I also began restoring one of the two wrecks and am already nearly at the rolling chassis stage with chassis, axles, wheels and brakes all done. I am in danger of getting too carried away and so will take a bit of a breather for a while so that my family – and bank account – can recover. A note of caution here regarding original documents. In an effort to get the two wrecks recognised by DVLA and get new log books issued I was advised by them to send a completed form and ONLY my original documents in. This I did but after several months of chasing and chivvying I was contacted by a manager from DVLA to tell me all of my original documents had been lost! DO NOT EVER SEND YOUR ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS TO DVLA. Even more bizarrely, completely out of the blue, I received a new log book for one of the cars a few weeks later still ! Don’t ask me.
The chassis of ADU 101 was in quite good condition so its restoration has been fairly straightforward. I took it to a local grit blasting firm where it was blasted clean and painted immediately to avoid any danger of surface rust. They did a great job and this gave me a good start to the project. I also hand cleaned with drill and wire brush all of the various brackets and repainted them ready for refitting.
I have aimed to keep to a methodical system but it seems that every time I think I am ready to assemble some components there is a part that I need which is still in the box of rusty bits and I have to stop while it is made ready. Worse still is discovering that the required part does not exist and needs sourcing.
The only thing wrong with the chassis was the fuel tank pan was missing. It seems that it had been cut out at some stage, possibly due to rot. I cut a sheet of steel to size and cut out the series of round holes as per the original on my other car. The holes are for reducing weight and also drainage. I then welded the new sheet into place although I did overheat it at some stage and it has buckled slightly which has been a source of annoyance. I do have to be realistic though and it simply isn’t worth replacing. It is new solid and will do its job.
I also took the leaf springs apart and cleaned them of all paint and grease. They were cord bound and again in very good condition and came up very nicely after a lot of elbow grease and wire brushing. I decided to refit original style bronze bushes and after consulting original manuals and carefully measuring the spring eyes, dumb irons and chassis brackets, came up with a design for both the shackle pins and bushes. They will comprise a steel bush fitted tightly to the spring eye, a bronze bush within the steel bush, a pair of thrust washers to bear on the ends of the bronze bush and lastly a shackle pin complete with grease channels and grease nipples. I still don’t know if I want to paint the springs but I will almost certainly bind them with cord again as I really like the look.
The front axle beam has also cleaned up very well as have the steering linkages although it did take me a while to track down new track rod ends. The early Hillmans seem to have different threads on the track rods to those on the steering links. I have decided to standardise these and have had new link bars made with threads to match those on the track rods. All these components have still to be assembled.
Although the crank was in very good condition as were the shell bearings I decided to have them redone and went in search of someone to do this. At Beaulieu I met Ian Burlingham of JEL bearings and after a chat with Ian I decided to send the engine to him for white metalling which I duly did. He made a superb job of it and the work certainly looked terrific. He advised me that Austin Seven big end bolts would do the job and being plentiful this was good news.
After carefully cleaning the rest of the engine block and giving it an initial coat of engine enamel I went for the assembly. The crank dropped in nicely and turned very smoothly. I had previously bought a number of NOS pistons and chose the best set. After adjusting the piston rings as per the manual they slid in cleanly and after a bit of a false start when I overtightened a couple of the Austin big end bolts and stretched them the whole lot was torqued up and rotated very smoothly if a little tighter than I had expected.