Tuesday, 18 June 2013


When I started this project in April 2011, it seemed perfectly normal to spend some time estimating how long it would take and then to extrapolate a finish / completion date.  After all, that is exactly what I had done for numerous work related projects for the past twenty odd years.
Having fully retired at the end of January and with goodness knows how many potentially empty days ahead of me, it now seems like not such a good idea.  But I had made a point over the past couple of years that completion was scheduled for my 65th birthday on June 16th this year.  In addition to this, I now have a firm date of July 4th to get the car down to Poole in Dorset to meet up with it's first owner, Vernon Maitland.  This is such a incredibly rare opportunity that it must not be missed at any cost, so the last couple of weeks have been hectic.

Start and finish dates with schedule and reminders in between
The door gaps had been set up about a year ago, first with the body on a jig / frame then with it on the chassis on axle stands.  After a short run up and down the estate road it was clear that it had settled from those initial positions and the gaps had closed a little .  Putting it back on axle stands, each pair intentionally well in from the wheels, the door gaps were again correct, or even a little wider than required.

Door gap with chassis on axle stands well in from wheels

and with car back on it's wheels
I had already had the maiden voyage planned as a short trip of around ten miles to Autob-bodycraft to resolve the problem of the damage caused when I fitted the windscreen, so a re-shimming exercise was added to the list to correct the door gap issue.

The only other items to be sorted before the inaugural trip were the windscreen wipers and security bonnet catch.  I had pondered the possibility of a leather bonnet strap but was undecided about how they look.  One thing is certain though, with a strap over the front, there is absolutely no chance of the bonnet misbehaving so pragmatism wins out.  I order one from Guy Broads; its the type with two buckles which means that if you undo them both, you don't have the problem of the metal bits scratching the paint.  I'm also told that they are lined with soft Elk Skin which is less likely to scuff. Really?

With the central bit removed - no buckles to scratch paint
The car actually came with a pair of wiper arms and blades but the way the blades were attached to the arms was unusual and certainly not as original, but the arms looked to be of super quality and stainless so worth using if at all possible.  Fortunately I have an arm off my 140 as a pattern for the spoon bit that slips into the blade.  I manage to remove the strange clip affair which leaves a dimensionally correct straight end that just needs bending to the correct shape.  After heating to cherry red its bent round an old socket and after a bit of tapping about it looks pretty good and slips into the blade just as it should. 

140 arm end          120 pre mod              120 post mod
 After a few more very short runs I felt sufficiently confident to go for it, but only with my Audi following, full of tools and various get you home odds and ends.  I can remember every single first outing I've made with cars I've restored in the past and in particular driving a Morgan rolling chassis from Faceby to Stokesley (about 7 miles).  The seat was an orange box and it went and stopped but that was all.  To avoid capture by the local constabulary the journey was undertaken at round 6.00am in summer.  This felt very similar but it looked a good deal more legal.
Its always a bit scary to think of the great number of fasteners that have been removed and re-fitted knowing that some are crucial to the avoidance of pain and expense and it usually takes 500 or so miles before I start to relax and stop listening for unusual noises.
Anyway, the first 10 mile trip went very well except that half way the heavens opened.  With no hood or tonneau all I could do was to stop and take off my coat to cover the passenger seat.  (what greater love etc.)  Once moving again most of the rain went straight over the top so no great problem; a good test for the wipers which worked tolerably well.
Once at Auto-Bodycraft, the door gaps were easily sorted, and Alex came up with a solution for the nasty bit of damage I had incurred when fitting the windscreen.

A great deal of debate went into what should be done about this.  Alex wanted to repaint the whole front of the car but I wanted a very small localised repair.  This he politely refused to do saying it would always show, especially after some time.  The compromise solution was a 'patch'.

Note colour coded ground plane for DAB aerial
Now I know this sounds a little odd but it totally works, simply because, apart from it being hardly noticeable, it looks as though it should be there.  Why is it only on one side - well since you ask, actually its the ground plane part of the DAB aerial, carefully colour matched - well it could be!  I have no doubt that at some time in the future I will find a few more reasons to re-paint the front; then it can be sorted to Alex's entire satisfaction.

A great number of other small jobs including the fitting of a  tonneau cover from Aldridge Trimming occupy the remaining week which takes me nicely up to Saturday 15th June. This was always planned as it's very first show outing, I know it's a day earlier than the scheduled finish date but what the hell.  This Classic Car show is in my home town of Stokesley and less than a mile from home which even meant that I could pop back and bring the 140 along for company.

And I said I would never take it out in the rain!

So, more or less cosmetically finished, but I still have a huge list of jobs to complete before the trip to Poole.

You may remember that last year we did the Beamish Run in the 140, a 144 mile trial over some fairly testing moorland roads for pre 1955 cars.  It was a great day, especially as we were the overall winners out of 150 cars.  'We' in this case included passenger and friend Tony Firth who was solely responsible for our victory.  In the 140 again this year, alas Tony could not join me as he is recovering from an operation.  The results aren't out yet but I would guess that without Tony, it'll be only slightly better than a DNF.  Get well soon mate.

The following pictures were taken during the lunch stop at Bainbridge, North Yorkshire with the cars and bikes assembled on the village green

Next post early July