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Build report – Pembleton Van


Philip Hardcastle

I wasn't really planning on an update for this edition of ePAG but then I looked back through my photos and it seems I've achieved more than I first thought.

I explained that the last update was a short one as my wife was expecting our first child on the 1st September. I did however have a plan; both myself and Mrs H would finish work at the end of July, giving us 6 weeks to finish the house, do some work on the car and maybe even get a short break away before the baby arrived. This didn't quite happen as planned as I will try and explain below.

I think I left off with my gearbox hanging half-fixed in the car. I'd made some spacers and was happy with the position, except the hole I'd cut in the front bulkhead for the mount bolts wasn't very nice and would need a cover making. The main job required was to make a front mount plate. I had seen Robin's build an again decided to copy his idea – why change a good thing?! I was at my parents telling my dad about the mounting when he offered to make me one up from a bit of aluminium which he would do on the milling machine. The aim being that the mount would be one solid 'slab' rather than a plate with two wings attached. Dad is retired and lives in the garage so it seemed like an easy choice. Within a couple of days it had been made and fitted. The mounts (with the oversize bolts – there's a reason for that) were drilled and tapped to M12 so the mounting bolts screw straight in from the side.

gearbox mount
gearbox mount
gearbox mount

What I hadn't really contemplated was the starter motor. The plate is about 12mm too thick in one area to accept the starter, so as I write this I'm taking the whole mounting back out and getting a pocket for the starter milled out. Fingers crossed for a good result, but if not then I'm going back to Robin's idea!


With the gearbox on it meant I could finally get to grips the brakes. I'd rebuilt the callipers with a kit from ECAS earlier (be careful when using the compressor the push the pistons out!!!). The handbrake mechanism was, so far, the only part salvaged from my donor and cleaned up okay and was duly mounted with new cables, along with new pads and disks on the calliper. I'd panned to make up my own brake lines as I already had a new 'curly' rear line and felt it would be a more cost effective solution after spending plenty on the disks/pads etc. This was until I started looking at the cost of the flaring tool and I ended up just biting the bullet and buying the LWB kit from Bonaparte. I've since found that Alan Parkinson near me has the tool, but it's done now and the kit was easy to use. My only complaint would be that it said on the website that it came with clips to attach but I didn't get any with my kit – for the sake of £2 from eBay I bought some rubber lined 'p' clips and got on with it myself. The brakes bled up nicely and we now have a pedal!

At around the same time I also bought the ECAS neoprene gaiter set. Again I'd planned to save the inner gaiters and buy new neoprene middles and outers but by the time I'd priced up individual parts I was just as well buying the kit. Apparently the neoprene gaiters are easier to fit and to be honest it wasn't an awful job – the little cone tool did help slide them over the splines. The only additional cost here was a pair of the pliers specific for the CV join clips – but I always think tools like this are an investment as I now have them ready for next time!

The drive shafts, disks, callipers and gaiters had made a huge improvement to the front end and gave me a bit of a push. I knew that the engine adaptor plate was still on the shelf in its packaging and it would be almost time to use it.

I'd not really touched the engine since liberating it from the bike a year back. One side even had the exhaust headers still attached where I'd had to chop the pipe with the angle grinder – the studs were ceased solid and I was worried about them shearing. Finally on the bench I had a look and decided just to have a go with a long bar and hope for the best – as you can imagine the studs have sheared level with the collar, so all is not lost as there might be enough stud left to get some purchase to get it out.

Like most Guzzi engines from this period the paint was flaking off and it wasn't looking pretty. I really didn't want to open it up to get it blasted as it had only done about 10k and rebuilding the engine is last resort I think – at least it's easy to get to should it run rough. I tried a few ways to remove the paint – even some Strachem Synstrip; the most deadly of industrial paint strippers – but I think it was a mixture of wire brushes and coarse sand paper which worked best. Once cleaned up I masked it up roughly and covered in primer and top coat – not a bad finish at all has been achieved, especially considering I didn't pull it apart.


It was about this point that my plan began to unravel. Finish work: 20th July. Have Child, 1st September = 6 weeks off.

On the 21st of July he decided to arrive – 6 weeks early! So that meant a loss of some serious garage time. A few weeks in NICU etc. followed before he came home and had a sit in his first car...

baby in car

Whilst going backward and forwards to hospital I managed to build in some time on the car. Niall had been amazing at giving comprehensive fitting instructions and a bolt list when delivering the Guzzi adapter kit so I got on and ordered what I needed. There are quite a few explanations of the flywheel adapter etc. on the tech pages and mine is no different so I won't bore you with all that, but basically after a few hours of work I had a gearbox and engine mated together.

The only bit I'm still not sure about was getting the bolts tightened up – in the end I made a simple bracket to lock the flywheel/adapter against the workbench so I could get it all tightened up. Maybe I missed something simple here but I couldn't see how else I could get any torque into the bolts without it??

Next up was connecting up the important bits – the gear selector and handbrake. It was clear from quite early on that having an underslung change would mean the gear rod falling short of the linkage. Looking at early PAG editions I saw that people had either extended the hockey stick end vertically, or the main body horizontally. I chose the latter and asked my dad (recurring theme here) to turn up a bit of 10mm stainless rod with a shoulder to slide into the linkage. This was made and fitted (with a little bit of adjustment at the inside of the rod has a seam which you need to work around) and the whole thing was soldered together. I think I only added about 2” but it is enough.

gear rod
gear rod

Having the gearslide lower also means that the bulkhead now acts at the front guide. Again a quick call to reliable father (I was super busy with baby, honest!) and he made up a nice nylon block to keep it all tidy. I'm not sure about the gear knob but I want something different from standard. Ideas on a postcard please...


Next up was the handbrake. Sam had gifted me a lever which was missing the black plastic handle and to be honest I was over the moon as I'd wanted to change this anyway. I had an idea of welding something onto the front the make a vintage style pull but couldn't find anything which took my fancy until I was clearing the garage and found an old Dunlop tyre lever. A quick check it was of no value and I set to work with the angle grinder. So far so good but it wasn't very comfy. I needed a back/hand grip. Luckily I had some mahogany parquet left over from the kitchen floor so this was sacrificed for the job and worked well. A little red wax from Chloe's candle (she won't know) helped add some detail to the Dunlop sign and we were done...

At this point I wanted to think about a dashboard design. I was really proud of my last car for its simplicity and had enjoyed designing the dash layout. Also I kept telling myself that I needed to decide this now as it might affect my top bulkhead panel fitment – not really true but I got on with it anyway.

morgan dash
morgan dash
MotoGadget panel

I really like the new Morgan 3 wheeler and EV3 dashboards:

So my plan is to have a similar design to the Morgan (with two levels) but ideally with a central, digital clock which covers tacho, fuel and speedo. The Smiths ProLED look amazing but I don't think I can justify the cost. Acewell and Koso also make nice digital speedos and I think I'll end up down this path. If you'd mentioned a digital clock to me a year back I would have laughed, but somehow I can see this fitting into my build better, although there is still time for a change of heart!

Dash template

The pic is a rough template I made in ply. To the left of the central clock will be a small glove box with no front – just a net. It will only be about 6”deep. Directly in front of the driver is purposefully blank – this is because I intend to hard wire a GPS – either the TomTom Vio or the Beeline Moto – have a google of these as they look amazing and the company is run by a friend of Niall.

I've also picked up a NOS 1980's Russian Helecopter pull start switch, but that is under wraps at the moment!

final view

I've actually got a little further – A steering column mount has been made (thanks dad!) and I've used my folder to fashion a cover for the gearbox bolt mess I made. I've also got an ignition system ready to fit, but more about that next time...

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