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Advice Please: Kent, Cars, Pre-war stuff

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I wasn't sure if to put this in Open or here because it's actually car-focused as a request but blurs the line into personal off-topic sort of stuff.

 

As I've alluded elsewhere, I'm moving house this year.  It's the big one, because it involves moving in to a house that isn't rented for the first time in my life.  It's not my money paying for it, but it's still a big scary thing.  Several years of driving up and down the country has got to the point that we no longer want to be 300 miles apart.  Anyway, for reasons of work and practicality and relationships  and all that, it's going to be Kent (to the south of Maidstone, but not in Maidstone, and not the coast, specifically).  Problematically, I'll be losing access to a LOT of tools, Mike's help, the space Mike's unit provides and what few contacts I've made up here with folks like Scaryoldcortina for MoTs and trusted tyre places.  I'm going to have to start again building up useful car contacts and I thought it best to turn to you guys for help on that one.

 

I can't tell you exactly where I'll end up as we're still in the house hunting stage, we've found a few promising candidates but not The One, so the area is a very vague "Kent below Maidstone" at the moment.  I'm looking for suppliers of old car Stuff, trustworthy MoT garages, events, and fellow enthusiasts in the general vicinity so it's hopefully a little easier for me to make the transition when I'm moved.  I may need someone with a hydragas pump locally too, since Mike bought me out of the one we got so he could use it at his unit way before I thought I'd be moving so far away from it and him.

 

I know next to nothing about The South other than a nebulous fear as a Northerner of having to live there.

 

We're hoping to be moving sometime around September-November this year.

 

What's really interesting is the other half wasn't that interested in getting back into cars until he met the Princess and subsequently we've been considering getting something pre-war once we're both settled (probably after a year or two) as it's not something either of us have tackled before.  The Austin 14 has been a strong contender, surprisingly, so any advice on pre-war cars and whether or not the Austin 14 (or other similarly sized and style of car) is a terrible choice for a first-time pre-war car ownership experience would also be welcome.

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Firstly are you sure you need to lose all your tools? Even if garaging is limited at your new place, there is always the option of building a shed to keep them in.

 

Friends live in Maidstone and their house (pretty ordinary) has a basement which would be amazing if you found something like that.

 

Plenty of forum members will be living within a reasonable distance of you so there is a virtual social circle already in place and the Garden of England has many beautiful spots. I think you'll like it down here!

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It's not bad around there. Probably the nearest 'shiters are Vantman and AlexG, who are both friendly and helpful. There's some beautiful countryside and picturesque villages around, with plenty of old car-friendly flat terrain.

East Sussex Minors is right on the border of Kent and Sussex and they're very good for A series spares. I'm sure MevSpares is in the area too, he deals in a bit of everything.

Events wise the Darling Buds of May show is supposed to be the best one in the area, though I've never been, obviously. I have however been to the Austin Counties Autumn rally at Tenterden station, on the Kent & East Sussex railway many times. I strongly recommend this event as it's very laid back, free to enter (just show up) and anything goes car wise. There's always a good variety of different classics that turn up. Oh, and there's steam trains.

As for Austin 14s, you could certainly do worse. They're quite long so a good sized garage will be needed. Acres of space in the back though. Big lazy engine. Spares the usual unobtanium so try to buy something complete. A good choice and much more interesting than the usual A7. I bought a Standard 12 and that too ticks the boxes for obscure, unloved and no spares available that we all of course look out for.

I'm sure if a tatty Austin 14 is good enough for Peggy Armstrong, it'll be good enough for you :)

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I'm near Ashford and the garage I use is called Auto Britalia up in Dunkirk (near Canterbury).  Bit of a stretch for you if you're just South of Maidstone (I'm about 20 minutes to the East of Maidstone) but they are very, very, very good and I can't recommend them highly enough.  They contract their MOTs out to another local (I'm not sure who!) but the MOTs I've had have been fair and don't over-charge.

 

Egg knows of a few garages up that way that are reliable and there are quite a few decent motor factors in Canterbury and Herne Bay.

 

I'm sorry I can't be of much more help!  Best of luck with the move and I hope to see your Princess down this way soon!

 

Also, I can sympathise with the house-buying malarkey.  I'm just going through the same thing myself...

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I live on the Surrey/Kent border, not far from Tunbridge Wells. Kent's a big county, which means lots of dispersed rural villages which are too remote to be London commuter spots. This in turn means more reasonable lock-ups for rent, and plenty of garages that are familiar with old and daily chod.

 

If you end up to the West of Maidstone let me know and I can happily recommend some places that shouldn't be too far.

 

And either way I could certainly help with storing a vehicle for you, if needs be, while you move.

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I was born in Canterbury and grew up in Eastry, where I lived until I moved to the outskirts of London in 2001. East Kent is a jolly nice place, albeit a little bit of a backwater. At least there's not a lot of traffic as a result  :)

 

Pawnote: one of my father's neighbours has owned an Austin Light Twelve-Six for nigh-on 30 years. He restored it to a very high standard from a jumble of parts.

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We'll you know where I am, assuming you can remember the Nugget collection day! Even though I'm in SE London it's not that far, and I've got a Hydragas pump you can use. I'm always happy to travel so can bring it to you as it gets me out and about.

 

Event wise Brooklands Austin Morris Day is a good season opener in March, Cranleigh in August, and Ardingly autojumble at various points throughout the year. Being in the south will open up a whole new world of tat possibilities for you, there's plenty going on.

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I have lived in Kent all of my life and have never even thought of moving anywhere else,i spent most of my working life driving therefore I know most of Kent and Sussex very well. The last 16 years of my working life I ran my waste oil collection business and I know most garages in Kent from dealers to one man bands plus a few restorers and farmers. Some of these people I would recommend and others I wouldn't go near!  Kent is a nice place to live once you know the places to avoid but we are all different and what I avoid you may enjoy. There are plenty of shows and meets in the area to enjoy and I sometimes go a bit further afield if local ones get a bit stale. Loads of help on here from people in Kent and Sussex,so get down here!

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Ox in flames garage Knockholt is my local garage which is a old skool garage happy to work on anything new or old (they looked after my Scimitars for many years) with lots of knowledge and reasonable prices..

 

I know they are approx 30 mins or so away from your possible move but they are worth the effort to get to and they do supply some shitey but reliable courtesy cars..

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Another (almost) life long Kent resident.

 

I think the south of the County is the best bit, the bit that looks 'garden of England/darling buds of May', having said that, I've always lived in the North, and there are some good bits, but the North is more industrial - as part of a long term Thames Gateway industrial strategy.  The two motorways (M20 around Maidstone) and M2 (anywhere) are painful at rush hour and during holiday season.  A lot of road haulage comes through Kent of course (and not just from Dover).

 

Kent lacks a lot of good driving roads, but others might disagree.

 

My folks talk of wanting to live in the countryside inside the 'golden triangle' of Canterbury, Dover and Ramsgate. Perhaps in the Elham valley.

 

Access to the continent is of course a massive bonus.

 

1200px-Elham_Valley_2.JPG

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Another (almost) life long Kent resident.

 

I think the south of the County is the best bit, the bit that looks 'garden of England/darling buds of May', having said that, I've always lived in the North, and there are some good bits, but the North is more industrial - as part of a long term Thames Gateway industrial strategy. The two motorways (M20 around Maidstone) and M2 (anywhere) are painful at rush hour and during holiday season. A lot of road haulage comes through Kent of course (and not just from Dover).

 

Kent lacks a lot of good driving roads, but others might disagree.

 

My folks talk of wanting to live in the countryside inside the 'golden triangle' of Canterbury, Dover and Ramsgate. Perhaps in the Elham valley.

 

Access to the continent is of course a massive bonus.

 

1200px-Elham_Valley_2.JPG

We’re buying around there and we’re scooting through Barham and Elham yesterday. Beautiful countryside. There are a couple of cheap-ish old mining towns still...

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Another (north) Kentishman here, though I'm now an hour's* drive in West Sussex. Before you move down speak to your O/H and ask how much space there is for your tools etc. I'm sure even a plastic Keter type locker would be a good temporary storage solution until you can rig a shed or garage extension up between you. Or are all the tools Mike's property?

 

There are a few good motor factors in Kent added to this thread http://autoshite.com/topic/31549-good-independent-motor-factors/ some may be a bit of a drive for you to get to though.

 

Classic friendly garages? Can't think of any off the top of my head.

 

Nice driving roads. Avoid the M2, M20, M25 & M26 unless you really need to use them. The A20, A25 & A259 are nice meandering trunk roads through the heart of Kent and the south coast which go through some very pretty little towns and villages, and if you want to go south-north or north-south I think the A229, A249 & A227 are nicer roads in an older car.

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Hello lots and lots of potential new neighbours!  It does sound like I'm going to be a bit better catered to for tinkering than I am up here and that it'll be a bit more like it was when I was in Derbyshire.  Funnily enough, some of the areas we've been looking at remind me very much of Lincolnshire in the summer which I'm very much okay with, especially since Lincolnshire was my first choice for the new place to live.  Just a shame Lincolnshire wasn't practical for other half's work, you can get an awful lot of house for your money out there.

 

For the tools, it's not storage that's the issue, it's ownership.  While I should be okay for a welder and sockets,  there's a lot of other stuff that belongs to Mike that it made no sense to buy my own of  while I've been living up here, those are the things that will be a nuisance to lose, the main one being the two-post lift.  I've got some tools, and I should be able to tackle most jobs, but it's surprising how much of what I use isn't actually mine, so I know I need to sort myself out with the following:

 

Welding mask, gloves, gas bottle, regulator (I do have a welder courtesy of the Lincolnshire Datsun fettler who might be RatDat?  I always seem to get his username wrong)

Spanners (I have a few, but nowhere near the selection Mike has)

Hammers (I don't own a hammer!  How has this happened?)

Screwdrivers

Eye protection

Bench grinder/wire wheel

Machine polisher

Tap and die set

Hammer and dolly set

Cold chisels

Many, many nuts and bolts and miscellaneous fixings

Electrical gubbins, including soldering iron

Extension cable on a reel

Timing light

Multimeter

 

It's all fairly easy to acquire, it'll just take time and I'll get stuff as I need to use it.  If I'm looking at getting into pre-war stuff I'm going to need to stock up on pre-decimal tools too, but we can cross that bridge when we come to it.

 

We're looking at properties that already have storage and a garage, so storing things shouldn't be an issue.  There's been a few places that are really nice garages with houses attached, but they're often in less than ideal locations or have too little garden.  Other half is a gardener, so having a garden is fairly important, especially since he'd like to branch out (hah) into selling and propogating his own plants so we'd need the outdoor space for that.  House size is less important, most of the houses we've looked at are quite small and that's fine, neither of us particularly enjoy housework or the hassle of hosting parties.

 

The tough part, for me, has been trying to get the Princess and Rover as finished as I can before I move.  The less stuff I move with - body panels, especially - the easier it'll be, especially given the distance.  That's the trouble with cars, it can be a cheap hobby but once you get settled for more than 12 months you just end up with loads of Useful Stuff that's then an absolute chore to move.

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I love be your Princess and with it being local, would be great to see it if you’re ever able to come to a meet, smashing car that is. It’s alright down here really, even if most of us sound like posh twats. In my defence, I am a posh twat.

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What we really need is a FOADwerx style property where much messing with shite could occur for the south east....errr....massiv (are we one?) 

 

I think some Midlands shiters are planning, or do have such a place.

 

But, property prices down here kill that idea quite quickly.

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Once you've moved down here it might be worth looking round a few garage sales and boot fairs. Always seems to be at least 2 stalls at a Kent or Sussex boot fair selling good quality second hand tools.

 

Another good source of £sd tools https://www.midkentsautojumble.co.uk which won't be far from you. I believe they hold 2-3 jumbles a year. Next one is in May.

 

I may be able to help you out with a multimeter as dad's got a few lurking in his garage. Mix of swing-needle and digital type that he rescues from the WEEE skips at work, mainly because calibration date expired and BT deem it easier to buy new than recalibrate/check every few years. I'll report back once I've investigated.

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As some may know, I grew up in Kent (if I ever grew up as such.......) but haven't been resisdent there for nearly 20 years so much of what I can recall is going to be out of date now. The only one I can thnk of that still may be about is an excellent old-school motor factors in Maidstone called  4U2FIT. I was about the best in the county for both parts and knowledge. I hope it's still going but suspect the owners (Roy & Bernie) may have retired by now. 

 

Always loved Kent, Wouldn't object to moving back there is necessary, folks still live there on the coast. A great place that still has off the beaten track roads to explore. 

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Yes, Aylesham is cheap because of its mining heritage. Did have a 'reputation', but that was years ago, not sure now.

The village and its inhabitants had a 'reputation' at least until the late 1990s, but I imagine that just like the Kent Coalfield (RIP), it is now a distant memory.

 

If I recall correctly, most of the kids I knew from there (a lot of them ended up at my secondary school in Sandwich when theirs closed in the early 1990s) were a bit 'edgy' and 'cliquey', but were mostly all mouth and no trousers, and were fine once you got to know them.

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Betteshanger is opening a museum and there's currently a licence to extract in pretty much all of the old coalfield.  Nothing happening on an industrial scale though.  I reckon the museum applied for a licence so they can extract in small quantities for historical purposes.

 

I've read the coal field reports quite recently.

 

Dover is going up in price quite quickly.  It's still a bit of a hole in places but it's currently the fastest-appreciating place in Kent as far as I'm aware.  It still has catching up to do but Folkestone has really gone up in the last couple of years, too.  Chatham will be next.  I think I've made my feelings on Medway reasonably clear in the past...

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My father was a miner at Betteshanger from 1974 until the mine closed. He's happy that the site is being redeveloped with a nod to its history, unlike Tilmanstone, which is now a boring industrial estate, and Snowdown, which has been largely untouched since it closed at the end of 1987.

 

Dover is an odd place full of odd people with historically not much to offer non-residents apart from the port, the cliffs and the fabulous castle (lest we forget the white elephant that was the White Cliffs Experience). Hopefully, the new St. James's development will help lift the place out of the doldrums.

 

Folkestone is lovely, but I wish that they'd redevelop the Rotunda site.

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At least it's not Kent, Medway side. 

 

God no, not Chatham....... it was bad when I lived in Kent and apparantly it's way worse now! If ever there's an area that desperately needs revitalising then that's the place, many of the Medway towns aren't far behind unless things have improved recently. 

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I'm in Ashford, so not too far south of Maidstone, but moving to Folkestone in the very near future. It's a lovely area; beautiful countryside five minutes out of any town, close to the sea, excellent travel links - 37 mins to St Pancras from Ashford, and the Eurotunnel car terminal is just outside Folkestone, plus obviously ferries from Dover.

 

...the Darling Buds of May show is supposed to be the best one in the area...

 

It is always very good. Lots of local clubs support it, and the turnout is always excellent. There's also a smaller show at Appledore in the summer, which includes a very wide variety of cars for a relatively small show. The Oh So Retro show is in Margate (DW was there with the Bluebird last year), and there's a local club who regularly meet on the harbour arm there (Thanet Classics, I think). There's a tiny Morgan museum in Rolvenden, and a transport museum in Dover; I've been to neither, but they still to be well thought of.

 

Folkestone is lovely, but I wish that they'd redevelop the Rotunda site.

They are. It's at the planning stage at the moment, being funded by Roger de-Hann, former owner of Saga. The proposals are for some very tall flats, which local residents (myself included) object to. However, the harbour arm and harbour station has been done up and is a lovely place to have a beer in the sun.

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Potholes are a bit of a worry with the Princess, I have to admit, but the roads I've driven in the Rover haven't given me cause for concern except for a few bits of the M20 and M25 where they seem to be changing into farm tracks at HGV scale.

 

Just checking my map (because I don't know the area and have to keep checking) and we're looking no further north than Bearsted, no further south than Tenterden, no further west than Marden and no further east than Bethersden.  Oh, and I pronounce all of these places wrong, apparently.  Ashford is one of those places where we might be right on the fringe.  Sutton Valence would be the ideal but... £££££.  If I feel homesick for the north I can always go to Leeds and pretend I'm at Greggs.

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