oldcar

1922 Fiat 501 Targa Florio

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I really should apologise to all the Italian car enthusiasts re: the above.

The only excuse and this may make matters even worse, that I can offer is that, not that I expect anyone to recognise it, the Rapier "special" shown above (and below) to give it it's full title is the AMILCAR-Rapier! The chassis came from a late 1920s G Series Amilcar, not that I would expect too many Amilcar people to recognise it now. It came to me as just the bare frame with the rear section already cut off.

 

Golly! Two black marks! A French Chassis and English motor, transmision and axles.

I had better stop here!  I promise that I will only talk here about the Fiat in future.

And lots of photographs after the 501(3) arrives home next weekend.

Bernie j.

 

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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While I am waiting for the Fiat 501 to arrive here are two photographs from the archives of how you could expect your new car to look in 1922.

The second shows a chassis ready to go off to the coach0builder of your choice.

 

Bj.

 

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After a little delay the first consignment of Fiat 501/3 stuff arrived yesterday for me to start sorting and cleaning. Taken individually there are some really nice bits......

The next question is "Doesn't everyone buy cars like this? 

Note, the "Horse Art" displayed on the carport wall is a remnant from a different period,

Our son Steve has just sent me the attached cutting. Steve very kindly came to assist in the unloading. He seems to developed an interest in Early 1920s Fiats. It is an hour drive each way for him to visit.

That the attached cartoon may have some relevance but I am not sure how?

Steve tells me that In the Steiner School philosophy, it is a proven fact that children choose their parents.

 

Bernie  j,

 

DSCN5876.thumb.jpg.af8adb683afb2ef62b1585d62892dad6.jpg

 

image1.JPG.011552841b6423e8e72fc65e37bee81b.JPG

ELISKA JUNKOVA: THE CZECH RACING QUEEN OF THE JAZZ AGE.

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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While I am waiting for the previous owner to decide what he is doing I am slowly taking apart the few pieces that he must have overlooked.The Bonnet (hood) is fairly sad but I would like to retain it because I doubt that anyone could/would replicate the Louvers on either side piece

Removing the hinge pins looks like it may develop into one of those painfully slow tasks. only time and some effort on my part will tell.

DSCN5883.thumb.jpg.13aa65f520417003820db34413b07ea0.jpg

 

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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Taking less time, having left the water pump to soak in some penetrating oil, I am now  able to turn it, albeit a little tight. Some more soaking and I should be able to fully dismantle it and clean it up properly. I will need to drill out two "headless" screws among the half dozen that retain the cover over the impeller. Then I can run a tap down the threads and replace the six little countersunk screws when I re-assemble it.

Unlike any number of would be restorers, I will not throw all the bits into a container and leave them on a shelf until I get a "round toit". 

On the subject of "round toits', I know some people who have been looking for "years and years" and not found them either! They probably put them in the same container as the "round toit",  the "some time" and a little bit of "spare time" ?

Oh well - back to work!  Just as soon as I get a "minute"................

 

The good news is that the rest of the Fiat should now be delivered on Sunday morning. Meanwhile I spent most of yesterday afternoon sorting out the windscreen. As the frame for the bottom half  of the windscreen is missing, the upper half is to be used. This will require some modification to the windscreen pillars, This is now well in hand and I will include some photographs once they are completed. Observant people will have already noted that they have had a "hair-cut" in preparation.

 

Bj,

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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In Australia it is already Friday afternoon, for a variety of reasons I seldom make it out into my garage on a Friday, so here is where I left off yesterday afternoon.

I have, in the process of cleaning up the two pieces that attach to the top of the scuttle to support the windscreen i have discovered that both are stamped with a number. 6382. As the same number is stamped into both pieces it is not a part number but I believe it is the coach-builders Body Number and in the absence so far of any other identifying number, it will take on that role. DSCN5889.thumb.jpg.e48b951615fc7192145ed3f7a9a276bc.jpgDSCN5886.thumb.jpg.67a2cb0a507a737afe5de8db23497174.jpg

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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The purpose of this exercise is to use the existing frame from the top half of the windscreen  together with the shortened "pillars" to create a new short windscreen more or less, a full width "aero-screen" similar to the one on Madame Junek's car.  This will incorporate the two wedge shape pieces to attach it to the scuttle top.

Unfortunately to see the completed article you may have to wait (patiently) for some little time until I have built and panelled the body. ( in three or four months time).

 

 

Bj

 

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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I now have all the Fiat 501 parts under the one roof and will be able to start work seriously.  The good news is that one motor turns over smoothly and should be OK with a valve grind and new piston rings.  Unfortunately the other is well  and truly locked up. The Chassis and wheels can go off to the sandblast works within the next two or three days and work can start. I am missing one front spring but that is relatively a minor problem. I am sure that I should have no trouble obrtaining another. Perhaps when Neil has a tidy up he may find the missing one. What is more important is that now I have virtually everything I will need to erect a rolling chassis. Also I can positively say that the car is a 1921/2, 501 with rear wheel brakes only. I even have not one but two pair of headlamps. The engine number stamped into the one cylinder block has a matching number on the brass tag on the crank-case. Both radiators are relatively dent free and one in particular looks to have led a drama free life for the past 97 years. Officially the engine number is 1144720. As the cylinder block has a separate exhaust manifold this makes it one of the second edition motors. The other motor has the earlier one piece block/exhaust arrangement.

As you can see in one of the photographs I have even gone to the expense of buying a new wire brush. Finally to calm the nerves of the people that have reeled back in alarm at the vision of the broken section at the front of the cylinder block may rest easy This is the mounting for the radiator fan and I do have a matching spare (intact) block.

As they say at the Olympics, "Let the games begin."

 

Bj

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Bj.

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It's like a giant real life puzzle that needs to be put together! :)  But I have no doubt that you can do it Bernie.

 

The frame looks absolutely tiny when compared to the size of the wheel/tire of the late model car in corner of the picture.

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Hello Paul

I think that the camera is playing tricks. That wheel is on my wife's VW Jetta. That and the frame is actually quite straight.

You will have to keep watching for developments. It is a holiday long weekend in Australia this weekend but I will organise for my friendly sand blast man to collect the eight Fiat wheels, the chassis and some other bits on Tuesday or Wednesday.

In the meanwhile I can start pulling the engine apart. It will get a valve grind and some new piston rings. I will probably have about 30 to 40thou machined off the cylinder head to bring the compression ratio up a little. The  combustion chambers are a little like bath-tubs.

You are right about the puzzle, I just hope that not too many bits have been lost in the 40+years that it has all been stored in boxes   and lying about in bits.  I know already that there are one or two little parts that have fallen through the cracks.

Bj.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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I hope that you are all holding on tight. things are slowly starting to move. The cylinder head and the block have gone over to my friends at Crankshaft Rebuilders to go in their "hot tank'" and then to have the matching faces machined. Then the cylinder bores cleaned up. Right now I am sorting out the load of stuff to be sand blasted, they are to be picked up first thing tomorrow morning. This included the chassis frame, eight wheels four running board (step) brackets, the three pedals, brake, clutch etc. Once these have been done they will come back primed and ready for paint. Before they are painted I will have to decide on a colour. I have talked about "Deep Indian Red" a colour that I have  used once before. I am not a big fan of "red" for old cars. I always think that they look "Cheap" This is a "Killrust" Epoxy Gloss Enamel. It brushes on to give a smooth knock resistant finish. The Deep Indian Red is dark enough to avoid looking "cheap & cheerful" and it leaves me with a range of complimentary colours to use with it. I will paint the Radiator surround and the Windscreen-frame with the same colour. 

 

Bernie j.

5aa7a9ec5258f_MelbourneMotorBodyCo..thumb.jpeg.c1c40f8af61d5f72e335d583f36fa65a.jpeg

Look what I found at the bottom of one of the containers of bits.

Bj.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Bernie, you are jumping right into this one!

 

I couldn't resist doing a search to see what the Killrust Deep Indian Red looks like. Nice color, to me it should be very complimentary to this age of car. And yes, a bright red would be 'out of place'.

 

deep indian red.jpg

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Hi Paul

When you get to my age* there is a very strong argument against waiting to see what variety of grass is growing. I just hope that there are not too many "old Indians' who will take exception to my using their red. I have used it before on the Dodge "Flying Four" and I think that it is an appropriate colour.

Bj

*9/11/36.

5aa9e1ff8738c_FlyingFour006.jpg.c5ae365672167e42bfc66d00775ecfa1.jpg

 

 

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What a busy day, my friends from Blast-off have collected a load of "stuff" to be sandblasted and given a coat of etch primer. Then this afternoon has ben spent finishing removing the sump from the crankcase and removing the four con-rods and pistons.

I am pleasantly surprised to discover that the three main bearing crank is machined all over and drilled for pressure oil to be fed to both the main bearings and the big-ends.  Like wise the con-rods are very nicely made and machined all over. The white metal big-end bearings are also in excellent condition and appear to have done very little running. I will organise some more photographs in the morning after I have given everything a wash.

It would appear that once I get the cylinder block back from "Crankies" that it will be a straight forward clean and re-assembly .

DSCN5898.thumb.jpg.edfa00901c1a7768b03ef6c4950de5b7.jpgDSCN5899.thumb.jpg.276622aeb05065c9fe85badd8f79d342.jpg 

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Hello Bernie

It is good news that the bottom end is so healthy. Does it appear rebuilt or low mileage? Hopefully you have other components in such condition.

Did Melbourne Motor Bodies ever produce a catalogue of the bodies they produced? The 1928 Riley Nine roadster project was reputed to be a Melbourne Motor Bodies product however there were no body plates with it.

Have you seen this 501 with a Melbourne Motor Bodies?

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Matthew

Edited by falconriley
New information (see edit history)

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Thank you for including the interestion Fiat photographs, The colour shown on the tourer is very near my choice of Old Indian Red.

I haven't looked for any information re The Melbourne Motor Body Co but I am sure than somewhere on the internet there is a fund of Information.

Attached photograph is of the Fiat parts ready to go to be sand-blasted and primed.

It is essential to get some primer on as soon as possible after sand blasting as the bare metal is very prone to rust; almostwhile you are looking at it. I am sending 8 wheels and then I can pick out the six best to be used on the Fiat.

N.B.  I am NOT sending the radiators to be sand-blasted.

 

Bj

 

DSCN5897.thumb.jpg.1c1b0a1cf4f9e2dc5d63efb1175e4d6f.jpg

 

Bj

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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Trove tells us this about Melbourne Motor Body Co. 
MELBOURNE MOTOR-BODY CO.
The name of the Melbourne Motor Body
and Assembling Co. Pty. Ltd. has been
changed from February 24 to Ruskin
Motor Bodies Pty. Ltd. The original
company was formed in 1905 in
South Melbourne by Tarrant Motors
to undertake body building solely for that
firm. Expansion of business led to a move
to Exhibition street, and later to Lonsdale
street, where bodies were made for the
Allied Motors group. In 1925 it was de-
cided to reorganise the business as an
entirely separate company to build for the
trade in general, and £300,000 was spent
on a plant in Dudley street, West Mel-
bourne. Mr. P. L. Strong is the managing
director, and Mr. R. G. Fernie is the general
manager of the company, which has ob-
tained contracts for bodies for many
British, European, and American cars. Ex-
cept for the change of name there has been
no alteration in the constitution of the
company.
 
For the complete story on Coach-building and the Australian Motor Body Industry
There is a fund of information from the 1890s to present day.
 
Bernie j.
Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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FAMOUS LAST WORDS........

How often have you heard this? Often about cars that have just been pulled out of a barn after a nice long sleep.

Yup! It turns over nicely and has quite good compression, the oil on the dip stick looks nice and clean, we will just top up the oil pan and see how it runs?DSCN5900.thumb.jpg.2067564c95c6ddc13a972d9f7d089cd3.jpg

 

Look again, the oil pump "pick up" is buried somewhere under all that gunk somewhere in the left hand rear corner. The oil pump drive is directly above it in the left hand rear corner. This is driven by a pair of gears at the rear end of the camshaft. Oil is delivered to the relief valve via the larger of the two holes in the right hand back corner, the excess oil goes back into the oil pan via the slightly smaller of the two holes. Oil is fed at full pressure to the three main bearings then via drillings in the crankshaft to the big-end bearings. Other oil is delivered to the timing gears, camshaft bearings, etc. 

The oil level is shown in the little round window via the round black ball (float) in the centre. There is a fine mesh screen halfway up above the oil level attached by the 18 round head screws that go into the lugs cast into the side of the oil-pan. All oil going back into the pan goes through this screen. Excess oil from the main bearings etc drains back via the pipe in the centre of the left hand side.  All very neat and well thought out for what was a low to medium priced car in 1920/23. Absolutely no "spit and hope" or "splash with a dash" as with so many of the comparable cars of the period.

Looking at the diagram (below), the small gear directly behind the main timing gears drives a cross shaft that in turn drives the water pump at one end and the magneto at the other...... Oil is also delivered at full pressure to the three camshaft bearings.

Someone in the design department at Fiat in 1920 had their "thinking hat" on.

 

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Bernie j.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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The designer of the 501 apparently was  Carlo Cavalli.  Here is some Fiat history:  dante giacosa

 

Carlo Cavalli, born in Val Vigezzo, 1878. Cavalli graduated in Law,
in accordance with his father’s wishes, but his real love was engineering.
In 1905 he entered Fiat’s technical office and immediately gave
proof of his powers. In 1919 he was officially appointed director of
this office and retained the post until 1928, when he was forced
through illness and exhaustion to retire to his native valley.
He had the merit of having been the first to fit a racing engine with a
compressor, but the project for which he is remembered is the 501,
the first Fiat auto built in large numbers after the Great War.
He died in 1947 in Santa Maria Maggiore (Novara).

 

Cesare Momo, engineer, born at Carrara in 1876. Shortly after taking his degree in Turin in 1901 he
entered Fiat where he worked under Enrico. He designed the multiple-disk wet clutch which was soon adopted
on all Fiat autos, as well as the rear axle he invented.

 

 I also learnt that the director superior to
Alfano and in charge of the whole Research
Department was Cesare Momo.
Momo, an engineer, was already an elderly
man with wide experience as an expert
designer of automobiles and trucks and an
innate flair for the job. He was small in stature
with fair hair that was on the point of becoming
grey and a moustache tinged yellow from
the nicotine of a stubby “toscano” cigar that
he had constantly clenched between his
lips, whether or not it was it. Spectacles
could not hide the shrewd smile in his clear,
bright eyes. He would tackle any problem
with serene good-nature, maintaining that a
designer should never be afraid of difficulties.
“Why shouldn’t we be up to the job of
designing even an aeroplane or a submarine?
Just study the problems involved and solve
them sensibly,” he would say, smiling pleasantly.
At the same time he would be drawing
the complicated transmission system for a
military transport with four wheel drive and
steering. This taught me a lot, including how
to behave with colleagues and subordinates.
He talked about the great engineers who
had been technical directors with Fiat. There
was Aristide Faccioli, the first head engineer
with Fiat, who left the firm because of clashes
with Giovanni Agnelli over technical policy;
Giovanni Enrico who had also been one of
Momo’s masters; Carlo Cavalli, a law graduate
and a brilliant draughtsman and designer
who started his career under the guidance of
Giovanni Enrico in 1905. Cavalli had designed
the Taunus, Zero and 501, and the 18 NL and
15 Ter trucks. He left Fiat in 1928.

 

 

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Thank you Mike for that valuable insight into the 501. When you look into the Fiats engine design and construction you know instinctively that the person responsible for it's design knew a great deal about internal combustion engines. In the early1920's it must have been years ahead of its contemporaries. I am in the middle of dismantling the engine for what, for the mostpart, will be a clean and re-assemble exercise. Working with such a high quality engine makes the job so much more pleasurable. 

 

Bernie j.

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1 hour ago, oldcar said:

Thank you Mike for that valuable insight into the 501. When you look into the Fiats engine design and construction you know instinctively that the person responsible for it's design knew a great deal about internal combustion engines. In the early1920's it must have been years ahead of its contemporaries. I am in the middle of dismantling the engine for what, for the mostpart, will be a clean and re-assemble exercise. Working with such a high quality engine makes the job so much more pleasurable. 

 

Bernie j.

 

When you see the insides of the earlier Fiats (I had most of a 1916 2B many years ago), you can see that the 501 is a progression of those engines. I note in the info above that Cavalli was responsible for both the Zero and the 501. One thing I remember about the 2B engine was that every piece of it was stamped with the engine number.

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Steve also found this from Motor Sport magazine;

Page 25, July 1951

 

Modernising a 501 FIAT

Vintage enthusiasts generally are against modifying vintage cars. But sometimes an impecunious enthusiast craves improved performance, yet can only afford an elderly chassis. So, keeping an open mind, we present these notes on how that famous car, the 501 FIAT, was made to look and go better than when new.—.ED.

I HAD one of those fine old 501 FIAT cars and drove it many thousands of miles with great satisfaction. Mine was a 1923 model with a heavy English body, and a large vertical screen which was common at that time. After I had driven it for two or three years it seemed to me worth spending time and trouble on to improve the performance. I felt sure that with its very large frontal area drastically put down, and a much lighter body the result might be surprising. It certainly was! About this time I saw a similar car advertised for £6 and went to look at it. To my surprise I found that it had done considerably less mileage than my own, and was in good running order, so I bought it. I had in mind the alterations I wanted to make and yet I didn't want to lay up my car for a longish period. First I stripped off the Italian body and made as near a scale drawing as possible. I then superimposed the proposed alterations, and as this seemed all right I proceeded to make a template of the side member of the chassis; I was aiming at underslinging the back of the car. It may be remembered that these cars were considerably upswept at the rear and were very high off the ground and inclined to roil on corners. There was a cross member about half way between the gearbox and back axle. My idea was to cut the frame in half about 8 ins, in front of the cross member, turn the back half upside down, and rejoin the two halves. I did this to the template and offered it up and all appeared well, so I cut the frame, turned the back over, procured two 1/2 in. steel liners which were a driving fit in the frame (they were about a foot long and secured with three bolts on each side of the cut), and this made a very rigid job. To make doubly sure the actual join was also welded. The spring pads were not a fixture, but able to revolve on the axle, so all I had to do was to turn them over; similarly, the springs were turned upside down and refitted, two or three leaves having been taken out in view of the much lighter body I intended to fit. The axle was now between the spring and frame, and if the car had been designed with this alteration in view it couldn't have been arranged better. Nothing else was required. The frame sloped down towards the back, and I should think the back was lowered about a foot. No alteration was needed at the front end, but the car had no front brakes. So I found a front axle off a 1926 car which had, and bought it and fitted it to the Special.

The steering was very considerably raked, this being easily effected by means of a wedge-shaped casting and longer bolts. The radiator, which was extremely high, was lowered something like 8 ins, and at the same time sloped back and with a rather smart stone guard which I made and a pair of Lucas headlamps the front of the car was entirely altered. Lowering the radiator made it necessary to cut a hole for the starting handle this was beyond me, but a very skilful friend did it and it never gave any trouble.

I have always disliked standing on my head under the scuttle to get at the gearbox, so partly for this reason, and partly for appearance, I brought the scuttle close to the wheel. This resulted in it being much farther back; so giving a long bonnet which, when opened, left the whole works easy of access; modern cars might with great advantage copy the accessibility of these old cars. The new instrument board was covered with engine-turned aluminium, which looked very nice but nearly wore out my thumb doing it with a piece of emery cloth!

Both gear and brake levers were cut down, as the seat was now much lower. The dash tank was replaced by one at the rear and an Autovac which I got from a car breaker functioned faultlessly the whole time I had the car. I would vastly rather have one than an electric petrol pump. The engine was stripped and found to be in good condition. The bearings were taken up a little, and it was decided to fit aluminium pistons in place of the rather heavy cast-iron ones. At the same time the cylinders were re-bored, and a Ricardo aluminium head fitted (Ricardo made a standard head for this car, among others). There was a Solex carburetter, but I do not remember whether it was on the car already. This completed the alterations to the chassis.

Any enthusiastic amateur with a decent workshop could have done the same, except for bonnet and wings, which I had specially made. I think many otherwise good jobs are spoilt by trying to do work which is a specialist's job, such as making a bonnet, and if this looks amateurish it spoils the whole thing. The wheels were steel artillery and were retained. At the time when I made this conversion I had a boat builder's shop and some skill in woodwork; so that the body presented no particular difficulty. A light frame was made and covered with three-ply, with felt between the panels and frame at all points Of contact. The panels were covered with black leather cloth put on with croid glue, the joins being covered with aluminium moulding. Before the car went on the road the leather was well coated with polishing wax and it never looked shabby as long as I had it.

There were two bucket seats, useful room for suit cases, and a tonneau cover. The body had two doors, but owing to the right-hand gear and brake levers a really movable seat was essential, otherwise one could not get either in or out without great difficulty. I had never seen a sliding seat which was anything like satisfactory and I decided to make my own idea. I got some fairly heavy angle brass which I screwed to the floor, then I got some of those chair castors which instead of wheels have balls in the bottom. These were fastened to the seat so that they just fitted easily between the angle irons and ran on them like rails. This was a perfect success. I had only to pull a spring-loaded pin, and the whole seat rolled backwards or forwards without effort. Dunlopillo cushions made the seats very comfortable. The inside of the body was also panelled with leather-covered ply, but this was green, with green carpet to match, and green wheels.

The finished job looked very smart and attracted interest wherever I went. There was a hood which folded almost flat, and the spare wheel was carried on the hack. So far as performance went the car exceeded all my expectations. I can best describe it as feeling as though the brakes had been on and someone had suddenly taken them off. The car was much faster, and more lively, in fact it was difficult to believe that it was the same car. The pistons and new head undoubtedly contributed, but I think the great reduction in weight and wind resistance were chiefly responsible. The car was never very fast by present-day standards, but she could and did on many oecasions cover fifty miles in an hour on good roads, without making any special effort, and she kept on month after month with absolute reliability. Altogether this was a most pleasant and economical car to drive and I felt the work done on her more than worth.while. The car was given to a nephew who was killed in the Battle of Britain, but I heard that it was seen going strong long afterwards ; if it is still going, I should very much like to hear from the present owner.

 

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Meanwhile work continues, albeit at a snails pace.... Yesterday I took the crankshaft and flywheel over to my friends at Crankshaft Rebuilders for them to put them into their "Swirl tank" to give it a thorough clean and to then crack test it, just to be sure! Meanwhile to do some cleaning of my own, I bought a box of a dozen "spray cans" of degreaser to clean up the Sump and the Crank case. I find that by buying them "wholesale" it works out at $2.29 per can. While I am waiting for the chassis etc to come back, rather than sitting on my hands, I can make some progress on the motor.

Bj.

 

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