Wiston Steam Rally 6th & 7th July
Its only the third year of this show organised by the Sussex Steam Shows Ltd and the Sussex Steam Engine Club and the first time I had exhibited after visiting last year. Wiston is beautifully sited in the South Downs and being close to Shoreham, is easily accessible. It attracts a large number of steam engines, there were 28 in the programme, when most shows seem to be reducing the number of steam entries due to costs.
Ian had sorted a good spot for camping along the bottom hedge where those of us in tents had some shade during the day. This was much appreciated as Friday and the weekend proved to be extremely hot. The engines were separated from the camping but close by so there was no clutter and only a short walk. We were just down from the food area and on the way to the woodworking area so plenty of public over the two days of the show. I have to admit to not seeing all of the show since it was well spread out and some of it just too far to walk in the heat. I did get over to the commercials at the top of the field and the view across the whole valley with the show laid out below and Wiston House in the background was superb. It was a little odd that the fair did not operate in the evenings and was well away from the food and beer area but the steam engines joined us for the evening around the beer tent as is usual.
There was a good turnout of SEAMS members but we noted a few engines with largely absent owners which did little or no work over the weekend. I took a Lorenz engine which immediately gave me trouble. It would start OK but when switched to full compression, it would die on me. I suspected
magneto problems with the spark not strong enough to jump the plug under the higher pressure of full compression. I had the same trouble at a show last year and had re-magnetised the magneto. When tested on the bench all seemed well with a good regular spark when tripped but clearly I had not solved the problem. After trying a few different plugs to no avail, I swapped the magneto which allowed the Lorenz to run OK. Oh well… back to the drawing board, I will need to re-check everything again….
On a sad note, we heard over the weekend that Howard Stenning had passed away. He was a well known figure in the preservation world and a former director of Amberley Chalk Pits Museum. Many of you who are regulars at the Museum Engine Day will have known him. He was a regular arena commentator at many vintage shows, indeed he was to provide the commentary at Wiston alongside Brian Tullett. I bet he had a smile on his face during his final ride to the cemetery as the coffin went on a motorbike and sidecar!
Our sympathies go to his family and friends, he will be sorely missed by all …