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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Not a Good Day

I've been in a funk most of the day. It started out good, with exciting plans, as some weekend days do. But, it went downhill rather quickly.

Today was the day for the British Wheels on the Green car show. This show is hosted by the Jaguar Club of Southern New England. If you remember the blog post from last year, it was the first British car show that I had been to and fueled my restoration fire about a month after purchasing my Spitfire.

Today, I got there early (around 10:15am) after dropping the oldest off at basketball camp. Not long after I arrived, the wife called to inform me that the family truckster would not start. Mind you, this is the Honda Odyssey that has graced these pages a few times before (headlights and rear disc brakes). Last week, I had a local shop replace the serpentine belt, the alternator (shot bearings) and battery. That was about $500. Not horrible, but I didn't want to, nor was I confident, in doing the job myself. This car is just over 100K and we are fighting over buying a newer car, or putting a couple of grand into this one for milestone maintenance (timing belt, water pump, etc) and trying for another 100K. Regardless, after the work done, I would expect the car to start especially since it not starting was the reason for bringing it in in the first place.

Since I was early to the show (it started at 10am), I made a bee-line for Ikea about 25 minutes away to get a new desk chair and was back to the show by noon. The car population hadn't really improved all that much and I was disappointed (again, too high expectations).

The car show was ok, but not as good as last year. While there were still several fine examples of Jags (being a Jag show and all) the "other" British cars were not as well represented. Two squaretail Spitfires and a GT6 and two TR6s were the only Triumphs that I saw. Oh, and a Herald, which was nice to see since I hadn't seen one in person before...left hand drive, even. Otherwise, some nice MGAs, a really nice Jag XK150 and the "usual" smattering of E-Types.

The dash of the nice MGA. Lots of orange peel...but who am I to judge?!
XK150. Picture doesn't do it justice.

Nice looking car!
That was about it for the show. I walked around and took some pictures and had a slice of pizza and a Coke from a local vendor but left by about 12:30 to voyage back home to do some work on the car before a dinner party at a friends house.

By the time I got back from the car show, a neighbor had charged the truckster's battery (it was at "75%" according to whatever charger he used) and the car was starting fine. Some basic troubleshooting told me that I have a good ground and no stray amps going where they shouldn't...???

For the Spitfire, my goal for today was to swap out the fuel tank and route a new fuel line borrowed from the '64. The new tank went in fine and lined up nicely with the fuel filler cap (unlike the "old" one). While I was under the car trying to route the fuel line that ended up being too short, I decided to dig around with a flathead screwdriver a bit. Probably should have done this before I bought the car, I guess, but I'm all in, now. The passenger's outrigger I knew was shot. The driver's, however, I did not know was also shot as bad as it was. The driver's sill is also in bad shape and I will assume the passenger's as well, though I didn't poke around. Of course, I should have expected this given the cancer that is obvious from the inside of the car...but today it was in my face and made me afraid that I wasn't up to the task...both financially and skill-level.

Remnants of digging around in driver's outrigger.

Digging done, though not complete. The bottom pipe is the too-short fuel line. Pic doesn't show cancer in the frame.

Bondo heaven. Those white marks in the upper center are Bondo as well. There was a pile of on the floor after this, too.
While all of this was a blow, I'll be damned if I'm defeated. After 23+ years of naval service, I am happy to be able to re-kindle the excitement of my youth in fixing up old cars. The more British, the better. This car is a fine example of automotive engineering that has all but disappeared from the landscape. My trips to large, British car shows only convinces me that the older Spitfire examples are growing more rare all the time. Even if I have to "store" the car for a few more years, I'll do it.

Still, a rough day. Like all of the other surprises, however, I'll come through this as well. Just may take a bit more creative thinking and creative storage solutions.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The British Invasion Car Show

A whirlwind weekend so far for us. I got out of work early on Friday and pulled the kids out of school to head up to Stowe, VT for the 25th Annual British Invasion car show. We got into town around 5:30, checked into the hotel and headed downtown to eat and look at the cars that were on display during the Stowe Main Street Party. Some nice cars but I unfortunately forgot my camera and I was sure I would see them the next day.

After a fitful night of sharing a bed with my oldest, we were up and at the event field by about 9:30pm, about 30 minutes after the show started. LOTS of cars there. I would say that the Austin-Healeys and TR6s were the cars in most abundance. However, there was just about everything you could think of.

We walked around for the better part of three hours. Unfortunately, there were only 3 roundtail Spitfires there, all Mk3s. They were fine examples, however. The rest were squaretails, with one being a survivor with the original paint and striping...pretty nice.

All in all, I am sorry to say that I was disappointed with the show. I will temper that, however, with my obviously unreasonable expectations of a good amount of Spitfires, especially any older ones, and several parts vendors, with a bunch of NOS parts. Like I said, there were maybe only a dozen Spitfires, all but 3 of which were MkIVs or 1500s. And the only vendor there selling some NOS stuff was a guy that I remembered from the British by the Sea show and he really didn't have anything that I was looking for.
I will say, with the fact that Spitfires seem to go for "dime-a-dozen" prices, they sure are under-represented at the shows. This is the third car show I've been to now, with two being what I would consider sizeable (the British Invasion, according to one announcement I heard, is the largest British-only show in the U.S.) and outside of the very rare cars, I'd say that the Spitfires were the fewest and far-between. Now, there could be a few reasons for this; people don't want to spend the money on these cars because they aren't worth the time and effort to get them into a show condition; people just don't consider them show-worthy in general; there just aren't too many good examples of these cars left and we are going to wake up one day and realize it!

All that being said, there were some VERY nice cars there, especially in the Concours d'Elegance. There were also several cars there that I had never seen in person and a few that I hadn't know existed in the world. I did get a few old magazine/newspaper ad reprints, a Triumph ballcap and T-shirt and my wife found a few blankets that are made from something called Bronte by Moon wool. I guess this is pretty nice stuff...my bank account thinks so, anyway.
So, while I was disappointed for my own selfish reasons, I was able to share my LBSC passion with my wife and kids on a much grander scale while also enjoying the beautiful town of Stowe, VT that hosted it.
And, if nothing else, it motivated me to continue work on the car to be able to represent the older Spitfires as future shows!

Now, for some pics.

One of the TR3s (of two) in the concourse judging. Afraid to touch it!
The interior of the above TR3. Hazy through the rear soft top window.
A Daimler? This was a new one to me...gorgeous car, though.

Unrestored, original paint and interior, 16,000 mile Austin Healey. Wow.
The boot, with spare, of the above car. Can you read the tag on the spare tire?
Another survivor...MGA twin cam. Original and only owner, never restored.

Jag D-Type.

Beautiful E-Type. Love the paint color.
Gremlin found!!

Very clean Mk3. 
A trip to VT would not be complete without a covered bridge.

According to Wikipedia, it is listed in the Register of National Historic Places. I think the family got nervous when the GPS called out "Turn left on Slaughter House road and you will arrive at your destination".

Saturday, September 12, 2015

iPhone 4 and Drywall Repair (umm, yeah, a bit off topic)

A couple of unrelated things from the last few days for those that may want to mix it up a bit.

First, we decided to get my oldest, who started 7th grade this year, his own phone. Since I always keep my most recently upgraded phone just in case, he was going to get that hand-me-down iPhone 4. After two years of use as my primary phone and then another two years as his iPod, it was showing a little wear and tear. Namely, the home button didn't like to work unless you mashed the heck out of it. After some research and a visit to iFixIt.com, I purchased a new home button and the tools they recommended to replace it. Of note, this was a Verizon CDMA phone vice an AT&T GSM phone. I guess they are different besides just the SIM card in case you take on this type of adventure.

While the website says the repair is difficult, I didn't have too much problem. The instructions were not perfect, but they were definitely good enough to get me through and the pictures helped. Unfortunately, I pinched and tore one of the ribbon cables for the display so a $10 job (not included tools) turned into a $40 job, which I was able to complete successfully. I know the phones are generations old now, but I was surprised at how cheap the parts were. Makes me wonder how much Apple is really making off of each of us, though that explains why they have enough cash reserves to fill 93 (yes, 93) Olympic swimming pools.

I did have to wear my glasses and needed some extra light. Don't think I've ever dealt with screws that small before, but the magnetic tools made them easy to handle.

About half-way torn apart. Plastic tray was essential in helping me organize each step of the tear down. 

Almost completely torn apart. New home button in (display not damaged yet).
I finished fixing it last night and the boy was happy to get it back.

Second, I needed to do some drywall repair in the bathroom that I am STILL redoing. We finally got all the ordered items (long, frustrating story) after some backorders and bad manufacturing, so it was time to finally mount the wall light and repair the holes the original home builders left when putting in the "contractor's special" wall light. First thing was to cut some new drywall (I bought a 2'x2' patch piece at Lowe's when we first moved in and have been slowly using it) for the patches. I cut these about 1/2" larger on all sides than the size of the holes. I scored a 1/2" on each side and then broke the drywall away, leaving the paper to act as ears to cover the edges.

The small piece, cut to size and scored, leaving "white" paper side.
I then traced the drywall of my patch pieces on the wall and then cut them square, trimming as necessary so the patch pieces would fit totally inside the cutouts.

Patch-panels cut.
After that, I put a thin layer of joint compound on the paper so that it would act as an adhesive to the wall.

Joint compound. I used even less than this and still some squeezed out as I flattened it to the wall.

Patches inserted into wall.
Once the patches were in, I taped the edges with regular paper joint tape (none of that mesh stuff) and covered it all in more joint compound.

Patches in and covered.
I came back about 7 hours later and sanded it down and that's when it all fell apart. The joint compound paper immediately started to delaminate from the wall and the bumps and ridges were horrible. I probably should have waited it for it to dry more, but once the damage started, it went quick. So, in a fit of frustration (I've been dealing with this bathroom for over six weeks and I'M WAY DONE), I tore the joint paper off and the patch paper. The patches stayed in the wall, however. Once I did that, I filled the incontinuities with regular spackle and that's where it sits. I'll sand it tomorrow morning, put another layer of spackle, and sand it one more time. Paint and then finally mount the medicine cabinet hopefully late tomorrow night. At least these holes will mostly be obscured or even covered by the cabinet so you won't see my horrible job!

Same holes, except with just spackle. Looks better and much more level. Spackle won't be as durable, but up there, I don't care.
We also got the second backsplash in since the first one was not completely sealed (it's granite). That went in easily and really completes the sink in it's look.

Backsplash in. I used clear-drying caulk adhesive to put it in. The medicine cabinet will go in the big blank spot.
As for the Spitfire, I did some more odds and ends today after the drywall fiasco and before the kid's soccer games. I finished putting the rubber grommets over the inside portion of the speedometer and tachometer cables (has anyone ever put one of these things in without tearing the crap out of it?!), reconnected the heat air hoses that go to the top of the dashboard and put the instrument cluster in, wires and all (except the ignition switch). After the ignition switch gets wired up, I only have to put some water in the radiator and she'll be ready to run again...at least in theory!

Refurbished dash. A shame the rest of the interior looks like...well, you know. Oh, and those screws are temporary. Black or chrome?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Odds and Ends Accomplished

Got a bunch of stuff done today. Nothing too extreme, but a lot of little things that I had been putting off while focusing on the seats. The majority of the part links are from SpitBits because that where I bought most of it. With that, I probably "waste" money on buying nuts/bolts from them. However, shouldered bolts are not easy to find in the shoulder length that you may want or that was originally supplied. In my opinion, they put shoulders on bolts for a reason and I'd rather use something that is identical to the original if at all possible, even if it costs me a little more.

As for the seats, based on recommendations from my favorite forum and my brother, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a 75/25 Ar/CO2 bottle from my local branch of Maine Oxy. The bottle is 60ft3, was full and cost $150. They said it was good for about 3 straight hours of welding so I doubt I will need it refilled any time soon. I also bought a 2 lb. roll of 0.023", ER70S-6 solid wire (as opposed to the flux core that is used without gas). This wire type is supposed to have more oxidizers than others and is therefore good on mild steel, like car bodies, that aren't the cleanest. Unfortunately, they didn't have the new roller for the wire feeder in the welder to go along with the thinner wire, but it is on order and should be here by the middle of the week.

With that, here we go. I'm sure I missed some more minor things...

I figured out that I put the gearbox support plate bolts in upside down. In other words, the bolt was pointing up. Gravity would work against you here, if the nut came loose, and you'd lose the whole thing on the road. So, I turned those over.
While I was there, I also finished matting up the gearbox end of the driveshaft to the gearbox extension with new hardware. Unfortunately, I didn't know that the driveshafts were balanced so I never marked it before I took it off. Guess if my teeth rattle out of my head, I need to revisit.

Driveshaft bolts and you can see the gearbox frame plate, with its upside-down bolts.
I also finally filled the gearbox with oil. I used Brad Penn "Classic" Multi-Purpose GL-4 SAE 80W-90 gear oil that I picked up from The Roadster Factory during one of their sales. The GL-4 stuff is safe for the yellow metals (brass, bronze and copper) that is found in older gearboxes. I don't know if that's really a valid concern, but having rebuilt the gearbox I can definitely say that there is a lot of yellow metal in there, so better safe than sorry.
Refilling the gearbox is a pain because it fills from the side and it's kinda hard to pour oil in a little dinky fill plug that's set parallel to the ground. The oil does come with a pointed cap to use, but it would still be nearly impossible to make it work without getting most of the oil on the floor.
In a flash of brilliance (well, maybe), I ran a piece of clear tubing from the fill hole through the firewall to the engine compartment so I could fill the gearbox from above. It worked great and I would highly recommend this method...if you have an empty hole in your passenger's side firewall, that is. I don't recommend drilling one for this purpose, of course!

Hose going into the gearbox. That green stuff is the gear oil.

Hose routing up into the hole in the firewall. This is either the choke or the heater valve cable hole.

Hose on the other side (that black stuff is the PO's fiberglass repair to the battery box. More on that later).
I then knocked out some quick replacements to include the oil pressure sender (the PO had put in an aftermarket oil pressure gauge, so had a T connection on his sender). I also put a new Lucas heater switch in (the other one was M.I.A) and a new windscreen washer bottle. Oh, and new wiper box fitting nuts and rubber.

New oil pressure sender. Taking bets on whether or not it leaks.

New heater toggle switch.

New windscreen washer fluid bottle held in place by a freshly painted washer bottle clamp. The bottle came with that famous Tudor sticker...I didn't put in on, yet.
I did a conventional tune-up to include plugs, points, condenser, rotor, cap, and green plug wires, along with a new coil. Would be great to be able to start the car and see how it went, but that's for another day.

The Lucas "Sport" coil. Because the car is sporty.
Next, I routed both a new choke cable and a new heater valve cable. But first, I needed to clean up the area where they route through the firewall. Since I knew this would make a mess, I pushed the front end of the car out onto the driveway and started grinding away with, what is now, my old friend. What a mess. I also got into some of the fiberglass that the PO put down to fix some holes in the battery box. Though I remembered a face mask and safety glasses, I forgot long sleeves so now my arms are itching pretty good from probably lots of little fiberglass shards in them. The stupid shall be punished and all that.

Mild clean up. Lots to go, obviously, to get the box out for eventual replacement...not the goal today.
Once this was done, I got the cables routed. The choke cable, while it needs to be trimmed, seems to work fine but will need to be tweaked. The heater cable, however, is not too hot. Doesn't pull the heater valve at all. Probably operator error hooking it up, but I ran out of time to look at it again more closely as dinner approached.

Cable routing. Still have to put those grommets in for the tach and speedo cables.
I also swapped in and bled the new, reproduction clutch slave cylinder that I bought almost a year ago. I had successfully rebuilt the original. Though it had some significant damage to the bore, it didn't leak. However, today I relegated it to the "ready spare" bench so that it wouldn't leave me stranded at some undetermined point in the future.

Original slave cylinder; the bad side where the fluid just sat and corroded. Probably just a matter of time.
Finally, I wanted to see if my windscreen washer pump worked. It did not. So, I took it apart to see what made it tick. Pretty simple design, as you would expect. I do have another that came with the '64 that seems to be in much better shape but also doesn't work. This one's rubber accordian-looking think was pretty far gone with dry-rot and broke as I took it apart, so I assume the other is the same. Wonder if I can save it somehow?

L to R: Diaphragm pump, check valve assy, plunger and housing.
All in all, not a bad start to the weekend. We have some family commitments both Sunday and Monday, so I'm not sure I'm going to get a whole lot done, but we'll see. Happy Labor Day!