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Cyclecars Still Rule OK?


Duncan Grimond

Those who read the last instalment may remember I was going to miss Montlhery because of a family holiday. The holiday was wonderful but on my return I found a letter from my landlord's solicitor telling me I had 11½ weeks notice to quitmy workshop. Was I sick! A mean-spirited act of revenge because I'd had the temerity to object to a planning application. I suppose sticking one's head above the parapet has consequences.

Panic stations ensued and I am chasing around the county looking for new premises which takes the edge off progress with the new Austin "Mathildeux" and I have to admit I will not have the car ready in time for PND. I'll just have to go in the limper.

rear top

I have spent and wasted a lot of time trying in vain to make the rear top in a single piece, hoping my experience of working on a Salmson with a Polish friend who is an astonishing bodywork specialist. No, I still can't do it and have had to concede I must do it in two pieces, an upright standing seam riveted and closed with a U section extrusion.

Austin 7 chassis

Surprisingly this took very little time and much less effort. A plain quarter-shield piece perhaps 75 blows with a big mallet into a sandbag, a very small amount of shrinking and they were done to a reasonable finish over a weekend!

Austin 7 chassis

I made a card pattern box and sent a drawing to SM Engineering in Wales for a new fuel tank and pressed on, getting to point at which I could lift the entire body tub off the car to let me get at the point where the handbrake sits. An external fly-off one of course, Some self-aligning plummer blocks from eBay and a length of 20 bar gave the starting point and over a weekend I managed to fabricate a ratchet rack, outrigger and aluminium cover which all fitted together. I also cut a groove in my thumb with a flap disc which slowed me down somewhat... stupid boy.

Austin 7 chassis

I found someone on eBay making High Density Polyurethane anvil wheels for wheeling machines and ordered a couple to try them out. They have proved to be extremely useful in that they will form without stretching and they seem to take out the worst of the inevitable marking left by the steel anvil/ top wheel combination The U channel fitting around the cockpit seemed to take forever but has worked and given the upper part of the body even more rigidity.

Austin 7 chassis

Following my coachline on the limper I bought some D section from Woolies and have indulged myself again, carrying the upswept line through to the radiator cowl. A similar bonnet arrangement to that on Mathilde is now in place but instead of the louvres I had cut for that, I took a cue from the Dixi sportster and made screened grilles for the lower skirts.

Brass mesh from the Mesh Company in Warrington and I made seamless frames using Ron Fournier's forming techniques.

Austin 7 chassis

I had decided to repeat the butterfly wings of Mathilde but they didn't seem to sit as neatly. I couldn't find a suitable mounting point for cycle wings and in the corner of the workshop I spotted the MDF formers that Malcolm Hopwood left here at a workshop weekend a couple of years ago. These are to PMC pattern and although the design is for a flat top, Malcolm had made one with a standing seam. The wheeling machine makes light work of forming the standing seam and stretching it appropriately and when I finish them with the U section as per the rear top, they will "read through" very neatly I hope. I may have to make new support brackets though.

Now my dilemma is whether to have another Vee screen or to stick with the single Aeroscreen ...

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