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

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

0039 The completion of many things

13th February 2017
So much progress is made......
And Gidget finally leaves CCC !

Mt Panorama
Last Monday, I took a holiday.  I and about 70 other Lotus owners went to Mt Panorama, Bathurst, where the Sydney Lotus company Simply Sports Cars, following the Liqui-Moly 12 hour race, had managed to arrange a full day on track for Lotus owners.  Unlike the Nurburgring, or Brands Hatch etc which are
Lotus 3 Eleven at the mountain
open all the time,  Mt Panorama is a public road and is only closed a couple of times a year, so to score a track day is very special.  Needless to say it was an amazing experience for all of us, and one I will remember for a long time.  My Europa was absolutely brilliant on the mountain, despite being a full road going car, and made me realise how lucky I am to be a member of this special group of car owners.

In the cockpit
But back to our Austin Healey !  While I was away, Steve and Andrew had been working hard. and brake and fuel lines and wiring were installed through the cabin, the electrics were making good progress including the new switch box which sits on top of the gearbox cover, and the body work was still being worked on.  I arrived back from Bathurst on Thursday evening, and on Friday evening Ashton and his wife Caroline arrived for the weekend, Ashton to work on the car with me, and Caroline to have a break from Sydney.  The intention was to have the Healey moved to my house on Friday so we could start preparing the body work for painting, but there were still so many fabrication items still to be completed that it would have been counter-productive to move the car, so the decision was made to leave it there for 5 more days, until Wednesday next week.

Ashton inspecting progress
So on Saturday, Steve and Andrew both came in to work, and Ashton and I joined them and rolled up our shirtsleeves.  The driver's seat was positioned on it's runners so Ashton could compare a fully upholstered seat to a slightly lower seat with less padding.  It will be interesting to see which way we eventually go with this.  With all of Gidget's panels loosely in place, first task of
Giles working on the heat shield
the day was to trim the front valence and wings so that the tyres would not foul the front of the bodywork when on full lock.  This entailed cutting quite a large section out of the front, which gave the whole car a much more aggressive stance, while also achieving the original aim of providing ample clearance for the wheels and big tyres.

Large cracks in the alloy seams
Then it was time to tackle the cracks in the body work, basically found at each corner of both the front and rear valences.  These panels are alloy, and they have seam welds at each corner where the panels were joined - They were not pressed out of a single piece of metal like might happen today.   And it was these original welds that were not only cracking, but had been cracked before and been subject to some fairly horrific repairs in the past.  Bits of rough galvanised plate had been pop rivetted under some parts of the larger cracks, and even old wood
Ashton grinding paint off
screws had been used to fasten everything - With everything then being covered in thick layers of bog in order to hide the horrors below.   Not pretty, especially once Ashton got into action using the grinder to remove paint, bog, and anything else in his way - Including his fingers ! (Luckily nothing permanent !)  But it was a long day, and we achieved a lot, but the cold beer at the end was more than welcome.

Grinding pint off front shroud
After Ashton and Caroline had returned to Sydney on Sunday evening, my week started badly.  We
were waiting on a new wider water pump pulley to replace our original narrow unit, but when it was delivered, it turned out to be too wide !  We thought there were only two sizes of pulley (Narrow and Wide) but it seems that there are 3, and we got the wrong one ! This is a real pain because we cannot finish fitting the fan belt and then the radiator until we have this pulley installed, so it is preventing us from finishing the engine.

Fork oil for dampers
I then continued with visits to oil suppliers, looking for specific oils for our dampers - We actually
want Redline as this is what is in there already, but we have a few acceptable alternatives we want to be aware of in case we need some more supplies on route.  Also checked out high pressure and waterproof greases, as well as gasket material, while I was in there.
Then it was on to air filter oils.  Originally we were planning to run a Healey 100M airbox over the carbs, and have a large air vent pipe supply cold air from the front of the car, with a large oiled cone air filter on the end.  However once we fitted the carburettors last week, we found that the airbox is fouled by an upright stanchion that supports the front valence, and without major modifications, it just wasn't going to all work. So we have changed our plans on this and now intend to run an ITG oiled foam airfilter over the carbs, while still providing a feed of cool fresh air via the flexible pipe from the front of the car.  We are currently working on the optimum size to suit our application.

Fuel pumps and filter connected
The twin SU fuel pumps are now hooked up to the filter and water separator, and wired up to their
individual switches up on the dashboard, but we needed some electrical power to check everything out, so I moved on to batteries.  The space for the battery, directly in front of the rear axle, is very limited, primarily because the car originally came with 2 separate 6 volt batteries and a positive earth.  Later the car was converted to 12 v with a negative earth, but the battery that was in the car previously was way too large dimensions wise, and it was surprising that it even stayed in place.  We needed one that was less than 22 cms long, and preferably as light as possible,
New battery vs Old
while still providing the cranking amperage and reliability we needed.  Once again it was a case of me learning the pros and cons of all the available options, and then discussing everything with Ashton so we could make a final decision.  Claudio at Super Start Batteries were extremely helpful and I spent some time with him discussing the various options. The Lithium batteries are amazing and are not only small and very light (like 2.5 kg) but also have a CCA of 700 - 1200 amps. Trouble is they are also very expensive, so I had to discount them, and move on to the AGM and the more conventional Lead Acid battery. We eventually decided on a small AGM unit with a good CCA of 550, but sadly a weight of about 10 kg.

Heatshield around carbs
I had been busy making a new heat shield to fit behind the carbs.  With the exhaust manifold directly
below the carbs, fuel vaporisation is potentially a major issue on the Healeys unless the carbs are well shielded.  I checked on the 6 cyl Healey also being restored in CCC, and their (standard) heat shield goes right down the side of the exhaust.  With our exhaust being a side exit unit now, we have a slightly different requirement, but still need a lot of shielding in there if we are to avoid problems.  I also took the opportunity to fit some extra heat shield on the side of the passenger footwell which looked quite exposed to the exhaust pipes.

Switch box located under dash
Finally Steve's switch box which fits on top of the gearbox casing was complete and painted.  I had meanwhile lined the gearbox casing with heat reflective foam to keep everythng a little cooler in the cabin, and everything was fitted in place and bolted down, hopefully for the last time.  This switch box houses the switches for  the fuel pumps and the spotlights, as well as the ignition key and an emergency shut down switch.  The top is flat, and the plan is to attached two fire extinguishers up there so they are in easy access, yet out of the way.  And the whole box can be quickly detached using a single master plug so we can easily work on the wiring inside if we need to.

Patch on back of worst crack in front shroud
Andrew finally got the bad cracks in the corners of the front and back shrouds welded up properly, the big one on the front corner that had been so poorly repaired previously needed a big patch on the back just to give it sufficient strength.  He also inserted two small panels into the rear corners of the front shroud, and these will enable us to fit bonnet pins there which will not only keep the bonnet closed, but will also enable us to prop it open an inch or so when
Corner bracket being formed
required in order to allow excess heat to escape from the engine bay.  Additionally the panels will reinforce those corners of the front shroud and hopefully prevent any further cracking of those seams.   Whilst working on the front we also realised that the green paint on the entire car is in fact enamel paint, and as a result we will not be able to apply 2-Pack over the top of it - It all has to be removed and then primed !!   This is going to make for a lot more work on the preparation of the body for painting. Luckily some of it has already been done, but there is still a lot more green paint to be removed !

Isolation switch
The handbrake now has a spacer inserted in order to keep the mechanism that is inside the transmission tunnel clear of the prop shaft.The battery isolator switch has been installed just behind the driver's seat for ease of access, and a base plate made up for the battery which will need to be painted and then bolted in place so the battery can then be firmly tied down onto it.

Wednesday dawned, and today was the day we have scheduled to take Gidget out of Classic Car Clinic and back to my house so we can start preparing the bodywork for painting, and finishing off the 1001 other small things that still need doing.  The last 3 days have been really hot in Queensland as we experience a major heat wave, and working in an open warehouse without even a fan to circulate the air is not easy. Nevertheless Andrew and Steve worked non-stop to try to get everything completed before the truck came to collect Gidget at 4 pm.  This was mainly the second two wheel arches which had to be enlarged and
Trying to get everything finished
welded back to maintain their strength, and all was proceeding well ........until Andrew ran out of welding gas !  "Delivery next Friday" was not an option, so he had to drive off in his Mini to pick up the bottle.  Shortly after that, his electrical plug sheared a pin, and that meant a trip to Bunnings for a new plug - Everything seemed to be against us !

Diff & Fuel tank breathers
While all this was going on, Steve and I had the rear valence off so he could install the diff and fuel tank breathers, high up on the inner wing under the top of the valence.  The two fuel tanks have just a single breather, while the diff extension hose comes up from the rear axle and through the rear panels into the boot.  Meanwhile I took the opportunity to apply POR15 to the inside of the rear valence - After which I planned to apply it to the inside of the fenders - Only to find that one jar of the paint was apparently not totally airtight, with the result that it had solidified.  That stuff is evil - You have to use it all when it is fresh as it does not like to be exposed to air at all, and any excess paint around the edges of the lid when it is sealed mean it will be almost impossible to remove in future.  It may be an effective rust inhibitor, but it is not easy to use !  So I will have to finish painting the insides of the guards later.

Seats installed
With the seats installed, we started to bolt on the fenders so the car could be transported safely.  We
have decided to prepare the car with all panels attached, and then remove them for painting before final assembly.  As the day progressed, we realised that the last front wing was just not going to be finished before the truck arrived, so we concentrated on a
Thickness of bog on front fender
Front before fenders cut away
number of other smaller items, making sure they were all completed properly.  There was no point in rushing the final front wing and not getting it right - There is so much bog in the lower section where the grill work is to be cut in that this whole lower panel needs to be cut out and replaced, and if the welds are not done carefully the metal can shrink and end up a real mess. 
Front after fenders cut away
In the end the car
was loaded onto the truck missing just one front wing - While the bonnet and boot were carried inside my car since there was no way of attaching them to the car safely.  The front with the cutaway guards looks great - I include a photo of before they were cut just to show the difference.

Ready to leave CCC
I can't believe it has now been just over 8 months since Gidget was loaded onto the truck to go to Classic Car Clinic for what we thought then would just be minor bodywork that might take 2-3 months.  Now 8 months later she is back, but there is hardly a single original piece left on the car apart from the outer body panels.  Engine, gearbox, rear axle, springs, wiring, radiator, the
Being delivered to my house
entire steering assembly, the floor, the sills, large parts of the main chassis, seats, wheels, brakes, exhaust - The list is almost endless, and we still have lots to do.  So this is now "Part 3" of Gidget's preparation so that she will be capable of successfully tackling the most gruelling of endurance rallies - the 2019 Peking to Paris - And we can now see a glimmer of light at the end of the long tunnel.......I think ! Or is that a mirage in the heat ?

Now if the weather would just cool down a little so we can work in comfort.........!!

Rest of the pics are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/BImLHnOMxAUsTrYr2

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff - thanks a million to Andrew and Steve for pushing through to get her out this week. Now the hard work begins with, as Giles says, 1001 little things we need to finalise - in the right order!!


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