Bringing Home The Bacon….

… had not been easy these past few months. Just before Christmas, disaster struck. I was in Chumley’s debt for a couple of little jobs that he squeezed in for me and for which he was in return looking forward to the usual bag of Norfolk sausages. I would add to that a modest stack of steak burgers and a dozen slices of finest streaky to demonstrate both my appreciation of his accommodations and convey my good wishes for the festive season. But the Norfolk butcher had gone. Closed down. Fortunately I had a small reserve in my freezer so honour was preserved but this development was a serious blow not only for my future dealings with Chumley but at the time, practically the whole of my Christmas list.

Wired edge

The wiring of the edges of the Austin front wings has been more difficult than I at first imagined. I did have a bit of trouble with getting the metal to go where I wanted it to go and it was like trying to adjust side valve tappets; an extra pair of hands would have been useful.

laying the wire

I persevered, finished one wing and offered it up in the hope that it would inspire me to get on with the other side a bit more quickly (and do a neater job into the bargain). It’s no wonder that it was difficult to get the wire to lay nicely because the wire is actually tube and not aluminium as I first thought from its exterior finish but steel with a layer of copper and then aluminium coated on the outside. I discovered this when I was cutting it with the disc cutter – sparks gave the game away. The tube came from Blue Swallow Aircraft and I would guess that it’s an aircraft spec. product though I can’t think what it might be used for.

Offside wing

But it’s been worth the effort so far. The car has never looked right since I took the front guards off – the wheels kept hitting the metal and once jammed everything up when I went up onto the verge to let another car past.


I’ll try to sort the other side out this week and then get on with the brackets.


I thunked up a new theory about the rough running of the Hillman which for the time being avoids cutting holes in the bonnet. I wondered if the gascolator was neutralising or dropping the pressure from the fuel pump sufficiently low enough to cause fuel starvation at low revs with the engine hot. I haven’t properly thought it through and I’m probably clutching at straws but, just in case there’s something in it (even if I don’t know what it is) I’ve rummaged through the box of bits and found a pipe joining twink with the right threads at each end so I can by-pass the gascolator ready for the next breakfast run.

Which reminds me – I didn’t finish the story. The butcher in Long Stratton is from last week, open again; same excellent meats, same charming people, though they now own the enterprise and work for themselves.

Trebles and sausages all round then!

This Won’t Do.

The hottest day of the year so far was an excuse for The Ambassador’s Daughter and me to try out another beach cafe, this time at Winterton-on-Sea.


The sun shone, the roads were practically empty and the Hillman (with a new 40 zillion volt coil) ran like a dog for most of the 130 miles there and back. The snag was that after a longish run at a steady speed, the slowing down for a roundabout or somesuch, caused the engine to miss and cough and splutter on the exit and continue to misbehave for the next couple of miles until the (indicated) temperature came down a couple of degrees again. Even then there was no guarantee of consistent running until I strapped the bonnet open with the help of my trousers belt and a bungee cord that I found in the tool bag. This  helped to get some cooler air going past the carb and reduce the temperature under the bonnet. We just made it back to the farm where of course, the engine sat and ticked over as smooth as silk.

Bonnet open

So it could have been a bunch of things. Air in the fuel line (there were some bubbles in the gascolator but the carb’s float bowl should eliminate any problem there) or fuel evaporation as the carb heats up with the transfer of the heat from the block when slowing down, rubbish fuel (I always buy the expensive unleaded) or a combination of all those things. It’s definitely not electrical as the system is producing plenty of sparks and it runs really sweetly on tick over and low revs. When it gets hot, the problems start, though, having said that, at one point in my fury I dropped it into 3rd, pushed it up to and past (an indicated) 5000 rpm where the power band comes in and it just wanted to go, pulling like a train without a moment’s hesitation.

BSA C15 engine

It’s enough to drive a chap nuts. More interestingly, I spotted this little sprint job at the local bike meet and wondered why I hadn’t had the same idea with my first motorcycle (also a BSA C15). Krazy Horse always puts on a good show and it’s very well attended. The combination of art and engineering that goes into some of the bikes on show is really inspiring.

Coventry Climax A7

As is Leon’s Coventry Climax installation in his A7. It looks and sounds fabulous and it’s only taken him about 5 minutes to complete!

Coventry Climax A7

And this is what I like…

Work in progress

… the car as an aide-memoire. That’s art. I was telling Leon about my troubles with the Hillman and describing the symptoms when something he said reminded me that the air intake to the carb is not an open bell-mouth like on the Austin, but via an air cleaner which sits on the top of the engine in the hottest part of the bonnet. I wondered if I made a couple of air scoops to help pull in cool air directly into the air cleaner gauze, it might make a difference to the running?

Fair lead mould

Years ago I made up a beech tool to press out some aluminium fairings for the Jodel control cable exits.

That’ll do.



Not So Easy.

I’d wired successfully by hand the edge of the cockpit on the Hillman so I didn’t think it would be that much more difficult to whizz round the edges of the new wings and slap them on ready for the next breakfast run. I don’t know why I kid myself about these things but, as usual, a job I thought would be fairly straightforward needed a lot more thought and the help of some generous friends before it could be completed.


I measured carefully the recommended 2.5 times the diameter of the wire and set up the Jenny to score a line to begin the turning of the edge. I’d forgotten the lessons I’d learnt when I first used the Jenny on bits of the Hillman – if you over-work the metal, it’ll split – but after a couple of false starts I managed to get something approaching what I was looking for.

1st attempt

It was a bit short one end so I had a go at 3 times the diameter and it still wasn’t right. My over-enthusiasm with the hammer was also making a mess of the edge so I wandered off to the computer to see if I could pick up a few hints and tips from YouTube. I did. Either make up some new wheels for the Jenny or borrow a better swaging machine.


I first took the Jenny apart thinking that I’d pop and see Chumley in the week and get him to knock up a couple of new wheels – handy things to have for the future – then remembered that Very Learned Counsel had a swaging machine with a bunch of bead rollers and a quick phone call would probably save me a lot of time. It would be a 2-man job and Counsel (equally Learned but about different stuff) happily volunteered his services.

Bead rolling

I knew that the whole malarky would be thrown out of kilter by the swaging and I’d be going back to the wheeling machine after I’d put the wire in. It was great fun but definitely not something that I would want to try without assistance. I scribed a line 13mm in, all around the edge of the wing and with 3 passes through the bead roller, had an acceptable result. It was then just a case of working the bead round to as near a right angle as we could in readiness for the final fold, without splitting the metal.


It would have been nice to have finished off with a special set of wheels to close off the wire but we didn’t have those so I’ll anneal and tap over the last bit by hand. That’ll be quite a slow job as there’s one or two tricky bits to try to shrink especially round the tighter curves. I haven’t quite worked out where the brackets are going to go but I thought it might be simpler to make the wings and get them to fit rather than try to fit them to set points at this stage of my wheeling experience.

The view

With summer on the way, maybe things will get easier.





I don’t know what inspired me to at last extractum digitum but the sun was out and I found myself with a bit of cardboard in my hand.

Austin wings

I’ve yet to decide on the mixing of styles but I can attend to the rear guards if the combination isn’t so easy on the eye. I had a bit of 1mm aluminium and whizzed out a couple of shapes with a bit extra round the sides to accommodate the wiring of the edges. There’s always plenty of fencing wire in odd corners round the farm so I had everything I needed bar the wheeling machine.

Austin wings

Very Learned Counsel had kindly offered me the use of his wheel but I’d discovered another whose owner was equally generous and not far from both the laser cutting people and (importantly) the Norfolk butcher.

First attempt

I’d never used an English Wheel before and was looking forward to the fun. ‘The work’s done on the back stroke – you’ll get the hang of it’, was the extent of my instruction and, like the advice I was given before I went for helicopter lessons – ‘don’t look in the cockpit, just keep your eyes on the furthest horizon’, this seemed to do the trick.

Austin wings

Of course, wise words don’t preclude you from getting in a muddle but the man who never made a mistake, never made nothin’. In my enthusiasm I over-worked one of the panels but managed to sort of pull it back and called it a day before I got myself in a real jam.

Jury rig

I quite like the look because it gives the front of the car a bit of width – something it had always lacked. Still, I’ve yet to get the fitting right and then wire the edges which will throw the whole lot out of kilter again if I don’t pay attention.

Austin wings

In a bid to pick up a few more handy hints and tips I’ve ordered an American publication, ‘Learning the English Wheel’. In it are pictures of the author’s work on the replica Hughes H-1 racer and he seems to have made a decent fist of that so I’m in good hands.

Coventry Climax

Leon’s Coventry Climax installation is nearing completion as he fabricates the manifolds in stainless steel. That should give the exhaust note a pleasing ring.

Brands Hatch

A day’s racing at Brands Hatch with Learned Counsel provided plenty of entertainment and was a reminder that if I don’t hurry up and go for my racing driving test, I’m going to miss out on the Le Mans Classic in 2018. Luckily, Snetterton is practically on my doorstep and there’s an organisation there which is affiliated to the Motor Sports Association (MSA) and who can conduct the test.

It’ll be back to bread and scrape for the foreseeable; not an entirely welcome development.


Pronounced ‘barscht’ in Polish which is why when I asked in the Polish shop for ‘borscht’, it drew some blank looks. Anyway, it’s beetroot soup to us and although not to everyone’s taste, if you add fried lardons, chopped Savoy cabbage, organic carrots and potatoes, it’s a feast – worlds away from the borscht I remember being dished up in Moscow back in the 70’s.

A7 gearbox attachment

Leon’s A7 gearbox has been mated to the Coventry Climax for a couple of weeks now; a very neat and tidy job and then the other day, this came through..

Climax A7

Job done; breakfast run here we come. Meanwhile, The Ambassador’s Daughter and I took a quick run out in the Hillman on the first official day of Spring – it seems eons ago now – in preparation for the annual run to Ufford.


I think it was probably the best turnout ever – I would guess over 200 cars – and over the years the weather has got steadily warmer and sunnier for this early April event. I remember the first one I went to in The Great Collector’s Rolls; I sat in the back holding picnic mugs to catch the rain pouring through the rails of the sun roof.


Awkward was there having prepared his Avon for a trip abroad – confusion about his country of origin is unlikely…. and my car of the day was this Invicta. It’s not often you see an Invicta of this size and style.


Project ‘X’ is now in full swing so these trips out and car stuff in general have taken a back seat. The front wings for the Austin 7 are still waiting to be done; the Riley racing car I haven’t even thought about for what seems an age, I’ve got a suspension piece to make for a Hurtu, a Mercedes hood to repair and I’ve still got to fit in the dhobi and hoovering.

Good job the evenings are drawing out – Na Zdorovie!

For My Sin….

… well, it wasn’t actually a sin, more accurately an act of awareness and self-preservation. In fact, like my fellow attendees, all of whom given the opportunity, might protest convincingly their innocence, the extenuating circumstances which led to my apprehension would, unfairly, never be taken into account – at least not unless I risked going up before the beak.

The beakIn 40 years of driving, this was my first speeding ticket – I’m usually very good with speed limits but, being behind an erratic driver in the centre of Norwich one day, I decided that rather than be involved in the accident that was clearly about to happen, the sensible thing would be to get past. Click! 38mph. The Speed Awareness Course was a 4 hour appreciation of the possible consequences of such folly and was ¬£12 cheaper than the otherwise damning fine and points. It was a long afternoon, though by way of entertainment, there was one clown who was obviously more innocent than the rest of us having driven perfectly safely in every corner of the globe for the last 50 years and this affront to his experience was not going to go unchallenged.

Rover progress

The difficult bit of the 1906 Rover handbrake and gear lever assembly has been dealt with ably by Chumley and his grown-up mill and lathe. We had to turn up a special bit of tooling for the slot to be cut in the gear lever sleeve but it all went well. The threads in the block and spring adjuster had to be cut by hand with a tap and die because unless you’re lucky, the quality of a lot of steel doesn’t always make for a clean thread on a threading machine.

Vulcan bonnet

The Great Collector’s Vulcan proceeds apace – the new bonnet is largely complete and since I found the wiring diagram, armoured cable has started to emerge from the bulkhead like something out of Indiana Jones.

Post knocker

One of my projects, ‘Y’, has come to fruition and the Nokasorus Senior is now in production. For a simple machine like a post-driver it was a time-consuming experience getting to grips with all the EU regulations that surround the manufacture of machinery in general; it paves the way for the more complex Project ‘X’.

Super Cub

A phone call from a chum took me to a little airfield in Norfolk to view a Piper Super Cub that he was thinking of buying. Some of my happiest and most valuable flying hours were gained on the Piper L4 – the 65hp military version – ducking in and out of fields in and around Norfolk and Suffolk in the days when you could and with just an oil pressure gauge and an Air Speed Indicator for company. I also did several hours on a 90hp Cub though it wasn’t as nice. This 160hp version, complete with every bell and whistle you could think of and tundra tyres to boot, is a different kettle of fish. I haven’t stirred the stick as yet but it’s something I’m definitely looking forward to.

I shall count that as some recompense for my failings.




Projects ‘X’ & ‘Y’….

… have continued to take up most of my time so car stuff that’s involved me – even going out for a spin – has been a bit thin on the ground. Fortunately, not everyone has been so unproductive.

Climax?Austin gearbox adaptor plate

Leon has fashioned this adapter plate so that his Coventry Climax engine will take an Austin 7 starter motor…

Austin 7 starter motor

.. and gearbox.

Coventry Climax/A7 gearbox

I’m not sure of all the technical details but I know a new flange had to be welded onto the flywheel and the assembly balanced. I believe the final version of the adapter plate will be a bit thicker than the one shown. I don’t know what’s had to be done to the bell-housing but, watch this space.


The Great Collector is busy with the bonnet of his Vulcan at the moment and you’d have thought that was enough to keep a chap happy, but you’d be wrong. A 1928 Alvis TG 12/50 has appeared on the ramp…

Alvis 12/60

… and someone’s going round with a sheepish grin on his face!

1906 Rover gearlever

My efforts have been concentrated on replicating the gear lever for a chum’s 1906 Rover. I’ve got to apply a bit of heat to bend the stick in the right places and then fabricate the handbrake and some of the bits that make up the quadrant.

Rover quadrant

The main bit of the quadrant is going to be re-cast from an original which is in very good condition..

Rover quadrant.. and I’ve worked out that these are the bits I need to fabricate to complete the assembly along with the spring-loaded twink that is the ratchet on the handbrake. That should keep me occupied for the next few evenings and distract me from the other projects. I’ve been using a very simple CAD programme to draw up various general arrangements but, unless you’re doing that sort of thing on a daily basis, I find it’s always a lot quicker to pick up a pencil and paper – I couldn’t even begin to generate a drawing with a CAD system like the one above.

I can never remember which axis is ‘X’ or ‘Y’ for a start.