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

Sunday, 9 September 2018

0066 Work starts again

9th Sept 2018
Seats, roll bar, and dust

"New" seat vs current seat (r)
Back from Alice, I hardly had time to unload the car off the trailer, and unload all the "stuff" from Troopie, and it was time to head off again in Gidget - This time to Peter & Brett Janetzki's JH Restorations in Yatala.  The only major work required on Gidget (that we know of so far !!) is the fitting of a roll bar.  A roll bar is "recommended" (but not compulsory) for the P2P, but after our experiences in the deep sand around Alice last week, we realised how quickly things can go horribly wrong if a big rock or a deep rut is hidden in the soft sand, we decided a roll bar was a "good idea".  However Ashton has some requirements - He wants it removable, and he wants, if possible, to be able to use the current roof over the top of it.  So it was off to JH Restorations to discuss further our ideas - We had already discussed it with them when Ashton was over here some weeks ago, so it was just a matter of fleshing out the ideas and turning them into reality.

Planning roll bar positioning
But as with so many things with cars in general and Gidget in particular,
Measuring roll bar height
work on one item includes simultaneous work on a second, or even a third.  In this case, the roll bar positioning and height depends on the seats, and also the spare wheel.  One lesson I have learned over the past 12 months is that, wherever possible, one needs to have as much as possible of the car detail layout planned before starting to put it together, so that one is not continually having to undo or change something when a later idea conflicts with an earlier item space wise !  In this case, the position for the rear supports for the roll bar are dictated by the space remaining on each side once the spare wheel is in place - In other words they have to go in right on the sides of the panel.  In fact, this is good, because the support panel below if strongest at the ends, where it joins to the wing panels.

Seat mount bracket
No seat mount bracket
In addition, the seat position is critical to the roll bar positioning,
both height wise for our heads, and also laterally and at the back to make sure both fit in the small space OK.  As you know by now, we have had some major issues with the new "Classic" Corbeau seat, primarily because of their poor construction, and also because there is a big panel across the back which pushes right on your shoulder blades, when in reality it should be located just above your shoulder blades.  We were offered some slightly damaged MGF Trophy 160 seats for a "very good price", and so the first step was to see if they actually fitted in the car.  But before I could do that, I had to remove some big mounting brackets used in the (slightly roomier) MGF.  I first checked with Andrew my metal man and he agreed we should remove the brackets but leave the sliders/runners on there for now.  If we decide to remove the runners to make them fit better, then it is easily done, but since it would be hard to reverse once we have cut them off, we will wait.

Seat belt tensioner mechanism
First I removed the female seat belt mounts which included "explosive" seat belt tensioners.  Not only do these make the seat much wider, but additionally, since we are using a full harness, we just don't need them.   Once the brackets had all been ground off,  it was off to JH Restorations to find out if the seats would fit.  Having removed the floor panels and underfloor storage, we removed the driver's seat and loosely positioned the MGF seat...........And it fitted perfectly, and looked really good.  I then sat in the driver's position and found it very comfortable, and also
slightly lower than the Corbeaus, meaning my head was lower
New seats in place
than the top of the windscreen, and there was slightly more room between the bottom of the steering whel and my thighs.  SUCCESS !!   Then we started looking more closely at how the roll bar would fit around the seat back, and also down the sides of the seat to the floor behnd the door shut face.  It will fit, but the back on the side of the seat is quite bulky, and if the foam cushioning can be relieved slightly, then it would give us a little more space while also allowing the rear of the seat to lilt back a little more (the Corbeau seats had fixed backs, with no tilt adjustability).
New roof pins
Last thing to consider was the roof and its mounting points. The original roof has a fairly complicated hinge construction, and this had been considerably damaged over the years making it difficult to erect properly.
New roof socket
  With a roll bar in place, the roof will not be able to "hinge" over the top, nor will it be able to hinge baek to fold only the rear valence.  Instead it will need to be removable, and to slot into place using pins down the side of the internal panels when erected, and be able to be just strapped loose to the roll bar when down.   To acieve this, Brett removed the lower hinge section and replaced them with a pin.  He then made up a corresponding "socket" and bolted this into the car using the original hinge mounting points.  With vice grips pinched onto the pins in order to set the height of the roof, all was in place.

In the meantime I set off to ZZ Trimming which is located close to many of my other suppliers in Helensvale, and armed with the knowledge that the seats are going to fit OK, I asked Steve to do two things.  Remove the cloth / leather seat covering (it just unclips) and  1) put a quick patch on the two splits in the seat base, and 2) shave some of the excess foam padding off the back of the seats, in order to give them a little more clearance.  I will go back in on Monday and see what his verdict is.  But since we will probably fit cheap washable seat covers on the seats, these will cover any visible seat imperfections.

PVC roll bar mock up in place
Back at Brett's, we discussed the final roll bar layout.  With the problems with the already mis-shapen roof stays, he suggested that if we removed the rear roof stay, we could use the roll bar itself as a replacement, and this would enable us to reshape the front stay more easily so it fitted properly,  Additionally, it would allow us to raise the height of the roll bar slightly, so that it would be truly above our heads, which would be a "good thing" !  Decision to be made over the weekend.    Additionally, the strengthening diagonals will run from the upper corner across to the inside of the rear stay, and if we want two diagonals, the other will cross in the opposite direction. Finally, Brett made up a dummy roll bar out of pvc pipe, and I will go up on Monday morning to check for a final check on head clearance, seat clearance and the roof before he finally makes the steel bar.

Other jobs I have been looking at is cargo storage, and I have been looking at cargo nets that we could possibly use in the boot to "control" all the stuff in the boot;  (We found in Alice that the bumpy roads caused chaos in the boot !)  I have found some that are about the right size and once the fuel tanks are removed, all I need to do is find out the best spot to fit some strap mounts to which we can secure the net.
Flap on the roof of 100/4

Additionally, we were having trouble getting the front of our convertible roof to seal in the rain - I had got close with some judicious foam additions, but still not perfect, although I had an idea.  However this week I studied the roofs of 2 other 100/4's that were at JH Restorations for work, and they have a flap which fits over the front as standard, which ours doesn't !  So now we know hot to solve this issue 😀

So, lots going on at the moment, and hopefully it will all take final shape next week.

Rest of the pics are here :- 

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