A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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27 April 2018

It Crossed My Mind...

... that it would be fun to build a boat. I'm not a boating type but, a while back, I tripped over a write-up on the Chris Craft SRB 19 which is a beautiful barrel-back mahogany speed boat of the type Sophia Loren might have turned up in to your front door if you lived in Venice. I ordered the plans from Classic Wooden Boat Plans and, as a lot of the parts come in .dxf files (for CNC routing) I passed them on to Peter, a chum who's a whizz with CAD. Peter's ironed out a few of the wrinkles in the files and has produced the boat in Solidworks - effectively reworking the design so it looks and flies right.

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Courtesy: Classic Wooden Boat Plans

The choice of wood for the keel and frame had me searching the web and coming up with no definitive answer. A visit to a couple of boat yards left me none the wiser but I met a chap who was very keen to do the varnish finishing of the boat, something I haven't the equipment or skill to do. And that was far as the project had got when I happened to notice an Alvis TA14 rolling chassis for sale - fatal!

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With it came a TD21 3l engine and gearbox complete with ancillaries, a couple of sets of wheels, headlamps, instruments and a whole bunch of invaluable come-in-handy bits and pieces essential to the Special builder's store.

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I've built an Austin 7 Special; progressed to something a bit bigger - the Hillman Special, so now it's time to tackle something which is really going to take some doing, a coupé. This is just a preliminary idea; a mixture of various marques to work out where I'm going with this one. I've managed also to pick up a couple of Alvis Speed 20 front wings of the shape in the sketch so that's going to save me an awful lot of trouble and expense. They'll need some adjustment but the basics are there and come complete with a spare wheel well in the nearside guard.

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Avro's 'Standard Pilot' has been a most useful chap in helping to get the proportions on the right track. I was struggling with the tape measure and getting into a bit of a muddle when I remembered he was in the drawer somewhere. But first I have to get the 8hp Rover in the shop and finish the gear lever and handbrake quadrant. Then the Cushman three-wheeler with the drop-tank body - that's a relatively straightforward restoration as everything's in place and it's not too complicated a vehicle.

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Mr Summers (of Summer Road) is making good progress with his Minor - the windscreen is on; the wiring loom is in place and the hood frame is ready for covering. I've got a bit of number plate bracketry to make up for him and I think he has a 4-speed box to fit which will improve the car's usability enormously.

It crossed my mind that if I can make a good job of the coupé framework, the barrelback should be like shooting fish in, er... a barrel.

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