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

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.

Refurbished side lights

You saw some of the interim photos of the side lights being de-rusted and painted earlier - This week saw them completed, with the spring conact pins being cleaned and unseized so the are in full working condition, and then tested to make sure they are working on the battery. These are bulbs with one pin lower than the other, which can be so difficult to get in or out when they are tight, especially in the night in the Gobi desert. So all lights are marked to ensure the bulb can be easily and quickly replaced.

Copper fuel pipe all cleaned up
Next up was the old black fuel pipe that takes the fuel to the two SU carbs, with a banjo connection to each carburettor.  I thought it was a painted steel pipe, but when I cautiously ran my Dremel wire brush over it, the pipe soon showed up as a gleaming copper one that had just got covered with grime and oil over the years.  It took a while (and a few wire brushes) to get into all the cracks and bends, but after a while I ended up with a gleaming copper pipe and unions that will look really good when fitted back on to the refurbished carburettors.  Pleased with the result of that afternoon's work.

Air filters all bright and shiny
Next I moved onto the original small air filters what were quite sad looking, with the insides and the mounting plates all rusty.  We won't be using these as there is no way they would ever keep Gobi dust and dirt out - They are designed for use on nice clean country roads !   But either they can be put into storage for possible replacement on the car when it returns to normal use, or maybe they can be sold to another Healey man who is looking for original parts.  Either way, they are better now they are all cleaned up.

SU Fuel pump
New fuel filter
We will be using old style SU fuel pumps (as against newer Facet electronic pumps) for two main reasons.  One is that SU Carbs only need fuel pumped at about 2.5 psi otherwise they flood, and an SU pump is designed to pump at this pressure.  Facet pumps will deliver at about 5-6 psi, and this means one needs to also fit a regulator in the line to reduce the pressure - Just another thing to go wrong.   Second reason is that SU's can operate at altitude,
whereas Facet pumps need adjusting as you climb.  So we will be using 2 SU pumps mounted and plumbed in side by side, that can be used individually in case one gets blocked or fails in any way.  Between the fuel tank and the pumps we will mount a fuel filter and water separator that has a clear bowl that is drainable should any water be evident.  In addition the filters can be changed as required.

So, to familiarize myself with the SU fuel pump that I have never seen before, I cleaned up and dismantled the original unit in order to find out how it worked - Again so I can be in a better position to work on it during the P2P should there be a problem.  And what I found was surprising.  On removing the top, the small diode in the top was completely melted.  Aditionally, the electronic points which are the key to this unit were SO pitted and corroded, I am not sure how it ran. Going through the gaskets and pump diaphragm, these were so brittle and damaged, I do not know how they ever worked either.  Finally, as I cleaned it up and painted the outside of the unit, I found a small tag with the part number on - And when I checked this part number, it said that this was a positive earth pump.  Hmm - Gidget is negative earth !!   As a footnote to this, I found out from the SU people in Sydney that this pump is indeed a positive earth, (the car was originally positive earth) and it was able to work on an a negative earth car because it had points. But the diode had subsequently melted due to this incorrect polarity, and was very close to catching fire - Which would not have been good in a petrol fuel pump !  Anyway, we now have 2 new negative earth pumps coming from the UK !! But at least I have a good idea of how they work.

Rear wheel in place

Next time I went in to Classic Car Clinic, they had our one wheel and tyre "mounted" in the rear wheel arch - Checking for clearance.  We do not have an axle in there at the moment, so it was just supported on a jack, with a pipe laid across the rear chassis in an approximation of where the axle would be.  The wheel certainly fills the arch !!  It will be a close run thing as to whether we need to do some "metalwork" around the arch once the axle was in, but so far it looks pretty good.

Exhaust exit behind the door
The external side exhaust is really looking good and is a credit to the guys at CCC.  Now the mesh work is in place, and eventually the tip of the exhaust and end plate were fashioned and in place, it looks really good.  The silver metal surrounding the mesh work will eventually painted body colour, and the whole fixture will almost disappear and look almost like a normal panel.  They are just starting work on the front section at the bottom of the front wing which will also have mesh work in there to improved cooling.  However there is SO much body filler in the bottom of the panel that cutting the hole in the wing will be almost impossible.  Knowing this was going to happen, we had order some lower wing panels from the UK that we were going to cut into the original wings.
Wrong size panels supplied

However, on offering them up this week, it turns out they are about 1 inch short !   We tried them on the other (more modern) later white Healey 3000 that is also in the workshops, and they fitted perfectly.  It seems we were sent the worng panels.   So Andrew is making up a new panel himself and we will use that - He has just started shaping it to fit.

In the meantime I had the chance to finish covering the small fron parcel
tray that fits under the dash. It is covered in thin foam, and then has black leatherette covering that, so it has a nice soft feel.  I did several panels in my
Finished parcel shelf
Toyota like this and they are pleasant to use and touch.  (God knows it is going to be rugged enough in Gidget on the rally - We need a few comfortable things around us !

Then I moved on to the springs.  I detailed their dimantling previously, and once I had them cleaned up, I took just the long upper leafs down to Kings Springs for them to run their experienced eyes over.  The verdict was good - One is slightly better than the other, but both are perfectly suitble to take as spares.  We will mount these front and rear as bumpers, and just take them off if we need them.  Apparently it is always the long upper leaf that breaks, so if this
Springs old and new
Spring clips being cleaned up
happens, we would just dismantle the springs and mount the shorter leaves onto the spare long leaf, and then mount them back on the car.   Apparently the difference in curvature between old and new is immaterial because once all the new shorter leaves are tight in place on the older upper leaf, they will pull it into the
same shape - Or near enough.  So I have cleaned up a couple of the clips that hold the leafs together, and we will use those if we need to.

Wire brushes wear out !
I mentioned using wire brushes before.  I use a big one on my angle grinder for cleaning up the bigger items like leaf springs etc, and I use small ones on my Dremel for the more delicate rust removal on pipes, nuts and bolts etc.  They both work really well, but don't last long - Especially the little Dremel ones - I must have gone through about 15 of them so far - Bunnings can hardly keep stock on hand for me !   And I am on my second large one.   And both of them let wires become detached and fly off - Which means glasses are necessary at all times.  But the small wires not only get stuck in your shirt, pricking you through the shirt, but occasionally they hit your hands or fingers, and embed themselves - You end up looking like a porcupine at the end of the day !!

Battery terminology
I am starting to move on to electrics now - Yet another of my many weak points !!   So I started with the battery - If I know what have we got now,  then at least i have a starting point for where we need to go in the future.  It turns out that our current battery is 12 volt (duh !), would provide 63 amps over 20 hours, it has a reserve capacity of 110 minutes at 80°F during which it will discharge 25 amps before the battery drops below 10.5 volts, and finally it can give 580 amps when cranked at 0°F for 30 seconds while maintaining a voltage of at least 7.2 volt.  Did you know what all those letters stand for on your car battery ?!!  And to follow that up I have removed the Lucas alternator and will be off to the local auto electrics shop next week look for a bigger one !  But more on those calculations later.

Windscreen bolts & Engine Info
There are several specially sized bolts in the folding windscreen, and a couple were incorrected - Someone had just stuck a regular bolt in there.  I was unable to source any from the major Austin Healey suppliers - apparently just not available.  So I went on to the internet, and within a couple of days a Healey person in Ontario Canada said he had some, and after transferring some $, he mailed them to me, and I received them this week.   Additionally, I found a blank Austin Healey plaque on the internet, and since our engine number and chassis number are stamped in positions that are almost impossible to see when using a good light, and would be impossible to see at a border post in Kazakhastan, I am getting our engine and chassis numbers engraved on this official looking plate, and will affix it in a place on the firewall where it is nice and easy to see !  A present for Gidget.

New rear gearbox mount

Our gearbox is a W50 Toyota Celica 5 speed, and the rear mount for this is all perished and cracked.  A little time on the internet soon found a replacement at a good price, and that also arrived this week, and will be installed when we take the engine and gearbox out in the next week or so.

Some electrical tips from friends

 While driving around the Gold Coast, I passed a Dyno workshop where I used to get my Lotus tuned a few years ago.  So I dropped in to have a chat with Matty Spry, the owner, and tell him about our new adventure with the Healey.  He gave me lots of ideas about wiring and relays and the best tools and clips to use - I continue to learn so much every day !!  Good to catch up with Matty again, and he is keen to see Gidget when she is on the road again.

Where the air filter will fit
Then it was a few photos of the front intake on the car.  We are trying to fit a K&N filter down in the front LH side, beside the radiator, and are talking to the K&N Technical Department in their head office in Eindhoven in the Netherlands.  They needed to know the space we have available, and how long the distance will be between the filter  and the carbs so they cn offer the best solution.  Similarly we have to install an air tube vent down the RH side to connect to the cooling vents into the cabin, so I have
Air ducting to be added
also been out locating suppliers for suitable flexible hose for all this.  We also have to make up a radiator grill and cooling ducts to direct as much air as possible onto the radiator, and not let it escape to the sides of over or under it.   We will need all the air we can get !  We also have to mount the radiator on rubber bushings to enable everything to flex when on bumpy roads - If we leave it sold mounted like it is now, it will soon crack and come loose, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Untouched original paint
I needed some protective POR15 rust inhibitor paint to protect all the new metal that is going in the car, and while I was in the auto paint shop, I asked if the new the ICI colour code I had for the Coronet Cream colour - The original paint for our car that we are going to use again.  Unfortunately this rare paint is so old (it was only used in 3-4 months of late 1953 and early 1954 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's coronation) that they can't find a match.  However, the internet again comes to the rescue, and the same Canadian who was able to send us the windscreen bolts has come up with the paint details, so we should be OK now !  There is one panel on the inner rear wheel arch where the original paint is untouched, so failing everything else, they can probably get a close match off that.  I have told Andrew to leave that section untouched as he works on the car !!

L shaped engine mount
Finally this week, after removing the alternator, we were able to look more closely at the engine mounts.  The engine of this car is a big lump - I am not sure of the exact weight, but it is heavy.  We are therefore looking at ways to stabilise the engine to stop it moving forwards in case of a sudden stop, and we already have two bracing bars welded onto the engine / gearbox and across to the chassis, so limit the chances of this happening.  The other issue is if the rubber engine mounts fail, the engine could drop, with catastrophic results, so we are looking at ways of welding a few chain links between the bock and the chassis so that if the mounts do break, the engine will be held from literally falling out of the bottom of the car.  We are still working out the best way to do this, but in the mean time it is interesting that the engine mount has two pieces on either side - a side one that is in shear, and one on top that is in compression.  So it looks as though if the mounts did fail, the inverted L shape of the mount would in fact prevent the engine from dropping.  Hmmm.  Maybe we just need to strengthen those steel mounting points with some gessets welded in there, and we will be OK ?

Stay tuned for the next episode on the refurbsihing of Gidget !!

More photos here :-  https://goo.gl/photos/Xz3YUNzUxgrDFZUP6


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