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Silver Surfer II

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How to build a round-bum limper

As I had a dead 2CV which had been the works vehicle I had little choice as to how to dispose of it. I'd bought it "restored and rebuilt" in 1999 and it had done sterling service until the poor quality of restoration showed through the holes in the floor and seat-belt mountings. So, as I'd poured too much money into the pit of keeping it going I couldn't just scrap it. I decided I had to build a three-wheeler to replace the BSA which I had loved but was not up to the mark for useability without a complete bodywork rebuild on a new ash frame.

I ordered a LWB chassis from Phil in January 2011 and started stripping the Dolly. When I got the chassis home in March and put it next to the Silver Surfer I realised I'd made a mistake as it seemed to be HUGE. My plan was to make a "cue-pointu" as they say in France and putting some string lines in place made the LWB even longer. A quick call to Phil and, proper gent that he is, arranged a swap with no problem.

Another trip to PMC HQ and home again via Stoke on Trent to collect some Potteries oatcakes for tea and I was back in the open-side shed with it next to the SS with string lines in place. Ah, yes that's better. Using split 2" *1" to give form to the strings I clipped, clamped and tied the wood to the top rails to pull the ends together to form the pointed tail I was after. It was only then that I discovered a sharp, vertical edge was going to add about 500mm to the overall length of the car and spoil the proportions.

After much sitting in the thinking station I decided to round off the point and made a timber mock-up followed by a tubular steel one.

The side rails were cut free from the spare wheel mounting and rear hoop and with a tight fitting length of 3" * 4" timber below the cockpit hoop and a shorter-than-finished dimension timber stop I pulled the top rails together with ratchet-straps. The short timber allowed for the "recovery " of the tube and the side rails ended up about 75mm closer together than they started.

The rear-end form was made around a timber form to make the soft curves and the round end was formed in Colin Wilsons tube bender, the shape is two elliptical curves joined in the centre by a part-circular one.

This was then cut to size and reduced diameter tubes were fitted inside as sleeves to ensure alignment and add a little strength. Also some webs were added for rigidity. Rather than trust my welding skills I called a friend who is a first class welder to come and do the job for me.

The rear hoop and top strap were removed and replaced to new profile and length in smaller steel tube. As the upper strap is needed for tension support for the top seat-belt point but also needs to be crushable in the event of a tail-end shunt the top tube was partially weakened with vee notches using a slitting disc

Cardboard panels were cut to form the flat panel shapes, the rear-top being a narrow version of the original and the rear side panels hacked about until a pleasing form was reached. This is less difficult than it may seem but if you think in terms of chines or planks in boatbuilding it's surprising how a flat strip can turn into a seemingly compound curve. I recommend having a look at a Whitby cobble or a Viking longship to see how much of a curved belly can be achieved with essentially flat planks. I made some light nacelles from scrap zinc to insert into the cardboard form and That was the state of play in March.

I am now in the process of skinning with aluminium and the next article will show the progress. I'm hoping to have the car ready for this summer's entertainments, so I've shut the works down for an extended Christmas break. Watch this space!

Duncan Grimmond


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