This weekend has been taken up with my duties as plongeur so progress on the bodywork has been halted for 3 days – it was a big do. Fortunately, Cook always seems to have handily placed cousins and staff were put up in great luxury near to Voewood House – a fabulous Arts and Crafts house in North Norfolk. What added charm to the event was that the Holt to Sheringham steam railway line started just the other side of the wood from the buttery where I set up shop. There’s something about the whistle and toot of a steam engine that is utterly homely and warm and, to just discern the hiss and puff of an engine as it pulled away from the station at intervals throughout the day was a real treat in all the hullabaloo of the scullery.
However, just before I went away on Friday I managed to sort out a potential disaster with the bodywork. I’d forgotten – as I had done with the Austin – that the top of the dash wasn’t the top of the body and with the position of the steering wheel being quite high, the instruments would be too far under the cockpit coaming to be seen clearly. The remedy was to raise the top profile of the car by about 1″ which, by leaving the panel where it was, allowed the instruments to be viewed more directly.
I remember a similar problem that I had when first flying the Tiger Moth. Being quite tall, I got a bit fed up ducking under the coaming to glance at the airspeed – especially when landing in gusty conditions. It was fine when there was no one in the front because my natural line of sight took in the front cockpit’s ASI but, when accompanied, I would shout at the front seat occupant to lean to the right a bit. After a while, like most aeroplanes of that nature, you could hear when your airspeed was right.
I’m still trying to decide which way to go on the top rails. I can either laminate or, because the curve is quite shallow and is only 4″ wide overall, I could cut the rails from a plank and still not have any short grain. The latter is certainly the easiest route but I would have to leave enough continuing behind the seat bulkhead to splice in the rear rails. These will have to be either steamed or laminated because there’s double curvature to accommodate and they’ve got to be quite sturdy. I got away with thin stringers on the back of the Austin because the strength came from the plywood sheeting – not so on the Hillman. In fact, I haven’t decided how I’m going to skin the body. I’m leaning towards an aluminium outer skin which shouldn’t be too taxing and, in the cockpit, a plywood inner skin so a couple of handy pockets for maps and Miss X’s paraphernalia can be created.
I shall have to make up a bit of ground this coming week as I see The Jolly Jowetteer is getting ahead…
but then he doesn’t do the washing up.