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

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

0052 I think we need a mirror !

29th May 2018
In which Gidget gets a shiny bottom !

Front skidplate prior to fitting

This is a short post (sighs of relief from all !) but I just felt that I HAD to show off Gidget's shiny new bottom !  She has been up at JH Classic Restorations for the past week where Peter, Brett and their staff have worked their magic, making a shiny alloy skid plate that stretches from the very front of the car to the back.  If we can build up enough speed, I reckon we will be able to go surfing across the sand dunes of the Gobi !  And I am thinking that we need to get a big mirror to put under the car to show off this shiny piece of art - It is just too good to hide it away underneath the car where no one can see it !!

Cut outs for diff and UJ greasing
It took a few days longer than expected due to a few unexpected problems, but with Gidget that seems to be about par for the course ! After measuring everything up a couple of weeks ago, the design was then laser cut in 6 mm alloy for the front part, to the back of the gearbox, and then 3 mm from there to the very back of the car.  Cut outs allow oil changes and greasing of nipples in the pedal box, while there are also a few semi-circular holes along the length of the plate to allow dust, dirt and water to escape.

Recessed washers for main bolts
The plate is held in place by recessed brackets welded onto the inner sides of the chassis rails.  This allows the tray to fit flush on the chassis rails, while the bolts that hold everything in place are recessed into a little turned skid"washer" of their own, so that the head of the bolt is recessed into this washer and cannot be hit or damaged by rocks.  Additionally, the holes that these skid"washers" fit into in the skidplate are slightly larger than the washers themselves, and have a rubber mount, so that should the skidplate get mis-shapen or damaged in any way, there is enough movement to enable the supporting bolts to be refitted.

The very front 5 inches of the skidplate are bent up like the bow of a ship, following the shape of the front of the two min chassis rails.  This means that if we do hit sand or (god forbid) rocks, the front of the car should rise up over the obstacle.   And as the plate doesn't go outisde the line of the main chassis rails, this means that at the front of the car we can still use the original bumper bolt holes (on the outside of the chassis rails) to fit the spot light mounts, tow hook, and front spring / bumper.  We will be doing this over the next few days.

At the rear of the car, there is a large hole in the skidplate for the diff to fit through.  The Healey is
Diff skid plate
underslung, which means that the rear axle is above the chassis, so most of the time, when there is weight in the fuel tanks and the boot, the diff will not protrude through the skid plate except when  (if ?) we become  airborne, or of course if we are on a very bumpy road.  Just in case, the lowest point of the diff, which is actually the drain plug, now has its own mini steel skidplate welded in place so that the drain plug is now recessed, and can't get hit or damaged.

Skid plate fans out at back to protect fuel tank
Finally, behind the diff, the skidplate fans out to cover the fuel tank, and out to the edges of the rear shroud.  This edge is quite abrupt, and I was concerned that should the rear of the car drag or ground, it could easily catch this lip and rip the bottom of the shroud off.  So Peter and his people have brought the skidplate right to the back of this lip, and there is now no lip to catch.   Magic.

The entire structure of the car should now be a lot stiffer, and although the plate is quite heavy (we will get a weight later), it is down as low as it can be, so will benefit the stability of the car.

And that is why we need a mirror  - to slide under the car when it is parked so everyone can admire this excellent piece of work. 😊

Plate under pedal box, & access hole
Storage box floors on right
As an aside, while they were under the car, they also fitted a strong separate little skid plate under the pedal box in order to protect it from stones etc - It is located directly behind the front wheel arch.  They also fitted the bases to our two underfloor storage boxes, so these are now in place and ready to use. 

Now we just need to do the 101 small things that need to be done to complete the car...............

The photos are here :- https://photos.app.goo.gl/SXdfXi5M4NbLi02b2


  1. Well done Giles. Will the skid pan be in sections so you can remove one if it gets badly damaged? Also, removing a section would be easier than one long piece of metal. Car looks fantastic. Look forward to reviews of the shake down runs.

  2. Yes Eddie, it is designed in three sections (six if you include the floors to the storage boxes and the peddle box plate) so that a) it can come off in sections and b) we could make the rear two sections out of thinner material - 3mm vs 6mm for the front section. Looking forward to seeing it this weekend :)


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