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The Building Of Bitsa

Why choose a Pembleton Brooklands to build? I wanted to build something different that fitted in with the practical limitations of where I live ( A 5' 00" wide driveway and a 4' 6" wide garage door) I didn't want a kit that involved plasma cutting (which is a way of saying I am a lousy welder), plus as I am getting on a bit I needed a kit where I could physically lift things like an engine and gear box. After looking at various kits the Brooklands seemed to fit the bill .

So in November 2010 VTW ( Very Tolerant Wife) and I drove down to Pembleton HQ for a test drive in Phil's car. It must have been 10 to 15 seconds into the test drive after we left the confines of Bayton with my backside 6 or so inches off the deck and a freezing cold wind robbing me off speech I decided "I want one". I opted for the Brooklands as VTW has a rather jaundiced view of three wheels on a car and implied very strongly that I would be travelling by myself in anything with less than four wheels (Now there's an incentive to build a Supersports!).

The deposit cheque was duly written and the hunt for a donor car started . The hunt when down hill rapidly as everything I could find was too far away or a restored item that was too expensive and it would have been criminal to break it up. Fortunately, I found a scrap Citreon specialist in Billericay (Edwards and Sons) who came up trumps with most of the key parts that I needed. Hunting around for a friendly garage to push the kings pins out of the front suspension arms to pass onto Phil Gregory, left me with a dent in my wallet. Plus there was a further cost for another suspension arm from 2CV City as one of my scrap ones was a bit oversize on the king pin bore for Phil's liking.

March 2011 duly arrived and I picked up my chassis no 313 which can be fitted into/on an estate car and took it home to put it into the cosy confines of my "garage" . Now being in possesion of a kit I had to start doing things. The state of the 2CV components suggested that refurbishing the axles would be a good point to start. David Tocher's electrolyis article was used to great effect. I would like to nominate my de-rusting set up in the category for "Best Use of a Wheelbarrow".

One bit that really hacked me off in the start of the refurbishment was getting the steering arms off the steering rack, until a a plea on the forum resulted in a response from Ken who recommended a separating tool from MA Stockwell. This did in 10 minutes what I had been trying to do for two weeks. But I have now learnt it is always worth an ask on the forum.

Whilst I like to think I am a reasonably practical chap I haven't really played with cars since trying to keep a Vauxhall Chevette on the road. A fine vehicle if you like an indoor paddling pool in the footwells when it rained and having the fear of God instilled in you if you went over 60. So it was back to reading manuals and relearning "Haynes" speak. Dis-assembly of my steering rack and axles progressed in a steady manner along with the painting them. I spent a lot of time painting things with hammerite to the extent that VTW thinks I have a solvent abuse problem. I even followed the forum suggestion ( I think it was Ken again as I do get lost with names in the electronic traffic) of putting a grease nipple in betweeen the steering track rods to save having to take it apart later, although I did not bother in tapping a hole in the pinion housing to put a greasing point in, as from visual inspection it all seemed in order (Alright I piked on doing it because I am great big girl's blouse!). I did put a 45 degree grease nipple in the castle screw for the steering assembly after having drilled a couple of holes in the guide to allow the grease to get through . I think there is enough room to get a grease gun in there once the rack is bolted in, if it works fine,if not Hey Ho! The suspension cans were next for attention. After reading comments on the forum about how to get the springs out I followed the advice and carefully applied the angle grinder to the ends of the cans and the springs were removed with very little trouble. More paint and they were ready to fit. .

Meanwhile, as most of my 2CV bits had been languishing in an Essex scrappy for some time, once derusting had been completed and having got rid of oxide sludge the colour of elephant dung off their surfaces, I thought it best to replace all the bearings in the axles and the hubs. If I don't get a Christmas card from 2CV City or ECAS for the level of my custom I shall be miffed. The next problem was how to get the b*gg*rs off , Haynes make it seem so easy (GET A BIGGER HAMMER!). Removal of bearings and bearing surfaces from the suspension arms and rear hubs was achieved with cold chisels and wooden drifts, i.e. chunks of wood. Getting the inner bearings off the axles was difficult so I gave up and bought some tooling. Whilst expensive I would recommend purchase of the suspension arm lock ring tool or similar from ECAS and the inner bearing puller from 2CV tools as after 20 minutes I had removed the inner bearings on both axles. Then by application of a bit of common sense in rearranging the set-up and use of minimal violence, I used these tools to drift the inner axle bearing on initially and then to finally set the inner bearing without having to cough up for an additonal drift. Then by stacking up the old tapered bearing rings I had removed on top of the new one and "drifting" them I was able to fit the new ones into the supension arms. The outer bearings got knocked into place using the same technique and were set home by screwing in the castellated nut (to be torqued up properly later). I did find that the slots in the castellated ring nuts I bought did not match up with the the teeth of the lock ring tool. So some time was spent with a Dremel copycat tool in enlarging the slots to suit the lock ring tool.

I inadvertantly found a sure fire way to free up rusted on components.One of the suspension arms on the rear axle had seized solid , so even holding the axle down with the supension arm hanging over the end of a bench and hitting it hard repeatedly with a rubber mallet didn't move it. On lfting it off the bench and holding it in the air at waist height with one hand just below the seized arm, I thought I might give it one last tap. Sure enough it came loose, prescribed an downwards arc and caught me square in the shin. So if you want to get something loose make sure its final resting place involves violent contact with the more tender parts of your anatomy. Alternatively find someone to hold things and for them to act as the target area.

So to date I now have a a rear axle bolted onto my chassis with matching suspension arms and a refurbished steering assembly but a bearing-less front axle.

And as a post script . Why have I named my car "Bitsa"?..........because it is a kit car made of "bits of this and bits of that!".

Signing off

Bitsabod (The bod what's building Bitsa)
a.k.a. Nick Mahoney

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