I'm writing this post while on the Isle of Man enjoying a holiday. Earlier today, I took a trip to a new attraction to me - the Isle of Man motor museum.
My expectations weren't high for this. The sign, and indeed the view through the windows, suggested lots of motorcycles and while I enjoy watching the TT, two-wheel transport isn't much more than a passing interest. I've never ridden a motorbike and don't really have any desire to do so. - but the race is a big part of the Manx world so I reasoned a single visit would be enough.
Boy, was I wrong.
Inside, the cavernous building are over 250 exhibits. Yes, there are a lot of motorbikes, but these are mostly confined to the mezzanine levels. On the ground floor, there is everything else mechanical you could want.
Just past the pay desk are many cutaway models of cars and engines. Proper ones made by manufacturers to demonstrate stuff at trade shows.
In side rooms there are more engines including lawn mowers, stationary engines and steam railways. Admittedly these are mostly model engineering scales, but there are a few cabinets of RTR model railways.
One motorbike display on the ground floor shows Bonneville racers - and suddenly I'm chatting to the guy who builds them!
Chris Proctor is a self-taught engineer and speed freak. He talked me through the components of three different engines while I nodded and tried to keep up and not look too stupid. The engines are assembled from modified commercial parts but with a full understanding of how everything fits together and the "tweaks" required to ensure your machine operates. Laying down the power on the slippery slat surface is hard enough, but you can save some weight by ditching the front brakes since slamming these on is NOT a good idea.
As proof that this stuff isn't easy, Chris's bike is a bit broken, as was his leg the day after he took a speed record for his class. Now he's building a car to race there, the nosecone of which was on display.
All of this is down to father and son, Chris and Daryl Cunningham. They have collected the vehicles and funded the museum. Manx enthusiasts have lent cars to fill the space but at it's core, this is a dream garage.
It's a garage that is still filling up. One of the volunteers took me behind the scenes to see a London airport double-decker bus and luggage trailer, converted into a huge campervan for a 8000 miles trip around America. Next to this is a prototype rotary-engine Citroen. And a flower car from America (they follow the hearse with the back full of flowers), one of several in the museum and something I'd never seen before.
In fact, things I'd never seen before turned out to be a theme. One visit certainly won't be enough!
Isle of Man motor museum website
More of my pictures on Flickr