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

Sunday, 15 July 2018

0058 No car, but still lots to do

15th July 2018
Building boxes, sorting spares, and checking brakes

319 days to go !

Gidget may be safely ensconced in Ashton's garage down in Sydney, so my garage is remarkably empty - but it is amazing how much there is to do.  Sorting out spare parts. working out what to take to Sydney, and making storage boxes after our first major run last weekend showed up our critical storage shortages.  This project does not stop just because the car is elsewhere - Especially since we are now down to just 319 days to go.   I get the feeling that we are going to need every single one of those days !

I was due to fly back up to Queensland last Monday, but time was precious - So while Ashton was working, I was down in the garage going through the spare parts that were stored in the car.   I had to make sure they were all correctly labelled and catalogued because it is vital that we know precisely where everything is stored in the car, and can get to the parts we need quickly and accurately.  Due to the brake problems when I was leaving home last week I had thrown some parts in unlabelled, so I had to get them labelled and boxed.  Additionally, since Gidget was due to go into Garth next week to work on the brakes and double checking everything else, I needed to take all the loose boxes out of the boot and stack them out of the way in the garage.

Once everything was labelled and entered on the spreadsheet, Ashton had some free time and we went through some of the other items on the car, discussing the lessons we had learned on the run yesterday - Mainly to with where to locate everything, and also where we could find some more storage space.  One big unused area is to the immediate right of my legs in the pax side, against the transmission tunnel.  On the Healey, there is a lot more footroom in the passenger side, and I found that my right leg is not hard up against the transmission tunnel - Could we create something useful down there ?  I measured up the space - some 300 mm long, and about 115 mm wide at the top, the only restriction was that the curve of the transmission tunnel meant that it would narrow down to nothing at the bottom.  But a definite possibility, so I took all the measurements back to Queensland with me.

We also looked at the boot, and worked out options for storing our jack as well as the shovel we have.  Many people will carry those little space saving folding shovels, but from first hand experience both in the sands of the Sahara and the snow of Newfoundland, those little shovels are not only useless, but can also be dangerous as they can easily fold up on you while shovelling.  So we have boought a full size shovel from Bunnings, and as soon as we got home we ground out the rivet that held the blade onto the handle, and hey presto, the handle fits in the boot easily - Now all we need to do is find a way to lash both parts down securely so they don't bounce around.  We are thinking of fitting some tie downs behind the auxilliary fuel tank to they can be lashed tight.

After some more time spent working around the car, it was time to go to the airport.  So loaded down with tools, I headed home - So much quicker and easier than driving down !!

One of the scroed wheel cylinders
First task once home was to further address the brake issue we are having. I contatced Denis Welch Racing in the UK who had supplied the brake shoes that had cracked and split in just over 200 miles of use.  There response was query the brake drums (which they were unable to supply) and to request the diameter of these.  Advised that this was 11 inches / 28 cms by the supplier, we passed this on, but DW then requested the measurement to 2 decimal places - Which the drum supplier said they had never measured and never been asked for before. And the works manual doesn't have this detail either.   I have asked Ashton to check this measurement next time the drums are off.
Another wheel cylinder
  Additionally you will remember that last week we found one of the new brake cylinders (also from Denis Welch) was leaking badly, and on closer inspection we found they were all scored and scratched internally, some so deep that you could easily feel them with your finger nail.  How can 4 brand new wheel cylinders all be scored like this ?  So we had replaced these defective units with the original Girling units that we had had refurbished, and sent the photos of the damaged units - We have yet to hear back from Denis Welch Racing.  The brake saga continues....

Next task was to go through ALL the spare parts we still have that we do not plan to take in the car - These are made up either of used yet serviceable parts which we have taken off the car and replaced with new parts, or else of new parts which we ordered from the UK and have ended up not using.  Some of these parts are already spoken for, but many other parts are available, many at knock down prices.  So if anyone out there reading this needs any Healey 100/4 parts for their restoration or rebuild, contact us for the list - We may just have the parts you need !   I also have a bunch of parts off the car that are so damaged as to be useless, but which Ashton wants for a scuplture - Crankshaft, pistons, con rods, old leaf springs, and a few other parts - All of which seem to be incredibly heavy and cumbersome !  As I will be going down to Sydney in my Landcruiser when I pick up the Healey to tow it out to Alice in August, this will be a perfect opportuntiy to take them south.  Then I will have even more space in my garage !

Just out of interest, not only do we have a lot of smaller parts available, but we also have two fuel tanks (one steel original and one brand new alloy unit still in its box), 5 x 48 spoke wheels, seats, some new floor panels, a 100M replica air box, and even a couple of half shafts.

Revised wheel cover, inside
Revised wheel cover
Once I had catalogued all the spare parts, it was time to start solving some of the space shortages.   First job was to alter the spare wheel cover that I had made last week, only to find that it was two inches too high.  So I had to strip off the carpeting, remove some of the 3 alloy braces, and cut 2 inches out of the sides of the cover - Not difficult, but very time consuming.  Thats what happens when you don't have the car beside you to double check everything as you make it !  Anyway, eventually completed and the carpeting refitted, and hopefully now the right size.

The footwell box
Then it was the footwell box I had measured up while down in Sydney last week.  I am using the same aluminium composite panelling that I used on the spare wheel cover as it is light, strong, and easy to cut and shape. After double checking the measurements with Ashton, I set to work.  It is an odd shape as it
Finished box & pencil bar
has to fit over the curved side of the transmission tunnel, and therefore narrows down to nothing at the bottom.  But the top half provides some very useful space.  To keep it strong and light, I used small aluminium angle bar around the edges, pop rivetting the panels to this as I went, and it soon came
Pencil clip to fit
together.   After puttting a thin layer of foam on the outside edge in order to provide a cushioned rest for my leg, I then covered it with the same marine carpet I have used in the rest of the car.  I also decided to put some carpet inside in order to prevent any rattling of the contents when on bumpy roads.   Finally I fitted a narrow aluminium strip along the side of the box which I hope will enable me to fit the 3  pencil holders that I have - Unfortunately they are in Sydney so I can't check them !

That done, I just have a couple more storage ideas to explore next week.  Space really is incredibly rare in the car - There is literally nowhere to put "stuff" - There was more room in the Elise !  One small idea is to shape a kind of small "saddlebag" that will sit over the back of the transmission tunnel, and which on either side we can fit the cup holders.  Not sure whether it will work, but we have to try everything.  There is quite a lot of room in the doors, but not for cups or water bottles, because everytime you slam the door you will lose your drink !

The other idea we have had is to build a 100 mm high box that covers the entire boot rack, that will provide some storage space for light clothes or anything squishable.  If suitable strengthened, we could then strap the spare tyre to the top of this box, and even have a slightly raised section on either side of the spare wheel that would not only help locate the tyre but also provide a little more storage space.  I will be working on this idea over the coming days...........

Meanwhile, if anyone reading this has any ideas where we might find more storage space, please do let us know !

Not many pics this week, but the remainder are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/vndxfCuUg93kYdPH8

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