Saturday, 4 December 2010

Hillman Imps in Cape Town

Thank you to my fellow Imp Club member,Eric Wells, for allowing me to use his really nice picture of his Mk 1 Hillman Imp with Cape Towns Table Mountain in the distance.
There were many exported to South Africa,some to Stanley Motors the main import agents but quite a few came as a private import and people emigrated to the warm and sunshine.

Imp 998cc engines from Cape Town

We have done these before but not for some while,recently we were asked by a customer to build a fast road/hill climb Hillman Imp from a bare shell we had stripped and ready to rebuild.The local engineers we use to do the standard 875cc engine block conversions work to really exacting standards and we can now offer to your order,shipping local or world wide.

A new 998cc Hillman Imp block conversion,we will be fitting this with a Wills ringed head and an R20 race camshaft,carburation with one of our own inlet/exhaust manifolds will be with a pair of Weber 40 dcoe carburetors.

Rarely ex stock,we make them to order ,we can also make them to take a single Weber 40 dcoe,or any other carburetor,exhaust manifolds only too.

Enquiries to

Friday, 3 December 2010

Fitting an R17 Rootes Competion camshaft

Rootes set up a small self funding competitions department to support the new Hillman Imp after it was released in May 1964,this may have been as early as 1965,the department made money by doing mods and developments,then selling them on to the public,or in the case of a new car,fit a 998cc engine block prior to the cars delivery.

The early Sport cylinder head,which is quite a rare 107 series as can be noted on the last three numbers on the side of the head. AM stands for Aluminium Mouldings.This head came off an early (1966) Singer Chamois Sport,car number 610  of production,these 107 series heads are thought to be part of a batch the the Rootes Competitions Department had made,which later found their way on to the first Sport cars made?

A camshaft carrier fitted,note the cut outs to take the camshaft lobes,a Sport 310 carrier still needs opening up more to accept the Rootes 360 camshafts.The assembly has been bead blasted and cleaned to an as new surface condition.

Note the special oil control seal we can now fit,the guide (bronze) needs machining to accept these seals.

Rootes Competitions department developed a series of camshafts,they all started with a letter R, I assume this means Race or Rally? the base for the camshafts was the Sport version with its 310 thou,lift,taking that to a 360 thou,lift gave more chance for a longer valve opening time and resulted in a larger engine output.The series went from R15 ,R17, R20,R21,R22 and  R23,when fitted on a modified camshaft carrier to accept the higher lift,they worked well with the Sport version cylinder head,the first of which was the 107 series,then later the 108 series.

A Rootes Competitions Dept,R17 camshaft fitted to the carrier,the next stage is to adjust the tappets to give the correct valve clearance.

We can supply Imp cylinder heads to most stages of tune,with porting and larger valves to suit your needs,Sport 310 lift camshafts,valves and bearings are normally ex stock.A new R20 camshaft and tappet follower set are on order to a full race engine which will be our next build.

A Hillman Imp,thanks to The Imp Club for the use of the picture.
We have a late series model car for sale,its as a rolling shell or rebuilt to order.

To be continued.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Red sky at night means?

This is another winter photo from a resident of Hebburn on Tyne  I asked Val can I use it on this blog,this was her reply with some more info on the actual picture.

........I took this picture because it was the sky facing east .not west where you would expect the sky to be red near sunset time

Thanks Val for allowing the use of this really good picture you took.Left click the photo to view in twice the size.


New Didi Mini Transat Mk2 for sale

As a brokerage offer, we can now offer a brand new Didi Mini Transat bare hull ex works and ready to ship,it is the Mk2 version that was built from a CKD Boats kit  and  can either have a drop or cant keel or be converted to a Cruise Drop Keel version.Sold as is now or with the decks fitted,the interior bunks and ballast water tanks are included,those tanks can become lockers on the Cruise version.

The boat is in South Africa,we can ship world wide,contact me for details and  pricing at


A new ARC Around the World arrival

We now have some seven ARC Around the World yachts moored in the HBYC marina,to take some of the larger boats the marina managment have been very pro actiive and have laid some large mooring blocks 30 meters out from selected marina fingers,those blocks have chains and risers to a pick up bouy which is attatched to the end of the 11 meter long marina fingers.Yachts will normally reverse in and can now tie up and then pull themselves off with the new bow lines.

Flicka 20 build in progress by Louwrens.

Boat builder Louwrens and his Flicka 20

This Flicka 20 is one of those that were GRP moulded from a locally made mould,we have been supplying materials and a little advice on how to use them,progress has been to secure and seal the decks to coach roof joints with biaxial glass cloth and our epoxies.The next stage will be to add doublers to the inside of the bulwalks to add some strength and make a better platform for a toe capping later on.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Dons Hebburn on Tyne morning snow scene

Thanks to Don Scott for the use of this picture.

We who are living in South Africa need to see pictures like this now and again to show us just how kind our weather can be,at this time its blue skies and about 25c with plenty of people using the beach and local walks here in Hout Bay.I am sitting in my office with a circulation fan on!

Now and again I check out Hebburns web pages,as my grandad Robert (robbie) McBride was a ship yard worker back around 1934,thats my only family link with Hebburn as far as I have been able to find out.I found a similar early morning picture on the Hebburn web site,Don took it this morning and I posted a reply asking for his permision to use and post it,Don emailed me back with a better shot and his permision to use it,thanks Don.

Check out view the messages link to find the various postings.

With The Beatles

I may be from Liverpool but I never did get to see the Beatles at any time but I have met up with Stephen of Mabu Vinyl,the used record shop in Rheede Street in Cape Town.I had told him of some of my original albums bought in Nems,Liverpool,thats about 45 years back now,I still have them,this Beatles album is still in good condition Stephen told me but looks to have been played more on one side than the other?

stephen casts an expert eye on my Beatles record,it seems I have looked after it quite well all these years,bought for thirty two and six shillings around 1965,its worth more now?

The plastic sleeve dust cover says Given free by Nems,its a relic of the days when queues would line the streets outside Nems in Liverpool every time the Beatles brought out a new album.Inside the shop three cash registers were hamering away with piles of records alongside slowly being reduced as we each bought a copy.

Note Mabu Vinyl buys used records and cds if you have any your wanting to trade take them to Stephen.
Check out their web site at ( I must get a Mabu Tee Shirt next time I visit)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Sonnet dinghy kits from CKD Boats cc

We have been asked to supply plans to the Sonnet class design by Jack Koper,as luck would have it,a set of the original plans were just around the corner.From these we can now offer kits,starting with the bulkhead stations,rudder and drop keel shapes,the hull flats and decks will follow.

Contact for pricing.

Sonnet original plans set.

Sonnet bow construction detail drawing.

Robert unrolls his original Sonnet plans for the first time in many years,originally purchased off Jack Koper himself,Robert never got around to building his new boat.

Some info on the design as posted by the Imperial Yacht Club,thank you for the use of your pictures.

Sonnet class dinghy,designed by Jack Koper,circa 1956

The Sonnet, of which more than 500 have been built in South Africa. The Sonnet was based on the stunning success of the very popular 12-foot Dabchick, a junior trainer that is fleet of foot, yet stable and great fun to sail. That class numbers more than 5,000, and it is still very active; every well-known South African sailor learned to sail and race on a Dabchick. The Sonnet was also derived from the 15-foot Tempo, aimed at the more expert sailor with trapeze and spinnaker.

The Sonnet is also an ideal boat for junior sailing.

The prototype is built in plywood covered with epoxy glass for strength and durability, just like the Chesapeake 18 sea kayak. The boat looks stunning in its coat of glossy varnish.

The hull weighs in at 140 pounds, so it has the advantage of being very quick to plane and it ís a lot faster reaching than similar sized dinghies. Compared with Midwest scows, the Sonnet has a much lower displacement, and the V-bottom creates a better hull shape. Itís a great feeling to skim over the waves at speed. Juniors and novices enjoy the performance and get hooked quickly.

And there will be an additional rig available soon.Note that when you heel the Sonnet between 10 and 15 degrees you get the leeward bottom panel about flat with the water, which makes the boat quite stable.

This shapely little rocket would make an excellent family winter project, not to mention a wonderful family dinghy.

A dinghy with a history and horsepower that you can build yourself.


LOA 14'6" Sail Area 122 sq. ft. (main and jib)

Beam 4'6" Weight 188 lbs.