No 141 SPRING 2015
If anyone would like to volunteer for a position, please let the Secretary know so that he has time to recover from the shock before the AGM. However, nominations will be gladly accepted at the AGM and we will have the smelling salts ready. Someone has suggested that smelling socks would be just as effective.
To get the ball rolling, the incumbent Editor feels it is time for a fresh approach to the magazine and is intending to stand down by this time next year after 21 years in the post. So get volunteering if you want to live a long and fulfilling life.
Tony Stanton. It is good to report that Tony is well on the road to recovery, as you can see from his contribution on p11 onwards.
Roger Coupe has set up a photo album on Photobox of his various (re)builds. See it on http://www.photobox.co.uk/creation/3052581532
Les Brown has sold out of his Rochdale book. A terrific result, so well done Les.
There has been very little progress with Ugly Duckling since the last report due to a few other distractions.
The first was the GT Barn Find, details of which can be found below.
Then apart from winterizing my boat I was looking for a reason not to go out to a rather cold garage.
This gave me the idea to pull together some of the things I have written about my cars over the years. I called the result 'Rochdale Ramblings'.
If anybody is interested I will have some copies with me at the AGM.
Then as the weather started to improve another distraction came up.
The original petrol tanks on my Olympic started to leach though the GRP. The problem started to appear soon after the Olympic Flame event at Rochdale, so it was time to do something about You could call this one 'Creative Avoidance'.
So it looks like Ugly Duckling will have to hide away for a little longer.
Rochdale GT Barn Find Part 1
I must be going a bit daft (so what's new?). Put it down to old age and all that. However when Les sent me a copy of an advert for a GT Barn find I got interested. When we went to see it I got hooked.
The Bodyshell was purchased in May 1959 (Invoice Ref. No. 1087), but the car was never finished. It was moved around the country as the family moved house over the years. It was finally decided to have a clear out and so it appeared for sale for the first time after 55 years hidden away in a barn.
The rolling chassis and all the mechanical parts are completed including boxed in chassis side rails. Naturally after so many years in storage it will need to be stripped and refurbished.
The body is fitted in place, however there has not been any work done on the interior.
The car is riding very high on its suspension at the moment due to the fact that it still has a full set of spring leaves in the front and rear transvers suspension which was designed to take the weight of the original Ford Pop car.
The package comes with a lot of the original paperwork including:
All the correspondence and invoices from Rochdale Motor Panels
Also sales receipts for:
1:- Buckler 4.4 Crown Wheel & Pinion
2:- Buckler D Type close ratio gears
3:- 4 Ballamy wheels fitted with Michelin X Tyres
4:- Split axel front suspension
5:- Telescopic shock absorber conversion all round 6:- Rear Panard rod.
I do not intend to start work on this project until the ST is finished
But when I do I intend to restore it to its original period spec
So it is tucked away but peeping out of my temporary garage for the time being. In the meantime all I can do is line up the paperweight replicas of my 5 Rochdales and dream.
As expected, when Transport for London's proposals for this Zone came to be released for consultation, they included a blanket exemption for pre-1973 vehicles. They did this by amending earlier legislation. We have in our response to the consultation pointed out that, while 1973 was, at the time of the previous exemption, the same date as the date upon which VED ceased to be payable, the position has now changed. By the time the proposals become law, that date will be pre-1975, and the Chancellor suggested that the VED exemption should continue to roll forward on an annual basis.
In our response to TfL's consultation, we have proposed to TfL that they might wish to keep the ULEZ exemption consistent with the VED exemption.
In December our attention was drawn to news reports that a combination of local authorities who cover the Black Country had gained a High Court Injunction which was said to prohibit two or more vehicles gathering together in the Black Country between the hours of 1500 and 0700. Clearly the injunction was granted to enable these authorities more readily to police the increasing incidence of 'car cruising' which is seen as a growing social problem in their area. There are, we realised, several pre-existing High Court Injunctions, mostly in the Midlands, in similar terms. We made an initial approach to Wolverhampton Borough Council, one of the five Black Country authorities involved, simply to register our interest at this stage but expressing concern that our members out on a historic vehicle run might be caught by the injunction. Wolverhampton has sent us the precise text of the injunction.
While most of the injunction deals with obviously anti-social activities it does appear to rest on the implicit assumption that all 'car cruising' is anti-social. There is a question as to whether us more 'responsible' and often older motorists should be too supportive of suppression of the way in which a new generation of the young get started on an interest in cars, provided of course they do not otherwise cause offence and unhappiness to the public by way of bad behaviour, careless and reckless driving, noise etc. Were we all models of respectability and prudence in our younger more carefree days?
Be that as it may, on examination the Black Country injunction does appear to be rather widely worded. It appears to create a very slight risk that ordinary Saturday afternoon gatherings of historic vehicles might arouse the ire of someone in a community and thus be held possibly to be in breach of the terms of the Injunction. As the injunction includes a specific power of arrest, it might, in the hands of an over-zealous officer of the law, put some of our members at risk of, at the very least, some harassment and possible prosecution for Contempt of Court, the sanction which supports an injunction.
We will be considering this issue further and deciding whether or not to take it up with one or more of the authorities involved, with a view to getting a steer as to how as a matter of policy they would see historic vehicle gatherings, which might be of use to our members in case there was ever a problem in an area with an injunction in place.
The tax disc is no more.
Several of the issues we raised became clearer as the project progressed, but we remain concerned at how difficult it was to establish exactly what was planned until it actually happened. The DVLA made great play of how many people knew that the tax disc was going, but were strangely silent on how much private sellers and buyers knew about the fact that unexpired tax would no longer be able to be handed on by the buyer to the seller. We still have questions about this change, which we believe to have been put through with inadequate notice to citizens and little care for their interests. We are unclear as to exactly when the pre-existing licence is legally required to come to an end.
One thing we think everyone should be clear upon is that there has been no change to the process of establishing a new Registered Keeper. Nor has the V5C been replaced by new technology. It is still a paper document. It is still the job of the existing Registered Keeper when he sells or transfers a vehicle, to send the completed V5C, less the V5C/2 Tear Off which he has given to the new keeper, by post to DVLA in Swansea. Only when DVLA have processed the V5C is there a new Registered Keeper.
And we think it important also to remind everyone that a seller should never part with the V5C/2 tear off until the sale is complete and he has the buyer's money.
Another unsatisfactory aspect was that we were not able to see the online taxing process before it was introduced. Now it has appeared, our concern that the printable document resulting from online taxation would not satisfy overseas law enforcement officers as evidence that the vehicle is in fact taxed has proved correct. We will continue to press for a more convincing final output of the online process.
For those taxing at a Post Office the situation seems worse as we understand that all the keeper will have is a Post Office till receipt, and in the case of a Historic Class taxation there will be no receipt at all, as the tax is Nil Rate. The solution here is less clear but a printable final step to the Post Office process should not be beyond the wit of man.
And the double taxation row, whereby the licence becomes invalid immediately on sale, but the old keeper only gets a rebate in respect of full months, so loses some of his paid tax, is rumbling on. We have not given up on that either, though we do recognise that it only applies to newer vehicles, as for Historic class, and thus nil rate vehicles, there is obviously no rebate.
The good news is that we are not hearing any substantial issues arising from the changes introduced to deal with the discontinuance of the tax disc, though there could still be a few curiosities out there which we will keep an eye on.
Of course the absence of the tax disc means that the Vehicle Enquiry System has become the primary route for checking on the tax status of a vehicle. It is being improved and has been running as a Beta site. It is our view that this means that a way has to be found to correct longstanding known errors in the data held by DVLA, especially as they concern historic vehicles. Ian Edmunds describes elsewhere in more detail how we are undertaking this dialogue.
We have done some research on the question of whether, if members take their cars abroad, overseas law enforcement officers will recognise the new position where keepers have no actual documentary proof of the existence of valid taxation. The position of DVLA is clear. They have notified our EU partners of the change and they think that exhausts their legal obligations. They are probably right. So our advice to members is that it would be prudent to carry the best available evidence.
On examination, that is probably the confirmation page which appears at the conclusion of the online taxation process. It can be printed off and does carry the required information in a pretty clear format.
But we know we have members who, either because they are not online users, or because they consider that we ought to use the Post Office service, will wish to renew their tax at a Post Office counter. In that case, despite the suggestion we had received from a few members just after the changeover, the Post Office always prints out a till receipt. That is the case even if the vehicle is exempt from VED. In that case the till receipt is Nil Value. The counter clerk should always hand the till receipt (even if Nil Value) to the applicant. We would recommend that receipt be accepted from the counter clerk and carefully retained.
Members who might be taking their vehicles abroad should really give consideration to whether in that case using the online system, with its clear A4 size final page, is preferable to the Post Office till receipt
No doubt the next extension, to the end of 1974 in April, will go smoothly as we are aware of no planned new processes. Don't forget, anyone with a 1974 built vehicle, first licensed in 1975, doesn't need to wait until April to have the DVLA record date changed. And if you have a vehicle which you know crosses a later line (1975/1976 etc.) you could go ahead any time with the date change. In fact DVLA would rather you did as it spreads their workload.
Ethanol-free petrol: what are the prospects?
For those who aspire to an ethanol-free life (as far as their historic vehicles are concerned, that is) and wish to use exclusively petrol which does not contain ethanol in their historic vehicles, some recent developments may be of interest. Firstly, British Motor Heritage (BMH), a company more commonly associated with accurate replicas of 1960s British car body-shells, has launched a UK supply of petrol guaranteed to be ethanol-free. This initiative has been fairly widely publicised in the media in recent weeks, but to summarise: BMH will offer two grades of 100 octane quality petrol, i.e. with or without lead. The fuels will be offered in two different volume containers, the smaller of just under 19 litres, or just over four imperial gallons, while the larger container is the industry standard drum of 205 litres nominal volume (45 imperial gallons).
The announcement about the products offered by BMH raises some interesting issues. Firstly, some owners of historic vehicles may be wary of using 100 octane petrol in their historic vehicles. For almost 25 years, the well-worn myth that high octane petrol is not suitable for low compression engines has become currency in some quarters, despite not being based on any scientific evidence.
In fact, the appliance of science will easily refute this view, yet still it persists. Assuming owners are prepared to overcome their reservations, the ethanol free petrol could well be taken up with enthusiasm by many. This then raises the second issue: how to achieve a satisfactory vehicle range? It is clearly unsatisfactory to have to restrict the use of a historic vehicle to the range which can be achieved using a single tank of ethanol-free petrol. Longer journeys could become fraught if there are concerns about running out of the precious liquid, since the product is unlikely to be sold at normal filling stations. One solution might be to go back to the days of early motoring, when in effect the same problem existed, and motorists would carry one or possibly more two-gallon cans strapped to the running boards of their cars, to avoid the embarrassment of running out of petrol.
This takes us on to the final issue: how much petrol can be stored at home? This used to be a bit of a thorny issue, with cases of people hoarding petrol during supply difficulties resulting in a successful prosecution on at least one occasion. Fortuitously however, new petrol regulations have just been published under the heading of The Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 (PCR). The PCR came into effect on 1 October 2014, which dovetails neatly with the announcement by BMH of their new offering. For full chapter and verse on the legal issues and requirements it is best to seek out details of the PCR on the internet. However, a brief inspection reveals an approach which might be regarded as surprisingly helpful to those desiring to avoid ethanol in their petrol. In brief, up to 30 litres of petrol may be stored in either suitable containers, or a demountable petrol tank, without the need to notify the authorities, provided the total volume of petrol stored does not exceed 30 litres. The reference to a 30 litre demountable petrol tank covers the limitation on the volume of additional fuel which may be carried on or in a historic vehicle, over and above the fuel contained in a full petrol tank, to increase its range.
If it is desired to store a greater volume, up to 275 litres can be stored provided certain requirements are complied with. To store a drum (205 litres) of ethanol-free petrol for example, would require an individual to notify the local Petroleum Enforcement Agency (PEA) in writing. Storage requirements do not appear to be unduly restrictive, but would need to be clarified formally with the PEA. It would appear therefore that in principle, the bare bones of a strategy which could allow owners of historic vehicles to run them on ethanol-free petrol, and to overcome the range-limiting difficulties which this might imply, are at hand. As ever though, the devil is in the detail, and all those wishing to store ethanol-free petrol at home should check out the relevant regulatory documents to ensure both compliance with the law, and common-sense safe practice. The new regulations may be found on the following link. www.hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion/petroleum-regulations-2014.
DVLA Ian Edmunds
Firstly for this edition a few words about the operation of DVLA. It is an enormous operation employing around 5500 people on a large site and the total number of items of mail they receive is quite mind boggling. One of the methods used to assist in the sorting and distribution of this mail is to allocate different postcodes to different sections. Obviously it is in everybody's interest to use the correct address and postcode, so I am again grateful to DVLA for providing these details of the sections that most concern us.
First registration applications for an age related number (imported vehicle, or 'found vehicle'. No known previous GB registration number): First Registration Team, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BE
V765 applications: Kits and Rebuilds, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1ZZ Late conversions: Kits and Rebuilds, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1ZZ Reconstructed classic applications: Kits and Rebuilds, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1ZZ
Changes to a registered vehicle (including date of manufacture): Central Capture Unit,
Continuing on the theme of DVLA and our interaction with them I would like to offer a few suggestions regarding the documents that are sent to them. Whatever our opinion of DVLA as a whole we should always remember that the person receiving the submissions is an individual just like the rest of us and subject to the same stresses and pressures. Pause and consider which will make the best impression on them, an untidy selection of unidentified bits of paper all of different sizes which spill out all over their desk or a neatly arranged file of matching sheets clipped together in a logical sequence?
Some may by now be thinking of a phrase concerning grandmothers and eggs but I offer no apology. I see some applications that have failed for various reasons and whilst some are good others are less so. We all spend vast amounts of time and effort, not to mention money, on our vehicles to ensure that everything is just so but all too often the same efforts are not put into the all-important documentation. Every case is different and every document pack will be different but I would like to offer the following suggestions.
Handwriting: All documents should be typed wherever possible, this will not only look neater and be easier to read but will avoid any misunderstandings over legibility. The proliferation of home computers has made this task very easy but if for any reason you have not joined the computer age the younger generation will be able to do it for you in moments! Try your grandchildren, or failing that, someone else's grandchildren. A small inducement may be in order but it will be a small fraction of what you have spent on the vehicle!
Photographs: Photographs are a very valuable tool in this process but they must be clear, sharp and correctly exposed (not too light or too dark). This probably means taking them with a camera not a phone. Studio standard shots are not necessary but if the vehicle is in a very cluttered building then dust sheets or similar should be used to cover the background so that the subject is clear. If you don't own a camera of a reasonable standard you could consider contacting a local camera club; one of their members might assist for a small remuneration. If you, or the aforementioned grandchildren, have access to a colour printer digital photos can easily be printed but photo paper is preferable. More advanced grandchildren may be able to print several photos on to one A4 sheet which makes a very neat presentation. Failing that, smaller prints can be glued to A4 sheets.
Presentation: Put yourself in the position of the person receiving the package, a heading page telling them what it is about can only be helpful, a list of contents will help them find what they are looking for and if the case is anything other than very simple a concise explanation of the documents you are enclosing and why you are providing them may be worthwhile. As far as possible all documents should be of the same size and presented the same way up. Finally clip the package together in some way so the recipient receives it as it left you!
Thank you to all the members who have sent me kind words since my accident 13 months ago now. I am almost fully recovered now and looking forward to 2015.
Stoneleigh Kit Car Show Sunday 3rd & Monday 4th May 2015
** Just to let you know I have reserved stand Number 50C for all. **
ROC & FSCC & HISTORIC SPECIALS AND CLASSIC KIT CARS built before 1973
At the N.A.C. Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire the worlds number one show for every kit car enthusiast with old or new kit cars Sunday 3rd and Monday 4th of May 2015, from 9.30am till 5.30pm. (May Day Bank Holiday weekend).
All kit car drivers are admitted free of charge, passengers are £10.
You can camp on the site, tents and caravans, please contact the organisers office 01406 372600 for details and forms. http://www.grosvenorshows.co.uk/html/kit_car_shows.html
This is a very good cheap day out, over 4,000 Kit Cars, spares are cheap, where else can you buy brand new crossflow radiators for £15 to £20 and new electric cooling fans for £5?
There are 5 large Exhibition Halls and 600+ Trade Stands all the things you need for your rebuild or update. You can look at new kit cars in rolling chassis form indoors in the dry and warm which will give you ideas on suspension, brakes and drivetrain modification for your car. This is the best show of the year for kit car engineering.
Come to the main vehicular entrance which is located on the B4113, the Coventry to Leamington Spa road (follow signs for clubs and exhibitors (do not go into the Public car parks) post code CV8 2LZ.
PLEASE tell everybody you know with a suitable car and place details on websites if you can, let's have a good turnout of Rochdale cars.
Contact Tony Stanton (Rochdale Olympic 902 DUF) 01527-402367.
The main aerial photograph on the centre pages was taken about 1963. In the top right-hand corner you can see the groundworks for the tall Seven Sisters Flat (7). Yes there are 7 of them. The photo a) below is a 1950s map of the same area (turned through 180degrees).
At (1) are the remains of Rochdale Motor Panels factory in Hudson Street (A) after the fire of February 1961.
Photo b) below was taken outside the factory looking in the direction of arrow (A) towards the end of Hudson Street where it joins Spotland Road (E).
While Hudson Street is no longer there, the white building you can see in Spotland Road no (6), Owen Devaney & Sons Funeral Directors, is still there today. More photos can be seen on page 124 and 125 of the Les Brown's Rochdale book. Hudson Street and the surrounding area were knocked down in 1968 for the Falinge Flats.
In the photo c) below from the mid 1970s, no (6) is the rear of Owen Devaney & Sons in Spotland Road. The arrow points across Spotland Road, through the Falinge Flats, up what was Hudson Street to where Rochdale Motor Panels factory use to be at (1).
At (2) is the front of Rochdale Motor Panels factory from late 1961, in Littledale Street (B). Also look at the photo on page 8 of the Rochdale book to see Littledale Street from above in the opposite direction. If you stood on the arrow pointing out of Halliwell Street (D) you could have taken this photo (d) below (In colour page 165 in the Rochdale book).
If you look closely in both aerial photos you can see the lamp post and the RMP sign on the wall. Littledale Street and the surrounding area were knocked down in the 1980s and if you stood in Halliwell Street now you would see this photo (e). Note the cobbled street and the building on the left is in both the aerial shots.
No (3) is the rear of Rochdale Motor Panels factory, where the new Olympics came out the back door in to Ashworth Street (C). Photo f) is a shot down Ashworth Street from Mount Street taken in the mid 1970s. None of anything in this photo exists today except the Seven Sisters Flats (7) in the background, which are completed in this photo. If you look above the lorry facing us, you can see the arch of the transverse roof of Rochdale Motor Panels factory.
The building on the left at the bottom of the Street is Turners Factory working mans club (4). Look at page 211 in the Rochdale book and the photo at the top shows workmen at the rear of Rochdale Motor Panels factory and Turners Club (4) in the background. On page 210 at the top shows the workmen rolling the water tank out of the rear door in to Ashworth Street and on the left you can see one of the Seven Sisters Flats almost completed, so about 1964/65.
No (5) is Greenwoods Exhausts in Halliwell Street. They produced the exhaust systems fitted new to Rochdale cars and today 50+ years later they are still there in the same building.
Note to end on:- the main thing that struck me about all the late 50s and early 60s photos here and in the book is the lack of vehicles about, specially parked in the streets. I started driving in 1963 and I noticed a rapid build-up of traffic from then on.
An aerial view of the area in Rochdale
where Rochdale Cars were made.
How will YOUR car measure up to a visit from the Originality Police?
Many years ago, I remember my brother going to dig up some rhubarb for a pie, from his hen-pen (more Lancashire talk!). On that occasion, he found much more than he bargained for as he also dug up something he wasn't expecting - a hornet's nest! The air was instantly black with insects as the little blighters swarmed around him, stinging every bit of exposed skin they could find as he frantically tried to beat them off, and his head and arms quickly swelled to twice normal size, resulting in several days in hospital. I can't think why a piece on classic car originality should take me back to the events of that day
Well, how times change. Speaking as one who has never been able to resist 'meddling' with his cars, on buying my Olympic I did find the relaxed approach to originality from the club and owners most refreshing. Did the designers get EVERYTHING right on a car? Were certain features more matters of expediency rather than what was best? Was it possible to make significant improvements by spending a little more, either in money or care than the production line allowed?
British firms have long been famous for producing some truly great designs, but, unfortunately in many cases continuing to market them in completely under-developed forms. For many years the first question your doctor would ask if you went in to see him, bent double with a bad back was 'Do you drive a Mini?' In spite of loving my Cooper, therefore, I had no qualms at all about fitting seats from crashed/rusty Morris 1100s - almost as easy as fitting the originals! Or even black leather reclining Rover 2000 items - trickier, but it could also be done with determination.
And if you ever tried driving through a rainstorm with just the standard grille protecting the distributor, you would certainly be needing that tin of WD40 you kept tucked away in the boot... But Minis were made by the million, and no matter how many were modified/adapted/bodged there would always be lots more around to represent the designers original ideas, so superior in many ways to what followed.
But how does this apply to Rochdales? There never was a completely standard Rochdale, and even if you bought a complete Olympic kit, it seems that you weren't sure exactly what you would be getting until it arrived... In the early days of the club, it seemed that wide wheels, sunroofs, and Fiat engines were going in every other car, so what has changed? Is it our elevated ages that make us more conscious of shaking heads and tutting tongues? We all have our own views on these matters, so you might like to consider the following modifications, with the question - do you approve? Yes/No/Maybe!
1 Alloy wheels on an Olympic? Y/N/M
2 12V Alternators? Y/N/M
3 Triumph chassis on a GT? Y/N/M
4 Marina discs on a Phase I? Y/N/M
5 Flared arches? Y/N/M
6 VW wheels on a GT? Y/N/M
7 Front spoilers on Olympic? Y/N/M
8 Septum removal (Olympic)? Y/N/M
9 Vinyl wrap bodywork for GT? Y/N/M
10 K-Series engine in an Olympic? Y/N/M
11 Viva subframe in Olympic? Y/N/M
12 Cosworth V6 in an Olympic? Y/N/M
13 Wind-up Morris windows in a GT? Y/N/M
14 Widened bodywork on ST/GT? Y/N/M
15 Roof off a GT to make a convertible? Y/N/M
16 Metallic paint on Olympic? Y/N/M
17 Electric windows in an Olympic? Y/N/M
18 Sunroof for Olympic? Y/N/M
19 Mini door hinges on a GT? Y/N/M
20 Coventry Climax in a GT? Y/N/M
Score TWO points for a 'Yes', NO points for a 'No' and ONE point for a 'Maybe'.
Above thirty - best be careful at club meetings while below ten and it's 'have you thought of joining the police?'
For the record, my own score was 26, and I found myself with a surprising number of maybe's (to my own questions!). You will notice all of twenty of these have actually been done to Rochdales in recent years but have they improved the car? Were we right to do them or are we right to criticise those who do? There are so many grey areas in this matter, and I am probably one of the leading sinners, with a score of EIGHT of the above modifications that I have actually carried out myself! Here are a few thoughts about modifications, which may be worth considering:
1) Does it actually improve the car? This might be better handling, performance, appearance, economy or reliability.
2) Was it a modification that was possible to do in the period that the car was current?
3) Is it true to the spirit of the car?
4) Is it easy to convert the car back to standard?
5) Is the conversion well carried out?
6) Is the change hidden from normal view?
For any alteration which the answer to all these is 'yes' then I would say, no problem. More likely, however, there may be some answers which are less sure, and also things do change over the years. If you use your car as an everyday runner then priorities are likely to be very different than for one used mainly at weekends and shows. A 5-speed Toyota gearbox, for example, may have been a good mod with an A-series engine a few years back but (lack of) availability makes it much less practical these days.
Conversely alloy wheels - particularly Minilites - might have been possible in theory in the 1960s, but reality made them far too expensive for most people; I have fitted quite a few sets of these recently but must admit they are starting to look just a little pass these days. The whole issue isn't one on which everyone is ever likely to agree, and there are no doubt even those for whom the entire concept of our Rochdales is something of an anathema. What is a GT itself, for instance, but a heavily modified Ford Pop? But Rochdales were certainly a part their times, and if sensible (further) modifications result in a car being back on the road rather than sat in the garage, and it gives its owner pleasure, then who are we to complain?
However, in the case of rare or special cars (and no Rochdales are common - they must all qualify as classics by now) then an element of caution is increasingly vital. To some extent, we are all custodians of a slice of motoring history, and if we can pass on something to the next generation which shows them in some small way the way times we have lived through, that will be something of an achievement in itself. Above all, if you must modify - think it through beforehand and make sure that anything done is done properly - cheap bodges have no place on classic cars!
How many alterations from 'standard' do you spot on SVW 864K? (I make it twenty-two. Just think what you would see if I opened the bonnet! 1) grille 2) bonnet badge 3) bonnet springs 4) T-bar escutcheon 5) intake grille 6) Minor wheels 7) stainless wheelnuts 8) centre caps 9) radial tyres10) wheel drillings 11) Mini hinges 12) door mirror 13) Spafax wipers 14) screen washers 15) vent rings 16) GT badge 17) gutter channel 18) alloy door trim 19) alloy steering wheel 20) parcel shelf 21) headlining 22) flared arches.
This piece by Les Brown set me thinking. My wife thought I had gone to sleep, but no, I was thinking. I agree with almost everything Les says, in particular his 6 cardinal points. These should be writ large on the garage wall of everyone who works on these cars.
My score in his test was 22, but would have been much lower if negative scores had been permitted (for my pet hates). But it's all very well pontificating; what does one do in practice and in particular how does my current Olympic measure up? How does it differ from the same car that may have been built in 1962?
External: door mirrors, stainless steel door frames, MM van wheels, holes, low-profile radial tyres, halogen headlights. Nothing else I can think of, apart from the striking green paint.
Engine: 1275 A-plus; 1275 MG flywheel, diaphragm spring clutch; modified backplate; Swiftune SW5 cam, later sliding contact points in distributor.
Cylinder head: unleaded conversion; ported with high CR, large inlet valves, roller-tip rockers.
Induction: water heated manifold, SU HIF44 carb with modified needle and K&N style air filter.
Exhaust: modified tubular Mini manifold, modified two-box RC40 system.
Cooling: Ital radiator with Metro style self-venting system and electric fan. Axle: Reliant axle with Ford 8 drums and self-adjusting brakes.
Front suspension: tie-bars instead of anti-roll bar; repositioned rack; Triumph steering column; disk brakes with remote servo; modified dampers; Ital torsion bar adjusters; split subframe with central strut to assist jacking and bespoke engine mounts.
Rear suspension: second upper link on left; wider bushing; hemispherical upper doughnut bushes; steel thrust washers are smaller than standard; Panhard rod; 80 lb springs, dampers have adjustable seats and damping.
Interior: seats, steering wheel and retractable seat belts all from MX5; late Spitfire heater; fresh air vents; custom wiring, hazard switch; Triumph column switches, electric washer pump; Citroen rear side window catches; steel fuel tank with MX5 filler.
Total score. I make the total score 68, but there are probably quite a few I have missed. I have not counted internal trimming as this is always down to the builder.
How does it measure up to Les Brown's 6 cardinal points? I will try to offer an unbiased answer. 1) Car goes better, rides better, handles beautifully, easily exceeds 50 mpg and (touch wood) has had no reliable issues attributable to the mods.
2) Some were possible (including the rear suspension mods), but of course none that use parts from later cars.
3) Yes (but I would say that, wouldn't I?).
4) Yes in theory, except for the lack of period parts now.
5) See 3)
6) Most (apart from exterior features, which are unobtrusive anyway). Exceptions are seats, seat belts, steering wheel and column switches.
At a general level, I have not deviated very much from the original design, apart from the rear suspension, and the use of equivalent parts from later classic vehicles. It's still very much a Phase 1 Rochdale Olympic, so I plead 'Not Guilty' m'Lord.
With just four of the first run of books remaining, it is amazing how much information and interest has been stirred up about early cars, with STs seeming to be well to the front. One ex-owner who has gone on to join us in the club is Rod Porteous, who did much work on his car, 97 EPG in the late 1970s. The car would seem to be still around, possibly in Switzerland, and Rod is keen to make contact with the current owner, as well as find another Rochdale if possible. He e-mailed me:
Very many thanks for the book. I have started to read and it has rekindled my interest in the marque. There should be 18 photos attached in this e mail, which I hope have some use for your records. If the current owner ever contacts you I would love the opportunity to make contact.
The photos of the car in blue with hood are as I purchased it in the autumn of 1977, the photos were taken at 28 windmill way Reigate in the spring of 1978. I drove the car around briefly at that time, the engine being on its last legs and steering very vague with huge body and chassis flex.
The hood was professionally made with lift-out side screens almost as my Berkeley T60! The screen was a very flimsy structure but the grille very professional and sold with the car in 1981; shame the original grille is not in the red car. I set out the work I did on it in the club forum site, so will not repeat all the info again!
I converted the steering to rack and pinion from a Mini, shortening the track rods fractionally, and hung on the frame you see in the attached photos; the improvement was beyond belief - it no longer wandered around the roads!
At around that time I tracked down the original builder, absolutely amazingly he lived around the corner in Woodhatch, just south of Redhill, about a mile from where I lived in Reigate! How's that for a coincidence? Unfortunately when I went to see him he showed no interest and wouldn't even open the door to me speaking through an opened window. Who ever said Rochdale car owners were a special breed! [They certainly are! Ed]
Whilst your club records show it to be built on an E93A chassis I think this may be incorrect: I believe it was a Fordson 7W, the photo of the bare chassis may help you make that judgement? The running gear was definitely 7W as when I bought the car it came with a 1940s Ford spare parts manual and the parts numbers matched those on the car.
I think much of it was circa 1939? Does that sound right? Amazingly just before this Christmas I gave this manual to a chap in Hayling who runs a small garage and was restoring a Ford Y type. The parts manual had loads of notes, sketches and general scribbles about the original build, which I think the log book showed to be 1957? This parts book would be fantastic to reunite with the current owner. I am sure I could get it returned if the current owner contacted me. The Ford Y owner was delighted with it so the current owner I suspect would find it likewise! It would add huge provenance to the car. You will see the final shots were less the grey primer but almost as per the photos you provided of it on a trailer.
I visited the Rochdale works in the spring of 1978 I remember Harry being a man of few words which I interpreted as a lack of interest in the photos I showed him of my rebuild! I hope these photos are of use!
I hope this ramble is of some use, probably more so to the current owner I suspect, it was such a disappointment to me that I didn't finish it whilst doing 99% of the work the later owners now see!
The pictures of Rod's car were interesting, and I was able to line these up with early pictures of 97 EPG in the club files, presumably being built, and a late one of it, now in red and equipped with flyscreens. But the most interesting photos were the shots which Rod took at Littledale Street in 1978. The firms work had clearly taken them into other areas by that time, and what appears to be a complete Olympic shell was now deposited on the scrapheap at the back, along with another of the workmans huts they had made in the 1960s. I replied:
Well, how very interesting. Your car looks very much better than some of those early STs. Like the Type C, so much depended on how the body was fitted up to the chassis. Those Ballamy wheels make a big difference, but especially interesting is the screen. I couldn't get a good colour picture of one of an ST with one of these, so that seen on p100 of the book is - dare I say it - just Photo-shopped on!
I was thankful for any decent ST pics at that time. But you say it was flimsy? Well, both it and the hood look the part on the pics. Other nice parts on the car are the various chrome fittings you have - there's grille, bonnet badge, door hinges, wing mirrors and side lights, bonnet hinges, luggage rack, bumpers etc - they all go to make it look like a finished car, nicely proportioned too.
But the pics I REALLY like are those around the Littledale St factory. Nice to see Harry himself there, and the general condition reflects so much of the working buildings at the time. I think Harry was always most concerned with keeping the company's (financial) head above water, rather than look back at what had been achieved previously, which would fit in with your findings on showing him the old pics.
They would be 20+ years in the past, even at that point, and other cars would figure much more prominently in the memory. Especially interesting is the "back door" picture of the rubbish out there. How much would that shell, and workman's hut raise today? If you look on p215 of the book you will see the Ph II moulds leaving the factory. The guy in the middle, Dudley Guest, is on record as saying there was at least one other Olympic shell kicking around upstairs at that time, with other bits also.
There has been considerable conjecture as to the fate of these, but your picture would seem to clear the mystery up! Were there any other car bits around? I suspect it was all in the past by that stage. I have never quite managed to figure the geography of the place out (p8, p210). I guess your "rubbish" picture is up the side of the back door with the tank coming out? I would certainly have liked to include these last three pictures if they had been available at the time, would you be happy for me to use them or pass them on to other club members/sons etc?
Do you still have the originals? It would be nice to try to squeeze every bit of quality from the images we can - that aspect held up the original publication a good 3- 4 months last year. How many were working at Heetaire by that stage? Were there any caravans around? Were the ventilation pipes still being made, in glassfibre, or was it just house plumbing by then? Were there any caravans about? Harry's sons couldn't remember ever seeing cars there, but had seen caravans - your visit is interesting as it pin-points the year to 1978.
I wonder what year they closed? I suppose I could trace when the new houses that occupy the site today were put up, and I believe Harry would have been 65 around 1985...
Franks Butterworth's son is looking for a workman's hut, but doesn't rate my chances of ever finding a caravan...
Best wishes, Les
Sorry for the delay in replying. I ALWAYS mount my photos with names of people in them and with dates so I can reassure you that the dates are correct.
I have no problem with you using the photos, but would ask that you acknowledge me for them, it would also be great to see something in print about 97 EPG putting together info that I have supplied over the past few e mails with photos. When I bought the car from the soldier in Pirbright he was going to scrap it as the engine and gearbox were shot, back in those days it was considered to be junk.
My father encouraged the project as a way to learn some practical skills. I did a huge amount of work on the car and really got it to 99% complete and was highly disappointed not to have finished it, it was fully running wired and just needed a coat of paint! But I did end up in Fiji which led to a fascinating career in water.
What did surprise me at the time was the condition of the chassis which had original paint over 90% of the frame, this was at odds I remember with the 7W parts used in places, perhaps from an earlier date? I often wondered if the chassis had been bought as a separate item or from another scrap car as the reg plate 97EPG would point to an earlier base car than E93A that the club document suggests, wouldn't it? Perhaps special builders were mixing and matching suspension components?
When I visited the Littledale works I think there was more than one Olympic shell! There were certainly parts? of car-shaped moulds and other scrap, which could have been pipes, and I well remember a large pile of items but now couldn't be certain of what it consisted of. There were no caravans though!
The book is great, the development of GRP used in cars is fascinating and not something I have read much about. 97 EPG was definitely ALL chopped strand with no woven rovings. In fact when I bought my Berkeley T60 (built 1959) I was amazed at how similar the chopped strand shell was with my old ST. I am not sure if you know the Berkeley was designed by Laurie Bond of the Bond fame; he was looking to build a GRP car, I wonder if he got his ideas from the Rochdale connection. Bond partnered with Panter from Berkeley Carvans in Biggleswade to build them. Interestingly Berkeley also had a major fire that was a turning point for the business. Motoring history is fascinating and relatively unrecorded were it not for clubs like yours piecing it all together!
When I first bought the ST I thought it pretty ugly and couldn't believe the terrible cut away front arches, in fact I thought the panels had been damaged and cut back as a cheap bodge. I made cardboard infill panels and taped them to the arch to see if it improved its looks, and it did! I then tried to make a foam sandwich sheet of glass fibre using cork sheet as the fill in the sandwich, my father worked in hovercraft construction and I was aware of the Australians building foam sandwich dinghies, unfortunately the results were not that good due to the release agent not releasing from the sheet of ply I used as the mould! And the idea was subsequently dropped due to lack of time!
The Type F advertised by a Porteous in your book has no known link to my family although we are a small overall family, only 500 family branches worldwide, so I suspect we must be related somewhere!!
I still have a head of hair and am still married to the girl sitting beside me in the photos, who still tolerates my passion for unusual cars!!
I have been on the look out for a Hamblin Cadet Super Two Ford 1172 special for a great number of years and any help your members could give in locating one would be appreciated. It constantly amazes me how many Ford specials come out of barns. I recently found a Buckler Mk 10 in Chester so I am still hoping for the Hamblin!
There certainly is lots of early cars out there, an American friend sent this earlier this week. Unfortunately, it's in Surrey, Canada, and not a Rochdale, but a nice car for all that, and just shows what turns up.
Porteous isn't a name I have come across elsewhere, and I was sure you must be connected to the FType owner when you got in touch, but it's a small world.
The open wheel arches are indeed a curious part of the ST design, and perhaps a bit like the Daimler Dart trying to make a nod at two conflicting styles. I did contemplate what it would be like filled in, as there have been some quite clunky cars out there. However, yours looked very nice, and I can see why you were unhappy to part. James Farrington had details of the car up to 2010, when he thinks it may have been sold to an enthusiast in Switzerland. There are certainly a number of Rochdales headed to both Switzerland and Germany, but we haven't had any further contact in this case. Another interesting point is the rear lights - Roger Coupe has had me racking my brains for just what the original intention had been to use there. It looks like it was designed with a particular set of lenses in mind, but the triangular layout of three circular lamps was the nearest I could get!
Great that you are positive about the factory pictures - so many of these things had me scratching my head and trying to figure out the most likely alternatives. No rush on the pictures, and your scanner may well be as good as the one I am using. I was quoted 300 dpi for use in printed books, and was held up for several months while I tried to get existing pictures up to the highest quality I could. The ST pics I put in the last magazine were a little fuzzy, and I managed to get the negatives from "Jack" for scanning - and mine were no better! The limitations were in the original negatives in that case...
I have seen a Hamblin at Burford a time or two - are you in contact with the Fairthorpe and specials club mentioned on the back end-papers? They probably have more details on the Hamblin situation, and I will probably be joining myself in the near future.
I think thats everything for now!
Best wishes, Les
As you will have gathered, Rod would like to hear from anyone with further details of 97 EPG since it was sold around 1980.
97 EPG after restoration & repair by Rod RP (late 1970s). Note surprising overhangs
97 EPG with original grille and attractive split screen & hood (very flimsy reports Rod)
97 EPG in the process of being built, perhaps Fordson7W (van) based
97 EPG in more recent times. Now in Switzerland?
Harry Smith seen outside the Littledale Street factory
Perhaps six years after the last Olympic was sold, there was no room for nostalgia in the 1970s.
All photos Rod Porteous
Recently I made a 300 mile trip in Kermit with our Olympic Registrar Derek Bentley. Normally I have no car problems, but on this day it rained most of the time and also darkness fell on the return. This combination was to uncover weaknesses.
It had appeared OK at the start, although couple of time we had heard a sort of brief whooping sound alternator belt slipping? Then after about 70 miles there was a slight misfire; when it recurred we stopped and checked, but all was well in the engine bay. From then until we reached our destination no more problems.
The return journey went well for about 70 miles, then the misfire recurred and got rapidly worse. Also, darkness was falling and the headlights didn't seem as bright as usual. Eventually we staggered to a halt in a layby to have a good look. Fan belt now looked slacker, so this was tightened. As the engine revved freely, we suspected the clickety SU fuel pump, so the electronic back-up pump was brought into service and on we went.
Misfire now seemed to be cured, but the headlights were no brighter. This was worrying we still had another 70 miles to go. It was still raining and the wipers, never very fast, barely scraped across the screen, another symptom of low battery voltage. Would the battery last? It didn't look good when the indicators stopped working. Progress was now difficult, with poor lights, ineffective wipers and dazzle from oncoming cars. Several times Derek, who was driving, needed quick reactions to avoid collision with the verge. Not good. Definitely not good, but by then we were less than 20 miles from home.
Then the engine stopped. Luckily it was right by a gateway into a field, so out we get and manoeuvre the car off the road into the muddy entrance in the falling rain. What fun! (What fun?) Ring the missus, 'Can you come and collect us?' 'Where are you?' 'Not sure, but just short of a crossroads' we had stopped at the signpost. Luckily the satnav, which we had turned off to save power, still worked and gave us our location. Managed to explain our position and waited. Luckily, the hazard flashers still worked. These didn't seem to be so badly affected by the low battery voltage, so they were operated every time a car hove into view when we thought our get-you-home service was due. Very soon salvation arrived. Relief all round.
We discussed events and concluded there were two, probably unrelated, problems just waiting to emerge under the right conditions. First was fuel starvation, possibly due to a tired pump, but also possibly due to modern fuel affecting the filter in the pump and causing a partial blockage. It is also possible that a lower than normal battery voltage could affect its operation. Either way, an electronic back-up pump solved the problem. Just as well to have a plan B.
Secondly, the alternator was unable to keep the battery charged with the headlights on and the wipers going. It should have no trouble with that load, so obviously this needed sorting.
Next morning (early) we return to the car with a spare battery, which was used to jump-start the engine as it was not possible to get the recovery car close enough to make the connections. The drive home in daylight and no rain was uneventful, so this meant the alternator was now working. Make note:
check pump and either get a new alternator or do some maintenance - brush renewal maybe?
It just goes to show that problems may not show under benign conditions, but when the going gets tough I believe it's called stress testing.
Despite the cold weather and the requirement for new kitchen units, progress on my Olympic has continued!
I mentioned in the last issue that the next job would be to remove the axle to modify the suspension mountings for larger Silentbloc bushes and add brackets for the full width Panhard Rod. I had acquired a Panhard Rod from a scrapped phase 2 some years ago and decided to see if this could be adapted. By cutting and re-welding the bracket that bolts to the bodywork this could be fitted to the panel that separates the axle area from the boot at the offside of the car. This panel was suitably strengthened by laying up more GRP on both sides. This end of the Panhard Rod is threaded and located by small diameter 'donut' bushes with the usual RMP adjustment by adding or removing washers.
But what to use at the other end? To clear the back of the differential casing the Panhard Rod would meet the axle at a slight angle, so a Spherical Bearing Rod End (Rose Joint) was selected, but what size to take the forces involved? I picked up a Rally Design catalogue at the NEC and noticed that the Panhard Rod kit they sell for the Mark 1 Escort uses a UNF version, so reasoned this should be OK for the lighter Olympic. I also ordered a rubber boot to fit the Rod End to keep out anything thrown up by the wheels in use and hopefully prolong life. A bolt, less head welded into the end of the tube meant that I had adjustment at both ends if my measurements of required length were not perfect.
With the axle off the car the mountings were altered to suit the wider 'Silentbloc' bushes, sourced from the Triumph Dolomite and readily available from Rimmer Brothers. I left the inner part of the bracket and welded the second half of the bracket further outboard. This meant that the trailing arms were now parallel, whereas originally they had been closer together at the axle end than the body end. Whether this was intended by RMP or just a result of poor workmanship remains a mystery. Certainly the original eyes in the trailing arms were welded at right angles to the rod, so the bushes were always being twisted at an angle. That and their narrow width probably explained their short life when the car was in regular use.
The axle could now be refitted, but having repaired and reinforced the top damper mountings I discovered a problem in refitting the offside damper unit. I remember Harry Smith mentioning some years ago that if his 'lads' were over generous with the GRP around the top damper mountings then they had to modify the damper itself to fit. Needless to say one of mine had obviously been originally 'a bit thick' and the extra GRP I added meant that there was insufficient thread left on the damper unit to fit the top nut. So, out with the hacksaw, cut off the top of the damper and weld on a longer bolt. That should give a future owner a bit of head scratching!!
The brake shoes on one side were soaked in oil, so new ones were required. Having investigated several sources for Riley 1.5 ones I remembered that Mark 1 Escort were interchangeable, although the linings are actually slightly shorter. Burton Engineering provided a set of four at the reasonable outright price of £18.76 including next day delivery.
Some years ago I had turned the backplates through 90 degrees, so the handbrake cable was at the top of the axle rather than the bottom and hence did not foul the undertray moulding over the exhaust. 'A' series rear axles are prone to leakage from the hubs and new oil seals do not always cure the problem completely. The brake backplate contains a top hat section pressing around the hub to prevent any oil leakage reaching the brake linings and a drain hole is provided in the axle casing. However, this drain hole can block up, particularly if you are over generous in painting the axle casing. So, occasionally clear out the drain hole with a piece of wire and hopefully any leakage will run down the outside of the backplate (inside relative to the car) and save the linings. Just remember to wipe off the excess before the MoT man sees it!
Last job on the axle was to fit the 3.55 differential, bought some years ago. I understand they are now rare and difficult to obtain at a reasonable price.
Next job, as a break from GRP work is to re-assemble the MGB engine. As this was originally bought and stripped in the late 1980s, finding all the bits that have been stored in several boxes and lockups over the years proved to be a challenge. The engine being used is the late 5 bearing, 18V model. The block has been bored plus 60 thou (The pistons were bought cheaply in 1992!) to give a capacity of 1868cc.
Following the advice in Peter Burgess book on tuning the 'B' series engine I removed the brass plugs so that the oil ways could be cleaned out. They were removed by drilling and tapping and then using a bolt as a puller. However, that meant that new ones would be required and there are five in all. SC Parts, based near Gatwick list them on their website, so they were duly ordered, together with a few other small parts. However, when they arrived they were only 6mm diameter, whereas the required ones needed to be 12.5mm.
A long conversation then ensued with the lad at SC Parts. I thought I would be in trouble when he asked which MGB I had, but was surprised and delighted when I explained and he replied 'Oh yes I know the Rochdale Olympic'. True to his word he came back the following day to say he had found the correct size plugs, but it was never explained why their website and part numbers were wrong.
As the original camshaft had suffered corrosion due to bad storage I am proposing to use a Kent 714, classed as 'Mild Road' and was again bought cheaply from an Autojumble some years ago. Slightly worrying is that Peter Burgess does not rate this particular camshaft, so it may not be a wise choice!
What I am trying to achieve is an engine with good torque for cruising. Hopefully with the extra capacity and HRG head this will be achieved. Watch this space.