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The “Real” Model - Part 7: July 2004 (Page 2 of 2)

Following on from a week ago with our “maiden voyage” I managed to find a spare Regal steering wheel. So I attached this temporarily until the body is on and I can use the freshly painted one.  The chassis is now almost complete with the exception of a few tweaks. The engine needs tuning a little more, the fuel pipe to the tank will need attaching and a final check over. I did notice there was a small amount of yellow fluid on the passenger side rear wheel today. I’m not sure if this means that the axle or rear brake cylinder is leaking slightly or not - I shall have to check this out.

Before starting on the body I had to do a daft thing.  Taking my girlfriend’s laptop out to the Regal, I set it up, started up the engine and recorded it. The sound is via a built in microphone on a laptop and in mono, but is gives a taster of what the Triumph Stag tail pipe appears to be doing to the normal 700 cc Reliant sound.  (You can hear it by clicking here.)

Fun over, all attention turned to the body ... and quickly I became depressed. I’ve known all along that the body work was not pretty but always put it to the back of my mind.  Now I have to do something with it, the damage on it became a reality.  Having no experience of working (properly) with glassfibre I am not sure if the task ahead will be a pleasant one or not.

My biggest concern are the doors, especially the driver’s door.  The window frame in one part has totally rotted through and the front quarter light windows just help to mash up the rust if you try to turn them. Replacing the driver’s door seems a good option (assuming I can get another door) but not an easy one, as someone has fibreglassed over the nuts holding on the door hinges inside the body.

As mentioned I firmly believe that this van has been rolled over at some point in its life as there is a lot of damage on the driver’s side. There are “star cracks” all over the body but a few areas in particular are pretty bad. One of these is the roof. A couple of weeks ago I opened the driver’s door and a chunk fell off the body from the top of the door.  After inspecting it I discovered that it wasn’t even fibreglass but body filler, stuck into a hole and convincingly moulded into shape. Sanding down the rest of the body filler from the roof, I found a few pieces of cracked fibreglass that I hope I can repair without removing the roof lining inside the vehicle.

The driver’s front wing. Now what can I say about this apart from its a mixture of body filler and what looks to be plaster wall filler - yes the stuff you use on your walls. The wing had some huge cracks in it and I was convinced it was going to mean cutting out a large section and fibreglassing a new one in.  After attacking it with a sanding disc though and removing all the body filler and plaster down to the fibreglass, the fibreglass actually seems quite strong.  I guess therefore it will just be a case of perhaps adding a thin fibreglass mat to strengthen it and then apply polyester resin over that.

Around the body are other features that make one sigh. It looks as though a crazed hamster has been nibbling bits out of the back bumper for a start. Sanding various white “plaster spots” revealed a fibreglass repair at various points around the body - and almost all on the driver’s side.

The back door also will be interesting as the top hinge seems to have weakened and so as a result does not sit straight and bends inwards. As a result the back door does not close with out forcing it shut as the top of the door is overlapping the frame.  The door will need taking off along with the hinges and a supporting back plate fitted behind the bracket (at the back of the fibreglass) to help strengthen things.

It is with regret that I have to also inform you that my Regal actually killed a starling. I was sanding the vehicle and left the driver’s door open.  As I had left the engine ticking over on the chassis to try and detect any oil leaks, I went back to the Regal and noticed a half eaten damson resting on the door window ledge. Puzzled, I flicked it off and then closing the door noticed a huge mark that was a mixture of blood, damson and feathers. I then looked at the ground and a poor starling lay there, its beak and neck broken and blood pouring from its mouth.  It seemed it had swiped a fallen damson from under the tree, taken off at full speed and slammed itself straight into the window of the Regal. I buried it along with its fruit under the tree but in a weird irony at least I know that my side window really is “toughened glass”.

Elvis Payne

July 2004

Go to Part 8 August

Complete running chassis - almost fully restored..

Triumph Stag tail pipe. (click here to listen)

A section above the driver’s door has broken away as it was just filler. More filler is all round the area.

Sanding the near side wing so far shows that it has a lot of cracked filler in it.

Metal work on the doors (especially the driver’s side) has completely rotted through and just hovers above the door.

More filler on the door and indeed a peice of it fell out!!!

Back door is crooked.  Look at the gap on the right hand side between the door and the car body. The gap is huge towards the top of the door so it does not close properly.