Yes, still more bashing. Not so much more to do now I think though. Just the tail and the sides a little more. Must remember it’s an aluminium car and it will get bashed about. It also occured to me when we wrap the edges around the tubes it’s probably all going to go wonko anyway.
A little excitement today too when I went into the garage after a break and found the top of the car covered in bird crap! Looking about I found a baby thrush had flown in and now couldn’t get out (despite the garage door being wide open). It took a few minutes of chasing it about before I caught it and let it go outside.
I also took some pictures of the block as it is after coming out of the molasses. It really cleans things well. So well I discovered that the side water branch threads are actually helicoiled.
And finally my presents (to myself) arrived! My Phoenix crank and rods turned up. And they are lovely. The big end shells seem to be standard Renault ones. Probably impossible to get in NZ but must be relatively common in the UK.
It’s a splash fed 1.5 inch crank and matching rods. I will look at adding a second set of oil jets to the crankcase to increase the oil flow to the big ends (oil is squirted into those little holes in the webs as the crank turns). There are two jets normally but you can add two more point the other way to increase the oiling.
I also heard from Paul in the UK and my camshaft is on it’s way too. I still need some parts (mainly tappets) and I need to get the block machined. Unfortunately I had written down the measurements Ian suggested on the block itself in sharpie then forgot to copy them to somewhere before it went in the molasses! Will get the top of the block skimmed, have the bottom of the head machined and I will lap the base of the block to the top of the crankshaft myself.
Paul also sent me details of how to strengthen the crankcase to block joint with two long studs. I need to get hold of some HE30 aluminium bar and some EN16T steel to make long studs.
I am working on doing a little more bashing every night now. Tonight I did the offside mid section. I am either getting a feel for this now or just starting to be less fussy (Mr high build primer will be my friend!) but it seems it bit easier now. It’s not perfect but then it is hand made. It needs the rustic look, right?
I still don’t have my crank and rods. Despite me ringing them today first thing this morning they tried to deliver them to home where there is no one to sign for them. I got home to find a card to call. I went to the web site they provided and arranged redirection to work but it will be on Wednesday now. It took 2 days for them to get from London Heathrow to Auckland International Airport and it will be about 20 days all up from the airport (less than 20km away) to me. Even with customs and so on that’s terrible!
Been a while since I last updated. Mainly since it’s been a while since I did much on the car. I recently had to change jobs (not wanting to move to Boston) and having done that now I am just settling in. I have to think at this job and am actually writing code again (a test framework) so by the time I get home I’ve been knackered. A few things have been happening though.
First I spoke with Paul Bonewell in the UK about getting a cam. He’s kindly sorting that out for me, including sourcing a cam to modify there instead of me having to find one and send it over. I am grateful for that. The cam will be for a blown engine but will run on a normal one so I can finish the car NA then supercharger it (and get it certified I guess) later.
Also my crank and rods have arrived in the country. Apparently they arrived in the country on the 6th of Nov but the rest of the time things have been happening with customs and the shipping company (mainly the latter). I haven’t got them yet but the duty and fees are paid (NZ$500) so they should be delivered soon I hope.
In preparation for that I had the head and block sitting in molasses to clean them up. They came up fine. And I cleaned the crankcase and checked it over. That should be fine to use. I did find one buggered thread on the sump where someone has drilled and tapped through the remains of a stud. I was able to tap out the broken part with a hammer and small punch no problem.
That can be retapped or helicoiled I think.
I also discovered how the front bearing lip mod was done. It’s a plate with studs through it. The whole thing pulls out easily enough. I will ask Ian nicely to check if that’s going to be good enough or not.
I also took apart the starter motor to rebuild that. It’s in good condition I think and should clean up well. I might get a new switch for it though (I think you can get these new).
There is no solenoid. The starter is a cable that pulls the switch shut!
And today I got back into the body work. A few weeks ago I pulled the shell off the frame and went over it from the inside and welded up any seams that seems a little weak. There was quite a bit of welding. Of course that made everything wonky again so now it’s more hammer and file work to get it all smooth again. I’ve decided to work on one seam at a time now instead of going round in (never ending) circles.
I started on the front right seam, one of the smallest. I had to do a little more welding on the outside too to fill some small flaws but the corner came up fine. I don’t want to say the welding is easy now, it’s not, but you definitely get more comfortable with it. I will never get the skin perfect but then Joss reminded me this is my first hand made, hand welded car so that’s ok! He also pointed out cars in the 20s and 30s weren’t actually made that well in the first place. Actually the same is true for modern cars. When you know what to look for the paint work on some is terrible!
So will just work on getting it done now. I did one corner and still have 8 seams to go!
Looks ok in pics but running your fingertips over it shows up the small imperfections. I’ve grown too sensitised to it. You can see here I pulled off the firewall and valences to make things easier to work on. That makes putting the skin on and off easier.
One other interesting thing. My friend Steve has been telling me for a while about an Austin 7 he saw at the bottom of town in a car rental place. I caught up with him and we went for a walk to find it. Turns out it’s literally across the road (and down a bit) from work.
It’s tucked away in a corner next to a van and behind a hand truck and a rubbish bin. Unfortunately it’s not for hire. But it is registered and road legal. It’s a 1929 model. Apparently the owner of the place restored it for someone years ago. When they passed on they left it to the owner and it’s been there since. Apparently they put Santa in it at Christmas and lets kids sit in it and have their photos taken.
So now I can get the block and head machined and the bores taken out to fit my new pistons. Paul Bonewell sent em details of a mod to make to strengthen the crankcase to block connection I need to look at doing. I also decided the best way to drive the blower will be off the crank so need to look into that. Probably with a V belt and idler. And with a bit of luck I should get the crank and rods this week!
I haven’t done much since I got the rear firewall in. That’s all welded in place now. I’ve been busy sorting out a new job so this week not much has been done. Today I went to visit Joss and collected some aluminium (to make more welding rods) and to borrow a seat. We also discussed how I can do the rear axle cover. I am looking at doing a curved piece which I will make from several pieces of steel welded together. It will be curved in two direction so will test my metalworking skills to make!
This shows the sort of curve I need. The corner between the horizontal piece and the vertical piece will also be curved.
The seat I borrowed is steel but I will probably make one form aluminium along the same pattern. It’s very tight. I better not get fat! I will probably lower the seat back so it fits inside the body better, perhaps contouring it to follow the line of the body. To get in and out you basically stand on the seat then have to slide down into it hoping your legs go in the right places under the steering wheel once gravity takes over!
I was saying to Joss what I need is some engine parts to arrive to inspire me. I got home, parked the MG in the garage and just then a courier arrived. My parts from David in the UK!
New valves (exhaust on the left and larger inlet on the right), collets, valve guides, studs, nuts and spring holder things whose name I have forgotten. The double springs are from the local VAR spares branch. Most importantly the pistons arrived. They are very nice slipper pistons. They come with pins and rings and so on too. They a +64 thou and are apparently a metric size meaning it’s easier to get rings for them as they are used in motorcycles. I don’t know which ones though.
With the pistons I can now look at getting the block and head seen too. I did want to give them a final clean though and have been testing out using molasses for rust removal.
I didn’t want to test it on the block and head first so I have been trying it out the last couple of weeks on a railway points lever I am restoring (http://www.valleysignals.org.nz/track/springpoints.html). I left them sitting in a plastic rubbish bin with 5kg of Molasses in it dissolved in water. The ratio people use seems to vary but I doubt it really matters. I just filled the bin with water. I left the parts submerged for several weeks. Some parts are two big so were only partially submerged but that makes it easy to see the result.
You do get a thick froth on top of the solution. I just scooped it off periodically and put that on the garden. After taking the parts off I hosed them down and then rubbed them with a green scotch pad to remove the left over black residue. The molasses doesn’t affect paint it seems as paint remained there. The rust those is eaten away. You can see the result on the main lever body which I could only submerge half way.
That worked so well I now have the block and head soaking in it. This should work better than the electrolysis method since the molasses will get inside everything and clean out the insides of the water passages. Once they are clean I can take the head to be machined to fit the pistons.
The other thing I did today was ring a chap in the UK about a suitable cam. A cam for a blown engine has different opening times than a standard cam. So if I go for one of them I definitely have to add a blower.
Today I did the bulk of the rear firewall. I started by making a cardboard template just to check things were all correct. Since it is corrugated cardboard and all floppy in one direction I hot glues skewers across it to keep it rigid.
Since that looked good I went ahead and marked out the steel. I decided on a 3/4 inch flange and luckily my roll of tape is just that wide so it made an easy way to mark it out. You can see where the tape won’t curve enough to match the shape. At that point I made the flange only 1/4 inch high. A smaller flange is much easier to bend up.
With it marked out I used my little turning up bar to start bringing the edges up. I then finished it off with a hammer and dollies.
With the edges bent and smoothed out I started removing bits so I could test fit it in. It’s a bit hard getting it into place but it only needs to go in and out a few times. Once it is correct it will be welded in place. I did accidentally cut away a little too much at the bottom corners but I later welded in small pieces to compensate.
When it’s welded in I need to bend little tabs to join the firewall to the spring cover pieces. These then get brazed in place. I will need to remove the frame from the chassis to do that.
Inside the boot you can see the flanges. The bottom ones will be brazed to the frame. The aluminium skin will be riveted to the rest of the flanges. That should lock everything solid. The end of the transmission tunnel will be trimmed and bent at 90 degrees so that the firewall can be bolted to it. They aren’t permanently attached as the tunnel is attached to the floor, not the frame. The frame will lift right off it. In this picture you can just see the swages I hammered into the firewall to stiffen it.
Here you can see the four swages more clearly. I put them so they will be covered by the seats and not be easily seen. You can also just seem little cardboard semicircles near the side tubes. To get the firewall in I had to cut large semicircular holes so I could maneouver it in around the tubes. I’ll cut little metal covers to go over these holes to fill the gaps.
Tomorrow I will take the firewall out again and clean up all the edges with a file and trim the flange to be even. Not that it really matters since you can’t ever see it but I will know it’s there! Then I can remove the frame and weld it all in place. Then I need to make the rear axle cover and the remainder of the boot floor.
One last note. I got a very nice, hand written thank you letter from a member of the VAR who came to see my car the other weekend. Seems they liked what they saw and they had a good day visiting all our garages.
A lot more people stop to talk about the car now as I work on it. Today it was some people from up the road who apparently have a live steam model railway in their garden (I am definitely visiting them). And there was a woman looking for her lost three legged tabby cat.