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

Friday, 11 January 2019

0077 Lots of small things get done

Saturday 12th January 2019
Now it is THIS YEAR !!!

140 days to go !

Number 77 at last !
As has often been said, the last 10% of items needing to be done seem to take 90% of the total allotted time !   And that is CERTAINLY true with Gidget.  She was running, and running well, in August, but here we are 5 months later still with a very long list of things that need doing !  And the 2 week Christmas / New Year shut down didn't help either !!    One very big item on my list has been to get some photos of Gidget updated to show her in her P2P finery, and to update the photo at the beginning of this blog to show the difference between 2 years ago and now.  And Zed Elliott, our technically superior Lotus friend down in Sydney came to our help yet again, and you can see his excellent work at the head of this post.  I have learned how to do a lot of things mechanical in the last 2 years, but the skills of PhotoShop leave me totally perplexed !
BTW, yes I do have the official P2P door roundels for the car, but I am holding off fitting them at the moment as I don't want them to get damaged because they didn't give us a spare !!

Washer water bag in footwell
With workshops etc taking a Christmas break, this last 2 weeks his given me the chance to potter in my garage with no need to run around researching or buying bits and pieces. (I seem to spend 3-4 hours a day just driving from one end of the Gold Coast to the other, visiting various suppliers !) My first job was to get the windscreen washer kit that Ashton had found fitted and working.  My original idea of fitting the water bag down in the engine compartment wasn't really suitable because I would have had to cut more holes in the firewall to allow tubing and wires to pass through.  In the end I found a space down near the driver's right knee, but high enough up on the side that it isn't in the way.  Once
Washer jets fitted
a found a way to hang the bag (drilling upside down in a small footwell is always fun !!), I measured
up the locations for the water jets (making sure they didn't squirt directly into the wiper arms !) and drilled though.  Once these were fitted, I was able to fit up the correct lengths for the tubing and fit it all together.  I did a quick check that it all worked by just holding the wires on a spare battery, and hey presto - All good.  So I then wired the little pump in to the buss bar, fitted the small switch under the dash where we can both reach it, and job done !  I set of washers !   Not sure how good the wipers are, but the washers work OK !

Our route !
In the evenings I have been entering all the now confirmed details of our overnight stops into my phone, and trying to guesstimate the route between each one.  Of course, we will not know the final route until we are given our route books after we arrive in China in June, but I spent many hours poring over the dirt trails on my maps, imagining where we will be going.  I think this is one of my favourite parts of these kinds of adventures - seeing on the maps where you will go, becoming more and more familiar with the places we will visit, and then eventually, when we are on the road, finally finding out what these now "familiar" places look like.  As an example, when the news last week was full of the sad story of the gas explosion in Magnitogorsk that destroyed a building, I just thought "Hey, I know that place - We overnight there on 20th June !!"  Hope our building is OK !!"
It is so exciting to finally see a place after you have studied it for so long !

Crack in muffler
I had taken the muffler cover off to do some work on it and noticed a crack in the front of the muffler.  No exhaust gas seems to be blowing out of it, so hopefully it is just a surface crack in an outer layer, but I will get it welded up just in case.  At least the exhaust is easy to get to on our car !

Cracks in front shroud
And talking of cracks, I noticed some that seem to be appearing in the corners of our front shroud.  This is a single piece of alloy, but is actually 4 pieces that were welded together in the factory and when we were down to bare metal some months back, the original stress cracks were very evident and quite large.  We welded these up, and in the 2 rear corners even added a small corner brace that also supports our bonnet pins, but it seems these stresses at the points are quite high and the 65 year old aluminium is just weak at these points.  Rather than trying any additional welding which may weaken the area further, we have drilled a small hole at the end of the crack and hopefully this will stop them spreading further.  And just in case, we will carry some thin alloy sheet so we can pop rivet or bolt a piece in place if we need to during the event.  Fingers crossed !

Idea to insert tube through foam filter
Gidget does not like to start too quickly on a cold morning, but a quick squirt of the ethanol based elixir Start ya Bas**rd" (SYB) into the carb has her fired up first time, greatly reduce the strain on the starter motor and the battery.  But to do this we have to remove the foam air filter that covers the carbs, and although it is not difficult, it is a nuisance because space is so tight in there, and it will be easy to damage the foam cover if we are doing it every day.  My idea was to insert a small plastic tube (left over from the windscreen washers !!) through the foam and silicone it in place, allowing the SYB to be squirted through the foam instead of removing it each time.  I checked with the manufacturer and he said that was fine, and I also found out that one of the grease nipple covers I have would neatly seal
Eventual fitting for SYB
the end of the tube preventing dirt getting in when driving.   However a couple of days later, just before I inserted the tube, I was down at Andrew's doing some welding and it was suggested to just insert a tube in through the alloy backing plate of the filter, so I didn't have to try and cut holes in the foam.  What a good idea !!  Later on I was at my 4WD place booking Troopie in for a service and they suggested a motocycle shop who carried angled and threaded throttle cable guides that would be suitable.  So I went straight down to Hinterland Motorcycles and sure enough they had 2 x 90 deg elbows on the shelf !  Perfect.  So I fitted one to the backing plate and will try it out next time I have trouble starting.

The other 90 deg guide I needed for our accelerator cable.  The current set up sits too high, and the cable rubs on the inside of the bonnet, which is already starting to rub away the outer sheath.  With a smaller 90 degree elbow in there, it will eliminate this problem.  And while dealing with cables, I also made up a support bracket for the new choke cable that was flapping about a bit, and also, while we had the current cable out of the car,  got an identical spare accelerator cable made up for us to take on the P2P.

Elise shower cap dwarfs our car
With the fact that Healey soft tops are far from waterproof, I have been pondering the optimal solution for some time.  You might remember that way back early last year I had spotted a Healey with a waterproof shower cap that had been bought from the UK, but when we checked with the supplier they were ridiculously expensive.  So last week I borrowed a friend's Lotus Elise shower cap to see if I could get one copied here, but every upholstery / boat trimmer type place I went to said they had never seen anything like that material before. I knew I could buy a ground sheet from a camping store and cut it up and have someone stitch it to the shape we needed, but that was starting to get to a ridiculous $ figure too, as well as being time consuming taking the car back and forward for fittings.
Fitted shower cape on way from UK
  Exploring the internet (yet again !) I found a specific Healey shower cape in the UK for a very reasonable price - The only unreasonable part was that they wanted more money than the item cost just to ship it to Aus !!   So I had it sent to my sister's address in England free of charge, and she was able to mail it for £15 - Much better !!  Should be here next week, and this will enable us to quickly fit this coverwith or without the soft top raised, whether it is just to keep sticky fingers out of the cockpit if we park the car, or to keep water out at night if it rains.  Nothing worse than starting off a new day with a wet bottom !

Canvas waterproof seat covers
Talking of rain and dust, while our "new" MGF seats are super comfortable, they also will soak up water and are kind of hard to clean.  So I found some cheap canvas seat seat covers down at Supercheap which are not only water proof, but can also be easily removed and machine washed if necessary.  I trial fitted them on the pax seat, but found that because you have to slide down into these seats in the Healey due to lack of room, the seat cover tended to get pulled down into the car - Not a good situation to have to deal with every time you get in.   But since we are not using the headrests, there are the two holes at the top of the seat back where the rests would fit, and I took the covers down to my local tent maker and had him fit two strong eyelets in the canvas so I could pin the cover up on the
Bolts holding seat covers in place
top of the seat.  Two large bolts can then slide into the headrest slots holding the seat cover in place - Sorted !   Additionally, the bolts are held firmly in place by the twist locks that normally hold the head rest in place, plus it means that 4 spare suspension bolts do not need to be stored any where else but, in true Colin Chapman fashion, can be carried while holding the covers in place !

Heated seat insert !
We have no heating in Gidget, so when I spotted some heated seat cushions recently, I purchased a couple.  These plug into a cigar lighter (i think we are going to need more outlets !!) and maybe will keep our rears warm on a frosty morning !  And again doing a second job, maybe they will help dry out our seat covers if they get wet, as they will be fitted underneath the canvas seat covers.  (Can you believe Autobarn holds these seat warmers in stock - In Queensland !!!)

Bucket squished down
Bucker ready for use
In addition to our spade, we also intend to carry a bucket - No, we
are not going to the beach !  Our bucket is for washing the car, or doing an oil change, or whatever, and since I already have a similar one in Troopie, I knew where to find a collapsible bucket - In the camping store !   When collapsed, this fits neatly inside the spare wheel hub, but when opened up forms a full size bucket. And in a half collapsed form can fit underneath the sump for an oil change !

Andrew's new workshop
Preparing to weld up holes
Next job was an important one - Welding up the dust holes we had found in the boot.  This has tken a while to get to because Andrew our welder was in-between workshops, and because Gidget has been non-running for the last three months while we had fuel tanks, fuel pumps, and radiators out, we were unable
Welding up the holes
to drive to his workshop !  But with Gidget now mobile again, we went down and spent a morning with Andrew, not only welding up the holes in the boot, but also welding the set mount bolts in place from underneath.  (Previously the seat could not be removed without taking off all the undertrays to access the nuts underneath - Now the nuts are inside, and no undertrays need to be removed, and removing the seats is a 5 minute job.)  His new workshop was previously an Op Shop, so until he gets his sign replaced it looks a bit odd !!  All holes and seat belt bolts now welded in place.

Headset bracket Mk 1
Back at home, I was looking for a place to fit / store our bulky intercom headsets when we are not
using them.  The roll bar was the obvious place, so I made up some alloy clips, painted them to match the roll bar, and velcroed them in place.  The headets are prevented from swinging around by a velcro strip just tying them back onto the roll bar.  After that
Headset brackets Mk 2
it was time to work out how to fit a horn button on the steering wheel for Ashton - Who feels that in the thrust and parry of driving in Mongolian traffic, he wants the horn button closer to his fingers than the current loctation in the middle of the dashboard !  I found
New horn button on wheel
a great push button at Ashdown Ingram that fits perfectly into one of the trendy "go faster" holes in the steering wheel spokes, and is then perfectly placed under the driver's thunb when the hands are at the ideal "10 to 2" position.  The wiring enables the steering while to turn from lock to lock, and the original (dashboard) horn button is still active for me to use if Ashton is busy steering !

Cutting out deflector

1st fitting of Mk 1 deflector
Next job was to try to design and make some kind of wind deflector to fit
on the corners of the windscreen to try to deflect some of the wind and rain away from our when we are driving top down.  You can buy these that bolt or clamp to the side pillars, but they are expensive, and seeing I now have this large acrylic sheet that I acquired from my neighbour, I thought I would have a go myself.   I made up a template in cardboard, and once I had
Upper mounting bracket detail
roughly the shape I needed, I marked it out onto the acrylic sheet and used my jog saw to cut it out.  Once cut out, I slowly heated over a gas ring on the kitchen stove until it was soft enough to bend, and gently worked it into the shap I needed - Curved top to bottom to match the shape of the windscreen pillar, and then cureved outwards front to back to force the wind away from the cabin of the car.  There is a strong pin permanently located at the
Mk 2 deflector in place
top of the pillar that is normally used to fasten the front of the soft top roof, so I made an "L" shaped cut out in a sheet of alloy about 4 cm square, so that it could slide over this pin and then drop down to lock it in place.  On the lower end of the windscreen pillar is a knurled nut that was originally used to enable the windscreen to be raised and lowered, but since it will no longer be adjusted, I can use it as the lower point to attach the acrylic sheet. Once the upper clip is slid onto the pin and dropped down, the hole in the acrylic sheet then lines up with the bolt for this knurled nut, and once the nut is screwed back on, the defelctor is held tight in position.  I then cut a slot in the acrylic sheet to match this alloy plate, and let it in to the sheet, then fitting a reinforcing plate to hold it in position.  I feel this will be stronger than just cutting the L slot directly into the acrylic sheet.   Once we make sure this deflector works, I will also glue the alloy plate in place for additional strength.

My first effort worked well, and was good and rigid, but I realise there was too much of a gap at the bottom allowing air through, so I decided to make a longer "Mark II" version, while still leaving room for the door to open fully.  It was much harder to get the "double curve" into this piece, maybe because of the extra length, but eventually I got it pretty much the way I wanted.  I then fitted it to the car and will leave it on for a few days to see if it is OK before spending time heating, bending, and shaping the piece for the driver's door.  Pretty pleased with my efforts and hopefully it will work to keep a lot of the buffeting wind out of the cabin, which can become very tiresome on long runs.

Dsplaced gearbox bracket
I then took the car back to Classic Car Clinic for Steve to give the car a full spanner check while up on the hoist - I had checked most of the upper nuts and bolts, but it is really difficult for an old man like me to crawl around on the floor of my garage when the car is only raised a few inches on the jack.  First issue was that we found that the front gearbox steady bar, which normally bolts between the chassis rail and the front of the gearbox, had stripped its bolts right out of the mount.  Well, one bolt had stripped out, and the other had just come undone.  So the front bolt hole was helicoiled, and with new lock wshers fitted, the bracket was bolted back into place.  This would explain why the diff and gerbox were moving around so much when I looked through the access cover behind the seats !   A couple of the rear spring U clamp nuts also needed tightening up, and this would also have added to the movement of the diff under acceleration.  Other than that, most of the nuts and fittings were tight and in good shpe down there.

One of leaking brake cylinders
Next we started to take the front wheel hubs apart, to check the brakes, to change out the two front
steering bars which had bent slightly when we hit the rock in Alice, and lastly to remove the front wheel bearings.  Plan for the bearings is to fit brand new Timken units now, and to keep the current units, which we know are working fine, as spares.  As soon as we got the drums off, we found that one of the brake cylinders was leaking badly, one slightly, while a 3rd one had a split rubber gaitor.  After all the fun and games we had previously had with the front brakes, this was very disappointing, but we had to fix them, so whipped them off and took them back over to Wayne at Better Brakes to check them out.  He did a prompt job for us and had them ready by  3 pm that day - The leaking unit was badly scored inside the bore, and the two others were slightly scored.  Ironically the one with the damaged gaitor was OK - Apart from the gaitor !  How the dust and sand was getting in there is anyone's guess, because they were new lines, new master cylinder, refurbished slave cylinders and new fluid.  Perplexing.

Lastly on the wheels, Steve pulled the bearings out and I took them off to the local bearing shop to get new - Unfortunately they didn't have them in stock so it will be Monday before we get them. While I was doing that, Steve checked the cylinder head bolts and found they all needed re torquing, which would explain the oil weep that appears to be coming out from around the head.  On close inspection of the engine it seemed that this has been the major source of our slight oil leak, and not the other seals of gaskets.  Hopefully that is the case.  He also reset the tappets, which had all opened up a little, and checked everything else.  We are also trying to source a slightly thicker O ring for the base of the distributor, which also seems to be the source of a slight oil leak.

Seat cover in place
Locating holes in seat cover
Back home, the canvas seat covers were ready for collection from the upholsterer, and fitted superbly, while additionally he had cut down the tarp cover I had purchased last week so that it fitted our small boot.  He also installed extra eyelets in this cover so we can strap it down tight over our stuff in the boot, hopefully making it stay in place on the bumpy roads.

The weekend will be spent exploring shipping options, and checking on the big volume of paperwork that is building up and needs to be addressed so we don't miss any of our oganisational deadlines.
I will leave you with a photo I saw recently about hazards of driving in Kazakhstan.   I think the photo speaks for itself  - When they say they have potholes, they have SERIOUS protholes !!

Rest of the pics are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/pV1exV7mJ4XJvMsU8

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