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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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Two Steps Forward...

Forgot to mention in the other day's post about the NASCAR race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Local Connecticut boy Joey Lagano won under a green-white-checker. Pretty good race all in all and the boys had fun. We got pit passes this year, too, so I got some good pics of cars up close...like this one.
Danica Patrick's car, in case you didn't know.
On a side note from that, there were probably about 90,000 people there. Last year I was incredibly impressed by how quick we got out of the parking lot. From the highway to the track (or track to highway) is about 8 miles, give or take. Imagine moving that many people from track parking to the highway. I timed it again this year...28 minutes. From the moment I started the car until I was at highway speed on I-93 heading south towards home...28 minutes. There were NH State Troopers at EVERY intersection and tow trucks standing by in case anyone broke down. But, in the world of crowded events (baseball games, etc), this is by far the largest audience that has moved so efficiently in my experience. Just sayin'...

Anyway, I was hoping the UPS guy would show up early today since he had my "around the block" parts from SpitBits and I was hoping to get some good progress on the front brakes. Alas, he didn't show up until just after 4pm, so there was no work.
The PO also stopped by today to drop off the title and take a look. Started it up for him, of course. He was impressed by the amount of work that I accomplished so far. Of course, given the fact that I haven't started my new job yet, I've pretty much done nothing else between the hours of 9am and 4pm since I bought the car (at least on weekdays when the kids are in school).
So, I pulled out the handbrake cable today. Couldn't figure out how to get it out "properly", so I ended up just cutting it. Since I sheared it so badly, figured there wasn't much point in trying to salvage it. However, now I will have to get a new one in...future me.

The cut handbrake cable with partially sheared threaded end.
I am also missing the return spring on the passenger's side of the handbrake. The reason is the retaining clip has worn through. So, I guess the handbrake was used quite often, but I'm not quite sure what to do about this. I think I will try JB Weld, but I'm not positive that that will hold up. The driver's side has only a matter of time before that one goes, too. Unfortunately, the clips are spot-welded to the back of the brake housing, so I cannot easily replace them.
Handbrake return spring retaining thing. Sorry, not a great angle. This is about the size of a thumbnail, so not very big.
I also gave a once over to the back brakes. Turns out the bottom springs were installed wrong. I found one spring still new in the package in the "box o' parts" so I was able to fix that, but the other new one was installed and "modified" to fit. I was able to bend it back and get it installed properly. While I was there I also removed and cleaned up the adjusters as they were not replaced. Everything else looked in good shape mainly because it was all brand new. Except the drums, of course. One is pretty bad. The other...maybe I can get it turned enough and not exceed the minimum thickness.
Like craters on the moon.
So, the rear brakes, with the exception of the handbrake, are ready to go...er, stop...whatever.
I looked at the calipers again today, just to make sure, and they still look good. I forgot about the residual grease that may still be in the passages, though. Not quite sure how I'm going to get that all cleaned out...and not quite sure that I really care.

So, in my "around the block" box I got the caliper pistons, various brake line mounting hardware (copper washers, star washers, etc), brake pads and clips and a clutch slave cylinder (guess I don't really need that). I also got the boot lid seal so that will go well with the new boot lid.

Tomorrow I intend to fully rebuild the front calipers. The weather is supposed to be very wet tomorrow, so I'm not sure that I will actually be able to work on the car itself. Maybe if it stops for a little while I can get the boot lid seal on (that will take about 3 minutes), but we'll see. She's double-covered tonight.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Windscreen...Take 2

And...failed again.This time, however, I really did a number on the windscreen seal. Nice long tear about 6" or so. But, I was willing to do that today. I had two helpers pressing down firmly, so I decided to take a chance. I got about 3" away from where the screen starts to take a turn up the passenger's side and the tear started. Maybe next time I'll start from the top and try to work my way down.  Anyway, this windscreen rubber came with the car, so I wasn't as concerned about it. It had a lot of what looked like old adhesive in the joints so I'm not sure that it wasn't used before.
But, I ordered another just today from The Roadster Factory (going to try someone new this time), along with some other things of course. We'll see how long it take it to get to southeastern CT from where they are in PA (about 450 miles away).

I was able to install the new-to-me hard brake line for the driver's rear drum brake. Unfortunately, the line probably should be about an inch longer or so...I cannot bolt up the 3-way splitter using the installed hanger as the pipes are arranged right now. I didn't want to stress anything too much or take any chances, so I left the splitter as it was. So, in the future, I'll either make my own line or purchase one...but for now I think it will work just fine.

New hard line from splitter to mount. Dirty-birdy back there. Differential oil or something.
That was about it. I think I've had it with the standing grease on the car. I have no drips on the driveway so I am confident she isn't actively leaking anything, but there is years of typical grime/grease that, frankly, annoys me. Still waiting on parts so I don't really have all that much to do tomorrow, so I think I may take the pressure washer to it along with some Purple Power pre-treating. We'll see how it goes!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Step Two of Three Achieved

Thought today was going to go like yesterday, but in the end, it was pretty good. Domestic duties took me until around 10:30 and then I started work on the car. I first tried to get the windscreen frame in.  Uh, yeah, moving on. Then, I wanted to get the boot lid fitted properly. I was unable to do that for whatever reason...probably just ignorance. I'm sure, out of the three nuts & bolts per side, there is an magic adjustment somewhere. But, as of now, the lid still rubs on the passenger's side. It will shut, but it rubs.

Next, thanks to Nigel at SpitBits and courtesy of the US Postal Service, the retaining clip for my 3/4" clutch slave cylinder arrived. They are not provided with the slave rebuild kit (unlike the master cylinder kits) for whatever reason and I guess they are pretty rare, but there you go. Nigel came through. So, I took a shot and rebuilt it. Well, it seems to have worked. I mounted and bled it (love that you can do that by yourself) and filled the master cylinder to the line. Then, I pumped it a few dozen times. Checked the master cylinder level and it hadn't changed. Removal and inspection of the slave didn't show any leakage, so I mounted it back up. It felt a bit odd, but it's been a long time since I've driven a stick shift let alone one that's almost 50 years old! Maybe I didn't get all the air out. I did order a new one from SpitBits in my latest order just in case this one didn't hold. I'll keep it, of course (at $50, why not?!) as a ready spare.

Rebuilt slave cylinder...properly oriented (bleed screw on top) this time.
Started the car, pushed in the clutch and put the transmission in first (slowly). No gear-grinding noise, so that's good. Slowly let out the clutch and she moved! Remember, I have no brakes, so I was doing this very gingerly and had blocks both in front and behind all four wheels just in case. An old car in the driveway is one thing for the wife...damage to the house by that old car is quite another! I tried all four forward gears and reverse and they all caused the car to move (reverse in the proper direction of...backward). Of course, until I get the thing actually moving down the road, I won't know for sure that the gearbox is all good, but it's a start!

So, now, the car runs (Step 1) and will move (at least a few inches) on its own power (Step 2). My expected delivery date on the SpitBits parts is Wednesday (does anyone else track UPS and FedEx packages every day?!) so, barring any further "while I'm in there" or "uh-oh" moments, I think I should have the brakes ready to go by week's end (Step 3...as in reference to the title...get it?).

Now, after the confidence boost of fixing the clutch slave and knowing the car would move (a bit), I went back at the windscreen frame again. It had been sitting in the sun since the first attempt hours before. I pulled and yanked on the bulkhead rubber quite a bit and even put some slits in it around the frame mounting posts since it would just not sit anywhere near flush there.

Prior to modification. Just would not follow the curve of the frame enough to get it seated in the car.
I cut it just enough that the seal's lip would grab the edge of the frame (hard to explain). Then, I put the frame in the car, leaned down on it and tightened down the two post bolts and the three mounting bolts across the top-front of the dash just enough so that I was pretty sure I could still pull a rope from under the seal. I put the "lubricated" rope in there again and secured it this time using painters tape so it wouldn't fall. And, I am happy to report that it worked! I went slow and there were some places that I had to go back too, but it looks pretty good to me. There were some light gouges in the seal, but no tears or cuts at all. I have to clean up the surface rust on tonneau cover snaps that go around those dash bolts and will then tighten down the frame fully. I will also have to trim the seal a bit, but I'm don't want to do that until I'm totally done, maybe including new door seals, too, just to be safe.

The fit and the excess.

Pretty happy with it. Especially considering what the original looked like (I literally broke it in pieces to get it off).
The windscreen itself is now what remains. I am going to need some help with this since everything I've read says it a two person job...one to push down on the windscreen and one to pull the "lubricated" rope to wrap the seal. This weekend, however, is packed with soccer games and paintball tomorrow and then my father-in-law and I are taking the boys up the Loudon, NH for the NASCAR race on Sunday. We even have pit passes so it should be pretty cool. I know the boys are psyched! So, don't expect much over the weekend (and my brother is coming, too!). I did have a small oil leak from the valve cover when running the car (did I mention that?). The cut-a-gasket material the PO used wasn't thick enough to seal that well (didn't fill the indentation in the valve cover). I tried with some RTV Blue today, but that was going to require entirely too much to allow me to not feel "dirty", so I wiped it all off. I just hope I remember that before I start the car again!

Just too much would be required. Can't do it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Windscreen Woes

Well, that didn't go well. Thought I was going to get the windscreen (so British) and its frame installed today. Nope. After much effort (and liberal application of some "personal lubricant"...Walgreen's brand KY Jelly), I got the rubber around the windscreen itself. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't fun, either. Then, I tried to get the windscreen installed on the frame. Maybe it would be easier to do this with the frame installed in the car, but I couldn't do that either because I couldn't get the frame to bulkhead seal on correctly.
I love the way new rubber looks on an old car. I think it really completes the look (assuming that, unlike me, you have a look to complete!). However, new rubber is a pain in the rear to install. I had forgotten how much so. I used the lubricated rope trick to get the windscreen installed in the frame and it was working until I started to tear the rubber. This was probably because I didn't have it centered on the frame, but I'm not sure. I can tell you that it wasn't for lack of lubricant!
Whoops. This tear (the biggest of three) is about 2" long and goes down to the base. Son of a...
So, I stopped doing that in fear that I would just make it worse and decided to try and get the windscreen frame mounted.  However, I couldn't get the lip of the bulkhead seal to "pop out" to sit flush to the bulkhead, so I tried the rope trick again, but gravity beat me on that. There isn't any place, unlike the windscreen seal, to tuck the rope in so it just sorta falls out in the center where I cannot get to it to tuck it in while also pushing down on the frame to seat it. Also not sure what's up with the extra...just trim to fit, I assume? So, hopefully a good nights rest will allow me to conquer it tomorrow.

New bulkhead seal and (finally) a picture of the windscreen mounting post.
From inside the car, under passenger's dash (bottom of antenna at top of pic). This is that hinge-like thing I was talking about that the windscreen post slides into.
I did get the new boot lid installed, however. You can see how bad my original one was (thanks, Art!).

Original boot lid...totally rusted out across its length at the bottom of the lid (top in this picture).
Bondo...but not too much!
Of course, since "I was in there" I wanted to do some preservation and ended up finding...Bondo. Oh, boy. So, I started to dig into it and guess what I found...NOT more Bondo! Yipee! Looks like there was a pretty minor ding in the back, but it was right on the crease, so not easy to repair, I'm sure. It was filled with Bondo and painted over. So, I removed all of the Bondo and took it down to bare metal there and in several other places around the boot lid.

The worst of the cancer around the boot frame.
Had a hell of a time removing the old boot rubber. It was like the rubber was almost vulcanized and it looked like it had been charred or something...hard and crusty in some spots but good in others. I don't know...the adhesive reacting with it maybe? I had to take the wire wheel to it to get it completely off.  I have a new seal coming from SpitBits in my latest order.

The boot lid still requires some minor adjustments for fitting (you may be able to notice the wider gap on the driver's side) but that should be an easy fix for tomorrow (when I'm ready to give up on the windscreen!).

Pending some fitment adjustments, installation complete. And, how about that nifty workbench!
I got my new-to-me water pump housing today from Scott at High Point Imports along with the gaskets. Nice "Stanpart" stamp on it. It looks ugly, but she's soaking, so I expect it will clean up just fine. I expect my frame outriggers (and hopefully my SpitBits order) early next week (outriggers are a future me project). And, in keeping with the flavor of yesterday's post, another kind gentleman has sent me that brake line that I needed. I expect that early next week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Generosity of Others

My brother owns a 1967 Datsun Roadster 1600 (SPL 311). This is his second '67 (as far as I know) and he owned a 2000 (SRL 311) and probably various parts and what-not over the years. He had his first one when he was in high school, restored it and drove it for many years until life took over. A few decades later he bought his current one, did some work and put a 5-speed in it, and decided to drive it across country (and Canada) over a period of close to a year. He chronicled his travels in his blog, RoadsterRoadtrip. If you want to read an outstanding blog and look at some of the best pictures that cover the entire nation, take some time and take a look...you won't be disappointed...it's MUCH better than this rag.
One of the many things that I took from his adventures was how the Datsun acted as an ambassador to the general public. People would stop him and ask questions...most thought it was an MG. Some remembered having a little red convertible of their own. But, in all cases, it got people talking and remembering their lives in a simpler time.
I may not have been around in 1966 when my car was built, but her, and cars like my brother's and other, old sports cars, remind me of my high school years of working on a car that you could actually work on and understand, outside of just changing the oil. Hell, I'm not sure I'd even want to change the plugs on my Honda.
In short, the love of these cars are often times the motivation for people that are otherwise total strangers to get to know one another. It can be the reason that people will go out of their way to help a fellow in need. It drives people to share their knowledge, their time, their spare parts and even sometimes their money.
And, so it was today for me. A kind gentleman that I bluntly introduced myself to on the forum happened to have a boot lid in his possession that he no longer wanted. My boot lid, as you can see in some of my pictures, needs some serious work...work (i.e., welding) that I do not have the knowledge, experience or equipment to complete. Suffice it to say that, through his generosity and willingness to take some time for a fellow in need, I am now the proud recipient of a boot lid that will bolt right up and actually keep rain water out of the boot! She may look real pretty, but there's not rust! Bet if I took a buffing wheel to that black paint, it would shine right up.
I am pretty sure that sticker on the left is a dealer sticker. Can't make out the other one. Police benevolent?
And, my house does not defy gravity...I rotated the picture.
So, I apologize if I am waxing philosophic, but, like I have mentioned before, I have received nothing but help and encouragement from all sides as I undertake the project to restore this car. From my wife, my kids, my brother, the PO (who I still touch base with every few days) to the guys on the forum...it has been slightly overwhelming and, best of all, has convinced me that I can do this and, if not, can find the help and assistance I need to get it done anyway.

So, not much done today. I got the boot lid which involved about a 2-hour round trip. Then, some grocery shopping (see, domestic duties) and lunch brought me until about 1:30. So, I cleaned up the windshield a bit more (still needs another round...going to use straight ammonia and newspaper) and put the mounting brackets back in the car (loosely, and with new gaskets). Still no pictures tho...knew I forgot something. But, the boys and I needed haircuts (more domestic duties!) so there was that trip. Then dinner...and, well, there's the day.

I was also VERY happy to locate that female brake pipe fitting. I had called TRF to verify that what they had (thanks to the help of the forum...see!?) was what I actually needed. I left a message for them to call me back since their lines were jammed.  I went back out to the garage and went through all the little baggies of brake stuff the PO had from when he did the rear brakes to see what lock nuts and copper washers I needed to make sure I had everything. And, there it was...the female nut. No wonder I had that extra brake line. So, I assume the PO broke or cut the brake line getting it out of the car (the rear brakes were pretty horrible by the looks of the old parts) and, whether or not he realized its unavailability from your LFAPS, he was smart enough to hold on to the nut. Since I was looking for a brake line, I never realized it for what it was. So, if all goes well, I'll get a brake line, cut one end off, put this nut on, flare it (loaner tool) and put her on.

There you are! Midway through a vinegar soak.
By the way, Albert from TRF did call me back a bit later in the day, so that was a big up-check in my book for their customer service! I'll have to give them a try for parts some time.

Tomorrow I intend to put the new trunk lid on (need to do some surface rust removal and preservation around the hinge area on the car itself) and get the windshield in. I may need some help getting the glass around the rubber so it may have to wait. Some stuff I've read says its a two man job, but that may be with the frame still in the car. So, I will be gentle because I REALLY don't want to brake the glass.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Something You Don't See Everyday

Finally figured out how to get the windshield and its frame out. I didn't document it very well in pictures, but I'll try to explain as best I can.

Look Ma, no windshield!
Windscreen removed. Lots of old rubber and stuff left to get off.
First, the windshield and framing are attached to the car with a series of three bolts and a bracket, per side. This bracket looks like half of a hinge without the hing pin in it. The posts that stick out of the bottom of the frame (they are tapered) go into the "hinge hole" and this is tightened down with nylock nuts to snug it all up. Simple...if you understand that's how it works. Well, I undid all the bolts yesterday and started to pull. Lots of movement, but not in the outward direction. So, I WD-40'ed the posts overnight, put the nuts back on to protect the threads and whacked away at it until it loosened up. In hindsight, I should not have removed the three bolts holding the brackets in but only the post nuts. The movement of the brackets made it more difficult to remove the thing. I would have put them back in, but I couldn't get the holes realigned because the rubber was all messed up and...it was a mess. But, I finally got it.

Silicone bead around windshield.
The windshield itself is in good shape, though there are some wipers burns on it. I may be able to polish these out, though. You can see silicone around the periphery of the entire thing...guess it was leaking. And, based on the rubber surround that I was literally able to break off to remove the glass, that doesn't surprise me.

Two of the three spots prepped for priming.
I was also bracing myself for lots of rust because the rubber between the car body and the bottom of the frame was dry-rotted, too. But, there were three very light spots of bubbling and some spots around the holes where the frame posts enter the body. These were also bent up a bit; probably from years of pulling on the frame to get out of the car (that's how I do it, anyway). I brought these to bare metal, sanded them, applied rust converter as a paint prep (says so on the bottle), wiped it clean and primed it. It looks horrible, but hopefully I did more good than harm. Besides, after having removed this it comes off easily enough that I would pull it to paint the whole car anyway.

The other thing that I found was the original paint color in good condition where the rubber was. Not quite sure why the PO painted it. The original red is very nice...of course, it may have been in pretty bad shape. I keep looking for extensive frame damage, indicating an accident that required new body parts and, hence, new paint. But, the frame is also this bright red (Signal Red, Code 11 from the commission plate) where it has been protected from the elements, so I'm going with just oxidation over time.

So, everything is all cleaned up and nice and pretty. I have new rubber for the screen and the frame bottom and will try to get that back in tomorrow. There is a handy website that I found with tips on how to do it, so hopefully it will go smooth.

My other problem for today was a rear brake line. There is a little solid brake line that runs from the 3-way splitter for the rear brakes to a bracket for the driver's rear drum. It bolts through this bracket to the brake hose that runs out to the wheel. Well, you would be surprised (or maybe not) that it is very hard to find a brake line made this way (male on one end, female on the other). So, for whatever reason, when the PO did the brakes, this line went missing, or was broken or something. To the point, I don't have it. Thanks to the guys on the forum, it looks like The Roadster Factory has them, but I want to call them tomorrow to verify. No one else seems to have just that line, but I can buy all sorts of kits to do the whole car!

The brake line I need.
So, that was it for today. Tomorrow morning, first thing, I'm taking a ride to Providence to pick up a boot lid that a very kind gentlemen (who I also contacted via the forum) has offered me...for free. This will replace mine that only has a matter of time before it totally rots away at the bottom. Then, domestic duties call, so I'm not sure if I will get the windshield back in or not.

Monday, September 15, 2014

It Lives!

Late yesterday, as one final attempt to start the car, I turned the key and just heard that infamous "CLICK" of the solenoid. Nothing. I didn't even get little wisps of smoke like I did last time. I had just uncovered the car and hadn't touched it all day as I was working on stuff that wasn't attached. So, I thought I had fried something for real this time. But, I played with that damn grounding strap again and it gave me some more wonky resistance readings...so I relocated her to the firewall using one of the bolts that holds in the brake pedal. Solid short just about everywhere. So, turn the key and she turns over just fine...doesn't run of course, but turns over. Does anyone know where this thing is actually supposed to go by design?

Braided grounding strap continues to upset me.
Today, I cleaned up, painted and primed the (correct) brake master cylinder support bracket and put that in along with replacing the bent clutch one. I also got the dust boots on, but not too well. Those things are painful. You can't get at the side closest to the firewall at all and getting it to seat right was not possible. I'm sure there is some magical words or a special British tool for this, but I didn't have either of them. They will most likely come back out. And, I stupidly put the masters in without bench testing/bleeding them...so if they leak it's going to make a big mess. So, yes, they will both come back out in the near future.

Oh, and after 48 years, this lock washer finally gave up the ghost. It was one that held the clutch master cylinder support down. Guess it was a good thing I pulled it back off.

Poor thing. 48 years is a long time, especially since you were probably submerged in leaking brake fluid most of the time.
I also wanted to check out what the PO did with the rear brakes since I will be ordering parts to finish everything (short term) up and wanted to make sure I didn't need anything back there. Looks like he did a fine job. New shoes, cylinders, springs, clips...the whole deal.  The brake drums are in decent shape, though the driver's side has some pretty good pits in it. No groves, though. I will look into getting them turned.  Also, on the driver's side, just inside the wheel, is the 3-way union to split the lines to run to the two drum brakes. The driver's side has a short hard pipe and then ties into the hose. I have the new hose and a piece of hard pipe that came with the car, so I assume this was his intention, but the one side needs a female end and the pipe had two males.  I don't remember seeing that part anywhere and, of course, they are "No Longer Available".  Also wish I had looked a bit closer because there is a mounting bracket back there for the hard pipe that I'm not sure is there. So, I may have to figure out what to do about that. I'm sure they make brake line with a male on one side and a female on the other.  Probably need a trip to my favorite auto parts store!

Rear passenger brake. Yes, I know there are no stands...I have them, just didn't use them. I was never actually under the car.
I also discovered that, because of the way the rear suspension is designed, with a single transverse leaf spring (they must have been trying to save money...even my Midget had one leaf spring per side...but then again, it also had lever shocks,...I'd rather have a single transverse leaf spring), when you jack the rear of the car up, the wheels camber in...wow...a lot!

Holy camber!
Another interesting part was once I lowered it back down, the wheels pretty much stayed heavily cambered inward. Obviously the suspension can easily support the weight of the car. So, I rolled it up a back a few times and they eventually flattened out.

But, the most important part of this post and after pulling my hair out for the better part of two weeks,  as of about 2:12pm EST, she finally runs! I must admit that the video isn't the very first time she started, but it was the second. A slight tweak on the idle speed and she'll sit there pretty happily at around 800 rpm (in the video she's running around 1200 or so...before I dialed it in a bit better). Lots of rattles and shakes, but she runs (and I think I need a new muffler). Roll that beautiful bean footage:

Turns out I had my timing WAY off. So far off, as a matter of fact, that I was firing the wrong cylinders. In other words, my spark plug wires went to the wrong plugs. If you look at this picture of the distributor below, the rotor is pointing to what I thought was #1 at TDC.  According to the manual, the rotor should be pointing in a more north-westerly direction.  However, not only was this incorrect, so was I.  #1 at TDC was actually 180-degress out from this picture.

Where I thought #1 at TDC should be.
So, at some point in it's life, this motor's distributor was put in wrong. Technically, however, it doesn't matter one bit as long as I have a bit of room to rotate it to adjust the timing, which I obviously do. So, once I finally figured that out, got it right, and tried it, it fired right up. And I mean quicker than my Honda Fit.

Also found an oil leak...but from my valve cover gasket, so that's easy. The exhaust manifold was also smoking and I though I may have a pin-hole leak (it's pretty rusted), but it was just all of that flippin' starting fluid that I was using burning off. I did let it run long enough to let the temperature gage come off of "C". Guess I should let it run long enough to make sure it doesn't get to "H", huh?

So, now I need to make a final assessment of the parts that I need to make her road worthy and get them on their way. If that all goes to plan, I think I may have my first around the block attempt during the week of the 29th. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Little Nuggets of Wisdom

Get some work done today. I cleaned up and rebuilt the brake master cylinder with the help of my oldest. He's 11 and I'm trying to get him to enjoy cars like I do...especially little British ones. So, he did all of this rebuild (with my help and guidance) all by himself. The cap on this one is pretty rough. I thought I had another one around but couldn't find it...I'll look more tomorrow.
Brake master cylinder all ready to go.

Both masters installed.
After that, we installed both master cylinders and connected them up to the pedals. This leveled out my clutch pedal (duh!) problem that I mentioned in yesterday's post. The clevis pin for the clutch master was grooved pretty good, so I'll be getting a new one of those. I also used stainless cotter pins, which ended up being a mistake. You may notice that I forgot to put the dust boots on. Turns out you need to do that BEFORE you connect the linkage. The mistake with the stainless cotter pins made itself apparent as they are a real pain to remove. Also, there's another problem with this picture.

Crooked clutch master.
If you look closely at the clutch master, however, you'll notice that it's a bit crooked. Turns out the mounting bracket is bent...didn't notice until I got it installed. So, since I would assume that over time this will wear the internal rubber seal on that side excessively and lead to premature failure, I'll be putting in another mounting bracket. This lead to identification of another issue. The car came with the installed masters and one more of each, all in their brackets. Turns out, the brake master's bracket is different than that clutch one. I assume this is for strengthening, but not quite sure why. So, I will remove both masters, swap the bracket on the brake for the clutch (straightening that up) and then cleaning, priming and painting the correct brake master bracket.

Horrible pic, but you can see difference in brackets...that horizontal support right below the cylinder's top mounting bolt
I also convinced myself today that my ignition timing is way off and this is why I cannot get the car started. And, when I say way off, I mean by a whole cylinder. My starting problems began when I set the static timing...should have paid more attention and taken more pictures, but I set it right off the manual so I was confident. Anyway, looking at the pictures in the owner's manual and the workshop manual (and some cars I've found online), #1 plug wire (and hence, the rotor) is at the top left of the distributor as you look down. However, the way I have it set up, that's where #2 is (i.e., the last in the firing order). So, this would provide the totally wrong firing order and not let the car start.

Where I think my TDC should be...this is not my car, by the way.
Now, of course, I could have just screwed this up. However, the engine has been replaced, but the MK1 and MK2's are identical for distributor versus cylinder positions (as far as I can tell). I have an extra distributor that came with the car, so I assume that its been replaced. Also, when I line up the TDC hole on the crank pulley with the arrow on the timing chain cover, the rotor is at the bottom left, hence why I set it there.

So, tomorrow, I intend to pull the #1 spark plug and rotate the engine to actually sight TDC through the plug hole and then compare this to the TDC mark on the crank pulley. If this is off, then I know I have problems and I'll go from there. If not, then it's something else entirely. However, I'm pretty sure it's something in this area. I think the first thing I will do is just swap the plug wires to what the manuals show and see what happens...would be neat if she just started, huh? More to follow...