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A Special Builder's Notes

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The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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06 April 2024

Starting Back.

We finished the job in Zeebrugge as the sun went down at the change of shift.

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Once we were packed up, we found we had most of a day to kill before catching the night boat back to Harwich. Middleburg, the capital of the province of Zeeland in Holland, was on our route along the Dutch coast. I'd been there before and knew of a very nice restaurant at which to stop and have lunch.

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Middleburg's quiet streets are full of interesting architecture...

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... the town hall being a particularly spectacular example of the Gothic style. During the Second World War, the interior was completely burnt out and only the shell remained following German bombardments. Reconstruction began after the cessation of hostilities, finishing in the late 1980's.

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I got back to a small job on one of two local 1905 Darracqs. The oil tank, which sits on the dashboard, has a large syringe like affair attached to the driver's side and which draws oil into the glass cylinder when the lower tap is closed. Opening the tap allows the oil to be pushed into the rear main bearing. The front main is fed by pressure in the oil tank, maintained by exhaust gases - it's a bit barmy. I suggested a 'T' piece on the rear feed would be preferable. You give the engine a dose with the plunger every ten or so miles. This syringe had lost its vacuum and needed two over-size backing washers turning up, that would spread the leather washers more tightly up against the glass. There is provision for some adjustment by screwing up the nut on the bottom of the plunger, but eventually that comes to an end. Fortunately, the two leather washers were still serviceable and the vacuum was restored. Surprisingly, the Darracq plunger had a 26tpi 5/16 BSF thread on the end - it was surprising to me anyway.

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The job I was not looking forward to was the removal of damaged exhaust manifold studs from The Great Collector's Mk VI Bentley. I found some measurements of the stud spacing on the web, and some practical advice on how to make up a drilling jig. I'm glad I had a mill with a DRO! I'm also pleased that I had the right taps (26tpi ΒΌ BSF) to cut the new thread in the block and dies to clean up the remaining studs. Interestingly, the studs protrude into the water jacket, so once drilled, you get some leakage of coolant. This explained why the studs were impossible to remove - over time they'd rusted into the block.

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You have to apply sealant to the new studs. For final assembly, exhaust paste, though unsightly, is not a bad idea.

The good news is that, now the plug leads are in the correct order in the coil block, the Special's engine started!

previous post More Art.
next post Another Early Start.

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