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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Strip Search (or Tease, whichever you prefer)

Today was my first day off after working 13 days straight. The overtime is great, but I needed a break to spend with the family. I also wanted to do some work on the car, of course!

I focused on stripping down the black tub. I was happy to get quite a bit done, though there is still more to do. I tried to work back to front for the most part and started with the rear bumpers as well as the tail light assemblies. I tried to get the license plate light off but the screws were fairly well rusted. And, it wasn't until later that I figured out there were nuts on the other end of those screws. So, I applied a liberal amount of WD-40 and I'll get to them the next time.

The rear mainly stripped...forgot to pull out the soft top frame.
I pulled the four doors (two that were a part of the car and two more that the PO included) out of the tub (yes, out, not off, as they were being stored in there) and I will move them up to the attic soon. The steel hardtop was relocated to the red car along with the windscreen, which I put across the steel hardtop.

Wiring harness, dash and heater...that's about it. You can see one of the PO-supplied spare doors in the background.
I was also able to pull the wipers, wiper motor and associated hardware (this was a confusing dis-assembly...I'll have to figure that out eventually). I was also pulling rubber grommets out as I went, after snapping pictures of them, of course. Some of the rubber was in good shape...others not so much. I do intend to replace all of the rubber, however, but I'm sure the pics will help in determining what I need to order when it comes to it.

Rubber plug and fabric pad (?) that goes under gas tank. Plug covers access to frame hold-down bolt.
I re-located the bonnet from the driver's side of the car, standing up, to the front of it, standing up. This allows me to cover it while also allowing me to get to the driver's side of the car, so a better spot.

I didn't even try to get the rear differential off the frame again. The way I see it, especially after beating on it for a while with the sledge, is that I'll have to cut the frame apart. Since I don't want to do that until I KNOW that the red frame is good or at least repairable, it may be a while. But, I doused it with WD-40 again and we'll see what happens.

Almost clean. The red car hangs out in the garage.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Inside Jobs

Winter sucks! We had an abnormally dry summer/fall here, so the opportunities to work outside on the car were many. Then, reality and the new job set in and the opportunities were limited to the weekends.

Now, winter with its freezing temperatures, cold rain (no appreciable snow...yet) and early sunset have lead to serious limitations. The new job is good and I'm enjoying it, but building submarines is time consuming and tiring. When I get home, there isn't much else I want to do other than eat dinner, spend some quality time with the wife and kids and hit the sack (5am comes too early anymore).

I've taken to try and get things done for an hour or two in the evening between dinner and when it's time to get the kids ready for bed. This has taken some effort on my part because, when I start something, I want to be able to contribute enough time to it where I eventually give up vice having to say "it's time for me to be done." With practice, I've been able to get used to doing it differently and am accomplishing little things here and there.

Take, for example, this seat. Not pretty. The foam is a mixture between old and crusty and surprisingly soft and supple. However, none of it is good. I pulled the old hog rings and was able to remove the vinyl and padding without damage, really, to any of it.

45 yr old foam...not good!
The thin framing seems to be in pretty good shape if not quite rusty. I'll try some naval jelly or something to clean that up. I still have to take the back of the seat apart, but I expect similar results. The driver's seat (as it's bolted into the car, anyway) is broken a some point where the seat transitions from the horizontal to the vertical. I am hoping that I can just tack-weld it (when I get a welder, of course) as a fix.

All in all, I have decided on a course ahead pending deviations due to lack of significant parts, misunderstandings or other road blocks (or recommendations from you fine folks):
The black car, the '64, will be my base for the tub, body color (black) and interior (red).
The red car, the '66, will be my base for the frame, but will be painted black.
The engine (a '62, probably, based on it's number) and tranny (don't have that # yet) will be the basis for my motive force.
The black or red car's suspension, differential, and other frame-mounted items will be used based on which is in better shape or more easily restored.

I intend to stay as original as possible to a Mk1 because that's what the tub is, that's the motor I have and that's what I intend to title/register the car as. As I've said before (I think), I now have a Mk1 radiator (no radiator cap on the actual radiator as it has a reservoir bolted to the intake manifold...so cool). With luck and some NOS parts, I can return the Mk1 motor that I have to its original glory!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Four Days Gone...

On Friday, I turned the frame over to allow me better access to the mounting bolts of the differential. I had already removed the transverse leaf spring and its mounting studs that screw into the top of the differential because the studs came first, not the bolts. "Whatever," I thought, "the spring is out". Turns out, those stud holes go all the way into the differential. In other words, they can act as auxiliary drain holes. Which they did...all over my driveway...wife NOT happy. I grabbed the first thing I could find in my garage to catch the oil...an old cast iron frying pan. Thankfully is was pretty cold and the oil didn't run down the driveway but just puddled up. Kitty litter to the rescue!

My "oil pan". Good seasoning for a cast-iron frying pan!
While I didn't get everything done I wanted to over this holiday weekend, it wasn't too bad. I was able to balance my goals with the car with the goals of my wife (family stuff) so it worked out just fine. With the help of my Father-in-Law, I was able to get the stripped frame to the back yard. The differential remains intact <aarrrgh, still!>, but I got some new weapons (HF 4lb sledge) to coax it off. I also purchased a pickle fork to try and get my tie rods off...we'll see how that works.

Center is the sleeve...left and right are the bushings that are seized (I think).
All in all, not too bad. Hopefully the weather will hold out for a few more weekends. I'm trying to get as much done outside as I can before I'm restricted to the garage...where there's not a lot of room.

Two future me problems:
- Using the house's main joist that is in the ceiling of the garage (split-level or raised ranch, as your preference) to remove the motor from the red car, and
- Removing the red car's tub, essentially discarding it and merging her frame with the black car's tub. I love logistics!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Front End Frame Strip

Even though it's a holiday, I decided it was a good day to get some work done before the festivities kick off. So, with the help of my 8-year old, I was able to get the front of the frame stripped of the suspension and other little bits.

In there are the suspension sub-assemblies, the steering rack and the front calipers.
I was not expecting to see shims on the frame mounting points. It makes sense, of course, to help square everything up; I just didn't expect them (though, duh, if I had actually studied the Canley's drawing first, it would have been obvious). Interestingly, they must have gotten the driver's side of the car more "true" than the passengers because there was only one shim on the driver's side while there were six on the passenger's side.

Three stacked shims for the passenger's rear wishbone mount.
Of course, I'm not sure it will matter because, unless I replace the turrets on each sub-assembly, I won't be using them as a whole due to the modifications the PO made (you can see some of that in the first picture above). I found them on Canleys for only $60 each (seems cheap to me). But, with two other good ones (at least as far as I can tell) on my red car, not sure I will be going that route.

I was unable to get the tie rods out of the steering arms, however. So, I cheated a bit and removed the steering arms from the sub-assemblies instead. I will need to get them out at some point, of course and hopefully I didn't make it harder by losing the weight of the frame to help bang them out. I don't care about the tie rods as I have new ones, but I would like to get everything apart. Future me.

That was it for today. Supposed to be cold tomorrow (38F or so) but I plan on bundling up and getting the rear end stripped. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Hopefully you are able to spend it with the ones that mean the most to you. Please say a special thanks for those serving our country (I missed my fair share of Thanksgivings) and keep them in your thoughts as you celebrate.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Oh, and...

Before I forget to document this, the original car had a SCCA emblem on it from 1965. Considering the car is a '64 (as far as I know), that seems to be pretty darn cool. Here's a pic of the brass emblem:

It's on the top of the original driver's side door (makes sense). I didn't touch it at all (also makes sense). If anyone knows anything (history wise) that would be great. I know Thompson is a NASCAR track, but not sure about this regional thing. Anyone??? This is why I love this stuff!!! 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

And...She's Off..

I managed to separate the frame from the body and actually make it so I could roll the frame out from underneath. I did this by myself because it was cold (my boys elected to stay inside) and because...well, I'm stubborn and I wanted to see if I could do it myself. Success! Though, I will admit there were moments when I thought I was going to spill the tub. But, hey, no injuries this time, so I guess I can be happy about that!

I decided that I would use "custom made" sawhorses for the job. And, when I say custom made, I mean ones that took me about 15 minutes to put together with parts from Lowe's, eye-balling them by the "yeah, that looks good" method.

Sawhorse supports. Ended up cutting them to about 26" tall for the rear...20" for the front. Sucks not having a level driveway as I had to shim the legs...well, it shouldn't blow over in the wind!
I got the tub supported up so that I can roll the frame out from underneath. Once I got it relatively level and stable, I was able to "shim" either corner (using 4" long 2x4 "spacers") using only one arm. I am NOT strong by any means. Leverage helped, I'm sure, but the body is NOT heavy when dealing with a corner at a time.
On the blocks...like drydocking one of my old submarines!
Couple of things that screwed me up for those that are trying this. The fuel tank was gone, but the line from the motor to the tank remained and I had to get this clear of where it enters the boot.

Fuel Line Boot Entry
I cut the handbrake cable just behind the handbrake lever that is in the passenger compartment (sorry, no pics). It was in bad shape and, well, I would replace it anyway. However, this was NOT the correct cut. When trying to lift the body for what I thought was the "money shot", it was still hanging up on the frame. The handbrake line that is key is the transverse cable that runs between the back wheels. I cut this (I have the spare one of these). Again, no pics, but for my case, it was just easier to cut it (Dremel tool to the rescue) than deal with it.

All in all, unlike the red car, I have more concerns for this frame than I do for this tub. There are more areas on the black tub that have been dinged and dented that I don't find on my red tub...which means I have "ready-spares", I guess. However, for the black tub they are relatively minor and I think it will come down to decisions to be made as I prep the body for cosmetic work vice get it ready for the road, if you know what I mean (dents won't keep me from getting her registered...lack of tub structure will).

As I said, this was a one-man job. I wouldn't recommend it, but it can be done. I used a jack, a bunch of 4" long 2x4 shims, 8-foot 2x4 cross-supports (which are the same as you see supporting the body above) and jack stands to make it all work. I will have to do the same to the red car and, lessons learned, think it will take about half the time. But, nothing earth-shattering to share with you on how to do it. It would be much easier with 3 or 4 strong friends once you get your sawhorses built, however. What took me about 6 hours would take a smart crew of 4 about 30 minutes. Again, I'm stubborn. Use this and the other posts on the forum, and you should be fine.

As far as other concerns...I spoke about the PO's ambition to install a non-standard tranny and engine in this car. He did frame modifications to do this. My red car has an original frame and, as far as I know (and am confident is true), the areas that the PO modified on the black frame will be good on the red frame. I include the areas of concern on the black frame below and would love feedback:

Cross-member is partially cut (bottom of pic) with modification-strength just forward of steering rack.

Mod-tranny mounts towards left. Driver's original mount (top) good, passenger's gone). Can I reverse this safely?

Firewall. Upper cross-member (where top of tranny tunnel would be) has a piece of square-iron in it. Steal from red car and tack-weld it in...followed by permanent installation?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

There Can Only Be One...Unfortunately

**WARNING - This post contains images of blunt trauma. Viewer discretion advised!**

Only one bolt/nut between me and the tub lifting off the frame. And, of course, it seems to be one of those that is going to be a real P.I.t.A. The four bolts that were holding the radio riser to the tub (which actually bolt through the tub into the frame) were the ones that were really throwing me off. I got them off and then the frame and tub were obviously detached as I could lift the tub and it came right up. However, before this, I knew the driver's side rear radius arm was going to have to be disconnected from one of its attachment points.

The Culprit
The PO had already removed the bolt attaching the radius arm to the vertical link on the passenger's side. That same bolt on the drivers side, though, was rounded off and there is no room to beat it with a hammer to try and coax it through the hole.

I moved up to where the radius arm attaches to the tub. This bolt/nut is in good shape and I could loosen it, but I could not get it to slide through the bushing and out. According to the forum, the bolt is most likely rusted to the sleeve that you cannot see inside the rubber bushing (makes sense). So, bang all you want, but she isn't moving. I put a bunch of WD-40 on it before I knew about the sleeve, but I don't think that it will wick its way all the way where I need it to make the rusted sleeve loosen up, however. Since I do not own a torch to apply a little heat, it's either a hacksaw or...a hacksaw. I'll pick the appropriate end (tub or vertical link) when I get a better look with destruction and sacrifice in mind.

Of course, this discovery did not come without injury. This is probably my worst since I started tearing this car and the other apart. Left skin and hair, this time. The ratchet slipped off the bolt head on the radius arm at the tub and, well, the result is what you see below. The wife is none-too happy. I think I should probably go get a tetanus shot.

The offending corner, with my arm hair and some skin. Nice and rusty!
The resulting wound on the inside of my forearm. Should have taken it before the blood filled the hole.
It doesn't look too bad and it's only about the diameter of a pencil eraser. Unfortunately, it's also about as deep as that eraser is tall, though, so...yeah. It's smarted a little. I love this stuff!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Today entailed cleaning up and checking out the new acquisition. Snapped a picture of the commission plate...middle-ish number so I think that puts her firmly as a '64.

Black w/ Red Interior. Comm # FC29668 L.
I stripped the old rubber (except the rear window rubber) and the headliner (it was trashed) from the hard top. Found one area of significant cancer at the bottom front driver's side. There is some more-than-surface rust towards the rest of the bottom, but it seems to be mostly minor (need to get some rust converter on it). The thing has obviously been painted several times, I believe. The paint chipping off the top of it is very thick, so lots of coats at some point.

Cancer. Those screws hold on the bracket for the tie rod.

Top view. I'm sure that will all come out, but there is some pitting.
I also got all the bolts removed that hold down the tub and also removed the steering wheel. This car was obviously better taken care of (or stored) than the one I bought. Looks like I will have to steal some of the body parts from the '66, however, to undo what the PO did during his modifications.

The battery pan is cut out. That square bar was used by the  PO as bracing while conducting sill repairs.
But, the work that he did on the sills looks good (not that I'm sure I'd really know what I was looking at...at least they aren't rusted through). The front caps need to be attached, but he gave me those. Also, the seams will need attention, but it appears solid. There are some spots that he didn't finish, but nothing significant.

New sill area. All the rust is just surface.
If all goes to plan, I should be able to pull the tub on Tuesday (Happy Veteran's Day!). Not too sure how heavy it will be. Right now, I can lift the back of the tub up, but the front is hung up somewhere. I know I have all the bolts out because I counted, so gunk or something is holding it up. Maybe I'll put the jack under it, very carefully, and see if I can pop it. I used the Workshop Manual to guide me and it doesn't appear, once I removed the steering column, that anything is holding up removal. So, we'll see how it goes.

Oh, and when removing the rear wheel well vinyl covering that was left, I found a little friend. We don't see too many large spiders up here in CT. This one was about the size of a silver dollar. The boys liked him!

Say Hello to My Little Friend

Saturday, November 8, 2014

More Generosity

Few things today after another long no-show. First, it's my birthday today and my wife got me the Best. Cake. Ever.

You may remember the very generous gentleman who provided me with my new-to-me boot lid. I accepted his generous offer to take the rest of the car and after a U-Haul rental and a 3 hour round trip, it was in my driveway. He had originally purchased it to do an engine swap and had started frame modifications. Unfortunately, the project turned out bigger than he wanted. But, not before he did a lot of repairs to the tub, most of which I would have had to do to my '66. So, I'll be swapping tubs and stripping other tidbits off of the "new" car as it's mostly complete except for an engine, gearbox and interior.

I also got two more doors (better shape), a Mk1 radiator (maybe now I can convert my Mk1 engine BACK to a Mk1) and various other parts. The best part, tho, is the steel hardtop. It needs some love, but the glass is good and it doesn't appear that actual metal has been lost from rust.

#2. A '64 Mk1 this time.
Once again, I'm very excited to get some work done, which will begin tomorrow with starting the tear down process. Unfortunately, with #1 in the garage, there is no where to put #2 except in the driveway. With winter on the way and, more importantly, the car disturbing the boy's basketball court, I need to get it stripped pretty quick. Because of a fence that I don't really want to tear apart, not to mention some shrubbery, I really can't get the car to the back yard or that's where she would be. The wife is supportive, but her teeth are clenched a little bit this time, so I can't mess around with this one.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Cozy in the garage
In the interest of bad weather protection, giving the boys back their "basketball court" and otherwise continuing to work on the car during the winter months, I've moved her into the garage. As you can see, the garage isn't that large (The picture is from me standing at the door to the basement). It's a typical attached single-car garage in a cookie-cutter neighborhood. I do have access to each wheel and do have several feet in front and behind to accomplish various things so I'm going to try and make the most of it.

Some of the things I would like to accomplish this winter:
     Get all new front bushings and generally rebuild the front suspension and steering.
     Examine the rear suspension, replace the rubber stuff, remove/clean up/replace the leaf spring.
     Get the windshield rubber on and the windshield installed (fooled you in the picture...it's just sitting there on the frame).
     Pull the gearbox and rip it apart to try and see what it ailing first gear (this will be a first for me)
     Pull the head and get it converted to unleaded.
     Strip the body of everything that isn't metal (i.e., bumpers, lights, trim, etc.)

I was driving the family to a pumpkin carving party this afternoon. It was a relatively nice day here today and we passed a dark red Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite with the top down. Now, of all the British cars, this is probably my favorite one for its personality and it just looks like it really enjoys being a car. Seeing that car today provided my motivation to continue work on my Spitfire and strive to do her justice in getting her restored.  Who knows, maybe this winter I'll just pull the tub off!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ah, work.

Started the new job on Monday. Enjoying it so far, but I'm still in the indoctrination phase. The people, some of who I knew from my time in the Navy, are welcoming, so that's making it easier.

But, you know, that job thing tends to make that car thing take a back seat. So, even though it provides a money stream to feed the beast, it means no work on the car all week. I did push it into the garage on Tuesday night (easier and quicker than getting it started since she's still not tuned up) because we were expecting strong T-storms overnight (nothing, of course) and I didn't want my tarps blowing off. She fit well with ample room front and back. The sides may be a bit tight if I want to get into anything extreme (due to stuff on the garage walls), but I think I will be able to work on it just fine if I need to. No heat in my garage and winter is coming, so that may be a fleeting wish.

I got my new heater return pipe (goes from the water pump to the back of the block) and a new valve cover (with the vent pipe...and original oil cap!) from High Point Imports. Those guys have been great! Those things along with a MK 2 water pump housing and I'm that much closer to piping in the heater. I'm having significant problems finding good pictures (or ones that make sense) of how that stuff is supposed to be piped in, however. And, I thought with my intake manifold that the line coming off the manifold just "plugged" right into the valve cover. However, I can't find any pictures like that...they all run from the manifold to the air filter "box", which is long gone.

Thought that hose (with that snazzy vacuum gage) ran right to the valve cover?
I ordered some stuff from SpitBits and that should be here on Monday (UPS says that's when to expect it, so I guess they don't observe Columbus Day?). In that box will be my emergency (or hand, I guess is more proper) brake parts to get that all rebuilt and some various other bits and pieces including a new windshield seal. I may just wait now until either a very sunny and warm-ish day to get the rubber nice and pliable or wait until spring when those days happen more often. Since I'm paying for this one, I don't really want to ruin it.

Otherwise, nothing else going on. My line on a new tub has been verified but I still need to secure transportation for it. I have a lead on a "friend of a friend" which doesn't always tend to work out, but supposedly he works for beer. In my experience, those kind of guys tend to work out just fine!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

And on the 6th Note...

Success! Unfortunately, due to camera issues, I don't have a pic. But, this time, I did the flare for the female end of the line (single flare).  Did a fit test and, sure enough, the flare was lop-sided which I could feel as I rotating the female fitting in a circle while it was in contact with the flare. In a moment of inspiration (these happen to me from time to time), I put the line back in the flaring kit, but rotated it 90 degrees and compressed it again. Not much additional flaring, but just enough to seemingly make it more "true round". Rotated another 90 degrees and did it again, then another.
In the end, I had a pretty good flare that looked like the factory flare on the other end and I was pretty confident it would hold.

Sure enough, it did. I made it through an entire bleeding process with the help of my oldest. After that, I just sat there for a good 5 minutes with my foot pressed firmly on the pedal to try and hydro the brake lines as best I could (along with all the other seals and what-not). I had a bad dream last night where I was driving the car and the brake line that I made failed...wasn't pretty, especially with a single-piston M/C. But my restoration job on the rest of the car was awesome...can't wait for that to actually happen!! No leakage this time from any joints that I disturbed or any others that I looked at along the path.

That was really it for today (and with rain yesterday, for the weekend) as soccer and post-soccer ice cream took up most of the day. Tomorrow, it's time to get back to the real world and start my new job, so updates will become more sporadic. However, I do intend to move the car into the garage soon. This will enable me to work in the evening and will also allow the kids to play basketball (the car takes up the driveway basketball court) as that season is starting here soon. So, another order to SpitBits tonight for handbrake stuff (and a few other things) and that's about it.

I have a line on a new-to-me tub that may help alleviate a significant amount of worry about the body cancer that I have. If I can secure the resources to get the tub to the house, I may save myself a lot of work in the long run and have a more solid car to enjoy, but we'll see how that works out. Crossing my fingers!

Unrelated, but, an early temp gauge that came as an "extra". Think I like this one.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Maybe 5 Notes?

This morning was spent trying to get a CT driver's license since I have to become a resident now. I cannot believe how much they require to prove that I am a resident here...passport, social security card, two pieces of mail, marriage license, blood sample...oh, and about $120 for each one. And, if you don't have everything they require...come back when you do. If I was an illegal alien...yeah, I'd get a license WITHOUT any of that stuff. That's all the politics I'll say about that.

Turns out my wife had a "prior" from when we lived in Charleston, SC about 12 years ago and they suspended her SC driving privileges (she never had a SC-issued license). Either get it resolved or pay them $100 to "make it go away". And CT, being the stand-up state that it is, won't give her one of their driver's licenses until it is resolved. Of course, she has renewed her NJ driver's license THREE times since we left SC with no issues, but then again we all know that NJ is rather shady. We came home empty handed and quite frustrated. But, USAA (the best company EVER) took care of the "prior" thing (an insurance mis-understanding) and we should be good the next time we try.

Sadly, however, there was no joy on the brake line. Guess my flare wasn't as good as I thought. Think I'll give it one more shot of brake line and then I'll break down (ha, get it?) and buy one. The Roadster Factory are the only guys that I've found that seem to carry that single line, however. But, it's about $14 and with shipping...talking about a $25 brake line. That's like $3.50 and inch. Maybe, though, I'll just put my gifted one back in and call it good for now. Not like I'm driving her anywhere soon.

The rest of the day I went about figuring out why the speedometer didn't work. That took about 30 seconds and was quite obvious.

Well, there's your problem. Sorry about the crap focus.
Because the oil light in the speedometer no longer had the green "crystal" over it (I found it in the bezel), I decided to take my spare one apart and see what I could see. Cleaned her all up. The rubber in it, however, was shot. So, taking a cue from the forum, I emailed Nisonger Instruments to get a quote for both dashboard and bezel rubber. I can get dashboard rubber at a few places, including SpitBits, but I'll see what Nisonger has to offer on the "whole package". The green crystal on the one I was cleaning up had been glued at some point using some nasty epoxy. Got most of it off, but I want something that will look better. Any ideas for gluing plastic to painted metal that won't destroy either and that I don't have to glob on?

My cleaned on on left. One from car on right. I just love the look of the old gauges!
The two were very similar in condition before I started. I used steel wool on the bezel. There are some pits and stuff still there, but most of it cleaned right up. The one that came out of the car has a bit more personality to it, however. Some "petina" on the odometer and trip meter, so I may clean that one up and see how it goes and then make my choice. I would like to reset the odometer to 00000, but I don't want to sit there forever nor do I want to do it wrong and end up breaking it. Any ideas on an easy way to roll it back since I'm much closer to 00000 than 99999 on both. Also, the main beam crystal in the original has faded to a "no longer blue" color so I may have to swap them out...without breaking either, of course!

Final question. What's up with the rubber in the picture below?! I've found this on several areas of the car. Enough of them, and in unique enough positions that I find it odd. This is the bottom of the wiper motor. I've found a few grommets that looked like this and part of the old trunk seal. Also, the original speedometer rubber seal on the inside looked like this in spots (second picture below).

What happened to the rubber?
More leaking rubber...held upside down, sorry.
I've never seen anything like it and, frankly, it makes me a bit nervous. The car was a FL/GA car for almost all of its life as far as I know...and coastal at that. Maybe some odd salt-spray and heat reaction? Just too many odd places, I think (like the speedometer) it may be something the PO sprayed or otherwise applied. Other pieces, however, like the speedometer cable grommets I yanked out today, were just old, hard and crusty, like I would expect. Curiosity!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Back to the Real World

Today is my first "real" day of retired life. For the last several weeks I've actually been on terminal leave. But, as of midnight and after 24 years, 2 months and 8 days, I am now officially retired from the United States Navy.

On a brighter financial note, I start work on Monday as a prospective Nuclear Shift Test Engineer at Electric Boat Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics Corporation. From one side of the military-industrial complex to the other, I guess.

Weather here has been an absolute mess for the last two days and I don't think tomorrow is going to be much better. Friday is supposed to be nice, but that's the day I'm going to get my CT driver's license. Figure it's time to actually become a resident of the state where I live and pay taxes and all. But, I don't really have anything on my agenda to do to the car. I have lots of stuff to do, of course, but I either need parts (like to repair the e-brake, redo the front and rear suspension rubber, etc.), or need the skill/tools (like for body work).

Therefore, I will take stock of what I have, what I need, get the priorities straight and go from there.

After the first trip on the street...showing that it was parked in the opposite direction. Just couldn't do a post without a pic!

Monday, September 29, 2014

I Can Build that Brake Line in 4 Notes...

...or, no I can't. So, today I didn't really have anything to do on the car. Hopefully, this is the last full week that I will have to work on the car and will be starting my job next Monday (yes, I know this sounds like I'm crazy, but a steady income stream would be nice).

Without any new parts or new learned skills, there wasn't much that I could do (or much that I wanted to tear into). I will eventually pull apart the transmission (another job I've never done) to see what the metal squeal is about in 1st gear. I'm pretty sure it's a synchro or something, but we'll see once I get the guts to tear into it.

Though I had a perfectly good brake line provided by a kind gentleman from the forum, I wanted to see if I could make one myself. First, I started with renting a flaring kit from Advance Auto. This was a P.O.S and didn't work at all. I had to tighten the thumb screws so much to hold the pipe in place that I ended up pinching said pipe, preventing the unions from seating properly.

A vise and some vise grips...still not good enough!

The evil kit...may just have been too worn out.
I took that back and lodge a complaint...they didn't see any problems with it, of course. Then off to a local machine shop to inquire about converting the head to "unleaded" valves, guides and seats. They will do no problem. However, they don't turn rotors or drums (this surprised me, but I learned why later). They said they farmed that out to the local Bumper-to-Bumper. So, I went there to see what they had for flaring tools. No different than my FLAPS. I also inquired about turning my drums and rotors. While they will turn rotors, it turns out that the price of both has come down so much that it's just not cost effective to turn them anymore. As a matter of fact, the counter guy said they sell about 10,000 sets of rotors a year, but only turn about 20 or so.

While I thought that the argument to buy new rotors/drums was because it was "safe"...turns out that another reason may also be because it's hard to find anyone to resurface them. Kind of a bummer for me, in a nostalgic way, because I used to be able to turn my own rotors and drums on a lathe in auto shop when I was in high school...sad that this skill has been lost to modern auto mechanics (probably not the restoration shops, though).

Anyway, I went to Harbor Freight and bought their flaring kit, fully expecting it not to work. However, I was pleasantly surprised and turned out what I thought was a few good flares.

My final product...as long as it doesn't leak.
By the time I got that all done and got the line installed, however, it was pushing 5pm. Weeknights are bad to get work done because of soccer, so I bolted everything up and I'll try to bleed the brakes tomorrow to see if I have any leaks. Of course, now, I can bolt down the 3-way splitter, which was the whole point in the first place.

New brake line installed...whether it leaks or not is, as yet, unknown.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Step 3 of 3 Complete...Sorta

First on the agenda today was a visit to a local car British Wheels On The Green in Madison, CT. This was hosted by The Jaguar Club of Southern New England so the vast majority of cars were Jags. My oldest and I made the 40 minute trip.

Some very beautiful specimens. Lots of E-Types, a few XK-120s and -150s, a few later model Jags (XKEs) and two brand new ones the local Jag dealer was showing. There were a few old MGs, a bunch of Austin-Healy 3000s, some Morgans, Lotus, TVRs, Aston Martins and, of course, some Triumphs. I was disappointed that there were only FIVE Triumphs there. A TR4, TR250, a GT6 (Mk 1, I think) a 1500 Spitfire and two TR6s. I really wanted to find an old Spitfire there so I could take some pictures and looks at where everything is "supposed" to go, but it wasn't to be. After that, a soccer game took most of the rest of the afternoon.

The E-Types are NICE!
However, I was able to get around to bleeding the brakes with the expert help of my loving wife (bet she didn't think she would be doing THAT when she woke up this morning!).

This was the result of bleeding. I bled until the fluid ran clear through the tube. Another flush or two probably a good idea.
So, after bleeding, I was confident enough in them and, with some imprecise static tests, decided to take a quick trip up and out of the driveway. I had intended to go further than I did, but the brakes seemed like they were starting to fade pretty good and it's a different perspective when you are actually driving the car.

I also discovered a pretty ugly noise in the transmission. Sounds like metal-on-metal rubbing. Stops when I push in the clutch, so I know its the gearbox itself. Will have to look into that. I never got out of first gear so I'm not sure if its common to all gears or not.

You may notice my workbench on the ground in front of my garage door in the video. Since my driveway slopes downward, I hoped if the brakes totally gave out, the car wouldn't be able to make it over the workbench and hit the house. Thankfully, my theory didn't require testing to validate.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Where you going?...No where!

Pardon the The Boondock Saints reference...if you haven't seen that movie, you need to. Like, stop reading and go watch it.

I've convinced myself not to make plans for the future. Or at least not be public about them. Today was supposed to be "Around the Block" day. I had the front calipers all rebuilt yesterday in the rain and they were ready to bolt in. But, I wanted to get at those rotors and at least clean them up to see if they needed to be replaced or if I thought I could get away with turning them. I have no micrometer, mind you, nor any specs on how thin they can get, but I remember my Midget could get thin...scarily so, and these look pretty thick.

Inside of rotor (hub still attached) as it came off the car.
Holy grime, Batman! Lots of cleaning to do. The more cleaning I did, the more I became concerned with the condition, or at least the greasing, of the bearings. There was grease in them (and out of them, obviously) but it was very much like a liquid vice a grease. It almost flowed like cold oil and looked the color of motor oil that was well past its prime (i.e., black).

A few days ago I noticed that I could rock the passengers side wheel/tire top to bottom...like you could rock it back and forth a bit, pulling it away and towards the car. I figured this was a worn bearing and that I would get to it eventually. Well, eventually came today.

I tore apart both front assemblies and cleaned everything up "adequately". I say that because it wasn't my best job. I didn't want to dismantle too much stuff because I don't have any parts for anything that I cannot get a True Value or NAPA (which means...cotter pins) that I may render inoperative. I do want to get this thing into my garage soon and figured on four wheels was the best way.

Yuck! Before cleaning, obviously.
I can actually read the serial numbers and patent numbers and all of that. By the way, what's up with all the patent numbers? Seems like everything I clean up has a British patent number on it of some sort...was there a patent scare in the mid-60's or something? And, yes, anything on this car that is rubber needs to be replaced.

Better. The rubber under that upper ball joint is...sorta there.
So, I got both sides cleaned up and got both inner and outer bearings repacked. The bearings and races looked in surprisingly good shape.

Inner race..can't remember which side. Pretty good shape. This was typical of all of them.
Went to NAPA and found a bearing packing thing. It wasn't too cheap (~$24 on sale), but it looked better than the other one they had there (some large syringe-looking thing that I didn't think would be very stable) and it worked very well.

NAPA (and probably every other generic brand) bearing packer. Red thing is a "dust cap"
I got all of the inner and outer bearings repacked and re-assembled and it was MUCH better. Got the front calipers connected and ready to go as well on both sides. A nice mix of new and old parts. I also discovered that those steering rack boots are merely there for show...they are both shot and provide no real function at all. I guess the steering rack will require a once-over, if not full rebuild, at some point. I did feel a little "clunk" today and I pulled it (using the rotor) from side to side. SpitBits, here I come!!

Passenger's side.
Otherwise, that was about it. I had intended to get the front calipers installed, brakes bled, and get her around the block. Instead (and time better spent, I think), I did something that I've never actually done before and that was clean up, remove, repack and replace the front hub and all of that. Both hubs spin much more smoothly and they both look better (if requiring more cleaning) than they did before I started. All of that grease in the first picture came from somewhere!

About the size of a brake pad, ya think?
The above shows the worst, by far, of any damage to the brake rotors. These are about the same depth as the brake drums from yesterday. They all need to be turned, but this one may actually not make it. The other side needs a turning, but is otherwise pit-free.

I need to get new hub seals and washers, but otherwise, I think the front hubs are good. The washer's were pretty well grooved from contact with the outer bearing (must be past bearings, because the grooves on the washer would have translated into MUCH wear on the bearing...and I didn't see any). The hub seals look like an expendable part. Felt and metal, I think, though what I had on the car was only felt...no metal backing. Not sure about that, but I'll get the correct stuff pending recommendations from the forum.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Caliper Day

Unfortunately, the weather forecast for today called for "rain, heavy at times". Not good for car work. The rain did hold off until mid-morning, but my plans already were in place for the rain.

Curse you, rain!
Some quick errands in the morning and a trip to NAPA and I was ready to tackle the caliper rebuilds. I don't think I like dual pistons very much, especially ones that are so small. Took a lot of cursing and what not, but I finally got the things done.
First, the trip to NAPA was for their Sil-Glyde. I had read about this stuff on the forum and figured it would be my best best. Maybe I should try this on the windscreen install? However, TRF back-ordered the windscreen seal, so that will be a while yet. That's my biggest complaint with them...you don't know if something will be back-ordered until your order has been processed.

Slippery stuff, but easier to work with than that "personal lubricant"
The first thing was to get the inner rubber seal into the piston cylinder of the caliper itself. This was easy. Then, I lubricated the pistons and inserted them. At first, I left them pretty far out, but over time it became clear that fully inserting them was the way to go. The seal between the dust boot and the caliper body was the biggest pain. I used a lot of the Sil-Glyde...

Directions...Use sparingly. Haha, silly Sil-Glyde.
and finally got it worked around. I had to take a small pair of needle nose pliers (with jaws taped) to help me spin the seal around the retaining ring of the caliper. Doing this along with gently pulling the seal outward and then releasing it and it eventually threaded itself completely around. I would not have been able to do this without lots of Sil-Glyde.

Sealed to caliper. Piston had to go all the way in (unlike this picture) to get the seal piston to mate.
The next painful part was mating the seal and the piston. I compared the new and old pistons and it seems that the new piston's groove for the rubber seal was more narrow than the old one. However, doing dry fits confirmed that it would work. But, it wasn't until I full inserted the piston (even using a C-clamp) and used lots of lubricant that the mating was successful (wait, mating...lubricant...what kind of post is this?!).

Seal to piston mating
However, this seal seems very easily disturbed. There were several times where just handling the caliper caused this seal to dislodge. Hopefully, once the pads are in and the whole thing is installed on the rotor it will be tight enough in there to prevent this. I'll have to check on it periodically to make sure until I'm confident that it will continue to hold.

So, after all was said and done, I am pretty happy with it. I attached the new hoses along with new copper washers to the calipers and they wait, on my workbench, for installation. I've already told the wife that she may have to help me bleed the brakes...we'll see how that goes, but I don't really expect any issues...unless I have them, of course.

Pliers' handle just keeps the pads from falling inward.