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The embarrassing Herald restoration thread - getting to the fine points

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I'm going to start this thread for no other reason than to shame myself into finishing this car. I advertised for a 1200 convertible back around 2006 but it was only much later in the year that someone made contact with a car he needed to shift asap, a 1962 1200 in signal red. I made an offer, he declined, then came back to me a month later after another potential buyer let him down. Maybe he had more sense than me, having viewed the car in the flesh... and I didn't really need one at that time of year, bills were looming, but the more I refused the lower the price got... so eventually I bought it, sight unseen in November, and had it trailered home to a local transport yard.


The car was quite presentable, full year's MOT, every single tax disc since 1962, the original bill of sale, handbook, hood instructions, warranty, service manual etc and a little hand-written note along with the original receipt that said: "Your spare keys are under the washer bottle." They were, still taped to the bulkhead, 44 years later. Everything was original - gearbox, engine and diff; there was an alloy bellhousing and a brass waterpump, a red full-beam light, and other little oddities that were replaced with alternative items on the later cars.


Sadly as the keys had never been touched, neither had any of the car. First problem was a seized front brake caliper - completely solidly rusted seized. There is no way that had happened in the two months since MOT. I replaced that then added little bits as the year progressed - Stromberg carb conversion, various upgrades, and replacement shiny bits. By May 2007 it was looking very well indeed.


I had a great summer in it, and then it was October and time for the next MOT. That's when the trouble started....



Edited by Colin Lindsay
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This car was rotten. Seriously rotten. Most of the underside was thick with underseal - in fact the car had been submerged in a tank of the stuff and sailed about like a dinghy. Even the engine was coated in it, and all of the bonnet springs and adjusters.


Once I removed the underseal, there was... nothing. Fresh air, and the metal equivalent of a net curtain.


There were holes everywhere, usually in places where there shouldn't have been holes, and where there should have been drain holes, they were full of underseal.


The spare wheel well looked just as bad from above... all of that metal is tissue thin.


The boot corners were frilly too...


But it was the entire rear deck that was rotten under the hood lip, crumbling away, and the non-existent floor under the rear seats, and the B-post that was more like a bee hive that did it. The car was coming off the road. Strip it down over the winter, and it will be ready for the next season... April / May 2008. 

That was eleven years ago.

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Last post for this session!!

I stripped the car down in a corner of my yard. The bonnet was obviously a replacement, being royal blue underneath, so I left it fitted in order to keep rain off the other bits. The rear tub came off....


Engine, drive train and rear axle all came off, and I found I was able to wheel the front end of the car about like a wheelbarrow...


But then a new garage got in the way, and the poor Herald was stuck together again and moved to a corner of the yard, where it lay for too long...


I built a second garage, and no sooner was it finished than a mate moved a Spitfire 1500 in for a quick restoration... and removed it five years later... and alongside that I rebuilt a Herald 13/60 convertible for another friend, which took three years while my own car sat there and suffered under the elements...

And finally around 2012 or so I decided it was time to start on mine again.

To be continued....


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1 hour ago, Badwolf said:

Colin - This should be an episodic article in The Courier

The whole point is to get you all hooked, and therefore put pressure on me to progress the rebuild - therefore it will eventually have Gully's happy ending and he can go to bed with a smile!

Tonight's episode continues the stripdown:

Out came the gearbox, and eventually the engine, which had lain under the bonnet for a winter or two but wrapped in an old quilt and a waterproof cover so it was protected by the material and all of the oil that covered everything.


The entire front end was stripped down, right to the bare chassis; many of the bolts were rusted solid and required the special sockets shown here which bite into rusty bolt heads and really grip them. You can see the front valence of the 13/60 that I was working on at the same time, in the garage. The floors look solid in this shot but in reality were far gone, just off camera shot.


This car was fitted for a starting handle, with a hole drilled through the chassis cross-tube and a corresponding gear on the crank nut.

DSCF1630.jpg.4a6753083cee83af220ad4f9165bf77b.jpg DSCF0572.jpg.d044d9ffab8dd5e997db19cb872e58ad.jpg

Eventually we were down to the bare chassis which was sandblasted - and was in fact quite solid - given a temporary coat of primer and then welded or patched as required; not by me, I hasten to add, as I still had not learned to weld, despite owning a Mig welder since 1994...


Stay tuned to this channel for more updates later in the month.





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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Time for another instalment!

Not being a competetent welder, nor bodyworker, I set to work on the things I could do. The engine was stripped down and refurbished as far as possible - as it was running well and not using any oil I left the block more or less alone bar the timing chain, oil seals and other ancillaries including the pressure relief valve and spring. The pistons all looked very nice and were easy to clean.


I'm intending to keep the crank-starter components on the engine so will also clean and repaint these later. I replaced the timing chain and tensioner plus the cover oil seal.


The engine was quite easy to clean, unlike the head, which was oily, sooty and obviously running very rich. I replaced the valves, but probably should have replaced the guides too and will maybe do this later along the line. The head has just been set back on top of the engine to keep dust and dirt out while I'm working on other things, so it's not yet torqued down, or even repainted.

The valves were quite impressive!


I've no idea what way this engine had been maintained, and I drove it for almost a year before stripping it down, but the head needed a lot of work before I could even think of reusing it again. It's been cleaned, the valves replaced, and is due a repaint.




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  • 1 month later...

That was just the head, Dave, the pistons were ok with no damage at all but the valves looked like that, very sooty and covered in carbon. I'm working on another one at present with corresponding piston damage - see photo - but the convertible engine seems to have escaped unscathed. This engine (below) has two good pistons (front pair) and two like the photo (both rear), which I'm assuming are scrap.


If you're following this thread - yes, I've been sidetracked again - now working on the TR7 plus another 1200 and the poor convertible has been shelved yet again until I get some room to work on it. There always seems to be something more exciting - in this latest case, not only another 1200, but the hardtop I bought off a friend last year.

This was an old Smith & Deakins hardtop which was full of cracks, crazing and old rubber seals, and the windows had all seen better days.



A good cleanup, fresh coat of gel over fibreglass repairs, and it's turned out very well. The windows are still perspex as I can't replicate the bend of the rear window in glass, but at least now you can see through them...

DSCF7382.jpg.9981652ee8c147119cfa3b83d189d697.jpg DSCF7383.jpg.6b0479143b576b1a85928e47e515cb17.jpg

All I need to do now is to finish the seals, fit a nice headlining, and finish the 1200 I'm going to put it on.

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  • 2 months later...

Just to blow the dust off this one, which is more than I've done for the Herald itself...

I decided some of the bodywork was worth saving, and so had the bulkhead shotblasted by an excellent local firm who have done a lot of large parts for me over the years. If I can't collect for a time they'll also prime it roughly to keep rust off. In steps a local 'bodyworker' who was also having work done by the same firm - "I'll have that back to new in no time" says he.

Two months later he dropped it off to me. I possibly cried.


I think he normally works on farm machinery. The welds were Frankenstein-like, brutal things that would need a lot of grinding back.


He had also cut the drain pipe off the heater box and replaced with a length of heavy metal pipe, and welded a huge patch along the side of the heater panel which, he claimed, he had done many times before and when the heater was fitted, it was invisible. 


I sat down with the world's largest supply of filler, grinding discs and sanders, but it was obvious that this was going nowhere. 


Once again the convertible was relegated to the rear of the garage whilst a parade of different cars came and went. The chassis, at least, was complete, and you can see replacement wings for the bonnet in the background. Thus it sat, around 2010, for a few more years.



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Eventually I decided it wasn't going to rebuild itself and decided to have it done professionally. I trailered both bonnet and bulkhead 50 miles to a local transport company who shipped it across to Chic Doig in Kircaldy, and at the next Totally Triumph Show in Belfast, around June 2012, he trailered it back to me again.


It's hard to believe this is the same bulkhead. I had to check for certain marks in the bodywork before I could claim it to be the same item that I had sent away. It's almost perfect.

This is the corner from the photo above with that huge jagged weld:


The heater panel patch is gone and the pipe has been replaced.


The bonnet was equally as good, so this was a major boost. I had a mate lined up to respray it once the rear tub was completed, plus a large quantity of 2-pack Signal Red paint purchased, and things were definitely on track - if I could wait six months until his garage was cleared of other work. In the meantime other things progressed but one fine day, whilst composing an article for The Courier on heaters, I found that none of mine would fit. The drain pipe was 1/4 inch too high, and the heater rocked on top of it. I couldn't use it as is; the stress would fracture the bodywork over time, and so had to get it rectified. I couldn't send it all the way back to Chic, so once again entrusted the work to a local welder. I'll say no more.



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This last welder's excuse was that the pipe had been brazed in originally so his welds would not take properly, but he had simply cut a piece out and tried to weld a flat section on top to clear the heater box. I must have looked particularly scruffy that day as he reckoned I couldn't afford a proper job. Once again the bits sat in the garage untouched, and a house move didn't help matters any.

In 2017, in the new garage, I dug it out yet again and  decided it needed to be removed completely.


Once removed I cleaned up the old brazing and then had to locate a pipe not only of the proper dimensions - that original one was too wide for the rubber 'boot' that early cars had - but of the correct curved profile to clear the heater box and bulkhead. A quick visit to a mate's scrapyard located a curved section of car exhaust pipe which when cut at the precise spot on the curve, and at the correct angle, actually dropped the pipe by the required amount whilst leaving it attached to the same point and running horizontally across the top of the bodywork. 


It was then welded into place and primed. A quick test of the heater box revealed no more rubbing or touching and what's more, the rubber boot fits. Result!


This means that the bulkhead and bonnet are now complete. The chassis is finished, the doors are being left alone until the gaps are set before being reskinned, and all that remains of the bodywork is the rear tub... which is poor and going to require a lot of work. Plus of course everything requires resprayed...






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  • 2 weeks later...

Full marks to Douglas Hogg the AO of TSSC Northern Ireland for putting me on the spot at last week's meeting and asking: when was the last time I had a Herald actually on the road.

I blushed a lovely shade of Signal Red and muttered.... 2008.... 

In any case: the steering rack is now refurbished, and looking well:


I've also cleaned up the petrol tank, which is in excellent condition with no rot or damage. I'll add a few coats of gloss plus the sticker for the top. I managed to get the drain plug out with no damage to tank or neck, and it's all been cleaned up and replaced with new seals.


I've rebuilt the gearbox - or in truth replaced the bearings and seals, the teeth all looking good, but I'm wondering if for a talking point I should use this all-alloy gearbox from a very early car instead? I know they're not up to heavy work and were replaced due to stress cracking and other problems, but it's a shame to have it sitting idle.




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5 hours ago, Colin Lindsay said:

Full marks to Douglas Hogg the AO of TSSC Northern Ireland for putting me on the spot at last week's meeting and asking: when was the last time I had a Herald actually on the road.


An excellently named AO, but a very rude man! I am deeply impressed by your industriousness, not to mention envious of your facilities. I said to Uncle Pete, only today, there are suddenly fewer of us doing stuff over the Winter, its the cold and decrepitude. Roll on summer, will I be ready to finish anything I've started?


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16 hours ago, dougbgt6 said:


An excellently named AO, but a very rude man! I am deeply impressed by your industriousness, not to mention envious of your facilities. I said to Uncle Pete, only today, there are suddenly fewer of us doing stuff over the Winter, its the cold and decrepitude. Roll on summer, will I be ready to finish anything I've started?


Douglas - not Doug, like yourself, but Douglas - is an absolute gentleman and runs the club like a watch; on time, and never stopping. It's a very close-knit club so we banter a lot and the club meetings are usually a good laugh. 

If you think the work on the Herald is industrious, remember the TR7 has just come down onto all four wheels with the underside completed and I've started on the engine; the GT6 has been stripped down ready for bodywork repairs to the rear valence and boot floor and I've recommenced this one:


This is where the 1967 enginework comes from that I've mentioned in other threads on the forum; it needs a slight rebore and has been stripped down to the bare block. I stopped work on it in 2003 as the body had been fitted incorrectly to the chassis, so the roof will not fit, and the engine had been fitted with no work whatsoever and was smoking even then. The garage it's pictured in is very cold so everything has rusted and requires re-doing, the rubber hoses have all cracked and split, and I'm appalled at some of the work I did way back then which included painting the engine block BMC green, and the diff and anti-roll bar bright red.

The plan is: when the GT6 goes for bodywork and respray, the TR7 moves into the vacant space and the estate goes up on the ramp so that the rear axle can be removed and rebuilt. 

As for the 1200 convertible.... it's once more way down the list and will have to wait. :)

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You guys are supposed to be keeping me on track, yet the GT6 has been stripped for bodywork, the TR7 underside is complete, and I've now started this one... again...


Work stopped after the sudden death of a mate in the TSSC way back in 2003, and it was shunted into a corner shortly afterwards when I couldn't get the roof to fit. It was fully resprayed in 2-pack, engine was running but a bit smokey and lights etc were working. I discovered that the rear tub is incorrectly fitted - as is the bulkhead - so left it for a short time to work on other things. 16 years later a lot of things have suffered from a draughty garage, so when the lift came free this week....


Engine and gearbox out; gearbox already refurbished and engine down to the bare block for bore work. Heater has been rebuilt but I'm debating a modern blower motor, so need to source a Micra version as a field test. All brake pipes to be remade in kunifer; calipers are stripped down, and rear cylinders still good as no fluid was even put into them. I'm replacing all of the brake hoses; brand new stainless versions but they've been fitted for nearly twenty years and I can't trust the condition of the rubber inside. Steering and anti-roll bar still to come off and be refurbished.


All of the suspension is being rebushed, blasted and repainted first of course. The grey rusty ones are the old ones, and the new shiny black replacements ready to fit once the diff has been refurbished. This is one of the reasons I'll never use Hammerite for anything; the suspension parts flaked and rusted even in storage. I'm using yellow polybushes all round.

The body and bulkhead need to be freed up then properly gapped and spaced, and as I can't do that on my own, since the roof has to come off too, I have a mate coming next week for an afternoon. With the roof off I'll fit the headlining properly, then strip out the dash and refit the interior - all so much easier with the roof off. It will be the last part to go on.

The saddest part is the removal and binning of so many new parts fitted back then that have suffered from disuse ever since.The four tyres were all brand new; ignore the Spitfire wheel that was fitted to the front when a Herald wheel and tyre was required urgently for another car. I can't risk tyres which have stood on a car since 2002 or thereabouts so will have to fork out on four new ones before long. Only when I'm sure they'll actually be used, though...

So: the poor 1200 convertible is once more pushed to the side... :(


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