It’s Got to Be Done.

As our family name is Wright, my brother’s visit with his wife on New Year’s Day reminded me of my flight to celebrate the 100th Anniversary on Dec 17th 2003, of Orville and Wilbur’s triumph at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.


It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and, as evidenced by the long shadows, the sun was low in the sky. The strip was orientated NE/SW and I took off in the north-easterly direction for a quick 10 minute trip up to 1000′ or so and home again, just so that I’d done it on the famous day and besides which, it was too blinkin’ cold to be hanging about upstairs in an open cockpit.

VP1 100th anniversary flight

All went according to plan until I turned round to come back to the field. Then, as I was flying directly into the low sun I couldn’t see anything at all. I could see immediately below me and that was it. I established myself on a reciprocal course and as there wasn’t a breath of wind I was confident that I could probably set the throttle for a gentle descent of about 200′ a minute and have another look down to see where I was in a couple of minutes. At about 500′ and roughly a mile from where I thought the strip might be, I suddenly caught a flash of light on the ground – something was reflecting in the sunlight and I realised (and hoped) that it was probably the sunroof of my father’s car which he’d driven to the end of the runway so that he could capture the moment on film. I aimed for the reflection, landed completely blind and didn’t see anything in front of me until I’d touched down and was half way up the strip and in the shadow of the hangar. You don’t forget those moments!


Anyway, back to New Year’s Day and off we went to the local VSCC meeting and my car of the month was this RR. There was lots of other nice stuff and an especially desirable Bull Nose race-about but the Rolls 20/25 with coachwork by Freestone & Webb, clinched it – a very handsome car.

Jowett interior

The Jowett Jellybean is coming on – in fact there’s almost nothing to do now except get the bloke who’s meant to be doing the door catch surrounds to extractum digitum and I see that…

Jowett rear

.. Learned Counsel has even put the GB badge on in anticipation of a trip to Pau in the Spring.

Jupiter grille

Now the grilles are all finished and the proper headlights are in, things are looking good. And talking of things looking good, I’m a regular visitor to the website and amongst its articles and features I tripped over some stuff about those absolutely drop-dead gorgeous Italian speedboats that you used to see in the 50’s and 60’s films, in particular the 1958 Riva Tritone. That article led me to another site – – and it turns out you can buy the plans for these types of boats relatively cheaply and some of the boring stuff can be C-in-C cut so you can get on to the good bits a bit more quickly.

Hmmm. I’ve got a couple of Morris Six engines; hook those up to make a 12….. I think it’s got to be done.



Passed Fit.

Having given myself the all-clear, The Ambassador’s Daughter and I took off to Ufford in the Hillman for the first serious meet of the year. A damp start and a chilly Northerly did nothing to quell everyone’s enthusiasm and there must have been a good 70 – 80 cars on the field by 2.00pm at the White Lion.


To get a bit of a leg up on the way, I elected to do the first 10 or so miles on the A14 dual carriageway – just to blow out the cobwebs. That was fine but when we got onto the smaller roads the temperature under the bonnet rose pretty sharply (despite the electric fan) and the engine died at some traffic lights not far from our destination. I’ve got to get to the bottom of this. The Paxolin gasket alone hasn’t worked so I’m going to add an aluminium heat shield and put a duct in the bonnet to wash cold air over the carb. I could also, by way of experiment, disconnect the air cleaner which makes a contribution to the heat in the carb body as it pulls in warm air from inside the engine compartment.

Racing Jowett

There was an interesting Jupiter (one I’d seen at Silverstone a year ago) to have a look at and I learnt from its new owner that it was now only a few miles from Learned Counsel; no doubt we shall ask to visit and swap notes. The other thing I thought about whilst trying to fathom out the fading problem was that it might be too thin an oil in the SU dashpot. When the engine and carb get hot, the oil might thin still further and on depressing the throttle, the vacuum could get ahead of itself and the choke body might momentarily pull in too much air and not enough fuel (this wouldn’t explain fading at the traffic lights but might make a contribution to a hesitant pick-up when the engine’s hot). It’s a possibility so I asked the question of Mr Wolseley and he recommended 20/50 to keep the mixture rich – modern fuels being part of the problem.


I was still feeling a bit rubbish earlier in the week so to cheer myself up I perched the rear part of the body on the racing car – just for larks and to see how it was taking shape – and started to think out a frame arrangement for the shell to sit on. This threw up a couple of questions that I can put to Mr Riley next week. The first was, can I run an open propshaft on a torque tube gearbox (I can’t think why I shouldn’t) and secondly, is there any point in using the big and heavy pre-war rear axle if we’re not going to be messing about with the gearing.

Rear body shell

That looks about right – a touch low at the moment but the new frame will take care of that.


So whilst everyone was gorging themselves on chocolate, I got on with my painting. A whole day went past and before I knew it, it was time for supper. I’m a bit out of practice – it must be 2 years since I last picked up my brushes – so some of the draftsmanship wouldn’t bear too close an examination at the moment but, I daresay that as things progress, it’ll pass muster.

A Wet Weekend…

.. is generally quite productive. I turned up a couple of bits to hook up the choke cable (operated by the Kigass pump on the dash) and then felt that I shouldn’t be distracted by the interesting detail work but should be getting on with the body.


The beam which goes across the back of the seats was going to involve a trip to the builders merchant’s until I spotted a suitable piece of wood in the corner of one of the farm buildings. Trimmed up to shape and blocked at both ends, I’ll put a 1mm ply sheet across the top – much the same shape as the metal brace – which will tidy up any unevenness in the wood and give the aluminium skin a firm base. I’m thinking of using 1.2mm thick aluminium rather than 1.5mm which becomes more difficult to work in the tight spots. This reminds me that I’ve yet to pick up the English wheel. I notice that the Jowett panels are 2mm but I don’t know if they were pressed or hand formed. Anyway, Learned Counsel popped his head round the door and said it would be a nice touch if I used the bit of ash that sticks out of the front of cross beam, to form a division between the seats.

Seat division

A good idea. I’ve glued a couple of blocks to the rearmost part of the top frame and I’ll cover this in 1mm ply as well.

End blocks

I’ve also revised the rear bulkhead which, looking at it in the picture, may need the top bit re-revising as the profiles at each end look to be a bit too shallow in relation to the forward beam. Fortunately the top bit is the easy bit to re-do. Whilst Learned Counsel was in the workshop, we had a brief word or two about the proposed plan for racing at Le Mans in 2016 with his second Jowett.

Le Mans Jowett

There’s a bit to do…

Le Mans Jowett

.. but nothing that’s impossible. Quite a lot of the basic work has already been done to an acceptable standard and, as a project, it turns out that it’s probably a more sound proposition than the Jowett currently under restoration. The engine has been moved onto the engine bench..

Le Mans Jowett engine

.. and the gearbox is in the process of being cleaned.

Le Mans Jowett gearbox

So it won’t be long before we’re roaring round the yard. All this reminds me – I need constantly reminding these days – that I have to go and get my medical and then go to Snetterton to do the driving test in order to get my racing license (I’m hoping not to miss out on the fun at Le Mans). The test involves some driving and an exam so I’ll have to mug up on the various flags people wave at you on the circuit to warn you of this and that. Then it seems, I’m obliged to spend an awful lot of money on overalls, a helmet and various items of underclothing, the latter specifically designed to avoid disagreeable burns to the nether regions.

Need I remind you that sporting such garb, opportunities to promote with impunity all sorts of fictions, must abound.

What’s That Buzzing?

There are always several Bentleys at our monthly vintage gathering and so I took the opportunity to see if I could gauge the Rate of Boing on some of their leaf springs. I know the Bentleys are a lot heavier than the Hillman’s going to be but, to get an idea of how it all worked, it was an interesting exercise. I leaned on a few dumb irons in as casual a manner as I could muster and discovered that all of them were as solid and almost immoveable as mine. You might guess that the chassis would do the lion’s share of the twisting and bending and spring deflection would be minimal. It might follow that the Hartford’s are there to damp the twisting of the chassis rather than the oscillation of the springs; I wonder if that’s right and I’ve been thinking about it from the wrong end?


Learned Counsel popped his head round the door the other day after hearing that the TIG welder had gone pop. He’d fixed up his MIG welder to do aluminium and had just been having a go. The results are very encouraging; the sheet shown above was no more than 1.5mm and it hadn’t fallen to the floor in a great blob – my speciality. So this was encouraging; it’s going to be useful for all sorts of jobs including welding up the sections of my turtle deck which will have a double curvature. On Friday I picked up enough aluminium sheet to do the firewall and a couple of the lower bonnet panels. I’m thinking that I might put a stainless steel insert into the middle of the firewall. This will serve as a shield at the hotspot and also provide access to the core plug in the rear of the block.

Jupiter rear body

Not much has been reported about the activities of Learned Counsel lately but, his visit prompted me to return the courtesy. The rear body panel is now on and the laborious task of rubbing it down has begun. It’s not as bad as it looks…

Jupiter rear body

… but there’s a lot to do to get it right. I notice also that some bits have been added to the front – the bonnet stays and braces are new additions and I’ve even heard the engine buzzing on a couple of occasions.

Bonnet stays

Bituminous paint is the underseal of choice for the Jowett and that’s exactly what I’m going to use as a sealer for the underside of the bodywork on the Hillman. I protected the Austin with several coats of marine varnish and that seems to have held up very well but a check on the underside is always worth it.

To Norfolk for lunch on Sunday which gave me the chance to nip into the works and collect the laser-cut panels which make up the Hillman cockpit braces. So, having achieved very little in the past 2 weeks, I now have masses to get on with and I should see some big bits added that’ll make me feel as if I’m making progress. The completion of the firewall will be a bit of a red-letter day and once the coil and the fuel pipe are installed, I’ll soon drown out that buzzing I keep hearing.

A Splendid Day Out….

… and not at all expensive so, Huzzah! for the Bentley Drivers Club.

We didn’t go to Silverstone to see the Bentleys but they were nevertheless, in all their forms, magnificent and one in particular took my eye.

Colour Scheme?

It was the colour more than anything; in a sea of green, ivory is bound to stand out. I wondered what the Special would look like in ivory…

Idle moments 3

Well, I quite like that. I’ll run it past Miss X; she may have to make some adjustments to the hue of her wardrobe. There were other details on some of the Bentleys which also gave me a few ideas for further down the road – so to speak….

Bentley rear

…this chassis fairing and the leather lacing on the cockpit coaming was rather nice..

Cockpit coaming

But it was the Jowett Jupiters that Learned Counsel, The Navigator and I had come to see and there were three of them, two of which competed in the day’s racing programme. This one had a more or less standard engine…


…and this one was an all aluminium bodied job (including the otherwise standard steel scuttle) and had a fancy crank and rods, different carbs and lots of added lightness. It went very well.

Ali Jupiter

Here it is in action..


The third Jupiter was evidently a seasoned rally car and was equally interesting to inspect.


So, the weather was perfect, the pits were open to all and the various races, between which there was absolutely no delay, made for a delightful day out. My only criticism would be the catering. For such a prestigious venue and, what’s more, for a fairly smartish event, I would have thought that someone might have known better than to put chunks of old tread in gravy and try to pass it off as beef stroganoff. Indeed, for any event, your franchise ought to be on the line for even thinking you’ll get away with it. Good food doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive and, if you make the effort to get it right, people like me wouldn’t be taking a packed lunch the next time I visit. I noticed quite a few rather well-stocked hampers in evidence amongst the Bentleys; perhaps a lot of the BDC members were wise to this sad state of affairs.

Anyway, that didn’t detract from a memorable day out. Whilst wandering around the circuit, I was thinking about how I would finish off the front of the Hillman tourer’s hood and when I got home I settled down in front of the sewing machine to get it done. I had a 60″ strip to add and wasn’t quite sure how I was going to keep it all in place to get the stitching straight when I hit on the idea of stapling the 2 bits together. Worked like a dream.


The more I think about it, the more I’m warming to the idea of ivory as the body colour. I know British Racing Green is, well, racy, but with BRG wheels and wings that aspect is taken care of really and the contrast is rather pleasing; ivory sets the nickel plating off quite nicely as well.

And for racing, I won’t have to paint white circles on the car for the numbers. Splendid!

Progress Of A Sort.

A  few relatively small jobs occupied the whole of the Easter weekend.

Plug leads

Six metres of fancy plug lead arrived in the post so I set about that job (and it took the whole 6 metres). It was a bit of a fiddle and then I broke the rather brittle fairlead tube as I was feeding through number 6. Luckily, the tube didn’t shatter into a thousand pieces so some super glue and a bit of insulating tape has made good. I’m putting on brass spade ends for the vintage look…

I next painted the front of the radiator and mounted it in the shell. The paint has made a big difference and when I’ve decided what script to use for the name, it will be complete. In the general excitement, I’ve forgotten to start to build up the enamel on the original badge.

Radiator painted

And this is how it goes together..

Radiator assembly

The next job was to fit the ‘pedal box’ to the car and see if everything worked. That was a bit of a struggle and in the end I had to relieve a small part of the engine mount to get the whole malarkey in. I was going to have to take the centre mount out anyway to weld the clutch cable bracket onto the underslung member – the removal of which I approached with some trepidation but the front and rear mounts held the engine absolutely steady – a good thing to know and something which will make future maintenance a lot simpler than I imagined.

Pedal box

And that brought me on to the clutch cable attachments.

Clutch 1

At the bell-housing end, I had 3 goes at it – each being a development of the previous idea. The first was employing an old fork borrowed from the Hillman brake system; you can see one of the problems quite clearly – the angle of the cable. The other was how to secure the nipple in the fork. I couldn’t think of anything removable that would be strong enough. So on to the next idea which had a block for the nipple which slid into a sleeve – over complicated and still the angle of the cable was rubbish.

Clutch 2

As it turned out, simple was best, although to produce a 10mm wide channel section in a vice is a bit of a nightmare (I’ve always thought about making a bending machine – a bit like a Kennedy bender but haven’t got round to it).

Clutch 3

This solution works extremely well and once the clevis pin is in, the cable can’t come out of its slot (that was a happy accident but I’m still taking the credit if anyone asks). The run of the cable is also much better. The other end – the clutch pedal – is just a case of welding on a plate with some holes in it..

Clutch 4

Then all I’ve got to do on the pedal box is make up a fork fitting for the brake pedal, blast everything that needs a coat of paint and slap it all together again.

In the continuing psychological jostling for pole position, Learned Counsel’s been busy over the Easter period with the Jowett Jetpack…


…. I suppose that I should concede that there’s been some progress…. of a sort.

That Should Do It!

I was still thinking of mounting the brake master cylinder aft of the pedal but the actual bracketry was going to be too far away from the chassis to be rigid enough without a massively complicated structure. Bearing in mind that I envisaged hanging one end of the clutch cable from the same mounting, it was all getting a bit out of hand. So the next thing I thought about was mounting the cylinder in front of the brake pedal so that the pedal acted directly on the piston; sensible enough. So I devised a mounting using a couple of bolts on the bell-housing and one from the starter motor. Then Learned Counsel popped his head round the door, saw what I was up to and told me to think of something else. The bracket had to be attached not to the engine but to the chassis – like the rest of the pedal arrangement. So it was back to the drawing board.

And I’m glad I did go back and think again because I’ve now got what I think is a very simple and effective set-up. It was difficult fitting everything in and a bit of a palaver working out the angles but…

Pedal arrangement

This is just the mock-up to prove the idea; the actual bracket will be 6mm steel to give it some rigidity. I’ll put gussets in the corners for further stiffness and it’ll be bolted to the engine mounting – the chassis in effect. I’ll knock up a couple of bits to take the fork of the brake rod and the eye of the clutch cable and when their relative positions have been exactly established, I’ll weld them to the pedal shafts.

Brake & Clutch arrangement

I drew up the plate (the most difficult part of the operation) for the laser-cutting people and sent it off. The bits will be back by the Easter weekend so there’ll be plenty to keep me going. Then all I’ve got to do is fix the other end of the clutch cable to the bottom of the centre engine mount, make up an extension to the clutch lever on the bell-housing and we should be in business.

I’m a bit disappointed that the 1/8th brass strip for finishing off the mesh fixing on the radiator shell hasn’t arrived yet but I’ve plenty to get on with really. As has Learned Counsel…

Jupiter bulkhead

Feeling pleased with my weekend’s work, I glanced into his shop looking forward to commenting on his lack of progress and saw that he’d taken the Jowett Jack-in-the-Box’s front bulkhead out – it looked like it had been used for target practice – and had bent up, swaged and welded in a new one.

Jowett bulkhead

And he’d whistled up a couple of side panels and was busy tacking those in as well; a very nice job he’d made of them too.

Jowett body frame

I’ll have to keep an eye on him – he doesn’t need to get too far ahead and be roaring round the yard lookin’ all superior-like while I’m still trying to sort out my wiring. I must get him more involved in some of my engineering problems or tell him he looks a bit jaded and needs a week or two in Spain. Yes, that should do it.