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The Morgan Car PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Goodwin   
Thursday, 28 March 2013 12:47

Morgan car image from Wikipedia on Ledbury PortalThis is one of a whole group of stories written down by my father on an old typewriter, over a period of time, after he had suffered a stroke, leaving him with a lot of time on his hands, but unable to write properly.  My mother and I bought him the typewriter when he said that he wanted to put down the things that had happened to him throughout his life, and left him to tap away to his hearts content, with the whole family giving him encouragement, paper, and plenty of correction fluid” .

We were often amused at the” tap - tap - curse, wrobble - wrobble” style of writing that ensued, and occasionally sneaked a look at what was written.  It always seemed to us to be the same story, about the early years, and it came as a total surprise to us, when sometime after his death, we collected together all his jottings, exactly how much he had actually written. In this story I have changed virtually nothing of the original, except to correct a few spelling errors, and a small amount of grammar.

Cam Pedlingham, along with a couple of pals, my father Les Goodwin and Fred James, was given an old Morgan Three - Wheeler motor car by his older brother Vin, as something to tinker with in the garden, not thinking  that they could ever get into any trouble with it. How wrong could he be?



All three of us were great romancers who took it in turns to sit in the car and take it on imaginary laps of Brooklands circuit, each breaking the others lap records. We also enjoyed ourselves for hours on end cleaning and polishing it, using materials like polish scrounged, or “borrowed” from Cam's,  mother, who kept a shop, we even black leaded the engine, until the whole car looked a picture and we would love showing it off to anyone who was interested.

We eventually became bored with it being stuck in the same spot all the time, and started to push the thing around the garden, with two sitting in the car and the other pushing. Unfortunately, being the youngest and the smallest, I had to do most of the pushing, a good thing that the garden was on a slope but it still took quite a bit of starting.

A system had to be devised in order to get the thing under way which was a real joint effort. While the driver sat behind the wheel fully occupied with keeping the thing off the garden, the co driver armed himself with a piece of timber, in this case part of a broken clothes prop, the victim of a previous trip, to help get the vehicle under way.

Once moving fast enough the co driver would haul the prop aboard, taking care not to injure the driver, while the third, the pusher at the back made noises that he thought appropriate to the speed being traveled.  Many a happy hour was passed in this way, and we became firm friends never falling out with one another.

All the cleaning and polishing that had been carried out, brought a few defects to light, mainly in the paintwork.  This was not as good as it could have been, and it was eventually decided to re-paint the contrasting lines around the bodywork. We found some paint, and Jamer elected to do the painting, not making too bad a job, but by smartening up the piping, the rest of the paint looked shabby. There was nothing for it, the rest of the paint had to be replaced.

We came by the choice of paint by accident, as some one had used the brushes in some aluminium paint. The paint was obtained and because there was a much bigger job in painting the whole car all three of us worked on it, me being given strict instructions not to make a cock up of it. I could not really see a reason for going to all the trouble of painting  her when I was quite happy pushing the old girl up and down the garden, getting the odd opportunity of sitting behind the steering wheel, and in any case I was told that I was no Michelangelo.

The two other lads were a couple of years older than me, at Hereford High School and Worcester Royal Grammar School, and had spoken of this Michelangelo as being a great painter, and were always telling me of his capabilities, as if they were on speaking terms with the bloke, whereas all I knew was that he did not attend our school.

One day, we had been riding in and pushing the car up and down the garden all day, when while taking a breather, Pedler, fiddling with the gearstick, managed to get it stuck in gear.  To get it back up the garden and in to the pits (our name for the tin shack we had taken over when we were first given the car), to take a look at it, someone had to sit in the car and depress the clutch.  We must have had extra energy that day because as we reached the pits, Pedler took his foot off the clutch and something totally unexpected happened, the old girl fired!!

All this time we had been playing around with a bomb, and never suspecting a thing. At different times we had put the starting handle into the right place and turned it, making the appropriate noises as if we had started it.  Because we had been unable to turn her over, we had accepted that this was an unnecessary hindrance to our enjoyment of the game, and never again bothered with the starting handle. We had also never bothered to put any petrol in the tank, so what was in there must have been left there from before she became ours.

We had cleaned and polished everything but had no idea that we would ever be able to start her, and if we had known we would have worked even harder, and might even have been tempted to take her onto the road. The old girl had only fired a couple of times, but that was enough to put newer and more adventurous ideas into our minds. We now had sessions of “tuning” the engine normally on Sunday mornings or afternoons when we were not sent to church.

At this time, my voice having started to play funny tricks on me, the vicar, the Reverend Charles Harris was not so keen on my attendance in the choir.  He was a grand old chap, he knew that we were all growing up, and treated us accordingly, and while we all did our best to carry out his wishes, we were on occasion allowed to do a bit for ourselves.

I think that we surprised a lot of people with our knowledge of mechanics, but really we had all been picking the brains of people who were owners of motor cars or motor cycles in the village, although there was only one other Morgan in the village, belonging to a Mr. Creed, and we never seemed to be able to get hold of him to get him to help us. Perhaps a lot of the enjoyment that we got at the time was from learning as we went along, and I am sure that it helped me a lot later in life when I became a Mechanic for a living.

Eventually we were able to take to the road. Both Pedler and Jamer got their Driving Licenses, but unfortunately I was still too young, and it would be a little while before I could have one. Petrol was our next problem, we knew we had a little in the tank, and decided to drive to the nearest place that sold it, which in this case it was at the  Horse and Jockey pub.

The Morgan was only a two seater, which meant that I had to sit in the place where the hood normally fitted, which we had done away with because the celluloid in the windows was missing. In any case I might be needed to push if it came to the worst. Half way along the Green, we ran out, and Jamer and me had to push it to the top of the bridge, then we jumped in and coasted down to the pump outside the Jockey.

We, or rather Pedler, could only afford the one gallon, and while we waited he was so excited  that he jiggled the money in his pockets and sounded like a halfpenny millionaire. Jamer was no better, rubbing his hands together like some demented Shylock, and although I was excited, did not show it in quite the same way as the others, perhaps it was something to do with age.

Now we were ready to set off on the tour that we had planned before leaving our base, we were going to drive round the centre of the village to show everyone our progress with the car. Because we were going so well we decided to carry on up the hill, absolutely flying along, Pedler opening and closing the throttle to show how well the old girl accelerated, and we were going very well, until we came to Goodwin`s corner, the first sharp bend, half way up the hill.

Disaster, we had completely forgotten about checking if there was enough air in the tyres, only just beginning to understand what the word maintenance meant. The speed that Pedler hit the bend caused the tyre to come off the back wheel, the engine revved up, and we suddenly realized that we were going nowhere fast. When we stopped , we looked at the back and saw that the tube had not burst, but had come out of the tyre and was about four times the size it should have been.

While the two bigger lads tackled the wheel and tyre, I was sent to see if I could borrow a pump. In those days there were not a lot of cars in the village, and I tried several places where I knew they had a car, but pumps were valuable things, and not many people would wish to entrust one to a mere boy. Eventually I got one from the stable where we kept our own car, in the Crescent, which was later converted into the Legion Club. When I returned to the others, they had managed to get everything back to where it should be, and the tyre ready to be re-inflated.

We learned two things from this incident, firstly that you should always check your tyre pressures before starting a journey, and secondly that it was a darned sight harder to replace a beaded edged tyre back onto a rim than a wired edge one.

The Morgan Car by L.T.E. Goodwin (Edited by his son, David Goodwin)

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 12:40