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.  😊

The original sump and its "step"
This week started out slowly, with most of the people at CCC busy with other work today, while I had a date with the optician who did an eye test on me that dilated my pupils so much I couldn't go out in the sunshine or drive anywhere until mid afternoon !  When I got to CCC all that I could do was evaluate the oil sump which is next in line for treatment.  The sump hangs down just under an inch below the chassis rails, so we plan to cut an inch out of it. Simultaneously we intend to remove the big "step" at the front of the sump, which was created to avoid a large
Inside the original sump
chassis cross member on the donor car, the Austin A90, and which is not required in a Healey.  Given the dimensions of the sump, I calculated that the overall volume of the sump currently is 12.037 litres.  After modifications I calculate that the volume will be 12.375 litres, so pretty well identical in volume, although these volumes will of course be slightly reduced due to the dsplacement of the baffles, the oil pump and the oil strainer box.

Looking in to the sump
Where the "step" is currently located we will extend the sump forwards to the end and add a second internal baffle, while the original baffle, currently 1/3rd of the way along the sump, will remain in the same position.  The oil pump is a minor issue, as this will also need to be shortened by an inch - Which cannot be done !   Instead, the oil strainer, a kind of mini sump which fits on the end of the oil pump, will be shortened, leaving the oil pump as it is, and just 1" cut off the end of the pick up pipe.  This should ensure that there are no oil pick up problems,  and everything will work as normal.   Hopefully we will start work on that shortly.  Several cars that were in for minor work have been completed and moved out, so it was time to clean up the workshop and prepare a clean work area so the engine can be assembled effectively.

While the guys were cleaning up the workshop, i have been getting on with other jobs.  Fitting up the door trim on the reduced passenger door, replacing many of the rusting screws and fittings in the doors, and working on both the heat protection panels around the exhaust and engine bay, and also shaping the thin rubber that I am fitting to the inner guards to protect them from stone damage - And also to keep things a bit quieter !!

Another worn out sire wheel
The door trim is a bit of a nightmare since, like so many other parts of the car, the shape is unique due to the age and damaged shape of the panels, and even if they fitted previously, they don't any longer !  So it becaomes a very time consuming task - But rewarding when you finally get it right !   Believe it or not, the socket fitting into which the sidescreen pins locate actually seats into a block of wood which fits up into the top of the door and is held in place by two wood screws - Which now are loose and rusting ! The wood seems to be a hardwood and has survived very well, but the metal screws need replacing, as well as the socket fittings.   As with everything else, many of these items are rusted in place or corroded and hard to remove, so there is a lot of grinding and drilling in order to get them out and replaced.

Pax footwell heat shield taking shape
The heat shield material we are using around the exhaust has to be the most difficult material to cut and shape ! Being corrugated, Murphy's Law dictates that the cutting lines are often in the trickiest places.  And the edges are very sharp !   But I have used this material before on my Elise, and it is very effective at keeping exhaust heat out away from nearby body panels and out of the passenger area.  With the new rules about asbestos not being allowed either on exported or imported cars, it is very important that the original asbestos or fibro sheets are all replaced with non-asbestos material like this.

Firewall heat shield
I have made up a large panel that goes right across the front firewall, and then edged it with rubber channeling so that both the paintwork and fingers are protected. This section has to include holes for the steering column and the wiring to pass through, and these also required some novel technology to achieve !   Then it was on to shaping the panels to fit around the new exhaust itself, including my passenger side footwell, to which I am paying particular attention !

1/2" spacers for heat shield
The efficiency of this heat shielding depends on the airspace between the shield and the panel in order to enable air circulation which aids in dispersing the heat.  According to the instructions, an inch is the optimal distance, but this is just not practucal in a restricted space in the the car, so we are using approximately half
Countersunk washers
inch spacers.  To build the spacers I bought a length of 1/2" square tubing, and started cutting into small spacers. These I then filed down to get rid of the rough edges, and then drilled to enable the small mounting bolt to pass through.  Some 50 of them !   Once prepared, it was back to the car to start mounting the heat shield.

Rubber sheet for inside wheel arches
The firm 1mm thick rubber sheeting that I had purchased for covering and protecting the inner guards from stones and rocks was then cut to size.  I used this material to protect the inner wheel arches on my Lotus Elise when I went up the Ice Trucker's Highway to the Arctic Circle in Alaska in 2012 and it worked very well, not only protecting the paintwork from stones flying around in the arches, but also keeping down the incessant noise of  the stones hitting metal guards - Something often unprepared for, but an item which, on long dirt or rock strewn drives that continue for many days, can become very wearing on both driver and passenger, and also very damaging to the car itself.  These sheets of rubber will be glued and then pinned in place with small bolts and alloy strips, necessary because they tend to work their way loose due to the incessant pounding they receive.

Wiring loom laid in behind dash
I then took the opportunity to fit the wiring loom roughly in place so we could start to see how much additional wiring would be involved.  It actually fitted quite well, with the section that previously was mounted in the engine bay now laid across the passenger cell side of the firewall (in order to protect it from water and heat), and just the wires to the front lights and the
Wiring laid into engine bay
alternator, starter motor, and coil passing through the firewall.  Then there was the single bundle that was to pass through the cabin to the boot, to the fuel pumps, fuel gauge, and rear lights.  After discussion with Steve who will be addressing the wiring once the engine has been finished, he agreed that the existing loom could easily be adapted to suit.

The original crankshaft

While we were cleaning out the workshop, we came to the original engine parts - Pistons, conrods, camshaft and of course the big and heavy crankshaft.  Since Ashton has decided he would like to make a lampstand out of it, I will be storing it somewhere safe !   If you remember, the bearings had been taken out to 60 thou over when the factory max is only 40 thou, so it is totally useless for anything apart from a boat anchor - or a lamp stand.  Clearing out these parts started to make more space for Steve to work in.

New rear engine seal machined in to place
With the engine block, we inspected it thoroughly, in particular the rear crank seal which has been replaced with a much improved part which had required machining into place before they line-bored the block.  During this inspection we found a sump bolt that had sheared off so we had to drill that out and
Stripping paint off the sump
retap it.   Then it was time for Andrew to start work on the sump.  First it has to be stripped of its paint and the old gasket which was quite a task as they had used gasket goo as well as a card gasket.   Then we looked carefully as the lines of the sump in order to work out where it should best be cut in order to ensure that it would maintain its strength, and once this was done, he cut out the upper section of the "step".  This opened up the bottom of the sump and enabled us to see precisely
Dip stick in the oil sump
how the oil strainer fitted inside, as well as the amount of clearance between the bottom of the strainer and the bottom of the sump - Answer, virtually nothing !  This means that whenever the sump is damaged due to grounding, the impact would be passed through to the strainer, and from there directly to the oil pump pick up pipe and thence to the oil pump itself.   All the more reason to raise the sump

We then tried to fit the new oil delivery pipe - A flexible braided pipe that runs through the sump and
Ill fitting engine oil line
replaces the original copper pipe which is apparently prone to suffering from stress fractures which would result in catastrophic loss of oil pressure.    However this part has not been well made, and fouls the top of the oil strainer, as well as the internal baffle, so we will need to alter these before we are able to fit it.  It is so very annoying when suppliers  manufacture parts that do not fit, not only charging for the part itself, but also the freight for transporting the part half way round the world.

Unequal length inlet & exhaust valves
In the meantime, the 4 outstanding exhaust valves finally arrived, and were taken to Paul Gilbert so he could finish the cast iron cylinder head.  These two were a drama - First of all out of stock, and then, when they came into stock, the supplier forgot to include them in a shipment, and once they were finally shipped, the company decided to send them by snail mail rather than the usual courier, which meant that, especially as we approach Christmas, they took over 2 more weeks to arrive.  Sometimes you really want to tear your hair out !

Incorrect spring lbs
But then it got worse !  Paul called me up and advised that the length of the new exhaust valves was 2
mm less than that of the inlet valves !  Unbelievable.    After considerable conversations with AH Spares in the UK, they are due to find out if this is a manufacturing mistake, and if so, they will replace them, although of course with will not happen until  probably mid-January due to Christmas and N Year breaks.

New oil pipe vs original part
Meanwhile Andrew and Steve were trying to fit the oil pipe in the sump, and to do so had to cut out a section of the oil strainer as well as remove the baffle in the sump and move it back some 1 cm.  I wrote another email to AP Spares expressing our extreme disatisfaction at their poorly manufactured parts and the considerable cost we had incurred machining the parts to fit, to which they replied that "if we had told them about it, they would have sent us a replacement part".  Yes, right, and we would have had to wait until mid January or later to receive this part, putting us another month behind !  Suffice it to say that it took some 3 days of non stop fabrication work to resolve the issue on a $80 part - Not acceptable.

Max & Min lines on dip stick
Remembering that all the photos show the engine upside down, the clearances between the oil strainer and the bottom of the sump can be clearly seen, and also the fitment of the dip stick.  It is interesting to be able to see into the sump and know where your dip stick is located and what it is measuring - It is evident on this car that the oil level in the engine is below the main bearing so that it is not getting splashed around and potentially aerated.   We will have to make sure the dip stick marker remains at the same overall level even though the floor of the sump is raised one inch.

Engine paint colour
We had considerable discussions about engine paint colour for the 100/4.  Most Healey engines are painted a specific kind of metallic green, but Patrick Quinn, who is a Healey concours expert, advised that the 4 cylinder engines were actually painted a slightly different colour - The closest match nowadays is officially called Silver Mist Metallic which ironically is a Holden colour !!  So it was off down to the local auto paint shop with the paint codes, and within 15 minutes they were able to mix it up and fill 3 spray cans ready for use.  Using it later on the engine parts, it seems to be just very slightly lighter than the engine on the Healey 3000 that is also in the workshop.  I think it is an excellent colour, and being the original colour it will blend well the with original colour Coronet Cream body work.  The only thing that is not going to be quite original will be the car itself !!

First rear spring in place
Finally we got on to the rear axle.  This has been sitting beside the car for some time, as there were a few minor welding jobs to be done before we could fit it and the new 8 leaf heavy  duty springs.   The front spring hanger has a small strengthening plate that needed to be welded into place, a couple of bolt retainers had to be welded on, and finally the ends of the rear chassis extension bars just need to be folded over  and closed because they protruded below the chassis and would have been a major water or mud intrusion point.   Once these items were completed, I fitted the two rear springs, and then Steve, Andrew and myself managed to manoevre the heavy axle in between the chassis rails and the
Steve working the axle
body work, and get it resting on the chassis itself.  (The Healey is underslung - That is the chassis is below the axle, not above it like in many cars of the era.)

Once the axle was in position, we used a jack below the springs to raise them up unti they got close enough to the axle that we could fit the U bolts and spring plates that connect the springs to the axle. The first side was relatively easy, but the other side was slightly harder because the axle
Rear axle in place
was now being pulled down on the other side, and we had to fight a little harder.  However, in the end, we got there, and the new rear axle is now in place ! We can not fit the brakes and hubs, the panhard rod and handbrake mechanism, and get it all closer to completion.   A good point at which to stop for the Christmas break !  I am off to Perth for 10 days, although I hope Andrew will get some more bits done on the car and Steve will be able to start on rebuilding the engine before they finish up next Friday.

In summary for 2017, it has been an extraordinary story and journey for both Ashton and myself.  From a quiet start when he asked me to join him on this 2019 Peking to Paris Adventure, it has been a hectic 9 months that I don't think either of us expected.  So much more work was needed on the car than anticipated, but it
Where we started from in April
has probably been the sheer quantity of parts that could not be used again that were the suprise - the accident damage to the driver's side and LH side rear and the engine needing almost complete replacement in particular.  Personally I have learned so much, not just about Healeys, but also about general aspects of cars in general - radiators, exhausts and heat shielding, air flow, chassis, rear axles and brakes, and more recently engines and oil flow - And much more.
Unfortunately our target to have the car running by the end of 2017 will not be met, but I truly believe we are getting close.  The fuel system and fuel tanks are virtually completed, the front and rear suspension is now on and close to complete, and the engine is within a week or two of being finished.  I have reset the target to be driving the car to mid-February, and that will leave us 5 months to get any minor issues sorted prior to heading to Alice Springs in Auhust for the COTT ERCA event.

What an amazing year !  A big thank you from me to Ashton for giving me the opportunity to play a small part in his wonderful Adventure !  2018 is going to be amazing, and this time next year, we will be starting to get ready to ship the car to China for the start of the Peking to Paris !

A very Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone who is following us !

Rest of the photos are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/lACknr6iFYChMXlT2


  1. Great story - hope the progress gets faster and easier.
    Merry Christmas - John

    1. Thanks John - We hope for much the same as our Christmas/New Year present !!

  2. Giles and Ashton,
    As in all your previous travel blog's I have thoroughly enjoyed following your progress. I wish I lived on the Gold Coast so I could lend you a hand getting the car back together. Good luck, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.. Daryl

    1. There is always a bed if you need to stay overnight, Daryl ! Maybe we will have a full day Working Bee, ending with a BBQ once we get the car back home !

    2. I'm up for it just let me know when......

  3. Anyone foolhardy enough to take an Elise to the Arctic Circle is worth following!!! :)

    Northern California

  4. Thanks Kiyoshi ! Great to hear from you. I think a 1954 Austin Healey across Mongolia is right up there in the foolhardy stakes ! Good to know you are joining us to share the Adventure.


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