More car progress.

February 1st, 2015

Right, after talking about my trip I need to get back onto the special really. First though the chummy. Joss borrowed it over the break and there was a slight incident where the wiring somehow shorted out and the entire loom melted down. The car has been hotwired since but I am slowly repairing it all. I started with the battery cables and the cut out switch. I luckily had a terminal mounted switch (since being hotwired disconnecting the battery is the only way to stop the engine). I don’t like those screw down terminals though so I fitted instead a key type switch. I still need to replace the horrible earth wire. I had a new battery to starter cable made up and when looking through my old MG bits I found a short battery cable I could use for the earth. I also found a 12 volt coil which will be useful on the special.

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Since the car is hotwired I also went and bought a nice battery charger from Supercheap. It will do 6/12/24 volt batteries and SLA as well as Lead Acid and Calcium batteries. It uses a stepped charge so it will go into trickle charge meaning you can keep it connected all the time (I don’t). I figured with a 6 volt Chummy and a 12  volt special (as well as the MGB) a good battery charger is a useful investment. I also use SLA batteries for various thing so it’s handy for that too. I ran the starter cable though a grommeted hole in the panel in the front of the seat as it should be. Before it was just looped over the top.

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The Chummy also got a bath and I touched up the paint on the wings. That made a huge difference to the appearance of the car.

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I also fitted the new, non leaking, fuel tap. Next I will redo the wiring. I did start repairing the original switch panel (the one I replaced it with is somewhat burnt out now).


On the special I fitted the new sports arm I bought back from England. This drops the steering drag link on a lowered car to keep it closer to horizontal as it should be. The difference between the two arms is very noticeable. The old one is painted red to remind me it’s a cracked one and not to be used on a road car. It was off the Chummy which got the new one that was originally on the special.

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I have also been doing lots of little jobs on the special (which this blog is meant to be about!). I keep getting distracted on other things. Like finding by the side of the railway a Pandrol Clip I had to nab and clean up (it’s a railway geek thing).


Anyway, the special. Today we had a car event at the annual Galaxy of Cars show in Auckland. More on that later but the last few weeks have been sent getting the car ready to show at that as a work in progress. So lots of little things needed to be done. I replaced the ends of the bonnet hinge rail piece. There is one closed end and one half open end that the bonnet hinge fits into. I had repaired one end by making a new endpiece from steel and welding it in place then I was doing the other end and suddenly realised that the steel rail fits a particular way around so there is probably a proper way these things are meant to go. I don’t actually know what that is but I suspect I got it wrong! It doesn’t really matter. To me it makes sense the closed end is in the front so the front of the hinge couldn’t lift if the hinge worked loose and the straps and bonnet catches failed (not that it’s likely).

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After putting the new ends on I cut a brass rod the right length (still need to make the hinge pieces) and painted the rail black. I had to reweld part of the skin near the firewall where it had cracked. I found my flux has absorbed water from the air and has turned from a powder into a  liquid! But it was still useable. I do need to fix the valve on my welding torch. The O2 valve is really twitchy. I need to take it apart and see if it needs a new seal or O-Ring. Unfortunately BOC no longer sell that particular torch so getting parts might be hard.

I also finally reassembled my downdraft SU and fitted a needle to it and centred that. It should work well now.


I also looked at mounting the engine and radiator properly just for the show. I removed the front of the car and I put in the block and the correct engine mounts in place then put the valances and radiator surround in place. What I found was with the engine in place and everything bolted on the front was too low!

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It turns out the way to fix this was to raise up the front horns. I did it temporarily with washers stacked underneath them. Doing this also fixed a problem I noticed earlier which was the valances weren’t sitting square with the body. Not they sit a lot better. That gap is hidden by the rubber strip but it is nice to know it’s correct underneath there now. The increase in height also makes the bonnet line a little flatter. It should be perfectly horizontal and doing this made it bloody close to that.

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For the show I also fitted the steering column and instrument panel and gauges. The crackle black look great! I also added some engine components and Ian lent me a sump. I added spark plugs I found in my MG bits since I figure even if people don’t understand engines they at least recognise the spark plugs!

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I also made up one of the little brackets that hold the bonnet hinge rail in place. This is just made from a piece of steel, appropriately hit with a hammer until it was the right shape. It’s temporarily bolted in place but will be properly attached once I paint it. I still need to make the bonnet end. The gap between the rail and the bracket is there the rubber strip fits.

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I had time to go for a drive in the Chummy on Saturday morning to the Blockhouse Bay community where they always have a little second hand market. A chap is always there with random tools and hardware type things. I picked up a BSF/BSW spanner, some screwdriver, some brass catches, a very nice imperial steel rule and a little oil can for $7!


The large screwdriver is perfect for the gutter bolts used on the special. The catches I just got since they were cheap, are solid brass and could be useful one day. Maybe for van rear doors or something?

I also got distracted making a little oak plinth for the small piece of Brooklands I, errr,  borrowed from a pothole in the members banking! Joss gave me some oak and had the brilliant idea of making it look like a piece of the banking. I glued together some bits, hacked it up with the jig saw and started sanding it to shape. A small brass plate will be attached to the front suitable etched and the whole thing will be finished in oil to bring out the oak grain after some more sanding with a fine grit paper. The small piece of the banking will be mounted just above the base with brass wire bent to just hold it in place a bit like a gemstone setting.

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I managed to get the car mostly together for the show. Joss also did  lot of work and long nights to get his ready too. John lent us his trailer. Fagan and Hannay also lent Joss a van to tow the trailer which proved to be very handy. The VAR wanted to show some cars being built. There were our two cars there and another finished special. The weather was a bit iffy in the morning we had to make two trips to transport both cars but they were fine letting us come in and out with the trailer. The galaxy of cars show is a lot more relaxed than the Ellerslie concourse which is actually on next weekend.

Basically we parked the cars in the VAR area (with all the other vintage Austins) and people came to look at them. And lots of people were looking. I think everyone found them quite fascinating and something quite different to just normal cars that everyone else was showing. There weren’t really any other cars there in progress.

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In the morning is did rain quite a bit. A little water won’t hurt though. Car needed a wash anyway.

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The show also had a swap meet attached with some interesting things. I got myself a couple of books, Mechanics – Theoretical, Applied and Experimental from 1902, and Famous Motor Races from 1963. I also got a nice little mains transformer in a Bakelite case (from 1934 according to the box) and a little (bicycle?) lamp thing I hope to modernise with a decent battery. It will make a nice little glove box or tool box torch. I also got an LP of the Muppet show! All that was $13.00.


Overall the show was a great success. Joss and I got our cars seen and everyone was really interested. I think the club was very pleased we got them out and in a good state to show too. Got to catch up with various other club people too which was good. We’re definitely staring to form a little circle of special builders and I think people are starting to appreciate what we’re trying to do which is build period correct Austin specials. Built using Austin parts and in the way they built them back in the 20s and 30s. Every so often we have to take certain liberties like my blower and the odd SU carb here and there (which IS part of Austin special building history) but the cars are essentially pure Austin. Apparently we even got a mention on the PA (which I totally missed) saying everyone should go looks at the little Austin race cars! Great for trying to drum up interest in the bodies Joss can now build to order.

Was definitely an enjoyable and worthwhile day.

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One problem with owning Vintage Austin 7s is as soon as you get two of them along in the garage the bloody things start breeding when you’re not looking!


8 Responses to “More car progress.”

  1. Tom Says:

    Thinking LED for that bike lamp.

  2. admin Says:

    Possibly. Maybe I could get the inners from another modern LED bike lamp and transplant them.

  3. Renaud in Brittany Says:

    Hi Simon,
    This kind of burning wiring happens when, as you diagnosed, the earth wire is faulty. I saw that once too, on an MG A. The starter engine found it’s earth path through the choke and throttle cables which reddened of confusion!

  4. admin Says:

    I don’t think it was the earth in this case. More likely something behind the switch panel. The wiring was very dodgy to start with! When I redo it I will put a fuse in line with the main feed from the starter to the switch panel as there are no fuses at all at the moment.

  5. Philippe Says:

    Hello Simon,
    I discover your website, and the good job you’ve been doing on your Austin 7!
    It’s Renaud who told me about it, because I have a question about the carburator of my Morris Minor Special.
    Like yours, my carb is a downdraft, and there is a hole in the cap of the damper. Do you have one too?
    I think the filler cap would be enough, and there would be more oil in the carb…

  6. admin Says:

    Hi Philippe, I just went to go look at mine. It originally had the wrong damper top on it. As far as I can tell the DD SUs shouldn’t have a damper rod attached to the top like the normal SUs do. So I bought a new brass top for it. That doesn’t have a hole in it, it’s solid. I believe that is how they are meant to be as like you say they are oiled from the side via the little oil filler. The piston inside the dashpot on mine seems to be brass, not aluminium, so it’s much heavier than normal.


  7. Ian Williams Says:

    The spring and damper on an SU perform the function of slowing down the rate of piston rise, acting both as an economy measure and to prevent hesitation from sudden mixture changes. With a down draft SU and the dash pot on its side, the hydraulic damper can not work in the usual way so a simple cap is fitted with no damper rod or vent.

  8. Baz Says:

    Following progress as new to the 7’s. For god’s sake don’t advertise the fact that 7’s breed in the shed!This happened with the last project!

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