Author Archives: Nigel

About Nigel

This restoration has been a real learning curve - but far cheaper than paying a psychiatrist.

Troublesome trim

By now I had been looking forward to having the rear windows in and to be starting on the door windows.

True to form with this car – something went wrong and i am still battling with the stainless steel trim sections.

Having got them back into shape using the MDF template, I screwed them in and fitted the windows – and discovered that the rear trim sections under the windows were splayed outwards.

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So I removed the windows and manipulated the trims into place – but found another annoying issue.

The way the trims were made means there is a small hole and a sharp point where they were folded. This must have been there when I got the car, but I’m amazed that Aston Martin did not address this detail issue before it left the factory!

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So – should I try and modify it so the trim sits flush with the bodywork, or should I try and plug the hole?

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All the trimmings

Working in a confined space I now have to be very methodical about screwing the shiny bits back onto ROJ – and each job has a certain order.

Just lately I’ve been working towards fitting the rear side windows.

To do so:

I firstly drilled out the zinc plating from the seat belt fixing points in the B pillars – and then tap them;

Secondly I had to drill the holes for the coat hooks also on the B pillars;

This was followed by measuring and cutting  some new leather and glueing them to pillars;

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The next job would have been to fit the stainless steel trim pieces that go round the door and window apertures.

But here I encountered a snag.

The passenger side one was fine – but the driver’s side didn’t fit.

My first thought was that when I put the new roof on ROJ (remember, the old one had been cut out with a tin opener for Rowan to eject his boss through) I had made a mistake with lining everything up. Alternatively, I wondered if I had managed to get the trim pieces from the other cars muddled up. But then Stephanie came and gave me a hand and we worked out that in fact the trim itself had been distorted at some point during the years it had been off the car.

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Without access to a bead roller I had to think of another way of shrinking it back into shape. So some thick MDF , a pencil and a jigsaw were called into service.

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Making sure the template fitted perfectly with a sanding block and elbow grease;

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I screwed the trim to the template.

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Using a rounded piece of MDF – and wearing gloves and goggles in case anything sprang back unexpectedly, I worked the curve round the form and screwed it down as i went.

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The resulting fit – even if i say so myself – is excellent.

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I shall leave the trim screwed to the form few a few days to let it rest before finally fixing the trim to the car – and then the window.

Smiley face

All those years ago when I stripped ROJ’s bodywork off  the chassis this was the sad picture I was faced with:

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Well, he’s looking a lot happier now.

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No more landmines

I wish that that was true – it will take decades to rid the world of the deadly legacy of landmines – but with the dissolution of Parliament yesterday, the all party parliamentary group on landmines that I created three years ago came to an end too.

It did what it was created to do – in fact it was far more successful than I had first hoped.

This doesn’t mean I can hang my hat up – there are new, albeit related challenges around the corner. And work will continue to keep me from spending all my time playing with ROJ.

 

Unexpected Aston

I had an interesting experience this morning – I was looking for a place in Clapham and went a bit wrong, so walked into a yard to ask directions – spotted a Ferrari 308 behind some boxes and got chatting to the owner, told him I was restoring an Aston. He then pointed to a pile of industrial waste and said “That’s one”.

It was too – it was this:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/151620822402?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

And no, I’m not putting in a bid.

Flash Harry

Well Norway was fun – and a nice change from Geneva. Even got some cross country skiing in.

Usual story – car has been seriously neglected.

I did manage to renovate the front indicators and side repeaters.

They were a bit scruffy – but with a bit of polish, some new wiring and some new seals made from a piece of neoprene I had left over from repairing my wetsuit – I now have some nice shiny flashy bits.

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It was really tight getting in behind the front wing to tighten up the nuts – so a little masking tape did the trick.

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It works!

 

Attention to detail – or OCD?

One of the jobs that needed doing on ROJ was to repair the cracked front valance, while doing that I noticed that one corner had been broken, which required moulding the fibre-glass into shape.

My first attempt went horribly wrong as i managed to use the wrong resin hardener. Cleaning off the sticky hairy mess was not pleasant!

I used the unbroken corner as a template and made a cardboard mould onwhich to build up the fibreglass.

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I thought that was hard work – but then i decided to rub down the scabby surface of the valance, and each time it wasn’t quite good enough, so i did it again, and again, and again – until I was able to convince myself that the car was never going to be entered into a concourse competition , and I was the only one going to get down on my hands and knees with a magnifying glass!

Next job then was to wipe down with pre-paint and paint with primer. – and it looked great.

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Ordinarily i would have painted it with bog standard Hafords satin black – but i was tempted by a snazzy looking aerosol top on some Rustoleum.

The paint was superb – the nozzle wasn’t, and i wrote to Rustoleum to suggest a modification to their cap – and they very knidly sent me two free cans! (thanks Rustoleum!)

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Before fitting the valance I had to swap the horns round which i’d put on back to front – that was mega-fiddly! And I’ve just fitted the aircon radiator and oil coolers, so valance on next weekend.

We also had to take P19 for it’s MoT, service and new centre box to our friendly local mechanic Michael – who always has a yard full of interesting stuff to admire.

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And finally…

Now that ROJ is home I’m missing my trips up to the farm and missing Malcolm, Clive, Phil  and Steve and their variety of projects.

But I’ve recently found a new interesting friend.

Before Christmas we have Virgin cable TV installed – with a whizzo Tivo box – so I’ve been able to record nearly every episode of  Wheeler Dealers – so now before i head out to the garage, 20 minutes of Edd China is my inspiration!!

And thanks Edd for the tip on waterless coolant.

Space – or the lack of it!

ROJ has been home for two weeks – you’d think I’d have finished it by now.

There is the tiny irritation of having to fit in some work in between playing with the car.

There is also the big irritation of not having enough space in the garage to work round the car as I had on the farm.

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I’ve set up a bench to work on – but if it rains – or is very cold, I’m driven indoors.

Stephanie hasn’t said anything about the odd bit of car appearing in the house – but the eyebrows suggest I won’t have to wait too long…

As we pushed ROJ into the garage tail first, I can only really work on the front end. So I’m repairing and fettling the glass fibre front valance. I had a battle taking off the rusted side lights (to be replaced by shiny new ones).

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Using a diamond disc on the dremel I cleaned up the crack and ground down the area on the reverse side.

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If it’s dry tomorrow I will apply the fibreglass patch to the back, rub it down, fill the gap and leave to dry before painting with satin black during the week.

S.P.E.C.T.R.E

The excitement mounts as the new James Bond film is announced – along with a new Bond Aston – the DB10!

I would love to get ROJ finished in time for the launch of the film – I reckon a great Comic Relief publicity event would be a race at Santa Pod between Daniel Craig in the DB10, and Rowan Atkinson back in ROJ… The bookies would have a field day!

This is the end…

Count to ten and start again…

So warbled Adele at the start of Skyfall – a film in which James Bond had to come to grips with gritty personal issues and major life changes – and in some way I can empathise.

The past few months of my life I’ve had to face a number of things changing, things ending and things moving on.

When I found the farm all those years ago and took my newly aquired Aston Martin V8 (AKA RO)J up to restore I never dreamt I would be there for so long – or make such good friends along the way.

But now it’s over.

The farm and buildings are to be razed and redeveloped.

When i started on my odyssy, I was welcomed into the circle by Malcolm and Clive and John and Robert. And at the end by Phil and Steve – and lately Ray and Charlie – with a huge crowd of motoring misfits in-between, all of whom showed patience and kindness to a ham-fisted amateur.

I shall miss my weekends up in Bedfordshire. There was often more beer drunk and beef barbecued than bits bolted onto ROJ – but that was half the fun.

Now the sheds are echoingly empty and the corridors of the house cluttered with packing crates.

ROJ has always been a bit of a Frankenstien’s Aston – I bought three and a half old wrecks and piles of parts – and have ended up with one rather lovely, albeit unfinished, car. It may not be all of the car driven by Rowan Atkinson, but it’s most of it!

How ROJ arrived at the farm

How ROJ arrived at the farm

The 'somewhere inbetween' shot

The ‘somewhere inbetween’ shot

How ROJ left the farm

How ROJ left the farm

My Aston Martin, my tools and all the parts are now in London – I’ve still got masses of work to do on the car – although the engine is still up in storage to be rebuilt by the professionals, but now I’ve only got to stroll out of the door at home and round the back to the garage, and I can screw on something shiny whenever I feel like it.

ROJ in pyjamas - with 24hr security guard!

ROJ in pyjamas – with 24hr security guard!

More change

With an election looming, my work with the landmines group has diminished, while other avenues are opening up.

Last week I had meetings in Barcelona and in Zagreb – didn’t see anything of Barcelona, but had a quick tour round the city of Zagreb – and you know how I love trams!

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And planes with propellors.

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From now on, I really must develop a proper work life balance 49% work, 49% ROJ and sleep for the rest!

Happy Thanksgiving

Here’s a little thought for Thanksgiving.

The greatest joy and happiness I have ever experienced was afforded by people, yet the greatest pain and misery I have ever suffered was also inflicted by people.

If we all just respected, understood and treated each other with a little compassion, imagine how much suffering we could reduce in the world.

Arms Trade and Astons

“What is the point of the Arms Trade Treaty to my country – when people can’t get guns, they take pangas and chop each other” This was the quote of the day from the representative of the Central African Republic at the Arms Trade Treaty discussions the week before last – and she has a point – we need to change behaviours and beliefs as well as controlling the production and sales of weapons, and that’s a huge task.

It was a very stimulating week, and may lead to a change in direction for me in the new year. This week I am heading off to Barcelona for discussuions with a Colombian delegation about holding a seminar for central and south American states on humanitarian mine-action – followed by two days in Zagreb exploring a similar option for the Balkans.

When I get back I shall be up to the farm for my first sight of ROJ in it’s new paint.

Phil and Steve have done a fantastic job – and worked their little socks off… Here’s a little taste:

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