A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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13 February 2020

I Was Taught....

.... to think of the wheeling machine as a rolling hammer. It followed that I should roll only where shape is needed. That's easy to say, but understanding where the shape is in the panel I was trying to create required careful study of the buck. Another thing I was to remember was that contrary to the 'bash-it-roll-it-repeat' school of thought, the machine is a precision device for moving metal from one place to another and consequently the finished panel should have a consistent thickness all the way through. If the panel slips in the wheel, that part of the metal has been over-stretched.

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Another problem that's very easy to create is locking in tension. When this happens, the panel feels stiff and reluctant to respond to any sort of flex. Uncorrected, when you come to weld the panel to another, all that tension will release - then you're really are in the brown and smelly. Always use the flattest anvil that the panel you're trying to create will allow. For the novice this is counter-intuitive, but I soon realised that wheeling should be steady, precise and thoughtful. There's no place for the slapdash and impatient in the process.

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There's so much to learn that I'll have to go back for a few days when time allows.

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Before I left for Cornwall, I had the tricky job of removing a yoke from one end of the Riley propshaft so I could shorten it. That went well and the yoke didn't fly off the lathe and put a hole in the ceiling - always a possibility. I'd done this before for one of Learned Counsel's Mazda conversions so I knew I could pare the shaft metal down to about 15 thou and peel the rest off by hand.

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Setting off at 4:00am I whizzed past Stonehenge around 7:30 and, after a breakfast pitstop, I was in time for a midday lemonade at The Eliot Arms in Tregadillet.

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My Grandmother kept the village school there in the 50's and early 60's and my two sisters went to Pendruccombe - a girls' boarding school just down the road in Launceston. But half an hour away near Holsworthy was another reason for my trip to Cornwall.

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A couple of Riley doors, an RME steering wheel and a fifth wheel rim - the RME came with only four. This was a good haul from Ralph Wren's new location. I'm using the doors as reference to construct new ones and I'll pinch the window winding mechanisms and door locks for the Special.

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Later in the afternoon I arrived in Liskeard. It was immediately apparent that it was once a wealthy town. It was full of interesting architecture dating from the 16thC though mostly from the later Victorian period when the town's fortunes were at their peak. Curiously, when Wilkie Collins visited in 1850, gathering material for his "Rambles Beyond Railways; or, Notes in Cornwall taken A-foot", he described the town as "that abomination of desolation, a large agricultural country town." Someone should 'a learned 'im some manners.

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