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

Monday, 7 May 2018

0049 In which Gidget goes to get measured for her skid plate

7th May 2018
And lots of other lesser things are addressed - Will it ever end ?

Rear of skid plate
Skid plate from the front
I was away in Perth for a week, and on my return I dropped in to
see Peter Janetzki at JH Classic Restoration in Yatala, half way between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.  Gidget was up on the hoist and the mock up skid-plate had been designed and taped onto the car in cardboard.  Now it was basically finalized, and with our agreement on a few minor points. the mock up was sent off to be laser-cut the following week.

Gidget arrives back at CCC
Since the car would be sitting around waiting for the skid-plate to be manufactured, I decided to truck the car back to Classic Car Clinic for Steve to do the timing, add the choke cable, and tune the carbs, plus a few other minor items that would be easier to do in their workshop rather than at home.  So Chad from Cheaper Towing picked Gidget up from Yatala and took her back to CCC - After some 9 months "living there", it was almost like a home coming, and all the neighbouring car businesses came over to see how things were progressing - And were most impressed to see (and hear) the engine running !  During the 48 hours that Gidget was at CCC, I ran around to do some chores.

Sheepskin strip
Looking much more comfortable !
First was to fit some sheepskin strips I had found in Perth.  I am not happy with the existing seats as they have such a "fat" seat squab that you sit really high in the car - So high in fact that I can't even really get into the driver's side where the seat is standard.  So in the pax seat I have removed the seat squab, put in a piece of plywood, and added the sheepskin.  In 2012 when I drove my Elise to the Arctic, I had fitted sheepskins on the very hard and basic standard Lotus seats, and found them to be extremely comfortable even for long days at the wheel, so I wanted to try the theory in Gidget.  To help a little more, I went down to Clark
Rubber and bought 2 small pieces of good foam which I intend to insert between the plywood and the sheepskin.  On a trial basis, just sitting in the car, I am very impressed and happy to try this arrangement for longer drives.  And when Ashton next comes up here, he can try the two alternatives and decide for himself. 

Uncut threaded rod trial fitted
Next on the list was to solve the issue of bonnet pins. Healeys have a known propensity to overheat, especially in traffic, and we are concerned that by adding a full length skid-plate under the car we might limit the escape of hot air from the engine bay downwards, thus exacerbating the overheating issue.  Our
proposed solution is to enable the front-hinged bonnet to be raised a couple of inches at the back, so letting the hot air out of the top (and into our faces ?) instead.  Initially we proposed to prop the bonnet open a couple of inches at the rear edge using a rubber strip, however on closer examination 
"Low" bonnet pin in place
we realised that a) we would have to store this rubber strip somewhere when we weren't using it, and b) the rubber strip would itself hinder the exit of hot air from the engine.  Additionally, how would we keep the bonnet firmly closed against the rubber strip ?

Extended bonnet pin in place
After throwing around a few alternatives, we came up with the idea of bonnet pins.  These are widely used for competition vehicles, and do a good job of keeping the bonnet closed, but wouldn't be able to keep the bnnet slightly open - It would either be one or the other.  Then I had come up with the idea of adjustable bonnet pins, and some weeks ago we had had Andrew weld in some gussets in the corner of the bonnet opening that would not only strengthen the corner of the shroud, but also could be used for mounting bonnet pins or any other type of bonnet fastening we might eventually use.  Following up on the idea of adjstable bonnet pins, I bought some threaded stainless bar quite cheaply, some nuts, 2 couplers, 2 R clips, (all costing less than a set of commercially available bonnet pins) and set to work.  First I cut a short length of rod that would act to keep the bonnet in the closed position, and after drilling a suitable hole in the aforementioned corner gussets, screwed it in place.  I shaped the top of the pin carefully so an extension can be threaded on to it, and also so it looks better aesthetically, and drilled a small hole through it for the R clip.  Perfect.

Brake fluid supplies
Rad coolant
I then cut another length of threaded rod, attached the coupler, and
screwed the coupler on to the already fitted short piece of rod.  I shaped the top of this rod as I had the first rod, and again drilled a hole through the rod for the R clip, and screwed the coupler onto the first pin, so extending it and enabling the bonnet to be firmly held two inches open, and with no restriction to prevent hot air exscaping.  Project complete, and ready for testing !

Different sized leaf spring bushings
I also took this ooportunity while Gidget was "away" to take the two spare leaf springs over to Kings Springs to install the new bushings we had obtained from the UK, replacing the very perished (original ?) bushings that were in there.  However not long after dropping the springs off, they called me back with a problem - The new bushings were a different size and wouldn't fit !  You are kidding ?  Did Austin Healey have two different bushing sizes in their springs ?  I emailed Healey suppliers in the UK but they all agreed that all Healey's came with the larger 1" (25.6 mm) diameter bushings.  So where did these smaller 22.6 mm bushings come from?  This time it was making enquires of the knowledgeable Healey community America, with the thought that maybe these different springs had been fitted over there.  But again a blank - All Healeys seem to have been fitted with 1" bushings in their springs.  So where had these bushings come from ?  Once again - If only our car could talk !!  I then tried to see if any UK parts supplier could send us just the upper leaf with the standard 1" bush, but none would do so - A whole spring or nothing.  Then I tried to locate smaller bushings - Albeit still having the correct ID the same as the 1" bushing - And again, no luck - No one seems to have bushings this size !  Finally I found some eurethane bushings at Pedders Suspension, so once I confirm that everything else will fit correctly, we will go that route.   What a palaver over something that should have taken 5 minutes !!

Working on the headlight protection
In the evenings I was also cutting and fitting a thick protective film over the headlights which will help them withstand flying rocks and stones without breaking.  Once again, I have used this on all my vehicles on previous expeditions, and never had a broken headlight yet.  Cheap insurance.  However the curvature on these older syle headlights gave me some headaches in shaping this thick protective film, and it had to be cut in order to shape it so it would fit. Hopefully it will stay in place.  I still need to do the same on the spotlights, but these are not so "domed" as the headlights so should not be so tricky.

UK sourced commercial ducting
Linked to the need for good cooling systems for Healeys is the use of ducting in front of the radiator to ensure the airflow entering through the front opening actually passes through the radiator itself, and doesn't take a path of least resistance around the sides and below the radiator.  (The top of the radiator is aready sealed by a panel that runs between the two bonnet hinges.)  Such ducting can be purchased from a suplier in the UK for some $400, before freight and duty, and because our car has so many non standard items and dimensions (like accident damage or larger than standard steering boxes) it may not even fit properly - So I decided to make my own.  But it wasn't as simple as it sounds !

Cardboard mock ups
First of all I started to make up some trial designs using carboard.  Not really difficult, but very time consuming as one tries to shape it to work around the steering box on one side, and the smaller idler box on the other.  By the time Gidget was ready to come back from CCC, I had a rough template, and a quick visit to Bunnings got me a sheet of alloy so I could start work on the real thing !

Gidget atrrived back on Chad's truck again, but this time I was able to drive her off !  And once the truck departed, I couldn't resist a quick spin round the traffic free cul-de-sac where I live.
Gidget arrives home
  As mentioned before, I am really squished in the driving seat which makes driving very difficult, nevertheless I was impressed by how much grunt the engine seemed to have when I squirted it.  Stopping it was another matter, and the brakes may need a little more attention !  But once she was back in the garage, it was on with the ducting.  Long story short, but this was to take most of the next 2 days before it started to take shape due to the many adjustments required as well as the need to completely remove
My alloy ducting takes shape
everything each time in order to make those adjustments and reshape each piece.  It is basically quite similar to the UK sourced one, but designed to fit our car.  And at a cost of only $35.75 for the alloy sheet, plus a few nuts and bolts and pop rivets and a few hours of fiddling, I think we have some ducting that will not only direct the irflow into the radiator, but also into the cabin fresh air hose on the driver's side, and to the carb fresh air feed on the passenger side.  Once again, we need to test drive it now to make sure it works !

Experimenting on the carb air ducting
As for the carburettor fresh air hose, this has been a bit of a saga - Like many other things on Gidget !  Having changed from a K&N type cone filter down near the radiator to an itg foam filter mounted directly onto the twin SU carbs, I had been struggling with how to feed cool fresh air to the carbs.  I could insert a 4 inch hose like I had used for the air vent on the other side, but I needed to turn the eixt of the air 90 degrees so it blows onto the carbs directly instead of going past.  I tried cutting the reinforcing wire in the hose, but that wire is TOUGH  - I really don't think it is
90 degree Carb ducting job completed
meant to be cut !   Finally, after sleeping in it for several days, and also trying several ideas that didn't work (like removing the wire completely - Which cause the hose to collapse), I finally found a solution - Leave the wire in place and just cut off the plastic covering over 1/3rd of the diameter.  By then blocking off the end of the hose with a correctly sized lid off an old jar, and hey presto - The air is turned 90 degrees and blows directly onto the air filter !

Installing dzus fasteners in floor panel
Dzus fastener in place
Last job for this week was to fit the dzus fasteners that I had
finally found in a Speedway Supply shop to the "lids" of the in-chassis storage boxes we have made, so the panels could shut securely.  As usual, fitting them was far from simple - It all looks so easy when you are in the shop and the guy is showing you how to do it, but when you are squished into the dark footwell of the car trying to drill holes and insert pop rivets, it never seems to work out the same !  Hopefully it is now solved and they will stay closed so that Ashton and I don't fall through them when getting in and out of the car !!

Rest of the pics are here :-   https://photos.app.goo.gl/iViGXdoDAnogv3Wa7

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