Episode 61. Vauxhall Carlton. EWK 730Y. (Part 6).

I've been slacking in writing about my Carlton this is for several little reasons, and one big one. The little reasons are stupid things like, I've taken the photos on film with a camera from the early sixties, then mis-placed the film. Also things like I just don't have the time some days to write anything, useful, or even interesting about it. This is because I'm at work, earning the money to pay for it's restoration, and therefore when I pop down to see Aunt Fanny who is handling the restoration of it, I have to ask questions, take notes, and then try to put them together along with the photos I've taken to produce something that might be worth reading by somebody. That pretty much takes care of the small excuses, the big excuse will come later. But for now, enough for the excuses, let's talk about this...


My Carlton project. One last thing, with the exception of the last image, all the images in this post are taken on very very old Ilford HP5 400 ASA film that expired forever and a day ago, they're a little bit grainy, but they're ok. I like to shoot on film sometimes. and when I do, it usually on a 1963 Kodak Retinette camera which I found at the local tip many moons ago, and still works perfectly. Something that can't be said for any digital camera I've ever owned, most giving up the ghost after two or three years! Anyway I digress. After the huge MOT failiure sheet the Carlton was dispatched to Aunt Fanny for a full on weldathon! My task was then limited to finding parts to fit to it, and Aunt Fanny was busy trying to find enough good metal to weld the new metal that I found on to! With the underside re-created in fresh metal bent up by my Brother where he works, attention was turned to the bodywork. I'll be honest, I was struggling to find body panels that were any better than the ones I already had. In the end I managed to locate a pair of rear panels, and a pair of doors, there was however one small problem. They were 541 miles away in Bissersheim, Germany! The problem with this was that I didn't have another option, I could find no panels here in England that were any better than when I already had, and really, they were beyond repair. However in Germany the Carlton, or Opel Rekord if you like has a bit more of a following, and therefore there are people there who strip old Vauxhalls and Opels for a living. There was nothing left to do, I had to buy the panels and doors. I was assured that although they were not perfect, they were useable. The price, was also good, and even the shipping was very reasonable. Infact I would go as far as to say that the shipping for two rear wings, glass, two doors complete with glass, and a good bootlid, all packed in a wooden box and screwed to a pallet was far better than could be expected here. The whole lot coming to just over £800! I told Aunt Fanny what was coming and he set about removing carefully the offending pieces from the back of the Carlton by drilling out the spot welds, ready for when the new (second hand) bits arrived! When they arrived they were a bit better than what I had, but like the seller said, they weren't perfect, and would need some remedial work, The rear wings were fitted, and then the rear arches and other small rusty areas were carefully cut away.


After a quick measure up we thought that the front arches, although not quite the same, were actually very similar to the rear arches. So the rusty front wings were carefully removed, and then we cut the arches off them and offered them into place at the rear! Success, they were a fit, although not perfect, they were close enough, and really, who was going to notice the difference? You'd need to be a Vauxhall Carlton anorak of a biblical level to know that I've used front arches on the back!


The lower part of the rear wing also needed some attention. This was a fairly flat piece of metal, and was made from just welding in some new fresh sheet steel, which my Brother liberated from his place of work for me! My guess is that this bit needed attention due to being hit by road debris being flung off the rear tyres and chipping the paint off the lower part of the panel. I must admit that I am not a mudflap fan, but to preserve the work that Aunt Fanny has put into the rear of my Carlton I am on the lookout for a set of four genuine new old stock Carlton mudflaps! Anyhoo, the panel on the other side wasn't quite so bad, and really the rear arch could've been repaired, however, to make it look even the same process was repeated, and it also got a front arch grafted into place. The rear panels were all then sanded, filled, sanded, filled, sanded, and filled until Aunt Fanny was happy. Then it got a quick splash of red oxide to stop any moisture getting into it, and the attention was turned to the front.


It's fair to say that the old tin worm had been snacking on the front suspension towers for some time. They had been repaired (if you can call it that) atleast once by just plating over the rusty bits. This is not the best way to repair rust, as it just carries on rusting away out of sight. Anyhoo, the workmanship was of a style that the MOT man didn't like how it looked, I didn't like how it looked, and Aunt Fanny didn't like how it looked! It was no good, it had to go. Sadly upon removing the front wings  it was pretty clear that the tops of the inner wings were going to need replacement too, it really was a wonder how they didn't just peel away while I was driving along! There was nothing for it, it was time to break out a fresh cutting disc for the grinder, and get chopping!


One side at a time it was cut back to good metal...


The cutting back was pretty extensive, but good metal was found and then fresh metal was grafted in. This took Aunt Fanny a pretty long time as there were lots of curved and shaped bits to make and then spot weld into position before seam welding them to make it structurally sound again. Before cutting the metal away we spent several hours measuring everything, and I mean everything around the inner wings and suspension towers in order that we could put every back where it should be.


Just like at the rear, the other side had exactly the same treatment and within a week or so it was starting to look a lot less wobbly around the front. This was all then ground down, filled, primed, and made ready for paint. It hasn't had as much prep work as the rear body panels got as I'm not too worried about it looking perfect under the bonnet, it just needs to look ok, and be functional. I'm not building a show car here! To that end I have decided that we won't be painting the inside of the engine bay in whatever metallic hue gets squirted on the bodywork. No, under the bonnet it will just be satin black I think. I know that won't be like it left the factory, but like I said, I'm not building some concours show car, and satin black will be low maintenance... Hopefully!


Before long attention was turned back to the bodywork. The rear valence had its rusty scabs treated, and the real bad stuff removed. then it was treated to a bit of dent removal, even though it was for the most part hidden by the rear bumper! Like the rear panels it was then sanded, filled, sanded, filled, sanded, and filled until Aunt Fanny was happy.


The rear panels then also got another going over until Aunt Fanny decided that they were now good enough to be treated to a good coating of primer over the whole lot of it.


Out with the masking paper and about three hundred miles of masking tape and the whole car was masked up and ready for primer! I don't know if it really shows in the black and white photos, but the roof is masked up too. This is because oddly the paint on the roof is pretty good, and If I decide to paint it the same gold I wanted to match it to the same shade of gold on the roof! That being said, I think I should've had it painted in primer, as the more I think about it, the more I'm thinking that whatever colour it does end up, it will be a bolder colour than the wishy-washy metallics of the 80's Vauxhall colour palete!


First coat of primer on. I had to clear out for this bit as apparently the paint it some pretty nasty stuff! But after a couple of hours we pushed the Carlton out of the workshop for the first time in a very long time!


Leave it with me Aunt Fanny said, and I'll have a look at it in a couple of days and probably give it a bit of a rub down and put another couple of coats of primer on it. Several days go by then I get a phone call, and it's Aunt Fanny! "Your Carlton is done, I need it out of my workshop this weekend as I've got a couple of other projects coming in, So I'm going to need the space!" Crap! Ok, I said, I'll be along in about two hours! Mrs Clint looks up, where are you going to be in two hours? Who was that? she says! I calmly looked at her and say, it was Aunt Fanny, and I've got to get the Carlton as he needs the space in his workshop! Now hush woman, I've got to arrange a trailer! As I'm sure you can imagine, she was very understanding!! BE BACK BEFORE THE KIDS FINISH SCHOOL, were her departing words of wisdom that would ring in my ears pretty much all day! OK I said, and headed off to arrange a trailer! Of course with such short notice there was no trailer available anywhere. So I thought that maybe I could arrange a car transporter! Of course with such short notice ther was no car transporter available either! So then I headed off to my mechanics in the hope that he would lend me his A-frame! Which happily he did! Before long I was at Aunt Fannys hitching up my now very solid Carlton estate shell to the back of the mighty Chev-suzu!


Look at it. I know to most people it's probably nothing special, but to me it looks awesome! This poor Carlton has undergone quite a lot of rust removal, and although it's still a very long way from being on the road atleast the shell is now solid! Before too long I was A-framing my way along the M27 back towards BelongaClint with the Carlton in hot persuit behind me!


Once back home it was unhitched, and I gently pushed it into my council garage. It is very good to know that the shell is now solid again, but I still have quite a lot of other parts to source before I would be able to take it back to Aunt Fannys so he could carry on with it. I mostly still need a pair of front wings, a boot lid, and various other bolt on parts! I then took the A-frame back to my mechanic, and I was actually home in time to collect my two little monsters  from school which made Mrs Clint very happy... Well, a bit happier anyway!

The plan from here was that I would collect the parts, then back to Aunt Fannys for final re-assembly and a total re-spray. Well, that was the plan, but sadly this is not how it will work out. You remember back at the beginning on this post I said I'd been slacking in writing about my Carlton for several little reasons, and one big one. Well I've already said what the little reasons were, but the main reason I've been struggling to write about it is that I just don't know what to say. I've been lost for words, I've sat down to write it several times and nothing has come to mind. But for the moment work has ceased on the Carlton. Infact, I've not even looked at it. Here is the reason...

On Sunday 15 October 2017, my great friend of over thirty years, Mark, or Aunt Fanny as he has always been referred to on my blog due to the name of his company being called Aunt Fannys Paint Emporium decided that as it was an un-seasonally warm sunny day he would take his motor bike out for one last ride before packing it away for the Winter. Sadly this turned out to be his last ride, less than five miles from home as I understand it he struck the back of a slow moving car as he rounded a corner and was thrown from his motorcycle into the path of an on coming Land Rover. He was just 45 years old, and pronounced dead at the scene. As I sit her writing this almost four months after the incident I am actually still heartbroken. He was a Husband, Dad, and Grandad to his little family, and he thought the world of them. To many Mark was known as an excellent craftsman, a paint and bodywork man of exceptional talent. He could turn his hand to pretty much anything, and if you wanted something created, he could fabricate it. Cars, motorbikes, garden ornaments, whatever, he could make it, and it would be made to a very high standard. No matter what you brought him that needed work, if he could help you, he would, often at the detriment of his own projects. To me though he was more than just an incredible paint of bodywork man. He was my friend for over thirty years, I've been friends with him for well over half my life. He was once a work colleague and we dug a trench over two miles long and a meter deep by hand, just the two of us, and it took most of the winter in the cold and the rain because we had no other job to go to. He was a guy I could talk to about anything, and everything, we would have the kind of conversations that you can't have with anyone else! One thing I was thinking the other day was that in over thirty years of friendship, we'd never fallen out, never had a cross word, and never even had an argument! I really thought that at some point we'd be like those old buggers on 'Last Of The Summer Wine' old, but still having fun and carrying on like kids. But in the back of my mind I knew it probably wouldn't happen like that. Mark loved riding his motorcycle, he was an experienced, and talented rider, but not a chancer. I remember him saying to me once that he wouldn't even take his bike out if he was angry, or annoyed as that was a way of getting into trouble. We discussed crashing on several occasions, and he had been fortunate in that he'd not really come off before, but I remember him saying that one day, it's gonna happen, and it's gonna be big! Sadly it wouldn't be much bigger. I remember thinking that hopefully, he'll give up the sportsbikes before that, and move on to something a bit more sedate, but that wasn't really his way. Since his death I really have felt that something is missing from my life, something irreplaceable has gone! Of course I have lost other friends in my life, and I have been able to come to terms with losing them, and accepted that they are gone. This time however it is different, I'm not sure that I will ever get over losing my friend, and I think I will probably miss him for the rest of my life. He was a fantastic friend, a great person, and a superb craftsman, the world has lost something truly special, and irreplaceable.



R.I.P. My good friend, until we meet again.

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