Monday, 11 August 2008

Where's Tinworm?

For anyone who doesn't know and is wondering why there has been no progress on the 101, I have been learning to fly at Sywell, staying up there and variously camping on the airfield or sleeping in the hangar.

Sorry if you haven't received responses to email. is the best way to keep in touch but I don't get online as often as usual.

see my flying blog:

Normal service will be resumed in September.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Dash it!

Finally, after a month of inactivity on the van and having handed the Magpie blog over to Magpie himself, I got down to the workshop yesterday and removed all the instruments from the dash. I struggled with one pull-push switch, which just would not come out. I got it off today, by brute force, unfortunately; there was really no alternative. I had first established from the manual that it was not an original fitting.

Today I cleaned up the dash, removed sticky binding from the stearing wheel and red-oxided the metalwork on the outside and hammerited the internal surfaces.

I am going to do it in a black crinkle finish, as Truman did so beautifully. I don't know if that is done over red oxide. I just took a gamble.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Wythall - 60th Anniversary of the J Type

I came home from Wythall last night buzzing with ideas. The highlight of the day had been seeing Dennis Bradley's inspiring JB tipper truck, sweetly finished in red and grey. It is an absolutely superb bit of work. I took loads of pictures (incl. detail shots) and a few short films....though, idiotically, I hadn't realised that I was taking the latter side-on, as I took them on my new phone! Dur!

Another highlight was meeting Bjorn and Mona Stensson, who had brought their JB Planner van from Sweden to the show. Bjorn's modifications are not quite my thing, but he has done them all elegantly, turning his van into a camper with insulation and an efficient Volvo heating system running off the Morris Oxford 1622cc engine. He is a clever chap. The ceiling of his van was even timbered!

Harvey Pitcher's van was beautifully finished with the livery of his wife's balloon company, Huff Puff and Away - clever name! A nice touch was helium filled balloons bobbing in the cab.

The only 101, that I am aware of, was Peter Page's fine looking, crested van. Peter, charming and bow-tied, told me about his trip to St Petersburg at a speed never higher than 40mph!

Here we see my mate John standing in front of Iain McKenzie's Meccano van. It was good to see it again. I first saw it at his workshop when I went to spend those few days with him, picking up some tricks of the trade and helping him make me some parts. This is one of my favourite J Types and I do hope that if he ever gets the chance to spend some time on her, he does it sympathetically because the tired look suits her. I appreciate that it isn't an original livery, but this is one where concours finish would ruin her authenticity.

Actually, I did think that about a number of vans there. Sadly, too many vans are used as business advertising and are therefore done in brand-spankingly new liveries and the slickness just feels wrong. People forget, these were working commercials. So, it was nice to see some of the less flashy vans, brush painted - the more human touch.

And speaking of the human touch, it was great to finally meet people who either got in touch via this blog or who introduced themselves as readers. I was pleased to meet Ken and Jill White and their grown-up kids. The Whites are new to J Types and restoring a planner van. (Incidentally, Ken, did you notice Bjorn's wings? I think they are fibreglass.) Steve and partner Teresa were taking research photos when I bumped into them....they were obviously doing serious under-the-floorboards research, so we quickly realised who we were and introduced ourselves Also I met Alex, whose JB is currently based at Iain McKenzie's, where it is about to go under the knife. Alex was anxious about her condition, but actually his JB has loads of potential, even though its rear cross member collapsed when it was being transported and had to be quickly shored up with a sheet of chipboard as a cross-sectional stiffener. Alex is an interesting chap. He drives freight trains, which seems to be a lucrative business - it is one I considered giving up teaching for last year. We will have to talk more about that, Alex!

On the subject of the humanely done van, it was sad not to see Magpie at the show, though of course I knew in advance that he wouldn't be there. A show doesn't feel complete without OBL. Also, I had hoped that Truman would be there; we had talked of it some time ago. Truman disappeared off the scope a few months ago and I am frankly a bit worried, him being in the Fire Brigade. I have just written by snailmail to see if I can raise him.

A real highlight was the official photographer throwing his toys out of his pram about me going up a bus maintenance gantry to take some photos, while the organisers were setting up an aerial shot of the show. In a squealy voice which belied his gruff, beardy appearance he yelled, "Hey, has anyone told him that only I am allowed up that gantry!" Woooooooooooo! LOL Silly man.

Though I know I wasn't exhibiting, I was a bit disappointed not to be invited to join in any of the photos, when all J Typers gathered under the gantry in front of the vans, but Mrs Pitcher stopped me to take my photo at one point, saying she was running a competition for best T-shirt at the show and would be doing a feature. Beth will be pleased!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Under the clock, carrying a rolled up copy of The Times, wearing a carnation

For those who don't know me but who have said they'll meet me on Sunday, I'll be wearing the bright green shirt my sister had made for me for Christmas this year.......with a J Type on the front. I may even have a yellow satchel type bag with a van on it (stuffed with camera, sandwiches and a notebook). Come and say hi.
Really looking forward to meeting everyone.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Cheers John!

John, seen here, has been round today getting me motivated and helping me put the leafsprings on the chassis. We cleaned up some of the anchor bolts, but John machined the one below and is doing some of the simpler ones too.

Cheers John. I owe you, big time!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Photos from Carl Jones - Leafspring process

Carl Jones very kindly took these pictures of my leafsprings being made.

See the finished products here


Sunday, 11 May 2008

Greased anchor bolt- thank goodness for John

John's a good man! Not only does he have the knowledge, but he is very generous with it. He made this anchor bolt in his precious spare time in school; and goodness knows, we get very little time to ourselves in school these day.

I am feeling enormously relieved now that I can just continue on the project in my own time, rather than the depressing rush and pressure I felt under to have a vehicle ready for June. My friend B says that I will enjoy the show more now because I won't be tied to my own van and will be able to get round more and see everyone else's. I will also be saving a few hundred pounds on getting the van there....which can be spent on the restoration.


Monday, 5 May 2008

Farting about and problem solving

Today, I rewarded myself for spending several hours marking assessments by spending several more farting around in the workshop - restoration takes quite a bit of farting about, and when not farting, standing round musing. John came round and took away two springs and some shagged anchor bolts, promising to return in a week or so with machined replacements. We have agreed that widening the holes in the mounting castings and widening the front anchor bolts on the rear springs will deal with the bush ID problem.

In the meantime I am refurbishing the rear shackles for the front springs. Today I spent about an hour cleaning up the threads and getting the worst of the rust off. The rubber bushes, surprisingly, weren't too bad. But I shall replace them anyway.

I let myself off the hook today, too. I may not put myself under stress to get a rolling chassis to the June event. It is a lot of expense and stress. I may just go along and enjoy the event and continue the project at a more natural pace......and save the money for the restoration. After all, the work is getting its public airing here.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Leafsprings, by Jones Springs Ltd

I just collected my leafsprings from NTG and the Jones brothers have done a bloody nice job on them. I was pleasantly surprised by the clamps which had been done as per the drawings and not in the compromise style I had seen on other springs at NTG. I appreciate the trouble Jones' have gone to in order to make the springs look original.

I checked, and the trouble they took with finishing the heads of the central bots was well worth it because, as can be seen in the picture above, they fit nicely into their seatings on the axles.

I am, however, a little anxious about the slack in the inside diameter of the rear spring bush. Carl had said he had difficulty with bushes and I'd imagined he meant with the OD. Looks like I will have to make some kind of shim to take up the slack.
I can't just make the bolt larger....unless I gingerly widen the holes in the castings which hold them on the chassis. This is one to discuss with my mate John. John is currently working on making me up 2 anchors with grease nipples.While I was at NTG's, Paul put some rubber bushes on my account. You can see them in the top picture.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

adjusted radiator stand

Well, as I said, I needed to take about 4mm off the near-side upright on the rad stand, which took a couple of hours of cutting, fitting, welding and drilling....but it is now done and the rad fits with room for packing, which I think is designed to deal with vibration. I am rather proud of it. The photo of it is rather dodgy, but it's something to be going on with.

The leafsprings are due back any day now; they were due back yesterday. I haven't done much else as I have had old and dear friends from America staying for a week.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Radiator's done!

More about this later because Sheldrake and Wells have done me some photos which are on the way, but for now, am chuffed to bits to have the radiator done. I am told that it is going to be the most efficient it can be; about 30% more than it was. And Andy, who did the work, advised strongly against getting one of those additional fans which can be put on the front to boost it. Apparently this is a two row Q pattern core.

As you can see, it looks great. Now that it is assembled, it is fractionally too tight for the stand which I made, but some simple modification should take care of it. I have done some measurements, and apparently the bending of the steel caused some loss of distance across the span....amounting to about 4mm in the worst places, so I have just removed a section of the near-side upright and bent an insert to weld in place some millimetres over. It should be fine. I shall finish that tomorrow evening.

I think I shall get some copper hydraulics pipe and replace the overflow pipe, as that is what was on it originally and it'll look a lot more in keeping. I really like the way Andy fitted the clips to my fabricated sides to hold the pipe. He also went to the trouble of removing the brass Morris plate and replacing it after painting the rad.

Thanks Andy.


Sunday, 13 April 2008

"B" channel reproduction with quarterlight surround

Got to get up in just a few hours for a 250 mile round trip on the motorbike ...."The Chip Shop Run", so I will keep this short for now. I spent a few hours this afternoon replicating a section of "B" channel which had rusted away completely. I am fortunate in having a section of it (top), which I salvaged from the Goat Lady's van, to use as reference. I was pleased with progress.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Spend! Spend! Spend!

This is going to be a week of big spending - the biggest yet in this project. Re-coring the radiator will cost over £200 and the leafsprings (incl silentblocs) are going to cost £611...but I am very excited about both orders because both are being done by top people.

I talked to Mark at Sheldrake and Wells yesterday and he showed me a slighly different core, which will be about 30% more efficient than the original. I will do a piece on this specially, but essentially, they remove the top and bottom, clean them out and solder in a brand new core, fit the sides, then paint the entire job. Mark has taken a couple of before shots and will take one in the process of being transformed. I shall let you all have details of the core later.

After work today I rushed over to NTG as they have very kindly agreed to let me send my leafsprings to Jones Ltd using their courier account, which ought to save me some cash - cheaper than Parcelforce etc. It also gives me greater confidence because NTG have a relationship with Jones, who are very highly recommended by them. NTG have done it on account, which is very decent of them.

When these bits are back, I will be making very real progress. By then the axles will be ready to go back on. Am still waiting to hear back from a friend about the size of shocks needed; anyone know?

Friday, 4 April 2008

Progress - The wisdom of a friend

I cannot believe how long this job has taken! Incredibly frustrating. I keep telling a supportive girlfriend I am making no progress and how I feel I have wasted my holiday, but she wisely pointed out that if I have been persevering with the job, which goodness knows I have been, then I have been making steady progress on a job which was just always going to take a long time. Some jobs do just take a lot longer than others.

Not sure if Sheldrake and Wells are open on Saturdays, but if not I shall take the rad into them on Monday afternoon, after school, to be recored.

Saturday morning update. Went to Sheldrake and Wells. Just caught them as they were locking up. The boss wasn't there. Left rad and sides. Talked to chap there who said that they will measure it up and order the core from somewhere else which has a 24 hr turnaround. They then do all the soldering on site. I shall not be working Monday afternoon, so I shall go in to see the boss. Apparently, you can choose a variety of cores, some of which give more efficient cooling....I think he called it SP2, which sounds just the job. Forgot to get a receipt, but never mind. Hoping to arrange to do some photographing; shame I didn't get this far this week. Working next week means not being able to see mine actually worked on, I reckon.

Time-consuming metalwork

I can't believe how long it has taken to make these radiator sides. I probably over-engineered them again....having to scrap a day's work because it just didn't work right. Incredibly frustrating. Anyway, today I am poitioning, drilling and welding-in captive nuts...made tricky by the fact that fixing holes in the cab are on two parts of the bodywork which I can't put together at the moment. Ah, well....any adjustments will have to be done to the bodywork later. Pleased with how well teh rad will fit my fabricated rad stand, if a little tighter than the original.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Carbs and Leafsprings

I talked to Colin (my engine guru) about him sorting out my carburettor, which he has agreed to do. I am taking two to him Tuesday night. One, the original, has an obviously broken bit, which can be replaced from a second one salvaged from the Goat Lady's van. Between the two it should be possible to make a good one which works, and as Colin still has my engine (click to see it running) I hope he will be able to set it up for me.

I also talked to Chris from Brost Forge today about quoting me for leafsprings, which he anticipates being able to do for about £120 per spring, but as he is not online, I have sent him drawings from the manual and a copy of this page showing the dimensions and the Jones Ltd quote, as he may be able to better it.

God, the metalwork seems interminable!

Today, as well as working on the radiator sides, which need loads of adjusting, I trimmed away some rusty sections of windscreen surround and formed and inserted some virgin steel, having removed surface rust from the inner surround. I think I shall MIG drill-spot weld the strip in place. It is larger than what can be seen here. Welding a tab, cut for the purpose, inside will lever it into place....but a tricky bit of welding may be needed along the fringe of fillet....though I am reluctant to do this partly because the material is likely to blow through and secondly because grinding it back afterwards will be tricky in a concave.

I shall then treat the rusty fillet and squeeze POR15 paste into the fillet to cure and strengthen it.