Hill climbs and buggered floor.

November 13th, 2011

Last weekend I went off to the Chelsea Hillclimb run by the vintage car club. Apparently it’s been going for years but it’s the sort of thing you need to be in the know to know about. They run up the hill from the Chelsea Sugar factory on the north shore of Auckland. Funny, I have lived in Auckland for for 36 years and never been there. There were several Austin 7s there which I got to look at and measure and even got to drive one! In the car park, not up the hill. I took a lot of pictures and measurements of the cars there. One of them, the one I got to try driving, was an Austin Nippy.

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2011-11-06 13.28.46_1 Austin 7 Nippy.

It was interesting to drive. The clutch pedal has almost no movement but it wasn’t hard to operate. The gear shift is vague! I am so used to the MGB gear change where you can just slide the gears through in one movement. In this you need to actually trace the gears through. Like tracing a path though a maze. The brakes were terrible! I know Austin 7 brakes aren’t modern but these seemed extremely vague! But it was great fun to drive. It’s real driving. Life in your hands type stuff. You don’t need to go fast in a car like this to have fun.

The other car there was Richard McWhannell’s Dieppe special, the car he build with Joss who is advising me with mine.

2011-11-06 12.50.14_1 2011-11-06 12.55.43_1 2011-11-06 13.06.23_1 Dieppe.

The Dieppe is tiny! It is on the short wheel base chassis and the body is very narrow so it sits between the wheels.

The other car there that was interesting was not an Austin 7 but a beautiful Riley. It has a Tiger Moth aircraft engine in it.The finish on this car is absolutely amazing and this was it’s first public outing. It rightly won a cup for the best presented car (I think).

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I had a look on YouTube for any films about the hill climb and found this about the Riley.

Was a good day. Not only for driving the Austin myself but just seeing the cars and seeing people enjoying them racing up the hill. Of course if I get mine done in any reasonable time I have to try it myself!

At the hillclimb Joss was telling me of the importance of sticks. I need sticks for working out how I want the body to look. You use them to lay out the lines before you start making the steel frame. Unfortunately I don’t have many! I had some but not enough. So Joss said I should go back to his place to collect some. I gave his 7 year old a lift in the MG home and then back at their place Joss lent me a lot of sticks to play with. I also went and bought some more to use myself. It turns out when I cut the floor of the car to fit between the wheels I messed up. The body might actually curved out between the wheels somewhat. It isn’t a massive disaster since the floor needs to be cut again anyway to make room for the drive tunnel so when I do that I can simply make a cut down the middle and pull the two floor halves out to make the width correct.

To fix my visit from Mr Cock-up I used the MDF cover sheet they gave me at the plywood place to make a new, fake floor.This is how I should have cut the plywood in the first place.

IMG_0977_1 New temporary floor.

On this I marked the centre line and marked out some stations. The first is the end of the scuttle. The first third of the car, the part that covers the engine, is straight. This part is where the bonnet is. The middle part has a station at the point where the body is the widest. This works out to be about where you hips are when you are sitting in the car. The third one I put behind the rear wheels. And then I have a point for the tail. I think if I have a rounded tail I will need another station between the rear wheels and tail.

To use my sticks I made up some bookends. These are just 90 degree angled wooden corners. I ran a backbone down the middle of the car and added cross pieces at each of the stations. At the ends I screwed on my bookends. Then to the verticals of the bookends I screwed on vertical pieces. I marked everything with inch lines and used screws so I can adjust everything later.

IMG_0981_1 Bookends.

Above you can see the bookends I made. I put them in the wood vice with a weight on top while the glue dried to make sure they were all at 90 degrees.

These bookends were screwed to cross pieces attached to the main backbone of the car. To make the car wider it is a simple matter to unscrew them and move them out and reattach the screws in the new position.

IMG_0991_1 IMG_0992_1 Bookends.

To the sides I added vertical sticks. I can then run long sticks around these frames to get an idea of the shape. I went the Bunnings and got some long pieces of flexible wood and some clamps I could use to get some idea of the body lines.

Then I attached my long sticks. Now I should point out I have no idea how this should work really.  I can see the principle but I don’t have an eye for what the right lines should be. I think what I have done is a bit too much for an Austin 7.


IMG_0990_1 IMG_0994_1 Laying out the body shape.

The car has a very high front and I went for a VERY sweeping side line. Maybe too much for a  little Austin 7.  I also don’t quite know how the tail should look. It’s pointed now since that the way the sticks naturally fall. But the technique for laying out the sticks is sound. I can adjust things in and out, up and down and I can make more stations as needed.

Funnily enough as I was typing this Joss rang me to see how I was getting on and he is going to come over and see how I am doing tomorrow. I need the help!



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