Chummy sold! And other news…

November 14th, 2015

Yes, the Chummy has gone. I also have some news on a new project and some other news of a more interesting nature.

First the new project. Anyone recognise this?

IMG_4562 IMG_4563_1

Here are some more parts.

20151023_113645 20151023_113653 20151023_113702

20151023_113718 20151023_113724 20151023_113739

20151023_113751 20151023_113815 DSCF3799

What I have there are most of the bits to make a Riley Nine Brooklands. The chassis is an exact copy of an original Brooklands, chassis 8075, which was a car that was in NZ for many years and in which Arthur Dexter won the Prosperity Week Grand Prix in 1933. I have the door skin of that car hanging on my garage wall apparently.

When that car was restored the chance was taken to have several exact copy replica chassis made. This is one of them. Also alloy copied of the rear axle casing were made and I have one of those too. The other parts are all Riley Nine including the engine, which was rebuilt some time ago but not run. The gearbox has close ratio gears in it. And the engine has four Amal carbs.

DSCF3807 DSCF3808 DSCF3797

When I had the Chummy wheels blasted I had the Riley ones done as well.

There are a few bits missing. Some of the chassis mounts for the engine and suspension and I am trying to find out details of them now. Real Brooklands are few and far between. I think there are between 100 – 200 originals. But there are quite a number of replicas and recreations about.

The lights I got from TradeMe and were the first purchase for that car (although I did pick up a black out light earlier that might make a nice instrument panel lamp). I had also started to clean up and examine the parts and workout what was there. The Riley isn’t much bigger than an Austin 7 but it is a much more substantial car. And they were very well built. A lot of the parts are interchangeable between models which is why many replicas are around. I think Rileys look good with big lights so those should work well.

IMG_4557 IMG_3948 IMG_4485

IMG_4486 IMG_4488 IMG_4489

The Riley rear suspension is interesting. For a start it is under slung, that is the chassis rails go under the rear axle. And the rear axle is on a torque tube. The Austin is too but it has a drive shaft between the gearbox and torque tube with universals on it. In the Riley the torque tube attaches at the back of the gearbox. On the sevens the axle attaches to the end of the springs on a pin running in a bush to allow for the rotation of the axle in relation to the springs as it moves up and down. On the Riley the axles on top of the springs in special blocks that hold the axle but let it rotate as the axle travels. The whole car is low. You sit just above the and the top of the body is about 36 inches off the ground (less than 1m).

So this will be an exciting project and I was looking forward to doing some simple clean up on it while finishing off the Austin Seven special.

But then life does have a way of taking funny turns. I had mentioned I had lost my a few posts back. I also mentioned finishing the Turing Bombe. I ended up sending a link to that to Richard Taylor, he’d seen an earlier project of mine via my boss at a previous company who knows him. I knew he’d be interested. We chatted a bit and I mentioned I was between jobs and, half jokingly, said I had always thought I should ask him for a job. He said if I was serious I should come down to visit them in Wellington.

So, booked a train ticket (I prefer the train to flying although it does take all day), packed my Steed puppet that Richard said he was interested in seeing, and arranged to stay with a friend for the week and went to visit them. We had a chat, they showed me around for an afternoon then the next day the offered me a job! I said yes of course. I then spent the rest of the week figuring out how to make that work. I found a flat on The Terrace, arranged to lockup my house, shipped down a few essentials (tools, camera and film developing gear, model making stuff and a microscope!) and basically moved to Wellington a week later to start work. I also sold the Chummy. I didn’t want it sitting unused and someone was very keen so the timing all worked out. The money helps too.

Because now I am working as an independent contractor to Weta Workshop doing animatronics!

If people have followed my other blog and projects they’ll know this is pretty much my dream job. Quite a change from IT I must say. The salary is about 1/3 of what I am used to. The hours are much longer (10 hour days) too. But I am loving it, and the time just flies by.

Unfortunately I can’t say what I am working on exactly for confidentially reasons but this project has about 6 months work. After that I am not sure. Weta work depends very much on what projects they have on. And it can be very feast or famine.  But I can see how it goes for six months and then see. I always have the chance to go back into IT as well of course. Wellington being the only other place in NZ that has a lot of good (high paying) IT jobs.

It’s very little risk for me. No dependents, bugger all mortgage, the perfect opportunity. There was no way I could pass it up!

So, all car projects are on hold for now. Actually life is somewhat on hold. I am liking Wellington. I’ve never really liked Auckland and over the years have been liking it less and less as it grows and the character changes. Wellington suits me more. I could see myself selling up there and moving. In fact my sister just has, leaving Auckland for Hamilton of all places. If my parents follow to be close to Sophie, their granddaughter, there is no family to keep me there anymore. Will see how it goes early next year I guess! Selling my over priced Auckland house to move somewhere cheaper where I could maybe build a big garage/workshop (and have money in the bank) is starting to appeal!

I will keep writing in my other blog about what I am doing and how I am going here in Wellington.

Here are some final pictures of the state of the special.

20151023_113830 20151023_113845

And even though I am away from my Austin there is a reminder just down the road!


Chummy back on the road.

October 4th, 2015

This weekend I finished fitting the new (although it was months ago we got them!) tyres on the Chummy. That didn’t work out to be too hard. No tyre irons needed, just walking them on a  big, rubber mallet to help them along. Hardest thing was getting the inner tubes in place. I ended up trying a string to the valve and feeding that through the rim hole so I could pull it though. That worked well.

I then had to touch up the paint on the rims, not from damaging them getting the tyres on, but because of all the places I had missed when I painted them before! If you think painting spoked wheels is a going to be tricky you’d be right! Since I had the paint spraying gear out I cleaned up and touched up the inside of the wheel wells.

IMG_4552_1 IMG_4554_1

I finally got them back on the car today. I was supposed to go on a club run but I had other things on in the morning and couldn’t get there in time. I wouldn’t have been able to take the Chummy anyway as it’s been off it’s wheels so long the warrant expired! With the wheels on I drove it outside for the first time in months and gave it a bath.


I then went for a quick (naughty) drive around the block to make sure everything was still fine. I’d like to say the new tyres have transformed the handling and roadholding but those are two words that don’t really apply to a Chummy! Nothing fell off, no noticeable vibrations or wobbles, no spokes broke (I think, better check!) so we’ll call that good. One day I really must take the thing on the motorway and see what it’s top speed is. Can’t be too many cars around where you can say and do that and still be under the legal speed limit (100kph here). Not sure this one will reach that although there is a big down hill a few miles up the road from me, perhaps if the wind is just right….

I still need to rebuild the spare wheel but I don’t need that for the WOF so I will go do that tomorrow and be all legal again.

People probably wonder why these things take me so long. It’s because I have too many other hobbies so I chop and change what I do. I also do things like this:



Chummy wheel painting.

September 28th, 2015

Let’s see, it’s been a while and a few things have happened. Mainly I got made redundant again, along with 2/3rds of my colleagues. we consider ourselves the lucky ones! It’s amazing how little clue these small start up companies have. After going live the company had barely any sales so some investors (not being totally stupid) pulled out. I suspect the company not having a real sales team might have had something to do with it. Oh, and no planning. Apparently the CEO doesn’t believe in project planning! So, job hunting again.

In the mean time I have done various things. A few weeks ago Joss, Ian and I went over to visit Colin who builds vintage Alfa Romeo Monza 8Cs. It’s a small outfit but it’s extremely impressive what they achieve there and  a lot of hard work and research has obviously gone into doing things properly. They build new chassis, new front axles, bodies, steering wheels, fuel tanks, manifolds and all manner of other things. All done using the correct materials (you can’t just build a chassis from mild steel – they had to source the correct steel called Optim 700 MC apparently) and all properly tested and certified so as to be fully road legal here (convincing the authorities your cast axle is safe can not have been easy) but Colin did it.

He very kindly showed us around and let me ask all kinds of silly questions. Was very inspiring! I took a few photos there. There are a couple of cars being build (one with a blown 6 cylinder Alfa engine) and lots of interesting bits about.

IMG_4368_1 IMG_4370_1 IMG_4371_1

IMG_4372_1 IMG_4367_1 IMG_4365_1

IMG_4366_1 IMG_4356_1 IMG_4357_1

IMG_4358_1 IMG_4360_1 IMG_4361_1

IMG_4362_1 IMG_4363_1 IMG_4364_1

That same trip was also a bit of an excuse to surprise Joss. For some time he has been waiting to take ownership of a new car, an Austin 12/4, bought from Richard in the car club. Without him knowing Ian arranged the hand over to take place at his place after our visit to Colin. Quite a few other club members were on hand to watch!

IMG_4375_1 IMG_4378_1

Joss drove it home with me following in my MG to pick up an bits that fell off. Nothing did! Joss has been busy (with Ian’s help on the engine) readying it for a road trip he is doing with his family this week.  One of the little jobs was swapping over the ammeter for a silver faced one to match the rest of the instruments. I unsoldered the back of the gauge and gave it a light clean (mainly just the glass) for him and that is now in the car.


Since Joss is busy on that we haven’t started on the bonnet/boot lid yet. Instead I made the most of the first good spring weekend to paint my Chummy wheels finally. I trued them as well as I could on the car. The dial gauge is just used as a pointer, there is no way I could get them accurate enough to need a gauge like that to measure the runout! They aren’t perfect but they are much better than before. The Chummy is hardly a performance vehicle so they should be fine I think.


I then painted them outside with my usual Killrust black paint. You don’t want too much paint on them. You still need to be able to adjust spokes if needed and also if you put too thick a coat on you can find the wheels won’t go over the hubs! I had that issue with the ones I had blasted then painted by the blasters. I won’t do that again. Better to have them blasted then get them to spray them with a protective coating and paint them yourself. The Killrust paint is good since it doesn’t need a primer on nice, clean but keyed steel so you don’t have as many layers.

IMG_4460_1 IMG_4425_1 IMG_4475_1

Since it was easy to do I painted the brake drums too. The wheels are now inside and hopefully next weekend I can finally get the new tyres on them. I still need to rebuild the spare wheel. I made a wooden jig to do that but I think on my first attempt I didn’t make sure the hub was fully flat down so the whole thing came out wonky. I need to loosen it all again and readjust it. I don’t need a spare for the car to be usable of course.

I also went to see Brian the engineer the other day. He wasn’t able to fit the bar in the base of the crankcase that the studs fit to. There just isn’t enough room there to get the studs to thread fully into the bar. Where they hit it is right on the edge of the reinforcing block. Instead he has had large lugs welded into the case and threaded those. Hopefully this will work fine. It is certainly going to be stronger than just attaching them to the top of the crankcase which is the original issue we are trying to solve. Hopefully I can collect that soon and start building an engine!

Engine building.

August 30th, 2015

Well, not quite yet but I am preparing. I sorted out all the bits and pieces and made a list of what I need doing  so I can start. I am hoping I can go see the engineer this week some time.

IMG_4323_1 IMG_4324_1

I also bought some tungsten burrs so I can tackle the rest of my block.


Other than that not much has happened. I spoke to Joss and we’ll be making bonnets/boot lids next weekend. I am still busy doing so many other things. Splitting and stacking wood, working on the Turing Bombe, trying to catch up on reading (I think I now have 5 Automobile magazines I haven’t looked at as well as a couple of Beardy Wheels (it’s actually ‘Beaded Wheels’ but I’ve always called it Beardy Wheels because before I even got into vintage cars I always got the impression the people who are into them all have beards) and a VAR club magazine to read. As well as this I have a new (old) book of Edwin Smith photos to look at, a book about the Apollo moon missions and another one specifically about the Apollo guidance computer which is fabulously technical! As someone who has made his own computer that stuff fascinates me. I promise I won’t start building one though. It’s been done already!

Despite all this Joss thought I needed more and gave me three Hornby model railway magazines! I think it’s a not too subtle hint I need to finish my railway table next.

Do you ever get the impression you have too many hobbies?

Bonnet and boot.

August 23rd, 2015

Right, back onto the car again. My Bombe lived up to it’s name. I accidentally blew it up! That’s what happens when you accidentally  plug a 12 volt SLA into a 5 volt powered computer. So until new parts arrive that project is on hold.

And anyway, with the car, I have no excuses now. Ian is rushing ahead with his and even then he had time to finish sorting out my block for me by cutting seats for my bigger inlet values. He has also cleaned up one inlet tract so I have an example to copy to be able to do the other one myself.

IMG_4321_1 IMG_4322_1

So this weekend I made bucks for the shape of the bonnet and boot lid which we will be making very soon. Not much to explain here, some bits of plywood cut to the shape the bonnet pieces need to be to fit the car.

IMG_4312_1 IMG_4313_1

The boot lid was a little trickier as I needed to match the shape of the tail and there is no easy way to trace around it. I used my flexible drawing curve thing and bent that to the shape of the body around the boot opening and transferred the shape to some plywood.

IMG_4314_1 IMG_4315_1

For the curve along the car I taped a bendy stick to the body, held up on suitably sized blocks, to make the right curve. This was traced onto another piece of plywood that forms the main cross support of the buck.

IMG_4316_1 IMG_4318_1

I am hoping that is close enough to shape the aluminium to. We have to do the shaping in Joss’ garage and of course the car isn’t there!

Next time I do an order from RS I will get some 1m lengths of stainless rod which we will use as the hinge pins for the bonnet side panels. Now the engine and gearbox are out of the car again I can take the block off to the engineer to get the modification I need done to it.

Next Page »