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John Goodall

Building and racing retro tethered cars

Harry Howlett inspired Oliver

The Oliver cars were all designed by Harry Howlett and all drawings from the factory acknowledge this. Although the production cars are best described as semi-scale, Harry had his own version of each to which he added huge amounts of detail, louvres, exhausts, mirrors, windscreens, cockpit detail and more. As John Goodall describes below, he has applied a similar treatment to a standard version of the Oliver Mercedes.

This is the  Mercedes/Redfin twin shaft I purchased at Buckminster, which I have been doing some work on as shown. I decided to add front suspension and some detail and thought others might be interested in how I approached this. I obtained a Mercedes pin badge off ebay for the Mercedes motif on the nose, one cost £1.50 and the other £2.99 I think, including postage.  You could not make them for that and the finish is good too? The 0.04” diameter wire was straightened with pliers and then threaded 14BA which is just about the correct start size. I shall make a nut to secure it in position after painting. The front suspension is again 0.032” spring steel with riveted on stub axles as was described for the ZN car. These were left longer than on the ZN car so that the slots already cut in the top half were utilised to support the axle from road shocks. The spring steel was cut using a Dremel cutting disc and drilled using Cobalt drills as described for the ZN.

The grill was made from SS mesh I had in stock and I made a male former to slightly less in size than the aperture shape with which to bend the mesh over, but quickly found that the curvature was not maintained due to spring back. I then made a female block gouged out using a chisel to match the concave curvature and this helped greatly in maintaining the shape. The two parts are clamped in the vice which effectively forms the curvature on the mesh and then the edges are carefully turned over with light hammer blows leaving a broader strip at the base so it can be fixed to the body as shown. I pierced the holes using a scriber to start and increased the size with an awl. I thought drilling might be awkward and possibly dangerous, as the edges are very sharp and can cut fingers?

The detail added included dummy windscreen, rear view mirrors and an exhaust pipe and I shall finish paint in Mercedes Silver stove enamel with red or black Vinyl racing numbers. These numerals are available on ebay fairly cheaply and come with multiples of each type of number on one sheet.  Great care is needed if applying these stickers dry as once positioned and in contact with the surface they will not come off, or move. Wetting the surface with a slightly detergent solution to give some slideability is advised by some vinyl users. This can be squeegeed out using a credit card, or similar plastic padding applicator. I have used these on vintage motorcycle tanks and when clear lacquered on top are far better and more durable than transfers which can lift, especially in the presence of petrol.