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  Bexhill Museum (November 2008)
 

Bexhill Museum Mk.III update
(by Peter Brown 2008-10-25)

The Elva conservation team have been able to complete all the proposed scheduled work that was planned for the first six months of this year, finishing generally by the end of July. However since we have needed to employ other contractors for the paint preparation and finishing of the many components, we have had to fit into their schedules; this has resulted in about two months where we have been unable to proceed further with the rebuild.

However, the chassis and all its associated components have now been bead blasted and powder-coated [arranged through two separate companies all based in St. Leonards] and recently transported back to Hastings Sheet Metal, where the chassis is at present undergoing its final fitting out with the duraluminium under-tray and internal aluminium panels. As the damage to the original aluminium panelling was beyond repair, all new sections are being hand made by Alan Jenner, who incidentally made them together with the body for Elva Engineering in 1958. The new body work sections, made in three main parts, is virtually finished, requiring only trimming to size and the fitting of the headlamp nacelles. All main components will be transported to our workshop in Dallington for the commencement of the next stage of the rebuild.

We have just received the re-cored radiator so we are only awaiting the polished and part painted magnesium alloy wheels, plus the instruments as part of the extensive rebuild of 100/56 and thus return the car to the original ex. ‘works’ condition.

Much of the damage to components, found during the dismantling period was due to the storage of the car, and standing stationary for so long. We were able to find re-manufacturers who were able to recover many of the seized brake cylinders and hydraulics etc.

The engine [Coventry Climax FWP] which was purchased with the car, but not fitted; is undergoing a full rebuild to near FWA standard by an experienced Climax engine expert – this work was not within the remit of the Elva Team, due to the lack of in-house machining facilities and sourcing of specialised components. Due to funding restrictions the Climax is being built to road-race rather than a full race specification.
(It would have been nice to have received help from the larger race prep outfits running Climax powered cars, but....) (RAD).

It has been decided to leave the aluminium bodywork in an unpainted condition exactly as many were originally supplied to the customer to be raced without further finishing. We have been able to source a treatment for the bare aluminium, as used by Rolls Royce Silver Ghost owners, which allows the surface to be coated by hand, similar to a conventional waxing, but protects the surface from all elements, especially salt laden air and hand marks. The treatment is expected to last over a year, even with outside use.

The seat shells purchased with the vehicle, had seat covers supposed to be from the original car, unfortunately upon inspection this was found to be incorrect, and new trimming was needed; local sources were unable to provide this service at a reasonable cost, and this was carried out by Cass Bros from Bromley; the only out sourced supplier not located close to Bexhill . Even the work on renovating the magnesium wheels generously donated by Robin Lackford is being carried out in nearby Ninfield.

Our programme for the completion of the project is planned for mid February 2009. This is to run parallel with the opening of the new museum around that time.

Note from RAD: Due to time and geographical considerations, I had asked Peter if he would consider being the ‘project manager’ and he has been an absolute gem. His input has been fantastic and we could not have made such amazing progress at minimal cost without his engineering and organisational skills. We have been so fortunate to have found Peter and the wonderfully enthusiastic ex. Elva folk including Len Sayers, Bob Curl, Tony ‘Ant’ Recknall, and of course Alan and Ian Jenner from Hastings Motor Sheet Metal who produce such amazing goodies from their crowded workshop in St. Leonards.


However, there is still the opportunity for YOU to be involved. Some lovely people have already contributed to the funding of this unique project, and their input will of course be recognised by the museum.

Can I just remind you how important this exhibit will be ... you know that the Elva story started in Bexhill-on-Sea and from those very early days, many successful and race winning cars were produced and are acclaimed worldwide. Elva remains a significant part of the history of motorsport but soon ALL the local tangible reminders i.e. the old Bexhill and Hastings workshops will have been lost forever.

I find that shocking.

The fact that you are bothering to read this suggests that you have an interest in ‘Elva’ so you will appreciate that a well presented Bexhill built example of one of the superb early sports racing cars is a fantastic opportunity to remind future generations of the cars we drive and enthuse about. We owe that to Frank Nichols and most importantly to the hugely skilled team of people he built up around him in the 1950’s.

Agree? Good ... then please contribute, not necessarily in financial terms, but by perhaps by helping the museum with any artefacts, photos or Elva related stories. Even an email message to the folk at the museum would be most enthusiastically received.

Get involved NOW and be part of this crucial time in the history of Elva Cars. "ELVA - A name from the past with a Future".

Thank you.


Contact details:

The Society of Bexhill Museums
‘The Lodge’, 250 Turkey Road, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex, TN39 5HT.
(T) +44 (0)1424 787950. Email: museum@rother.gov.uk

The Curator & Education Officer can be contacted directly on...
(T) +44 (0)1424 213026 and email: bexhillmuseum@gmail.com
Finance (Head of Fundraising) John Betts. djbetts7@yahoo.co.uk

 

Please read this information about the Museum

Click here for the previous news item about this project (Feb 07)
Click here for earlier jottings about the Museum and Elva

Roger Dunbar

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