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

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.

New 72 spoke wheel & Yoko tyre
The big news is that we got our wheels last week - or "wheel" might
New vs Old
be more correct !  We bought one from the UK because we were not sure whether it would fit on our car, especially when the tire was fitted.  So we received our one wheel, and promptly went to down to Action Tyres & More in Southport for Matt Kingsley to fit one of the Yokohama Geolandar tyres that he had reserved for us.  The 72 spoke wire wheel is gorgeous, and with the tyres fitted, I am sure Gidget will be
Just enough clearance !
able to go anywhere.  In the photos the new wheel looks enormous compared to the original wheel and tyre, but in fact it only increases the diameter by about 5 cms, so increases our ride height by 2.5 cms.   (Every mm is important !)  When we fitted it on the car, no problems, althugh it is quite a close fit !  On the front we may have to "relieve" the front valence as the tyre does just touch it when on lock, but that is not a problem.

Metal heat shield material
Foam backed heat shield material
Having got the wheels sorted, I then went off to buy some metal
heat shield material that we will use around the exhaust in an effort to stop me frying in the navigator seat - The exhaust will be located about 3 inches from my left hip !!   Also found some reflecta-sleeve - a heat resistant sleeve we can fit over fuel lines and wiring in the engine bay in order to prevent any kind of vaporisation or melt down.

Fuel tank straps & number plate mount
Then it was time to work on cleaning up some of the original parts we took off the car, and trying to see if we can re-use them without running any risk of them failing while on the rally, due to old age.  There are two metal straps which hold the fuel tank in place, and these were not only rusty, but the padding between the strap and the tank was actually strips of leather held in place by little clips !  The leather was a bit crumbly (as one would expect after over 60 years), and the straps and fittings on each end
Adjuster on end of fuel tank strap
needed a clean up.  This was achieved with the help of my trusty wire-brush-on-my-angle-grinder tool - Very effective, but as the bits of wire fly off quite frequently, one has to wear eye protection, and at the end of a session one is not only black from the dirt being cleaned off, but one also looks like a hedgehog with wire spikes sticking out all over ones clothes - And a few in your hands !!  Anyway, the straps cleaned up well, I managed to clean up the threads on the tightening bolt so it can be easily turned, and I cut some of my big roll of 2mm thick rubber to make new cushioning.  With the straps de-rusted, they got two coats on anti-rust undercoat paint, and 2 coats of anti-rust black top coat, and once dry, the rubber strips were glued in place.

Front dampers all cleaned up
Also cleaned up the rear number plate mount, and integral number
plate light.  All this was pretty sad and rusty, and the bolts were all wrong, and the wiring was a disaster, so once the mount had been de-rusted (both wire wheel wise and chemically), it got treated to undercoat and black top coat, and is now all bright and shiny, with the number plate light tested and working, and ready to be refitted in due course. 

I had already removed and cleaned up the rear dampers, so this week I went down to CCC and removed the front ones - This time a little more complicated.  Having removed the trunnion pin bolt, I then went to take out the 4 bolts that hold down the damper - Kind of important bolts because the arms of the damper actually
Self tappers holding dampers on
All dampers ready for refurb
function us the upper wishbone arms.  The first two we finger tight - I was literally able to just undo them by hand - no spanner required.  The other two were a little stiff, but when I got them out, I realise why - They were just giant self tapper screws, and appear to have just been screwed into a piece of wood !!   And Ashton drove this car down from the Blue Mountains down to Sydney ????  The other side was little better, with the bolts not exactly tight, but the good news is at least there were 4 bolts in there this time !   The LH damper seemed to be in reasonable condition, with still some damping evident.  The RH damper was cover in oil because it was leaking so badly, and the lever arms would just flop up and down with their own weight.   Hmmmm.   We intend to rebuild these locally
The mess of the leaking front damper
and use them as spares once our totally re-engineered units arrive from the USA, so it will be interesting to see if they can be rebuilt to where they are usable.  Once I got them home, I cleaned them all up with my trusty wire wheel and dremel, so now at least they are ready to be taken to WW Shock Absorbers up in Brisbane next week.  In the meantime we are looking at ways to get more fluid into the units so that heat dissipation can be improved.

Perished trunnion bushing

When I took the dampers off, I notice lots of perished rubber bushings and missing nuts and bolts - All will need to be replaced, so more parts orders were made from AH Spares in the UK.

White Healey 3000 sitting outside
The next day that I went in to Classic Car Clinic the white Healey
Two Astons in the workshop
3000 that they are rebuilding to concours (and which I have been using as a guideline for our rebuild) was sitting outside the workshop, gleaming in the sunshine, and on its own wheels for the first time.  It looked great, so I
One of the most elegant cars in the world ?
started taking photos, when I was called into the workshop, and when I entered, I saw why I had been called - There was not one but TWO silver Aston Martins - one immaculate DB4, and one not quite so immaculate DB6.  Just stunning, and we all stood around admiring them for a couple of minutes.  Such a rare sight to see two together like this, so everyone was enjoying it !

To be cut out for the exhaust
Slot behind seat for spare wheel
Meanwhile, although Andrew the bodywork man was busy on other projects this week, he had marked out where he will cut the LH front wing to insert grill work to allow exhaust heat to escape, and we also discussed widening the slot behind the seats where the spare wheel normally is located, getting the weight up over the rear axle rather than hanging out over the back, in the boot.  The new wheel and tyre is too fat to fit through the existing slot, but we worked out that it can all be reshaped to fit.  As the new tyre and wheel combination weighs 22.5 kg compared to the 15.8 kg of the original wheel and tyre, getting the weight forward will be even more critical.  We also tested them on the white Healey, and there was also enough clearance there too, so all looking good.

My birthday present !
In the middle of all this, I had my 70th birthday, & had a day off ! 
Aston Martin with offroad tyres
But one of the presents I got from my best buddies in England, John & Di Skidmore, was a beautiful book on the 2016 P2P called Driving The Impossible.   Some great help and information in there for us (uh-oh, more work !) and also a gppd photo of a DB6 that took part, and he was running even chunkier tyres than us - BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A.  May not sound much, but when you realise that these are the same tyres I run on my Toyota Landcruiser for driving off road, you may realise how serious all this is !!  I think our Yokohamas will be just perfect. 

Original & yellowed sidescreens
I have also found a place here that can work on the existing roof 
Metal frames undercoated
and frame to see if it can be recovered, although this cannot be done until they can have the car as well for fitting purposes.  He can also refurbish the original sidescreens which were starting to show their age a bit.  He is going to make the bottom section into a flap so that we can put our hands out in order to signal turns (we have no indicators !), and also make them a bit clearer to see through tha the almost opaque originals.  I have carefully cut the stitching to remove the metal frames, then de-rusted these and the photos show them just with their grey undercoat.   The paint will then have plenty of time to harden before they go to the upholsterer.

And I have also found a local Classic Car glass place here that can get a modern (safety glass) windscreen for us and fit it, in order to replace the old (original ?) windscreen which would probably shatter into a million places if it met a stone in the Gobi !   We will also be applying 4 layer tear-offs to the windscreen as extra stone protection - I have used these on both my previous Arctic trips, and it works really well on dirt roads when stones are thrown up by passing cars.  

Exhaust coming together
Finally, since I am going down to Sydney next weekend, I have purchase the insulating foam and metal sheets so that when Andrew gets on to the exhaust while I am away, he has all the materials he needs, and nothing gets delayed.  And I continue to buy suspension parts as and when I see parts that require replacement - Until I can get at the suspension and pull it all apart, I cannot be sure exactly what is required.  And I cannot work on the car while it is in the Classic Car Garage because obviously I am not covered under their insurance or work place agreements !

So progress continues to be made, and we still expect to have the car out of CCC by the end of September. 

Lots more pics here :- https://goo.gl/photos/vsNTpXraAe4ChFGF7

The original Gidget
CC car with windscreen lowered
Oh, and Gidget ?  Gidget was a fictional story in the 1950's about a girl who had BIG ideas and plans.  Several movies were made in the mid '50's and early '60's starring people like Sandra Dee and Sally Field, and told the stories of Gidget's travels and adventures all over the world.  We thought this was an excellent name for our car given that she is from the same era, and with all the adventures she is due to have shortly, and especially since it has been decided that, once all the body work is finished, she will be resprayed in her original (and quite rare) Austin Healey colour of  Coronet Cream.   This colour was only used by Austin Healey for 2 months to commemorate the inauguration of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, and only some 660 of these cars were ever made, with 330 having a red interior, and nother 330 having blue.  So, Gidget she is, and Coronet Cream she will be.  Now, red or blue for the interior ????

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