Saturday, 11 June 2011

A view of the Spinnaker Tower,Portsmouth,England

I saw this under construction,my friend Notty has just been up it and send us these words and pictures,thanks Notty.

Hi Roy,

At last I got around to downloading Soni's photos when we went up the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. I've listed what each photo is. The tower is quite amazing, they were still building it when I was working in the naval dockyard there in 2005. It was opened in Oct. of that year by which time I had left. Built on a very small base of just 30 X 50 metres in the heart of the new Waterfront, designed by the same Architects as the CT Waterfront no shops had to be closed during the building from 2001 to 2005.

It is 170-Metres tall to the tip of the GRP spire, with the highest point for visitors being the Crows Nest, which is just above the main view deck that has a restaurant and can cater for up to 150 people. Weddings are conducted among other things there.

A file picture from the brochure on the building.

Built on 84 piles driving down into the seabed the longest of these was 49.5-metres. The main trunnion cruciform that joins the beams together was 95-tons and made by the same company that manufactured the deck beams for HMS Warrior, seen below, in the Historic Dockyard.

The 2 main support legs were made of 11000 cubic metres of concrete using the slip-form method of construction and they were angled at 2-deg. to join at the top and took three months to cast.

Hi Roy,

This one is the window cleaners so a human interest, they must have balls of brass to do that job especially in winter, I wonder if they can only go out when the wind speed is low? There was a vote on if that tower design should be used and over 60% of the population of Portsmouth voted for it. The Portsmouth waterfront is far better than the Southampton one where there are just flats surrounding a marina with bars, the Portsmouth waterfront is more like the CT one with lots of interesting things.


You can see for 25-miles on a clear day. The viewing deck has the largest glass floor in Europe, it is 60-mm thick, laminated and strong enough to walk on so you can look down through the construction to the ground below. 1200 tons of steel was used in the construction.

This photo was taken By Notty,who drafted most of the words,thanks Notty.

Apart from the normal navigation warning light, the whole tower is bathed in a spectacular multi coloured light show powered by 50 metal halide lights, 28 of these are 575 watts and can create any colour in the spectrum so the tower can be seen from miles away and from planes flying at over 30000 feet.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Our Toylander gets its 12 volt dc motor installed

Mounted for the first time,we need to develop the various backer pads which will ease installation.

Very much a first try to see how long the motors drive sprocket needs to be but the wires and reversable switch are now in place and the motor turns either way.With power to spare and a strong gear box the motor has a 3000 hour service life.

The first try at a dash panel,the switch is simple to use,three positions,center is off,right or left is forwards or reverse.The switch will be supplied with its own wire loom for user simplicity of installation.Owner installation of other switches are easy to do be removal of the screws.

The twin core motor cable has been run under the Toylander,there are no cables at all in view or accesable from the inside of the Toylander,a cut off supply switch will be installed in the forward battery box. 

Henry has spent many hours with me in the garage,he aprooves of the Toylander it seems.


Thursday, 9 June 2011

New for old,the rear brakes

One thing about so called Classic Cars,is the general availability of service parts,brake cylinders on some cars were used on others,the rear brake cylinder on a Hillman Imp was also found on the Ford Escort and Triumph Spitfire,so parts tend to be held by the various specialists,we stock cylinders and new rubber kits too.

This rebuild of the rear brakes includes a new cylinder,metal and flexible brake lines,friction material and also the drum (8") has been skimed so it will fit the new linings exactly.

Close up its as good as new.

New pipes,replated hy tensile suspension bolts fitted.

The new Monte Carlo competition road springs will be installed when the car is turned back over,as I suspect the wheel drum will meet the concrete floor otherwise as it rolls past it.

Before the brake componants were fitted.

Nearly complete,there was a link pipe still to fit from one side of the car to the other,its now in place and we are nearly finished on this part of the restoration.


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

From this to that,Hillman Imp restoration in progress

I say Hillman Imp but it may be any car really,a few years back I did a Mk4 Triumph Spitfire and there is an early series 1000cc Morris Mini waiting in the wings for a new buyer,these things are by the very nature of things are never cheap but I would like to think there is value in whats been done.

Left click any picture to view in more detail.

Taken into stock just yesterday,this is off an early Mk1 Hillman Imp,which will date around 1963/4,I know the car it came from too,long gone in a pile of rust due to being left parked under a large tree,the leaves fell down on the car,moisture and a lack of sun just rusted the car right away.

Its the small items that can often slow the process up,I need two pairs of these cable guides,the hand brake cables go through them,no guides and no hand brake.Check the condition of the metal,while it looks a mess,when bead blasted in a small parts blaster,I can have it like new and painted within hours.

Some spray coats still to go but looking like new again as far as the metal is concerned.

This is the sub frame those cable clips will be fastened to,check the parts,they look new but are off a 1966 Singer Chamois Sport,all blasted and repainted with great care,there is a set of new poly bushes fitted too,imported from England and fitted to ensure perfect handling.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Perkins 4108 faulty Lucas alternator fix

The Perkins 4108 46hp diesel is a super four cylinder marine motor,it was made for marine use,not cobbled from another makers truck and dubbed marine but it still has parts on it that are just the same as the general auto makers use.

The Perkins 4108 must have been issued with a generator,then later installed with a Lucas alternator,I say this as when I got the engine it had a secondary wire loom and a mount plate that was suitable for the older generator,those wires I eventually removed when I rewired the engine to switch panel.

I ran the engine on saturday,all was well excepting the alternator was not charging,I took out a spare Bosch unit,same size and around 35amps,not a huge output but reliable,the plan was to take the Lucas one off and do a change over.
Thinking this over that evening I though to first check the panel warning light,which on an alternator is also an exciter lamp,without which the alternator will not work.It was my lucky day as thats all it was,with a new one installed,yes I have spares on board,the main engine was soon recharging the boats batteries.

Clearly blown as the dark glass indicates.

So save your self a stack of work,get spare bulbs and when and if the alternator stops charging,check the bulb first.


Sunday, 5 June 2011

Winning at the Killarney Race Track

The chequered flag fell for me in my 998cc Hillman Imp race car as I passed the finish line on lap twelve,so why did I get the cup for second?

The silver cup on the left is dated 18/03/1972 its inscribed for second place but in fact I won the race,so what happened?

The race was titled an Allcomers Race,meaning it was open to any class of car with four wheels I assume,I was in the Argus Saloon Championship class F car,which was a Hillman Imp with a 998cc Rootes Compettions equiped engine that I had built myself on a Mk1 block from imported parts.

The car would do around 1 minute 47 seconds to complete one lap,the faster cars were a good 20 seconds faster? that was the theory anyway.We had to post a practice time with no Sand Bagging as if we went faster by more than 5% in the actual race we would be placed further back in the final positions.

This was my own cars engine,all parts were imported from the UK and the Rootes Competition Dept,Des O Dell was the manager then? based on a std Mk 1 block,fitted with 998cc steel liners and pistons,the Mk 1 Imp head was developed to take a set of very large valves from a Mini Cooper S,the car was tested on a rolling road just once,it gave an impressive 86hp at the wheels,so a lot of power from a 1 liter engine unit.

The Hillman Imp 998cc based on the early so called curly motor,named such due to the shape of the top edge of the cylinder block.

I did my usual times and started in the first group to be waved off,as the 1000cc class was the smaller class on the day.The race was posted as a 12 lap race and as no one had passed me after 12 laps the guy with the chequered flag jumped up and waved it for me,I can see him now standing on the left of the track from me and the car.

The organisers had other ideas,it seems they got their calculations wrong and waved us all on for another lap,it made little difference as I was still only passed by one car.At the after race party at the WPMC I was called up to recieve my cup,it was for second place only,was I robbed,I believe so,I still got that chequered flag though!


(working with Hillman Imps for 47 years now)

The Diesel Ducks like acorns grow

When we offer a kit its not unusual to find the boat outgrows its size before we even start,thats why our extended range can make so much sense,the Dixi Dinghy can easiliy grow to the Argi 15 dinghy and so on.

When an enquiry to the Diesel Duck 38 came in a similar thing happened.

Harry and Vickies Diesel Duck 48 keel,all pictures are from the designers web site,many thanks for their use.

Note the steel beam platforn Harry is working on,having built a similar but smaller boat myself, off a dirt floor,I can assure you Harry has thought this out really well. As moving his boat later with rollers or wheels on the corners of the platform, makes life a lot more simple when moving time arrives.

Recently we were asked to quote on a George Buhler designed Diesel Duck 38 kit set,we built one complete boat about ten years back,so still have all the patterns to the frames.We later found out that the prospective owner has a much larger boat and wishes to down size with the idea of an ocean crossing and possibly doing the Mediterainian Sea then Europes canals?

Our interest is in supply of the basic materials and to make the boats frames,keel,stem and rudder,which are really the heart of this design.

There will be 19 such frames I think, if the scale is similar to the Diesel Duck 38

So our customers Diesel  Duck started to grow on paper,the basic plan was good but to install all the life style gear such as water maker,washing machine,generators and so on just needed more space,we then moved up to the Diesel Duck 44 but have now stopped (i think) at the Diesel Duck 48.

I have been there and done that,this is a boat as a boat should be,we could provide kits to countries who need a fishing boat fleet,places with labour,often very skilled but lacking the materials or methods to build with.

Wow! what an event,all it takes is your desire and the rest just happens.

We can load the parts in a container and ship world wide,George has plans based on the same idea and growing per foot length,so he can suit just about everybodys needs.


Cape Town
South Africa

 021 790-3859 phone and fax line.