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The Build in the Bog - Part 3

Vire 6 marine petrol two stroke engine

Well not as much progress as I hoped for! This is exactly what I said last time and the time before that! What excuses do I have this time? The major problem is/was my boat, Last autumn I decided to leave the boat in the water and I left a seacock open (just forgot - old age?) and a very small drip (one every 5 seconds) from an engine hose filled it up enough to drown the electrics and go part way up the engine. I have spent an awful lot of time sorting (or not) the consequences of this incident. As I had a trickle charger running I dissolved most of the drowned switchgear and some wiring. The another problem; the gearbox was full of water - not good - so the engine came out to drain the gearbox and see if there was any damage - luckly everything was OK. I replaced the engine but discovered I hadn't put an O ring in properly and the water pump leaked. Out with the engine again. I got the engine running but it soon stopped - water in the carb from the fuel tank, so the tank had to come out and be cleaned out. I had already had the tank out a few weeks earlier because the insurance surveyer required an external deck filler - at least I knew how to do it quickly the second time! I couldn't find how the water got into the tank but think it was contaminated fuel - I had the same problem with my rotavator the previous autumn. The engine starts OK and runs but despite cleaning the carb and checking the ignition system the damn thing only idles and has no power so the engine has to come out for the third time this season so I can fiddle with it at home. I've got quite good at removing it - under an hour - practice makes perfect! It's a very old (c1969) Vire BVR two stroke 6HP single cylinder petrol engine. Messing with the engine has taken up a lot of my time.

Back to the build - on one of my winter trips back to Ireland I decided to make the dash panel. By chance I had a lovely bit of stainless steel which happened to be 8" by 34 1/2" and the surfaces protected by plastic sheet. Perfect, exactly the right size for a full width dash - the gods must be on my side - I was on a roll! I drew a 1/2" grid onto a sheet of MDF as a guide for engine turning the panel using felt floor protectors, grinding paste and a press drill. Two hours later I had a wonderful looking panel. On the next trip back to Ireland I decided to cut the panel to shape - out with my trusty Black and Decker jigsaw and - disaster - the stainless steel was so hard that I wore the HSS teeth on the blade away completely in a couple of inches. What to do? Obviously try another blade and the same thing happened. Being a very slow learner I wore out a third blade before giving up. Actually I'm mean - I shortened the blade each time and used the undamaged section of the blade. I did think of using an angle grinder but would have got heat burns and I'd still have the problem of drilling holes for the speedo, gauges and switches.

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I made another panel using 1.5mm aluminium which looks OK provided I don't compare it to the stainless steel panel. I fitted the switches and dials. There wasn't room for a fog lamp switch so one of the gauge/speedo cutouts was used to made a small switch panel bolted onto the underside of the square tube supporting the steering column. There isn't that much space on the dash panel because of the flat vertical steel upright that Phil's dash used as its left hand support. I had to grind away some of it to get the gauge to fit nicely. The matching speedo and gauges were an eBay purchase from different auctions. I made aluminium angle brackets which I fixed to the hoop with M4 screws into tapped holes in the hoop and inserted M4 rivnuts into the brackets and the lower square tube. The dash bolts to these rivnuts with pan head M4 stainless steel screws.

I remembered to made a paper template of the cockpit floor for a carpet or rubber mat before I started panelling the car. I decided to do a complete side in one go because I wanted to be able to deburr all the holes and I couldn't see how I could deburr the holes on the join between the front and rear panels if I rivetted the rear panel before tackling the front panel. As someone said you can't have too many Clecoes or peanuts! I got the near side fitted without much difficulty. I'm using 1.5mm ali and its quite resistant to forming the curve at the front and the flair over the scuttle.

I started wiring the car before panelling the drivers side. The access isn't great even with the car up on trestles and no side panel. I ran a 10 core trailer cable to the rear to feed the lights, fuel pump and tank gauge. I plan to install a standard 7 pin trailer socket so the number plate lighting board can be removed. It also makes solo testing the rear lights easy - have the board facing forwards. You can see the lighting board in the final photo.

I had planned to have a blister over the steering wheel after I'd seen an article on adding a blister to a JZR. I thought it looked great. Silverfish has a similar style blister and later I saw Duncan's car which has a blister integral with the line of the scuttle rather than one fitted as an appended panel. I also wanted a bulge in the side panel to give a bit more room for my right foot.

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I read Duncan Grimmond's article on forming a blister and set to work cutting the required formers out of MDF. I tried it out on a scrap of waste ali, annealed it and lo and behold Duncan was right - the edges do crinkle if the blister is too close to the edge. I didn't make it as deep as the intended final blister.

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Now onto the actual panel. Duncan says

Put the plug in place and, having put the underside of the mould on a really solid base, hit with a weighty mallet or hammer. (If you have a workshop press you can save your hammer arm for the tea-drinking)

All I can say is he must have a very strong hammer arm (from drinking too much tea?). I had annealed the ali which was going to form the walls of the blister and really hit the former hard. I couldn't get it more than about 12mm deep, before the MDF plug delaminated! That would have to do - it doesn't seem very deep but is enough, I hope, to do the job.

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Now the drivers side scuttle - I experimented with a bit of cardboard to develop the shape I wanted. I didn't have the courage to modify Phil's pattern and substitute my scuttle for his design. My reasoning was; if I made a mess of it I could use the the original front panel shape and not waste a lot of metal. I decided to make my panel and fit it between the top rail and the middle of the car replacing the original design. I was pleased I made that decision because it was difficult enough to form the scuttle - trying to do it as part of the front panel would have been very difficult if not impossible. Using thicker metal made developing the flange to secure it to the hoop and the top rail difficult. It also looks a bit bigger in metal than it did in cardboard. I'm happy enough with the result which is the main thing. I intend to use Phil's big four spoke steering wheel after the MSVA so the scuttle is a bit too big for the 2CV wheel.

I decided at the beginning of the build to try to ensure I'd have good access for future repairs and maintainance. I had modified the rear side panel to permit the removal of the swinging arm. I riveted a support for a bolt on panel but forgot that this would also have to be riveted to the rear floor flange. I had to drill out some of the rivets and Murphy's Law kicked in as a few rivets spun in their hole enlarging them. I had to use 4.8mm rivets in this area - not very noticable but ... Next time I have to drill out rivets I'll use vice grips on the tail of the rivet where possible.

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After a marathon riveting session I fitted the driver's side rear, front and scuttle panels. I remembered reading in an PAG about bracing panels fitted to the rear side panels to stiffen them so these were installed with the driver's side one having a small horizontal extension, riveted to the top and the inclined tube, to provide a site for the trailer socket to supply the rear lighting board.

Onto the rear top panel - again this isn't too difficult but it's hard work bending 1.5mm ali. I left the last edge overlong to give me some room for clamping the edge down before drilling the final edge. I then cut it to size after drilling. I used a length of ali angle to force the last edge into place as I found ratchet straps wouldn't pull the edge right down.
You can see the access panel in this photo - the larger rivets don't show or do they?

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The top panel was trimmed at the back for the spare wheel and the front for the seat cushion. The car was lifted from the trestles and then rolled out of the shed for a photo shoot. The first impression was that it's very low! The seats are not yet fixed into place - just resting to give a feel of what it's going to look like. Herself said it was looking more like a car but is still dubious about going in it on the road. The rear seat back needs to be a bit lower. The rivets were then pulled while working in the sunshine for a change.

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The boat in the background is a very old 420 sailing dinghy waiting for for me to have time to finish off a few jobs before it goes into the water.

The last panel to be fitted was the top rear bulkhead. Because I had raised the rear floor in case I wanted a bigger tank and give plenty of clearance for rear arm access I knew that Phil's pattern wouldn't fit but I cut a card version to cut to size. I must have had a mental block - I knew the rear floor upturn was 65º and the recommended bend in this panel was 20º and I guessed the slope of the rear top was about 5º so obviously the panel was mounted upright. The boot seemed very small and I couldn't understand how Phil's pattern could be so wrong when I compared my tiny card pattern with his pattern - then the penny dropped and I realised that it sloped almost back to the rear hoop. A glance at a few owners car pictures on the website showed the sloping rivet line. A bit of metal bashing and the panel was riveted into place completing the bodywork. With hindsight I should have made a pattern before fitting the top panel.

Now onto the bonnet, the last major panel - before beginning the build I'd thought a hinged bonnet could improve access and appearance. Later on I saw Duncan's car which has a hinged bonnet and I was convinced. My car is starting to look like a three wheeler version of his Brooklands .... The front of the bonnet will sit on a panel which will carry the copper cowl. I had access to a flypress at my old employer and was able to punch out the louvres in both halves of the bonnet. They are a bit bigger than I would have liked but I'm mean and didn't want to spend time and money getting it done elsewhere. The bonnet edges are folded over to keep the MSVA men happy.

Dzus fasteners were purchased on eBay but are not the self ejecting EHF but the AJ type. Have a look MilSpecProducts for details of Dzus type fasteners. I did a few experiments to see how to use them. I needed less than a dozen 3/32" solid ali rivets to retain the springs and as there was a minimum order quantity I have loads to spare so if anyone needs some just contact me. The final experiment requires plastic washers (cut from a plastic milk bottle) to retain the Dzus fastener, prevent the ali sheets rubbing against each other and the head marking the bonnet. I'll glue some cork strips elsewhere along the scuttle and front hoop and bonnet side if needs be.

A copper nose to complete the bodywork - I had kept the lid of an old hot water cylinder for years which had an integral cold water tank on top. It looked as if it might come in handy someday! I have a shed and loft full of stuff for this reason. The lid is much flatter than the usual cylinder top but the cowl on my build is shorter than usual so it should fit. A change of plan; I was modifying the heating/hot water system in the house (yet another delay to the build) and had to replace the hot water cylinder because I couldn't remove the old fittings from the tank.

The copper nose is going to be riveted to a small ali panel with a joggled edge for the bonnet. This will give a smoother line to the front of the car. This panel was made using MDF formers and a soft hammer and the resultant panel looked awful! Another approach was required. I made up some stepped aluminium dies to press the joggle but kept getting small nicks in the surface, not so awful as the nicks would be hidden by the bonnet edge but I wasn't happy. I've signed up for Duncan's weekend workshop in November so I'll do it right then!

I thought Siggy's idea of using security bolts for mounting the headlamps was neat so I bought a pair. There was a minor problem because there was a boss at the end of the threaded portion. I had to turn these off to give a flat surface top and bottom for the headlamp washers to sit. You can just see them in the final photo.

The front wings were cut out and the edges formed. Of course I made two left hand versions of one panel! Hey ho there goes another bit of scrap ali into the tea chest of mistakes, offcuts etc. I had an experimental bending/flanging session on the spare mudguard and decided a pair of fluting pliers are required to make a neat job. That can wait until the spring.

Back to the damn boat engine - I had a brainwave - the exhaust is blocked! Nipped up to the boat and extracted the expansion box, peered up the exhaust pipe and bad news - there's nothing wrong with it! I finally got so fed up with the whole summer sailing being lost and I've taken it, on its stand, to a local marine engine man. Lets see if he can sort it.

I've been wiring bits of the car as I work my way forwards. I'm using relays and fuses for almost everything.

I've been working on the car in a carport (a posh name for a shed full of junk) and decided to move the car into the garage for the winter. This is the first time any car has ever been in the garage and we've been here for 35 years! The car is now more or less complete except for a minor matter - the engine! I know there's lots of 'little' jobs that need doing which will eat (gobble?) time but that's all part of the Pembleton experience! The plan is to install the engine, finish all the 'little' bits and pieces, build/modify a trailer to tow it to the UK for MSVA testing and registration during the spring and get it on the road sometime dring the summer of 2010.

The car just before before entering the garage.

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David Tocher #189 LWB Super Sport

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