Driving a 1954 Austin-Healey 100/4 from Peking to Paris in the June 2019 ERA Rally.

Friday, 15 December 2017

0033 Fuel tanks, sumps and heat shield

7th - 15th December 2017
We continue to add stuff back onto Gidget - Is she getting too heavy ?

✋ Before I start on the blog itself, an unashamed plea for your help !  On this blog you can leave Comments, or you can even become a Follower.  While it is great to see how many people are
reading (and hopefully enjoying) this blog 👀, what makes it so much easier to keep writing and
documenting it all is when we see people posting comments of support 👋 (or otherwise !!) and even becoming an official "Follower" of the blog.  (Just click on the "Post a Comment" section that appears below each post, and follow the prompts.) The only thing that keeps us going (well, maybe not the only thing, but YKWIM) is that we know people are out there cheering us on, and the best way you can do that is to post comments or become a Follower.  Then we become even more enthusiastic ourselves !  So please come on in and join us officially as we proceed on this epic adventure !  TIA.  😊

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

0032 Fuel tanks, doors and springs.

28th November - 7th December
Lots of things happening

Works replica tank system
While Andrew continues to work mainly on the body panels, he also worked this week on the additional auxillary fuel tank that we will need.   For those of you who have been reading on here from the start, you will remember that our original idea was to have the additional fuel tank on the side of the main one, with the spare wheel located on the opposite side, similar to the works replica rally cars.  While this is a good arrangement, Ashton and I agreed that it wasn't ideal for us, because with the weight of the spare wheel (22.5 kg in our case) plus the weight of an extra 8 gallons of fuel (27 kg), that would be
Roskill/Cooper tank system
approximately 50 kg hanging out behind the rear axle - Not including the 41 kg weight of the original 12 gallons of fuel.  So instead of this side by side arrangement, we have moved everything forwards, with the spare wheel now up in the centre of the boot, protruding through into the passenger area slightly, but positioned right over the rear axle.  This has then enabled us to design and locate our extra 8 gal tank wherever we want, and the further forward we move this 27 kg the better.  So our design ideas all came together and Andrew has now constructed a basically triangular cross section fuel tank that, by extending the full 1 metre width of the boot space can therefore have its front to back depth minimised, so that the weight is as far forward as possible.  And today Andrew produced his solution.

Monday, 27 November 2017

0031 Electrician, Mechanic, or Trimmer ?

21st - 28th November 2017
Or am I supposed to be a Navigator ?

The wiring loom again
Rebuilding a car really is something rather special - You truly do have to be a Jack of All Trades, and  hopefully instead of a Jack I am becoming a Master of at least a couple of them !!  The last week has seen me doing a lot of work on the wiring loom in preparation for a visit to a (real) autoelectrician with a long list of questions.  The plan is to get him to point me in the right direction, but for me to do the work, because I need to know this stuff in case the lights fuse in the middle of the night in the Gobi !  Today (Monday) was supposed to be the day I visited the electrican, but unfortunately he didn't answer his phone today - Maybe tomorrow !  The joys of rebuilding a car and relying on other people .......

Sunday, 19 November 2017

0030 The rebuild begins.....

15th - 17th November 2017
We finally start putting pieces back on the car !!

First front damper is in place
Today was a momentous occasion - I finally sat down and bolted some pieces back ON to Gidget !!  It has been a long time coming, and a lot longer than we initially anticipated, but if any of you have ever been involved in the total rebuild of an old and damaged car, you will know that it usually takes a lot longer than planned or expected !  But it felt very special to finally be tightening some nuts on there, knowing that (hopefully) they won't have to be undone again for a very long time !!  First parts to be bolted on were the two front (larger MGB) dampers sourced from Peter Caldwell at World Wide Auto Parts in Madison Wisconsin. These have bearings instead of just seals, hopefully preventing the slow fluid leak of standard units.  Additionally, these are the slightly larger volume MGB units so they should remain slightly cooler, but with Austin Healey arms fitted so the suspension geometry is not changed.  And having tightened them all up, I then had to remove them again so I could fit the small rubber bump stop underneath the front corner !   I am sure that will happen a few times over the next few weeks !

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

0029 We go rallying while Gidget gets painted

8th - 14th November 2017
In which I get a week off car renovations !

Ashton's Lotus in the High Country
Some weeks ago Ashton thought it would be a good idea for us to do a car rally (or two) just to make sure that we could actually sit in a car together for a few days, and also so that we could work out how to use the Monit Rally Meter which we will need on the P2P.  So he chose the Targa High Country event based around Mt Buller down in the Victoria High Country / ski fields - Truly one of the most spectacular areas in Australia in my opinion, especially when the sun is shining.  And for all 5 days we were there, the sun was shining !   Perfect conditions for a great trial.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

0028 Moving on to things electrical....

4th Nov 2017
Time to see if the wiring is OK !!

The wiring loom on my table
I have always disliked electricity - Perhaps because as a small boy I still very clearly remember  sticking my finger into a home light socket to see what those two brass pins were........!  Only ever did it once !   I have done quite a lot of wiring for various cars over the years - spotlights, radios, and even fitting voltmeters etc in Troopie - When it is straightforward I don't have a problem.  But when wiring systems get complicated with wires seemingly going all over the place, or when I need to track a wiring problem, then I tend to defer to an expert.  As far as Gidget is concerned, it was time to delve deeper into the mass of wiring that were sitting in a box in the corner of my garage, and work out if everything (anything ?) was serviceable.

Friday, 27 October 2017

0027 Starting to put things back together

27th October 2017
Now my job starts !

It's starting to look like a car again
When Ashton kindly invited me to join him as co-driver / navigator on this great Mongolian adventure, I understood my work to be "fettling" of the car - Things like polishing, locktighting or wirelocking bolts, fitting new seats, putting a few electrical accessories in, and maybe even changing a wheel bearing or suspension bushing. A few spare parts might be needed out of the UK, but, with my International Logistics background, I didn't see a problem with that.  Looking back 6 months, I now realise how much I (and I think Ashton too) underestimated what would be required, mainly because the car would turn out to be in somewhat poorer condition than we anticipated, but also because in fact we realise now that the ONLY way to REALLY prepare properly for such extreme events is to take the car totally to pieces and rebuild it.  It is no good making the chassis stronger if you do not also beef up the wheels / dampers / wiring / bodywork etc etc.  A car is only as strong as it's weakest part.............   Having spent most of the last 6 months taking the car totally apart, we are now almost at the stage where we can start putting it all back together.  Painting of the engine bay and other internal sections (in the original Coronet Cream) should be completed next week, and then re-construction begins in earnest.  It is still our target to have the car running and on the road by Christmas Day 2017, 55 days from now !!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

0026 We finally reach the end

24th October 2017
Its only the end because there is nothing left to take off !!   Now we have to put it back together !

Shower cape for a Healey
With the engine stripped, there really was nothing else left to take off Gidget, so, in theory anyway, there shouldn't be too many more unwanted surprises !  Last week I had taken my new stub axles and king pins to Peter Janetzki at JH Classic Restorations up in Yatala (half way to Brisbane) as they had a rare 2 step reamer that is required for these, and when I went to pick them up, I found a Healey with a shower cape on it, similar to those we used to have for the Elise.  These a great pieces of kit, easy and quick to put on, and at least they keep a convertible dry inside in the morning when you have to leave it outside in the rain all night.  Nothing worse than climbing into a sodden car in the morning and then having to sit on a water logged foam seat all day !   Coincidentally I found they are made by the same company in England from whom I bought a car cover for my Elise !  Might have to get one of those for Gidget.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

0025 In which we delve into the engine

24th Sept - 7th October 2017
We open the last thing left on the car !

Old floor panels to the tip

We continue to work on several aspects of the car at once - Juggling about 50 balls at once is about how it feels at the moment !   So, in order to make some space at Chez Cooper, we dug out the old "floor panels" (if you can call them that), and took them down to the rubbish tip.  Having not seen an original floor of a Healey before, I was stupidly keeping these in case we needed them again !   Now I have seen what the floor panels SHOULD look like, I realise what a terrible installation these galvanised tin sheets really were, and took them down to the tip.   NOT NEEDED !!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

0024 Doing the dirty work

19th-21st Sept 2019
Grease and grime everywhere !

Mock up suspension for damper mounts
Having now got many of the front suspension parts off the car and at home, it was time to set about trying to clean off some of the grease and dirt to see which parts were still usable, which were servicable as spares, and which really need to hit the rubbish bin.  A visit to CCC workshops saw Andrew trying to make a mock up of the suspension so he could set the caster angles correctly when fitting the new adjustable front damper mounts. (The dampers form the upper suspension arms, so therefore the caster angles.)  Originally specified at 1 3/4 degs, later cars were set at 2 degs, so we decided to go with that.  These units are adjustable so we can fine tune everything later.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

0023 In which Ashton pays a visit to Queensland

10th - 18th September 2017
The dirty work continues !

A tangle of wiring !
I started off this week exploring the wiring loom that is currently out of the car.  Electrics are not one of my favourite or strongest aspects of car ownership, but as with so many other aspects of this rebuild, I guess I am just going to have to learn !  While Ashton is keen to put in a new loom, my view is that the current one is OK, and is not original so could be only a few years old.  The problem is that a previous owner put in a new loom, and then used the original wiring for things like the last section to the headlights or tail light, and due to the poor condition of this original wiring, it makes it unusable in its present format.  My view is that if we replace just the old wiring, and then just add the wiring for the few extras we will need like power points, the system will work fine. And also move the fusebox into the cabin to remove it from heat and water.........We shall see.......Work in progress !

Thursday, 7 September 2017

0021 Everything falls apart !!

5th September 2017
Luckily the wheels had already fallen off !

Dave Godwin's lovely racing MGA that is off to the UK
I went into CCC today just to drop off a template for the panel where the fuel filter and two SU fuel pumps will be mounted in the boot.  When I pulled up, Dave Godwin's gorgeous little MGA race car was there - He is doing a couple of local events before shipping it to the UK for a while to participate in some racing over there.  Should be fun.  I helped him measure up the trailer for shipping purposes, and might well go up to Lakeside this weekend to see him race.  Then I walked over to the garage where the Healey is located - And nearly fainted with surprise when I saw it !

Thursday, 31 August 2017

0019 Wheels, exhausts, and springs

31st August 2017
We continue learning as we go.

Rear wheel fitted up for size
Since our last post a couple of weeks ago, we have continued to plough ahead with our preparation of Gidget, sometimes achieving many things in one day, while other days pass with nothing but internet research to show for our time.  Those of you who have ever tried to restore an old car to its former glory will understand the
Side exhaust taking shape
extremes of temperament that one goes through - One day euphoric that you have at last solved something that has been puzzling you for a while, while on other days you sink into despair, wondering if the car will ever be completed and back on the road.  Every day the list of things to do seems to get longer instead of shorter !  This week I managed to get several more of the original items refurbished, we saw one of our new wheels fitted up into the wheel arch, and we finally saw how good the exhaust is going to look.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

0018 Magazines, seats, Jags and maps

9th - 16th August 2017
Starting to look for important things !

While I was busy at home cleaning up and refurbishing a lot of the parts I had taken off the car before she went in to Classic Car Clinic for her major surgery, I was also starting to think of some of the important things we will need later on.  If I can at least find out where I can source some of these items, then when the time comes and we need them, I won't have to waste time running around looking for them, but will be able to go straight to the supplier and pick them up.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

0016 An Austin Healey Concours

6th August 2017
A day off to look at complete Healeys for a change !

The Queensland Austin Healey Club held its annual Show and
Shine at Clontarf, up on the shores of Moreton Bay north of Brisbane on the 6th August, and despite it looking quite cloudy and overcast while we were driving up from the Gold Coast, once we arrived the sun came out and it was a beautiful warm sunny day.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

0015 The things you find on an old car !

5th August 2017
When you dig deep, you find some amazing things !

A Coronet Cream 100/4, as Gidget was originally
This is a fascinating stage in the restoration process of Gidget, as the Healey has now been christened.  (More on the name later.)   There are just SO many things to do that Ashton and I seem to have notes everywhere - in Evernote, in spreadsheets, on scraps of paper, and of course, in our heads !  Some are important things like "weld up chassis" or "make sure wheels fit", others are just ideas, like what tools should we take ?  What spares ?  And then of course there are really important items like how many pairs of jocks and socks can we (should we ?) fit in !  With the car still being worked on at CCC, I am busy gathering all the parts I think we need, as well as items like foam to make cushioning under the fuel tank, and heat reflective foam and metal to keep the exhaust heat where it belongs - ie outside the car !  Just so much going through our brains at the moment, and we have long telephone conversations most evenings, throwing ideas around.

Friday, 28 July 2017

0014 Work starts on LH side

22nd - 28th July 2017
Finally we start to see everything moving forward !

New inner sill in place
After all the delays working on the driver's side caused by the panels all being out of alignment due to a previous accident. CCC finally managed to move on to work on the passenger side this week, and as expected everything has moved a lot quicker.  I have been busy working on cleaning up a lot of the parts removed from the car earlier in order to see if they were still usable, so I have not been over to CCC workshops all week.  So it was a pleasant surprise to walk in there today.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

0013 The work continues.....

27th July 2017
Dampers, diffs, and seats !

Driver's B pillar
Inside panel on B Pillar
The painstaking work of try to get the driver's side correct continues. 
However it should be remembered that Classic Car Clinic have many other jobs, so unfortunately they cannot spend all their time on our car every day !  Nevertheless, it is good to see the door shutting properly now, and the sill in place.  It is almost time to move over to the passenger side, which should move along a lot more quickly not only because they can copy the driver's side measurements, but also because it has not been accident damaged like the driver's side. In the meantime I had other things to keep me busy !

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

0012 Slowly coming together

19th July 2017
Buying parts, and fixing body problems

Andrew at work on the bodywork
Now I am back from my trip, I find that things haven't moved quite as fast as I expected in my absence.  Unfortunately, every time they dug a little deeper, they found more issues, which unfortunately is often the case with a 63 year old car !  The photos in the previous posts tell the story - Now it is more a question of trying to save what we can, and then get the panels to line up again once the prior accident damage in the side and rear has been fixed.  Luckily, in Mark and Andrew at Classic Car Clinic, we have got two of the best, and while it is painstaking work, I am starting to get a warm feeling inside about it all !!

Monday, 3 July 2017

0011 So it's a British motor car....

I know I should have known that things would not be all that they seemed.....

When we left off last week, Mark and his team had systematically stripped the car's back end, including removing the rear skin to correct the results of a rear-end shunt; well, this is how it was looking at the start of the week...

Sunday, 25 June 2017

0010 While the cat's away....

Well, in this case it is Mark, not the mouse, and it's more like hard work than play, but aside from those minor inconsistencies, the metaphor is complete!

Mark and his team have been very busy this week; they have essentially stripped the whole of the back end...

Friday, 16 June 2017

0009 Giles has gone walkabout.......

So in his absence, I have been let loose....and what we're finding is not all good!

When we left off, the car had been hauled off to spend some time with Mark and the team at The Classic Car Clinic;

Monday, 22 May 2017

0008 Getting the car ready for a transplant

18th – 24th May 2017
Wiring, fuel, and bootwork.

Boot floor, with hole for fuel tank pick up sump
When you take a 63 year old car apart, I guess it is not unexpected that you will get a few surprises and problems.  And this week we have found a few unwanted ones !    Following  Ashton’s visit last weekend, we have arranged for the car to go over to Mark Boldry at Classic Car Clinic on the Gold Coast to have the rusty  floor panels cut out, replacement ones welded in, and to change the passenger side footwell area to provide more room for the exhaust to run down the side of the car rather than underneath.   So to have the car ready for this work, we had a lot of cleaning up to do.

Monday, 15 May 2017

0007 A weekend working on the car

13th/14th May 2017
Some ugly truths revealed ?  And a party !

Ashton & Joe getting serious
Ashton arranged his busy work / car schedule to allow time to come up to Queensland for the weekend so we could take a serious look at the car, and finalise our spare parts order so it gets on the way soonest.  On Friday evening we had a couple of hours to sit down and go through some of the stuff, but work started in earnest on Saturday morning.   Fortunately the weekend was quite poor weather, so we weren’t distracted to go surfing or anything silly !

Thursday, 11 May 2017

0006 Searching for spare parts in England

24th – 29th April 2017
And a side trip through Wales !

View over London from The Shard
We had been planning this trip to England for some time – It was my old (!) school chum John’s 70th birthday, and we had booked the trip many months ago because I had planned to be there for his 60th in 2007, but that was when I was having my bout with throat cancer, and I wasn’t able to travel.   So there was no way we were going to miss his 70th !!   And now that our foray in the 2019 Peking to Paris (going to call it P2P from now on) is planned, it was an ideal opportunity to take some time to hunt for sources of the spare parts we need for the Healey.  Our search was to take us up to Pontefract near Leeds, so we set aside a week.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

0005 It's serious now - we are on the entry list....

10th March 2017

 Yep, no sooner had Giles posted that we were starting to get serious, than we really had to. We received notification from Annette at the ERA that our application had both been received and was successful, so now we swing into full steam ahead......

Planning for this event requires both a huge number of conversations, and, as we are discovering, a lot of decision-making. Mostly in a vacuum, as even with some endurance rally experience in the past, nothing, absolutely nothing, comes close to this event.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

0004 Getting started

6th March 2017.
We finally get to officially submit our entry.

Competitors in the Endurance Rally Association events are "invited" to enter, and selected based on past experience, your car, or if you have an interesting story.  But first of all, you have to register an "Expression of Interest" to compete in the rally. This we did in mid-September 2016, and our "Interest" was registered, with a promise to send us an Invitation to Enter early in 2017.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

0003 The Car

Our steed - Ashton's Austin-Healey 100/4
Ashton already had a "suitable" car (Is any car really "suitable" for a journey like this ?)  - a green 1954 Austin-Healey 100/4.  This car was the first model of the "Big Healeys" which enjoyed increasing competition success both on track (Mille Miglia, Le Mans, Sebring etc), and also in Rallies (Monte Carlo, Tulip, Rome-Liége-Rome, etc).  Drivers such Stirling Moss, his sister Pat Moss, Carroll Shelby, the Morley brothers, Rauno Aaltonen and Timo Mackinen and many others all drove Austin-Healeys.  So it has a great history, especially in rallying.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

0002 How did we get involved ?

Kyle & Ashton (and others) at Tut Towers, Aberdeen 2002
As with all good stories, it is quite involved, but it is the detail and the coincidences that make it worthwhile in the end.

Ashton Roskill and Giles Cooper first met through ownership of their Lotus Elises when attending a big Elise gathering at a track day at Knockhill in Scotland that was a part of an event call Tut Towers in 2002.

Friday, 3 March 2017

0001 What is the Peking to Paris Rally ?

The Peking to Paris motor race was an automobile race, originally held in 1907, between Peking (now Beijing), and Paris, France, a distance of 9,317 miles or 14,994 km.
The idea for the race came from a challenge published in the Paris newspaper Le Matin on 31 January 1907, reading:
"What needs to be proved today is that as long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere. Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"

Sunday, 1 January 2017


Ashton at 2017 Targa High Country, Australia

Ashton Roskill is a 52 year old Management Consultant, who lives in Sydney with his wife Caroline, dog Jasper, two cats, and (currently) 5 ducks. Born in Nowra NSW, his family then returned to England where he grew up, only returning to Australia to live in 2003.