White Roller

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Project by Ken Reed posted 09-09-2009 04:08 PM 2641 views 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a Hooper bodied Rolls-Royce that had been damaged in a fire. The bar in the back seat was quite a challenge. I love my vacuum press! It turned out OK after months of blood, sweat and tears…..actually not that bad, mostly just very time consuming. Too bad the car itself isn’t very attractive.

Elm burl, polyester finish.

19 comments so far

View navyman's profile


151 posts in 4012 days

#1 posted 09-09-2009 04:34 PM

that’s realy nice work.

-- Michael . USN ( Ret ) Batesville,AR

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4393 days

#2 posted 09-09-2009 04:41 PM

Fantastic! Vacuum press Huh? I’ll have to look in to that.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View Ken Reed's profile

Ken Reed

156 posts in 3791 days

#3 posted 09-09-2009 04:53 PM

Yeah, vacuum presses are great and one of the cheaper tools in a well equipped shop. All you need is a plastic bag and a compressor from an old refrigerator! The local appliance store will probably give you one. They are pretty slow, so the bag has to be well sealed, but they will draw a pretty high vacuum and are quiet and cheap to run. They seize up eventually as there’s no lubrication, but they were headed for the recyclers yard anyway. You’ll probably get over 100 hours out of one. A good commercial vac pump can run thousands of dollars, but other than moving a lot more air and drawing a slightly higher vacuum they don’t do anything different.

Get one and play with it; you’ll have fun with all the possibilities!

View BarryW's profile


1015 posts in 4513 days

#4 posted 09-09-2009 08:22 PM

Oh, yes, the car is completely unattractive except for the woodwork…it’s the woodwork that makes the car for certain…but if they want to give me that ugly car…I’d let them just to give it it’s last home…and from what I can see nobody takes care of it except us woodworkers.

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View Ken Reed's profile

Ken Reed

156 posts in 3791 days

#5 posted 09-09-2009 08:30 PM


Yep, I agree, the wood is the only part of this car I like as well. I don’t think you’d really like to own it as they are sooooo expensive to work on. The parts are outrageous! I once had to replace a small bit of stainless steel trim that had been dented when somebody pried on it to break into the car (and then pried open the wooden glove box, which is where I came in). Anyway, it was about 5/8” wide by 12” long, u-shaped. $1,700! and that was 20 years ago! I wanted to have my friend bend one up for me, but the insurance company insisted on original parts and an invoice.

I also agree with your byline: only mine goes something like “Ya gotta have projects ‘cuz when ya run outta projects ya die.” Same concept. The world is way to interesting to be sittin’ on yer duff.

View eastside's profile


97 posts in 3868 days

#6 posted 09-10-2009 01:28 AM

It would be well appriciated if you went into more detail on how to make an old refrigerator work for a vacume bag. Also it should be said your work is outstanding it takes a lot of skill not just the right tools.
Well done.

-- Mike, Westport MA.

View Innovator's profile


3589 posts in 4020 days

#7 posted 09-10-2009 02:28 AM

Very nice work.

The car is lovely.

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View Ken Reed's profile

Ken Reed

156 posts in 3791 days

#8 posted 09-10-2009 02:40 AM

The vac press from an old reefer couldn’t be easier.

There is an electrical connection on the compressor. You’ll have to safely attach a plug to this. I used an old extension cord and cut off the female end. Solder the cord to the pig tails coming out of the motor and use some shrink wrap to tidy it up and cover the exposed wires. Now there are two pipes coming out of the compressor….1/4” OD. One blows and the other sucks. Fire up the compressor and put your finger over each to tell which is which. Attach a stiff plastic tube to the one that sucks. By stiff I mean one that won’t collapse under vacuum. I used tubing like you see on soft drink machines…they have a woven layer and are clear, but I would think an automotive supply house would carry something suitable as well. Slip this 1/4” ID hose over the pipe on the compressor that sucks and attach the other end of hose to your bag. They make fittings for this or you can poke a hole in the bag and seal it up with vinyl cement or dumdum. Place your pre-glued part to be veneered or laminated in the bag and seal it up. Plug in the compressor and be prepared to be amazed. The pressure is incredible and of course it’s also very even.

A few tips: put some fiberglass window screen in the bag so the air has a path to escape. If your bag is flat, which is the easiest shape to start with, say 1×2 meters, then cut a piece of screen about 900×1800mm. Leave some room at the open end because you need to seal the bag here. What I mean by the open end: envision a huge sandwich bag, like a Baggie; sealed on three sides, open on one side. The easiest, cheapest way to seal the end of the bag is with a couple of sticks, say 25mm square and about 1100mm long. Roll up the bag a turn or two, place a stick on either side of the roll and throw some spring clamps in it to hold the sticks in place. The vacuum will actually help seal this later anyway. Also the compressor tends to puke a little oil so a little can or plastic bottle to catch this oil helps keep the mess to a minimum. Another tip is to be aware that sharp corners on your piece are damaging to the bag, so do what you can to soften up the shapes. If I’m doing a flat panel, say MDF substrate and veneer each side (don’t forget to balance your glue ups) then I’ll cut the MDF oversize, half round the edges, knock off the corners and then glue it up. I almost always trim to size after the veneer is stuck anyway, so not much waste here. If you have heavy plastic (like they use in plastic windows for cars and boats) then you don’t have to be quite so careful. Another trick is to tape pieces of foam or cloth to sharp corners to soften them.

Once you have everything in the bag and don’t have any obvious leaks the compressor will get very quiet. This is a good thing! Let it run for however long conditions warrant. If you’ve used fast epoxy and it’s 38C out then you only have a couple of minutes before it’s too late. If you use UF (urea formaldehyde) then you’re going to have to wait a couple of hours, at least. I like Unibond 800 or BetterBond.

Hope that’s enough information to encourage you! Go ahead and play with it….it’s almost free and the possibilities are nearly endless. Remember that not only can you veneer with it, but it’s great for laminating as well. Build a form out of MDF, or whatever you have and slice out some strips about 2 to 4mm thick. Lay them over the form and they will conform to your shape once you pull a vacuum, assuming you cut them thin enough. It’s like having a zillion tiny clamps! The entire sky is pressing on your little part! Great fun!

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4597 days

#9 posted 09-10-2009 05:31 PM

Wow! What a great idea! Thank you for sharing with us, your vacuum bag ideas as they will come in handy in the future.

I’d like to someday try this with an old RV I own…can you give details on how you veneer the corners and what finish you use for inside automotive?

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Ken Reed's profile

Ken Reed

156 posts in 3791 days

#10 posted 09-10-2009 06:41 PM

I’m not too sure what you mean by how to veneer the corners….different situations call for different types of laps. Common sense prevails, I suppose.

I use polyester for the finish. Nasty stuff. Very UV resistant. Extremely hard and polishes to a brilliant shine. There are several companies that sell it. Spray only. Use a spray booth. Professional use only. Don’t try this in your garage.

View Moparman's profile


12 posts in 3795 days

#11 posted 10-02-2009 07:13 PM

What are you talking about. This car is goregous.

-- Vroom! Vroom!

View Ken Reed's profile

Ken Reed

156 posts in 3791 days

#12 posted 10-02-2009 08:28 PM


Well, beauty and eye of, I suppose. Looks like Moby Dick to me!

View woodchic's profile


841 posts in 3964 days

#13 posted 01-23-2010 02:22 PM

This is very cool… did a great job!


-- Robin Renee'

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4001 days

#14 posted 02-12-2013 03:09 PM

I must be showing my age and background.
I was born in 1933 and worked for about 15 years on imported cars including cars like that one.
I don’t see this car as unattractive at all.
My favorite British cars are Jaguars.
Of course Rolls and Bentley are right up there with the rest.

To each his own, as we used to say.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View Fridgecritter's profile


176 posts in 2722 days

#15 posted 02-12-2013 03:32 PM

I went to a refrigeration school in the Army for 6 months and got my universal certification like 15 years ago. During that school they teach you that the refrigerant that flows through the pump is in a gas state when it goes through, otherwise the pump would blow up or seize up. The refrigerant has lubricant built into it, and that’s what normally lubricates the pump. So when you run just air through it, a little moisture from the air builds up and it probably rusts up inside and seizes.

I bet you could turn a can of WD40 upside down so only the aerosol is coming out, and spray it into the inlet. There would be plenty of trace elements of lubricant present in the jet of aerosol to lubricate that pump. Of course, if someone gives you the pump, it’s not that important, but it would keep you from having to find another one and reattaching your pump. Just an idea.

-- "Anyone can post a quote on the internet and attribute the quote to a famous person." -Abraham Lincoln

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