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Mister Towed 6th February 2021 08:56

About time for an update, I feel. I've been slowly plugging away in the background for a couple of hours a day after work (I'm WFH in the morning every weekday at the mo).

I've tackled two jobs over the last few weeks, the first being the fuel filler flap on the rear deck above the Spitfire tank.

Having successfully used a Vectra filler flap to access the methanol/water tank that fed the water injection system on my Spyder, I bought another one for a fiver on ebay to use on the Speedster.

On the Spyder I was able to cut a hole in the rear deck with a hole saw that was a perfect fit for the Vauxhall flap, which just happened to have the correct curve to match the profile of the rear deck. The hole saw even left a bevelled edge inside the hole that allowed the flap to sit flush with the surface without falling through. A big blob of industrial bonding paste applied between the flap's pivot housing and the underside of the rear deck and 'hey presto' a fully functioning filler flap that took about an hour from start to finish. It was almost as if Vauxhaill had the Sammio Spyder in mind when they developed the Vectra's fuel flap.

My expectation was that it would be the same on the Speedster. Unfortunately, once I'd cut the hole, I could see that the rear deck of the Speedster has a compound curve that was nowhere near the shape of the Vectra flap. I tried cutting the Vectra flap down and bonding the piece cut out of the rear deck onto the hinge/pivot, but then found that the Vauxhall pivot didn't have enough 'throw' to lift the new flap out of its hole without jamming. Hmm.

So, long story short, after spending about a fortnight trying to make it work I bit the bullet, chucked the remains of the Vectra flap into the 'might be useful one day?' box and made my own mechanism out of fibreglass. I copied the basic design of the hinge mechanism but gave it enough 'throw' for the flap to clear the body.

It took a lot of work, but it now fits and opens really well. It has a few posh features: there's a 'stop' built in so it will swing up to the vertical position but won't carry on and foul the rear deck, a magnet holds it in the closed position and there's a (Renault) electric solenoid that pops it open. It needs tidying up and a skim of filler to make it properly flush all round, but I'm happy with how it's turned out.

Second job was to fit the engine cover (boot lid in my case). I've gone for external hinges as I figured that they'd be really easy to fit and they'd look really cool. Original 356's had internal hinges but racers would replace those with external hinges to allow the engine cover to swing open much further for easier access to the motor.

After looking at custom options and considering making my own hinges, I had a hunch that BMC Mini boot hinges might do the trick, so bought a new pair for about 15.

The Mini boot hinges have a curve to them which means that they're handed, and yesterday afternoon I did a bit of measuring, placing of parts and chin scratching before drilling some holes, bolting them in and...

...after about an hour's fettling the inner edge of the 'boot' opening to get the bolts some clearance the hinges fit perfectly and open and close with no issues! Although I love a challenge when building a car, it is nice occasionally when something actually works straight out of the box.

Anyway, enough talk, a picture paints a thousand words as they say, so here's what you've been waiting for:

Filler flap in place and closed -

And popped open with the solenoid -

And fully open (you can possibly see the magnetic latch, solenoid push rod and locking cap beneath) -

And from the inside, here's a shot of the solenoid and hinge mechanism -

Classic BMC Mini boot hinges fit perfectly and will mirror the curve of the head fairing once it's fitted -

Fitting the rear 'engine' cover was just about the easiest job on this project to date -

And they allow the lid to open much further than internal hinges would -

And finally, it was nice to get the body back on the chassis as it reminds me that I'm actually working on a car rather than just moving a pile of disjointed bits about my garage -

Kuba 6th February 2021 20:15

Just read your build to date. Very impressive stuff this is going to be a beauty. I will be following your build with interest. Keep up the momentum. Best of luck Kuba

Mick O'Malley 7th February 2021 07:17

Very nice work, it's coming along beautifully! Can't say I'm enamoured with those crossheads though. Slots or even Allens would, IMO, would look much more period.

Regards, Mick

Mister Towed 7th February 2021 15:39

Thanks guys, all compliments greatly appreciated :)

Got to agree about the Phillips screws, they came with the Mini hinges but don't even really fit the countersunk holes properly.

Might have to look for some Allen bolts instead.

I've been tinkering with the doors today, making up some brackets and some fibreglass mouldings to fit the MG Midget door hinges at the rear of the doors so they open in suicide style.

It does look as if it's going to work at this stage, I'm just waiting for my fibreglass mouldings to recess the hinges in the body and attach them to the inside of the doors to set and for Amazon to deliver me some suitable nuts 'n' bolts and I should have the driver's door hung by the middle of the week.

I'm going to use a pair of MG Midget door latches and slam plates at the front of each door as I do like to stick to what I'm familiar with.

I also have a cunning plan to prevent the possibility of a door being opened on the move: I'll be fitting a solenoid inside each door that automatically locks the doors when the handbrake is released and unlocks them when it's applied. A hidden override switch to allow the doors to be locked when I park it up and unlocked to get in.

Once I have an opening door 'll take some pictures which should explain all the above a bit better.

Kuba 8th February 2021 09:31

3 Attachment(s)
Good morning Mister Towed,

Today I went to collect seats I have bought from fleebay and spotted this.

Mister Towed 8th February 2021 14:21

That's very nice indeed, I do love the colour.

Kuba 8th February 2021 14:27

A lot of pictures on their website if you like to check. I will pm you a link as I'm not sure what are rules are regarding posting web address.

Mister Towed 8th February 2021 14:49

Thought I'd share a few pictures of progress on the rear hinged doors:

The hinges need to be recessed into the body about 25mm, so I'm moulding a set of four 'soap dishes' in fibreglass to French into the body. Starting point was to hunt around the boxes of 'useful' crap in my shed for something suitable to use as a plug, but then tripped over a cork sanding block that fitted the bill dimensions wise.

After carefully wrapping it in parcel tape and then taping it to an old place mat, it was slip, slap slop with the resin and CSM (you can see an identical sanding block in shot that's too damaged to use but gives you an idea of what lies beneath) -

I also moulded a set of four 'finger slots' to take the hinges inside the doors. I was able to make all four at once by making two symmetrical plugs out of wood covered in the obligatory parcel tape, glassing over them then cutting the resulting mouldings in half. Probably easier to understand if I show you this picture -

And to give a clearer idea of how it's all going to work, the 'soap dishes' will be recessed into the body and the 'finger slots' will be bonded onto the inside of the door skins in the position shown here -

The key to fitting hinges on curved surfaces is to make absolutely sure that they're in a straight line with each other. To that end, you'll see that I have bolted the hinges through a piece of flat steel bar which will keep the hinges in line with each other. That will sit inside the body and will be welded and braced to the subframe beneath to make sure all the stresses are taken by the frame, not the body. That should ensure I don't end up with droopy doors and cracks in the body.

Here's the mock up I made to test whether the solenoids I'd bought to automatically lock the doors when the handbrake is released were up to the job, which they are -

After Mick mentioned the awful Phillips screws looking out of place on my car, as luck would have it, the pack of Allen bolts and lock nuts I'd already ordered to bolt up the hinges with arrived yesterday (Jeff Bezos will be delighted to hear that he's now 5.99 richer than he was on Saturday). I'd ordered quite a few spares and, more by luck than judgement, it turns out that they also fit the Mini boot hinges perfectly -

That's better :)

My second 'soap dish' will be out of the mould tomorrow so I should be able to start the process of recessing them into the body and seeing if the hinges will actually clear the body when they swing open.

molleur 8th February 2021 17:22

very good works on those hinge pockets. I, too, have a collection of odd bits that are useful for creating odd shapes.

Mister Towed 9th February 2021 17:12

Some more progress today.

Hinge pockets trimmed down to fit as I made them a bit too substantial, then slots cut into the door opening to allow the hinges to be offered up -

The hinges swing all the way round without obstruction, so it looks like my budget suicide doors might actually work!

I've attached them temporarily with a bit of threaded bar to allow for adjustment in and out.

Luckily enough I have a template to work from as Iris has them fitted as standard -

Job for tomorrow is to cut the slots in the door, mock it all up to see if it works and hopefully start bonding/glassing all the bits in place.

Kuba 9th February 2021 20:03

I really like that hinge. I might steal this design for my kit too. Are they stock hinges from another car or did you make them yourself?

Mister Towed 9th February 2021 21:10

Hi Kuba, they're MG Midget door hinges. I can't remember what I paid for them but there are quite a few sets on ebay at around 10 per hinge -

Kuba 9th February 2021 21:13

Great. Much appreciated

redratbike 10th February 2021 17:29

have you seen these hinges on formosa ?

Mister Towed 10th February 2021 20:36


Originally Posted by redratbike (Post 105855)
have you seen these hinges on formosa ?

Yes, I've seen them, they look fantastic and they'll be great quality, too. I have one of Gary J's Porsche 550 style handbrakes for my Speedster and it's a real work of art. I'm so looking forward to fitting it when I get to that stage of the build.

If I was building another 50's pure racing car and it had doors I'd be using a pair of the Formosa hinges integrated into an exposed frame, but as I'm doing a Wendler 356 Special with suicide doors, the hinges need to be hidden, hence the Midget hinges.

Mister Towed 12th February 2021 10:31

I'll explain below in more detail, but the long story short is that my rear hinged doors aren't going to work. I'm not too worried as it wasn't a 'must have' option on my build, just something I fancied having a go at.

I have a plan B waiting in the wings, which is front hinged doors as Erwin Komenda intended. Should that not work (see below) then plan C is to fix the doors in place and jump in over the side, Le Mans style. Doors can be very overrated anyway imho.

It started well, it was very straightforward to shape the finger slots to match the curve of the door skin, bolt them to the hinges and 'glass them in place -

But after leaving them overnight to harden, an attempt at a grand opening of the driver's door resulted in the rear of the door hitting the body before it was anywhere near out of the aperture :(

I had an inkling that this might happen and it's down to a small, but significant defect in the way the door was moulded.

To start at the beginning, my bodyshell is probably a Banham New Speedster, intended to be fitted to a Rover Metro, and is now about 22 years old. When I got it, it had been through the hands of several owners but had never been on the road as neither the front hood or engine lid were even close to fitting in their openings.

Being meant for a Metro wheelbase, it was too long to fit a '356' shortened Bug chassis and too short to fit a standard Beetle chassis. Someone had taken a saw to the driver's side front wheelarch in a clear attempt to stretch the wheelbase to fit a Beetle floorpan, but that just left it in a bit of a mess.

The doors had also been bolted in place, the space between doors and body filled with builder's expanding foam and the door gaps filled in with filler. It was when I broke the doors out of the bodyshell that I noticed the issue which means my rear hinged doors won't work, well, not on the driver's side, anyway:

I found that there was about 5mm of filler along the mid section of the rear of the driver's door which was necessary to bring that part of the door flush with the body. If you look at this picture you can see the difference in colour and the remnants of the filler where I've chipped and scraped it off -

Looking more closely, the driver's door skin is profiled to match the curve of the body along almost its entire length, but then flattens as it gets about four inches from the body, with the flat area being about six inches high. This leaves that section of the door below the surface of the body by quite some margin, enough to lose a 2 coin in anyway -

The passenger side door doesn't have the same issue, it fits flush all the way around the opening. It's that gap that means no amount of adjustment is going to allow the door to open backwards while still fitting in the rest of the opening. I could cut out that section of the door and reshape it to fit, but that would be quite difficult to get right and might not work anyway.

So, it didn't take long to decide to scrap the suicide door option and go for front hinged doors instead.

Only I've now taken a look at the front of the doors and the recesses that they swing into, and the recesses have been moulded too small to allow the fronts of the doors to enter them. :twitch:

So, more work required. Much more work...

Looks like a couple of my pics have corrupted and aren't appearing - I'll take some more this afternoon.

redratbike 12th February 2021 10:42

not good news at all .. better get that thinking cap o

molleur 12th February 2021 12:57

Bummer! R&D is really re-do and do again.

Mister Towed 12th February 2021 15:59

Thanks guys, it's really not a big deal - half the fun of building your own car is trying things just to see if it's possible.

Here are the missing images from above:

Doors look fine from a distance -

But up close a 2 coin fits in the step between the body and the door skin on its back edge -

Mister Towed 14th February 2021 15:39

So, given that my rear hinged doors aren't going to work I need to hinge them at the front.

Which means that I need the dashboard fitted to make sure that the door pillars, which need modifying if the doors are ever to open, are the right width apart to start with.

Which means I need to have the front bulkhead in place to make sure the dash is at the right height and angle.

Which means i need the floors fitted so I know where the pedal box will fit to get the lower edge of the bulkhead in the right place.

Which means I need the steering column in place to see where the pedal box needs to be to be comfortably in line with the driver.

Which means I need the dashboard in place to...

I've already said that, haven't I.

Anyway, to save myself from endlessly going round in circles in a chicken vs egg style, I decided to start with the driver's side floor and work from there.

Using the modern wonder of CAD, cardboard aided design, I've made a plug to take a mould for my driver's side floorpan from and plastered it in parcel tape.

As it's Valentine's day, as a special treat, my significant other even allowed me to work inside in the warm as the parcel tape was too cold to stick to anything in the garage.

It's now ready to have the sides stapled to some timber strips to keep them level when the fibreglass is applied, they're cardboard, after all, so need a bit of bracing, but I'll get on with that tomorrow afternoon. Until then, here's the progress so far -

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