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

Monday, 28 January 2019

0078 Road testing again at last !

28th January 2019
Driving, despite the hot weather !

125 days to go !!!

Geidget getting a wash
2019 has started off with a heatwave in Australia, with temperatures in many places in the high 40's !  Ironically, southern Queensland has been one of the coolest places in Australia for the last week or two, with temps only in the low 30's.   But unfortunately the penalty is the high humidity, so we continue to perspire !!  And of course when you are driving Gidget, there is no airconditioning button to press, or fan to put on "high" - One just dons a hat and plenty of sundscreen and hits the road !!  And this week has seen me driving 100 km round trips to Yatala to get the roll bar rear stay amended, while I also solved the riddle of the headlights (after 1 1/2 years of trying !!), fitted a new indicator light, received the shower cape from England, and worked on calibrating the tyre pressure sensors and worked in the boot.  Still lots to do, and time marches on.

First of all though, I would like to quote something that Ashton wrote about Gidget, in May 2017, just as we were about to start work on her.  He was emailing someone about doing the P2P, and the he had purchased for the event, and wrote "“Mechanically the car is pretty sound, it is completely rust free, and largely original apart from the paint and upholstery. “    Well, we now know that comment was ever so slightly incorrect !   😄   But at least today we do have a stunning car, regardless of where we started !   It has just been a tiny bit harder and more time consuming than either of us ever imagined !!

Aiming the headlights
Odd bearing parts !
We ended up last week waiting on new wheel bearings, and as soon as these arrived on Monday I took them over to Steve and we fitted them. While the car was there, he also did a front wheel alignment because after the new steering arms were fitted we had about 1 inch toe out !  We also used their headlight aiming jigger because it is a lot easier, quicker, and more accurate than drawing the old + on the garage doors and aiming them at home !!  I drove the 5 kms straight home, but while I was repackaing the old wheel bearings to take with us as spares, I noticed that one of the inner bearings was Timken, while all the other 7 parts were NTN.   I quickly checked with Steve, and although he didn't want to believe it, the evidence was too strong - One of the older bearings had been re-installed by mistake !!   So very early the next morning I went back to the workshop and sure enough, found the mitake, and fixed it.  All done, and no harm.  But these are matched sets so one would not want to run too far with them not right.

Land Rover split headlight rims
While aiming the headlights, mechanic Rob was using his years of experience to try to get the chrome rims fitted on to the headlights, and was not succeeding ! They were just too small for the bases. Our collective thoughts were to cut the bottom of the rim, and tack in a screw so the rim could be enlarged around the locating pins on the base, and then tighten the screw, so pulling the rim in.   Then someone looked at a Series 1 LandRover outside - And they use exactly this system !!  So we were headed in the right direction.  We had a plan.

Roll bar brace around fuel cap
The that afternoon I took the right hand rear roll bar brace up to Peter Janetzki in Yatala to have it adapted to fit around the fuel filler spout on the auxilliary tank.  This tank had been removed when they built the roll bar, and when we went to re-install it, we found it fouled the rear brace.  While there, I discussed the headlight rim issue with Peter and Brett, and they said this is a common issue with the modern copies of the headlights, and the chrome rims often have too small a diameter to allow them to fit over the clips.  Their solution is to first of all cut down the
Trimming rubber seal
dust rubber dust seal that fits between the headlight and the body work as this prevents the rim from clipping in place, and then to carefully grind down the inner lip of the chrome rim until it will fit over the base plate !  So I decided to try this option before cutting the rim, and drove home and set to work.  I cut about 5 mm off the outside of the first rubber seal, and when I
Grinding off the headlight rim
tried to fit the rim, it almost fitted !  I then ground out a little of the inner lip, and after a few trial fittings, it snapped easily into place, and the screw was put in to hold it all in place !   I then did the other headlight the same way, and it did not need as much ground out
Headlight finally fitted
before it clipped into place !   Job solved - After all this time.  I was so chuffed to have finally solved this headlight fitting issue that was initially caused by the car having 3 different (and non compatible)  types of headlight fittings cobbled together when the car had been rebuilt previously !

The new horn button was causing a problem because the wiring has to be
Suzi wire for horn
flexible enough to wind around the steering wheel when turning it.  I did some research and found out that the spiral coiled wire is called Suzi wire, and I found some on line.  This actually arrived the morning after I ordered it, which stunned me, and I soon had it fitted.  It was a great improvement over what we were using before, but I still think it is too thick - We need some 7.5 amp suzi wire coils as they will be more flexible.  We are getting there, but as usual with this car, it takes several goes to get it "just right" !!  And if there is one thing I know about long distance driving, if something is not "just right", and easy to do, then it quickly becomes a source of irritation and frustration - Or worse.  And you don't need any of those on a trip like Peking to Paris !!

Broken rear screen
I then decided to refine the perspex rear screen I had made - It need to be moulded slightly to fit the roll bar better - Would take me 5 minutes, I thought.
I was going well until I tried to bend the perspex before it was quite ready to be bent, and "crack" - The whole corner broke off !  Fortunately I still had enough perspex left to start again, and 2 hours later I had a new rear screen.  And I am not going to try to bend that one to shape !!

Primer on the steering arms
Small hacksaw
I primed and painted the steering arms we had replaced so a) they won't rust, and b) we can take them as spares.  and then measured up a small hack saw I have that would be good to take, and was able to find one in Bunnings - Much smaller and lighter than a full size hacksaw.   I then trial fitted both the tiny chairs we are considering carrying, and the tents, inside the roll bar frame -  They all fit perfectly.  Still not sure where the sleeping mats and bags will fit - But will deal with that later !

Working on the underfloor storage base
I have been cleaning up and repairing the boot storage box floors that we had to remove in order to fit the new seats. (The seat bolts are now welded up from underneath, so these floors never need to be removed again.).  There was so much silicone used to fix these in place and waterproof them that they had been a nightmare to remove, and not only had much of the rubber sealing been torn, but the panels were even bent in places.  Eventually got them to a usable condition and after a number of trial fits and judicious bending, go them to fit and all the screws installed.  I haven't yet re-sealed them with (less) silicone, but will do this shortly - I just wanted to make sure they fitted first !

The original dashboard mounted indicator light was very dim and scratched and difficult to see in the sunlight, so I decided to mount a new and brighter one.  And what a nightmare that turned out to be !!!  The back of the light is almost impossible to reach now all the wiring and gauges are fitted to the dashboard - If we had known the light was so dim and needed replacing when we had the dash out, it would have taken a couple of minutes.  It took me most of the day !!   But it is a little brighter, and after making a small shroud to fit over the light to keep the sun off the lens, it is much more obvious, and we will hopefuly spend less time driving along with the indicator left on by mistake !  (No self cancelling indicators in those days !)

Shower cape fitted
Then the new shower cape arrived from the UK, and I quickly fitted it up to make sure it fitted.  Perfect - Nice to have something for once that goes straight on and fits properly !!  This will be invaluable on rainy nights when we would otherwise start of the day with wet seats, and is also quick to erect when ever we stop either to keep the hot sun out, or to help discourage any "sticky fingers" !  Very pleased with it.

Also worked out some radius' around the front wheel arches
Working out the wheel arches
where we intend to take another cm or so out of the guards. The tryes have left a clear line where we need to cut, and everyone I have spoken to advises that we are far better off getting this sorted now than having to fix it on the road, where the chances of sharp edges cutting into the tyre itself is very real.   We will be addressing this issue next week.

Tyre Dog pressure monitor
Once the car was driving again, I refitted the Tyre Dog tyre pressure and temperatures sensors that we had used in Alice.  However, the pressures and temps seemed really inconsistent between wheels, so after several drives to get valid data, we contacted the supplies in Victoria, who agreed there was a problem.  We have returned the unit to them for recalibration.

Once I had the revised real roll bar brace fitted, and ensure we had plenty
Strapping in the boot
of room around the filler cap to be able to easily undo it. I was able to finally start work in the boot.  I had already fitted the jack to the LH rear
Hammer strapped in
brace where it is held securely, and the other heavy item we have is the wheel hammer.  For this i made up alloy brackets that I modeled after the shape of Land Rover shovel and axe fittings that I had seen in museum in Gaydon in England !!   With the heavy hammer secured, I was then abe to finish off the strap tie down points, and to buy the right straps.  We will have two horizontal straps, and then two diagonal straps across the boot, and this should hold everything down.  Then covering everything will be the net cover that I have had adapted to fit the Healey's boot, and with all this, we hope that all our stuff in the boot will remain in place over the bumps !!!

Roof bar protrudes forwards
Finally this week it was on to two major items - The soft top and the second spare tyre.  The soft top is planned to be strapped behnd the roll cage when not in use, but the long pins which locate the roof are very awkward when the roof is folded, intruding forwards dangerously.  My initial idea was to remove
Safer with bar removed
one of the two bolts that attach the long pin to the roof hinge mechanism, and replace it with a cotter pin and R clip that can be easily removed, and the long pin then hinged backwards out of the way.  However, now I am able to try this, it
Roof cleaned & fitted
seems that the long pin won't swivel far enough out of the way, so I intend oto remove the second bolt and replace that with another cotter pin, so that now the long pin can just be removed completely when the roof is lowered.   This will work well,  I believe.  I then cleaned up the roof itself which has years of dirt and grime on it, and it now looks and fits a lot better.

Spare wheel on boot
We are required to carry a second spare wheel, however the weight of such a spare, and our lack of space in the Healey makes this next to impossible.  By running the tyre sensors, and carry inner tubes, tyre plugs, and cans of tyre inflating goop, we have been gven permission to carry just a second spare tyre, which is a lot lighter.  However we still have to find a way to securely mount
Mounted on the boot rack ?
this.  We tried a boot rack in Alice, but do not believe it is robust enough.  We considered a boot mox with the wheel mounted to the top, but considered that too complicated / expensive. We have come down to just putting steel reinforcing strips across the boot, inside and out, and just bolting tie-down eyes into that so we can strap the tyre to them directly.  We have to leave enough room to open the boot without the spare tyre fouling either the stored soft top or the roll cage, which means the tyre has to be mounted quite low down on the boot, where it then fouls the boot opening handling.  Still trying to work out the best way to get around all this !!  Work in progress !!

Washing down the engine bay
And I then got a can of degreaser and cleaned up all the engine bay, and used a water jet to finally get all the red dust out from the wire wheels and underneath !  Not before time.

Rest of the pics are here:-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/VwQ9ijPxiKiQyq5L6A


  1. I was thinking the other day; have you tried to undo and fasten the rear axle's shocks/dampers? On a 3000 (and I believe the 100 is the same) it is very difficult to get a socket and/or spanner in there to tighten them. Some sockets even wont fit. They easily come loose on rough roads and it is a #$%^!! to tighten them if they do. (Especially roadside.) I found out the hard way because once they did, I didn't have a socket/spanner combination that allowed me to tighten them and then you start wearing out the mounting brackets. I would recommend replacing the hex bolts with inbus bolts because that makes it much easier and an inbus spanner (specifically for those bolts) hardly takes any space or weight...


  2. Maarten, appreciate your input, but have the feeling 100's may be different from the 3000. I will double check tomorrow but I am 99.9% certain that we can tighten ours no problem. Additionally, we have welded a vertical plate either side of the damper to limit any fore and aft movement or stresses because when the arm goes up and down with the axle, the damper body is actualy trying to rotate. Hopefully this will help maintain bolt integrity. Additionally, as you will see if you look in blog 0032, we have also increased the fluid volume of our rear dampers considerably, which will hopefully help in their performance under stress. Also, our front dampers are newer and slightly larger MGB units, with AH arms on in order to maintain geometry. All damper shafts (F & R) are machined and fitted with leak-proof bearings instead of the original bushes. Will check rear bolts and confirm back - Thanks for the heads-up ! Giles

  3. Maarten, I double checked these bolts on the rear dampers yesterday, and you are correct, they are very hard to get a spanner on to (and impossible with a socket). I shall investigate the use of inbus / allen head bolts this week. Thanks, Giles


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