Friday, 4 November 2011

My first Porsche job

The next morning I called Chris (who had just got married) to find out a bit more about his plans. I told him I had left Hawker Siddley and was looking for a job and consequently I would be interested in working for him providing it was on Porsche cars.
Previously I had occasionally visited Chris with Ginger in my GVB days, when he worked from an old wooden workshop in the back of his father’s house in Maidenhead. I remember him building modified Austin 7 and Porsche 356 engines. On one particular day when I visited, I could not believe that Chris had David Piper’s Porsche 917 engine in his workshop for a total rebuild. The 917 flat 12 engine was so large that it took up most of the floor space and it was difficult to move around it in the tiny workshop.
I met Chris at his father’s house in Maidenhead and we discussed the job and subsequently agreed matters between us. I asked Chris to meet my father, to give him the comfort that he was seeking so the following day Chris came through to Hounslow to meet my father and me and we agreed everything between us.
I was Chris’s first employee (although technically I was self-employed) and I arrived to start work at his farm the following month on wages of £20 per week!
The first tasks were converting the old cowsheds and main barn into workshops as we did not have much time to do this as very shortly our first customers arrived. The main barn needed re-thatching, but Chris said this would have to wait and all of our efforts went into building a parts store and engine/transmission shop.
My tool making at Hawker Siddley stood me in good stead as Chris and I made or had fabricated as many Porsche special tools as we could to keep costs down as much as possible.
Chris was well known in Porsche circles having worked for Bill Bradley, Charlie Lucas and David Piper amongst others and he is a brilliant engineer. During his days with David Piper he was responsible for “Pipes” Porsche 917 and he was the man behind many design enhancements like cutting off the rear tail and sorting a number of suspensions modifications, which the Porsche Factory subsequently took on. I remember he was also actively involved in solving the 917 cooling-fan problems. Sooner or later in the early days, all of the Porsche 917’s were losing their horizontal cooling fans as the retaining shaft sheared allowing them to fly off into orbit and the engines subsequently blew up. Chris redesigned the fan and casing to solve this problem on Pipes 917 and I think he sold his design to Porsche AG who adopted it as standard. I remember him showing up shortly after with a brand new 1969 guards red Porsche 911T with Dickie Stoop’s number YOU 4, which he still owns today. Chris had also worked for AFN on a number of consultancy projects and he had a good relationship with John Aldington and most people at both AFN and Porsche Cars Great Britain.
Anyhow my time with Chris proved very exciting and I learnt so much from him, although I did not make any real money to speak of, only a basic living. The experience I gained at Maltin’s was invaluable to me and it was not too long before I was rebuilding Porsche 356 and a range of 911 engines and transmissions by myself.
Lunchtimes were a trip to the local pub for a pint and a ploughman’s or pate. When Chris, Bunch (his wife Elizabeth), and I arrived the landlord always used to keep enquiring about what we did up at Braywood Farm? I did not think Chris had planning permission to operate a workshop from his home, so Chris always said, “We look after a lot of horses”. The landlord used to ask us questions about the four-legged variety and we played along as he did not realise our type of horses were measured in their hundreds and had four wheels! 

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