Ah, new acquisitions.

October 27th, 2014

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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….

2 Responses to “Ah, new acquisitions.”

  1. Upex Says:

    How much did it cost Simon?

  2. Peter Coleridge Says:

    I enjoy you description of the new car – I learnt to drive on a 1928 A& that was very like yours. As you say you learn fast to double declutch.

    Ours had a starting handle – although I don’t think I ever used it “in anger” (ie with an almost flat battery) I did learn how to hold the handle properly to avoid breaking your thumb if it happened to backfire.

    They are definitely small – my father used to say “a gentleman was someone who could change gear in an Austin Seven without getting his face slapped”

    Good luck with it!

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