Monday, 17 February 2014

Ah!, let there be light!...

In some reasonable natural light, the latest work on the car woodwork has been photographed with some better success.
Here the repair chunk to the windscreen header rail has been glued in with epoxy and shaped up on the disc/belt sander.  The notch has yet to be finished.  To make epoxy resin into glue, you add a fluffy white powder called Colloidal Silicon.  It makes the epoxy gap-filling and much stronger once the surfaces have been wetted out with plain resin.
Before veneering, the old finish has to be removed, which is a job for a nicely sharpened scraper.  Whoever re-finished these parts ages ago must have used something like Sadolin fence paint! They are almost orange, ughh!

There is a trim piece that goes on top of the dashboard, which contains sweet little wooden demister outlets.
No repairs necessary, but as it's a nice mahogany, rather than the poplar used on the header rail, it will be scraped and re-varnished.

The glove box door has now had its bird's eye maple veneer added to its inside face for a little lightness
This needs trimming and a small addition made to the back edge where the veneer slipped when clamped up!

And here are those cappings that we started with.  They have been coated with one coat of Akrifan one-shot lacquer, which needs de-nibbing and another coat, then a polish with Duraglit and a waxing to finish off.
The re-inforcement tape on the rear of the badly split one and the little graving pieces that replaced rot and wear.

Next,  a bit of a gap while I wait for my hammer veneering equipment to arrive.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

In-car wood, Part the third...

With the split fixed with epoxy, I thought it wise to strengthen the back of the split with some cotton strip (from an old shirt).  This was wetted with resin as was the wood and the strip held in to the sharp inside corner with some cling film and a stick of balsa wood to hold the cloth right into the corner. It was all then taped up to hold it over night.  The wrinkly effect is the cling film finish imparted to surplus resin.  That can all be taken down with scrapers and sandpaper.  In this less than perfect photo. the cotton is the slightly lighter section from the left end towards the right.
Sorry for the rubbish picture, but it's too windy and cold to go outside in the Sun and my camera doesn't take clear pics inside.  I've given up on it.
You can see the little chip of new mahogany that I've also glued into a bit on the edge that had some rot cut out, top left.  That will be disc sanded down and will effectively blend in.

Here, the old screw holes have been plugged with mahogany, to ensure that the re-fixing won't be into old, possibly loose holes.  Also, the lock cut out has been epoxied to seal all surfaces, for strength and water proofing.

On the other side, the pear veneer has been glued on to level the surface with the original Mulliner's veneer.
It has been trimmed all round and the edge of the ply, from which the door is made, has been epoxied to seal it all and to seal the edge of the new veneer.
You can see, even on this lousy picture, how just one application of epoxy has sealed and even shone up the ply edges.  Naturally, this will sand down smooth once the 48 hours final hardening time is up.  After cutting off the plugs and scraping smooth, this side will get some bird's eye maple veneer, so that the inside of the glove box has a nice light appearance to contrast the outside which will be rosewood.  The rest of the weekend will be required to let everything thoroughly harden off.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

In-car timber, Part 2...

The wooden car parts have now been cleaned up and today the epoxy resin turned up.
Despite the sunshine, it's just too cold to do any epoxying, so here are the parts prepared for the gluing.
The header rail now has its rot bandsawn out. The discolouration doesn't worry me as this piece will be veneered, but all the rot has been cut out and a very fine piece of Honduras mahogany was given to me by my local joiner to provide the filler piece.  He told me the timber seen here is actually Poplar!  Who would have thought it?

These mahogany side cappings have had the splits cleaned out of the impact adhesive that some clown tried to mend it with years ago!  This will be epoxied and pulled together with tape, the kindest clamp  There's also a sliver needs making and gluing on the other end of the less split one. Some judicious planing will have the slight bend in the right hand one looking straighter.
Cleaning these up was done with a scalpel for the removal of the old glue and a cabinet scraper to remove the mucky old varnish/stain mixture. With a scraper, it was the work of just minutes to clean both these cappings up to smooth bare wood. Cabinet scrapers are an invaluable tool.  I used the very same scraper today to make the aerofoil section on a model aircraft wing master!  I make my own from blued spring steel stock.  Correctly sharpened on the diamond stone and given their cutting edge by burnishing on a smooth piece of steel, they cut like razors.  All my clay modelling finishing was done with the same tools.

The outside face of the glove box door, cleaned up to where the existing nondescript veneer is firmly attached.
This necessitates the addition of some pear veneer of the same thickness to bring the levels equal.  You'll see that the hole for the lock has NOT been filled, or rather it has, but information from a restorer lead to the filled hole being knocked out again as the door should indeed have the lock in it.  With keys ordered from a specialist, there's no reason why it shouldn't work.  However the ghastly work that had been done to the other face of the door has been filled and faired and to make a much nicer job the keeper plate has been let in flush with  the aid of a knife and a good sharp 1/2" chisel on the face AND the edge, so we have a very neat crisp appearance, ready for the veneer.  Below.

I needed to find out which set of three screw holes needed filling, but in case the screws were loose, I've decided to fill the holes with new wood to give the screws a chance of a decent fixing when the door is re-attached to its hinges.  This face will get a nice veneer as I don't like the boring painted finish.  The now flush chrome keeper plate over the lock mechanism will contrast nicely with the veneer, when left nonchalantly open at shows.

Tomorrow then, weather allowing, will see the first stages of epoxy repairs and some veneering.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The days of in-car woodwork...

My son recently bought a Triumph Renown, a big stately 1951 coachbuilt saloon.
Coachbuilt, as in by Mulliner's of Bordesley Green Road, Birmingham.  Wooden frame, clad in steel and aluminium panels.
Naturally the interior is wood and leather and Wilton carpet with West of England headlining.

After 63 years it has had the odd ingress of that rainy stuff, that's all the fashion here lately and some of the woodwork, mainly mahogany, has a little rot in it.
It has also had the dashboard re-veneered badly in that ghastly sapele stuff.  "Bleedin' stripey old packing case wood", as my cabinet maker Granddad would have it.  He was an awful wood snob, if the mahogany wasn't Honduras at least or the Walnut best burr, it was packing case wood to him!

So, to start doing something for the lad, I took the bits that had been removed already and have started preparing them for repair and reveneering.
They are the A pillar trims, windscreen header rail and it's capping and the passenger glove box lid, which had a non working locking catch and a hideous ball catch added, plus its sapele was falling off.

I started with the glove box lid.  Taking the old catch mechanism off was a pain, but it came away eventually, leaving, of course, a big hole.
There is an identical catch/lock on ebay described as AC Ace/Cobra and the fool wants £200 for it!  No bids, of course.  The chances are it's just a lock from Wilmot Breeden's catalogue of the period.

So I shaved off the sapele with a nice sharp chisel and started to fill the gaps here and there with some pearwood, which I happened to have indoors.  The weather is just not feasible to go over the workshop!
I glued strips in, with Aliphatic glue, a thin liquid which would soak in all the nooks and crannies.  I will have to turn a wooden plug for the big latch hole. I have some mahogany that will do that.
Because I am using a nice veneer for the inside face of the door, so it looks classy when open, I need only to fill those nooks and crannies with something like Milliput. It doesn't shrink and sets rock hard.  Old screw holes need wooden plugs and then the surfaces will get a nice coat of epoxy resin, to seal it all in.
Then the veneers will go on and a new hole drilled for a neat 8mm sunken ballcatch.  I sourced some on ebay. They are brass with a keeper plate, four of them for £1-79, free postage!!  How on earth can they do that?  The postage alone would cost more.  Still, that's their problem.  They are on their way.
I have some walnut veneer, figured, but not burr, for the dashboard as a whole, so will use that for the front face.  Then, in good Vanden Plas, etc. tradition, the edges, which can't be veneered, will be painted a suitable dark brown and then varnished with the rest of the surfaces. Epoxy is a wonderful finish for a glass like smoothness, but is not UV proof, so a spray coat of acrylic gloss will finish it off.

The header rail needs the rot cut out and a new piece of mahogany let in. What boatbuilders call a Graving piece.  That needs to be sourced from a joiner in the village, along with the capping rail for that, which is currently a piece of 3mm ply with half missing.  Ugh!!
The side pieces are, in one instance, split and the other, bent with an extra hole (possibly because it's bent).
I shall soak the piece and jig it straight to dry by the woodburner, then plug the extra hole and repair the split with epoxy and let in a graving piece where a chunk split off the edge years ago.
Once all that is set, the whole lot gets planed, disc sanded, scraped down to size and shape and a complete coat of epoxy put all round to normalise the stresses and damp proof it all.  Epoxy will also fill the grain, ready for a rub down and a coat of clear.

This isn't going to happen overnight as I fit such jobs in to keep me sane and help out, but progress will be shown on here as it happens.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Dragon is growing!...

It's been nice to get back to the Dragon Rapide master after weeks of car stuff.  And very productive it's been too.
I finally got the wing ribs masked and sprayed to represent the tapes over the rib stitching .  The rib stitching is however, a step too far. It is so extensive and time consuming that it would double the cost of the master!
So that will be up to the kit buyers to either ignore or to use Archer decals to represent it.

Beyond that, the lower wings are finished along with the engine nacelles which are partly integral with the wings to obviate as many non-natural joints as possible.  The long joint between the fuselage halves is, alas, unavoidable, due to production constraints, but I have endeavoured to make the joint as good as possible, requiring only the smallest amount of filling.  More Archer cross-stitch decals will then cover most of that.
Here are the two fuselage halves, with the newly carved nose cone, which snicks on the front. That is yet to be hollowed out when the weather allows me to stand in the workshop doorway and have the wind blow the dust away, so that I don't end up looking like a snowman.
Also the cockpit bulkhead with it's framing, to which attaches all manner of electrical boxes, switchgear, etc.

The halves internally.  Each side of the cockpit has slightly different  framing, but all these hold various different controls, electrical boxes, pipes and wires.  Also here are the nose cone with its cockpit glazing frame detail and the engine nose cone with its new air intake surround.
And finally, a shot of all of it, so far (showing my usual muddle of tools!)

Monday, 3 February 2014

So damned close after all these years...

A very strange and wonderful thing happened at the weekend.

I'd 'phoned a specialist in early post War triumphs on my son's behalf about some bits for the Renown, which is now safely entombed in his carport and I spoke to a chap called Brad Lodge about my history with many Triumphs.  I happened to mention that as a family when I was around 5 we had what we always called "The Renown", or "Our Baby Rolls".
In fact it was, I have had confirmed recently by the Club, a 1948 1800 Town and Country Saloon, but you'd have to be a nerd to know the difference.  I do recall my Dad mentioning that it was an 1800, even though he also called it the Renown.
It was registered HXN 384 and before I'd even got those number out, our Mr. Lodge interrupted with , "a black 1800?"
"Yes, how on earth did you know that?". asked I, mystified by whatever bit of technology was informing him of our long lost, but much loved old car.
"I had it recently, got the number plates, vin plate and logbook on my workshop wall".

Well, you can imagine my reaction to this.  It seems he had judged the wood to have been too far gone and so was forced to break the car for spares.  The whole family of Razoredge saloons were genuinely coachbuilt in steel and aluminium over an ash frame by the famous coachbuilders, Mulliners of Birmingham. If the wood "goes", it is a very substantial rebuild required.
BUT, he told me that the engine had gone to a German gentleman and the gearbox to an Englishman, both with Roadsters and that he'd sold the doors and bonnet only last week!

Yesterday I learned from a Dutch Roadster and Renown owner that he had seen HXN quite recently whilst buying spares and did not consider the car too far gone on sight, but confirmed that storage space for whole cars was at a premium.
SO...if I'd have know just a few weeks earlier, I could have had our 66 year old family car back and restored her, since wood work is not a problem for me.

Mr. Lodge then kindly offered to send the remaining number plates, vin plate and log book to me for the cost of postage!

So over 50 years since I last saw that wonderful, stately, black baby Rolls, I will be getting back her "essentials", to put on my wall and not just a garage wall, but right here in front of where I type.  And if the log book is the original old buff one, somewhere in there will be Raymond James Field, followed by Jack Silk.

I can't wait to get all the bits.