A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by conrod6 » Thu Feb 18, 2021 11:13 am

Lots of nissen huts left in UK still on active duty !

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Fri Feb 19, 2021 2:29 am

MP45 wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:05 am
.....I really envy you having all of that history to visit right in your own backyard.....
There are some great locations and military history sites around the area. There's not as many as further South in England, particularly with my interest in the US 8th Air Force, but what we have are good and many of these sites hold regular events - in normal times! With the vaccine rollout going well, we may see some 1940's events again in the second half of 2021.


Tanfield Tour - October 17th

We decided to have another run out in the Jeep in mid October, to have a look at the colours of Autumn now that the trees were turning. It turned out that the colour of Autumn was grey!! What started out as an overcast but bright day, soon turned into a wet one after we got going! The planned route was a roughly circular tour from Washington, through Birtley, Beamish and on to Tanfield Railway for a coffee stop. I tried to find country lanes along the way which might be more scenic and colourful, as the trees are well on their way to showing Autumn colours.

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I had the dash cam fitted to record additional images, but didn't compile a video from this trip. Passing through Beamish Museum, it caught the riveted steel pillbox beside the 1940's farm. That's not a position that would have appealed to me, knowing from World War 1, how impacts often caused the rivets of early tanks to shatter, sending shrapnel flying. At the bottom of the bank after passing the farm, we stopped for a few photos.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Fri Feb 19, 2021 2:31 am

From Beamish, we followed the country lanes to Kip Hill at the North edge of Stanley. From there we headed North West to East Tanfield Station, the end of the line at Tanfield Railway. Their station building is open a few hours a day, serving refreshments to help cover losses caused by covid.

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After the coffee and cake stop, we headed on to Tanfield village and then turned North East towards Causey Arch. As we left the station, the first spots of fret turned to larger droplets of water and it wasn't long before it got very wet. My dashcam was just out of the sweep of the windscreen wipers, so I had to regularly give the screen a wipe with an old rag so the camera still had a view.

We stopped in a couple of places along the road to Causey for photos. The road then dropped down the steep bank to the bottom of the valley and up the other side and over Bobgins crossing, meeting the A6076 road to Sunniside. We drove along that road, running parallel to the railway into Sunniside, before turning South East towards Old Ravensworth.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Fri Feb 19, 2021 2:33 am

By now the Pacific Ocean was falling from the sky which had also turned very dark. The sky was brighter all around our area and Gateshead was almost looking sunny! At Old Ravensworth, we turned North East towards Lamesley.

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From Lamesley, we headed South back to Birtley and then to the North edge of Washington, calling in to an old level crossing on the West side of Springwell. This crossing was part of Bowes Railway. Originally, this line linked up to Tanfield Railway at Marley Hill.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Fri Feb 19, 2021 2:44 am

Back in the late 1970s and early 80s, my dad and I were volunteers at Bowes Railway. We manned this level crossing, which was on the rope haulage section of the line. Due to the steep incline, stationary steam engines were located at winding houses at the tops of the hills and raised or lowered wagons by winching them on steel cables. This section of the line is now disused, though the track is still there in the undergrowth. Just at the top left of the crossing gate, you can see the next engine house at the bottom of this section of hill. There was a further hill down to the Team Valley from there. Following the old trackbed from the bottom of that hill eventually links up with the line at Tanfield.

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The next picture is from the early 1980's when dad and I were on crossing duty. A rake of six wagons are on the way down the hill. A series of bells along with line, were used to signal to the crossing keepers and winch operator, the status of the wagons and whether they were to be moved or whether the crossing was open for them. Five rings on the bells over and over was the sign of a runaway - which happened once.

The safety chain on the coupling of the tow cable, caught on wheel chocks at the top of the hill. These huge wooden blocks opened up across the track to prevent wagons from escaping. They folded in to allow the wagons to be lowered down the hill. On this day, the safety chain caught on these blocks, pulling out the locking pin from the coupling. This allowed the quick release mechanism on the coupling to release, the winch cable fell to the ground and the wagons were off on their own. The wagons came passed our crossing at about 60mph and were doing about 90mph at the bottom of the hill where they derailed.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Sat Feb 20, 2021 6:53 am

Remembrance Day - November 11th

I had hoped to tour several local war memorials for Remembrance Sunday, but the second UK lockdown stopped that from happening. It would have to wait for another day.

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December 2nd - Waking a Sleeping Giant - Again!

By early December, the restrictions eased again. I went to visit the Dodge on December 2nd. My last visit was in July. I shouldn't have expected miracles, as it was months since it last ran and the petrol in the tank is now at least 18 months old. Add that to a 6 volt electrical system and the best I hoped for was to pump some oil around the inside of the engine on the starter. At least the battery was in good condition, as I removed it for the winter of 2019/2020, keeping it at home where it could be maintained. After re-installing it, it was time to give it a go.

"Faith" the Dodge really is a miracle worker however, as after a good prime and turning over on the starter on and off to get some oil moving, the ignition was turned on and the in-line 6 burst into life once again. I exercised the brakes and clutch and let it warm through before shutting it down again. I did however promise "Faith" some new fuel and a ride out next year!! The battery was removed once more and the Dodge left to sleep a little longer.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Sun Feb 21, 2021 1:42 am

Decembrance Day - December 20th

With the proper November Remembrance Day locked down and raining heavily, I delayed my trip out until December. I had planned to visit the war memorials at Washington, Cleadon, Whitburn and Boldon. We made our way to the Washington memorial, but as we drove into the village, there was a white van parked in front, barriers and workmen. There was no way we'd get a decent picture, so turned around and headed East towards Cleadon for the next stop.

Our usual route was closed due to roadworks, so we ended up taking another road that brought us close to Hylton Castle. We'd hoped to park in the car park, but the gates were locked, so we stopped just in front for a few pictures.

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After a few quick photos at the castle, we carried on to Cleadon, parking around the back of the memorial as there were double yellow lines preventing parking almost everywhere. After taking some pictures, Lynne took the camera to the other side of the road while I drove passed so she could get a photo of the Jeep and memorial.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Sun Feb 21, 2021 1:51 am

From Cleadon, we continued East, making a short stop at Whitburn pond, before continuing a few hundred yards further on to the war memorial.

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At Whitburn, it suddenly got very wet, so we put the roof up as fast as we could.

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From there we continued to the sea front, before turning West towards Boldon village for their memorial. We made another short stop for pictures there before returning home. I had planned to take "Hope" for a short run around before the day was done, but with the rain still falling, put that off for another day.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by autonoob » Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:54 pm

It looks like you guys had fun roaming around the town with this classic vehicle. :)

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:08 am

Yes, we've had loads of fun with the vehicles. Last year was a challenge due to Covid cancelling all our events, but we made the most of what we could do and had an enjoyable, if different season to usual.


Christmas Run - December 27th

To end the year, I had run out with another Jeep owner. Social distancing was the order of the day, so we had a 50 mile drive around Gateshead, Stanley and Co Durham in both sun and rain!

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:09 am

We were out for around three and a half hours and I was quite numb from the cold by the time I got back. I gave the Jeep a hose down before putting it away, just in case there'd been any salt on the roads.

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That was the end of my 2020 season. It was a year where I didn't expect to get much fun out of the vehicles at all, but even with all the restrictions, we had a good year.
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:19 am

Our half-hearted house hunting of September, suddenly turned very real on the last day of October 2020, when we found an ideal property during another casual search. Even with the UK Covid restrictions, property viewings were permitted, so we got a look around at the start of November. Finding a house for normal people is probably quite easy - but we aren't normal!

We had an insane list of requirements for the budget we had available. Finding the right house with a large garage for the three military vehicles and parking space for two normal cars and two trailers, added complication to the search. Finding the right house with a big garage and another big room for my workshop was even harder. I'm also into astronomy, so finding the right house, big garage, ample parking, big workshop and a garden with an unobstructed view of the sky from East, through South and round to the West, big enough for an observatory, without excessive light pollution was pushing it - yet there it was in County Durham, just 12 miles from our Washington home!

My current garage is about 12 feet wide and 18 feet long. It's big enough for both Jeeps and the Jeep trailer, but little space to work on them without moving one outside. With the Jeeps parked up close to the carpet covered walls, there's about a 12 inch gap to squeeze between them. They are seen here a couple of days ago while packing a few things ready to move. The M201 is seen on the right with mixed RAF and USAAF markings right now. When in its RAF scheme, I have some RAF magnetic plastic bumperette markings to hide the 100th Bomb Group numbers. I normally leave those off until I get to a display location. If they slip down slightly when driving, it would be easy for the airflow to grab the edge and pull them off. I'd never know they were gone until I parked up and looked.

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The new garage is around 23 x 20 feet, which should be big enough for both Jeeps and the Dodge. There's still enough space for the Jeep trailer at the back, plus shelving for my 1940's accessories and camping gear. I plan to build a trailerport on the side, to put the B-17/flatbed trailer under cover. That currently lives on the driveway.

It's still going to be a squeeze for all three vehicles, but still more space than before. Once the trailerport is built on the side, that will give me the option to park one Jeep in there if I need a bit more space to work on the other Jeep or the Dodge. The garage will need the lintel over one door raising by three courses of bricks to allow the Dodge to fit through the opening. It's first drive since September 2019, should be to the new house. The Flying Control body on my Dodge is slightly taller than a standard Dodge, so I'll probably take it over before the garage is modified, just to make sure the height is correct before the work starts. Here's how I plan to fit everything in.

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Last edited by armyairforce on Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:22 am

On the back of the house is a large annex which will become my new workshop. I need to strip out all the cupboards and benches from my existing workshop and move them to the new house. With some careful planning over the last few weeks, I should be able to reuse everything in the new room. A slight change of layout will also allow better use of the space and make some operations easier. I want to get the workshop up and running as soon as possible as I will then have a work space available for other jobs around the house and garden.

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We're still in our third covid lockdown here in the UK and because of my asthma, wanted to avoid un-necessary people contact. As a result, we decided to move everything ourselves, without involving a removals company. It also saves us around £1200. The move is only about 12 miles away and my aircraft trailer is big enough for moving everything we own - a bit at a time! Since we still own our current house for now, the move will be spread over a few weeks. Both Jeeps and the aircraft trailer need to move to the new property straight away, to allow the workshop units to be carried out through the old garage and loaded into the trailer. The trailer is seen here on the 21st, after removing some loose items and securing my B-17 and P-47.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:39 am

February 21st 2021

A few days ago, our solicitor confirmed the move date as the 24th, so on the 21st, I pulled the M201 out of the garage and started moving stuff around and loading both the aircraft trailer and Jeep trailer with stuff that needed to move straight away. I'll tow the Roset trailer with the M201 on the first day and probably drive the GPW over the day after. The Dodge will be moved soon, as another year's rent is due for its storage at the start of April. I want it off that site before then, even if it has to live under a tarp for a short time until the garage door is raised. The GPW seen here, will move after the M201.

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The trailer is loaded with a dining room table, study desk and bedding for our first night.

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My workshop is somewhat chaotic right now. Lots of the contents has already been boxed and there are piles and piles of boxes ready to go, as can be seen here. When the Jeeps have gone, the workshop contents, benches and units can all come out through the garage. I also need to strip out all the garage shelving which has our camping gear and 1940's kit. I need to remember not to pack all the tools I'll need to strip out the current workshop!

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So tomorrow is the big day. We have no idea what time the current owners will be out, so don't know yet when we'll be able to pick up the keys. That will dictate how many trips we can make to the new property. We also now have the added complication that the schools will be returning on March 8th, so my wife will be bringing my daughter back to Washington for schooling while she works in her old home office. I'll be buzzing between the two properties moving stuff for some time and fitting out the new workshop and garage.

So the story is right up to date now and we've a busy year ahead of us, but my first outing of the year with the Jeeps is tomorrow!
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Wed Feb 24, 2021 4:33 pm

The Big Move Day - February 24th

Actually the first day of several moving days! We found out the owners were going to wait at the house to hand us the keys, rather than us collecting the keys from the agent. This meant we could drive across in convoy, me with the M201 and Lynne with the normal car towing the B-17 trailer. Originally Lynne planned to get the keys from the agent with just a car, as parking at the estate agent was limited. However, collecting the keys from the owners meant we could both tow trailers and get more stuff over sooner.

It was around a 12 mile drive via the back roads through Houghton-le-Spring. I always try to avoid motorways if I can, as I don't feel safe with other drivers travelling well over the speed limit. Most of the trip to Durham was on 30mph limit roads and it was a pleasant drive that passed too quickly.

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Arriving at the back garden of the new house and reversing the trailer next to the garage.

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