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Lea Francis


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Having gone as far as I need to for now, with regards to the body, I have spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon removing the eight nuts and bolts along with the split pins securing each nut. This I suppose must have taken up an hour or two. At least I can see  the result of my efforts and I am now that much closer to having the engine & gearbox and all the drive components stripped off the chassis. While it requires my borrowing a trailer it means that I can start with a sand blasted and primer undercoated chassis frame. Before this can happen I still need to remove the four springs and the two axles along with the steering box.  

Golly, at times like this I sometimes wish that I was nearly 24 instead of 84. But then I think just how much I have accomplished in those 60 years and I would not change anything.

Bj

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Hello Bernie,

You have certainly made progress getting the car stripped.

It takes an experienced 84 year old to get the job done.

And a tidy heap for the garbage.

Those mudguards look to be in poor condition, good thing you don’t have to fix those!

Looking forward to your next post,

Chris 

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Thank you OCF, Now that I am ready to move the Lea Francis forward I have made one decision which will govern which direction the restoration will take. As I have the original LeaF radiator in good condition I really should use it. This means that my LeaF must have a traditional two seater body with an upright radiator and cycle type mudguards, not unlike many of my past restorations. This will be made easier as I already have things such as a pair of Chrome plated headlamps and some of brass door hinges from the saloon body. These and the door latches can go inter service in the new body. As I write this I am forming a mental picture of what is needed, just please do not ask me to draw you a picture. 

 

Bj.

 

 

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Instead of a drawing here are two photographs of the Lagonda which is typical of  a 1930's sporting two seater. with a "slab " petrol tank and a rear mounted spare wheel. While the same (17") size wheel the LeaF has steel disc wheels rather that a wire spoke. Not of any real consequence. The main differences are that the Leaf will have cycle type mudguards  (Fenders) and for now I do not have another pair of "fog amps". That and that it will not be painted white.DSCN7156.jpg.a1e61154223544dddff16cce15051abd.jpgDSCN7155.jpg.55ef720a04fbffe0b4c292b547e9e85f.jpg

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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One other solution would be to bury the petrol tank in the rear of the body and recess the spare wheel into the rear of the car as I did some years ago with the SS Jaguar special. Perhaps without the second spare, which in the case of the Jaguar was a second thought added on just prior to our taking the car to Europe.  My present thinking is to paint the finished car a dark navy blue with either tan or Navy-blue trim/upholstery. But that is racing ahead somewhat. In the case of the Jaguar, it did not have any doors. It did have tan upholstery with its dark green paint.

Only time will tell, it is a long time since I finished a car to the same degree as the Jaguar. 1269763607_Jaguar1Bodyframe2.jpeg.a1af5e32f868388646f1588160ca6a07.jpeg8e49d98d156452557b3256f16bfecacd9eb7a70c.1938-ss-jaguar-special-sports_rear_FULL_paledog.jpg.fff24d2d040ac6b93cee70d6f5af71e0.jpgimages-1.jpeg.b5ff777e9e981ee885ccd66294356d26.jpeg

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Hello Bernie,

Upright radiator and cycle mudguards; seems to be a winning formula.

I suppose the rear design will be determined by the availability of a suitable fuel tank. 
Is the LeaF fuel tank useable, if it were relocated?

It is nice you can envision colors, already.
No drawings required.

Do you have any of the square tubing for the tub, from your other projects?

Keep the photos coming.

Chris

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Hello again, Chris

Sorry but I do not maintain a stock of square tube but order it in as I require it. The length of the standard tube is too long to allow ease of storage and if you cut the lengths to a convenient size it leads to too much waste. Once I start on a (body) frame it tends to disappear quite quickly.

 

Bj.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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The more I look at it the more a treatment of the rear of the car similar to the Jaguar special, the more it appeals to me.

Naturally it will not be exactly the same but a variation on a theme.

Meanwhile during our current "lock-down" there will be no going out to buy the steel tube or having it delivered so I need to be changing direction with the Lea Francis. I have just today removed the cylinder head in preparation to removing the motor and following up that hole in the crankcase.

 

Bj.

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DSCN7371.jpg.44bb873efa6c2d3e22b9439827ee5b2b.jpgMeanwhile after some considerable thought I have decided that the chassis really does need to lose the 12 inches to bring it down to the "Sports" wheelbase. The one problem is that with the holes in the inner side of the chassis side rails it will be difficult if not impossible to make the cut at an angle  so it will need to be at 90degrees.

I have now made the first cuts in the left hand side rail. I will need to remove the petrol pipe and electrical wiring loom from the right hand side before making the next cut. I also will need to remove some of the build up of dirt etc from inside the box section rails.

 

Bj.

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Between lock downs and weather it's amazing you can get anything done, much less build a new car body for scratch. 

 

I am liking the idea you have for body style and looking forward to seeing if what you build from your minds picture looks like the picture in my mind. 

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Hello Digger

You may be amazed, I now have bitten the bullet and as a result of todays labours I now have a short wheel base LeaF. With it sitting in my "garage" held together with g-clamps and my "chain" block, It certainly looks short,  you would hardly think that 12 inches would make such a difference! 

With a light two seater body and with the engine puting out any sort of horse power it should "FLY".  The next few weeks will be interesting, so interesting I will not have time to worry about Co-vid or any other bugs.

Just as well both Helen and I had our "Jabs" some time ago.

 

Sorry no photographs just yet.

 

Bj

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Bernie,

 

You have been quite busy with the LeaF with some great progress.  Sorry to hear about your lockdown but, at least, it is effective in squashing potential outbreaks. Oh, that some leaders in the Southeast US would follow Australia and New Zealand's examples.

 

I continue to follow your amazing projects and look forward to hearing about the engine.

 

If you go with a build resembling your "Jag special", would you be able to recycle any panels from the original LeaF; fenders, hood, perhaps?

 

Cheers!

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DSCN7372.jpg.53050f2ced3cd5e5a53e1394dc89b9ac.jpgHello  Dr Data,

The fenders have already gone to scrap but I have retained the "hood" the four door-skins, the lid from the trunk  and the roof. This probably means that I may not need to buy any new sheet aluminium. I do already have a half sheet "in stock". Left over from my last project

I have now removed the surplus 12 inches out of the centre of the chassis so now it is officially a "Sports". All I have to do is spend a day welding it all back together again. At least here in Australia it is the right weather to spend a day welding.

It is now just after 4.30 pm* so I will not be starting now. It is Friday today here in Australia, our traditional shopping day for our weeks fruit, veg and grocery shopping.   

The LeaF's (sedan) roof is  too large to store it inside, all I have to remember is not to put it out with the garbage on Wednesday night.

Anyone puzzled by today's photograph. The Steel deck roof seen here is actually in our neighbours property. We live at the top of a hill, our  next door neighbour has excavated down to make their garage level with the road outside. 

Another point of interest, the leaves seen on the ground in this photograph are not "Autumn" leaves they are from the Native Australian, Eucalyptus trees that grow in our garden. These are ever-green and tend to drop leaves throughout the year. We rake them up and use them a mulch on our garden-beds. They are quite slow to rot down. I am sure that I Have talked about our garden before,

It consists on mainly Australian "Native" plants apart from my wife, Helen's vegetable garden.

As we are both now in our "eighties" and as we have been living in the same house for almost 50 years you could say that we are more or less settled.

 

Bernie j.

 

* Eastern Australia standard time.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Right now I am well on the way to having the new Short wheel base chassis welded up with only the welds on the underside to be completed. That and I have ro decide if I need to reinforce the join with some of the cut out pieces used to "overlay" the joins.

I must say that having got this far I am pleased with the result. It is amazing the difference this has made and well worth the effort. I will still have to shorten the drive shaft too. Here you can see my "Chain-block" used here to hold the two sections of the chassis together during welding.

 

BjDSCN7371.jpg.4fbcdf18f24781afc7dc9e91a66e7bb1.jpg

 

DSCN7373.jpg

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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I bet getting that big chain block on was a bugger of a job.

 

As my welds don't usually look half as good as yours do, I would have cut down some of the removed section and welded the extra support inside the frame. Partly  because I never trust my own butt welds on important things and partly because it would help me hold things in place while pulling things together. 

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My only problem is that I sold my (electric) arc welder some years ago, so now I have to rely on oxy-acetylene. This tends to slow down the process. I have put to one side the pieces cut from the chassis. if I decide that I need to reinforce the joins I will have plenty of material. The original chassis is "boxed" construction so there is no shortage of steel. My (Tube steel) body frame will also provide some extra strength. It is my belief that I have done the "right thing", that this "LeaF" should be a really interesting little car. Only time will tell, it is extremely likely that this will  be my last "Restoration", so hopefully it will be a "good one".

I bought that "chain block" quite a long time ago, it has paid for itself several times over.

 

Bj

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Bernie,

 

You are an inspiration and after watching this build I might just try to make one of these classy little roadsters from a  a left hand drive relic. 

 

Years ago I traded an old Colt revolver for an oxy-acetylene set and since then the Colt has done nothing but go up in value, but the gas torch set has probably saved me at least 10 times what the pistol is worth today and is one of my best trades. I still have my arc welder that I use about once every couple of years and my butt welds never looked as good as your gas welds when I was using it every couple of weeks.

 

 

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Hello OCF and Digger

Welding is rather like riding a bicycle, You never complete;y forget. I probably have an intense period of welding nearly every day for perhaps two or three months about every five years. Some years ago I changed my large industrial size gas cylinders to the smallest, handy-man size. During a spell of body frame construction I am probably doing some welding every other day, then almost none for a year or two. I actually enjoy these creative periods. 
In some ways I would be happy to pack up all "car-stuff" and wander off somewhere quite with a box of water colour  paints and a few sheets of decent paper. Perhaps in my next life?  It is a funny thing during these artistic sessions in the  past, all the rural paintings seemed to have a car somewhere in the background. Out in our garden you are likely to trip over a piece of "welded sculpture" Most seem to have melted into the background. Again most of these incorporate some odd asortment of mechanical bits & pieces.

This one, brake discs and drums. 

DSCN7374.jpg

 

This combined "bath and feeder" is a favourite spot for many of our feathered friends. Its location is where we can observe the comings and goings through our "family room" window without the need to go outside.

Bernie j.

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Bernie,

 

You are extremely skilled and have a truly artistic approach to rebuilding the LeaF.  If I were ever to attempt welding (which I doubt, considering that I nearly flunked metal shop as a teenager), twould not be a speck as nice as yours.  I am in the camp, however, of adding some extra support to the weld (what use to be called "fishplating") just to be safe. One never knows what terrain you may decide to conquer with the finished product.

 

Cheers!

 

PS:  Love your sculptures.  I may decide to do that as drought is slowly killing most everything in our back yard.

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After that brief  digression, The LeaF body kit arrived nice and early this morning, about 8.15 am. Even before I had opened the garage door.  All I need to do now is to "cut it out and assemble it.......

 

Now 24 hours later One length of square tube is cut up and my tube bender has been hard at work`

DSCN7376.jpg.4dd0107a39a8eb1ba67f5a76741accf2.jpg

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I am sure that I have shown this simple tube bender many times before but for the benefit of any new comers, I will show it again.

While limited to the one radius it does give a consistent bend without causing any "puckering" in the bend. Tube is bent "cold", simply by applying pressure on the end of the tube being bent.

I have simply lost count of the number of bends I have made in tube being used in body frames. It works best with square tube up to 20mm. Made simply using a section of a damaged (scrap) 13 inch wheel rim, it has "paid for itself over and over again!

 

Bj.DSCN7377.jpg.5dbfa584c7967c8decbe30d68e2c3817.jpg

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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And now I am putting these bends to work. Yesterday I started on the LeaF's body frame, there is not a lot to show for now but at least I have made a start. As with all my bodies rather than working to a drawing "IT" is taking shape as inspiration becomes reality. Having said that it will no doubt not be very different to most of the two seater bodies "out there". I will leave you to be the judge, but not just yet. My present thinking is for it to have a door on the passengher side but not on the drivers side. Similar in some ways to my Lagonda Rapier, please note the quite deliberate use of the word "similar".

 

Bj.

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Hello Chris

I have no control over what grows in my garage, my role in the whole affair is limited to welding together the parts as they appear on my bench or attached to the chassis. There are no drawings or plans! 

This is how I have worked for the past 50 or 60 years. Things just "happen".  I am now waiting for our son, Steve, to call in to assist me to turn the LeaF around so I can make a start on the driver's side.

As you can see in today's photographs I am not over endowed with space! OR the very latest in equipment. What you are seeing here is the start of the driver's side.

 

BJ.

 

DSCN7383.jpg.3baefca227616290f15e690262b44647.jpg

 

DSCN7384.jpg.2ce526894b601958ddab1eb798ede4fb.jpg

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No not drop everything but he did come by on his way home from work and assisted with turning the LeaF around so I can now start on the drivers side.  To day I am busy doing some domestic chores, cleaning out some of the guttering where the leaves have built up and are slowing down the water running off the roof. We/I have given up on the "Handy-men" who put notices in our letter box advertising their service as being next to useless.

Our forecast is for a return to Winter after two or three days of Spring.

 

Bj.

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Now all I need is a fresh burst of enthusiasm. I really do question my sanity, do I really need to be working on all this old rubbish just to survive. I managed to spend an entire day yesterday without doing anything constructive on the LeaF while the Rapier sits in the carport gathering dust. Every time I go out the front door I walk past it without really seeing it. Yesterday I had to drag out my extension ladder to get up onto the roof in order to clean out the gutters that collect the rain water from the roof.  It all seems so pointless. A total waste of time, in another three months there will be almost as many leaves on the roof again.

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Bernie,

 

You're not alone in this. Be it car, boat, or home, I always need a fresh burst of enthusiasm when the drudgery of taking care of everything gets in the way of enjoying anything. 

 

Don't wait until cobwebs connect it to the walls and the floor, dust off the Rapier and take it out for a drive. 

 

 

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Thank you Digger

Right now here in Victoria, Australia we are locked in with "Co-vid" restrictions,  add to this I have just this minute, received a phone call to tell me that there is a cylinder block etc available as soon as I can do the trip, about an hour or two away,  to collect it.

I had resigned myself to the thought of repairing the block but now that should not be necessary.

 

Bj

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Thank you Chris

Our current crop of politicians seem to delight in their ability to completely disorganise the life of the Australian public.  Together with them we have the people who take their entertainment in seeing how best they can disrupt life by consistently breaking every available rule. Then we have the "Anti-Vaccination Brigade", These people consider that in every instance, "Nature" should be left to create havoc at every possible opportunity. That in some unaccountable way, the more that the general public suffer, the better it is and that in fact we are all being punished for our sins. Just what these sins are and who they are against is not explained.

 

Bj.

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Having just come in from a couple of hours work on the Lea Francis, I think that I have discovered what my life long sin has been. Instead of staying inside where I am sure there are sufficient house hold chores; that I have spent my life avoiding, walking around or simply closing my eyes to;  to keep me more than occupied instead of spending my time outside messing about with bloody old motor cars.

This  has to stop! 

Just what I do instead I still have to discover, perhaps I should just lay down and die! That would save a lot of trouble.

I have outlived my "use by" date and it is time that I was gone.

 

Bernard Jacobson

9-11-1936. --------

 

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9 hours ago, oldcar said:

I think that I have discovered what my life long sin has been.

Bernie,

Sin is what you make it and if you think that bleaching the bloody black out of white grout is a road to redemption, take it.  Last night I got down on my hands and knees to scrub all the black out of the white grout of the bathroom tile floor and I can assure you that it is harder on the knees and not nearly as redeeming as messing about with bloody old motor cars.  Keeping the home clean and in good repair is just good stewardship, bringing light into the world by doing things that encourage others is a gift. I think you have at least one more job to do before you can call it quits. 

15 hours ago, oldcar said:

 "Nature" should be left to create havoc at every possible opportunity. 

Some things will never make sense. Not to many people of this opinion are old enough to remember children with Polio and politicians are more often the hemorrhoids of humanity than they are the suppository. 

 

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Don't mind me, I have been suffering from depression for as long as I can remember, I just keep taking the tablets.  I have recently reduced the dose so this may be the result. It may take a few day to adjust.  Meanwhile I will keep beavering away on the LeaF. The Rapier is very good and just sits there quietly waiting until I can take it out for a run. Keeping the Peugeots battery charged is something else, I did manage to take it out last week so hopefully it will start the next time. I seem to need to charge the Rapier's battery every time, before I go out in it.  Again, once it has a run, it is OK until the next time.  The VW is Helen's car and it is used regularly, being a Diesel and a VW it is typically reliable!

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So here we are in Victoria, Australia. It is Monday morning and the sun is shining although it is still very chilly outside.

I have just finished my breakfast but still have a couple of chores to do before I wander out to my garage. Yesterday I managed to bend and cut to length some more steel tube ready to be fitted on the drivers side. This may torquier some final adjustment before being welded into place. There being no door on this side makes todays work possibly a little easier, only time will tell. Matching the scuttle up to the left hand side being possibly the most difficult task for today.

I am now waiting for my camera's battery to recharge, so I can down-load todays photographs.

 

Bj.

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Keeping you up to date, here are this morning's photographs. Those two triangular gadgets are magnetic "welders extra hands", They are invaluable in holding pieces in place while adjustments can be made and welds finished. I am sure that I have mentioned the need to have a good selection of "screw "G" clamps when working by myself. They are probably far more reliable that many human helpers. Again over the past sixty or so years I have always found it easier to work by myself. It reduces to number of arguments significantly!

I now have used three out of four lengths of the steel tube that I bought before starting work on the body frame. I have also used one short length of rectangular tube that I already "had in stock". I still have to use the length of steel "strip" but some of it will go around one side and the bottom of the door. It will also go to form the brackets to hold the (timber) dash-board. 

 

Bj.DSCN7391.jpg.62f01f2b4ce034c8d685eca339bb2713.jpgDSCN7390.jpg.75ef4647ef9859e0cb631f6a70575bf7.jpg

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