The centrifugal clutch (called a traffic clutch apparently) went back together smoothly and on the bench worked as it should so the engine is back in and working. Like the Guru’s car our Riley engine is set to idle at 250 rpm although it will actually idle at 100 rpm (which doesnt even register on the Rev Counter..) try doing that with a modern car. The traffic clutch now takes the engine out of gear when I stop and lets it back in when the revs get to around 500 rpm. It is incredibly smooth. I can bring the car to a halt in any gear and the engine doesnt stall anymore. I am not sure it is possible to stall it – unless perhaps I try to pull away in top gear which I dont intend to try. The square cut gears in the gearbox howl when in neutral (which is normal) and have the classic whine in every gear apart from 4th which is direct drive.
So the car is now fully back together and on the road again and it was only a minor step back. The tuning of the engine continues and performance is improving every time with the spark plugs being checked after every run and the mixture being tweaked slightly until I get the spark plugs to be the right colour to indicate the mixture is not too rich nor too weak. So far the engine is staying cool too. The passenger seat has been bolted down saving passengers from being thrown into the foot well when I brake (well it made ‘me’ laugh).
I have fabricated a leather (and brass) bonnet strap preventing it starting to open at 45mph. It transpires the wind at that speed is enough to start lifting the sides of the bonnet by a good few inches. I have a couple of locking pins to install which will do the job properly to prevent it ‘flapping’ – but the leather bonnet strap is both aesthetic and a period fitting.
Although I am not counting, the car has had around ten 5 mile shakedown runs. Shake being the operative term as bits I had loosely fitted are reminding me that they are indeed loosely fitted by depositing fixing nuts onto my feet. Each trip is resulting in something else being adjusted / tightened / tuned / fitted. We have hit 50mph which I warn you is jolly windy and on the bumpy roads I am using – certainly an experience because the car has a mind of its own. Hopefully on smoother roads it will not decide to wander quite so much. Apparently have a steering wheel that you can move half an inch either way without affecting the actual steering is a ‘vintage thing to be embraced because you cant take the play out’. The brakes need a reasonable amount of pressure as there is no mechanical assistance in the circuit but they are beginning to actually work pretty well.
Below you can see my design for the bonnet strap mountings and the final look. The leather belt is allegedly from a Bentley (not sure I believe that but it is very old) which I cut down to size.
To round off this update:
The car has been accepted as being eligible to race by the VSCC so, fanfare moment….
I have entered the Riley into its first competition event!!! Assuming my entry is accepted, we will be competing in the Brooklands Double 12 on 17th June. Our first competition will be ‘Driving tests’ where, against the clock, the car is put through its paces around eight ‘circuits’ vaguely laid out in cones. The convoluted route around the cones is only made available at the event and we will have to learn each route because you get time penalties for getting it wrong, or for running down a Marshall. I have a few weeks to get the car in a good enough shape to have the confidence to drive the distance but I am planning to take it to a car show this weekend if time permits.