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

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

0050 In which we go for a burn up.....

13th May 2018
Ashton comes for a visit and goes for a drive !

Front ducting complete

Started off by getting the front ducting completed.  With brackets to support the side-scoops for the carbs on the left and the cabin fresh air intake on the right, and pinch weld on all the exposed edges, not only was the whole structure a lot more rigid, but also any sharp edges were covered and it looked a lot more "complete".   Very pleased with how it has turned out.

Brakes head off for radius grind
Steve had called me and said that in his opinion the rear brakes were not working very well when
he had driven it recently, and suggested I got the shoes radius ground.  So I jacked the car up, removed the wheels, and drums, and worked the shoes loose.  I hate drum brakes with their strong springs - I always fear they will fly off in an unexpected directed, and as a result also wear good quality gloves.  In this case, all went ok, I still have all my fingers, and I set off to see Wayne at Better Brakes. Upon inspection, he agreed that the shoes needed to be ground down so they fitted against the drums better if they were to work efficiently.  However he didn't want to take too much material off the shoes as they are not exactly thick in the first place. So after a quick radius grind, I set off back home to refit the shoes and drums.  With my fingers surviving yet again, all was completed and the car was back on its wheels.

Maybe front wiring will fit here ?
When we received the car, the wiring for the headlights came along the LH inner wing to the LH headlight, and then the wire for the RH headlight went down beside the radiator, across a low chassis cross bar, then back up to the RH headlight.  This low routing meant the wire was very exposed to both stone and water damage, so we looked for an alternative.  The only real one is across a cross beam above and in front of the radiator, very close
Front wiring installed
to where the bonnet hinges operate. and after a careful inspection of available space, we decided to use this option.  So I installed two cable clamps to hold the wire firmly away from the hinges on one side and the heat of the radiator on the other, fitted heat shielding around the cable just as a precaution to help protect it, and fitted the wiring in place.

Front sidelights working
I then needed to check the front light wiring for integrity.  so I got out my new Circuit Tester and set to work.  I have never had one of these testers before, but I now realise that without it you can do nothing electrically.  In the past I have just used a multimeter, but this is much quicker and better !  First I checked the headlights, and they all tested correctly, both on low beam and high beam.  Then I checked the side lights (which are separate from the headlights) and after replacing one broken bulb, they worked, but one was brighter than the other, while only the left one "winked" when I turned the indicator on.  Eventually Daryl Wilson, who was helping us for a couple of days, suggested that two wires were connected back to front.  So we swapped the two over and bingo - both side lights glowed with the same intensity, and both sides "winked" correctly.  This meant the front lights are all working and ready to install as soon as the front shroud and wings are in place.

Daryl & Ashton working on grill
Meanwhile Daryl and Ashton (who was up here for a couple of days) were working on the front grill.
The original grill was fairly damaged in past accidents, and not only did it not fit properly, but it also had to be fitted to the front shroud before installing the shroud  - In other words, once the shroud was fitted, access to the front of the radiator and the new alloy ducting system would be impossible.  So we had come up with the idea of making a new front grill that could be easily removed from the outside.  Ashton and I had agreed that the Jaguar style wire mesh was both suitable and attractive, so we had bought some from overseas as it is hard to buy in small pieces in
Daryl literally donated his blood !
Australia, and he hand carried it up from Sydney.  Now he and Daryl set to work to form the new grill.   First of all they made up a cardboard template of the shape, and then they clamped this under the mesh, clamped it all firmly down on a work bench, and then used the angle grinder to cut out the mesh.   We had also decided that instead of trying to use the mis-shapen outer frame of the original grill, we would fit black pinch weld around the edge of the grill.  This would not only serve to protect fingers from the very sharp edges of the mesh (Daryl had already "donated" blood to the cause !), but would also make a very presentable finish to the grill once installed.

Making brackets to mount the grill
Ashton then fabricated 4 small brackets and pop rivetted them to the lip of the grill opening in the
shroud.  After a trip to the bolt shop, we bought some long threaded bolts which were cut down to the required length, and fitted to the brackets with the threaded end sticking outwards.  These were going to work as pins with the grill mesh sliding over them, and then pinning the mesh in place using wing nuts, making it very quick and easy to remove.  Very pleased with the way this has worked out, and how simple and quick it will be to remove the mesh if required - Ease of access to all parts of the car is so important on an event like this, and this is a good one.

The finished grill
Linked to the fitting of this mesh grill, we also discussed another option.  We plan to carry a tarpaulin that we would strap over the bonnet of the car when making river crossing in order to prevent water flooding in through the radiator, damaging the fan, and generally causing engine issues.   However, as we thought more about it, fixing such a tarpaulin to an Austin Healey would be a lot harder than strapping a tarp to a bull bar on a 4WD, due to the shape of the car.  Then I thought - We only need to stop water going through the radiator grill hole in the shroud, so why not just make up a canvas (or similar) cover that is just slightly larger than, but the same shape as, the radiator mesh we have just made.  If pop studs or similar are fitted to both the shroud and the canvas cover, then when a river crossing is made, the cover can just be quickly clipped in place (a lot more quickly than trying to tie a tarp firmly to the front of the car) to prevent water ingress.  Additionally, a small cover will be a lot smaller and lighter to store in the car than a full tarp, even a small one.  So that is a project to be working on.........

Bonnet in "running open" position
 We then put the front shroud on the car to check several clearances
of new items we had fitted, and
Bonnet pins in place
while doing this we fitted the bonnet in order to check the operation of the pins I had made, especially since I had now fitted support rubber pads around the bonnet opening.  Ashton also checked forward visibility when the bonnet is in its "raised" position, and although it is obviously more restricted, it is OK.  I also fitted some foam strips on the bulkhead because I had noticed that when the shroud is
Anti-rattle tape fitted to bulkhead
fitted on top, there is a lot of metal to metal which would result in annoying rattles, or worse.  Previously the shroud had been fixed in place with some kind of adhesive, and we were going to repeat this procedure, but have decided against it in order to make it easier to remove the shroud again as a later date.  We also added a full length strip of light foam right across the bulkhead in order to prevent any ingress of unwanted hot air from the engine bay making its way through into the cabin.

Radiator ducting in paint shop
Meanwhile I was working on constructing a second set of ducting - this time on the inside of the radiator, between the radiator and the engine.  We have quite a large gap now beween the radiator and the fan, and the general consensus of opinion appears to be that if there is too much open space around the fan, instead of the harder job of sucking air through the radiator itself, it would tend to suck the air from the open space surrounding the fan.  Air flow
Radiator ducting in place
is like water - It follows the path of least resistance.  So I have constructed alloy sides and a top which willl hopefully not only limit the flow of easy air to the fan, but will also form a guard to protect fingers etc from the fan.  Having made up the 3 pieces, they were then painted black before fitting to the car.

Rally plates on spare wheel cover ?

 Another issue we are discussing is where to fit the P2P Rally Plates which we will be given later.  Some cars have them on the bumper, some just fit them directly to the bodywork, but I thought this one was quite novel - This Porsche in the 2016 event just fitted it to its spare wheel cover.  Since we will be carrying a similar spare tyre with a cover in a similar position, it might be a good option !

Ashton goes for a drive in the sunset
Before we finished work, we made sure all wiring etc was firmly taped to the car, and fired her up.  For the next 30 minutes, Ashton and I had fun driving the car around the local (dead end) roads.  It handled surprisingly well, and although the brakes initially pulled to the left, by the time we stopped it was starting to behave better as the brakes slowly bedded in.  The clutch needs to be adjusted as it takes up right at the end of the pedal travel, and we also found the speedo wasn't working. When we removed the cable from the back of the speedo, the cable itself was turning, and on closer inspection it seems that the very end of the cable spline has broken off, and as a result is not locating fully into the speedo. So, a few things to attend to, but more importantly, Ashton finally got to drive Gidget !
Ashton makes sure clutch is working properly

On the Friday night we had a few people over for a BBQ to discuss the car and Peking to Paris in particular.  Fellow participants John and Marian Crighton, mechanic Steve Ward and his wife Jody, friend Dean who looks after my 4 WD, and of course Daryl and Ashton, all had a great evening swapping tales and adventures.  It is times like this when these kind of adventures really come alive !

Early the next morning we were at Bunnings shortly after it opened (6.30 am !) and then Supercheap to buy hoses and fitting to make an engine catch tank for the breather, and a number of other items for things we were all working on.  Getting a larger size pinch weld made the grill much better, and buttterfly nuts were now fitted to the grill clips.  Ashton completed the engine breather tube which was difficult due to its difficult location for undoing the bolts - Which additionally had an intermediate sized head that none of my spanners fitted !  Shortly afterwards he had to leave to return to Sydney, and after I got back from the airport, Daryl and I spent time on a few other jobs, including fitting the Austin Healey badge to the front of the shroud, before Daryl too had to leave to go home after donating 2 days of his time to our P2P project.

Access panel to floor storage
I then continued work on a few other ongoing projects - The access panel in the driver's side floor still had not been fitted, so adding dzus clips was done before also making an access flap in the floor carpet.  There will be floor mats on top of the carpet (which will also double as recovery tracks in case we get stuck in sand or mud), so all the carpet will be covered.  I have also added velcro strips under the carpet so it is firmly held in place, yet easily removed if necessary.

New rear indicators ready to install
One of the wiring changes we have made is to add separate rear indicator lights.  Previously the single rear light unit performed 3 functions - rear light, stop (brake) light, and indicator.  So do this required a complicated flasher unit, which we wanted to remove bacuase it was not only fragile but also overly complicated.  Based on my previous trips to some of the countries we will be visiting, I also personally felt that having no rear indicator would potentially be something that remote area police or other inspection officers might use as an excuse to give us a hard time at borders, or even fine us, or make us retro-fit such indicators.  The biggest issue here is that the P2P is totally a time-based event, and if we are delayed for any reason, we run the risk of not arriving on the required schedule, and thus losing any chance of a medal for meeting all daily check in and departure times. So to fit rear indicators now is for me just the wise thing to do.

While I cannot yet fit the indicators until the rear "bumper" is fitted, I wanted to make sure all the rear lights and indicators were working and ready to quickly fit.  So I used my newly purchased circuit tester to ensure that the new indicator units were working correctly.  This done, all the front and rear lights and indicators are now working, so as soon as the bodywork is completed, we can quickly fit them.

Broken end of speedo cable
Upon close inspection of the speedo cable, it seems the very end of the cable drive has sheared off, and as a result the square pin drive does not locate fully into the speedo gauge itself, and therefore, although the cable is turning, the speedo isn't operating.  So to get a new speedo cable, we first need to get the current one out - Not a simple operation as it has been well clamped in place and runs all the way down the side of the chassis to the gearbox.  However, after a couple of hours under the car, I finally got it out, and will take it down to obtain a replacement.

New engine breather pipe
On closer inspection of the engine breather pipe we had fitted yesterday, the rubber was kinking where it had to do a 180 degree turn, and I wasn't sure it was going to be too efficient.  I looked at the pieces of pipe we had cut off, and worked out that we could use it to create a metallic 180 deg turn that would eliminate any option for kinking.  Additionally, in
Engine breather pipe installed
conversations with fellow P2P competitor John Crighton, he suggested also fitting a small breather filter K&N breather instead of having an overflow bottle.  So I took the base pipe off the block again (not simple due to its location behind the exhaust headers), and took it down to
Some of the toys in Andrew's workshop
Andrew's new workshop for him to weld it up according to my measurements.  Just as an aside. Andrew's warehouse facility
belongs to a fibreglass business next door, and it is a veritable treasure trove of miniature vehicles - VW vans, Herbie, Pontiac Firebirds, and many more !  Plenty to look at while he was cutting and welding my breather pipe !

Once back home, I still have some Healey engine paint, so I was able to paint the new pipe the correct colour before installing it.  I then fabricate a small alloy bracket to support the rubber pipe and small breather.

Finally get the alternator bracket
Also painted today was the alternator bracket which was (finally) obtained after a number of delays over the past few weeks.  It needed minor adjustments to make it fit properly, then it was two coats of paint so I could get it fitted soonest.  Once this is on, I can tighten up the inner fan shroud, and that is the engine bay completed. Which means we can fit the front shroud !  Which means we can fit the wings and windscreen !   Yay.

In the meantime, I have the new bushings for the rear bumber spring leafs on order, and as soon as these arrive we can fit up the rear bumper, number plate and light, and new rear indicators.

Rubber matting
One of the potential issues we have is getting stuck in sand / mud, and although we could wait for a recovery vehicle, this could cost us valuable time, so we need to have some options up our sleeves to help ourselves.  We will be carrying a full size shovel, not one of those silly little folding jobbies that will dig very little, won't reach under a car, and usually fold
Matting cut to size
up on your fingers !  We will carry a full size shovel - But intend to cut it in half, and fit a metal sleeve so we can put it together when / if we need it ! Of course we also have our side mounted Mercedes jack which will allow us to raise the car even if we are bogged up to the chassis.  In addition, I have bought some thick rubber matting with holes and grip studs in it. I am cutting this to fit in each foot well, and additionally we may put a pices in the boot.  If we become bogged, we can take this out of the car and put it under the rear wheels to help us become unbogged.   Have to think of everything here !!

We are getting closer to having a complete car !

Rest of the photos for this week are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/7QkocVraNtZVgX8r1

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