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Paul L 26th January 2020 11:55

Mister Towed – Really good to see an update on your build. :cool:

As many others have said already, the new wheels will really suit the car.

It is funny seeing your bare rolling chassis, which is obviously very familiar to me.

Yet, moving your engine and using a completely different bodyshell will make your car unique.
(I am not aware of anyone else going down this road.)

Plus, it is great you are so fearless with the angle grinder, as the flip up bonnet will be special too.

Really looking forward to seeing this coming together.

Good luck, Paul. :)

YouTube keeps suggesting 356 videos for me to watch, which always have a few nice details.

Biggles 27th January 2020 09:33

Towed, did you try swapping the front suspension towers side to side? This is a common mod amongst Triumph special builders, and places the lugs for the engine mounts behind the line of the front shocks/springs....

Good to see you still powering on with this!

Mister Towed 29th January 2020 06:58

Thanks for your interest, guys.

Great inspirational youtube clips, Paul - the first one is very much the look I'm going for with the front cooling vents and '550' feel inside and out.

Biggles, I did start by swapping over the suspension turrets which moves the engine mounts back too far, pushing the gearbox way back into the cockpit and leaving no clearance for the exhaust system. I would've needed to use a 4 into 1, Herald/early Spit/MG Midget manifold and narrow bore, modified down-pipe to clear the chassis rails, and I'd already got a 4-2-1-2 big-bore stainless system that I wanted to use.

As I only needed to move the engine back by two inches to get the front carburettor dash-pot under the bonnet, and I already had an overdrive prop on the shelf, which is 3" shorter than the Mk I-II-III prop that fitted my MkIII spec engine and gearbox, it seemed sensible to just move it back by 3"

That's put the engine fully within the wheelbase (so it's now technically mid-engined), given plenty of clearance for the front carburettor, (just) enough clearance for the exhaust system and left more space ahead of the engine to install the radiator and ducting to get the air from the MGF cooling vents through the rad without wasting any.

Anyway, I'll be getting on with this project again shortly so will post more pics when there's visible progress :)

Paul L 7th March 2020 08:05


Originally Posted by Mister Towed (Post 103368)
Anyway, I'll be getting on with this project again shortly so will post more pics when there's visible progress :)

How about an update with invisible progress?


Mister Towed 9th March 2020 07:22


Originally Posted by Paul L (Post 103648)
How about an update with invisible progress?


Hi Paul, I suppose it has been a while since I posted an update.

Progress has been made, but mostly invisible. i have now fitted Gaz ride and height adjustable front shocks with new 170lb springs to get the front end height right and added camber shims to help the handling.

While I had the front suspension apart i also replaced the lower wishbones as when I trial assembled everything before I noticed that the trunnion holes were elongated on both sides through wear.

That's caused by the plain shank of the bolts being shorter than the gap they have to fill, which leaves the threaded portion of the bolts bearing against the inside of the trunnion hole at the nut end. That results in the bolt wearing down as the metal's thinner where it's threaded, and the movement that allows then wears the hole in the wishbone.

I had seen some longer bolts available to prevent this, I think from Jigsaw Racing, but they seem to have ceased trading recently.

Anyway, hoping for some nicer weather soon so I can get on with this project and post some nice pics in the sunshine...

keith 9th March 2020 20:28

you could try he does long bolt sets.

Mister Towed 9th March 2020 22:07


Originally Posted by keith (Post 103659)
you could try he does long bolt sets.

Thanks for that, Keith, I'll get some ordered.

Mister Towed 31st March 2020 18:00

Some progress now made during 'lockdown' - I've cut all the pieces of the frame to size on one side and built the bridge across the chassis to link the two sides together -

There's going to be a lot more space in the cockpit than the donor Spitfire, the white floorpans are splash moulded from the floor of my donor car and you can see how much wider the floor of the speedster will be (about a foot wider in total) -

My driveway and garage are getting a bit crowded now that my teenage son also has a car, so there's lots of juggling of cars and bits of donor going on whenever I need to get anything out of the garage -

Should be more updates soon as I'm now in a position to get on with it for at least a few hours every day of the week.

Mister Towed 31st March 2020 18:01

Dammit, I'll come back later and resize the images.

There we go, 800x600 on imgbb is a reasonable size. They started out at over 4000 wide!

Paul L 7th April 2020 08:41

Mr T - Your framework looks very sturdy. :cool:

Another area where your past building experience is being put to good use.

I'm sure getting back into this now will help as the days get brighter/warmer.

Good luck, Paul. :)

Mister Towed 11th April 2020 09:51

One challenge when using a Spitfire as a donor is locating the rear suspension radius arms, and that's what I've been focusing on over the last few days.

The Herald/Vitesse chassis has a full perimeter frame consisting of front, centre and rear outriggers connected by side rails, and the radius arm brackets are bolted through the rear outriggers, giving them a solid location.

On the Spitfire, the chassis has stubby outriggers front and centre, but nothing at the back, and the radius arm brackets are bolted directly to the bodyshell just above floor level.

I've seen some imaginative approaches to locating these vital suspension components on various kitcars, including at least one that used modified radius arms that extended all the way to the centre outrigger stubs, making them about three feet long.

I wanted something a bit more factory spec, so decided to pretty much copy the Herald/Vitesse setup -

The sharp-eyed may have noticed that I haven't used rear radius brackets, but front wishbone brackets, and the reason for this is twofold:

The brackets that came in a box of parts with my donor turned out to be for a Rotoflex car, so are completely the wrong angle as they are mounted about six inches inboard of non-rotoflex brackets.

If I did have the correct brackets, the mounting studs are too short to go through the 50mm box-section that I'm using for my perimeter frame, so I'd have had to drill them out and replace them with longer studs anyway.

As I had a selection of front wishbone brackets 'on the shelf' and they have studs that are long enough (and are far more substantially built than the rear radius arm brackets) I decided to give them a go.

To get the necessary angle I fabricated some angled plinths (out of an old sofa frame I'd kept), and you can see these best in the first picture above, which is partially completed. The wishbone brackets are very slightly narrower than the radius arm brackets, so to get the bushes to fit I had to grind about 2mm off the metal tube inside the bushes.

In the other pictures you can see that I've welded steel plate across the top and bottom to seal the unit and add extra strength, and what you can't see is that the stud and extra bolt both run through 2mm wall tube welded between the plinths to prevent the box-section from being crushed when the nuts are tightened up.

All in all it's turning out to be a robust and quite elegant solution to the problem.

More later.

peterux 12th April 2020 10:26

Nice work, Towed!

Mister Towed 13th April 2020 07:28

Thanks Peterux. The lower frame's now all tacked together and I've trial fitted the body - so far so good.

Next step is to reverse-engineer (bodge) front and rear upper frames to support the body, brace the lower frame and hang the fuel tank, handbrake compensator, steering column and possibly the pedals from.

Although I have a floor mounted pedal box in similar style to an original 356, I'm not sure I can make it fit as the master cylinders for the clutch and brakes (x2) stick out quite a long way forward. Initial placing of parts and head scratching suggest that the pedals will be uncomfortably close to the driver, leaving the 'Italian Ape' driving position of outstretched arms with legs bent into the foetal position with your knee joints either side of the wheel next to your hands.

That'll be familiar to anyone who's ever driven an Italian sports car or coupe, and I quite liked that driving position when I had a Fiat 128 3P Coupe back in the day. The trouble is, I was 21 then and quite a bit more slender and bendy then than i am now, so I have a set of Triumph pendulum pedals on standby just in case I can't fold myself in behind the wheel with the floor pedals in place.

More later with pictures...

Paul L 15th April 2020 13:45

Mr T - At least you know the benefit of fixing things like the pedals before the bodyshell is bonded on.

Good luck, Paul. :)

Mister Towed 17th April 2020 19:13

More progress to report as the rear frame is now taking shape nicely -

As you can see, there's plenty of space for the fuel tank, spare wheel and plenty of luggage.

The frame will also give me somewhere to hang the exhausts and nerf bars from -

Mister Towed 10th May 2020 09:16

Some more progress to report -

Exhaust now routed so the (bike) silencers protrude from just under the rear valance just as all non Carerra Speedster exhausts do -

The dash that came with the car didn't do it for me - it had been hacked about by previous owners, the pod over the instruments wasn't deep enough to allow a 4" tacho to fit under it and I just prefer the look of the 550 Spyder dash - so I sourced a 550 dash to graft in to the 356 shell -

This is the best shot I have of the original 356 dash -

Initial fitting -

As the 550 Spyder is about 5" narrower than the 356, my replacement dash needed a bit of 'Jigsaw' construction using bits of the old dash, plasticine, etc. to get it to the right width -

next job was a week of fill and sand, fill and sand, fill and bloody sand until it starts to look as if it was always there -

At the moment it's made out of ticky-tacky and is far too heavy, so the next stage is to finish it to a good standard, paint and polish it, then use it as a plug for a mould so I can make a unified and lighter replacement to bond in.

More later.

Paul L 10th May 2020 14:33

Mr T - Nice work on the dash. :cool:

Good luck with the mould / remaking new piece.

It might be the angle of the photo, but will you be able to remove/refit the spare wheel with the body shell on?

Good luck, Paul. :)

Mister Towed 10th May 2020 15:27

Hi Paul, yes, the spare's a snug fit but it can be dropped in and lifted out with relative ease. I did have to modify the rear frame somewhat though.

My new dash is still a work in progress but I've got to the stage of trial fitting the plug with the body and front end in place -

Some more filling and sanding is still needed but it's nearly there now.

molleur 10th May 2020 18:14

looks really good to me!

Mister Towed 10th May 2020 22:22

Thanks Molleur, there are still a few imperfections that only showed up when the etch primer went on but I'm really pleased with the way it's turning out.

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