Italian glamour for museum open day

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The stately Bianchi is ready.

The Italian town car has just finished carrying dignitaries for a Passchendaele parade in Timaru, and on Saturday November 4, will be one of the star attractions for the crank up day at the Geraldine vintage car and machinery museum.

The crank up day is a cut-price opportunity for the public to see the array of items in the museum.

It has 100 tractors and 70 cars also a repository for many items of social history, including a recreation of the interior of the famous Morrison’s department store, the projection equipment, before it went digital, from the Geraldine cinema, and even a wooden horse from a steam-driven merry-go-round.

Member Graham Rae said the museum was known for its collection of machinery and cars, but it had so much more.

The cars, though, are impressive.

There are rare, old models such as the Bianchi Mr Rae has just fitted a new clutch classics, including Rovers, Jaguars, a Royal car in which the lights do not dip as they were not required to, John Britten’s camper van, and Minis and even a Maxi.

It was gifted by a family, as was a Jaguar imported from Asia for which a New Zealand vehicle identification number (VIN) could not be secured.

Because it could not be driven legally on New Zealand roads, it came to the museum.

Among the tractors is the “hen scratcher”.

It is an early Allis Chalmers with three steering wheels, one to change direction and two to control an ineffective grader blade.

It was used on the streets of Geraldine and locals said it went over rather than moved much gravel, hence its nickname.

Also there is a 1913 Saunderson and Mills tractor built in England. It is believed to be New Zealand’s oldest working tractor, and was bought new by a Woodbury farmer.

Its steering system in not for the weak-wristed. It involves the endless turning of a level on a rod linked to a cog.

Another interesting feature, and a trap for the novice, are its exposed spark plugs.

The museum also has a machine to show how knots are tied in a baler, a machine to turn No. 8 wire into staples, an array of rare chainsaws, and many household items.

The crank up day begins at 10am, with entry $10 and a gold coin donation for lunch.