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Old 6th February 2021, 08:56
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Mister Towed Mister Towed is offline
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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 -

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