Saturday, 14 February 2009

We have lift-off...

After a few false starts due to the heavy snow we finally had the 53 Flying Cloud in the workshop &

had rigged up a bespoke gantry & chain hoist. We'd both been doing our homework; looking at blogs & speaking to fellow restorers. There seems to be a split between the 'bracers' and the 'non-bracers', though I think a lot depends on how & where you're going to apply that lifting force.

We'd decided the best option was to lift from a single central point and then spread the load evenly by using a full-length timber beam (12ft x 4"x 4")... and we'd decided NOT to brace.

Its relatively straighforward to drill out all the rivets on the outside of the skin but, as I mentioned in previous posts, they constructed the chassis, floor & belly-wrap before attaching the frame and lower panels - I'm sure later years are different - so you get rivets joining the belly-wrap to the upright frames but inside the outer skin. You can knock off the bucked backs with a cold chisel but often they still snag in the hole. We found that a thin cheap (because you'll knacker it...!) chisel was the best to slide down in between the belly skin & the frame to knock the rivet out of the frame hole without damaging the outer skin. There's also a fair amount of Vulkem or adhesive between the outer skin & belly-wrap so a decorator's flexible scraper was the easiest way of breaking that bond.

Of course you think you've got them all out but as you start lifting, the body comes free in places & not in others. Taking the pressure off & freeing up those problem areas before lifting again worked really well & the very controllable force of the chain-lift meant we soon had her free all round...

... and up she went.

... enough room for the tallest Texan in his tallest hat !

The beam spread the load perfectly and, though we had a further line through the two other removed Hehr vents to keep her hanging straight, she balanced almost perfectly on that centre point.

With hindsight, I think the decision not to brace the shell was spot-on as it allowed a little flexing when one area came free whilst others stuck. Had it been rigidly braced it may have allowed too much pressure to build up on those bracing points.

And once up the shell is flexible but holds its shape perfectly. The beam had been carefully (& evenly) padded so not to mark the roof panels and now supports her comfortably.

... A Flying Flying Cloud !


  1. Very cool, now I could easily walk into your trailer whilst wearing my 10-gallon Stetson. :)

    Glad to see your progress, keep up the good work!


  2. To put this in straight up English terms... "bloody brilliant"....

  3. Thanks Frank & Marcus. And for the excellent English terminology Frank ! Much appreciated. There was a lot of prep and a certain amount of nervousness but it all went really well. I'm glad we didn't brace the shell - I know Colin @ GSM recommends it and usually I'd take everything he says as gospel, but however carefully you've drilled all the rivets, things always snag and the body comes free in some area & not others and I really think if it had all been braced it wouldn't have been allowed to flex as this happened. When she was all free the shell holds its shape beautifully but I think that's a result of lifting along the whole length of the roof.
    Cheers & I hope you got your 54 Safari home safe.

  4. Chris, I just read through your blog from the beginning. What a great Flying Cloud you have! I'm happy that you were able to find your replacement window. They are often hard to come by. The vintage plate rocks! You've tackled this resto straight on. Good work! I'll be watching for more.

  5. Thanks Dacia. Yes, I was very lucky with the window but we all need a bit of luck now & again. Your boy Elvis is quite something - enjoying your blog, keep it up too.