Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Trip to Munchen

Joe (Joseph Krall) and I were still good friends and he said he was returning home to Munich shortly and leaving AFN for good. The Munich Olympics were just over and the stadium was being used for world cup football so Joe invited me to stay with him for a week the football was on.
I arranged my visit to Germany and by that time I had sold my Ford Anglia to my girlfriend’s stepfather (for a good profit) and I had also sold on the Morris 1100, as it was the worst example of a British motorcar I can remember, utter rubbish.
As a stopgap, I borrowed my Uncle Charlie’s 1953 Mercedes 280 saloon from him. This was some car, the last of the truly hand built Mercedes and it weighed 2,500 kgs! It had a massive tubular steel chassis. It had a centrally lubricated suspension system, which gravity fed in normal conditions but if you went through a ford or stream, the driver could lubricate the suspension from a pedal in the driver’s foot well and it oiled everything for you. It also had running boards under the doors and the front doors opened the wrong way to convention. Another thing that really impressed me was the valve radio set fitted in it. This took a time to warm up but the quality of sound was superb. The down side of the car was it only did around 14mpg around town and you could just about squeeze 20mpg on a run driving carefully.
I had overhauled the top end of the engine in my spare time and did a lot of maintenance jobs on the car in the AFN workshops after hours.
Shortly after this work was completed I set off for Munchen in the Mercedes, travelling via Dover and the ferry to Ostend, then on to Aachen, south to Frankfurt and down to Munich. The car went very well and I got lots and lots of waves from different people especially when I got into Germany after Aachen. Shortly after passing Aachen, the engine overheated on the Autobahn and I stopped the car immediately. Despite an in depth investigation I could not see what was wrong, just water leaking out from the lower part of the engine. I managed to fill it with some water and drive slowly off the autobahn to the nearest town. After a conversation with the local garage owner I decided to park the car up and the owner said he would take a look at it for me and keep it safe.
I took the train down to Munich having called Joe in advance and he met me at the railway station in Munchen on schedule.
Joe was now working for BMW Headquarters and he was driving a new BMW 2002ti. We arrived at his flat in Munich and it turned out to be part of the Olympic Stadium competitor’s accommodation. He said he had not been able to get us tickets for the football match but it was on TV, so the next day he just opened the window so we could hear the match live, which was next door, and we watched the picture on TV!
A couple of days later we went to visit his parents down at the border between Germany and Austria. Joe’s father was a Forest Ranger and looked after all the fences, trees and fed the deer. He drove us in his VW Beetle along the snow packed icy roads, which looked like a toboggan run, and I was amazed how he handled the car so competently.  We then went and did a day’s work with his father, crossing country on snowshoes and skis. I was totally worn out upon our return and his mother had a big bowl of Goulash prepared and after a hearty dinner I crashed out until next morning.
I had a great time during that week and it was soon time to head home and collect my uncle’s Mercedes. Joe dropped me at the train station and I can remember to this day the train pulling out of the station in Munchen exactly to the minute as per the timetable. The Germans like the Swiss ran a superb rail system.
I picked up the Mercedes from the garage and the owner has told me he had replaced a rusty water core plug in the block and it was fine now. I thanked and paid him and was on my way back to Ostend with the car running perfectly.

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