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Silver Surfer II


A limper's arrival

Since the previous article things have moved on in leaps and bounds! Angoulème and other entertainments out of the way there was no further excuse not to press on with the build.

I had bought a couple of old Mini bucket seats with a view to fitting them. The SWB Hopper is a surprisingly narrow beast and finding seats that can fit between the top rails is difficult. I took the upholstery off the mini seat frames and cut and welded the side tubes to what I thought might be a suitable shape. . They looked good on the bench but when I put them in place it turned out that they were impossible to either get into or get out of.

Stupid boy!

So, back to the drawing board and I made some plywood bases which were narrow enough to fit in but also broad enough to take an average backside. Using some card I made patterns for the backs of the seats which were then reproduced in half-hard 1.5 mm ali. The rolled edge looks difficult but is surprisingly easy to achieve using a Tee-stake and the top ring of a Calor gas cylinder.

A stainless hinge along the front and a pair of spring latches (operated by a pull-string) at the back seems to give a stable seat. The floor underneath the hinges is reinforced with extruded aluminium angle.

I've stolen Tom Rae's idea of using a couple of super magnets glued to the seatbelt buckles as a tidy way to store them.

These seats, with a suitable squab to sit on are surprisingly comfortable even without having the backs upholstered but I will wait to have a good run to see whether they can remain unclad.

For those who haven't followed the "Engine Won't Turn" thread on the forum there now follows a litany of errors.

When I built the engine/gearbox lump I was quite happy with the way things went together after making a couple of minor modifications. I was a little disappointed at not being able to use a sprung Citroen clutch plate as I did on the Brooklands but reconciled myself to that.

With all the critical parts now in place my pal Martin came down to measure up for the wiring loom and when he was ready I took it to him on the trailer for fitting.

I got it back the following week and was looking forward to firing up for the first time. Battery in, power on, ignition, start, click. Try again, still a click with no sign of the engine wanting to revolve.

I checked that the starter wasn't fouling on the ring gear and everything else I could think of but eventually came to the conclusion that there was nothing left but engine removal .

On the bench the engine was rock solid. Why I hadn't checked this during the build up of the lump I can only put down to oversight (or stupidity!). I removed the flywheel and the engine turned very easily in both directions. On refitting the flywheel the engine would still turn until the point of "nip" with the flywheel bolts when the thing seized solid. Much measurement, engineer's blue and discussion with Phil and it turned out that the inner face of the flywheel was fouling on the oil pump cover. The flywheel was returned to PMC for re-machining and I asked for the clutch side to be modified to take the sprung plate. When it came back I went to fit said sprung plate only to find I'd sold it to Sambike months ago after the Highland Fling and didn't have one in stock. Doh! I used one that had done only 6K miles in the Brooklands and am keeping my fingers crossed.

The wonderful feeling you get when the engine fires up, first touch of the button, in the car is indescribable so I won't try.

A minor problem with the fuel gauge was eventually traced to a poor earth connection on the back of the instrument but now I was ready to calibrate the speedo! A bit naughty but necessary, I fitted the spare plates from the Brooklands and set off to do the 2mile stretch. This was fun during which I found one carb was not getting enough fuel and that the suspension was very squishy.

Arriving back at the workshop I realised that I should have added 0.2 miles to the measured distance to allow for the 10% over-read but then, there's an excuse for a further test run...

Spring assisters were fitted to all springs, as they come in pairs I fitted two on the rear spring. I also wished I'd ordered more because the front ones were still a little too bouncy. They now have two assisters per spring and with the gaz shocks wound up a little more the ride seems better.

I applied for MSVA and was given an appointment within one week so there was a mad panic to make sure I had fulfilled all the criteria. The Aero screens came off and the modified 2CV mirrors were fitted in their mounting holes. The carburettors had covers over the pointy bits, the cross-member cover plates had covers fitted, self-amalgamating tape on the track-rod adjusters , black-tack on any other sharps. The "zimmer frame" from the Brooklands was fitted to reduce the area contactable by the 100mm sphere.

I went round with my knee-form and a radius gauge looking for fails.

My free telephone Dba meter App showed that the exhaust was too loud so another pair of VW tailpipes were installed and they made a considerable difference.

Monday arrived and I loaded the car onto the trailer and set off for Beverley VOSA test centre. The examiner could not have been more friendly and accommodating, allowing me to make minor adjustments and even giving me a card box to make a mask for the red number-plate light lens. He was complimentary about the build but also about the other Pembletons he'd examined, saying that they were very well built and presented.

As the car could not be examined on the lift, there was no opportunity to test the speedo so I need not have calibrated it before the test.

To my huge relief the car passed and I drove home grinning from ear to ear. All I need now is the registration.

While waiting for that the rear lights have been removed and replaced by the half-frenched nacelles.

So it's taken almost three years to realise the finished article. I just hope that all you limper drivers out there haven't been lying to me!

Duncan Grimmond

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