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Italian style . . . Geraldine Vintage Car and Machinery Museum members (from left) Ian Webb, Robert Weavers, Graham Rae, Colin Sweetman and, in the cab, Phillippa Sanders, with the Italian Bianchi town car. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Staff reporters

The stately Bianchi is ready.

The Italian town car recently carried dignitaries in a Passchendaele parade in Timaru and, on Saturday, November 4, and it will be one of the star attractions for the next crank-up day at the Geraldine Vintage Car and Machinery Museum.

The crank-up day is a cut-price opportunity for the public to look around the museum.

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

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

The cars, though, are impressive.

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

It was gifted by a family but a New Zealand vehicle identification number (VIN) could not be secured.

Because it could not be driven legally on New Zealand roads, it ended up in the museum.

Among the tractors is the “hen scratcher”.

It is an early Allis Chalmers with three steering wheels – one to change direction and two to control an ineffective grader blade. It was used on the streets of Geraldine and locals said it went over rather than moved much gravel, hence its nickname.

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

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

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

The museum also has a machine to show how knots are tied in a baler, a machine to turn No8 wire into staples, an array of rare chainsaws, and many household items.

The crank-up day on November 4 begins at 10am, with entry $10 and a gold coin donation for lunch.