Alan's Live Sachs Line

It's filthy and you want it.


The 'Road Going' Car

P
rogress on the 'schmitt front has been sporadic as the need to do other tasks continues to push the time available into a few hours here and there. Not least in this has been the realisation that I still have far too much junk laying about not being used and getting in the way. While the studio and workshop can be entered and used again it has revealed projects and stock replaced in the roll call of urgency of removal. Having gained space and funds for stuff I no longer want the process is now addictive and cathartic. I only wonder at how I managed to firstly obtain, and secondly store so much stuff as there seems minimal space in the stores after the clearout over last year. Then I get offered 4 valve radios and I realise I have not stopped collecting the stuff really, it's just no mega deals done but a dust of odds and sods turning up all the time.

The Fiat 126 I rescued has scrubbed up very well. It is a very late FSM HL air-cooled model with the 24 HP engine and on checking it over in remarkable condition for what are known to be little rust buckets. The original paint now glows, the engine runs as smooth as you like and the headlights work again, the reason it was laid up I think. I have rebuilt the window winder and need to work out how to put it back into the door so it has the correct tension on the cable I replaced and a replacement selector gear joint is required and then it is off to the MOT station and for sale when DVLA generate a replacement V5C for the lost one. A satisfying job nearly done and I cannot help feeling a car that should find a home that will look after it, improve the less tidy areas and see it become one of the best original 126 in the country.

The 'schmitt meanwhile continued to confound any notion of being driven. After Gaydon I thought a quick fiddle would see us done. Oh no! First up was the failing neutral selector. This was, as expected, a cable failure. The guy had attempted to do things correctly in that the cut end of the cable was soldered. Sadly not in a uniform way and not where the screw met the cable, which is a good idea as well as stopping the end fraying. Therefore a strand had become loose and got flicked out by the pressure of the screw. On later being reinserted it had got the wrong side of the two mountings and worked its way into the cable sheath preventing the cable from clear movement and thus occasionally locking the neutral selector on.

Now changing a neutral cable means removing the sidecase clutch/points cover. A messy task but possible in situ. Due to interference this took some four days to do and the oil was clearly by then contaminated with dust etc. Normally you can use a small screwdriver to flick the spring on the cable holder behind the clutch basket back to remove and insert the cables. Not a simple task but neither is it difficult. However it is when someone has been busy messing about. Once again it became clear the rebuilder had got it wrong using a replacement spring wound onto the shaft such that it did not move freely. Great for keeping the cable in place but not for changing it. I toyed with taking the engine out but went with it, as the time taken would be about the same. Job done.

While in the area I pulled down the air filter and changed the new 'fuel proof' pipe I had fitted in the spring which had now gone hard and pulled off the tap each time the boot was opened having lost the play required for a good fit — another bit of rubbish new technology. I had not serviced the air filter and as can happen the original element had worn. Nick Poll spotted this weakness some years ago. It has become common practice to clean up old filters, compress the gauze inside the containing ring and then injecting silicon sealant into the gap created. This locks the gauze from rotating but more importantly prevents the eventual rusted or work hardened ends of the gauze from being ingested by the engine in a volte-face of what an air filter is expected to be doing as the filter finally disintegrates into nasty steel chunks.

The front suspension collapse at Gaydon was no more than a failure of the camber locking assembly to lock. Pulling it apart it was clear that over the years the serrated area had become greatly filled by a mixture of corrosion and paint. An hour lying next to the car with a hacksaw blade and a saw file cleared the plate up no end and reassembly was textbook. So now ready to go after a check over and test drive. The test proved abortive for a failed new battery, another new part of no use at all. A slave battery was coupled onto the car for testing.

It turned out that the excessive engine noise was due to the new bottom engine mount being too narrow. This pulled the front of the engine in to the point where the carden shaft was not free to move but clamped in place transferring the chaincase and road noise to the engine which itself was touching the engine frame. Now it can be argued I should have spotted this on fitting the new mounting but firstly, you assume a new part is correct, secondly I recall being disturbed by visitor/phone calls the day I did this job. Once again, dear friends, never trust a new part till it proves its worth.

Since this was a new type mounting it could not be shimmed out with the engine in position as the stud was too long. Out with the engine — doubly annoying having just struggled with the neutral cable. With the mounting out it was simple enough to shim it but by then it was better to replace it! As yet the car awaits a new battery with electricity fitted and might finally take to the road. However I have got pretty fed up with messing around with it when other projects seem more cooperative; a certain lack of motivation as much as anything perhaps. It seems hard to just be able to enjoy the car for what it is when it and no one nearby wants to play.

Then again other projects have used up the time and energy available on the 'road going' car. Maybe as this project matures it will enthuse me to pick up the cudgels again. The big news for 'schmitters is that as you will read elsewhere the monocoque jig has been pressed into service and thus precipitated access to other tooling and my stash of panels built up over the years to spawn new monocoques made by some chums down near Bath. My interest in this is that it will move forward the clearing out the rather sick and poorly 'schmitts I have mouldering in storage unseen. Certainly some of these will rise again as cars though as to whether they will be sold restored or as projects I have yet to decide. It is time these scruffs moved on not only reducing the shedage required but also increasing the quality of what is left into a proper and sensible collection rather than a horde.

I seem to have stepped in at the end of the production of a new batch of rubber mats to move things on. It turns out that information was going to the wrong address preventing mats being available for collection at the MOC rally as planned. So a review of information is required there again. For the members mats should be available from the Darbys as you read this magazine. Likewise I managed to find time to retrieve the MEC element of the spares in Schmittbits from Mike who was itching to get shot of them. This stock has been passed to the Darbys to be sold off on our behalf as a one-off as they do not want to run a spares service. The topic of the MEC and spares will need to be revisited at committee but as things stand we have no policy and interested persons can get in touch as we have investment cash to back a good idea/scheme/project.

The club is backing the adoption of an event at Toddington just after the National at Malvern. This is the venue of the last MEC backed National Rally hosted by Bob and Marg Parry — in my opinion the last of the main run good Nationals. The attraction is a varied collection of machinery in a low stress event and free tickets to ride to Cheltenham and back behind whatever loco is in steam on the day. Good pub down the road as well.