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A Special Builder's Notes

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The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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17 November 2019

Making Life Difficult.

Having bought the chassis on eBay but with the transaction to be completed on collection, the vendor and I attempted through eBay, to exchange contact details. I remembered that I had a lot of trouble in trying to contact another seller of a Riley RM project a couple of months ago and it wasn't until chap gave me his surname (which fortunately was sufficiently unusual to warrant only one entry in the phone book in his area) that I was able to get in touch. This time I didn't even have a surname to go on and eBay had shut the comms down.

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I understand that eBay has an algorithm that detects and blocks the passing of contact details in various forms until a transaction has been completed through their system - the sort of corporate diktat that can be seen only as an invitation to find a way around. Lying awake in the small hours, I dreamt up an amusing scheme to pass on my telephone number through their system that would slip past the algorithm with its content and purpose remaining obvious to the recipient. Result? Corporate bully: nil, Mutinous cell: 1.

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A fellow creator and restorer (though in a league that I can only aspire to) invited me over to his workshop to see how he had formed a frame for a Riley Special body. He knew I was still undecided as to how to build the coupé frame and thought that this could be a possible route. 1/2" mild steel square tube formed a very rigid structure, I was impressed. How did he bend the square tube?

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He has an early 20thC industrial tube bender that with a set of dies of varying circumference makes light work of both square and round tube. I can borrow the machine but its weight and size poses something of a transport problem - though that's not insurmountable.

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Obviously, a coupé body is going to be a lot more complicated, but for speed and ease of construction this looks a distinct possibility, especially as my wood-working skills aren't up to the required standard - I'm more at home with metal.

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To illustrate, a frame like this is going to be a lot easier to fabricate in steel tube than laminating and shaping ash, avoiding short grain in the corners, getting the screws in the right place, no gaps in the joints, glue everywhere and all that sort of palaver. This will be like putting a Piper L4 fuselage together without having to fuss with the blending of round tubes. I can make up plywood templates for the profiles by printing off full-size patterns from the 3D scanned model. I think I can talk myself into this quite easily.

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As the RM front wings are not dissimilar to the shape I'm after, I've picked up a couple of these to adapt.

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And the rear wings aren't out of the way either, though for some reason nearside examples in any sort of condition are difficult to find.

previous post Wrong Again.
next post Cool Stuff.

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