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

Sunday, 3 February 2019

0079 Still so much to do !

3rd February 2019
Fixing fenders in the heat !

119 days to go !
But Gidget leaves Australia in 52 days !!

Before I start to discuss Gidget, I draw your attention to the fact that today, 4th February, is World Cancer Day, and I quote from the Cancer Council web site in that regard :-
"Each year on 4 February, World Cancer Day empowers all of us across the world to show support, raise our collective voice, take personal action and press our governments to do more. World Cancer Day is the only day on the global health calendar where we can all unite and rally under the one banner of cancer in a positive and inspiring way."

As most of you know, Ashton and I are using our trip to raise funds for both Beyond Blue, and for Cancer Research. So I take this opportunity to remind you all that we are desperately trying to ensure that our journey from Peking to Paris is not just a trip for Ashton and I, but something that benefits many people around the world.  It has a very real purpose.  So I draw your attention to the direct links at the bottom of the blog front page where we encourage you to support these worthy charities, however small - Even $1 will help someone, somewhere, who is suffering.  And since today is World Cancer Day, I make it easy for you to get to the Cancer Council site here :-  Cancer Council  
Thank you from both of us.  


Gidget is almost completed - But there are still so many small things to do !  The list just seems to keep getting longer !  To put it into perspective, we COULD ship her to China now, and probably survive.  But on a long trip like Peking to Paris, even the smallest annoyances can quickly become major frustrations, especially if it something that has to be carried out several times a day.  Making a long distance trip bearable is something I know a little about (unlike my mechanical or engineering skills !) and whether it is how or where something is stored, or how long it takes to open the boot to refuel, or how easy it is to erect the roof when it rains or pitch the tent at night. And while these kind of things may seem relatively minor now, they can become really annoying if they are difficult to do repeatedly.  And when you are driving long distances every day, on often poor (or worse) roads, and in the meantime trying to read maps and follow co-ordinates and waypoints, you really don't want silly little things annoying you every day !  So this week has been spent trying to refine many of these smaller items, and make sure they can be done effortlessly despite the restriction placed on us due to the severe lask of space in Gidget.

New section over the old
One of the last "big things" to be tidied up were the front wheel arches, which were still being rubbed quite badly by the tyre when cornering hard or when riding over severe bumps.  After Alice Springs, the paint was actually rubbed completely off the
Old section cut out
outisde of the wheel arch up to a centimetre from the edge of the rim in one place.  We have already cut about 3 cms out of the wheel arch in 3 separate "cuts", each time finding that as we cornered harder and harder, she still rubbed.  With the stiffer front springs fitted, we never thought the wheel would move up so much - Easy in hindsight !  On each occasion we have cut a wedge out above the rolled edge, and then re welded the rolled edge back into place higher up.  This ensured the strength of not just the wheel arch, but in fact the entire front fender, was maintained - It is surprising how much rigidity the rolled edge provides to the entire structure.

Letting the wire into the edge
However, after already doctoring the arch 3 times, it was becoming like a frequent wound - Lots of scar tissue !  One alternative, and certainly the cheapest option, would be to just get a pair of tin snips and cut another 1-2 cms out of the arch, and leave the sharp edge.  However, over the past 2-3 months I have spoken at length to a number of different engineers, Healey people, and people who work with metal on older cars every day, and not one of them thought the tin snip idea was a good one.  In fact, they all thought it was a potential for disaster, not only due to
And rolling it
the resulting weakness of the wheel arch and fender, but also because of the potential for the relatively sharp metal edge to damage the tyre itself, which of course would be a disaster.    The other alternative, due to the aformentioned "scar tissue", was to actually create a new rolled edge onto a new piece of appropriately sized and shaped steel, and then let this into the existing wheel arch with the welded edge higher up the arch, above the "scar tissue".  The other advantage of this method was that it would be much quicker than the previous system of moving the existing rolled edge further up into the arch.   So this week, that's what we did.

In the current heat wave in Australia, driving Gidget is something that can be quite wearing, and lots of sun tan cream is required !  And despite "warm" temperatures in Andrew's new workshop, having lost a day over the long weekend, we started work at 10 am on the Tuesday, cutting out the required pieces of metal for the two guards, then using Andrew's "wheel" to work the edge of the metal so we could roll the TIG
RH wing all bogged and sanded
welding rod into the edge. The first one took a while, but soon it was offered up on the RH arch, and once shaped correctly by judicious stretching or shrinking of the metal, it was clipped to the existing guard in the required position, and the cut-line marked.  After cutting the (large) piece out, (the weakness of the fender when the rolled edge was remove was quite dramatic) the new piece was tacked in place to avoid shrinkage from the weld heat, before running the weld right round the arch.  Despite some of my rubber wheel arch liner giving off some pungent smoke (😬),  after grinding down any rough edges, it was done.  We called it a day at that point due to the heat, and I went home to bog up the completed fender. Andrew was to prepare the LH arch replacement and I would return the next morning to weld it in place.

Once home, it was back to bogging !  I thought I was finished with this dusty and time consuming job, yet here I was at it again.  And sanding down the bog creates a LOT of dust, especially when doing it in a 2 car garage where the shelves all around are stacked with household items as well as car items.  Not a lot of fun trying to contain all the dust, but eventually got quite an acceptible finish and got it all etch primed.  One wing done.
Letting in the LH section

Next morning I finished rubbing down the primer so it was ready for top coat, and then headed back
to Andrew's in the heat.  Literally just as I arrived, he ran out of gas for his TIG welder, and with the recent Australia Day long weekend just completed, the supplier couldn't deliver for a couple of days ! So Andrew headed off to get a new bottle, while I headed home to get on with other things - We would finish the job off the next day.

At home I spent the day working on the roof packing,  and how best to get the long roof locating pins to not only fold, but to do so easily and quickly.  So instead of the bolts and nylocs doing the fastening, I bought some similarly sized cotter pins and R clips, and
Hood pin mechanism all folded back
used these - Much quicker to release and replace than undoing nylocs every time.  By folding the roof a certain way, the canvas rolls over the central support stay, thus preventing the metal bar from contacting the bodywork and rattling / rubbing.  However the folding mechanism on each side of the roof does rest on the body work, and despite there being body protection film on the paint, this is not thick enough to withstand 36 days of driving on rough roads, so it needed more.  I have cut some rubber sheeting to size and just taped it in place for now in order to make sure it works, and if after a bit of driving around it seems adequate, I will glue it in place.  (Glue will not affect the paintwork as it will be glued onto the body protection film, which can always be removed later.)   This all seemed to work well, and with velcro straps holding everything tight, it all stayed in position when I went for a drive.

Next morning it was back to Andrew, who now had gas, and we soon had the LH fender welded in position.  While there, I used his oxy torch to heat and bend two 14 mm open ended spanners.  There is one nut on the carb manifold which is impossible to reach with regular spanners, so these two will enable the nut to be tightened fully.   Once the 2nd wing was bogged and painted, I had to take the new seat covers off.  My brilliant idea of inserting eyes into the top of the canvas seat cover to hold it in place when we slide down into the car turned out to make a weak point, and after getting in and out of the car multiple times, the canvas ripped around the eye - Damn !   I had spoken with my upholstery guy and he was going to make a reinforcing sleeve that will not only strengthen the cover, but also prevent the seat back being pulled downwards every time you get in the car.  Due to the lack of space in the cockpit, you have to slide down into the seat, and this really strains the stitching in any seat.  I need to resolve this.

Cars gathered at CCC
On Friday, there was a farewell gathering at Classic Car Clinic for manager Mark Boldry who was leaving after 10 years to return to the UK.  Mark has played a major role in the preparation of Gidget over the past 24 months, and his farewell was an opportunity for the owners of the many cars he has looked after over the past 10 years to join together - And everyone was encouraged to come in their Classic Cars.  There were some great
Mark making his speech !
cars there, including an absolutely immaculate DB6, but more to the point, it was Gidget's first time to be inspected by her peers ! The gathering was an interesting one, and sure enough there was a lot of interest in Gidget, with lots of questions being asked.  A great afternoon, and one that turned out to be very useful.  Amongst the many experts present were Peter Janetzki from J&H Restorations (mostly Healey's) who had also built our roll bar for us, Mark and Steve from Classic Car Clinic, Alwyn Keepence from the Healey Club, and Andrewwho has done much of the steel fabrication on our car.  So with all these people present, plus others, I took the opportunity to raise the issue of how best to locate the spare tyre on the boot lid, the last of our major jobs.

Tyre in position on boot lid
Originally we had planned to use the boot rack we had bought for this purpose.  But this is not the most robust unit, and additionally its front edge is held by being fastened to the boot hinges, which don't look super strong.  Alwyn mentioned that they are made from mazak, also known as zamak, which is 95% zinc and 5%
From behind
aluminium, and is not the strongest material when overly stressed.  It was agreed that using the boot rack was not the best option, so the conversation moved on to the other two options. One was to fit metal "straps"across the boot lid, with reinforcing struts inside, and to then fasten the spare tyre to these struts tying it down with ratchet straps.  The discussion centred around the strength of the boot lid itself, and it was felt that the known weakness of the boot lid would be agravated by the tyre resting on the struts, and that although this option might work, there might be a better alternative.

Idea for base plate on boot
And this alternative was to build a thin platform, about 70 x 70 cm (the tyre diameter), with a base that was shaped to the contour of the boot lid.  This would then not only spread the weight of the tyre over the entire boot lid, but if the platform was raised 10 or so cms at the back, it would make the tyre sit more horizontally, thus ensuring a more equal weight distribution.   So with these ideas in mind, and after a chat about the issue with Ashton, I
3 internal strengthening struts
returned home and started trying to put our thoughts down both on paper and into a rough template in carboard on the car.  The base sheet would then have 3 strengthening struts on top, one on each side and one in the middle, maybe 1 cm high at the front, but 10 cms high at the back.   On top of these struts we would then place the flat base on which the tyre itself would sit, and we would have 4 tie down  eyes - one each at about 10 to, 10 past, 20 past and 20 to, thus locating the tyre firmly.  We will also fit a support hoop around the rear end of the tyre to provide addition support.   Now I just have to take my paper and carboard ideas to Andrew and Peter and see if we can finalise the best and strongest way of doing it.

Internal paneling installed
I also re-fitted back all the internal panels between the boot and the cockpit - The spare wheel cover, and the cover over the battery and diff.  It is certainly reassuring not to see the road surface underneath you, and the prop shaft spinning, every time you look down !

Now waiting on Letters of Introduction for Chinese visas, and trying to organise an Asbestos Inspection so we don't have trouble bringing the car back in after the event !  And lastly this week I need to whip the exhaust off as it appears to have a leak !  Grrrr !!

Rest of the photos are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/2MFtWdFoGqy5QomVA


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