The Marvelous Brauer/Stromberg

Very few people realise just how good the Stromberg is. One of those very few is Brauer. He knows, as he invested a large portion of his student fortune in one at The Rand Easter Show one year (or was it the Pretoria Skou?).

We watched a demonstration in fascination. I mean EVERY time the good honest salesman hooked in the Stromberg the engine ran sweetly and WHENEVER he unhooked the Stromberg it spluttered and farted. Brauer was SOLD. He just KNEW this was the answer to his faded-blue Cortina with faded-black linoleum roof’s problems. Instead of taking it for a long overdue service and changing the oil, water, filter and spark plugs, he would sommer just fit a Stromberg. What could possibly go wrong go wrong, and who could doubt this:

Stromberg

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Here’s an email thread that sparked the discussion of the amazing Stromberg phenomenon:

2015/08/30 Steve Reed wrote: Re: Fat takkies

Further proof that nothing stays the same. From our youthful past, it was always a “given” that the back takkies would be fatter than the front …Specially if you have the windgat  version. Now the Audi RS3 has em 2cm fatter  in the front than the back if you have the windgat version.

Really…I am getting too old for all this.  Do they have to mess with everything?

Me: Yep. Because they can . . .

I remember the mindset change I had to undergo when diesels started getting status. Ditto when auto boxes started making more sense than manual? Had to quietly swallow a few ‘definite’ and ‘absolute’ statements made in ignorance!

One of my fascinations has been looking up when the first ____ (whatever) was ever fitted or used in a car.

First electric car – 1881 in France

First patent for seat belts – 1885. But still not compulsory when we grew up and STILL not compulsory throughout the USA today. Politicians in many states wouldn’t dare vote for such a law!

First petrol-electric hybrid – 1899 Lohner-Porsche Mixte

First modern hybrid car – 1904 Auto-Mixte (Belgium)

First four-wheel drive car – 1910 Caldwell Vale

First 8-speed manual – 1931 Maybach DS8

First diesel engined production car — 1935 Citroen Rosalie

First automatic transmission – 1939 Oldsmobile Hydra-Matic, also the first 4-speed automatic.

First trip computer – 1958 Saab GT750

and so on – almost always WAY before I would have guessed !

Brauer: A glaring omission has been noted from your ”when was it first fitted” list:

THE FAMOUS STROMBERG

Do you recall how I had Alan Saks (the great car fundi) going  on this one . . ?

Me: I do. Didn’t we see it some show or other? A great demonstration. If it had been a religion I’d have converted. I would be a Strombergie now.

Who would think Pretoria would have a skou!? What is there to show?

So Alan was not an all-knowing deskundige after all?! Even HE could learn a thing or two?

Brauer: The one and only Pretoria Skou. ca 1976. Alan had driven my Cortina a few days prior and was subjected to the stop/start lurching. He had many remedies and suggestions. I obviously thanked him for his advice, BUT ALSO ENLIGHTENED HIM re: THE NEWLY PURCHASED SOLVER-OF-ALL-CAR-PROBLEMS . . . THE STROMBERG. Remembering the  “God-ordained” visit to the Skou and that Stromberg stand where we witnessed the justifiably impressive presentation of a product that should have outstripped Microsoft in sales.

To which he chuckled and shook his head in disbelief. I hauled it off the floor behind the driver’s seat to show him. I remember a few choice expletives . . “complete f…ing piece of sh-t” etc etc.

So that weekend I started installing said Stromberg, which involved a rare opening of the bonnet (a procedure I normally advise against to any motoring enthusiast). For starters (no pun intended), after glancing at the oil coated sparks, I thought that while the bonnet was open I might just clean the sparks and set the gaps. Before removing the Stromberg off it’s familiar position of lying on the floor behind the driver’s seat I thought I’d take the Cortina for a spin to see if it still could go after my risky DIY service.

Shit a brick . . it flew! (“why the hell didn’t I do that long ago!?” rolling through my thoughts as the apparently turbocharged Cortina used our sedate suburban streets as its new-found race track).

After getting back home I parked the car and almost forget what I’d started . . THE STROMBERG.

I quickly installed it on-line on the main spark lead and couldn’t wait for Alan’s visit that arvie. Chucked him my keys and said he should take the Cortina for a spin to see if he could tell if the Stromberg had made any diffs . . . The rest is folklore history . . he was stunned into silence, well for at least 3 minutes – but a Saks record nevertheless.

Steve Reed chipped in: You will laugh out the udder side of your face when you read these glowing endorsements. I think I am going to buy one online right now.

stromberg

Me: Brauer, you forgot to put in the most important feature of the Cortina: The colour. What colour was it?

(I read about a popular radio talk show in the States: Two brothers had a “Car Experts” show. People would phone in and ask about the problems they were having with their cars. Long technical details of what the clutch and carburetor and shit were doing and where the smoke was coming out of etc etc – and the one brother would ask “Tell me: This Corvette of yours: What color is it?”).

.

It was light blue.

– the Cortina after the stromberg was fitted –
– before stromberg –

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Tshwane Hooligans

Tshwane – Interesting place, Tshwane, famous for the protection of its inebriates.

Home of the Self-Guided Car

Brauer crashes Audi
Brauer crashes Audi

Few people know that Pretoria Boys High, Audi and Elon Musk were secretly piloting a new self-driving car in Tshwane when their test pilot, one PH Brauer, Esq, pulled out of the program for reasons unknown, although rumour has it his wife gave him a thick ear one evening after golf. Details are sketchy, as is the test pilot, a Pretoria Boys High old boy. A PHB from PBH you could say. Some of the project’s left-over funds were spent re-building a school wall. You’d think they would speed up the research, cos some people really do need to have their steering wheel removed – as in the top picture.

So that didn’t really work out.

Home of the Amphibious Canoe

OK, that didn’t work so well either, but at least there was no ongeluk thanks to the presence of two more responsible parties and the same long-suffering wife who took over the wheel of a high-powered vehicle at a crucial point when the inebriated one on the white Ford Cortina roofrack, one PH Brauer, Esq, thought paddling the Dusi was as easy as running Comrades.

Home of the Original Toilet Bowl Airbag

Brauer toilet airbag
toilet airbag

This field project took place outside Tshwane city limits in rural Yeoville on the second floor of a two-storey buidling. It also didn’t really work so well as the protective airbag failed to deploy until after the teeth of the main character in the act, one PH Brauer, Esq, had already chipped the porcelain. Work is continuing on developing a more robust alcohol fume sensor that triggers the bag. It seems the original sensor was simply overwhelmed by the overload and went phhht.t.t. and instead of inflating the bag it caused deflation in more areas than one. Some left-over shards of porcelain from the shattered toilet were used as a temporary stop-gap in the teeth gaps. Thutty years later they were still there and he was still saying he’d go for the permanent crowns ‘soon.’

Home of Gullible Stromberg Suckers

Although handicapped by the absence of any alcohol consumption, this project went surprisingly well, when the sucker in question, one PH Brauer, Esq, paid a premium price for a piece of inert plastic to attach to his car’s sparkplug cable. Or fuel pipe. Or windscreen wiper cable. It doesn’t matter where you clamp it. The resulting imaginary marginal improvement in performance from sat to so-so was enough to impress another Tshwane deskundige – a brother-in-law of the original sucker – into believing the scam. Both were so taken in they gave the old pale blue Cortina its first service and wax.

Home of a Future Dynasty

– australopithecine swanies out birding –

Interesting place, Tshwane, ancestral home of the australopithecine Tshwanepoels, where we have land claims we haven’t exercised. Yet. But we know the area well from having lived there for many generations, eating various antelope and picking berries. Also Terry’s famous roast and extra veg cos some people don’t eat their vegetables.

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ongeluk – smash; prang; crash; motor vehicle accident

sat – farktap – sluggish+; very sluggish; unimpressive

farktap – not well

deskundige – ‘like Des’; spurt; eggspurt; would-be expert; given to calling things ‘kak’

kak – not good; sub-standard

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Power Brakes and Brauer Breaks

While staying at 4 Hillside Road Parktown we prepared for the holidays. I was taking the delightful Cheryl Forsdick down to Port Shepstone in Natal where she was meeting her folks, the redoubtable Ginger, fierce platinum-haired mine manager of renown, and Mrs F.

It was the grey and grey Opel Concorde OHS 5678’s longest trip and at the last minute I started to worry about the brakes. They weren’t the best. So I toddled off to the spare parts place and bought what they said would fix them.

21st birthday present!! An Opel Concorde DeLuxe 1700 in sophisticated tones of grey and grey. Note my reflection in the gleaming bonnet!

The day before we were to leave I stripped the drums and put in the new shoes. Does that sound right? It was a fiddly job and took ages to get right, the springs kept springing. Testing them entailed many trips up and down Hillside Road under the closed arch of the big old London Plane trees. Luckily it’s a cul-de-sac. Jamming on brakes I would go screeching into the left gutter, then I’d go home and adjust the whatevers and then go slewing into the right gutter. Then beertime came and it had to be good enough.

– watch out! he’s on the move! –

A raucous year-end party ensued and unfortunately Brauer had invited himself. So even more beer than normal was swallowed and cleverer and cleverer.

In the wee hours he spotted the grey and grey Opel Concorde sitting sleekly in the driveway, poised for its long journey to that last outpost of the British Empire. His drink-addled brain (brain?) had recently been thinking (thinking?) about the Mercedes “pagoda roof” sports car classic and he decided my car needed a conversion, so he danced on the roof in his old blue suede shoes (think I’m kidding? I’ll show you a photo). And the more us sensible people told him to stop the more he danced. You know how he is.

He thought he was doing this – and in fact had the cheek to suggest I should pay him for enhancing the Opel:

But in fact he did this (actual footage):

I had to lie on my back on the seat and push up the roof with my feet the next morning so we could sit in the thing for our southward safari. I was careful to use the brakes as little as possible all the way through the Vrystaat vlaktes, down van Reenen’s Pass and on to the sparkling Indian Ocean where the sharks (but not yet the Sharks) were awaiting their annual dose of Vaalie flesh.

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– rooftop dancers –

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P Addled Brains

That Pretoria restaurant probably spiked our drinks with omega fish oil because when they finally asked us to leave we were brilliant.
We wisely allowed Terry to drive my white Ford Cortina 2-litre deluxe GL while Pierre and Old Pete and I gave comments, directions, instructions, witticisms and dropped pearls – or bokdrols – of wisdom.

‘Twas a balmy night and the breeze was slight. The canoe on the roofrack seemed to Brauer to be a better bet for catching that breeze, so he nimbly hopped out of the window and sat in the cockpit of my Dusi boat, a white Limfy with red deck with matching red tie-downs. I was on an army camp and had brought the boat to get some time off as I was ‘training for Dusi’ on Roodeplaat dam.

First Duzi. Dad seconds in my Cortina 2,0l GL

Terry thought ‘Uh! Oh! HKK’ and pressed on the accelerator to get us home quicker, which meant the breeze inside the car was now adequate. With Brauer’s departure the average IQ in the car had also risen appreciably.
Outside meantime, Brauer started undoing the paddle possibly thinking he could speed up matters if he also paddled through the air. My warnings that the rope tying the paddle on was also the rope holding the boat on, just spurred him to loosen it more. You know how he is.
Which caused Terry to press harder on the accelerator thinking if I go really fast maybe the cops won’t notice there’s a carbuncle on my roof and now we were FLYING! This was not good . . .
Brauer’s ass was saved by a red light where we managed to haul him down and explain gravity, wind resistance, speed, inertia, impact, abrasions, contusions and broken bones to him. As usual, I was the stabilising influence.

He did seem to understand at last, as he poured some stiff drinks when we got home to the Gramadoelas in Tshwane – ancestral home of the original Tshwanepoels, to which we have land claim rights. But that’s another (important) story for another barmy evening.

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bokdrols – like pearls, more temporary, though

Dusi – The Dusi Canoe Marathon

HKK = Uh, Oh! Here Comes Trouble

LimfyLimfjorden kayak; sleek fibreglass speed machine (Hey! It was – in 1959!)

Gramadoelas – upmarket suburb in Pretoria, or – more correctly – Tshwane; some call it Maroelana

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Comment followed –

Terry Brauer: No-one ever believes that story Pete! My two Peters really have aged me rapidly I fear. When I look back I guess I deserve some accolades for hanging in there!

Me: ‘Some accolades!?’ You deserve a Nobel Peace Prize, a Victoria Cross, various gold medals, an Oscar and a salary increase with perks including danger pay! And that’s just for surviving Pete – I haven’t factored Ryan into that deal . . .

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