Tales from the Workshop - Steve Potter, TA 9162 (Oct 2010)
Things have been proceeding at quite a pace in the workshop these last few months.
Around January time in the middle of the trialling season, I decided it was time to remove the B.H engine from the car before I did any major damage to it and fit the P.H. I had been bugged by the leaking cylinder plug due to the crack in the casting between the cylinders. Everything was tried to stop water getting in to no avail, all of the usual crack fillers proving no good. The P.H engine was successfully fitted to do the March Hare Trial and finally the Land's End.
The replacement engine had run successfully in the car for a number of years despite having a slight leak, once hot it would run all day long, not missing a beat. This was all to change during the last two trials, call it bad luck or just Murphy's Law, the engine became difficult to start and left to get cold, water would leak into the cylinder but despite this seven hundred and fifty miles was completed on the Land's End.
Once back home, if I wanted to use the car I had to drain the water from the crankcase and cylinder before setting out. I also noted a loss of water from the radiator and quite severe bubbling through the radiator. With two engines now not fit for purpose, I decided it was time to try and do some repairs. First the B.H engine was disassembled and the inlet cylinder plugs were removed from the block. A lot of the water had been leaking through the threads where the jointing compound had been eroded. New cylinder plugs were manufactured, the threads being to a better tolerance. Lots of suggestions were made about how to repair the cracks in the cylinder walls which ran through the threads at the top of the bores, some of which seemed fraught with danger. The new plugs were fitted to the block with a really good quality Lock-Tite jointing paste and a bridge piece made and fitted in the water jacket to support the cylinder walls to minimise the opening of the crack due to expansion. I also carried out a simple repair to the top of the cylinders between the two plugs using a really high quality silicone rubber, sticking a metal patch over the cracks; I will let you know if it works later. Meanwhile we will return to the engines later.
A couple of years ago my son Richard and I decided that a major rebuild of the punt was required on his car - TA 9162. Those of you that remember Patricia Stocken will remember that this is the car that she campaigned for over fifty years, doing numerous trials and many thousands of miles. It was given to her by Group Captain Arthur Scroggs in the mid nineteen fifties having been recovered from the corner of a field axle deep in mud and grass.
In those days the car was completely worthless unless you were Patricia and wanted to go trialling. Rudimentary repairs were carried out to the punt, a sheet of steel being bolted over all the rotten holes, which was most of it! Body work patched and riveted and a coat of Valspar enamel. That's the way it remained for the majority of the time she owned it. During the nineteen eighties more patching and welding of the body was undertaken by myself and my brother Phil when we were given the chance to use it. Up until that time few people had been given the privilege and it was used and maintained by us until her death. The months leading up to when she was really very ill, my son Richard drove her to TOC events in the car, becoming very interested in the car and its history. When the opportunity to purchase the car came along, he did so.
Having digressed from the story and given you a little insight into the history of the car and how it got into a poor state of repair with constant use, we decided something must be done. Over the course of a weekend and a few evenings the car was completely dismantled. First on the list of jobs was to accurately measure the punt floor to enable a new set of panels to be cut and bent up. These panels were made of eighteen SWG steel sheet and cut and bent up by a friend in his workshop. During the following week the remainder of the punt was de-rusted and some new repair sections welded in. A particularly difficult task on flat sheet steel, so much so that we decided that where the floor meets the front bulk head it would be preferable to make a joint in the panels and hard rivet them together thus avoiding major distortion.