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

Saturday, 6 January 2018

0034 - OMG, now it is "next year" !

Jan 6th 2018
Engines and brakes

The engine takes shape
No longer can we say "P2P doesn't start until the year after next - Now it is "Next Year", and this time next year we will be doing final preparation prior to shipping the car to China !  Yikes !
And to keep us on our toes, there seem to be more and more unexpected small issues cropping up just when you thinking all is going well !  One minute it is a really minor brake part that has been forgotten, the next minute it is a recommendation that we change the whole mounting and clamp system for the distributor !  But we seem to be making progress.......

The new alloy cylinder head
The Christmas break was thoroughly enjoyed - Myself in warm Perth enjoying a complete break from daily work on Gidget, while Ashton has been freezing in the UK, enjoying a well earned break from his own hectic work schedule.  I got back to Queensland on Monday night but it was Wednesday before I got everything sorted at home and was able to get back to Classic Car Clinic and Gidget.  And when I got there the engine was sitting there 2/3rds finished and resplendent in its unique Healey 100 green colour which we got specially made up. (Apparently the
Core plug straps
100/4 engines were a very slightly different green than the later 6 cylinder engines.)   Everything had apparently gone together perfectly - Maybe I should go away more often ?  There was only one minor issue - We have added straps to all the core plugs to ensure we have no problems with them and each of the straps have two mounting bolts.  However one of the rear core plugs is right on the edge of the block and there is no room for the second bolt on the side, so Steve has tapped a second bolt hole on the same side as the first, and we will put a semi circle plate over the core plug to ensure it doesn't go anywhere.

Refurbished drain plug
One small item that gives me a lot of satisfaction is seeing some of the parts I have cleaned up going
back on the car.  The small brass drain tap which was originally black and seized solid is back in place, shining, and working freely.  And in the sump, the spring loaded pipe that fits into the oil strainer which had been full of gunge and not really working properly is now freed up and ready for action.  I have brought home almost all the parts that have been taken off the car, and been cleaning them up before returning them to Classic Car Clinic labelled and ready for use. Steve or Andrew have then been able to either use them immediately without wasting their time cleaning them up, or they have been quickly able to assess if they were unserviceable and needed replacing.  This was especially true of all the bolts, washers, blanking plates, and of course all the suspension, rear axle and brake parts which are able to be remounted quickly and easily.

Old sump vs old
Once the rocker shaft and rockers were fitted, Steve did the tappet clearances and timing, while I fitted new engine mount rubbers.  Meanwhile Andrew had completed the new sump and made two new internal baffles.  The single baffle in the original sump was
Baffles in new sump
welded on to the bottom of the sump, which created a weak spot  and meant that when the sump had hit the ground a crack had formed where the weld was, and this had needed rewelding at some stage. Andrew therefore ensured that he only welded the baffles on the sides so there were no potential weak points on the bottom. He had also angled one side of the sump more than the other to ensure there was sufficent internal
Angled side to the sump
clearance for the oil strainer and pick ups.  All the sump is now waiting on before painting is to check the clearances from the pedal cluster to ensure that the sump plug and the oil temperature sender can be fitted correctly so they are easy to get to. (They cannot be fitted to the other side of the sump as that is where the hot exhaust is located.)

Single bolt distributor mount
One final issue with the engine has cropped up this week - It seems that our block is an Austin A90 block and not an original Austin Healey block.  The distributor mount point only has a single mounting bolt hole, whereas the Healey engine has two !  It has been suggested by well respected Healey people that we should modify our block to make a second mounting bolt possible in order to ensure maximum strength, so we are looking at the best way to do this now.

Fitting the brake parts
Meanwhile I have been working under the car, fitting the brakes, drums, and hubs to the rear axle. This would seem simple, but one thing about older cars is that new parts do not just bolt on like they do on more modern cars ! The brake cylinders are held on by spring clips and have a rubber dust cover, and there is no way they will fit straight out of the box.  Several hours of filing and fettling were required as it is important not to remove too much material on imported parts, but eventually, with a second pair of hands wielding a larger hammer, the spring plate snapped into place.  I sure hope I don't have to replace one of these in the middle of the Gobi Desert, although once again it is great to be involved in every aspect of the rebuild so at least I know where and how most of the bits fit !

Andrew enlarging the arch
Lastly this week Andrew was working on the rear LH fender.  This had suffered not only extensive damage in the rear end accident earlier in the car's life, but was also quite rusty in places.  He formed a new rear section on his wheel and shrinker, and then we mounted the wing back on the car,
Keeping the wire
and fitted the wheel in order to size the wheel arch to fit the oversize tyres.  The upper part of the arch is fine, but the front and rear of the arch needed a little more space.  The edges of the arches are of course wired in order to provide strength, so to preserve the original wired section Andrew cut a slice out behind the wired section and then just swung the wired section back and rewelded in place.  This ensures that it is not necessary to re-wire the edges, and saves a lot of time and effort.  It is truly fascinatiing to watch what he is capable of producing with his hands.

The weak section
The final hiccup for this week was that when cutting out the rear section
Close up of rusted section
of the wing the saw suddenly fell through one section - there was so much rust there that you could almost push your finger through it. Luckily it was quite a small area and Andrew will be able to replace that small section quite easily.  But it served as a small reminder of how difficult a rebuild like this can be - There are always surprises and issues to be addressed in the rebuild, and it is how you deal with those issues that makes the difference - Hopefully we are dealing with them correctly so they do not remain issues once we are back on the road !

Enough clearance for the tyres

Next week will hopefully see the engine and gearbox back in the car, and we can then finish off the final bodywork issues, and get the wheels back on the car.

Rest of the photos are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/94XCYvIiWOlCQvy72

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