A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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22 August 2012


I don't know why I don't pay attention.

Here is the illustration from the Morris Six works manual demonstrating the method of tappet adjustment.

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Why then, would I get it into my head that the 'T' spanner goes on the bottom and the 'C' spanner is fed through the jaws of the 'T' to turn the top? It works, but it's a blinkin' fiddle. The spanners I borrowed to copy seemed to fit only what I now discover is the wrong way round. Anyway, off I went and copied them and they're wrong. This wouldn't have mattered so much if I was the only one with a set of the new spanners, but I'm not. The Wolseley and Morris Club had a few sets.

The fix is a squeeze in the vice for the 'T' spanner and grinding 1.5mm off the teeth of the 'C' one. Then they do what it says in the book. I can't believe how clottish I can be.

On a brighter note, I've continued my experiments with nickel plating. Since 1968 I've had in my 'come-in-handy' box a primer that was dug up on an RAF Station. Regarding the pump's origins, we have a choice: a) it came from a Spitfire or Hurricane or b) it fell off the tractor that cut the airfield grass. Well, clearly it came from the Spitfire or the Hurricane. No doubt about it.

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Anyway, the pump has had the treatment; copper first and then nickel and, because I'm not very good at it yet, it's come out of the bath with exactly the right patina - a hint of copper showing through - and looks like it's been in use for the last 80 years . Excellent. I've also had a go at a Minerva mascot:

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This was a bit more tricky and I had to have a couple of stabs at it. Some of the horizontal surfaces didn't get nickel coated at all so I re-de-greased and stood the head upright in the bath with the peak of the helmet upwards in free air, then went for lunch. When I came back I found that the nickel plate just above the water line had been removed and deposited where there was no nickel before (good) and left a copper band around the helmet. Bad. So, more polishing and de-greasing and back in the bath it went in the hope that the situation was recoverable. It was.

It's a tricky and time-consuming business this plating lark; the 2 bits - Minerva and the priming pump - took a good 3 hours to prepare and get almost right. There are several parameters all of which are variable to a greater or lesser degree and all of which have to come together for a reasonable result. Temperature of the bath is one thing - 24 degrees seems to be good; size of the bit to be plated in relation to the area of the nickel anodes and current from the power supply. The copper plating first is a big help and well worth doing as I find it easier to see where there's a problem with the cleaning.

And whilst I was putting the gearbox in the chassis to eyeball the clutch pedal and lever arrangement, I heard goings on next door. (Learned Counsel popped his head round my door the other day and looked a bit concerned when he saw the progress on the Hillman). I wandered past his door with a nonchalant air and stole a shot.

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I see the Jowett Jollyboat's got a bit of a leak at the moment - he'll need to do something about that.

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