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Old 15 Feb 2015, 20:41 (Ref:3505260)   #1
lukej
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Van Diemen RF87 - Chassis 016

Hi All,

I'm new around here, the names Luke and I'm in the process of restoring my RF87 which I picked up yesterday.

I'm new to the FF1600 world and was hoping to learn from the wealth of knowledge on here about my car. Here's what I know.

- The chassis is number 016.
- The car is an RF87.
- The bodywork has some blue and yellow paint on it three layers below the surface.
- The car's last owner was informed that it was previously associated with an Irishman named Eddie.

I'm hoping to dig up its race history to find out if the above is true, and also to get a look at where my car has been and how it fared.

Having gotten it home at 10pm yesterday, it's currently sat on workmates in one of my units, down to the frame and ready for a nut and bolt restoration. I don't like to hang about so I've already put lots of the smaller components through my head blaster ready for fresh paint.

All going to plan, this should be on track in time for a brief shakedown before the Festival, WHT and Carnival and I'm hoping to have its history in short shrift too.

Thanks

Luke
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Old 20 Feb 2015, 17:26 (Ref:3507109)   #2
Barry Pomfret
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Possibly Eddie Irvine's works Van Diemen car, this was blue and yellow in the Duckhams sponsor colours. It won the Festival that year.
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Old 21 May 2015, 21:18 (Ref:3540010)   #3
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Evening all, so today seemed like a good opportunity to update you on the car, whilst it's identity is still unconfirmed I've been working on getting the car ready to return to the circuit later this year.

In the 3 months since I first posted about this car (it really doesn't seem like it's been that long) I've been doing a good bit of research on the car itself and other Van Diemens of the era, bringing me to Michel Delannoy's book on the self same subject, and the new task of translating from French to English as best as possible...

Now seems like a great opportunity to say how thankful I am to Ken and Simon at URS, without both of whom I'd be many weeks behind my present position. They've been a great help since day one, always eager to get going on the next step and providers of wonderful chats each week. It was Simon that put me onto Michel's book only a few weeks ago and it has been massively useful.

When my Dad told me to buy a car that hadn't seen a track in 10 years I thought he was mad, I'm still pretty certain that rings true, but it's been one of the most gratifying things I've done in a good while.

That said, trying to put together a jigsaw with <50% of the pieces is hard, more so whilst sat in another country, and definitely at a pace slower that I wanted. Despite that, progress is being made, and I thought I'd update this thread over the next few days, describing each stage in detail and accompanied by pictures to compliment the words.

If at any point someone recognises the car in its old form, I'd love to know more about it.

Thanks,

Luke
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Old 22 May 2015, 14:33 (Ref:3540167)   #4
lukej
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Hi all, a bit of photo sorting later and I think I'm ready to get going, so here it is.

Dad and I picked up the car on 14th February from a guy in Chester, the car had no history, a heap of boxes filled with various parts and almost nothing attached to the car what so ever.

In the first post I mentioned that we'd stripped the car within 24 hours of having it home, that got us to where we are in the photo below.



We didn't get a chance to do much to the car as I had to head back out of the country, but we got a lot of parts through the bead blaster ready for paint, started working through the minefield of what parts we had over what we didn't (below) and ultimately got the chassis was booked in for blasting and powder coat a couple of weeks later.



So the powder coating ended up taking far longer than it should, first the guys doing it had their gun go down, then their oven broke so we lost a couple of weeks there. Finally we got it back and it was clear that the quality of the work was sub par so we had to spend yet more time correcting that issue. Finally, however, we got the car home and we were able to start putting things together. That brings us up to around about the time of the photo below, which is where I'll leave things for today.



Thanks for taking the time to check in and see where we're at so far, apologies that a couple of the pictures are poor, Dad's camera isn't up to much. My next post will probably detail the work that has gone into finding the history of the car and all of the detail that entailed.

Thanks for now,

Luke

Last edited by lukej; 22 May 2015 at 14:55.
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Old 26 May 2015, 12:19 (Ref:3541359)   #5
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Hi Luke,

What other paint colours did you find on the bodywork? The reason I ask is that we had an RF87 back in 1989 that was originally blue/yellow as it was an ex-Duckhams car.

After that it was (as I recall...) white, then sky blue. so if those fit with the various layers on yours, then it might be the same car. If so, then I can give you some idea of the history from around that time.
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Old 26 May 2015, 20:41 (Ref:3541507)   #6
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Originally Posted by tlracing View Post
Hi Luke,

What other paint colours did you find on the bodywork? The reason I ask is that we had an RF87 back in 1989 that was originally blue/yellow as it was an ex-Duckhams car.

After that it was (as I recall...) white, then sky blue. so if those fit with the various layers on yours, then it might be the same car. If so, then I can give you some idea of the history from around that time.
Thanks for the comment, I've not seen too much other paint as yet, it was only the gel coat of the Duckhams colours that really stood out. That said, I've not removed the top layer or started repairing it yet so I may well discover other colours on the way down, it's certainly got more than just the one layer on top that's for sure!

I'll be adding a bit more of an update shortly, and there are plenty of snaps in the photo catalogue showing its last paint job.

Thanks again,

Luke
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Old 26 May 2015, 23:23 (Ref:3541575)   #7
lukej
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Right picking up where we left off, it's time to look at tracing the car's history and getting some reference images to work from. As I'm sure some of you have found and others can imagine, getting the history of a box of bits with no chassis number is difficult. So difficult is this task in fact, that I'm still working on it, John at Medina Sport is working on it, as are countless others. First off, thank you to all of those.

The day we picked it up, the guy was telling us that it was an RF85, clearly the two are very different. Spotting that it was an RF87 was easy, but whether its age is a blessing or not is still uncertain.

Having been told it was probably a works car, and that it might have been Eddie Irvine's adds a little interest to the project, unfortunately for my spare time and my wallet it also fuels my desire to restore it right. Even if it isn't his, the bodywork is one of the last things to sort so I can do with the colour whatever is necessary at that point.

Anyway, back to the work itself. Around a month after collecting the car I was fortunate enough to discover that the Eddie Irvine episode of Sky TV's F1 Legends show was on, I was only watching out of interest in the man himself when after no more than 5 minutes the images below flashed across the screen.





I'll be honest, as reference photos go, HD film being shown on a 60" LED TV is probably giving me about the best picture quality I could have hoped for.

I've found a few more pictures along my travels, the Heroes of FF1600 facebook page has been of great help, with a few of Chris Walker's photos there showing Irvine racing the car or parking it in the barriers. Whilst they're useful for the bodywork side of things, there's not a lot more I can take from them however. I've included them below for reference anyhow, it's always nice to find these sorts of shots as they bring the car to life even whilst it's on chassis stands.

Photo by Chris Walker

Photo by Chris Walker

Photo by Chris Walker

Coming back to the car as it is in its present form, one of the most useful things I was hoping to get an image of was the dash, so whilst this may seem like a rather O.T.T. thing to focus on at this stage, for me it's a crucial part of the driving experience and I want to do it justice.

After a bit of searching, I found this image of an original RF87 dash, this is not THE dash, but it is original and that is what matters



Apologies to the owner of said image, I can't remember where I found it right now but of course I'd love to credit whomever this belongs to as would be appropriate. If it's your photo, just let me know.

The steering wheel in this photo is non-original being a Racetech item, but despite this and the opportunity to have an original factory supplied wheel fitted, I've gone for an identical one myself. For me, the original was just far too bulky both in the hand and in its weight for it to go back on the car.

Here's a quick snap of the dash in my car right now, it's got some extra labels on it at the moment for the toggle switches we've bought, these are of course different to those in the above image so whilst I'll be trying to get some pull switches if possible, I first need a clear shot of the actual cockpit to confirm what I need to purchase. Until then, I'll keep it looking as original as possible whilst still preparing the car to run.



I think this is pretty much where I'll leave this for tonight, there's plenty more translating to do on Michel's book that will keep me entertained, I'll probably post another piece later this week with some of the other bits we've done, namely the floor, fire walls etcetera. It's amazing how much the panels make the car look less like a load of tube and more like a vehicle. If you couldn't tell, I'm in my element putting this car back together.

Thanks for taking the time to read a bit more on our car, I'll leave you with a couple of photos of the quite misshapen bodywork whilst it was being pulled back together last week. Dad sent them over Thursday evening just gone having wrangled with it for an hour or so. If anyone recognises it, shout, I'd love to know what you know!





Cheers

Luke

Last edited by lukej; 26 May 2015 at 23:29.
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Old 27 May 2015, 09:15 (Ref:3541664)   #8
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Hi Luke,

RF87 bodywork was quite thin and 'wobbly' in its day (certainly compared to the Reynard I had before my original RF87), especially the side panels.

I bought my first RF87 new (p/x'd a Reynard 85F) and seem to remember there were some stories circulating at the time about chassis build and whether Arch Motors chassis were better (something about Van Diemen using two subcontractors for RF87 chassis)...but then, FF1600 abounded with comments and rumours back then!

In 1989 I drove another RF87, for Jeff Williams' East London Racing Organisation; this is the one I referred to in my earlier post and a photo can be found here:


(Image courtesy of Richard)

This must have been just after Jeff acquired the car as it was subsequently painted white for the remainder of 1989. Some time after than, Jeff painted it bright blue.
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Old 27 May 2015, 10:47 (Ref:3541677)   #9
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Van Diemen RF87 - Chassis 016

Wow! I have that exact picture screen grabbed from Google images, nice to know who was once behind the wheel...

The bodywork is indeed thin and wobbly where we've removed the most recent layer of paint, though it appears that the previous owner stood the sides on their edge, perhaps before the paint had cured, giving them the flair they have now.

I never knew that there were two manufacturers of the space frame. If the Arch Motors ones were better that would be interesting. As you say though, rumour mills and motor sport go hand in hand.

On the topic of Arch Motors, one of the things I found out through the combined knowledge of URS, Medina Sport and Companies House was that Arch Motors stamped the forward roll hoop of their cars, which fits with ours where there is a stamp reading AEL (Arch Engineering Ltd) and then 016. This, I'm told, was their ID stamp for this particular chassis and had nothing to do with Van Diemen. I guess that means I need to amend the title of this thread then.

I've been thinking for a while that this thread probably should have gone into the Formula Ford section, is anyone able to move it there for me?

Thanks

Luke

Last edited by lukej; 27 May 2015 at 11:05.
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Old 27 May 2015, 11:09 (Ref:3541679)   #10
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Arch Motors were prolific spaceframe manufacturers, subcontracting to Lotus as well as Caterham and others from the 1960's onwards.

They built chassis for many of Van Diemen's formula ford cars including the RF87, from their base in Huntingdon, Cambs.

I only found that photo quite recently, and it surprised me as I didn't remember driving the car in the Duckhams colours..! But as it's definitely me, that would have been the first race I did with East London Racing Organisation.

Although I've gone through any old paperwork I have still, I don't have any info on the chassis number of that particular car.
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Old 27 May 2015, 14:17 (Ref:3541729)   #11
lukej
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Originally Posted by tlracing View Post
Arch Motors were prolific spaceframe manufacturers, subcontracting to Lotus as well as Caterham and others from the 1960's onwards.

They built chassis for many of Van Diemen's formula ford cars including the RF87, from their base in Huntingdon, Cambs.

I only found that photo quite recently, and it surprised me as I didn't remember driving the car in the Duckhams colours..! But as it's definitely me, that would have been the first race I did with East London Racing Organisation.

Although I've gone through any old paperwork I have still, I don't have any info on the chassis number of that particular car.
Thank you for all of your input so far, I'd love to be able to confirm it was your car in 1989, it'd add something more to the story for sure.

Do you remember anything particular about the car that may have been unique to it, or even just something that made it special to you?

Thanks

Luke
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Old 27 May 2015, 17:46 (Ref:3541801)   #12
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Hi Luke,

I don't really recall anything distinctive about the car...or at least, nothing that isn't likely to have changed since I last saw it.

The chassis number is probably your best guide for its history, as most other parts could have been replaced over the years - other than Medina Sport, you could try Firman Cars at Snetterton as they may have old Van Diemen archive info.
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Old 28 May 2015, 11:06 (Ref:3542032)   #13
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Thanks for the heads up, I'll see what Firman Cars are able to tell me.

Later on today I'll be posting the third instalment on here, as ever it will contain a few photographs and be quite wordy!

Thanks again,

Luke
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Old 28 May 2015, 13:11 (Ref:3542053)   #14
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http://vandiemen.registry.freeservers.com/index.html
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Old 28 May 2015, 16:09 (Ref:3542110)   #15
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Luke,

I'm waiting for a reply from one of the guys who was involved with East London Racing Organisation to see if they have any old records of their chassis numbers, etc.

On that subject, I'm not sure the prefix AEL denotes an Arch Motors chassis as they usually stamped theirs with AM (= Arch Motors), which is consistent with the chassis they built for Lotus, etc.

Also, Van Diemen numbered their cars consecutively (see the link in 365mal's post for details) so AEL 016 is more likely to be chassis #16 built by AEL, rather than a chassis number in its own right.
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