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

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

0046 The boot won't lock !

6th April 2017
Nothing else wants to fit either !

Fitting rubber seal around boot
As you have all seen, we are so close to having a complete car again, and that is why this past week has been so frustrating !  Nothing seems to fit right, and parts which seemed to fit previously now are having to be removed because as we fit additional parts, they no longer fit !!  Aaargh ! This is such a frustrating business ! As you know, I worked on the boot lid last week, and after 3 days eventually got it to where it would more or less close.   Having chosen a rubber seal sample that looked likely to fit, I set off to Clark Rubber to get the required 3 1/2 metres, which seemed to do the trick.  Fortunately it is possible to look inside the boot from the passenger cell, through the spare wheel opening behind the seats, and through this I could see if any light was still coming in, and unfortuanately it was, all down the right hand side. That isn't going to be is held firmly closed.

Boot latched closed
Not only has the boot lid been bent in the past, but in its damaged state, the previous owner had then cut corners byy amending the angles of the whole boot latch fixing as well as filing down the square key stock which turns the lock so that it no longer turned the spindle.  When I fitted the latch and pushed the boot closed, it wouldn't open again - And I ended up on all fours squeezing in through the boot with a long bar to try and release the catch from the inside ! 
Boot handle in open position
Once done (phew !), I spent the next 2 days cutting new key stock, and drilling and filing various lengths of it to try out. I elongated bolt holes to move the latch downwards, and I put spacers behind the locking pin mechanism to try to move it further into the boot.  And in between every single action, I tried to shut the boot again - repeatedly failing and having to stretch through into the boot again to release it.  The only good thing about this was that I eventually became quite good at releasing the lock from inside !

Finally the boot opens !
Finally, on the 3rd day, when I twisted the handle on the outside, the boot opened !!   YES !!  Now I just have to go back and remove all the fittings all over again, and install locktite / lock washers etc and make sure they are all done up tight.    Unfortunately there is still a bit of a gap down the right hand side, but I think that with a little judicious bending of the boot lid, and the application of an additional thin strip of foam along that side of the boot, we should be able to seal the boot adequately. And now I need to visit the local locksmith to see if he can make it lockable !! (Stop press - 2 boot keys obtained and working well - Boot now lockable !)

Front lights being installed
After the boot it was back to the battery box, which was now firmly bolted down. However when I had closed and locked the lid with everything at last in place, a brief electrical spark had alerted me to a possible problem.  On closer inspection it turned out that the rubber grommets I had installed to isolate the cable from the metal box itself were being squashed out of shape by the lid, which then shorted out the cables !!  I wasn't going to unbolt the boxes again - and without 2 more hands it was impossible anyway - so i got the grinder out, covered everything up, and set to work.  A few hours later everything was fixed, additional electrical cushioning was installed, and the lid was closed and locked down - With no sparks.

I then removed the front shroud yet again, and set to work underneath the dashboard.   I need to document all of the new wiring in case of issues, but first I wanted to check that all the instrument lighting was working properly.  While we had seen most lights working a week ago, I had noticed later that a couple of instruments were dark - It turned out that two light fixtures were missing !  I eventually found these in boxes, wired them into the loom, and hey presto, we have light in all gauges, including the new oil temp guage.  I also checked out the new bulbs purchased as spares, to make sure they fitted and worked - And a good job I did because they are slightly tighter than the original bulbs, and took a bit of fettling to get them to screw into place.

Rear view mirror screw holes
With the front shroud still off, I checked out all the screw holes which not only help to hold the shroud in place, but also are where the rear view mirror and other fittings screw into place - And in doing so ran into another problem.  The dashboard panel itself has somehow been pulled forwards about 1/2", and this means that some of the screws will not pass through the two surfaces.  To fix this, I had to remove the new instrument dash I had previously made and fitted, trim a section off it, and then make and insert spacers up behind the dash panel to hold it forwards when tightened.  That was OK, but then I found that the captive nuts for the rear view mirror mounting were no longer captive - One was missing completely, while the other was loose.  So going to have to come up with a way of fixing the rear view mirror in place !  Nut-serts maybe ?

Working out the rear bumper stay
I have now made up an alloy template for the rear bumper bars, as the shape of the existing bars is just not right.  Don't quite know why, but it appears that the rear chassis extenstions through the boot are about 1-2" inches in board of their previous position.  Hopefully my metal gurus can reshape the existing bar to match the template. I have also mounted the front bumper stays and am trying to work out the best way to use them to attach a front spring.  We also have small chassis bump plates and spotlights to mount at the front, as well as the air ducting for the radiator, so lots to do up front as well.

All the fasteners on a friend's car
When refitting the original small Tenax pins which the roof uses to attach to the rear shroud, I found that only two of them are the correct size - the other two original pins that have been saved are in fact "dot" pins, and are a slightly larger diameter, which don't fit !  Luckily I found a supplier of these tenax pins in Adelaide, along with some 1/2" BSF nyloc nuts that I need, which it turns out are as rare as hens teeth !  So all these are on their way.    I also body filled, sanded, and painted the two vent trims which sit on the dash.  They had been hidden in a box and didn't get painted body colour so I have sprayed them satin black so they match the back and cream theme of the entire car.

Putting oil in the engine

I also took the original brake cylinders down to Wayne at Better Brakes and asked them to clean them up.  One of these had been seized and rusty, so we had ordered new items and intended to keep these as spares.  However, since we ran into sizing problems with the new units, we decided to try to get the original units refurbished either to use, or to keep as spares.  They have cleaned up really well and are fit for use.  

Spring clips used on badges

Had to go up to Brisbane so on the way back dropped in for a chat with Peter Janetzki at JH Classic Restorations in Yatala.  Having rejuvenated the central "layer" of Gidget, we still need to install a roll bar to protect us on the top side, and also a skid plate to protect us from underneath, and since Classic Car Clinic has changed its business model in regard to restorations, we wanted to see if Peter would be able to help us.  We studied the underneath of a Healey that was up on their hoist and came up with a rough plan, but need to get Gidget's roof fitted first as we want the roll bar to fit under it.  So as soon as we can get everything fitted, we will go back to Peter.

Boot rack in place
Tire on boot rack
Friend Alan Huish also came over and picked up the alternator and bracket, and will weld up the bracket to suit the new alternator and get it back to me so we can mount everything properly.  He also gave some good advice on the simplest way of mounting the rear bumper bars. I have also temporarily fitted the boot rack we acquired a while ago - The plan is to carry just a spare tire on there (not a full wheel as that is too heavy) and I wanted to check a few measurements and also work out how we are going to locate the legs on the rear bumper.

LH bonnet strap holes good
RH bonnet strap holes not good !
I spent a lot of time bolting up the bottom trim of panels, and then
went to put the leather bonnet strap in place on the shroud as it would be easier to fit backing plates on the inside of the shroud while it is off the car.  I put one end in place, but when I moved to the other end found the holes had been drilled the wrong way round !  Luckily the old holes aren't visible once covered with the bracket and backing plate are in place, so no problem - Other than once again a simple 5 minute job turned into a couple of hours of work !

Overall, lots of small boring tasks completed, but just about ready to fire up the engine !

Rest of the pics are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/WHd0ezEgt4o6gVfu1



  1. job well done !!! very empressed by your willpower , you succeed and you deserve to reach Paris , I will be there to applaud you !!! Joel and Brigitte

  2. job well done !!! very empressed by your willpower , you succeed and you deserve to reach Paris , I will be there to applaud you !!! Joel and Brigitte


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