It's official ... more or less ...
The website is still a work in progress but Old Rope Salvage is open for business, with a new shop opened on Etsy and our little gallery and emporium in Crafthole filling up by the day.
We celebrated with another night time photoshoot with Nick Turley, conditions being just right to capture the full glory of the truck and The Milky Way on the coast here at Whitsand Bay.
It was a chilly night with a cool north breeze blowing and we warmed up between photos with coffee and blankets. We even had the luck to capture a spectacular moment as a bus roared past on the road below us, with lots of yelling as Tim leaped up onto the truck and Nick rushed to set the camera up just in time to capture the sweep of lights. We loved the incredible result, a truly magical moment.
We will be adding to our shop one item at a time over the coming weeks. There is still lots to do, but we're excited to be up and running (or maybe taking a casual stroll!) at last. Do get in touch if you have any questions or enquiries, and look (or listen!) out for us and the truck as we rumble backwards and forwards around Torpoint and Crafthole. Weather permitting, we will also be taking her to The Classic Car Show at Tencreek Holiday Park near Looe on 18th September. Updates will undoubtedly follow!
In the meantime, thanks again to Nick for these spectacular images of us and the truck. We shall treasure them.
I found this submarine depth gauge many years ago now, completely by chance, at a boat jumble in Beaulieu in The New Forest. It was in a bit of a state, buried under a lot of other stuff and I had wandered past it a few times without paying it too much attention, but by the end of the day as the crowds thinned out, I stopped for a chat with the stall holder and ended up buying this and a red emergency lighting lamp from him.
Now, everyone needs a red emergency lighting lamp, don't they? ... But this? This was probably one of the more unusual items I've picked up over the years and I really had no idea what I was going to do with it. I was fresh out of submarines and I could measure the depth of the garden pond just by putting on some wellies and standing in it. So, I put it away and forgot about it.
Fast forward a few years and the depth gauge resurfaced again (no pun intended) amidst the upcycling activity which has been the beginnings of Old Rope Salvage.
It was still in a bit of a state, but I could see that it was made of aluminium and I thought that it could probably be cleaned up into something. Also, I liked the look of it.
Usually, when I find or choose unusual items for up cycling I am drawn to the shape or the look of the thing, rather than to the actual item itself. Often, it doesn't matter what it is, or what it used to be, only what it could potentially become. This was a little bit different in that the depth gauge itself, although I didn't know anything about it at the time, was clearly an item of interest and of history, and I knew from the outset that I wanted to keep it much as it is. Its shape strongly suggested that it could become a really cool clock, and once I had that in my mind, it was really impossible to imagine it as anything else, so I cleaned it up with much care and attention, repaired the scratches and other damage, polished it and repainted the case.
Next, I removed its internal workings and cut out a small section of the back casing so I could add a clock mechanism, and finally I modified the original 24v lightbulbs with 1.5v LEDs which now give off a subtle red light around the inside rim.
It is my hope that the finished clock shows a sympathetic restoration of the depth gauge as well as an interesting up cycled clock. I deliberately left on all the old casing connections and the original maker's plate to retain its original authenticity, likewise I have not altered the face in any way. I think it's a pretty nice job.
It's currently hanging on the wall in our unofficial gallery and growing emporium in Crafthole, and is available to buy at £845.00. It is exceptionally heavy so do get in touch if you are interested so we can arrange shipping, delivery or collection, or if you would like to come and check it out.
For those of you who might be interested in a little bit of history on this unusual piece, keep reading ...
*NOW SOLD* - Thank you for all kind enquiries.
I'm no expert on submarines, so it took a little bit of detective work to find out anything about this particular depth gauge. (Whatever did we do before the internet?)
We believe it comes from an Oberon Class Submarine (e.g. HMS Otus now a museum piece in Germany) of which there appears to have been maybe 13 in the Royal Navy. Of the subs we were able to find information on, a few are now museum pieces and the rest have been scrapped. As we no longer have any diesel submarines left, it seems safe to say that all the Oberon class have long since been decommissioned.
It is impossible to say for sure exactly which of these submarines the depth gauge comes from, but there are 3 which are likely contenders: HMS Opportune, HMS Oracle and HMS Otter were all broken up at Pounds Scrapyard in Portsmouth, and considering that I found the gauge in The New Forest, it is maybe not to much of an assumption to believe it came from one of those. If anyone out there has any more info or thoughts, you are most welcome to share them in the comments.
Whatever its history though, it is indeed a very rare item and one which I was lucky to discover and have the opportunity to salvage and breathe new life into.
We had a fantastic day at The Mount Edgcumbe Classic Car Show last weekend.
After failing to get the truck down to Surrey for The Hotrod Hayride, we were pretty thrilled to make the 5 miles or so from Crafthole to Mount Edgcumbe, and even more thrilled to be a part of the convoy of fantastic cool cars and happy, smiling faces cruising their way down there via the coast road at Whitsand Bay.
After an unpromising early morning mizzle, the clouds parted, the fog lifted and we had a spectacular day of sunshine (Lisa still has the sunburn on her dazzling white pegs to show for it!)
We decided to take a few of our in-progress upcycling projects on the back of the truck which made for a rather nice display, and having packed plenty of tea-making necessities, we bedded in for the day and had a wonderful time meeting other exhibitors and members of the public.
It was an absolute pleasure to be out in the pick-up enjoying the Cornish sun, taking a day to get out and meet people, and to finally get to be a part of this scene. Thanks to everyone who stopped by for a chat, for all the positive feedback, and to Bob Edgcumbe and the huge team of people who make this event possible very year. We'll be seeing y'all again next year, ya hear?
Viewing each other through a yellow-tinted hotrod ...
In the 3 years or so that I have been The Pirate's Siren, I have learned a thing or two about cars. I have also learned a fair amount about boats, wood, welding, tea, Zen Buddhism, snowboarding, the-things-that-other-people-throw-into-skips, splinters, and oh, so many other things, but on the last weekend of July 2016, it was all about The Cars ...
It began, for me, somewhere in the summer of 2014, when I innocently encouraged The Pirate not to sell his 1941 Ford Pick-Up Truck, but to bring it down to Cornwall instead and maybe attempt to fulfil his dream of putting it back on the road. The story of how he eventually achieved that dream is one for him to tell, but for me that particular road has been steep, largely unpaved and full of unexpected potholes. Still, it has (mostly) been worth it just to witness his achievement, and also to have the pleasure of cruising along the coastal roads of Cornwall inspiring looks of surprise and joy from the people we rumble past.
In the summer of 2015, the pick-up was looking a little forlorn. Sans wheels, and languishing in the inhospitable salt-air of the boatyard, she appeared, at least to my eyes, to be deteriorating into a rusty little heap. Tim had successfully rebuilt the engine on an insanely tight budget, working mostly outside, sometimes even out of the boot of his Freelander, and had managed to get the 60-odd year V8 running again during the winter of 2014/15. It was a huge achievement, but there was still a long way to go.
It seemed unlikely then, if not impossible, that we would ever be driving the pick-up to the 12th Hotrod Hayride all the way over in Surrey, but when we were invited along by The Pirate's Mum and her other half, July 2016 seemed a reassuringly long time off, and so we said 'yes' and then promptly forgot about it for the next 11 and a half months.
Those 11 and a half months, as they do, went by alarmingly fast, but as it turned out, and for those of you who follow us will know, Tim surpassed all of my expectations and got the pick-up on the road earlier this spring. So much hard work has gone in to this incredible achievement, and despite all of my concerns over the project, I really did have to hand it to him for hanging in there. The truck, now replete with some whitewall tyres, a beautiful rust 'patina' and a very cool piece of sign-writing, is quite the head-turner, and for a while it looked like it might even make it to the Hayride.
Well, as we all know, the best-laid plans often don't make it to fruition, and one leaking water pump and a flat white-wall later, we found ourselves heading along the A303 towards Surrey in a little black Ford KA with a 'my other car's a Hotrod' sticker on the back window.
It was disappointing not to be taking the truck, but not the end of the world, and the good news was that I had a really nice red gingham dress to wear, courtesy of the dressmaking skills of The Pirate's Mum.
I was a bit nervous. The last time I did festival camping, I had a Very Unfortunate Incident with a toilet which left me scarred for life. This time, however, I was camping with proper grown-ups who had a caravan, an awning, and a pop-up tent for us to sleep in and I was hopeful that (unlike previous camping trips with The Pirate) I wouldn't wake up on an Ostrich farm, in a lake, or covered in straw. To keep me 'entertained', Tim talked about Hotrods for 4 and a half hours, but I really had no clue until somewhere between Junctions 8 and 4 on the M3 we overtook ZZTop in a convoy of very old, very rusty, very loud and very modified Fords, at which point I did slightly begin to wonder exactly what I had let myself in for ...
A couple of hours later, having met up with the 'grown-ups' in a lay-by just outside Bisley and having been safely signed in and fitted with a sparkly red wrist band, we found ourselves setting up camp amidst a variety of vintage, bunting-strewn, ice-cream coloured caravans, the soothing soundtrack of V8 engines and rifle fire playing out in the background whilst I took secret nips from my hip-flask of gin and took nervous, sidelong glances at the tattooed bikers and cool, flame-haired starlets arriving both in and on their hotrods and bikes of choice.
The Hotrod Hayride, now in its 12th year, takes place at Camp Bisley in Surrey. It's actually relocating next year and so this is its final outing at Bisley. I'm not sure what I was expecting exactly, but Camp Bisley is actually home to the National Shooting Centre, a fact which very quickly became apparent as we were setting up our camp. In all other respects, it resembles a holiday camp from the 1950s, a strange sort of Butlins from yesteryear, with caravans and tents, chalets and lodges and, as we later discovered when we strayed 'off the path', a somewhat post-apocalyptic area of empty static caravans where I was half expecting some zombie hotrodders to come shambling after us demanding to eat our brains ... In all respects then, apart from the constant crackle of gunfire from the shooting range right next to our chosen camp site ... I was beginning to feel a little nostalgic for the ostrich farm ...
Having established our base-camp a safe 3 feet away from the firing range, The Pirate and I removed my KA to the 's**t parking' area, grabbed a beer and took off for a stroll around the venue. Dodging the hotrods as they rumbled through the little holiday camp wasn't much of a problem as you can generally hear a V8 approaching from a distance of about 35 miles, but it was slow going as Tim had to stop every few feet to admire the cars, which were everywhere. I think it's fair to say that I don't know a great deal about cars, except of course what I've learned from Tim when I've actually been able to focus for long enough on his descriptions and explanations of these things, words which I generally understand as individual words but the meaning of which often get lost when put into a sentence. But I had to admit that there was some mightily impressive vehicles on display here.
Being somewhat fond of our very own truck, I've grown to love the rusty patina and dirty image of some of these cars, more so than those with the beautiful paint jobs (and there were plenty of those too). I like the nostalgia of old cars and the imagination and detail which goes into creating the hotrod look. Here are a few of my favourites ...
Over the course of the weekend, there would be many more wanderings around the show-ground. It became increasingly difficult to maintain visual contact with The Pirate and so I people-watched, drank delicious hot chocolate and ate donuts from Elvis. The people of The Hayride clearly took this stuff seriously. Not just the cars, but the whole retro, 50s nostalgia thing. The clothes themselves were fabulously authentic and I was reminded of old photographs of my granddad from that era. But for the modern curse of the smartphone and the background crackle of gunfire, it wasn't difficult to imagine that this really was the 1950s.
The illusion was only heightened after sundown when beautiful girls in gorgeous dresses came out to dance to the sounds of rockabilly bands in the main pavilion, whilst on the stage outside tattooed ladies with artfully placed tassels and muscled men doing dangerous things with knives performed burlesque. But for one terrifying incident involving an inebriated lady, her large, scowling husband, and the attempted stealing of The Pirate, it was all rather innocent, and we returned to the tent tired and tipsy to make tea and grab some much needed sleep before the dawn chorus of gunfire 3 feet from our heads woke us again in the morning.
Saturday was the day of 'The Detonators Dust Up Day Out', an event which I was looking forward to and was described in the handy Hayride Handbook as 'roundy, roundy hot rod racing'. For anyone with allergies, we were warned, the track 'could get dusty and may contain nuts'.
It took us 45 minutes to drive to the track in my KA where, once again, we were relegated to the 's**t parking', but it was worth the journey as the next few hours were easily my favourite of the weekend. I think I learned something about myself that afternoon, namely that I seem to enjoy dangerous driving as performed by other people, in particular the stock car racing which was indeed dusty, but also noisy and exciting and a lot of fun for everyone involved. There was a lot of friendly jostling, sort of banter for cars, I like to imagine, a lot of wobbling and spinning, and a backdrop of steam trains chuffing past in the wooded valley, but nobody was injured so we all returned to base camp happy and sunburned.
Feeling rather pleased with myself for surviving at least until the Saturday night, I finally got to wear my lovely red gingham dress, and despite being somewhat betrayed by my sea-tangled mermaid hair, I felt that maybe I could blend in here. I was a little put to shame by the expert dancing of The Pirate's Mum, however. Tim and I love to dance, but we favour a more 'freestyle' approach to our moves, so we took up residence down the front of the pavilion next to the stage and lost ourselves for a while under the spell of Smokestack Lightnin', an Alt Country band from Germany with a charismatic lead singer who did me the honour of playing a couple of Bob Dylan classics amongst others.
I slept better that night, despite nostrils filled with dust and nut traces, and woke in a muddle of hangover-in-a-hot-tent-agony, which is indescribable unless you've been there, in which case there is no need for a description because you will know the pain. The Pirate's Mum and Partner were up bafflingly early, something to to with a flea market, and by the time I prised my eyes open, Tim had also disappeared, presumably to help them set up with their stall of dresses and bits of cars.
By the time I had gathered the wherewithal to make myself some tea, The Pirate returned and we spent another morning wandering. (Well, he did. I sat around and drank hot chocolate.) Things were winding down at The Hayride, but there was one more event which I had heard lots about: 'The Soapbox Derby'. A little earlier, whilst Tim was somewhere deep in conversation with a hotrod owner, throwing around words I only vaguely understood as English, I had wandered away and stumbled across the 'soapboxes' lining up in anticipation of their moment of glory. They had each been quite lovingly created, or so it appeared (one appeared to be a hollowed-out cello) and creatively decorated, but it was difficult to imagine any of them going at speed. Maybe a brisk walking pace. So, I was curious.
The way was lined with straw bales and we placed ourselves next to the finish line for a good view. Two at a time, the soapboxes raced each other, down the slope and along the road, sometimes at a brisk walking pace, sometimes not. A couple actually crashed into the bales. A couple ran out of puff and stopped. One was driven by a gorilla. It was very funny. The participants clearly had a lot of fun. And so did I.
So, I had survived the weekend and it was time to go home.
We made a flask, packed up, said our goodbyes to the grown-ups, had one last visit to the relatively civilised festival toilets (fancy soap and hand moisturiser, I'm impressed!) and headed off down the M3 into the sunset towards Cornwall.
It's always good to return to the sea, even after just a couple of days away, but it was a most entertaining weekend and The Pirate certainly enjoyed it, coming away inspired and enthused for whatever the next car project might be somewhere down the line. In the meantime, there was a flat white wall waiting for his attention, which he duly repaired, despite the usual challenges and a Cornish mizzle so thick I suspect he could barely see in it to work. It certainly messed his hair up!
We were sorry we couldn't take the truck to this year's Hayride, but hopefully there will be other years. Until then, with the tyre now fully inflated, we will definitely be taking her to The Mount Edgecombe Car Show this coming Sunday (7th August). Here's hoping for fine weather, good hot chocolate, the rumble of a few V8s and a sprinkle of (fairy) dust.
See you there.
Old Rope Salvage