|Refurbishment of my
1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 Barker Limousine
|Love at first sight
|A good friend of mine
sent me the two pictures above asking if I knew someone who might be
interested in buying an old Rolls-Royce. To cut a
long story short, a week later the owner presented me with the Spirit of Ecstasy as proof of purchase. And with that, after several years of
dreaming about this moment, I was finally the proud owner of a pre-war Rolls-Royce motorcar.
|The big day finally
arrived and we collected her with my trusty old Land-Rover.
|Me with the previous
owner, who owned GAN81 since 1970.
|The car was filthy
from lack of use, and my wife was not having any of that, so as soon as
I turned my back she and my son were in there
with vacuum cleaner and an assortment of weird and wonderful cleaning apparatus' and chemicals.
|The end result was
fabulous, and I celebrated their efforts in the appropriate manner.
Even my son was pleased with his handiwork.
cleaning process I started on the mechanical re-commissioning of the
car. Even though she was in perfect running condition, I like to change
all fluids and do a full service before I start using a newly acquired
car. The above pictures show the gearbox with the floorboards removed,
before and after cleaning.
|The rear end of the
car was elevated for easy access to the diff and exhaust. I also
drained out all the old fuel while I had access to the fuel tank.
|The rear section of the exhaust was in poor condition, so I removed it and had a new one made up.|
|I painted the new
exhaust with satin black flame proof paint for that period look.
|The original air
filter was replaced with a modern replacement item.
|The old and the new.
How times have changed...
|I know that it would
have been more appropriate to collect the new
carpets by camel, but I do not currently have a camel,
so this had to do.
|My intention was to
buy cheap, temporary carpets to protect he wooden
floorboards during restoration, but I got carried away and came home with
these luxurious Persians instead. I think it is most appropriate
for such a grand old lady.
|The front exhaust
section was leaking badly, so rather that trying to repair
the original I had my friendly exhaust man make up a new one
using modern components.
|I had to manufacture
my own mounting points in order to secure
the modern exhaust in an old fashioned way to suite the car.
|New flanges were
||...and gaskets were
hand made from suitable heat-resistant material.
gasket material is very difficult to work with,
but the end result was acceptable.
|The finished exhaust components ready for painting and re-assembly.|
|Black stove paint
gave the exhaust that period look,
appropriate for a car of this vintage.
|All bolted together,
a nice snug fit.
|Elegant rear view
mirrors were mounted on the wings.
|The original water
temperature gauge seems to work intermittently,
and even then the readings are a bit suspect, so I decided to
plumb in a VDO guage to act as a "second opinion" to the
original. The VDO sender unit was mounted using
a purpose made adapter in the radiator hose.
|Not wanting to make
any modifications to the original instruments
or facia I mounted the VDO guage in a discreet location on the
passenger side under the dashboard, but still visible
to the driver. This deviation from originality is well worth
the peace of mind.
|The new tyres finally
arrived which was a relief because the
old tyres are 20 years old and even though they still look
good, close inspection revealed tiny hairline cracks.
|The car had a nasty
wobble at about 45 mph, so I took this opportunity to
balance the wheels by following the instructions given in the owners manual.
It is a tedious process and very time consuming, but much to my surprise,
it worked! So much so that it has completely transformed the car's road
behavior. Before balancing the wheels the car would start "wobbling" at
about 45 mph, and become almost uncontrollable at anything over 50.
After balancing the wheels I managed to get her up to 60 mph without
fuss, and she ran straight with no hint of a wobble or vibration.
|With the mechanical
side of the refurbishment pretty much done we were dying to take her
out for a bit of a run,
so a picnic on a nearby game farm was organised and "Cruella" was taken out on her maiden voyage!
|We assembled a small
group of fellow enthusiasts and off we went on Safari!
seemed completely uninterested in our old cars and just went about
their business as we drove past.
|Not the usual sight
in the car park at a game viewing lapa, but for us this is the only way
to go on Safari in Africa...
|The maiden voyage was
a great success, and we were all very impressed with how well this old
Rolls-Royce takes the African bushveld
in her stride. The dirt track was no challenge for the large spoke wheels, and surprisingly the trunk on the back did not take in any dust at all.
The engine runs smoothly with adequate power, and in spite of the warm weather she ran nice and cool with no sign of overheating.
celebrated with a bottle of excellent champagne!
|At this point in the
restoration process I ran out of excuses to start disassembling the car
for painting. So one Saturday morning in November 2010 I started
removing bits, refurbishing, labeling and finally packing it neatly away, ready for reassembling, probably many months later.
|During a 1970 colour
change under previous ownership many of the little detail items were
covered in paint. They had to be removed and refurbished.
what's left of them.
||All the shiny bits
cleaned up, labeled and packed away.
|The headlights were a
bit of a mess. They were converted from the original "dip" function to
use modern dim and bright. The conversion was well done, but they were
poorly reassembled. I had to do a lot of cleaning up, and completely
||The centre trim peace
featuring the Lucas emblem was broken and held
together with tape. I built a jig and repaired it with solder, as per original.
|The centre trim back
in position and rattle free.
||The headlight, fully
restored and ready to go back on the car.
|The Lucas horns were
also rather untidy, so they were disassembled and refurbished.
|The three-legged horn
mount must have been coated in something because no amount of gloss
black paint would make it shiny.
It remained dull in colour and texture. Most extraordinary.
|The end result was
truly fabulous. These horns really are beautiful.
|The side lights
|As you can see from the photographs above many of the components refurbished to date are chromed. Keeping in mind that this is a 74-year old car, I must just mention how impressed I was with the quality of the chrome on these old parts. They cleaned up incredibly well, and shine like they were manufactured last week! It is such a pleasure to work with such quality.|
|The front bumper was
sent off for re-chroming and the bumper mount painted black in my
make-shift spray booth.
|A fine artists brush and a steady hand were all the tools required to refurbish the Rolls-Royce emblem that mounts onto the front bumper.|
|Once I removed the
modern registration plate I found that the mounting
plate is actually the original UK registration plate!
|Finally, three years
later! (I had other projects as well...) The car was prepared for
|The silver was applied first, followed by teal grey (A friend and fellow Pre-War Rolls-Royce owner named this colour Westminster Sea Frost!)|
|I took a decision not
to give the wheels the same base and clearcoat paint treatment as the
body because it would be difficult to do running repairs.
Wheels suffer from wear and tear during regular use, and would probably require periodic touch-ups. In view of this I painted them with silver
metallic engine enamel from aerosol cans. It worked pretty well and I am now able to touch up any nicks and scratches as we go along.
|The boot interior was cleaned up and hand painted.|
|Whilst preparing the
body for painting I found various brass trim bits. I decided to leave
most of the brass exposed rather than painting over it.
|A milestone! On 24
January 2014 the car was once again fully reassembled. It took three
years to get to this point.
However, the re-assembly took just one week of evenings because all the components were refurbished when
they were removed from the car. When time came for the reassembly
everything was ready and just had to be bolted back onto the car.
|To be continued...