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Restoring a Top Hat
I just couldn’t resist the advert – 1926 Austin 7, unused since 1931. The car had been rescued from a barn by the Previous Owner in the early 1960’s. A cosmetic restoration was carried out in the 1980’s together with a retrim but the car has not been driven on the road since the original owner (a farmers wife it seems), pushed it into the barn in the summer of 1931.

I acquired the car in February this year. Initial inspection showed a list to the nearside and considerable fatigue cracking around the body mountings. Some of the body support brackets were bent and broken as well. I decided the body had to come off.

So today, the body was removed. It seems that the car has sustained a nasty piece of accident damage all those years ago - the chassis is ben about an inch to the nearside. The actual lean of the body is due to the chassis extensions (added as extras in 1926 remember) were badly fitted, pushing the body out of line. But how do I repair the chassis rails??

Probably explains this as well - I noticed it earlier. Looks like the car was struck in the offside. May explain why the front wheels have odd rims as well, they were probably replaced at the same time. Body seems untouched.....

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Wasn't someone flogging a pair of chassis rails on eBay recently? Don't know if they are still up.
I would remove the front forging and using a gas Oxy/Act heating torch straighten one rail at a time then re rivet on front forging, if you do it slowly it will become obvious where the heat needs to be applied .
Looks like a great project.

John Barker - dont think they sold and his contact is in the ebay listings. pm me if you want it.

Have you got any fragments of the original trim visible by any chance, assuming cotton cloth?
I would definitely straighten the existing rails. They do not look too bad

It would involve taking the chassis to pieces and re hot- riveting it all back together.

Dave Williams is a master at chassis straightening, I would ask him if he would do it for you.
 If he will - it will be superb, correct and original to the car. 
There have been new rails made and in my veiw not as good as the Austin ones.
Very good luck with a very interesting project which will not be easy but potentially very rewarding.
Tim - Rob Beck has straightened a number of chassis, suggets you give him/Nick a call.

The originals are very good metal and will come back, as Colin alludes to.
Thanks for the replies guys, further dismantling and inspection has revealed that the chassis members were actually broken (or cracked) at the point of the bend (immediately in front of the front crossmember) and then heavily plated over, making straightening the chassis very difficult.
Someone in Scotland has some later LWB rails on eBay and I can chase up the ones that were on recently. It looks like replacing the chassis rails will be the way to go, carefully adapting them to fit the earlier chassis. Then it will be attending Nick Beck's hot riveting class!
In the meantime, it seems I will be busy repairing the stress cracks and holes in the floor. Someone has had a go at welding the cracks up in the past but it needs to be done properly now.


BTW, I dismantled the (presumably) original wiper arm and blade this weekend. The wiper blade is made of felt! Is this right? anyone else seen this??


JonE, no original trim left I'm afraid, the interior was a frenzy of inappropriate materials, Ambla, foam, staples. All on the list.....
There is a consortium looking at a Tapestry remake currently, which is likely what your 1926 would have had if cotton cloth....

I must remember 'frenzy of inappropriate materials'. So many potential uses.
I didn't mention Furflex and Hidem Banding as well  Rolleyes

I did find Tapestry seat covering material underneath the Grannies old settee material in my RK, should have taken a photo I suppose......

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(03-12-2018, 07:55 PM)Parazine Wrote: I didn't mention Furflex and Hidem Banding as well  Rolleyes

I did find Tapestry seat covering material underneath the Grannies old settee material in my RK, should have taken a photo I suppose......
Parazine - back to the chassis - as usual Nick Turley gives very good advice.  I'd like a dollar for every time I've come across repaired cracks in the same place as yours on the earlier chasses, or cracks that needed repair.   This problem was only solved by Austin when he extended (in mid-'28-on)  the vertical lips (on the flanges) further forward to about 6" ahead of the cross member.  If you're not fussed too much with originality you can always box that area underneath, where it's not normally seen.  Good Luck with the straightening, but suggest you have at least one helper, even if only to hold the torch whilst you're rivetting.  Good Luck,  Cheers,  Bill

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