I’ve been doing a few small things to the new car and been practicing driving it. The weather has been rubbish lately but last night I got to go for a quick drive after rush hour just before it got dark (and rained). I sorted out insurance through the VCC so it is now safe for me to take it on the streets. First I practiced with the clutch on my expansive front lawn until it got a bit to slippery and the car would sit there with a back wheel just spinning not going anywhere.
But it gave me a good feel for the clutch bite without spinning the wheels on the concrete floor of the garage!
I also ripped out the horrible plastic floor stuff and have temporarily cables tied the wiring up a bit more neatly. That will all need redoing at some point.
In the picture above you can see the cover around the handbrake lever. That’s an example of the odd little inaccuracies with this car. Here is an original that I have so I can make a copy. I want to fit a battery disconnect switch so I can totally isolate the battery. One job I did was add some bolts to the front right hinge on the passenger seat and it was a bit fiddly with a spanner in there so close to the battery terminals.
The original has a tunnel on the side for the wiring to go under. Practicing with the clutch made me realise that a metal pedal gives you no grip and my foot kept slipping so I pulled the rubber pad from the parts box for the special and fitted that.
Here are a few of the other little details. The prop shaft tunnel cover and the fibreglass wings. The instrument panel looks homemade too.
The drivers seat on mine is moved back a few inches. I think I will reposition it forward again. At the moment I need to reach a bit for the brake lever. Having the seat in the proper position will be better and it won’t need a block of wood jambed under the rear of it for support anymore!
I’ve been very slack lately. For several reasons. 1. I have been busy at work getting a release out. Actually people always ask what I do when I mention I fiddle with old cars for a hobby. I test this software. It’s not what they expect. And 2. I have buggered my elbow. Some sort of RSI or tennis elbow thing. And I keep forgetting and aggravating it instead of resting it. Have to be a bit careful since if it gets too bad it might affect me doing that first thing then I’ll run out of money!
I did lap the top of my crankcase.
And I did get my carb bushes redone and the new disc and spindle fitted. I just need to reassemble the carb now. And I started painting the instrument panel crackle black. Had a nice sunny day and gave it a try and it came out pretty well but not good enough for me so I will redo it next sunny day we have. That stuff is tricky to get perfect.
I’ve also been straightening the piece that goes under the bonnet hinge.
It’s missing the ends but I will remake them. The hinge is a piece of brass rod with these folded metal pieces that the bonnet panels slide into. No rivets or screws required and no modern piano hinges. The hinge pieces look like this:
To make these we need a little jig so I mocked something up in wood. I’ll make a proper one in steel. It’s a two step process but you can form most of the hinge on the jig then pull out the brass rod to remove the piece and then finish the rest off by hammering the ends over a suitable spacer. This is the wooden mockup with some paper in place of the steel for the hinge.
And the really big news is I have a new toy. It’s been on the cards for a while but I didn’t want to mention it till it happened. I have a new car. John, who owns a very nice original Chummy, rescued this little car from a house where it had been stored under a tarp for some time. He bought it and he and Ian have been making it roadworthy. It was actually registered and warranted when John bought it but it needed some work (like making the brakes actually function). John couldn’t keep it so it has in turn passed to me. It’s a 1929 Chummy with a replica body and, dare I say it, fibreglass wings. But it looks the part and of course drives like a ‘proper’ one given it is proper everything else.
I thought it would be terrifying to drive but it’s not too bad. It takes some getting used to though. 3 speed no synchro box so lots of double declutching (which I do in my MG so I know the basic idea). Uncoupled brakes which means the brake pedal only works the rear brakes and the handbrake lever works the fronts. Instrumentation is basic. There is a speedo. The needle moves, god knows what it means or if it is accurate. It’s in MPH of course. This has an oil pressure gauge although it shouldn’t. I have an oil button I can replace that with. Austin 7s only run about 5psi anyway, you don’t need a gauge. Yes, 5. My MGB when cold idles at 50. It has no seatbelts of course. They probably wouldn’t work anyway as the seats aren’t really bolted down. The clutch pedal has about half an inch of movement (about 12mm) and is more or less on or off. The car has a hood and side screens so can be used in the rain although like in my MG I’ll probably drive it top down and just get wet. They are cars, they won’t dissolve it they get wet!
The first thing we did it take it down to Joss’ place so he could demonstrate driving it. The gear lever on it was ridiculously short so we looked in the spares Joss has and found a longer one that made it much easier to drive. I will assemble a proper length one from spares.
It has controls for advance and throttle on the steering wheel. I doubt these days most people know what advance is. The carb has no air filter and mine has a paperclip holding the choke, sorry strangler as they called it then, linkage on. I like the fact that the back of the registration sticker says buckle up. What with! And it has a hand crank! It has an electric starter too but why would you use it when you can wind the handle!
It really is a comedy car but I think it’s wonderful! In the short drive we took we had several people tooting us. Not sure if it was in frustration or in appreciation. I like to think the latter. These days in town driving is really just from on set of traffic lights to another (especially in New Lynn) so really it makes no difference. At least this is a car you actually have to drive. We did have a guy in a BMW, ‘the drivers machine’, overtake us but then I think you need to be a wanker to drive one of them anyway so not unexpected.
I will sort out insurance tomorrow and then practice driving the thing. It is quite different. You have to think a hell of a lot more about what you’re doing. I am used to that though in the MG. I like to drive well. I fully believe automatics make people lazy since they don’t have to think about what they are doing. So they don’t think at all. This car will never be fast (although it will apparently do 60 MPH – 96.5KPH) but it really will be fun to drive.
I do have plans for it. It’s not an original body so the plan is I can build a replica van body for it and in the mean time drive the car. Then when the body is done it’s a simple matter to swap them over. You can see some of the C cab vans here (the ones with the curved roofs).
Course I have to finish the special first….
Just small jobs this weekend. The good news is a package of parts from David in the UK arrived. Lots of nuts and bolts and washers and gaskets.
I was able to replace the gasket on my steering box and with that, and some Loctite 515, it now doesn’t leak (I hope). It was a sunny day on Saturday so I was able to paint the back of the instrument panel white.
The white means it’s much easier if you’re working behind there when it’s in the car as everything is brighter and easier to see. Next I need to paint the front crackle black but I need a nice hot day for that (which today wasn’t).
I also looked at modifying the clutch. A7 clutches seem rather complicated! The issue is the toggles that push against the backplate when you press the pedal. Where the toggles press on the backplate the plate wears. Mine had been welded to take out the wear but a better mod is to drill the plate and insert 1/4 inch grub screws to provide a hardened surface for the toggles to rest on. It also allows you to adjust the height of the pivot point. To accurately drill the holes in the centre of the slot I turned up a little punch on the lathe so I could make a punch mark right in the middle of the slot. The punch is the same width as the slot.
Because the plate had been welded (and the welds are hard) and the punch wasn’t hardened it only lasted the three punches then the point was ruined. But it was enough. I used a centre drill to start the holes then drilled them out to the right tapping size for 1/4 UNF. UNF as the threads are fine and the plate isn’t very thick. Also luckily I have a 1/4 UNF tap!
To tap the holes I used the pillar drill. Unpowered and turned by hand of course but that ensured I tapped the holes square. I find that tricky sometimes by hand.
I now need to get some 1/4 UNF grub screws.
I also had another look at the top of the crankcase. There was some pitting so I though why not try filling those with epoxy. I smeared the top with epoxy and have roughly sanded it flat with some paper on top of my glass plate. I still need to lap it smooth with some grinding paste but I ran out! One rear corner at the bell housing end was very pitted so the epoxy built that back up to height.
One mod worth doing is adding o-ring grooves to the front cam bush (there isn’t quite enough space on the rear one). The bush fits into a hole in the crankcase so you can have oil flowing into the gap between the two rather than through the hole and onto the camshaft itself. There is just enough room for a groove between the locking hole and the front of the bush. I ground a tool and cut two suitably sized grooves on the lathe.
The other mod is to restrict the oil flow through the bush. You can see the oil hole (the upper one above) is pretty large. You get way more oil going to the cam than you need meaning you don’t get as much going to the big ends where you want it. A well lubricated big end is a happy big end.
To restrict the flow you can fill the holes in the cam bushes with solder then drill a smaller hole. I filed the inside of the holes to get back to clean metal then used a small butane torch to solder the holes. After filling I carefully scraped and filed away the excess solder then drilled a 1/16th hole in each bush. I believe that’s the correct size.
I’ll put the bushes into the ultrasonic cleaner once I know that is the correct size to get them perfectly clean then bag them up until engine assembly. I won’t fit the o-rings till then. The other thing I will have to do is build up around the rear oil take off with a little epoxy then file it flat. This is so I can use a fibre washer on the rear oil take off to seal it.
The hose barbs I am using are parallel thread so they seal on the face rather than the threads as taper ones do (although some sealer on the threads might not hurt?).
Today I machined up an aluminium plug to block the oil gallery. This is so I can reroute the oil through an external filter. The plug was machined from a little piece of aluminium bar Ian gave me. That was a tight fit and was hammered home into the crankcase. The side of the crankcase was drilled and tapped for a 1/4 bsf bolt which would lock the plug into place. Tapping was tricky since you can’t get a normal tap wrench into the space but I was able to go slowly with a small spanner and do it.
To really make sure it won’t move the locating bolts has a little of the thread on the end turned off to leave a small pip on the end of the bolt. This was 3/16ths in diameter. The block had a small dimple drilled in the side which I used to start the drill. By being extremely careful I was able to drill into the plug through the threaded hole (without damaging the tapped threads). The hole was of course 3/16ths too. With the bolt done up the little pip fits tightly into the hole and now the plug can’t move at all. Loctite on the bolt and a fibre washer should make it all oil tight (if any oil can squeeze around the plug which I doubt).