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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!