200th post!

July 25th, 2014

Today is my last week day of freedom before starting the new job next week. So I wanted to get lots done. Over the last few days I have finished the steering and the brakes and they all work apart from minor adjustments.

The little front brake pulley needed repairing. It is aluminium and the hole in it wears out eventually. I drilled it out then machined a piece of brass to make a new bush that I pressed in.


That should last a lot longer I hope. I needed new clevis pins for it and other parts of the brakes. I went into BNT, this one not this one, but it turns out that the latter might have been just as useful as the former didn’t know what clevis pins were! I bought a little kit of them online this morning on TradeMe and they were delivered this afternoon so tomorrow I can fit those.

For the rear brake pulleys I made up little steel brackets very similar to the Austin ones. I used some square tube cut and bent to shape.

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The first one took me ages but the other side that I did today was much easier to do. I spent a long time on the first clamping it to things to try to bend the side to the right angle. On the second I drilled the mounting holes, bolted it to the chassis then bent it on the car. MUCH easier.

I have the cable running over the pulleys since otherwise they rub on the rear of the chassis cross member. The brackets have been painted and are drying now.

I also today bolted on the rear shocks although I still need to find the bolts to attach the shock arms to the aluminium links.


I also bolted the new, painted steering wedge back on.


All the brake cables are run but they need adjusting to be correct. All the wheels lock easily though already. Properly adjusted I can’t see why the semi Girling brakes won’t work very well.


Tomorrow I will put the pulley brackets on and add all the final pins split pins and lock nuts and so on and adjust the brakes. And once I put the bolts through the rear shocks then the chassis is done. I just then need to fill the diff and the steering box. I bought the correct fluids way back at the Roycroft earlier in the year.

I’ve got a lot done in my time off which was one of the main reasons for taking the time. When I started I was way back here: http://www.asciimation.co.nz/austin7/?p=900


Boot wired.

July 22nd, 2014

Today Joss popped up and showed me how to wire the boot edge. It would be nice to explain how you wrap the aluminium around the wire by hammering it but really that’s pretty much all there is too it. You hammer it round the wire. Was too busy doing it to get pictures but you start by bending the wire to the approximate shape then clamping it in place. Sheet metal welding clamps worked well. Then you hammer enough of the flange over to hold the wire.


Then you use the tail end of a comma dolly to hold the wire in place against the fold as you bash the metal over it. Once the flange is 180 degrees or so around you can switch to a dolly underneath and bring the flange right over. As you hammer the metal around you shift the dolly around on the opposite side of the wire so you are always hammering against it with the wire in between.


Once it is mostly over we switched to a square faced panelbeating hammer. You can slide this flat across the body of the car to flatten down the last bit of the metal over the wire. This leaves lots of scratches on the surface but they are slight and sand out easily.


To get the last little bit really tight I made a tool. I went for a walk to one of the many $2 shops in Avondale and got myself some $8 wire cutters. They are obviously quality because 1), they cost more than $2 and 2), they came with some great packaging.


I ground the edges off a little so they wouldn’t cut and I used these going around the whole wire to squeeze the last little bit under.

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I gave everything a quick sand with a random orbit. I will be sanding the whole body at some point before painting so I only did a quick little bit to see how it would come up and it looks pretty good.


I can’t believe how much difference it makes to how the body looks. Not sure that’s not just psychological though as it’s been in progress for so long and now I am seeing it more or less done. It also adds so much rigidity to the body.

After doing that I took the steering wedge off and gave that a few coats of paint as well as things like the brake pedal lever and the steering drop arm.

And tomorrow it’s off to see Ian and work out what to do next on the engine. I am also looking at getting from the UK a real Grasshopper type drive system (well, modern replica). That is the best way for me to drive the blower for when I want to supercharger the car. It is the proper Austin way to do it and will look a lot better.


Boot edges.

July 21st, 2014

Today I finally did something I have been putting off for ages. I tidied up the split boot edges with some welding then filed it all smooth and trimmed it to the right size. I did some playing on scraps of aluminium and found I could weld right to the edge if I clamped a backing piece of copper behind the aluminium. Like when MIG welding the weld won’t stick to the copper. It also worked as a heatsink so the aluminium wouldn’t melt as fast and suddenly blow holes.


I then used marking blue around the edge and made a little scriber from a scrap of wood with a nail through it. I was able to use that to scribe the line I needed to trim to by running it over the body so the nail scratched the correct line on the lip.

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I was then able to trim things then file and sand the edges smooth. I did find though that the corners weren’t long enough to give me the full 16 mms I need to fully wrap around the wire. These I trimmed back slightly shorter but with a smooth transition. There is still plenty to wrap around the wire to hold it in place. I then annealed the edge and it is now ready for wiring.


I still need to make the brake cable pulleys and fix the middle guide (the hole need bushing) but with the rear cables in place (although not fully adjusted) I was able to roll the car out and park it on the driveway with the handbrake stopping it from rolling away.

Finishing the chassis off.

July 20th, 2014

I’ve been busy lately looking for a new job. Unfortunately I got one so won’t have as much time for car things soon! So I am trying to make as much progress as I can now. The chassis is now right way up and I finished off the brake cross shaft and am working on attaching the cables. I also went and collected my block and head from the machiners. The block and head have been skimmed, the bored honed out to suit my pistons and they repaired the dodgy water branch mount with blocks stitched in place.

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I also went and bought some new taps and was tapping the little aluminium bushes I fitted and found they weren’t as tight as I thought so they just spun. In the end I retapped the holes so I could fit in brass BSP fittings I turned down on the lathe. Those were screwed into the crankcase and then a 1/4 BSF screw goes into those like on a normal crankcase.

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I also spoke to someone at the VCC about how to actually get this car VINed. They have a form and process I can follow. I can show that the body is constructed the way they built cars in the 1930s using the materials of the time. Joss reminded me that the DA3 Wartburg, the car that originally inspired me, is built that way. As were other period cars. My chassis is boxed which makes it a modified period chassis but I haven’t altered any of the steering, brake or suspension mounting points. The steering is on a wedge but this was done at the time too (by Gordon England and others) and I can show proof of that. Everything else is pretty much standard. Standard brakes and so on. It’s actually all very Austin and correct.

I was worried about the bent steering drop arm and was looking at the steering wedge and realised all I needed to do was shift it over. The other thing I had done ages ago was I fitted long grease nipples to the ends of the crag link and it was these that were hitting the chassis rail. Joss found a broken steering box that I was able to remove the arm from.  Because the arm itself was still in the part of the housing with a bush the shaft was not rusty and in perfect condition. I took that apart and reassembled my steering box with it.


So now that is totally correct. I also remade the steering wedge so I could shift the box over about 1/2 an inch. This time I made it from wider strap too so it is more stable on the chassis rail. Now with the correct arm and shorter grease nipples nothing fowls and everything is how it should be. I might need to remake the floor panel since the brake pedal lever will come though further to the right but that isn’t difficult.

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The steering wedge is how a lot of the pretend Ulsters are done and the dimensions of it are in Chris Goulds Ulster building guide. The proper ones have a different steering box casting with the correct angle on it. Those are obviously hard to get now! My new wedge seems a lot more solid than the old one.

After fitting the new arm I had to adjust the shims in the box to get the correct end float then spent ages getting the steering all set up to minimise play but have everything moving freely. I lifted the front end off the ground so I could turn the wheels easily. It took a long time but I eventually got it running smoothly lock to lock and with only about 1/2 inch free play in the wheel. That’s very good for an Austin 7 I think. I still need to fill the box with the correct oil.

I reattached the handbrake lever and can now see how the brakes work. It looks like the foot brake is designed to pull on the front brakes first then the rears. That mod someone had done by brazing the forked to be more closed (I think there is a pic a few posts back) would have meant that all brakes would have come on sooner which isn’t correct. The handbrake pulls on all four brakes at the same time.

One thing I need to work out is the brake cables running to the rear wheels. I know that the cable is meant to run under the brass pulleys on the rear crossmember outriggers. But I can’t see how that works as on mine the cable hits that crossmember. On the semi-girling brakes the levers are at the bottom of the rear hubs and point downwards.

I can’t see how they don’t hit that crossmember in a standard car? Especially when standard cars have more arched springs which effectively make the levers even further down. My rear springs are to sports specification so flatter. I can run the cables over the rollers of course. I need to make new brackets for them still so can make them to fit.


In my last week of freedom before starting my new job I hope to visit Ian who is helping me with some engine things as well as Richard who can help with some other parts (and I want to see his new car).

And I really, really need to finish welding on the boot lip aluminium so Joss can show me how to finish wiring that!

Brake cross shaft.

July 14th, 2014

And oh god, that was a mission.

My tallow arrived this morning so I put that in a sweetie tin (I buy these sweets just for the cool metal tins which are useful –  the sweets aren’t bad either) and melted it down on the stove. I soaked the felt seals in it which works well.

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The plan today was to actually weld the skin ready to finish the wiring. Since I had the felt seals I thought I would quickly chuck the brake cross shaft on. I mean how long could that take?

Five bloody hours!

That things is so fiddly. First there are no really good drawings of how it goes together and what the parts all are. The best is the one in the green companion book.


The red book has an exploded diagram but without all the fine details like where all those bloody felts and washers go. This is how I did it, not sure it’s right but it seems to work. After a lot of messing about and finding all the pitfalls.

It really helps that my chassis is upside down. Doing it right way up would have made this a much more miserable job. I started on the offside. The main issue is that you have to thread the shafts through the chassis and thread onto the shafts all the appropriate bits. Getting it wrong means taking everything off and starting again. And it’s easy to get it wrong!

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Start with the short shaft the brake pedal attaches to. In the photos above it works like this from left to right. Flat washer then felt seal then insert the shaft through the outer most hole. Don’t forget the zinc bush, flange on the outside. As you insert the shaft though you then add another felt seal, another flat washer and the spring clip then the big spring (the right way around) then another spring clip, flat washer and felt. Then finally the little rectangular plate with the zinc bush inserted into it, flange the same side as the first one. This plate has oval shaped holes so make sure the holes are oriented correctly to allow forwards and backwards movement, not up and down.

Push everything towards the middle of the car then you can loosely attach that middle plate. Loosely since you need things to move so we can align it all properly later. The bolts to hold the plate in place go through from the shaft side of the car with the nuts on the inside. The bolts need to be short as if you used long ones they’ll foul the moving bits later. One trick is that there are lock washers under both the bolt heads and the nuts. Only you have to prebend the lock tabs on the bolt side or else there is no way you can get to them when everything is assembled (ask how I know this). Bend the lock tabs on the bolt side up completely. Bend the nut side only slightly. Not so much that you can’t get the nuts on but enough that you can get under them to lift them later.

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Don’t do them up tight yet! Shove the shaft through, push down all the seals and put the spring clips into the little grooves. Then you can attach the middle doohicky thing.  This is the lever that pulls the front brakes on. This is keyed to the shaft.

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I used the clamp to compress the seals until the middle lever was flush to the end of the short tube. I then did up the pinch bolt. Next we can insert the long shaft. I greased it up to lubricate it and stop it rusting. Insert it through the outer shaft making sure it’s the right way around. The offside end has a groove machined in it for another spring clip like this:


Bung that end through first. Now you can’t just push it through all the way at once. You first need the middle two levers and then the felt seal and washers and spring clips on the outer end of course but there is a trick here. You can’t just thread everything on. One of the levers, the forked end one, has to put in place before the shaft is threaded though. It’s hard to explain but if you just put things on loosely then try to shift things into position you will find you can’t because the forked lever won’t be able to fit into the long middle one.


So first put on the felt seal then the little lever the handbrake lever pushes against. Next you have to pull the shaft back out so that you can line the next lever up correctly. You hold that in the correct place THEN you can push the shaft through.

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I guess what I mean is you can’t put the shaft through then slide the forked lever into place. You need to have it in place then put the shaft through it as shown above.

With that in place you can then add the far end pieces. Here the pictures are hard to follow but this is what I did. I used the cup washer with the felt seal in it but I found that the hole in the cup was worn so it would actually move past the spring clip when it was in place. I ended up replacing the clip with a modern circlip.

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With all that in place you can then finally put through the cotter pins. It took me hours to get it all right though before reaching that point. Lots of assembly and disassembly. Then those cotter pins are also a bastard. I find as supplied the little buggers won’t fit! I always find I need to file them down a little so they will go through far enough to fit and provide enough thread to get the nut on. Then I find there is no room for a lock washer so I Loctite everything.


On the end two levers I also added a felt washer under the levers. I think that’s correct. It seems anywhere there is a zinc bush there should be a felt seal either side of it. That’s what seemed to make sense anyway.

With everything in place and working then you can lock up the four bolts on the middle bit. The heads shouldn’t turn but to make sure I used a box spanner on the heads as it just fits on before hitting the lock tabs. Then I could do up the nuts then finally bend over the lock tabs on the nut side.


This is how it all ended up.

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I am not certain if the middle spring sits flat against the crossmember or if it hooks into the hole as I have it here. I haven’t hooked the other end around it’s peg yet as I wanted to moveable so I could paint things. I am not sure I have the zinc bush on the nearside in the right way or not but by now I had taken the thing apart so many times I wasn’t going to do it again. I don’t think it matters at that end too much. One of the issues I did have was the felt seals I made were too thick so I had to assemble things, work out how much to thin the felts, take it all apart again, trim them then refit. This is why it all took hours. That and not really having a good guide to follow.

Finally it was all together, everything moves nicely, there is no noticeable wobble or looseness. I’ll know for certain once I attach the spring and the handbrake lever (which won’t fit with the chassis upside down).

I went and got the brake cables and it seems they will hit the chassis so I will need to rig up a little pulley somehow. I’ll know more once it’s back up the right way. I hit it all with a coat of black paint.


You might notice in some of the pictures that I drilled a 1/4 inch hole in the top of the short shaft. This is so I can squirt oil in there periodically to keep it all lubricated.

So I never got to my welding today! Yesterday I was also busy working on the crankcase. I machined up some little aluminium plugs to go in my oversize oil jet inspection holes. I drilled them out to a uniform size.  The top hats were machined from some aluminium slightly oversize. I then froze them in the freezer and gently heated the crankcase around the holes. I then inserted them and hammered them home with a plastic hammer. They are a good, tight fit. The flat shoulder will provide a nice surface to seal against.

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I am going to thread them 1/4 BSF but I can’t find my tap at the moment (if I ever had one?). When doing this I noticed a couple of my helicoils were actually wrong. The coil had jumped threads so I had to remove them.


By hitting the end carefully with a punch I was able to knock the spring wire into the middle of the hole where I could grab it with pliers and then carefully pull the coil out. It sort of unwinds like a big spring without damaging the threads. I then had to recoil those holes. I think the reason it went wrong was because the coils were grabbing when I wound them in so this time I used lots of Loctite, not so much as a locker but as a lubricant to ease the coils in.

Since I was doing all that I also drilled and tapped the 9th block to crankcase stud hole.


Luckily I could find my 5/16ths tap! I also drilled and tapped the rear oul take off point. Unfortunately I ran out of aluminium to make the plug I need. There is a step on the crankcase just at this point so I will build up the surface with good epoxy then file it flat so I have somewhere to seal against.


The gallery needs blocking between that point and the top hat insert so the oil flows up the hose barb, through the filter then back into the front of the crankcase.

And finally today I heard from the engine guys. My block and head are ready to collect tomorrow. So I can go get those, hopefully finish my welding ready to do the wiring and also flip the chassis over and reattach the front end and sort out the handbrake lever and cables. I still need to fix the little aluminium pulley thing that the front cable goes around. The hole in that is ovaled so I will plug and redrill it. Hopefully with brass if I can find some.

Oh, I also yesterday did weld in the last two little plates of the boxing and repainted all that.

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