The Tale of Making Mats

M
any many years ago, before Americans were Microcar enthusiasts and Britain still managed to look like it had an Empire a 'schmitter called Bob had an idea. This was because he went to a local show where he met Tom. Tom had restored an Austin Big Seven and made rubber mats for the running boards rather than use fibreglass ones. Bob thought, "Wouldn't it be nice if I could remake the rubber mats that all Messerschmitt KR200s, KR201s and TG500s were equipped with when they were new.""Wouldn't it be nice if I could remake the rubber mats that all Messerschmitt KR200s, KR201s and TG500s were equipped with when they were new." He knew that after 20 years most mats had long since fallen apart. Some cars had carpets, which got wet and made the car rusty, or even no floor cover at all which looked very ugly and all the 'schmitters were unhappy about it. Since Bob was a member of the MEC he went about this in a somewhat gentlemanly fashion rather than treating it as a business venture. You have to remember in these days men stuck to their word and tried to maintain certain standards rather than attempting to grab anything they could hopefully get away with.

The First Mould

Bob met up with Tom at his Garage in Coalbrookedale where he restored classic cars for people like Lord Bradford of Weston Park. Now, Tom was able to make rubber mats as he knew people who had industrial equipment designed to do such things. Bob lent Tom an old mat that Peter Duran had lent to him to copy and the MEC paid for the work, which cost £930. Tom supervised the creation of a mould but in the process the rather crumbly mat that Peter had lent disintegrated and was no use anymore. Bob was not too upset because he was helping people. Anyway, Tom had a mould so now they could make new mats. Imagine Bob and Tom's disappointment when the new mat made from the new mould had a surface like sandpaper. This was not what they had planned. This mat also had Tom's garage name emblazoned on it. So Tom spent his own money and three days labouring to rebuild the mould so as to polish the surface to give a smoother finish.So Tom spent his own money and three days labouring to rebuild the mould so as to polish the surface to give a smoother finish. He then found out that the company he was using was bankrupt so he had to find another firm to make the mats.

A new run of mats was made without the garage name on and though not perfect they were good enough that other 'schmitters wanted to buy them for £75 each. The sales pitch was that after a few months use the worn ridges on the new mats made them indistinguishable from the originals when fitted in the car. Bob made no money from this and Tom only a little despite all the work he had put into the task. The MEC let Peter have a new mat to replace the lost original one. So everyone was happy.

One day Bob had to phone Tom. This was to tell him that a new batch of rubber mats were splitting. Bob had to sell seven mats off at half price. Tom went to the company who made the mats and asked for replacements. These were no good either and split in Tom's garage. Tom had an argument with the owner of the company. He was so annoyed he took the mould away from them as he found out they had not put enough of the third ingredient into the mix which made the mat elastic. The carbon and the silicon were not too expensive but to make extra money the expensive third ingredient had been cut short. Indeed, so bad was the argument and because Tom would not pay for the 10 replacement mats he had to go to court. It was a very unpleasant day and though he won his case because the mats were not saleable he made no money from winning and lost any money he might have made as he could not work that day and several others while he got ready to go to court. Tom was very upset by the whole thing too. Tom looked for a new company to make the mats.

Fire!

Tom found a new company run by Paul who made the mats properly so once again Tom and Bob and all the 'schmitters were happy. Then Paul moved to a new factory. This was fine until the factory caught fire and burnt down. The mould got burned too.This was fine until the factory caught fire and burnt down. The mould got burned too. Tom was upset but luckily the new company had insurance. This meant that the mould could be remade without Tom, Bob or the MEC having to pay for it again as it was not their fault that the mould was destroyed. Paul's company did the work and then some new mats were made. Well, Tom and Bob were very pleased, as these mats were very much better quality than any that they had made from the old mould. However this caused a problem: The new mould had cost £5,000 and the insurers took the view that the new mould was very much better quality than the old one. This is called 'betterment' and means that unless Tom, Bob or the MEC paid a balancing amount of money to the insurers then they would own part of the mould. Tom, Bob and the MEC did not want to pay more money. So Paul paid the betterment fee. This meant the new moulding tool had to be shared by the MEC who paid for the first one, Tom who repaired and improved the mould and Paul who paid the betterment fee for the replacement mould. But this did not really matter as Paul, with Tom's help made very good mats and the members of the MEC seemed to be very happy with them at the price they paid.

Tom ChitlowTom Chitlow

So for a long time Paul had mats made, Tom collected them until Bob could come by and take them to who ever wanted to buy or help to sell the mats on to the 'schmitters. The price was kept down, as Bob did not make any money from the mats though he was allowed two for all his unpaid work. Tom made only a little and soon retired from doing the maintenance and helping work as he was of retirement age and Paul made enough to be happy to make the mats without help. Everyone was very happy.

Many Years Passed

Then some 15 years later a few mats got lost and several appeared that had not been sold by the MEC. By this time the MEC had different people helping to run it, Alan and Mike, who did not know the story so far. They were rather annoyed that they could not understand where the mats came from and how not all of them were coming to the MEC. Then they found out that the mats were coming from Chesterfield and not Telford where Paul had his factory. They decided to visit Chesterfield and find out what was going on as to them it seemed like there were two moulds and mats might be being stolen from the MEC.

At Chesterfield they met the very nice man who made the mats there. It turned out he was a friend of Paul's and he now made the mats for Paul from the only mould, which was stored there. Alan and Mike looked at the mould and it was in good condition as Paul had maintained it so it was perfect. So Alan and Mike went home knowing more than they had but still not enough to understand everything. Alan found out more about the mats not sold by the MEC and it seems that there had been a few bad mats that had been sold off and some others had got lost in such confusion with people helping that no one new where they had really gone. It was not worth making more fuss other than to make sure that it did not happen again. So Alan asked Bob to tell him the story of the mats. Bob did and then said that as he was not around Telford much and that as Tom was retired and getting elderly it might be simpler to deal direct with Paul, though he had never met him, and to give Tom some money since he had a part share in the mould and had done a lot for us without really making very much money from it. Alan and Mike, being younger and having grown up doing business in the modern world with few gentlemen about found this a difficult idea. But when you read the tale of the mats you can understand why Tom might deserve some money. Paul can still make the mats and the members of the MEC and the 'schmitters can have well priced new mats to put in their cars for many a long day. Then Tom and Bob can live happily ever after having helped a lot of 'schmitters.