A Special Builder's Notes


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26 August 2012

The Olympics: My Part in Their Success II

Stratford. 5.00am.

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My contribution to the games continues in its modest way. Unsurprisingly, there's a vibrancy in the air in Stratford just now and it's been quite invigorating to soak it up. East Berlin in the mid-90's had a similar feel to it as it too reinvented and regenerated itself after the wall came down. We took the Avro to Johannistahl for the first air show to be held there since pre-war days and were among the last of a handful of pilots to fly from the field before it was officially closed a few days after we'd left.  Johannistahl was Germany's first airfield. Established in 1910, the Wright brothers demonstrated their Model D Flyer there, Fokker and Bucker had workshops on the field; the place was steeped in aviation history. I remember taking the Avro up for a check-flight on the evening before the show and sharing the sunset with a Sopwith Camel and a Bleriot monoplane - wonderful stuff. In our time off, we explored bits of Berlin where the arts - often a reliable gauge of the mood of a city - were in all its forms, in full swing. The graffiti was especially memorable and had somehow transcended its original purpose to become an exhibition in its own right. Stratford isn't so edgy but the energy is there.

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I digress. Yesterday the wheels arrived from the wheel builders. I know it's a big bill but that's easier to get over than a bad job and I'm delighted with them. I couldn't have them powder-coated because I wanted a specific colour - Aston Martin British Racing Green 1107 - so they've been painted with 2-pack. They'll look good with nickel-plated wheel nuts.

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The headlamps are on their way from France and should arrive any day - that's exciting. In the meantime I've progressed with the brakes. The new additions to the back plates are in position and I'm just studying them for a moment before I cut the old pushrods and fit them with an adjustable ball to sit in the depression of the wheel cylinder's piston. I need to go and get another wheel cylinder and decide on the size of the master cylinder for which I'm going to have to have a remote reservoir because I'm running out of room in the pedal box area.

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Then, to give me a break from the brakes, I thought I'd give the cam cover some attention and see how it came up,

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Lovely. The front part of the cover - it's in 2 parts - is how it started out. It took only about an hour to degrease, brush up on the brass wheel and give a light polish with the mop to finish. If I wanted to, it would be easy to achieve a mirror finish but I'll wait to see what the rest of the engine's going to look like first. I wouldn't want the cam cover to stick out like an after-market-go-faster-add-on.

The engine in the picture is a Series II Morris Six. I'm using the Series I, of which I have 2. The deciding factor was that the Series I has a more nicely shaped, rounded inlet and exhaust manifold and a large copper water pipe (to polish or plate) that runs from front to back. The Series II design re-jigged the head to give more efficient cooling with a greater volume of water around the valves. The manifolds were squared off and the copper pipe removed. It's supposedly a better bet but, as always, it depends who you speak to. I'm sure they're both jolly good if treated with care and respect but the Series I has the looks.

A few curves and some sparkle always gets my vote.

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