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

Sunday, 18 March 2018

0044 The panels are painted !

18th March 2018
The panels come back painted and we start putting Gidget back together

Battery & storage boxes
Open storage boxes
On Monday I spent the day working on the battery box and the storage
box which will fit behind the passenger cell down in the void near the rear axle. This whole area is where there were originally two 6 V batteries, but with the car converted to  a single 12 v system, this is valuable space that we need to take advantage of. It is low down, and in front of the rear axle, so is really valuable. Thus the storage box we have had made to fit there.   The only trouble is it is pretty tight in there, and drilling holes in the battery bearers (not the chassis) was difficult and then trying to get bolts in and tightened up with only one pair of hands turned out to be impossible.  So everything is ready and I am waiting on someone to come and help me !!

Panels all painted
Tuesday morning was panel collection time, and I was over at Gold Coast Panel & Paint by 6 am. There were a lot of panels to collect, and with the new paint I could no longer stack them on top of each other in the car, so I knew I was going to be making several runs back and forwards to the house some 30 minutes away.  Darran had also found that with the requested painting inside the front shroud and bonnet, the space in the workshop was limited (with bad weather he couldn't move jobs outside to free up
The panels look really good !
space, and he was absolutely jam packed, so he asked if we could move the panels out ASAP.  So to speed the movement up, I just ran all the panels one by one over to Classic Car Clinic 100 yards down the road, and when they opened up, I could take the panels home at my leisure, leaving Darran with lots of space to work on the shrouds as well as all his other jobs.

And are the panels good ?  They are FANTASTIC.  Yes, there are still some places where my panel beating and bog application could have been better, but overall they are much better than I had either hoped or expected.  So now the pressure is on to make sure I don't scratch them up while fitting them !

Bracelets to help with fuel costs !
Writing on bracelets
In the meantime, a package arrived for me,  containing a number of Peking to Paris bracelets that I had designed and had made.  They read "Gidget The Austin Healey - Peking to Paris 2019" and are coloured Coronet Cream with black writing, the same as the car.  We have ordered these in order to raise money to help to supplement our fuel costs during the rally, and will be selling them over the coming months in order to raise money for our fuel.   Basically we expect Gidget to achieve about 20 mpg, or about 14 litres per 100 kms.   At an assumed cost of $2.00 per litre, (and probably even more),
$10.00 will buy us 5 litres, and this will carry us some 35 kms.   The total distance of the rally will be approximately 14,000 kms, (not including any wrong turns, U turns, or getting lost !!), which means
we will need some 1,960 litres of fuel.   We will therefore be selling our bracelets for $10 per piece, and each person who joins our team by buying a bracelet, will enable us to travel an additional 35 kms.  So over the coming months, we ask you all to join our team and help us to complete the Peking to Paris, 35 kms at a time.  We will endeavour to create a map on here which will show our progress across our route, bracelet by bracelet so you can see how we are doing !

Not Gidget, but similar !!
Bonnet & front shroud
Meanwhile, work on Gidget was progressing, if painfully slowly at times.  The rear hatch cover over the axle was now completed, with small latches fitted to tie it down securely.  I also started to document the wiring both photographically and on paper, because so many changes have been made to the original wiring diagram that I need to make up a new one and understand it completely before we set off.  With the bonnet and front shroud now painted and collected, they really had come
up even better than the other panels, with the bonnet itself being almost perfect (IMHO), especially since it had been such a painstaking task to pick out all the old paint that had been lodged in between the braces and the louvres in the bonnet itself.  I just hope we can get the whole car back together without too much trouble.

Blue tack on water pump housing
With the water pump pulley returned from machining,  I fitted it up again, but it was quickly obvious that this pulley still did not line up correctly with the crankshaft pulley below.  Something else must be now causing a problem, so I used blue tack again to try to see where it was still fouling, and this time it showed that the problem area was that the nose of the pump housing was fouling on the centre of the pulley.  There was a recess already machined into the pulley, but the sides of the recess were to gradual and were fouling the very edge of the nose of the water pump housing.  So we sent the pulley off to be machined yet again, and continued with other tasks.

Finished dash board on car

I had purchased some pinch-fit edging and quality velcro, and fitted them both to the new dashboard panel - The edging to ensure that there were no sharp edges in the car.  With the panel fitted up and bolted in place, it came up really well and should provide a stable mount for all our instruments and gauges. The sparate small bracket housing the voltmeter and switch was bolted up to the side of the electrical panel and ready for service.

Trial fit of rear shroud & boot lid
I then worked on the panels for a while, trying to get the rear shroud fitted.  I had to remove the fuel pumps and filter in order to be able to reach the lower mounting bolts, and then I had to sort out various different bolt sizes that were used.  There were not only variations in the original bolts, which of course were all imperial, but many of the new items like rivnuts are of course metric, and while we continue to try to standardize the bolt sizes used, it is not always possible, especially when there is limited time to source everything.  The rear shroud was really difficult to line up and rather than damage it more than necessary, I decided to wait until I had some help and expert advice.

Getting carbs all hooked up
Finally this week, I have arranged for Steve and Andrew to come over on Saturday morning to help not only fit the shrouds, but also to try to power up the electrics and even get the engine ready for starting - Assuming we can get the water pump pulley to line up with the crankshaft pulley!  To be ready for this, I needed to get the carburettors all fitted up, and after sorting out all the spare parts from various boxes, started work.

We have fitted extensive heat shrouds between the exhaust manifold and the carbs and fuel lines, and indeed they had some similar shrouds in place previously.  However as soon as I started
Carb brace fitting through heat shield
mounting everything up and installing the recently received spacers to provide the necessary clearances between items, I realised there was an issue.  An important item to be fitted were two brackets that brace the carbs and prevent excessive vibration causing problems - These had just been received recently and had not previously been fitted on the car.  But since they mount between the carb bowl and the inlet manifold itself, they actually need to pass right through all the heat shielding that we had carefully designed, fabricated and fitted !  I needed to cut holes in the heat shielding to enable the brackets to be mounted, and those holes needed to be as small as possible in order to ensure that the effect of the heat shielding was affected as little as possible.  With my limited tools and facilities, this was not going to be a 5 minute job !

The first and straighter bracket turned out to be relatively straightforward - Until I realised that
Panels stored on verge to give space inside
because we had been forced to fit additional spacers behind the carbs, the new brackets that I was trying to mount were now slightly too short ! Aaargh !!!  Fortunately, with a great deal of filing I was able to eventually elongate the holes enough, although it was a close run thing that there was enough metal.  I then moved onto the second and more angled bracket, and this proved to be far more troublesome, because the hole in the heat shield needed to be much larger to enable it to be fitted over bolts and worked around the carb bowl.  By the end of the day, the job was done, but it was all I got done this afternoon - Very frustrating.  But I certainly know how to put on and take off the carbs now - I must have done it 50 times today !

Finally get a fan belt on the pulleys
When Steve and Andrew came over, we immediately put the re-worked water pump pulley on, and it went on far enough to line up with the crankshaft pulley.  Success at last !   Well, nearly - When we tightened everything up, and tried to turn the pulley, it was rubbing on the nose of the housing !!  It had gone on slightly too far !!!  Steve however came up with a solution - Shim it back out.  We also needed a fan belt, so after measuring the fan belt length with rope, we went to the local tool shop that stock these and shims, and came back with both.  The shims worked perfectly and are good because the pulley can now be adjusted in and out.  The fan belt ?  Well, put it this way - Our measuring skills suck !   It was miles too short.  So back to the store, and this time I came back with 3 belts.  This time all were too long !  We finally got it right on the 3rd visit !  Ironically it was the same length belt as on the original car, even though the pulleys and the alternator were totally different !!

Relays & fuses as we test electrics
Steve then put the new AGM battery into the new battery box, connected her up, and got his test tool out and started checking the circuits as I switched the relevant switches.  Headlights ?  Check.  Sidelights and indicators ?  Check. Fuel pump 1 ?  Check.  Fuel pump 2 ? Check. Rear lights ? Check.  Power to the coil was checked, horn, wipers, all good. All the instrument lights came on when we pulled the "light" switch.   Finally Steve told us to "Keep Clear" - Like he was going to fire up a defibrillator !  And he momentarily pressed the Starter button - And the starter motor kicked over, just for a split second !!   Every single electrical ciricuit worked first time, no fuses blew, and all the new switches not only worked, but their little integral lights in the switches themselves also worked correctly.  We were all very happy........But Steve was ecstatic -  Big grin !

STP for steering box

Steve left me some jobs to do on the carbs and pulley, and will return next week to hopefully fire everything up.  Andrew started work on the accelerator pedal and then took it to finish it off. He also gave me some hints for fitting the rear shroud and wings - and reminded me to remove the little strengthening bracket I had fitted when bogging or nothing would fit !  I also purchased some STP Oil Treatment, which is very thick and is what is used in the steering box.  Some had leaked out while the steering column and box was sitting around the warehouse, so I need to make sure it is full and ready to go. 

Bolt holes need help to line up
I then bolted the bottom of the rear shroud permanently, and then worked on the bolt holes of the two rear wings.  These just do not line up, so once the rear shroud was fully bolted in, it was a question of filing the holes until they lined up enough to get a bolt through there. There are 3 panels to join up (shroud, inner guard, & wing) and these older cars never seem to fully line up the same way each time, and Gidget was no different.  And having got them sorted as best I could, I then sprayed the 2nd front wing heat vent with hi-temp paint, and then fitted the rear brake return springs and clips onto the rear brake rods while I still had easy access - These had not been fitted to the car when we got it, so I had overlooked buying new ones until recently and they just arrived this week.

LR wing all bolted up with piping
I then spent several hours bolting up the rear LH wing.  The shape of these rear wings mean that you are at full stretch inside the wing to reach the rear-most bolts, so holding a spanner on the nut at the other end is just not possible for a single person with normal length arms !  Luckily Andrew had installed 4 rivnuts on the harder to reach locations, and this made the task a little easier.  But I did need to strap spanners in place on the back side so I could work on the front side - Which all
Spanner strapped in place on end of bolt
worked surprisingly well !  We are fitting black plastic piping between the panels in order to reduce electrolysis between the alloy shrouds and the steel wings (the original car used metal and chrome piping) and this has to be cut around the bolts and any other obstacles between the panels. You also need to make sure the piping stays in the correct position as you tighten the bolts up, otherwise you have to undo the bolts again in order the re-position the piping ! (Don't ask me how I know this !!).  Eventually the LR wing was all bolted up and tight.  It isn't a perfect fit, with several new sections let into the wing to replace rusted sections, and readjustment of the shroud that had previously been so damaged in an accident, but it still looks really good, and the black piping sets of the coronet cream paintwork perfectly.

Back side of protection
Rear guard with mud flap
I then started on the internal rubber protection for the rear arches, which will be combined
with the rear mud flaps.  I designed these from scratch, taking into consideration the clearances around the big off road tyres, and the large void that exists behind the wheels - Trying to work out the best way to stop mud and stones filling that big rear arch !!  It all seemed to work out well, but of course their effectiveness and durability will only be confirmed once we get Gidget out onto the dirt roads !

Rear brake return spring

Before Steve comes back next week I will be continuing with fitting the rear panels, doors and trim, and once Andrew brings back the floor panels and accelerator, we can finish all the interior.  The front shroud and wings will wait until the alternator brackets are completed, the radiator refitted and connected up, and the distributor fitted, so we can fire up the engine.  It is SO much easier to do all this before the front shroud is fitted.

Getting close !!!

Rest of the photos are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/2f7mTbi047m2SdyW2


  1. Mr. Cooper my old friend, car is looking good. Pictures are great and so are the stories. How do I get a bracelet?
    I will send you some gas money and some shipping for the bracelet all the way over here to red-white and blue. keep up the good work,Wished I was there to pitch in a hand. Moody Blues forever.

  2. Hey John - Glad you are out there and enjoying all our hard work ! I will email you direct and we can sort out mailing addresses offline.
    And if you want a holiday to come and help out, there is a bed here - Right next door to the garage so only a short walk to work in the mornings !
    MB's Rool !!


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