Tuesday, 26 November 2013

"The Big Push" or "It will all be over by Christmas"......

Will it 'eck as like.........

The Alvis restoration, that is...........

Do any of you remember the 1970's television series "Last of the Summer Wine"?

I warn you.

If you do, you are going to have flashbacks............


My good friend and fellow Alvis owner, Roger, (who has been my guiding light throughout the strip-down of FFU 297's engine), joined me round at Jane's (whose garage and workshop I have annexed for the duration of her Triumph TR4's resto') on Saturday to have a look at the cam shaft.

We hadn't actually planned a Prayer Meeting, but, sadly, so it turned out........

And these were no prayers of supplication, I assure you.

It was the administration of The Last Rites.

One of the cam lobes was worn beyond re-use. This means a new cam and new cam bearings, white-metalled and line-bored.

This pushes the original engine beyond the point of no return as far as I am concerned.

Mark, The Royal Engineer, will be happy to tell you tales of items long thought beyond redemption that I have succeeded, against advice, received wisdom, and even common sense, in resuscitating.

But you've got to call it somewhere.

Yes, the original engine could be reconditioned.

With the bores re-sleeved and bored to standard, the crank big end and main bearings white-metalled and line bored, ditto the cam shaft bearings, and every moving part within the engine (with the possible exception of the con-rods) replaced, and likewise all the moving parts in the cylinder head, we'd have, as Grandad Eric used to say, 'a good motor to go, boy'.

The cost would be in the region of £5,000-£6,000.

"Blow that for a game of soldiers, boy" (Grandad Eric again.......)

For that blows the budget out of the water.



And 'Tsk tsk tsk...............'

Cue sound effect of chins being scratched.......

"Well," says Roger, "time to have a look at the spare engine that has lurked in the back of your shed since you bought it off ebay some time ago, two weeks before a significant birthday of Jackies, not that that caused any commotion".

(Actually, in fairness, that's not exactly what Roger said. I'm just giving you some back-story.......)

I dropped Roger back at his house, saying "I'll pop round to the shed and just get the clutch and flywheel off: it'll make it easier to move."

This I did with surprising ease, as I'd already practiced this manouvre on the original engine ( n.b. Alvis TA14 restorers: Buy a very large crow bar of the type that features in gangster movies.... the most reluctant fly wheel will fall off in fright in the face of it...)

Then, t'was but a quick sprint to Emmaus in the car for to scrounge a sack barrow for the afternoon.

Yes folks, it was time for "The Big Push".

I managed to load the engine onto the sack barrow, drag it out of the shed, though the gravel, up the drive, through the fisherman's car park and onto the Drove Road.

Have any of you any idea how much an Alvis TA14 engine block, (albeit sans cylinder head, ancilliaries, clutch and flywheel), weighs?

Well, the answer is "A lot"......

and the bastard gets heavier the further you push it......

I paused at the railway line.

(Didn't mention that before, did I? Well, it's two tracks, express, London to King's Lynn......)

I did not merely pause to catch my breath, however, (though by this stage that was a sorely needed requirement.)

No, I paused to ring Roger to tell him I was at the level crossing and would he be a brick and pop over on his bike with some plywood to assist me across (and, though unsaid, help me drag the bloody thing off the tracks if the worst happened and it fell off the trolley......)

His response was to question my sanity.

I am, of course, well used to people doing this.

Also, my Cleverly Applied Psychology had worked: I was at the level crossing; one third of the way to his house; he wasn't about to tell me to turn around and push it back home again, now was he?

By the time Roger arrived, I'd got my breath back.

With no further fanfare, I wheeled the engine over the level crossing without incident.

I'm jolly glad Roger was there, though.........

The next two-thirds of a mile were mightily strenuous, let me tell you.

Roger wanted to take over, as he didn't want me in A&E......

Roger is some way north of seventy years old.

I explained to him that if he did take over, and his wife found out, then I would be visiting A&E anyway.........

And so it was that I completed "The Big Push" solo, depositing the spare engine in Roger's garage before collapsing in a grateful, if steaming, heap.

I came round to find the engine swinging from a block and tackle, about to be deposited on a very butch looking Workmate.

There was just time to remove the sump before I had to sprint back to The Parish to wash and brush up for the Madeleine Peyroux concert at The Cambridge Corn Exchange that Jackie and Rhoda had booked.

Roger gamely agreed to remove the pistons and have a look at a sample big end for me.

The results were:

Madeleine Peyroux Concert: Disappointing in the extreme verging on the absolutely rubbish......

Engine: Unbelievably good! Pistons: factory standard Specialloid. Crank big end: needs a gentle regrind but still at original spec. Cylinder bores: okay to go again with a light hone/glazebust and new piston rings on the original pistons.

Will it "all be over by Christmas"?

Engine: 'no chance'.

Madeleine Peyroux tour: 'we can only hope'..........


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