Just how light is an A7 body & chassis?

Just as a passing thought… I know how much all the USELESS drive train was (engine, gearbox et al) which really gave me the extra weigh margin available for batteries (ie 2 post-war adults and two children in the rear seat at its lightest), but how light is a shell body and basic chassis?.  

Turns out  350kilos…. 

I only had two digital scales, each with a capacity of 150 kilos, so in my simple brain, weighing the front axle complete with new wheels and tyres THEN weighing the back axle and adding together must equal the NET weight. Turns out there is strange imbalance NSF= 69 kilos,  OSF= 77.7, RSN= 101.6 and OSR= 101.2 – which makes a total of 350.5 kilos (772.72 lbs). The front has an extra capacity of 57.6 kilos to balance the car on all 4’s…… oh dear!

Considering all the drive batteries are over the rear axle with a reserve pack in the replica petrol tank, NOT having rear seating is likely to be interesting, especially when I have considered a 230A/hr lead-acid leisure battery where the engine was. This may we’ll be a real balance.

Within 14 days all the new electrics will be available to test the concepts……

 

 

 

 

 

The original 3 potential ‘EV’ suppliers, all came up with their own schemes for motor power and batteries. I seriously considered ‘Tesla’ 444 cell packs (x2) to make 50volt and a potential longer range. However, the batteries are very expensive, the Tesla Battery Management System [BMS] is very sophisticated and has a more complex charging station fitted at home.

I’m subscribed to an Australian blog reporting on the Mitsubishi Outlander. Over the weeks it has been detailing the progress and reporting is very positive…. As one of my offers included the ‘Outlander’ cells, I’ve now changed my plan, but with only 42 proposed cells, the range would be limited, so I’ve decided on an extra 14 cells – which coincidentally will fit perfectly in a replica of the 5 gallon petrol tank. 

So now we have 56 ‘Outlander’ cells, a BMS, a ‘BlueTooth’ data module with a tried and test iSO App’ and a 1.8kw charger based at home. 

The positioning of the main drive pack (where the rear seat would normally sit) is right over the rear axle. The reserve 14 cell pack in the copy petrol tank is suspended from the chassis. This leaves the front engine bay, the scuttle and the radiator area empty.  I am also planning a 230A/hr ‘deep cycle’ lead acid 12 volt accessory power system, which will be partially supported by 200watt solar panels in the polycarbonate roof space.

It would be nice to be able to balance the weight pretty much like the original spec’………..we’ll see. 

Images of the “beautifully patinated” WRECK

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I’m experimenting here, but the gallery I am offering is of actual photo’s that have been taken along the way.  Don’t forget, The ‘facilitator’ of the purchase of the £6000 beautifully untouched patinated (WTF does that mean actually?) RP

And so to the electrics…………………..

Now we come to choosing the replacement motor, electrics and batteries……….

I have offered these photo’s because I’m looking for advise WHERE to house the batteries, the battery controller, and work out the best way to work with the drive motor connected directly to the torque tube……

I quite fancy copying the old petrol tank to house combined cells which will make up the 50 volt driving voltage.   The tank did hold 5 Imperial Gallons and as British manufacturing goes  – weighs 6.5 kilos itself.

I could have a copy made (adjusting the size a little) in aluminium, saving weight and not using petrol at all has saved 16.7 kilos.

NOT using the backseat saves the weight of two passengers and also makes a space for perhaps a couple of  Li-ion flat-packs.

Why all this talk of ‘weight’?           I think – as soon as you mention “batteries” everyone thinks of lead-acid bricks one can hardly pick up.  I’m trying to save weight  in exchange for more lighter more compact, modern batteries – more batteries means longer range – that’s all…. 100 miles would be good. 150 better…..

There has been no renovation of the inside at all – just a steam clean, so when the battery choice has been made, I will then see what to do with strengthening the rotten floor pan

Frank’ comes home…… (why Frank’?)***

I have truly been more than fortunate to have a neighbour who has a shot-blasting shop and also fits tyres.  He volunteered to clean all the 5 spoked wheels, powder coat them in shinny black and also fit the new Avon tyres and new tubes.  How lucky is that…….. 

Whilst waiting for the wheels, I jacked up Frank*** onto stands and covered against the rain.

You may recall the tale about offering a 1929 3 speed gearbox to an unknown man with a beautiful vintage A7 I saw in Sainsbury’s. 

The cost to him was a bottle of Merlot – however I never saw him again until recently.  He was however carrying a bottle of Merlot and wished to see Frank***……. so that was totally unexpected.

I have joined the Hare & Hounds Vintage and Classic Car Club, they meet at the Disley Conservative club on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, and  I was telling the tale about the man above who turned out to be known by some of the members – and that’s how I came to know about 3 more RP’s very near to me.

How can anyone get excited over wheels 

The wheels are so bloody shinny and now that they have been shod with new Avons they look fabulous. 

A break in the clouds allow Frank*** to be re-installed in his garage to await the next additions…. THE BATTERIES

Why Frank*** Oh come on – you know the story of Frankenstein [made from parts!! (well almost….)]

In addition to joining the H&H V & C C C, I was invited to contribute to the ‘Friends of the Austin 7 Club’ forum…… and so, the drums started beating…..

I had stated at the outset (here), the Traditionalists, purists and true followers of the Austin 7 – once they find out about ‘electrification’ – I would get some stick.  Sure enough, the guy who facilitated the sale/purchase seemed to take it upon himself to castigate the conversion……his own idea was to simply drive the car in the state I bought it!!!!!! Jeez!!! I don’t think so. Despite his description, the actually state of the bodywork and engine – the car was a real wreck……..and so the tribe are beating the drums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Body Shop………..

Of course there was a choice………

I suppose the decision revolves around COST, QUALITY, TIMING. I had three basic quotes and the range was HUGE, from £14,000 down to £2500. Choosing ‘AutoSpray‘ was not really based on the lowest price, the garage that stripped the shell made a suggestion where I could get everything done in one shop [disassembly, stripping the paint to bare metal, repairing or replacing rotten body areas and finally the quality of the finished job].  

There is no doubt such a huge expense has to be considered carefully, but let’s face it, once any decision is made and the shell is handed over, you’re not likely to ‘re-posses’ the half finished work and look elsewhere  if something goes wrong [liquidation, fire, theft] or just crap work being discovered along the way.

Andrew Maddocks did promise “8-10 weeks”…… Ha ha ha, the fact that it actually took 6 months, I really should have known. 1/ There were ‘projects’ in sight that had been there for a long time. 2/ There were ‘other’ (I suppose) more important crash jobs to take in. Stripping bodywork of all previous paint depends on weather, who’s actually going to DO the work and staff, their holidays and health. Unfortunately Andrew suffered a death in the family, his workers were off sick – so I really should have factored that into the timing.

 

I really missed the hot summer days, but at least the shell wasn’t rained on for a long time. 

I’ve attached a gallery of some random images

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What’s going on here in the roof?  

Going electric, has revealed some necessities. Instead of the voltage being 12volt or even 24v as I thought, the recommendation is 50volt. As I’m still going to need 12volt lighting and various ancillary gadgets (a heater would be nice – the A7’s in 1933 didn’t have such refinery) I’ve had fitted a transparent roof which will have as many solar panels as I can fit. These will make a nominal contribution towards maintaining the 12volt deep cycle battery now planned.

This 5mm thick polycarbonate sheet is an idea I had, but Andrew wasn’t happy about his new responsibility or the final fittings.  I had no difficulty having the sheet cut to exact size – BUT workers in the Austin factory obviously made all the roof shells and sunroof sliders individually. The recess was by coincidence 5mm but not 100% square AND convex in a rounded roof. 

Thanks to EBAY, I also found some finishing strip which worked pretty well. OK I broke three HS drills and struggled to find a sound fixing, but in the end it seems to have worked – and it’s waterproof (I’ve had the rain to test it).

The re-delivery homecoming………  

Many thanks again to Steve at Bullock Street Motors, the rain came down in stair-rods, he got soaked loading the A7 on the back of his recovery truck. But, being pretty light with 240+ kilos removed, we still used the winch but man-handling the finished beautiful paint job into a tight garage was hairy. 

So, what’s on the current agenda……?  

Wheels……. All Austin Sevens around the early 30’s had thin 19″ spoked wheels.  These are basically motorcycle wheels and tyres.  The 85 years on the road [holy crap, I’ve just realised…85 years!!!] may have taken it’s toll on the bodywork and floor pan, but the wheels are in remarkable shape.

AVON Tyres are still made to compliment these 3.50 thin rims and I have been fortunate to find 5 matching tread brand new ones – with the inner tubes and spoke protection band for £375 – which is a bargain.

So the next job is ‘shot blasting’ the old black paint off and having the clean wheels powder coated in shinny beautiful black.

 

So, after a long wait, it’s gone from this to…….

…..this forlorn wreck. 

After my friendly garage had stripped it – to the skin!!!!, we eventually agreed on a ‘one-stop’ body shop in Stockport.  It was needed to stop any problems between trades and to let one shop do the lot. The NEW estimate accepted was mid between £1500 and £4500 (both of which needed three trades to finish). Timing will be between 6 weeks and 2 months. During the work I will be able to take progress photo’s and further research the electrification. 

Two potential avenues – 1/ ‘Classic Electrification’ and 2/ ‘The London Electric Car Co’. The former will “help” with parts and advice, but the latter will install the lot.  I’m also researching the individual controllers for one 10hp DC or a three phase reversible motor. I haven’t got any measurements on the motor case, but the technical data is promising (the prices are looking good to).

One motor on EBAY is 10hp, 2500 rpm, 36 Amps.  Another motor is 7.5Kw, 10 hp, three phase, 2800 rpm (perfect) and is only £285.  The motor controllers are not expensive (£85 – £150) and seemingly will work on the existing accelerator pedal.   One controller has stage power (a bit like gears) Older readers may have heard a milk float click into three stages of drive. 

I already have two new ‘Deep Cycle’ 130 amp/hr lead/acid batteries (which you may know are designed to provide 13 amps over 10 hours) Working out the power needed, I think 4 batteries would provide 52amps for 10 hours. 

When the running gear was removed, a weigh bridge VAN load total (with all the gear aboard) was 1700 kilos. Removing it all and re-weighing, I seem to have removed 200 Kilos (440 Lbs) 31.5 Stone……thats 2 humans!!!!  

 

 

Supposedly……the Baby Austin could propel  “4 adults” to 55 mph!!! (ha ha ha)  but in 1933 I bet people were lighter than me. So should we say 2 of us would cover the loss of metal.  To my calculations that leaves 4 adults equivalent for batteries.  I am not going to re-fit the back seating area, I’m reserving that area for batteries. There are other places available UNDER the floor pan between the chassis rails. I recon we can do this with cheaper deep cycle Lead Acid batteries, but if we cannot, we will have to look towards more modern Lithium Iron – which are megabucks (these are fitted in Tesla cars).

I’m also removing the horrible sliding roof (but remember, I’m not destroying reversibility). This cutout will be used for two 100watt solar panels. I have three in stock, two are ‘flexible’ which may be needed looking at the curved roof line.  I haven’t shown the body shop yet……….

That is far as the project has reached. 

Random shots prior to the bodyshop renovation

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I’ve now found a restoration bodyshop –

 

Thanks to Bullocks Street Garage, Steve picked up the A7 on a flatback and his lads stripped (and I mean STRIPPED!!!!) the shabby car down to a shell.  

I now have a garage with weird smelling wrecked leather seats, a horrible engine, a huge silencer (…for a 750cc engine!!!!! it’s huge) and a petrol tank.

Stockport literally has dozens of car repair, bodyshops and specialists in the metal trade.  Finding one that can do EVERYTHING proved difficult. Some came to the house but didn’t like the job?? One came to the garage where it had been stripped to the bone, but only specialised in certain parts of the restoration. 

Finally, I have agreed that AutoSpray Bodycare will tackle the whole body – steam cleaning, metalwork repair, straightening and welding. I’m not going for full ‘concourse’ condition, the care was shabby but in sound condition, so a fresh three colour repaint is preferred. I’m going for ‘Coffee & Cream’ on black mudguards. 

 

 

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The basic spec’ of the 1933 Austin 7

This is a very small car,  the track is just 3ft 4″ and the width o/a is just 4ft 3″ the original sales pitch offered a 4 seater for 4 adults or two adults with three children. Of course ‘seat belts’ were never fitted.

The 750cc 4 cylinder side valve engine developed only 10.5 Brake Horse Power at 2400 rpm.  A top speed of just 55 mph was attainable but hardly with a full complement of 4 adults – especially climbing hills.  Although the engine has pumped ‘Castrol’ oil at around 2psi the big ends are lubricated by what was termed ‘spit & hope’ because the webs of the crankshaft scooped dropping oil (not directly to the big end bearings), so when traversing steep hills – up or down-  the drops would be way off the catchment within the crankshaft and big-end knocks were common.

The spec’ offers a “Electric starter” and also a fixed crank handle. The very low compression made starting fairly easy but at just 6 volt with a simple distributor, the engine was a horrible patience tester in very cold weather. if you didn’t hold the handle correctly, a backfire would dislocate your shoulder or your thumb………. One common trait is the tinkling of the brass sleeve over the starting handle

Around the end of 1933 the 3 speed crash-gate gearbox was upgraded to 4 speed  with the new fangled syncromesh (it still crunched…..). The clutch was always fierce. Kangarooing was not uncommon and on early 3 speed gearboxes you had to be an expert at ‘Double-de-Clutching’

Braking was and still is – abysmal, but at least it was combined on all 4 wheels along with a long hand-brake lever which added much needed force.

3.50 cross-ply tyres on 19″ spoked wheels were dreadfully lightweight – almost like motorcycle tyres – and the suspension is weird, as it employs wooden disks which slip under pressure. Imagine a beer mat between your palms – that is the suspension.  19″ diameter wheels are very common now, but it wasn’t pot holes that were the worry then – it was getting stuck in the rut of tram lines…….

The steering wheel in this RP still gas two levers which control the petrol mixture and the advance and retard of the spark plugs. Being fixed rigid, the positioning is average. Seat height adjustment is not possible by lever – however, blowing up the seat rubber bladder helped, though slight movement backward or forward also helped smaller girls – who would struggle to depress a vicious clutch and work the narrow pedals. It is almost impossible for girls to drive wearing ‘heels’ of any kind, and watch out men who may have worn hob nailed boots………..

I laugh now at the 5 gallon petrol tank capacity. The range offered from the vastly inefficient engine was only about 30-35 miles per gallon.  Around 150-175 miles if you were lucky to even have a local petrol pump in your village.

The sales pitch proffers……. “Special Insurance has been arranged…….£10 pounds, one shilling and three old pence per annum.