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

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.

If I had a hoist, a lot of the work under the car would be easier and quicker – and cleaner !  Unfortunately I don’t, so I have to jack the car up on each corner in turn and work my way around.  In addition, while many of the bolts are either 7/16ths, ½”, or 9/16ths,, it is annoying that over the years people have used all sorts of different size bolts and screws.  This also makes jobs a bit more difficult and time consuming.  There are also a fair number of seized bolts that shear off or round off, and have to be ground off.  But we are getting there !

Wire just wrapped around pipe !
First of all I had to get the wiring, fuel and brake lines out from under the chassis because they are far too exposed and will get damaged by flying stones on the dirt roads.  They also need checking for integrity while I am at it because they are over 60 years old.  So I started in the boot.  First the fuel tank had to come out because we need to see what the boot floor is like, and while this was not that difficult, it did reveal another problem – The boot floor is not too rusty in most places, but it does appear to have possibly been damaged at some stage. As a result there is some body filler in the outer panels, and you
Rusting boot support bracket
can see glimpses of fresh air through some of the panel joins.  Since we are going to need extra fuel (ie extra weight), and the spare wheel and other tools etc will be added weight in the boot, the floor needs to be 100%.  We have therefore ordered some boot floor panels from AH Spares, and hopefully Mark can weld them in too.  Additionally there is a support bracket on each side of the boot, and these were rusted away almost completely – Add two new support brackets to the order !  We are lucky that there are several companies like AH Spares and Kilmartin who carry these parts in stock – In fact, our first order of the cabin floor panels arrived this week already – Very impressed. 

Time to buy some supplies that I will need.  Went to Jaycar to get lots of wire, wiring clips and heat shrink, and then needed to buy an impact wrench for those tough bolts.  I think I might use plastic clips instead of metal for everything because I see many of the metal ones that were used initially have been cutting into the wires – Don’t need that happening in Mongolia ! 

Example of enlarged fuel tank we will copy
For the fuel tank we are looking at getting a slightly larger tank built – currently 12 UK gallons (55 litres), we want to increase it to about 18 gallons (82 litres).  At 20 mpg this will increase our range from 240 miles to 360 miles, and at 15 mpg from 180 miles to 270 miles.  Hopefully we will get better mileage than that.  We have seen a tank which has the additional fuel volume on the right hand side, which allows room for the spare wheel to still fit in on the left, and if the wheel is mounted spline downwards, the central void of the wheel can be used for storage.  That will still leave quite a lot of room in there for spares, tools, and other items.   Now to get quotes for a new tank.

Wiring loom rolled up until new floor is in
Next job was to get the wiring out of the boot.  There are only two small rear lights and one number plate light, but the clips holding the wiring loom in were either rusted or had nuts behind them that were unreachable – Out came the angle grinder !  Eventually got all the clips off, the lights out, and the wiring rolled up.  Most of these items should be recoverable with a little TLC, and that will be a job further down the line.  In the meantime everything is labeled and put into individual labeled sandwich bags for storage. 

Fuel pump exposed beside rear wheel
The wiring was then detached from the fuel pump which is currently located in the void above the rear axle – Far to exposed to mud and water there if it is to survive the P2P.  It will be relocated later into the boot. Then lots of clips under the car had to be removed, so the loom could be rolled up moved forwards into the engine bay temporarily so that it does not get damaged when they are cutting out the old floor panels or welding in the new ones.  There have obviously been a few oil leaks in the past because everything underneath is pretty scummy.  Good for preventing rust on the chassis, but makes for a messy time when trying to work under there.  Once the fuel pump was out, then the fuel line was also taken out all the way to the front of the car, to be re-routed inside the cabin once the new floor is in.

Front wing ventilation louvres like we plan
Had some problems with the front RH wing that we want to get off in order to check the condition inside, as well as to fit ventilation / cooling louvres in there. Under body heat is one of the main issues with the Healeys, so any extra ventilation is always good, not only for the car but also for the occupants.  Some of the bolts at the bottom of the panel were all well rusted in and the heads of the bolts all rounded off when I tried to undo them.  More work for the angle grinder.  Then there are the two door hinges that need to be removed, and  I just don’t have the muscle to do this any more !  These are the screws that Joe Arico worked so hard on with the passenger door last Saturday, and I will just have to wait for Joe or some other strong young person to come round to help me !

Bump rubber support full of old mud
While I had a rear RH wheel off, trying to tackle the brake lines (also too tight for me with no clearance under the car !), I decided to remove the upper bump rubbers which at 63 years old have lost much of their elasticity and ability to do their job, so we have ordered new ones.  The bolts holding them on were very tight, but seemed to be undoing ok, until at the last moment they both sheered off, leaving the stub in the hole – As most of you will realize, this is a nightmare to get these out even with an ezy-out tool.  I figured that job would be eaiser if the supporting box was removed as well, and since that was
Bump rubber support without Califormia mud
just bolted in, I managed to get that undone.  When that was off it was so heavy – then I realized that it was full of dried mud – 2 or 3 inches of it !  Must be from California !  No wonder then first bolts had sheered off – they had been sitting in mud for 63 years !  Will get them cleaned up ready for when the new parts arrive.

Destroyed end of main battery cable
Then it was time to tackle the wiring loom to get it prepared for refitting once the floor is in.  To do this I had to re-route a lot of the loom in the engine bay which had not been fitted very well – Quite a lot of exposure to heat from the exhaust, as well as passing through small pinch gaps which over the course of the rally could well cut through the wiring.  So a painstaking job to undo all the clips, and start soldering and waterproofing all connections was started – And will continue for some time. And as for the condition of some of the wiring - It is a bit of a surprise the car was even running !

Main battery isolator switch found down by pedal box
So now the car is almost ready for taking to the Classic Car Clinic next Wednesday.  Originally I planned to trailer it over their workshop, but to do this required it to be running.  Now I have all the wiring and fuel tank and lines out, obviously that is not possible, so I have arranged a tilta-tray truck to come and pick it up next Wednesday and deliver it.  In the mean time I will just keep working my way around the car – There is so much to do that at the moment I am doing 8 – 10 hours a day on it !  I would rather finish it early than to be scrabbling at the end, and I am sure that 101 things that I haven’t even thought of yet will crop up !

I have got the other rubber bump stop off – This time I took the supporting box off first, and then, having again dumped out all the California mud, put some penetrating agent on the threads and left them for 24 hours before undoing them – Much easier !   I then went right round the car putting penetrating oil an all the bolts on the rear axle and springs, hoping it will make them easier to undo when the time comes.

Clutch mechanism hanging down below chassis
At one stage I was lying underneath the car (again) looking around at what else needed to be done now everything else was removed, I noticed that the clutch actuation levers seemed to be hanging down below the chassis rails by about an inch.  Most odd, and certainly couldn’t remain like that as they will get in the way of the full length sump guard, and will be hit and damaged for sure.  I need to see how it should be set up because this can’t be right, but I haven’t got the workshop manual yet.  I also can’t really see it too clearly because my nose is about 1 inch below the problem and I can’t focus !  I need the car to be on a hoist.  In the meantime, I took to the internet and an excellent Austin Healey forum called  The Austin Healey Experience (http://www.ahexp.com/) which is proving to be most helpful with many owners and experts willing to answer my many questions.  Sure enough, someone suggested this clutch lever issue is a common problem, caused by someone fitting the mechanism upside down !  So when I have a bit more working room, I will try to rectify the issue. 

Looking up behind the dashboard !
I have looked up under the dashboard briefly, and the wiring
there looks to be a bit of a nightmare.  Once we have the battery hooked back up so we can find out which gauges and switches are working it will be another job for me to dive into. In the meantime it is just a case of trying to get as much of the work done as I can before the car goes to Mark at the Classic Car Clinic.  

Rest of the photos are here, some of which are just mine for recording purposes so I can make sure everything goes back together.    

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Ashton & Giles welcome any visitors, support, and comments as we prepare for our Adventure !