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

Monday, 29 October 2018

0071 Looking for holes

29th October 2018
We look for holes and do 1001 seemingly small things.

Fuel tank removed
After spending one day working on the door trim, it was time to move on to one of the more important issues - The boot, and the mystery of "Where did all that dust come from ?".  You will remember that every day in Alice we had a boot full of dust.  Initially we thought it was coming in past the rubber boot seals,
And the source of the dust found !
but we sealed the boot lid with gaffer tape one day, and it still filled up. Another day we sealed up all the body panel joins inside the boot - But that didn't work either. Then, last week, Brett had found big gaps around the chassis extensions where they pass through the floor of the boot - Today was the day to dig deeper.  To do this I had to remove the fuel tank, and to do that, I had to empty out all the fuel - It was full to the brim !  And to suitably access the underneath of the chassis in order to find the holes, I needed to remove the rear skid plate.  It was going to be a busy day.
A lot of rain in Qld recently
The rain was bucketing down as I searched for some suitable tubing to use to syphon out the petrol.  In the end the only tube I found that was long enough was too small in diameter, but it was raining so hard, a trip to Bunnings was off !  So I started with the small tube, and kept doing other things while the 5 litre fuel can slowly filled up - Needless to say, with some 40 litres to syphon out, I did end up with some spillage on the garage floor - Whoops !

Dust in the rear under tray
The rear skid plate came off quite easily, but was full of more red dust and spinifex - Not as bad as the front plate, but still quite a lot considering the large hole around the diff where it could have escaped if it wanted ! Once again, placing some wood blocks under the plate before removing the last bolts saved my hands being smashed into the floor by the heavy plate when it dropped !  Then the two straps that hold the fuel tank in place were removed, the wires to the sender unit undone, and the breather tube unclipped, by which time enough fuel had been removed to enable the tank to be lifted out fairly easily.  And underneath ?  Not as much dust as I had feared.  There is a large hole in the boot floor through which the pick-up sump of the tank protrudes, and it was through here that we had thought
Boot all cleaned up
that dust might be entering.  The tank sits on a rubber pad, and the dust patterns showed that although there was dust under the tank, it was not around the hole, but more out to the sides of the tank, which indicated that the dust was coming in somewhere to the sides of the tank, in line with the holes Brett had spotted. I will add some silicone around the hole in the floor to make doubly sure that no dirt can enter, but I do not believe it is a major issue.

With the tank removed, I could now put the vacuum cleaner to
Cleaning up the tank
work to remove all the loose dust, and search for the holes...........Which weren't too hard to find once I put a torch under the car and waved it around - Quite large holes down in the corners of the chassis extensions, right behind where the rear wheels would have been throwing up the dust.  I think we have found our dust source, although there are still a few other more minor places where dust is possibly entering.   I will either be welding these gaps up, or filling them with silicone if they are already strong enough, very shortly so I can get the tank back in and the car running.

Frayed tow straps
While under the car, I found a couple of other interesting issues.  Our rear (webbing) tow straps were showing signs of wear due to abrasion of sand and stones flying up from the wheels and hitting the straps on a 90 degree  edge of the chassis, causing the wear.  Their strength was certainly compromised by just one week of wear, so this will need to be addressed for the much longer P2P.  I have fitted wider (on the inside)  rear mud flaps to cover the straps, and this will hopefully fix the problem.  I have also made up new rear tow straps.

I found that both the extended grease nipples fitted to each of the rear spring hangers were loose. They were easily tightened, but obviously we will need to keep our eyes on these in future.  I also realised that once the rear skid plate is fitted, you can't actually reach these grease nipples - We will need to cut a small hole in the skid plate to enable us to fit the grease gun hose through and on to the nipples.  Without the hole, there is no way we can grease the rear spring hangers short of removing the rear skid plate every time.

Gaps in chassis extension
I checked another Healey, and the ends of the chassis extensions should be welded - Something that just got missed ?   So now I am waiting on the opportunity to get Andrew to come to the house as, with no fuel tanks in place, I can't take the car anywhere !  And without a winch, I can't load the car on the trailer.  So, while I wait for the welder. I tackled a bunch of other items.

We had black tape on the top of the shiny alloy steering wheel boss  because we found that on a sunny day there is a major reflection onto the windscreen.  Tape was looking a bit sad after all the dust, so I stripped it off and used a matt plasti-dip paint to paint the top half of the boss.   This paint can be easily peeled off if required.   Looks much smarter.

Sunset over my garage
Waiting on the new seat bases, I had to remove the bottom of the underfloor storage boxes in order to access the seat bolts.   What a total PITA that was - The silcone sealant used to make them water proof was an absolute nightmare to release - It took me some 4 or more hours just to do the driver's side.  And cleaning all the old silicone off before replacing them will be another long chore.  The point was that with the seats in, we never intended to take the storage box bottoms off in the near future, so they were firmly attached !  The passenger side was slightly easier as I knew what I was up against, so only an hour or so on that one.  Will certainly be using silicone much more sparingly when the panels are refitted !

The driver's seat was already out, but was now able to get the pax seat out, and get that side of the car
11.5 kg of dust !
vacuumed and clean again.  I also refitted the carpet around all the new roll bar bases, and also started making better brackets to fit the internal spare wheel cover.  This had just been mounted temporarily in Alice, as was the passenger footwell storage box I had made. So both of these were made more permanent and will be fitted once the seats are in so we can ensure clearances are still OK.

While I was working on the revised rear mud flaps, and the rear wheel was off, I found that the bolts holding the new roll bar onto the wheel arches were protruding too far into the wheel arch, and based on scuff marks on the arches, under severe compression the tyres will foul these bolts, and having sharp edges, this could have catastrophic results.  I therefore bought some dome headed holts, and put then in from the outside, meaning there is now very little protrusion into the wheel arch, and even if the tyre does contact them, it will be a smooth rounded surface.

Front mud flap as before
I then moved on to the front mud flaps - Again, the current ones were too narrow, in this case the wheel extended outside the edge of the flap by quite a long way, meaning sand and stones were being thrown up along the side of the car.  I therefore again made up extensions to the existing
Revised fron mud flap
flaps, bringing them out far enough to cover the whole tyre, and also raising them up the side of the wheel arch some 8 inches in order to provide added protection.  Ashton prefers to use the larger "rally style" alloy brackets which are stronger, so I ordered these, and once they arrived I set to work fitting them.  Needless to say, it wasn't straightforward because just at the place where I want to drill bolt holes in the guard for mounting the brackets, there is an inner guard, which makes it hard to fit everything !  Not impossible, just a lot more time consuming than it should be.

New roll bar fouls aux tank
The auxilliary fuel tank had been removed a couple of weeks ago in order to enable welding in the upper part of the boot area.  Before I removed the main tank this week, I tried to fit the auxilliary tank - Guess what, with the new rear roll bar braces down the sides of the boot, you can't get
Bar is going to have to be repositioned
the auxilliary tank in - Its too wide !   So I had to remove one of the rear brace bars - It was a good job we had made them removable !  And it came out remarkably easily, which is good to know in case we need to remove them when on the road. I spoke with Peter and Brett who had built the roll bar, and they reckon it will be an easy fix to just amend the bar slightly to enable access to the filler nozzle.  But of course, another delay as they want the car so they can take measurements, and at the moment the car isn't mobile !

Local magpie pinches my seat
The local magpies have now found me in the garage !  Normally they come to the back of the house to be fed in the evenings, but they have now worked out that they can find me in the garage during the day !  Bit much when they even pinch my work stool !

Last weekend there was an Open Day up at JH Restoration, and Gidget was supposed to be on display showing the new roll bar that has been made.  Unfortunately, due to the delays to fitting the new seat, and also the delay to getting the rear dust holes welded
Water proofing doors
up (and the fuel tanks being out), I couldn't get the car up there.  But tile was well spent looking at other cars that attended, and paying particular attention to various methods people have used to try to limit the ingress of water through the door A pillars when it is raining.  I will be trying to install some of these on to Gidget.

New grill mounting brackets
Back at the house, I removed the front grill to work on designing the shroud to help get heat into the engine on cold days, and found that the small mounting clips for the bolts had all come loose.  These had been fitted using pop rivets and they were working loose, so I drilled all the pop rivets out and used small bolts and nylocs to fasten them in place. Hopefully this will ensure they stay tight.  In addition, I replaced the bolts that pass through the grill with longer bolts so that we have sufficient length to enable us to fit the shroud over the top of the mesh.  Lots of small hiccups along the way, and numerous trips down to the local bolt shop to get the ones I needed, but eventually all done.

Original fuel pump location
I then moved onto the fuel pumps in the boot.  The twin pumps are mounted low down on the LH
side inner wheel arch, in the boot.  They are mounted on a plate that, if required, can be quickly removed just with two bolts, but as with so many things on Gidget, later (unexpected) changes and additions have shown up issues.  In this case, once the rear lights were fitted, and now the rear roll bar stay, the pump brackets are almost impossible to reach, while additionally we found that due to the dust coming in, the pumps were too low down, and were
Revised fuel pump location
exposed to everything.  So we decided to just move them up a little higher on the inner wheel arch.  This required fabricating a support bracket to fit behind the mounding plate to make it all a little stronger, and of course this had to be separately held in place so it didn't drop down when the pumps are removed.  To access the back of the inner wheel arch I had to remove the entire rear mud flap, held in place by multiple bolts whose nuts are now hidden down inside the boot - This wasn't supposed to be removed again !  Even with the inner rubber guards removed, it was still very tight getting arms and fingers in behind the outer guard so I could drill holes and fit nuts and bolts to keep everything in place.  And of course I can't really put it all together again because one fuel pump is going away for repair, and when I get the new unit, I will have to take all the mounting brackets off again in order to fit it !!
Fuel pumps removed

Additionally, all the wiring to the pumps, and their earth wires, were all made to suit the original location of the pumps, so by moving the pumps up, I had to lengthen and relocate all the wiring. And of course all the fuel pipes from the fuel tank, around the pumps and then on to the engine, also needed to be changed, because several of them were either too long or too short.  So once again, a simple job took a lot longer than expected.

The reason #2 pump has been removed is that on 3 or 4 occasions it has cut out when in use.  With 2 pumps it was no drama to quickly switch to #1 pump, but we can't be setting off to China and Mongolia with a big question mark over the reliability of the back up pump !   So we have arranged with the UK supplier, AH Spares, to replace the pump with a new one, and I will be taking the faulty pump to the UK when I travel there in 2 weeks for the P2P navigational briefing.  I will then hand carry it back and mount it.  In the meantime, I can't run the engine because with one fuel pump removed, I have disconnected fuel hoses, and need some blanks to seal the hoses - They have been order and should be here shortly !

New driver's seat installed
The bases for the new driver's seat were finally welded up, and after a few trial fittings (requiring adjustments) I got the seat fitted. in place.  Given it is a 40 km round trip each time I get some revision done to the seat, and we had 4 adjustments, it can be seen once again how the apparently simple tasks can turn into major chores that drag out for several days.  But once the seat was right, and it was fitted, it is great.  Not only is the seat back adjustable for rake, but the seat also tilts forwards so things behind the seat cn be reached more easily.  Additionally, the bolts through the floor will be welded up from below, so that removing the seats will be a 30 second job, instead of having to remove the skid plate underneath to access the bolts !  I think this will be a major improvement not only to our comfort, but also to the driving position.  The head rest does slightly foul the new roll bar if it is set right back, but if necessary we can add foam to the roll bar so that it will double as the head rest, and we won't need to mess with the head rests at all.

New master switch location
As usual, the fitting of the seats cause unexpected issues.  We had fitted a master battery cut out switch in the rear wall near the battery, but as the new seats are wider, they foul the switch, so it had to be moved.  Unfortunately the swithc had been fitted long ago, and sicne fitting it we had built and mounted a steel battery box - And the master switch could no longer be removed unless the battery box was removed - And I was not about to do that ! Definitely not a one man job.   So I had to cut out the old switch, then buy a new one and fit it in a new location - Although of course this meant that the main cables wouldn't fit, because they had all be made to suit the original switch position !  Eventually after considerable trial and error I found a location where the switch didn't foul the seat, could still be reached by the driver, and also didn't require new main cables.  And once that was installed, I had to make up a bracket to cover the hole where the original switch had been located so dust and water didn't flow into the cabin !

Working on the exhaust cover
Then it was back to body work repairs.  You will remember that we had a slight altercation with a large rock when in Alice Springs, and the damage to the exhaust guard was not just on the outside - A couple of the welds holding the mesh grill in place had been snapped and the grill was now bent and rattling on the muffler itself.  So once the mesh was welded back in place, and the main dents in the panel were straightened from the inside, it was back to work with the bog to get rid a lot of the blemishes on the paintwork.  We will repaint items body colour last think before we ship the car, and once we are reasonably certain we are sure we are not going to be changing or repairing anything else.

The new "rally" brackets then arrived in the mail, and I set to work
New rally mud flap brackets
getting these mounted in place.  Once all the holes were drilled and I was sure everything fitted, I painted all the brackets satin black to match everything else on the car - The shiny alloy silver looked a bit "blingy" and out of place !

Finished front flaps with black brackets
Basically this has been a VERY frustrating 2 weeks.  I have completed a lot of the things we needed to be done, but they all took just so much longer than expected due to associated changes that were subsequently required.  But we are making progress, and as soon as we finish the welding and seats, we will be getting close.

More pics are here : https://photos.app.goo.gl/so1Q7YR9GvkKYGwr9

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