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Full Version: Family camping holiday touring France in an Austin Seven Summer 2018...
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Two years ago, as a family, we took our 1928 Chummy from the North of Spain, over the Pyrenees and back up through France, see here: http://pub25.bravenet.com/forum/static/s...5&cmd=show

Our girls (twins aged 7 and older sister, 9) are now too large to fit in the Chummy for longer trips so when deciding to tour France we knew it would have to be in the family Pearl (purchased by my mother on 1968 for £17 and used as the family hack ever since).  This car took my, now, wife and I on a grand tour of passes in 1999 (Galibier, Simplon, St. Bernard, Bonnette and the mighty Stelvio to name but a few) and also as a family of five to Switzerland and back in 2013 (see below):

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Mechanical preparation

I built the engine in 1999 and, despite just over 80'000 miles since, it ran fine but was beginning to make a few noises and knocks.  I agonised over the decision to change it, I am very much in the camp of "if it an't broke..." but - knowing I would need every ounce of power to complete our journey I eventually opted to build an entirely new engine.

The new engine was built over a period of months with the following spec.:

Pheonix 1 5/6" splash fed crank (unmodified oil trough - "as supplied"), Austin rods (machined out to suit the crank by me), Seven workshop pistons and rings, standard camshaft (reground by Paul Bonewell), standard Seven Workshop valves and springs, standard radius cam followers, silicone base and tappet chest gasket, original Mk1 Whatmough Hewitt aluminium cylinder head, Seven Workshop head gasket, 1" s/d SU Carb (rebuilt by Steve Hodgson), super accessories exhaust manifold, Accuspark Dynamator and electronic distributor, Tony Betts semi deep cast aluminium sump, original 4-blade, export, fan (supplied by Bill Sheehan in 1978).  I also replaced the radiator built at that time (1978) with a new one (original style core) from Tony Wilder.

This engine was fitted and run for around 30 miles, although very quiet it had a tick and I really struggled to locate the cause of until I removed the cylinder head and saw this...

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Removing the valve I expected to find it seized in the guide, it was not but this was clear...

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I am not sure if the valve caused the crack or the crack seized the valve - it extended into the block so I made the decision to remove it (in situ) and machine up another block to fit - I did this over the space of an evening, finishing by torchlight...

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The engine fired up quietly and I started my 1000 mile pre trip run-in - my troubles over (so I thought)!

After around 300 miles of quiet running I noticed a slight tinkle on tick-over and on removing the timing gear cover was horrified to find this...

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Caused by the new gears supplied with the Dynamator the wear was significant and I resigned myself to another very long and frustrating day removing the camshaft and fitting another set of gears, if I look slightly deranged in the photo after I completed this task, it is accurate!

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The Dynamator gear problem was resolved by swapping them out for original Austin ones, this proved wholly successful.

Throughout this rather frustrating time the voices in my head kept up their manta "if it ain't broke..." and I hoped my troubles were now behind me. Due to the problems I was only able to get 600 miles of run-in, pre trip, against my desired 1000. None the less I was happy with the 600 miles and now turned my attention to the rest of the car.
Ruairidh many thanks for sharing this tale. I share your feelings about not fixing what ain't broke; but it has to be done some time. And I'm glad it is not just me who has had a few late nights getting fit for trips abroad!

Still slightly puzzled by your valve issue, looks like it was stuck open? That's an inlet I take it? (sorry, it's early in the morning). I think you made the right call in replacing the block.

Just curious, but what did you find on the Pearl which was solid enough to hang a trailer off?
Preparing the car to carry five and maximise on space

Several non-permanent changes were made to the car for touring - these were based on my experiences with the Chummy two years back and my own experiences as child in the back of my parents' cars.

I removed the original rear seat and, using some unwanted upholstery a friend gave me, set about making a new one.  This new design allowed for a storage slot behind:

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With the cover removed I was able to fit in one full size fiddle, a pocket fiddle, a Ukulele, a travel guitar and two penny whistles.

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Music is an important part of our family life so this particular adaptation was a huge success.  The slot, once packed with instruments, left sufficient room on top for our waterproof coats, pack-up rucksacks and hats etc.  The position meant that they were always at hand, if needed.  

The shelf was a welcome addition for the girls to store their teddy bears and other 'things' they collected on route - also a useful place for our daily baguettes!

By packing these things away behind the seat we were never really bothered by them getting in the way.

I made a storage facility under the rear squab for the girls to store their kindles (genius device that saved us bringing the 30 books which they read on route) and the few toys they chose to bring.

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I removed the original rear side panels and made new with a slot for storage, mainly used for notepads, colouring books and knitting projects, the black plastic cups kept their pencils and iPods safe from the floor...

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The final adaptation, in the rear, was to add a fake floor to allow for storage in the footwells.  I used this for parts and gifts we took...

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Turning my attention to the front I made a map storage shelf...

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and fitted a small basket to house our sun cream, bulbs and other small items we would need to hand...

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Under the bonnet I fitted the spare fuel can I commissioned from Andrew Goodfellow,

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and mounted a magnetic plate to hold any tools/nuts/bolts etc. that I might need when working on the car...

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Peter Naulls made me a superb trunk that I covered and mounted on to the the rear of the car.  This had two internal compartments, one for our cool box and the other for our cooking equipment and dry food - this proved invaluable.

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Finally I attached the lightweight trailer, packed in everything we planned to take and headed off to Loch Lomond for a test run/camp.  A test run is very important and helped us to ditch some gear, take more that we had forgotten and set up the car to run fully loaded (this included pumping the tyres up to 38psi to get it to run straight) - we weighed in at just under a tonne.

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(08-08-2018, 08:47 AM)Chris KC Wrote: [ -> ]Ruairidh many thanks for sharing this tale. I share your feelings about not fixing what ain't broke; but it has to be done some time. And I'm glad it is not just me who has had a few late nights getting fit for trips abroad!

Still slightly puzzled by your valve issue, looks like it was stuck open? That's an inlet I take it? (sorry, it's early in the morning). I think you made the right call in replacing the block.

Just curious, but what did you find on the Pearl which was solid enough to hang a trailer off?

Valve was overheating (it is blue!) due to crack and then jamming open causing tappet to open up and tick.

Tow bar mounted to existing bumper using HT bolts back to chassis mounts - toured with the Nutshell Caravan on this set up, which is much heavier than the trailer, without issue.

[attachment=3464]
Ah yes, that makes sense. Didn't spot the blueing.

I love the false floor! And it's a great idea to use the gap behind the seats when every inch counts - I've recently done something similar on my Ulster rep, will post a pic later when at my desktop.
Further information on the technical set up of the car - all fitted some years ago.

A sports ratio C/W & P supplied by David Cochrane, a 4 speed close ratio gearbox overhauled by Vince Leek, Austin off-set brake shoes with Seven Workshop 'soft' grey linings. Standard Ruby road springs were supplied by my father, the front one has heat shrink fitted - rears are simply painted.


The sports ratio box and rear axle are perfect for touring in a heavily loaded (heavy) car, in my opinion.

Rear tyres are Waymaster, fronts are Longstone.

I have 12v LED flashers fitted all around (the 12v is supplied by a 6-12v converter that fits neatly inside the fuse box cover on the bulkhead), all other bulbs are 6v filament type.
Did you do the Stelvio with that gearing Ruairidh? If yes did you find you were able to hold on to 3rd gear?

Must say the close ratio box (synchro?) made my eyebrow lift a tad, but the 5.67 CWP would offset that nicely I suppose.

I confess optimal gearing for mountain climbs is a minor obsession of mine! Having spent much time in the past hanging desperately onto 2nd with the radiator bubbling....
All fascinating stuff Ruairidh, thanks for posting.

Could you please say a bit more about that 6v-12v lighting setup and show a picture?
I drove the Stelvio with standard ratio box and axle Chris.

The combination I have now has revolutionised my touring capabilities.
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