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The embarrassing Herald 1200 restoration thread - a front wing and a prayer

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Yes I was in contact with Chic... 'remember that convertible tub you sold me?'... he was very very helpful with repair sections and sent me a range of photos of assorted bits I may need, including a complete floor section, but the carriage alone was £225 plus VAT. I think I'll just use my local bodyworker and we'll see what we can salvage.

In the meantime lockdown sort of still on-going, it's time to test my engine skills. I've got a block bored out to +30, +30 oversize pistons, +30 oversize rings, new bolts by the dozen and complete sets of bearing shells... so let's have a go. Gallons of assembly lube later...

The crank is in, plus a new rear oil seal - different to the earlier 1200 engine in that it uses a plastic oil seal - and torqued up to 55 ft / lbs. It turns, so I'm happy. Next, in no particular order, was the camshaft - slid in, well lubricated, and loosely clamped in place using the original front clamp. At the rear... there's a hole! I remember removing the core plug here before the block was sent off to be bored, however there's a slight problem. The Parts Manual lists 148353, core plug, bucket... it can't be bucket as there's not enough depth to seat it. The dished version is supposedly 44473, 2" dished welch plug and yes I have some of those... except they're too small. Every Parts Manual and every supplier lists a 2" core plug, but 2" just falls out again by a wide margin.

A quick check with good calipers reveals it's actually 2 1/8" - the photo below shows the larger one set under the recommended version for comparison. Thanks to Core Plugs International who supplied the correct version which fitted first time. So: why are late 1200 engines (1967) different, and are other engines similar?

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Now to the business end. Brand new County pistons, VanderVell Old Stock tri-metal bearings, new circlips and gudgeon pins, new rings plus a nice set of piston ring compressors that I bought at Stafford for £1 many years ago, just in case. Start at no4, make sure front is front in which case the con rod faces in that direction... assemble it all together, lots of assembly lube, trial fit it. Then take it all apart and put the con rod in the correct direction. 

A little bit of faffing about with the piston rings. I've bought piston ring pliers but found they may be a little... brutal... for the rings:


One down at the first hurdle.

The rest went on easily enough by hand, just be gentle and don't bend anything. There are good instructions and little colour-coded markers to show the rings are on correctly, and of course top means top. A little bit tricky getting the ring compressors on, and the rings down into the bore by very gentle pressure so as not to bend, scratch or damage anything, and the first one was away. THEN I remembered to fit the bearing to the con rod. Jumping the gun a bit... No 4 back in, tightened gently. Why is the word 'FRONT' at an angle? I couldn't work out why so left it in favour of the next two, but by the time they're fitted it seems they're all at the same angle. So: no worries.

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So: three down, and a new set of +30 piston rings ordered at a total cost of £44. I'll not do that again. I'll now have to wait until tomorrow for the new rings, but that'll be the crank and camshaft fitted and all pistons in. I must remember to torque the bolts once they're all in place. Oil pump next. One thing I did notice, and it's a bit of a let-down - the new front sealing block I bought last week is too thick. Trial fitting to the block reveals it's proud by at least a millimetre, and the sump gasket will never seal in a month of years. I can either have it faced /skimmed, or use the old one which seems flat enough on inspection. 

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It's a pity but at least I'm not completely stuck. Once the sump goes on I'll have a stab at the timing. That's going to be fun...



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One of East Berks, Malcolm, has a GT6s being restored at Chic Doig's (Why?!! It's a long story) 2 weeks ago he went to view progress and found Chic's premises closed down. The staff are gone and Chic is now working alone out of his house 20 miles away. Malcolm found the place and then his car in a barn. Malcolm was concerned that there was only domestic power and not the 3 phase Chic had at the previous place to operate heavy machinery. Although Chic has promised to finish the car it looks like he's winding down. 


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We organised a trip to Chics some years ago; a large party of NI TSSC members travelled across in a Triumph convoy and stayed at various B&Bs or hotels in Kircaldy in the mid 1990s. He had a huge place, masses of cars and parts stacked high around the walls. I've still got some great video of the place. He then downsized to Jamphlars Road and I remember him saying he had to throw so much good stuff out, into skips, as there was just no room for it. I was in contact last week and they've now relocated to his home place in the wilds; substantial enough with barns full of spares but presumably fewer overheads. I hope he's not another casualty of 'progress', never mind lockdown...

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Well we both got here and if I've timed this right it's my 10,000th post, so I wanted a momentous occasion to mark it.

Piston rings arrived this morning - thanks again to excellent service from James Paddock - so as I only required one no2 ring the piston has been fitted with gudgeon pin, new circlips and new rings, well greased, and slid into place with what seemed like indecent ease.

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The Herald engine now has all four pistons, crankshaft and camshaft fitted, and we're all systems go for fitting everything else, getting it back into the car, and running the engine for the first time since 2003. As all of the other mechanical bits have long been overhauled, we should see this Herald Estate moving under its' own steam before the end of 2021.

I never thought I'd say it but: THANK YOU LOCKDOWN. I don't think I'd have had the spare time otherwise. 

I've also found that despite advancing years I can still lift a complete engine block - okay, minus head - off the bench and set it down onto a trolley without breaking, straining or tearing anything. Not bad for a pensioner!


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  • Colin Lindsay changed the title to The embarrassing Herald 1200 restoration thread - flyin' along

Things are flying along now that I've got mechanical things to concentrate on again instead of interminable bodywork.

As soon as that last piston went in the engine end plate went on to give me alignment for the sealing block; as I mentioned earlier I have a couple of spares so as the new one didn't work out I'll use one of those. I've used Loctite sealer (sparingly) to seal things in place and avoid the worst of any oil leaks, but all surfaces are as level as I can get them, the wooden wedges are in place and sanded down flat.

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Next step was refitting the oil pump. It may seem strange to some after all the work but I'm reusing an old pump - I can't find any original versions and I'm not keen on the modern repro versions.  I've checked for wear, alignment and end float and all seems good enough to be reused. I'll monitor the oil pressure on startup with a spare gauge and if anything's not right I'll see about a replacement then. After that the sump went back on with a new gasket and bolts, including the spacer for the breather pipe bracket and the small bracket for the manifold drain pipe.

Next, rear engine plate and flywheel. I had a choice of two metal end plates but found that one is bent around the starter mountings, same as my alloy plate was, so I narrowed the choice down to one. Plate on and flywheel fitted and torqued. This is a three-dowel wheel for the diaphragm clutch as opposed to a two-dowel coil clutch.

The clutch was bought at Stafford about 1995 and has been stored in the original Borg and Beck box ever since. The plate is reassuringly thick so should outlast me. Centralised with a spare input shaft and torqued in place.


After that it seemed a simple job to reattach the refurbished bellhousing and gearbox. It went together quite easily, and I had a full set of nuts and bolts ready for the reassembly. Ten minutes later it's now a complete unit again. I think I'll fit it to the Herald before the head goes on - I'm in two minds about setting the timing, either by use of rockers, or the marks on the front plate, so will leave my options open until I get that far. 


One thing I've found - if you're rebuilding an engine from scratch, keep an old spare unit handy for reference. On some parts of the engine when the bolts are of different lengths, it's easy to forget which go where, so a quick check of the same bolt in the spare engine makes it easy to match a replacement for the refurbished block. Simple!

I have one brake pipe to remake, or at least to bend to a different area of the bulkhead - it fouls the starter solenoid when I try to fit that, so the pipe needs moved by about an inch. After that there's nothing stopping me refitting the entire engine and box back into the car. Maybe one smell thing... when I dismantled the engine I broke a stud which I had to drill out; it came out eventually after a lot of work but may have thinned the threads in the block by a little too much. I'm wondering if I should seal the new stud in place? It's through to the water jacket and the last thing I need is steam escaping when the engine heats up... must check tomorrow and see what needs done.




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On 15/06/2021 at 12:32, Colin Lindsay said:

A quick check with good calipers reveals it's actually 2 1/8" - the photo below shows the larger one set under the recommended version for comparison. Thanks to Core Plugs International who supplied the correct version which fitted first time. So: why are late 1200 engines (1967) different, and are other engines similar?


I wonder... I know the Mk3 Spitfire camshaft runs in bearings, unlike all the others, because it's a carry-over part from the Mk2 engine. That presumably means the 1200 block has a smaller line bore than the 1300, but I wonder whether they commonised it on late engines? The difference in bore is 1/8"

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14 hours ago, NonMember said:

The difference in bore is 1/8"

There were numerous small changes to the 1147 Herald engine with some manuals referring to the late 1200 engine as using the same camshaft as the 12/50.

This engine is a very late 1200 from June 1967 having the revised head, later pistons and other parts which differ from the earlier 39bhp engines and indeed differ again from the engine changes in 1965. I've gone through nearly all of my Herald manuals (amazing how many use exactly the same wording for everything) and only the Peter Russek book mentions changes to the camshaft at GA177973 where he states that the journal diameter increased from 1.8402 in to 1.9654 in and the bore from 1.8433 in to 1.9695 in.

This leaves a difference of 0.125, or 1/8 in, same as the Spitfire engine. Is it as simple a step to claim that the core plug was enlarged proportionately?

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On 18/06/2021 at 12:55, Colin Lindsay said:

This leaves a difference of 0.125, or 1/8 in, same as the Spitfire engine. Is it as simple a step to claim that the core plug was enlarged proportionately?

I think, given the type of plug used, there would be little option but to enlarge it by the same amount.

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  • 1 month later...

I haven't been on the forum much recently, haven't been in the garage much either but things are now settling down to a point where free time has reappeared and I can progress things once again. Firstly: the core plug was sorted thanks to Core Plugs International and has now been fitted, the rear plate attached, clutch and flywheel fitted and the gearbox added. If all goes well the unit will be back in the car by the weekend.

In the meantime I've been working on the body yet again, and a bonnet that will not drop nicely into place. I'm very forgiving of others' door gaps when I see Heralds on runs, but for some reason not my own, so I want these as exact as possible. The bonnet was fine on the passenger side but not the drivers'. I was worried as this was the original bonnet from the car and had been restored by a local bodyworker back around 1999 and then resprayed without ever being properly fitted and fettled, so may have distorted over time. There was just no backwards movement and the gaps were not right no matter what I tried.

Once again the entire front end of the car came off and at this point one problem became evident. The original bonnet brackets were at full stretch, and jammed against the chassis front tube. I had put so much force on them using the adjusting rods that the brackets and bolts had actually eaten into the paint. Thankfully I had had a few sets of longer brackets manufactured a while back, in lovely shiny stainless steel, and these were duly fitted.

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Not only did the bonnet drop down at the front but it also moved fractionally backwards - just not enough, despite the extra range of the new brackets. If not the front, try the back - is the wheelarch tight against the bulkhead? It was. A few whacks with a soft mallet soon put manners in it and gave me the required quarter inch of rearwards movement. I reckon I've now got the side profiles as good as they'll ever be.

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The larger gap at the top of the passenger side is due to damage that was not correctly repaired but it'll do. I'm not going to ruin the paintwork!

Now that that's done, another problem has appeared. The side profile is fine but the front profile has a large and very visible gap on the driver's side.


I need to pull the wing out at this point, but the inwards movement of the side panel has led to the bonnet centre panel raising up; or is it the other way round?


The bonnet is sitting high in the centre, almost enough to hide the screen washers when viewed from the front. I need to push this area down, which should then push the side out. Push it down and keep it down, I should say... but do I pull the driver's side out and hope this flattens the top, or flatten the top and hope this pushes the side out? I'll have to try a few solutions and see what works, all without causing creasing or paint damage. I think a lot of head scratching is required before I try anything. Measure twice, break once, repent at leisure, as they say.


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  • Colin Lindsay changed the title to The embarrassing Herald 1200 restoration thread - a front wing and a prayer


Have you got the counterbalance springs fitted?

These effect the position of the bonnet when closing

Also don't set the vertical gap between the top of the bonnet and door too tight or you will chip the paint (Ask me how I know☹️), I reckon 1/4" maximum 3/16" minimum is about right



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