After more delays, I finally resumed restoration work on my AC during the late summer of 2009. One of the delays has been my work on new scale drawings for the wood frame, which is still an ongoing project. I'm trying to build up plenty of other useful data as I progress with the rebuild. For useful practical information on this rebuild, please read the Restoration pages.
This seems like a good moment to explain my principles, ethics, and objectives for tackling this AC. I should stress that this is just a personal opinion. One of the pleasures of restoring your own car is that you can do it to your preferences and in the way you believe is best. The basic points that under-pin my rebuild are as follows:
1) Originality and Preservation.
My AC has survived in a very original state (apart from some factory upgrades to its mechanical parts). Therefore, it would be a shame not to keep it as original and unmodified as practical. This adds very little to the time and trouble involved in the project, and the end result may form a useful reference for other keen restorers. "Originality" can refer both to preserving original material, and also to keeping it unmodified from how it was when brand new. I will, however, compromise originality to a small extent so that I can ensure that the car is preserved for many years to come. Detracting from the original design in subtle ways can help to preserve what original material is still left, while allowing the car to be used frequently. A good example of what I mean is a change from animal glue to "Aerodux" glue for the wood frame.
There is nothing wrong with partial rebuilds, or a purely cosmetic renovation, as long as the car is road-worthy (assuming it's in use). But I am less impressed when I hear claims of "restoration" on cars that have only had light cosmetic work done (re-paint, rechrome, new carpets, etc.). Not forgetting the accompanying epic tales of hardship, for tasks that would be considered minor by serious restorers! I want to make sure that there is little scope for exaggerating when I tell tales of hardship about my restoration! After going to the trouble of removing the bodyshell, one might as well go the full 'distance' and do everything thoroughly - and hopefully correctly.
3) "If it ain't broke..." fix it!!!
In my early days of partially restoring my AC and then running it, I was told by various people "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Sadly, I sometimes followed this mis-guided advice. That saying has a major flaw when applied to very old cars: Both the structure, and the mechanics can deteriorate considerably (or even be "broke" already) without this being obvious. The owner of a bridge would not wait until it falls down before doing anything about its condition (one would hope). Unseen damage may lurk within the axles, bearings or wheels of an old car, perhaps resulting from previous ownership, and these components may fail one day. Rotting of the wood frame can reduce the strength of the body considerably, as much of the rot starts at the joints. Only if the car is fully restored can one say "it ain't broke".
My first task since reviving my restoration project, is the repairing of the wooden body frame. The first stage is to tackle the rear half of this frame, but with a slight diversion to overhaul the rear axle and springs and repaint the rear chassis. The rear axle is normally very awkward to extract, and access to the rear end of the chassis frame is also very limited. With the woodwork partly dismantled, there is a golden opportunity to attend to these areas.
After that, I'll attend to the front half of the wood frame, and then lifting the wood frame to reseal it on the chassis. Limited garage space means that the chassis cannot be tackled all in one go, with the complete body removed. I prefer to brush paint everything, so this is not a major inconvenience.
At the moment (December 2009), I am trying not to think beyond the bodywork rebuild. Once the main body shell is safely back on the car, I can breath a sigh of relief! Then I can think about the remaining tasks, like the front axle, springs, steering, rewire, engine and gearbox overhaul, upholstery repairs, retrim, and repaint. Yes, the "easy" bits! :)
Plans for this website
When my AC restoration has progressed much further, I hope to include more scale drawings and detail photos on this site. Components such as interior trim, carpets* and detail body fittings. These are things that often get worn away, broken or lost. Or else the originals may have been replaced with something different, which happens so often out of necessity. I don't envisage my AC body/chassis restoration being completed before 2011, after which I may tackle trim and fittings.
*In a slight change of plan, I have produced scale drawings for the carpets ahead of schedule (February 2010). My original 1949 carpets are crumbling away into dust and loose fibres and there may be little left to measure in a few years' time!
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