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Cyclecars Rule OK?

Part II

Duncan Grimmond

Having played with string and card etc. I ordered aluminium sheets(ASD Metal Services, very helpful).

5 no. 1.2 mm, 2 no. 1.5mm and they arrived on 15th December.

I planned to make a top-hat section trunking channel using the Kraftformer which would allow for bends in both planes to be formed. Once formed to shape or profile, a back would be flush riveted on to form the "lid" of the box section giving it greater strength.

Having made a mock-up floor in zinc I started with the first sheet of 1.5mm and soon had something to start fixing to. I used the same technique as Pembleton floor panels but inverted so I had a flange formed upwards along each side.

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At this point Christmas intervened and I had to take two days off, bloomin' holidays, if I had my way I'd ban them.

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Two main bulkhead guides followed one at each end of the cockpit and then the forward bulkhead. This was fairly quick but was followed by a lot of staring and thinking. As with a Pembleton there is a lot of this which is an essential part of the build as you need to be aware of the consequences of each action. Newton was right except that in the case of car bodies you get more than one reaction to each action and they can be more than equal and definitely more than opposite!

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The side panels followed in fairly quick succession and then the interface between front edge of these with the rest of the front of the car. On an Austin 7 this is a set of panels going towards a radiator cowl sitting on them and almost hanging I in mid air bar a couple of "cow horns" bolted above the front semi-elliptical spring.

Cardboard is wonderful stuff and I made a pattern for the floor of the skiff-tail to help pull everything into place with the aid of a lateral aluminium bracing strip. This was followed by the real thing in ali which firmed things up considerably but led to the next problem

Rear-wheel drive suffers fro the inconvenience of a prop shaft and diff which need floor housings, tunnels and clearances for travel. Andre Citroen was right!

At this stage, no rivets had been used except on the fore and aft frame pieces and the front bulkhead so there was much fitting and dismantling of panels while awkwardly shaped bridge components were made to accommodate the transmission.

How I managed to go through all this on–and-off without serious damage occurring to the side panels which are 2200 long I don't know!

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I ignored this as I was aware I could leave it till later and I concentrated on the main tub.Pulling the side panels inwards and the lower edges upwards I managed to reach the sort of shape I was after and after considerable fiddling about I achieved a flange all the way along this lower edge. Trying to hold things together while simultaneously checking for line would be impossible without clekoes, the wonderful third (and fourth) hands

I returned to the for'ard end to make up the scuttle and its junction to the bulkhead.

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All this must be achieved without too many rivets being seen on the surface and finding ways to hide them. Creating the slight angle for the scuttle panel and the raked side cheeks took more time than I cared to count. A lot of hard staring was done over the next few days.

I already had a pattern for the rear top in card(I couldn't wait to see how it looked) but I was terrified of cutting it out of metal in case I got it wrong. I rolled a slight tapered curve into the panel, braced the wobbly sides of the tail, put the panel in place and marked the line, added 25mm to this and stood looking at it.

Still nothing ventured, nothing gained and I set about it with the tinsnips.

With an ungainly shield shaped blank I started putting a flange to the edges with the swager. Handling this piece (which is about 1200 * 1000 ) and turning the crank handle at the same time was entertaining to say the least. The problem is always the same though, I don't know how to do it so how could I ask someone to help me drop it?

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Formed, shrunk and then marked for drilling it seemed to fit fairly well. I was glad I'd ordered another 50 clecoes, you never have enough and until they arrived I was stealing them from other locations on the body and hoping it wouldn't disintegrate.

I could go on in this vein for some more pages but I won't bore you with the details. If you've done some riveting you know the score.

Suffice it to say I spent another couple of days giving it hard looks to be certain I hadn't forgotten a vital bit before I set off with sikaflex and rivets on the "tennis elbow trail" with the hand riveter.

I didn't count them but there were more than a thousand to do. Perhaps I should change the title to "Pop Rivets Rule OK"

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The fitting of the rear top and attaching the side panels to the floor and inner bracing really firmed-up the structure. The line of rivets read through from dash to stern leaving me the problem of continuing it for'ard to the stem in a similar manner.24 1 15

Meanwhile I made some single-plane curved rear mudguards as a sop to my indecision. I can do this even if I don't know how I'm going to do the next bit. I found some heavyweight ali edging thanks to Alan Percival who used it for his fabric covered ‘hopper.

This will take 4 thicknesses of ali if you open up the slot with a swager.

I stood and admired my handiwork for a couple of hours while I scratched my head trying to work out how to go forward to the radiator and how to even mount the radiator with cowl.

Fortunately I had Steve Gould's book on how to build an Ulster replica which, although it was a 1960's publication aimed at selling glass fibre kits, was actually quite useful on the basics even if I was ignoring standard Austin 7 forms. This manual is a little more comprehensive than the PMC one but still leaves a great deal to the imagination or supposed fore-knowledge. Disturbingly it's also all in feet and inches.

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However, I had acquired some ready-made patterns with the distraction that intruded in the last episode. An unfinished project appeared on eBay and the asking price was about the same as the total for all the recommended works and modification parts without labour so I went to see it. It was more than I wanted but it seemed rude not to snap it up, especially as it was on its own trailer and only 40 miles away.

Using these parts as a guide I was able to see how to make my own "flitch" panels. Strange name that. I can only think that it comes from the resemblance to a side of bacon rather than arrow flights. Perhaps there is a link there somewhere…

These go forwards to a pair of cow horns which sit behind where the radiator cowl should be. Hmmm, does this mean that they carry the weight of all that copper and water? It would seem so and I decided 1.5mm would be a better bet than 1.2..

A top-side (more meat?) brace under the hinge from bulkhead to radiator cowl and then the bonnet

This is a four leaf job, a central hinge and then two hinged drop leaves to engage with the top edges of the flitch panels.

It sounds very simple but the thing took over two weeks to make!

I was glad to have a horribly badly made worked example that I could cut into and offer up for size and position.I wanted louvres in the side panels and tried a couple of methods for making them myself and decided that I'd prefer professionally cut ones.Colin Wilson recommended Ian Pitney and he supplied some blank oversize panels with the number and size I wanted. These arrived while I was away at Retromobile, as did the stainless hinges so there was something to get stuck into when I got back.

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I'm sure that half of the time spent on a project like this gets lost in indecision. Dare I cut even though I've made a card pattern? The metal is thicker than the card, how much allowance do I need, will it fit once I've rolled the edge?

You just have to welly into it! Faint heart ne'er won fair lady etc.

I spent three whole days working out how to do the hinges for the louvred leaves. I was determined to keep the line reading through from stern to prow but the hinge was presenting a problem.The traditional way is to form a neat pair of folds which go back on themselves, add a joggle and have that as the "bonnet line" However it is very bulky and the top edge of the joggled part is the highlight which catches the eye and leads it along the body.

It was wrong. I fortunately had the opportunity to see a Benjamin, albeit a pick-up rather than a cyclecar and that confirmed my suspicion.

Countersunk plain rivets above the line, flatted off, and pop rivets below. The lower edge of the side leaf has a fancy fold which forms a light lock onto the flitch panel to prevent rattles, an idea I stole from my BSA three-wheeler.

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Thus, in two months from delivery of the metal I have the makings of a car. 90% done, only 50% to go!

I'm currently playing with front wings and running boards.

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