Alex Holden (alex_holden) wrote,
Alex Holden

Minor update

It's been about three weeks since I posted an update on Fenchurch's progress, so I thought I'd better let you know what I've been up to. I had hoped to be using her for my everyday commuting by the end of this month, or at the latest have her ready in time to drive to Novacon next Friday. Last night I faced up to the fact that there's no way I'll have finished the respray and weatherproofing by then, and bought a train ticket instead. I booked early enough to get a £36.50 saver return, which is probably not much more than it would have cost me in petrol. It is a bit more hassle having to change a couple of times and catch a bus to the hotel, but at least I'll be able to do some reading on the train.

I've got a bit further with my second attempt at building a new heater, this time using MIG-welded 1mm steel instead of 0.5mm steel. I ran into a bit of trouble when I discovered that some of the steel I've used (scrap Dexian shelves) is galvanised as well as painted. I thought the plumes of white smoke and difficulty in making the weld pool run properly were because I hadn't sanded enough paint off, but it was actually the zinc coating that was causing all the trouble (luckily I was careful not to breathe the smoke in). I've figured out how I'm going to do most of it, but some of the details are yet to be nailed down, and I'm going to have to build some kind of speed controller for the blower yet (full speed is much too powerful for normal use). An additional complication is that the heater will be in the way of the (foot operated) headlight dip switch, so I'm going to replace it with a steering-column mounted one, but I can't seem to find one like the one I had on the Land Rover (the ones I've seen for sale generally incorporate indicators and horn into the same stalk, which I don't want), so I'm probably going to wind up making one instead.

I finally finished cleaning and painting Fenchurch's underside, apart from inside her wheel arches which I'm going to do after I've removed her wings. That was a long and nasty job. I was originally planning to wait until the underside paint had hardened properly and then apply the Dinitrol coating before moving her from the garage, but the weather got in the way. The garage at home isn't very weatherproof, and it has the inspection pit in the middle which fills with water as soon as you stop baling. As a result it gets very damp inside when it's cold and wet outside. Everything gets coated in condensation, which as we've discovered over the years causes any exposed steel to rust rather badly. It turned surprisingly quickly - last week the car was still dry, then on Saturday there was a fine coating of condensation on everything, and on Sunday morning the ceiling was literally dripping wet. So I had to get the last coats of paint on her underside ASAP, get her loaded up with all the spares and tools I'll need during the respray, and drive her over to the Nelson office. The landlord has agreed to let me do the respray in the garage below the office (we only rent the office but he's not using the garage at the moment). On the plus side it's dry, big enough for my purposes, secure, easy to get to, and already has a big industrial compressor. On the minus side, it's dirty, unheated, and not all that well lit. I spent most of yesterday afternoon blowing dirt and cobwebs off the walls and ceiling and sweeping the floor, I have some portable electric heaters in the office that I can take downstairs to warm the place up enough for paint spraying, and I can probably sort out some better temporary lighting if necessary.

Here she is after arriving at the Nelson office:

I was very pleased with the way she performed on the way over to Nelson. It was the first time I'd driven her on the motorway, and she certainly seems more powerful and better behaved than my previous Moggy. I'm beginning to suspect the engine in my old one was either very badly adjusted or a 998cc rather than 1098cc as I thought it was. The old one just about managed to hit 70MPH on a long downhill stretch of motorway, and it felt like she was shaking apart at that speed (the front end bounced up and down alarmingly). Fenchurch easily managed 70MPH on a slight uphill with the brakes still binding a bit (the new shoes haven't properly bedded in yet) and some heavy kit in the back, and she felt rock solid at that speed too. She has loads of luggage space with the back seat down too, and the all-round visibility is excellent. I certainly don't regret going for a Traveller instead of another Saloon. I'll be glad to get rid of the useless wing mirrors and replace them with door mirrors though - at one point on the motorway I looked in the wing mirror, didn't see anything behind me, indicated to pull out, looked over my shoulder to check my blind spot - and was shocked to see a van in the process of overtaking me! The wing mirrors don't so much have a blind spot as a blind acre.
Tags: fenchurch, morris minor, photos

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