With this issue you should find a membership card for the 2010-2011 year. Please fill in your name and membership number (shown on the envelope) and lock it safely away with your family silverware. I have never been asked to produce my card, although Footman James do ask for your memno if you want a club discount. If you have forgotten your memno and binned your envelope before reading this, then tough, you will have to remember next time. If you have forgotten your name too then even tougher, you are in a worse state than me.
Our new AGM venue was a great success. Before proceeding got underway Tony Stanton led a convoy of Olympics (no other Rochdales as usual) on a guided tour of local interest. Thank you Tony and also Brian Whitby for the ride in a proper Olympic.
Sunday 8 August at the Cotswold Wildlife Park near Burford Oxon. This is an event not to be missed if you have an interest in old British low volume kit cars and specials; while your other half can enjoy the local attractions.
DVLA Nigel Harrison
Occasionally we are contacted, because of the lack of the specialist vehicle club, to assist in cases where as well as not knowing the original registration number of the vehicle the chassis number has been lost in the mists of time. In the most recent case, with some research both by the owner and the Federation, the careful completion of a Built Up Vehicle Inspection Report and dating letter, the vehicle in question was allocated a new chassis number, in the 17 digit VIN format, together with an age related number.
In the above case, the registration mark allocated was in the format of three numbers followed by three letters (i.e. 123 ABC). This was not the format that the owner was wanted, although some registration authorities were using this as early as 1953. DVLA do not have the unallocated blocks of the earlier format (ABC 123) available, so this is why the later format is used. If you want to have the earlier format, then you will have to use the Cherished Number Transfer system. When the letter year registration number system was introduced in 1963 previously unregistered used vehicles, e.g. imported or military used on trade plates, were allocated a letter year registration number, current with the date of registration. Should you wish, a DVLA Local Office should be able to issue a replacement age related number, but it will be of the format 123 ABC. If there is not a year of manufacture on the V5 or V5C, then a dating letter or dating certificate will be required by DVLA from the appropriate specialist vehicle club.
One of the fellow presenters at Club Expo held at Gaydon in December gave an account of a conversation with a DVLA inspector, to the effect that: If you attempt to use a logbook which has been bought on eBay to register a vehicle, you will be caught out, because DVLA check EBay for logbooks on sale. The presenter implied that this was a typical DVLA Big Brother attitude. I would take a slightly different view. It is altogether reasonable that DVLA should be on the lookout for logbooks being used in an improper manner. Just because a vehicle has lost its chassis number, it is not necessary to resort to using a purchased logbook to register the vehicle. As illustrated above, even if the registration number and chassis number have been lost in the mists of time, with a little research, it is possible to have the vehicle registered with DVLA.
Around 100 delegates attended the Federation session, called Registering Your Historic Vehicle The Potential Pitfalls. Part of the talk gave a list of useful documents, and this is available from www.fbhvc.co.uk in the news section. As expected, questions were asked. For the benefit of a wider audience, a summarised set of questions, with a more considered reply than given on the day, is given below.
Question: What do clubs charge to process an historic vehicle registration application?
Answer: As an example, the Federation charges £30 for a V765 or an age related application. On top of that are the Federation inspectors reasonable travelling expenses of 25p/mile, settled up directly with the inspector. Some clubs don't make a charge for the processing of an application for club members because this is seen as one of the benefits of club membership, but make a charge for the inspectors travelling expenses. What other clubs charge is up to them, based upon their policy and overheads. If a club charges a very high fee, and is very slow at processing applications, and the specialist knowledge exists in another club, it could be expected that an owner would react to that situation.
Question: What is the relevance of Reconstructed Classics on the DVLA information sheet relating to rebuilt vehicles (INF 26), if the vehicle has not been reconstructed?
Answer: Possibly the title Reconstructed Classics is misleading. A slightly more descriptive but wordy title could be Classic vehicles which have not been registered before or where the original registration number is unknown. One of the two key parts of the Reconstructed Classic definition is the appropriate vehicle club must confirm the authenticity of the components. It is unlikely that DVLA are going to question the judgement of the appropriate vehicle club unless, like the case highlighted in the last Newsletter, there is other information which is supplied to DVLA which points away from the Reconstructed Classic definition and hence potentially towards a Q plate.
Question: The chassis or frame number is not in all the places I would expect. With another vehicle, there are two different numbers on the vehicle. How should I process cases like these? Answer: Prior to the introduction of the VIN number system in 1980 different manufacturers identified the vehicles that they produced in different ways. Some had the same number for each component part of the frame or chassis. Some did not mark the chassis at all, but relied on a makers plate on the bulkhead. Some used the engine number as the primary number and used, or implied, the same number for the chassis. Other vehicles were marked by the manufacturer with both a body number and a car number. Using your experience of other similar vehicles, you have to run with the appropriate number that is actually on the vehicle.
Question: My club sends all the V765 (claim for the original number) paperwork to the owner, so that the owner can take the application in to the local DVLA office. Why should I not continue doing this?
Answer: Experience shows that across the 50 DVLA local offices, there can be a variation on how a V765 application is dealt with. With some offices it will be a seamless operation but with other offices this might not be the case. In any case, a local office could only be actively involved with a V765 application where the evidence is an old style logbook and the vehicle has an MoT and is insured, so that a tax disc could be issued immediately. The new V5C will only be issued after the application has been vetted and processed by the specialist unit at DVLA Swansea. However, it would be expected that the DVLA local office would be involved in making a certified photocopy of the logbook or tax disc.
Where the vehicle is not roadworthy but is substantially complete, or a tax disc is not required straight away, then the application should be sent to DVLA Swansea. With an application for an age related number, which would include a dating letter or certificate, this would be dealt with by the DVLA local office.
Question: I have notified DVLA of a change in engine capacity, and DVLA have asked a number of supplementary questions before they will accept the engine change. Is this a new practice that has recently been introduced?
Answer: The Federation was not aware of any change in this area. While the Federation investigates further it would be helpful if we could see if this is a one-off or if this is a widespread change. If you have notified DVLA of a change in engine capacity in the last few months and DVLA have asked for supplementary information before accepting the change, could you please contact the Federation, preferably by email. What will be of particular interest are the before and after engine capacity, registration number, make and model.
If there are any other pressing questions relating to DVLA matters, please contact the Federation, preferably by email or letter.
In the last Newsletter we requested examples of where DVLA had asked supplementary questions before accepting engine change information on the V5C. Thank you for all of the examples that you have sent to the Federation.
Many vehicle excise duty categories directly relate to the size of the engine and these have recently been further refined to take account of a vehicles CO2 emission levels. It is therefore understandable why DVLA should want the engine size and type to be verified by an independent organisation as this could make a difference to the VED due. At present the Historic Vehicle class of is one of the few taxation classes which is independent of engine size and type, so the potential reduction in excise duty does not apply, although we cannot rule this out for the future of course.
The general principle is that the size and type of the new engine should be verified by an organisation independent of the owner. The standard DVLA engine change letter gives a choice of various options. Understandably, the options are orientated around modern vehicles. For an historic vehicle an independent organisation with sufficient knowledge could be the appropriate vehicle enthusiasts club, so a suitable worded letter from the club should be sufficient.
There will be some vehicles where the actual engine might not have been changed but for some reason the DVLA record is incorrect. Once again, a suitable engine identification letter from the appropriate vehicle enthusiasts club could well be sufficient to correct this.
Regarding the existing DVLA requirement that all engine changes require verification by an organisation independent of the owner, the Federation is in correspondence with DVLA in respect of this requirement for historic vehicles. We have been assured by DVLA that there has been no recent change of policy here and for many of the case histories that we have been sent the confusion has arisen because the change requested was to the engine capacity as well as the engine number or an over-zealous clerk has sent the wrong letter when a purely clerical error needed to be corrected.
In Newsletter No. 1, 2008, I explained that for a trial period, with a claim for an original registration number (a V765 claim), the acceptance slip from the V765 form would not be returned to the club who processed the application. The trial is now complete, and the Federation has accepted that this, the non-return of the tear off slip, will now become the standard procedure. If an application is rejected, the club will still be notified.
Technology moves forward and new products are constantly being launched with claims to improved formulations and performance. With the recent bitterly cold weather in January antifreeze has been in the headlines, with some alarming stories which at first seem to be about the well-known tendency of antifreeze to find the tiniest hole and cause leakages - but in these cases it has led to catastrophic engine problems.
Traditional blue ethylene glycol is a toxic but highly effective antifreeze and contains silicates as an inhibitor to help prevent corrosion in an engine with mixed metals in its make-up. Bluecol* and Blue Star* are well known brand names and both of these are declared suitable for classic cars on their company websites. Be aware that there are also low- or no-silicate ethylene glycol formulations (usually red) available which may not be suitable for all engines. Propylene glycol is another well-known and less toxic antifreeze formula and usually contains silicates but Comma, the main manufacturer, have now discontinued it in favour of an ethylene glycol product containing bittering agents to make it less palatable and minimise the risk of accidental poisoning.
Both of the above products use inorganic additive technology (IAT). Recently problems have been reported concerning the use of antifreeze mixtures using organic acid technology (OAT). OAT was introduced in the mid-1990s and the products are biodegradable, recyclable and do not contain either silicates or phosphates and are designed to be longer lasting. However, these products do seem to cause problems in older engines; over and above the ability of antifreeze to find the smallest crevice and leak, OAT antifreezes have been accused of destroying seals and gaskets and causing a great deal of damage in old engines. For this reason, the manufacturers do not recommend their use in historic vehicles. These products are usually coloured red, pink or orange.
The final category is HOAT. These products use hybrid organic acid technology in an ethylene glycol base with some silicates in the formulation alongside the organic corrosion inhibitors. The product is usually coloured green and are not recommended for use in historic vehicles.
The Federation are still researching this problem but our advice at the moment is:
only use blue coloured IAT antifreeze in historic vehicles;
only use OAT products (advanced or long life antifreeze) if the vehicle used it when new and if specifically directed by the vehicles manufacturer;
never mix different types of antifreeze without thoroughly flushing out the system;
always replace the coolant within the time scale specified by the antifreeze manufacturer as the corrosion inhibitors break down over time.
*Bluecol and Blue Star are well known brand names and both of these are declared suitable for
classic cars. Perhaps we should clarify that we were referring to the traditional blue coloured Bluecol - but the company also sell a red coloured Organic Acid Technology (OAT) product suitable only for modern cars, not classics. Even more confusingly, there is also Bluecol U which marketed as a universal top up and not an antifreeze product with which you would fill the whole tank. The manufacturer has assured us that this is suitable for historic vehicles.
It has also been brought to our attention that Halfords sell a blue-coloured Advanced antifreeze which has a label containing the phrase: Older vehicles can further benefit... but on further examination it was discovered that this product does indeed contain OAT and therefore cannot be recommended for historic engines.
Our postbag has also been swelled by correspondence relating to the extremely poisonous nature of ethylene glycol, indeed the Cats Protection League have gone so far as to start an on-line petition to highlight the danger to small animals accidentally ingesting tiny quantities of the product. Propylene glycol is much safer and one of our new trade supporters, AAA Solutions Ltd, is about to launch a propylene glycol based antifreeze specifically aimed at historic vehicles.
It does remain a rather confused picture, but the important facts to remember for historic vehicle owners are: use only Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT) products according to the manufacturers instructions and take great care with any liquid containing ethylene glycol.
LEGISLATION David Hurley
We have received several e-mails and have seen an article in Classic Car Weekly regarding vehicles allegedly having to undergo an IVA examination where an engine change necessitated modification to a monocoque shell. Several conflicting accounts have been received. It is not clear picture and we will investigate further.
With the ROC membership renewal deadline come and gone I thought I'd jot down a few facts and figures for your information! I thought about doing this when we had a new member recently called Roger Wiltshire (welcome to the club Roger) join the club, whilst I was typing his information in to the membership spreadsheet I realised he only lived a few hundred metres from another well-known club member, Richard Disbrow. Following on from this I decided to look a little deeper into the membership lists and discovered another ROC member, Alistair Banks, lives 5 doors away from a house I rented in London in 1992 for 6 months, small world! With this in mind I decided to plot all of the current ROC members onto a map to show you all that you might be closer to another Rochdale Owner than you first thought!
If you feel you want a certificate then give me a call and I'll print one off for you to put in your cars history file, they'll be worth a fortune in the future!
If you want to see who is in your vicinity give me a call and I'll pass on your number to that Rochdale neighbour! We are all joined by the one common factor ROCHDALE, so go on, track down your nearest member and go round for tea and cakes!
In the last magazine I mentioned I was trying to get the bodywork finished on my Rochdale Olympic prior to the birth of my next child. Both of these are pretty momentous occasions in my mind but only one of them actually happened! I'm delighted to say I am now the proud (tired) father of a baby girl, mother and baby doing fine, father shattered!
So, now the family is expanding and my time caring for my fibreglass child in the garage is diminishing I will try and collate some Early Rochdale related information for your perusal. Whilst I normally turn to the internet for this article I think I have scraped the bottom of that barrel in all respects! Those needle in the haystack moments when an early piece of Rochdale information pops up on my computer screen have all but gone.
With this in mind I'm afraid the Early Rochdale article this quarter is going to be a lot thinner than usual. The added pressures of work and the addition of a newborn have taken up a lot of my time recently. For all of you that have been through the process of bringing up a family you can appreciate that in the early days, with the time you do get spare all you want to do is sleep!
I did manage to slip away to the Stoneleigh Kit Car show though on the May Bank holiday and I was delighted to see Dave Spillers GT (993 JAF) standing proudly on the Historic Specials stand organised by Tony Stanton. This is the first time I have managed to see this car and can I say the picture in the last magazine does not do it justice. The build quality is excellent and it attracted a lot of attention from the people present. A highly commendable thanks on behalf of the Rochdale Owners Club for trailering it the 500 mile round trip from Cornwall.
Dave Spillers GT originally started out as a Mark VI Rochdale so I was particularly interested to have a look at the pictures displayed with the car that showed the original tubular frame the shell was bonded to. I was only interested as I have managed to purchase a Mark VI shell this month!
Rochdale Motor Panels claimed that the Mark VI shell could be made to fit chassis with wheelbases from 6ft 9in (Austin Seven) to over 9ft, and offered in later brochures to split the shell and widen it for £5 extra. From the picture of the rear of the shell and the front end on the original Paramount Roadster chassis below (recently sold on ebay) you can see this particular body shell has the widening strip down the centre and is currently the only Mark VI shell the Rochdale Owners Club knows about with this addition.
Interestingly I tracked down the purchaser of the Paramount chassis to see if I could get a copy of the history file that sold with the car. In hindsight I maybe shouldn't have done this, mainly because he said he no longer intended to use the Paramount chassis for the fitting of a 4CS Maserati body and was thinking of selling it. Now this is where the moral dilemma kicks in, I've got half of this history, do I reunite it with its past, do I risk divorce, will my overdraft stretch that far! Tune in next time to see what happens.................. I'll have to wait until the Olympic project is finished though before I get my hands dirty with this one.
Rochdale GT exercise programme
You hopefully will remember in the last magazine the Rochdale Owners Club were contacted by Doug Hyde from Sutton Coldfield who in the late sixties owned a GT and two Olympics. Tony Stanton detailed the ownership of the Olympics in the last magazine and I have since been able to contact Doug about his GT.
Doug Writes: I've been an enthusiast for thoroughbred and unusual cars since I started driving in the late sixties - I look back now and wish I'd been able to hang onto so many of them!
My first car was shared with two friends and it was a Ford Popular from the early fifties - incredibly simple mechanically but not too robust (an understatement). An ideal car to on which to cut your mechanical teeth. We used to say it was an E93A but, at a distance now, I'm not so sure it was. It was the two door 1172cc side valve - powered (and I use that word advisedly), three speed, "upright", and was known to us as a "box". After two more of these (costing between £5 and £15) and a very interesting Mercedes Benz 170Va, I returned to Ford side valve power in my first Rochdale. There are numerous stories about the 170Va and I'll attach a typical picture - if for any reason you're interested more, let me know.
The Ford return was as a result of a friend's telling me that his neighbour owned a special, which was a Rochdale based on the Ford popular running gear. I did a bit of research and ended up acquiring 3853AR for £7.50. The engine belonging to the car was sitting in the back "seat" and therefore my friends and I decided it probably wasn't actually classified as a car and thought it might not be too illegal to push it home. This was a distance of about six miles, from Kings Norton (a suburb of Birmingham) to Barnt Green (a village just outside the City). The journey included a long hill, down which we could "drive" the engine-less car flat out. Fortunately, the brakes worked. Co-incidentally, the route took us past a canal-side house at Hopwood, where many years later I frequently noticed two Olympics but never made contact.
We got the car safely home and reinstalled the engine - a very easy job on this car. It may or may not have been the same engine from the back seat - I don't remember but they were two a penny in any scrap yard in those days. The car had several good conversions, including a swing axle front suspension (Buckler, I think), twin SU carbs with a four branch manifold and reduced size wheels (16", I think) but no high ratio axle. I also acquired an "Aquaplane" head but never fitted it - it was a ridiculously high compression ratio and I think the big ends would have lasted about three days, several days fewer than normal!
It ran well and I undertook several journeys up to University at Leeds from Birmingham. Very very very cold in the winter! Friends and I used to holiday once or twice a year in Salcombe in South Devon and the car made couple of trips there as well as camping trips in Wales - it once ferried my wife-to-be's little old grandmother from her home in Llandovery to a nearby town - she loved it!
The Salcombe trips weren't without interest; on one occasion (at Easter, amazingly), I was driving down a narrow snow covered single track road towards Hope Cove, when a car came the other way. Neither of us was able to stop on the snow and the front end of the Rochdale (its nickname was Slowhand, after Mr Clapton) was demolished. I put all the bits of fibreglass in the boot and glued them all together with "David's Isopon" back in Birmingham, hence the mottled paintwork in the photo. Just to add a couple more incidents, it did suffer a broken diff in Taunton on one occasion. The (very weak) back axle on the Ford Popular was located by means of an A-frame, part of which was the prop shaft running in its own tube. Having hitched back home, a friend and I bought a spare axle (with wheels) from a scrap yard (three-a-penny for axles) and towed it down to Taunton, fitted it in the car park of a pub and got home OK. Interesting days!
Doug Hydes GT
Please Help....What is this car!
The title above was found on an internet forum chat room last year, and below it was a picture of a well presented Rochdale GT (previously known to the ROC). Not that unusual as the Rochdale is not too well known and people usually enquire as to its origin, what was unusual is that the person asking this question had already bought the car!
The Forum entry read:
I have recently bought this car and I will not have the paperwork until the end of the week, but the suspense is killing me. So can anyone tell me what it is? I know it's 1961, 1.2cc and is a Ford. It is all fibreglass so I am presuming Kit Car although it may be original. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.
After a few responses suggesting it could be an Ashley he was pointed in the right direction; hopefully the owner will become a member of the ROC soon and we can find out more about this purchase?
What Is This Car!
It was all Derek Argyles idea. He has been promoting this event (in an unofficial capacity) for years in fact this year was his tenth consecutive visit, so Derek Bentley and I decided we should have a look-see. Continental Car Tours (CCT) provided the ferry and hotel bookings, so it was just a matter of turning up. Colin Breakspear (who lives in Germany) also decided to go and found a campsite in the city, travelling in his camper with his Turner towing behind.
Our trip coincided with an outburst of fine weather, so conditions were ideal, with blue skies throughout but air temperature at a pleasant level. A 6am start on the Friday saw me at Dereks at 7am and unusually good traffic conditions got us to Dover with lots of time to spare we were even at the head of the loading queue. It was the same in France, with easy travelling on the page making for a relaxing journey the 140 miles to Laon.
The hotel car park was awash with Brit classic cars, including Derek Argyles and a friends Wildcat, with many others also using the CCT facility. We had noticed an odd squeak from my Olympic from the moment we had embarked and a check under the bonnet revealed a fractured alternator adjusting bracket. Armed with the two halves we sought out a local engineering facility for a quick weld-up but, as usually happens, we failed to find it, so resorted to a bodge that would see us through the weekend. Luckily this worked fine until I was able to do a proper job at home. Soon Colin Turnered up, his little car generating much discussion as usual. A convivial evening at Colins campsite rounded off a very pleasant day, especially as Ilka (Frau Breakspear) is a very fine cook. Thank you again Ilka.
The next day the cars all assembled in the city, which is built on and around a hill (as are many towns in these parts) and whose cathedral dominates the skyline. After collecting our rally plate we took part in a couple of organised tours round the local countryside using tulip route cards, with me driving (I am hopeless at navigating - I can get lost on the way to the bathroom). In practice one tends to follow the car in front, otherwise the navigator sees very little of the scenery, but there were only a couple of occasions when this backfired. What stood out was the welcome given to the cars by the locals, with people of all ages waving in even the remotest villages. I spent some time wondering when we were going to run out of petrol, as the odo was showing 350 miles but the somewhat uncertain fuel gauge was still happy. Why didn't I bring the spare can? The trusty Garmin came to the rescue, showing a petrol station only 400 metres away. Very handy, modern technology when it works.
On the Sunday we all assembled for a run round a circuit in the city again the pavements were lined with waving crowds. For much of the time we followed what I believe was the oldest car on display, an open 1927 Hotchkiss with three children in the back. Its agility round the 180 hairpin bends was amazing, with no drama and the kids happily chatting all the while. No wonder the performance versions did so well in competition. Part way round we stopped to watch the cavalcade, with everything from old mopeds to modern classics, and even including an old breakdown truck with a crunched up Citroen Traction Avant in tow. Marvellous.
Later we took the funicular railway to the town hall at the top of the hill for the formalities, with the mayor resplendent(?) in tartan and complete with kilt and where nibbles and champagne were served. The square was chock filled with cars a great sight.
What was noticeable was that the city truly welcomed the visitors one might expect that an influx of 500 classic cars would swamp the place, but everything went smoothly and with good humour quite the opposite to the attitude we saw at Pau last year, where the impression was that the town thought the cars were just a nuisance.
Parked up before the parade Two wheels ...
Sporty Voisin Discussion group in hotel car park
4.6 litre Northstar engined Wildcat Voisin mascot
2 CV Special Champers and nibbles
A leisurely start on the Monday took us back to Calais, but we diverted to a couple of world war sites on the way.
The first was a cemetery for British WW1 soldiers, just by the roadside. The tranquillity of this beautifully kept little garden was in striking contrast to the violence of October 1918, when these men died. Its immaculate state was especially moving, with the grass trimmed and freshly tended flowers by many of the 40 or so gravestones. People do not forget.
The blockhouse at �perlecques
A few miles from Calais is the village of perlecques, the site of a blockhouse where V1s and V2s were launched in WW2. Nothing can prepare you for your first sight of this blockhouse, a vast, stark concrete cube. Inside one can see the huge firing chamber and outside the minor damage inflicted by the Allies 10 ton Tallboy bombs; also a ramp for launching doodlebugs. I cannot imagine what the place must have been like when it was in action. Very sobering.
Phase I mechanical layout exposed
Waiting for the crowds to appear
(Rogers car is also waiting for some paint to appear)
This friendly show was back to two days again this year, the organisers probably taking note of the rather thin attendance on the third day at last years show. There was a designated area close to the halls for the display of visitors classics and a very good turnout there was too. The theme for our stand was 50th anniversary of the Olympic and we had two Phase 1s on display, together with the running gear from a Phase 1 (mine, unsurprisingly).
The intact (mostly) cars were Roger Drinkwaters running-but-yet-to-be-finished very early car and the very nice one owned by Tony Wright, which was a display car at the first Bristol Show that we attended as exhibitors, and still looking good.
The running gear was laid out as in a car with a radiator in front, followed by subframe with front suspension attached, A-series engine and gearbox, propshaft and back axle with suspension arms attached. Steering gear and a drivers seat completed the package.
We had a steady stream of visitors including a new member (welcome Roger also see James Farringtons pages) and it was especially nice to see our Hon President Hilary Parker and daughter Jane. All told we had a good show. Thanks to Roger D and Tony W for supplying their cars, to Tony Stanton for his long stint on Saturday and to Derek Bentley for the whole weekend.
Mr Toad lives! Toot Toot!
An Olympic that has been off the road for a number of years, but for an unusual reason, is the Inverness car owned by Roger Cook.
On 19th June 1961 a Mr Kerr of E K Freight, Inverness ordered a Red Olympic shell from Rochdale Motor Panels. This was not a complete kit, but was supplied with mountings for a
Morris Minor engine and gearbox, lights and other sundry items. This was finally collected by Mr Kerr from the factory on 20th September 1962. Quite why there was a delay of some 15 months between order and delivery will no doubt remain a mystery, although there is a note in the factory ledger told behind, somewhat of an understatement!
The Olympic was assembled into a rolling shell with Minor front suspension, Riley 1.5 brakes and a Riley axle. A Morris Minor engine was also fitted. In place of the normal phase 1 instrument binnacle Mr Kerr fabricated a crude timber dashboard. The car was never completed and registered for the road, although it may have been run on trade plates for a few miles.
In 2007, following the death of Mr Kerr the car was put up for sale, purchased by Roger Cook and transported south to Suffolk. A detailed inspection revealed that, although professionally assembled the standard of workmanship was abysmal and a full rebuild would be required. The bodywork, despite never having been painted will also require some attention.
After some three years of planning Roger has at last started on the rebuild. The Morris Minor engine is being removed and replaced with a Ford 1600, mated to a type 9, five speed gearbox. An MGB fuel tank is to replace the original, troublesome bonded in GRP tank. A new wiring loom will also be required and the dashboard replaced with an original style binnacle when one is available. Roger has promised a progress report in due course.
Have you ever stopped to consider how difficult producing an Olympic shell must have been. Anyone who has done any amount of fibreglassing will know that it is a horrible, messy job. So, perhaps it is not surprising that quality control was not up to modern standards. All this after all was carried out in an old mill, with temperature control by means of a pot bellied stove in the centre of the workshop! Mind you Rochdales were not unique in the relatively primitive conditions in which they operated. The Cooper Car Companys workshop was similarly heated and when their foreman complained of the cold conditions Charlie Cooper, not renowned for spending money unnecessarily, is reputed to have responded Central Heating, you can't get more central than that.
In 1959 when the shell was developed a GRP monocoque was still fairly revolutionary. I know that the original Lotus Elite was also a GRP monocoque and had been designed some two years earlier, but the manufacturing process was substantially different. In fact Rochdales patented the moulds and manufacturing process (Patent No GB1015241). In the Elite there were three major mouldings (reduced from the sixty of the prototype), which were then bonded together with epoxy adhesive. In the Olympic all parts were moulded and bonded together whilst the parts were still green and in the main mould.
Because the main shell was moulded in one piece the operators needed to crawl inside the main mould to lay up the shell and reach into all the extremities. In addition, any internal parts, which were created in separate moulds needed to be pre-moulded, so that by the time they were needed for incorporation within the main shell they were also in the green state. And all of this work needed to be completed during one working day, albeit probably a long day by modern standards.
The following, taken from the Patent Application, referred to above, describes the process. The drawings also form part of the Application dated December 28, 1960.
After the parts 1 and 2 have been connected together in proper register with each other, there is then laid up on their inner surface a glass-fibre reinforced polyester laminate, this being of any predetermined thickness and being of increased thickness by the use of additional laminations at those points which, when the vehicle is in use, will receive additional stresses, for example, at the engine mountings and at the spring mountings. At such parts also a textile fabric may be used as the reinforcement instead of or in addition to the glass-fibre matting. During the laying up of the body there is placed in the mould, across the front end a metal frame, item 14 (Fig 3) which becomes bonded into the laminate. This frame includes blocks on to which the front end of the power unit will be bolted. It has webs, item 16, to carry parts of the front wheel suspension and lugs, item 17, to carry other parts of the suspension. A second frame, or even a stout metal tube is similarly bonded into the laminate adjacent or to the rear of the bulkhead to carry the rear end of the power unit.
Subsequently to, or simultaneously with the laying up of the main body in the two-part mould, similar reinforced laminates are laid up on the outer surfaces of separate inner mould sections and when this laying up is complete the said inner mould sections are built into the outer mould at their respective locations. Where these laminates meet the already-laminated formation in the outer mould, an additional layer or layers of the glass-fibre matting or other reinforcement being interposed between the meeting laid-up surfaces. The result is that the several laid up layers become tightly pressed together where they meet, which causes them to bond together at those places during the subsequent curing of the resin.
The various mould parts may be pre-coated with any suitable resist or separating compound such as a wax or polyvinyl alcohol solution, to facilitate the stripping of the mould from the body and any of the known laying-up techniques may be employed for the extraction of air from the laminate during laying-up and for ensuring a smooth surface on the moulded body. Metal window frames, door posts and similar parts may be placed in the mould during the laying-up process, but usually these will be fitted after the body has been completely formed. The doors and the bonnet will be separately made in appropriate moulds.
When the internal and external mould components have been completely assembled, the moulding is left in the mould for a predetermined period to allow curing of the resin to proceed and when the body is sufficiently rigid to be shape retaining, the mould is taken to pieces and removed. The rigid moulded shell is then allowed to lie for a period, usually seven to ten days, until the curing of the resin is complete. The result is a unitary, joint less structure, of a predetermined varying thickness, with a highly smooth outer surface and of a corrosion free material.
In those parts where extra reinforcement against stresses is required, metal tubing may be attached to the shell, for example, around the windscreen opening or at least along the vertical sides of the wind-screen opening and across the top.
The moulds may be designed to any suitable shape according to the shape of the body required, the openings in the floor are for the transmission mechanism and to accommodate the upper part of a differential casing.
In order to avoid parting lines on the outer surface of the moulded body, the joints between the component segments of the outer mould will, as far as possible be located along free edges of the moulding, for example along the edges of the wings, the edges of the door and window openings, the edges of the engine housing and so on.