Rebirth Of B129SP

A 1953 R-Type DHC, Engine B314S From 1986 Up To 2005

October 11, 1986: AGM of the German Section in Berlin

Member Christopher Leefe had braking problems on arrival in Berlin and so we moved to the local R-R & B dealer Krauthahn to have the problem solved. Whilst his Cloud II was undergoing repair in the workshop we strolled around and found this good looking car standing in the yard. Obviously my look at her was a little too intensive since a Salesman came running to assure me that this car is for sale. The convertible top was uptight, interior showed much wear, mushrooms growing in the boot and the mileage reading was 20.637. Remarkably that all instrument dials and radio knobs were designed in beige colour with brown figures instead of black & white normally. Altogether the Bentley seemed in very poor condition. Unfortunately a look underneath wasn’t possible on that very Saturday afternoon.

Restoration of B126FB, a 1935 Derby 3 ½ – nuts-up – by my own hands took me about five years and was almost completed in 1985. Looking at my healed hands another “Project of similar kind” wasn’t that attractive to me at first thought… But just 4 days later it was, because this car would have been the first drop head in my life! So I hurried the following Wednesday 375 mls to and from Berlin with a co-pilot and after a check on a lifting platform from underneath (horror), followed by a road test, a horrible ride on a camel alike, wheeling and dealing for hours the scrap heap was mine in the end. After all – this buy must have been sort of misguided hunters’ instinct. So the Bentley bubbled all the way to Cologne on 5 working cylinders at last. My experience: A Bentley never leaves you alone…

The road books reported about 5 previous owners:

  1. Mr. Denis Martineau M.A., A.R.I.B.A from London Reg. NJJ5 (May 1953)
  2. Mr. Jughes Keller from Paddon Bros. Ltd. South Kensington Reg. 874 WAR (August 1965)
  3. Mr. Richard Webster, The Beacon House, Herts Reg. RNW 51 (1965)
  4. Commander Sam MacDonald-Hall, Finsbury Square, London
  5. Mr. Erwin Maniura from Berlin.

Chassis restoration was interrupted in 1991 when my dear wife Elke & I lost the battle against her cancer after 6 years of fighting. Within this time I lost my vim, my confidence in myself and the expectation to stay the course to guide this project to a happy end. Before final failure of the lot & loss of money spent, I decided to have B129SP made up in England in April 2001. Steve Penny had moved from Clanfield to Kingham meanwhile and so B129SP travelled another time to England by own, self driven lorry for paintwork new hood, new inner trim and assembly. Good choice retrospectively…

The following pictures tell their own story in brief.

I managed to get the head off in the end to have a look into the cocking plant. Some fragments of piston rings were to be found, but on piston No 3 nothing at all. Loss of piston rings is “normal” I was told. But where all other bits had gone?

Grid, dirt and sludge inside the differential. Graphite fouling inside the crankshaft vibration damper…! Remainder of too much oil additives?

By the way: Same occurrence when the 3 1⁄2 litre engine A5BF was opened.

January 1987. Body off to gain better access to Chassis and components (my part during rebirth). “Third hand” all the time was an old fork lift. The kneeling Lady is Elke my wife.

Having no talent to work on bodies at all, this body should be restored in England as well. From the days of the Derby I swear by British craftsmen when the 3 ½ got a new body at Clanfield Restorations in the early 80th. If somebody likes to see the other project, then push “Restaurationen” and you’ll find the illustrated history of B126FB, engine A5BF.

April 1987 Chassis sandblasted…followed by filler, primer…

… and topcoat (which German Rail use for their railway car chassis). August 14, 1988. Some progress.

The Engine already overhauled by our Technical Secretary Werner Mork in his workshop.

May 5, 1991. First sign of life after 3 years. My good friend Mac Zimmermann had the honour to start the engine. Wads of smoke are from storage oil. June 1991. Arrangements for first transport to England for body repair by Steve Penny at Clanfield on own, self driven lorry.

Some steps of body-repair in England

Body in white. May 17, 2002. B129SP at home again after another stay in England for new paint, new inner trim, new hood and completion by Steve Penny.

March 2005. MOT-Test and German Registration K-RR 1953 H (H means Historic Vehicle, must be over 30 years old and paying less motor vehicle tax therefore).According to Bernhard Kings statement this body is of Park Ward Design No. 99
whereof 25 R-Type Bentleys have been built.

Posing on Cologne horse race-course

Claus Goldberg