by Daniel Bysouth
With the Rolls Royce now painted and the refit nearly completed, it was time for the painter to flat and polish the whole vehicle.
We used low bake cellulose paint and we flat and polished every job to ensure the smoothest and cleanest of finishes. It had been decided that our number one apprentice painter, Steve, would take the Rolls job on all alone.
He was only a year ahead of me but was, even then, one of the best refinishers around at that time. He wanted two weeks to do the polishing and after carefully flatting the surface with 1500 wet-n-dry he buffed it with an electric polisher, making sure he didn't get it to hot and burn through. When he had done it looked fantastic. It just happened that at the time we had the company magazine people doing a spread on our CBR floor.
The magazine was called THE LINK. The article was called' THE LITTLE PLACE WITH A BIG REPUTATION '. It was published monthly and I believe it may have been backed by Inc Cape. They took pictures of the car and the main beater on the shell, Rod. Everyone got a mention, even me; I was named simply ' a coach building apprentice ', but I didn't let it go to my head!
With the Rolls polished we could put the mouldings on the sides and sills. Plastic cups were pushed into the predrilled holes in the panels; metal clips were placed into the moulding and carefully shaped onto the car. On any other car that would be the finish, but on Rollers we had to seal all around each moulding with a product called 'DUM DUM, GLASTICON PUTTY’. I still have a tin in the man cave.
You would smooth a small amount of putty all around the moulding with your finger, and then with a plastic windscreen tool, carefully shave the putty down so it was only slightly visible, but totally water proofing the moulding. This was standard for all mouldings on a Rolls or a Bentley. It was time-consuming but these were top range vehicles.
It was only a matter of a couple of days before the owner picked up his pride and joy. The Works Manager and our body shop manager were there and we were told later that the owner was over the moon. It still remains one of the most enjoyable and biggest jobs I have ever been involved in.
One morning setting off to work on my trusty sports moped, a Yamaha FS1-e, Mum reminded me that the family from London were visiting and I should pop home at lunch to say hello. So at midday I set off home in the middle of a rainstorm. At home it wasn't raining; when I got back to work it was still coming down really heavy.
The water was flowing like a small river right through the main garage and out the front entrance. However, it was also flowing into the showrooms which were fronted by three massive sliding doors. The water was building up in there and having four or five new cars in there the keys were needed to open these doors but Brian the workshop coordinator was out the back taking care of the petrol pumps. Someone told me to get him here now!, so off I ran, told him what was going on and he said that I should take his place and help one of the mechanics.
All the time more and more rain fell and it was so heavy it was forcing up the drain covers in the roads. Some of the guys up in the CBR floor had not even come down to help; I only got collared as I was coming back from lunch. The mechanic I was told to help was backing the Land Rover break down to the front of our wash bay. As I got to him I looked into the bay and there was a Morris Marina in there and the water was already up to the door handles!
Darrel gave me the tow rope and I waded in up to my waist. He had tried to push out the car on his own but couldn't do it alone. He had left off the hand brake and done all the windows up. I had to get under the back of the car (under water), loop the rope round the back axle and then gave the other end to Darrel to hook on the Land Rover. Slowly out came the Marina, and as God is my witness, there was hardly any water inside. We were lucky. The Works Manager appeared and thanked us for what we had done.
We looked like drowned rats. Imagine the scene later on the CBR floor. In the ovens were the clothes of all the guys who had helped with the flood, and racks of t shirts, jeans, pants, socks and loads of shoes were all baking away in the oven. And then there was the cast of "The Full Monty" all sitting nearly naked waiting for their clothes, what a sight!
Just another day in that rich tapestry they called my apprenticeship.
Next time: seeing double, and Keith and myself learn about the new Rover SD1 front screens
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