Tuesday, 16 April 2013


From the moment the car came back from the body shop, it's been swathed in sheets.  So many, that the lady in our local general store must think I have some weird thing about flannelette, or maybe am incontinent and have a broken washing machine.  Never the less it's been worth the effort.  In the best part of six months, it has suffered not a single mark, scratch, or chip of any sort until .............

After a considerable fight with the windscreen and it's various component parts, I finally got it to fit really well.  All that remained was to re-fit the two pairs of large bolts / nuts that hold the bottom part of the windscreen side pillars to the bulkhead.

Windscreen finally in place and looking good
On the last of many trial fits, I'd worked out how to get washers and nuts onto the ends of these bolts in an extremely confined space by sticking them onto a finger with thick cavity wax and working my hand up inside the bulkhead.
With three down and one to go, I'd really got the hang of this quite difficult process.  The final washer was slipped over the end of the fourth bolt and then I managed to turn the bolt into the nut by a single thread.  It's not easy to explain this, and I can only guess at whats going on in this dark recess as its impossible to see into, but the nut must have gone on cross threaded.  Unaware of this, using a half inch ratchet I then wound the bolt in, through the pillar and bulkhead panel.  I met a little resistance at first and then it went tight sooner than expected.  Something was clearly amiss.  I realised what had happened even before looking around the windscreen to see the result.

If I was employed by me, (or Alex) I would have been sacked for this.
The nut had been effectively pushed into the underside of the body, distorting it and cracking the paint.  Now I have to face Alex at Auto Bodycraft and explain how I managed to ruin his beautiful paint job.  I will no doubt get a well deserved bollocking for being careless, and quite right too.  Just how he sorts this will be interesting, challenging and most likely expensive. 

The short term outcome was that I was left in no doubt that had I been in his employ, my trial period would have ended abruptly.

Talking of Alex, I mentioned in passing that I was about to send my steering wheel to Myrtle Productions in Kent to be re-furbished.   Some years ago, they did a superb job on my 140's steering wheel but at £340.00 so they should have.
120 Steering Wheel - Picture taken two years ago - April 2011

The 120 wheel looks virtually identical to the 140's but is of an entirely different construction, actually making it a little easier to restore to its original finish.  The rim and boss appear to be castings of some type of non ferrous / non magnetic material, but the rim in particular seems heavier than aluminium.  The spokes are steel, so how they are attached to the boss and rim is a puzzle.  The 140 rim by contrast looks like resin laminated onto a steel former.  It eventually de-laminates and I guess it's refurbished in some sort of mould.

The finish on both wheels appears identical and very specific.  Not quite gloss, but a little more shiny than satin black with a very deep sheen, similar to a glass fibre gel coat.  Alex felt sure, he could achieve this, so I left it with him on the basis that the 140 wheel would be the only acceptable (read chargeable) standard. 

Start of prep on 120 steering wheel
First off Alex ground out the cracks, then filled them with Q Bond adhesive / filler followed by an unlikely named product called 'Upol Fantastic Filler'  This was followed by three coats of 2K primer with lots of rubbing down between, then finally five coats of Mipa 2K Acrylic Super Black. Time consuming and not cheap, but still quite a bit less than Myrtle would have charged, plus the finished article was certainly equal to, if not better than the 140 wheel.

Ready for a final polish

And finished product - Refurbished steering wheel looks superb

140 FHC - interior starting to look a little worn but is very well used

My Great Grandfather, George, was born at Tanton Hall (two miles from my home) in 1869, to a housemaid, Annie Elizabeth Hugill.  She was listed on his birth certificate as a 'Spinster of this Parrish'.  In the box for father, it simply said 'unknown'.  George was adopted in 1870 by a local Publican called William Exelby.  His second son, my Grandfather, was one of four brothers, all born between 1894 and 1897.  From that point, the male offspring expanded rapidly over the next generation, but then through various mishaps, war and an unusual profusion of daughters, the male side of the line gradually diminished.  With a relatively unusual surname, (the last time I checked in the London Phone book, not one Exelby was listed) it didn’t take a great deal of effort to establish exactly how many male cousins, half and quarter cousins were still around and if they in turn had any male offspring.  The surprising answer was none.  I have a daughter and son, so the continuation of the male line and family name rests squarely on my son Danny’s shoulders and of course his wife Laura.  So what's the relevance of this preamble?

Dylan Robert Exelby - Born 7th April 2013
Strange to think that Dylan Robert could feasibly see the family name into the twenty second century.  I can't help but wonder what on earth he would make of this blog if he read for the first time when he is say 80.  Conversely, not even Jules Verne, if he were still around, could I think come close to predicting what life will be like in say 2093.
To give this even more context, going back rather than forward 80 years, below is the last page of a letter from my father, post marked 1935, to his mother.
Aged just fourteen, and with a shilling (5p) in his pocket he was sent to work at a farm at Barnard Castle, some forty miles away.  Written a few days after his arrival, he asks for some more 'cash'.
Having spent his shilling and accounted for it, he nicely emphasises how broke he is with his post script - "I have no ink so I have used pencil" 

Next Post early May