Rally prep begins
Wearing his new number plates, we took the car down to Hampshire to see Chris, who is preparing his Ford Model A for Peking to Paris – the Buick is about the same size as the Model A, but a very different car in terms of engine size and finish. We aim to do the Peking to Paris as a team with a Vauxhall 30/98 and a 1929 Oldsmobile.
A couple of weeks later, we were on our way down to the West Country to spend along weekend with friends, on the outskirts of Salisbury pulling up to a roundabout we were suddenly enveloped in a big cloud of acrid smoke. Initially, I thought the clutch had gone, but I still had drive and the clutch had not been slipping. Having pulled over to the side of the road, it suddenly became clear – the nearside rear wheel was covered in oil and the smoke was coming from oil burning on the brake drum. It seems that the oil seal on the axle had failed and spat oil all over the wheel. This was clearly a workshop repair, so we had to call our friends and cancel the weekend and suffer a return to London on the back of a recovery truck. This proved to be the last drive of the car before we started prep work for the rally, at the end of October the car was transported up to Oxford to Rally Preparation Services, where Simon Ayris and his team will start getting the car ready for the Peking to Paris challenge.
The first job was a respray. With the help of Dave Wilson, a previous owner in Australia, who had owned the car for about 10 years, we had discovered that the car was originally Cynosure Blue. When we saw the colour on an original 1929 colour chip lent to us by Bill McLaughlin, it was a very simple decision to respray the purple bodywork back to the original colour scheme. Fast forward to end of February and Bill McLaughlin was in London, so we picked him up went to see the car in the bodyshop, roof, screen and fenders removed, stripped back to bear metal. This was a good chance to see how well the car had survived it’s first 80 years, the verdict was that he was in very good shape, no rust, one tiny patch of filler but a bit or work needed on one side of the bonnet.
We returned to the body shop at the end of March and the engine and gearbox had been removed and were off being rebuilt. The car had been primed and was ready for top coat, but it was decided that the top coat would be applied after the engine and gearbox had been refitted. With the engine and gearbox out I stripped the clutch and sent the plates to Saftek to be relined, great service, they turned this job around in 4 days. Tim had also stripped the brakes off
the Sedan and removed the old linings, shot blasted and resprayed the metal parts. These were then sent to Saftek for relining with a material recommended by another Buick owner, the linings close on to the outside of the drums and in the wet offer very little braking, the material used by Saftek will greatly enhance braking performance in the wet.
The decision to convert the car to 12 volts was confirmed mid March and the generator and starter motor were sent away to be re-wound to 12 volt spec. The original gauges and dashboard insert were cut out of the car and carefully wrapped so that they can be refitted in the future. For the rally the car will be fitted with more modern Smiths gauges.
The current target is for the car to be back on the road mid May, ready for a trip to the West Country with the other members of out Peking to Paris Team.