A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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27 November 2019


Most of the RM's I'd looked at came with engines, gearboxes, body panels and a whole pile of stuff that I didn't want or need and would have to spend time disposing of.

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This one is perfect and in much better condition than the eBay photographs seemed to indicate. The chassis is solid as a rock, the wheels turn and the steering works - although the rim fell off the wheel when we were loading. I've done some basic measurements (always a worry) and there's bags of room for everything. The engine and gearbox together measure around 60". The block of the Morris 6 will sit comfortably behind the front upper crossmember in more or less the same position as the original Riley block and put the gear lever well back in the cockpit. There's ample room for seats and a reasonable luggage space.

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I took a wheel and brake drum off - they both came off very easily with the drum screws needing only a sharp tap with the thumb-finder. This bodes well for the rest of the dismantling. Naturally, all the rubber dust covers have perished over time. I'd like to do a disc brake conversion on the front hubs - much like I've done with the Hillman. The rubber suspension bushes are all equally shot, and I may experiment turning up my own polyurethane bushes once I know the correct Sure number. Before I do any of that, I'm going to position the engine and gearbox so I can fabricate the new mountings. I'll then sort out the steering column, pedals and firewall and have a theoretically driveable rolling chassis before I take it all apart for blasting and painting.

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The Harvard, Stinson and Stearman trio are making excellent progress en route to Saudi Arabia and I last heard of them in the vicinity of Speyer, gradually working their way East. They should be well into Eastern Europe by now as I'm several days behind their schedule.

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Clever Chap has wrapped some aluminium around the mostly square tube Riley Special frame. As he has access to gas welding gear and is a skilled welder in any case, the boat tail shouldn't be a problem. My lack of an acetylene outfit which makes annealing aluminium so easy, confines me to steel for the bodywork - the upside being that with the wheeling machine, you don't get into trouble so quickly.

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I've seen this Lagonda before, but it never fails to set me thinking about re-bodying the Hillman. All the proportions look to be just so, though I would retain the Hillman's flowing wings and alter the door line to suit. A body like this would make the Hillman an all-weather car - its present roofless configuration something which on occasion I've had cause to curse. Of course, there's the added complication of windscreen wipers, demisting, heating, wind-up windows and general weatherproofing to contend with, not to mention the construction of doors. Maybe I'll just leave it as it is; nothing's ever going to be perfect.


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