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Gethins Big BMW Trip

1st April 2014

Traffic on the A40 was unusually light and all 13 member arrived in plenty of time for the start of the tour at 6.00 and found that it was not just one of Gethin's April fool jokes.

After the initial safety briefing we were kitted out in black Mini warehouse coats each given a personal radio receiver and rings taped up we were ready to start.

A new feature of the tour was a visit to the body shop to see the assembly of all the small pressings made at Swindon and welded up by 900 robots into galvanised body shells ready to be painted.
We were unable to enter the paint shop as the safety elf was on duty again.

Next we were bussed to the assembly shop, once the old Pressed Steel tool shop where I worked in the late 1950's. Then it was a filthy, dirty building full of dust and metal filings and so very noisy, to see it looking more like a laboratory than a factory producing over 350,000 cars a year was amazing.
We watched as complete assemblies were brought in from outside suppliers in the order that the computer had decided that the cars would be built in and these were bolted to the body shell and only then became the property of BMW Mini and eventually due for payment. As BMW only build cars to firm orders you can see what a  cost effective method this is.

We followed the process on around the assembly tracks and watched as the engine, gearbox and front suspension units were mated with the body shell, by now already fitted with rear suspension, glass and interior trim was fitted by more robots and moved on to where a choice of 27 different wheel combinations could be fitted and on to the fitting and adjusting of the doors and tailgate. Then the fluids were injected to the engine cooling system, hydraulic brake system and the air conditioning and the cars started and driven away to the dispatch area after a short run on a rolling road. Ten per cent of the cars were then driven to a special inspection area for a more detailed examination as part of the BMW quality control system.

One interesting fact given out during the factory tour was that last month China became  BMW Mini's third largest market place displacing Germany, they also supply the glass and other components to Cowley.

Strange that this large affluent market still gets millions in aid from the UK taxpayer.

The USA and UK are still ahead of China, so far.

We then ended the tour and drove down the A40 to the Evenlode hotel at Eynsham where we joined Jayne and Jan who had stalwartly sampled the red wine to ensure that we were not disappointed. Most of us had an enjoyable meal but the new chef did seem to be in trouble and the hotel cancelled the charge for the meals affected. They also dismissed the chef. We certainly are noticed when we go out as a club.

The owners have promised a new chef will be installed and will be fully operational by the time we visit again for lunch as part of the Bus & Morris Museum tour and run on the 22nd June, they have also offered to make a special parking area available for us on the day.

Every one said that they enjoyed the visit and the weather was great and we also made £5 for club funds






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