The first being what to do about the handbrake. I’ve extended the lever by 8″ to get it up to a manageable height outside the cockpit but, if I drop the top rail to give access to the handle, that’s rather going to spoil the line. I’m going to explore the possibility of an access flap in the side. The handbrake is going to be used only infrequently – emergencies, difficult hill starts and so forth so it seems a bit unnecessary to lose the integrity of the top rail by chopping it about. The passenger side’s already weakened by the inclusion of a door so I want to retain some rigidity on the driver’s side. It might look a bit like this:
Or, perhaps an overlapping pair of leather panels that won’t lift in the wind? I’m sure I can come up with something other than the altering of the body.
Then there was the question of what to do about the spare wheel. I’d already decided that it wouldn’t look right on the side – again it would spoil the line of the wing and require a lot of metalwork in an already tight scuttle. The door would be another problem and it couldn’t go on the driver’s side – the handbrake’s in the way. The only place for it is on the back and fortunately, because the spare was originally placed there, everything is nice and over-built. I can’t use the original fixings because the body’s changed but I can triangulate the carrier construction quite effectively using the very solid stretcher which joins the rearmost ends of the chassis and to anchor the job, the cross beam will accommodate the shaft to complete the triangle. I’ll have then to work the skiff shape of the body around the fabrication. That’ll keep me busy.
As indeed has the making of the side rails. I went for shaping them from planks – it was the simplest solution and there’s only one bit of short grain in one of the corners which is just about on the limit but satisfactory.
The front of the rail just behind the dashboard is where I’ll put a full width tray to mount all the electrics and there’ll be a good-sized access panel in the skin – there’s nothing worse than trying to sort stuff out, upside down and in the dark. I had to remake the bulkhead that sits behind the seats because I’d originally made it too small on the shoulders to take the width of the plank. I tried to get around it but I knew I had to do it again and I’m pleased I didn’t waste too much time on trying to re-engineer the old one.
So that was a good day’s work and, looking at the picture, I realise why the wood looks orange; the sun popped out before it ducked behind the farm buildings and I must have caught it at the right moment. The spiky bits on the ends of the top rails have been left so that I can dream up a scheme for the double curvature down to the back. I had a thought that I could do it relatively easily in tube.
That might be the answer.