Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Unexpected Alphabets No 6

In recognition of the agritechno element that runs through the band of commentators to my blog, I give you the diesel oil filler cap from a Field Marshall tractor. I seem to remember from my sojourn on Dartmoor that Field Marshalls were started by the alarming practice of shoving a flaming piece of oily rag into a hole in the side of the engine cover. But just look at the uncompromising casting of these letters and the unbelievably tactile nature of the finger grips. It's the sort of talisman that I would like to keep in a capacious trouser pocket, screwing it into the material when having to account for my actions (or lack of them) at the bank, or whilst queuing in the cattle pen down at the post office. I've loved Field Marshalls ever since I had Dinky Toy No 301 in bright orange with its brown overalled and capped driver that reminded me so much of my farming brother, and I think it was this tractor that also first gave me the notion that brand names could be remarkably clever. Much later the Dartmoor tractor was secretly renovated by the owner's son so that it could be the centre piece of his father's 80th birthday. He drove it across an impossibly steep field with a big pile of balloons soaring up from the back of his seat, both of them looking every inch the Field Marshall.

12 comments:

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

Which was the tractor that was started by firing a blank charge from a modified Webley revolver?

Peter Ashley said...

How exciting, firing a revolver into a tractor. Mind you I imagine that goes on around here all the time.

Philip Wilkinson said...

A thing of beauty. And the chain is so much more businesslike than the springy plastic thong (plastic thong? You know what I mean.) that stops me from losing my petrol filler cap these days.

A F-A said...

For TIW:
http://www.specialistauctions.com/auctiondetails.php?id=1161841

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

Bugger! It says the auction has ended.

Toby Savage said...

I seem to think it was the Field Marshall that was started with a shotgun cartridge. Big, single cylinder engine and a flywheel the size of a house with a wonderful, vertical exhaust pipe, fatter in the middle than the ends. I'll check, I'm so excited.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Definitely Field Marshall; shotgun cartridge, starting procedure, stand well back. Startled rooks, startled lads, wishing it were warmer, wonder when the farmer's daughter will bring them their elevenses. Vimto, but only just.

Jon Dudley said...

Just look at the response! And rightly so. I too still have a bright orange FM Dinky toy, much battered after hours of 'harrowing' use in the sandpit aeons ago. Better still I have a chum who not only has a fine barn-weathered FM but also the extremely rare and beautifully named Turner 'Yeoman of England'. I have witnessed the starting procedure on the Marshall both by cartridge and by hand (smouldering Woodbine packet introduced into orifice etc. A special hammer is used to strike the end of the cartridge and the whole affair can be witnessed by searching the rarified snippets of YouTube. Not as dramatic as it sounds it's still the most unmitigated way of commencing an engine I can think of.

A F-A said...

I stand to be corrected, but I am sure I saw a Lockheed Constellation fired up with starter cartridges, at Heathrow in about 1957-ish...I was only 2 so my memory may be imperfect (ahem).

Jon Dudley said...

Correct.

Fred Fibonacci said...

The Fibonaccimobile failed to start yesterday morning. If I could have shot it, I would.

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