PAG logo


Build in the bog - part 4


David Tocher

Click to enlarge

Last autumn I almost finished the bodywork before returning Leeds for the winter season. I attempted to make the panel to link the front edge of the bonnet and the copper cowl. My efforts looked awful so I booked myself into Duncan's workshop weekend held last November. I made the panel and there are some pictures (at the end) in ePAG37 of my efforts. I took the finished panel back to Ireland as hand luggage. I wonder if the security people are ever surprised at the things people carry? I fitted the panel to the car and the the fixed body work was now complete.

I managed to return to Ireland in time for the floods, the Shannon, which is normally 10 minutes walk from home, was now less than 5 minutes walk. When I returned to Leeds I kept an eye on the web for flooding news. A neighbour in Ireland, who has a plane, took photos of the area and posted them on the web. I was pleased that no photos of our house appeared so I thought things must be OK!

During the previous summer in Ireland I cut out aluminium for helmet type mudguards. I attempted to crimp the edge of duplicated (another silly mistake!) panel. I wasn't happy with spacing the crimps to avoid rivetting through a crimp. A February Saturday afternoon session with Duncan and his wonderful shrinking machine finished the mudguards.I'm not sure I like the look of them but time will tell and its not a major problem to change them. I left assembling them as a treat for the summer.

The summer season in Ireland didn't get off to a good start. I had personal problems which resulted in me seeing too much of Ryanair. I also had the outstanding problem with the Dire - oops - Vire engine in the boat. To cut a long story short the engine worked perfectly on a test bed so it had to be something wrong in the exhaust system. I looked inside a black rubber water cooled silencer and could see nothing as it was black, shiney and wet with water and oil. I had no idea of what I was supposed to see so I removed it. I filled it with water and none came out the other end - not good news! I spotted a rubber flap over the outlet and cut it out. I re-assembled things and running the engine found everything was now OK but a bit noisier. I wasted the whole of last season messing with it.

Back to the build - I wanted to finish the car, build a trailer and get it to an MSVA test centre by the late autumn. At this stage it looked feasible. I had a number of outstanding things - nothing major - to sort so I started at the back and worked forwards.

I made another silly mistake when cutting the rear end to length. I measured the tyre on the wheel so that the rear panel would sit against the tyre. I forgot that the rear panel might not touch at the widest part and of course it didn't and there was a nasty gap matching the difference. At least I could measure accurately! I made up a filler panel with a folded edge to stiffen it and tarted up the front edge to match the cowl edge.

Click to enlarge

I bought a Monza fuel filler cap off ebay and spent a morning making a huge amount of swarf and a funnel for the filler cap. The only problem is MSVA sharp edges - the cap will fail. I don't want to mess with it so I planned to make a raised edge barrier to prevent the dreaded 100mm sphere from contacting it. As my workmanship isn't great it might fall off later.

Click to enlarge

I had already made seats for the 'hopper, now all I needed to do was fit them. I used the latches that were on the original seat frames and made a latch for the top edge. I made up brackets which were rivetted to the rear bulkhead for the lower pivits and modified a door latch for the top. I had to make a spindle, lever, cable outer mounts etc for a cable operated release. This was a time-consuming business. The rear seat back tilts forward and is easily removed for good access to the boot. I mounted the pivots a bit too high which restricts the angle the seat back can tilt. I think I can live with that problem .

Seat belts were easy! I had welded plates on the upright to mount them. I milled slots into a bit of aluminium plate for the belts which were liberated from a scrap Mazda but for some reason marked GM.

My original idea was to have wood trim round the cockpit but the tight curve of the scuttle cowl would make that very difficult so I decided to go for a copper edge. I remember reading about edging in PAG 12. I had bought far too much copper fuel pipe so there was plenty for the job. I attempted to use the method suggested but gave up after a few millimeters! Life is too short for this so I made a crude, no very crude, no the crudest possible jig from angle iron and a 'V' groove routed into a hardwood block clamped into the cross slide in my Boxford lathe. I used a 1mm slitting saw to cut the required 3m of tubing.

Click to enlarge

I had no problems bending round the curves and fixed it with silicone sealant. The slit tube was crimped into place with vice grips - the jaws protected by nylon blocks. The final result stiffens the edge and should look good when polished.

Carrying on forwards I mounted the flyscreens on brackets discarding the pillars provided. I thought they could cause the scuttle to bend as the pedestals went across the car rather han along. These will have to be removed for MSVA but the holes can be used for the central and off-side mirrors.

The helmet mudguards were easier to assemble than I expected but I didn't have enough hands to hold the two sides, the filler strip, pick up Clecoes and use cleco pliers so I glued the filler strip to one side - so much easier! I didn't mount them just yet as I needed the engine in place and adjust the ride height before fitting the mudguards.

I bought the small block Guzzi engine some years ago and I decided that it looked a mess. The paint had all flaked off and it was corroded. Alan Walker made a similar observation about his engine. I discovered a motorcycle repair workshop had opened just down the road. I did wonder why so many bikes were whizzing up and down the road! Because my garage is too small - does anyone have a big enough garage? - the owner spotted the 'hopper when I was working on it in the drive and he popped in for a chat. He recommended a local guy who they used to refinish engines etc. For an eyewatering sum I got the engine soda blasted, the crankcase powder coated and the barrels sprayed with a heat resistant black paint. It's a great improvement even if it's blown the budget. I had to strip the engine for this work and found the engine to be in good condition internally. The honing marks were still on the bores. While the engine was in bits I reground the valves.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

Top tip; buy an engine in good cosmetic condition because the cost of re-finishing, gaskets and seals cost an arm and a leg!

The bonnet Dzuz fasteners for the front edge were fitted - a fiddly job but they look neat.

The bonnet straps were cut to size and bolted on. I made some aluminium plates to cover the ends again tarted up to match the other decoration.

Click to enlarge

Trial engine installation before the camshaft disaster

I fitted the engine without any problems and could now set the ride height. The car was pushed round to our neighbours who havea tarmac drive rather than gravel so that I could get the suspension setup. Gravel is awful as a work surface. Thngs get dropped and it takes ages to find stuff. A magnet is handy!

At this point disaster! When I rebuild the engine and installed it I later discovered it wouldn't rotate which is bad news. I removed the timing chain and the crank rotated but the camshaft was jammed - not good news for a camshaft. I tried pulling it out - no luck it was fast - so a bit of heat and, using one of the holes used for bolting the cam wheel for an improvised jacking screw attempted to force it out. The bolt sheered off, another little job to remove the bolt, but the shaft had moved a bit. A press was then used to force it out. Only the bearing housing was damaged and the cause of all this heartache and grief was the oil pressure switch also locates the rear camshaft bearing and I must have missed the hole in the captive shell bearing.

Various options were possible; weld up the scar and rebore the hole, bore out the hole and press in a sleeve bearing or get second hand crankcases. I have to say this was the low point in the build so far.

While I pondered over fixing the engine I returned to finishing off the wiring but my heart wasn't really in it and I've done very little since.

After talking to a friend at my old workplace it was suggested that option one was out as the crankcase would distort but option two was possible. I bought a 2mm thick bush bearing and Jimmy bored out the damaged bearing with a CNC mill. The new bearing was pressed into place after shortening it. Oilways need drilling and new expensive bits will have to be bought to allow the engine to be rebuilt. This can wait until next spring.

Not finished yet! I must finish Quicksilver next spring - it's been going on far too long. I want to get on the road and enjoy the fruits of my labours!

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!