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

Sunday, 14 October 2018

0070 Gidget comes home

14th October 2018
After a long month, the roll bar is finally installed.

231 DAYS TO GO ! 

Picking up Gidget from JH Restoration
The roll bar was finally completed this week, but we were faced with a week of heavy rain, so I was going to have to time my pick up carefully !  Due to the impending rain, JH Restorations wanted to get some extra space so they could get all their cars inside easily, and since the new seat bases weren't quite ready, I decided to pick up the car on the trailer rather than rush getting the seats in, or even putting the old seats back in again temporarily.  It is quite a job to get the undertrays off, and we want to weld the seat bolts in place this time so they are easier to get in and out, so it is better to take some time and do it properly.

Unloading before the rain arrives
The new roll bar
With rain forecast for lunch time, I drove the 45 kms up to Yatala
to pick up Gidget, and we pushed her on the trailer (the battery was out of the car due to the welding), and I tied her down while Brett and Peter vacuumed out some of the dust and swarf that had accumulated while the car had been in the workshop for the past month, and as soon as both were finished, I headed home.  Just as I finshed unloading the car, and as I was pushing her into the garage, the heavens opened and we had a torrential downpour.  Perfect timing 😀

Dusty...and clean
First job was cleaning - I had delivered the car to JH Restoration one day after returning from Alice, so all the red dirt was still every where.  I started in the driver's side of the cabin - Because my garage is still a garage for my wife's car, I have to park Gidget close to the side wall, so I can only work on one side of the car at a time.  When I want to work on the other side, I have to turn the car around !     One vaccums out the red dust, and 2 minutes later, there is a whole lot more under the carpet.  So you repeat the vacuuming.  Again.  And again !  That red dust really does just "keep on keeping on" - It is amazing stuff !  At the same time, I was refitting the carpeting while the driver's seat was out of the car, because I had not had time to finish fitting it firmly in place before we went to Alice.   Instead of gluing the carpet in place as I had started to do before, I have found that industrial grade velcro is a better as it not only holds the carpet firmly in place, but also makes it easy to remove the carpet if required for cleaning / drying when wet (something we expect to happen.)

I also took out the fire extinguishers and other items, all of which were completely covered in red dust.   Everything has to be cleaned !

Tent wedged in the roll bar
With the roll bar now installed, I wanted to see if a storage idea we plan was going to work - strapping the tent packonto the rear shroud, between the pipes of the bar.  And Bingo !   And yes, it works just perfectly !  We also have to strap the soft top to the roll bar as well, so I will have to do a trial fir of that shortly, too.

An issue mentioned before is the severe lack of space in the car, especially for things like drinks, sunglasses, sun cream, etc etc.  I had built an armrest pocket previously, and this worked well in Alice, but is quite small.  The door panels have a stretchy cover over the single large pocket, but this really didn't work too well as it was just so big and so deep that stuff got lost in there and fell to the bottom and was not easily accessible.  If you are going to spend 36 days in a car crossing half the globe, one needs to have a place for everything, and be able eo easily access anything needed quickly and easily while driving.    The original door panel needed some improvement.    First I went and purchased an offcut sheet of advertising sign board for $16 - This is the same material I used to build the armrest pocket and also the spare wheel cover - It is two thin layers of aluminium sandwiching a 2 mm thick layer of plastic - And is easily cut, worked, and bent, light, and also relatively strong.  I also bought a can of glue and a metre of black vinyl.  The thin foam, small L angle bar, and pop rivets I already had on the shelf, and set to work.

Ashton's lost sunglasses
While emptying out the deep door pocket before removing the panel, I found a couple of things deep
down in the bottom - One of which was a sunglasses case belonging to Ashton - Covered in red dust, of course ! I let him know I had found them and he said he had been wondering where they had gone to !!    I rest my case abut the door pocket being too large and deep to be easily accessible !

Having removed the original trim and panel, I unstitched the elasticated panel which ran the width of the panel, and then used the original panel as a template to trace the outline on to the alloy
Cutting with the jog saw
sheet, before spending some time working out how I could make this panel work most effectively.  I eventually decided to make a taller section at the front where drink bottles can be stored and easily retireved, and to build a small box like shelf in the back half so that it was divided into two separate sections.  This will effectively divide the door into 3 separate storage areas that can be individually accessed.  I also decided to reuse the elasticated flexible panel because it makes the drinks section much easier to access. 

I cut out the centre section with my jigsaw, leaving a temporary solid panel (for strength) in the rear upper section.  I then cut and bent into shape a 3 inch deep box section that would fit between the front and back of the panels, and used alloy L shaped bar to attach it to the main panel using pop rivets.  I then cut out the hole in the panel I had left for strength, and fitted the box section in place.  Trial fittings in the door showed it all seemed to work as planned.

I then took some thin foam and glued that to the outside of the panel to provide a "soft" finish, and
Meauring the vinyl covering
then laid the whole panel over the black vinyl sheet, tracing the required shape before cutting it out.  Once satisfied with the size, I started folding the edges over and gluing everything on the back - As usual, corners and sharp angles take a bit of concentration !   At the same time I covered in the storage box I had made so it matched the panel.  I also fitted a small L bracket to the back panel of the door to provide extra stability to the whole structure on the rough roads, and bolted this in place.   The elasticated panel had lost its elastication due to age, so I got some new elastic from my wife's sewing box, and after removing the old perished elastic, threaded the new elastic through the slot, and sewed it in
Door panel in place
place at the ends so it wouldn't shrink back inside again when stretched.  Once that was done, I glued the panel in place.  Previously this was stitched in place, but as I can't sew into the
Upper storage pocket
aluminium composite sheet, I glued it and then put an additional strengthening panel over the top - Hopefully this will hold it firmly in place. 

Once finished to my satisfaction, I trial fitted it all to the door - Perfect !  Now I just need to make an upper panel of vinyl that glues to the top of the door and holds everything in place.

Bump stop full of red dirt
Sealed bump stop
Remember the strengthened rear bump stops that  had filled with
red dust while out in Alice ?   As planned, I made up a small alloy
panel to fit over the top of the box section, then painted it, and the strengthening concertina inside, with POR15 so they wouldn't ever rust again.   Once dry, I fitted the panel over the box section and used a bead of silicone to seal it in place.   No dust or moisture is ever going to get into that bump stop again.   I wonder why they don't make them like this in the first place ?

Next job is to move into the boot, syphon all the fuel out of the tank and then remove it so I can seal under and around the tank so we can be sure no more dust can come in.  While working on the roll bar Brett noticed that the rear chassis extension bars were still slightly unsealed where they passed through the floor of the boot - This could be the major point of dust entry that we were looking for.

Rest of the photos are here :- https://photos.app.goo.gl/V9Lk1ry89cwj1teV9

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