Taking The Wheel.

Before I got too deeply into the body, it seemed a good plan to try it on for size. Counsel dropped by in his Wolseley Hornet Special,

Wolseley Hornet Special

and by experiment, we determined that the front of the Hillman seat will have to be raised by 3″ and the rear of the seat by 2″.

Driving position

This gave an almost luxurious driving position but, you can see also that the seat is right up against the rear bulkhead. I’m 6’1″ and it’s all a bit on the tight side for me. I’m going to have to set the bulkhead back a couple or so inches at the top, like this:

Rear bulkhead scheme

I’ll first add the shaped beam and then cut the top off the existing ply bulkhead which, for some reason I can’t remember, I was obliged to position a couple of inches further forward than I’d hoped. This scheme gets me back to square one, plus an inch – possibly two – and will allow a good amount of travel on the seat rails. Of course, not everyone is 6’1″ so it was an important exercise to determine also that the relative positions of the seat to the steering wheel would accommodate those less tall than me.

Seating position 1

The Ambassador’s Daughter (5’5″) was on hand for this investigation and, with the seat at its currently most rearward position (above) the consular leg was at full stretch with the clutch pedal fully depressed – not ideal. Then, with the seat at its most forward position and the pedals within comfortable reach,

Seat position 2

the steering wheel was close to provoking a diplomatic incident. Rapprochement will be re-gained by my removing 4″ from the steering column.

Carrier and tail

But before I could make those alterations, the carrier construction and how the rails met at the back had to be finalised. The steel spine was clad in ply to make it easier to join everything together – in the final assembly I’ll put a corrosion preventative treatment in the sandwich – and the threaded bar added to make up the triangle.

Bar

Even jury rigged, I can feel that it’s going to be a good strong structure. Then it was time for some fairly major surgery…

Re-jig

And now I’ve done this, it’s de-cluttered the structure and I can see more easily how to incorporate some metal bracing and create something of a cage around the cockpit. If I make up a plate with flanged edges to go across the back of the seats and a similar plate for the firewall (handily providing some stiffness for the column mount) I’ll feel happier about the structure’s ability to absorb energy and retain some integrity in the event of an accident. The plate behind the seats will be built up with ash to form the rear part of the cockpit coaming.

Steel bracing

With a 45° plywood inner skin, the cage should be fairly robust but it’s good to be mindful of the fact that too much and too strong a structure can be as lethal as one too lightly built.

Best drive carefully.

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