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Brooklands tourer

by

Andy Ferguson

Andy's car

I wanted to write a brief article about the bespoke build items on my little car which started out as a normal Pembleton Brooklands way back in 2008.

First, let me apologise for my rather crude grammatical skills – I hail from Northumberland where being able to speak and write proper was never a priority at school. Secondly, let me apologise to those Pembleton purists who may think that I have gone too far….

I am also indebted to the Pembleton forum for both ideas and assistance over the years.

Back in 2008 I was forced by financial demands to go down the 2CV 602cc power route. I was so naïve in those days - I actually believed that I could build a car for under £3000! Many years later I guess I must have spent over £10000 although several features were built and subsequently scrapped – never mind the numerous mistakes made along the way. By the way – if you ever meet my 'better half' please do not mention this – I think she still believes my original estimate was not exceeded!!!! (DidI say I was naïve?).

Andy's car

A note on the extended build time

Yes, it did take 7 years to get where I am today. The primary reason being that I had to do all of the work on my driveway – I only have a single garage and it is full of bikes, tools and other rubbish that just seems to keep accumulating. For those outdoor builders reading this, you will know fine well that there are very few weekends in the year which are not too cold, wet, hot or windy to work in, and which are free from family commitments. Secondly, I am not an engineer – just a keen DIY'er – so many lessons had to be learnt the hard way.

I was nearly ready for MSVA two years ago, but after weighing on a local weighbridge I found that the car was nearly 40kg too heavy (and that was without the spare wheel). I was so disheartened that I gave up for the rest of the year. The following year I was suitable refreshed and remodeled the nose, replaced the wheels and finally passed MSVA late last year. This year so far has been spent making the car just how I want it. I don't think it will ever be finished.

Throughout the build the car was called Tinkerbell, however, upon the passing of my late Dutch father in law earlier this year, I agreed with my 'better half' that the car should be called Wimpie in his honor – so Wimpie it is (getting used to the gender change is more difficult than you can imagine!)

Nose cone

Nose Cone

As you can maybe guess from the photos I was originally inspired by the photographs of Alan Walker's car when it had the nose cone. After several attempts to make a removable nose cone using half of a hot water tank (ending up with what looked like a Grecian Helmet – see below), I chopped the whole lot off and came up with what you see now.

I cut off the protruding lamp bars and welded a frame including a new lamp bar to the front of the chassis. This was then skinned in aluminium. The grill is made with 6mm aperture alloy foil hex sheet 20mm thick with a thin ally mesh, and can be opened from the inside to access the solex carb.

External hand brake

External Handbrake

I always wanted to have an externally mounted handbrake. I started with and Austin 7 handbrake mechanism, but soon remade it almost all from scratch – although I did keep the ratchet and pawl bits. The level pulls a cable which in turn tensions the two original handbrake cables. All went well until the MSVA test when the sleeve on the cable I had originally found at an auto jumble failed. With a strengthened cable all now works well and I think adds character both the looks and the driving experience.

wheel mounting

Spare Wheel Mount

This was inspired by the traditional way of mounting a spare wheel on the passenger side of the car – although the presence of a hot exhaust pipe did somewhat complicate the design. I welded up a crude prototype using angle iron just to see what a side mounted wheel would look like. Once established that it met with my approval, I remade the mount which held the spare wheel in line with the road wheels. The splined wheel adaptor was then bolted onto the mount and the wheel fastened onto the splines. This resulted in very complex, heavy and over engineered solution so it was scrapped for a lighter and more simple mount that you can see in the pic. As a bit of extra insurance against a failing weld I have added a leather strap to prevent the wheel from seeking freedom – I have witnessed a 20kg wheel running free at 30mph down the middle of a road (don't ask were – too embarrassing to say) and it is something I do not want to witness again.

Andy's car

The spare wheel mounted mirror is just a spare wing mirror mounted using leather straps onto a base made from old brass and ally offcuts

Front mudguards

After trying unsuccessfully to work out using the Pembleton build manual just how to fit the fixed front mudguards, I was seduced by articles on the forum regarding mudguards that tracked the steering. I read (on the Percival build website) that the Dutch company that markets the Le Patron car were very accommodating and that they would make mudguard stays to my dimensions. This they duly did and that was that. I have read a couple of posts that have related to having excess unsprung weight on the steering arm bolts, but I was assured by the Le Patron company that they had never had a failure on any of their cars. I will keep an eye as I continue to shake the car down.

luggage rack

Luggage rack

Inspiration came from Peter Gibbs' and Mike Meakin's cars. I had already decided to mount the spare wheel on the side of the car, so now I neededa way to finish off the back. I had several ideas but finally settled on a rack that would hold a vintage suitcase and incorporate the rear lights and number plate. I made a prototype luggage rack out of 22mm copper and took it to a couple of local welders to see how much to replicate in either alloy or stainless steel. Between £500 and £800 was the answer so back to the drawing board. An internet search found a company that made stainless steel pulpit/push pit fittings (for the non-boating readers these are the bright metal frames on the front and back of a yacht). I sent off a template to a company that the rolled two tubes to my specification, and the rest was then Mechano. The housing that the pork pie rear lights mount on to are actually plastic electrical conduit fittings from B&Q.

dashboard

Dashboard

Originally I was I always intended to paint the car BRG, and then trim the cockpit and upholstery in tan leather. It was therefore essential to have a nice walnut dashboard mounting brass instruments. This I made only to find that the two pack varnish I used to produce a lovely gloss finish dissolved the glue holding the veneer, producing a glossy but lumpy finish. By now I had decided not to paint so the walnut had to go. A nice bit of engine turned ally plate was sourced and I am rather pleased with the result. The instruments are all brass beveled from ETB. Again the forum influenced my decision to mount the gear change under the dash – and before anyone shouts, the carbon fibre gear change knob is about to be replaced with a lovely brass handle. The PMC steering wheel was laced with leather thong from Ebay. I wanted to buy a vintage manual ignition control for the steering wheel hub, but balked at the £150 price tag. So an old manual throttle control was stripped of its failing chrome finish and duly bolted and on as a 'bit of bling'.

Body finish

By now, I had decided not to paint as it was too expensive to have it done professionally, and too difficult to spray in my single garage. I did not trust myself to attempt hand painting. What finally swayed the decision was when my better half said that she preferred an aluminium finish. The nice man at Metal Polishing Supplies assured me that I could get a very good finish using their products and an angle grinder. Well, yes, he was right. The finish is great (although I am not going for 'mirror' finish). However, he failed to warm me that polishing aluminium is the most dirty of jobs (and I include coal mining in this). For two weeks I was filthy – the black muck got everywhere despite wearing balaclavas and gloves etc. Still it was worth it. The finish is far from perfect – there are many many scratches and mistakes that I originally intended to hide with paint – now I just call them patina! I call the car 'a Good 20 footer', i.e. from 20ft away it the finish looks great. The cockpit coaming is trimmed with a solid rubber extrusion that fits perfectly over the ally edge trim – producing a robust and comfortable edge.

Seats

My Brooklands was made to be 4" longer in the cockpit than standard to accommodate by 6'2" frame. I bought a PMC bench seat which was nice and light, however, it did not fit very well and did not offer very much support to a sliding backside when trying to corner at anything other than walking pace. I bought a pair of cheap bucket seats which are a lot more comfortable but I am still not satisfied. I will probably look to have a bespoke leather bench seat made up next year. If anyone knows a good upholsterer I would be interested…

Engine

This turned out to be an expensive item for my car. The first engine I had to be scrapped as one of the big end bearings had a full one millimeter of play – this I think was not good so I did not proceed with that engine. A replacement block (can you call it a block?) was obtained and a set of high compression barrels and pistons where bought. I had the engine clamshells shot blasted to make them nice and clean. Oh yes, they were clean all right – however all of the oil runs were full of grit. It was an awful job trying to ensure all the grit was removed. A local 2CV expert(he races and wins with his 2CVs) told me that you can safely skim of 25 thou off the barrels to increase the compression yet more. This I did, however upon re-building the engine and then testing – it was apparent the something was not right – lots of metal to metalclanking. It was then suspected that my heads may have already been skimmed sometime in the past. I tried shimming the heads with 8 thou shims, and this seemed to help a bit. I had bought Dellorto carbs and found them difficult to set up, both with the control cabling and tuning. I could ever get both barrels to run at the same temperature. I needed a rethink.

I then decided that pursuing this course was probably not a good idea so I turned to Ernie, the chap on Ebay who sells uprated 602cc engines. He supplied a modified engine and a correctly jetted solex carburetor which was fitted and has performed perfectly ever since. On a rolling road test 35hp was produced at the flywheel – this despite and due to running in constraints, the throttle was not fully opened.

exhaust pipes

Exhaust

As the car was 4" longer than standard, the stainless steel exhausts were not long enough so I purchased 4" long flexible couplers. In order to reduce the rasping 'bark' I first experienced, I had motorcycle exhaust baffles welded to VW Beetle tailpipes, and these were inserted into the PMC Brooklands cans. The car now accelerates with a 'nice' mellow bark.

bonnet

Bonnet

Of course I wanted a hinged bonnet, but with my new elongated nose, a standard PMC bonnet just did not look right. Phil duly produced a nice long bonnet (with extra louvres thrown in) and a nice solid brass hinge was fitted. In order to keep to my £3000 budget (!!) I kept the cost of the bonnet straps (and luggage straps) down by purchasing long leather belts from Costco and manufacturing the brass strap retainers. The mascot is a purpose build (yes, it is spring loaded) anti-aircraft gun sight bought form Australia via Ebay – what a wonderful source of bits and pieces it is.

Running the car

To date I now have over 300 miles on the clock. I am very happy with the performance, I am sure it accurately mimics the performance of a 1920's tourer which is just what I was aiming for. I have found the engine to be a bit feeble at less than 3000 revs, and I have to learn that driving a vintage type car is not the same as driving a modern high torque diesel engined car! The good news is that my better half really enjoys driving in it – so let the adventures begin….

Can I please ask any of your experts out there that if you have spotted anything that is wrong, or potentially could go wrong, that you contact me (especially if safety related). As I said at the start, I am not an engineer, just a keen amateur.

Thanks

Andy


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