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

Sunday, 16 December 2018

0075 We almost get running again !

16th December 2018
More GPS training, and lots of work on Gidget

167 days to go !
(But only 100 till we ship the car !!)

Sample of our Tulip route book
Since our last entry, a LOT has been happening. Last weekend there was no time to post because I was down in Sydney with Ashton - I drove down in my Toyota towing Ashton's empty trailer down because (hopefully) I won't be needing it any more.  There was also another training and information session by ERA (P2P Organisers) that was similar to the UK session, but since there were only about 13 (Aus & Kiwi) teams there (instead of the 100 odd teams in the UK), it was a much more relaxed and easier to get the information we needed.  For once I was able to navigate and work with the Garmin, while Ashton drove in his Mini, so I was able to re-inforce all the things I had learned in the UK, and ended up the weekend much more confident in handling the Waypoints and other intricacies of the Garmin.

Garmin screenshowing direction to go
Just to give you a quick run down on this Garmin, it is not like a normal street GPS unit, but is far more detailed, and more targetted at people who go "off piste", whether they be hiking cross country, climbing mountains, sailing across oceans or, in our case, crossing the Gobi desert.  When I opened the Garmin initially, there were no road details included, and when I mentioned this to the ERA personnel, they said "That's correct,
Screen showing direct line to next waypoint
and there are no maps of the tracks in Mongolia either. So we input Waypoints across Mongolia and Kazakhstan, and you have to navigate between the Waypoints."   The problem is that between Waypoint A and Waypoint B there may be a lake, or a swamp, or a mountain, so that in order to get from A to B we have to be able to navigate around any obstacles and still reach B.  And on the compass there is a big red arrow that gives the required compass bearing to reach the next waypoint, so you try to follow that as much as possible, while a straight pink line points directly to the next waypoint.
Once we reach Europe, we will not use the Garmin so much any more, but will follow Tulip Diagrams, as per the attached example.  Hopefully this explains it a little.

Dirty fuel guage
Clean fuel guage
In the last post I showed a pic of our fuel guage that was so full of red dust that it
was almost unreadable.  I found a local instrument shop,  Attila Instruments, run for over 25 years by Attila Szvetko, and he was able to dismantle the gauge, clean it, and after putting it back together, he taped over all the holes so no more dust can get in.   Result, one shiny clean guage installed.

Electric fan & shroud
Fan installed on radiator
While I was in the UK, Andrew had made up the new shroud and mounting plate
for the new electric fan, and I had picked this up as soon as I got back.  As usual, an excellent piece of work that will ensure maximum airflow through the radiator, with no where for any air to escape.  As soon as this was mounted to the radiator, I installed the entire unit back in the car, and in doing so found a few easy modifications that in future will make the radiator much easier to remove and replace.

Quick release grease gun end

With the mechanical water pump and fan now removed, the fan belt only had to drive the alternator so a shorter fan belt was required.  While in the shop buying this, I noticed they had "quick release" grease gun fittings for sale, and anyone who has struggled to pull grease guns off nipples would appreciate this tool.  New, and apparently so popular they are flying off the shelves !   In the meantime, after 3 or 4 efforts, I found the correct length fan belt and could move forward on Gidget.

Original bracket
Next issue was that when I then tried to adjust the alternator using the
Final shape of new bracket
existing bracket, it would not move.  I finally worked out that while the bracket fitted over the "sliding bolt" in the central adjustment position, the arc of the slot cut in the bracket was incorrect and it could not be adjusted.  We had several attempts to modify the existing bracket, but each time it still would not cycle through the full adjustment distance - It turned out that the arc described by the alternator is NOT circular - When you see the final shape of the new bracket we made up, you will understand what I am saying.   Andrew's workshop is some 20 kms away from my house, and I think I made some 8 or 10 trips there over the next couple of days as we struggled to find the correct shape for the bracket.  It did not help that there was insufficient room beween the bracket and the radiator to get a good view of the arc of the alternator, so each trip was a "try and see" fitting, until we finally got it right !   We will be making up the original bracket into a spare just in case we have a problem on route.

Cargo net for boot
Meanwhile I purchased some more engine coolant in readiness for running the engine again, while a visit to Bunnings turned up the re-inforced fine-mesh cargo net we need to restrain cargo in the boot.  It will need trimming once we get all the tie down points finalized, but it is perfect.  When we were in Alice Springs the tie down methods we used for the boot just didn't work at all, so I have spent considerable time working out alternative options that WILL work.   This has involved making tie down points on the two rear
Tie down bar in boot
roll bar support bars, fixing two tie down points on the floor at the rear of the boot, and also working out how to make tie down points at the back of the boot, along the boot shut face.  I eventually inserted a small round bar between the rear chassis extensions, and with the centre of the bar fitted behind the central brace in the boot, we can put straps around this bar and pull them down as tight as we want.  Obviously we will need to test all this out, but I think we are heading in the right direction.

Just before I headed off to Sydney, I discovered that the main registration document had two major errors on it that, if we did not get them fixed, would prevent us not only importing the car into China, but also from crossing any borders !  Both the Chassis Number and the Engine Number had errors in them, and we had to get them changed ASAP.  So I took photos of all the plates and numbers on the car, and took them with me to Sydney, where we paid a visit to the Motor Registration Branch, and they are hopefully going to look into this and correct their typing mistakes almost immediately.  Thanks goodness we found these mistakes now !!

Ashton gets to go in a Healey !
Over night during the training course held up at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, we stayed with a friend of Ashton's, Geoff Wheeler and his wife Bronwyn.  They live in a delightful spot up in the hills, and more importantly, he is a great Austin Healey man - In fact Gidget was originally purchased through him.  Of immediate interest was his personal 100M replica in which he kindly took us both for a drive.  Since it was the same green that Gidget originally came in, and had many similar design features, it was a real throwback to 2 years ago when we first started work on Gidget.  Very interesting, and there were a few things I took photos of that I might adapt into Gidget !

Camping on the way home
After completing the orientation course at Katoomba on Sunday afternoon, I headed straight back home, camping overnight by a river in Bulahdela in my Troopie - A perfect way to travel !

When I got home, all the parts I needed to rebuild the headlights had arrived from the UK, and I got straight onto this.  Previously the headlights were a mish-mash of parts, with I think 3 different types of headlight cobbled together to make them work - No wonder I had been having problems making them fit together properly !  Now, with all the correct parts from just a single model
Protective film on lights
of headlight, they went back together relatively easily - For a change !  Prior to fitting the headlights glass, I re fitted some protective film over the glass of both the headlights and the spot lights.  I had done this prior to Alice Springs last August, but had
Fitting headlights
not done a very good job of it, and they had started peeling off and looking pretty sad.  This time I used my wife's hair dryer to properly shape the plastic film, and it went on much better, and will hopefully now stay in place.  So the headlights are now all back together, and can be fully adjusted as required.

It was then on to the engine mount tie downs that Ashton and I have been discussing for some time, searching for the most efficient and effective way of preventing excessive engine movement.  The Healey engine is a heavy lump at over 600 lbs and the engine mounts rest on a steel bracket. 
Engine tie downs
However there is nothing to prevent the engine moving upwards in an extreme situation, and if it did this, it is likely that it would not come "back down" in the right position !!   So we have been trying to work out an effective way to tie the engine down on to its mounts, thus preventing upward movement.  We have
Tie downs fitted
considered straps and chains etc, but finally decided on a wire cable similar to those used around decking, with an eye crimped in each end, and a bolt passing through this eye, and well as through the fixed chassis part of the engine mount.  After measuring them up carefully, I had our local bolt shop make up one cable, using 3 mm cable.  This has a breaking strain of over 800 kg, and apparently the properly crimped ends can take even more, so they should be strong enough.   The first cable worked perfectly, and I made up a small bracket just to ensure the cable was kept in place behind the centralized bolt.  With an identical cable made up, it was a much longer job to fit the LH side cable because the carburettors, the manifold, and all the heatshielding were in the way !  It also turned out that the LH engine mount is a slightly different design than the RH one so (as usual) I had to make a few modifications to get it to work.  But in the end, all was done, and it was good to finally get this task completed as we have been discussing how best to do it for a long time.

Our SPOT trace arrives
This week our SPOT Trace arrived.  This tracking device can be used on a car to track it if stolen, or it can be used to keep track of people or boats or cars wherever they are in the world.  They are a required part of our equipment for the P2P, not only so we can be tracked if we get lost in the desert, but also so that people at home (ie you !!) can log on and see where we are each day.  We will provide everyone with the log in details nearer the time once we have them.  (In 2013 there was apparently a major sandstorm in the Gobi, and a couple of cars did get totally disorientated and lost for a couple of days !  So these SPOT units can be lifesavers !)

Water temp probe needed a clean
While refitting the radiator hoses and connections, I cleaned up the water temp probe that was looking a little "green" - Whether this affects the temperature readout remains to be seen !  It was then time to tackle another problem that I have been pondering for a while.  We are carrying a full set of gaskets, and 2 or 3 of these are both quite large and quite fragile.  My original intention had always been to slide them into the small flat space between the main and the auxilliary fuel tanks, but when I bought the gaskets back from the UK last month, I round they were either too thick or to large to all fit in that space, so I had been toying with a few other places.  Hopefully we will not need these gaskets, so they need to go some
Making an alloy folder for gaskets
Completed "folder"
where where they are protected, and will not need to be moved or handled every day.   I had found one place up on the inside of the right rear boot wall where I though they could be fitted and left, and to protect them I
bought a sheet of thin alloy and made up a protective "folder" .  I then sealed this folder with gaffer tape, and just at that moment I saw one of the new seats lying on its side - There was
Gasket folder under seat
several inches of space between the bottom of the seat and the floor !!   Maybe the folder would fit there ? Ideal as it is out of the way and would not need to be moved, and is pretty well waterproof as it in the sealed alloy "folder", and the gaskets are then in a plastic bag inside. So it is now stuck in there with double sided tape and we will see how it goes.  Under the seat may also be good for paperwork in sealable water proof folders because it is out of the way, yet quickly reachable by tilting the seat forward when required.

Brake line pinchers
I have some small brake-line pinchers that I have had for years - Light and small so may be worth taking -
Sewing trim clips in
Will add them to the pile for final approval !  On the seats, some of the plastic trim retaining strip clips were broken when we got them, so I had recovered what I could, cut off the damaged pieces, and then redrilled lots of tiny holes along the length of the strip so I could then sew them into place on the trim.   After a few "needles in finger" moments, this was eventually completed and the bottom of the seat trim is now
Both seats in the car
held firmly in place.   So once the new seat rails were all painted and dry, I was finally able to install both seats in the car - First time both of the new seats have been in there, and although they certainly fill the space available more than the previous seats, I think they will be a great deal more comfortable for our long
Adjusting storage box
expedition.   With the pax seat in, I checked it for comfort, and found that the small storage box I had fitted down on the transmission tunnel intruded a little too much into my legs which are now slightly further over to the right.  So I pulled back the trim and cut 4 cms out of the box, pop rivetted it back together, reattached the trim, and put it back in.  Perfect.  And while I was at it, I made places to attach the 2 other pencil holders so that is all now done.

Bracket for water pump
Then it was on to the water pump installation, in the very tight space available.  Having found some rubber hose that suited, and trial fitted the pump, I made up a small metal bracket to help support the weight of the pump, so it is not hanging only on the rubber hoses. I can attach this bracket to the water inlet mount bolts, and then hose clamp it to the hose before having 3 self tappers on to the back of the water pump body itself - This should support the whole structure.  I soon realised the radiator overflow catch tank was going to have to go - Going to need to find a new spot for this - It is getting VERY tight under the bonnet now !!

Trial and error soon got the bracket finished and painted, and with the help of some dish washing
Fitting everything up
liquid all the hoses were in and tightened in place.  The pump itself is pretty stable, with just enough flexibility to cushion any shocks.  However the end of the exhaust manifold is only about 5 cms away from the pump, and heat may be an issue, so I made up some heat shield to suit and joined it to the existing carb heat shielding.  This should protect the pump OK, but we will install one of our temp probes down there so we can make sure the pump isn't going to melt !   Now everything just needs to be wired up, so I have bought the switches and relays and Steve will be over during the week to wire it up so we can then be mobile once again.
Heat shield to protect pump

My last issue for this week was to start going through all the spare
Working on spares bags
parts bags again, taking out stuff we won't need, and adding some of the items we have collected recently.  This will be an ongoing project until the day before the car is shipped and Ashton is going to come up for a weekend soon so we caan do a more final cut back and a trial pack of the car.    Hopefully my next entry will be about some more on road testing of the car !

In the meantime, from both of us intrepid Adventurers, a very Happy Christmas and New Year to all.  2019 is going to be a very exciting year for us !!!  Thanks for sharing the rebuild with us, and we hope you will stay with us for the "Main Event" !!

Rest of the photos can be found here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/hvFMwUZ3vnuA27FG8

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