The new little vintage 2CV van we acquired is well on the way to becoming operational. We decided to theme it around being vintage. To this end we decided to acquire an age appropriate espresso machine. Now the initial idea of doing this excited me as some of the old espresso machines were works of art.
Unfortunately our van being early 80’s coincided with coffee machines following the design ethos of function not form. So the machine we eventually chose was an absolutely stunning design, that the company decided to wrap in a boring cube. We are looking at ways to tastefully expose the inner workings as they are too nice to leave hidden.
Our little machine is a La Cimbali Eleva. Built by a company based in Italy (well where would you go for an espresso machine, Russia?) La Cimbali started out in 1912 as a copper processing shop in the centre of Milan, before moving into the coffee machine market.
This was the state of the initial machine, we happened upon a guy in Accrington who restores vintage coffee machines. We visited him, and the beautiful machine I wanted to buy was vetoed by our new director of business direction who wanted something more in keeping with the van age. Bloody kids!
If the machine looked like this at the finish I would be happy, but as you will see it doesn’t.
Various images of the complete trip down and refurbishment process.
Oh did I mention that we also wanted a duel fuel machine to take care of those times when the client can’t provide an adequate power supply, pictured here being tested.
And here it is with its godawful case added. A crime to cover those lovely internals up. I suppose being red and cubed it sort of fits the Citroen van quite well, I just think its cubist modernism isn’t a patch on the art deco look of its insides. Oh and notice the lever. Instead of pushing a button to activate a pump, this uses the original traditional lever extraction method. Hence the term, ‘To pull a shot.’
A Possible Answer
Just a thought that this might work. Though knowing some of our crew we would have a full time job replacing broken glass panels.
Anyway if you want to hire a coffee service, either our modern carts, or the vintage Citroen van with its vintage espresso machine then check it out here.
Don’t look now but the holidays are just around the corner. If you are hosting a holiday party this year, now is the time to get started with your planning. Leaving yourself plenty of time to put all of the pieces together will ensure that your party is the hit of the season. Here are five things that you need to host an unforgettable holiday party this year.
An Amazing Menu
Every great party starts with an amazing menu. The food spread will always be the focal point of any event, making it important that you put some thought into this aspect of your planning. Be sure to provide a variety of options, including healthier items along with choices for those with sensitive diets. You will also need to offer a mix of savory and sweet items. The timing of your event will largely dictate the scope of your menu.
You would be wise to choose some menu items that you can prepare ahead of time. This will ensure that you are able to enjoy the event rather than spending too much time in the kitchen. Leaning on the services of a professional caterer is ideal if your budget allows it.
A Varied Bar
In addition to great food, you will need to consider the drink menu for your event. Start with offering a few different types of beer and wine. You will need at least one red wine and one white varietal. Champagne is a natural choice for this festive time of the year.
It is also fun tocreate a signature cocktail for your party. The flavors of the holidays provide many fun ideas. Eggnog makes a great base for a myriad of holiday-themed cocktails. Mulled wine is always a hit for a holiday party. Or encourage your guests to get cozy with a mug of boozy hot chocolate or a hot buttered rum. The possibilities are endless when you have all of the popular flavors of the season to use as your inspiration.
Your party will go off without a hitch if you leave the heavy lifting to the professionals. When you choose to hire event staff, you will feel confident that every element of your party is in good hands.
Good roles to farm out include bartenders, caterers, and food servers. You can also hire staff to handle the set-up and clean-up of your event, making it easier for you to enjoy being in the moment. Regardless of if you are planning a large corporate blowout or an intimate celebration, professional help will take the strain off of you.
Setting the Mood
Every good holiday party includes a mood that is carried through all of the details. The decor that you choose will go a long way in achieving the mood that you are aiming to create. This includes choosing the right lighting. Candles are an easy and affordable way to add that special holiday glow to your event.
Other good ways to add a festive ambiance include using scents to bring out the vibe of the holidays. Evergreen, cinnamon, and vanilla are all good choices for this time of the year. Lastly, do not forget to create a great music playlist. The music you choose will help to create the mood that you are aiming to replicate.
All of the Extras
Do not fail to neglect all of the small details that will elevate your party to an event that nobody will ever forget. There are a number of extras that you can consider for your party. How about setting up a photo booth with a variety of fun props?
Another good idea to implement is to provide all of your guests with a take-home gift. Appropriate ideas for a holiday party include a box of beautifully decorated cookies or treats, cinnamon-scented pinecones, or a festive ornament for them to take home for their tree. These are the little things that everyone will remember about the party long after it is over.
All five of these items are essential for a fabulous holiday party. Lean into the spirit of the season to make this year’s party one for the record books.
When it comes to setting up a funfair there are a lot of misconceptions. People often go to bed, then when they get up the next morning there is a fully fledged fair spread through their high street. So how does this happen?
Well, the first thing to explain, is that we do have permission to be there. We once had a newcomer to a town ring the council to report the town being invaded by ‘fair people’, only for the council to inform him that the fair had been held in the town for some 300 odd years!
Large events like that take months of planning, along with a host of health and safety paperwork and permissions such as road closures, so its ludicrous for someone to expect that we have just ‘rolled’ into town and set up a fair because we feel like it.
Sequence Of Events
Most major events have been running for decades, and in some cases hundreds of years. So these tend to be firm fixtures in our calendar. Months before the actual event, requisite licences and permissions are applied for. Permissions for road closures etc are applied for. A comprehensive event plan, with insurance documents and ADIPS safety testing documents for all the attractions are submitted for approval.
Once these have been signed off. The showmen actually attending the event are informed of the ‘sites’ they have been allocated. These are all listed on a master build plan, to enable everything to be set up with the necessary safety spacing and such.
Whilst to the outside eye, the fair might look like a random collection of rides, games and catering units. It is actually a carefully choreographed set up with specific sections of the event allocated to individual attractions. Many of the rides are high speed, and need positioning super accurately in high street to ensure they don’t knock the lampposts down or similar.
On the day of the set up, the attractions pull into position. This is usually in a specific ordes some of the rides need a large clear space around them for the initial set up. Once everything is in and erected. Designated safety officers will check that the necessary build requirements are being adhered to. For example emergency exits are not impeded, or heavy rides aren’t obstructing the public pavement.
Only when all the boxes have been ticked will the event be signed off as good to go.
A few year back, about 15 to be precise. We launched an initiative to become the most environmentally friendly funfair operator on the circuit. We switched to running on bio diesel. Swapped all of our catering consumables to bio friendly alternatives. Started switching to the then, new technology of LED lighting. Even looked at adding solar panels and a mini wind turbine to our helter skelter to run the lights. We even purchased a set of Swedish designed compost tumblers to dispose of our food waste.
Armed with the glow of the righteous, we set about marketing our new services, and took pains to explain in detail what we were doing. And it went down a storm. People loved it. BUT, and it was a big BUT.
The reply we got when sending quotes in for our services was along the lines of;
“Wow, what you guys are doing is fabulous, we really love it, hope you keep it up, unfortunately the non environmentally friendly operators are just a little bit cheaper than you, so I am afraid we will have to go with them!”
It quickly became apparent that we were going to end up as the most environmentally friendly bankrupt funfair operators out there.
Back To The Drawing Board
In truth, we pretty much went back to operating like everyone else. The fact was that saving the world was just too expensive at that time. If no one else was going to do it, putting ourselves out of business wasn’t really a sound business plan. You didn’t need an MBA from Harvard to suss that one.
So, what has that got to do with the price of bacon?
Well, we think the time is right to re launch our aims. The environment is suddenly a mainstream topic. It beginning to reach the stage where being enviro conscious is no longer the exception, rather you are expected to take it into account.
It does help that items such as drinks cups and plates etc are dropping in price for the biodegradable versions. So mush so that there is now only a slight premium in using them. Most items, such as cutlery ,plates, bowls, cups etc are widely available in various ‘plastics’ made from plant matter, or sugar cane.
The one hold out is bloody straws, the awful paper things we have been saddled with are useless. Three sucks of any liquid and the things collapse. So if you know of an alternative we would be happy to hear from you.
Keep checking back, as we will be launching a new initiative in the coming months.
One of the world’s greatest treats. Ice cream ticks the boxes for everyone (well almost everyone, I am sure there are some strange people out there that don’t actually like it). Everyone has their favourite flavour, though officially in the UK vanilla is the number one choice.
However, there seems to be a concerted effort to cater for more, ahem, exotic tastes, everything from squid, to lobster, god forbid that someone should ever think of adding Brussels sprouts. Lets have a look at some of the wackier stuff that’s available;
Heinz Baked Beanz
Definitely not sure about this one, I love ice cream, I also happen to love Heinz Beanz, but both together, its like fitting a Maserati with a 2CV engine, technically still a car but meh.
Coco Pops Ice Cream
Aah, now this is better, coco pops good, ice cream good, coco pops ice cream double good. In fact why isn’t this a regular thing. Both this and the Beanz Cream were limited edition specials from a pop up ice cream store in Anya Hindmarch’s village, London.
Not sure about this one, personally I hate liquorice, and I’m not struck on salty, so probably a big fat no from me. I sometimes think that a lot of these ‘black’ coloured desserts, are purely made because the colour makes them ‘different’.
Goat’s Cheese (and Beets and Spinach)
Goats Cheese, yum, beet, perhaps, spinach yuck! There seems to be a regular move towards creating ice cream from savoury flavours. Some work some don’t, so I will reserve judgement until I actually get to try this one.
Jagermeister Ice Cream
Now this is one we have tried, we were hired a few years ago to provide a photo booth and ice cream cart, with the cart dispensing Jager flavoured ice cream. TBH, it isn’t a flavour I would probably have picked, but on trying it, I found it to be a thumbs up.
Whisky And Prune Ice Cream
I think this is another where the Maserati/2CV analogy would hold up. Whisky good, prunes, not so much. In fact they are right up there alongside Brussels sprouts as the food of the devil.
Hire Ice Cream Carts
If you are looking for an ice cream cart for your wedding or event, we can supply a range of different options, from the traditional flavours through to some for the modern favourites such as Orea’s, Bounty, triple choc etc.
Or if you are a corporate client we can put together a fun food truck package to dispense your own ice cream for a sales promotion of event.
During the lock down, like many businesses we found our regular business model changing. We have always provided a large number of catering services, but usually what we called fun catering, doughnuts, waffles that sort of thing. A number of our regular corporate clients started asking us for things like burgers, noodles, pasta pots, more of a main course sort of thing. We swiftly set all of that up, initially in a range of street food style satalls. Perfect as they could be set up inside or out. However we also came to realise that many of the clients wanted more than just the food, they wanted something of an impact from the serving vehicle. To this end we are in the process of adding a range of fun and quirky food trucks for hire.
Citroen Hy Catering Van
Based on the vintage Citroen HY van range, but built on a trailer chassis using modern materials this is a fabulous looking food truck for any occasion, perfect for high output corporate jobs, but equally at home at a high end wedding.
Vintage Horse Trailer
A fully refurbished, vintage Sinclair horse box, with a stunning black and copper paint scheme, and finished in a high end Sapele hardwood this fits many country themes and can be fitted with any of our range of catering options.
Citroen Acadiane Van
The newest member of our fleet, another vintage Citroen design, based on the iconic 2CV car, but with a van body. Designed for many of our smaller food offerings such as coffee, doughnuts etc. This also works well with our our other Citroen food trucks hire.
Only Fools And Horses 3 Wheeled Van
Probably our quirkiest food van, based on the legendary Del Boy Trotter’s 3 wheeled van, again designed to take smaller offerings, this is a real head turner at any event.
Mini Camper Van Food Truck
Our final offering (at the moment) is a mini camper van replica. Great for summer parties and beach themed events. Perfect for drinks offerings, but equally suited to food offerings. Check out our food trucks for hire and add a touch of fun to your party or event.
Another in a long line of distinguished British Marquees, that are now sadly defunct. Foden trucks was a major British heavy goods vehicle builder for almost 120 years, and a major presence on the British funfair scene.
Edwin Foden started out apprenticed to Plant & Hancock, a maker of agricultural equipment. Leaving for a spell at Crewe Railway Works he returned to Plant & Hancock at the age of 19, eventually becoming a partner in the business. On the retirement of its proprietor George Hancock in 1887 the company name was changed to Edwin Foden Sons & Co. Ltd. Initially building industrial engines, small steam engines and traction engines.
The firm moved from traction engines into Steam Lorries when restrictions governing road transport were eased in 1896 which allowed speeds over 12mph, and removed the requirements for a man to walk in front of the vehicle with a red flag.
By 1930, Edwin’s son, E.R. Foden left the company after a disagreement over the future direction of road transport, he feeling that the future lay in Diesel engined lorries. He founded the rival firm of ERF, (his initials) another firm favourite on British fairgrounds and subject of an additional article at a future time.
Foden eventually realised he had been right thereafter rapidly switching to diesel production with the launch of the Foden F1.
By 1948 Foden were producing a range of vehicles including buses. Launching their own 2 stroke diesel engine which powered many of their heavy models. They also began offering Gardner diesel engines as an option.
By 1958 glass reinforced plastic cabs were introduced, leading to the first mass produced tilting cab in 1962.
It was this combination of rugged construction, Gardner Diesel engine and rot proof cab which led to the Foden range becoming a major force on British fairgrounds. Most vehicles used in the industry were purchased used, and the cab being rust proof was a major plus point. This, along with the Gardner engine which had a legendary reputation for reliability, and the tough build quality was a perfect combination for vehicles expected to have a hard life on the funfair circuit.
Micky Mouse Cab
One of the most popular of the early Foden’s was the Micky Mouse Cab. So called due to its resemblance to the cartoon character.
Foden Trucks S108
Probably the most widely used type of Foden trucks on British fairgrounds was the 8 wheel S108. The usual rugged build quality, Gardner engines, now putting out upto 350HP and plastic cab.
Eventually with the downturn in the truck market, and economic woes in general, Foden fell into receivership in 1980. Subsequently being bought by the huge American firm Paccar, who manufactured amongst others, Kenworth and Peterbilt.
The Daf Cab Years, Foden Alpha
After Paccar took over Leyland trucks in 1998, Foden use of the GRP cabs was stopped. Being switched to the steel cabs used on Paccar’s other European marquee, DAF. Which were being produced by Leyland for DAF.
Sadly the Alpha was to be Foden’s swansong. In 2005 Paccar announced that production was to cease. Ostensibly to allow the Leyland factory to concentrate on increasing DAF production. The final vehicle to roll off the production line being an 8 wheeler. Which was delivered to the British Commercial Vehicle Museum
Like many businesses, we changed course during the Covid pandemic. Only slightly admittedly, in fact more of a subtle swerve. I always used to say that we provided fun catering rather than full meals or the like. During the lockdown though a number of our biggest clients started asking for burgers and fries, Chinese noodles, rice pots and the like.
Not a problem, we can do that. What did crop up as a concern though was the fact that providing 900 burgers, meant we were having to transport far more stock than what we used to do with say candy floss, which at most would be a big tub of sugar. 900 buns take up a considerable amount of room.
So what to do, the obvious choice was buy bigger vans, trouble is, parking is a nightmare in places like London when you have a little van, so something long wheel base would be a nightmare. The other option was to acquire some box trailers. These could be used for things like stock, freezers, additional catering equipment etc. And when we didn’t need them could be left at base and we were back to our usual small vans.
The first of our new Debon C500 trailers has just arrived and been collected from the dealers. Pictured below this gives us a decent amount of additional carrying capacity, both in space and weight terms. It also looks the part being a modern construction, so will look great parked up at events.
The first thing we did on taking delivery, was to get it straight into our graphics people to have it lettered. Now this is a new thing for us. In the past because of the amount of jobs we did for other events companies we shied away from having the vans personalised. But with some young blood on the management team we have rethought that position and will be making sure our new Crazy & Co. brand is front and centre whenever possible.
Ziggy & Our New Branding
Pictured below is the current design for the trailer. Ziggy our zebra logo is prominent, along with details of what we do. Our web and social media, and a quirky saying for those following us to laugh about.
Next up in our new range of food trucks is our converted horse box. We looked at a wide range of converted horse trailers, but were never 100% happy with the design. We happened by chance upon a maker called Sinclair, long defunct, but their trailers were different as they had a curved front panel rather than the usual triangular style.
After much searching we located one at the other end of the country, a brief conversation and we were told that it is perfect, ready for the road.
Cue and early morning trip to Bournemouth. On arrival, the rather vacant sounding young man informed us that actually the lights don’t work. Hmm, so not quite road worthy then. Luckily I had the foresight to throw a lighboard in.
However upon examining the trailer we discovered that it had four different sized wheels.
“Tell you what mate, I’ll ring the boss and tell her about the trailer and let you know”
Luckily I had a back up plan, I had found another trailer at Knutsford, only about 100 miles out of our way on the return trip lol, and this one was described as ‘mint’.
We duly arrived at Knutsford. The trailer was far from mint, but it was suitable for what we wanted. We struck a deal, coupled up and discovered that a short on the trailer lights had blew the lights on the van. That turned into a whole other saga as changing the fuse necessitated a full strip down of the dash to reach the bloody thing.
But I digress, we set off home sans lights. On the way we did receive a text message from the first seller asking when we would be returning for the first trailer. FFS, we left there 7 hours ago.
The Initial Strip Down
After careful consideration we decided that rather than doing what most people seem to do, a quick coat of brush paint and throw some counters in, we decided to make it something nice.
So we started with a complete strip down to the bare frames, leaving my other half to retort, all you have actually bought is a bloody frame!
Taking it back to bare metal we primed everything with rustcoat, then coated the entire frame with black Raptor, one of our favourite products. This gives a hard wearing textured finish that protects everything and covers amazingly well.
One of the concerns the health inspector had was that the original floor would contain years of horse urine soaked into the wood. No probs, as we stripped and burned the original wood flooring and binned the rubber coating.
A new wood floor was fitted, two coats of stain to seal it, then a new rubber coating.
Big Decision, Wooden Cladding
One of the major decisions was how we were going to finish the exterior. The original wood was a high grade hardwood, but because all the screws and bolts were seized in, we pretty much destroyed it taking it off. A trip to our local wood guys yard and a look through his collection of woods saw us settling on Sapele. A tropical hardwood that is related to mahogany, and is a fabulous colour, ranging from red to golden brown.
We used a soak in wood treatment on all the panels, then a number of coats of satin varnish, as we didn’t want an overly glossy look to the trailer.
We also settled on a satin black for the fibreglass roof and aluminium corner panels. Again, we wanted a less shiny look, though I admit the satin clearcoat was a nightmare to spray without it looking patchy. In the end after numerous attempts I gave up. But curiously, after a couple of weeks the patches disappeared and a uniform coating appeared????
The front corner panels were steel, they were overly heavy and badly rusted, so we replaced them with three mm aluminium. In retrospect two mm might have been sufficient as the three really took some bending.
Making It Different
We wanted a different look to the usual horse trailers, and I freely admit that we had seen an American horse trailer that we loved, so we used that for inspiration. One of the things we added to achieve this different look was a number of windows, both to let light into the trailer, and to add some visual appeal.
On To The Interior
Finally we got started with the interior. A number of steel frames were built in situ, with sapele front panels added and temporary countertops in MDF. A water tank, water heater and waste system, single and three phase electrics and a cooking fume extraction system. Also in common with our other food trucks we added a 42 inch display for menus and such.
The interior corners we added alternating sapele and idigbo strips to add some visual effect.
Another Of Our Food Trucks Almost Finished
Our programmable light panel.
We added decorative copper panels to the exterior and additional windows to the front. Just waiting on the production of our top sign at this point.
Continuing our look at some of the world’s ride manufacturers, we come to Wisdom Rides, one of, if not the largest ride manufacturer in the U.S.A.
Like many ride builders, Wisdom can trace it’s history back to being operators rather than builders. R.T. Dowis, the Great Grandfather of the current generation of the family originally purchased a ride to travel the carnival circuit in Colorado, Nebraska and the other Plains states, all by rail at the time. In an interview his Gt Granddaughter laughed when she said I would have loved to have seen his wife’s face when he walked in and said ‘Guess what I just bought honey!”
Moving To Manufacturing
Jerry Wisdom married Elaine Osborn, the founders granddaughter, giving up the chance to play professional football (Not what we and the rest of the world call football, but that strange American game where they use their hands more than their feet). Jerry being a handy engineer, was interested in the workings of the rides the family were travelling.
During some down time he stripped the ferris wheel down, redesigned it and created something that folded rather than disassembled. This resulted in the set up time going from five to six hours for five men, to around an hour and a half for two to three men. A massive saving when help is becoming scarcer.
Jerry took over the family carnival business in 1963 and set about updating and modernising the rides. A big part of this was trailer mounting making them easier and quicker to set up and tear down.
By 1969, manufacturing and mounting rides on trailers had become a bigger part of the business. Leading to the carnival side being sold off to concentrate on the manufacturing side of things.
From A Scrambler To A Sizzler
It was 1970 when things took off for Wisdom. They had bought the rights to a ride called the Scrambler, what we tend to call a twist. They redesigned it and produced a new version known as the Sizzler. Which was a major hit on the carnival circuit.
This successful ride helped fund Wisdom’s expansion into a catalogue of around 40 different attractions that they build today. One of their major claims to fame is that they have built more roller coaster type rides than any other company in the country.