Genius - Faine 439

By: Jon Faine

Presented by

parts 2 parts 2

Do you get a knighthood for suspensing your chassis?


I have resolved one of life’s great mysteries, and even though I say so myself, done it in considerable style. And without breaking into the piggy bank. I humbly accept your adulation and applause, but the offer of a knighthood really is going too far. Besides, I am a republican.

The problem confronting me was how to paint the bare stripped chassis for the 1926 Citroen B2 Caddy Tribute. It has been sitting on saw horses for about three years, as I have in turn  and very gradually - very very gradually - been addressing the miscellaneous components that a chassis usually sits on.

Now, the front and rear axles have been refurbished- degreased, soda blasted, primed, painted, reassembled and gift wrapped and put away like Christmas presents you buy in the Boxing Day sales for Santa to dispense the following year.

The rear axle on my car came with the posh optional extra "lux" adornment of rear only Andre Hartford friction dampers. Usually seen on motors far more salubrious than mine, these simple devices are like a knee for a vintage car. Tighten the dial, and the wooden disc - yes, wooden - inside the friction hub is supposed to take a tiny proportion of the road bumps away. Or maybe they don’t. But each of the 31 separate components in each damper has been disassembled, cleaned, threads tapped and died, painted,  polished and tucked away. The bushes were originally phenolic (good word for Scrabble) but only one of the eight survived. The remainder were replaced with nylon, reduced from raw bar purchased at a swap meet, turned to fit on the lathe and pressed to fit. The leaf springs got the business too. De-rusted, scraped, wire-brushed, painted, shackles and spacers all similarly addressed with a gravitas fitting their allotted role in car life.

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But there is no escaping the next step.… the chassis. How do I paint the chassis in my shed instead of handing it to a professional? I long ago decided that I would be trying to do everything myself on this car, only calling on the trade for help if it was unavoidable. So, a bit of slopping of paint at home is hardly unachievable, but how to do it is the only question. I can’t do it in the lane-  the neighbours would call the council and I would be in deep doo doo. So what else?

With some deep thought and a lot of staring, I have decided to use old bedsheets, staple gun and gaffer tape to make a tent around the chassis. In order to protect the other precious assets, I will brush and spray inside the temporary tent. But the chassis can’t be sitting on a pair of saw horses - there would be four dirty great gaps in the paint on the underside, and besides if it is sitting on sawhorses it will be just about impossible to get an even cover underneath and into all the corners.

I looked at car rotisseries, somewhat over-engineered for a slight fella like my B2, but it seemed absurd  and expensive to go that route. And space is quite tight, so that was discarded as an option. Then an inspirational lunch break and a distant memory. As a small boy I used to play endlessly with my fathers hand-me-down Meccano set, so with a nod to Heath Robinson, I conceived, designed, scrounged parts for and made…. the Faine Flip ( patent not applied for). Your classic car chassis at any angle.

Best part - I did not buy a single thing. Every bit was already sitting in a drawer or a box, waiting for a new lease on garage  life.

The design parameters [fancy, I know] were to create a way of lifting the chassis clear off the floor, and being able to rotate it for access to all faces. I need to be able to get under, into and across, and to make sure there is nothing substantial covering any part of the areas to be painted.

First step - reinforce this part of the shed roof with an off cut of old roof timber. Step Two - drill holes and insert stainless steel eye bolts through the roof rafters. Step Three - find old garage sale purchase large pulleys, dismantle, clean and oil the rollers, metal brush the surfaces, apply new split pins and reoil. Four - attach pulleys to the eye bolts in the roof, from where the car is to hang. Five - thread rope through the pulleys, with a secondary pulley to provide lift. Six - loop steel ’S’ hooks through existing chassis holes and back to the secondary pulleys. Seven- hoist chassis off  saw horses. Eight - double loop every rope and secure.  Nine - stand back, bathe in the glory and admire your own inventiveness. My chassis is now suspended from the roof and I can tilt it 45 degrees or more either way to get into the hard to reach bits. Nothing broken. No tools destroyed or lost. No injuries. The garage roof has not collapsed.

Australia - stand back salute! 

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