Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Got Broken 'glass? Call Composite Solutions!

Faced with a gaping hole and no knowledge of fibreglass, I needed to work out where to go next. The parts had now arrived from the UK (via Canberra - cheers Graham, Russell and Ian), and almost covered the extensive damage, but how to stick it all back together was anyone's guess.

When I was a youngster, I used to know a chap who owned a fibreglass bodied Bolwell Mk.7, and knowing the marques strong following in SA, thought I'd turn to the Bolwell Car Club for some assistance. They pointed me in the direction of master 'glasser, Norm Clement, of Composite Solutions. Norm had a quick look, in a very sage-like manner, and agreed it could be fixed and signed up for the job. Within weeks we were to commence.

Meanwhile, the car needed to be partially stripped. Now, I must say that my intention had never been to attempt a restoration from the inside out, but circumstances dictated a unique approach. So, the interior was next.

I took up an offer from a local TAFE college lecturer (Joe Maurici) to use the car for an upholstery class, free of charge, I only need supply materials. The downside was that the job could take as long as 12 months, but I had time on my side. I couldn't leave the car with the TAFE guys for refitting, as I'd need to strip it out as soon as they'd finished! So, we decided to strip out the interior to be re-upholstered, and also provide the doors for trim fitting.

Removing the front seats, I found they were not original, but a period after-market Microcell reclining seat (with trendy headrests, which had fallen off), as later fitted to the Radford Mini Deville. The seat frames had been fabricated from wood - not quite up with ADR's, even for 1968, I'd imagine. Besides, they were in lousy shape.

A few buckets worth of mud didn't go astray either! Yuck

Ultimately, I was on the lookout for a pair of original Bond seats which, whilst they were non-reclining, looked 300% cooler.

Removing the back seat I found the steel below consisted of several thousand rust flakes precariously balanced, both below and inside the seat squab itself! Some MAJOR work required here.

A rust relief sculpture greeted me below the rear seat squab

Below all this mess are brackets for the handbrake cable, so will need to accurately fabricate the entire panel - spares are not available.

Other discoveries included, a gaping hole in the driver's side floor (accelerator pedal hanging beneath the car!), incorrect gearbox (possibly Triumph 2000), modified floor to fit said oversized gearbox, cardboard transmission hump cover all but disintegrated (fibreglass replacement purchased from Triumph Vanguard Wholesalers), Bond centre console gone (if ever present) and the cardboard dashboard fell apart in my hands (fibreglass replacement also purchased from TVW).

AM radio, now all I need is an 8-track!

The original leather wheel was falling apart, centre bezel and horn button turned to chalk, and wheel boss a chewed out piece of aluminium. Guy came to the rescue with an owners manual and console, but a wheel would require a lot of research, and a lot of patience.

I purchased some Nylex MG and Triumph basketweave vinyl for the TAFE guys to use, piled all the bits into my stylish Hyundai wagon and away it all went - with the exception of the rear seat (frame given to a local metal fab shop to make a new frame) and fibreglass dashboard (given to my dad to plane the wood insert to size - the cavity in the 'glass dash being a little undersize). The doors were removed, stripped, blasted and etch primed, ready for the panel beaters.

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