Imp based Special build log

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Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Hi all, support and encouragement in another thread has prompted me to do a build log of my Austin Seven chassised Cambridge Engineering bodied Special.
What?? I hear you say.....well it's got a Sunbeam 928cc engine and 'box, because I'm not paying stupid modern day Austin 7 prices for an engine that struggles to make 20bhp and for which a crank is £895!! Similarly the only other idea was for a Reliant engine, but after rebuilding my Fox Van engine 18 months ago for a ruinous sum for just parts, that is not an option all over again.
But the truth is, I always loved and coveted the Coventry Climax engine and say what you will, the Imp based Talbot Sunbeam 1 Litre is as near a Coventry Climax lump as I'll get this side of a Lottery win.
It had to be a Sunbeam as it sits upright, although I've discovered through this excellent forum that Imp engines can be mounted up front and upright. But no matter, I now have courtesy of Chris on this forum yesterday, a Sunbeam engine.
He offered me manifold too, but I thought they'll be no good from an Imp, but for an outside exhausted Special the exhaust manifold from an Imp when on an upright installation, pokes out horizontally, which is perfect! The inlet maybe not, as the carb now sits at an angle and can't have it's float chamber moved round from what little I've seen so far. Maybe an SU set up might have to be made up.
I have quickly moved it all to the storage caravan and will have a good look when I have a manual covering the engine.
Meanwhile, this weekend we're off to Scotland to get a Ruby chassis (1937, I think), reasonably cheap, because it's so damned far away, but our grandchildren live up that way so a nice trip can be made of one of our rare visits. I'm hoping a gearbox can be picked up on the route.
Malcolm, sorry, but Somerset is too far just for a gearbox.
More anon. when things start to be cleaned and repaired, etc.

Meanwhile, I really don't like that cam cover-mounted fuel pump!! Way too ugly for a visible CC type engine, so I'll be blanking the hole off and using an electric one. So there's the first spare coming your way guys!

Cheers,
Martin
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by bazzateer »

Lots of pics required. Not tiny ones either, as Professor Peach said, "I like 'em big!" :lol:
If I told you I was a pathological liar, would you believe me?
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

My camera needs good strong daylight or it just fogs, so tomorrow I'll be out there with it.
I didn't unload till dusk tonight.

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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by ImpManiac »

Where are you based, Martin? :?: Just out of interest.

IM 8)
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

I'm in the Fens...Norfolk/ Cambridgeshire borders. Bow 'n' arrer country. Here be dragons, that sort of thing! Says so on the latest maps. :)

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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Hi all, this is my Special's beginnings The scuttle and back panel (in the back of the Reliant Fox van).
All dents and bumps removed with a planishing hammer and the English wheel at work. The rotten ash removed from the back panel.
Other pic is the engine in all its bits in the storage caravan with the body side behind.
Image

Image


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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by ImpManiac »

You must have more bits than that to go into the car! :o Surely? :?: :wink: I'd be interested to see the chassis and running gear.

IM 8)
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Picking up the chassis on Saturday, IM.
A long trip up to Berwick to stay with the son and grandchildren, then across to the far South West of Scotland for the late Ruby chassis and, I'm hoping, a gearbox for the Sunbeam engine.
Next weekend, I'm checking out a very nice shortened radiator grille and rad with fan.

The body is scuttle back only. Bonnets have to be made and always did! So I'd better get good at making louvres.

More anon.

Martin
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Well, a successful weekend so far.
After a very long journey to SW Scotland over some stunning roads with equally beautiful scenery, I picked up a 930 gearbox and then the Ruby chassis.
It's so light two of us just picked it up by first, the front wheels and put it in the van and then the rears and it was in. It rolls and steers, so that's something!

It comes with not only a steering column and box, but a specially made wedge to lower the angle of the column for a Special, so it looks like it was intended for that outcome at some time. It's a 1937 chassis with a clearly legible chassis number on a genuine plate, so shouldn't be too much hassle to register.

Pics once I've got it all home on Monday evening.

The gearbox is a delightfully light and compact unit with mounts which look made for the A--frame of a 7 chassis. Couldn't be better! Nice remote gearchange on the tail end too.

Cheers,
Martin
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by ImpManiac »

That all sounds good, Martin! :D I'm pleased you're pleased. :wink: We do need some photos, though, please! :!:

IM 8)
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Paul, my son took some good pics of it all in the van and will send them through later to my wife's laptop, so I might be able to get some up, but not till tomorrow when we get home.

Cheers,
Martin
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by ImpManiac »

No problem, Martin. I am sure I am speaking for all of us when I say that I am looking forward to seeing the pictures whenever you can find time to upload them. :mrgreen:

IM 8)
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Hi all, here are a few shots of the newly acquired Austin 7 chassis for the Special.
Image
Note how neatly it fits a Renault Trafic van!

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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Here's the Sunbeam gearbox from Dumfries.
The guy I got it from has an original Sunbeam with just 500 miles on the clock!!

This is a very neat,light unit with a nice remote change.
Image

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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by james »

Seems to be an excellent project base there Martin. :D

I have to say that quarter-elliptic leaf springs do look utterly wrong though. :wink:
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

They were good enough for A-H Sprites, James and for that matter, Bugattis. These will probably be flattened to obviate extreme roll steer, something A7 chassis suffer from in standard form.

I was a bit annoyed to find there were no rear shock absorbers and will take that up with the seller. He hadn't mentioned that in our emails.

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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by james »

Hehe - I wasn't saying that they are wrong, just that they look wrong. :wink:
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

They are a shock to encounter for a first time!

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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Well guys, if ever there was a case of Caveat Emptor it was me and this chassis. I've been royally stitched up with this. I bought a late Ruby ('37 or '38), but it transpires that the entire front end is early model with less desirable brakes and the steering column is pre 1930!
It appears to be a lash-up of any old crap in the guy's mate's barn that would look vaguely Austin 7-ish.

But....Nil Desperandum, there is a booklet called "The Companion" which tells A7 fans how to make anything A7 fit anything else A7 and I have a copy coming next week. It should save me some money. Astonishingly even what I have is still worth more than I paid for it!

Meanwhile, I'm away Sunday to seek a radiator surround and a nice new FIAT 500 rad and fan, some more Cambridge bits and another book on Specialbuilding.
My eyes are hurting from all the reading!
Image

This is what my engine will look like. Unfortunately the pic of it in an A7 Special wouldn't download and the daft sod has removed the video from youtube as well! But it looks marvellous. I have also found that the Sunbeam engine weighs fully 50 lbs. less than the A7 lump, but it well over twice as powerful in bog standard trim! The above Coventry Climax unit is the VERY rare 750 cc unit as used at Le Mans in an Elite to win the Index of Performance and is for sale for a measly £4,500.. OHHH!!!!
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by ImpManiac »

That's not good. :!: So do you plan to sell the unwanted bits and use the funds to procure 'the right bits' then?

IM 8)
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Well, damn it, IM, no. The beauty of a simple piece of junk like an Austin 7 is that there are always ways and means of fitting one bit of Seven to another. It's all in the "Companion", a book that I have on order. It is well recommended as the "Bible"for A7 fiddlers and meddlers like me. The essence of good A7 brakes is careful assembly and adjustment. I may yet make my own shaft, etc. according to the book and just get there that way.
Then, what's left from my tray of mysteries, I will offer on ebay with all the other overpriced tatt!
Might get some of my money back that way.
Today I took a rusty front shock absorber (spares dealer price £130) and took it all apart with heat and persuasion and will clean it up and re-use it no problem, so there's a 1/4 of what I paid for the chassis saved in one go!

Where there's a will :wink:

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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by ImpManiac »

Now that's what I like to hear! Ingenuity and saving dosh! :P I wonder if I could dismantle my Imp's Spax shockers... :idea:

IM 8)
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

I wouldn't begin to try IM!!
The one on the front of the seven is four plates of steel sandwiching three friction plates and held together with spring stars about 3" diameter. It forms two legs which run sideways from under the radiator and bolt to the axle beam with ally drop links.
Completely dismantable. And probably bl***y useless as a damper, truth be known!

What I can't get, I'll make. Rocket science was a long way off in them thar days!!

The whole tennet of this project apart from doing something I shoud have done long ago was to take a quarter of my miserable pension pot and double the whole pot by building, enjoying for a while and then selling it to some wealthy Klutz for the kind of money they seem happy to pay for these things. If that makes me seem mercenary, so be it. In these straightened days we do what we can.
It's time for this raggy-arsed, but very broadly capable enthusiast to look down his nose at the fat "professional" and pocket the result.

Martin
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Lars Hagermark »

Specialbuilder wrote:It's time for this raggy-arsed, but very broadly capable enthusiast to look down his nose at the fat "professional" and pocket the result.
Martin
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Hey Lars, good man!! :twisted:

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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

I don't know if this picture will open for readers, but it is of the Austin Seven Special in New Zealand with a Coventry Climax engine. Lucky devil, eh? And this one is one of those very rare 750s. Not the absence of a fuel pump and Godiva medal on the cam cover top.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/austin7nut ... /lightbox/
That's how mine is going to look! I note that even the inlet manifold is very like the one I have from an Imp.

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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by ImpManiac »

Specialbuilder wrote:http://www.flickr.com/photos/austin7nut ... /lightbox/
That's how mine is going to look!
:shock: Now that I like! 8)

Have I already mentioned that I rather like specials? 8) Years ago, I fancied a little Ford Pop-based, side-valve powered special that was available as a kit. I don't recall the name but it was minimalist and light. Mind you, so was I... :wink:

IM 8)
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by gnatman »

I'll treat you to a drive in my Pop if I bring it to next National, Paul.
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by ImpManiac »

gnatman wrote:I'll treat you to a drive in my Pop if I bring it to next National, Paul.
:D That'd be grand, Don!

IM 8)
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Well gents, what a day! I went to look at a radiator and surround and came away with half a car! Steel floor, steel and ally bulkhead, body brackets (original Cambridge) rear support frame for tank and spare wheel (ditto), throttle mechanism, prop shaft, correct steering column and box and next year, a complete unused Bowdenex independent front end! Not to mention two more Cambridge SWB body sides. I am a very lucky boy! And suddenly very busy, too!
All that and a detour to the seaside for me and the Mrs. to visit one of her Internet friends. Some days are extra good.

Photos when I've unloaded the car tomorrow!

Martin
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Oh dear, what a huge gap in reports about this little project! As there probably will be from time to time.
I've just been very busy with earner jobs, fitting a wood burner, etc.

Extra to all the above is that I went over to the gentleman from whom came all the Cambridge body extras and picked up a superb, unused Bowdenex front suspension system. These were designed by and later sold by Cambridge. A twin spring unit with new Mini telescopic dampers. It's 4" wider track than the 7 axle, too, so comes with a purpose made track rod using Ford Pop ends, which don't fit the A7 steering arms, but nothing that a bit of lathery can't cure.
http://i461.photobucket.com/albums/qq33 ... d329eb.jpg
Meantime, I have repaired the back panel on a friend's English wheel which, apart from shaping, will also flatten dents and bumps in a single pass. I removed all the old dust that was once ash, redid the flanges on a steel bench using a hammer and old flatiron bought for pennies at a Boot fair.
Then I bought some 1 1/8th" square ash from a local specialist wood yard and re-framed the back according to the original pattern, though I went further with the joints to make a neater job. Just bandaw, and half inch chisel I bought when I restored my historic narrow boat. I bought 14 high quality chisels for £7 at the huge Staffordshire boot fair! Always buy tools at the "old tool stalls" at boot fairs as they're likely to be the best quality. My chisels are all either Marples or Sorby, THE best bar none.
Here's progress with the back panel. A Sunday afternoon's work recently.
http://i461.photobucket.com/albums/qq33 ... 1b0251.jpg
http://i461.photobucket.com/albums/qq33 ... 6e04bd.jpg
I am currently trying to sort out some brakes. there are options, but it seems that with modern friction material and meticulous set-up, the old A7 brakes are more than adequate for a light special, so that's an ongoing saga, helped by kind folks who have offered items I don't have. I shall also be joining the very reasonably priced Cambridge club next month to discuss all these options.

Finally, last night I did a great deal with an A7 supplier for these beauties.
http://i461.photobucket.com/albums/qq33 ... e5a8e2.jpg
I first fell in love with these when I was a kid staring in the window of the Essex Speed Centre on Seven Kings bridge! Speedex (later to become Marcos) wheels with four good tyres for a price I couldn't let slip. I'm picking them up on Friday. These were also sold by Cambridge when Speedex folded and are the same date as the body (1958).

More as it happens folks.
Cheers,
Martin

PS, damn, the pics are too big. Most forums automatically size for display. My new pootah doesn't have a photo manipulator! Sorry, I guess you'll have to just wait till I can resize them. It wouldn't even pass the post on till I removed the links.
Edited to add simple links to the pics on photobucket, if you want a look!
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by ImpManiac »

Interesting stuff. It's good to hear that your project is progressing. :)

So the secret of good woodwork is decent chisels, eh? :?:

Those wheels look good and light.

IM 8)
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by cov_climax »

Sounds good, would love to see more pictures of the build.


in photobucket I think you change a preference somewhere so any uploaded pics are re-sized in the process, or download irfenview, its a small free program for manipulating pictures and very easy to use.

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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Thanks chaps, I'll try that. Why the PC man didn't change that over (crap though Microsquish Photo Editor was, I was used to it), I don't know.

I'll check out Photobucket.

ImpManiac, yep, buy the best and learn how to sharpen them right proper like and you'll never look back :wink:

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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Nope, I've just made them all 780 pixels wide and it still tells me to make them less than 801, so there's summat wrong with either photobucket or this forum.
Sorry, but life's too short.
Cheers,
Martin
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

As suspected, the Talbot gearbox doesn't fit by a country mile, so that'll be for sale. The engine? Well, I couldn't get it in the car, but I did measure it. "20" long and 20 1/4" high at least, so I don't know if that will fit either, although people in the Austin 7 world are using 750 Climax engines, Gawd knows where they're from, but they look petite compared with the FW series. And as to what gearbox they use, I have no idea.
It may be that I'll have to go with an Austin 7 engine engine after all, which takes me away from you lovely, friendly lot, which would be a shame.

I'm now doing the special officially with my son, so any sudden bill will be halved which is nice to know. He's a handy lad, having worked for 9 years restoring classic racing cars (Masers, Alfas, Ferraris, Lotuses, etc.)

More when we decide.
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Specialbuilder »

Right guys, after a typically snotty exchange with the stuck up ex bank managers on the Austin 7 forum, I have resolved to use the Sunbeam engine and the cheap A7 engine I just bought for very little can finance the job!
And if I ever take the Cambridge anywhere it'll be Imp events. After a lifetime with A7s, I've had it with the stupid little tractors! As ever, it's people that make or break an interest and the 7 mob have broken it completely for me.
So, whatever it takes, the Cambridge Imp (with the necessary amount of annoying A7 bits) will be built!

Cheers,
Martin
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by basil imp »

They sound awful :shock: I'm glad your sticking with the idea of CC power, it's a great project and be good to see it done :D
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Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by Lotus-e-Clan »

Specialbuilder wrote:Right guys, after a typically snotty exchange with the stuck up ex bank managers on the Austin 7 forum, I have resolved to use the Sunbeam engine and the cheap A7 engine I just bought for very little can finance the job!
And if I ever take the Cambridge anywhere it'll be Imp events. After a lifetime with A7s, I've had it with the stupid little tractors! As ever, it's people that make or break an interest and the 7 mob have broken it completely for me.
So, whatever it takes, the Cambridge Imp (with the necessary amount of annoying A7 bits) will be built!

Cheers,
Martin
This does not surprise. :wink:

IIUC that the A7 forum deem it wrong to transplant a non-A7 motor into an A7, then it's understandable that you veer away from them and join a forum where the heart of the vehicle is celebrated.

We, on the Lotus Excel forum, have similar spats with folk who want to transplant various ( low-revving, lazy :roll: ) V8s instead of rebuilding the original 900 series Lotus motor (expensive to refresh!) - which after all is the heart of the car plus it has Lotus-Chapman DNA -and Excel owners are desperate to tell the world that their car is the last of the Chapman cars out of Lotus. This type of defensive/offensive behaviour is understandable because, despite lacking low down grunt, it's one of the sweetest, satisfying, motors both sonically and in delivery when at full chat - you just have to rev it to make it work which doesn't suit everyone! :twisted:. In the end, the transplanters tend to migrate toward the "engine forum" to get meaningful help and supportive banter! The famed Lotus chassis bringing them back now and again. 8)

Similarly, on this forum, we get spats of disapproval when transplanters attempt (often without success :D ), to improve on the FABULOUS, IMPcredible engine that belongs in Imps, Clans and to a lesser extent, G15s (lesser, only because it's RARE to hear about any G15 transplants on here :? ).

The engine IS the heart of the car, and this forum is the place to celebrate all that is good about the Imp engine! 8)

Clan004 :D
74 Clan Crusader 1040 Red 190 bhp/ton
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glenzierfoot
Posts: 276
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:45 pm
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Car Model: Mini

Re: Imp based Special build log

Post by glenzierfoot »

The FWM would be good choice for the a7 as it is a small light weight motor,on the carb side there should be stamped in fwm this is the Marian engine if it is stamped fwmp this would be the pump engine much the same but the pump motor has very small valves.The one in this photo is the marian engine which is new and i hope to use it in a special some day.
It is possible to increase the capacity of this engine by using imp std pistons and larger liners.It also has some nice features like five bearing cam and carrier, the cam is very similar to a r17,also it has a bronze pump gear.
These engines are not hard to come by and do'not make big money,a few years ago they were turning up at auto jumbles and the average price i payed for them was around £30. All i used from the was the rocker box the rest of them are on my junk pile. Clan002
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