Lancia Motor Club

Model Technical and Interest => Augusta => Topic started by: Mark Dibben on 24 November, 2021, 08:48:38 PM

Title: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Mark Dibben on 24 November, 2021, 08:48:38 PM
First, let me say from the outset that this forum has been such a help already! Thank you. I also want to thank upfront Andrew Ames (Ashton Keynes Vehicle Restoration), Ewen Getley (Kingsbury Racing Engines), and in particular Graham Millard, Mike Raahauge and also Don Williamson for their tremendous help and advice - on what was originally expected to be a light recommissioning but has turned into quite a bit more. Also Chris Hopkins of the LMC Library for all the technical materials we now have our sticky paws on - tremendous.
I am the new owner - well, it's been the better part of three months now - of SN7801. I was torn between the blue Belna that is still for sale on carandclassic and that I believe has been recommissioned extensively by another LMC member, and Paul's car.
But I am a complete sucker for green over black and wire wheels with knock-ons! Especially since the car was described both in the advert and in the phone conversations , as being in "great condition." The car was sold on Paul and Gaye's behalf by Chris McPheat Automotive - and Chris has been and continues to be absolutely brilliant. Can't recommend him highly enough.
The car had stood for five years. So where are we up to at this point?
New water pump from Italy, new Lancia floor mats and 'B Pillarless' door seal, Hammerited floors and Dynamat Superlight fitted, petrol tank away to be remade and lined because of rust (I learned of that problem here on the forum) and the wheels away to be re-laced and trued. Then Chris thought he'd just check the oil one more time and - isn't it always the way - there was water in it. Had to be a head gasket.
Chris has never tackled a V4 Lancia before but, he thought, "Can't be too difficult compared with Jaguar and Rolls Royce V12s!" It has indeed proved a delightful little engine. So off with its head and yes indeed head gasket had failed around number 4 piston. Of course.
However he also discovered dome corrosion, and bore corrosion in Nos 3 and 4. Furthermore, he realised he needed to hire a Thames Estuary dredger to clear the silt out of the main water jacket in-between the two cylinder banks!! How on earth the engine ran for Chris in the heat of the summer and for extended periods at 50mph plus - without a continuous fan I might add because Paul had set it up with an electric pusher fan in front of the radiator, manually operated from the cockpit when required - surpassed both mine and Chris' comprehension. Just shows how thoroughly over-engineered the design was originally.  
Chris is an absolute gentleman and is insisting - good on him and I am very grateful indeed - that he cover the labour for all this work, because he had described the car as 'in great condition' and - even although he could not have known otherwise - it wasn't.
So, having been skimmed and the valves re-lapped, the head is now with a company in Ashton-under-Lyme called, umm, Impregnation Services Lltd. The engine is out today, Chris has just told me, and so the block will be off down there soon too. I am certain you are all just as relieved to learn as I was, that we have no need to worry about the scarcity of Augusta heads and indeed blocks. The only concern is how long the gestation period is post-impregnation and has the midwife ever before delivered such a baby?
In fact, we suspect the corrosion has been caused a) by the leak from the gasket obviously but also b) from the fact the car has been stood for five years with an SU carburetor that has no air filter; the cylinders have been open to atmosphere. It's more than likely just condensation. Still, just in case it is porosity, thus the visit to the Ahston-under-Lyme fertility clinic.
Okay, with a bit more seriousness, here are the questions we need help with so far:
1. The car has only done 7000 miles since Paul rebuilt it, he of Lambda engine-building fame, so the likelihood is the rods and crankshaft are okay. After all, the whole top end is. Still we'll get them crack-tested etc. But, who do you recommend for pistons? We know of the 'Triumph Herald Solution' thanks to all the library papers, but until the block is re-bored we won't know the precise over sizing so it may be that the Herald option won't work for this block.
2. I can't find the post on the forum now for the life of me, but I do recall someone has a tool for skimming the edges of brake linings for the Augusta. Chris has access through the Rolls Royce and Bentley Club to the precise same tool for the 1920s and 1930s RRs & Bs that he does, but of course it won't fit the Augusta. Can anyone loan us the tool for the Augusta?, because, although the linings on SN7801 are new, the brakes are binding a little and Chris knows that skimming the edges with that tool will work wonders.
3. Ah the dreaded Bibendum Michelin wheel problem. How I regret not buying the blue Belna, with its steel wheels!! It turns out that four of the wheels can be rescued, but the fifth is scrap. We need a new centre and a new rim. Has anyone got a spare serviceable wheel we could purchase? It doesn't matter if it needs re-truing or re-lacing, as long as it's rust free, the centre is safe and the rim is not bent like a banana. If no-one has any ideas, the only other route I can think of (suggestions welcome) is to turn the whole conundrum on its head and offer for sale the four wheels, re-done of course, and then get a new set of wheels made e.g. to Dunlop's pattern.  
Thanks ever so much in advance eh.
I should be absolutely open and honest and admit in closing that, unlike all of you and as I explained to Mike's quiet amusement a fortnight ago when I had the great pleasure of meeting him, I have the practical engineering abilities of a house brick. I am a retired academic, so naturally I can theorise and hold vaguely knowledgeable conversations about these things. But the learning curve is secretly vertical and I emphatically need others to do the real practical work. Unless it's sparking plugs. I know a fair bit about sparking plugs for family reasons - amongst other things my Father was the pioneer of NGK Spark Plugs in this country. Besides where I live there is no garage; the car will be kept at the Classic Motor Hub in Bibury, once it is ready. But, honestly, the practical motor engineering abilities of a house brick...
I'll keep you posted on how we get on with this recommission. To come for sure will be checking for water in the front suspension - again thanks to this forum for alerting me to that.
Oh, one last thing. I have, for reasons that will now be apparent, found myself volunteered(!) as the new Library Apprentice at the Vintage Sports Car Club. So if you do have any questions that the library might be able to answer and, I s'pose, you are a VSCC Member, do write to the Library and we'll be sure to get on to it for you. There is these days a very small fee for documents copied and the like, but it is only to make sure we don't cost Members yet more money over and above their annual subs.
All best cheers, and thanks ever so much once again for all your help,

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson Augusta - news update and three questions coz help needed
Post by: JohnMillham on 25 November, 2021, 11:50:28 AM
It was Paul Atkinson's car. I have its bonnet on my car and presumably, it has mine. This swap would have happened when Ken West owned both of them! The last time I saw SN it was at Mallory Park and looking in excellent condition. I'm sure you will love it, Mark.

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson Augusta - news update and three questions coz help needed
Post by: Mikenoangelo on 26 November, 2021, 08:36:50 AM
It was spending a morning with Paul and his car which convinced me to buy an Augusta and would have bought the green car had he been prepared to sell. The colour and the wire wheels look  superb. The effort needed to sort it out will be well repaid once you get it on the road as they are brilliant to drive and own.


Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson Augusta - news update and three questions coz help needed
Post by: Mark Dibben on 26 November, 2021, 11:51:08 AM
Thanks - I don't know where I got Ayres from. Sorry. The engine is now out in readiness for being stripped and the block to go to Impregnation. I need to thank Alan and Rachel Cook for all sorts of technical material that they sent me yesterday. It's great!
One other quick question is a very simple one: SN has a four spoke Brooklands steering wheel on it. What is the diameter of the original three spoke wheel? Just checking y'see.
All best cheers,

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: JohnMillham on 26 November, 2021, 02:43:01 PM
40 cm. The original wheels were rather skinny, so I had mine made fatter, which is much nicer to hold.

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson Augusta engine strip photos
Post by: Mark Dibben on 26 November, 2021, 08:05:47 PM
Thanks John re the steering wheel size, most helpful.
Here are photos of the block as it was 'separated up together' today.

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Mark Dibben on 29 November, 2021, 07:33:09 PM
Well, for interest, here are photos of the next stage of things.
Need your advice. From the top of the pistons, they are 0.060” oversize. This makes Chris think it might be necessary to sleeve the bores back to standard size as he doesn’t think they can get any bigger without making the cylinder walls too thin. But he wanted to ask you guys what sizes have been used in the past on these Augusta V4s and and if there is room to go one bigger?
Thanks ever so much,

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Kari on 30 November, 2021, 09:32:16 AM
First, it is very good to see an other Augusta engine overhaul being presented at the forum. Hopefully, we will see more of it.

Your question about cylinder bore: the factory over-sizes are documented as altogether 5, starting from 70,05 mm to 70,85 mm in 0,20 mm increments. However, I have seen much larger diameter cylinders. In my present engine the bore is 72,5 mm. I have been running it for about 50'000 km without problems.

On you photo "engine strip 3", it's visible that the cylinders have been sleeved already, I assume, the bore is not much above the original.

Regards  Karl

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: GG on 30 November, 2021, 01:56:51 PM
Thank you for posting.

In "engine strip 8", it is interesting to see the connection across the crankcase in the middle - with recesses for the protruding sleeves from the engine block.
With the integrally cast sump and crankcase, engine assembly is from above and the sides. Classic Lancia - fiddling with how to do things...

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Mikenoangelo on 02 December, 2021, 09:06:31 AM
I wonder if the pistons are UK made replacements fitted in a previous engine rebuild and are 69mm (a very common bore) plus 60 thou, which would be close to the first oversize for the Augusta. Get Chris to measure the actual bore before deciding whether to rebore again. If they were Lancia replacements, the oversize would not be shown as 0.060"

I would describe the design concept as querky but that's all part of the fun! Being unable to remove the sump is a pain and precludes the use of a torque wrench to tighten the big end nuts so the time honoured "tighten them by feel" is needed. The need to withdraw the crankshaft out to the rear is unusual but familiar to me as my 1925 Salmson also works like that. No doubt it all makes for a very rigid structure. I debate a little over Lancia's enthusiasm for the V4, presumably justified by offering a rather short engine lengthwise. However in the Lambda there appear to be a foot or two of spare space back and front and in the Augusta the engine compartment does fit more tightly but the position of the distributor at the back of the block rather negates this as can be seen in the infamous Augusta which has been fitted with an MGA (?) straight 4 engine.

The Augusta is, despite this, a brilliant car, great to drive and I love it.


Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Mark Dibben on 08 December, 2021, 08:02:50 PM
Thanks for the thoughts re oversizing, will keep you posted. The wheels - well four of them - are done. Just have to wait on the fifth one now.

The block has been impregnated and so the decision on boring is next I think. I'm leaving that to the experts, Paul Gardener Racing Engines. The white metal, crankshaft and camshaft all look fine, as do the rods, but we're going to crack test it all anyway. Hopefully it'll just be pistons and rings required.

In the meantime, we have decided to abandon the mechanical fuel gauge and instead fit a rev counter. There is apparently a six month waiting list for the 6k ones. Ha, Chris said 'I bl-dy hope the car will be ready sooner than that!" So we went for an 8k/5.5k as it was in stock.

Lends a nice sporting air to the cockpit and - so long as we tape a 4.5k red line on - with any luck it might even prevent me from blowing the engine up.

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Mikenoangelo on 08 December, 2021, 08:51:29 PM
I thought of fitting a rev counter in place of the fuel gauge but persevered with the fuel gauge which does actually work after making a redesigned float sensor. I use a cheap digiital revcounter clipped below the dashboard but prior to that considered fitting the guts of an analogue 270 degree ignition pickup rev counter in the casing of the original fuel gauge which conveniently reads to 40 (in litres) which would have been 4000rpm, and just right for the Augusta.


Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Mark Dibben on 21 December, 2021, 08:08:26 PM
No more picture news on the rebuild front just at the moment; the block is being re-bored and the internals crack tested. I was searching on Classic Trader this evening and discovered not only the prices of Augustas for sale on the Continent (i.e. they're undervalued here by comparison), but also that green leather cloth (Rexine) - that SN7801 has -  appears perhaps to have been a factory option. At least that's what one naturally concludes from this car that is listed as 'for renovation':
If you take a look at the steering wheel photo in my bio, you can see the green leather cloth there as well.
Do you think it's possible, or just a happy coincidence that both cars have been recovered in it at different points in their lives? Certainly on the car for sale, it appears to be in the same state of disrepair as the rest of the car!
All best cheers, and thanks,

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Mikenoangelo on 22 December, 2021, 11:20:48 AM
I thought that leathercloth trim was an original spec for UK supplied cars? The car in the advert has clearly been retrimmed and badly too!
I think the Italian advertised cars are often overpriced although owners seem reluctant to take an offer so they hang around unsold for months.
The Subito motori site is perhaps the best place to find them and there are some nice ones on there.


Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Mark Dibben on 22 December, 2021, 04:36:33 PM
Hello Mike,
Thanks for that info, it's good to know it's a UK spec.
On price, well if you don't try you won't get so can't blame 'em I s'pose.
All best wishes to you - and everyone - for Christmas and the New Year,

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Mark Dibben on 23 December, 2021, 09:47:47 AM
Does anyone know where to source dash lamps from?

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: donw on 23 December, 2021, 04:28:12 PM
Do you mean the dashboard fitting or the chrome cover,1 or 2?

About interior trim some cars imported by Lancia England were trimmed to customer's requirements  including bedford cord rexine & leather.

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Mark Dibben on 24 December, 2021, 10:34:29 AM
Hello Don,
Thanks for the info re the interior trim, again useful. I was thinking of the complete dash lamp assembly really.
All best cheers,

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: donw on 24 December, 2021, 07:01:45 PM
Mark there are 2 see photo, I have at least 1 spare cover, I thought your car had them.


Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Kari on 25 December, 2021, 12:24:07 PM
The dash lights are indeed a rare item. The cover is made from thin brass and tends to crack. It might be worthwhile to contact Cavalitto at:  and ask for one or two "Fanalini sul cruscotto 31-5911"

Parts can be found on Italian web sites like;; and many more. Just google: "Lancia Augusta Ricambi" and take your pick.

Regards  Karl

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: Mark Dibben on 27 December, 2021, 11:48:08 AM
Thanks Don and Karl, I am learning every day.
It does have them, but one has a dodgy earth and I am exploring options, just in case.
Ha, getting ahead of myself really, because the engine isn't even back together yet!
All best cheers, Mark

Title: Re: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...
Post by: MichaelElsom on 05 January, 2022, 10:29:45 AM
Have only just returned to the forum after an absence...
I can't offer any real help as my mechanical abilities are decidedly limited!
However, I did note your remarks about Bibendum wheels. My car is fitted with them and I would like to persevere.
If you decide you want to part with your four good wheels could you let me know please - Longstone have refused to fit tyres to my spares!