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Dedicated to the memory of the late Brian Archer who fulfilled his dream to re-create John Sprinzel's Sebring Sprite Coupé

 

4646 UE ~ A new Sprinzel Coupé ?

A tired old Sebring Sprite transformed.

Soon after Paul Tarry acquired Mike Youles' Fastback Sebring JT 51 he came to realise that he needed a car with FIA HTPapers if he wanted to compete in historic events. So when the ex-Craig Chapman alloy panelled bodyshell came up for sale in the Spring (2013) he purchased it. Very luckily it was not long afterwards that a genuine standard-bodied Sebring in a sorry state appeared on ebay. Paul was the successful bidder, and now plans to combine these two cars to produce a "new" Sprinzel Sebring Coupe for racing that will be very detailed and to the original build standard.

Earlier this month (Nov '13) Paul sent me an update on progress. "4646UE is now fully stripped and all major mechanical components are being refurbished. With regard to the alloy body - after carrying out a full inspection I found a number of areas that required additional work to bring it up to an acceptable standard.  Barry Carter, who normally works on Porsche 911’s and vintage car bodies has been commissioned to carry out the re-work. The attached photo (right) is of the car on Barry’s measuring rig before commencement of the re-work, and I’m expecting this phase to be complete by Christmas. I am also now busy locating key parts and have Andy Bradley to thank for locating the rear brakes assemblies, and Dave Wood of Orson Equipment Ltd for the Sebring hubs".

11 June 2015: Paul has rebuilt the front suspension assemblies, and steering rack, and the  rear axle and suspension now have be built up. He expects to have the gearbox completed by the end of this week, and the body shell is currently being prepared for paint so he expects to bolt some bits on soon !

More will follow.

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4646 UE
Craig's aluminium bodyshell
4646 UE
4646 UE with Ashley bonnet
4646 UE Sad under-bonnet area 4646 UE
Work being carried out...
4646UE
on the alloy panels

Barry Carter reports: "Initial attempts to offer up the front and rear screens did not look encouraging at all.  The glass front screen appeared flatter than the bodywork, leaving gaps of nearly one inch at the A-pillars.  Furthermore the best positioning of the screen still left larger gaps at the top than the bottom, particularly to the nearside.  The initial position of the screen also suggested that there was a sharp kink between the screen top and the roof.  The over-upright angle also meant the A-pillars themselves were wider at the top than the bottom.

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The Perspex rear screen had similar issues, indeed there was no one area where there was a consistent fit.  The flexibility of the screen both frustrated and helped the rectification.  On the one hand it made it hard to establish one definite shape, but on the other it offered a degree of compliance if needed later on.

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There were further challenges to the rest of the new bodywork.  Each door differed from its Sister, as did the gaps side to side.  The roof was noticeable misshaped, and would have taken nearly 3/8” of filler to rectify if left alone.  There was also some fettling of the upper rear wing area to be dealt with.  As supplied, the roof had no means of being attached to the rear deck, with just a raw edge to work with.  Finally the customer wisely wanted the front of the roof area stiffened with some sort of cross member, and the addition of the front wiper spindle recesses.

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A challenge with anything dealing with curved parts such as windscreens is establishing centrelines and positions relative to their surroundings.  To help, a 3D measuring rig was set up around the car.  Also a one-off screen jig was fabricated from steel and reinforced.  This jig allowed for the new screen rubber and any required gaps, and could be solidly mounted.  Easier than balancing the vulnerable glass screen in place.  It meant that any new metal could be fitted hard against the jig, knowing that once removed, the resulting aperture would be accurate.

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A centre-line for the whole upper bodywork was scribed, and the screen jig positioned as best as possible.  This showed just where the work was needed and pointed the way that we had to head.  A small tool was made for the fly press to form a tidy screen-rubber recess in the new metal.  Bit by bit, old sections were removed, and replaced with corrected ones.  One bonus of replacing the entire front screen aperture was the screen could be raked back a fraction.  This dealt with the twin problems of the unnatural angle between the screen and roof, and the wedge shaped A-pillars.

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For all of the new metal, there was one issue that required still more drastic action.  It was clear that there was simply too much material across the car.  This was pushing out the top of the nearside A-pillar, leaving a large gap between screen and metal.  After much thought, it was concluded that the best way to lose the metal was from the centre of the roof.  This had the advantage it was well away from the more detailed, curved outer edges.  A cut to the centre meant almost no re-working of metal.  In the end 3/4in was removed from the roof centre.  As soon as the cut was made, the gap started to reduce, and a quick pre-welding mock up proved the risk had paid off.  It was still a relief to see it back together, and the last of the front screen problems behind us.  By means of finishing at the front, the recesses for the wipers arms were fabricated and welded in.


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