Sunday, 17 April 2011

Almost there.........

Well, eleven months after collecting her from North Wales, 'Black Bettie' is nearly ready to hit the road!

Since getting the interior done (was it really 6 months ago?), things have been pretty quiet; not that the lack of progress really bothered me over the winter, but as summer approached I was starting to get a bit twitchy.

There had been some "issues" along the way. While the bloke I bought the car off seemed to have all good intentions and certainly didn't scrimp on the materials, some of his workmanship had turned out a bit suspect (I'm being polite). The brake lines had to be scrapped and re-run, body had to be taken off so some proper high tensile nuts and bolts could be used, ditto with the rear suspension.

The target date for having her ready was April 25th - Good Friday, for the first of the big car shows in the South, 'Wheels Day'. A week ago I wasn't too confident, although to be fair, Al kept saying it wouldn't be a problem. That was until last Tuesday, when the company who were supposed to be supplying the coil-over shocks owned up that they couldn't get them - a bit of a problem, seeing as they were needed for the MOT, booked for Friday. Luckily Al found another company up North who had some in stock and couriered them down, arriving on Thursday morning.

MOT was booked for Friday morning and Al had two cars to get done, my '32 and a '55 Chevy Bel Air. Both cars got through, but according to Al, my car got the MOT testers pawing all over it and getting pictures. On the way back from the test a fire engine and full fire crew slowed down, gave Al a blast with the siren and gave him the thumbs up. Despite what he says, I think it was Bettie, not Al, that they fancied!

On Saturday the pinstriper, Simon, was booked to come and lay down the finishing touches. Simon is AKA 'Nefarious Pinstriping UK' and although I hadn't seen any of his work, Al had heard of him and seen some of his designs and assured me he was a good one - and so it turned out.

I told Simon I wanted "traditional" styling in the Von Dutch style and showed him the area I wanted striped. He was also happy doing the thin pinstripe down the sides and also mentioned that he was adept at sign-writing as well - so I showed him the lettering style I had in mind for the boot and he said "no problem" and did the lot.

Four hours later and to say I'm pleased would be an understatement and I'm also in awe of how he could start off with a simple straight line and end up with a symetrical work of art. I went for the two colours - dark red and ivory, to match up with the overall colours. Once the boot had been pin-striped and the lettering was being sketched on with a white pencil, I was a bit unsure about the size and whether it was too big - as it turned out, it was just right, although I've decided against having the Bettie Page graphic as well; I think that would be too much and leave the back looking too busy. A few discrete lines were added to the dash - literally just a few to break up the black.

So, all done now. The engine's running a bit rich and needs a bit of tweaking on the carb' and there are some screws that need capping (or painting black). A couple of leather door straps to be fitted to stop the doors opening too wide. Al's going to drive the car to/from work for a couple of days to check everything's running right and to loosen it up a bit. The engine's running OK on tickover and the fluids are all getting around, water temp is getting to the 'N' level on the gauge. As we don't have a full build spec' for the engine, other than the obvious stuff and what came with the advert, there's going to be some trial and error, but there doesn't seem to be any issues.