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Fiennes Engineering – Meet the Team, Part One

Article by: Hannah in General - 30 July

The skills required in any sector of engineering are along the same lines – precision, attention to detail, confidence and accuracy. Our engineers have all of these attributes, but with the requirements of the automotive trade, in particular those vehicles where parts are no longer available, an ability to adapt and think outside the box also comes with the job, and to our engineers, comes naturally. So when we go through to Fiennes Engineering and say “here’s a part, I need a new one but there’s no drawing or blueprint”, they’re not phased but instead excited at the prospect of re-creating or developing something that no one else can do – a true craft.

We thought it only right to introduce you to our team, and over the next few weeks, we’ll be meeting the team that create the parts that no longer exist and breathe new life into old engines…

Classic car engine assessment

Frank: Technical Director – starting in 1971, Frank began an apprenticeship in General and Mechanical Engineering with JH Richards, the company that was to become the parent to Coventry Boring and Metalling. After a 5 year apprenticeship with JH Richards, Frank continued with the company as a machinist, working on manufacturing and repair projects including turbine bearings for power stations, hydrogen seals and thrust pads. This is where Frank’s apprenticeship knowledge of white metal came into its own, with the skill now becoming a daily task for Frank. In 1997, Richards opened a new company, West Midland Engines, where Frank became Workshop Foreman, and then in 2002, Frank moved to Coventry Boring and Metalling as Workshop Manager and was made Company Director in 2005. In 2019, with the joining of forces with Fiennes Restoration, and then its rebranding to Fiennes Engineering, he moved in to the role of Technical Director. Working on an variety of engines in his time including an American Franklin engine, a Napier engine, and a race conversion for an Aston Martin Lagonda engine, Frank has also had career experience of working alongside TV production companies for programmes such as Top Gear, and recently Car SOS. Frank’s expertise in engineering, his passion for the industry and skill in all areas is exceptional and we at Fiennes are proud and honoured to celebrate with Frank his 50th year in the industry this July. A true dedication to the automotive industry.

Ian: Workshop Manager – leaving school in 1978, Ian began a tool maker apprenticeship with Cirencester Tools where he learnt all areas of manual engineering including surface grinding, optical profile grinding, fitting, milling and turning to name but a few. After a 3 year apprenticeship, Ian move to McAvoys, working in the tool room manufacturing jigs, fixtures and tooling for valve production for oil field equipment. Ian continued to add to his already developed engineering grinding experience covering universal grinding and tool cutting grinding. Following 3 years here, Ian moved into aircraft manufacture working for Dowty Aerospace, manufacturing aircraft under carriages, using his engineering experience in grinding, honing and milling in a different sector. Following the closure of the Dowty Aerospace Swindon branch, and with Dowty supplying a job agency for the closure, Ian saw a job he was interested in and in 1989, joined Fiennes Engineering at Clanfield Mill. Over the past 32 years, Ian has brought an incredible amount of knowledge, experience and guidance let alone his engineering skills on any machine we possess! His natural progression to Workshop Manager was only going to evolve with his capability and understanding of engineering. Alongside Will Fiennes, Ian has worked on the development of the conversion of Phantom III from solid white metal to thin wall bearing shells, rebuilding springs and overhauling axles – ensuring these historic cars stay on the road.

Check back next week when we meet more of our amazing Fiennes Engineering team..