Workshop course

James May’s special project takes him to Richard Hammond’s new studio

The Smallest Cog is, of course, Richard Hammond’s new car restoration business. Hammond has been running the company for a while now, and it also served as the basis for his Discovery TV show recently. The workshop is widely streamed on the DriveTribe YouTube channel, with host Mike Fernie coming in regularly to see how things are going and with various other features filmed during the workshop. This latest video sees Fernie at the workshop again, except this time with a small twist.


James May is another face of DriveTribe, and he recently visited the workshop to “roast” it, but he was quite impressed with many of them. But this time May returned to the workshop, which he trusted them to restore his road bike to in January, while filming this video. He also visits Hammond, and the pair wander around the workshop, chatting with the team and finding out what’s going on at the moment. This was actually May’s first visit to The Smallest Cog, so he’s also been walking around a bit thanks to Hammond.

James May’s special project needed a new paint job

The frame of the bike is really the ulterior motive for May’s visit to the workshop, as it “demands almost all the labor,” he says with Neil of The Smallest Cog leading the work on the frame. It may not be the most exciting project, but May clearly trusts those who work for Hammond to do a good job. May helps out with doing a bit of work on the bike frame and watching what happens, and it’s funny to see him adorn the mask to protect it from sparks from shop equipment.

Hammond then enters the fray and chats with Fernie about all this and how he has known May for almost 30 years. May, as Hammond says, is known for his amazing attention to detail, which makes Hammond somewhat nervous about taking on the job of restoring his bike frame. Apparently Neil and May spent about 45 minutes discussing the rankings. But Hammond is very positive about May and says he’s interested and cares about what’s going on and is very knowledgeable, but also a nightmare because of his attention to detail and talkativeness. It’s great to see May so interested in Hammond’s business.


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What James May thinks of Richard Hammond’s studio

Asked about the workshop, May says he loves it and is quite impressed with what Hammond has been able to do. May doesn’t actually need Hammond’s services for a classic car as all of his classics have been sold except for The Grand Tour’s beach buggy which is in pretty good condition anyway. May likes the guys who work for Hammond, saying they’re entertaining guys and really know their stuff. They are perfect for the job Hammond asked them to do.

May amusingly remarks on how cold it is in the workshop, and it was quite cold at times in the UK in February 2022. He laughs at how Hammond didn’t quite realize how the weather can affect morale, although the guys working for Hammond don’t seem too bothered by the cold! He and Fernie then discuss thumbnails on videos and the origin of the term, and it all has to do with contact sheets and photography. May does a very eloquent and brilliant job of explaining what a thumbnail is, and as with many things with May, it’s very absorbing.

The two middle-aged men in glasses

May goes to see the work being done on his bike frame, then he goes to chat with Hammond. This segment he calls “welcome middle-aged men with glasses”, before praising Hammond for the facilities he has in the workshop. May can also imagine many happy Thursday evenings in the workshop, which brings a smile to the couple’s face. He also says that if he lived closer to Hammond’s studio, he would never leave the studio. The pair discuss the workshop’s fortunes and how May thinks Hammond will do just fine.

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Doesn’t need a lot of work

Hammond says he doesn’t need a lot of hard work to earn the money he needs, but of course he does, and lots of quick jobs too. The long ones drag a bit, as does restoring May’s bike frame as he kept talking to Neil! Hammond and May joke that their two employees, since May is a co-owner of a pub, would probably prefer them to stay in the office all day, but May is actually very impressed with what Hammond has managed to do here. It’s not the most expensive job for the workshop, but it’s great fun to see Hammond and May together.

Source: DriveTribe YouTube Channel