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

Sunday, 2 December 2018

0074 Fitting the new parts - Still !

Getting home and getting to work again !
3rd December 2018

181 DAYS TO GO !   
(But only 104 for the car !!  😟 )

Its a long way from London !

I came home from the UK on the new(ish) non stop London to Perth flight - That is a L-O-N-G 16 hours of sitting on a plane !  Then of course there is the time before the flight, plus the time in Perth airport and another 4 hours to Brisbane, so the total is a good 24 hours or more.  I just switch off, so don't mind it, and this time watched lots of movies, so time went quite quickly.  And I needed to relax because on my arrival back home I knew it was going to be straight back to work in the garage !  No time for jet lag !

Kakadu tent
Tent size vs swag
First job was a trip to Anaconda to check out swags and tents, as well as
clothing.  The idea of using swags was a good one, but once I had a chance to see them first hand, I knew it would never work - They are just way too big and heavy, and there is nowhere to store them.  And even with the current sale on, they were still almost $150 each.  Chatting to the salesmen (who know where we are off to !) and they steered me towards the little Kakadu hiking tent, which is not only cheaper, but also much much smaller and lighter than the swag.   I took one home to see if it fitted inside the roll bar - And it did.   We have decided to get two just to provide a bit more space and privacy when we are packed tightly in a car all day, so once I have done a trial pitch in the garden, it looks like we have a plan.

Sleeping mat
Inflated pillow
While in Anaconda I also checked out sleep mats and pillows.  Self
inflating mats are very comfortable - But also quite bulky and can be expensive if you get a good one.  (I used one on my Alaska trip in the Lotus).  I ended up getting a cheap closed cell foam mat for just $9 as these are SO light.  Comfort ?   Well, closed cell mats are good for isolating you from cold ground, but aren't the most comfortable, I know.  But we only have 7 nights camping, and of
these 7, only 5 mights are consecutive, so I think I can handle anything for just 5 nights.   Additionally, we can be happy giving away both the tents and the mats to the Kazakhs after our last night of using them.   While the light inflatable pillows look really good and might be good for extra padding in the car during the days ?

Applying paint protection
After picking up some paint protection film from SuperCheap, it was home to apply it.  In Alice we found that the roof and other items touching the body work soon scuffed the paint work, and even though Gidget's paint work is far from pristine, it is nice to keep her looking reasonably good !  Since we plan to store both the tents etc and the soft top roof around and inside the roll bar, I wanted to apply a thin layer of paint protection to this area.   Eventually got is all on and most of the bubbles out, and this will help a lot.  I have also applied it to the top of the doors and the endge of the bonnet to prevent damage to these.

Rear window in place
The plan was to but some acrylic / perspex sheet in order to make a rear window which would fasten to the roll bar and keep some of the dust / wind / insect out of the car when we travel with the roof down - Which will hopefully be most of the time.   Talking to a neighbour who is currently renovating his house, I spotted a large piece of perspex from his swimming pool fence in the rubbish skip and after telling him what it was for, he was happy to
Rear quarter-light
give it to me for nothing.  It was quite large so first thing was to cut it down to some more manageable sized pieces using my jig saw.   My first version rested on the outside of the roll bar  for additional support, but I then found that this wouldn't let the roof fit properly, so version 2 was slightly smaller and fitted "inside" the rear bars of the roll bar - And the roof fitted over the top perfectly, so once this rear windscreen is in place, it doesn't have to be removed.

Obviously there is some flex of the perspex, so to prevent rubbing / rattling, I bought some rubber edge trim from my friends at Clark Rubber, and this sealed the rear window in place perfectly.  To fasten it in place I
Heating perspex in kitchen
decided velcro straps would be the best option - Realtively strong, and yet quick and easy to remove if necessary.   Careful drilling and filing of holes provided a way of attaching the velcro.  It should be said that cutting or drilling of the perspex requires patience and some care because it is very easy to crack the perspex if you go too fast.  Nothing worse than cracking the perspex with the last cut of the project !

All fitted
Once the main central window was in place, there was an obvious gap on each side where cold air (or dust) would enter and blow over our shoulders.  I know from my Alaska trip when repeated 12 hour days are spent in the car, even a slight cold breeze blowing over your should can quickly make it a very uncomfortable day in the saddle, so I set about
fabricating rear "quarter lights" to fit in these gaps.  These required some careful bending of the perspex, so once the basic shape was cut out, it was off to the kitchen where, with the slow application of heat over the flames of the cooker, I was eventually able to create the shape I needed.  Repeated trips to the garage carrying hot pieces of perspex ensured everything worked, and soon i have my corner windows finished.  Once again I trimed them with rubber edging, and drilled slots in them so I could fasten them with velcro straps.  I can't wait to try them - I think they are going to make the car a great deal more usable on this extreme venture half way round the world !

Water pump vs blanking plate
Meanwhile Andrew had fabricated the water pump replacement plate while I was in UK, and it fitted perfectly.  This plate allows the water hose to be fitted, but no water pump or fan - All of course being replaced with electric units.   Once painted up in the
Plate fitted on engine
correct Austin Healey engine green, the plate was fitted along with a new gasket and some light sealant, and tightened in place.  Now I just need to get the radiator and electric fan back once the bracket is made.

Fuel pumps ready for mounting
Next it was time to mount up the new SU fuel pump I had hand carried back from the UK.  This required me to remove the main backing plate which was now mounted higher up on the inside of the rear wheel arch, and I was greatful for all the difficult hours I had put in making this plate up and fabricating a backing plate that is held in place separately - It made removal much easier than previously.   We replaced our No 2 fuel pump because on 3 or 4 occasions it had cut out, so we decided to fit new rather than try to repair an already faulty unit.   Once mounted up, all the fuel lines were reconnected and marked as tight.
Fuel pumps mounted in boot

The auxilliary fuel tank was then refitted and tightend down - Once again (as usual) not a simple job
unless you have 8 foot long rubber arms, because some of the bolts underneath the car need to be held while the nuts in the boot are tightened !   In hind sight, a few of these bolts should have been welded in place, but now they are in, they are fine.

Spark wire I.D.
Ashton has previously used small coloured zip ties on spark plug leads to provide an easy and quick check on correct plug lead locations, especially in the dark.  So 4 on one, 3 on the next, 2 and 1 were quickly fitted, and I have to admit it really is an excellent and foolproof method - Far better than writing on the cables etc/

Next issue to be addressed was that of the leaking brake fluid reservoir.
New (top) vs old caps
This has had brake fluid seemingly coming out of the breather hole in the top of th cap, with the resultant fluid not only stripping the paint off the reservoir, but also off some of the pristine inside of the car !   It had me preplexed because we had purchased and fitted a brand new reservoir and lid just to make sure it was good.   Chatting to Healey people on line, it appeared that once again "new" does not mean "better", and the breather hole in the original lid is offset, compared to that in the new lid which is central.  Luckily I had kept the original lid from the old reservoir to carry as a spare, and have now fitted this, with the new unit carried as the spare.  Lets hope if solves the problem.

Locking choke cable
Our original choke cable was a "non locking" unit, and required the use of a clothes peg to hold it in position until the engine warmed up.  The clothes peg of course was a regular solution in the old days before locking cables were available, but Ashton decided he would prefer a locking one, so I had picked an MGB one up while in the UK.  This was fitted after fiddling under the dashboard to remove the old one, and the cable fed through into the engine bay.  When fitting it to the yoke at the choke levers on the carbs (a VERY fiddly task, I must say !) I was concerned about the travel available of the cable.  However, on checking with mechanic Steve, he felt that the existing amount of travel was sufficient, and that the existing bracket (also off an MGB) provides didn't need modifying.   Will keep an eye on it.

Changing carb needle

While I was fiddling with the carbs, I double checked all the bolts and nuts for tightness, and alsodecided (once again with Steve's input - I don't claim to be the mechanic !) to change out the needle in the float chamber of the front carby. After a period of non use, it sticks closed and this means fuel pours out of the overflow pipe down onto the ground until the engine fires up - Not a good situation.  So I raided our spares box, got a new needle, and put it in place.  Hopefully this will resolve this issue.

Latches holding spare wheel cover
Prior to Alice Springs, I had fabricated a spare wheel cover where the wheel protrudes into the passenger compartment.  This was needed not only to prevent dust coming through from the boot, but also to spearate the boot (and fuel tanks) from the passenger compartment.  It also provided a firm mounting point for our head sets and electrics of our intercom system.  However in Alice I only had time to fix it in place temporarily - I needed to make it permanent.    However, as I pondered the best options over a number of days, and through ideas around in my head, I discovered to my horror that if the cover was fixed permanently in place it would then mean we couldn't reach either the battery or the storage box I had fitted down under the spare wheel, around the axle !  This was potentially a major problem !

Eventually I realised I had to come up with a system that held the wheel cover securely and firmly in place, and yet would be very quickly removable in order to provide access to the battery underneath.  I finally came up with using a couple of toggle latches that hold the unit in place, but with the flip of a
Strong rubber mounts for jack
finger allow the cover to be totally removed.  Once again it was an issue of just plodding though with the idea and amending it as necessary as I went to make sure it all worked as intended.  My back up option of just using straps to hold the cover in place might still work, but I think this options will be the easiest to live with on the road.  All these compromises that are required in order to turn the restricted space of a Healey into a usable endurance rally car are very frustrating and time consuming, but also very rewarding when they work out.

A similar issue has been the issue of the jack storage.  As you know, we are using a modified
Jack down in pax footwell
Mercedes wind up jack, that while smaller and easier to use than a scissor or bottle jack, does present a storage problem.  Finding a way to tie it down securely in the boot was a problem in Alice Springs - and whatever we tried didn't seem to work very well. Because the boot is full of fuel tanks etc, it is not easy to find a place to bolt in brackets, so I have been playing with this issue in my mind for a while. While fiddling in the passenger conpartment I realised that there was relatively unused space by my left foot - Luckily the left hand footwell is wider than the right hand one due to gear box and engine layout - Which is why some drivers prefer to keep their cars LHD - There is just more foot room around the pedals !  If I could just find a way to fasten the jack securely to the side of the footwell, it would be safely out of the way and yet also very quickly available when we need it - Lets face it we will probably use it every night just to remove the wheels so we can service the car, so it needs to be quickly and easily accessible.  Anyway, after several days of thinking about the issue, and exploring Bunnings and other stores looking for ideas, I suddenly realised I had two rubber mounts already on my shelf that are intended for securing a shovel or similar to the roof of a 4WD.  They are strong, secure, and the same diameter as the jack !!    So next time I have the LH side of the car facing outwards, I will remove the front wheel and mount these brackets through the inner guards. Compared to the photo, it will be mounted further forwards and up on that ledge, so it will be totally ouf of my way once fitted.

I should explain here that the Healey has to be parked fairly close to one side of my garage so that my wife's car can also be parked in there, and also there is still access room for other things.  Turning the Healey around, especially at the moment when the car is not running, is not easy, as trailers need to be moved, and with the downward slope of my driveway, pushing the car around is not something I can do on my own.  As a result I tend to do all the things I need to do to the outer side of the car first, and then get some friends over to hep me turn the car round so I can do the other side !   At the moment, the car is "right side out", so passenger side things are on hold !

Another chore at present is finding a solution to the storage of large fragile gaskets that we plan to carry as spares - Head gasket, rocker cover and sump gaskets, etc.  These need to be kept flat, and also be in a place where they can remain relatively untouched so they are not having to be handled all the time.  My original idea was to fit them between the auxilliary and the main fuel tanks, but now I actually have the gaskets (I picked them up in the UK) I find they are either too wide or too thick to fit in the planned space !   So I have now devised a way to fit a couple of them between the tanks, but the thicker head gasket I am going to mount on the inside of the rear wheel arch inside the boot - I just have to find a way to hold it in place securely !   Work in progress !

Unfortunately I have not yet refitted the radiator as my mechanic's wife has been in hospital this week and he hasn't finished the bracket.  I am off to chase it today because that is now all that is stopping me being mobile.   All the rest of this stuff (mounting the jack, working on boot storage, refitting the undertray, spare parts etc) can be done over the next few weeks as time permits because the car can be used without them - We just need to get the car running again right now.

Rest of the pics are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/p8g9UTnQdcYF48BXA


  1. Next Paris trip take an A70 ute or get Mr Varley to make you a Healey ute .

  2. Pah !! Anyone could do P2P in a Ute, Wayne. Doing it in a proper Healey is much more of a challenge, especially space wise !
    Anyway, not sure one would do this trip twice ! Its like parachuting out of a plane - The first time is easy. Its the second time when you fully comprehend what you are doing that is much more difficult.

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