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Sunday, 18 October 2015

Ponfa pram restoration - part 2

See Part 1 of the Ponfa pram restoration for the beginning of the story.

The little Ponfa pram restoration started soon after we had taken it out of its travelling box from the USA.

It had a wobbly wheel which we discovered when dismantling the pram, this was due to the wheel shaft being bent.  In the following photo you can see which wheel is wobbly (top left) - it leaned in on one side to the chassis and also seemed much more unstable on the shaft than the others.

the chassis and wheels before restoration
As I explained in the previous post, the chassis needed re-bending to shape in several directions - the arms of the chassis were too close together which meant they weren't providing enough tension for the leather straps which held the body in place providing the suspension, so the body was sagging at one end.  In addition, each of the chassis arms was bent to one side or the other which meant that the body was catching slightly on some, resulting in the characteristic curved scratches on the sides of the body which I've seen on several miniature prams, this is caused by the metal loop which hooks the leather strap to the chassis hooks.
The alignment of the chassis needed correcting
The other side of the chassis wasn't quite so out of alignment but still needed some straightening
This diagram explains about the distance between the chassis hooks and providing the right suspension for the pram body. If the chassis hooks are too close together then the leather straps will not support the body properly resulting in a body that tips at one end
The wheels are amazing - they have real spokes which when bent do actually make a difference to the shape and tracking of the wheel, they have real rubber tyres.  I was fortunate, the tyres on my pram, though having some tiny splits in places, were actually in very good condition and did not need replacing (it is a job which costs a lot as they have to be custom made).  The wheels are fitted on wheel shafts with miniature hub caps keeping them in place.

a side view of the chassis with wheels still on - these are fitted in place with hub caps
The hub cap for one of the wheels, showing the inside of the cap which push fits onto the shaft.  Due to the type of metal of the caps, these should not be removed and refitted too often or they will split.
The wobbly wheel with the hub cap removed
The bent wheel shaft needed some careful attention with pliers and a bench vice to get it straight. 

The bent wheel shaft which was causing the wobbly wheel
The wobbly wheel, hub cap and washer which gave some spacing between the wheel and the chassis
The wobbly wheel and chassis
My husband reshaped the chassis carefully so that the pram body hung properly on its four straps and did not scrape the sides anymore.  I cleaned up the chassis paintwork with gentle filing on a couple of paint bubbles and silicone carbide sandpaper.

The hood distortion had resulted in the hood fabric being slightly ripped by one of the chromed steel side brackets, which had rough edges on the inside.  So the debate started straight away about whether to attempt to restore the torn fabric (only the outside weave was torn, the inside weave was intact and the lining was in perfect condition). The apron was missing, the seller did not recall it having an apron and I knew that if I decided to make an apron it would be almost impossible to source fabric which matched the hood.  I attempted to glue the torn fabric back to its inner weave, but this was only partially successful so I started to hunt for fabrics online.   
Side view of the pram body with the hood up, showing the damage to the hood fabric caused by the inside of the hood bracket
Close up of the damaged hood fabric with the bracket still in place
The side bracket was actually too flat as well as having a rough joint on the inside, on the other side of the pram the side bracket had a more pronounced 'curve' to it which made it impossible to damage the fabric as the bracket joint was held away from the fabric, especially as the hood wires were slightly squashed to one side which was aggravating the problem on the damaged side.  However my husband took off both brackets to compare them, filed the sharp joints on the inside to smooth them, then carefully reshaped the flattened bracket to make it a bit more curved.  It was very hard to bend and he was afraid of breaking it, so I suspect it was probably slightly the wrong shape from the time it was made, however he did succeed in improving its shape a bit.
The damaged hood from above, showing how the distance between the fabric and the bracket was causing the damage
The other side view of the pram body with hood up and undamaged fabric
View of the side hood bracket which was the correct curved shape
The leather straps were fitted to the pram body by means of two metal rods which were mounted in holes in the bottom of the sides of the body and run underneath the floor.  Like the wheels they also have neat hub caps.  To prevent the leather straps from rubbing the side of the body are what I called hub caps with holes.

The underside of the pram body showing the shafts holding the leather straps
My husband soon had this section of the pram disassembled.  The leather straps needed cleaning as they were a little grubby and the metal parts all needed cleaning off as some were a bit rusty.  I used very fine grade silicone carbide paper for cleaning up the metal parts and a small amount of mild washing up liquid on paper towel to clean the leather.
A shaft rod, hub caps, washers and leather straps with their metal loops
The pram handle is chromed steel rod with neat shaping and special shaped mounting places for the nuts and bolts.
Unscrewing the pram handle - these were held in place with 4 nuts and bolts
Removing the pram handle
The hood is fitted to the body by four nuts and bolts.  These proved very difficult to unscrew, they could not be undone by hand so a screwdriver and bent nosed pliers were used to loosen the nuts from the bolts.
Unscrewing a nut from a bolt holding the hood in place. 
Removing the hood from the body, this photo shows the four holes for the bolts which  support the hood
My husband set to work on adjusting the wonky wheel  - it was slightly misshapen and the hole through which the wheel shaft goes also needed cleaning and gently filing.  It will always be slightly looser than the other wheels however it is much improved.
Adjusting the wheel spokes on the wobbly wheel
Once the hood and handle was off the body I was able to closely inspect the body of the pram.  The scratches to the paintwork were the only real damage - the rust on the body was minimal which was a huge relief (but was what I had expected from the photos which MDM had sent to me).  Fine sanding with silicone carbide paper was all that was needed to the body ahead of painting.

For the other parts in this restoration process see
Ponfa pram restoration - Part 1
Ponfa pram restoration - Part 3
Ponfa pram restoration - Part 4
Ponfa pram restoration - Part 5

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Kendal said...

Looks like this delightful little pram is getting the full TLC works from these two very knowledgeable and careful restorers.
Hadn't realised until now that they were so detailed and complicated in their make-up.
Great photos charting it's step by step restoration which I'm sure will be a great help to others attempting another similar project. Obviously a case of 'slowly but surely' does it.

Can't wait to finally see the finished article complete with bedding, baby and a Sasha pushing it!

Ginger said...

Fascinating post and your pram is getting the very best in restoration! You could publish these well-ordered steps and title it "Anatomy of a Ponfa Pram". Thank you for another educational post! :) xxx

Serenata said...

Another brilliant post on the step by step process your and your husband made in restoring this little pram. It is great! I am looking forward to the finished result :-)