K9 Diary

Fraser's 1967 Le Mans GT Prototype is being restored and completed.

A few people have been asking me about progress with K9, the Le Mans GT prototype designed by Tom Killeen and built by Alan Fraser Racing for the 1967 season. This is one of the few remaining Fraser Racing cars. Here is my attempt to document what I am doing in the form of a diary. This restoration is going to take a long time for various reasons, so don't get too excited. There is unlikely to be a Web cam or Twitter feed, but there are some still pictures! For more information about the project, and especially if you can help shed light on its history or missing parts, please contact me, Bob Allan on 01925 267084.

Some more general information is in the Killeen Register.

See also Roy McBride's Blog.

Plan was to have a rolling chassis for National'2003, needless to say this didn't happen because I was IMP'40 co-organiser. Maybe something will be on show for the Centenary in 2013.

I'm putting on photos of the project as I make progress - initially it was only the mechanical dismantling phase and some time later body dismantling. In 2009 I've finally started to restore K9 and will list progess here. Original photos of K9 from 1966-67 are shown here.

Problems and Solutions

The following table lists some of the parts needing restoration or missing and what I am planning to do about them (but if you think I'm crackers please tell me):

Part:Problem:Status:
engine againthe Guntons are planning to make new 5-bearing blockswill watch this activity
gear changenever fittedsome holes in chassis
petrol tanknever fittedalloy tank and chassis cut out on LH side
plumbingnever fittedsome alloy pipes
rear view mirrorRaydyot clip on, silvering goneneed to locate a new one
bodyneeds to be cleaned and repairedcurrently considering soda blasting, see below.
chassisneeds to have rust removed and some welded repairshad considered dipping, now currently considering conventional bead blasting and hand finishing, see below.
engine again1200cc block needed Bid on a Carter 1200cc block one-Bay, but was out-bid. I discussed this with Dennis Allt afterwards. I know who won it... An interesting recent development is the re-manufacture of the Imp 5-bearing block, see (21st...pdf)
body decalsoriginals worn and hard to remove need new ones. Thanks to Jim McKenzie for letting me have two of the the Fraser Racing stag's head decals he had made.
engine againPossible Carter 1090cc or 1140ccI've just looked at a possible engine which has been used for racing in a single seater. Not sure of the spec, but it looks pretty good.
oil coolerbroke in removalneed new 9-row cooler. Got one off the Custard Bullet, but its full of Castrol R40! Subsequently had the original (new) one welded by a firm near to Ron's.
rose jointsseized or missing on radius rods and Watts linkage. Originals hard to get, 3/8"x5/16" with 20tpi BSF thread (?) RBJ70/ 71New rods made up ready to fit but still want original sizes if possible. Written to Aurora Bearing Co., Illinois, to ask if they can match. Subsequently freed off a lot of the originals by soaking in WD40 and working until smooth.
rear suspensionmissingneed to make new De Dion axle and uprights. Barry and I are (were) on the case. I subsequently made up a cardboard pattern and a piece of 2-1/2 inch drain pipe cut to length. 8/8/2008 cut bearing housings out of old Imp trailing arms from my Californian HJL 862F which had rusted out so no longer of use. Do any modern kit cars have anything which can be modified? See below.
front springs and shocksmissings/h SPAX obtained via Barry. Again shocks too short.
rear springs and shocksmissings/h Armstrongs obtained via Barry. Unfortunately the shocks later turned out to be too short.
enginemissing930cc Imp with single Weber 40 for testing, 998cc Hartwell Imp with twin Webers or injection later. Run backwards? I've now got the reverse cut dizzy drive gear from Robin Human, so it exists! Anyone got a Fraser 1150cc or 1200cc with downdraught head or know what engine was planned for it? Alan Fraser said they couldn't get hold of the proposed BRM.
transaxlemissingc/r Imp unit available with 5-part racing clutch. Run upside down? No! Anyone got a suitable Hewland?
wheels/ tyresoriginal?set of 4 13"x8" with old Dunlop 175x550 racing tyres came with car. May have wrong offsets...
steering wheelsteering wheel missingSuitable Astrali wheel found - thanks to Jack Booth for agreeing to part with it.
steeringPlummer blocks and main steering arm missingneed to make new. Lent bracket to Barry to have a friend of his make the Plummer blocks. This never happened and I managed to get the parts back.
driver comfortseat missingneed a suitable seat. Back massage would probably help too!
interior bulkheadsall behind driver missingmake new, so need a quantity of the original Plymax aluminium sandwich material, actually plywood with aluminium outer ply.

Materials

Some notes on the materials and technology used to assemble this car:

PlymaxAircraft grade plywood material with aluminium outer ply layers. Used for bulkheads and floor.
HiduminiumAluminium alloy with small quantities of Cu, Ni, Mg, Si ... (proportions vary). Concorde used RR58 grade hiduminium. Used for outer body. It is known that Jensens did use this material, for instance in some of their truck bodies. The Reynolds Tube truck was one.

Diary

24/10/2012 - less than a week later K9 is clean. I've added more photos from John here photos from 18/10/12-24/10/12.

18/10/2012 - finally! K9 is out, Ron said "its on the move again, but still not under its own steam". Mark drove the van down to Llandudno Junction and we talked to Craig and John about the project. Peter Lewis also turned up in a Clan. See photos from 18/10/12-.

12/10/2012 - I was reminded that the Jensens factory records are in the Coventry Transport Musuem. Might be worth a visit sometime.

4/10/2012 - yes another year has gone by. However I've now got a plan for the next few weeks which includes getting my Californian Imp back from ImpSpeed and into the garage for re-assembly. That means that K9 has to be evicted, and will go to John Broadway for blasing and then to Ron for further work on the chassis and body.

23/11/2011 - went with Ron to visit Andy Short in Southport, see http://www.lotusclassiccars.com to discuss rear suspension setup. I'd spoken to him in the past about Imp drive shafts as used on the Lotus Europa. He's kindly lent me some parts to check dimensions for K9's hubs. We now have to decide whether to use original Lotus parts, or one of Andy's more modern alternatives, or fabricate it ourselves.

12/11/2011 - went with Ron to the NEC Classic Car show. Spoke to people on the Lotus Drivers Clubs stand who were very helpful and inspected the rear of a Lotus Europa. This had been suggested to me by Paul at Christopher Neil Ltd. where I get the rotoflex couplings for the Club.

15/9/2011 - went to visit John Broadway in Llandudno Junction, see http://www.gentletouchblastcleaning.com. He's very knowledgable about all types of blasting material and protection processes. Showed me a range of interesting projects he's completed. This is definately the way to treat K9's chassis and body panels.

12/9/2011 - I can't believe another year has passed. Need to get work done on this car now as no more historical information available.

Aug'2011 - John McCartney phoned. He told me a lot about the time he owned K1 and sent me a magazine cutting. Very grateful for that.

Imp Club National 2011 - Mike Scott brought copies of magazine articles about K9 that Alan Fraser's sister had found. Its nice to have a complete collection and see what the press had to say at the time.

28/10/10 - sadly Alan Fraser died today. I wrote the obituary for him for the Imp Club and Mike Scott attended the funeral service.

16/10/09 - Robin has finally found John Barton's notebook and sent it to me. This is a revelation in many respects. After reading it several times I now have evidence that the BRM engine would definately not fit and that the Imp engine was to be mounted vertically, running backwards with a normally mounted transaxle. The proposed engine was never finished, having been borrowed at each stage for one or other race Imps, e.g. the one driven by Peter Harper. I've now identified the previously unknown purpose of the (engine) support bracket. The notebook also clarifies that the driveshafts were longer than Imp ones and made up by Ian Carter. Many parts were being borrowed off the slowly developing project, particularly for CUB, the prototype sports car (Asp) which they wanted to finish and road test first. John Barton found all this very frustrating. My transcript is here and will also be re-produced by Franka Steenhuis (note that some corrections are needed).

Aug'2009 - Robin has a Carter 1200cc engine for sale at Imp Club National in Reading. I discussed it with him and he later sent me the spec. I decided not to go ahead as it had suffered a piston through the block and been repaired but had little race time afterwards. What Robin didn't tell me is that he had a second one, which he then put on e-Bay. Some lucky winner somewhere...

24-26/5/09 - more preparation and re-assembly of small items. The pedal box and master cylinders was the main task done.

8-10/5/09 - Finally began to restore a few of the minor items: wooden block (holds spare wheel); accelerator pedal; screen wash bottle and bracket. Tatton Park autojumble is coming up at the end of the month, so I need to buy some items.

26/4/09 - FBHVC Drive-it! Day this year turned into my Wash-it! Day. Having "spruced" the Imp, it attracted no more attention than normal. So I turned my attention to K9 on a very fine spring day. Finally removed the rear Cortina light clusters - you wouldn't want to change a bulb in a hurry! Then removed all the screws holding the frame around the rear perspex screen. Prized off the frame from the mastic and them prized off the perspex - it cracked! Who thought it was ever going to be a good idea to put two screws directly through the perspex?

Remember the previous note about the paint colour? Well beneath the rear light clusters is paint which has not been exposted for 42 years and therefore has not faded. This is where we will get the final paint match.

9-10/8/08 - Final preparation of chassis for cleaning, includes removal of aluminium rivets and a number of small brackets. One of these is just to hold the rear-view mirror.

Aug'2008 - Making enquiries about cleaning the body and chassis.

5/8/08 - Another enjoyable visit from Peter and Kate. Peter is doing a full restoration on K1 now.

3/8/08 - Heard there might be a 1200cc Fraser engine for sale, made enquiries, no its not for sale...

Winter 2007 - More time spent removing small items, remaining aluminium and remains of rivets.

17/10/07 - A good day spent with Ron (ImpSpeed) removing the body. See photos body dismantling.

October 2007 - After much consultation and discussions and head-scratching, we have finally decided that the body has to be removed. This will enable the chassis to be dipped and etch primed with the hiduminium body treated separately. Did you know that hiduminium is an aluminium alloy first developed by Rolls Royce for race cars? It was used by Armstrong-Siddeley and the RR58 variant was used for Concorde! Anyway, it seems quite tough stuff, so hopefully all will go back together again one day. Photos will be added as I progress the body dismantling.

1/6/07 - Paint is changing! Faced with this prospect, and wishing to use a traditional kind, we decided to match the colour from one of the headlamp pods which has not been exposed to sunlight. The colour is a pleasing dark blue, somewhat darker than used by other people building Fraser replicas. Jim McKenzie liked it so much he had his partially-built car re-painted (and the underneath??).

1/4/07 - Visited Tony Shilladay to inspect a Carter engine which he had acquired some time back. I am interested in it for K9 if we can agree a price.

Sometime 2007 - Visited by Kate Bovett and Peter Croft, owner of K1 from New Zealand on their way to Edinburgh. Needless to say a lot of information was exchanged and we spent an enjoyable few hours talking about unique cars.

4/07 - Bought a pair of large size slotted rear hub nuts (work rally type) via e-Bay. David Holroyd had already given me a pair of hardened washers and split pins to fit.

2/07 - I managed to buy the Killeen letters and related documents relating to K1 from Jim Enevoldsen.

11/06 - Peter Hardy has sent the pictures he has which show some photographs of cars, models and drawings.

3/8/06 - out of the blue and quite amazingly I received a letter from Peter Hardy, Tom Killeen's nephew who had helped to clear the house after his death. He had seen this Web site and the related information. He has promised to help with further information and photographs which he has kept.

2006 - well no progress was made, let's see how it goes this year.

Later 2005 - I was contacted by Richard Calver, ace Jensen historian living in Australia. He is researching the Killeen story and interested in Jensen's work on K9 and the Asp. We have agreed to exchange information as it becomes available. Richard's book All the Jensen Cars was published in 2008.

2005 - I intend to try to make some progress with the restoration this year.

17-18th April - inspired by last weekend's classic racing at Donington Park, I spent the day measuring and drawing out the layout for the rear suspension and comparing it to the front one. A bit of artistic license may be required, particularly in fitting the Watts linkages which can however be done later in situ. Things are looking pretty good though with Imp drive shafts fitting perfectly, so a prototype axle is the next step.
Spent sunday building up 1" drive shafts with new u.j.s and new kingpins for the original front hubs and axles. Also built up new rear backplates with new cylinders, handbrake levers, springs, adjusters and steady rest kits with already run-in VG95 material shoes tested on K18. Started freeing off the original rose joints from the suspension radius rods, about half are OK, others require further soaking in penetrating fluid. This is all easy stuff, but at least I think I'm getting somewhere now.
Same weekend - a chance call that some more bits of K1 have turned up in Berkshire along with some of Tom Killeen's missing paperwork including his letters to Colin Chapman. Unfortunately nothing on K9 though.

... some time in early 2004 - decided to get ruthless. Cut through the 1" tube which is the pivot for the pop-up headlamp mirrors with a sharp hacksaw avoiding damage to surrounding aluminium panels. This meant that the assembly could be pulled out to the RH and LH sides, after some rubbing down of the surface rust and lots of oil to lubricate the pivot locating areas. So finally the mirrors and perspex surrounds are off in one piece (well two actually).

Autumn 2003 - visit from Richard Heseltine and Tony the photographer of Classic and Sports Car magazine. Took lots of photos of me, the Mirage (K18) and bits of K9. Lunch in the pub, thanks guys! The photos appeared in a "Lost and Found" slot in the January 2004 issue. It has been read around the world - some friends in Australia told me they'd seen it. No further info on K9 yet though.

16/10/2003 - day off work sorting out things with Ron following IMP'40. Spent a couple of hours together afterwards checking out K9 and decided to remove the doors. Not quite the way originally intended but they're off. Thanks Ron!

4/10/2003 - So, still forging ahead, got a few other bits and pieces to sally forth, including the dashboard vinyl trim and steering column bracket (it was riveted on top of the vinyl), rear radius arms (chassis seams to be built around the lower pivot bolts), long brake and clutch hydraulic pipes and remains of oil pressure pipes all passing through the central chassis tunnel, one of Killeen's specialities. Set to on the floor and got the four panels out, all held on with 2BA posi screws and nuts. They're made of an aluminium sandwich with plywood filling called Plymax. Still need to make some progress though on door hinges, pop up mirrors and front bulkead. Some of those may be a two-man job and if I didn't have a pit I wouldn't have got this far. Working on this car involves pot-holing and climbing skills!

28/9/2003 - Major breakthrough this weekend, managed to remove the pedal box and pipes. The box was held to the floor with many 2BA nuts and bolts along with the aluminium strengthening members. Aluminium covers held on with brass screws and 3/8 in. nuts. Also removed the headlamp operating mechanism and windscreen wiper drive.

21/9/2003 - Trying to remove pop-up mirrors, but still no luck. Did discover that the Lucas halogen headlamps are on a bayonet fitting though, so replaceable in less than 10 seconds!

24/8/2003 - At the Oulton Park Gold Cup I met Spencer Elton (motor sport memorabilia) and Mike Walsh (Classic and Sports Cars) who say they may have information on Tom Killeen and his cars. Need to follow up.

some time later - Removed windscreen and door windows, phew, that was easy and all now safely stored away. Removed brake and clutch master cylinders, all as new and never had fluid in. Thanks to Roy Wood for contacting me about the parts...

1 week later - Another detour. Andy and I came over to Burton on Trent to collect the Rawlson Stiletto "Custard Bullet" again, its back and I still have its engine and transaxle. Plan to use Andy's turbo-charged engine for sprints however...

13/4/2003 - While helping to push an Imp up to the scrutineering bay at Donington Park, came across some Marcos cars. Windscreens look remarkably similar to K9's, so worthy of further investigation via a contact number I was given.

28/3/2003 - Barry looked at the car again a couple of weeks ago. W'ere a bit worried about the windscreen, which will have to be removed to work on the body. He suggested taking a paper pattern to try to match it, possibly an E-type 2+2? So this afternoon I got out a roll of paper and traced the screen onto it.

3/11/2002 - removed oil cooler. You might think this would be easy if you haven't seen where it was; and I found the bolts that don't come undone. Nightmare!

19/10/2002 - car up on wooden blocks over the pit. Removed the radiator some months ago, never been used. Finally dismantled the front suspension. DeDion axle, radius arms and Watts linkage are all original. The original Fraser Imp hubs with Vauxhall Viva disc conversions are in the box, never used. Its amazing how some of the bolts still come undone after 35 years (not all though!).

23/9/2002 - Many thanks to Jack Booth for letting me have his favourite 14 inch Astrali steering wheel. A boss off another wheel fits perfectly for the K9 steering column.

25/8/2002 - Oulton Park Gold Cup. Had a grand day out helping Vince and Andy. Barry and Norman came down so we took the opportunity to look at period racing engines, e.g. Climax and BRM. Still not sure what K9 was intended to have for the race. Can't afford a BRM, so still thinking about a backwards running Imp engine and/ or Hewland transaxle. Anyone got one cheap?

mid Aug'2002 - Barry found me a set of adjustable coil-over shocks off a racing Clan. Front SPAX with 160lb springs and rear Armstrong with 350 lb springs. That'll do nicely!

mid Aug'2002 - fitted a dummy Imp engine and transaxle to test for size. Tight! Twin Weber 40s won't fit, so on the lookout for fuel injection. In the meantime the trusty single 40 may come back into service for testing.

May 2002 - bit of a detour, but found K1! An Australian journalist, Rick McDowell, had also been researching the story. A wealthy Australian had bought the rare MG TD based car at the 1985 action and it recently came to light again when his widow sold it to Ken and Mary Ann Richardson in Perth.

Imp National 2001 - thinking about engine and gearbox. Talked to Dennis Allt about the feasibility of using an Imp engine upside down for 24 hour race. Probably impossible! Robin Human thinks the engine ran backwards, and he has some parts from it. I think this is a fascinating idea and will pursue it.

late 2001 - checked clutch slave cylinder and master fluid reservoirs. Never been used. Obviously the car had never been finished.

mid 2001 - started making measurements, trying to find where the extra parts fit, and collect other parts required. Parts identified include: battery tray, hand brake bracket, steering box bracket. There are still some parts unidentified.

mid 2001 - sold the Rawlson Stiletto "Custard Bullet" to Clive Bower to make space, but kept the Hartwell 998 and Jack Knight box for K9.

29/5/2001 - collected from Rockingham. Thanks to Jim for the help. There was also a box full of parts plus some paperwork, but obviously not complete. Most significant missing parts are rear deDion axle, uprights and driveshafts, shock absorbers, springs, steering arm, engine and gearbox, gear change, seat and steering wheel. Some project!

27/5/2001 - Cooper puts K9 in the Coy's Auction at the new Rockingham Speedway. Can't believe it... I was in San Diego on business and had to get back in time to bid. Tried to watch the racing during the day, but found it hard to concentrate. Robin agreed he would let me bid, but even so I was up against several other people. Spent more than I planned (what people refer to as an "undisclosed sum"), but it is the only one. Thanks to Barry, Andy and Caroline for helping.

Late 2000 - Robin sells K9 to Colin. I am mortified!

2000 - Our paths crossed again, Colin Cooper is now living in Oxford and has regretted selling K1. He contacts me to see if I have any information, as another Killeen enthusiast. Likewise I put him in touch with Robin Human. We can't find K1.

2002 - MAW 418W finally scrapped as too rusty and damaged to restore

2000 - met Arthur Langmann who had test driven MNX 608L. Andy Chesman had test driven the other Mirage.

1998 - Robin Human found remains of K9 in a lockup garage in Deal, Kent after it had returned from Canada. Seen by Imp Club members for the first time at National Day, St. Andrews.

1993 - bought K19 Scorpion MAW 418W, saved from scrap

1991 - bought K18 Mirage MNX 608L, number 2 of the Scorpion prototypes

1991 - bought main body mould of Scorpion

1990 - bought K19 Scorpion GUX 735N, but it had been written off 2 years previously and was in a poor state. Lots of work done over the next year

1985 - I had been driving an Imp since 1977 and became interested in Imp-based specials. I'd identified the Scorpion as the best looking and rarest which had a real pedigree. I saw a Voodoo the following year at Imp Club National, Melbourne Loop, Donington Park. It wasn't for sale so I continued to look for a Scorpion and gradually found out about Killeen's other cars. K1 and K11 were advertised for sale by Colin Cooper, then of Knutsford, Cheshire. Our paths crossed for the first time. K1 was sold at auction and K11 is in the National Motorcycle Museum (or at least was until the big fire of 2003).

c.1969 - K9 sold to a Fraser employee who emigrated with it to Canada

Distant Past - K9 was designed by Tom Killeen and built in 1966-67 by Alan Fraser Racing to enter the 1967 24 Heures du Mans (Le Mans) race. Despite Killeen's typical publicity in Motor magazine and others, and an appearance at the Earl's Court Racing Car Show in January 1967, it was never finished. We don't know why, do you?.




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