Thomas Vintage Motors is proud to offer our full service engineering department. From conception through realization, we have the ability to engineer or re-engineer any mechanical component or system to operate reliably, safely, and with improved performance and durability.

Our resident mechanical engineer, Nathan Down, spearheads the department and provides a deeper level of engineering skills not previously offered at TVM. Nathan is a mechanical engineering graduate of the prestigious Coventry University in England. His previous work experiences include head of Research and Development for British sportscar manufacturer Caterham Cars as well as partnering in his family business, British Formula Ford constructor, Getem Racing.

At Caterham, Nathan headed numerous projects including the chassis development for the record breaking R500, power train replacement for the entry level Classic, and complete car design and testing for the larger bodied SV. 

Nathan has been involved with his family's company, Getem Racing where from an early age he learned all aspects of racing, from car design and fabrication to assembly and testing. Nathan is still active with Getem, but now as a consultant. It was with Getem that Nathan started his racing career in British Formula Ford in 1996.

Our engineering department is perfectly suited to a wide variety of projects from reverse engineering a worn out one-off drive flange to completely re-designing the internals of a 60's F1 gearbox; from designing a wheel bearing spacer to re-engineering a chassis to accept a different driveline.

A unique feature of our engineering department is our consideration to the original design. With respect to design, aesthetics, tools, materials and processes of the day we engineer our parts to be cohesive with the original whilst incorporating modern technologies and materials. We recognize that nothing can replace the original and we will do whatever is necessary to keep the cars as close to original as possible.

The motto of the engineering department is "if you cannot see what we have done, then we have done our job right"

All engineering projects are studied in depth to ensure the clients brief is met. Our client's are supplied with detailed reports containing design concepts, analysis, engineering drawings, project progression and photos during and upon completion of the project.

The following is a sample of some of our engineering projects:

Convert Cooper T56 FJ ERSA Transmission to a Hewland MK4.

The Cooper ERSA transmission has always had a reputation as being quirky and un-reliable. If not perfectly setup these transmissions can cause hours of headaches both in the garage and on the track. Our client requested that we replace the ERSA with a different transmission that would be easy to service, have readily available parts and not look out of place.

This project necessitated the design of a custom transmission to engine adapter that would not only space the transmission rearwards so the driveshafts met the transmission perpendicular, but also to rotate the transmission through 17 degrees to account for the canted over installation of the engine. A computer model was developed for the spacer. Great care and accuracy was taken to ensure that the input shaft of the transmission was concentric with the engine crank shaft. A mis-alignment greater than 0.005" would cause excessive wear and potential failure of clutch and transmission components. The final part was CNC machined from Billet 7075 Aluminum, the material being chosen specifically for this application. During assembly the new spacer bolted up as designed and required no modifications.

For the remainder of the project aesthetics took a leading role. In order to make the transmission ‘not look out of place' the side plates were heavily modified to remove the familiar mounting ‘ears'. This required the design and fabrication of a custom transmission mount. Re-design of the driveshafts, shift linkage and clutch mechanism were also required whilst applying period finishes and details to the modifications. Much consideration was taken throughout the installation of the new transmission to ensure it would work flawlessly and look original.

Braking Issue with Lola T70 Can-Am Car

The client remarked that sporadically the brake pedal of his Lola would have excessive travel and go nearly to the floor - damaging his confidence in braking. Upon further research and analysis we concluded that the brake system was working correctly but the front stub axles were in fact flexing during hard cornering. This flexing allowed the brake disc to move within the caliper and would therefore push the pads back out against the pistons. The result was a ‘long' brake pedal from displacing excess brake fluid to take up the clearance between the pad
and disc.

We designed a spacer that would sit between the inner and outer wheel bearings and could be sized so that the bearings could be preloaded per specification. In order to maximize the bending stiffness of the spacer its inner and outer contours were shaped to closely match those of the stub axle and the inside of the hub. This allowed for the maximum cross section of material.

Since installation of these spacers the client has reported that he has complete confidence in the brakes' operation now.

Re-engineer of Colotti Transmission Internals

The Colotti T21 transmission was used in a handful of F1 cars in the early 60’s and was woefully un-reliable. Colotti had attempted to make a lightweight gearbox to be competitive, but went too far.  It would have been easy to ‘swap out’ the Colotti for a more reliable unit, but the transmission is original to the car, a 1961 Cooper T53 F1.

The dis-assembled transmission had many issues; cracks in the casings, damaged crownwheel and pinion teeth, bearings migrating within the casing and poor assembly from a previous owner. The cases were extensively repaired, and machined, strengthening plates designed and fabricated to distribute the torsional load from the differential. Originally the pinion was supported by two separate bearings that would isolate radial and axial loads. We engineered in a better double tapered roller bearing, designed a new housing, and machined both housing and casing to suit. With the new crownwheel and pinion in place we were then able to perform a CAD study of all the gears, hubs and bearings within the transmission to accurately position them. With this research we were able to precisely determine the dimensions for all the spacers and shims required. This will ensure all the gears are correctly meshed and the selector mechanism will work properly.

Upon completion the transmission was subjected to numerous track tests and has performed exceptionally well. The transmission is now installed in the T53 and being used in vintage race events.