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Body Building in Markington

by

Ray Westwood

This story began with a visit from Dave Parr (aka Silverfish ) who dropped by hoping to use my blast cabinet to clean some cycle parts. Diverted by my struggle to get the front body panels fitted properly, he spotted that the front, upper bulkhead had ben folded to make it about 2cm too wide, I checked the dimensions with the paper patterns – with which they were consistent – but it became clear that these were not a good match to my particular chassis. Dave suggested that this was an issue he needed to sleep on but that it might be best addressed in a properly equipped sheet metal workshop. A few days later I had a phone call from him suggesting a visit to Markington where Duncan Grimmond had kindly offered the use of his very considerable facilities and expertise.

What followed seems, to me, more remarkable each time I reflect on it: both Dave and Duncan, who are highly skilled, busy men with very full work and family commitments gave up almost 4 days of their time (and I am talking about 10 -11 hour days) to helping me solve my bodywork problems. I struggle to think of anywhere outside the world of Pembleton where such generosity can be so readily found.

before we started

Arriving at Duncan's workshop one bitterly cold Thursday morning we unloaded the car from the trailer where Duncan pronounced that the work, including bonding of panels etc, would be best conducted in his inner workshop and in front of his industrial size coal burning stove. The fact that the front track of the car was several inches wider than the workshop doors proved no obstacle as Duncan swiftly produced a large saw and cut a good foot out of one side of the door frame/ workshop wall ( only in the world of Pembleton….etc )!

before we started

Then the work proper began: Dave was assigned the task of repositioning the bulkhead flanges so that the front panels would fit properly and also replacing the flanges on the floor which I had slotted to facilitate the curved edge. All this he accomplished with jeweller-like precision. Duncan meanwhile considered the problem of the bullet tail. To fit this on my car, and following Phil's instructions, had necessitated the bending of the rear hoop while leaving the chassis tubes standing outside the bodywork, to be covered later by nacelles holding the rear lights.

before we started

I should point out that fitting of the bullet tail varies considerably from car to car. Fellow Midlands builder Tony Sale (Finham Tony) and I regularly compare notes and were surprised to find that his chassis at the rear is some 4 inches narrower than mine, so that the rear hoop needs no bending and the chassis tubes sit entirely inside the rear panels: both cars were bought as standard SWB chassis, though Tony's is a little later (chassis 369 ) than mine (chassis 327). Though this made fitting the tail easier for him it has created some problems with the fuel tank which he has ended up getting made to measure.

before we started

Duncan was of the opinion that the build would be considerably improved by replacing the conventional rear bulkhead with a floor extension covering the rear wheel and extending to the chassis tubes. This would result in greater luggage space and provide an opportunity to stiffen the rear panels which, due to the bullet tail are not riveted along the length of the rear chassis tubes. This was made slightly more difficult on my car as I had opted for a wire wheel at the rear (in retrospect I wouldn't recommend this but once the rear arm has been cut to accommodate this it has to stay) and also recessed the fuel filler as suggested by George on "Valentine".

before we started

However, such difficulties are as nothing to Duncan and after much cutting, bending, drilling and a little cursing the rear floor was in place. The panels were now almost ready for permanently fixing but Duncan took the opportunity to roll the top so that it didn't sit under so much tension and also engaged with a little shrinking and stretching to improve the look. With the panels all removed for a final debur/clean prior to fitting I took the opportunity to reposition the rear bump stop more central to the suspension arm and adjusted slightly the run of the rear brake pipe. There followed diligent application of adhesive before the panels were finally fixed and riveted; I should mention that with the bullet tail this latter process fully occupied the available 3 pairs of hands in getting the panels precisely positioned with all holes lined up.

It remained only for Duncan to use yet another specialist tool to fashion two rear light nascelles, these were cut almost to size but now require final fitting. Is there anything else to add? Dave pointed out that in fitting the front side panels I had not followed instructions on the cowl which is to be cut over-wide (I didn't opt for the laser cut panels) and then pulled back to facilitate an upward tilt with flange to secure to the dashboard hoop. It can then be trimmed to taste. I have gone back to the instructions and re-read them – and to be honest I don't think I would ever have realized this without personal instruction from Dave and Duncan. It is made more opaque because the paper pattern doesn't have a clear plan of the cowl itself. I've since remade the front panels and must admit that the cowl does look much better, as well as providing more protection. It now remains to paint inside the front panels ( I have always planned for a painted car – maroon "Austin 7 red" cellulose ) and replace the clecoes currently holding them with Sikaflex and rivets. Then, hopefully it's on to the final stages of the build with MSVA by the end of the summer.

Finally my thanks again to Dave and Duncan who both gave up so much of their time and provided invaluable advice and support. Workshop time with them both was made so much more pleasurable by the good spirit and humour with which everything was approached.

Ray Westwood


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