I was tidying up the sitting room the other day and the Hoover catapulted a cardboard roll out from under a chair. That was lucky because contained within the roll were the sketches for the hood mechanism of the Alvis 12/60 Beetleback, obtained from the VSCC. Along with the sketches I made of the Bugatti Type 40 hood, they’ll form the basis of the structure for the Hillman hood. It was extra lucky because I had forgotten all about the hood (in my imagination it wasn’t ever raining) and I was about to construct the body with no provision for the works. A bit of housework every now and again certainly pays off.


What I’d also forgotten about was the front axle wedges – they’re the same as the rear axle ones; made of a fibrous material and shaped, well, like a wedge. Their purpose is to incline the axle – in the case of the rear axle so that the propshaft is at not too severe an angle where it joins the pinion carrier and at the front axle to just tilt the kingpins backwards by a couple of degrees to give a bit of self-centring to the steering. It is possible to get in a muddle and put them in the wrong way round – effectively making the set-up trailing link with scary results on the road, so it’s worth thinking through – how do I know that?

The good news was that the bulkhead brackets were ready for collection so I whizzed off to the laser works so that I had something to get on with at the weekend.

Firewall bracket

This is resting on the firewall only for the photo – the cut-out is for the accelerator pedal.

Rear bulkhead bracket

Then there’s a couple for the rear bulkhead and some more, smaller ones, for the other verticals around the cockpit – door posts and what-have-you.

Bulkhead bracket

The ones at the front and back of the cockpit will be joined by tubular hoops to give the structure some extra integrity and help stiffen the body a bit. And the arrival of the brackets spurred me on to give the first coat of paint to the fuel tank,

Fuel tank

and then to repair my engine hoist – it needed new seals in the ram – so I could get on with the Austin engine installation. When I got the ram apart, I was horrified at the lack of care with which it was first put together; it’s never been quite right from the day I bought it. There was swarf in the oil and none of the internal machining had been finished off properly – hence the lacerated pressure seal. Anyway, a few minutes with a file and now it works like it’s never worked before.

Austin installation

After cutting a bit out of the Austin firewall, with the aid of my reconditioned hoist the engine practically fell in, complete with gearbox. Excellent. The next thing is to work out how to put the water pump in line – that should be relatively easy but the worst part of it will be somehow reducing the existing hose diameters to the much smaller bore of the pump.

While I’m thinking about that, I’ll get the Hoover out; you never know what I might turn up.


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