Last week I took out the 1908 White for a longer run and visited Chris Relf on the way around. He is busy reassembling his 1909 White rear axle. Lucy was really going quite well as far as the flowmotor control was concerned but I think that I need a little more heat in the fuel so I will try increasing the kerosene a little. I am in fact running it on some very old fuel of dubious mixture.
All was going well until I was nearing St Just after a long run through the lanes at low speed in top gear and had lost the coil water and pressure although the temperature was still OK. I stopped and ran the engine in neutral to pump water through but there was a nasty “crack” so I shut everything off and looked around. There was nothing wrong under the bonnet or floorboards. I then spotted a bit of metal by the rear left wheel. It was part of the pin of the rear universal joint. A nearby mower repairer and vintage motorcycle enthusiast gave me lift for the 2 miles home and I fetched the trailer for the rescue.
The UJ was bent and twisted on the end of the propshaft and the pin in two parts but the rest was alright. The cover which should have been leather but was a modern vinyl type material had also cracked letting the pin escape. The pin is held in by a screw cap locked with another screw. This little screw must have come loose and escaped letting the cover unscrew. The pin had broken against the very strong axle movement damper. My brother had a similar problem three years ago in the Cotswolds but caused more damage as he was on a steep hill.
I found that I still had four propshaft ends as castings, so set about machining one. This is quite involved as they were threaded on and then brazed. First the bent one had to be machined off the 6ft long propshaft by jamming a slightly tapered steel plug in the end and holding it in my lathe by that and using a fixed steady half way along the tube.
I tried threading the casting and silver soldering it but to be sure I welded the end as well. I have never had one that I have put on like this come off although I did have the original brazed end give up when the car was only 80 years old. I had done about 110 miles that day and had to be rescued by the AA as I was still about 50 miles from home.
Before fixing the end onto the shaft, the next job was to drill the hole for the pin and then with a threaded bar through this hole, machine the threads for the caps (an odd sized 20 t.p.i. thread just under 1 1/8 inch diameter) and drill and tap the locking screw holes which were originally 7/32 inch Whitworth but are now M3.
I next made the pin out of EN24T. This looks like a simple 5 inch long bar but it has milled slots down the side, a hole up the centre and grease holes which I stagger on each side. It needs to be accurate and I ended up polishing it for the final fit. I had a couple of spare caps that I made when making Billy’s propshaft so that saved a job. On assembly I put lock washers on the locking screws so hopefully I will not have this problem again.
Once assembled, I fitted it on to the car and painted it. I have now fitted a new leather gaiter made by David Gibbons to keep the dirt out, the grease in and hopefully retain the cap if ever one comes off in the future.
I have now loaded Whistling Billy into my trailer and am off to Redruth early tomorrow morning for Murdock Day which I think the town would like to be as big an event as their neighbor and rival Camborne Trevithick Day. It is growing!
I had a good day at Murdock Day in Redruth with Whistling Billy. We were tucked up in a car park behind The Red Lion with a steam roller largely blocking the entrance but we still had a constant crowd looking at the car and wondering from where it came. I pushed it out of the trailer as the rain stopped at about 11am but it then rained more heavily so it went back in for another hour before coming out again. I steamed it up and drove it around the car park but soon ran out of fuel. I have been idle and not checked it while doing my testing over the last week or two. That suited me quite well as the working area was not large enough to get the speed up to bring in the burners. I had to stop and run the engine up every few laps.
The noise, smell and appearance of the car seemed to excite many. I ended up with four more events to go to rather than just completing one!