Sevens Unite

My new year’s resolution of getting an Austin on the road by December is looking less likely as I didn’t realise the impact of cold weather on my productivity, never mind it will happen just not by December

The Special’s LWB A7 Chassis

All the chassis parts for the A7 Special have now arrived so the now rustless Chummy will take a breather.  There is a rolling chassis where before there was a pile junk, some would say I now have a rolling pile of junk.

There are three things on an Austin Seven that could be seen as drawbacks, low power, poor brakes and a tendency the fall over when cornered.  I like thousands before me are going to have a crack at eliminating most of these on the Special and lessen them on the Chummy.

Difference between original and flattened rear spring

First off, the rear quarter elliptics have been flattened this lowers the car but also stops the rear steering that comes with the spring’s effective length changing as you corner.  The front suspension also now sports a flattened spring, a bowed axle and separate shockers, all these changes (except the shocks) mess up the caster angle so I’m waiting for some lowered ends that will be attached to the radius rods that in turn may have to be shortened but before that I need to install the engine and gearbox to see what their weight does to the whole equation.

While I am waiting for that to happen I’m coming to grips with the brakes which had been converted to hydraulic in such a way that the chance of stopping would have been purely accidental.  Needless to say, they have been consigned to the ever-growing scrap heap and replacement late model “Semi Girling” mechanical units installed.  These improved brakes were supposed to cope with the later model Austin 7’s which were quite heavy so on the Special they should be good?  Better? We will see.

Any student of Bugatti or Lancia mechanical brakes will be bemused by the terrible geometry of the Austin brake system but given that it was only Herbert and his young offsider that designed the car in a very short time it is a remarkable job for it’s day, however given its long production run you would have thought that a little more “design” could have crept into the braking system over its life.

Corroded scrap from A7 brazed to a new strip brazed to another new strip

On another subject, I have been at many car shows and have often seen people demonstrating welding aluminium on old Coke cans and have always been tempted to buy the product but thought it was all down to the skill of the operator.  The chummy has some aluminium panel damage so I have bought some of these magic brazing rods from eBay, the stuff works because it melts at around 370° and Aluminium melts at around 600° so it can be done without blowing holes, they claim it’s stronger than the aluminium also you can do it with propane or Map gas.  The picture shows my first attempt so I will need some practice before the main gig.

Posted in Austin 7 Chummy, Austin 7 Special | 9 Comments

Rust, Now in a Bucket

A bucket of rust, not to be confused with the next picture.

Plenty happening at the moment although as usual work is carried out serially not in parallel so it takes longer than it should or to put it more bluntly, I’m a bloke.  First off after the debacle of the Austin 7 Special that I purchased on Ebay sight unseen, I thought the best way to make amends was to buy another Austin 7 on Ebay but this time bidding only after an inspection.  It’s a 1929 Chummy and was a stalled project with the last work done about 15 years ago.

The restoration up to my ownership had involved mostly chassis work, body work with some rust removal and the two doors had been remade.  English Chummy’s have an aluminium body with a wood frame however most of those that came out to Australia came without the rear bodywork to give the locals something to do.  My car probably has a Holdens steel body which will be heavier but I can attempt to weld steel so more involving (cheaper) for me.

Patches tacked, more practice before final weld.

Here is a picture of the rear wheel well, it was only about 20% rust by area, the rest of the body is better so I thought I would do the worst bit first.  I have ruined a lot of perfectly good steel in the name of my welding education, Mr Youtube has also had a bashing but only to save even more steel, welding wire and gas.  By the time I finish this I should be pretty good at this welding thing so I suggest if you ever have the opportunity to see this car just look at the side I’m doing last …the right hand side.

After two and a half years and 12000 miles of Lambda ownership I have passed the initiation all Lambda owners must pass, that is replacing the head gasket which is something that I now accept will not be my last.  If you look at the accompanying photo of the block you will notice a few things:

  1. Cracks
  2. Corrosion
  3. Only six studs holding the head on.

The corrosion and cracks can be put down to an aluminium block that probably did not have anything but water in it for most of its 92 years of life. But the six studs are more a real estate issue where the inlet and exhaust tracts traverse the head with not enough space left for a decent number of studs so no supercharging this one.

The other car that received some attention is the Bebe Peugeot that now has a nice new  leather  cone clutch, this was a little bit harder than expected as it required some solid geometry or should I say it required me to Google someone else’s solid geometry.  The radii calculated were scribed onto a bit of 6mm chrome tanned leather cut and riveted with some lovely copper rivets found on …you guessed it Ebay.  The Bebe now drives well but the performance is a little underwhelming which I think has to do with the carburettor jetting, I would like to use my gas analyser but I fear the high oil consumption as oil drips out of the exhaust pipe may taint the sensor so will resort to trial and error and will only attempt test drives when the neighbours are out.



Posted in Austin 7 Chummy, Bebe Peugeot, Lancia Lambda | 6 Comments

Cool Runnings

It’s been some time since my last post, the problem being that I have retired or I’m between jobs one or the other and it seems that my time management is still in its infancy.


Original – New Core No.1 – New Core No.2

Nearly three years ago, I purchased a 1925 Lancia Lambda, from the first test drive it has run hot especially at speed, the radiator was an original one although probably not the original one, it wept from various places and showed evidence of many ad hoc repairs.  So after a trip or two to a recommended radiator man I had a shiny new radiator ….. the car still ran hot.  To cut a long story short after bringing the water pump back to standard spec, removing the head and applying a few pipes to relieve stream from pockets thitherto

Pic with thermal camera with first new core fitted

Thermal camera picture with first new core fitted

Taken with Nexus 6, Android 7.0

New Core No.1, looks good but alas no

unknown.  The car still ran hot.  I had eliminated everything or so I thought.  As is so often the case the actual fault was found by accident.  While lamenting my plight over the phone to a fellow Lambda owner with both of us staring into our respective radiator cap openings it became apparent that my new core was very low on tubes, a very poor design in fact so poor it was no better than the original knackered one.  So today with the help of Jim the local radiator bloke who soldered in a tropical core I have reinstalled the radiator this one has staggered tubes and more fins ( 10 tubes per inch instead of 4 and 11 fins per inch where there was only 7).  It appears that my temperature gauge is now broken as it no longer moves, a much better problem to have.


Bob’s new and my old bits


Brackets ready for welding

The Bebe Peugeot has been languishing in a corner of the shed with a small list of to-dos standing in the way of the great open road.  For instance, the front mudguards mounts were completely wrong and very flimsy, the car was also missing the small “Modesty” panel that covers her back end and the clutch needed relining.  Luckily Bob had parts I could use as templates and as I was relining the clutch I could trade all the clutch parts he needs to duplicate for the parts I need to duplicate so for the last week I have been bending, grinding and welding while Bob has been turning good pieces of steel and bass into Bebe clutch parts and lots of swarf.

The Sizaire et Naudin is at last complete again after the front end was completely rebuilt, I’m just going over it so it’s ready for sale, having crossed Australia from west to east and from south to north it’s time for someone else to try another continent to cross or maybe Australia diagonally?


There is a sparkplug in that grass somewhere

Back in 2003 I bought a rough Traction Avant to participate in a 2CV Raid to central Australia this involved fitting a ID19 engine and 4 speed gearbox and apart from some roadside welding with some car batteries, the car went well on the Raid and subsequently went to Perth with no problems, however all good things usually come to an end and the poor old thing suffered the ignominy of returning home on a flatbed truck twice in the last few months.  First when a spark plug blew out of the head hit the bonnet and disappeared never to be found and second when the 3 of the 4 bolts holding the inner driveshaft flange on fell off again never to be found.  Nothing that good maintenance by yours truly would have prevented.

Posted in Bebe Peugeot, Citroen 11BL, Sizaire Naudin, Uncategorized | Leave a comment