Update Oct 2014
Its been a while as I have been doing work on my MG Midget among other things.
How it started - under construction
This site has been basically put together to show some of the restoration work carried out on my old Austin Pathfinder Pedal Car. The main intention was to restore where possible as well as to improve areas, such as replacing the axle and wheel bearings with something more robust. Speaking as an ex-user I consider the roller bearings not the best of designs. As well as being difficult and costly to source, the rollers are fiddly to replace. I know this is will make probably detailed restoration fanatics scoff but I thought that it would be nice to make it usable rather than kept in a mothballed state. I also don't have plans to sell it so keeping it totally original to maximise value is not a concern.
The car pictured above was my pride and joy as a young boy and I spent many happy hours pedalling around the house and going up and down the quiet lane that ran past our house in Holberrow Green. I think the picture was taken when I was three back in September 1958 so the car must already have been about 9 years old by the time my father bought it for me as this one was probably built in 1949. A little more of the history of J40 and Pathfinder pedal cars can be found here.
I recall that the axle bearings were a bit of a weak spot and so after wearing out the rollers my father eventually welded some ball races to the rear axle side plates. This made it run beautifully but the treadle rod bearings were still troublesome. Judging but the wear on various part of the axle I must have used it for quite a while with some, if not all, rollers missing.
Note in the picture you can see one of two supports that attach between the front of the body and the top of the front axle swivel pins. I had always assumed these to be standard fit until starting the restoration and noticed that pictures of other cars did not have these.
I guess this was a sign of corrosion even at at that time causing loss of strength in the front axle. Sadly as I grew older and bigger, the car got put aside and slowly became victim to the rust monster.
However, the pedal car did get to fester in the roof space of the shed which was not the most watertight place to store it. I had in the back of my mind that it would be worth restoring at someday but always found lots of other things to do instead.
Anyway, after seeing that the J40 pedal cars were staring to fetch high prices on eBay and Pathfinders even more, I decided that I should do something if not at least stop it from rotting further.
This is how the pedal car looked in 2006 with the major components removed. I had painted it red at some stage which I think was my favourite colour for racing cars. I am sure that this made it faster at the time.
I had started to wire brush the body and add a zinc based primer but quickly realised this was going to be a very long job.
Also, the underside of the bodywork had suffered the worst damage with the seat base being almost completely rusted away, mainly because of it being a bit of a rain trap. Also the lower side edges of the body were in pretty poor shape. Unfortunatley I never did locate the serial number which is supposed to be stamped on the seat base somewhere.
Also the lower lip behind the left rear wheel was eaten away quite badly.
At this point, I was beginning to think that the scrapheap was probably the best option here. However, after having gained some experience on restoring my 1971 MG Midget I decided I would give it a go. The first major job would be to prevent further degradation by removing the existing rust.