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2012 & 2013 - getting a bit more done....


Stuart R

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2012

I thought I’d write a few more lines about what has been going on lately. I started writing this at Easter, but am now revisiting this in August! Over the Jubilee season, I felt that the car had been lurking in the drive for long enough and I needed to get it solid enough for a summer MOT and maybe return to the detailed bodywork and painting and later.

 

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This summer, I’ve been re-fitting the seats and some interior trim. It’s amazing how that made the project look like it was progressing. I was tempted for a short spin round the block, if it had MOT and insurance! Getting the interior sorted cleared a bit of space in the garage, so I could get to my box of front wings which were next to go on.

 

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Many restoration books talk about protecting glass from the sparks when angle grinding. I can feel quite a bit of grit embedded in some of the door glass, not sure if this is from my repairs or someone else’s. What was quite surprising is the amount of metal dust that has built up inside the car, even as far up as the sun visors. Serves as a good reminder to keep wearing a face mask!

 

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Having completed the welding on the nearside outer chassis rail, I decided that it would be good to get the car off the axle stands, the engine running and reposition the car to make parking a little easier in our shared driveway.

 

I’ve sourced a fuel pipe kit from an Internet seller and have had a brake pipe kit in stock for some time. The fuel kit pipe kit was easy enough to fit but I think I need to find some more snap-in clips for the pipework under the boot floor, where it was previously held in place with cable ties. I had only intended to replace the fractured front-rear brake hose to regain some stopping power, but as I tried to bleed the rear brakes, I realised that the rear bleed valves were seized and already very rounded. It seemed a good time to fit the rear new rear brake cylinders and flexi hoses that I had also bought previously. All seems to be OK but the long pipe along the chassis does seem a little too long, it sags under the main rail and also the pipe clips under the rear spring have disintegrated.

I tried to fit the new fuel tank over Christmas, but couldn’t get it to fit. I realised that the only way to get it in place is to remove the drain plug. Nervously, I wedged the tank between my knees and attacked the drain plug gently with my biggest adjustable spanner. Fortunately, it unscrewed fairly easily with no damage to the bottom of the tank. The only difficulty since is getting a fuel-tight seal on the drain plug. Two replacement fibre washers have still dripped and they don’t fit as snugly as the original one. For the short term, I have resorted to some PTFE tape around the plug thread. Not sure if this is an official fix. The pick up pipe had become blocked with mud after this garden activity, so removed it for cleaning and revealed the complex mechanics behind the main/reserve selector(!)

 

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Can’t fit the tank in permanently yet as still need to attach rear tub bolts and rubber pads to chassis and fit the over-riders. Getting the over-riders off many years ago was a real trial of patience. The long bolts has seized in the captive nuts attached inside the over-rider. Despite days of soaking with WD40, attempts to loosen the bolts just mangled and split the inner brackets of the over-riders. Only option was to spend days with offcuts of a hacksaw blade to chop the bolt heads off inside the boot! To re-attach the over-riders, I have welded some nuts to some thin plates that hang loosely inside the over-rider. Still tricky to fit, but hopefully will work and I am to add a bit of grease to the threads to aid future dis-assembly.

 

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Many of my repairs have remained unpainted inside the vehicle, so have spent time rubbing down welds, treating with Jenolite, seam sealing and painting.

 

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Although finished in grey, not blue, this also makes things look more complete and the sealant helps fill the small gaps that I couldn’t reach with the welder. Now I have tried using seam sealer products, I wonder if I have gone overboard with some of my welding. I used a continuous bead of short welds to attach the outer wheelarches where maybe I could have used a short blast of MIG in place of the factory spot welds and used the modern sealants for gap sealing and waterproofing.

 

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The car is currently sitting on wheels borrowed from the 12/50 in the garage, so I took the original set to work to try to clean up. I’d spent a few evenings in the garden wire-brushing the old Hammerite and rust away but thought I’d give the factory shot-blaster a go. Spent three hours on the first wheel and four hours on the next and on inspection afterwards, they are still not ready for a repaint, much more time and patience is needed. With a new job on the horizon (with no access to a shot blaster) I think it’s time to hand these over to an expert! (A note from 2016 - the sound of the angle grinder/wire brush caused a bit of ill-feeling with a neighbour with complaints about 'years of noise'. This kind of DIY work is messy and noisy an sometimes not welcome in the leafy suburbs).

 

So over the Jubilee weekend, I was hoping to make a start at front wing replacement, but the rain had stopped that.

 

By July, I managed to separate one wing from the bonnet assembly. To minimise the risk of damage to the bonnet from the angle grinder, I opted to use a hacksaw to remove the bulk of the wing and then finally separate he bonnet and wing flanges by using an offcut of hacksaw blade to saw through each spot weld. I spent much time sawing through each weld, but some welds popped apart easily when I inserted a paint-stripper blade between them.

 

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Later, when removing the outer arch, I found a better way was to hacksaw through the upper flange each side of the spot weld, trying not to damage the metal below. Then I could simply twist the remaining strip of metal, and the spot weld would fracture easily and could then be ground flat. I used this on the off side wing and it left less damage to the bonnet flange.

 

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With the wing removed, I found a number of holes in the outer wheelarch, so I also purchased new arches. These do seem to follow the curve of the remaining inner arch quite well but need to find a good compromise between fitting both the inner arch AND the wing’s arch. I have also got to re-shape the front edge of this arch to get a decent fit against the D plate behind the sidelamp and indicator –it just doesn’t seem to have the right shape to follow the curve on the valance below. There is little left of the metalwork below the light and nothing at all left of the old D plate to make a comparison.

 

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Fortunately, the old 12/50 in the garage offers an example of how things fit, although on closer inspection, I can see that its front wing is not original either, so hope it is a good example to work from. I have seen other users on the internet who have done some major surgery on these modified 13/60 wings with cutting, welding and much filling. I really don’t want to go that far!

 

That brings things up to date. Yet again, I’ve missed the goal of a summer MOT, didn’t make it to Stafford and am unlikely to get it to the Norfolk Mile of Triumphs. I can see progress though; last year, there was no passenger floor but now visitors are offered a ride up and down the drive –with no jokes about Fred Flinstone!

 

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You may be able to spot the old TSSC sticker in the rear window and an Agreed Value Insurance sticker in the windscreen, so this car must have belonged to a club member at some point. If anyone can fill in any details of its past, I'd love to hear from them.

 

2013

Back again! A cold, wet Spring means that nothing much has happened over the last few months. Maybe this explains why no-one is writing much!

 

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Still concerned about the poor fit of my replacement font wheelarch, so with a few sunny days, had a tidy of the garage and set-to on something a bit different to try and make some positive progress.

 

Last summer, (or maybe the one before?) I won the on-line auction for a NOS front valance, so thought I'd try it for size and use this to help line-up the cross-tube repair ends that I bought many years ago.

 

The Project Manager made a supervisory visit at this point!

 

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Armed myself with some chassis alignment drawings and thought that maybe I could calculate the position of the cross-tube end mounting hole with respect to the bulkhead mounting bolt or chassis side rail. This is probably quite easy if the chassis is off the car and there is no running gear in the way.

 

After a trial fit of the new valance, it's becoming apparent that the car must have had a shunt at the front at some point, which may explain why it is sporting a fibreglass valance.

 

With the valance mounted, I fitted the over-riders and they just about fit in the gaps. However, when looking along the nose of the car, I can see the two over-riders sit at different angles, the quality of welding on their mounting brackets seems to differ on each side.

 

My cross-tube does look quite rusty and looks like it will need complete replacement in a few years. If I attempted it now, I'm sure I would open another can of worms and the Herald would stay off the road for another year. Not a good plan. I decided the best option was fit the valance and attempt to weld the repair ends in the right place for the valance I have, rather than the positions dictated by the drawings!

 

The supplied ends look of good quality but were rather long; if I was to use the full length, I would need to start removing the over-rider brackets first, so I removed 100mm from each repair tube. Checking first that the ends were cut square, it was easy enough to score a line in the paint with some calipers and cut round this with a hacksaw to ensure the shortened tube still had a square-cut end.

 

I then used a length of timber and a Square to mark the middle of the position where the valance mounting bracket should be.

 

I then had to cut the rusty remnants of the old cross tube away. I chose a point where I still had enough room to get welding clamps attached, but hopefully be welding onto (fairly) good metal. One problem I had was deciding how to cut a square line in the old tube with no reference to work to. I tried a clumsy method by cutting a hole in a sheet of scrap metal, sliding it along the tube and holding it perpendicular to the tube with a Square. It was hard to hold everything in place, so I opted to score around the edge of a Jubilee clip tightened over the tube. This seemed to work OK and I had a reasonable pair of edges aligned for butt welding. Painted some rust converter inside the tube as far as I could reach to try and hold-off the deterioration.

 

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So, by the end of 2012, the list has got smaller:

 

Repair passenger door skin.

"Adjust" and fit nearside wheelarch and attach to wing

Replace offside wing, wheelarch and fabricate indicator panel.

Fit side valances.

 

Then time to check the running gear and get it to see the MOT man!

 

Easy! ?

 

 

2013

It's been a busy month since I last posted -have forgotten how much I have done and did think I had reported on some of it.

I finally finished off the near-side wing by plug welding the outer wheelarch and D-plate into place. Had to bend the replacement arch panel an awful lot to make it fit and am still not very happy with the bonnet/passenger door alignment. Have not welded the arch fully to the wing so hopefully have a bit of wriggle room to get this right later.

 

Spent a rainy few days, gently sawing through the flange of the off-side wing then twisting the remaining metal strip to break the spot weld. I've never had much success with the spot weld drill and am concerned that the angle grinder may catch and buckle the bonnet. This method seems to require minimal tidying afterwards, although when the hacksaw blade slips it puts a good scratch in the paint above!

 

A bit of rust treatment was needed on the remaining flange and then I set about trying the new wing for size. I was keen to try harder on this side to get the correct 'step' between the bonnet and wing. The 5mm difference is hard to spot with the chrome strip trim in place, but any error here is very easy to spot once the bonnet is down.

To get this step involves some modification to the new wing. I was nervous about attempting this on the other side but now I realise it is an essential part of the process. The re-enforcing strip needs to be dealt with first before you can make any attempt to clamp-up the wing to the bonnet to check for the fit.

 

Firstly, (if you've bought the same wings I have) you need to make 2 cuts in this strip, one V shaped to pull the strip away from the wing and a second cut (bent and filled with a V-shaped offcut) to get the right shape. It's not the tidiest job in the world and is hard to clean up with my big grinder -but I've learned that a bit of seam sealer is a marvellous way of smoothing around these hard-to-reach corners!

 

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I bought this at a reduced price from a trader at Stafford many years ago. I was told that it was slightly mis-shapen at the front and would require a bit of filler. I just looked at the deep scratches on it and assumed that was all. It turns out that the curve under the headlamp was too short, there was no way that the wing would meet-up with the indicator panel, especially once I tried to fit the D plate inside!

 

I made some cereal-packet patterns from the wing on the other side to help convince myself that the new wing was defintely wonky, before resorting to some drastic surgery!

 

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I did this as a careful bit of butt welding, so it was easy to see good weld penetration on the other side. On the inside, I smoothed the welds as best I could with the grinder and added paint and seam sealer to try to keep the grot out of the join. I ground the welds flush on the outside and added a skim of filler, with a final coat of primer it looks presentable, but will need another go with the filler before I go for a proper re-spray.

 

The inner indicator panel had been patched in the past and most of the original metal underneath had vanished. Again, more careful butt welding here; on this side I made sure I got the complicated curves right around the engine grille before welding the bulk of the panel in place. As usual, forgot that I was welding close to an 'open end' and blew some holes at the edge of the panel around the grille. As ever, any attempts to fill this hole just blows another one! I made this curved area over-sized so I could cut it back (see dotted line) afterwards.

 

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More similar repairs followed around the headlamp. I had thought that these could wait for after the MOT, but figured I should do them while the headlamp and wiring was safely out of the way.

 

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Oddly enough, I had no drama fitting the inner wheelarch on this side, there is a small discrepancy between the wing and wheelarch edges but only 5mm at the max, which I could easily bring-in by folding the arch edges with pliers. The general shape looks good, but I still can't get a fit around the door that looks as good as the original wing.

 

As a break from welding, I put a wire-brush to the NOS front valance to remove the surface rust and applied some filler-primer, I'm sure this would be a good temporary match if I had a Saffron Yellow car! Will need to see how good two coats of filler primer are; I could still see my wire brush marks through the first coat and don't have a more delicate method of sanding here.

 

To reach another milestone, refitted some shiny bits. The headlamps' peaked hoods are a bit pitted, but still look much better that two big holes!!

 

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I'm waiting for some new 'bullet' electrical connectors to arrive. I've cleaned all the brass ends on the light fittings but all the couplers have disintegrated inside, causing the lights to be a bit erratic. Have also had to make and attached some more wiring supports under the bonnet to stop the headlight looms getting wedged in the grille.

 

A friend popped round a couple of weekends ago and assisted with the front brakes. It took the best part of a day to get the job done; renewed all the pistons but two were seized and it took a few ingenious methods with G-clamps, timber and a small tyre compressor to free-up the old ones!

 

Have started on the repair of the nearside door, I have a lower doorskin repair panel to fit. But first, the bottom of the frame is pretty rotten so am trying to rebuild it in small sections -that will be another story.

 

Having no difficulty in starting the car, but it won't idle anymore, lots of fuel oozing from the carburettor, but fortunately a new gasket set arrived in the post this morning.

 

Wheels are due back from the powder-coaters tomorrow.

Looks like after 10 years, it is slowly coming together.

 

:)

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