May 25th, 2015

I’m not dead! Even though I have been very slack I had good reason. Am settled into my new job now (working from home). Have several pay packets behind me too. I was unable to do much for quite a long time due to an elbow issue which meant I couldn’t do anything physical with it. But that’s come right now so back into it.

I first needed to clean my garages again to get some working space. The little one had been taken over by spiders!


So I had a good clean up in there and have started moving my Austin parts back in as now I have space to rebuild the engine and gearbox. I have a spare 3 speed box to play with too for the Chummy that Bob kindly gave to me.

I had a good tidy up, vacuumed up all the spiders and saved this one Preying Mantis.

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I then started cleaning up the other garage. That’s the one I need more space in at the moment. I made shelves under my workbench to put tools and other things and will soon start clearing out all the old MG stuff I no longer need (old master cylinders beyond repair, worn brake linings, rusty water pumps and so on).

I have also taken the wheels off the Chummy and removed three of the five old tyres so I can have the rims media blasted, tweaked and then reassemble everything with the new tyres. Apparently others who got the Blockleys through Marcus say they are really good tyres and they are very pleased with them.

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Joss bought me some 18 gauge steel to make my bonnet hinge mounting brackets but it turned out to be 1mm instead. That might be thick enough although the one I already made is 1mm and seems a bit thin. 1.2 would be better. I also need to make the bonnet hinge mounting blocks. Then in a few weeks we will make the aluminium bonnet panels. Still to be made are a seat and a petrol tank. Once that’s done there is just the boot lid and the wings to be done.

I can’t drive at the moment (can’t wear my contacts for a few weeks until I get measured for new ones, my eyes need time to go back to blurry normal) but when I can I will go visit the engineer about the work I need doing to my crankcase. Then I can start assembling the engine finally. I should also find out about close ratio four speed gears to go into the gearbox.

There isn’t really that much more to be done really. Just need to crack on and do it!

Finished bonnet hinge.

April 6th, 2015

I finally got around the finishing my bonnet hinge this weekend. Some were a little tight but I found by clamping them in the vice like below I could loosen them up. I also cheated and rubbed the brass pin with sandpaper which helped too.


I ended up needing 11 hinge pieces.


Also the other week my new tyres arrived from the UK (thanks to Marcus for organising that). They are 19 inch Blockleys. The plan is to remove all the wheels off the Chummy, remove the old tyres and get the rims blasted then repair whatever needs repairing and fit the new tyres.


We also had a good meet up of our special builders group (special builders anonymous) and Steve was up from Wellington so it was good to finally meet up.

Still settling into my new job. Still need to get paid! So will be a while before I can start on any engine building. Next make the bonnet panels and a seat! My steering box is leaking too so I will need to look at that. That can wait until I pull everything apart for painting.

Bonnet hinge.

March 24th, 2015

After finishing that last update I felt guilty I hadn’t done anything on the car so actually went out and did something! First I fixed the ends of the bonnet hinge channel piece so the closed is is closest to the driver not the front of the car. I also played about with making a little jig for folding up the intricate little bonnet main hinge pieces.

The jig is just two bits of 6mm steel plate joined together with a section of square hollow tube about half an inch square. A piece of threaded rod with a nut on each end holds it all together but also allows some adjustment. Holes are drilled in the end plates through which a piece of brass rod, the same as being used for the hinge pin, can fit. The rod has to be accurately positioned in relation to the square tube to form the correct hinge piece shape. I originally drilled the holes in the wrong place hence the unused ones.

I start with a flat rectangle of a fixed size and bend a 90 degree fold on it in the vice.

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I then make another fold on the short side around another piece of the same square tube as in the jig.  I have two little sort sections of this I use at various times in this process.

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This fold is also done in the vice which is handy for tightening them up around the tube. This is then slid into the jig and the jig clamped in the vice. I then pull the long side around the brass rod. I tap it down using a piece of hardwood and a hammer.

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Then the jig is removed, turned around, and put back in the vice so the metal can be bent the rest of the way around.

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Next the jig is rotated again and the little end piece hammered around. Again I can make use of the vice to tighten the folds by moving and turning the jig.

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The jig is then removed from the vice and the brass pin pulled out to reveal a partially formed hinge piece. I tighten it up a bit in the vice with my short square tubes if need be.

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Next I take a critical little piece of metal. This is 2mm thick and half an inch wide and it is this that forms the critical part of the folds. It forms the slot the aluminium of the bonnet pieces will slide into. I use a small piece of angle iron and use that to clamp the hinge piece in the vice holding the flat piece in position. Then I fold over the two layers of metal. Again the hard wood block and a hammer helps here to fold it most of the way around. I replace the brass pin at this point to avoid crushing the tube part.

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Next I simply finish the fold by crushing it in the vice. You can then remove the piece, knock out the little spacer and you should have a formed hinge piece.

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The hinges are all pretty much the same size but not identical. The amount of overlap I have on the end after the last fold seems to vary. But I think  as long as the actual gap from the hinge to the end of the fold is the same on all of them it won’t matter. And the differences in overlap won’t be seen because the bonnet covers that part. You can see how that works with the little scrap test piece I have below.

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I need to check with Joss if these are going to work OK. Each one takes about 10 minutes to make and I made a few just to get the hang of the process. I’ll need about 12 of them for the whole hinge on the car. I made three tonight and had a few other prototype ones that might be useable as well.

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Hampton Downs weekend.

March 22nd, 2015

The last few weeks were busy ones. Nothing on the special unfortunately though. First I had to fix my MG after driving it into a rock in the middle of a carpark! A woman had stopped her massive 4WD right in the middle of a driveway (where they people they can’t stop) for a chat to someone so I thought I would be able to get past on the left forgetting (and not seeing since I was driving into the sun) the massive rocks they decided to put right there. I drove straight into it. Bah!

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One rally light cover was smashed (but the light itself is fine) and the front surround and the fibreglass got all bashed up as well as the under bonnet panel. There was no structural damage though. I pulled it all apart and straightened the body work and touched up the paint. I took apart the grille and straightened that out as well. The fibreglass still needs repairing but it is back on the car for now because all this happened on a Tuesday night going to sewing class and I needed the car ready to drive to the Roycroft meeting on the Saturday. So it was a busy week of evenings spent fixing.

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The other rally light cover broke when I was removing it. The plastic had gone all brittle over time. So now the lights have no covers but it does mean I can use them if I need to use high beams as they are wired to come on with them. I’ll redo the front fibreglass soon too and repaint that.

The sewing is going well. I am making cushions for my train table chairs!


On Saturday was the annual Roycroft trophy meeting. I drove down early for that. This year was meant to be a French theme. I don’t quite see why apart from it meant people could wear berets and they had some French pastries (which I can’t eat) for sale I think. There were a couple of French cars there. The club website mentioned Terry’s Bugatti but at the moment that has a Jaguar engine in it so I am not sure that really counts! It seemed quieter than previous years too, the event, not the Bugatti!

And this year the WW2 German army reenactors weren’t there. I’ve never really understood why they were there in previous years to be honest. This year given the French vintage theme I would have thought they would have been most appropriate!

I didn’t even watch a lot of the racing this year to be honest.  Most of the time was spent wandering about and chatting to people. All the Richards were there. The Dieppe is looking more and more correct as time goes on and it was racing there.


Another Richard turned up an odd little car on a trailer (not vintage and not racing though).

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Apparently it’s a Hudson Kindred Spirit. I am not sure what it is kindred with? Perhaps a Sinclair C5? Later on he was driving it around in the pit area but I totally failed to get a good picture of it! I did get some pictures of the engine in the RA Vanguard because it has a tubular style inlet manifold with a flat blow off valve on one end. Something I will need to do when I make the manifold for my special.

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As I said I didn’t watch a lot of the actual racing. There seemed less cars there this year and they are all cars I have seen countless times before. The big V12 Lagonda wasn’t racing on Saturday unfortunately. He has an issue with a wheel (broken spokes I think) and so went off to get a replacement wheel and then got stuck in some sort of traffic hold up all day so he unfortunately missed most of Saturday. Hopefully he got to race on Sunday (I only went for Saturday).

We did get to look under the bonnet of it though with it’s four nice downdraft carbs!


Inside they had the usual little stalls. New books, old books and some clothing and felt hats. There was a display of the restored McLaren garage Austin 7 and a (non vintage) McLaren race car.


I bought a few old books, Around the world in a baby Austin (with it’s dust jacket) and Martin Eyre’s Austin Seven competition cars 1922-1982. I also found a great old 1989 Bathurst magazine which I got for $1 and gave to my brother in law who likes that kind of thing.

I had an interesting chat with a guy who had a Norton racing bike there. I did watch some of the bikes racing. Well, not actual racing, they just do what they call ‘demonstration’ laps. Someone managed to fall off at one point but they weren’t hurt luckily.

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I spent a lot of the day hanging about with Russell who was visiting with his wife Vanda from Australia. Russell posts on the Austin 7 Friends site so he knew a lot of us over here already. It was very good to meet up in person. Later, during the week, he and his wife came to visit me here and they also popped down to see Joss. They’d bought a little Ruby to tour about in and that is now going back to Australia with them. They came here again on their last day to give the car a good clean so it could be transported over to Australia.


I have a new job now and so work from home which is good since it means I can do things like that. Soon I will start building the special engine which means trips to visit an engineer one of the Richard’s recommends. He only works during the week so working from home means I can take a few hours in the middle of the day to go off and see him. Probably wait till after I get my first pay before doing that though.

One amusing thing working from home is watching all the weird stuff that happens in the neighbourhood. People are constantly parking across my driveway even when there is plenty of room in front of them they could happily park in.


That car was sitting there for over half an hour. I just don’t understand why when all they need to do is roll forwards a few metres (and I am on a hill so all that requires is taking their foot off the brake). Are people stupid? Or just lazy? I like to give people the benefit of the doubt so I always assume they are both lazy AND stupid! The odd thing is this happens quite regularly. I think it’s because I am the first house after the one on the corner so it’s the first place people can stop.

The other odd thing is people stopping in front of my place to have a smoke (what I am not entirely certain). There are a few regulars. A blond woman in a green car and a guy in a red 4WD things who is always playing the exact same jiggy jiggy music when he pulls up. They stop, have a few smokes then go down the road to the drug and alcohol rehabilition place and go into there. I can’t work out if they are inmates or staff!

Progress on my cars has been slow. Been too distracted with sewing and ENIGMA machine watches and so on. I did go for a drive in the Chummy yesterday though and have been going out to the shops in it from time to time. Yesterday I decided to drive to Galbraiths pub to get some beer to bring home (they do take out flagons, very good value!).


I don’t know why people think the Galbraiths car parking spaces are too tight. I had no problems! On the way home I stopped to fill up the tank as there was only about a quarter of a stick left in it. When I pulled up a guy in a massive 4WD was there already filling up. I got out, filled the Chummy tank, filled my spare petrol container I keep behind the seats, went in and paid and was driving off while the guy was still filling the tank on his car. The Chummy was driving very well but it is definitely starting to have issues with popping out of second gear. Need to look into that at some point.

The ENIGMA watch came out great. I made a steel case and painted it crackle black. I also etched a little name plate for it.


Will write that one up on my other blog. I still need the strap buckle to finish it off completely.

Chummy rewired.

March 9th, 2015

I’ve been very slack again. I’ve done nothing on the special for ages and only minor things on the Chummy. I’ve just changed jobs again and am now working from home so hopefully I will have more time to do thing but until I’ve done my first month and start getting paid again I won’t have any money! And I have been terribly distracted learning all about Bletchley Park and Turing Bombes and building an ENIGMA machine into a wristwatch!

Joss has been making progress on his car though and a few weeks ago when I went round he has his fuel tank mounted.


I have done some small jobs though. I replaced the rear shock friction material and bushes and the front radius rod mounting cups with new ones. Unsurprisingly on this car when I removed the rear shocks I found both sides had been bodged. Both have sections welded into the middle of them.

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There was some discussion on the friends site about the brass discs that go under the friction material and what difference it makes. I was going to do some measurements to see what difference it makes to the friction but I forgot that on the earlier cars the centre part of the shock is attached to the chassis so doing any sensible measurement would be tricky. So I didn’t bother!

I also finally redid all the wiring. I also worked out why it had shorted. I took apart the cutout to test it and found it in really poor shape. It has a steel base and just some of that almost cardboard like material as insulation. That was all soggy and missing in some places meaning one of the brass rivets attached to one end of the coil was shorting to the case. Since the case is ground and the coil is attached to positive that was a direct short. That explains why all the wiring had burnt out and melted right along it’s length.


As the coil was no good I stripped it off the base and instead am using a large Schottky diode instead of a cutout. I mounted that to the base (insulated from it with a mica washer) to act as a heatsink.

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With the cover on it all looks fine. I wasn’t really worrying too much about making the wiring look original anyway as it’s just a temporary thing for now until I decide what to ultimately do with the car. I just made it neat and out of the way. I replaced all the wiring in the end. I do still need to tweak the dynamo brushes. I am not worrying about Summer/Winter settings. I am going to set the brush up so the battery is just charging at road speeds. It means if I need to use the lights the battery will be discharging but given I don’t use the car at night that shouldn’t be an issue. And I have a nice battery charger at home!

One thing I did was put grommets in the holes that the wire to the rear light ran through. There were four holes through various bulk heads obviously drilled by someone blind or stupid (actually my money is on both). Of the four three of them went though something they shouldn’t have.

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I tidied the edges off the holes up (they were very rough and sharp) and fitted rubber grommets then ran the wire though those. With all that done I was finally able to take the car for a WOF which it got luckily. It does drive much better with the rear shocks done and the radius arms mounting point all tightened up.

Next weekend is the annual Roycroft Trophy meet at Hampton downs. I am hoping that starts to motivate me to finish mine soon.


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