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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Seat Restoration Part 1

It was like Christmas for me yesterday. I got my shipment from SpitBits with all of the seat refurbishment stuff. This included new foam cushions, new backs, or squabs, and new covers. All told, this ran me about $700, not including shipping (see my rant about shipping here).

Typical Mk2 seat covers...except this are in good shape!

Initials of the guys who made them, I suppose. Pretty cool! Sam did the other ones.

Seat bottom / cushion cover, inverted, showing ribbed portion.

Seat back, showing ribs. The seat bottom, above, is similar. I thought they were only decoration, but you can feel the difference in the foam squishy-ness.
Turns out, SpitBits gets all of their stuff from Newton Commercial, which is in England. According to their website, they have acquired and are using most of the original tooling from Firth Furnishings Ltd for their moulded carpet. While there isn't the same mention for anything I bought, it's obvious the quality is top-notch. I had found this company while searching for recommendations on my favorite forum. However, I still am not too cool with shipping overseas, so I decided to go with SpitBits since they have never let me down. I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised! It even came with instructions and some hog rings.

Instructions, however brief. They obviously have them for each type of seat.
Once my initial excitement of getting cool stuff was over, I moved on to cleaning up and painting the cushion (I'll keep the verbiage of the instructions) frame. It was so hot and humid here today, however, that I will probably have to clean it up and shoot it again tomorrow. It's been three hours of drying as I'm writing this and it's still not dry.

This is the cushion frame, typical of rust that I found. One spot was pretty bad with significant metal loss.
I took a wire wheel to the cage, then applied rust converter and let that sit per the instructions. Then, I hit it with a coat of primer and a coat of black. I'll hit it with another coat of black after I clean up anything that needs it. Supposed to be hot tomorrow too, though, so it may be until the weekend until I get some padding in there.

The horsehair and "foam" that was in the seat...er, squab, as I took it apart.
I did, however, find the seat broken. I knew it was broken from sitting on it, but didn't know exactly where. Now, I do. I think I'm going to drill out the back (it's flat-riveted in), cut away and replace the damaged part, and then re-attach it to the seat frame. This may be my first welding test. Exciting in a scary sort of way!

Damaged area. Grass looks rough, doesn't it. Did I mention it was hot here? Well, for New England, anyway!
I didn't clean any of the back of the seat up, but I'll get to that soon enough. I was, however, able to get the heater back in. What a pain in the ass! Excuse my language, but it wasn't any fun at all. I was dripping and sloping sweat all over the place. The foam pieces that go between the firewall and the heater box are "unobtanium". However, they really need to get manufactured to original specs because I'm sure it would have helped me out. The heater box is in such a bad spot that I had to take a guess at thickness and suffered when I think the foam that I used was too thick. However, it looked good from the firewall side so I was afraid to change anything. Maybe I'll make my million off of Triumph Spitfire Mk1 through Mk3 heater box foam insulation...or not.

My sandwhich of insulation / sealing foam. Meh.
I probably used the wrong foam, but my other solutions just were not working. The green foam you see is something that I got from work, that we used on the boat as insulation for cold (i.e., not steam) pipes. We called it "cold lagging". The black stuff is standard foam pipe insulation you can get for your home. I would have used that exclusively, but I couldn't find any that was the right diameter (it was too big). Therefore, I had to cut and glue and...it was a mess. I did cut the foam black stuff on an angle to work as a transition between the pipe as it changed direction.

Like I said, it was a real bear getting the bolts lined up and installed which tells me that I probably didn't do it as good as I could have, but...it's in! If it leaks, so help me...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Name Change

To become a bit more catchy and because it was simply too long, I've decided to change the name of my blog to Roundtail Restoration.

That will be a misnomer, in some ways, because I am surely some time away from actually doing a full-blown restoration. But, I guess on a more local scale, a restoration it is...of at least things like the instrument cluster, SUs, water pump and cooling circuit, etc.

Going forward, I will also be making the titles of the posts more accurately reflect what they contain (e.g., gearbox installation vice weekend work).

All of this is in an effort to make it more searchable and, therefore, hopefully open it up to more search engines for people that are looking for this type of information. While I would never profess to be an expert on a Spitfire, there are some things that I've learned that I think can help someone out.

Obligatory pic. Nice Mk3 wheel that I intend to install at some point. Reminds me of a TR3 wheel.

Not a whole lot of work over the last several days. I decided to re-install the heater box using an improved gasket for the inlet and outlet pipes, but I haven't done any fit tests yet. Hopefully I will get a chance to do this before the weekend is out.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Gearbox Installed

The heater box kicked my butt for about a day. Based on a recommendation from my favorite forum (thanks, Vic), I used rubber insulation instead of the foam insulation. This made all the difference in the world as it was much more compressible and the heater box bolted right up. Happy. In a perfect world, however, I would have liked to get insulation with the same (or smaller) inner diameter but about double the outer diameter so that I had more "slop" in ensuring that the firewall hole that the core pipes passed through were completely sealed.

Rubber (left) versus foam. The foam is more "coarse" if I had to compare.
Rubber installed using glue it comes with (see link). I trimmed it from there.
Passenger side installation. A little buckle on the left side, but as good as I could get it.
I put in new rubber grommets for the speedometer and tachometer cables. Since they pass through the heater box itself, these can be a bit tricky. I used a generous amount of "personal lubricant", just like I used for my attempted windshield install, and threaded the cables through the grommets, then the grommets into the firewall (engine compartment). I then threaded the cables through the heater box. Note that the heater box to firewall gasket (the green one I made) serves as a grommet there.
There are two more grommets, that I have yet to install, that take the cables through the passenger compartment side of the heater box. I don't suspect any trouble with these, though the working quarters will be a bit tighter.

Next it was on to the gearbox. I had been putting this off, for whatever reason, but today was the day. I am happy to report that it went in rather smoothly.

First I wanted to clean up that area of the frame a bit since there were years (decades?) of grease and grime stuck to it. Some Purple Power and a stiff nylon brush and it was much better, though not perfect.

Just after application of the Purple Power.
Not great, but better.
 After that, I re-installed the gearbox mount and jacked up the motor to help me align the gearbox. Though I didn't try the install without jacking the motor up, I would say it is necessary for success as the my motor "sagged" a good 2-3 inches after removing the gearbox.

Jack and plywood lift the engine a few inches to help align it.
Sagging, however, seems to have meant the end of one of my engine mounts. While I was trying to align everything, the engine suddenly shifted and the driver's side popped up about 3 inches. That side motor-mount had given up the ghost and come apart. Thankfully, I had a spare motor mount to use and installed it in short order.

Sheared mount...sorry the lighting is horrible.
Once I had the new motor mount in, I tweaked in the alignment and installed the studs (as opposed to nuts and bolts) that are along the top of the motor. These three, along with the dowel that is at the top, helped align the gearbox clutch housing.

Double-nut method for running in the studs.
After that, I was able to align the input shaft into the clutch. I stood on the passenger's side of the car and reached my right arm down to grab the clutch housing while I used my left arm/hand to guide the back of the gearbox. It helped, of course, that my windscreen was not installed. I think this made it MUCH easier, though, so I'm glad, in hindsight, that I couldn't get that darn thing in!

After a bit of coaxing, it went in. I bolted most of it down to the motor and then attached the rear mounts. Though I bolted the rear mounting plate itself down to the frame, I left the riser that accepts the rubber mounts on the rear of the gearbox loose to allow for adjustment. Once the gearbox was fully seated, I tightened the riser down, then tightened the mounts down. Done!

All in and pretty. You can see the heater box up there, too. Now, let's just hope it all works!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Finishing the Heater

A bit of work over the last few days. The weekend was mostly about some minor home improvements putting up new shutters, which required new door and mailbox post paint, and biulding new patio furniture. Having previously documented my love of heights, it was none too fun getting up on the ladder to swap them out. But, as before, I conquered and the house looks much better.

As for the car, I finally have some pictures of the differences between the heaters from a Mk1 and a Mk2. The biggest difference seems to be the integration of the footwell flaps into the box vice separate units. The older heater with the separate footwell flaps had a lot of gaps in it when I put it back together. The redesign seems to provide a much tighter fit, though it's clearly not air-tight.

Mk1 heater footwell flaps. "Removable".
Mk1 front plate...note no footwell flaps and small holes for core pipes.
Mk2 front plate with integrated footwell flaps and elongated core pipe holes.
Side view of integrated flaps. The motor side cover has the air vanes.
I also made new foam gaskets using what we referred to on the boat as cold lagging. We'll see how it works. My second attempt was much better. You may notice in the front cover pictures above that the holes that the speedometer and tachometer cables run through are not centered with the fan suction. I took this into account with the second attempt. The gaskets are secured with 3M Yellow Super Weatherstrip and Gasket Adhesive, which worked pretty well.

First try. I used a pair of sharp pointed scissors and a large drill bit, by hand, for the holes for the tach/speedo cables.
Comparison of thickness between old and new. Close and the new stuff is more compressible.
I then came up with a way to pressure test the cores using a garden hose. Worked pretty well, though I should have used regular hose clamps vice the "old style" as I had some leakage problems. I think this can be mostly attributed to using a Nylobraid hose vice rubber. I was happy with it and, surprisingly, there were no leaks from either core.

An inherent weakness with my design is that you do not know what pressure you are testing to. I'm sure I could have come up with a solution, but I'm also pretty sure it would have been cost-prohibitive.

Pieces-parts. All told about $15.
I used the shut-off valve so that I could attempt to control the pressure supplied by the garden hose since I wasn't sure what the city water pressure was. I didn't want to over-pressurize the thing and cause leaks. I did hear the fins crackle a bit as the tubes flexed, so I hope that was adequate pressure.
The rig all assembled and attached.
I had entered into testing thinking the Mk2 core was leaking since the inside of the heater box was pretty nasty with rust. There was also some green discoloration from copper corrosion. What I did not consider was that the heater boxes can be exposed to the elements if the drain clogs or otherwise doesn't work. Because of this I had cleaned up and painted the Mk1 heater box. 

However, after successfully testing both cores, I cleaned up and painted the Mk2 box to take advantage of its better design and the fact that it's original. It was raining most of the afternoon so I didn't get a chance to apply the final coat of paint. Hopefully I can get that done soon and get it installed.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

For Your Other Car #2...Rear Brake Pad Replacement

I recently put new tires on the family truckster, a.k.a., a 2007 Honda Odyssey and the mechanic mentioned that I needed new rear brake pads soon. While on our lovely vacation Maine, a moose (one of the 18 or so that we saw) decided to cross the road in front of the car. While we were not close to hitting it, thankfully, it was close enough that I got on the brakes pretty hard. Thereafter, the rear pads continually reminded me that it was time for a change.

After referring to a trusty YouTube video, I made quick work of it. It took me almost as long to jack up the car and remove the wheels then it did to change the pads.

Wheel removed.
Once the wheel was off, it was obvious that the brakes needed to be replaced. The calipers are of a two-piece design. Two bolts, attached from the back, hold the piston assembly part of the caliper.

17mm wrench and a 12mm socket.
This removed the piston assembly and I compressed the piston with the typical 4" C-clamp.

The removed piston housing.
Once the piston housing was moved up and out of the way, the pads were easily accessible and removable, retained in the pad housing.

The pad housing. Sounds like a good name to me.
Old on top, new on bottom, obviously. Not horrible, but definitely ready to be replaced. Rotor was in good shape.
I'm ashamed of this picture. A bit too close on this one. Thankfully, there was not grooving to the rotor and only minor scoring.
All in all, I think it took me about 30 minutes to change out both back wheels so easily a job to do after work.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

And Now for Something Completely Different

Over the last decade or so my family and I have been lucky enough to spend a week in Maine. We spend the time at a "camp" on Moosehead Lake near Greenville, which is in the mid-western, or so, part of the state. I use "camp" because that's what those Maine people refer to it as. However, the house is at least as nice as the one that I am in right now but without the added distractions of TV and internet.

This year was especially good. All told we saw 18 moose, went fishing for the first time using a guide and got a ride in a float plane. And, of course, since it was over the 4th of July weekend, we enjoyed a small-town parade, fireworks, and a Sunday morning Woodsman's Breakfast at the local American Legion Post.

Oldest has the hang of kayaking.

S'mores over the open-pit fire.

The boys named this one Harold.

The oldest gets a big one. Small mouth bass, about 4lbs. Even the guide was impressed.

Fallen trees on the bottom of the lake where we fished.

Independence Day, 2015. That is a single blinking light...the only one in Greenville.

Nice older 911.
Moon rise over Moosehead Lake. Wish I had brought my tripod.

Canoe trip out to look at a Loon that was on an opposite shore on her nest.
Doing some froggin'.
The view from the private "beach".
Moose, of course. Sorry it looks possessed.
Youngest hand-feeds a deer a carrot.

Mt. Kineo from the air.
Greenville Junction. There is a move to save the old, historic train station in the far right of the picture.
Taxing after landing.
The outdoor shower.