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Classic car keeps cool...with help from Watton

PUBLISHED: 11:38 10 July 2010 | UPDATED: 14:51 02 August 2010

IT is not the kind of car radiator you can find down at the local parts showroom.

The 1899 Panhard's snaking set of cooling pipes are a piece of inventive Victorian engineering - and replacing them was proving a headache for its local enthusiast owners - until local experts stepped in to help.

IT is not the kind of car radiator you can find down at the local parts showroom.

The 1899 Panhard's snaking set of cooling pipes are a piece of inventive Victorian engineering - and replacing them was proving a headache for its local enthusiast owners - until local experts stepped in to help.

But the classic car is keeping its cool again thanks to Ladbrook Engineering at North Walsham, which made the toolings to produce the metal “gills”, and a Carbonelite at Watton who helped bake the assembly together.

In its day the Panhard was at the forefront of automotive technology as one of the first to have its engine at the front, and is believed to have been commissioned and built for Charles Rolls who went on to establish Rolls Royce.

It is now kept at the Gressenhall Rural Life Museum and maintained by a team of enthusiasts who had been looking to replace its complex radiator for two years.

They were keen to replicate the original design, did engineering drawings, then had to find the expertise to make the parts.

Ladbrooks, a long-established company which makes parts for power showers to power stations, tackled the challenge and used its pressed metal skills to make the gills.

Senior development engineering Gerry Turner said: “The Victorians were great engineers and this part has a very complex geometery. This was a very challenging design that absorbed using many man-hours of engineering time.”

But the tools were now there if the radiator needed another rebuild “in another 100 years or so,” he added.

Pipework made by Beehive Coils at Newmarket, adhesive from Loctite and bonding by Carbonelite resulted in the finished radiator, which Panhard team leader Philip Waltham said “looks wonderful and is performing well”.

Replacing it would have been impossible without the help of the local firms.

“This project has been an excellent example of local industry assisting the community. Without their help it would have been prohibitively expensive,” he added.

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