Staff Car Sagas
No sleep for Danny, Matt and Theo: CMS looms large
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.