Trustee meetings

TF classic connections4th January 2016: The trustees met in Bradford at Classic Connections http://classicconnections.org.uk/  to review 2015 and plan for 2016-2020. Our goals remain the same, more accumulation of archive material, scanning photos and articles, publishing books and finding a suitable permanent home to display them all, and cars – our 2020 Vision.

The first of what we hope will be a series of books is planned for publication in May ‘Alvis Cars 1946-1967; The Post War Cars’. We will be present at International Alvis Weekend near Kenilworth on May 22 with a selection of items available, not least the invaluable DVD collection of Bulletins.

One disappointment is that we have not received the hoped for 200 photos for the Competition. We decided to keep the competition open and to now ask you to dig out those old photos or camera cards of events you have attended which have not been recorded in the Bulletin.

If you are scanning a print, please select at least 400dpi so it can be printed in a Bulletin or book. Digital photos should be emailed at a high resolution or at least ‘large document’ size. To be shown on the web a picture of an important car from a long time ago is very welcome at any resolution.

Our suggested theme for the NEC 2016 display is one special car from each decade, and new AAT board displays of Fighting Vehicles and racing Alvis, to widen the appeal of the marque.

We also discussed plans for special events to celebrate the Alvis Centenary which starts in three years’ time with T G John forming a Company. The first Alvis car was completed on 31st March 1920 according to ‘The Vintage Alvis’. We look forward to working with the Register and re-telling the stories of a hundred years ago.

25th February 2015

Following our habit of meeting at the premises of similar minded organisations all four trustees converged on the Nene Valley Railway for a lengthy lunch. As our 2020 Vision coincides with celebrating the Alvis Centenary discussions centred on what was practical for us to contribute to the events in five years time.

29th October 2014

After a morning visit to the Herbert for more scanning of the photo albums held there we met at Gaydon for our annual general meeting, and to meet Bob Dover, the Chairman of the trustees of the BMIHT, the custodians of the archives of the British Motor Industry and the management team led by Julie Tew. Although we have all visited Gaydon several times, we had the benefit of a guided tour by the Curator, Stephen Laing, of the archive room and the workshop where by coincidence they were also working on another 1928 Alvis FWD (also ex Diana Russell) . We left with a sense of optimism that our motoring heritage is in good and dynamic hands with people who understand the challenges of attracting a younger generation into the old car movement. Their website is comprehensive and gives details of their expansion plans.

http://www.heritage-motor-centre.co.uk/about-the-heritage-motor-centre/museum-collections-centre/

and http://www.motorgraphs.com/ for access to their photo archives.

While we we there we did some research on Vanden Plas but it seems someone had already skimmed off the Alvis drawings before they were donated.

Vanden Plas records from the Gaydon archive.
Vanden Plas records from the Gaydon archive.

28th October 2014

Today we visited the AOC President Emeritus, Ken Day, at his home. We then went to the Brooklands Museum where we met Head of Collections, John Pulford and had a brief tour of the Alvis area.

John Pulford and Ken Day discuss the 1928 FWD restoration at Brooklands
John Pulford and Ken Day discuss the 1928 FWD restoration at Brooklands

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International Alvis Weekend at Milton Hill House Hotel, Steventon 29-31 August 2014

Sunday visitors to Milton Hill House were spoilt for choice of what to do with a packed programme of events but several visitors took time to visit our display of archive material in Yellow Birch, popped in for a chat and picked up a book or two

Just some of the books and brochures we can offer you
Just some of the books and brochures we offer

and were tempted by our DVD which is now available for purchase….

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Once again we were pleased to have our Patron, Mike Dunn, giving a talk on Friday afternoon in the Rose Suite.

Tony Cox and his son Matthew at International Alvis Weekend with the 1926 Alvis Grand Prix car on the Red Triangle display. 31st August 2014.
Tony Cox and his son Matthew at International Alvis Weekend with the 1926 Alvis Grand Prix car on the Red Triangle display. 31st August 2014.

On 16th October three trustees met at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford to witness no less than six Alvis offered for sale at the H & H auction. None reached their reserve and only one was sold post sale. The opportunity was taken for a brief tour of the aeronautical display, including a brief trip on Concorde.

The Leonides Major at Duxford

The Leonides Major at Duxford
The Leonides Major at Duxford

On 12th September two trustees had a day out at the Science Museum Wroughton Library and Archives and visited a few hangars of vehicles and other heavy objects. There was nothing Alvis to find but it was a fascinating day and it raised a number of questions, not least, what is worth preserving for the long term? A surprising find was that they hold the archives of Hooper & Co. the coachbuilders. The final visit of the day was to a hangar using “hempcrete” as a building material which does away with the need for air conditioning as it maintains humidity at a constant level. A case of the Science Museum using science to reduce the long term costs of storage.

The Science Museum Library at Wroughton
The Science Museum Library at Wroughton
A further visit to CTM on 9th September involved reviewing a vast catalogue of Works press photos
A further visit to CTM on 9th September involved reviewing a vast catalogue of Works press photos

On 14th August we all met at the Bourne Museum home of the ERA/BRM Collection and over lunch discussed the “Bulletins on a Stick” project.

Steve Horne at Ickworth House, East Anglian Alvis Day, not only organised the event but took part, won the prizes (deserved!) and set up the AAT presence.
July 14th – Steve Horne at Ickworth House, East Anglian Alvis Day, not only organised the event but took part, won the prizes (deserved!) and set up the AAT presence.

Just some of the Alvis boxes at CTM.

Just some of the Alvis boxes at CTM.

On 4th April, we returned to Coventry Transport Museum for a first foray into the archives held there, some not catalogued. Several gems were unearthed.

14622 The Speed 25SC Charlesworth saloon DVC436 owned by BAe and kept by CTM in the store with 3 other Alvis currently not on display
14622 The Speed 25SC Charlesworth saloon DVC436 owned by BAe and kept by CTM in the store with 3 other Alvis currently not on display – photo AAT Fox Collection

On January 29th 2013 we posted that on Thursday February 21st we had arranged an exclusive visit to the off-site store of the Coventry Transport Museum which houses about 100 vehicles not on current display. The current collection of vehicles is acknowledged as being one of the finest in the world, and the largest in public ownership. It includes several Alvis cars.

This date was fully booked and 44 Alvisianados enjoyed the day travelling from as far as Sweden, Holland, Scotland and Wales.

We had a presentation from the Head of Collections, Steve Bagley. And afterwards the Trustees met with Steve Bagley to discuss our own potential involvement with the proposed new Archive building.

NEC Classic Car Show 2012 – November 2012

For the first time we manned a corner of the Alvis Owner Club stand in Hall 20 at the NEC. The theme this year was “Specials” and some fine examples of the special builder’s art were on show. Two of the current owners had built their cars but a pleasant surprise on Friday was a visitor to the AAT table who built another of the cars on the stand. He was Derek Baker who had worked for Peerless, Gordon Keeble and Key West and had built the Burns Special.

The Burns Special on the NEC AOC stand
The signage meant you could not miss your target.

Alongside the AOC stand was the Fisher Restoration stand which had three fine examples of Alvis including Bill Rankin’s 4.3 short chassis tourer ALV 15.

Coventry Transport Museum showed a red TB14 in unrestored condition.

The Midland Automobile Club showed Alan Stote’s TF21 Graber coupe as it won their Concours this year.

1966 Alvis TF21 coupe super by Graber on the MAC stand at the NEC 2012

September 2012 – International Alvis Day at Llancaiach Fawr Manor

Thanks to the W O Bentley Memorial Foundation we were able to display some 1963 designs for the update of the TD21 by Peter J Wharton, Senior Stylist at Park Ward, the Rolls-Royce owned coachbuilder of the post 1958 production cars.

These form part of the Collection of the late George Moseley who was also responsible for designing the Vanden Plas 4.3 Alvis short chassis tourer.

This was the first opportunity to use our new display boards in the marquee and also to use our new camera which will hopefully ease the task  of digitising our archives

The AOC press release is here, click…. 57th_Alvis_Owner_Club_International_Alvis_Day_Report

Rob Rowe’s pictures are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/raiden929/collections

The AAT display in the IAD marquee
The Trustees met on 22 August 2012 in the library of the RREC headquarters

Ten Friends enjoyed a summer’s day on 22nd August 2012 at the headquarters of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club, The Hunt House in Northamptonshire. The Curator of the Sir Henry Royce Memorial  Foundation, Philip Hall, gave us a personal guided tour of the extensive premises, exhibits and archives. Some of us had been there before when the AOC held the first Technical Seminars there making use of the workshop areas, the seminar room and the dining facilities. These are perhaps the most impressive archive facilities we have visited in the last year and well worth a visit.

The four Trustees held their meeting in the Library in the afternoon and made a number of decisions on future activities and expenditure which will be reported in due course when final arrangements and agreements have been made.

Enjoying the sunshine in the grounds of the Aston Martin Heritage Trust in Drayton St Leonard before a trustee meeting on 23rd May 2012.

Swiss Graber Alvis owners met at the Bentley Memorial Building in Wroxham for a presentation by BDC Archivists Alan Bodfish and Will Morrison on 18th April 2012. The next day was spent in Coventry visiting the Transport Museum and the Archives held at the History Centre of the Herbert Museum

Alvis Archive Trust at Red Triangle, Kenilworth

Wednesday 29th February 2012

 We set off from Abingdon in the Mistress, our trusted TA21 saloon, for a very pleasant morning drive via A and B roads in plenty of time to meet our estimated time of arrival.  The inevitable traffic and a long diversion around a road closure meant we missed our opportunity to park in front of the new Alvis Car Company Showroom, which was full of moderns.   We had thought that with such a distinguished speaker and an ex Alvis employee we should have honored Mike Dunn with a good turnout of Alvis Cars especially the later Park Ward ones with which he had involvement at “The Alvis”.   Nonetheless the Alvis Car Company and Red Triangle provided a splendid display of suitable showroom quality Alvis cars for us to sit amongst whilst we listened to a somewhat lengthy but extremely fascinating talk from the Alvis Archive Trust Patron, Mike Dunn.

After coffee and biscuits John Fox and his team of Trustees made us welcome.  John proudly announced that in the audience there were no less than four authors of works on Alvis and other erstwhile people connected with the engineering industry.  A daunting task for Mike Dunn to  present in the face of such knowledgeable members but a challenge that Mike ably achieved even coping with the idiosyncrasies of the microphone.

Mike, who was one of six children, followed in his father’s footsteps in the Mechanical Engineering profession as an apprentice to Alvis.   At the age of 16 he had obtained sufficient high grades to be accepted at Birmingham University to study Mechanical Engineering and was the youngest ever freshman at 17 years.

Having listened to the noisy gearbox and transmission of the Front Wheel Drive and the quietness of the gearbox of the Buckingham Car (T.G. John’s early venture into car production) Mike decided that his Thesis should be a study into the causes of vibration with a view to noise reduction.  He was also somewhat critical of the FWD chassis due to what he describes as its lack of torsional rigidity behind the engine.

At “The Alvis” he organised the apprentices into an athletics team culminating in success at a Bedstead Race the conveyance having been designed and made by the apprentices.  Their fitness had been established in training by pushing the then 16 stone Mike around.

Mike obtained work at “The Alvis” on his own merit in spite of his father’s influence and was sent to work on the Leonides Aero engine. His subsequent deafness in his left ear was due to the noise from this engine whilst testing.

Mike soon established that the “car people” and “aero people” at Alvis didn’t crossover and discuss engineering exchanges of information.  He also found that some people objected to working on fighting vehicles for the Military.  At this time Alvis were heavily involved with the Saladin (armoured vehicle), Saracen (armoured personnel carrier), Salamander (fire tender) and the Stalwart (load carrier).  The Saladin was to go into production first but the Malayan Crisis hastened the production of the Saracen to become the number one vehicle of postwar Alvis military production.  Mike went on to say that the Stalwart was a most successful vehicle much loved by the British Army in spite of its inherent design fault with the tractor joints, (constant velocity joints), which were affected badly by ingress of water.  The Stalwart being an amphibious vehicle was very vulnerable to this problem; this was eventually resolved by Mike and his team.  He designed a sealing system with an oil feed easily topped up from a reservoir in the cab.  The Swedish Navy used the Stalwart to supply their various islands.

Being able to speak German put Mike at an advantage when negotiations were taking place with Herman Graber to develop the TC108/G with Willowbrook the coachbuilders employed to build the first Graber designed bodies.

Alvis were not paying enough for Mike’s expertise so in 1955 he left to join Ford.  He worked with the design teams that were working on three different prototype cars to meet the challenge of the Mini.  Mike proved to Ford that the Mini could not be produced at £479 and make a profit.  So the production of a small car from Ford was delayed for several years.  Whist at Ford Mike worked on the development of the Sierra.

In spite of an offer from Ford to work in Cologne Mike came back to Alvis in 1962 and became responsible for the TE/TF/21s and the Mark 2 Stalwart.  A venture with Aston Martin lead to the insertion of a Lagonda 4 litre into a TD21 which competed in driving tests and frightened the life out of marshals when approaching the finishing line at nearly 70mph.  .Apparently the bonnet was firmly locked from prying eyes, but Alvis insisted this was because the bonnet would fly up if it were not locked due to the tight fit of the Lagonda engine.

The Alvis Lagonda being driven by Mike Loasby

Mike also had a hand in the TF engine that was fitted with six carbs. When the carbs were tuned and balanced, which was no mean feat for six carbs, the car produced a quarter more BHP than the standard production TF21.

Mike thought that on test the dynamometer was faulty and was convinced that the output was over 170 plus BHP.

The turmoil of nineteen sixties British car production had its affect on Alvis who had developed an integral body prototype with 3.5 litre engine which Mike never saw as it was cut up by Alvis two days before he rejoined the company.  By this time mergers were taking place and Alvis was working with Rover.  Mike was on the team that developed the Rover P6BS.  This was a mid-engined three seat GT car using a tuned Rover V8 engine.  This prototype has survived and can be seen at the Heritage Motor Museum at Gaydon.

Around this time Mike had the privilege of working with Alec Issigonis and Chris Kingham the designer of theAlvis 3 litre engine.  They both left Alvis/Rover to continue their development of the BMC front wheel drive range of cars.

Leyland took over Rover and Alvis in 1967 when car production at Alvis ceased.  As Mike was now part of the Leyland Team he was moved to Lancashire where the lorries and buses were produced.  His was tasked to develop the 8-wheeled bus concept into reality.  Instead he proposed a 2-axle integral body design, which eventually became the very successful and revolutionary National Bus.  The lorries coming out of British Leyland did not impress Mike.

By 1973 Mike returned to Ford where he became Director of Product Development and responsible for 4,500 engineering staff.

In 1983 Rolls Royce were in trouble and persuaded Mike to become their Engineering Director.  He re-engineered their recently launched Silver Spirit and Mulsanne cars and added the Bentley Turbo R.

Mike took early retirement when Vickers refused to sell out and ended his career as a Consultant and Lecturer. He told us about his frustration with Rolls Royce Phantom in not allowing his redesign of the petrol tank position to allow more boot space.

Finally Mike expressed his love of the Graber designed Alvis cars.

The day finished with a buffet lunch and plenty of questions and answers.

We must thank Alan Stote for providing very appropriate facilities and surroundings for what turned out to be a fascinating insight into a man who had so much to do with Alvis in its Postwar Years.

And of course a big thank you to Mike Dunn.

Malcolm Kindell.

Spanhoe Lodge was chosen for the first ALVIS ARCHIVE TRUST event to be held on Saturday 25th November 2011.

The pleasant autumn day saw a few Alvis in the car park and over 30 members turn out to a splendid display of Alvis spares, books, films and ephemera. The Tillyers were the perfect hosts, Steve having made the workshop available with display boards, trestle tables, TVs and video players while Jennie and her helpers kept us all well fed and watered for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea before taking us to a fine dinner at the The Royal Oak, Duddington. As well as many familiar faces we were pleased to see members who had not ventured to meetings for some time. Those selling spares and the Bootique items said they were pleased with the sales they made and Trust items raised £90 for the Fund.  The albums from 1989 caused a lot of interest from those who remembered being there when Clive Taylor was the Club photographer.

Neil Millington, John Fox and Steve Horne representing the Trust on Saturday afternoon.

The fun continued on Sunday morning with many having stayed over on Saturday and new members coming for the special attraction of “An audience with Ron Walton” who answered questions from the floor about his fascinating life as Young Ron working for the Alvis in the 1950s.

Phil Owen came for the day from London, kindly collecting some items for the Trust and making some sales of his collection of Alvis books and catalogues not least to a very enthusiastic Trustee, Graham Clode, who took away a lot of 12/50 items. Graham and Phil both stayed for the Midland AGM and Graham told us all about the 12/50 Register archives which he keeps.

All in all it was a fun weekend from beginning to end with Alvis friends, old and new.

One piece of Alvis memorabilia brought along to show the Trustees; bought for 20p at a Jumble sale.