Pensioner turns an old Land Rover into coal-powered steam engine
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A pensioner has spent £24,000 (NZ$45,000) building a steam-powered car for his daily commute to work.
Frank Rothwell, 67, gutted a 50-year-old Land Rover and replaced the original engine with a steam engine.
He wasn’t content to indulge his passion for 18th century technology by riding on a rickety heritage railway or browsing in a museum. Instead he set about building his very own transport back to the Steam Age.
After dedicating more than 400 hours to the project, the traction engine enthusiast and former contestant on Bear Grylls' The Island proudly took his new motor out for a spin.
The custom-built car works like a steam train, with the boiler being fired by coal, which then heats the water up to steam pressure to run the small engine.
'We all need a hobby and I like doing things that are difficult,' Mr Rothwell said
'I'd already built a 1910 steam wagon and got a real kick out of that so just thought what else can I do?
'I wanted it to be something unique and recognisable and something which no-one had ever done before.'
He uses the car - which can travel at a maximum speed of 15mph - from his home in Oldham to his offices in Chadderton, Greater Manchester.
Mr Rothwell bought the mildew-ridden Land Rover from a manufacturing company but didn't reveal his plans to the sellers.
He said: 'The original owners of the Land Rover called the car engine Mildred because of all the mildew - that's the type of state the car used to be in.
'I decided not to tell them what I was doing as think if you have any ideas, then the best idea is not to tell anyone.'
The grandfather-of-three said he encountered a couple of mechanical hiccups along the way but was confident he could pull it off.
Mr Rothwell said: 'In the back of my mind I knew it could be done because of my skills, it's just second nature to me to get things done.
'It was a case of having the money and obviously the time to do it.'
He said his wife of 50 years is less enthusiastic about the project: 'My wife Judith thinks I'm crazy and hasn't even had a ride on it yet - but at least it keeps me out of the pub.
'My grandchildren absolutely love it, they find it so exciting to have a ride on it and chug along.
'I think it's really good for children of this era to do things like lighting fires and using coal because they have little access to using things like that these days.'
Now, the businessman wants the opportunity to show off his unusual car.
He added: 'I have a plea to Chris Evans and his North West Car Fest event - I would love to bring the car along so the people of the north finally know what a proper motor looks like.'
- Darren Boyle, Daily Mail
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