Permalac Projects: Aluminum Kit Car

Pete in Oakland, CA sent us this story:

img_1260The Pembleton is a single donor (Citroën 2CV) kit car designed and marketed by Phil Gregory of the Pembleton Motor Company which can have either three or four wheels.. It looks rather like a Morgan trike from the 1920s and 30s but does not attempt to be a replica. Every car is personalised by the builder and no two cars are exactly the same.

Pembleton is constructed on a space frame chassis.  The gearbox, steering, brakes, front suspension, half or all of the rear suspension, wiring loom, electrical parts and lots of other parts come from a Citroën 2CV donor. The front suspension geometry is modified to improve the roadholding of the vehicle. The engine can be from a 2CV but people have installed BMW and Moto Guzzi engines for more performance and appearance.   This car uses a 602cc 2CV air-cooled engine provided by the donor car.  It has a top speed of approximately 70mph.

img_1266All of the body was hand made out of aluminium  cut from sheet from patterns. This includes flooring, bulkheads and front wings. I decided to leave the body bright so used Permalac Matte to protect these surfaces.  There are no compound curves in the original design but I chose to modify the rear panels for aesthetic reasons.   By adhering strictly to the kit’s guidelines, one can build this car for under $8000.  Most people don’t.  Because 2CV donor
img_1273cars are difficult to find in this country, I contracted with 2CV City, a dismantling yard in the UK to provide the parts needed for my project.  This included the 1985 engine.   I was lucky to have had assistance from a retired French mechanic, Jean  Haritchabalet in sorting out the electrical system and engine tuning.   The car runs beautifully and the country roads in my area are well suited for this type of motoring.

September Contest Winner: Fireplace Bellows

Pat writes to us: labella-entry-3I purchased this Johnny Beard bellows and then did a Pen Work design on it. This is accomplished by drawing the design and then filling in the negative areas with ink applied with a Rapidograph pen. Since this was to be hung by a fireplace or wood stove it needed to be protected from the heat. I applied Permalac as the final coating. It has held up and I have since used Permalac on many of my projects.

What Do Joseph Pulitzer, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, Ronald Reagan, and Lee Iacocca have in Common?

October 2016 – These distinguished gentlemen, and an army of others, each had a hand at one time or another with either the construction or renovation of Lady Liberty.  Different times, different circumstances, but the same outcomes.  Building or maintaining our National Symbol of Freedom.

In just about the entirety of planning, timing is everything.  Did you know that the beacon of hope that greeted immigrants to our great country was once painted? Had Permalac been around back then, maybe we’d have a shining copper Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Timing.

In fact, the timing of the original plans wasn’t so good either for Lady Liberty, the Government of France or the United States Government.  The idea of “The Great Colossus”1 began in 1865, and it took ten years for sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi to be commissioned to lead the

project, with the Centennial of the Declaration of Independence as the planned ceremony, 1876.

Excuses, Reasons, Excuses

France and the USA were both under enormous financial strain at the time, and therefore creative means of fund raising became routine on both sides of the Atlantic.  It was agreed the US would be responsible for the location and the construction of the footing, and the French would cover the costs involved in shipping, handling and installation of the finished statue beyond its cost of creation.

In France, lotteries, public fees, entertainment events and other forms of public funding were utilized, while in

the US, theatrical events, art auctions, even prize fights were used, but in both countries, raising money at that time was not easy.

While all this money trouble occupied many citizen’s time, Bartholdi, the sculptor, sought out the assistance of the man that build the Eiffel Tower, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel2, for his insight into strustatue-of-libertyctural integrity.  The estimated delivery of Lady Liberty was slipping due to lack of funding, design concerns, and public opinion.

Joseph Pulitzer,3 through the editorial pages of his newspaper, “The World’, was direct and to the point regarding the lack of keen interest in the project by the American people.  He harshly criticized the wealthy for their withholding of some of their wealth toward this great national project, but he also admonished the middle class for their expectation of the wealthy and well-off handling the entire donation.  Both economic groups begrudgingly contributed towards that effort.Although long past the original plan, the project was finally completed. An excerpt describing the final steps of the installation of Lady Liberty:

“Architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the Statue of Liberty’s granite pedestal in 1884, donating his fee to help fund the Statue.  Financing for the pedestal was completed in August 1885, and pedestal construction was finished in April 1886. The Statue was completed in France in July 1884 and arrived in New York Harbor in June 1885 on board the French frigate “Isere.”

 In transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. The Statue was reassembled on her new pedestal in four months’ time. On October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland oversaw the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in front of thousands of spectators. She was a centennial gift ten years late.

What! No Permalac?

Had Permalac been around near the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, Congress would not have appropriated $62,000 to paint her.  The public outcry was rabid.  Newspapers referred to the idea as sacrilegious, while others felt the fact the statue was turning green. Influential politicians pushed for painting the sculpture as a means of protecting the metal’s integrity, but the citizenry would hear none of it.

Had Permalac been around a hundred or so years ago, things would be different. Because the outer shell of the statue is thin, it still would have taken more than 30 million copper pennies to form the complete covering.  The weight of the metal, 3/32 of an inch4 is remarkably thin, but the green patina is actually nature’s protective coating.  Permalac EF could have been used on the exterior, and Permalac Black internally.

Move Time Forward

Bedloe’s Island, where Lady Liberty stands, didn’t have a name change until 1956, when it was changed to Liberty Island.  Both Bedloe’s and Ellis Island’s maintenance had changed hands over the years, from the Lighthouse Board to the D
epartment of War. Lady Liberty is positioned on a pedestal within Fort Wood, which was constructed for the War of 1812.  It later had a transfer of maintenance and management when both Ellis and Bedloe’s Islands were combined under the National Park Service in 1965. It maintains and oversees all aspects of the Islands to this day.
detail-headBy 1982, Lady Liberty was in much need of repairs.  President Ronald Reagan5  appointed the Chairman of the Chrysler Corporation, Lee Iacocca6,  to spearhead the $87 million public/private restoration funding for her upkeep.  The project swelled to more than $233 million, and, although controversy arose, Iacocca did the near impossible at the time.

Image Credit: Copper Development Association

Beacon of Hope

As we are a nation of immigrants, it is surprising how much consternation swirls about immigration today. Liberty Island, along with Ellis Island has welcomed immigrants with a symbol of freedom and hope.

While most immigrants entered the United States through New York Harbor (the most popular destination of steamship companies), others sailed into many ports such as Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Francisco, Savannah, Miami, and New Orleans. The great steamship companies like White Star, Red Star, Cunard and Hamburg-America played a significant role in the history of Ellis Island and immigration in general.

In conclusion

Ask metal artists what they find helps them the most to preserve their art and they’ll probably respond with something like “a metal sculpture’s best friends are Permalac Black and Permalac Clear.  Two great defenders of either patina or decorative preservative. I’m confident that IF Permalac was available when the statue was first constructed, reconstructed upon arrival to the US, and the subsequent renovations that have occurred since.

Keywords: Statue of Liberty, Permalac, Lady Liberty, Permalac EF, patina, metal preservation,

  1. The Great Colossus – Poet Emma Lazarus 1883 –
  3. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel –
  5. Ronald Reagan –
  6. Lee Iacocca –