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Author Topic: The Paul Atkinson - Augusta - news update [etc] ...  (Read 227 times)
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Mark Dibben

Posts: 3


« 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,
« Last Edit: 27 November, 2021, 09:28:05 PM by peteracs » Logged
Permanent resident
Posts: 1014

« Reply #1 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.
« Last Edit: 27 November, 2021, 09:28:24 PM by peteracs » Logged
Posts: 355

« Reply #2 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.

« Last Edit: 27 November, 2021, 09:28:44 PM by peteracs » Logged
Mark Dibben

Posts: 3


« Reply #3 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,
Permanent resident
Posts: 1014

« Reply #4 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.
« Last Edit: 27 November, 2021, 09:29:06 PM by peteracs » Logged
Mark Dibben

Posts: 3


« Reply #5 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.

* SN7801 engine strip 1.jpeg (432.01 KB, 1280x960 - viewed 7 times.)

* SN7801 engine strip 2.jpeg (452.24 KB, 1280x960 - viewed 7 times.)

* SN7801 engine strip 3.jpeg (411.22 KB, 1280x960 - viewed 5 times.)

* SN7801 engine strip 4.jpeg (443.97 KB, 1280x960 - viewed 6 times.)

* SN7801 engine strip 5.jpeg (433.51 KB, 1280x960 - viewed 6 times.)
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