by Dan Bysouth
With the Rolls Royce now painted and the refit nearly completed, it was time for the painter to flat and polish the whole vehicle.
We used low bake cellulose paint and we flat and polished every job to ensure the smoothest and cleanest of finishes. It had been decided that our number one apprentice painter, Steve, would take the Rolls job on all alone.
He was only a year ahead of me but was, even then, one of the best refinishers around at that time. He wanted two weeks to do the polishing and after carefully flatting the surface with 1500 wet-n-dry he buffed it with an electric polisher, making sure he didn't get it to hot and burn through. When he had done it looked fantastic. It just happened that at the time we had the company magazine people doing a spread on our CBR floor.
The magazine was called THE LINK. The article was called' THE LITTLE PLACE WITH A BIG REPUTATION '. It was published monthly and I believe it may have been backed by Inc Cape. They took pictures of the car and the main beater on the shell, Rod. Everyone got a mention, even me; I was named simply ' a coach building apprentice ', but I didn't let it go to my head!
With the Rolls polished we could put the mouldings on the sides and sills. Plastic cups were pushed into the predrilled holes in the panels; metal clips were placed into the moulding and carefully shaped onto the car. On any other car that would be the finish, but on Rollers we had to seal all around each moulding with a product called 'DUM DUM, GLASTICON PUTTY’. I still have a tin in the man cave.
You would smooth a small amount of putty all around the moulding with your finger, and then with a plastic windscreen tool, carefully shave the putty down so it was only slightly visible, but totally water proofing the moulding. This was standard for all mouldings on a Rolls or a Bentley. It was time-consuming but these were top range vehicles.
It was only a matter of a couple of days before the owner picked up his pride and joy. The Works Manager and our body shop manager were there and we were told later that the owner was over the moon. It still remains one of the most enjoyable and biggest jobs I have ever been involved in.
One morning setting off to work on my trusty sports moped, a Yamaha FS1-e, Mum reminded me that the family from London were visiting and I should pop home at lunch to say hello. So at midday I set off home in the middle of a rainstorm. At home it wasn't raining; when I got back to work it was still coming down really heavy.
The water was flowing like a small river right through the main garage and out the front entrance. However, it was also flowing into the showrooms which were fronted by three massive sliding doors. The water was building up in there and having four or five new cars in there the keys were needed to open these doors but Brian the workshop coordinator was out the back taking care of the petrol pumps. Someone told me to get him here now!, so off I ran, told him what was going on and he said that I should take his place and help one of the mechanics.
All the time more and more rain fell and it was so heavy it was forcing up the drain covers in the roads. Some of the guys up in the CBR floor had not even come down to help; I only got collared as I was coming back from lunch. The mechanic I was told to help was backing the Land Rover break down to the front of our wash bay. As I got to him I looked into the bay and there was a Morris Marina in there and the water was already up to the door handles!
Darrel gave me the tow rope and I waded in up to my waist. He had tried to push out the car on his own but couldn't do it alone. He had left off the hand brake and done all the windows up. I had to get under the back of the car (under water), loop the rope round the back axle and then gave the other end to Darrel to hook on the Land Rover. Slowly out came the Marina, and as God is my witness, there was hardly any water inside. We were lucky. The Works Manager appeared and thanked us for what we had done.
We looked like drowned rats. Imagine the scene later on the CBR floor. In the ovens were the clothes of all the guys who had helped with the flood, and racks of t shirts, jeans, pants, socks and loads of shoes were all baking away in the oven. And then there was the cast of "The Full Monty" all sitting nearly naked waiting for their clothes, what a sight!
Just another day in that rich tapestry they called my apprenticeship.
Next time: seeing double, and Keith and myself learn about the new Rover SD1 front screens
Part 1 - Triumph Stag
Part 2 - Interceptor
Part 3 - Rolls-Royce
Part 4 - Her Majesty vs the Honey Monster
Part 5 - Rolls, Allegros and an MBG causes trouble
by Dan Bysouth
As the weeks and months passed, I grew in confidence which resulted in my taking on more jobs on my own. They were still quality checked at the end but that was how it should be. It was drummed into me that you can always learn something new, no one knew it all. The wide assortment of vehicles brought to us for attention meant that different repair methods - some new and some very old - were used and at times they could be quite comical.
For example, the trained RR mechanics had some fantastic pieces of electrical gear to use when they were refitting the running gear on the refurb. The coachbuilders - Toots and 'his boy' (me) - well we had a more old fashioned piece of equipment to use. We had to fit new door rubbers to each of the RR doors. Anyone who has fitted such things will know that it can be awkward to get them in. To edge one side of the raised strip into the metal flange can be troublesome at the best of times. When the rubbers are new and the flanges have been freshly painted it was just about impossible. We tried for hours but to no avail.
The air was blue, we were both hot and we had had enough by the end of the morning. We sat down to lunch and were chatting about how we could get past this and came up with the bright idea to call RR and ask for some advice from their fitters. So Toots gets on the phone and after waiting to get to the right chap with the information to enlighten us, Toots returns with a smile on his round, jolly face and says to me that we need a very special bit of kit..........A BUCKET. Yes, a bucket. Fill it with boiling water, put a welding torch on it to keep it boiling and put in a door rubber to boil away for 30 mins.
I thought he was winding me up but no, he was serious. We did as they said and although rather hot to hold it worked a treat. So the RR mechanics had equipment costing thousands, we had a bucket! We were at the leading edge of technology. Yes, we laughed. I was by this time doing more trimming work too which really worked well. I liked the difference of working under a dirt encrusted wing and the overalls off to climb inside the spotless interior of a customer’s pride and joy. Keith had the big jobs but I took care of some easier stuff like seat removals, carpet repair or something that needed a little adjustment, like a sliding roof or hood. I learned quickly that hog rings are very sharp and a sewing machine needle thinks nothing of going straight through your finger.
We did at one time, have a lot of Allegro owners coming in with collapsed rear seat cushions. At first we thought the owners were probably getting a bit too amorous and that was the cause, but they came in by the dozen. BL put a paper out to our body shop say that the cushion frame was weak in design and released a kit to repair them. I took out the cushion and stripped off the cover, the panel beaters welded in strengtheners, I etched the bare welds, refitted the covers and there we go. Better than new. We did dozens of these and I still have hog ring scars to prove it. I still love the Allegro though.
I remember on Friday morning we had been told that an MGB GT that I had stripped earlier in the week had to be ready for the customer that night as they were going on holiday on the Saturday morning. It was a job I had done on my own and as it was only a door refit should be fine, it would be out of the ovens after dinner. This gave me three and a half hours to fit it up. To start with I fixed in the drop glass rear channel and then lowered down the drop glass and at the same time lowering the quarter light and front drop glass assembly to sandwich the glass in between.
It's a bit fiddly but with a push here and wiggle there the two threaded pins slipped into their respective holes. Now, this is the difficult bit. There were two washers - one on each thread - and a Simmons nut to follow (nyloc nut). The washers were an oblong shape and had to be positioned in line with the window aperture. That's how it was supposed to have been done.
I didn't notice the oblong washers and so, when I tightened up the nuts two large high spots appeared in the freshly repaired door panel – disaster! The first person to come and see it was my charge hand. The air was blue once more, I was worse than useless and all hell broke loose. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not leaving until this was sorted. The customer was on his way. I started to strip out the frame again and the beaters completed two small spot repairs. The painters jumped on it and luckily could repaint the door with a wet on wet process where primer and top coat would be applied in one process.
It was now 5pm and everybody was going home. Nothing would stop Toots leaving at 5 and he came to me, looked me in the eye and said, "Do you know what you did wrong Daniel? " “Yes”, I say. With that he clipped me round the ear and said he would see me Monday. He was a star. The job got done properly, the customer was happy and I would never make that mistake again.
On Monday morning I got a verbal warning, as it was my mistake. That was fair enough.
Next time, the finishing touches to the Rolls, and me up to my neck in the deep end.
Part 1 - Triumph Stag
Part 2 - Interceptor
Part 3 - Rolls-Royce
Part 4 - Her Majesty vs the Honey Monster
by Dan Bysouth
Part 4 of Dan's recollections of his time as an apprentice in the British motor trade of the late 1970s. In this episode, he completes his work on a Rolls Royce and has a Royal close encounter.
1977 was a very important year in my life; I started work as an apprentice coachbuilder. My Dad told me I had a choice of being an employee or getting an apprenticeship. If I took the apprenticeship, he would fund me with upcoming expenses. It made sense and to have a trade as well was what Dad wanted for me. Also that year I made a decision that surprised a lot of people - I got engaged!
My young lady worked in Woolworths which was only 100 yards away from the garage. My mum worked there and Elizabeth was a friend of hers. A Woolworth staff coach trip was organised to Blackpool and we met on the coach. I was 15 when that happened and as we got on we fell in love and, with all parents blessings, planned to marry on Aug 26th 1978. All this time it was quite stressful at work, but Mann Egertons was a family and everyone was supportive and they got me through.
Accident repair work was our main stay of regular days graft. My apprenticeship was very strict and I had someone more experienced with me in all circumstances. The odd bumper removal was OK and I was fitting in well. Pretty soon the whole firm soon knew me as the Honey Monster!
So, back to the cars. The Rolls Royce had now had its ladder chassis straightened and we were tasked with putting the body back on, so the complete refurb could be carried out and passed to paint. Hunting through bags and bags of fittings, we found the bolts, washers and packers we needed and I drew from the stores new bolts and mud wing washers. I then had to tap out the threads of the captive nuts on the chassis so easy fixing could be achieved.
First a tapper tap, then a plug tap. I was learning a lot on this build and I was loving it. Putting the body back on was just the reverse of taking it off; four jacks and as many guys as we could find to make it easier. I placed the right amount of packers in the right places and glued them into place. Carefully lowering the body down it went quite well and everything was tightened down. We had little else to do with the roller for quite a few weeks but I will return to it later.
At certain times, instead of having the aroma of body filler, petrol and paint the CBR floor smelt like your bathroom before a big night out. It was " like a tarts bedroom" was how Toots put it. Apparently two of the guys on the floor were golfers as was our company Director Mr Moore, or 'RFM' as he was known.
Neil, a panel beater, and Ted our one eyed painter(!), would get the call , tart themselves up (hence the smell) and off they would go for an afternoons golf. There was no animosity about this - we all took the rise out of them both and it summed up the way Mann Egerton ran the operation.
Of course 1977 was a big year for Her Majesty the Queen too as the whole nation celebrated her Silver Jubilee, and as such she was due to visit Ipswich. Better yet - she would pass our garage twice on that day!
Toots was the most upright royalist anyone could meet and was over the moon with the chance of seeing Her Majesty. The front of our garage had large areas of flat roof and on the day work was at the back of anybody’s mind as pride of place was sought for the best view of the Queen & Prince Philip. Toots was at the front and as the crowd started cheering we all waved as she glided past. No work was being done; the different departments had their little get togethers and a good time was had by all.
Late in the afternoon we heard she had left the Town Hall and was due to pass the back of the garage on her way out of town. We all set off to line the road but Toots grabbed my arm saying "Come on Daniel, follow me". After everyone had gone downstairs, Toots and me climbed onto a small roof which had no rail and a 40 foot drop to the road below.
The roof creaked and we lay still on our somewhat large bellies. I was a bit worried that the roof wasn't safe but Toots just laughed and said "Keep a stout heart Daniel, never grieve". We did not have to wait long as we soon saw the Royal limo making its way towards us. We waved like a couple of overgrown school kids and as God is my witness, the Queen said something to Philip. Then they both looked up through the glass roof of the limo directly at us, smiling and waving!
Afterwards I climbed down off the roof just as our manager passed and he gave me a right telling off for being on such a dangerous roof. When he had left Toots came down and the first thing he did was to wipe his eyes, he was so moved to have had the Queen waving to him. Bless his heart, he was a lovely guy. Another day of my apprenticeship I shall never forget.
Next time - Austin Allegro recalls and I mess up a refit on an MGB GT.....
by Dan Bysouth
Part 3 of Dan's recollections of his time as a young apprentice in the British motor trade of the late 1970s. This story recalls Dan's experience working with an accident-damaged Rolls-Royce.
So, Keith was away on his holidays, and I started on the Coach Building Repairs (CBR) floor under the supervision of Toots. What came to be my everyday chore was to get Toots’ cigarettes first thing. Then, a quick hello to the other guys on the floor. I had been there a week but didn't really mix with anyone other than Keith.
There were three panel beaters, three painters, a paint shop foreman, one electrician, four apprentices including me, a body shop foreman and the body shop manager. These were factory trained technicians, highly skilled and old school. One of the beaters wore a shirt and tie every day of the year, if it got very hot he may loosen his tie, but it had to be really hot. These beaters could do such intricate work, their skills were the best you could get.
My first job working under Toots was an accident repair on a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud MKIII. The bodywork on the Rolls was lead filled, no 'pudding' at all; it really was a work of art to admire . The car was ready on the jig, waiting for us to start stripping it. A fist full of plastic bags for each individual group of bits at the ready and off we went.
Toots started on the drivers door and with me mirroring his every move we removed all 4 door linings. So many little chrome headed screws and clips, it was fiddly but with a lot of time and patience we did it; I was well chuffed. The electrician released the wires for each door and with a large block of wood and a trolly jack it took three of us to remove each door, they were so heavy. Loosening the bottom bolts on each door meant that the door supported itself till the last minute. That was one of the first important things I learnt so far.
With each part we stripped more and more and the plastic bags were piling up. When we finished we had nearly 50 bags. With all the doors off. we carefully removed the boot lid . Again so heavy and difficult to control, resting the boot on your shoulder, one hand under the back edge and the other releasing the bolts.
The bonnet followed as well as the grille with the winged lady intact. The grille and the lady were locked in a separate store, these were prestige parts and it was procedure to do this, not mistrust. Whilst Toots and myself were removing these bits, the sparks was doing his bit to release wires so the body could come off. With the interior out, Toots showed me the bolts that held on the body to the chassis. I think they had 9/16 AF heads on them with mudwing washers on each one. Finding these bolts took a while as years of dirt and in some places rubber guard covered the heads, but in time we were ready for the big lift.
4 trolley jacks, 6 guys and me. The jacks were placed at each corner and very slowly lifted a bit at a time. My job was to closely monitor each mounting point as there would be packers in between the chassis and the body. And each point would probably have a different amount. I had to record which point and how many packers. Up went the body till we could roll out the chassis with the engine still in it. Once out, we lowered the body onto dollies and for the time being we had done.
We stripped each door and the rest of the body but the beaters had the back end of the chassis to straighten, clean up the underneath of the body and then the body would be refitted and worked on to prepare for the respray. Tt had to be done this way as the car had been hit from behind . Off course this wasn't all done in one day - it was the best part of a week as other jobs had to be done too.
It had been good experience for me and Toots and I got on so well. Next time includes being bathroom fresh and a close encounter with royalty!
by Joseph Scott
Some cars have a sophisticated look that sets them apart from the rest and the 1955 XK140 is in that category. The clean lines and elegant style on this classic Jaguar is part of what defines the brand.
The 1955 XK140 DHC (Drop Head Coupe) was manufactured the way a luxury sport coupe is supposed to be, with style, performance, and sophistication. The XK140 was the successor to the popular XK120 and was produced from 1954 – 1957. It was sold as a two seat sports car in three versions; 2-seat roadster, 2-seat convertible, and the 2-seat coupe. It was powered by a 3.4 litre DOHC Straight-6 with 190 or 210 horsepower versions. The 210 horsepower version featured the C-Type cylinder heads carried over from the XK120.
Road & Track tested the XK140 in June of 1955 with an average top speed of 120.3 mph and a best zero to 60 mph of 8.4 seconds. They also tested the car from zero to 100 mph and it recorded a time of 26.5 seconds. The performance of this car was on par or better for the other sports cars of the day, for instance, the 1955 Chevy Corvette was clocked at zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds and a top speed of roughly 120 mph. And that was from a 231 cu. in American V8. Consequently the 1956 Porsche 356A was only capable of a zero to 60 mph in 14.3 seconds.
Jaguar took great pride in producing a sports car with such distinctive styling, elegant luxury, and world-class performance in one sleek package. The rich interior was so luxurious with its fine leather and elegant wood grain trim. The gauges and steering wheel were as stylish as a fine Swiss watch and had an immaculate look and feel like no other. This car also offered 3 more inches of legroom thanks to an engine and firewall that was moved forward.
The 1955 XK140 was so simple and clean, solidifying the old saying that sometimes less is more. For this car to still hold its place among sports car enthusiast today shows that Jaguar was ahead of the times. This was an era when Jaguar built cars that would stand the test of time and styles. With just under 2800 of these cars produced, the 1955 Jaguar XK140 is somewhat rare and quite desirable among collectors. Hagerty reports the average value of this car listed at $77,720 for the DHC and $91,690 for the MC (US version) of the 210 horsepower DHC. Both of these models were trending upward.
Read more at Torque News