December 2010: First major site update

This update of the website is well overdue, since the previous one was over two years ago. The single reason for this is twofold: the birth of our twin boys Roland and Emil in January 2009. I didn’t spend any time at all on the J2 for over six months after this major event. By now, I’m spending a slow but steady two hours a week in The Garage and I finally feel I have something worth publishing on the web again.


When I started to think about this update it occurred to me to have a look at the site’s visitor statistics, which is something I hadn’t done before. Directly after the first publication which I announced on the Triple M forum, the number of visitors peaked at over 400 in the first month. To my amazement, it continued to welcome a steady two hundred visitors a month for almost two years during which I did nothing to update or improve the site! So I would like to thank everybody for visiting so often - it has encouraged me to work on this update. By now of course, the numbers of visitors has dropped and it will be interesting to see how this update will affect the visitors statistics in future.



A mysterious package from Scotland


The first noteworthy thing which has happened since the last update of this site, is the arrival of a mysterious package which came by post from Scotland in February 2009. It was from the J2’s previous owner, Ian Campbell, and it contained an old letter plus enclosure concerning my J2. Quite remarkable about this letter was the sender and the date: it was from the British Motor Corporation, dated 2 September 1964 - exactly one day after I was born!

The letter is a reply to an enquiry from Ian’s father, who acquired the car around this time. It states that the car was sold on 7 November 1933, that the colour of the body, wheels and upholstery was green at that time, and that the gearbox number was 2227 (as far as official records go, this is new information, which is no longer available in the Triple M register - I have updated the History page accordingly).

Enclosed in the letter was a “Technical Data Sheet J1&J2”, which provided technical and servicing information to help Mr. Campbell with the servicing of his car. If you are interested in downloading a legible photograph of the Data Sheet, click this link:       

J2 data sheet.jpg


The letter closes with a respectful recommendation to Mr. Cambell that he consider enrollment in the M.G. Car Club, and that the Honorary Secretary, a Mr. M. Allison Esq., would be pleased to hear from him!


Progress on woodwork

Since my last posting of November 2008, I have gradually progressed on cutting ash parts for the body tub. Since I already had all the templates done before the twins were born, this didn’t require any thinking or planning and every hour I had to spare I could effectively use cutting parts and joints. By June 2010, I had reconstructed the scuttle structure for 95%. I haven’t been able to re-use a lot of the original woodwork – just the dashboard and windscreen supports, the ends of which I repaired by splicing fresh ash onto the original wood, as can be seen below. The original windscreen support is made of oak, not ash, by the way.




With the forward end of the body tub almost done, it was time to attack the rear which I had kept in tact in order to maintain the right geometry for the forward part. I started by stripping the aluminium skinning, which revealed that – as usual – the condition of the original woodwork was worse han I had thought. The rear of the body tub would have to be dismantled, and all the parts copied individually to rebuild a new structure from new material. I decided to push the car out of the garage and turn it around to have better access to the rear, so for the first time in a couple of years it was out in the daylight. This made for a nice photo opportunity.







The previous owner wasn’t kidding when he said this car needed a re-spray!



Young Roland’s favourite phrase is “papa auto”, for some reason...


After turning the car around, I disassembled the structure and took lots of photographs as shown below.






Very few of the original parts are reusable, but one of the exceptions is the seat back support. I just needed to fix the holes, the threading of which was damaged by rust on the screws. Here’s how I do it: simply drill the holes clean and insert 6 mm oak dowels using epoxy, as shown below.




The job of copying the rotted original parts of the rear end was easier than doing the forward scuttle structure, since I had all the original parts and the geometry could be copied from those. Also, the rear end is a box-like structure using plywood and straight parts with no curvature as opposed to the front. Still, some of the parts are surprisingly complex – especially the vertical corner posts which, by the way, are made of beech rather than ash. They are designed to be cut on a router table from double tapered blocks, and I had to draw three machining stages which didn’t even include the variable radius on the cross-section and the radii on the ends.




This gave me quite a headache, but I managed to do the drawings for the vertical posts and other beech parts. If you want the drawings, you can download them here:


                                                    Dwg J21-J30-J31-website.xls.


To save a lot of time at a small cost, I commissioned these parts from an excellent wood working shop just around the corner (bottesteyn.nl), the foreman of which started his career in one of Holland’s last surviving chariot making shops (it has since turned into a museum). I put my cell phone number on each of the drawings in case something was not clear, but in the end I got just one call to say the parts were done. Completely to my satisfaction! The picture below shows the repaired seat back support, the new machined parts and the first birch ply panels I did. The catches for the battery lid are the original items which have thankfully survived.




I like this kind of “before and after” comparisons shown below, since they reassure me that eventually all should be well. Here is a view on the top of the rear corner post, before and after replacement. The corner radii will be cut after installing the side panel.


     


The picture below shows the sad remains of the car now that I’ve dissambled the back of the body tub. On the next update of this blog, in the summer of 2011, it should look very different with the entire ash frame more or less complete. I’m already starting to think about reskinning the frame and other sheet metal work.

In the background of this picture is a newly acquired piece of Dutch industrial heritage, my 1951 Fongers bicycle. I have put up a page on that here in The Garage.





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Frank’s MG blog

This is the place to look for updates of this website. Don’t expect to see a new entry every day though - this blog tracks the slow progress of a multi-year project on a car which is almost 80 years old! I hope to add a new entry at least twice a year.


Blog archive:

November 2008