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

Friday, 20 April 2018

0048 - The dramas continue !

Time to install radiator, fan, and lots more
14th April 2018

Pax door in place
The troublesome latch
After the excitement of starting the engine for the first time, Steve then had to leave, with the plan to return next Monday to get everything finished (carbs tuned, and the engine run up to hot, and a test drive) once I have installed radiator, fan, and a number of other items - Including charging the battery fully !!  Andrew started work on the doors.  First we had to fit them in place - Albeit temporarily as they have to be removed again before we fit the front wings.  While one person can remove a door, you need 2 people to put them on - Holding the heavy doors at the correct angle is a full time task while the other person gets the hinge screws started. Once the doors were on, we basically spent the next 3-4 hours trying to get them to latch properly.  Every test shut needed all parts to be fitted, and then any adjustments required filing all the holes to suit, so each adjustment takes about half an hour.  By 6 pm it was starting to get dark and we had been going non stop for 12 hours, so even though the doors are still only shutting onto the first latch, we called it a day.

Fan fouls crank balancer
I then went to fit the 5 blade plastic fan on the water pump pulley - Guess what ?   IT DOESN'T FIT !!  It fouls the large harmonic balancer on the front of the crankshaft, and either the blades need to be shortened by about 5 mm, or the fan needs to be moved forwards about 20 cms with a big spacer.  Once again, stunned once again that manufacturers will sell you parts which don't fit together !  We discussed the options, but went back to Denis Welch Racing in the UK overnight to find out what they had to say about it - And guess what their reply was - "This is a common scenario - Simply trim the fan blades to give the required clearance"- Unquote.  Hmmmmm.

Driver's door also a problem

I then moved on to the driver's door, but ran into the same problem that Andrew had encountered on the pax door - Easy to get it to latch on the first click, but seemingly impossible to get it to latch fully.  I think we are going to need some help on this.

Rear mud flap with chain
I then fitted up the rear mud flaps on the LH side - I had them all built, cut out, and drilled, but didn't have enough room against the garage wall to fit them.  Now we had turned the car around before starting it, I could finish off this side.  Once again, not a difficult job, but VERY time consuming, and by the time I had the rubber glued in place and the brackets fitted and bolted in place, half the day was gone. I then changed some things on the front LH mud deflector that I didn't like, and fitted a chain and pipe to the longer rear mud flaps to prevent them being pulled under the tyre and ripped off if we have to reverse when in sand or mud.    I also noticed a few places where I felt a firmer mounting was required so had to drill a few holes to support the bottom of the side panels.

Renovating the Healey badge

The "Austin Healey" badge that mounts on the nose of the front shroud has suffered over the years, and some of the enamelled letters have broken out, just leaving the silver base.  Since a replacement badge is over UK £50, I decided to try to restore it just a little myself.  The colours may not be quite the same, but since due to its location the badge is always going to be susceptible to stone chips, I don't see any point in having a nice concours standard badge out there.

Fan now clears balancer

Last task of the day was to trim the 5 blade fan, and after marking everything out so each blade matched, I started careful work with the Stanley knife. I was very aware that maintaining the fan's balance is vital, but there is no other way of doing this except with a sharp blade.  Eventually done to my satisfaction, the end of each blade was sanded  to make it smooth and areodynamic while I watched the Commonwealth Games on TV !

Radiator hoses all in place
The radiator on the car is a totally new design as well as being moved further forwards in the chassis
in order to increase the space between the fan and the radiator core.   As a result the two hoses required were far from standard, and in addition I was inserting a filter that Ashton had obtained from down south, so in order to purchase some suitable hoses, and armed with some bent coat hanger wire in roughly the shape of the hoses I needed, I had gone down to Global Auto Spares and asked if I could inspect all their stock of hoses.  They let me loose in their warehouse where they had literally hundreds of different hoses piled up, most of them quite dusty, and for the next 2 or
Top & bottom hoses fitted up
more hours I was digging around in there trying to find shapes that matched my wire templates.  By the time I had finished I had found two that might suit, but I was pretty dirty !! Ah well, as long as they work, it would be worthwhile.  Now, 4 weeks later, I had the opportunity to find out.  I tried the lower hose first, a lower hose from a Toyota Hi-Ace according to the label, and for a change, it fitted absolutely perfectly, missing fans and belts etc.  Excellent.  The top hose was slightly different as I knew it would need to be cut in order to insert the filter, and once I had worked out the best options, I cut the hose - and once again it fitted really well ! And once again it was a Toyota lower hose, this time off a 1979 Corolla !  Anyway, hoses now on and hose cilps fitted and tightened.So good to have something actually fit first time for a change !
8 cms of clearance in front of fan

And out of interest, with everything in place, we now have 8 cm clearance between the fan blade and the radiator core, compared to about 1.5 cms when we started !  So, mission accomplished in that regard. And to finish everything off in readiness for Steve to run the engine again for a longer period, I fitted the new itg air filter - Only to find I then had to trim some metal off the edge of one of the front shroud mounting plates in order to fit around the filter !
Panels trial fitted

Before shutting it down for the night, I decided to put the front shround in place, and added the bonnet as well as the LH side front wing, just to start to get a feel for the complete car.  Looking good ! Even the front badge looked really good, making it all look much more finished.

The next evening, Steve came over after work, and although it was now getting dark, we prepared to fire up the engine.  We just put straight water in the radiator for now, checked everything was tight, and fired her up.  Once again, (but with the battery fully charged this time !), with just a little choke from my hand, she fired up almost immediately, and quickly dropped into a smooth idle.  It was too
Sweet music !
dark to take any photos, but I did get a short video of the exhause note - Not as noisy as feared with the new side muffler system,  but still with a nice "bark" when the throttle is blipped.  As the engine warmed up, we kept our eyes on all the gauges and the engine overall, checking for leaks.  Unfortunately those two studs holding the alternator bracket in place that go through to the water jacket obviously weren't sealed well enough, and water started leaking out around them.  The same also happened around the studs holding down the thermostat cover, so these two will need to be resealed using better sealant - Not a big deal, more just a nuisance.  After water temps were up and quite stable at around 190 deg F, we eventually shut the engine down, and checked around a little further, finding a small oil leak out from the distributor which will need to be investigated.  Aother than that, all was good, and the new water line filter had virtually no debris in there at all.

Overall, a successful run on the engine, and after checking out 1st and 2nd gear in the driveway in the darkness, Steve reversed Gidget back into the garage - So at last she moved under her own power !

Loading Gidget on the truck
I was due to fly to Perth for a week for a family reuinion with all our kids and grandkids, so during my absence we had arranged to truck Gidget up to Peter Janetzki up at JH Classic Restorations with the plan to design and install the full length skid plate, and also look at the options for fitting a roll bar on the car "just in case".  So the next morning, the Cheaper Towing truck came
Gidget at JH Classic Restorations
round as planned and loaded Gidget and took her to Peter.  When I arrived, we spent time working out the best way to do everything, so when I left, we had a plan sketched out.  Later, Ashton spoke with Peter and discussed how he wanted it, and hopefully by the time I get back next week, he will have made some progress.  Once complete, we will be putting the front shroud and wings on, and getting Gidget on the road for testing.  Exciting times !!

Steel mesh for radiator
On the way home I went to a Speedway Supply store and purchased some dzus fasteners in order to fasten the floor panels in place.  I had spent some time making clips for one end of these removable floor panels that cover the under floor storage space we have below the seat, and just needed the dzus fasteners to secure the panels in place.  They have taken me a while to locate, but finally located them.  Additionally I went to a steel grill place searching for mesh to fit over the radiator to protect it from flying stones, but found that they only sell in very large sheets, and in addition have to be spcially ordered ! After looking on the internet, it was found we can purchase smaller pieces of the mesh only from overseas, so we may have to do that.

Hopefully we will shortly have a complete car ready for testing !

More photos are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/5vvZsS2ZteMa8DSH2


  1. Giles, Ashton. If you're after the mesh in a custom/smaller size, try these guys. I can have it shipped to my place and onward ship if you need. They cut a specific size for me for the MK VI.
    Danny (Ashton has my contact details)

    Chris Platt
    The Mesh Company Ltd
    P: +44 (0) 1925 406602 (Customer Service & Enquiries)
    M: +44 (0) 7767 436 826

    Email: chris.platt@themeshcompany.com

    Unit 1
    Farrell Street
    WA1 2WW

  2. Thanks, Danny, really appreciate your input. That looks exactly what we want, but unfortunately we have already ordered some out of the USA ! If it doesn't work out, we will get onto Chris.

  3. Thanks Danny - ahead of us as usual :) We went with SFX Performance in the US - will let you know when it turns up whether it suits or not!


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