No 139 AUTUMN 2014
A fault in the printing of the last magazine caused some of the pictures to be stripy. The printer has agreed to reprint the centre page, in which the effect was most noticeable, and insert it into this issue. If the stripes do not offend then just discard it but, if you want issue 138 to look better, replace the offending page with it.
Les Brown's book is now available from him at £30 plus postage, and it's worth every penny. Part Rochdale encyclopaedia, part social history, part autobiography, it's full of snippets and anecdotes that lift it clear of the norm. I enjoyed every page of it, so go and get it.
Keith Hamer has made a new batch. Anyone who has expressed interest please contact John Plant.
Olympic front screens
Anyone who needs a front screen please also contact John.
The Bowling Green Inn, Shaw Lane, Stoke Prior, Wychbold, Nr Bromsgrove, Worcs. B60 4BH.
From 6.30pm Monday 15th Sept 2014
From Midday Sunday 19th Oct 2014
From Midday Sunday 16th Nov 2014
From Midday Sunday 21st Dec 2014
From Midday Sunday 18th Jan 2015
The Fordwater Trophy is a name synonymous with Goodwood and the Revival. The 2014 Fordwater race features a diverse grid of race-inspired production sports and GT cars from the
1960s. With sensational sports and GT cars from the likes of Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lotus, MG,
Morgan, TVR and even Rochdale, an incredibly fast and close-fought race is anticipated. This Rochdale Olympic is the ex Mick Cullen/Fred Blackmore car, Reg no 642 JAC which was rebuilt in 2011 for racing by Mike Youles Racing (and re-registered Ed). I had the car on the stand at the NEC in Nov 2011. I believe Mike Youles Racing went into liquidation in June 2014 and the car is now been race prepared by Jade Motorsport. The car is entered at Goodwood by the owner/driver Roland Lewis.
As my neck injury is taking longer to heal than first thought, I am unable to organise a Rochdale presence at this year's show. Due to not knowing what the future is for myself, I have taken the decision to retire from organising the stand at the NEC and the committee are looking for a member to organise a Rochdale Owners Club stand at the NEC Classic Car Show in November 2015. Any candidate with fresh ideas for the job please contact the committee or myself and I will pass on the show contact details.
All being well I hope to be still organising the stand at the Stoneleigh Kit Car Show in May
2015. I will also still be recording on the database the past history of all the Olympics made by RMP. Contact details for any member who wishes to please send me details on the history of their Olympic, ie:- any photographs, scan of invoices from RMP and a scan of the cars logbook. Tony Stanton. - firstname.lastname@example.org or 01527-402367.
I have been corresponding with members of the TVR club and the following has come to light.
It seems a gentleman named Len Granger who lives near Coventry came on to the TVR Club Stand at the NEC Classic Car Show a few years back with a photo of what they think maybe a Rochdale bodied TVR. Len said his half-brother bought it from Trevor Wilkinson in 1959, the chassis was tubular and it had an Austin 1.5 engine with Twin SU carbs, the car was first registered to Trevor or his wife.
I contacted Len Granger who is quite a character. He is a keen biker and rides a modern BMW everywhere, but also has other old Brit bikes in a room at the back of his house, a BSA and also has a Vincent!!!. He said he was 17 when his half-brother Roger Cramphorn bought the car and they lived in Lawrence Road, Rugby, Warwickshire. But he does not remember the technical details of the car even though he drove the car for 3 years while Roger was in Africa. Len gave me contact details for Roger who is now in his 80's and lives in Canada.
I then contacted Roger.
27-07-2014. Hello Roger,
My name is Tony Stanton and I am one of the Historians for the Rochdale Owners Club. Recently I have been in touch with a member from the TVR Car Club who showed me a photograph of a Rochdale bodied TVR with the registration number EFV 748 which I believe you may have owned in the past (photo attached).
Invoice dated July 1955 for the supply of 1 off Rochdale Type-C bodyshell to TVR, Blackpool.
The TVR man gave me contact details for Len Granger who had given him the photograph. I have had a very pleasant conversation with Len about the car and he kindly gave me your e-mail address to contact, as you may have some more details of the car.
1) Can you please remember the date you bought the car?
2) Len told me you went to Blackpool to collect the car, can you remember were you heard the car was for sale. Was it advertised in a magazine?
3) How long did you own the car?
4) What date did you sell the car and were did it go to?
5) I believe Trevor Wilkinson built the car for his wife Jean; is that correct?
6) Please do you have any more photographs of the car you could scan and e-mail me?
7) Is there any interesting things about the car you can tell me?
Thank you for any help you can give me about the car. Kind regards Tony
28-07-2014. Hi, Tony
Nice to meet a fellow car enthusiast!
Where to start? Perhaps a short history of my involvement with the automobile..................
When I was around 17 in 1951 my first 'car' was actually a 1929 Aero Morgan 3 wheeler (it had been used mainly in hill climbs) but I just used it to tootle around to work at the Radio Station at Rugby, Warwickshire where I worked my apprenticeship. I guess it's called British Telecom now!!
1951 -1954 Royal Air Force. Posted close to home so I got a Ducati Cucciolo that fitted on the bottom bracket of a Raleigh bicycle. Don't laugh, cheapest form of motorized transportation known to man. 49cc ohv 4 stroke engine that would drag you up the side of a house in first gear and whip you smartly down the road at a respectable 35 mph! Bike brakes pretty useless at that speed.
Regarding the TVR - hmmm. It's nearly 60 years ago so don't take everything I say as being gospel but I'll do my best.
Date of Purchase I think it was September 1955 and I believe it was advertised in Sports Car
Illustrated or some like magazine and was priced at £450 (old currency!)
Peter Bates (a colleague from work) and myself went up to the TVR works which was then situated in Hoo Hill, Blackpool . That was where I met Trevor Wilkinson and he told me a sob story about having built the car for Jean, his wife, and then they got divorced (or were getting divorced) and the car was surplus to his requirements. I didn't haggle the price because Peter said it could outrun an MGA due to its lower weight. Trevor told me that he had 'breathed' on the engine somewhat siamesing the inlet manifold and had gone as far as to drill quite a bit out of the flywheel to make gear changing much faster. That really did work extremely well!!! It was also fitted with Pirelli Cinturato tyres which tended to wear out sooner than Michelin's but stuck to the road like glue!
The drive back was an absolute delight. The car handled fantastically. I was really chuffed, as they used to say!
1959 1962 Seconded from the Radio Station to Cable and Wireless Company, Nairobi Kenya! Had a Simca Aronde, then a white MGA complete with wire wheels and then a new Triumph
Herald while I was there. Meanwhile, back in Rugby Len my half-brother was driving the TVR.
Didn't fancy UK living so I sold the car in the summer of 1963 and then emigrated to Canada! Sold the car for ~ £300 to a lad who lived up the road, sorry cannot remember his name.
Description of the car Tubular space frame chassis
Body by Rochdale Panels (is that the right Title?)
MGA1498 cc (I think) engine and 4 speed gear box (close ratio I believe)
Weight ~ 14 cwt
Large drum brakes on the front, smaller ones on the back
Front suspension Austin A 40 wishbones with Armstrong shocks as the top wishbone
Rear suspension quite unique I'd say VolksWagen front torsion bars used in a trailing link configuration to locate the rear axle by each wheel, again with Armstrong shocks. On the bottom of the differential there was welded a large Ford tractor steering rod knuckle and an A plate with two arms joining to the chassis with two smaller knuckles. This located the rear axle in a semi floating De Dion type of arrangement.
Performance QUICK!! Would out perform a regular MGA much to the chagrin of a friend of Pete and myself who had one!
It was definitely a car of parts! The windscreen came from a Ford Zephyr 6! It had a removable tonneau cover and I seem to remember side screens and a detachable soft roof.
I hope this has conveyed to you the love that I had, and still have for my TVR, the quickest and most interesting car I've owned.
Regards, Roger Cramphorn
1958 note front grille
1958 note front grille 1958 very few cars and no potholes
03-08-2014. Hi Roger,
Thank you for the e-mail. Sorry I am late with a reply, but I am still trying to research more information from TVR people about the 20 x series 2 chassis made and this is a little slow.
Thank you for the lovely period photographs, I think that car is one of the best of the Rochdale Type-C photos I have seen.
The bodyshell was made by Rochdale Motor Panels and Engineering Ltd usually referred to as R.M.P.
You have certainly remembered a lot of detail for an event nearly 60 years ago. I am thinking the date you bought the car may have been September 1956 not 1955. Because the bodyshell was only supplied in July 1955, so less than 2 months is a very short build time and also Jean Wilkinson was using the car. Also according to the TVR history records Trevor Wilkinson did not purchase Hoo Hill till February 1956.
The TVR series 2 chassis was as you say based on A40 running gear with A40 wishbones with Armstrong shocks as the top wishbone on the front and an A40 rear axle with leaf springs and Armstrong shocks on the rear.
According to a TVR Book, history records one chassis was built with A40 wishbones with Armstrong shocks on the front and incorporating Morris Minor based torsion bar front suspension at the rear with an A-bracket located to the base of the differential. Now the book could be wrong and you as the owner of the car may have more knowledge, do you still think you cars rear suspension was VW or maybe MM?
At this time there is no record of your car after you sold it in 1963 and no record of EFV 748 on the transport database at Swansea. But the car could still be in the back of someones garage and be a 'Barn Find' in the future.
If I find any more info on Rochdale/TVR EFV 748 I will let you know, thank you for all your help so far the details and the photos have made my day.
Kind regards Tony Stanton.
05-08-2014. Hi Tony,
Reading through your e-mail jogged my memory a bit and I'm sure you are right about the date of purchase as Sept 1956.
I also think that the book was right and it was the Morris Minor front torsion bars as part of the rear suspension. So it seems that my TVR was rather a unique machine!
I don't know whether you noticed or not but the B/W photo taken in 1958 in the farmers lane had the front air intake shaped like an oval whereas the colour photo of the car in the street in Rugby taken a few months later had a more rectangular air intake. Well, I'm afraid to say that I had a bit of a 'Front End Shunt' altercation with the rear end of a Rover 90 (which had more inertia than God and I came off worse and had some repairs to pay for!
Still, I loved every minute of the time that I owned TVR! - EFV 748
That's it for now...... Regards, Roger C.
We know that the RMP sales ledger shows that a Type-C and a Type-F bodyshells were sold to TVR in 1955. Derek says the sales ledger from this time is a little untidy and may have sections missing, but what we have does not show any more bodyshell sales to TVR.
Peter Filbys book implies there could be more Rochdale bodyshells on TVR, A40 based chassis. We do know that EFV 748 is definitely a red Rochdale Type-C/TVR, we have photographs from the late 1950,s and a written account of the car from the owner of the car in the late 1950's. We have a written account from John Fielden of a BRG Rochdale Type-C/TVR at Station Garage in Wilmslow, Cheshire in the summer of 1956. So now everyone should be on the lookout for a Rochdale Type-F/TVR and any other Rochdale/TVRs..
A little look at Regisration EFV 748.
EFV 748 first appeared on TVR No. 1 in 1950. This car was sold to Trevor Wilkinsons cousin who at a later date had an accident in it. Trevor stripped the wreck down and used the parts to build TVR No. 2, which was registered FFV 62. I have a photograph taken at Barbon Hillclimb in May 1955 of an open bodied TVR/RGS with the registration No. EFV 748 and then we have the TVR/Rochdale sold in Sept 1956 with the registration EFV 748. This is a good example of a car manufacture using the same registration number on at least 3 different cars that it owned.
A guide to interpreting Work Performance Reviews
Not too bright
Exceptionally well qualified
Has committed no major blunders to date
Character above reproach.
One step ahead of the law
Will stick until retirement
Offers plausible excuses for errors
Takes pride in his work
Takes every opportunity to progress
Buys drinks for supervisors
Forceful and aggressive
Needs little supervision
Knows more than his superiors
Tactful when dealing with superiors
Knows when to keep his mouth shut
Approaches problems logically
Finds someone else to do the job
A keen analyst
Not a desk man
Did not graduate from high school
Expresses himself well
Spend extra hours on the job
Has a miserable home life
Conscientious and careful
Pays attention to detail
Shows qualities of leadership
Has a loud voice
Judgement is usually sound
Maintains a professional attitude
Strong adherence to principal
Slightly below average
Owners of Phase 1s will be envious of the easy access to the boot space of Phase 2s. On my first Phase 1 I hinged the rear seat backrest at the bottom but, when lowered, there was a wide platform to stretch over, making access to the rear very awkward.
On my current Phase 1 (Kermit) I originally got over that particular problem by hinging it at the top, but it still needed both front seat backrests to be tilted and also needed propping open, with the inevitable tendency to fall on my head when burrowing within.
Tom Friths Phase 1, which we took to the Bristol show, has a better arrangement: it is hinged at the bottom, but takes part of the parcel shelf with it (the part which the top of the seat backrests occupy this folds flat onto the folded backrest), so there is much better access, but there is still a long stretch over the platform.
On Kermit I had filled in that front part of the parcel shelf to increase boot space, as the rear seats are not really seats at all and their backrest is merely a closure to the boot area. My latest solution is to reduce the height of the backrest and hinge it at the bottom (ie about one third of the way up on the original height) so, when folded forwards, it just extends to the front of the rear seats and no longer clashes with the other front seat backrest. It is held in the closed position by means of strong magnetic catches. This is a vast improvement. Still hanker after a hatch though.
Ever since I fitted disc brakes to Kermit the front left has always shown a build-up of pad dust, far worse than the right, so it seems its calliper piston does not retract enough.
I fitted a servo recently, but found that the brakes often remained on for a while after use a worrying effect. The pedal also had a curious non-linear action, which was also worrying, so I removed it.
I have since discovered (see http://mgaguru.com/mgtech/hydraulics/ht1.htm) that master cylinders maintain a small residual pressure (a few psi) in the line briefly after brake application, but this decays to zero after a second or two. This is performed by the so-called 'non-return valve'. This seems to be done to enable brakes to be pumped up (why?). I certainly noticed that I could pump up the brakes by pumping the pedal fairly fast, but if I left more than a second or so between pumps the free play returned to normal. I assume this meant that the residual pressure in Kermits setup was too much for that left calliper, especially when magnified by the servo.
I recently fitted a new master cylinder (of exactly the same design as the first) to see whether the first was faulty, and found that there is very much less brake dust on the left wheel than previously, so this points to there being less residual pressure in this master cylinder than the first.
In the Mini master cylinder the non-return valve is a metal spring in a small plastic moulding at the inner end of the helical spring inside the piston assembly. I wonder what the tolerances are in this assembly and is this valve actually necessary? So many questions
I then re-fitted the servo and the original master cylinder (minus the valve) and the brakes no longer stayed on, so it seems that the mysterious 'non-return valve' is simply not necessary. However, the non-linear action of the pedal was still present worse if anything so investigation was necessary. What I found was worrying see below.
Still not happy with the action of the brakes since fitting the servo, I decided to dismantle the unit after I found a very useful link on the interweb which showed me how to do it. This had been posted because the writer had also experienced a problem with the brakes binding, and found the reason to be the absence of a spring in the servo control system!
I discovered that mine did have this spring, but did lack one of the two rubber seals on the reaction piston (which controls the servo action), and also the circlip which retains the main slave piston assembly. This indicates to me that these aftermarket units, which are often referred to as 'Lockheed Type' or 'Powertune' have been assembled by workers in sweatshops with insufficient time to ensure proper assembly, and no final inspection/test. This is worrying. I also wonder whether the units are properly machined too, with less than ideal tolerance control, surface finish etc. There has to be a reason why the kits sell at half the price of those units sold under the Lockheed Delco name, which I assume are properly manufactured and assembled.
So my advice is this: avoid the cheapo kits and buy only genuine Lockheed Delco units from reputable suppliers. Or, if you already have one of these and are unhappy with the way it works, send it back for a replacement or refund; if it's too late to return (as mine was), dismantle the unit if it behaves anything less than perfectly and see whether anything is missing!
The link to show how to dismantle the unit is here:
This has very clear pictures but still leaves a few questions unanswered, eg how to remove the reaction piston when the unit is removed from the car (can't do it when still installed). On mine this piston was stuck in, but I found it could be pulled out by using an M6 No3 tap as an extractor. This piston is part of the control element of the servo action, so if it is stiff in its bore it will affect the way the brakes are applied and, more importantly, the way they release hence the binding-on. In my case they bound on because of the tight fit of the piston, but in the case of the blogger, because of the absence of the return spring (a worrying omission).
I reassembled my unit with a suitable circlip installed and I bought a pair of new reaction piston seals from a British manufacturer (Nelson Stokes). The servo now works correctly and has transformed the way the brakes feel; instead of a reluctant initial response they feel strong straightaway if anything a bit too eager now, but I'm not complaining.
As suggested by Derek Bentley (see his article) I fitted the servo unit on the rear of the front well arch next to the brake master cylinder. This gets the unit out of the way (but still accessible) and has the bonus of very short pipe runs. Luckily, it just squeezed through the gap between the master cylinder and the edge of the bonnet opening (as did Derek's), but in both of our cars the master cylinders are further rearwards than standard (to accommodate shorter drivers!), so would not be so easily fitted in standard Phase 1's. Just remember to seal the fixing holes through the wheel arch.
My Olympic is a little unusual in that it has a Reliant Robin axle, chosen because of its usefully high 3.23 diff ratio (20 mph/1000 rpm with 155/70 x 14 tyres), which makes an overdrive unnecessary for motorway cruising.
A consequence of this is that its brakes are a mere 7" compared with the 8" on the usual Riley axle. I have fitted 240mm discs on the front and felt that the front/rear balance was wrong, so decided to go for 8" brakes. However, Riley brakes are not exactly thick on the ground, so when I discovered that Ford Escort Mk 1 & 2 are 8" Girling (9" also available) and also different diameter cylinders are also available, it made sense to use these.
I made a successful eBay bid and received a complete set of backplates and drums in very good condition, which were usable with just a clean-up and touch-up of chipped paint. (As an aside, I found that 8" brakes went for much lower prices than 9", presumably because the 9" are wanted for uprated Escorts with bigger front brakes). One of the drums had a factory-fitted balance weight, so Ford take this seriously. They use Girling's auto-adjustment system for lining wear and the parts here were in good order too, fortunately. The design makes them a little more efficient than the 7" too, as they use twin-piston cylinders rather than the sliding single-piston cylinders with their friction and tendency to corrode solid.
Not surprisingly some mods were needed to fit them. Both the Reliant and Ford brake drums are centred by a spigot on the hub, but the Fords is a smaller diameter, so an adaptor disc is necessary. I did not want to centre the drums using the wheel studs, as is the case with Riley drums, as this does not give such reliable concentricity. These adaptor discs were turned up on the lathe using 120mm diameter alloy blanks. I checked the concentricity of the drums on a spare Reliant axle that just happened to be lying around and found it to be very good, so worth the effort.
Spacers are also needed behind the backplates to align the drums with the shoes and these were made from 2mm alloy sheet. New stud holes were drilled in the Ford drums on a 4" pcd, and new fixing hole drilled on the backplates to fit to the Reliant axle ends. Fortunately these new holes did not clash with any of the Ford holes when the backplates were rotated to the orientation needed on the car. This last task is necessary to get a suitable position for the handbrake cable and the hydraulic pipework. I was lucky that this change makes brake bleeding a lot easier too, as the single bleed nipple on the left hand side is now easily accessed.
Does it work? Of course it works; the footbrake feels more eager to get going and the handbrake is stronger too. I have not yet tried a crash stop to discover whether the rear wheels lock before the front as the shoes still need bedding-in, but the signs are good and if I fancy tail-happy braking I can always fit the jumbo slave cylinder pistons. The only downside is that the drums are 2kg heavier than the original Minifins I used to replace the Reliant cast iron drums, although not much heavier than the Riley drums.
Alan Farrer June 2014
The axle whine on Kermit had been getting gradually worse. Now most Olympics suffer from axle whine, some badly, but regular readers (do they exist?) will know that I have a Reliant Robin axle in my Olympic. This has been much quieter than the A-series axle usually fitted and in my view this is the perfect choice for cars with engines above about 1.25 litres, as it eliminates the need for 5-speed gearboxes or overdrives because its 3.22 ratio gives 20 mph/1000rpm with standard wheels. Smaller engines could struggle with the high gearing (especially first gear).
Being quieter is just a bonus, but was the diff wearing with the extra loads placed on it by a much heavier car? The fact that the deterioration had progressed rapidly in the past few weeks made me suspect it was the not the diff but a wheel bearing. I have had several of these go on modern cars recently so know they have this characteristic. So new bearing and oil seal ordered, job done in one day, taking it steadily. A test drive brought peace once more (relatively speaking), so diagnosis correct (thank goodness).
Although the donor car is light the Robin axle seems to be strong, if the design of the halfshafts is anything to go by. These are about 23mm diameter but enlarge to about 25mm at the inner splined end, which is potentially a weak area. The splines are fine too (as opposed to those in the A-series axle). The outer end has a taper onto which the hub fits, so no spline problems here. Curiously, the bearing sits outside the oil seal so is of the sealed 'greased for life' type. I suspect the 'life' is not too long, as I replaced one of them on my car before I fitted the axle and this second one needed replacement after only 7000 miles (I should have replaced both in the first instance). A third bearing I checked in a spare axle was also shot and I note that Reliant increased the bearing size on later models, so this does seem to be a weak area.
Changing the bearing is not particularly difficult with the right tools a familiar story. There are three tricky processes: removing the hub from the taper, pulling out the halfshaft from the axle end and removing the bearing from the halfshaft all require much force, so are best carried out with the right tools.
I have an extractor for only the first of these, but still needed to make up a flanged bar to stop the hub turning when screwing up the extractor (fitted with a long extension on my tommy bar). The hub comes off with a satisfyingly loud crack. Extracting the halfshaft (with bearing) is supposed to be done with a slide hammer, but I made up an extractor using a length of tube made from a disposable CO2 bottle (which fitted neatly over the bearing) and used the nut on the end of the halfshaft to wind out the shaft under more civilised conditions.
Removing the bearing is not a civilised job when a press is not available, as it is a press fit on the shaft. Basically the shaft was held vertically in a sturdy vice and the end of the shaft belted with a big hammer. A 2lb club hammer was nowhere near sufficient, so an 8lb sledge was brought into play. That moved it. I should add that I protected the threaded end of the shaft with a thick aluminium plate. I do care for my threads.
Fitting a new bearing needed much less force, the bearing being driven onto the shaft, using a length of stout tube to engage with the inner race, and the 2lb club hammer. New oil seal was fitted and the rest was the reverse of the removal process (as they say).
When Olympic owner Ben Bettell mentioned to his neighbour that he owned a Rochdale the neighbour remarked that his father, John Newton, had built a Special using a Rochdale body many years previously.
The following is written by John Newton about the 'Special' he built using a Rochdale Mark 6 bodyshell. Unbelievably, I was able to find an entry for the Order in the early Factory Ledger, so have added some comments based on that information. Derek Bentley.
It was late in 1953 when my national service in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers came to an end. I was to be discharged at Poundbury camp in Dorchester to make my way home to Littleborough near to Rochdale.
I started the journey at about 23.00 hrs in my 1930 Austin 7 chummy overloaded and with brakes that might work if they felt so inclined and with headlights whose reflectors were made of brass and had to be polished if any light at all was to be observed more than a few feet in front of the bonnet.
Driving in the dark and with the usual wild abandon of youth I had only completed 150 miles when the two bearing crankshaft broke locked the engine solid and deposited the car and myself in a nearby ditch, luckily not too far from an all night cafe and even better only a local bus ride to a scrap yard where I was able to obtain a three bearing engine and gearbox for £10. In fact I bought two three bearing engines complete with their gearboxes for this amount The spare engine and gearbox which I later found out was from a racing "Ulster" was to play a vital role later.
I was not to know then that my journey towards building a replacement car and using a Rochdale Mk 6 body shell was to begin. I had no garage but did have a friend who owned a timber yard and was building a three wheel "Morgan type" car designed around an Austin seven engine. His engine had a two bearing crankshaft which I was able to explain was not a good idea. In his timber yard there were several hundred railway sleepers. A mutually happy agreement was reached where he had my Ulster engine/gearbox and in return he provided enough railway sleepers sawn into one inch planks for me to build a 24 feet x 24 feet garage. The downside was that each plank had about 8 holes in it from the coach bolts that held the railway line secure and on a sunny day the mesmerising effect of all these hundreds of beams of sunlight did nothing for my mental stability and concentration level.
The plugs that I banged in to the holes fell out on a daily basis and so I took to working later in the evening which cured my stress levels but resulted in people travelling miles in the dark to see this strange building which looked like an illuminated colander from outer space.
It is now late into 1954, the garage is completed the plugs in all the holes have been secured with molten pitch my sanity has stabilised and my friend has completed his Morgan 3 wheeler lookalike.
I was excited to be able to purchase a set of Mk 6 fibre glass body parts from the Rochdale Company of enthusiastic designers. (The Factory Ledger shows that John paid a deposit of £35 on 17th August 1954, three installments of £8 in October, November and December and a final payment of £18 on 11th March 1955, making a total of £78).
NOW, I have the garage / the body shells and all I need is a donor vehicle and a lot of time !!! The question of a donor car on which to mount the different pieces of the Mk6 body panels was now before me. I had long been an admirer of the Riley cross flow 4 cylinder engine as raced I think by Freddy Dixon and so the search began for a Riley with a box section chassis and low lines to facilitate the Mk6 shape. Not to race, just to move and hopefully stop when required was all I wanted.
It was no small task but visits to countless car breaking yards resulted in the purchase of 3 cars or to be more exact the rolling chassis of a Kestrel an Adelphi engine and gearbox and bits of a Salmson.
I was clearly premature to claim a return to normality for the next stage was to drag the rolling chassis with a barely functioning hand brake with all the other bits sort of tied on and proceed at the end of a clothes line through the centre of Manchester the 12 miles or so to my home. Towed by my friend of Morgan fame, who insisted on demonstrating the speed to be achieved from an Austin 7 Ulster racing engine and having received his payment of intoxicating libation before he started the journey (a grave mistake). We had only one brush with the law luckily they were the same officers who had stopped me earlier when I was taking my Mk 6 body home strapped (so to speak) on top of my Austin 7. They approached me with the greeting "Oh it's you again" and this seemed to satisfy them so much so that they failed to pay any attention to the condition of my friend who I recall could not stop laughing. The only request was that we find a different route clear of their patch for any future journeys.
So here we are in the garage and work begins. A shortened Riley Kestrel chassis and prop shaft, splined and spoked wheels a Riley Adelphi engine a Zenith carburetor which more or less controlled the fuel intake unless you were on a bumpy road when the top used to fall off. Inflatable seat cushions which were prone to puncture and a bent perspex windscreen that left much of the vision at the sides to imagination.
At last it was finished just in time for me to drive it down to Aylesbury to my new job.
A faultless journey with one minor hiccup. I had not quite finished the floor around the clutch pedal and I did not have a return spring on the clutch. I had stopped in heavy rain and dense traffic at lights I think in the centre of Stafford. The lights changed to green and I put the sole of my slip-on shoes behind the clutch lever to engage it and my shoe fell off through the hole. I had to hop back along the traffic behind me to find the shoe. Luckily I was nowhere near the Manchester police and so it seemed to be taken as "normal".
I used the car for 2 years before driving it to my new job in Reading where I changed the colour from green to red due to the pigment colour fading. I sold the car around 1962 but I do not know where it is now. (Unfortunately, the car does not seem to have survived, unless it has been rebuilt as a Riley!)
I hope you will find these notes of interest relating to the Rochdale special for they were much ahead of the world in the use of Resin based glass construction
(According to an article that appeared in the local paper total cost was £165, so the £78 paid to Rochdale Motor Panels represented nearly half of the total)
There has been a small amount of progress since the last report, but not much to show for the work put in. As the photos show the doors & windscreen are starting to take shape. I still have not been able to identify the make of the chassis. Has anyone got any suggestions?
Come and see the project in progress at the Manchester Classic Specials Show on 21/22 September.
Roger Coupe Tel:- 01606 889384 Email :- email@example.com
The Fairthorpe Sports Car Club pitch
on a sunny day at the Silverstone Classic
That just about summarises the Historic Specials gathering at the Cotswold Wildlife Park on 10 August this year. After a long dry period we got the payback day, but those Specials people really are special, as the turnout was surprisingly high, with the usual Fairthorpe, Falcon, Turner, Buckler etc, but no A7's unusually. This is more than can be said for the park visitors, whose cars occupied only half of the tarmac parking. They normally occupy all that plus a fair acreage of grass, so the park must have suffered a big financial hit.
Les Brown had brought copies of his book to sign and he did a good trade, so well done Les, and perhaps your life can at last get back to normal after your heroic efforts to get it to publication.
Apart from Kermit, the only other Rochdale present was Richard Disbrow's Olympic, which must have provided a wet ride with its absence of side windows. John Plant brought his extremely rare Martin (on trailer, as it's still in an early stage of reincarnation), Derek Bentley his Turner (Olympic next year maybe?), Ben Bettell his E-type (SSS 100 a bit too exposed even for you?) and Stuart passengered in Andy's Elan Plus 2. John Jarrett also braved the weather and it was good to meet long term ROC member Paul Bendelow for the first time too.
You always pick up interesting - even useful - tips at this gathering. I wondered why I had trouble in finding nuts to fit the Morris 10 gearbox in my Buckler. Reason? They may have Whitworth spanner sizes, but they have metric fine threads! The reason is buried in the history of the Morris company, but is due to its association with the French Hotchkiss company. Solution? Buy modern metric fine nuts, which have the benefit of normal metric spanner sizes which give better clearance for the sockets as they have a smaller O/D. They are cheap too.
Skies beginning to clear soon be time to go home
UK LEGISLATION Bob Owen
Readers will have noticed that the question of Roadworthiness testing moved from EU to UK legislation from last month. This change reflects something very important, which may not have been fully understood.
The EU Directive is adopted. It is now binding on all Member States. This includes the UK to exactly the same extent as the others. The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has now got a couple of years to work out how to apply it here. But they must work within the constraints and in accordance with the Directive.
DfT held a briefing session on 2 July, where the Federation and several other groups were represented. The purpose was to get initial ideas about how the historic vehicle movement would prefer the Directive to be applied. In truth we had barely enough time to get our thoughts together, especially given the process DfT had chosen to adopt for the meeting.
The good news is that DfT propose to open up a website to get input from everyone. As of now the Federation has had no sight of its intended format. We will both let you know when that site is opened and also tell you our views on it.
We established that DfT do intend to establish some level of exemption from general testing for historic vehicles. But they are clear they will need to apply the 'substantial change' rules, and one of the issues over the next few months will be to work out how that ought to be done, both in terms of the standards to be applied and the process by which these standards will be applied to individual vehicles. DfT are of the view that they will be able to set up the regime for general testing so that it will be capable of testing all old vehicles which do not meet the stricter 'historic vehicle' definition.
Interestingly we had little consensus among the various organisations represented over whether or not exempted vehicles should be tested at all, or remain, as at present, free from testing. On the one hand, some felt nothing should be on the road without some sort of test, while others felt all available statistics suggested that setting up a special testing regime for historic vehicles would simply not have any measurable effect on accident rates. There was some agreement that a vehicle coming off SORN ought probably to undergo some sort of testing. It will be interesting to see how DfT come down on this issue.
There was also little consensus on when the cut-off date ought to be. The Federation supported the position in the Directive and the view of FIVA that a thirty year rolling date was suitable. Others, with different and perhaps more specific interests, had some difficulty in seeing 1980s vehicles as 'historic' and preferred an earlier date.
Finally, I think I should provide one little warning. DfT are clear this whole exercise must not create new cost for Government. That does mean that in some way, whether through fees to DfT/DVLA/DVSA, or higher test fees to testing stations - motorists, and in particular owners of historic vehicles, will be paying for any changes made.
I advised in the last edition of our concerns with the arrangements proposed to enable the UK dispense with tax discs. We have now heard from DVLA, who are not convinced of the validity of these concerns. The DVLA website contains a section dealing with what they propose to do in October.
This issue goes well beyond historic vehicles. To remind everyone, our particular worry is that when a vehicle is sold the licence will have to be surrendered by the seller and a new licence obtained by the purchaser. This is to apply even where the vehicle is VED exempt. A major flaw is that the point of time of the change is to be when DVLA receives the V5C, something which neither seller nor buyer will know precisely. No one has explained how buyers and sellers are supposed to deal with vehicle insurance in this case, nor how buyers will know when or how they can apply for tax when the records will show another keeper.
We have not pointed out, but it is the case, that someone selling a vehicle privately can hardly give up the licence before sale, because to do so without the vehicle being regarded as ready for scrapping, he or she would have to do a SORN declaration. This would prevent the buyer from having a trial run or taking the vehicle away.
As DVLA had not responded to us at the time of our last meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicles Group, and so we raised this with the Group. They were conscious of the fact that the effect of what we had raised extends well outside our historic vehicle interests and they promised to ask that the matter be looked into.
DVLA latest response says they are setting up an on-line method of advising of the sale, which would clearly help with the issue of uncertainty. It is not yet clear to us how the proposal would deal with the three-way match involved in signing off Section 8 of the V5C. We will continue to look into this and take it up directly with DVLA.
Hopefully, the issues on what constitutes proper evidence of date of manufacture are now largely behind us and most applicants for Historic Class now have their nil rate tax in place. We did have a small issue with DVLA accepting the provenance of BMIHT Certificates as the best available evidence of the vehicles for which they hold the manufacturers records, but that was easily sorted out.
Next April, when the extension to the end of 1974 is planned to come into force, the rerun of the process will presumably be less trouble both for our members and for DVLA and we expect it to run smoothly. We will be sure to remind members affected of what they have to do to get into the Historic class and, if their vehicle was manufactured in 1974 but not registered until 1975, demonstrate that fact to DVLA.
There is very little new information from DVLA at this time but we are beginning to see how some of the recently introduced changes are working out in practice. We will of course continue to keep you informed as these procedures unfold.
Whilst the closure of the local offices and the movement of their work into DVLA in Swansea does not signify any changes in policy it does inevitably lead to some changes in procedure and the introduction of some new staff into the process. We seem to be seeing two trends resulting from this. Firstly there appears to be some shortcomings in staff training in some instances but I have no doubt these will resolve themselves over a period of time. Examples that have come to our notice include an initial insistence from DVLA that all parts of a vehicle must be original for the issue of an age related mark and the refusal to accept a BMIHT certificate as proof of date of manufacture. Both were satisfactorily resolved, so please remember if something of this nature happens to you, it is more likely to be a genuine mistake than DVLA being out to get you! Query the issue politely with DVLA and if you have no success we are here to help. Secondly, perhaps predictably, DVLA apply their policies a little more strictly that has always been the case in the local offices.
One matter has caused a little concern but we have been assured by DVLA that there is nothing sinister afoot! Our attention was drawn to a number of cases in which, on receiving a V5C during a change of keeper, DVLA questioned the validity of an existing reclaimed historic, age related, or cherished registration mark. This issue was raised with DVLA and they reaffirmed that their commitment to support the Federation, and the keepers of historic vehicles generally, is ongoing and there is no active campaign to search historic paperwork when a V5C comes up for change of keeper. FBHVC obviously accepts that there will always be specific cases when the circumstances raise issues, and that is as it should be.
To avoid any chance of unpleasant repercussions, everyone making an application to register a motor vehicle should be aware that the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act lists a number of offences in respect of incorrectly registered vehicles regarding false or misleading declarations and information. These offences can lead to fines or even imprisonment. So, please bear that in mind when completing the paperwork for your historic vehicle and don't let your enthusiasm run away with you at the expense of accuracy!
With the demise of the tax disc fast approaching, we thought it useful to recap some of the online sources of data about your vehicle, which owners/keepers/drivers can check themselves for free at any time. Over the past ten years, DVLA have made a range of data available for people to use for free, some about their own vehicle, others available for anyone to use.
1. What marque does the DVLA think your vehicle is?
Visit http://www.rac.co.uk/products-services/car-data-checks/ and enter your registration plate, then click 'buy now' but note you are not committing to a transaction. The next screen will give three pieces of information: make (in DVLA speak, and note any spaces), year of manufacture, and engine size in cc. There is also a field 'model' which only seems to be populated on certain more recent vehicles. It is important to type this verbatim into the next website. Checking three similar Ford Cargo trucks of the 1980s shows marques recorded as FORD, IVECO-FORD and IVECO FORD (the latter with a space).
2. Does DVLA think your car has Vehicle Excise Duty and an MoT?
https://www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-tax is a new site, currently in beta (trial) format, which allows you to click the green 'check now' then enter registration number and vehicle make, and click search. You are then presented with two coloured boxes. On the left we have VED status (the options are: taxed until xx xx/SORN/untaxed expired xx xx) and on the right the MoT status. The options here appear to be (tick); 'MOT expiry date xx xx', (cross); 'no MOT expired xx xx'; or 'no details held by DVLA'
Previous MoT attempts can be checked at https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history-vehicle
To use this service you need the registration mark, and either the serial number of the most recent pass/fail certificate or the reference number from the most recently issued V5C. This allows you to view all fail and advisory items from previous MoT attempts, all at a glance.
This can be verified at http://www.askmid.com where there is a free check intended for vehicle owners/drivers, as well as the option to pay £4 for a more detailed report which names the other insurer (intended for checking the other vehicle involved in a car accident).
5. When buying a vehicle, it is always prudent to undertake a HPI check.
Your author has used http://www.autocheck.co.uk many times (which is a service from Experian) which currently offers five checks for £24.99 or one check for £19.99. Doing a HPI check is the only way to see whether a vehicle record has a 'scrapped' marker or not. There are other providers available (though note that some require the VIN to be inputted before they display information - the Experian site listed does not mandate this).
We would encourage vehicle owners to undertake steps 1 to 4 in respect of all vehicles you currently own, and in respect of a discrepancy to contact either DVLA or their own insurer as a matter of urgency. When buying a vehicle, we would also recommend that step 5 is undertaken.
The following article is reproduced from the MG Car Club magazine, Safety Fast! with the kind permission of club's V8 Register. [I have omitted some of this as being of no relevance to ROC cars Ed]
Fitting LED bulbs as a direct replacement for the original filament bulbs results in a brighter more intense light than a filament bulb and a significantly lower power consumption too. Typical figures are 0.07 amp for a 5 watt equivalent bulb and 0.21 amp for a 21 watt equivalent bulb, a useful benefit with an ageing wiring loom. The bulbs use Light Emitting Diodes (LED) and most of the bulbs supplied by Classic Dynamo & Regulator Conversions use an LED called an SMD (surface mount diode) to emit a brighter more intense light than a filament bulb. They light instantly and have no filament to 'blow'. They are also good with vibration.
Now what follows is specifically related to UK road traffic law, but it is likely that other countries, especially in the EU, will have similar local legislation and as such any recommendation here relates to the UK. Fortunately for the MGB family of cars only the RV8 is heavily restricted in that all lamps on cars first used after 1st April 1986 have to use traditional filament bulbs and these have to be approved and carry approval marks.
So how do so many newer cars now legally use LED and HID lamps I hear you ask? Simple really as these cars pass European Type Approval requirements and are certified as such so any car that has European Type approval can't be refused to be registered in the UK (or elsewhere in the EU) and the approval overrides the existing legislation for all other cars.
So what about the majority of the MGB family of cars first used before 1st April 1986? Well the UK Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations cover all lamps with various requirements after various cut off dates. Cars first used after those dates must comply with various requirements as listed in the many schedules in those Regulations.
Below is a brief listing of the cut off dates after which all lamps must have approval marks and that currently means using approved filament bulbs carrying that approval.
Front side lamps
1st January 1972
Rear side lamps
1st January 1974
1st February 1974
1st April 1986
Headlamps dip/main beam
1st April 1986
Front fog lamps
1st April 1986
Rear fog lamps
no cut-off date so always need approval marks
1st April 1986
Number plate lamps
1st April 1986
What this means is those types of light on cars first used before those dates are not required to have approval marks, so that can open the door to alternative lighting sources such as LED and HID Xenon. However other requirements still apply such as wattage, colour of light, angles of visibility, fitted position and so on, but most importantly that no lamp shall cause dazzle to other road users. Many readers will feel so many modern cars lights do seriously dazzle other drivers.
For MGBs, MGCs and Midgets LED replacement bulbs are an available lighting upgrade option.
Side light bulbs: A white BA15S LED bulb is a direct replacement for a standard parallel pin 5w filament bulb GLB989. It shines white outwards and is a direct replacement ultra-low power consumption bulb. They are currently £12 a pair.
Combined stop and tail lamps: A red BAY15d LED bulb is a direct replacement for a standard
21/5w stop/tail filament bulb GLB380. The LED bulb has an excellent light spread. It has a 15mm cap with staggered pins and two contacts both being live. The cap body is the earth. This bulb is used in lamps where the bulb faces outward. They are currently £15 a pair.
Reverse lamps: A white BA15S 12V 21w LED is a direct replacement for a standard 18 OR 21w filament bulb BFS272. This bulb is used in lamps where the bulb faces outwards. They are currently £15 a pair.
Bulbs for flashing indicators: An amber BA15S 12V 21w LED bulb is a direct replacement for a standard 21w indicator filament bulb GLB382. It is an ultra -low power consumption LED bulb which provides a bright amber light behind a clear or amber lens so it can restore colour to faded amber lenses. This bulb is used in lamps where the bulb faces outwards. They are currently £15 a pair.
LED compatible flasher unit: You will need an LED compatible flasher unit to flash LED bulbs. These direct replacement units will flash up to a 1- 30 watts load at the legal flash rate. They are not load sensitive unlike standard flasher units. Available in 2 or 3 terminal units, they are currently £9.95 each.
Dashboard panel bulbs: Available as LED bulbs the BA9s is a 4w 9mm bayonet type with a 140 degree light spread and is a direct replacement for the 2.2w filament bulb GLB987. It replaces parallel pin dash panel filament bulbs and is the same size as original bulbs. They are currently £5 a pair. Also available are MES screw in bulbs. Currently £4 a pair.
Number plate illumination: An LED bulb is a direct replacement for original filament bulbs the 5w GLB207 (early cars) and the 4w BFS233 (later cars). They are currently £6.95 and £2.95 each respectively. These LED bulbs are supplied by a specialist company, Classic Dynamo & Regulator Conversions with a 10 year guarantee see them online at www.dynamoregulatorconversions.com or call on 01522 730193 option 2.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I went to this year's Grand Prix de Bressuire after seeing a short 2013 article covering the meeting in Classic and Sportscar magazine. The article was headed by a photograph of an Ford Anglia and credit was given to the fine driving of Christopher Treadwell. Beforehand, I Googled the event to find photographs of all types of cars circulating a street circuit in the town of Bressuire, situated in the Deux-Sevres region of the Charente. This looked too good to miss and several emails passed between the President, Mr J-P Fillon and me in an attempt to find out more about this potentially intriguing motoring bonanza, previously quite unknown to me. The Grand Prix was revived in the early 50s to reintroduce racing that had occurred in Bressuire after WW2 but I learned that the tragedy at Le Mans in 1955 put a halt to further racing in the town. However, in 2006 the Grand Prix was reinstated, more for the man-in-the-street rather than professional drivers.
Taking the Poole/Cherbourg Brittany ferry, nephew Chris drove the E type Special because of my poor eyesight and try as we did, the Sat/Nav misbehaved on our journey south, (at least that's my excuse). This resulted in a drive that took us nearly two hours longer than the re-routing of our return journey. After dinner in the local Boule d'Or hotel, after such a tiring day, we decided to have an early night. The following morning, from the early hours, massive straw bales had been positioned around the circuit, and banners and advertising hoardings hung. Large sheds, toilets and a commentary box appeared as if by magic while the public were treated to staged seating around the circuit.
We walked into the Paddock and I immediately spotted the Anglia featured in the original article. I spoke to driver Chris and explained the fact that his participation last year and the subsequent article had led to my appearance at this years race meeting. When I mentioned that I had tried to get an entry through Mr Fillon, Chris immediately went to see what he could do to help. He kept up determined attempts for the next three hours in spare moments but I was told that my car was 'too young' and 'insufficiently authentic' with its Minilite wheels and Rover engine. There appears to be little logic in the way entrants are accepted and a car will be accepted or rejected at the discretion of one committee member.
Through 'Anglia Chris' we were introduced to other drivers, both British and French including John Purchase, a middle-aged Welsh gentleman who has his own garage business in nearby Parthenay and who was competing with a home-built sports car running as a Lotus.
The field of cars is divided into four categories, namely: Tourisme, Sport, Cyclecar, and Monoplace, the latter consisting of many home-built rear-engined single seaters one of which employed plywood bodywork. As I walked around the paddock I was delighted to see such a wide variety of cars, from 1920s Brescia Bugattis to E type Jaguars but in the main, most cars had been built between 1920 and 1960. There were such cars as Amilcar CS, MG T type, Riley 12/4, Renaut 4CV, Panhard 24B, TR3, Lotus Europa, Simca 8 Gordini, Jaguar C type, DB Racers, Elina 1968, MEP X2 an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider et al.
What particularly interested me was a Sammio Spider that I had recently considered building but ended up buying a rather special classic Mini instead. The Sammio package consists of a fibreglass body based in the style of a 1930s Lancia sports car which, with the bracing of a lightweight frame, is attached to the rolling chassis of a Triumph Vitesse 2 litre. By putting together a car in this fashion the number plate of the new creation is re-used having been taken from the donor car and thus will legally avoid the rigorous IVA test. I chatted to the driver to add to my knowledge and, out on the track, saw that it had an excellent performance; a case of that old successful formula involving power to weight ratio.
As the Saturday post-lunch practice sessions were about to start, the rain that had been light became a downpour and continued for the rest of the day. The featured car of the meeting was the Citroen Traction probably better known here as the Light 15 and several were taking part. In the heavy rain, racing continued and these cars were the only ones squealing their tyres on corners.
Throughout the meeting music added to the atmosphere and this came in the form of a Yamahabased electronic piano carried in the back of a pre-war canvas-tilted Peugeot pick-up truck that circulated the paddock and road circuit between races. The usual French snacks of merguez sausages, frites, sandwiches, and crepes were readily available as well as alcoholic beverages in the roofed-over traders stalls. The rain continued to pour down and John Purchase kindly invited me to join him for a coffee in his camper-van parked 200 yards from the circuit.
I had arranged to meet Turner driver Colin Breakspear and his wife Ilka who had come from their home in Germany so, finding a sheltered spot, I rang them at their nearby campsite. We agreed that it would be best to call it off for a visit to the circuit; surely the weather would be better tomorrow. However, as we had tickets for dinner with drivers at our hotel that evening, I went to get more tickets for Colin and Ilka.
By 5.30 Chris and I were quite wet and decided enough was enough even with the protection of our Laon issue umbrellas, the breeze was now blowing the rain at 45 degrees and my trousers were sticking to my legs. As we sat down for dinner a spare seat at our table was taken by a motoring writer, and photographer, Julian Parish who is based in Paris. A most interesting chap who hailed from Cambridge mentioned that he was in Bressuire to add substance to the current book he was writing covering the rarer race circuits.
I could hardly believe the dramatic change in weather as we woke on Sunday morning. When we went down to breakfast it was already getting warm. The circuit was a scene of great activity, for racing was due to start at 9.30 and Anglia Chris was already warming up his 1340cc Ford engine that had incidentally been built by John Purchase. Speeds were well up on the previous day's practice in the wet and one category after another came out to race with hardly any interval between.
The piano player kept his enjoyable music going non-stop and I could see that he had no time to break for food. All I wanted for lunch was a typical French crusty sandwich but this turned out to be much too large for my needs so I hacked off a third for the piano player and at the same time asked for a selection of Scott Joplin music for which he obliged. He later mentioned that he would be performing in Paris; he was very good.
I found the small racing single-seaters less entertaining to watch so strolled off to a display adjacent to the track of visitors cars and, at the same time, found about twenty of the Citroen Tractions parked as a group on display. As I stood on the straight just after the start-line, Chris came to a halt in his Anglia right in front of me. I yelled 'fuel?' but Chris knew better the HT lead had come out of the top of the coil he was soon on his way again.
With respect to the car it could hardly be termed race-prepared but it had a sound engine and whatever it lacked in suspension refinement or build quality it was readily made up with Chris's determined driving. Later the Anglia came into the paddock after a race and the engine was incredibly hot. With the bonnet up we could clearly see that the fan belt was shredding and had come off the pulley. Chris was further involved when he caught up a slower car just before a straw-bale chicane. Chris gave way to the hesitant Renault 4 driver expecting him to continue driving through the chicane assuming he had seen Chris slow down but instead the driver stood on his brakes at the last moment and Chris was unable to miss him, so denting the Renault's rear wing. There was little damage to Chris's Anglia.
And so we came to the end of the day's exciting racing and after a beer in the local pub made our way back to the hotel; we had to plan a better route back home for the morrow. A restaurant that had been cut off due to the racing activities was now open and as the straw-bales were being taken away and the site cleared up, we made our way to this newly refurbished restaurant for a large pizza.
A quick check on my car parked in the hotel car park found that all liquids were at the correct level and we could push off for home soon after breakfast next morning. The new route we'd planned turned out to be all that the route south had not been; fast roads, no tolls and surprisingly little traffic made for a most enjoyable journey back to Cherbourg and the fast ferry trip to Portsmouth got us back to Camberley by early evening.
The weekends visit to Bressuire had been an eye opener; where could one have such fun in our country without all the rules and regulations normally associated with amateur motor racing. As usual, it was a delight to drive on well surfaced roads and encounter little traffic. We'd enjoyed our French food and made many acquaintances which, I for one, hope will bring us back to Bressuire.
It has become a custom for nephew Chris and me to take a little Spring break each year and in view of our forthcoming visit to Bressuire in late June we decided that we could see how long it would take to get to Poole Ferry Terminal from where we would be sailing. At the same time, we could try out the Tom Tom Sat Nav that I bought recently.
Our run down to Poole was on an April day that looked set for rain and so it proved to be. However, once there, with our umbrellas raised we took a short walk along the quayside after we'd parked and had a coffee. There were several multi-million pound luxury craft in the harbour to see but we continued to the old Lifeboat station to look at the type of craft that very brave men had used for rescues in the past. Here was a relatively small boat whose hull was built from tightly curved timber strips, fitted with a diesel engine and a small arched timber shelter towards the rear.
It was good to get back into the dry car. The natural beauty of Poole Harbour and the surroundings is spoilt by the density of the buildings and houses, not to mention the crowds in and around town. Glad to get away to a more relaxing area we arrived at Lulworth Cove, a spot that I last visited nearly 60 years ago. There is a small bay with steep cliff surrounds where the few fishermen deal in crabs and such. It was time for lunch and on the steep road down to the sea we found a small restaurant. We were very patient with the lack of service or even an acknowledgement of our presence but eventually were served. I chose the Bisque d'homard which was certainly worth the wait. I went to the bar to discover that they had run out of draught and bottled lager but suggested I try Slasher marketed by Piddle! This wasn't to my taste and I doubt if it would be to anyone else's either.
Looking at the map we were tempted to drive down the narrow promontory that led to Portland Bill and the lighthouse positioned on its tip. Further west we came to Chesil Beach and it was interesting to see the effect of the gale-force winds that had lashed this coast earlier in the year. The pea-shingle that used to slope gently down to the waters edge had been pushed inland to such an extent that it had become a huge mound along the length of the beach as far as the eye could see. As we drove on I had not realised that the roads just inland from the coast were so hilly. We then passed through the sleepy village of Burton Bradstock still without any break in the weather.
Lyme Regis was note-worthy by the number of guest houses and B & B's; one would truly be stuck for choice. We pushed on through Seaton to arrive at Beer, a delightful small quiet fishing village. We chose to stay at a central hotel and while Chris went in to book a room I was confronted in the street by a car enthusiast who, having seen the Special, told me he had a Lotus Exige that was for sale and Paul Matty, the Midlands dealer had offered him £15,000 for it. I eventually managed to let him realise that we were trying to make a booking and I must go. We had a reasonable room but an excellent dinner and while I went to bed quite tired, Chris explored the nearby hall where we had been told that a group of fishermen would be singing sea-shanties and folk tunes for a small entry fee. I can thoroughly recommend this hotel, the Dolphin, which cost us £70 for the room with breakfast and about £50 for dinner for the two of us.
Before we left next morning we walked down the steep road to the sea and were delighted that all yesterdays rain had cleared and we now had a sunny day. Small fishing boats were hauled up on to the beach within this little bay and one could buy fresh fish or hire a small motorboat.
We drove through Sidmouth and quaint Budleigh Salterton to the town of Exmouth at the mouth of the river Exe but to continue along the coast it is necessary to follow the right river bank to Topsham, cross the river and drive down the left bank to rejoin the coast at Dawlish, a splendid seaside resort.
Teignmouth further along the coast turned out to be a very relaxed pleasant town, everywhere spotlessly clean and tidy. By now the sun was quite warm and we both settled for a delicious large Cornish ice cream. This is a town so different from Brighton for example, which by comparison, is loud and brash. The houses along the sea-front are all large grand Victorian ones that are immaculately preserved and painted. This would seem to be a nice place to spend a week's holiday.
Unfortunately Teignmouth was as far as our two day trip would allow us to travel and from here on we planned to cut inland for our return journey. But as we started the car and moved forward the engine was only running on four cylinders at low revs. We carried on for a mile until I had had time to consider what had caused the problem. Parked in a lay-by I had a feeling that the SU carburettors were possibly in need of a top up of oil in the dashpots. I was relieved to find that this was the case and from then onwards the engine was back to full power. We passed through Kingsteignton, by-passed Exeter and carried on to Honiton and Chard on the A30 preferring this more picturesque route to the alternative A303 road.
We drove into Crewkerne, a little late for lunch but found a suitable cafe with a deli shop adjacent and were pleased to be able to park free outside the Town Hall for one hour. This part of the A30 has very attractive countryside and fast straight roads without cameras from which we benefitted. We soon drove through Sherbourne and Shaftesbury.
Having spent considerable time in the Salisbury YMCA during my National Service I routed us around the town and we drove on to Stockbridge that has the one main street lined with pleasant shops either side. The A30 now ran into a short stretch of the A303 before becoming the M3 and it was only four or five junctions from here to our turn off for home. It was by now nearly six pm and Chris still had to drive home to Derby. We had covered about 340 miles and had seen much of interest. I had particularly enjoyed getting out in the E Special since the last time I was driven was in October 2013. I now knew that the car was in fine fettle for our forthcoming two trips to France in the coming months. The Sat Nav had been almost perfect, just losing out from clear vision once the sun shone on the screen but with sunny weather and blue skies we can always put up with that.
Ed note: Derek's E Special has a Rover V8 engine
Since moving house late last year I now have a double garage and the Olympic (9557 LJ) is there rather than a lock-up some 20 miles away. As a result progress on the rebuild has speeded up. To recap, I took the car off the road some years ago, so that I could concentrate on getting my Turner, that I had owned since 1981, but never driven, roadworthy.
The Olympic was showing its age and the 350,000 miles that it had covered since leaving the factory in 1962.
Mechanically, the Riley engine is to be replaced with an MGB, with 4 synchromesh overdrive gearbox. Both of these items have been 'in stock' for some years, the engine in re-machined, but unassembled form. I had also acquired a Derrington/HRG cross flow aluminium cylinder head, which, according to the period literature should give more mid range torque and also help with engine cooling.
The disadvantage is that the carburettors are on the other side of the engine, right where the standard steering column is! So, first job was to modify the column with two UJs to clear the new carburettor position. Fortunately, I had saved just such an item from the numerous Skoda Estelles broken many years ago. This proved to be just the right length, only needing an adaptor fabricating to connect the different splines on the lower UJ and the Minor rack. At the same time the opportunity was taken to relocate the column through the bulkhead to avoid the normal Rochdale driving position of hands facing left and feet right.
When I moulded the new binnacle I made the front face removable for access to the instruments and wiring. Having centralized the binnacle to the steering wheel and set the height so that all instruments were visible through the wheel it was bonded to the bulkhead. This also stiffens up the top mounting for the column.
Next, cut a big chunk out of the tunnel to clear the bigger gearbox/overdrive casing. As the tunnel forms a structural part of the car its replacement is critical. I decided on a sandwich construction and the shape was formed with rubberised felt sheeting (again ex. Skoda). GRP was then laid up on the outside and inside of the tunnel. I hope that this will give both noise and heat insulation, but the jury is still out on that one.
This work was done in the lock-up, without any form of heating and it took some two months for the GRP to finally go off! I also have to admit here to a serious error. When I tried the newly trimmed original Rochdale passenger seat in place there wasn't quite enough width, so had to rebuild the tunnel for a second time.
Next on the list are the brakes. Rightly or wrongly I have decided to retain the Riley drums, having more than enough spares in stock to see me out. However, in deference to old age and modern cars thought a servo would be useful. I bought a new one some years ago, but having heard of the Editor's problems, will probably have to strip it down before final fixing.
The master cylinders were moved slightly towards the centre of the car (to line up with the new steering position) and also towards the driver. Hopefully this will also allow Anna to drive the finished car without the 1" wooden blocks that she had on her Olympic many years ago.
But where should I mount the servo under a crowded bonnet? Well, there is just enough room between the master cylinders and the wheel arch (see below).
Modified Column with Brake Servo also visible
Some years previously I had replaced the radiator with one from a Lancia Delta Turbo, which comes with fitted cooling fan. To accommodate the oil cooler this was moved to the nearside slightly and the ducting altered accordingly.
Relocated Radiator with space for Oil Cooler alongside
Once all of the other extraneous holes have been filled (why do people have this obsession with cutting holes in a fibreglass car?) then all of the under bonnet area will be painted with a light colour, so that any leaks are visible.
The normal Olympic door hinge problem also needed addressing, and the Editor's Rose joint method seemed one of the best. This was not a job I was looking forward to, but the driver's side was accomplished relatively easily, and I only drilled one hole in the wrong place. Whilst not so critical with the Rose joints I took the trouble when bolting the hinge castings to the door to line them up vertically by passing a long rod through the pivot points before final tightening. I am using all stainless steel fixings, so hopefully a future owner won't have problems with rusted bolts. Next job is to replace the outer skins with newly moulded ones (thanks John) as the originals were ruined by an 'expert' company who supposedly had worked on GRP before and were confident they could remove the paint without damaging the gelcoat!
I hope to be able to fit the skins to the doors in position to avoid the possibility of creating a twist. Who knows I may even finish up with an Olympic with properly fitting doors!
Interestingly on the front wings the paint can be removed with a scraper and peels off like a plastic sheet, leaving the primer/filler intact. I am sure however that it will not all come off so easily!
Watch this space.
Rochdales for sale
There seems to have been a spate of Olympics for sale recently.
A phase 2 Olympic (VAZ 5915) was to be auctioned by H&H at Buxton on 23rd July. Guide price was £3,000 to £5,000. Unfortunately, I don't know if it sold and at what price. This particular car has had an interesting history.
It was originally built by Bruce Foster in 1965 and whilst in his ownership he fitted an MGA Twin Cam engine. Bruce only kept the car for a couple of years before putting it up for sale. Whether this was due to the legendary unreliability in period of the Twin Cam engine is unknown.
The car then passed through several owners before arriving with John Thompson in Norfolk. It was during John's ownership that the car acquired its new registration number. In 2001 the car was sold to Les Elliott, then ROC Spares Officer. Les obtained a written off Lotus Sunbeam and commenced modifying the car to suit the new engine. However, Les was forced to sell the car in 2010 before the conversion was completed. The Olympic then passed through a dealer and a couple of other owners.
The auction catalogue describes the car as 'an unfinished restoration', although from the picture it looks as though most work has been done. The current engine is a 1600cc Ford Cross flow. The auction catalogue also describes the car as having 'had just three keepers from new'. I can only assume that some of the other owners never notified the DVLA!
At a similar guide price of £4,000 to £5,000, I see that the ex Malcolm McKay phase 1 (UFF 354) is again for sale at Anglia Car Auctions on 23rd August. Previously it did not reach its reserve, so it will be interesting to see if it fares better this time. I assume this is still owned by Rod Taylor in Brighton, who contacted me out of the blue about a year ago.
I was also pointed in the direction of two Rochdales currently on eBay.
The first is a 1965 phase 2 Olympic (ELX 628C), which has just been fully rebuilt using a new shell, obtained from the Factory on the 1970s. It looks to have been nicely done, I wonder if the £14,950 price will be realized. We will wait and see.
The second one is a GT 'project'. The chassis and suspension look to be standard side valve Ford. The unusual and scary thing is the six cylinder Mustang engine! That just seems a recipe for disaster. I hope the new buyer sells the engine and returns the car to its side valve roots.
Returning to the car park at the Le Mans Classic in July we discovered the Editor's Olympic being studied at close quarters by Claude Jaumoillie. Claude hails from near Bordeaux and bought a phase 1 (590 MTT) in 2009. He was looking for a nearside rain channel for the car, which I have, but on making enquiries on return to the UK the cost of transport to France seems prohibitive. Anyone got any suggestions?
I understand that this year's Goodwood Revival will see an Olympic on track. XYJ 204A (formerly 642 JAC) was originally prepared for racing in 2011 by Mike Youles. There were a couple of outings, which seemed promising, but an engine problem then sidelined the project. It will be interesting to see how it performs.
By Jon Pressnell.
288 pages. Hardback. Over 700 black and white and colour illustrations Publishes by Haynes Publishing Ltd., Price £40.
ISBN: 978 1 85960 996 5
The author is a well-known fan of Morris cars, and has written a number of books and he is possibly best known for his regular contributions to Classic and Sports Car magazine. This book does exactly what the title implies. It tells, with the help of much previously unpublished material, the story of the Morris Company from 1913 to 1984 and the cars they produced. The rise and fall of the business is a fascinating one, encompassing two world wars, commercial success at home and embarrassing failures abroad. Morris cars still hold a special place in the heart of the British motorist. This is not a biography of William Morris, though his influence is in the story from the start.
I particularly liked the fact that most chapters as well as describing and illustrating the cars also covered the vans and other light commercials that were built on the car chassis - some of these are very interesting indeed. There is a fascinating chapter on the short-lived Morris Leon-Bollee. Pressnell says .was an attempt [in 1924] by Morris to break into the French market with a locally made product. A mid-range car of no particular distinction, it proved an embarrassing failure. Manufacture stopped in 1928 with old stock continuing to be sold until 1933.
William Morris was determined to break into the export markets dominated by American manufacturers. For these markets Morris developed the Empire Model. The author says 'Nobody much wanted the car' and its chances were hardly improved when Ford brought out its thoroughly serviceable Model A in late 1927 and Dodge and Chrysler introduced cheap sixcylinder models The Empire Morris was dead by 1929 but all was not lost. Unsold chassis were shipped back to UK and at the behest of George Kenning and Morris used them to produce London Taxis the type G International Taxi.
During WWII the Morris factories built a variety of machines. Castle Bromwich made nearly 12,000 Spitfires, the Company also built 3,200 Tiger Moths. They produced different sized armoured vehicles as well at the Morris version of the Government specified utility known as the Tilly. Prior to the war the Royal Mail and Post Office Telephones bought hundreds of Morris vans and this continued until well after the war. Remember the rubber wings?
In 1951 Morris and Austin joined forces to become BMC and the A Type engine was fitted to the Morris Minor, but not before Morris had nearly gone into production with a Wolseley engine for the Minor. Jack Daniels said 'I am still of the opinion that had we been able to put the 918cc ohc engine in the Minor it would have been magnificent'. The author covers the coming together to form the Rover Group. He does not hold back on the problems that Morris always seem to have had in its management, its labour relations and its forward planning. More than just a book on Morris, this is also a great look behind the scenes in a major British car Company. I really enjoyed it.
So where is Michael Ware's review of Rochdale - Sports Car Pioneers? Patience, patience Ed.