Monday, 28 December 2020

An ABC Tricar for Christmas (1)

It's almost two years ago since I was contacted by Dean Weatherhead, who wrote at the time: "Hi I’m sorry to bother you but I have found your email address on Google when I searched ABC Tricar Mini. My mum and dad have two of them and my mum has recently fell ill and I would like to restore them before she gets any worse. I was wondering if you know where I could get a replica of the body as her one was hit in the rear many years ago (before I was born), if not I was hoping to find some one that can fibreglass mould the rear end of my dads one and will stitch it back into the original body work. Many thanks, Dean."

Unfortunately I couldn't help Dean to a new body, but he persevered in restoring one of the two Tricars and over the time a dear contact developed. I received updates on the restoration on a regular basis and tried to help when I could. Unfortunately I could not write about the restoration job as Dean had made a rather special plan. He wanted to restore the car in secrecy and have it ready for Christmas 2019 to give to his mum and dad, adding: "If you can keep these to yourself, just because my mum is a bit of a wiz on the internet and I don’t want her finding these pictures!" That is of course what I did. But Christmas 2019 passed and Dean was busy with other things. His dad fell ill, too, which didn't help. But then Christmas 2020 came nearer and Dean sped up things at an incredible pace. In the last 3 or 4 weeks I received updates every day and was amazed by the amount of work he managed to carry out in such a short period of time. 

Dean did everything, from a complete engine and gearbox overhaul to all the suspension and brake bits, the full body repair and the the electrics. In late november he wrote: "The car ended up worse then we thought", showing me pictures of the badly rusted body and chassis which he'd just taken apart. Could he really get it ready for Christmas? His mates Joe Bellis and Anthony Downes and his brother Karl came to the rescue and offered help. But there were also troubles in finding piston rings, bearings and gaskets for the 850 engine in time. But that all didn't stop our man Dean. Two weeks before Christmas he wrote: "Coming along now. I try not to look at the pile of parts I have to refurb and just get one at a time. Doesn’t seem so much work then." Then, a week before Christmas he came back: "Sorry, I have not updated you a few days, but these have been a bit of a blur." But by that time the body had been repainted and the engine was ready to get in. And he didn't stop work until Christmas eve. The next morning he drove over the freshly restored car to his mum's and dad's house. I've asked him to make a video of that, which I'm very glad he did. But that is for tomorrow.

UPDATE 29 December 2020: See it here now - click


That's how the ABC Tricar was stored away for decades
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Dean's parents own it since 1976 and have very fond memories of it
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Step 1: engine and suspension out. All okay so far 
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Body taken apart and the sanding could begin
Picture Dean Weatherhead

But chassis turned out to be "worse then we thought"...
Picture Dean Weatherhead

And the same went for the floors, rot and bodge repairs everywhere
Picture Dean Weatherhead

And so Dean started cutting out all the rust and rot. Mind you: this was just weeks ago
Picture Dean Weatherhead

New floor parts ordered, a few mates were found to offer help welding
Picture Dean Weatherhead

And in they went! Looks easy, isn't necessarily that...
Picture Dean Weatherhead

But look at that! Chassis and floors are now rot-free once again
Picture Dean Weatherhead

A fresh coat of undersealing was applied next
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Body parts ready from preparing and test-fitted onto chassis
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Primed and in the spray booth here. Christmas is nearing
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Meanwhile, the 850 engine and its gearbox were both taken fully apart...
Picture Dean Weatherhead

...And all the bits were renovated by Dean, too. Fresh coat of correct green
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Piston rings, crank bearings and head gasket came in just in time...
Picture Dean Weatherhead

And the ABC Tricar is in its paint again! Another milestone
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Burning the midnight oil, putting all the parts back in place...
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Dean made a special dashboard commemorating his uncle and the family dog
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Original ABC badge could be saved and was refurbished, too
Picture Dean Weatherhead

And just about ready. Would you believe this was on Christmas eve..?
Tomorrow I'll post a video of how Dean drove it over to his dad on Christmas day
Picture Dean Weatherhead

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