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A new home,

I went and viewed the Boat – It was even more fetid than the photos suggested and had been sat in the middle of Bembridge harbour for eight years untouched.


There was a large area of the foredeck which you could push a kitchen spoon through it was so soft with rot, Beneath this area of deck was a watertight compartment which it wasn’t possible to gain access to in order to see if the leak above had caused structural damage to the hull or not.


The rest of the boat was damp and mouldy but retained most of its original fittings which was a bonus.


Scraping at the inside of the hull above the coal bunker with a kitchen spoon revealed that it was Teak rather than the more common mahogany construction (which rots faster than a strut top on a mk1 scrote)

Based purely on this I made an insultingly low offer, telling myself the 18ft of 3″ Bronze propeller shafting and prop were worth as much in scrap.


As the boat could only be moved out of its mooring on a high spring tide there was only a week or two before the boat would have to be moved or it would be another couple of months for a high enough tide.


The offer was grudgingly accepted and a new mooring was arranged.


Heres a Video showing me bringing the Boat alongside at the new mooring behind the Newport Travel-inn who I’d annoy with my un-silenced single cylinder air cooled Lister Diesel Generator for the next 6 years.

Apologies for the crap quality I think it was recorded on my little sisters phone:



The exhaust note sounds shit as it was running through a watercooled silencer.






I proceeded to remove the wheelhouse and investigate the rotten deck which turned out to be beyond repair.


The Original Teak planked deck and Oak deck beams had been replaced with plywood during privatisation of the RMAS arm of the navy in the early 90′s and had obviously been done with a very short lifespan in mind (New boats had been ordered as part of the privatisation).

The bottom of the steel coachroof was also badly corroded and required repair.


Theres a bit of a gap in the photos for 6 months or so until Joe came over (probably during the IOW  Rock festival?)


By this point I’d removed the wheelhouse and foredeck and cut 4″ off the bottom of the aft cabintop ready for replacement as well as having made a start on removing 40 years of flaking paint off the steelwork:




The forecabin had had the carpet removed (which was nailed down and infested with earwiggs), Also the hardboard linings had been removed from the inside of the hull revealing the original slatted wood lining and allowing an assessment of the hulls condition to be made. this cabin had become a bit of a workshop as well as being my living space:




The original Esse solid fuel range had been treated to several buckets of fire cement and was doing a good job of providing heat and cooking facilities:




The well where the original wheelhouse would have been:


1966 Harbour Launch (Diesel)

Starting from the beginning….

Back in early 2006 I came across a advert online ( for a 52ft ex Admiralty Harbour Launch “Project”. The price was £6000 ono and the location was fairly local.

Having  a bit of a soft spot for anything ex commercial I emailed for more details and photos.

When I got a reply back it turned out the then owner had bought her direct from the navy disposals agency in 1997 with the intention of using her for line fishing in the channel.

Once he had purchased the boat and made some *tastefull modifications it had rapidly become apparent that as the boat needed 6ft of water to float and his mooring only had 5ft of water except on spring tides that this commercial enterprise was doomed to failure!

The photos I received:




Aft Cabin with Brackets from the towing horse that had been removed:




Forward Cabin, the thing on the left is a homemade anchor apparently:



This bit of damage to the bow of the boat was described as the only area that needed repair:



Wheelhouse interior complete with an obsolete decca navigation system whos sattelite had been turned off for years:




Forward cabin looking towards the bow:




Forward cabin looking aft:




Water tank/galley in the forecabin:




The bit that really interested me – Foden 2 stroke Supercharged Diesel with only a few hundred hours on the clock since a complete MOD rebuild by Rolls Royce:




Bollard on the foredeck:








Aft Cabin:




For some unknown reason it was decided to go and view the boat in person – maybe it would be better in reality than the photos?…

Engine Balancing – November 2013

A small update:
The replacement engine for the Rebel is now well underway – The crankshaft has been polished (which took 2 zirconium flap discs, 40meters of emery tape and 3 days) This should reduce stress risers and oil-cling.
The Crank, Flywheel, Clutch Cover, Timing Sprocket, Front Pulley etc have all been dynamically balanced down to less than half a gram. Each item was individually balanced before being assembled together – this means if I want to change the flywheel or another component in the future it will not necessitate stripping the whole engine down for re-balancing.

The connecting rods have been polished and balanced not only to the same weight but to the same weight distribution between little and big ends. Pistons (Hepolites) have been balanced as well. The Balancing was carried out by David Martin at Swaymar Engineering, a name that speaks for itself…
The crank, Rods, Flywheel etc are all brand new old stock items made before reliant quality control started to slip!.

Crankshaft after polishing:

And back from the Balancers:

Showing some of the holes drilled in the clutch cover for balancing:

And flywheel balancing:

Oil holes in the crank have also been lightly chamfered and the journals polished:

Front pulley has been faced up in a lathe as it was a rough casting,
I may have to swap this for a smaller toothed pulley depending on clearance around the external oilpump conversion:

Balance drillings:

Con Rods – You can just see where the third rod from the left has been turned in a lathe to remove meat from around the outer edge of the big end:

Nos Hepolites which were surprisingly well balanced straight out the box. Still – they’re now all balanced to exactly the same weight!

Showing where material has been removed from the skirt:

And finally a pretty bit of paper to prove I spent lots of money!:

Update For 2013

It’s been ages since this thread was updated, mostly as its been on the road being used and enjoyed! Since I last updated it was involved in an accident (a mondeo owner decided to reverse into it) and its since been repaired, (done in house rather than left to insurance.) It’s passed another MOT in september with one advisory for an oil leak!

The big changes are the wheels which have been widened! The standard 12″ diameter wheels have gone from 3.5J all round to 5.5J at the rear and 4.5J on the fronts. This gives a benefit in grip and handling, as well as adding a subtle dish to the wheels which really increases their kerb appeal. The wider wheels have also been fitted with new Falken tyres, Since the photos were taken its also been treated to new shiny chrome hub caps.

The dash still needs to come out for a coat of paint and some new vinyl on the top. There are plans to send a number of bits off for chroming including the gear stick, dash heater vent surrounds, sun visor mounts, gear stick and handbrake surrounds. There’s also a plan to re-introduce period Britax seatbelts (chromed, of course!)

Outside the front indicators have been swapped for clear glass lenses, (some rebels appear like this in the advertising material.) A new old stock rear bumper has been fitted! replacing a slightly pitted original. I’m still on the lookout for a perfect front bumper to match! (although most of the mondeo dent has now been removed) In the near future the grill is going to be fitted with a stainless mesh to help protect the radiator.

The engine is still the 600cc engine that was dropped in as a temporary measure and has coped with the unfair demands put on it far better than we ever thought it would! It has a tendency to burn oil though and what it doesnt burn it chucks out the crankcase breather at an alarming rate… It also returns a fairly shocking mid 20′s mpg! The plan is still to drop in a tuned custom built race engine, which is in progress. This can’t turn out to be any less fuel efficient even with the Dellorto FZD I’m planning on fitting!.

An order has just been placed for a set of fully adjustable Gaz shocks and springs which will hopefully further enhance the handling.  :)

As seen here in some recent photos:

Showing new wheels and tyres:

Work on the front brake Disc conversion is almost finished – I’ve been working on a setup allowing disc brakes to be used with the original 12″ road wheel diameter. A standard Spitfire setup has clearance issues as well as being the wrong PCD, after much thought (or speculation?) I’ve come up with a solution which should be more than adequate for a Rebel….

This is a unique setup utilizing machined Vauxhall Firenza Hubs with turned steel adapter rings to take re-drilled triumph Spitfire Discs running on modified Scimitar 5 – early5a stub axles attached to New old Stock Triumph Spitfire Vertical Links, Inner bearings are on a specially turned 316 stainless spacer on which the Lip type hub seal also runs. Calipers are Genuine Girling type 14′s with new pistons and seals fitted with Mintex pads intended for an Austin Maxi!.
Whilst this might sound like a complex nightmare it should mean that future service parts (bearings, Discs, seals etc)will be readily available off the shelf with only the stub axles requiring turning down in a lathe, it also increases the front track width by 2″ which combined with the wider wheels should make the car handle even better than at present.

This shows the Viva Hub attached to the Spitfire disc:

Rear view showing the adapter ring mounted inside the disc:

Spitfire Vertical link and dustshields:

Rebuilt Type14 Caliper:

Complete Assembly:

Another modification I’ve been working on is a fully synchro’ Gearbox – The early semi-synchro rebel Gearbox is derived from the Regal  but has a much longer mainshaft and a tailshaft extension with remote gearchange mounted on top – This remote is a precise feeling short throw setup which gained much praise in period reviews (virtually always considered best in its class). Later 750cc Rebels have a fully synchro gearbox but lost the remote change, as well as having synchromesh on first/second this box also benefits from a higher ratio gearset and better parts availability (close ratio gear-sets are also available for this box!). I decided to build a gearbox based on the 750 box but having the benefits of the early boxes Remote Change, this is complicated somewhat as reverse is a longer throw on the later box as well as being in a different position.

Having decided to create the ultimate Rebel gearbox it stood to reason the antiquated carbon clutch release bearing setup should be engineered out – Later three wheelers use a Ford Fiesta/escort roller bearing clutch – although this was only made as a cable operated setup. I’ve decided on a hydraulically operated system as this will be smoother and more robust, this has required welding bushes into the bell-housing to take a vertical cross-shaft to mount the Ford bearing on.
All Rebels (and most 3 wheelers) are fitted with inertia starters – When starting from hot it inevitably takes two or three attempts before the engine fully catches as the inertia starter gets kicked out as soon as the engine try’s to fire.

Very late three wheelers have a pre-engaged starter and therefore a different bell-housing, unfortunately these gearboxes are not compatible with a Rebel tailshaft extension so I’ve taken a section from one of these later bell-housing and welded it into my inertia gearbox.

The end result will be a Franken’Gearbox which will have synchromesh on all gears. Short throw remote gearchange, Pre-engaged starter and Hydrualicly operated Ford Roller Bearing Clutch, This is built using entirely New old Stock components with the exception of the Mainshaft and the case.

Overview of modified gearbox with remote change unfitted:

Section removed from original bell-housing:

Showing section from late pre-engaged box welded in and (unfinished) clutch operating shaft and arm fitted:

Arrangement of Ford release bearing – Note newly drilled inspection hole filled with rubber plug for checking bearing once fitted to car:

I’ve modified the flywheel from the standard 3 bolt fixing:….

And drilled and threaded the crankshaft to suit:….

As a reward for reading this far here’s a Video of the Rebel razzing it’s knackers off down the Military Road…

Seat Covers & Anto Roll Bar

Brief update on the Red Rebel,

Since I last posted about it The seats repaired and retrimmed by the trimmer at the boatyard where Dave works in keeping with their striking origonal colourscheme. They’ve come out really well and they are really very comfortable.

A new set of door cards were made at the same time as the seats. These use plastic backs rather than the original hardboard so they should be far more hard wearing. The door cards are waiting for the final fit which requires another order of weatherstrip! then the handles and trim can go back. If anyone has a decent set of red door pulls we’d very interested (believed to be the same as escort mk1 and Anglia.)  There is also a new set of sunvisors to go in too!

The arm rests are a sightly different to the original spec as they are trimmed all the way round with edging.

From then Its passed into regular use with Dave using as his main car, it still has the 600cc engine fitted which is now getting a bit tired and is burning a lot of oil, there are suspicions about a rumbling big end and the solex carb has will only fuel it with the choke left on a bit  :shock: . The gearbox has also developed a nasty wine in second suggesting it too will need attention in the not too distant future.

With this in mind I delivered a tidy Low mileage (less than 17k) 850 to the island at the end of last week. This is to act as a bit of a safety net if the 600cc engine finally quits. The 750cc race engine has taken longer to develop than we’d have liked and is currently waiting for some machining; the crank wants a polish and the whole setup needs rebalancing. Other exciting goodies supplied include a Stainless exhaust system and a rebuilt fully synchro gearbox which is going to be fitted with the early type tailshaft (retaining the gear stick position where it is at the moment.) all of which are there as future projects.

As a final activity while over on the island the saloon was fitted with a nice new accessory… a front anti roll bar! this was a bit experimental as we were unsure how much difference it would make or how well it would fit. Photo shows one of the mounts which had just been welded on.

The wishbones already have the mountings for the drop-links so they were a straightforward fit.

Shown here with the anti-rollbar  in place


The handling has been significantly improved, there is a substantial reduction in bodyroll particularly when cornering and it has given a real improvement in the handling through sharp bends and chicanes. The improvement is marked and I’ll definitely be going for a similar setup for the van as soon as the budget allows. There is a slight downside which is about a 1″ reduction in ground clearance,  possibly something that can be mitigated on the later style chassis (like the van  :D )