Lead-filled Centerboard to my CC19.

Now I have come to reality with this plans!

I figured out that to topfill the Centerboard with Lead
is not the best optimization. With this manufacturing
I can customize the best weight distribution.

I decided to fill the Centerboard to 200 mm under DWL.

Sending here a picture showing the Ballast Distribution.

Best Regards J├Ârgen

Check here also for more information on this idea.

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Remembering Tree

My author friend Al Noteman went for a sunday drive, he and his wife Sonia ended up in Stratford and discovered a very strange tree.
Click the image to enlarge it.  open the link for the full story.

Donations can still be made to support those in need in Africa.
How does it work?
The Remembering Tree is made up of 1500 crocheted squares, made from synthetic wool which is harmless to the tree and surrounding environment, these have been produced in South Africa by women from poor communities to help boost their income and give them new skills. After we take the yarn squares down, the wool will be washed and recycled into blankets to be sent either to Sierra Leone or a homeless charity in the local area.
Each donation of £5 = 1 square = 1 person to be remembered, celebrated, or to show someone special you love them. You can purchase as many as you like. Each name will be placed on a board next to the finished tree and the full list of those names will also be printed in the Stratford Herald in the week before Christmas. A webpage will be kept up-to-date on our website. We will also keep you updated during the festive season of any interesting news. We expect the tree to get a tremendous amount of interest, and believe it will be the biggest tree ever Yarn Bombed in the UK.
A book by Al Noteman can be found at this link:
Thanks Al!

Al comments below

The tree picture opens up fine so can make out the various patterns, what a strange idea though was going to send you the picture anyway just out of interest but after I googled it and found that it had that South African connection thought it may be of interest to your readers too. There's a lot of good going on in the background in this old world that we seldom get to know about because this type of good news rarely makes the news headlines and we seem to be fed a constant stream of bad news these days that can be quite depressing so much so that I have stopped buying a paper every day, just weekends now.



Sunday, 12 January 2014

A Grey Heron seen at the RCYC

Amazing to see such a bird walking around in what is really Cape Town Harbour and a very low tide.

Click on the image for a larger view.

The camera is Canons Gll, now past its best as salt or dirt had scratched the lens but as the camera
has been used just about daily this past four years I have no complaints.

I was there to meet up with Dudley Dix and the crew of Black Cat some three days before the start of the Cape 2 Rio 2014 ocean race.

For more on this now very African bird read below and check the link.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across much of the Old World, from western Scandinavia, Britain and the Iberian Peninsula to sub-Saharan Africa. In southern Africa it is most abundant in Zimbabwe, northern and eastern Botswana and South Africa, while also occupying patches of Namibia and Mozambique. It generally favours shallow water bodies, such as estuaries, lagoons, rivers, lakes, the intertidal zone, marshes and dams.