A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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31 March 2015


Four days in a van with someone full of cold and who coughed and sneezed from here to breakfast produced the usual results - I went down with whatever it was. What was really irritating was that I'd got through from last year without even a hint of a sniffle and I thought I was home free. Never mind; a few jobs around the house and some simple servicing work kept me out of mischief during my convalescence.

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I'd always had mixed results from my wood burner and had attributed its lack-lustre performance to wind direction, atmospheric pressure, the price of fish - anything but the actual cause which, I discover, is all about getting the doors to seal properly. A week or two ago I'd replaced the rope door seal and found that it was too thin - 6mm instead of the recommended 9mm. Knowing how the rope compresses with use quite quickly, I elected to slap on some 12mm rope and replace also the rather thin rope seal around the glass with ceramic tape.

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Warming to my task, I next tackled the door handle by extending the shaft an inch or so, turning up a top-hat section to retain a spring and reassembling the mechanism so that when the door was closed, the whole was pulled against the seal and made air-tight. I can't begin to tell you what a difference it's made. I'd always noticed other people's wood-burners having that hypnotically lazy type of flame, the sort that seems almost half asleep but my burn pattern was always either on the frantic side or I couldn't get the thing going at all. Now my flame is also rather relaxed and, what's more, the fire stays in overnight. Perfect.

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Learned Counsel dug out another picture of his racing days (he's in front as usual) and explained to me that this was at a time when you could almost get away with every trick in the book. This is a 2-seater and with close examination the canvas cover on the nearside of the car is where the second seat was - as long as the seat was there, it passed scrutineering. The body had moveable skirts fitted and in combination with the airfoil on the back, the down-force and consequently the grip produced was apparently phenomenal. Funnily enough, it was only the other day I had cause to mention the TV production, 'Gentlemen, Lift Your Skirts' which described the development and subsequent banning in 1981 of that particular modification.

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And as part of my convalescence, I thought I'd start a painting off. I'd been meaning to get cracking again with the brushes for quite a while and wanted a record of the Hillman to hang on the wall.

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Working from a photograph which I took whilst George was welding the mudguard sections together, I knocked up a quick sketch which, now the donkey work's done, I can advance at my leisure. I used to paint in acrylics which was good training as they demand speed and accuracy but oils, my now favoured medium, allow a more casual approach.

They're a bit of a skive in comparison.


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