The Motorcycle Diary James May's Toy Stories


The Motorcycle Diary

James May attempts to build a motorbike and sidecar entirely out of Meccano to take him, and passenger Oz Clarke, round the Isle of Man's famous TT circuit.


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Transcript


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This is a nut and this is a bolt.

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And without the nut and bolt we would be nowhere

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because nuts and bolts hold the mechanical world together.

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That's why this tiny, tiny nut

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and this tiny bolt

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are the most essential elements in the most iconic constructional toy

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of the 20th century - Meccano.

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And, if you're good at Meccano, you can make things like this,

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or this,

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or even this. And, if you have lots of Meccano,

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you could make something like this fully-operating crane.

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Or, if the amount of Meccano you have is measured in tonnes,

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you could do something like this...

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'In 2009, we built a full-sized bridge over a canal in Liverpool...'

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Behold, the Meccano bridge of no return.

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CHEERING

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'..thus proving that toy engineering could unite communities

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'and support the weight of a slightly fat bloke.'

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Hello, Liverpool!

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'This left us wondering -

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'just how far can a big box of these self-assembly components be pushed?

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'We decided to subject it

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'to the most fatiguing test of metal and mind yet devised...'

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ENGINE ROARS

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'..the TT racecourse on the Isle of Man.'

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Motorcycles have been raced around the Isle of Man

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for well over 100 years

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and, in that time, there have been many classes of racing.

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Now, in the early days, it was a simple matter

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of single-cylinder or twin-cylinder machines,

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but since then we've had lightweight, superstock, supersport,

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superbike and sidecar races.

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'There's F1, newcomers, juniors, seniors, formula classic,

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'senior post-classic, and classic superbike.

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'It's an exhaustive list that took ages to learn,

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'which is why it's in voiceover.'

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And yet, in all this time, there has never been a class for -

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or any records set by -

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a home-made motorcycle

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built from a classic constructional toy.

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Now that is a terrible oversight

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on the part of the road-racing motorcycling fraternity.

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Something has to be done.

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'This dapper chap is Sim Oakley, Toy Stories' chief engineer.

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'For the next six weeks he has been banished to his shed,

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'where his job is to conceive and build

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'a full-size, working motorcycle

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'made entirely out of this flimsy stuff.

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'Our objective?

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'To complete one lap of the Isle of Man's famous circuit.

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'It's a 200-corner blur of city streets,

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'twisting country lanes and treacherous mountain bends.

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'Get it right, and a top rider can reach speeds of over 200mph.

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'But get it wrong...'

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TYRES SCREECH

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'Thankfully, local hero Connor Cummins recovered and raced again.

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'So what drives this apparent lunacy?

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'Africa may be the cradle of mankind,

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'but the Isle of Man is the cradle of his motorcycle.

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'Since 1907, all the great names in motorcycling have been here,

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'treating the island as a testing ground for new bike technology.

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'And we plan to join them...

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'with the Meccano Mark I.

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'But first, to the pub,

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'to consider some fundamental engineering problems.'

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So will I have to sit on a...?

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I mean, what would a seat be made of? These, bent...

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I'm just going to have an arse full of nuts and bolts, aren't I?

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-SIM LAUGHS

-Yeah!

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It's funny, I've done a bit of motorcycle restoration

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but when you look at all the bits you sort of think,

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"Well, yeah, that's actually a small motorcycle in bits,"

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but when you look at that...

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I can't see the motorcycle in it.

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So if we've got a whole motorcycle held together with those,

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it's going to completely disintegrate within...

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a quarter of a mile.

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-It is just designed for making table-top cranes, isn't it?

-It is.

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'But hang on a second.

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'There was a time when Meccano was responsible

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'for the fledgling dreams of generations of engineers.

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'And as its inventor, Frank Hornby, would tell you -

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were he not dead - "You are limited only by your imagination

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"and the blood spouting from your fingers."

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But while building the bike is daunting enough,

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getting permission to drive around the hallowed TT circuit

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is proving even more complicated.

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What sort of thing would be in it?

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'In return for letting us ride,

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'The Isle of Man Government wants us to promote

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'the island's many attractions on the way round.'

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How are you going to do that, anyway?

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Well, I don't know cos I'd have to learn it all.

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Could I take someone else with me?

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What if I put a sidecar on it?

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A sidecar?! Really?!

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'That's settled then.

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'The bike will have a sidecar and I need a crusty historian.

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'Oz Clarke, then.

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'He has a razor-sharp relationship with relevance.'

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French cheeses. Don't trust French cheese.

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'He's bound to know a thing or two about kippers.

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'So, while Sim locks himself in the shed

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'to study a fascinating selection of tiny metal rods,

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'I head over the island to learn the circuit.'

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ENGINES ROAR

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So that's like doing 140mph past WH Smith's.

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That's how absurd it is.

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ENGINE ROAR

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Even though, obviously, he's wearing a full-face crash helmet

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and it's got a tinted visor,

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I could tell by the attitude of his head...

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ENGINE ROARS

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..what he was actually doing was going, "ARRRRRGH!"

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and then putting it back down again.

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'This isn't teaching me much,

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'apart from the perils of crossing the road during the TT.

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'So I decide to track down an expert.

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'This is multiple Manx Grand Prix winner

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'and TT champion Richard Quayle.

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'He's known as Milky

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'because he looks a bit like the Milkybar Kid...

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'although sometimes he looks more like a Crunchie.'

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-WOMAN:

-Oh, Jesus!

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'He's a local lad and knows the course better than anyone.

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'Especially that bit.'

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All we want to be able to say is that we've completed the TT course.

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-We're not after a speed record, obviously.

-Right.

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We don't even know if we can do it in one day -

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but we want to go all the way round.

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Right, OK, well that's quite an unusual thing really, isn't it?

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I mean, it's got to carry two people also?

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Yeah, it's got a sidecar.

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I'm going to put Oz in the sidecar, ideally. Oz Clarke.

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Oh, right.

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This is the standard reaction to news of Oz's involvement.

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Coming here as a newcomer, it takes at least three years to get to the position

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where you'll be in the position where you can finish on the podium.

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-Yeah.

-It's probably best to have a sighting lap, sort of thing,

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and see what you're going to encounter.

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'Right, this is what we'll be up against.

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'From the grandstand at Douglas,

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'we immediately encounter a terrifying descent down Bray Hill

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'before braking hard for a sharp right-hander

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'at the roundabout at Quarterbridge.

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'As the bike climbs out of Douglas, inviting high-speed sections

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'give way to sudden treacherous bends with unforgiving stone walls.

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'Storming through the three-mile marker at Union Mills,

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'we head west towards Greeba Bridge

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'before the challenging twists and turns of Laurel Bank,

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'where Milky went a bit flaky.

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'At mile ten, the course heads north,

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'up the piston-bursting Creg Willey's Hill

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'before flashing through Kirk Michael village

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'and flying towards the 200mph Sulby Straight.

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'Racing through Ramsey at the 23-mile marker,

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'the bike must defeat the vertiginous climb

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'up Snaefell mountain, past the Water Works,

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'and the tyre-shredding hairpins of Gooseneck.

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'Next, the deceptive bends of the mountain section await.

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'Sheer drops and stray sheep menace the intrepid rider

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'as he zooms past Verandah, the Bungalow and Duke's Bends.

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'At 33 miles, the course descends rapidly

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'towards the right-hander at the Creg-ny-Baa Pub,

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'then races back into Douglas to reach the start/finish line -

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'37¾ miles of mental and mechanical torture.

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'Having seen the scope of what our little bike must survive,

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'I remain resolutely upbeat about our chances.'

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How do you make a brake out of Meccano?

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Do we make a little drum? It won't work!

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There's a mountain, you've got to get up it.

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How do you make the wheel bearing? How do you make the steering head?

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It's all got to work really well,

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otherwise it'll just fall apart and we'll be killed...

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at five miles an hour. And that's embarrassing.

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Me and Simmy are working on the basis of an idea

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we had last Friday in the pub.

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We don't even know if it works.

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We haven't put a single nut and bolt together yet.

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You may never see this -

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this could be a complete waste of everybody's time.

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We could get in to the shed and say, "Right, Meccano motorcycle!

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"No, actually, it's not possible. Thank you and good night."

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But while I'm having a small paddy,

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Sim is beginning to solve some of these very problems.

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Starting with the wheels.

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By assembling a sandwich of Meccano plates

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and surrounding them with ball bearings,

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he's managed to make a fully-functioning Meccano wheel bearing.

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The middle bit is going to be bolted to our frame,

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this will be bolted to the wheel and the wheel will turn.

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And, like the visionary that he is,

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he's looked at Meccano strips and seen spokes.

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That's pretty good, isn't it?

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That is half a wheel.

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Half...

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Cut in half that way, obviously.

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That's as tight as Graham Norton's face.

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'One thing Meccano doesn't make is full-size tyres,

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'so we're having to make a small concession

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'by using some from a mountain bike.

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'Now we can see if the complete wheel is fit for purpose.'

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Now, of course, we have to account for the weight of Oz Clarke.

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I haven't asked him yet if he wants to do this

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but I know he's not very busy this year.

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So we'll start off by representing a bit of Oz with this bag of potatoes.

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This can be his head.

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Now, we're using potatoes to represent Oz

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because they were the first thing that sprang to mind

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when I thought of him and also they are needed at the pub

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at the bottom of the road for today's roast.

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So, if this wheel works, the potatoes will be delivered.

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If you're in the Chequers on Sunday

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and you don't get any potatoes with your lunch,

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it's because it doesn't work. It's that simple.

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-Ready?

-Ready.

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Keep your eye on it.

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-Now the...

-Sorry.

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The total weight on this wheel now - ignoring the wheelbarrow itself -

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is me, 85 kilograms, plus 20 kilograms of spuds.

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So that's 105.

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If we've got Oz on board - he weighs a bit less than me -

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there's going to be about 160 kilograms of person.

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Speed hump!

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-Ooh!

-Oh, it's good at that!

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'This is just a collection of half-inch metal strips

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'with over 400 tiny bolts holding them together.

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'There's more air than wheel here and yet, arranged like this,

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'it'll carry me and Mr Potato Head with no flexing whatsoever.'

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That is me and Oz Clarke on one Meccano wheel,

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except that Oz isn't saying anything.

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I like this version of Oz.

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'This is 70 kilograms - a full metric Clarke -

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'plus me, on one wheel.

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'On the actual bike, we're going to have three.'

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-James!

-What?

-The pub's shut.

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You're kidding.

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Oh, it's only quarter to ten.

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JAMES LAUGHS

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That is magnificent, Sim.

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Everything about that is perfect -

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the tyre stays up, the spokes are strong enough,

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the bearing's good enough.

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So what about the rest of the bike then?

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Let's get to it.

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Wheels are a good start.

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But a motorcycle will have an engine to drive the one at the back,

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which means we'll need a Meccano chain.

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You can see the basic elements of it - the rollers down the middle,

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the plates either side, and then the rivets that hold it all together.

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We're going to replicate that in Meccano.

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'This is like transcribing the Bible with Letraset.

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'Each one of the 180 links we need

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'is made from ten separate Meccano pieces,

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'and they all have to be minutely modified before assembly.'

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That only took about four hours, so we're doing well.

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'Like a real chain, it must be made to extremely tight tolerances

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'if it's to run smoothly on the drive cog,

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'or sprocket, as it's properly known.

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'Too tight and it will seize and destroy the engine.

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'Too loose and it will jump off the sprocket and mangle the wheel.

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'Soon, the tiny bolts start driving us nuts.'

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The sharp end of the hardened spring steel pin

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tends to mangle the plate,

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but if I give it a gentle squeeze with a needle nose

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and then I tap it in.

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Obviously, I can no longer squeeze the pins

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and there's a tendency for the plate to get chopped.

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'Once the chain is complete, we're left with just one big problem.

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'The thing that makes this motorcycle not a mere bicycle.

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'The engine.

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'Now, the standard Meccano electric motor develops 0.0025 BHP -

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'the equivalent pulling power of me in a night club.

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'But Sim's come up with a revolutionary system

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'of making dozens work in harmony to produce the power we need.'

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Right, you join us at a very exciting moment.

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These are our motor clusters, there are 16 in each cluster,

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three clusters on each side.

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They form the Meccano engine. We're about to test run it.

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I'll give you...three volts.

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MOTORS WHIRR

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That's three volts.

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That is quite fantastic.

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'Simmy's six-cluster engine is as ingenious as it is complex.

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'The clusters combine to turn the main shaft

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'via multiple miniature Meccano chains.

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'The front sprocket then sends raw power

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'via our full-size Meccano bike chain to the back wheel.

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'Yes, Meccano is just a toy.

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'But look at this. It's art.'

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-Give it a bit more beans.

-All right.

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JAMES LAUGHS

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Now that I'm... Just in...

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I was just going to say, "Just in case all the chains snap."

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Whoever designed that little motor

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can't possibly have imagined it would be used in this way.

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'It's amazing, but behind schedule.

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'By the time we ship our Meccano creation over to the Isle of Man,

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'we're still not sure if it's actually going to work.

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'With race day looming, Simmy and his team set up shop

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'in the local college to make frantic finishing touches.

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'And there's still one vital, full-size

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'but thankfully simple component missing.

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'Our minister for tourism - Oz Clarke.'

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MUSIC: "Bad To The Bone" by George Thorogood

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Right, Oz, here it is, the big reveal of the all-Meccano motorcycle

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that we will ride round the 37¾-mile TT course.

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'Our stirring music is playing, our crap smoke machine is sputtering.

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'It's time to reveal the machine that'll win us

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'our very own Tourist Trophy.'

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ROUSING MUSIC

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And here it comes now.

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Good God.

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And it works?

0:15:380:15:39

We think so.

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Unbelievable.

0:15:410:15:43

'As I teach Oz the intricate and technical

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'arse-first technique for getting in,

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'it seems that, for the first time, our bike is truly complete.'

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How fast will it go?

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Well, to be brutally honest -

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this isn't making it up for television -

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we haven't tried it yet.

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It's only been the length of the workshop.

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-It's got to go round the TT circuit and you haven't tried it?

-Yeah.

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You weren't doing anything for the rest of the week, were you?

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'And so with my sidecar sommelier impressed

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'and our bike ready to go, we turn in for the night.

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'Tomorrow, we race.'

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MUSIC: "All Right Now" by Free

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'Grand Prix day.

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'We should be down in the paddock, prepping for our 4:30pm start.

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'But, well...

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'..we're not.'

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Last night, during a bit of late-night testing by Simon and Simmy, the motorcycle...

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collapsed.

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'When testing our bike's stopping ability,

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'the front brake gripped the flimsy Meccano wheels so hard

0:16:400:16:44

'that the whole thing folded in on itself.'

0:16:440:16:46

That used to be part of the front forks.

0:16:460:16:49

That, in fact, is a bit I did -

0:16:490:16:50

that's the front brake calliper mount.

0:16:500:16:52

That's all mangled and gone,

0:16:520:16:53

the front wheel was completely mangled and collapsed -

0:16:530:16:56

all that's had to be done again.

0:16:560:16:58

Thousands and thousands of nuts and bolts and components,

0:16:580:17:02

the equivalent of, what? Three days' work?

0:17:020:17:04

Pretty much three days' work.

0:17:040:17:06

And it did all that damage?

0:17:070:17:10

But it's weak. Look, it's just weak, it's rubbish.

0:17:100:17:14

It's just rubbish!

0:17:140:17:16

'Simmy and Simon have been up all night, trying to fix the damage

0:17:180:17:22

'but, as they race to rebuild and reinforce the wheels,

0:17:220:17:25

'we learn that the Isle of Man Government

0:17:250:17:27

'is insisting that the bike must take a real MOT test

0:17:270:17:31

'to check that it's safe to go on the course.

0:17:310:17:33

'With just hours to go before the start, we haul our untested rework

0:17:350:17:38

'down to the Mot centre and try not to pace about nervously.'

0:17:380:17:43

Anything?

0:17:450:17:47

Not yet.

0:17:470:17:48

The tester's taken a few steps back, he's shaking his head slightly.

0:17:490:17:54

It doesn't mean anything.

0:17:540:17:56

I hate this.

0:17:560:17:57

It's like sitting outside the X-ray place in the hospital.

0:17:570:18:01

'After what seems like hours, I'm called inside.'

0:18:010:18:05

-Well, it's all good.

-Is it?

0:18:050:18:08

Well, there's a few minor little tweaks here and there

0:18:080:18:10

but, mechanically, it's all right.

0:18:100:18:12

Fantastic.

0:18:120:18:13

So what that means, viewers, is this...

0:18:130:18:17

..is now not merely a decoration, this will always wear that

0:18:180:18:22

and it will always be roadworthy here. That's right, isn't it?

0:18:220:18:25

It will always be roadworthy in the Isle of Man?

0:18:250:18:27

In the Isle of Man. That's right, yeah.

0:18:270:18:28

'We decide to leave quickly, before they realise their mistake.'

0:18:280:18:32

There you go, James.

0:18:340:18:36

There's your certificate of approval for your Meccano motorbike.

0:18:360:18:39

Thank you very much, sir.

0:18:390:18:41

OK. Thank you.

0:18:410:18:42

Look at that.

0:18:430:18:44

Oz and I are legal.

0:18:460:18:48

That sounds like we've had one of those new-fangled male marriages, doesn't it?

0:18:500:18:53

I don't mean that, I mean we're allowed to ride this on the road.

0:18:530:18:57

'Right, let's try that again, shall we?

0:18:570:19:00

'With just a couple of hours to go, we dash down to the grandstand,

0:19:000:19:03

'where the gathering crowds are already rabid with anticipation.'

0:19:030:19:06

I mean, he's not seriously going to ride the thing round, is he?

0:19:060:19:11

I think it's going to go over Ballaugh Bridge and land

0:19:110:19:14

and just disintegrate.

0:19:140:19:16

I think the wheels will fall apart very quickly.

0:19:160:19:18

He won't make the first hill.

0:19:180:19:19

'Everywhere you look,

0:19:190:19:21

'there are signs of professional and meticulous preparation.'

0:19:210:19:24

'Over at our own tent, I take Oz through the map.'

0:19:250:19:28

We're starting off with the roads closed

0:19:280:19:30

but given that I'm fairly confident

0:19:300:19:32

this is going to take us at least half a day,

0:19:320:19:35

the roads will open again, so we do have to keep a look out for people.

0:19:350:19:38

By sunset, hopefully, we're about here?

0:19:380:19:41

Well, ideally, yes.

0:19:410:19:43

'I hope he's right, because we've been given a very tight window

0:19:430:19:46

'in which to make the attempt.

0:19:460:19:48

'Leaving straight after this practice session,

0:19:480:19:50

'we must finish before the Grand Prix

0:19:500:19:53

'gets underway 40 hours later, 'on Friday morning.

0:19:530:19:55

'But, as bikes are banned from racing at night,

0:19:550:19:58

'we've actually only got 18 hours of daylight

0:19:580:20:01

'to complete the whole circuit.

0:20:010:20:03

'Back in the paddock with an hour to go,

0:20:040:20:06

'Will, our cameraman,

0:20:060:20:08

'is trying to make our bike look like the height of cool

0:20:080:20:10

'in our slightly grubby white tent,

0:20:100:20:13

'when this suddenly happens.'

0:20:130:20:14

'With practice postponed, the whole schedule has changed.

0:20:230:20:26

'The officials make it very clear

0:20:260:20:28

'that if we don't set off this second, we'll lose our slot.

0:20:280:20:31

-TANNOY:

-'All unauthorised personnel, please keep off the road.'

0:20:310:20:34

OK.

0:20:380:20:39

'As the crew grab Oz and scramble to set up cameras,

0:20:390:20:42

'I realise we haven't even had time to test the new brakes properly.'

0:20:420:20:47

If we can't stop, for example, the sign for that from me

0:20:470:20:52

is me cutting my throat with my index finger.

0:20:520:20:54

Crucial.

0:20:540:20:56

'Any mental preparation I'd been hoping to do

0:20:560:20:58

'is forced out of the window

0:20:580:20:59

'as we're shoved out in front of an expectant, waiting crowd.'

0:20:590:21:03

'We're simply not ready.

0:21:090:21:10

'We have no idea what will happen when we switch this thing on.'

0:21:100:21:14

Here we go.

0:21:260:21:27

'It hasn't worked.'

0:21:300:21:31

JEERING

0:21:310:21:33

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:21:390:21:41

What do we think of that?

0:21:410:21:43

Look at that. Look at that.

0:21:460:21:50

All ye mockers, look at us now.

0:21:500:21:53

'This is the single slowest GP start in the history of the island.

0:21:530:21:58

'But, for my money at least, it's up there with the most triumphant.'

0:21:580:22:02

As John F Kennedy said,

0:22:020:22:04

"Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly."

0:22:040:22:08

-Is that what he said?

-Yeah.

0:22:090:22:10

'All those weeks, 15,000 pieces of Meccano,

0:22:100:22:14

'all of it's come together in one glorious paean to speed.'

0:22:140:22:18

Check the chains, Oz, are they all still on?

0:22:270:22:29

Er...they're all going round, so they must all be still on.

0:22:290:22:33

Ah!

0:22:330:22:35

'As we finally leave the grandstand, the Works Meccano

0:22:350:22:38

'prepares to take its rightful place in the pantheon of racing legends.'

0:22:380:22:42

MUSIC: "Road To Nowhere" by Talking Heads

0:22:420:22:44

This is tremendous. It works!

0:22:440:22:47

# We're on a road to nowhere... #

0:22:470:22:50

JAMES LAUGHS

0:22:500:22:51

# Come on inside... #

0:22:510:22:53

'We flash along like a silvery Meccano mackerel.

0:22:530:22:57

'But coming up fast is our first major challenge -

0:22:570:23:00

'Bray Hill, a half-mile descent followed by a steep climb

0:23:000:23:03

'that will test our brakes, and then our engine, to their limits.'

0:23:030:23:07

Now this is a hill, James.

0:23:090:23:11

Has this thing done a hill before?

0:23:110:23:12

Not like this, it hasn't.

0:23:120:23:14

So this is the road test of the hill, is it?

0:23:140:23:16

I'm going to check the brakes.

0:23:160:23:18

-OMINOUS CREAKING AND GRINDING

-Oh, my God.

0:23:180:23:21

-Is that the brake pads?

-Yeah.

0:23:210:23:24

CAR HORN HONKS

0:23:240:23:25

The brakes are pretty feeble. Oh!

0:23:250:23:27

'These boots cost a few bob.

0:23:270:23:29

'But they're better brakes than the ones on the bike.

0:23:290:23:32

'It's not an auspicious start

0:23:320:23:33

'and we've still got the much tougher uphill bit to come.'

0:23:330:23:37

Thank you.

0:23:370:23:38

-OK, now, a nice uphill...

-Not sure I can manage this.

0:23:380:23:42

Oh, I missed. Thank you.

0:23:420:23:44

Slightly uneven on this side, James.

0:23:440:23:46

I'm going to go towards the middle a bit, the equal camber.

0:23:460:23:49

Speedometer's failed.

0:23:490:23:52

Afternoon.

0:23:520:23:53

'Simmy's plucky Meccano motor is giving it everything it's got

0:23:530:23:57

'but it's only just enough.

0:23:570:23:59

'It's already groaning under the pressure

0:23:590:24:01

'and this is only the first hill.'

0:24:010:24:03

I wonder if it's just worth checking to reassure ourselves -

0:24:030:24:06

I'd hate to break it.

0:24:060:24:07

-Right, Oz.

-Yeah?

-That sort of hill is far too steep for Meccano power.

0:24:130:24:18

So we're going to go on to Plan B - buggy power.

0:24:180:24:22

'To explain Plan B, here's something we made earlier.'

0:24:220:24:26

If this bit's made it on to your television,

0:24:260:24:28

it must mean we've got to a hill and we've come across a problem

0:24:280:24:31

with the power of our Meccano motor array.

0:24:310:24:35

We've come up with this.

0:24:350:24:37

It is our second motor, which is the one from a golf buggy.

0:24:370:24:41

Now you're all going to cry, "Cheat! That's not Meccano!"

0:24:410:24:44

But this isn't without precedent, actually

0:24:440:24:46

because Meccano themselves told us

0:24:460:24:48

that when they make a big exhibition model -

0:24:480:24:50

a giant windmill or a giant crane or something -

0:24:500:24:52

they often use something like the motor from a golf buggy

0:24:520:24:56

or a washing machine or even an electric drill

0:24:560:24:58

because they don't make an electric motor big enough.

0:24:580:25:00

They only make these puny little things.

0:25:000:25:03

So this is going to drive the same rear sprocket with a Meccano chain

0:25:030:25:07

to take us up the hills and then, back on the flat and the level,

0:25:070:25:09

we shall revert to pure Meccano power.

0:25:090:25:14

'With our exhibition-sized unit backing up Simmy's engine,

0:25:140:25:17

'we start flying along at almost seven miles an hour!'

0:25:170:25:20

Right, here we go, Oz. Here's our first big bend - it's Quarterbridge.

0:25:200:25:24

I'm adding power.

0:25:240:25:26

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:25:260:25:28

Thank you.

0:25:280:25:29

I think this is extremely relaxing.

0:25:300:25:32

CAR HORN HONKS

0:25:320:25:34

'As we eat up the mile, Oz starts regurgitating random facts.'

0:25:340:25:39

We've just passed Braddan Bridge.

0:25:390:25:41

There are two things about Braddan Bridge.

0:25:410:25:43

One, it's very close to one of the breweries on the island,

0:25:430:25:45

which I think is important.

0:25:450:25:47

And, secondly, Kirk Braddan is the open-air church

0:25:470:25:50

where up to 30,000 people go and worship at Kirk Braddan.

0:25:500:25:56

St Braddan is the patron saint of voyagers.

0:25:560:26:00

-Is that right?

-So we ought to just say,

0:26:000:26:02

"Thank you, St Braddan, for how far we've got."

0:26:020:26:05

'Thanks are duly offered but, only a few metres up the road,

0:26:050:26:09

'it becomes clear that St Braddan really hates Meccano.'

0:26:090:26:13

I think the wheel is starting to go crooked.

0:26:130:26:15

Yeah, it is. We've broken.

0:26:150:26:17

We've lost the beading off the back wheel, chaps.

0:26:170:26:20

-The outside beading has come off.

-Yep.

0:26:200:26:22

'We've only been riding for an hour

0:26:220:26:24

'but the circuit is already taking an ominous toll on our bike.

0:26:240:26:28

'We can't risk further damage,

0:26:280:26:29

'so we have to move to an adjacent car park for an emergency pit stop.'

0:26:290:26:33

The problem, at two miles in -

0:26:350:26:38

the tyre is held in position by these one-by-one angle plates

0:26:380:26:42

and they're not strong enough - they bend outwards.

0:26:420:26:44

So we have to double them up.

0:26:440:26:46

Doubling them up means sawing two-by-two angle plates in half

0:26:460:26:51

cos we haven't got any of the right ones left,

0:26:510:26:53

peeling the tyre off, undoing all those nuts and bolts,

0:26:530:26:57

adding the new bit, re-tightening them,

0:26:570:27:00

moving on, we've had to make marks so we know where we've got to.

0:27:000:27:03

It's fantastically, painfully fiddly.

0:27:030:27:07

And we hate Meccano.

0:27:070:27:09

'Strengthening the wheel is not only time-consuming

0:27:090:27:12

'but is using a large chunk of our limited supply of spare Meccano.

0:27:120:27:16

'But ignoring the problem would be risking disaster.'

0:27:160:27:20

Within 20 yards, we'd stopped to make sure we don't do any damage.

0:27:200:27:23

-So long as we don't do any damage...

-You've got a long way to go!

0:27:230:27:26

A quick repair and off we go again.

0:27:260:27:28

It's only 35 miles left.

0:27:280:27:29

-It's only 35 miles left and we have to make it.

-Yes.

0:27:290:27:32

'This sort of thing took long enough in Simmy's shed

0:27:320:27:34

'but here, remaking the wheel on the fly

0:27:340:27:37

'ends up costing us three hours of precious race time.'

0:27:370:27:40

Has Oz gone to pub?

0:27:410:27:43

Has he? Seriously?

0:27:430:27:44

That's just insulting.

0:27:510:27:53

'Finally, the bike is ready

0:27:530:27:55

'and we take the bike back to where it broke down.

0:27:550:27:58

'Meanwhile, Oz, having thoroughly road tested the local beers,

0:27:580:28:01

'moves on to another of the island's hidden treasures.'

0:28:010:28:04

Not a local landmark, a global landmark. A landlark...

0:28:040:28:08

A landlark?

0:28:080:28:09

This landmark, this local lang...

0:28:090:28:11

"The Bee Gees family connection

0:28:130:28:16

"with the Union Mills Post Office."

0:28:160:28:19

Is this where Barry bought his Premium Bonds?

0:28:190:28:23

'I arrive in time to save us from the worst tourist information film

0:28:230:28:27

'since Oliver Reed Does Legoland.

0:28:270:28:29

'But the spirit of Barry returns at the next hill.

0:28:290:28:32

'The engine's gone and I can't go on.'

0:28:320:28:35

We haven't got enough juice for the hill.

0:28:350:28:37

HORNS HONK

0:28:370:28:39

-Are you doing this on purpose?

-No, I'm not.

0:28:390:28:41

This is a bit baffling

0:28:410:28:42

because, according to my battery condition meter,

0:28:420:28:45

we've still got half of our juice left

0:28:450:28:47

but it wouldn't quite go up that hill with us both on

0:28:470:28:50

and, towards the end, not even with just me on.

0:28:500:28:53

Which doesn't sound quite right

0:28:530:28:55

because this motor and this battery arrangement

0:28:550:28:57

should power a golf buggy, as I said earlier,

0:28:570:29:00

with six colonial golfists on.

0:29:000:29:03

'We check everything but the mystery problem remains.

0:29:030:29:07

'We're nearing the end of day one and we've only covered three miles -

0:29:070:29:11

'a twelfth of the total course.

0:29:110:29:13

'As the bike limps and stutters onwards,

0:29:150:29:17

'we have no choice but to make plans to camp out.'

0:29:170:29:21

Right, what's the time, Mr Clarke?

0:29:210:29:23

Er... Oh, 7:20.

0:29:230:29:26

Right, it's going to get dark fairly soon

0:29:260:29:28

and we're not allowed to ride this at night,

0:29:280:29:31

so we're going to have to stop somewhere.

0:29:310:29:33

See, it doesn't like these hills.

0:29:330:29:35

Oh, actually, this is as fast as it can go, is it?

0:29:370:29:40

It's going to stop.

0:29:400:29:42

-Do you want me off?

-Yeah.

0:29:420:29:44

OK, one sec.

0:29:440:29:45

OK.

0:29:490:29:50

Can you jog ahead and find a campsite for us,

0:29:520:29:55

or a suitable camping location?

0:29:550:29:58

-Are you serious?

-Yeah.

0:29:580:30:00

Stalk ahead?

0:30:000:30:01

Yeah, well, you're not going to have to go very fast.

0:30:010:30:04

'So, much to the relief of the four-mile queue of traffic behind us,

0:30:040:30:08

'we have no choice but to stop everything,

0:30:080:30:10

'cart the bike to a nearby field, and set up Base Camp Meccano.'

0:30:100:30:14

We've done three miles out of over 37.

0:30:190:30:23

Well... We've tried.

0:30:230:30:25

Yeah, I know, but that's...

0:30:250:30:27

We haven't done it - we've got 34 miles to do tomorrow

0:30:270:30:29

and then the race starts.

0:30:290:30:31

We've got until sunset tomorrow to get to the end,

0:30:310:30:33

otherwise we have to come back next year.

0:30:330:30:35

'This was not the glorious first day of racing I was hoping for.

0:30:350:30:39

'The local scouts hear about our plight

0:30:430:30:45

'and kindly offer to sort us out with a tent and some grub.

0:30:450:30:48

'But we barely notice as the tent goes up

0:30:500:30:52

'and the sun goes down -

0:30:520:30:54

'all our focus is on the bike.

0:30:540:30:57

'We've even called in Milky to take a look at it.

0:30:570:31:00

'The mystery problem is that our rear wheel sprocket is too big.

0:31:000:31:04

'It's like driving a car and being stuck in top gear.

0:31:040:31:07

'Machining a new sprocket out of Meccano

0:31:080:31:11

'is a precision engineering job.

0:31:110:31:12

'Not something you can easily knock up in a field.

0:31:120:31:15

'There's no choice but for Simmy and Simon to take the bike

0:31:180:31:21

'back to the workshop for overnight emergency repairs.'

0:31:210:31:24

-Thank you.

-All right? Come on, then, guys.

0:31:260:31:28

Cheers, chaps.

0:31:280:31:29

I really would love a beer.

0:31:320:31:33

So would I.

0:31:330:31:35

Thank you.

0:31:350:31:36

Lovely.

0:31:380:31:39

Where's the bottle opener?

0:31:400:31:42

What?

0:31:420:31:43

Where's the bottle opener? Have you got a bottle opener?

0:31:430:31:46

You haven't brought a bottle opener?

0:31:510:31:53

Haven't you got one on you? A Swiss knife?

0:31:530:31:55

Well, I do normally, to be honest, but...

0:31:550:31:58

We'll think of something. Let's get this going, cos I'm freezing.

0:31:580:32:01

OWL HOOTS

0:32:070:32:09

Ow!

0:32:110:32:13

This kindling's damp.

0:32:140:32:16

Pretty much everything is damp here.

0:32:170:32:19

Here we go.

0:32:190:32:20

You could put the cardboard face-upward like that...?

0:32:260:32:28

That's gone out.

0:32:280:32:30

Hang on a minute. Let's think about this.

0:32:310:32:33

What would one of those proper survivalist blokes do?

0:32:330:32:36

Someone like Bear Grylls.

0:32:360:32:37

'We return to the bike at 6am, raring to go.

0:32:460:32:50

'Thanks to the overnight efforts of Mr Simmy Oakley,

0:32:500:32:53

'we're off to a flying start.'

0:32:530:32:55

Well, this is brilliant.

0:32:550:32:58

With my new sprocket,

0:32:580:32:59

the Manx Oakley takes off like a stabbed rat.

0:32:590:33:02

'I've told Oz to continue his voyage of cultural exploration on foot

0:33:020:33:05

'and to bring me back some local delicacies for lunch.

0:33:050:33:09

'I'm sorry he's missing all the fun

0:33:090:33:11

'but today is all about less weight, more speed.

0:33:110:33:14

'There's a lot of catching up to do

0:33:140:33:16

'and the rush hour traffic to contend with.'

0:33:160:33:20

Oh, thank you(!)

0:33:200:33:22

Think bike.

0:33:240:33:26

Think Meccano biker.

0:33:260:33:28

'The vacant sidecar is like an empty bar stool

0:33:280:33:30

'in a Spitfire squadron's mess.

0:33:300:33:32

'But the bike IS going better.'

0:33:320:33:34

This is going so well,

0:33:350:33:36

I think we can allow ourselves some Steppenwolf.

0:33:360:33:39

Come on, you knew it was going to happen eventually.

0:33:410:33:43

Let's just get it over with.

0:33:430:33:45

MUSIC: "Born To Be Wild" by Steppenwolf

0:33:450:33:48

-MUSIC STOPS

-'Right, that's your lot.'

0:33:520:33:54

Come on. Speed up, tracking car, we're putting in a hot lap here.

0:33:560:33:59

Look at it go up this hill!

0:34:030:34:05

Five miles!

0:34:060:34:08

Five miles, ladies and gentlemen.

0:34:080:34:11

We'll be back in Douglas for lunch.

0:34:110:34:12

'By 8am we've already covered as much ground as we did yesterday.'

0:34:140:34:18

Coming up to seven miles.

0:34:180:34:20

Look at this thing go!

0:34:220:34:23

It's Meccano, let's not forget that.

0:34:240:34:27

'Blazing through the beautiful Isle of Man scenery,

0:34:270:34:30

'dotted with examples of ancient torture equipment,

0:34:300:34:33

'I'm starting to enjoy the high-octane,

0:34:330:34:35

'thrill-seeking lifestyle of the racing motorcyclist.'

0:34:350:34:38

Down a gear... Brrmmmm!

0:34:380:34:40

Climb over the bike, push it in and then back on the power. Meeem!

0:34:400:34:43

There, I've wrestled it through the bend

0:34:430:34:45

Oh! Manhole cover!

0:34:450:34:47

'Meanwhile, many miles across the island...'

0:34:480:34:50

-OK, Oz?

-This is such a delight for me, I can't tell you.

0:34:520:34:56

TRAIN WHISTLE BLARES

0:34:570:35:01

I think James has got this all wrong.

0:35:020:35:05

We should be doing a steam train tour

0:35:050:35:07

all the way round the Isle of Man.

0:35:070:35:09

In fact, we could have done in the old days.

0:35:090:35:11

This is the only steam train line left.

0:35:110:35:13

You used to be able to go right the way round...

0:35:130:35:15

Frankly, following the TT track most of the time.

0:35:150:35:19

James could have done what he likes with his bicycle -

0:35:190:35:21

I'll be on the steam train.

0:35:210:35:23

'Meanwhile, back on the bike, there's no room for complacency,

0:35:240:35:27

'as I'm approaching the very spot

0:35:270:35:29

'where even TT champions can get it very wrong.'

0:35:290:35:32

Right, we're just coming in to Laurel -

0:35:330:35:35

this is where Milky binned it.

0:35:350:35:37

I think he...

0:35:370:35:39

struck his shoulder on that wall

0:35:390:35:41

and then flew in to that so... a bit of care.

0:35:410:35:44

Are you watching, Richard "Milky" Quayle?

0:35:460:35:48

That's how you do it.

0:35:500:35:51

'But as soon as we start the long ascent up Creg Willey's Hill...'

0:35:530:35:56

Ooh, this is steep.

0:35:560:35:58

Oh, come on, mate.

0:36:000:36:02

Feather the power.

0:36:060:36:08

Oh, I'm not sure it's going to do it.

0:36:080:36:11

'Having been fine all morning, the bike suddenly slows to a crawl,

0:36:110:36:15

'until finally it stops entirely.'

0:36:150:36:19

I'm moving again now.

0:36:200:36:22

I do need to talk to Sim about this a bit, I think.

0:36:330:36:35

I'm having to let the battery recover a bit -

0:36:380:36:41

it's getting a bit low - but this is moving under its own power.

0:36:410:36:44

I'm not pushing it,

0:36:440:36:45

I'm merely steering it and operating the thumb throttle.

0:36:450:36:49

'Having made such a good start to the day,

0:36:500:36:52

'we're convinced that we're only dealing with a flat battery.'

0:36:520:36:56

All motorcycles benefit from regular servicing

0:36:570:37:00

at prescribed service intervals.

0:37:000:37:02

This is no different, it's just the service intervals on this bike

0:37:020:37:04

are sort of 20 minutes or two miles.

0:37:040:37:08

It'll be fine.

0:37:110:37:12

'But as my pit crew examine the bike,

0:37:140:37:16

'Simon finds a tiny tell-tale piece of broken Meccano.

0:37:160:37:20

'It's not the batteries letting us down

0:37:200:37:23

'but that Meccano wheel bearing,

0:37:230:37:25

'and it's almost completely shot.'

0:37:250:37:27

If you have any knowledge of wheel design at all,

0:37:300:37:32

you should know that it's not supposed to move that way,

0:37:320:37:35

it's only supposed to go round and round.

0:37:350:37:37

The problem is that we've already worn that home-made bearing out.

0:37:370:37:41

At about... What have we done? ..11 miles.

0:37:420:37:46

And that is a tricky job because you can't just drop the wheel out

0:37:460:37:49

like you can on a normal bicycle or motorcycle - it's all...

0:37:490:37:53

part of the Meccano-ness of the thing.

0:37:530:37:55

What can we do?

0:37:570:37:58

-I thought they would be fine.

-I did as well.

0:38:000:38:03

I think we have to mend it because if we keep going

0:38:040:38:07

until it completely mangles, it'll destroy the wheel as well

0:38:070:38:10

and we definitely can't build another one of those.

0:38:100:38:13

It's... It's a few hours' work, that.

0:38:130:38:15

It is.

0:38:150:38:17

There will now be a short intermission.

0:38:200:38:22

'Oh, clock.'

0:38:230:38:25

CLOCK TICKS

0:38:250:38:26

'A few miles back down the road, we find a man called Tom,

0:38:260:38:30

'who runs the only motorbike and clock repair shop on the island.

0:38:300:38:34

'Well, most likely the world.'

0:38:340:38:36

-17 and a half?

-17 and a half.

0:38:360:38:38

I've marked it anyway.

0:38:380:38:39

'It's a frustrating process.

0:38:390:38:41

'We've completely run out of spares

0:38:410:38:43

'and we're forced to make our own replacement Meccano from scratch.'

0:38:430:38:46

We can always make it smaller but we can't make it bigger again,

0:38:460:38:49

that's the rule.

0:38:490:38:50

'It seems absolutely barking mad

0:38:520:38:54

'to be taking pieces of sturdy, dependable metal

0:38:540:38:57

'and deliberately turning them in to a flimsy toy.'

0:38:570:39:01

OK, so it's 17.5 and 13...

0:39:010:39:03

'But it's all in the true spirit of Meccano.

0:39:030:39:07

'It's also unbelievably time-consuming.'

0:39:070:39:10

The thing is, this is complicated stuff - this is like building

0:39:130:39:15

the back wheel of a motorcycle from scratch, not even from Meccano.

0:39:150:39:19

There are no pre-drilled holes, no pre-ordained sizes or spaces

0:39:190:39:23

or anything - all we've got is pieces of metal.

0:39:230:39:26

That's it.

0:39:260:39:27

'An hour of precious daylight passes. Then another.

0:39:290:39:34

'And another.

0:39:340:39:35

'Even if we somehow got the bike repaired straightaway,

0:39:380:39:41

'we've now got no real hope

0:39:410:39:43

'of reaching the finishing line by sundown.

0:39:430:39:45

'As we desperately tinker away, surrounded by clocks

0:39:450:39:48

'that only rub in how long this is taking, I'm at my lowest ebb.

0:39:480:39:53

'Oz, on the other hand...'

0:39:530:39:55

Slainte!

0:39:550:39:56

# Put on a happy face

0:39:580:40:00

# Brush off the clouds and cheer up... #

0:40:000:40:01

Mmm-mmm.

0:40:010:40:02

-Real stuff!

-Real stuff.

-You can taste the wind off the sea

0:40:020:40:06

and you can... Got a lovely, savoury, acidy freshness to it.

0:40:060:40:10

Absolutely smashing.

0:40:100:40:12

How many more bottles you got of that?

0:40:120:40:14

THEY LAUGH

0:40:140:40:16

Isle of Man drinks so far that I've been having

0:40:160:40:19

-have got a really good, old-fashioned bite to them.

-Yeah.

0:40:190:40:22

I hope this continues.

0:40:220:40:23

CORK POPS

0:40:230:40:25

Mmm-mmm.

0:40:250:40:27

-Thank you!

-No problems. Enjoy.

-Good fun!

0:40:270:40:29

This is getting a bit desperate.

0:40:340:40:35

What we imagined would be a two-hour repair break

0:40:350:40:39

to sort out the collapsed rear-wheel bearing

0:40:390:40:41

is now six and a half hours long.

0:40:410:40:43

We've had to make bespoke hubs for the wheels, a bespoke axle,

0:40:430:40:47

new off-the-shelf bearings to fit in holes, spacers,

0:40:470:40:50

we're running out of daylight,

0:40:500:40:52

we've got to finish by 9 o'clock tomorrow

0:40:520:40:54

because that's when the Manx GP 2 starts -

0:40:540:40:57

this is why I've fitted some lights,

0:40:570:40:59

cos I'm hoping I'll be allowed to ride it through the dark,

0:40:590:41:01

despite what the regulations say.

0:41:010:41:03

Carry on.

0:41:030:41:05

Right, 17.5 millimetres...

0:41:050:41:07

'News of our predicament filters back

0:41:080:41:10

'to our worried supporters at the grandstand.'

0:41:100:41:13

THEY LAUGH

0:41:130:41:17

Having ridden round it many times,

0:41:170:41:19

it takes a lot to keep 'em going, doesn't it?

0:41:190:41:21

I don't think the chances are with him - I think they're a bit slim.

0:41:210:41:26

Finally, by the early evening, we're back on the road.

0:41:310:41:34

So, viewers, if you've just joined us,

0:41:360:41:38

we've had a seven-hour session

0:41:380:41:40

repairing the bearing on the back wheel,

0:41:400:41:42

and now we're underway again and approaching the 12th mile post.

0:41:420:41:46

# Time I was on my way... #

0:41:460:41:49

'We haven't yet heard from the authorities about riding at night,

0:41:490:41:52

'but we have to set off regardless

0:41:520:41:54

'and hope they give us the thumbs-up before it's too late.'

0:41:540:41:57

So we did 11½ miles on the original all-Meccano bearing

0:41:590:42:04

and I think that's pretty good.

0:42:040:42:05

I bet when Frank Hornby invented Meccano,

0:42:050:42:07

he didn't think it would be used for anything more

0:42:070:42:10

than a very simple push-along truck

0:42:100:42:13

or a crude representation of Tower Bridge,

0:42:130:42:15

not this sort of thing.

0:42:150:42:17

'We might be running way behind schedule

0:42:170:42:20

'but the fixes to the bike are holding

0:42:200:42:22

'and, even though they must have been waiting outside for hours...'

0:42:220:42:25

How do I look?

0:42:250:42:26

'..the whole population of the island seems to have come out

0:42:260:42:29

'to help cheer us on.'

0:42:290:42:30

WOMAN SHOUTS

0:42:330:42:35

Hiya.

0:42:350:42:37

-Hey!

-All right?

0:42:400:42:41

Have you seen Oz Clarke?

0:42:460:42:48

Seen Oz Clarke?

0:42:480:42:49

We're the only people on the Isle of Man that smoke traditionally.

0:42:520:42:55

Ooh! Oh!

0:42:550:42:57

OZ COUGHS

0:42:570:42:58

Oh, those look delicious.

0:42:580:43:00

And all of that colour is natural, is it?

0:43:020:43:05

Yeah, everything's natural.

0:43:050:43:07

So that's your kippers for your breakfast.

0:43:070:43:09

Ah, the smell of one of those.

0:43:090:43:11

CHEERING

0:43:120:43:13

Thank you. Thank you.

0:43:130:43:15

Go on, James.

0:43:150:43:16

How did you know I was coming? We're seven hours late.

0:43:160:43:19

-WHISTLING AND APPLAUSE

-Thank you.

0:43:190:43:22

Cor, it's like being the Queen.

0:43:220:43:24

Can I smell that?

0:43:240:43:26

Oh, yes, I want that. I'll have that, please.

0:43:290:43:32

'Like a HOLEY Lazarus, our dead bike is truly resurrected.'

0:43:320:43:37

18 miles. Let's call that halfway.

0:43:390:43:43

19 miles on Meccano.

0:43:430:43:45

Come on, that's pretty good.

0:43:450:43:47

CHEERING

0:43:470:43:48

Thank you. Thank you very much.

0:43:480:43:51

I'm sorry, I can't stop. I'd love a pint.

0:43:510:43:54

'The Manx Oakley Mark I prototype.

0:43:560:43:59

'Its innovative full-of-holes chassis gives zero wind resistance,

0:43:590:44:02

'it's recyclable if you want to build a giant crane instead,

0:44:020:44:06

'and it can outstrip the top speed of a ten-year-old boy.

0:44:060:44:09

'Marvellous.'

0:44:100:44:12

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:44:170:44:20

Sorry I can't stop.

0:44:200:44:21

More speed!

0:44:230:44:24

I imagine in this rather lovely evening light -

0:44:310:44:33

that I was hoping not to see from the bike -

0:44:330:44:36

the Manx Oakley gleams in a jewel-like way.

0:44:360:44:41

Its silver has become gold.

0:44:410:44:43

Its front wheel bearing has become crap.

0:44:470:44:50

'And finally, after 14 famished, Oz-less hours,

0:44:520:44:56

'up the road, I see the evening light

0:44:560:44:58

'reflecting off a familiar head.'

0:44:580:45:00

-Where the hell have you been?

-Where the hell have YOU been?

0:45:030:45:06

Where do you think?

0:45:060:45:08

I've been going round the TT course. That was the idea.

0:45:080:45:10

I've got your breakfast. I mean, aren't you hungry yet?

0:45:100:45:13

I'm starving, it's eight o clock!

0:45:130:45:15

Why didn't you get a bit of a move on, then?

0:45:150:45:17

We had to spend six and a half hours repairing the back wheel.

0:45:170:45:20

'Oz's picnic looks rather unwieldy.

0:45:200:45:23

'But, never mind, he's back on the bike.'

0:45:230:45:25

You haven't got anything there we can eat on the move, have you?

0:45:250:45:28

-I've got kippers.

-How are you supposed to cook them?

0:45:280:45:31

Well, they're cooked already, they're cured.

0:45:310:45:34

What, cold kippers?

0:45:340:45:36

Well, they're not cold now -

0:45:360:45:37

I'll shove them between my legs for ten minutes,

0:45:370:45:39

they'll be reasonably warm.

0:45:390:45:40

'Unfortunately, over the course of 14 hours,

0:45:400:45:43

'I've completely forgotten how much weight Oz adds to the bike.'

0:45:430:45:46

MOTOR STRUGGLES

0:45:460:45:49

MOTOR CUTS OUT

0:45:500:45:51

-Sorry, Oz.

-What's up?

-You'll have to get off.

0:45:550:45:57

-You're not serious?

-Yeah, I am.

-I've only just got on.

-I know!

0:45:580:46:02

You can get back on again up there when it goes downhill.

0:46:020:46:05

-For goodness' sake, James.

-Leave the bread, please.

0:46:050:46:07

I will not.

0:46:070:46:09

OZ SIGHS

0:46:090:46:10

Don't put your weight on the footboard.

0:46:100:46:12

Your bread.

0:46:120:46:14

Need any help? Push?

0:46:150:46:16

No, no, it's OK. It's OK without you on it.

0:46:160:46:18

Shall I have a polite conversation with you as I go?

0:46:180:46:21

-Can I have a piece of bread?

-Bread?

0:46:210:46:24

-Thanks.

-All right.

0:46:260:46:28

-Actually, you can get back on.

-Do you want a kipper?

-No.

0:46:280:46:30

-You can get back on.

-Cider?

0:46:300:46:31

-Dear, oh, dear.

-Go!

-Why can't I get on?

0:46:330:46:37

Come on!

0:46:370:46:38

I can't get on, you're going too fast!

0:46:380:46:41

I can't afford to slow down, come on!

0:46:410:46:43

There's another hill coming up.

0:46:430:46:45

Oz's bread is good!

0:46:470:46:49

'Anyone currently writing furiously

0:46:520:46:55

'to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Oz -

0:46:550:46:58

'trust me, he's a resourceful chap, he can handle himself just fine.

0:46:580:47:02

'I might have missed out on dinner

0:47:130:47:15

'but, at last, like manna from heaven,

0:47:150:47:17

'there comes a crumb of comfort from the authorities.

0:47:170:47:20

'We CAN ride at night, but only under police escort.

0:47:200:47:23

'This is it then - one last-ditch attempt to push through the darkness

0:47:240:47:28

'and cross the line before 9:30 tomorrow.

0:47:280:47:32

'But in our way is over nine miles of mountains,

0:47:320:47:35

'steeper than anything I've encountered so far.'

0:47:350:47:38

This is Ramsey.

0:47:380:47:40

This is the last bit of civilisation, really,

0:47:410:47:44

before you head back round the top

0:47:440:47:46

and down in to Douglas itself.

0:47:460:47:48

The only small obstacle in the way is...a mountain.

0:47:480:47:51

'The beginning of the ascent is just ahead.

0:47:520:47:54

'May Hill, one of the steepest gradients on the course.'

0:47:540:47:58

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:47:580:48:00

-Go on, lad!

-Hang off the bike...

0:48:000:48:02

'Every ounce of battery power I have left is going into this push.'

0:48:020:48:06

Bit faster, tracking car!

0:48:100:48:11

Bit faster!

0:48:130:48:14

'I can feel the ground underneath me getting steeper.'

0:48:140:48:17

Keep going, keep going, keep going.

0:48:180:48:21

Keep going!

0:48:270:48:28

'I don't believe it.

0:48:280:48:29

'The one time we need the bike to behave

0:48:290:48:31

'and it's actually NOT falling apart.'

0:48:310:48:33

Faster, faster, faster, faster, faster.

0:48:330:48:37

Is that the supposed steep bit?

0:48:370:48:39

'OK, all our sound equipment

0:48:390:48:41

'may have just fallen off the back of the bike.

0:48:410:48:43

'But it's doing it.

0:48:430:48:44

'And, amazingly, it just keeps going.'

0:48:460:48:49

This is incredible! Look at this -

0:48:520:48:53

we're rocketing up the side of the mountain,

0:48:530:48:55

heading towards the left-hand hairpin.

0:48:550:48:57

Can't remember what it's called.

0:48:570:48:59

Kronk-ny Valley Froggy Fairy Bridge or something.

0:49:000:49:05

'We genuinely don't know why the bike suddenly sprung to life.

0:49:050:49:09

'Even with a full battery recharge, it shouldn't be doing this well.'

0:49:090:49:13

We're through.

0:49:130:49:15

'Even the crew can't believe it.'

0:49:150:49:17

I am doing, with my fresh batteries, 15 miles an hour uphill.

0:49:290:49:33

They are draining pretty quickly.

0:49:330:49:36

Nevertheless, it works.

0:49:360:49:38

Look at this.

0:49:390:49:40

We're still going.

0:49:420:49:44

'The bike powers on for almost four miles up the mountains.

0:49:450:49:49

'Not just matching,

0:49:490:49:50

'but exceeding the best speeds we've had on the course so far.

0:49:500:49:53

'Until, finally...'

0:49:570:49:59

I'm running out of juice.

0:50:000:50:02

I'm down in the red.

0:50:050:50:07

'We've used an entire battery charge getting up that slope

0:50:070:50:10

'but the bike seems to be in fine fettle.

0:50:100:50:13

'So, while Simmy changes the batteries,

0:50:130:50:15

'I ring Oz and tell him he might as well wait for me

0:50:150:50:17

'on the outskirts of Douglas tomorrow morning.

0:50:170:50:20

'Now it's just me, the mountain and Meccano.

0:50:200:50:24

I do feel a bit bad about not bringing Oz on this bit

0:50:260:50:29

but the fact is it won't carry both of us up this hill.

0:50:290:50:31

What am I supposed to do?

0:50:310:50:33

It's harsh but...but fair.

0:50:350:50:38

The bike has to make it.

0:50:380:50:40

The individual is unimportant.

0:50:400:50:42

Only the toy matters.

0:50:430:50:45

CHEERING

0:50:470:50:50

Thanks for staying up.

0:50:500:50:52

They're not just there waiting for us, are they?

0:50:540:50:57

-WILL, OVER RADIO: I think they were walking their dogs, James.

-Oh.

0:51:000:51:04

Something to do with dogs, apparently.

0:51:040:51:06

'So, with about five miles of steep mountain still to go,

0:51:060:51:09

'before another seven downhill,

0:51:090:51:12

'it's a long, slow, lonely ride in to the night.

0:51:120:51:15

'I've had about 12 hours' sleep in four days

0:51:170:51:20

'and won't be getting any tonight.

0:51:200:51:22

'This has become a pure endurance challenge

0:51:220:51:25

'and I'm a long way off my best.'

0:51:250:51:27

It's spooky.

0:51:270:51:28

Or maybe "Spocky"?

0:51:300:51:31

Shut up, James.

0:51:330:51:35

All right.

0:51:350:51:36

HE BLOWS A RASPBERRY

0:51:370:51:39

'And it's not just me who's getting a bit frayed.'

0:51:410:51:44

TYRES SQUEAL

0:51:470:51:48

-No, you mustn't do that!

-BLEEP!

0:51:480:51:52

'Scared of the dark, our young driver, Stewart,

0:51:520:51:54

'slammed on the brakes and almost damaged our Range Rover.

0:51:540:51:57

'But now, apart from the ghostly light

0:52:000:52:02

'from the police rider behind me,

0:52:020:52:04

'the road is almost pitch black.

0:52:040:52:06

'It's all gone a bit peculiar, like I'm in Lost Highway

0:52:080:52:11

'or that bit at the end of Terminator 2.

0:52:110:52:14

'I've got no choice but to try and keep it together,

0:52:380:52:40

'pray there's no breakdown or collision,

0:52:400:52:42

'and ride on into the night.

0:52:420:52:45

'I am absolutely knackered.

0:53:120:53:15

'I've got Meccano bolts stuck in places

0:53:160:53:19

'where I'll be finding them for the next three years,

0:53:190:53:21

'I've had half a loaf of bread to keep me going for about 24 hours,

0:53:210:53:24

'I never want to see another sprocket as long as I live,

0:53:240:53:26

'but the bike has made it over the mountain.'

0:53:260:53:29

# Carry on, carry on... #

0:53:300:53:34

'And it's downhill all the way to the finish.'

0:53:350:53:38

Ahead lies Douglas and a hot kipper.

0:53:400:53:44

I don't like to speak too soon but it is pretty much all downhill now

0:53:460:53:50

and I really don't see what can go wrong.

0:53:500:53:53

I think we're going to make it.

0:53:530:53:55

Pretty soon, Meccano will add its own little paragraph

0:53:550:53:59

to the great canon of Isle of Man motorcycling lore.

0:53:590:54:03

I think it is a historic lap.

0:54:030:54:06

I'm very proud of it.

0:54:060:54:08

It's a great honour as well to be allowed to do this

0:54:170:54:21

and to play my part in cementing the reputation of this great little island -

0:54:210:54:27

a reputation very dearly bought, actually.

0:54:270:54:29

Maybe we should keep quiet for a minute or so here

0:54:310:54:34

and remember that not everyone who's set off

0:54:340:54:36

on this greatest of laps made it all the way to the end.

0:54:360:54:40

# Climbed a mountain and I turned around... #

0:54:420:54:45

Some of them are on the island for ever.

0:54:450:54:48

# And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills

0:54:480:54:53

# Till the landslide brought me down... #

0:54:530:54:58

Right, as I've neglected him a bit,

0:55:020:55:04

I think I should see if I can find Oz Clarke off the television

0:55:040:55:09

and share the last little bit with him.

0:55:090:55:11

# I'm going up the country

0:55:140:55:16

# Baby, don't you wanna go? #

0:55:160:55:19

Oz Clarke!

0:55:190:55:21

Oh, you're not still carrying those kippers around?

0:55:210:55:24

-What a wonderful sight.

-Quick, quick, don't hang about.

0:55:240:55:26

-The race... They're going to close the roads.

-Right, right, right.

0:55:260:55:29

Get rid of the kippers.

0:55:290:55:30

It's your breakfast. I'm not letting you go without breakfast.

0:55:300:55:33

I'm having breakfast in a hotel.

0:55:330:55:36

'There's a mile left but only a few minutes to go

0:55:360:55:38

'before they kick us off the course to make way for the Grand Prix.

0:55:380:55:42

'This is tighter than Graham Norton's trousers.

0:55:420:55:45

'At the finish line, the crowds are gathering,

0:55:460:55:49

'and the riders are making their final pre-race checks.

0:55:490:55:52

'We, on the other hand, are almost on the home straight.'

0:55:550:56:00

Nearly there.

0:56:000:56:01

We're so close!

0:56:010:56:03

'After two months of planning and construction,

0:56:030:56:06

'one crash, five breakdowns,

0:56:060:56:08

'18 batteries, 97 motors,

0:56:080:56:11

'and well over 15,000 nuts, struts and bolts,

0:56:110:56:15

'we have roused Meccano from its torpid slumber

0:56:150:56:18

'and made it rise, like a perforated metal phoenix,

0:56:180:56:21

'from the ashes of forgotten mechanical ambition

0:56:210:56:24

'to shine once more like a silvery lighthouse,

0:56:240:56:27

'guiding to shore all those

0:56:270:56:28

'who felt lost in the sea of engineering indifference and...'

0:56:280:56:32

-WORRYING METALLIC CREAK

-'Oh, hang on.'

0:56:320:56:34

And...

0:56:340:56:36

Whoa!

0:56:360:56:37

And up.

0:56:370:56:38

It sounded a bit rattly, Oz.

0:56:380:56:40

I'm looking at the back wheel.

0:56:400:56:42

That does sound a bit...

0:56:420:56:44

-What is it?

-I don't know.

0:56:440:56:46

'I've had it up to here with mysterious rattles.

0:56:460:56:48

'Let's just go for it, or disintegrate in the attempt.'

0:56:480:56:51

Ah, come on. Just... You've got to do...

0:56:540:56:57

I can see it.

0:56:570:56:59

Come on, bike.

0:56:590:57:00

Come on, the Manx Oakley.

0:57:020:57:03

We're almost there.

0:57:070:57:08

There's the tower thing, there's the grandstand.

0:57:080:57:11

Oh-ho!

0:57:110:57:13

Are there crowds?

0:57:130:57:14

Yes, there are crowds.

0:57:140:57:16

There it is, Oz. There's the Scouts' scoreboard, there's the bridge.

0:57:160:57:20

-Sit upright, look dignified.

-I hope the brakes work!

0:57:200:57:22

We're going to do it.

0:57:220:57:23

OZ LAUGHS

0:57:230:57:25

Mind the bump!

0:57:250:57:26

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:57:260:57:30

More!

0:57:330:57:34

-Here's the man with the flag. 37¾ miles.

-We've done it.

0:57:460:57:51

-Yes. Haha!

-Done it! CHEERING

0:57:530:57:57

How about that?

0:57:570:57:58

We've brought Meccano to the mountain, everybody. Thank you!

0:58:000:58:03

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:58:030:58:05

Tremendous.

0:58:050:58:07

Well done, old chap.

0:58:070:58:08

Seriously, fantastic.

0:58:080:58:10

Thank you.

0:58:100:58:11

Glory.

0:58:130:58:14

YAY!

0:58:140:58:16

OZ LAUGHS

0:58:160:58:18

'I think I will never again touch a piece of Meccano.

0:58:180:58:21

'Why would I?

0:58:210:58:22

'Where could we go from here?

0:58:220:58:24

'A Meccano space ship?

0:58:240:58:26

'It's not airtight.'

0:58:260:58:28

The engineers, everyone.

0:58:280:58:29

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:58:290:58:31

'Yes, it's a 100-year-old toy

0:58:310:58:33

'that seems irrelevant in the modern world.

0:58:330:58:35

'Maybe it is.

0:58:350:58:37

'But what other toy could have done this?'

0:58:380:58:41

A very happy Christmas.

0:58:440:58:46

And I hope all your toys work as well as ours did.

0:58:460:58:49

James May attempts to build a motorbike and sidecar entirely out of Meccano to take round the Isle of Man's famous TT circuit. But designing a machine capable of carrying James and his passenger, wine expert Oz Clarke, around the daunting 37-mile course is not a task for the faint-hearted.

15,000 pieces of Meccano must be assembled to create a full-size, road-legal motorcycle that James hopes will be more than a match for the circuit's treacherous twists and turns, steep climbs and dizzying descents. And as in the real TT, the bike must race against the clock.


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