Danny’s big RMA project gets a dose of dirty and shiny!
My resident Riley RMA ‘CFM’ is kept well away from the PC workshop and is my escape from the world project. Other people like their gardening or the gym, I disappear into a world of rusty metal and rotten wood to get my R&R. My daughters, Emma and Sophie, love ‘Riley’ and our dog Nutmeg is still fascinated by my continuing obsession. And weirdly for me, progress is actually happening.
Recently the project has broken out of the Hopkins shed and into the world of specialists in order to make my rolling and running deadline of the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration show next year (March 23-25: put it in your diary). If I can have a completed Jensen and a running Riley RMA at the show, then I will call myself a very happy chappie… and will probably spend the entire weekend with a vacant grin my face. I’ll also post a set of tickets to previous owner Ron, with whom ‘CFM’ had lived for four decades.
To work then! Engine rebuild progress at Bromsgrove Engine Services is dictated by the amount of time I can spend over there. I asked Keith Allington and Greg Healey to pause the rebuild when I wasn’t present so I could be involved with the process. I want to know the beast that powers me as I waft my way through our green and pleasant land.
The upshot of this is that the 1.5-litre twin cam spends months on end in a cupboard as I try and fail to get over there. I’ve got this magazine to produce and it can get in the way. As mentioned previously the deconstruction process revealed and engine in decent nick.
With the head removed the bores were bizarrely smooth and displayed a distinct absence of ridges. A quick look at a brass plate on the front of the block answered a few questions. This was a Riley replacement engine and potentially, I could have a low mileage gem on my hands.
Still worth a rebuild though, even if it would only involve and clean, skim, polish, new rings and a shell conversion. The conversions swaps out the white metal for bearing shells from a BMC B engine. Simple and sensible if you are going to give your RM some use.
Studs removed (always a heart in mouth operation) we grabbed the Dial (or Vernier) Bore gauge that is used (you will not be surprised to know) to measure a bore’s size.
It requires the operator to develop the correct feel to obtain repeatable results – and Keith, has the feel. I don’t. Keith’s gauge has three symmetrical anvils (shiny pointy bits) that protrude from the gauge body that are connected to the dial mechanism. As Keith rotates his knob (stop sniggering at the back)
it moves the anvils in or out with respect to the measurements. The measurement given is the mean diameter of the three anvils. The result was that the block would only need glaze busting, all the bores were good to go again. I had brought a box of replacements parts for Keith and Greg… None of which might be required, but all of which could be very useful indeed. Nobody makes this stuff anymore. The next visit should involve fitting the shells and the beginning of the process of reconstruction. Once it is done, things will get very exciting indeed.
Paint the wagon
Over in the painting and decorating department, once again I am in awe of the work done by old school craftsmen. John Spencer and his paint partner Paul Kirk are being fed panels bit by
‘I want to know the beast that powers me through this pleasant land’
bit and the work they have done so far is exemplary. Apart from anything else the prep required has been deep. The metal underneath the old paint has required fettling, de-corroding and fettling to get it ready for the filler and primer coats. It has taken weeks but the result is worth it. Yes, it has been redone in two-pack not cellulose (John’s cellulose work is so good I couldn’t tell the difference at first) but in black it just looks good, not too plasticky. Once the doors are completed I will be taking the entire body up to Ripley for John to complete the work and then after that I am hoping to visit Blue Diamond at Bicester to reunite engine, box and body… with potentially a rewiring exercise being completed, too. Then, I could have a running RMA!
Or not. Keith and Danny discover the bores only need glaze busting and new rings. Bore wear minimal. A possible virtue of teh fact that the engine is a Riley replacement item.
All the data on one shiny plaque. Old school.
Fresh: offside running board.
Bonnet panels prepped and ready.