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Chris Edwards had two parts of an Article re. a GE Sunshine Saloon in the Grey Mags, 2003B and C. At the end of 2003C it states "Chris Edwards has still to relate the trials and tribulations of restoring the rotted body", did this ever appear as I do not seem to be able to find it - is it in one of the Association Member Club magazines (750MC, A7OC, PreWarA7C, etc, etc.).
Reason for question, another GE Sunshine has come to light (pun not intended) in the USA, but it needs a lot of work, actually it needs most of the body as only the doors of the bodywork behind the scuttle survive! as I understand it.
Well - Hi, again, Sandy!
I tracked down that comment on the second GE-SS article last year (when the newest iteration of this saga restarted for me).
I have it right here - bought it in new condition(!) from a magazine site on the web.
"The Automobile", Vol. 5, No. 12, Feb.,1988, pp. 42,43,44, titled:
"The Freehollow Flyer, Chris Edwards tells how he discovered the only known example of a Gordon England Austin Seven Sunshine Saloon in a barn in America.
Part 2, restoration"
I have yet to correspond directly with any of the actual hands-on restorers of this car, but the photos certainly make it clear (at least to me, imho) that none of the original wood was incorporated into the new body. My opinion is subject to change, of course.
Only two of the three body wood photos in this article made it into The Source Book, on page 156. I find the third photo, taken from the left front quarter (with skin off) shows much more detail of the new ribs and panels.
I can scan this and send to anyone interested.
I guess my attitude is - if his is an authentic GE-SS with prob no original wood, would not mine also be??
Any comments welcomed!
- John Edwards, Vancouver, Washington, USA
Oh, forgot to include, I do have the rear 3/4 of the floor pan, and both doors with hardware (hinges, locks, handles and key) and glass, as well as the (reupholstered) seats. I have the dash, but have misplaced the instruments in a move, except for the Smiths clock and Calormeter.
My attention has just been directed to this thread. I found the Sunshine in the US in the early eighties and subsequently restored it before it was brought back in 1984.
What is your GE car number? It's written in chalk on the plywood beneath the fabric on the door of all the GE's i've owned.
Sir - It is an honor to finally get in touch with you.
Which door? "Restoration #1"(before me) covered the outsides with sheet metal, some surgery is called for.
I will go out now and look at the insides....
Searching for body number:
I gingerly pulled off the interior Rexine? and fabric door panels just now. They are in good condition, as is the interior door wood. Thse panels have large interior cutouts facing the door interior (ventilation?), which are covered with muslin. The exterior of the doors seems to have been covered with a thin layer of Bondo on top of the exterior plywood and then painted with weatherproof paint (prob about 1968).
Inside the doors, the plywood is painted black, and I see what could be interpreted as a chalked "558", upside down, inside the driver's door, near the hinges, as though someone leaned in and wrote it while standing next to the car.
Probably easier to send you photos, if you want.
John I'm new to this site and can't find any Sunshine messages dated earlier than 19th July. Let's start again - what's the problem and how can I help? I would love to see the photographs of your car. Do you have my email address or do I have to send that to you privately?
Thanks for the pictures. You certainly have plenty of work to do but, as you may already know, the attraction of Austin Sevens is that spares are cheap and readily available over here and you don't need specialist equipment or even a great depth of technical knowledge to tackle one of these.
Regarding your comment about the timber I used when rebuilding the body , the majority of the original body shell framework - the skeleton - *was* reused although one of the front door posts had warped very badly and had to be replaced. The frame was subsequently covered with new one eighth birch ply. It's possible thatI may even still have the warped post. The floor pan was a different matter. The car had succumbed to the fatal design flaw of this particular model and the floor had snapped behind the front seats and the body subsequently sagged down on to the rear wheeels. This was, apparently, a well-documented feature of the time!
I'm very interested to know more about why you think you have a GE, rather than a standard Austin saloon? The number 61767 on the frame is the chassis number, M62052 is the engine number. Both date from mid 1928 and are entirely compatible with the May 1928 date you tell me is stamped on the axle diff case. I look forward to seeing a good quality picture of your original floor pan and the inside of the doors. Is it possible you could post your pictures to a public site where everybody can access them? Model engineer friends of mine use a site called 'Photobucket' Perhaps the photo gallery here could host them?
I'm currently trying to find an old folder which may have a few unpublished pictures of the body frame. Do you have both of The Automobile mag articles, January and February 1988, which featured the car?
Well done, Mike. For the benefit of we lesser mortals, while we're waiting for our Americasn friend to come back to us, perhaps you'd be kind enough to describe the precise mechanics of including that picture in your posting. I can't see any obvious way of doing it and it obviously has great potential in this particular context.
Good thinking Batman!
I have just re-posted the instructions for uploading pics to the Forum under a separate heading 'Putting Thumbnail Pictures on the Forum - part 2' as it might be of encouragement to others also.
Excellent. Thank you. 'Nuff said!
Playing "catch-up" as usual.
I really need to check the email more often.
My (flexible)view that this is a GE-SS is based on the photo sent me by David Cochrane, originally from Bernard Griffiths, showing my car in mid-60s London. All hardware in the photo matches what I have, even to the small dent/crease in the nearest front wing. I'm curious that the rear wings seem to be the older Type-B. Of course, somebody could have rebuilt it before that date - I'm open to discussion - you guys are the experts.
- I'll get on the photos you mentioned - hopefully this week.
What I meant to say is that the rear wings on mine (now) seem to be the older Type-B.
Looks very familiar!
Hey - things move slower here - we are in a different time zone!
(or was it an alternate reality??)
There have been lots of phone calls at this end and friends have now filled me in on the background to all this. I understand you have the remains of the car which was shipped to the US by Frank Dale & Stepson in the sixties.
I gather that all the distinctive GE features have been lost, together with most of the body. What a tragedy! Do you at least have the windscreen and opener?
As I think you know, 'my' car is now owned by Bernard Griffiths and he is the only one who can supply you with dimensions. I spoke to him today and he's quite willing to do this. Unfortunately, he doesn't have Internet access so I will pass his address and phone number to you by e-mail off list and you can contact him directly.
I've managed to find a couple of unpublished photographs which show the body of my car under construction. However, I doubt that they will show much that can't be seen in The Automobile articles which you have. It will probably be Friday before I can get them up on Photobucket as per Mike Whittome's excellent instructions.
Good luck with your difficult challenge!
Ooops! Sorry about the duplication. There are six images, each of two or three seperate frames.
Much help - Thanks ever so much!
These photos are a great step forward much detail of car and woodwork.
- Wish I had taken some of my car.
About all I have are one, maybe two old Polaroids.
Once I took off the metal roof covering and Bondo, I did have the open roof with cross-pieces and center light socket, along with a groove at the rear to hold the rolled-up roof cover. All that is gone now, of course.
My dash is different (rectangular), and the windscreen was fixed (no opener), which leads me to believe even more strongly that it was rebuilt before leaving the UK. I know I had no GE medallions.
Wish the GE company records still existed.
OK, here's prob more than you want to know about my little car:
Still have instrument panel to do, maybe today!
For a look at some shiny cars, try:
Yearly car show at Portland, Oregon, just across the Columbia River from us.
....and still they're found!
There's no doubt that this *is* another Sunshine and it is/was KO 9954 which was shipped to the USA in the early sixties. (I seem to recall that 20,000 were built but I could be wrong) It was 'rebuilt' for advertising purposes in the USA and John Edwards bought it in 1969. He removed the body in 1969 and, in his own words "My mistake was in removing the body and (Bosch?)wiring - I never got it back together, and the chassis had its share of rainy days, even in Tucson. The body shell, I regret, is long gone - about 1978." Not only has the body shell gone but it also appears to have lost most of the distinctive little features which make GEs so interesting.
Being such a rare, car it's difficult to be definitive and say with certainty that some of the bits that John has were not on the car when it left Wembley in 1928. However, mainly for John's benefit, I'll comment on some of his excellent pictures, in the order in which they appear, and try and suggest what's worth keeping and what's a product of 'creative engineering' at some undefined point along the trail. My comments are based upon the restoration of my own Sunshine from 1981 to 1984 and former ownership of both a GE Cup and a GE Stadium. Anybody wants to disagree or add their own penneth - feel free!
3469. Dash Panel. Crude and certainly not original, except for the Smith's clock! See my own 'as found' dash panel picture elsewhere in the thread. I don't recognise any of the switches or other fittings except for a (fifties?) Lucas indicator switch.
3371 etc. Door. Correct and largely intact. Glass is correct although the sliding pane appears to be missing The sliding latch is pure GE but somebody has refaced the interior panel, incorporating the oval slider surround but has left out the pocket which, fortunately, is still visible in outline on the back face.
3300 etc. Floor Pan. Not much one can say! Just a few rotted fragments from the back end but obviously useful if John decides to have a go at rebuilding a GE body. The simple bracket visible top rear, with similar ones at the feet of the two front door pillars, carries the weight of the outer body shell, including doors, windscreen etc.
3276 etc. Bonnet. My bonnet handles are 'standard' horizontal 1928 A7 type rather than these unusual vertical handles. I can't see any empty holes in the pictures and I can't think why anybody might want to change the original handles if these are not original? The corners of the lower panels are missing. Each section of my bonnet was fabric covered with a thin metal 'U' shaped trim covering the edges at front and rear. My car has screw-type locking catches. The picture of KO 9954 in London shows a badly fitting bonnet which appears to be painted?
3232 etc. Scuttle. Much chopped about but definately 'fabricated' GE, and unlike the 'standard' 28 scuttle which is generally flat. Note the 'heater' slots in the passenger's footwell and the bit of box section on the correponding underside. The holder for spare bulbs is a nice little touch which I didn't have. Lucas 6v regulator and fuse box are correct. The large piece of plate across the front of the scuttle has been added and is not original. Can somebody please tell me what is the item connected to the loom and visible in the middle of 3232...a bit of switch panel??
3441 and 3227. Tunnel Cover. Can anbody identify the hinged panel in the foreground. It appears to be metal and only the narrower section on the right has holes, suggesting it's an opening lid of some sort. Perhaps it's something somebody fitted to the (missing) wooden floorpan tunnel to allow access to the chassis for servicing? I have not seen this on any other GE.
3386. Seats. Wooden construction, Identical to my own, even down to the moth holes! However, I can't make out what's appears to be a metal clip of some sort on the front of each squab. John, give us a better picture! I suspect whatever they are were added and are not original.
3227 etc. Other Fittings. The major comment here is that the gear lever appears to be completely wrong for a 28 car. Can anybody say if that's also a 1929 gearbox? It has a long ball change lever, not introduced until (late?) 1929, rather than the shorter gate change one. The battery box has an open side, I think mine had four. Sidelights are standard period Lucas and are, together with the Boyce Motometer and the badge bar, the same as shown in the London picture. I'm twenty years out of A7s now and don't have much reference material any more. It would be helpful if somebody with good eyes would have a look at the rear wings. John has a concern that they may be of a 'later type' - I can't find his actual comment - are they compatible with a May/June 1928 car? I don't see a petrol tank,which should have a float and an articulated arm which connects it to the back of the specialy made GE petrol guage on the dash. I don't see a magneto and I don't recognise the circular flange on the steering box, where the column joins it. Perhaps it's just me being out of touch. Sadly, John tells me has no windscreen frame. Bummer!
Conclusion. It would be difficult enough over here to restore this car, with the ready availability of spares and reference material. He sure has a mountain to climb if he's going to rebuild it as he wishes!
Just to correct one minor mistake. My Sunshine doesn't have any bonnet handles of any sort, just the screw-down catches. I was getting confused with my 28 Top Hat.
Wow - too much to reply to completely right now - I'll have to make a list.
I can't express how grateful I am to you guys who are interested and sending photos, tips, etc. If only I had had contact with somebody knowledgeable years ago, well, you know what I mean.
The Austin/Bantam Society in the U.S. now includes A7s in their membership, and is about to put me in touch with a good engine rebuilder, if it looks like too much for me (prob will).
I just posted shots of a forgotten piece to Photobucket a few minutes ago - the rear seat (vertical seatback), which of course has been six feet from all this excitement in plain view. Reupholstered, but the wood looks original(?)- and box construction. Think I have the (crunchy-centered) seat pad somewhere also. The bracket at the rear of my floor pan also bolts to the seat back, but the bracket on the seat looks new.
The ring bracket on the steering column holds a felt seal, and bolts to the floor to keep out mice.
Petrol tank and gauge were as Chris describes, but gauges have wandered (still looking, may have them yet), and tank was "nicked" by persons partly unknown.
Sorry to hear that the rectangular instrument panel is prob a fixup - I was (am still) hoping it might be a GE variant - somebody surely went to a lot of trouble to imbed two long carriage bolts with heads under the top shiny lamination layer to support the whole thing. We'll see.
Please, anybody with input, join in!
They say you stay mentally active by learning new things - and now I have to learn mountain climbing..... I'm ready.
- John (magneto and clip pics to come, prob today)
Chris - tried to find the mystery part on 3232.
I think you get a better look at it in3414, 3416, and especially #3406.
I'll take another shot of it and post.
Sorry about the fuzzy outdoor shot - should have known to use a tripod, even in sunlight.
Self-corrections while I'm thinking of it:
The rear seat bracket I mentioned does not bolt to the floor pan, but probably linked to a spot below the rear window to hold it upright.
I have not mentioned the lower shroud/splash guards/? below the engine - they are alumin(i)um - is that unusual on a saloon chassis?
I think the 'mystery' item in 3406 1s probably a horn, not A7, I'm afraid. Similarly your rear seat back isn't anything like the original, which had a dozen or so pleats across its width, like your front seat squabs (cushions). You may well find the original, or some of it, beneath that horrible cover which seems contemporary with the door liningsl. Needless to say the bracket is also wrong - and unnecessary - the top edge of the rear seat back is attached to the timber waistband of the car by hidden tacks. The cushion for the back seat is also fluted and just sits in place without any need for restraint. See below for original.
I don't think you have a problem with your rear wings. The only reference I have is "The Austin Seven" by R J Wyatt, which suggests that Type B (your wings) were fitted between 1926 and 1928. My car has the same type.
incidentally, the same book, page 177, tells me that 1024 GE saloons were made in 1928. That's a much more credible figure than the 20,000 I talked about earlier - I can't think where I got that nonesense from!
Finally back - regarding the "mystery part" attached in the wiring in 3406 and others (STILL need a better angle on this).
Prob not a horn - I had one, with a holey diaphram, but in one piece. - it attached by the two-bolt bracket on top of the block - see in #3590.
Guess I should have mentioned - when I talked with the Truly Nolen (the US owner) restoration workshop people just after buying it, they told me it had been reupholstered by their usual shop in Tucson, Arizona.
So all the inside of the doors, seats, and some of the headliner were probably naugahide or something, not leather. Once I looked behind the inner roof layer, I saw the characteristic "X" and center lamp-holder of the Sunshine model. On buying R.J. Wyatt's book in 1976, I saw his illustrations and was sure that is what I had. There are original strips of the Rexine around the doors, and covering the bonnet. I "think" the carpet is original material, and it is also on the lower rear of the front seats.
The top of the roof was covered over with bondo and possibly sheet metal.
I can't imagine what happened to the inner flats of the rear wings - see 3609 & 3606 - it looks like the metal ripped under the stress of the overweight body.
Can the flats have been welded in later?
After I bought it, I found that the weight of the body was supported on a short piece of leaf spring across the driveshaft tunnel, just forward of the rear axle. That is the point in 1969 when I decided to remove the body.
I know this is in no way a full collection of original parts, and cannot come up to the level of the other GE-SS as far as utilization of original wood, but I promised myself long ago (decades!) that I would try to restore it as best I could. I'm learning more with every email, and do truly appreciate all input.
As to the question about the gearshift, I've posted a closeup of the part number under the "lid". I'm embarassed about the red rust on the gears, but it seems to be surface only.
Still I have no idea what the dashboard/instrument panel is made of - ?