So, Which Is It Then?

When I started on the 1906 Rover gear lever and brake quadrant, there were a couple of things that I had to assume, one of which was that the main casting that attached to the bodywork and supported the mechanism, was correct for the car.

It wasn’t. Further research threw up a couple of pictures from period Rover catalogues….


… both of which were different. In the first picture, the gear lever (the one with the knob on the end) appears on the outside run of the quadrant. In the second, the handbrake has taken its place and is most likely the result of some confusion on the part of the touch-up artist. The next problem was a picture purportedly from of a 1906 Rover control arrangement that had been reassembled in the order that it had come off the car.

This shows the gear lever on the inside and with the return spring holder (the short tube at the base of the lever) facing outwards. Then another picture – this time a known 1906 car….

…  with the return spring holder facing inwards. This is the one I decided to replicate with a little help from another set of pictures which included better detail of the gear spacing on the top of the quadrant.

I won’t cut the slots for the gear positions until the quadrant is on the car and we can determine exactly where the gears are – they’re bound to be different to this example.

With the laser-cut kit of parts, I was ready to start the assembly with the tricky bit – bending the base of the quadrant. The 5mm steel was easy to bend with the aid of a press but it needed to be right first time and the two arms, with a datum taken through the centre of the body attachment lugs, were effectively of different lengths putting the bend lines in different places on each arm but still requiring them to be joined with the cross plates in the same plane – if that makes sense.

The operation went smoothly and whilst I remembered in what order I did things, I bent up the spare base plate to match. Then it was just a question of getting everything to sit in the right order and to make sure that there was enough clearance between the two levers.

I had a set of spacers to play with and they proved extremely handy in determining how long the final one-piece spacers would be.

In the end, although the assembly may not be exactly as it came out of the factory, the controls will look right and pass muster. The handbrake ratchet release is the next bit to create; it works by pulling towards you an aluminium handle on the end of the brake lever which in turn disengages a stop from the ratchet teeth. It’s all a bit backwards at first glance but it’s simple and effective.

I’ve forgotten what the second thing was that I had to assume but it most likely would have been wrong in any case.




8 comments on “So, Which Is It Then?

  1. Hi Nigel,
    Nice mousetrap you’ve made there!
    I wonder how much is the cost of laser cutting for a set like that? What kind of electronic document do you provide for the cutters?

    • Hello Renaud, I think it cost about €50 for 2 sets. I supplied a simple CAD drawing for each component and they either re-drew them in Autocad (I can’t get the hang of that) or scanned them as the overall dimensions were not super critical as long as they all worked together. I’m experimenting with water-jet stuff at the moment in anticipation of a new project – no, I’m not going to tell you what it is just yet, it’s a feasibility study at the moment 🙂

  2. Yes, that’s pretty reasonable and the second set is nearly free in fact!. Water jet is supposed to be extremely accurate. At leastfrom those who knows their onions that is!
    I just realized that you very kindly put “Le Sandford de mon père” in your recommended sites list. Thanks.
    Renaud in sunny Brittany

  3. Simon Jansen says:

    We use DXF files at work for laser and plasma cutting. I’ve been using Fusion 360 for my CAD stuff lately. It’s cloud based but free for personal use and works very well.

    • Thanks Simon. Looks good. I’ll give it a go when I get home. I would download it to my Surface if Microsoft weren’t so perverse as to make virtually everything that doesn’t come from the Microsoft store incompatible.

  4. I’m painfully trying to learn FreeCad myself but I’m so lazy…

  5. Simon says:

    I’ve been learning Fusion 360 by designing and 3D printing a working Enigma machine. My printer is home made and I am just upgrading it to a larger bed size so I can print some of the larger parts. I find having an actual (complicated!) project and end goal helps. I need to update my site about it all sometime.

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