Monday, 14 February 2011

Funnel Vision

It started with three pop-pop steam boats I bought at the Abbey Pumping Station event (see last post). The idea is that you fill them with water and then light candle stubs that you slide under their tiny boilers. On heating up they start to go pop-pop and if you're lucky they steam happily along for five minutes or so. That's the theory, but we had grandiose ideas of having a race with them across our local stream where it fords a bridleway. Youngest Boy quite rightly said we should test one first in the kitchen sink, so after I'd burnt myself with the cigarette lighter, cut myself on the tin and thrown the offending boat down the garden, we took our Sutcliffe Clockwork Liner out instead. What a performer. A few turns of the long key you put down one of the funnels and it's away. It head-butted not only a strong wind but also the unpredictable current of the stream, whirring away whilst we let water flow into the tops of our Wellingtons. Having gone through a couple of concrete pipes unscathed it finally grounded itself Fitzcarraldo-style in a reed bed. We went home for cocoa, (well, Bovril in my case), wet through, caked in mud and very, very happy. I told The Boys I had bought the tin ship from Mr.Sutcliffe in person, which was met with utter disbelief. Amazingly, it's true.

8 comments:

Ron Combo said...

Ah, tales of the riverbank!

Peter Ashley said...

Yes indeed Ron. We were hoping to see Ratty sculling by, but think he must have been in the pub.

Jon Dudley said...

Poop! Poop! A lovely word picture of you and the boy(s) doing exactly what fathers and sons should be doing.

Remember those green tin clockwork speedboats by Hornby?...nice big key (fitted the model locomotives as well) which I wore on a string around my neck - what a saddo. I had a hand-me-down one from my cousin which we eventually ruined by trying to modify it. We augmented the perfectly satisfactory clockwork mechanism with a 'Jetex' motor which scorched the paint and sent it flying into rocks and eventually over a weir never to be seen again.

Peter Ashley said...

Marvellous Jon, what a hoot! Or toot. I like the idea of wearing a key round the neck. The last time we had the ship out I couldn't find it (manlooking my daughter would call it). The ship usually resides on my bathroom cabinet, and I'd put the key inside with the nail clippers and Fernet Branca bottles. Which of course was the last place I looked.

killemallletgodsortemout said...

Superb post. Thank you.

I'm not moaning, nor do I want you to change anything, but the last time I saw the pic of the Kensitas butler was when I was a small child. I can't help holding him partly responsible for the deaths, from lung cancer, of my parents. The bastard.

Peter Ashley said...

Oh. Sorry about that Killemail. Kensitas butler was called Jenkyn, which isn't any help I know.

Diplomate said...

Yes - all lovely stuff, beautifully painted picture of clinging on desperately to the mood as the bits we loved are trashed by progress. Re the pop-pop boats - did you prime them properly ? You need to suck water in to the "boiler" - failure to do so will spell disaster as the flickering candle stub warms the unprotected vessel and melts the solder ! Once properly primed they will run as long the candle keeps going

Peter Ashley said...

Yes Diplo, water was ingested through one exhaust pipe until it came out of the other. The problem was in keeping the candle lit. We also tried olive oil and a 1cm length of string as a wick. The Boys just stared at it, then at me, then went back to a fight they were having. But the Sutcliffe Clockwork was a great success. I was going to buy more boats until I saw the prices on e-bay.