British Motor Museum Volunteers

British Motor Museum Volunteers

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Volunteer Restoration News

When the Collections Centre was opened in 2016, a review of all the exhibits in the Museum collection was carried out. This review identified display engines and chassis that would be of interest but needed to be repaired or cleaned. Today, a number of those engines are on display in the Collections Centre and many have been restored by volunteers. 

These 12 engines include an Austin-Rover S series single cylinder development unit, revised from the E series used in the Maxi and Allegro and which was probably used for combustion chamber development.

There is an interesting version of the Riley 2.5 litre, which shows its many internal parts. It was fitted to the RM model and later to the Pathfinder. With twin camshafts it was quite advanced for its time. In contrast, many cars up to the 1950s used side valve engines and another of the refurbished engines would have been found in a Triumph Mayflower. Performances have improved a lot since then, with this engine producing only 38bhp from a 1247cc block. 


Riley engine before and after restoration

The latest project is an Austin Devon chassis which started life in 1948 when the Longbridge Apprentices were given the task of producing an exhibit promoting the new car. The Devon and the Somerset that followed would be some of the last cars still employing a chassis, as this was the start of the change to monocoque construction. This chassis would travel around Britain extolling the virtues of the new model but also showcasing the engineering capabilities of the apprentices at the Longbridge factory.

In fact one of our volunteers, Cameron, remembers seeing it on display in Edinburgh in his younger days.

 The restoration work has been separated into three categories: 

1. Brakes, steering, suspension and wheels. 

2. Chassis, drive shaft and rear axle. 

3. Clutch, engine, gearbox and exhaust. 

The general condition considering its age and storage is what you would expect, with no serious rust. The main problem being the chrome of which there is a lot which is now flaking off and none of it is restorable. Cleaning and painting is underway and a challenge is to match the chassis’ original existing metallic finish paint. 


Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Our Volunteer Guide Project

Our Volunteer Guide project started when the Collections Centre opened in February 2016 and the involvement of the 80 Volunteers has been vital to allowing visitors access to the collection. In fact, we could not open the building without them. 

So successful have they been in welcoming visitors, giving tours and interpreting the collection, that it was decided to introduce Volunteers onto the main Museum floor this spring, to enhance the visitor experience. 

This has meant our existing team of 80 have had to absorb details of many more vehicles and, for me, has resulted in a recruitment campaign to increase the team by 20-30 people. 

The process starts with a Role Profile posted on the website, this generates application forms, leading to an informal chat over coffee with the Curator and myself. An induction follows for those chosen, a handbook given, uniforms and name badges ordered, a “walk and talk” through the collection with Stephen, Head of Collections, and Cat, Curator, and the new team are ready to start. 

This month we welcomed 18 new Volunteers, who will be split between the Museum and Collections Centre. So, please say hello when you visit. We hope that whatever personal motivations and goals are, we can help to fulfil aspirations for volunteering through good quality training, excellent support and the opportunity to make a difference by sharing old skills and learning new ones. And, we hope, making new friendships. Giving time and skill to the Museum must be enjoyable for the Volunteer; that in turn gives enjoyment and education to all who visit the Museum while helping to preserve and protect the heritage and legacy of this great place. 

Thank you to all the Volunteers who give time to the community and to us at the British Motor Museum.