The plan was quite complicated, but essentially involved getting the TL to Chesterfield Fire Station (where we had permission to store it overnight) on the Friday evening, before going to the dance. Then collecting the TL on Saturday, and returning it in the afternoon, and collecting it again on the Sunday morning.
It started to unravel at Mansfield, halfway to Chesterfield, when it ran out of petrol. OK, this was part of the plan – I had 6 gallons in cans, and I wanted to run it low, as removing the tank is a workshop job coming up. But what was not part of the plan: it refused to start once new petrol was added! Eventually this was traced to no petrol in the carburettor, and air in the line. We bled it through, but the TL stopped a couple of miles further on. Bled again, and it made it to Chesterfield in reasonable time.
Saturday went well, with three well-attended ladder demonstrations, although embarrassingly the engine cut out during the first demo.
Sunday started badly and went downhill. As we approached the fire station, we saw the pump going out, no blues or twos, and not in any real hurry. The Fire Station was unattended. A call to the control room established that they were all out on an exercise for the next hour and a half. So, back to the Winding Wheel for an exercise in blagging, and hopefully a cup of tea.
“Er, no, we don’t have wristbands, they’re in my uniform, which I’m not wearing because it is in my 1940s fire engine, which is currently locked in Chesterfield Fire Station while the firemen are out on exercise for the next hour or so. I know this sounds a little implausible, but honest guv, its true”
So the doorman gave us 5 more wristbands, tea was drunk, Howard was informed of the erm, slight delay, and we got back to the Fire Station at the appointed time. We bled the fuel line again, as again there was no fuel coming into the carburettor. This procedure needed to be done again a few hundred yards later after we had transferred kit etc from the car. And again between the two roundabouts. And again on the steep narrow bit approaching the church. Three breakdowns in just under a mile I think is a record, even for us!
At this point, Peter Townsley and Rob Leese walked down, and chipped in. We guessed that air was getting it – possibly ethanol in modern petrol was damaging the hoses to and from the electric pump at the back. Perhaps the spring in the pump had failed, as the delivery pressure was very low. But anyway, we bypassed it with a length of new, thick-walled fuel hose, and it ran fine. No problems all day, and not a hint of a problem in the 30-mile drive home in the evening.