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

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.

Checking radiator fan clearances

We have had the engine block and gearbox back in the car for a few days so that we could check clearances between the radiator and the fan, before we send the radiator back to Greg at Red Devil for finishing off. The fan sits very high, so we are going to raise the radiator up as high as we can.

Before refurb
Then it was back home to start getting more familiar with the wiring loom
After refurb
!  To start with I am just trying to clean up the various parts of it to see what can be reused and what really needs to hit the trash can.  There are things like the little switch that looks really terrible, but when you clean it up it is actually a beautiful brass switch underneath.  Then there was the modern indicator flasher unit - Once again, looking terrible, but once you clean up the terminals and give it a coat of paint, it comes up well.  Once everything is installed we can find out if they are working ok, and with the wiring connections all cleaned up they will be easy to change if they have to be.

Camping ideas penned out
One evening I had an idea about the camping facility.  A tent is fine, and both Ashton and I have good ones. But the wind blows in the Gobi desert like no where else - I have experienced the katabatic winds in Patagonia, and similar to being on Everest, they are almost impossible to stand up in, let along to pitch a tent in.  So I have been thinking that making up some kind of sloping tarpaulin that uses the car as a wind break, and which will effectively "pitch itself" like a sail.  I have some rough ideas for it, but will have to take it to the next level once we get the car back and can work out how best to attach it.  And because, in order to save weight, we will have to ditch our tent after the first 2 weeks or so on the rally, we really don't want to be throwing away an expensive tent !!

Valve information
I am busy currently learning about cylinder heads and valves and so on, so am deep into manuals that discuss all this.  As with so many things Austin Healey, technology has moved on since the car was built in 1954, so there are many differing opinions as to what is the best option today.  On valves it seems that they want to be 21/4N stainless, with the "21" being chrome, and the "4" being the % of nickel, for hi-temp strength.  Apparently cheaper ones are 21/2N stainless, and less nickel means less hardness. Many modern valves are also "stellite 12", which is much harder wearing, but apparently that is not required in the older engines.  Standard size valves are not easy to find, but are out there
Stitching of our old head
somewhere !  The head on our car was not only not a Healey Head, it wasn't even an Austin A90 head, and it wasn't even an Austin A70 head (the next best option) - It turned out to be an Austin Gypsy head - An Austin 4WD vehicle from the 1950's !  This was determined by the 3 bolt thermostat housing instead of the 4 stud housing on all the other variations.

The axle arrives from Sydney
Meanwhile I was out looking for clutch plates - Most of them seem to be made in Korea nowadays !  We are trying AP, but it seems that they do not have one with the correct size input shaft.  Meanwhile the rear axle arrived looking very smart and shiny on its pallet, sent up from Garth at Repair & Restoration Services in Sydney.   I then went out to Paul Gilbert who has the head, and he was able to show us the stitching where it had been mended previously, and possibly where there is another crack in the head (where there is rust in the head), but as we are not going to use this head, there is no point in spending money testing this head now, so it goes on the shelf.  It could very well be used if the car was just running around locally, but it is not suitable for the P2P.

Heavy box with crank & camshaft
The new crankshaft, camshaft, and conrods arrived last week - No wonder these cars are so heavy - Just the crankshaft is almost impossible for me to lift up without putting my back out !  Having got that down to CCC so work could start on the engine, it was back to the wiring loom for me - Now spread out all over the dining room table !!  I am slowly learning how it is all put together, but what is most interesting is that the main loom seems to be quite new - Maybe put in when the car was converted to right hand drive ?  But for some reason, the people who put the new wiring loom in then used ORIGINAL wires to go to the extremities like headlights, sidelights, tail lights etc, and these
Original voltage regulator
wires are really bad - Cracking, colour indeterminate, and generally very weak.  I am also intrigued to know why there is the original Flasher Relay unit, as well as a modern flasher unit, and also, with an alternator having a voltage regulator internally, why is the old original Voltage Regulator also still wired up ?  To me that looks like just another potential problem point.

I then looked closely at the new Corbeau seats.  When trying to fit them in the car, we seemed to be sitting very high in them.  Corbeau have assured us that the seat bases will compress, but I decided to have a closer look.  The seat base just flips forward, and it appears to be just a large block of foam .
Thick foam in seat base
If it ends up that we are sitting too high, it won't be difficult to replace the seat base with thinner and more dense foam that will be equally comfortable.  I also found a magazine in a car showroom in Brisbane that was asking for adventure stories of cars and journeys in cars, and I thought that we have that - So I wrote to Mark Buchanan and will be getting with him shortly to work out if we have synergies here - Watch this space!

Aston Martin DB2/4
Back at CCC, while I was looking at the new transmission cover that Andrew was making to replace the very ratty one that was in place, I heard an interesting engine note, and checking it out, found a 1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 that the guys had been servicing in the other workshop - so I went over to admire it - What a stunning vehicle.  As the car had to be driven around the block to check oil pressures etc, I jumped into the empty passenger seat and had a very enjoyable 5 minute drive !!

Bodged oil seal in timing cover
Rusty panhard rod
On inspecting the timing cover, we found the oil seal that was fitted was evidently the wrong size, and some previous owner had welded little tabs in order to keep the seal in place !!  Amazing (and very sad) what people do to these old cars because they can't be bothered to do a job properly.  We then got the rear spring hangers welded in which allowed us to trial fit the rear axle.  Meanwhile, I took home some VERY grubby items - panhard rod with rotten bushes,
handbrake lever and mechanism,  and a flexible part of the handbrake cable that was virtually
Refurbed panhard rod
unmovable because the grease inside was so old and thick.  I spent hours over the weekend wire brushing all the parts to remove rust, then applying several coats of POR15 over the next
Old grease coming out of cable
few days to paint and protect them - Interesting stuff that POR15 !  I also spent a lot of time working lubricant down intot he flexible handbrake cable, and slowly after several hours of letting it soak, and then working the cable up and down (it won't come out of the outer cable because it has sealed ends on both ends), and slowly it started to free up.  How the hand brake ever worked before this I do not know.

Following a Healey up the freeway
On Sunday 22nd October I took a break from cleaning up parts and headed up to an Austin Healey shed tour of J&H Classic Restorations in Yatala.  I have already used these guys for putting my sub axles and king pins together, as well as removing the old mis-shapen steel locating pins from the windscreen surrounds. These were badly corroded as they were steel inserted into alloy, but Peter at J&H had managed to get them out.  I was due to collect these parts from them, so the opportunity to also see some nice Healeys, and talk to the owners and look for new ideas for our car all fitted together well.  I ran up the freeway behind http://www.oldclassiccar.co.uk/spark-plug-pump.htm
A collection of 100/4 Healeys
Rosemary and Jim Berting's lovely 100/4, and then found not only some great Healeys, but also some really nice E Types, Morgans and other cars there. A very informative afternoon, with ideas about seat belt mounts, boot racks, wiring, and even a spark plug tyre pump that was made in the 1950's by Schrader - I think we need to find one as it would be ideal for the P2P - Light, efficient - And very much in period !  

POR 15 everywhere !

It was then back to my garage and the POR15.  I really want to make sure that once we have the inside of the car all welded up and painted in the next week or so, all the parts are refurbished, painted, greased etc and ready to fit as quickly as possible.  But it is nice to know that now everything is off the car, the next step is to start putting it back together again - At last !!

More photos are here :- 

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