Boot lid.

October 23rd, 2017

Well, been a while since I updated things. I have been busy (as usual) and things are up in the air again. Lets see, since my last post I have left Weta which means no more easy access to tools and equipment and scraps and so on. Work ran out and even when there was work it wasn’t a place that recognised or rewarded good, smart work. Plus financially it was a disaster! My hourly rate was just over half that of the company electrician and I was doing high tech stuff not anyone could do – animatronics. Financially I went backwards in the time I was there so that wasn’t going to last. I don’t regret doing it, got my name on a major film credit and did some very cool stuff. Not many people can say they were inside a giant animatronic Tiger, live on stage at WOW (with two very fit and lovely young female performers) while trying to debug some curly issue (that turned out to be wiring done by someone else)!

So I moved on and have gone back to I.T. work. Pays FAR more! I am currently contracting with a startup but am looking at going to a permanent job again. Am just in the process of doing interviews now and this takes up much time and energy. But, as this was a long weekend, I actually managed to progress on the car (very slightly).

Before I left Weta I had drinks at home here for my colleagues and they came and saw the cars and other projects. I think they liked them! As I had many ‘helpers’ I got them to help me hold the plastic over the boot hole so I could trace around the opening. Today I finally got onto the next part.

I added 5mm all around as I want to ensure the lid will fit over the lip of the opening and want to err on the side of too big rather than too small (and have it not fit at all). I then added 16mm which is what I worked out I needed to wrap around the wire on the edge. I then cut that out as a template to transfer the shape onto the aluminium.

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Next I cut it out using a new toy, some electric shears. Weta had some I was able to borrow from time to time and they work so well I had to buy my own when I left. They aren’t cheap but are just so much easier to use than trying to cut things by hand. Well worth the cost I think. Especially when I get onto making the Riley body.

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The cool thing is having a ‘real’ job again I can afford toys once more. I then tested the cut out panel against the car and tweaked the shape slightly using the slip rollers. The rollers were very loose, I just used them as something to bend the panel around. I wasn’t actually rolling anything.


With the curves correct I marked and annealed the edge. I use a acetylene only flame to soot the panel then using an oxy-acetylene flame I heat up the panel edge until the soot burns off. I am out of practice with the torch and almost melted the edge in one place! It won’t be noticeable once the edge is wired.

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I then made a little tool to fold the edge up to 90 degrees. This is a piece of steel bar (I used a steel shaft from a dead printer) with a slot cut in one end to the depth of the fold.


First time I have used an angle grinder in ages and it felt good! I then tried a few tests with the tool and the wire I am using and I found 16mm was too much. So I ground down the end of the tool by about 1.5mm and that worked out to be about right.


Then I ran out of time! So the next job will be bend up the edge to 90 degrees ready for wrapping it around the wire.

I have done another few things recently. I bought this horn on TradeMe. It’s a Bosch 6 volt and it is bloody loud! Not 100% correct but better than no horn. Not sure it will be used on the Austin or the Riley eventually.


I also bought a sandblasting cabinet. It was one thing I found really useful at Weta and it is definitely useful to have. They had them on special so I got one. The gun that came with it didn’t work very well so I substituted a cheap gun I have had for ages and modified to be gravity fed. This works very well indeed. Better than the props department one at Weta in fact. I also added some rubber pads under my air compressor wheels and feet which really helped with the noise and I also made an adaptor so I can attach my shop vac to the cabinet.

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I attached a baffle plate over the vac outlet with magnets to stop all the sand being sucked straight out of the machine through the hole. Before attaching the shop vac sand and dust leaked from every seam on the machine (I may still tape over them). With the shop vac attached air gets pulled in every seam so no more leaks. In fact it creates so much suction when you turn it on the gloves inside inflate with a satisfying “PLOOOOMPFFF”. Might need some tweaking there to reduce the suction. Either way the blaster itself works very well. I still have a bunch of Riley parts to clean up.

I also recently discovered a car around the corner only 300m away. It’s in the direction I used to walk when I was at Weta but now I work in town I turn the other direction so I haven’t been up that way for a while. It’s an Austin 12/4. It’s in pretty rough condition. I was looking at it and just then a local walking past said it belonged to someone who rented a warehouse across the road and they had a bunch of other ‘old’ cars in there. I haven’t even seen the warehouse open but I keep an eye out now in to see if anyone is about so I can ask them about the car. It seems it lives outside which is a shame.


Metalworking again.

May 14th, 2017

I decided I should actually start trying to do something on the car again. This was partly motivated by some talk at work that we might actually be making a car for something there. No one has talked to me about it yet but I thought I better get my hand back in just in case!

I had borrowed the electric shears from work for another project (cutting up my old copper hot water cylinder) so while I had them home I also cut out a piece of 1.6 aluminium to make the boot lid. I then dusted off the English wheel (that’s had almost no use and jumped right in trying to remember how it all worked! I actually had to look back here to remember how I did it the first time (which was in 2013, these car projects do tale a while!).

This is the opening I have to cover.

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I wheeled some shape into the panel then used the slip rollers to put some bends in it to fit the body. Not actually running the metal through the rollers, just using the top one as something to bend the metal over by hand. It’s not perfect yet but is getting there. It’s quite tricky without Joss to guide me!

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I was a little rough I think and have some tracking lines in the panel but they don’t feel as bad as the look so they should file out. I am trying to match the curvature of the existing body as closely as possible.


It’s getting there. The next problem is how the hell do I transfer the shape of the opening to the inside of the panel so I can then add on the extra I need to wire the edge. The edge of this panel is wired with the wire on the bottom so it fits over the wired up edge on the body.

I was explaining it to someone at work and he suggested a piece of clear plastic I can put over the body and curve over it then I can trace the correct shape onto it. I then add on the extra for the wire and cut it out then I can lay that inside the boot lid and trace around it to get my cut line. I got hold of a scrap piece of plastic we use at work for vac forming. Will have to see how well that will work.


The plastic is quite thick but flexible. The other thing I got through work was the aluminium wire to wrap around. This is 3/16 inch armature wire that comes form a supplier up in Auckland. The sculptors at work use it apparently inside some of the sculpts the do. Work was ordering some so I was able to add on some for myself. They are quite good at letting us by materials and things through work to make use of the discounts we get.


I still need to rivet the clutch linings to the flywheel and clutch plate but should be able to do that soon then I can have the rotating engine bits balanced and I can finish off assembling the engine. I have a number for someone in Wellington who can do the balancing I need to contact.

Things are slowly proceeding on the Riley too. I am cleaning up parts and I finally got some details and photos of the missing front chassis brackets. I am going to 3D print some more mock ups of that and the head of engineering at work is keen to help me make them from plate. We can source the correct steel and he is a ticketed welder and he says the welded ones will be stronger than the original cast ones. I want to find out first what I need to do in terms of certifications and so on before I start making anything to make sure I do everything properly.


Rust removing update.

February 12th, 2017

Last weekend and this I did a small amount on cars. Work is picking up again now so I am busy there again (for a few weeks at least).

I painted some more Austin parts. Just a light coat to keep the rust at bay. I went ahead and painted the flywheel and clutch parts figuring it can’t hurt.


This weekend I pulled things out of the molasses tank to see how they were going. The clutch driven plate came out great. A quick wire brush and a wash and it looks very good.

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I need to order the clutch friction material from the spares then I can assemble that and get everything balanced.

I also pulled out the Riley drums. They will need a lot longer but it helps to pull things out and give them a scrum now and then. I did notice that one of the drums is different to the others.

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The first picture shows what they look like straight out of the tank, the second is after water blasting the muck off. The outsides are still covered in paint on some drums but I can sandblast that off. The molasses won’t affect paint.

The middle brake bracket is getting there too. I also just noticed that this one has been modified. The extra bracket bolted on the end.

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It will need quite a bit longer to get all the rust off.

I also took apart the hub retaining plates. An impact driver makes jobs like this much easier. A few screws were already missing with the heads sheared off and the threads remaining in the metal but I managed to get them out without shearing any more. I drilled and punched out the sheared ones. I need to find the right tap to tidy up the threads. I think it is BSW and I don’t have one small enough. One screw was missing it’s slot but that was easy to drill out.

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The piece that does the sealing seems to be leather. I will take the bent plates into work and see if I can straighten them on the press there. I cleaned them up with a file to remove some of the marks made in the past with a chisel or screwdriver!

Block progress.

February 4th, 2017

I need to be quick with this update as I am expecting the Vodafone man to come and upgrade my Internet to fibre sometime this morning.

Since we have lots of free time at work I got playing with my 3D software and did a 2D design for some little metal bits to cut out on the plasma cutting table. I wanted to make a valve spring compressor. I started with a cheap G clamp and cut off the bottom.


I then drew up and cut out some arms. I actually did two sets, the first in 2mm steel which was too thin so I went up to 3mm. Luckily we have a job on at the moment using tons (literally!) of 3mm steel cut into funny shapes so there are plenty of useful offcuts that just go for recycling. The plasma cutting table is just a big table with a motorised X and Y head on it with the torch attached. You send it the files, do a little jiggery pokery on the ancient software it is running to work out tool paths and then it just follows the path cutting the pieces out. Very handy! I am going to use that to make a windage tray for the crankcase when the time comes. And possibly cut out pieces for making the Riley brackets I need.

The 3mm steel arms are bolted to the clamp body with two bolts. Attached to the bottom of the arms I found a 25mm brass core plug that I machined on the little lathe to fit the valve spring holder. I drilled a holed in it to provide a place to get the keepers into. I bent the 3mm steel arms to wrap around that and brazed it in place. I got a little careless and melted part of the core plug (brass melts easily with Oxy-acetylene) but it didn’t affect it’s use in the end.

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I ground down the arms where they wrap around the core plug to make them thin enough to not foul on the block. The compressor works very well, just like a proper Austin one and I was able to finally get the valves fitted, not forgetting to first fit the tappets and cam followers first!

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So the block is done now. I next need to start on the crankcase. I need to make sure it is clean, insert all the plugs and oil take offs. Add in the oil jets and work out the windage tray. I also need to install the cam so I can work out where I need to machine a little clearance into the two long studs I am fitting to help keep the block on.

I’ve been busy cleaning more parts too. I found the toggles for the clutch and also found a complete set of usable tappets and followers I forgot I had so I could have saved myself some money there. I do need to get the clutch linings and rivets but they should be available from the local spares department. I should really start thinking about the release bearing and the gearbox too. Still no money for close ratio gears so I will have to hope the box I have is serviceable.

I was cleaning up more Riley parts too. I went into work last weekend to use the big sandblaster and did the  front axle and hubs and so on. They came up great. Of course everything flash rusts quickly but I finally managed to track down some Kephos to wipe on the metal until I can paint things. I have the details of where I have it but they are at work of course (and I am not). Apparently it is a mixture of phosphoric acid and xylene. I used gloves and try to use it outside while wearing a mask as the fumes of it are very strong.

The hubs came up great. There seem to be two diameters but the wheels I have only fit the smaller ones. I had to use the 12T press at work to remove the end cap from one of them as the ends of the hub were a bit battered. That popped it out easily and cleaned up the hole nicely. Interestingly the hubs are handed as the threads of the wheel studs are handed depending on what side of the car they are on.

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Unfortunately the hub retaining plates are well battered (with hammer and chisel by the looks of it) but I should be able to clean them up and press them flat again.

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You can see the flash rusting on some of the parts. I simply wire brush it off (again using the cheap dollar shop hand brushes) then wipe it in Kephos.

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As an alternative to sandblasting I am putting other parts into the molasses tank to see how that works. I took apart the Riley brake assembly (and I really hope I can get it back together as it is as bad a puzzle as the Austin brake cross shaft) and put the pieces of that and also the brake drums into the tank. I removed the non steel pulley wheels as the molasses can affect non ferrous metals. I will pull the parts out today and see how they look (that will be 2 weeks later).

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You can see how much rust there is on then so it will be interesting to see how they come out. They need a good water blasting to get the (stinky) molasses off then a wire brush then Kephos again. It is nice to start collecting a pile of clean metal parts that are ready for paint then storage until it is time to use them!


More progress.

January 25th, 2017

Am slowly getting back into it. I made this little film showing my current (lack of) progress. It’s more about the Riley but there is some Austin stuff there too. I was going to have a separate blog for the Riley but that’s too much work so it’s all going to be lumped in here I am afraid!

Because things are so quiet at work (i.e. there is none but I go in anyway to pick up odd jobs and work on my own things) I have been spending my time cleaning up various bits in the blasting cabinet there.

And today my parts arrived (new tappets, fan, other odds and sods and used but good sump) so I was busy sand blasting things today. I took in the Austin flywheel and clutch and did them then just after doing that the parts arrived so I did the sump too. I would like an alloy sump but no work means no money so that luxury has to wait!

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I did have to machine a few thou off the fan pulley I had made so the new fan would slide on but that only took a second in the lathe. Now I have the tappets I can finish assembling the block so I will do that tomorrow evening hopefully. I have a valve spring compressor but it is a large, modern one and awkward to use. I really need one of the proper old Austin 7 ones. Will keep an eye out on TradeMe for one.

I also did some more on the Riley. I have been busy sandblasting bits of that while I try to work out the missing brackets I need. Tonight I stripped the front axle so I can start cleaning and rebuilding that. I will fit new king pins and bushes (I am assuming these are easily available like they are for Austin 7s!). The pins holding the king pins in are standard cotters, not the half moon ones the A7 has so you can just remove them. Once came out easily with a few hits with a steel drift but the other side was well stuck so I ended up drilling down the centre of the cotter pin then knocking it out. The king pins themselves came out easily (thank goodness). One interesting thing is the thrust washers. One side looks original. There is a pin in the axle and the washer has a locating hole in it. The other side was bodged. It looks like the pin was filed down and the washer on that side is smaller and thinner than the other side. It also seems that the hole was hand filed to fit (badly). Hopefully I can get replacement washers and might look at drilling and replacing the bodged locating pin.

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The bushes were able to be pressed out with the vice and with a C clamp and some suitably sized sockets. One bush on the bodged side was a bit battered but in general both sides didn’t seem too worn out. But I will replace everything anyway when I rebuild it. Tomorrow I will take the stub axles to work to media blast them and I might take the axle itself in on Saturday to use the large blasting cabinet on that. It’s kind of nice to be working on something like the Riley. It isn’t a huge car by any means but everything on it is somewhat more substantial than the little Austin 7.

I also forgot to post these photos last time. These are some film pics I took at Southwards Car Museum some time ago! Photography is something else I am trying to get back into.

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