A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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13 July 2014


... there was nothing else to go wrong. The plug leads had got mixed up, the distributor cap was tracking, the coil was clicking, the condenser just wasn't cutting the mustard and the plug lead ends were arcing on the block. It seemed like a complete shambles but, on the plus side, there was no water or oil on the floor.

So it took a while to get the engine going and I've since determined to go down the electronic ignition route - one that allows me to revert to the original points system if that packs up as well. I must say that nearly £100 for a new distributor cap, £27 for a condenser, £24 for a set of points and £15 for a coil makes electronic ignition (£103 shipped from the US) look like a good deal. Part of the expense of these items is that because the distributor is also used on Aston Martins and Jaguars, there is an element of loading in the price.

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After the excitement of roaring round the yard (Learned Counsel had a go as well) it was back to work. I'd always wondered what to do with the front of the turtle deck - as usual, I hadn't got a plan - so I made up a couple of aluminium trims which will help keep the tonneau pins firmly located. I've also left a small space where I could at a later date, introduce hood irons.

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The door skin came next and, in confident mood, I added a wired edge to the rear circumference. A couple of bits of ply to get the latch in the right place was all it took to get the door to be a good snug fit. Hopefully, it won't swing open on corners like they have on most of the other vintage cars I've owned or driven.

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The bonnet catches - I've been given a set of ex-Riley ones by a chum - needed a platform for the brackets and a handy piece of blockboard has been in the workshop for just that purpose. Blockboard is dangerous stuff and splinters very easily when cut. I know this because I had to extract a splinter from my finger that was at least 8" long; perhaps not 8" but I'm pretty sure it went through to the bone, or nearly. There was a bit of blood. Anyway, I soldiered on and trimmed the bonnet panels to size and folded the new edges over for stiffness.

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It looks more like a car every day. I've started to strip off the protective layer of plastic that's on the aluminium and I have to say it looks quite racy. If I'd made a neater job of the panel work, I think I might have been inclined to rub it down with a scouring pad and oil and call it a day. But it was always my intention to apply paint and, with a bit of pudding here and there, it'll cover a multitude of sins.

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It looks every bit as fast as it really is. I was quite taken aback by the way the car stepped away. I couldn't sensibly get out of second in the yard as I was somewhere around 25-28mph, accelerating and running out of room. The steering was nice and tight (although the turning circle is rubbish - as was the Tourer's) and the brakes functioned after a fashion - once the shoes are bedded in, they'll be fine. Next jobs are the bonnet louvres and the windscreen and by then, with any luck, the wings from Blue Swallow Aircraft will have arrived.

We live in exciting times!

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