Mike Macartney

REPORTS ON A 1914 HUMBERETTE RESTORATION

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Rebuild Report No. 1 on a 1914 Humberette

3rd August 2018

Hi,

I am an old vehicle enthusiast from Norfolk, England ('old' in both senses of the word!). I have recently joined the AACA forum and thought I would record the restoration of my new project for any interested parties to follow.

Last year I finished a 1000 hour plus total restoration/rebuild of a 1978 MGB Roadster, fitting an engine and gearbox from an MGRV8. At the start of the project the MG Car Club V8 Register of Great Britain asked if I would document the restoration to help other MGB owners, as I had spent most of my life running an accident repair and restoration workshop, from which I retired in 2004. Before I started the roadster rebuild I had already restored a 1974 MGBGTV8 that I had purchased from and old college friend. Unfortunately for me, I got persuaded to sell it back to him when it was finished, although I really liked the car and would have been happy to keep it. Hence, the rebuild of the MGB roadster for myself. The restoration 'blurb' for the V8 Register ended up with around 160 reports and an index. Not only has it helped others, it also helped me. It gave me time to look through the photographs I had taken and gave me time to think about the work I had completed. If you are interested in seeing the reports, they can be viewed at:

http://www.v8register.net/profileV8RebuildMacartney.htm

I am at an age when working in the mornings is enough for me, the afternoon can then be used for sitting at the computer writing up the reports and planning the next days work. Years of running a body repair and restoration shop for BMW 2002's and CS's has taken its toll on my lungs, mind you, smoking hasn't helped either!

This new project started with an advert I saw on eBay for a 1914 Humberette. There were only a couple of photos, so I messaged the seller to ask if he could send me a few more photos, which he kindly did.

A couple of days went by and I broached the subject of another old car project with my wife, Jane. We discussed it and came to the conclusion that I had enough to keep me occupied with the number of cars and motorcycles we already have. The seller messaged me again and asked if I was still interested in the Humberette. I wrote back and said that I felt that at my age I had enough projects to keep me busy and would not have to resort to getting involved with gardening and housework, which I loathe! I also told him that I thought the price he was asking, in my opinion, was very reasonable and he should stick out for his asking price. Next, I got a phone call from him informing me that he wanted the Humberette moved quickly as his father had passed away 8-weeks previously and his mother bust into tears every time she walked past the car, as she remembered him working on the car daily. He thought his Dad would have liked someone like me to have the car, I could have it at £2k less than his asking price. Sense and sensibility then went out of the window and the sale was agreed. When I said I would transfer the money and arrange for someone to collect it for me, he said he would hire a trailer and bring the car up to Norfolk, as he would like to see where the car was going. I saw the advert for the Humberette on a Saturday and the car was with me by the following Wednesday!

With the car came some history, unfortunately, not of the first owner, but of the second owner, a Londoner who had bought the car in 1922. He ran the car until 1926 when he stored the Humberette in his garage. It did not roll a wheel until 1947 when he moved from London to Devon and took the car with him and stored it in a barn. When the owners son got to 80 years of age he decided that he was never going to get round to restoring his Dad's car and sold it to a local farmer in 1995. It had been in storage for a total of 69 years. I believe the farmer started the repairs/restoration of the Humberette but subsequently died in 2017. The previous owner to me, purchased the car and continued with the restoration until he too died. I am hoping that it will be third time lucky and that I finish the restoration before I 'pop my clogs'!

Next report will be some history on the Humber company, Humberette's, preliminary notes, and preparations before I continue the restoration work.

Photos attached:

The 1914 Humberette when it was taken from the barn in 1995.

The 1914 Humberette as purchased by me in July 2018.

1914 Humberette as advertised.jpg

1914 Humberette as found in 1995.jpg

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That's a great car!  thanks for posting here so we can keep up with your progress.   I fondly remember our time in Scotland taking part in rallies and events with our 1935 Morris 8 (which we still have).  Among our USA stuff we are also MG enthusiasts - 1974 MGBGt and a 1972 MGBGt.  We have a 1948 MGTC and also a 1912 Triumph motorcycle sharing space with a Pontiac GTO and a Model T for.  Love the LBCs (Little British Cars) though.   Looks like you do have a set of top irons and wood top bows for patterns.  That should not be a difficult restoration piece as everyone with an earlier car has been through that part of it before.  Just post here if you have any difficulties on that part of your project and I'm sure you'll have plenty of help.   It'll be a sweet ride when you are finished.

Terry

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Neat little car! I know very little about these twenties cars, so I enjoy following restoration threads about them -- helps me learn!

 

Looking forward to more reports and updates.

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I look forward to and hope to see many updates and details of the restoration of this wonderful piece of automotive history! Enjoy the journey once more.

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Thank you for your kind comments. Terry your mention of your Morris 8 brings me back to my youth. When I was 17, I found a basket case Morris 8 2-seater tourer that we bought for Jane for £5, we both got stuck in and 'rebuilt' it for her to use. I say rebuilt in inverted comma's because, basically we got it through the MOT test, fitted a new hood and hand painted the car in Valspar Post Office red, that we bought from Woolworths. I remember that Jane adjusted the tappets on the car as I could not get get my hands in there to adjust the side valve clearances. She ran the Morris 8 for a number of years until we got married in 1969, when I found her a 1934 Singer 9 Le Mans with a broken half shaft for £37- 10 shillings. We changed the half shaft with a second hand one that came with the car. Jane still has the Singer and we have kept it running all these years without having a rebuild. (see attached photo). Over the years we have travelled in it to Switzerland with the Morris Register, holidayed in France with camping gear, and been to Singer events in Holland a couple of times. MGTC – I had forgotten how sophisticated these cars were compared to the Singer, MGPA/PB and MGTA models, until last week, when a friend from the next village came round with his that was giving him overheating problems. He too has had his TC for more years than he cares to remember. He was complaining of the engine coolant boiling in the engine after he had come to a stop. I went for a drive with him and of course it didn't happen when I was with him!

I have attached a photo of the tree we have found that we hope to get the wood from to make the top bows from. My drinking chum Robert got all excited when he saw the photo of the Humberette, noticing that it had rotted top bows. He said “Great – we can have a go at steam bending”. Robert is into his woodwork. I, on the other hand, only have to look at wood and it splits! I found an excellent video on You Tube by Engels Coach Works on 'Steam Bending'. If I knew how to do a link to this page I would include it here. I am busy planning out building the steamer while Robert tries to split out some wood from this massive sweet chestnut tree. I helped him the other day to clear out all the undergrowth around the fallen tree to get to the main trunk.

 

Sweet chesnut for the hood bows.jpg

3 Front RH.JPG

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HISTORY OF HUMBER BEFORE THE 1st WORLD WAR

Humber were an old established bicycle makers in Coventry, England, who started producing automobiles. By the early 1900's they had developed a range of voiturettes, (as they seemed to call small cars at that time), mainly using the French single cylinder De Dion engines and transmissions. In 1903, Humber produced what was possibly Britain’s first effective light car, namely a 5 hp Humberette with 613 cc De Dion engine and 2-speed gearbox, with shaft drive. These were produced in various forms until, I believe 1905, when they concentrated on larger cars.

From 1910 'cyclecars' were becoming popular, with a large number of companies starting to manufacture them. To compete, Humber started offering a new 'Humberette' with a 998 cc air cooled V-twin engine (some articles say 996 cc, but what's 2 cc between friends!) This engine was mounted in a conventional light car chassis, production continued until 1915 when the company moved onto production of aircraft engines and field kitchens for the First World War. The Humberette was not unduly expensive at around £120. The engines were air cooled. In 1914 they offered a water cooled V-twin engine for an extra £10 to £15 (I have seen both prices quoted). The 1914 Humberette I am restoring is one of the water cooled versions of the Humber V-twin engine.

The Humberette was described by the makers at the time as ‘The Perfect Car in Miniature’ and the advanced chassis was of non-welded steel tubular construction, with transverse front leaf and quarter elliptic rear springs. A 3-speed and reverse gearbox with cone clutch, bevel-gear rear axle, rack and pinion steering and transmission brake on the end of the gearbox as well as rear wheel brakes, working on the outside of the drum, all very advanced features for the period.

To date most of work to date on the Humber has been looking at what has been carried out to date by the previous restorers and what still needs doing. I have book that in which I note down the parts that need looking into and list work that I consider needs redoing. I also take a lot of photos that I can refer to later if the need arises.

1024px-Humber_Humberette.thumb.jpg.173789e3bc6498f4fc3dec495947cda9.jpg

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I have decided to have all the metal parts that need painting soda blasted. I had this done to all the panels and bodyshell of my MGB, it saved me a lot of hard work of stripping the paint off to get to the bare metal. Unfortunately, many do not realise that if you paint over any rust it will come back eventually. Some of the panels, bonnet and wings, have been painted in grey primer over bare metal and left without top coat by the previous owner. Primer is porous and the metal underneath will rust if left for some time in humid conditions. That is what has happened especially with the wings and bonnet. On the blue parts of the body rust is just starting underneath the paint. I used Soda Blast Ltd, in Wolverhampton last time. http://www.sodablastingltd.co.uk/ I was really pleased with the work they carried out for me previously so I have booked the parts in for end of this month. I am still debating, whether or not, to get them to spray on a coat of 2-pack etch primer to stop the bare metal rusting or do this myself as soon as I get the parts back.

On other restorations I have carried out on cars and motorbikes I try and restore the parts as I take them off the vehicle, then pack them away ready for the rebuild. Because I want to get on with the bodywork so it is ready for painting by the end of the year. I have dismantled a lot of the parts and not restored them yet. The coach trimmer wants the car for 3-months while he makes the interior and hood (you call it the top in the USA). I should have plenty of time then to clean up all the other parts.239175031_002Strippedreadytoremovethebody.thumb.jpg.7ce43cd5133ab8a840a17f41d83cf2b9.jpg

The Humberette body with all the chassis to body coach bolts undone ready to lift the body off

1021723728_003Nakedchassisandengine.thumb.jpg.b02d270646699e64d5b59f709e9fd327.jpg

The 'naked chassis and V-twin water cooled engine.

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The ash framed body looks in remarkably good condition for its age.

 

One of my next jobs is to strip the old cracked Dunlop tyres of the wheel rims. I hope they come off easier than the tyres on a 1922 Model T Ford I restored a number of years ago. they were a real struggle!

 

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Looking very nice!  I like the idea of the primer after the soda blasting but I'd probably want to inspect the parts before they applied it.   As said, miss something there and it'll come back some time later.

Nice shop btw!!

 

 

Edited by Luv2Wrench (see edit history)

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It's looking almost like  toy! You will certainly not need a crane to lift the engine. Maybe difficult alone, but with 2 people certainly no problem!

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This Humberette is fitted with spare wheel that is called a 'Stepney' (see photos below)005.thumb.jpg.fa9be4c5892500b6b0314b35b1f2c1f3.jpg

 

The Stepney Spare Wheel was invented by Thomas Morris Davies in Llanelli, Wales, in 1904. At that time, early motor cars were made without spare wheels. Roads were mainly unmade, horse show nails and the steel studs, that were popular on boots of the time, caused no end of punctures. Thomas's idea was to make a rim with an inflated tyre to clamp to the punctured wheel, enabling the driver to get home without resorting to mending the punctured inner tube. With his brother, Walter, they started the company Stepney Spare Motor Wheel Ltd. In 1906. Their 1909 catalogue proudly claimed that Stepney Spare Wheels were fitted to all London taxis. They both became very wealthy men as their business grew and they set up agencies across the world. Apparently, so I am told, the word 'stepney' is used in some countries still for a 'spare wheel'. The beginning of the 1920's saw the majority of car manufacturers supplying a spare wheel, or wheels, with their cars so that punctured tyres could be easily changed with a complete wheel and tyre. Not like these wheels on the Humberette on which you have to remove the hub nut and and cone which then releases 26 ball bearings, 13 at the back of the wheel and 13 at the front of the wheel. I have learnt my lesson in the past with ball bearings going all over the place and loosing some, so I laid a rag underneath to catch them. Luckily, they were well greased and didn't roll away.

006.thumb.jpg.143fcb708687f83c29755e79701a43d2.jpg

I am a little puzzled by the photo that was taken when the car was found in 1995, It shows the wheels painted orange. As it was put in storage in 1926 they must have been painted orange before then? I would not have thought that they would have been that colour as standard? Perhaps the wheels were painted orange when the adapters for the Stepney wheels were fitted to the original wheel rims? If so why did they not paint the Stepney wheel orange as well? We will never know!

 

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009.thumb.jpg.ebadb0400923779cc21cd0d2a8668b7a.jpg

After cleaning all the dust and muck off the body I found that the joint at the rear of the body where the 2-sides of the ash framing was loose. I managed to loosen one screw, but the second one was stuck fast. Not being an expert with wood, as I have mentioned before, I decided to make a 1/8” thick metal plate to add to the underside of the joint, screwing it in place with 5-screws. Before I did this I clamped a straight edge to the outside of the top of the body to hold it in the correct place.

011.thumb.jpg.ddf84be970fe110056dc632e75814414.jpg

DOOR TWIST PROBLEM - I have noticed that the door did not close tightly against the door aperture. When the door was on the car and on it's hinges the lower corner under the door lock stuck out about ¼ to ½ inch. It would push in but spring back out again. How to get this twist out?

I tried using some blocks of wood under two corners and clamping down the other two corners and leaving it for a while. No joy, it sprung back again! I tried fitting a diagonal piece of wood and hammered in a wedge which got rid of some of the twist. The problem being that I can't leave the diagonal in this area as I believe there should be a map pocket here.

007.thumb.jpg.ff4e09ca1e8e9d56edee2df06b065489.jpg

008.thumb.jpg.0635040991f3798b8e10dd2d8c65a1ab.jpg

Next I decided to undo all the screws I could see on the door that were holding alloy strips to the sides and bottom of the door, perhaps there would be some screws holding the wooden door frame together? Nothing – I couldn't find any screw heads in the door. They could be under the alloy beading on the outside holding the outer metal skin to the wooden frame? I don't want to get into trying to move these.

010.thumb.jpg.8296375dd2dc83e0d69810c538dd0e66.jpg

My thoughts are that if I make up some corner brackets in metal. Twist, or over twist, the door to the correct place and leave the tension on and then screw in the brackets, it may solve the problem. Does anybody have any thoughts on that?

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I think you are on the right track with a diagonal brace.  If wood interferes,  try a flat metal plate or maybe a turnbuckle and wire arrangement like on a garden fence.

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Great thread, Mike!  Loving the Humberette!!

 

Have you considered using cross wires in tension?   I have seen this done before somewhere but can't recall where. 

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I'm not an expert on early bodies, but it is quite likely that the door is OK, and the tub itself has sagged outward. The one I'm working on at the moment (1923) has a couple of bad gaps, until I fit the packing pieces between the body and chassis.

 

It is more likely the 'B' post at fault than the 'A' post at the cowl, so I would look first at the steel angle bracket holding the 'B' post. This is assuming that I have understood correctly that the gap is across the body. If it is along the body it will most likely be a packing adjustment issue between the body and chassis. The body is off the chassis, so is free to sag and move out of line. My apologies if I misunderstood your problem.

 

Sweet little car, too.

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14 minutes ago, Bush Mechanic said:

I'm not an expert on early bodies, but it is quite likely that the door is OK, and the tub itself has sagged outward. The one I'm working on at the moment (1923) has a couple of bad gaps, until I fit the packing pieces between the body and chassis.

 

It is more likely the 'B' post at fault than the 'A' post at the cowl, so I would look first at the steel angle bracket holding the 'B' post. This is assuming that I have understood correctly that the gap is across the body. If it is along the body it will most likely be a packing adjustment issue between the body and chassis. The body is off the chassis, so is free to sag and move out of line. My apologies if I misunderstood your problem.

 

Sweet little car, too.

I agree with the body sagging outward.

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I remember a Mike Macarthy had a regular article in one of the UK classic car magazines many years ago, writing about a 2002 (maybe a 1600-2?) BMW, I'm assuming this was you? I used to buy that magazine and read it, as I also had an early 2002 at the time as my daily driver and I could relate to the constant maintenance articles you wrote.

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Hi  Craig,

I used to write the Jaymic Jottings in the BMW Drivers Club magazine many years ago. I have also written for some of the classic car mags in the past. Brooklands Books also published a couple of my books on BMW 1502 to 2002 turbo cars '02 Restoration Guide' and another book on the history of the 02 models (I can't remember the title). I have now been retired for 14-years, come October. My Company Jaymic Ltd. was split into three 'Jaymic's' and sold to the guys who worked for me. My daughter took over the Classic BMW Parts business https://www.jaymic.com/about Mark and James took over restoration side and are still at Cromer and call themselves 'The Jaymic Workshop Ltd'. They seem to keep busy with restoring BMW's to their former glory with work coming in from all over the world. Lastly, Steve and Martyn, Jaymic Systems Ltd, took over the LPG gas conversion, dealer training and supply of gas conversion work, they diversified out of necessity, into general mechanical repairs and MOT testing for motorcycles and cars, as when the UK Government put tax on Liquid Petroleum Gas, it killed the sales.

Mike

 

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Well guys, that has given me something to think about! In the meantime I have been getting rid of the rust that was primer painted over on the door skin panel – 'Wot a lot of rust there was!'012.thumb.jpg.cd4f2878ae3f8fd94613329a1dcc329e.jpg

Fortuitously, the door just fitted inside my blast cabinet so I was able to get the paint, filler and rust off. The photo above shows just how rusty the panel was. I did blast the rest of the outside skin after I took the photo!013.thumb.jpg.cd7c9748eff5e6d91adf03da68296e60.jpg

Next, I blew the worse of the dust off with an airline and cleaned the whole door up with panel wipe, before coating the outer door panel with Kurust. If I never get the door to fit the Humberette I could enter it as a painting in the Tate Modern exhibition as 'Norfolk on a Wet December Night'!

After the Kurust had done it's trick I gave the panel a coat of etching primer.014.thumb.jpg.99aaead84420de4050f01d70f7a1ceaa.jpg

I'll now have to change the name of the painting to 'The Sandstorm on a Dark Night'. Enough of this jollity, now to the problem in hand – The door fit.

I have checked the 'B-Post' support out and it is super strong.015.thumb.jpg.ffae090839a8286b3c361b311da8de4f.jpg

As you can see it is a substantial forged steel bar which as well as holding the B-Post also supports the hood frame pivot (sorry, TOP not hood in the USA – I'll get terminology right eventually).016.thumb.jpg.4c6dfd24b6f5d8c53f860c8a7efcb7eb.jpg

The next job is to twist the frame as above, but more scientifically, with the door sitting on two blocks and the bench before making some brackets to fit into the corners to hole the door frame in the correct place. I considered the ideas suggested with wire and turnbuckle. But I do want to have the centre area clear for the original map pocket that is in within the door frame.

I am not sure if I go further with this report it will all fit so I will do this report in two posts.

To be continued.

  

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Kevin Brooks in Australia, you have been trying to communicate with Mike Macartney and filed a report to the mod team in an attempt to do that.

 

Please email me at greg@slotblog.net and let me help with that goal.

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Mike, Thank you for the information about the "Stepney" wheels! I have known of them for a long time, and a few years ago we had a discussion about them on a Model T Ford forum that I spend way too much time on. Unfortunately, nobody really knew much about them other than they existed, and a couple of photos had been found showing them in use.  Now I know more than I did.

The work seems to be progressing nicely on the Humberette! I think the car was very fortunate to get a great caretaker for its restoration.

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I too had heard of Stepney wheels in the past. Before I got the Humberette I had never actually seen one to see how it worked. Some information I dug up said that you did not need a jack to fit the 'Stepney' but I can't see how you could possibly fit the Stepney wheel without a jack.

 

At least the Humberette seems quite a simple machine to restore after my last two restorations, the MGB and a BMW 325i touring, it's more like working on a vintage motorbike. At least it keeps me out of mischief and out of the pub!

 

Mike

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