Staff Car Sagas

No sleep for Danny, Matt and Theo: CMS looms large

Practical Classics (UK) - - CONTENTS - Danny Hop­kins ED­I­TOR

The lat­est project up­dates from the PC work­shop and be­yond.

Here’s the deal. Be­fore we re­build a car ‘live’ on­stage at the Lan­caster In­sur­ance Clas­sic Mo­tor Show at the NEC (as a team, Prac­ti­cal Clas­sics has now done this six times) we have to make sure it will go to­gether. This means be­fore we start to fin­ish it at the show, we need to part fin­ish it at the work­shop.

The rea­sons are mainly health and safety re­lated. Grind­ing, weld­ing and paint­ing in front of 400 peo­ple has many po­ten­tial pit­falls in­clud­ing fire, death, and blind­ness, so best avoided. We also want to make sure that when pre­vi­ous owner, Ron Jones, steps up to drive the car off­stage at the end of the week­end (in mem­ory of his fa­ther), he can ac­tu­ally do so. So we have had no sleep, Matt, Theo and my­self, and work on ‘CFB’ is mov­ing on apace.

The vinyl roof fit­ting was com­pleted with the ad­di­tion of the guttering and rear glass, along with some tea and swear­ing (fid­dly job). Theo and I then went over to Broms­grove En­gi­neer­ing Ser­vices to col­lect the en­gine. The 1.5-litre lump had been through a lot of clean­ing and ma­chin­ing but Greg and Keith waited for us to come over for some of the fun stuff. Theo dressed the cylin­der head and block be­fore clean­ing and pol­ish­ing the ports as I re­moved the crank plugs and spent a happy hour clean­ing out all the oil­ways.

A large amount of silt builds up in­side the av­er­age crank – al­ways clean it out prop­erly when you re­build an en­gine es­pe­cially one with white metal bear­ings. Then a fi­nal clean and the RMA had some­thing like an en­gine that was ready to re­build. We threw the lot in the back of the Audi and piled

down to the Theo’s lux­ury south-coast work­shop, where the deed would be done.

As Theo started on the block I tried to find a set of pis­ton rings. The ever help­ful RM club spares team Karen and Steve had al­ready sup­plied me with spigot bushes, but I wanted to re­use the orig­i­nal He­po­lite pis­tons that ap­peared to be in good fet­tle. The club have new JP pis­tons with rings on the shelf, but I wanted to see if we could get a set of rings.

Ring ring? No-one there

It was a tough try­ing to find them. At some point the en­gine had been bored out by 0.030in and the He­po­lite pis­tons are af­ter­mar­ket with an ob­scure ring thick­ness. Two com­pres­sion rings per pis­ton and two oil con­trol rings per pis­ton of 2.5mm and 4.5mm thick­ness re­spec­tively. Much head scratch­ing later (from a num­ber of spe­cial­ists), we were quoted £200 for a set from Cox & Turner en­gi­neer­ing – a pur­chase was made.

En­gine build­ing started as I left Theo in his den of in­iq­uity ex­am­in­ing the white metal bear­ings, and went back the work­shop where Matt had re­built all the front wheel and brake mas­ter cylin­ders with RM Club kits. Then, while Matt re­vived and re­fit­ted the me­chan­i­cal link­age to the rear drums, I worked the ex­cel­lent Au­tomec brake line kit into the front wheels – yes, this era of RM had hy­draulic front and me­chan­i­cal rear brakes. I then and fi­nally fit­ted the club’s remanufactured flexi hoses. Stop­ping – sorted.

Next, gear­box; which was spruced up with a fresh coat of paint and new oil. I con­sulted with Ron and he told me there were no is­sues when he last drove the car in 1971. Ob­vi­ously, I won’t hold it against him if it ex­plodes, but I can’t stretch to a gear­box re­build right now. New mounts were bought, again, RM Club remanufactured items.

And that is where I have to leave it… will we make it to the NEC Live Stage ready to go? Who knows. We have a Hamil­ton Car­pet set ready to fit, a loom from the ex­cel­lent peo­ple at Au­tosparks is on its way… that will be a job and a half, Long­stone’s finest tyres are on the rims, chrome is ready, but the to do list is long.

Rear screen in. Theo smiles but now suf­fers from post trau­matic stress.

Danny, ahem, gen­tly pol­ished his own crank.

He­po­lites and rods with new spig­ots. Do they need white met­alling though?

RM Club wheel cylin­der re­build kit. We love the orig­i­nal bleed nip­ple with non-re­turn ball bear­ing.

Crank­shaft swarf – it took one hour to clean it out com­pletely.

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