A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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04 September 2013

The Best Laid Schemes.

My promised week of uninterrupted work on the car got off to a bit of a shaky start and by Tuesday evening only a cursory amount of woodwork had been achieved. Still, it was a start.

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It may be perfectly obvious to everyone else but I was being a bit thick about the best way to centre a die until Very learned Counsel pointed me in the right direction. All I needed to do was to put a chuck in the tail stock to get things started reasonably true. Then I like to do the rest by hand as I've got a bit more control and can feel when the thread might start to rip instead of cut. So I was able to finish off the friction damper bolts with the new die I ordered. The die wasn't expensive and I thought it might have been a 'one-cut-wonder' but I was wrong and it stayed sharp throughout. The only snag was that I didn't have a die stock to fit the new die, neither did anyone else within spitting distance so I had to go and buy one. The blocks on the rear springs have worked very well and I just need to add the 'U' bolt.

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I started the bodywork by laying up some strips so that the side base boards could be marked for shaping. Getting everything in line was a bit of a game as I didn't have a fixed datum but in the end, I just had to remind myself that this was an old car and it wasn't going to be perfect. After that, work progressed quite rapidly.

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One of the problems was that for almost every operation the parts had to be assembled, bolted down and then dismantled again to make the cut. It was a bit tedious but paid dividends in making sure that everything was accurate and fitted reasonably well.

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I'm not sure that what I'm doing would pass muster in a coachbuilder's shop but the result will be strong and rigid. I had the same approach to the construction of the Austin and I'm pleased to say that the body is still as robust as the day it was completed, even after a couple of thousand miles of English country roads.

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The firewall, after a lot of measuring to make sure it was pretty much square to the radiator and the chassis, was established as the datum and I was able to build up the sides of the dash panel with some ash and let it in to the base boards square to the car. This meant taking everything apart again but it was definitely worth the effort; had I cut the slots in situ, they would probably have gone wrong. As you can see, this is all fairly rough work and the final shaping and blending will come later.

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It doesn't look like 2 days work but as it's a cut-and-fit job, there's quite a lot of time spent thinking out the next 5 moves so as not to be tripped up by some forgotten detail. If I can get the scuttle structure finished by the end of the week then I think that I can say that the scheme has not 'gang aft agley'.

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