Friday, 20 May 2011


The body front and back parts on the 120 roadsters and drop head coupe's are only held together by the sills and it seems to me that working on the body would be a great deal easier if it were cut in half.  I've mooted this idea to a few knowledgeable people with a complete mix of responses from - :
"You'll never get it properly back together again" to "sounds like a good idea".
Cutting it in half is the easy bit.  My home spun plan to re-assemble it is the interesting part :
  • Fit the front part on the chassis, minus sills, in exactly the same place with the same shims / spacers.
  • Fit the doors and align the front edges to the A posts.
  • Slot in the new sill with attached B post shut panel / front cover and align to the back of the door.
  • Fasten the sill to the chassis outriggers.
  • Fit the back section and align to the rear part of the B post.
  • Tack the sill / B post in place checking all the time for any movement and correct as required.
What can possibly go wrong?
I can almost hear the laughter emanating those Midlands and Southern experts, from up here in the North East.

Before I make the final decision I need to talk to to the absolute experts, the company I intend to purchase my body bits from and who were so helpful when I restored my 140-FHC, Contour Autocraft near Peterborough.  I discuss my plans with company owner Bruce by phone and he suggests a visit as they have a 120-OTS in for restoration - perfect.

This is a 140-OTS being built from scratch.  Whilst not the same as the 120, it illustrates
 very well the relationship between the Sill, B Post and back section of the body.
This must surley be the pinnacle of british craftsmanship.  Is a shame to paint it!

The dash side box sections and hinge plates are clearly shown here before
the front wings are fitted.  I need to be able to get to all of this to resolve any
 rust problems, repair the worn hinge plates, rust proof and paint.  Question is - how.

Easy says Bruce and dad Ian who picks up a marker pen and draws a line on the
120-OTS wing.  Remove the spot welds on the A post and cut along this line
to remove the wing section for full access.  Cutting along the curve of the wing
apparantly makes replacing and finishing to a high standard much easier.
 My plan for a game of two halves is discussed in detail and the consensus is that there is no good reason why it shouldn't work.  Ian spends some time showing me the critical reference and starting points and also the range of adjustments to ensure near perfect shut lines.  I head back up the A1 full of confidence, stopping only at Machine-Mart to pick up a hack saw blade.

Contour Autocraft
Bruce and Ian, thank you so much for your time and willingness to share your incredible depth of knowledge and experience.  When (and if) I ever get to retire, a couple of weeks on one of your metal bashing courses would easily take precedence over a Med Cruise.  I'm sure wife Angie would be up for it also. My web-wise colleagues tell me the abbreviation LOL is appropriate at this point, to add humour to the context.

Thursday, 5 May 2011


Time for a diversion from the main project with something more interesting.  Removing the dashboard meant removing the steering wheel which involved extracting the horn-push assembly (manette in 1950's Jaguar parlance, apparently French meaning control lever - whats wrong with "horn push").   Anyway, as I extracted it from the steering wheel, it literally fell apart in my hands.  The main bakelite disc to which every other part is somehow attached had been repaired before by sticking it to a piece of wet & dry paper, and all the other bits were in a pretty dire state.  Surely beyond repair.
A quick look on SNG Barratts web site - and there it was - Reproduction Manette just short of £600.00 !  "How Much" - reach for the glue. 
My very talented engineer friend Richard Cook called in and carefully examined the remains of the bakelite disc, took it away and reappeared a couple of days later with a brand new one, but made from something much more durable - absolutely amazing. The chrome surround was available at around £45.00.  Richard carefully polished the plastic top and somehow re-silvered the growler.  After much head scratching I finally got it all back together and working perfectly. 

Interesting jigsaw

New disc on the right - made from some super modern material
Refurbished horn push and new chrome surround.
As good as new and probably better than the £600 re-pro.