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About Bfg

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    Rank: Citroen Ami

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    Westerfield, Suffolk, England, UK
  • Interests
    1940's - 1980's motors & motorcycles. Older aircraft & waterborne craft. Design Engineering. Touring & camping (in decent weather), and generally being a grumpy old giffer ;-)


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    United Kingdom

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  1. . " Gentlemen of the shipping company. I might only presume you didn't have the Ami collected on a vague hope that 'someday' you'll find a little spare space to consolidate and ship the car to New York.. Accordingly, as n' when someone can be arsed to advise me of the shipping date - then I can conclude the paperwork with the UK's vehicle licensing agency and get the original paperwork sent off to Eric. Thank You and have a nice day. " you'd never guess I'm in a particularly grumpy mood this evening ..would you ?
  2. . You know that vacant feeling when things have had to move on but still you feel there's something missing . . Looking forlorn, as she sits out in the drizzle awaiting to be collected . . .. isn't New York the land of giants, awful 'french' mustard and corn dogs ? Putting on a brave chin-up Citroen Ami look .. ..a sad goodbye in the wet. .
  3. Bfg

    Ask a Shiter

    ^ p.s. does anyone have a usable 16" Honda Izy (self propelling) for sale ? ..again I'm Ip6 near Ipswich. p.p.s. Sorted thanks
  4. Bfg

    Ask a Shiter

    Is this the place to ask about Honda lawnmower motors ? Honda Izy been faithful and hardworking for the past 14 or so years, but this evening it without forewarning ..that I might have noticed, it didn't want to start easily nor run steady. I thought Ia bit of something might be blocking the fuel line (again !) until 20 minutes into the harvest of God's green lawns outgrown, it spued a spray of oil out of the exhaust, covering the whole of the top and deck of the machine. I guess that's a ring broken or a hole, but it still runs. Bottom line is it worth just throwing away and buying another used one, or is there someone giving pistons and barrels away for free ? I'm thinking I might know the answer to this one, particularly as me old mojo has been below the horizon for the past six months and doesn't look like things are getting any boost. So new bottom line.. Does anyone want it ? Ip6 near Ipswich. NB. it measures 17" across under deck. p.s. Sorted thanks
  5. . Despite the bankers on either side of the Atlantic not speaking the same language - the balance of payment has now been received. The Ami is sold. The balance was made into a USD currency account, so I hope to buy the Triumph TR4 < here > with that and avoid the probable & imminent Brexit devaluation of sterling, and also x2 lots of currency exchange fees. That assumes of course the chap (Raymond) in the US does get around to packing his TR ready for shipping and the sale does eventually come through.
  6. ^ three-cylinder air-cooled radial engine. uber cool .. working space under the bonnet is generous too. sigh ..they don't make 'em like that any more.
  7. oh, how times have changed . .
  8. Bfg

    Ask a Shiter

    I have both 3/8" and 1/2" drive torque wrenches because they each cover a different range. The 3/8" I naturally use where fastenings need to be evenly but lightly tightened, such as aluminium engine covers and the con rod / big-end bolts. It's a nice and compact tool to handle and so I use it a lot. But I use the 1/2" occasionally too because the 3/8" doesn't go up high enough for some cylinder head nuts, cam-belt adjusters, flywheel bolts, drive train and suspension parts which all too often have nuts requiring torquing to 80ft-lb or more. Check workshop manual(s) of your own particular vehicles (presently owned and what you might reasonably aspire to) to see what range you're most likely to need. I have used the down-sizing adapter on my 1/2" torque wrench to 3/8" a few times so that I might use a more compact six-point socket, but I've never used the up-sizing adapter on my 3/8" torque wrench. In case you are not aware : it's important to unwind the adjuster on each torque wrench fully after use (each time you put it back in your tool cabinet) so its internal springs do not take on a set (stretch). If it does then its calibration goes out the window. You can check the calibration when new ..and subsequently through the years, simply by clamping its square drive in a vice and hanging a known weight on the handle. Move that in or out until the torque wrench clicks and then the : weight x distance = what the adjustment should read. Pete.
  9. .. Just in case someone here might be interested, I've recently been recommissioning my Norton Commando 850 Interstate (1973) with the view to selling her. I restored and semi-customised her in 2011. The style I sought was of an update to the original Norton 750cc fastback model. . The seat and fastback tail are interchangeable with the standard seat, and of course the BMW Touring panniers fit with either. . There are dozens of changes, which if you're interested are surmised in my for sale advert on Car & Classics < here > Pete.
  10. That's the way I'd do it. I'd do the lacy bit and also up the slope which is badly pitted. Project creep has caught me out far too many times and then the ol' mojo goes down the shite-pan. I suggest getting it together, safe and legal and then use it, work through other issues - and see if you actually love the car and want to keep it. I know someone (..actually he's sitting in this very chair) who didn't, and now after many months of work is selling that car for half of what it cost him ! If and when you do really love the car and decide it's a long-term keeper that you're prepared to spend big bucks on, then come back and do the work later. The enjoyment of having driven the car will then carry your mojo through the next round of anguish and frustrations. And yes I'd agree with p.v.dan, it does look like fresh moly-grease to me. Likewise on jobs I'm doing I'm using it more than regular grease nowadays. Pete.
  11. .. well the deposit didn't come through . . .... .... Supposedly they had a problem with the account number. I checked it on their paperwork (which they had copied me in on) and it was correct. So I also gave them the IBAN number which hadn't been filled in. On Monday Eric tried to send it again. Today the deposit has now cleared my UK account.. Little Ami is going to New York ..assuming of course the balance (in $-US) is paid in full before someone comes to collect. This money, then in dollars is to pay for the Triumph I'm trying to buy < here > and its shipping. It's probably of no interest to you at all but - the new owner of little Ami is Bonham's (the auctioneers) head of Sales, in New York. He tells me that it's a private purchase for himself and his wife. What's that famous line from Casablanca : "Of all the king pin joints, in all the towns, in all the world - he wants into mine" (efa).
  12. following on from my earlier post < here > re. my time and experience with Lomax kit cars . . I was well n’ truly upset that he betrayed us. The lads were loyal by way of being good employees and generally nice people ..they didn’t deserve that. And I was confounded because I couldn't believe just how dumb-stupid Nigel Whall was. He had this young but proactive business which was breaking its balls to make his product a success, and he just dumped them !? Had he stepped in, with his fibreglassing and business experience to guide us, then things might have been very different ..but he hadn't. Being still wet behind the ears - I didn't know what, if anything, we might do about it. In retrospect, perhaps that was really very fortunate, because I just moved on ..rather than trying to fight a messy legal battle. After that show weekend - my responsibility was to work out what were the options ? and to implement the best way forward. Of course, as we didn't know in advance, then nor did any customer ..so we had half a dozen outstanding Lomax orders in hand. Nigel reluctantly agreed we could complete those we had, so that would give us a few weeks of work and possibly as much as a couple of months before the brown mucky stuff really hit the fan. The thought of thereafter closing up shop was never more than a wispy brain fart. I was tied into a lease on the rented workshop and didn’t have another job to go to ..and neither did any of the guys. So it was a matter of finding another product to make and sell. So, as the lads got on with work in hand., I sat down with a pile of classic car magazines. We were in the kit car industry now so it was obvious that was the direction to look. . . .And we had a few things in our favour : Firstly ; I had capable employees and the facilities ready and waiting. We also had good working relations with our suppliers. We knew something of the kit car business, what the public liked (or rather : paid money for) and what the press would feed on. Financially, we had been knocked clean off the road ..but we were not yet in the ditch : Most all customer enquiries, since I had taken over running Lomax, had been / were coming to us. It would take a month or so lead-in-time for Nigel to get his new business address into the magazines. And in the meantime, we would be there sell the Lomax ‘options’ that people came back for once they’d started building their basic kit. As it turned out ..there were a few more new orders already in the post to us too. But what would we do then ? We needed a new product. The potential customers, who saw us at shows or had read the magazines and were writing to us for a brochure, already knew our kit-cars were based on the Citroen A-series. So if I were to capitalize on our company name and the enquires we had coming in - then it would have been daft to swap to another ‘donor’ vehicle. Citroen A-series it would be then. And because we needed to compete - I had the advantage in knowing their product inside out ..including its many shortcomings. We also knew of the issues in producing them.! And I knew their prices ..and what was hardly profitable. Geez., we musta had insider information ! Of course any customer’s step towards buying a Lomax suggested they either wanted a fun little bug-eye beetle, or else a sorta vintage style car. Certainly their consumer profile didn't point toward the exotic end of the market.! Those customers were looking for something easy / quick to build, and then cheap to insure and fun to drive . So., I was looking for a Classic but cheap sports car style.. Something the buying public would instantly relate to, rather than anything too modern or new (which may or may not click with them). I didn’t want anything too close to the Lomax ..which was Ok because the Citroen's engine is positioned well forward of the front axle - so it ruled out most other kinds of pre-war styles. - - - Naturally I knew something of Colin Chapman, not least because the Stevens Cipher shape had been likened to the Lotus Elan (..which btw happens to be purely coincidental because Tony's inspiration for the Cipher was his passion for Ferrari's, and in this case the styling of the Daytona). Anyway, from scanning through my magazines I'd honed-in on the Lotus 7. I could visualize how that shinny shape might sit well enough on a Citroen chassis, how its slab sides and separate wings could be made as a kit-car (..cheaply), and could even related the crude but brilliant 602cc Citroen engine to the humble 750cc Austin-7 of his original hill climber ..with its spindly 15" wheels. The basic concept of that car was ; minimal weight to make the best use of the power available. And I thought a kit car of a kit car was a nice irony. And then by chance I came across a classified ad, from another would-be kit car manufacture - selling a crappy set of Super-7 wings and nose cone. I think they’d hastily tried to rip-off an original Lotus 7, but the panels had distorted. In any case I bought them cheaply ( I’d need to cut them up anyway). It then only took a matter of days to strip a donor and lower its rolling chassis (lowered in the same way as I'd done on the Lomax) and to rough out a new floor pan and build a body-tub in plywood. Within the first week (between managing the business and dealing with Lomax enquiries) the new car had taken shape with nose cone, front wings, body tub with windscreen (off the Lomax) and seats. I had panel-pinned and then fiberglass bonded the plywood together ..a technique directly derived from the Mirror dinghy I had built as a school boy, but instead of wooden battens had used steel tubing to strengthen its top edges (including door cut-outs). To these I welded a beam across, under the dashboard, to support the steering column and handbrake. The bonnet and scuttle-top were in sheet aluminium (again like the original Lotus 7). The mock up wasn’t tidy enough to photograph for advertising, but it showed it would work. Instead I did a sketch and sent it to the magazines to announce our new model. The company's name (since making fibreglass panels a lifetime before) had been Falcon Design, so the new model was simply called the Falcon S . So that was it really, it just took another few weeks to turn those panels into moulds. . . ^ Earl helping with Clive Bailey (leaning forward in Left photo) looks to be taking a bulkhead and scuttle mould off the first body tub I'd made. Clive Mounce (right photo) helping us out, is making heaven knows what again (!) with the Falcon's wing moulds behind him. If you hate your job.. just look at this working environment ! The Super-7 panels had been modified to fit the width and shape of the body tub sitting on a standard Citroen chassis, but with lowered suspension. Trailer mudguards had been found for the back wheels. The bonnet and nose cone were made as a single GRP panel (so always a neat panel fit) which like the Triumph Herald hinged-up from the front. The headlamps and front indicators were attached to that. The body tub (in marine plywood and painted), reinforced with steel, was wrapped in aluminium ..which retained its polished finish. I added a roll over bar, very similar to that used in the Stevens Cipher, which was bolted through the floor to the chassis. That provided upper and outside-lower seat belt mountings. Seating became 2+2, plus a 30" deep luggage box between the rear seat back and the rear of the car ..which had the spare wheel mounted on to it. But it was all a little too late. We'd been booted out of Lomax in June '84 and had ongoing bills to pay. I worked (..and for once earnt good money) as a consultant with Tony Stevens on the Darrian rally car, and then again at GKN. I ploughed everything back into the business, but with a three to six month lead-in time for a road-test in the magazines, and kit-car sales dropping off through the winter - it wasn't enough. Even though the mock-up was really quick in the making, it took two months to take a set of moulds, and panels out of those, and get the car built. Things like the roll cage, and interior trim needed to be designed, ordered, supplied and then fitted, to turn it into a show car. Bear in mind that I was out at work all day, and then running what was left of the business and building a new demonstrator inbetween times. We only just got the car ready for the last kit-car show of the year (Olympia) that September. I can't remember when things finally came to a head and there was no money left, but I had to lay everyone off. I think it was probably the singular most horrid thing of my career. The workshop was cleared and closed and its contract defaulted. The Bailiff came to visit, but he was a really nice chap and didn't take a thing, not even the television or the car. He said my TV wasn't worth selling, and that I needed a car for getting to work didn't I ? It was really kind of him. - - - I sub-let a room at home to help pay bills and now worked in a back bedroom and in the single garage. I wrote the build manual which evolved into plans. And then the first Kit Car magazine article on the Falcon-S came out and we had enquiries again. The warmer weather came back and potential customers came to my home to see the car. Over the next year I reestablished the business and developed the three wheeler. The production fibreglass work was subcontracted out, and I'd cut the wood and aluminium panels for the kits in my garage. Working from home we were always limited for space, and sometimes our home looked more like a factory's office. But the Falcon had worked out really well ..as a tongue-in-cheek sports car, with spaciousness and numerous practical features that the Lomax didn't have - like the engine fan, cooling ducts and heater still in place. And the 2+2 seating and a decent hood made it sensible enough for touring. ^ "Big selling features" of the new car, versus the Lomax's beetle bum. You might happen to notice the background is snow. If I recall this was taken when Peter Filby came for the first road test (I wrote of that in a previous posting). Anyway things progressed, the business' new direction was led by : lowest possible overheads. We went to shows, and otherwise enjoyed the cars and customers. We never grew as big as Lomax once was, but we eventually did quite nicely for ourselves. I for one was glad to not work in a fibreglass workshop in a damp railway arch, and equally pleased to not have a sleeping (but verbal) senior business partner. In my spare time (..that was a luxury) I offered my services as a freelance Product Designer, this was inbetween being a shop keeper for Falcon design. So, if your family bought pots and pans at this time from one of the big brands, then you might well discover I had designed its handles. Brian Mumford, who was now supposed to be running Lomax never seemed that interested, and I'd guess Nigel had to organize the grp mouldings because Brian to my knowledge never had the facilities. Certainly Lomax seemed very quiet for a few years ..perhaps they needed to redesign all the brackets, and trim, and weather gear, and suspension conversion - so as to not infringe my copyright.! After a while Nigel found new partners and Lomax moved again. Their product line seemed to diverge away from the halcyon days of the shiny black beetle and the quirky fun 3-wheelers. They became more "sophisticated". By that time Jacquie and I couldn't care a damn about Lomax. We went down to the 2cv World Meeting in Portugal in a Falcon ..where the sun was so hot that we had to have the roof up. It was fun though when driving through quiet French villages.. The old gents sitting out on their benches would stir at the familiar fan-whine of the 2cv engine as it approached, and then stand and cheer and applaud as this little English sports car drove by. ^ These were the cover shots I used for our brochure. The photo on the right is from a trip down to the Octoberfest in Munich. A Kiwi fella who was camping nearby (at the Octoberfest), came across to have a look at the car and we got chatting. A while later in passing he mentioned that he was hungry after all the beer drinking and singing. I said something to the effect "I know a good place for a pizza but its a little drive from here".. It seemed like a good idea at the time, so we jumped in the car and went to Italy and had a pizza, an Italian ice cream, and a cappuccino ..and were back in time for the evenings' festivities. ..True story. Here you go, I found a couple of piccies . . I also used the three wheeler conversion I'd done on the Lomax to produce our Falcon LX, modifying the top half of a moulding from said car to make a boat-tail for ours. . I think the photo below is of its debut at the Stoneleigh show. Apparently the end of day, with Martin Newell talking to a potential, and Jacquie in the background taking the tonneau-cover off the wall. ^ These photos were taken by one of the kit car magazines in 1985 (I guess), when it was first introduced. Personally speaking - I think it looked great and it certainly drove exceedingly well. The fuel filler pipe was long enough to flex, so the boat-tail (hinged along its front lower edge) could be lifted like a big clam shell. Within this, the single rear wheel had a mudguard over it, fibreglassed and sealed to the boot floor - so it was a usable dry space. And its aluminium fuel tank was sited acrosswise and under the boot's floor, just above the rear axle. This car now belongs to a former work colleague - John Stott and is painted blue. We also had an agent in Europe.. Felix Hurter, in Switzerland - who ordered a number of kits from us. The following piccies are of his Falcons . . I don't recall many 4-wheel Falcon's with the boat tail. . To my eyes it looks odd with that size of rear mudguard. So there we have it. After being hung out to dry we made a comeback. The Falcon was a very much more practical car, but the quirkiness of the Lomax still attracted many punters. But I really don't mind. I was happier, healthier and earnt more from the Falcons anyway. I sold my demonstrator for a tidy sum and so built another. And I entertained myself by developing tuning add-ons, and even importing Nitros oxide kits from the US. As a matter of product development I first tuned the engine on my 'LX' (three wheeler) with (new) 650cc barrels from the Citroen Visa , a lightened flywheel, electronic ignition, tuned exhaust, and twin carburettors .It was fun. I recall taking her to a kit-car track open day at Castle Combe. It was flat out down the straight, which with the low frontal area was quite respectable (for 652cc) and then just a pip on the brakes before the hairpin.. at which time the wide eyed track marshals ducked ! But I'd screw the wheel across and scrub the speed off on the tyres. My "braking" to that corner was later than almost anyone else, so on one lap I even manage to tuck under and ahead of a real Lotus-7 ! But then it was foot hard to boards and ...I was left behind in the dust. LOL I also built a demonstrator on the Ami-super chassis with its 1015cc flat-four OHC engine (originally used in the Citroen GS). That was quick and very smooth. And if I'd wanted more then I could have used their 1300cc motor ..but it didn't go around corners half as well as the lightweight twins. Similar to Haydn Davies had done with his Burlingtons, I sold the Falcon as dimensioned plans in a 100 page (single spaced typing) build manual, plus however much of a kit + options the customer wanted. We bought a brand new (and decent spec) office photocopier and printed our own manuals, selling over a thousand of those ..perhaps closer to one and a half thousand.. whatever, we had a service contract on that machine and were on first-name terms with their service engineer / repair man. And then, over a few years, we had hundreds of orders for actual parts. I went on to design and produce the first replacement chassis using box section tube. These fitted the kits (both Lomax and Falcon) as well as the standard 2cv and Dyane. This sideline became a business in its own right. In the course of events my lady and I split up to go our own ways, and I sold the business in two parts.. the kit cars to the Frome 2cv Centre if I recall, and then the chassis business. Even then, I fell foul of someone trying to cheat me. Clearly I'm a shit judge of unscrupulous businessmen. I don't know why but those who bought either aspect of the business didn't do anything much with them. Perhaps Somerset wasn't where the customers were.! Nothing to do with me, as I'd gone to work in the United States. But perhaps because the business fizzled out, so did the long term enthusiasm of Falcon Owners.? I saw one a few years ago at a classic car show in Norfolk, but they are few and far between now. The 'Mod-Cons' Registrar of 2cvGB has the Ami-Super (never completed) in green with yellow livery ..which we used for a static display at kit-car shows. But I don't think he'll ever put it together as he has 'other' projects on the go. So there we are .. The End Bfg.
  13. ^ That Aristocat is really very nice ! And on an XJ6 ..I could definitely live with that.
  14. Someone who came to look at my Scimitar, which I had for sale at that time, suggested I might trade it against his Aristocat. But if I recall it had a Cortina engine in it, and he wanted cash on top of the value of my nice condition SE6. I still look out for them, but I know it'll never happen because I've always preferred the XK150's style (which to my knowledge nobody ever made a kit of) ..and to build one well enough for me to be happy with it - would cost much the same as buying an authentic classic car (albeit not an XK.) in already very nice condition. Mind you a few years before that, I very nearly bought Wildcat kit-cars (..the actual business) simply because I love the Jaguar low-drag coupe..
  15. . As for me.. well, following redundancy from Steven Design (Cipher sports car).. I set myself up in business making fibreglass products. My somewhat naive idea was that (as an industrial designer) I would design new products and then also be able to produce them. I was sort-of capable as a mechanic, including wiring, could weld, and with the fibreglass - I could develop a whole range of products. Of course the reality was that I first had to pay the rent - so needed to make and sell things quickly. So, because design and development, and then finding a sales outlet takes time - I had to make other people's panels. One of my first commissions was with Hadyn Davies, making for him the nose and wings for the Burlington Arrow < here > and his SS ..an "Unashamed Morgan copy for those who can't wait seven years for the real thing." (David Vivian, Motor, Oct 1, 1983) which Morgan took objection to ..with legal action. Hadyn was talented though ..both as a designer and as a very personable businessman. He had to drop the SS but he had re-conceived the 1940/50's idea of building things from plans, and in this case it meant his cars. Mostly based on the Triumph Herald, Vitesse or Spitfire chassis, his cars were not really a kit, but rather a set of plans with the availability of fibreglass panels and a few steel brackets. Another ongoing commission was to make RHD dashboards and centre console panels for Porsche 911 conversions. The company, based in Birmingham, would go to Germany to buy older LHD Porsche 911's and then bring them back and convert them to RHD. I think it was quite a lucrative business for a while. I did manage to make a few products of my own design though. A "best seller" was a motorcycle top-box specifically aimed at motorcycle couriers. It was squarish and very robustly made, good weather seals and big enough to take an A3 sized parcel. Of course following on from being involved in the Cipher I was still keen on specialist cars, so it was of interest when Nigel Whall wrote to me and asked to meet him at Newark kit-car show. As a fibreglass consultant for a tanker-trailer company, he had built a special which used the Citroen Ami-8 motor. The fibreglass body tub sat squat and was shaped like a shiny black beetle (..the bug, not the VW). It sat on its own chassis. The swinging arms were from the Citroen but if I recall the suspension itself was home brewed from Indespension trailer bits. Its bench seat was the rear seat from the Ami, without any framework, and I think its front seats provided enough matching vinyl to cover the dashboard ! The instruments were also Ami-8. The headlamps were two pairs of spot lamps.. one pair for the main beam the other for dipped. The spare wheel sat in slot moulded into the beetle's bum (an idea borrowed from the Healey Silverstone). As can be seen it was rough but still a great fun looking car. Nigel had a thing for the Bugatti type 35 which he says was an inspiration. ..the wheel trims perhaps. Nigel was selling the 'Lomax' fibreglass ; body tub, front end panels with cycle wings, and wheel trim mouldings, and a few photocopies of how his own car had been assembled ..and otherwise left customers to do the rest themselves. However, he was at that time trying to build a three-wheeler version, on a Citroen Dyane chassis, with its two rear swinging arms turned inwards. So actually a four wheeler but the wheels were close enough to qualify for license and taxed purposes as a three wheeler. Being busy as a consultant and often working away from home, he didn't have time to finish it, nor to develop it, nor to deal with customers. With my background in car design (with the Cipher) and also supplying Burlington with GRP panels ..would I become a partner and develop a kit, produce it, and market the Lomax.? He came down to my workshop in Birmingham and after the initial shock that I had just started up and was working on my own, he offered ..and we formally signed up as an equal partnership. I'd finish the three wheeler and use that as a demonstrator, until I built my own, and then as soon as I was able I'd take over the moulding work too. ^ Painted Bugatti blue and Nigel driving, with a young myself as the bearded passenger.. Tom Lucas (author) was a keen customer who many years later based this book on interviews with Nigel. Let's just say that some of Nigel's facts are not quite the same as my own, nor those of Brian Mumford (who took over from me). But as they say - it's the victors who write history. I thought at one time to write to Tom, to put matters straight - but then thought what the hell, it's water long ago under the bridge ..bollocks to it. Anyway, the body tub (by way of the almost straight door cutout) had been lengthened for more cockpit room (another 5" I think) and the slot for the spare wheel had gone. Instead it had a number plate 'box' moulded on the back ..just big enough to provide clearance for the two rear tyres of the 3-wheeler conversion. That same mould was then used for both 3 and 4-wheeled cars. I hated that ugly detail, so for the next mould - the body was lengthened again. If I recall correctly the scuttle panel was lengthened some 2", and the thorax extended by 3". From this I built a green demonstrator and at the same time developed the Lomax as a proper kit car package, based on the Citroen A-series chassis. The single rear wheel conversion I conceived linked the two (cut-short) rear swinging arms with a welded-in cross beam, and then just one of those swinging arms, with its brake hub, was welded to the cross beam. Having built and tested it on my own car, I offered this as a service to customers. The suspension itself was lowered by reversing the standard suspension springs (longer link arm from the back moves to the front) and then moving the rear axle forward. The chassis / suspension mods were therefore very easy. Oh yes I also had an aluminium fuel tank made, which freed up a space within the 'beetle bum' as a storage cubby-hole (access via behind the seats). While at it - the engine bulkhead was modified, to loose its dedicated battery shelf in favour of it being symmetrical for right or left hand drive kits ..and be much cleaner looking. I developed a set of tubular mudguard and headlamp mounting brackets, and the exhaust system - which were offered in primer or chromed. I lowered the alternator, altered the air filter, and developed a lower oil filler / breather to fit under the bonnet. Then redesigned the three bonnet / nose / chassis cover panels to be a single panel ..for neatness in panel fit, and much easier engine access. During these mod's we moulded in a return flange for the oil cooler opening and I reshaped the scoops under the flat-twin's cylinder heads ..for better air flow and cooling. Our panels were now offered self-coloured in gel-coat (choice of 52 Ryland colours) so the customer didn't face the cost of painting the finished car. As soon as we had a 'package' to offer for sale, I produced a new brochure and also build instructions, and got in touch with the magazines and exhibited at shows. Part of our agreement was that I handled all the enquiries and sales. It was a busy time for a one man band. I took over fibreglass production but with car body sized moulds and panels I needed much more space. Going from a 245 sq.ft starter unit, I rented a 1500sq ft workshop in Livery Street ..under the arches of Snowhill Station, Birmingham. I recruited and trained employees, starting off with a government "youth-training" lad - Clive Bailey and a young lass ..to speed up our replies to enquiries. Neither had previous work experience. Clive had never worked with fibreglass before but proved a quick learner and really good employee. His attitude was conscientious and as a result his work was really good. Years later he invited me to his wedding. ^ the diminutive Lomax 3-wheeler with its newly developed windscreen and wet weather gear, exhibited next to the Jaguar Copycat. No carpets nor spikey fence on our stand ! We offered an array of 'period' accessories from the headlamp stone-guards and the leather bonnet strap, to aero screens, mirrors and bullet side lights, to motorcycle exhaust silencer, and then the interiors and weather gear, and also Ami-super floor gear changes and Citroen GS round instruments, and wood rimmed steering wheels. The customer then had the choice of ; buying the most basic kit and doing the rest themselves or simply selecting any of the options off the price list. They could of course just take the basic kit and then come back, as n' when their pocket money permitted, to buy any other bits they needed or liked. And so it went on., with lots of development & costs, long hours, very many customer enquiries to answer, and their visits to see & test-drive the cars and learn all about the build process. And/or otherwise just to drop in for a nose, a chat and to kick tyres.! There were also a number of events throughout the year ..to which I invited owners to be part of it and exhibit their cars too. We did extremely well at the shows, and with editorials in the Citroen clubs and kit car magazines, but Nigel managed a coup when he attracted the interest of the TV show Top Gear. I don't know perhaps 20 seconds ..showing a quirky speeded-up fun sequence of a 2cv pushed into a shed, car doors and wing panels then flying out of a side door, and then the garage opening ..and out drives a gleaming new Lomax. That 'advert' cost nothing ..but the nationwide publicity was worth £-tens-thousands. The problem was that although my "fibreglass" business had grown to six full time employees, plus myself and my girlfriend Jacquie, we couldn't produce the kits fast enough. The moulds were not up to it. He wasn't directly involved in running the business but Nigel was quick on the phone wanting to know how many were sold, being delivered ..and to give me an ear bending for being behind. Add to this he now had spare time on his hands, could smell success, and had an ambition to conquer Europe. The Lomax had attracted the interest of a Dutch couple who sought to be an agent. But the first tangible thing I knew about was an order for six kits with accessories and a date promised by Nigel for delivery. I seem to remember this was for x2 off-white, x2 post-office red, and x2 jet black sets of grp bodies, plus the brackets, interior trim kits, weather gear, etc. And because of the importance of this (Nigel's first) European agent ..their order was to be prioritized before existing UK customers. In an effort to catch up - I then made the untimely mistake of employing an 'experienced' fibreglasser ..whose standard of work was not up to producing a high quality gel-coat finish for a car (He had been a supervisor* in a workshop producing industrial and bus mouldings). Two or three body mouldings were scrap, but as each took three or four days in the mould to produce that put us back even further in completing orders. Largely because of this we missed the imposed deadline on the Dutch order, I think by two or three days, which I guess meant they had to reschedule their travel arrangements. Nigel was vehemently condemning when he phoned me. I understand he (using subcontractors) had made five or six bodies over a three year period before I was involved. And starting from nothing we had supplied something like sixty kits in nine months. In addition I had designed, made, sourced, ordered and supplied the brackets and windscreens, interior trim packages and weather gear ..and all the pretty shiny options - all of which added to the business's profit line. And to tell you the truth ; it's not easy to produce flawless gel-coat finished car bodies, in different colours, using a single mould, when working under a Victorian railway arch - so things have to be done very pragmatically. And aside from many other considerations, like dust from trimming panels ; that means taking the time to make sure the mould, bucket and brushes were thoroughly clean. The following week, once Nigel had calmed down and heard me out - he seemed to understand, and said he had a couple of lads who would moonlight from the company he was consultant to, who could help out. And so we produced a spare set of panels, which Nigel passed on to them ..to make a second set of moulds from. The following Stafford kitcar show we attended with six cars on the stand - the biggest exhibitor in the show. But in the another hall was Nigel Whall with his new partner, an unsuspecting Brian Mumford on their own Lomax stand (Brian had designed and built the Mumford Musketeer 3-wheeler using Vauxhall Viva power). I was out. Nigel had conceived the Lomax and so copyright law was on his side, and I had no experience of business partnerships. In retrospect it was very unkind to customers ..and to Brian, but my knee jerk response to the court injunction was to state that everything I had designed and developed for the Lomax was of my copyright - and that he / they could not use anything of it.! Not a single photograph, no text, nor the build instructions, no bracket, not the suspension conversion, the weather protection ..nor even might they use any of 'my' suppliers ! - NOTHING. This period in my life was c.1983 - 4. I was 26-year-old. Had six employees to pay wages to, lots of work-in-progress and suppliers with outstanding bills to pay, and the rent on a large city-centre workshop to meet. I had two choices : 1.) close the business and lay everyone off, or 2.) try to find something else to make and sell ..very quickly. . . . . . . More on that next time. Bfg.
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