No 140 WINTER 2014
There is a lot of news in this issue from 'Up North', mostly thanks to our indefatigable Secretary Les Brown. The Manchester show was a great success, with the display of the rarely seen ST thanks to Roger Coupe, together with our usual GT and Olympic stalwarts.
Then the 'official' launch and signing by Les in Rochdale town centre of his eagerly awaited book, Sports Car Pioneers although most of us had already read it by then. If you would like a copy, see p 7.
Finally, in his spare time, Les has produced a large format Rochdale cars wall calendar, though by the time you read this it might have sold out! (see pp 13, iii).
Our presence at the NEC show was somewhat muted this year due to Tony Stanton's indisposition, so no report this time, but at least Tony is at last free from the mediaeval torture that he has worn all spring and summer. Those of us who have seen examples of the Halo frame on the internet can only imagine what he has had to endure. Roll on 2015!
Nothing to report on the editorial Olympic, which continues to please, but it's good to see the Olympic Registrar is getting to grips with his, aided by a garage which has power and is 10 yards, not 10 miles away. Vroom vroom next summer Derek?
The Club now has a link to Facebook, so those of you with a Facebook disposition can join in just search 'Rochdale Owners club', join up and off you go. Probably.
The next Club event will be the AGM, which will be on 12th April next year as it is Easter Sunday on the normal due date. The venue will revert to the Air Museum at Baginton, near Coventry, but both date and venue will be confirmed in the next issue.
The annual show at Manchester's Event City has now been taken over by Footman James and moved to the Autumn season September 20-21st this year. One way or another, this just has to be my favourite venue for a car show. For one thing, it's quite convenient for me, as I (used to) know Manchester very well - though it's changed so much from the black and brooding industrial scene of old, I do struggle in the centre these days. But my son lives just down the road, and Event City is so easy to access from the M60 you can see it from the motorway itself, and there is ample free parking for everyone - stark contrast to my last trip to the NEC where I was charged 16 to park the Mazda The space allocated to the club was a very generous 9m x 7m, and it wouldn't be too difficult to spread out a little from this if needs be.
The dream of getting one of each of the production Rochdales together remained just that, in the event, but the presence of the firm's three biggest sellers GT, Olympic and ST drew much attention. At any of these Northern events, it is great to have people along who knew the factory and its people, who regularly come along and unload some more interesting anecdotes of the time. Also amazing, however, are the car enthusiasts from around Rochdale who stand in awe and 'Were these REALLY made in Rochdale?' There has been increasing interest in recent time on the pre-Olympic models, and even those familiar with Rochdale's last cars often struggle to bring the earlier examples to mind.
The actual cars on show gave an interesting view of Rochdale's later models. It is always nice to have Jason Hoffman's last recorded 1972 Ph IIR along. In very original condition, and even a nostalgic BMC Almond Green? this car represents what could have been one of Rochdale's best chances of later car production. The PhII hatchback was a most welcome advance over earlier cars, but the ability to put together a IIR using just the one donor car made more sense, to me at any rate, than the Ford engine, Triumph front and Riley rear suspension of the regular PhII. I only wish I had known about it at the time I had a tatty Minor myself, round about then perhaps if they had put out a few more adverts?
Moving round the stand, John Plant brought his lovely Phase I all the way from Ross on Wye well done, John. From opposite ends of the Olympic's production run, the two cars still served to illustrate the many changes that were introduced between the I and II.
Further round the stand, my own GT was given its first outing in Ladybird guise, plus of course, the chrome vent rings. Well, I needn't have worried, as the car went down very well indeed. The black roof completely alters the look of the car: the standard GT is just a little too 'humped' for my liking, but the combination of Carnival Red lower quarters and black uppers does much to counter-act this effect. And I am a sucker for a little extra chrome on any of these glassfibre cars I blame my motorcycling background The GT's style has certainly grown on me over the years, and there were plenty of visitors who thought the GT more attractive than the later cars but I'm still on the fence, myself.
Lastly, Roger's ST certainly opened many eyes what was it? The Coupe duckling is certainly well on its way to becoming a swan, and just goes to show how good these early Rochdales can look. Slight widening of the shell straight down the middle has given the car a much more grown up appearance.
The use of Midget parts for windscreen and doors give much improved practicality, and the overall stance of the car, on its Ballamy wheels, was just right. Opinions vary on the display of part finished cars like this but personally, I love it! We all dream of finding forgotten cars at the back of sheds, and it is down to individual viewers to squint a bit, and fill in the details with their imagination. Another much-admired car.
Keith Pratt also assisted with setting up the stand/gazebo and manning it through the weekend, and the final layout decided after much pushing about of cars was thought to be just right for the space available.
The show was much complicated, for me, by the selling and signing of books, and, as per usual, I found myself quite hoarse after talking Rochdales for just about the entire event. In spite of there being so much else to see, I do find it very difficult to get off the stand these days, but I did find the Ford chassis, just across the way, very interesting. This must have been the basis for most Rochdales, I would imagine, but this was the first opportunity I have had to inspect a complete example in such nice condition. Splendid.
Roll on next year.
Les Brown's Ladybird (black over red)
Ford chassis basis of many Rochdales
Well, it's finally made it, and I suppose that most of you will have had chance to look at a copy of the new Rochdale book by now. Nothing was ever straightforward with the Rochdale marque, their willingness to cater for the whims of punters leading to so many models and projects that it was truly difficult to know where to start. I recall reading discussions between members on possible chapter layouts for such a book, but in the event this was the least of the problems: for the most part, the chapters fell into their own places.
The firm's early days and one-off aluminium cars fitted together nicely, as there was so little available on the original repair work anyway I would have loved to include pictures of the ambulance bodies made for Oldham Corporation, or perhaps an 'MG-Type' photograph, but we shouldn't be greedy. For cars which have been as little-known as these in recent years, we are fortunate indeed for the photographs that WERE available, and I tried to draw on as wide a range as I could to add to the interest. So lots of original adverts, sketches, leaflets and the like were thrown into the mix I was keen to provide a snapshot of life at the time as much as one of the cars, and hopefully this has served to broaden the appeal away from a dreary list of facts and figures it would have been easy to fall back on.
It has been very pleasing to hear from quite a few not all car enthusiasts, either ringing to say they haven't been able to put the book down, with the copy already having gone the rounds of other family members on the fringe of Rochdale circles. The Rochdale's story IS a most interesting one; one polite, cautious owner, one wild and whacky, plus a tremendously competent designer straight from university what more could you ask for? I had heard the stories around the town long before I became familiar with the cars themselves
Some might have found surprise in a full chapter on the 'Special Builder's Cars' the Ford Eight and Ten. But these cars were such a cornerstone to the origins of the firm, that their part, and to some extent their place in history, also had to be told. How many Olympic Owners who make up the bulk of the club, let's face it - know anything about Ballamy wheels, Buckler chassis, and Elva heads? I know I didn't, but it was fun finding out!
I did get a little tongue-in-cheek with later chapters, however, and the labelling of the firm's later efforts on caravans, water tanks and workmen's huts as 'Phase III' was bound to make some a little hot under the collar. It's all a bit like Joe Public's views on Rochdales people come up and 'what is it? It's just like a *****' and proceed to come out with a different car each time! Similarly with the 'Phase III' idea - the Olympic concept clearly had so much further to run, if given the chance, but there is so little agreement on the form this may have taken that it is always a good starting point for arguments er, sorry discussions.
If telling the story itself was quite a job, production was a sight worse. I had my own ideas on how I liked to see pages laid out, and particularly wanted it to provide a lively read, with the ability for the reader to 'dip in' to the book at any point they found interesting. In addition to the on-going story, therefore, there were all sorts of sub-plots thrown in to text boxes and sidebars, cream-coloured to differentiate from the rest of the text.
Anyone who thinks this a matter of dropping a few pictures into a word processor I can only say it isn't. I had to shell out for the full version of Adobe's excellent Creative Suite 6 by a huge margin, the professional choice. But it IS horrendously expensive, probably into four figures for the full thing, and I was immensely relieved when my six-year-old grandson was able to purchase one at educational rates (he's a bright lad, our Ben!). But that still didn't get round the job of mastering the programs, and two years after buying, I still only feel to be scratching the surface of what they can really do.
Where I DID hit lucky was bumping into someone who really knew the ropes in these areas, and was also interested in the cars as well Richard Netherwood. It is true to say without Richard's guidance, the result would have been much more like the amateur affair that it actually was! Publishing your own book is a balancing act between the numbers printed, and the price you can sell them for; if you print in large numbers to get the costs down, there is no guarantee the books you have printed are going to sell - hence the numbers of bargain books to be picked up at vastly reduced rates on the high streets. Print less in the first place, and the price goes up again, further reducing the number of people who are prepared to buy selling through normal channels, you just can't win with a book like this. I did have an order from a major supplier for 50 books at a price less than they had cost me to print. But Richard certainly knew the ropes through all this, and after lengthy discussions with printers we decided on a first print of 350 copies. At the time of writing, over 250 have gone and I am confident of a sell-out, so just what happens to e-Bay and Amazon prices for those you have already bought is likely to be interesting
After sending out demo copies to some magazines I was placed in something of a quandary when others asked for one also. I was pleased when some notably Jon Burgess (Classic Car Buyer) Steve Hole (Total Kit Car) and Scott Barrett (The Automobile) either dipped into their own pockets or, in Steve's case, swapped me for a subscription to the magazine! Top marks all round Reviews have been very favourable so far with the criticism of the dull front cover showing just how difficult it is to please everyone. I wanted to include a car alongside Rochdale's gothic Town Hall, but short of getting down there at dawn when everywhere is deserted it isn't easy! Even then, as the picture was cropped further down to size, it lost some of its brightness, and looked totally different after the matt paper chosen seemed to impart its own purplish hue to the scene not the original intention, but overall I have to say that Polestar Wheaton did a great job and really went the extra mile in helping such a raw beginner through all the printing processes. Thanks, guys.
Lastly, a surprising aspect was how many errors were spotted even after umpteen checks. I'm sure I must have been re-introducing these myself as things went along, but tireless work from Howard Evans along with checks and professional advice from Malcolm McKay raised things to a level higher than I had dreamed of.
So there it is. If you haven't got yours yet, better drop some Christmas hints to your partner
(quickly) and get along to www.sportscarpioneers.yolasite.com
With £30+£5 p&p, either PayPal or cheque to my address at the front of the mag. OR £45 for book, calendar and postage how's that for a bargain?
Some reports of 'ROCHDALE Sports Car Pioneers'
Although the book 'Rochdale Sports Car Pioneers' has been on sale for a couple of months now, it had been suggested early on that this might be an ideal opportunity to get families, exfactory personnel, cars and their owners together at the Rochdale Touchstones Centre the old Rochdale library.
Barbara Lloyd, of Link4Life, proved as helpful as ever in getting things moving and ploughing through almost unbelievable Health and Safety issues concerning the display of the cars outside the centre. The local Rochdale Observer joined in on the act with a full-page article on the cars and the book's introduction, and all in all the scene was set for a memorable event.
Unfortunately, things didn't progress quite so smoothly as the event drew nigh, with the date chosen proving awkward for many, the possible display of cars outside the centre being thought likely to prove a hazard, and a gradual realisation that there was no way I was going to fit the books I sold 33 on the day calendars (29 on the day) and mugs (16 on the day) in the back of the GT along with wife, dog, suitcase, etc so it was a job for Pat's rather wonderful Berlingo on the day.
This left just Howard Evans CTO 289 outside the centre, but 'less is more' and the single car out there provided a fine focus for the event. Returning to my home town for the first time in a while (well, apart from the football matches) it was nice to see the grotesque 1970s 'Black Box' office block/bus station finally gone along with the brooding shadow it had cast across the centre since that time. When meeting council officials in 2012 I had jokingly suggested that they hold a raffle for the right to fire the explosives that would bring this monstrosity (I'm firmly with Prince Charles on this one) down, and I hadn't realised just how near they came to actually taking up my proposal. Apparently it had been part of the plans right up to the actual demolition, but apparently it was our old friend, Health and Safety, that declared this one a no-no; a pity, I would have paid a lot to be the one to do the deed. The replacement bus station is altogether more appealing, and apart from its 'Space City' looks making a marked contrast with the Town Hall, a great improvement.
It really was rather wonderful to see that Observer article bring out so many with connections to the firm. In particular, the Smith family were there in abundance, and were very pleased to see the story in print. I didn't get round them all, but some very good connections were made. Phil Butterworth (looking more like Frank every day) was there with family, and it was also good to see Mike Wolstenholme along also. The photograph shows Phil Butterworth, Alan Smith, and Mike Wolstenholme together for the first time in who knows? Do we have to go back to the 1950s for similar meetings?
Yet another of those remarkable 'small world coincidences' came up with Ron Batley, Rochdale's first apprentice in 1948 making his way up from Torquay specially for the day. Some years after having left Rochdale, Ron went on the become the manager of the Great Britain ski team, and in this context had already had dealings with Mike Wolstenholme, who is a skiing instructor - without either of them having realised their close connections through the Rochdale firm you really couldn't make it up! Equally interesting was Kenny Armistead's daughter (works foreman), showing pictures of herself aged about 5 with Dad's Olympic.
Also the Ratcliffe connection. Deep at the heart of the Olympic story, John Ratcliffe and John Taylor the 'T' in the British Championship-wining BRT team were also the very people who had 'swept up the bits' of the crashed Olympic from Blackstone Edge, and were only too happy to reminisce. 'Had the car broken up in mid corner?' 'no, he was just going too fast at the time' came the reply. Clearly there are all sorts of aspects to be delved into here 'I built lots of Olympic lightweights, before that one' was John Taylor's interesting observation.
I had hoped to get away in good time for the match with the next two generations of the Brown family (Rochdale v Preston, 3-0 to Rochdale!) but it wasn't to be. Kick-off was well gone before everyone had left Touchstones and belongings re-loaded, but it had been a record day for club items as well as the books.
The atmosphere was one of gentle bonhomie throughout with everyone only too happy to share what had obviously been very pleasant memories. As I had suspected, there is obviously lots of latent interest in the cars around the town, it is just a matter of how best to tap into that interest, and I hope this will be just one of many events where we can celebrate the cars and the people in the place of their birth.
Three RMP sons - Phil Butterworth, Alan Smith, Mike Wolstenholme
Les and support team
Yet another off-shoot from the book was in the colour photos used as chapter headings for each of Rochdale's production cars.
This aspect came on the scene quite late in the day, and each chapter had initially led straight into the story, with old black-and-white photos following on. But things really came to a head with the F-Type, oops, sorry, Type F model. In view of the scarcity of these cars I was really struggling to find quality pictures, and I only had a single one of David Whitehouse's excellent Elva-Climax. I was trying to avoid pictures that were obviously taken at recent shows/meetings and this one, from Peter Morley if I remember, featured lots of people hanging around in the background and prominent displays of NEC bags are not ideal when you are trying for a definitive history of the marque.
Having recently shelled out on the full version of Adobe's awe-inspiring Photoshop, I set about trying to de-emphasise the background by a little judicious darkening and look where it lead to! The image didn't look right until the background was completely black and well, were there any other images that might be improved by the same technique? Next to go was the page 58 pic of Roger's Mk VI, which I had taken myself. The cluttered picture background had spoiled the effect on the original, but the black background changed all this, and threw the car into sharp perspective.
Now, as so few people really KNEW just what the Type C, ST, Mk VI etc looked like, why not start each chapter with a colour picture of a single, restored car to clear this issue up right at the outset? And so it was. Easy enough for the Olympics, GT, and Riviera, but for other cars notably Mk II and ST things were more difficult. After making contact with Patrice Wattine about his lovely yellow ST, I was set back to learn he was saving completion for when his grandson reached the right age, and as he is only about seven, I had to take things into my own hands, I'm afraid. So what you see on page 100 of the book is definitely an 'artist's impression' with a front screen from an XK120 grafted on had you spotted it?
So well did the images go down, they were used on some new club mugs (mine are all gone now, I'm afraid, though I think Stuart may still have a few) and T-shirts (again, all gone for now let me know if you fancy some more being made up).
However, I did take the images, and added a few more besides, for a 2015 Rochdale Owners Club wall calendar. Most of these were sold on the first day at Rochdale, but I still have a number left if you are quick enough. Of full A3 format (about 16" x 12") these display each of Rochdale's production models in all their glory and are printed out onto heavy 230gm glossy paper. The large size allows plenty of space for pencilling in of birthdays, show dates, appointments etc and the printing and production is of the very highest order throughout. Currently on sale on e-Bay, you can save a little on the expenses by buying direct for £10 + £3 p/p either PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org (to a friend, of course!) or by cheque to me at the address at the front of the magazine. There'll be no more when they are gone but you'll have all year for it to inspire you to that restoration you have been so long in getting round to
Ethanol-petrol compatibility study
The Vincent Owners Club, which accommodates enthusiasts for these excellent motorcycles has published an article in their magazine about the long-term effects of combinations of various proportions of ethanol and petrol on fuel system materials. The Vincent Owners Club article features work carried out in Germany, and published in the German magazine Oldtimer Markt. While the tests reported in these articles do not necessarily correspond to normal usage patterns, they do provide some useful information, whilst paradoxically giving rise to various questions. The tests consisted of immersion of fuel hoses and complete carburettors into blends of 5%, 10% and 85% ethanol, and petrol for a 12 month period. At the end of the 12 months, the items immersed in the fuels were examined, when it was found that the carburettor immersed in 85% ethanol was only fit for scrap, while fuel hoses in the same blend were untouched. Conversely, the hoses immersed in both 5% and 10% ethanol-fuel blends had disintegrated. There were differences between the effects on carburettors immersed in the 5% and 10% ethanol-fuel blends; in the 5% blend there was marked corrosion, whereas in the 10% blend, there was very little deterioration. This apparent anomaly was explained by the greater water absorbing capability of 10% ethanol blended in petrol.
The results raise questions about the materials employed, which are not disclosed. Elastomeric materials, such as those used in fuel hoses clearly can suffer as much or possibly more from hydrocarbon exposure as from contact with ethanol, and the combination of varying amounts of ethanol with petrol provides a further variable, so the issue is complex. However, there are materials which will resist both hydrocarbons as found in petrol, and ethanol separately, or in combination, which is really what is needed. The CONCAWE list of materials which the Federation published several years ago when concerns about the use of ethanol in petrol started to emerge, provides some assistance in this respect, since the oil companies appear to have checked this specific aspect in their studies. There is unfortunately no 'magic bullet' to protect against deterioration of fuel hoses etc., but replacement of unsuitable products with materials fully resistant to the effects of both hydrocarbon fuels, ethanol, and the combination will solve the problem. Information on compatible materials originally provided by CONCAWE appears on the Federation website, but for convenience is repeated here:
Buna-N (hoses and gaskets)
Neoprene (hoses and gaskets)
Corrosion of fuel system metals is more specifically laid at the door of ethanol, and safety would suggest use of a suitable corrosion inhibitor. The Federation has carried out corrosion inhibitor tests and has published a list of endorsed products which should offer good protection against possible corrosion from the combination of ethanol and petrol in historic vehicle fuel systems. Full details can be found at http://www.fbhvc.co.uk/legislation-and-fuels/fuel-information/
Surprising, what you find while browsing the internet. Everyone in the country must be all too aware of the Titanic disaster after all the hype in recent years, but how many of us know that the ill-fated liner was, in fact, just one of three sister ships built 1911-1914? Perhaps the Titanic connections were not something that the White Star Line sought to emphasise after 1912, but the original of the design, Olympic, operated without fuss or problems right up to the start of WW2. The final ship, the biggest of the three, Britannic, was sunk by an underwater mine in 1916 just two years after its launch; it is clear that some lessons had been learned from the 1912 disaster, however, as in the 55 minutes it remained afloat the crew managed to save no less than 1036 out of the 1066 people on board. The Britannic was the biggest ship lost in WW1, but it wasn't this that caught my eye rather the whacky colour scheme with which the Olympic itself was adorned during WW1.
Credited to John Graham Kerr, who proposed the idea in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1914. The purpose was not so much to conceal the ship by blending in with the background, but to confuse the enemy with bright stripes and patterns which made it unclear which way, or how fast, the ship was travelling, and make it a difficult target to aim at through a submarine periscope. Norman Wilkinson, a RN Lieutenant Commander was put in charge of implementing the scheme on 4000 British merchant ships and 400 naval vessels. Each ship had its own unique scheme, and a different design was used on each side. How on earth did something like this get through? Anyway, the system apparently met with some success and was subsequently applied to American, and other nations vessels also.
So here it is. The actual design used on the HMT Olympic in the latter years of WW1. I thought it would be very useful to include it here for anyone wishing to apply the scheme to their own Olympic. On balance, though, I don't think I shall be applying it to the GT Christmas or no, that would be just a little TOO silly, don't you think?
Well it's been a very good summer for sailing, so there has been little progress to be seen with the ST. But some will know from experience that it takes a lot of time to get bodywork to look right.
As the photos show I did however take the Ugly Duckling to the Manchester Classic Car Show on the 20/21st September as a Project in Progress. It did create some interest as many people had not heard of a Rochdale ST let alone seen one. Some were also interested in the use of the MG Midget inner door panels to carry the window and door mechanisms. The windscreen side pillars are also from a Midget, but as you can see the screen will be flat. Does this mean the Ugly Duckling is peeping out from its hideaway?
The Car Show was a great event and the Club stand was very well organised thanks to our secretary Les Brown. Also thanks to Club Members John Plant & Jason Hoffman for providing excellent examples of Ph1 & 11 Olympics. This was in addition to Les's GT and my ST. As the photos show Les also had his book on sale which caused a lot of interest. He is to be congratulated for putting together such an interesting and informative book.
Les also organised a book signing at Rochdale on 1st November. How appropriate to have this event at the home town of our cars. The event was a huge success with a great turnout of local people, including some of Harry Smith & Frank Butterworth's families. Also Rochdale Motor Panel's first apprentice Ron Batley came all the way from Torquay especially for the event. A lot of interest was also created by Howard Evans's Ph11 Olympic which was parked at the entrance to the event.
The icing on the cake was that Les has also produced a Club Calendar and it went on sale on the same day. Yet another excellent item produced by our Secretary. I particularly liked the way the car images jump out at you due to the black backgrounds; it really makes them stand out. They were selling very well on the day. Since the Club had only produced 50 and over half were sold on the day, all I can say is, when they are gone they are gone. Also on the day Les & Pat sold all the remaining Club mugs.
Returning to my Project, maybe there will be some progress to be seen on the ST in the next issue. The next step will be make a support frame so that the body can be lifted off the chassis the same as I did with my Mk 6 & Riviera. This will allow me to finish and paint the inner panels of the bodywork. (What colour should it be?). The mechanics can also then be finished.
Maybe I will one day be able to sing the last verse of the Hans Christian Anderson's Ditty 'Ugly Duckling into a Swan'
Well. I can but dream.
Roger Coupe Tel: - 01606 889384. Email: - email@example.com
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Further to Alan's article last month, I thought I'd add a few words on my own, similar, experiences.
When I was overhauling my Phase II, I decided to fit a servo to bring the pedal loads more in line with current expectations. Previously, the actual 'stopping power' of the brakes was adequate for the car, but the heavy pedal load tended to increase the response time before it became effective.
Before purchasing, I shopped around and assessed a good cross-section of the available aftermarket kits. I too bought the Powertune servo, but having compared it with the Delco option, I concluded that it was the identical product (or a very good Chinese copy) and assumed, perhaps cynically, that Delco was simply using its brand value to increase the margin on its products.
The servo is fitted underbonnet, on the left hand side as shown in the picture, and installation was straightforward.
In use I too encountered the brakes 'sticking' on. This was only when the car had come to a standstill and, if it occurred, it was only for the first or second stop of the day. Apart from the obvious resistance to driveaway, the pedal was rock hard. However, a quick dab on it released the brakes completely. Being so pleased to have the car back on the road, I decided to live with it and file the problem under 'future action'!
Under normal circumstances, the servo action and brake progression are 'very acceptable' (to quote the infamous Dacia advert!).
With growing familiarity, another issue came to light which initially I treated as something completely separate a seriously oval left-hand rear brake drum. This was imperceptible under normal braking, but anything approaching an emergency stop produced severe pulsating through the brake pedal. I then had a bit of a 'Eureka' moment. By stopping abruptly enough to feel the pulsations for the initial couple of stops of the day, it appeared that the sticking brakes occurred only when car stopped with the drum at its minimum diameter i.e. when back pressure had been created in the system. The hypothesis was that this pressure was causing the non-return valve in the master cylinder to be held closed.
Replacement of the offending drum has eliminated the problem, but I don't consider the hypothesis to be proven because I would have expected the inverse of the servo action to result in a reduced pressure at the master cylinder compared with that at the slave cylinder, yet the problem had not been apparent in the non-servo condition where they are clearly equal (and therefore higher at the master cylinder).
Is there something within the valving of the servo (such as another non-return valve) which could explain this apparent anomaly?
Before the Rochdale ST/Bonglass shell was announced, the (now) seemingly obvious use of the same material for interior panels and bulkheads had never previously been explored. It is perhaps a little disappointing, therefore that the car is now so little remembered in spite of being a groundbreaker for virtually all later glassfibre designs in this respect, and it was nice, therefore, to receive this e-mail from Jack Patterson, of Sunderland (18/07/14)
Hi, I just happen to see on the web the Rochdale owners club site. I built a Rochdale Car in 1956 on a new ford chassis which had reinforcement done, plates welded, to make it into a box section, the donor car was a 1938/9 Ford 8 HP side valve. I later obtained a 10 HP engine, I have looked at all the photo on your site but cannot find one the same as mine, I have attached photos of mine, please excuse the quality as they were taken from old 3 by 2 black and white size photos.
When I built it I fitted a modified front axle which had been converted to independent suspension. At the time I built it I was 26 years old, I am now past 84 and am now driving a Volvo XC60 and towing a Lunar clubman SE 24 ft long so I think I'm not doing too bad.
At the time I was building the car I went to the factory, the one that was burnt down, and saw the next model they were making, and my foreman at Bristol Siddeley he built one after seeing mine, mine was the second Rochdale that was built in Sunderland the first one was built by a friend of mine, of course when I saw it I had to have one too. I also had a higher ratio crown wheel and pinions fitted to the rear axle to improve performance. The car was built on my front drive you would not believe the number of people who stopped to talk including the local bobby, and for years after people used to say to me you are the person that built that car, it had a bright red roof and a white bottom it also had 16" wheels with large tyres on the back and smaller ones on the front, the bench seat had inflatable internals, I think I had for about 6 years, I think that is about all I can remember, hope this will be of some interest to you.
From: Les Brown, 20/07/14
Don't apologise for photos like these - they are just the sort of things we love to see. The car shown is a Type ST, marketed between 1956-59 by Rochdale. Although they sold quite a few (about 150, I think) they tend to be the "forgotten car, even in Rochdale circles and very few are known to have survived. I am enclosing pictures of two that have, though Roger Coupe's ST is being restored as we speak and is expected to be on our stand at the Manchester Classic Car show 20/21st September - quite a while since one was seen on display. The other one turned up "new" unused a few years ago and is also being assembled into a car. That picture also has other Rochdales owned by Roger at the time - a Riviera, then a GT and an Olympic.
Have you seen details of my book? The yellow car on page 100 is an ST like yours, currently in France, but I am enclosing a page from the book with the same car in the 1950s. The ST was quite groundbreaking in its day, as it contained all the bulkheads moulded in, which had never been done before. The later GT sold 1000+ by building on this formula, and even had legs attached to enable it to drop onto the E93A rolling chassis - I don't think the ST had these, did it? I have never spoken to anyone who actually built one!
I am also enclosing a picture of the factory at about this time (p158), with the workforce involved. Owners Frank Butterworth (bottom left) and Harry Smith (top left) possibly dealt with you at the time - did you pick the shell up yourself? I think you saved about £12 delivery if you did. Any details you can recall would be very interesting - are you happy for the pics and details to be included in the magazine/website/or facebook pages? An interesting point is that the side windows on the hard top are rather different from those on the pictures of the car we have - I wonder if it was left as a flat panel for you to cut out the shape you wanted? Did you detach the hardtop? I don't think we have a surviving example with the top on, though it is very attractive.
It is surprising how much detail there is on old photographs like these. If you are happy to send them, I shall put them through my daughter's professional scanner and give them the Photoshop treatment - I promise to post them back the same day! Les
Well, I did get the additional pictures from Jack and ran them through the scanner. It is amazing the detail sometimes available from early black and white prints, but I have to say, the technology didn't really make too much difference in this case. Still, these are delightful pictures, and very much of the era. FTN 167 was clearly a very smart car, of which its owner was justifiably proud.
Apparently, Jack made up his own side panels in hardboard (hope they didn't get wet) and the hardtop was initially bonded on. Whether this meant sealant or glassfibre I'm not sure, but at any rate when Jack attempted to make the roof detachable the resultant leaks forced him to go back to having a fixed roof. Do you like the design? Not to everyone's taste, I believe, but personally I find it most attractive - the split screen may have been getting a little long in the tooth at the time, but it all adds to the nostalgia today.
Tony Stanton has suggested that the design owes much to the earlier RGS design, and looking at the pictures, he could well be right. Also, it does look as though, like the GT and Riviera I am still practicing 'Riv-ee-ra' for my Rochdale trips the ST was delivered with a set of legs to ease fitting on the chassis. They are just visible on the red shell in Roger's front garden.
Finally, from: Les Brown 29/07/14
Thanks for the access to your photos. It is great to see such cars in their period setting - it must have been quite a car in the 1950s. Were the other Sunderland cars STs as well? The original glassfibre Rochdale was a MkVI which was often more bulborous (and more difficult to make) followed by Type F and Type C cars which were primarily racing cars, though some used them on the road. The "as-delivered " picture is interesting, you can still see the release agent on the body. The sidevalve engines could go quite well in the lightweight cars, and with the independent front end it must have handled as well. You don't know what happened to the car after you sold it? It would be lovely for these cars to turn up from back yards and under tarpaulins etc - I am sure there are still plenty that we don't know about. I can't believe how many years ago it is, now, to 1956 but I am sure you are right to keep going and enjoying life in your Lunar Clubman. I am coach-painting my Motorhome today - making the most of the good weather. Les
I did get the van painted 'now turquoise and cream' and I will keep you informed if I hear any more about the 3 Rochdales from Sunderland.
Contrasting hardtop is nice feature
At the recent Sywell 'Pistons and Props' event I was approached by Allen Pearce to tell me he was the ex-owner of a Rochdale GT.
He told me that at the age of 19, he bought the GT from the Checkered Flag Garage in West London. Apparently for the same money he could have bought a Type 35 Bugatti, albeit fitted with a Vauxhall engine, but that of course did not have a roof and was therefore not as good for courting! How times change; what would the Bugatti be worth now? Allan also told me he only kept the GT for a couple of years and showed me a photo which gave its registration as BBL 573.
Looking through my records I was subsequently able to confirm that it survived until at least 1995, when it was owned by Keith Ardley. Keith brought it to Burford with a For Sale sign as shown below.
Fortunately, I also found I have a photocopy of the original Log Book, so was able to confirm that Allen actually bought the car in January 1961 and owned it until August 1967. According to the Log Book the car was built on a 1938 Ford chassis. It looks as though the Rochdale body was fitted in February 1958, so it was a fairly early GT shell. The first owner is listed as Winifred Cleave of Christchurch, Hampshire.
The following are Allen's subsequent reminiscences of driving the GT in the early 1960s.
I owned the Rochdale in the late 50s early 60s, this was the time of the Beatles (The ones from Liverpool not the V W) the fashion was for Italian cut suits and winklepicker shoes. On stopping at a set of traffic lights I depressed the clutch pedal. The battery box on the car was just above the foot pedals and on pressing down on the clutch the top of the winklepicker bent back then popped up behind the battery box trapping my foot. The clutch was fully depressed and there was not enough room to bend down and release the shoe, so with some difficulty I eventually managed to scrape off the left shoe using my right foot. By now a considerable traffic queue had built up!
On another occasion on the way home from work, in traffic, the Ford Consul in front did an emergency stop. Well, my Ford ten brakes were never very effective. I stopped the best I could but slid the Rochdale bonnet under the back end of the Consul. As the car rocked back it sat on the front of my Rochdale snapping off the whole front end from the centre of the front wheel arches. I then had the cheek to get the other innocent driver to help push the Rochdale to the road side and to compound my audacity got him to take me home.
Explaining the situation to my father I got him to tow both halves of my car home. On viewing the damage we determined the problem was largely caused by the fact that the heavy water filled radiator was mounted directly onto the fibreglass body. So to repair the damaged body dad obtained some 16 swg galvanized sheet steel. This we fashioned to the shape of the inner front wing, fitting it with countersunk screws and then filling with plastic padding. A coat of brushed paint effected a passable finish.
One other disaster was on the Western Avenue, the car bonnet was tethered by a single lock and at about 40 mph the bonnet lifted, swung back, sheered of the hinges smashed through the windscreen and hit me on the shoulder. After that I sold the Rochdale and purchased a Renault Dauphine.
There were many other events, which I can't recall at the moment, as, after all, it was 55 years ago...........
It is always a pleasure to hear from owners about driving 'our' cars in period.
I will start this issue with some good news.
After several months wearing a 'halo frame' I understand that the specialist has agreed that Tony Stanton's bones have sufficiently healed to allow for its removal. He will still need to wear a neck collar for a few months, but hopefully will now be able to get a good night's sleep and will be back driving 'Duffy' in the not too distant future. I am sure you will all join me in wishing him a speedy continued recovery.
Whilst he has been laid up Tony has been busy updating the Olympic database, a continual process with cars changing hands and new information coming to light. Thank you Tony for all your hard work.
Progress on my Olympic continues.
Since the last issue I have successfully re-skinned both doors. Before fitting the new skin I wanted to modify the top edge, so that I could incorporate a door glass outer seal. I needed to create a downstand flange on the top edge of the door skin. B&Q supplied a section of PVC angle trim which I could tape to the outside of the door skin to create a mould. I then laid up matting and when set managed to separate it quite easily. The PVC gave a smooth finish to which the resin did not stick. Not only does this give a fixing for the weather seal, but also strengthens the top edge of the door. Woolies provided a suitable clip on weather seal.
Separating the old door skin from the frame was a two part affair. In some places the original bond between the inner and outer separated with just a gentle application with a chisel, whereas in other places the two were one homogeneous GRP sandwich. In the latter case the old skin was cut off using a 1mm thick cutting disc in the angle grinder. I found that the blades sold for cutting stainless steel worked better that the normal metal ones. It was then necessary in some places to grind the edge flange to reduce the thickness.
With the two parts temporarily clamped together holes were drilled to allow the two parts to be bolted together. P40 filler (the one that contains glass fibres) was then applied between the mating flanges and the outer skin placed over the bolts which had been inserted from the inside. This is really a two handed job as it needs to be done reasonably quickly before the P40 sets and I am lucky here that Anna, as an ex Olympic owner is as enthusiastic as me about the car. Picking up washers and small nuts with sticky, gloved hands and fitting and tightening was a very fiddly job!
When it had all gone 'green' the bolts could be removed and the holes filled. As a belt and braces job I also laid up matting across the join on the inside of the door where accessible.
Having successfully completed the re-skinning of driver's side door it was time to tackle the passenger one. As with all jobs as you progress you find different ways of approaching it. This time I cut off the old outer skin inside of the join line completely, using the thin stainless steel cutting discs in the angle grinder and then separated the remaining two parts with a broad bladed scraper and hammer. This time, I also spread the P40 onto the outer skin, rather than the inner, so was working with rather than against gravity!
Before fitting the new skin I also took the opportunity to repair the inner section and strengthen around the hinges. I also found the reason why the nearside window never wound fully down. The inner moulded-in mounting for window frame was acting as a stop, so was cut out and reformed!
I was hoping to finish all of the GRP work whilst the weather is still warm; however, as with all rebuilds the further you look the more you find to do. Having jacked up the rear and removed the nearside wheel I discovered work was required on the top damper mount. The offside, although not as bad, was showing similar problems. Although this is mainly constructed in GRP Rochdales incorporated a bonded in steel tube on the open edge. On mine the water has obviously got in and rotted the steel, which has rusted and expanded and split the GRP surrounding it. Access of course is not good and required removal of the damper units at least! It just goes to prove that bonding in steel to GRP is not a good idea! The photo below shows the result of 52 years of water ingress.
Fortunately, the flat section that mounts the damper seemed undamaged. I cut away the bonding with a hammer and carpenters chisel and removed all the remains of the original rusted bar. As you can see there was not too much left of the original 1/2" diameter bar, particularly at the ends!
To replace this I used stainless steel studding, bent to shape and fixed it in place with P40 before finally bonding it in. Worst job was removing the Hammerite paint, which resisted a wire brush in the electric drill. In the end I resorted to paint stripper!
Next job is to remove the axle to modify the suspension mountings for larger Silentbloc bushes and add the Panhard rod brackets.
It will be nice to get to the stage of putting things back on the shell rather than removing them!
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I mentioned in the last issue that I met Claude Jaumoillie at the Le Mans Classic back in July. Claude sent me some photographs of his phase 1 (590 MTT) that he bought in 2009. From these it looks as though the rebuild is progressing nicely and the car has also been converted to left hand drive.
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Goodwood does not seem to be a happy hunting ground for Rochdales. At last year's Revival Tony Hansford's GT suffered a tyre failure, whilst at the Members meeting he put the car on its side. This year we had an Olympic entered by Roland Lewis (the ex Mike Youles car, ex 642 JAC). Unfortunately I understand that an engine problem after qualifying 12th in practice meant it did not make the grid.
The Editor was at the Goodwood Revival on the Sunday in Kermit and was approached by the new owners of the ex Malcolm McKay phase 1 (UFF 354) which was recently for sale at Anglia Car Auctions.
The new owners are Pauline and Emrys Jones , who I believe own a garage in North Wales. Hopefully, another car to return to the road shortly.
At the NEC last weekend I picked up a free copy of 'Classic Motoring'. Another new magazine, I wonder how long this one will last. In the Auction reports were two Olympics. One was the one mentioned above, the other a phase 2 listed as an unfinished restoration which sold for £3,808. This I assume to be VAZ 5915, which I mentioned last issue.
The October edition of Classic Car Weekly contained an advert for Rob Hilton's phase 2 (ELX 628C). I wonder if the £14,950 asking price was realized? Interestingly the advert refers to the shell being reinforced at the rear 'to tow a 500cc racer (although it was never used)'. Several Olympics, both phase 1 and phase 2 have been fitted with tow bars for relatively light trailers and in fact it was an option offered by the factory.