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Canberra Antique and Classic Motor Club
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1924 Vauxhall 23/60 Tourer
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OK so you have a vehicle to restore. It has four wheels—glass—gearbox—engine—sort of. The body looks straight—has no brightwork—has no interior—or dash. It is a basic shell.
 
So let us remove the glass, door handles, etc and take the shell down to be grit blasted back to bare metal. DISASTER. The paint hid a multitude of sins—like bog in the door sills, front mudguards and evidence of rust holes.
 
Now we dig out all the old bog to see what is underneath—yuk—not a pretty sight—any panel damage has not been panel beaten, but filled and is centimetres thick.
 
Don’t despair. In the paper I find a Humber Vogue sedan for sale—phone call—look see—has right colour interior in reasonable condition—1 month rego—doesn’t go. Negotiate a price and drag it home for spare parts. Things are improving—maybe.
 
The vehicle had all surfaces blasted, inside outside, underneath in fact every crevice was treated. Now came the task of removing the grit and dust. I have an industrial vacuum cleaner that can suck pigeons off poles and spit out feathers. With various size hoses and nozzles I was able to extract 2 x two gallon buckets of grit from within crevices and places. Good job done I thought. Had a look inside next morning and the “grit fairy” had been—there were little piles of grit everywhere. What to do? I laid carpet down on the grass and tipped the wagon onto its roof and vacuumed up another bucket full of grit then turned a high pressure water hose into it—cleaned up the mess—allowed to dry, tip back onto its wheels and that got rid of the “grit fairy”.
 
Next turn our attention to the panels.
 
I read in the Humber magazine that Vogues have a problem with drainage from the air scuttle in front of the windscreen and with the front guards being double skin. I decided to drill out the spot welds and remove the front section to make work easier and to tidy up bits and pieces.
 
So after much panel beating, shrinking and beating of panels they were ready to receive a thin covering of bog about 3 mm thick to hide any imperfections. After painting inside the front section it was re-fitted aligned with the bonnet and finally welded into position.
 
Painting was the next step with etch primer, undercoat, spray putty and top coat being applied to all surfaces with much rubbing back between applications of paint. The finished colour is Smoke Green.
 
Now comes the assembling of the body parts, wiring looms, plus extra wires for radio speakers, rear window demister and some spares, window winders, door catches, glass in new rubber, upholstery, roof lining, dashboard, crash padding and so on it goes. How does this fit? Over to the sedan, looking, remembering, back to estate and fit. Lucky to have a sedan of the same vintage to refresh the memory.
 
The mechanicals came next. Out of three engine blocks, one was selected—machined to suit 60 thou oversized pistons, crank shaft and cam shaft journals polished with bearings to suit fitted. I had two alloy heads and the better one was selected, machined, valves seated ready to assemble.
 
The engine components were assembled and stood to one side ready to be fitted into the body. The gearbox came out of the parts sedan with a new bearing fitted to the rear cover and new oil seals to front rear shafts. The gearbox was attached to the engine.
 
The body was then jacked up off the ground about 1/2 metre and on stands to remove and clean the rear and front suspension members. The read end—what a mess—the diff centre had teeth missing off the crown and pinion wheel. New crown and pinion obtained and assembled into the diff centre by a transmission specialist, new wheel oil seals. Dismantle and clean the springs, install new bushes, paint, reassemble and fit back into the body.
 
While the body is off the ground this is a good opportunity to fit brake lines, fuel lines, hand brake cable and anything else to be done underneath.
 
The front cross member was removed from the body, brake callipers removed and reconditioned, new ball joints, components cleaned, painted, reassembled and put back into the body. The brakes had the callipers reconditioned, new rear wheel cylinders, new shoes and pads master cylinder honed. Lines were connected—system bled and now we have brakes. 
 
The motor and gearbox were fitted into the body, tail shaft fitted, all components fitted, battery, radiator, electrics, etc. The big moment arrives—so see if it will start. Petrol in the tank—prime the carby—check oil levels again—turn the key—it turns over—it fires—it goes. A quick tune up on the b=carburettor, depress the clutch, engage reverse gear and it moves. Out on the driveway and down the street—a bit noise as it has no exhaust system fitted. It goes and it stops.
 
The wagon is taken to an exhaust centre where extractors are fitted along with a complete exhaust system. Then next door to an auto electrician where the charging rate is checked—doesn’t work—new generator fitted and the electrics now work.
 
Take it down to motor registry to get it registered—failed hand brake—adjust—re-test and passed.
 
Pay the money, pick up number plates, fit and take it for shakedown drive—don’t forget the tool box—Murphy’s law you know.
 
Chris Berry.