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Steam Rally

23rd - 25th May 2015

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Carrington Rally had perhaps the best weather for several years, yes, admittingly, it did rain a bit on the Sunday morning, but the Saturday was fine, dry and even had sunny periods, so the car-boot and collective auction sale ran by Robert Bell on behalf of the rally went ahead with plenty of potential customers. Monday was fine but decidingly on the chilly side and the woolly hat came out of storage to brave the engine compound for the day. The special tractor theme for 2015 was a celebration of 100 years of International Harvester and this brought out a plethora of IH machinery ranging from the large early Prairie tractors through to the latest IH-Case tracked machines. There were around 10-12 Titan 10-20 machines, around 6-8 similar-vintage Moguls and roughly the same number of Junior machines of varying outputs.

Admitting bias, I thought the East Anglia Group of the National Vintage Tractor & Engine Club's display was superb with an almost universal display of IH tractors through the decades. Other tractor clubs also featured IH machinery but nothing matched the East Anglia Group's collective display. Elsewhere, Robert Crawford brought out his International truck, there was a Dutch-registered Scout 4x4 and one of the Bradley's of Accrington International Lodestar artics. As a result of the high level of International entrants, the other makes of tractors were slightly reduced but still included examples of virtually all the popular makes such as Allis Chalmers, Caterpillar, David Brown, Ford & Fordson, Ferguson & Massey Ferguson, John Deere, Marshall & Field Marshall, Nuffield, etc. Rarer marques included Oliver, Huber, Minneapolis Moline, Austin and Waterloo Boy.

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To support the tractors, the horticultural section put on their usual exemplary display with a variety of machines. At the larger end of the scale, Singer Monarch, Winget and Trusty, various Ransomes, and at the smaller end Barford, Mayfield, Autculto, Colwood, etc., plus a small selection of International Cadet & Club Cadet. Supporting the machinery was a selection of hand tools, push-hoes, seed-drills, etc. The steam section seemed to have several gaps on the pegs over the weekend, but featured a variety of makes & types ranging from the small showmen's and rollers, through the steam tractors up to the road locomotives. There were no ploughing engines, explained away by the fact that they cost a lot of money to maintain and transport, and to be effective, need to be exhibited in pairs.

However, there was a selection of Ransomes and Fowler steam cultivators, ploughs etc presumably exhibited by Robert Crawford, who also brought along his Robey and Thornycroft steam lorries to complement the Foden on show. A small selection of scale and miniature engines was also running around the site. Moving on to the stationary engine section, a few local faces I expected to be there were absent but with Burghley House Game & Country Fair, Lamport Hall and Strumpshaw Steam rally all running on the same weekend, choices have to be made. There were some nice engines on show, but the owner of the Blackstone in the corner near us worked up quite a sweat on Monday before she'd fire up. All seemed quite straightforward on Sunday when I helped out with the decompression lever but Monday she was a pig to start, with or without the pump connected.

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With camping effectively away from the separate engine compound, it was a bit of a struggle to get around everything before having to mind the engine for the rest of the day, but thanks to Rick and Steve for all mucking in and keeping an eye on each other's engines, and apologies to Barry for being a little late on parade on Monday. The craft and model shared a large marquee and included a good selection of fairground and circus models, and further up the field a separate marquee gave punters somewhere to drink under cover, although the bar was outside, housed in an AEC Routemaster bus. You know the old saying about waiting for a bus, none come and then two come along together? That was the case at Carrington as the fish and chip vender also uses a Routemaster for his business with upstairs seating at tables if you wish to eat under cover.

This leads us on nicely to the commercials which included just a few military vehicles this year. The Scammell Handyman appeared to be restored to a good standard and there was a nice selection of small Bedford O-series trucks. The mid-80s coach was also preserved to a good standard and Mr Miksza's heavy-duty Fordson always brings a smile to one's face. The car selection varied from day to day but included vehicles from all the decades from the 30s to the 80s, but I'm still not sure if the humongous green Trojan has been converted from a commercial or was designed as a heavy-duty luxury car. It's history sheet doesn't inform much either, apart from telling us it's been rebodied twice in its lifetime, which makes me wonder that it is a bitza, albeit a striking one. With regard to motorbikes, there was a good selection of early machines on show as well as the more common later marques.

For the size and reputation of Carrington, trade stands and stalls are Ok, but not over-plentiful, but what was there covered a fairly wide range of goods. The best ones in my opinion are the collectable junk stalls over the hedge side near the car-park purely because of the selection of stuff and their in-the-main reasonable prices. Suffice to say, Dad's collection of horse brasses increased by over 50 during the course of the weekend, and included over a dozen leather mounts as well. Apologies to friends in the bygones and classic caravan sections but I just didn't have time to make it up there over the weekend.

2017: TBA

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