Stevens Sienna- Prototype Restoration Part 3

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Alan used the old tubing as a template, measured details written on rusty sectionsWelding is rarely very exciting but even more boring to read about, thus I will endeavour to keep this part of the story brief; even though it went on for weeks. The ‘outriggers’ attached to the main chassis were additions required to support the small running boards that were part of the original design; 1 inch box section and fairly straight forward to replace. Both sides also had a tube curving, not only upwards but also in towards the chassis; unfortunately both of ours were rotten. Although we had no issues replacing the ‘outriggers with new steel, obtaining the curved shape required some ‘thinking out of the box’; and the wife’s hatchback. We soon realised bending the bar in a vice left it dented and slightly deformed where as supporting one end on various widths of wood then driving over resulted in a smooth curve. The rear support sections for the body were also cut off and used as a template for new ‘rust free’ versions, this was easy enough, just obtaining the precise angles slowed us on refit. Ball joint removing kit, all you need then is patience and a steady handThe chassis work finally drove my trusty colleague (and welder) to Egypt, strange thing to do at Xmas but his departure forced me to look into the front suspension. Those who know their way around this vintage of Reliant Kitten will recognise the setup, simple yes but also rather sophisticated and its origins have more than a hint of Lotus engineering involved. Mine though had sat for many years and needed more than a little TLC.  Stripped out it became apparent I would be playing the ball joints and bushes game but before that it all had to come apart. The front brakes enjoyed leaking cylinders, so I had a chat with Joe Mason who supplies brake disc conversion kits, this will become important later but he also gave some vital advice. The top ball joints had been on the Sienna since ‘The Wurzels’ treated us all to a song about a combine harvester and were most unlikely to release their grip without a fight. He was right and the equipment that did battle included two chisels, one Dremel, one angle grinder and a big hammer; two hours of bad language passed before I could celebrate with a sausage roll. The unusual wheels that came with the car have always been a source of conversation and being 13inch they could also accommodate a disc upgrade. Wheely Interesting Before and after the ns completed with 2 x primer and 2 x Hammerite finishThe Sienna was built with GKN Silverstone wheels. Now to be honest this meant very little to me but it turns out they are not only rare but also very desirable. The 5.5J x 13 fitment on Stevens prototype may not have been the 12in versions fitted to the Mini’s that competed in the 1275GT Challenge race series in the 70s but they are identical apart from the size. Tony Stevens informed me that this set of alloys are as unique as the car;  with his contacts back in the day a one off set of 13s came to be and were attached to Stevens prototype. So, after asking my pals at Bedford Tyres in Chichester to de-tyre all five, they then ‘spun them up’ and confirmed none were buckled. My wheels are very light, especially considering they are over 40 years old but they look terrible, so I ventured out for a visit to Penfold Metallising Company in Barnham (small village near Fontwell Racecourse) to check through my options. The boss, Justin Ruddock explained the blasting process which I must confess to being more than slightly vague about; the first thing I learnt was sand is never involved in the metal cleaning process. To understand more I was invited to spend some time with Jed Carter on the shop floor for a tour of the facilities and to watch my wheels being given a new look. Penfold’s are regularly asked to prepare classic car shells for restoration and recently completed an amazing rot-free Mark 1 Cortina from Sweden. Front suspension was in a poor state visually and mechanicallyLike me, most classic folk require certain parts cleaned and often refinished, whether that be paint or powder coat the job can be completed within these walls. Three blasting cabinets fill one room and these are for smaller items like my wheels, each is controlled via a foot pedal leaving the operator with two free hands. The rubber gloves required are industrial strength, they have to be given the blast ingredient for the wheel is crushed steel; even so they will last no more than a fortnight. Alloy oxide is the option on the second cabinet followed by glass bead; each offers different options for strength of blast and type of finish. With plastics also becoming popular and even walnut shells being used, the most precious engine casings or alloy dash binnacle can be perfectly prepared without the risk of damage. There are several blast rooms for large items and these are big enough to accommodate a car shell or the front of an aircraft, as I found on the day of my visit; a nose section was being prepared for a new life as a simulator. Every classic owner will require the services of companies like Penfold’s and that showed when the variety of parts awaiting the process included a complete rear axle next to a small box of headlight rims. My rims are now like new and I have been enlightened thanks to Penfold’s but it was back to reality with a bang when suspension parts began arriving and I had to finish painting the chassis before Alan returned from the pyramids. Hours of cleaning followed by rust stop then primer and gloss top coatNext time: We renovate the oil covered drivetrain and I get told off for the oil coated driveway Head scratching a plenty when Alan reassembles the suspension The engine gets a make-over whilst I raid the kid’s piggy banks for disc brakes Grant Ford for - Thanks to Simon Fitch- Brian Marshall Reliant Kitten Register-