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Even as I write this, owning a Lea Francis is little more than a dream still to be realised. Having sold the Singer as an unfinished "Project" buying my next project is something of a dream waiting to happen. I have looked at one possible "car" a total "basket case" and have another I still need to investigate. Something along the lines of the car illustrated would be well within my capabilities.  Only time will tell. You will (like me) will just have to be patient. 

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Bj.

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Sadly the owner of the LeaF basket case I looked at has decided that he would sooner leave the remains of his car stay outside in all weather than sell it to me.

I had not realised that my reputation was so bad!

IMG_0179.JPG.1f944434f0b6fb3cf44b019ac3f851c9.JPGHopefully something may turn up. I have had the owner of another Lea Francis suggest that I could buy his car

A 1940's saloon and remove/break up the body in order to build a "Special" on the chassis. I explained to him that my interest was all about preserving old motor cars not destroying themDSCN7249.jpg.94113fbf614eab9a2ad11abaddf4bfdd.jpg

 

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Posted (edited)

We have now arranged to go and look at two possible Lea F 14hp Saloons. I have explained that I am not about destroying complete and original cars so rather than building a "special" out of a Basket case I may end up doing a restoration of a 1949/50 Saloon. This will be a very different exercise for me but one that I am looking forward to.   I have already said that provided that one of these cars are suitable, this will be a completely new departure, an "Oily Rag Recovery" rather than a restoration.

We will just have to wait a few more days.

 

Bernie j.

 

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Ok! I have now decided that a 1950s Saloon is not what I need just now, so there will be a vacant place in my garage.

Hopefully I will not have to wait too long for a "proper" Vintage (Pre 1930) Light (under 1500cc) Car, restoration project to come my way.

 

Bernie J.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The world has done a full  circle and now I am in the middle of arranging to purchase the 1946 Lea Francis Project. This will become to basis for a rebuild based a  car that I was loaned for the York Around the Houses event sponsored by the Motor Museum at York in Western Australia. This was a Connaught two seater racing car based on a Lea Francis chassis. My first task will be to arrange to have donner Lea Francis delivered to our home where I can start by stripping the remains of a "coach-built" saloon  removed and 12 inches cut out of the chassis to bring it down to the correct "sports" length. IMG_0183.JPG.dfb484b65e5defd3e9f1dd8db482e871.JPG

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It would appear that I have stunned you all into silence ! How many of the people reading this have even heard of a Lea Francis? 

This company has been in existance since the early 1900s.   At first as with many British car manufacturers they were building bicycles, moving into motor car manufacturing in the years "between the wars".

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Just could not resist, could you?  Sounds like an interesting project, I look forward to following your progress. (Although that is a rather smart looking sedan)

 

I have heard of Lea Francis, though I have never seen one in the wild.  I recall reading that Norman Dewis, the long-time Jaguar test driver began his test driving career with L-F.

 

Cheers!

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Posted (edited)

Hello Digger914

As with a lot of British car manufacturers Lea Francis started out making Bicycles and graduated to cars quite early.

They have never been a High Volume producer concentrating or quality over numbers.

Even right up to the 1950s this still applied. The Design Engineer at Leaf had been with Riley up to the 1940s. The "Twin Cam" Lea F engine is a development of the his Riley motors.

Good Morning Dr Data,

Hang in there, one way or another it should be interesting.

I really do not like the thought of destroying an original, if somewhat down at heel, car to build a Special. I will just have to wait until I can get the car home and can assess what needs to be done. The Original "Coach built" saloon body is all aluminium panels over a timber frame. It will depend on how far the timber frame has gone and whether it can be recovered. And if the interior trim can be recovered rather than replaced. If it  is just the stitching on the seats gone or if it is ripped to a point where it cannot be repaired. I would hate to be considered a Vandal, destroying a restorable car!  There may be a third option converting the original four dood saloon body into a 2 door Drop Head Coupe, I can see how to do it in my head, just how practical will be obvious until I have the car at home. Again I will not know until I have the car in my garage and can see if that could be done. It would still mean lifting the body off the chassis, there is always a danger that it would fall apart in the process. 

The Photograph, below, gives an outline of  a 4 seat coupe. This one is a Ranalah DHC on a Rapier Chassis.

Just how much would be involved in converting a Lea F saloon body requires some serious thought. 
It would involve lifting the body off  very carefully, removing the rear doors and extending the front doors. This would then have to go back onto a chassis, shortened by 12 inches. Again this is pure conjecture until I have the car at home. 

By the time rear is shortened 12 inches, most of the rear doors will have almost disappeared. We will just have to wait and see.

None the less it is something to think about. There are a lot of "if's". Right now we are talking about Lea F's not Ifs.

 

Bj.

 

 

 

 

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Hey Bernie,

I was in the service back in the early 70's with a guy that picked up an old Lea Francis while he was TDY to England and it cost him a fortune to ship it home. They way he talked about getting parts to rebuild the motor I was sure he was talking about a motorcycle., until I googled up the motorcycle and found out that it was a bike with a motor.

Edited by Digger914 (see edit history)
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Hello Bernie,

 

I am a big fan of your projects.
Looking forward to seeing how you proceed with this project.
I like how you have been saving neglected cars.

You inspired me to join the forum, not just troll your posts.

Keep up the good work.

 

Thanks,

Chris.

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Hello Chris

I just hope that I do not disappoint you, The attached modified photograph will show you where my thinking is going.

My first task is to get the car home. 

Bj.2098423354_LeaFrancisDHC.1.jpeg.e4801ba3b45e6e6f6e7bbca08131c1fc.jpeg

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The more I think about the less inclined I am to start cutting up what, after all, is a very original 1940's car. All this is a bit premature, I will not have it home until some time in the coming week.  Depending on the actual condition, my thinking is that an original four door sedan is becoming rarer and more valuable than a "special".

Only time will tell. If people keep cutting up cars to build "specials" the time will come when there are no more "original cars" to be found. There was a time when I would not think twice about this, perhaps it has something to do with my age. I was born in 1936 which may have something to do with my change in thinking.

 

Bernie J.IMG_0183.JPG.9ddb003a2f1fbc4c1fb08d582c2a21dd.JPGIMG_0188.JPG.d02e573b89f93482deaabc9b00e10bf7.JPGIMG_0187.JPG.10c4a63066c2cbf2ce04b7ea8c2f6d52.JPG

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Looking at the above photographs I cannot help wondering, How many of the people reading this would be prepared to even contemplate restoring this car? Even more so considering the motor has some major damage to the cylinder block.

Only time will tell, Golly, I don't even have the car home yet!

 

Bj.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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I am still waiting on the Lea Francis' owner to contact me to tell me that my bank has finally completed the transfer of my money into his account. Naturally being a "long" weekend (with a holiday Monday) this will take a little longer.   It all seems so un-necessary with the whole place, almost, shut down due to the "dreaded" Co-vid virus causing  chaos everywhere you look. Oh well! there is not much I can do other than sit quietly and wait for life pass on by. My garage is almost empty just waiting for the last of the Singer to be collected (the chassis and rear axle assembly). This is scheduled to be collected tomorrow (Monday)  so I should at least have time to sweep the floor before the LeaF arrives. With so much to be done on this next car, I may have to work out a "program of works"

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Bernie,

 

As we say in the MG world, "it is your car, do with it what you want".  That covers a lot of horrific paint schemes.

 

I think one thing you want to consider seriously is the condition of the wood in the body, assuming it is coachbuilt. If there is serious rot, that would swing me more in favor of doing a "special" rather than restoring.

 

How did L-F build their engines?  Are they a bored block, like most engines, or do they use a replaceable sleeve like the old Triumph and Standard engines?

 

Cheers!

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Hello Dr D.

I am aware of the possible problems with the timber body frame and that is something that will govern my thinking.

Having said that the one thing in favour of its preservation is that the car has been locked up in it's  "shed" and out of the weather for over 27 years.

All should be revealed in the next week or two. To answer your other question The Lea Francis was a conventional "Bored" block. It has twin "High" cams with short push-rods similar in principle to the Riley engine but with the cams much higher in the block. This will have to wait until I have the engine "at home" and out of the car.

Going back to the body IF at all possible I would prefer to retain the original all aluminium body. Only time will tell.

The one thing against the Drop Head Coupe idea is that after looking at the photographs of the car, note the body is in the "Pre-war" style. Compare the treatment of the rear section on the two cars in this photo. "My car" is the one closer to the camera. It has now had a wash since it came out of storage.

Bernie j.

 

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Bernie j.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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