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Super work. If the wheel does crack I think there is (was) a company that refubishes them. In period the other (gifferish) alternative was to put on one of those steering wheel gloves. 

But luckily what you have found underneath is in good condition. Super work - just shows what gentle conservation can achieve as opposed to replacement which can rob anything of its character. 

Doing the wood avoid any of the polyurethane synthetic varnishes. I am sure you are.  Natural beeswax is a good polish when you get to that point.

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I was planning to use Danish Oil on the woodwork rather than a polyurethane, something that will be able to soak in and revitalise where the wood is a bit dry, but can also work with beeswax.

I still don't understand the ethos of binning everything in favour of new when it's not necessary, not really sure where it comes from either.  You're not saving time or money by replacing with new, you're just making waste.

You can rub down and polish bakelite, it just doesn't hold on to the shine.  That finish bakelite has is to do with the manufacturing process and the material it's made from, a bit like gelcoat on fibreglass.  Some people do rub the bakelite down and give it a coat of lacquer, which can work well.  In this instance, since it's an item that's handled regularly, oil from your hands and the polishing action of using the wheel should keep it looking okay.

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Cracking stuff, as ever. I love the whole ethos that this car is embodying, and the careful attention to detail here. Can't wait to see how this progresses, but fortunately your patience is greater than mine would be!

Is it wrong that I'm starting to look forward to weekends principally to see how this fine motorcar is improving further?

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56 minutes ago, anonymous user said:

Probably too late for you now, but I have revived a few bakelite telephones and radios that have gone really dull with silver polish (the stuff on wadding in a tin) then finishing it off with beeswax. 

It's always something I can try in the future should we need to.  There's about as many different ways to finish bakelite as there are bakelite products, and a lot of them are very suitable solutions.  The common theme does seem to be a very fine abrasive followed by a good wax of some sort to preserve the finish if you don't want to use lacquers.

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1 hour ago, vulgalour said:

I still don't understand the ethos of binning everything in favour of new when it's not necessary, not really sure where it comes from either.  You're not saving time or money by replacing with new, you're just making waste.

It seems to have started over here, with restoration of common cars, where it became cheaper to replace everything inside the car with new gauges, new carpets, new steering wheel, new column, etc. rather than repairing or refurbishing what's in the car (usually down to an engine swap where the original gauges run incompatible with the replacement).

Plus, people either don't have the skill to fix it any other way or just see the original parts as inadequately high performance and want it to be "improved".



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Well, sod buying new, let's make do and mend instead!  Today's journey is woodwork.

We didn't know how to remove the wooden door cappings, they looked to be attached to the door cards themselves and since we want to remove those for repair too it made sense to remove all of them.  It should be a quick job since these door cards are going to be considerably less complicated than a modern moulded type.  Best thing to do when you don't know how something comes apart is to start with what looks easiest, in this case that was the two screws holding the pull handle on to the door, flat headed on most of the doors, later cross-headed ones on the front passenger door for some reason.



With that removed and the door open, you can lift the door cappings straight off, which was unexpected.  If we were just doing wood renovation, this would have been a much shorter job.



Instead, we wanted to remove the door cards to inspect the backing boards and see how they were put together so that meant getting to the bottom of how all the door furniture went together.  The front driver's door window winder is missing the escutcheon and instead has a length of wire threaded through and twisted to hold it in place.  We weren't sure why this would be until after we'd removed a door card.



The door handles aren't too bad to remove, you can push the escutcheon sprung section back to get to the pin that locks everything together fairly easily.  The window winders are a different matter.  Even though the window winder fixing is the same, actually pushing the sprung section in far enough to knock the locking pin out required the simultaneous use of three (four in the case of the winder with a slightly bent locking pin) screwdrivers and a hammer, definitely not a single person job.  The pin you're looking for hides behind the stepped section of the escutcheon, you need to use a screwdriver to pry it down against the spring, and another screwdriver (or punch) to knock the pin out, and sometimes another screwdriver to hold the other side of the escutcheon down out of the way of the exiting pin.  Reassembly is likely much easier.





With those off, it was then a case of finding the screws that held the door card on.  On our doors it's clear that all but the rear passenger door have been fiddled with over the years, so the fixings varied.  The common places for the screws were two hiding under the wooden trim at each end of the door, two on the bottom corners of the door card through the carpetted section, and two on the B pillar side of the door frame that go into little L brackets.  The latter screws are the one that's just a screw hole in the first picture, and the rustier one in the second picture.





Then you lift the door card up to remove it from the screws in the frame that serve as pins.  Unless there's some additional hidden screws or tacks that the car may have gained over the years.  On the back of the door card are these slotted metal brackets, they're about halfway up the door card.



That free we got our first look inside the doors and there's nothing of note to report.  Being aluminium, there's no rot, and the wooden elements are all sound.  The factory chalk and pencil markings are still present on the door and the door cards and while it's probably not the first time these have been off, it seems likely these are original to the car.



We already knew the driver's front door card was water damaged, it was quite obviously warped when fitted.  The plywood has delaminated and deformed quite a lot.  Thankfully, because it's a flat board and the holes cut into it are simple, we can and will reproduce the backing board.  We'll then repair the original cover and reinstall that on a new board.  All the hardware on the back of the door card is held on with short tacks so those two can be transferred across to a new board fairly easily.  We have been keeping things original where possible, you just sometimes have to recognise when there's no benefit to originality and these door cards are a good example of that.





The rear door cards fared much better, the one side that appeared to have never been off is the best of all of them, the other rear card has signs of having had woodworm in the past, though there's no sign of activity now in the car.  The woodworm damage is restricted to the back of this one door card and hasn't gone into the door capping or the door frame.



All the door cards have the marking "568 Brown" which we assume is the colour and code for the interior.  It will be a shame to be losing this detail but then again, nobody will ever see it apart from us and you reading this, so it doesn't matter really.  Also of note is that the door pockets are done simply with a length of elastic rope through a piping channel which is fed through two holes in the door card and then given a knot at each end to keep it in place.  The elastic is still in really good shape so providing we can undo the knots, we'll just reuse that when we remake the door cards.  If any of it breaks, we can always buy new since it is still available.





Until we get the new plywood, there's not a great deal can be done with the door cards so for now we'll set those aside.  Instead, let's take a look at these wooden items.


The varnish is yellowed and blackened but the wood underneath looks to be in reasonable shape.  We're not sure exactly what wood this is, other than it being some sort of hardwood, the grain suggests it might be teak, some sections have a shimmering striation across the grain and the reverse of the pieces where the sun and water haven't got to them has that slightly reddish hue that my other mid-century teak furniture has.  As with the door cards, the original chalk markings are still present.  The weather stripping is in reasonable shape, it's a little loose where some of the tacks have fallen out and the glue has failed and the fabric has shrunk a little.  The weather stripping is essentially a strip of steel with thick velvet covering it so it will be very easy to rejuvenate or remake entirely before refitting to the car.





Here's a little video to demonstrate how easy these were to bring back to life.

The first task was to strip all of the old finish off.  This was incredibly easy with a sharp bladed scraper as the old finish was very brittle and not bonded to the wood particularly well.  A lot of the apparent colour of the wood was in the old varnish, once removed the wood underneath had a much more prominent grain and a less yellow look.  You can start to see some of the red hue of the wood showing through on the stripped piece in these images.



A closer look before, to show an area of the old finish that was the most stable and how much it's discoloured the wood underneath.



Here's a section afterwards, highlighting the grain and the very smooth finish of the wood under the varnish.  There was no special preparation or sanding, no chemical strippers, this was simply a scraper followed by some very fine wire wool and then a soft cloth to dust off.



It was then wiped over with Danish Oil, I got the closest to a neutral stain that they had in stock, aiming for something a little closer to the colour of the seats.  The majority of the colour change isn't the stain, it's the natural colour of the wood shining through.





Another two coats will be required to get the full depth of the finish and then it will be treated to a coat of beeswax.  It took barely any time at all to get all four trims cleaned up and the refinishing started.  It's an even more astonishing transformation than the leather of the seats.






This colour makes a lot more sense against the rexine and leather too, the colour much more closely matches them.  It also explains why the scumbling on the instrument binnacle is so much darker and browner than the surrounding varnished wood, this finish is closer to the scumbling too so we imagine the dashboard also will come up in this lovely rich dark wood when we get to that point.



It's six hours between coats for the Danish Oil so we'll get another coat on later tonight and a final coat tomorrow.  It's lovely stuff to work with and, providing you're not after a super high gloss finish (and we're not) it's so much more pleasant to work with than brush on varnishes.  Very low odour too, and isn't sticky or tacky as it dries.  We thought a high gloss finish on surfaces at eye level would not be that pleasant while driving, so this more muted sheen (it's somewhere between satin and gloss) is much better.  The next task is to sort out the door furniture fixings.  The escutcheons look like generic items and are all the same so we only need to replace one of those, all of the door handles and winders are in perfectly reasonable condition, and while some of the screws are good to go again, ideally these all want replacing with new in coherent sizes rather than this motley assortment.




















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Fixed the post, huzzah!  I just had to delete every photo and reupload them, so no great hardship.

Rexine's instability is likely due to the cellulose content, the best you can do is stabilise it with regular conditioning and treat it like leather, it seems to respond favourably when you do.  The mistake with rexine seems to be that people treat it like vinyl when in reality it needs to be treated like leather.  All the rexine panels on the car are big ones, the sort of panels that would be expensive to do in hide, and the panels lack stitching detail which is another cost saving no doubt.  Of course, rexine is also a fire hazard due to the cellulose content so... I suppose there's that argument FOR replacement.

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For what it's going on, yes.  It soaks into the wood rather than sitting on top like varnish does, so what tends to happen with Danish Oil is that the finish wears thin over time if it's high wear areas.  Not a problem, simply apply more Danish Oil if that happens or, better still, regularly beeswax the wood so you're wearing off the beeswax rather than the oil.

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Bonus update:  Had a hunch that other coachbuilt 1950s cars would use the same pool of parts as Lanchester, a good way to save money if your company isn't doing so well.  Found an escutcheon from a Triumph Roadster that's exactly the same, in slightly scruffy condition with all three parts intact, for a mere £4.

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Or photograph it - print it off at A4 and paste it back inside the panel?

You can see where the money went on these - and they were an expensive car - the number of individual parts - each requiring specific manufacture, either at Daimler/Lanchester, Barker or bought in from other Midland component manufacturers is there to see. Super work!

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Great stuff & brilliant progress.

I must also say I like the old spanners too (in case you didn't know the 1961 one with arrow on means it's government property, so possibly military). 

Might I also suggest a King Dick F Type adjustable spanner & an old foot pump - something like a Kismet or a Dunlop, would also be a great choice to go with them. 


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We shall find out when I've time to get the car out of the garage, which might not be until Saturday.  In the meantime, here's a little update.

The new thermostat arrived, it's a generic one and the measurements matched the one I'd got, at least in the listing.  I actually needed to file a smidge off one side because the stamping had left a flange that made the thermostat oversized by a fraction of a millimetre.  Easy enough to trim down and once done it fits nicely.  The gasket mating faces were also given a more thorough clean than shown here.


The gasket provided didn't fit either, which was to be expected since it wasn't specifically for this application.  It did give me a good template for the hole in the middle of the new gasket and I used the thermostat housing top half to provide a template for the outline of the gasket.  I opted to do this out of cork rather than gasket paper since that's what was here when we took the water pump apart, it's also nice to use and just looks right.


With that done, the housing was bolted into place and then all the bare bolt heads and nuts were touched in with black enamel to finish the water pump off completely.  This is now ready to go back on the car once we've sorted out that front engine mount.


The other item that we've been plodding away on is the glovebox lid.  As with the door cappings, the varnish on the outside is yellowed and brittle.  The lock is held on with just three screws and easy to remove, we don't have a key for this so it was fortunate that it was left unlocked, it has the same stamping as the boot lock which we also don't have a key for.  There is a plan, we know one of our other keys fits in the lock so we took a gamble by using the prefix code on that combined with the number stamped on the boot and glovebox lid locks and bought an old key that matches that code.  We'll see if that's a gamble that pays off when it arrives, if it does it will have certainly been cheaper than getting new locks installed or even keys cut to fit the existing locks.


The finish on the reverse of the glovebox lid is in much better condition because its spent most of its life hidden from the elements.  I did have to take some chemical stripper to this because the finish was actually pretty stubborn, just unfortunate that it wasn't in good enough shape to be left alone.  It did hint at what sort of colour to expect the wood to be afterwards.  The little cardboard (or similar) square didn't come off with the chemical stripper and since the glovebox fits rather nicely we opted to leave that in place and allow it to continue being a shim.


Under the lock is stamped 36 and 7, which is presumably a factory code for this part.


Three coats of Danish Oil later and the glovebox lid is ready to be beeswaxed and reinstalled.


It's a bit lighter than the door cappings, that shouldn't be a problem providing the rest of the dashboard matches the glovebox lid.  It will also darken down a little as the Danish Oil cures, or whatever the equivalent is that it does.


A very quick look at the glovebox lid against the dashboard shows the improvement, even if the picture quality isn't the greatest here.



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