Trial fitting the exhaust

 Exhaust  Comments Off on Trial fitting the exhaust
Aug 242013

The exhaust system is another area where there are a plethora of options available and with them, opinions on which is best. These range from a standard bore with cast manifolds through to straight through, big bore pipes with either long or short tubular manifolds and all combinations in between. Advice often just reflected what the owner had decided to put on their car rather than comparative tests.

The Classic Fabs long tubular manifoldsIt was tempting to go for one of the tubular manifold systems from companies like Classic Fabs, which are a work of art.

However the administrator of the E-Type forum had done a fair amount of research backed up by practical experience, having fitted most of the different types available.

The general consensus from the forum discussion was that the original cast iron manifolds were very well designed; providing optimised gas flow to speed up the exhaust gases therefore improving low down torque but also heat management. The larger bore systems, specifically when used for the secondary pipes, can result in a torque dip lower down in the rev range.

The other issues are that they are more prone to grounding and tubular manifolds generally radiate far more heat which is then likely to cause other problems, such as brake issues due to the proximity of the brake servo and blistering of the paint work.

The Mikalor style clamps were used instead of the typical U clampsIt therefore seemed sensible to stick to the standard cast iron manifolds and 1.75″ bore system, which was purchased from PD Gough based in Nottingham.

I’d also decided to deviate from the original look at the rear after seeing others who had successfully avoided the slab-like appearance by removing the rear, brushed aluminium panel. The car will be fitted with a long rather than square number plate which enables straight exhaust resonators to be fitted instead of the standard S2 splayed ones.

The final decision to make was whether to have the system made in mild steel or stainless steel. Apparently mild steel gives a much nicer exhaust note but in the end I went for stainless for longevity. Another recommendation that I also adopted was to fit Mikalor style clamps as they apply the clamping force more evenly and avoid distorting the pipe joints.

Some ‘reject’ manifolds were picked up quite cheaply at the SNG Barratt open day – they had some tiny imperfections in the vitreous enamel finish which I still struggle to find. This finish was never very robust and had a tendency to crack and flake off. So I’m expecting it won’t last too long and will need to be removed in order to paint/treat the manifolds.

The engine installation weekend was fast approaching so I decided to trial fit the exhaust system. At this stage, without the engine in place, all that could be trial fitted was from the muffler section backwards.

The combination of not having the down pipes installed and the car being on axle trolleys meant it was extremely difficult to build the exhaust on the car. The pipe ends were unblemished so the system clearly hadn’t be bench fitted when it was manufactured. Therefore all the joints were still very tight even with a generous coating of Copperslip.

It was necessary to build the system off the car to have any chance of aligning the brackets on the intermediate pipes and to push the resonator pipes fully home to be able to mount them onto the rear hanger.

It was then fitted as a single unit, first fitting the muffler section to the four rubber mounts fixed along the chassis rails. I was struggling underneath the car trying to hold up the exhaust up to the mounts while feeling for the 1/2″ spanner that I’d dropped when I noticed I had an audience – a metre long grass snake was observing my progress a couple of feet away. I assume having taken refuge from the hot, sunny weather.

Mounted centre muffler section My new helper! Resonator pipes mounted at rear
The muffler section fitted fine .... until the resonator pipe were mounted which caused it to rise at the rear A grass snake had sought shelter from the hot, sunny weather The resonators had to be pushed upward with a fair amount of force in order to attach to the rear mount

The connecting brackets between the intermediate pipes and the resonators were all fixed so the whole exhaust was now quite rigid. The muffler section was already mounted but the resonators needed a reasonable amount of effort to push them up to reach the rear exhaust hanger. In doing so, it caused the muffler section to raise significantly at the rear so the output pipes hit the rear floor stiffener.

The output pipes from the muffler section foul the rear floor stiffener so something's amissIt didn’t seem right because the small rubber mount at the rear would be under considerably more stress than just supporting the exhaust’s weight. Apart from varying how much overlap there is in each joint, there is no other scope for adjustment and the geometry is fixed so, without modification, the pipes would almost certainly foul the rear floor stiffener.

I emailed PD Gough with the photos above explaining the issues I was having and the purpose of the trial fit was to ensure it fitted correctly before the engine installation weekend. I didn’t want to find out it didn’t fit during the installation weekend and therefore stop the testing of the engine.

I felt their response was more of a fob off and so wasn’t too impressed – “they’d never had any fitting issues before and would be surprised if I had fitting problems once the front pipe are fitted as they would generally bring the system into alignment”.

Personally I’m not convinced because the front pipes are flexible and so their ability to bring the whole exhaust into alignment would be limited. Also the forcing of the muffler section towards the horizontal to stop the clearance issue will only add to the stress on the rear rubber mount.

I’m going to be extremely annoyed if I end up having to ‘surprise’ them by informing them it doesn’t fit.

Installing the IRS – it’s only a matter of 8 bolts …

 Rear Suspension  Comments Off on Installing the IRS – it’s only a matter of 8 bolts …
Aug 232013

I had been waiting on the completion of the front suspension components so that everything would be in place to transform it from a bodyshell to a rolling chassis; installing the front & rear suspension as well as the engine over a weekend. I even dared think we might be able to have a stab at starting the engine.

I had read and re-read all the available manuals a number of times to produce a detailed list of tasks that needed to be completed prior to and over the installation weekend.

Adapting the IRS trolley to fit under the IRS cage and raising the platform heightThe first task was to adapt the original IRS trolley I’d made; reducing its footprint to a little larger than the base plate of the IRS cage so it wouldn’t get in the way during installation, giving it sufficient ground clearance to allow the trolley jack to be inserted underneath and raising the height of the cage so the wheels could be put on while on the trolley.

I’m not sure about the need for the latter but it made sense at the time! The aim was to be able to lift the IRS and trolley to meet the chassis.

A number of other tasks before the weekend involved the IRS unit which had been sat on its trolley for over a year. Even though it was dry stored, the caliper plating had already deteriorated in this time. These were removed and painted in a tough, silver caliper paint and a remote bleed kit fitted.

The IRS cage had also picked up a variety of scuff marks when it had been delivered and moved around. It was therefore given three coats of 2 pack black paint and two clear satin coats. I didn’t have the luxury of a spray booth so boards and boxes were used in an attempt to keep bugs and leaves off while it dried.

Masking up on the smaller trolley Attempt to keep bugs off Re-painted – not much different!

The planning was finally over and the installation weekend had arrived. Much needed help was drafted in, John had been granted a pass for the dereliction of parental duties who then managed to persuade Martin to travel down to complete the line up. Both had ample engineering knowledge to complement my tea making skills!

Four Metalastik mounts connect the corners of the rear suspension cage to the chassis. Restricted access during the fitting the IRS unit is overcome by pre-fitting the rear mounts to the chassis and the front mounts to the IRS cage. ‘All’ that remained was to raise the IRS to the chassis and fit the remaining 8 bolts. I had foolishly assumed this would take an hour or so at most.

John and Martin assessing how to overcome the fitting problem None of the bolt holes were close to lining up. Hmmm. The IRS was removed and all the mounts then fitted to the cage in order to compare the centre to centre distances. The C2C distance between the mount holes was 6mm greater than the chassis holes.

As they are attached at an angle of 45 degrees, this would need each rubber mount to compress by √2 x 3mm to obtain hole alignment. So they became the prime suspect in the fitting problems.

A few tests of a mount in a vice suggested that it might be possible to achieve the necessary compression in the rubber section but exactly how was still to be determined. So the decision was made to continue rather than abandon the installation weekend.

The front of the chassis was raised in relation to the rear in an attempt to use the weight of the car to compress the rubber in the rear mounts. It still wasn’t sufficient – we needed more weight in the rear. A few moments later, Martin and I were standing in the boot while John assessed whether this had achieved anything other than a comical moment.

Eventually each bolt was persuaded one by one until the IRS had been fitted. A successful method was to insert a screwdriver into the second bolt hole to lever the first bolt hole into alignment and then tap the bolt home. I later found out that such fitting issues were far from uncommon.

We just needed to connect the radius arms to complete the job. Unsurprisingly they were also a country mile off fitting on to the cups on the chassis and were also twisted in relation to the cups because there was no load on the suspension. The solution was a three man job. John applied a tourniquet to draw the IRS cage forward so the radius arm and cup aligned. At the same time I rotated a G-clamp attached to the radius arm while Martin fitted the retaining bolt.

Just the radius arms to go Applying a tourniquet to pull into alignment G-clamp was also needed

Almost the entire day had been taken up with fitting the rear suspension but at least we had the satisfaction of finally lowering the car onto two of its new 5″ wheels. I had been wildly optimistic on what could be done in a day but nevertheless was pleased with what had been achieved.

The front suspension and engine would have to wait for another day ….

Aug 212013

This is more of a retrospective post as the IRS rebuild was originally completed in line with the indicative chassis completion date of May 2011 given by Hutsons. I had stripped and painted all the components but needed a specialist to address the differential. By chance I decided to get it done by Alan Slawson from AJS Engineering.

I wasn’t aware at the time but one the two Jaguar World books that persuaded me to buy the E-Type included a section covering the IRS rebuild. Alan was the person they entrusted to do their rebuild so it seemed fitting he would also be doing mine.

When I arranged to pick up the diff I asked him if he would be prepared to do the full IRS rebuild. Although he was semi-retired he agreed, as long as I wasn’t in a rush for it. The aim was to free me up to tackle the 101 other things needed to be ready for the return of the chassis.

In the end Hutsons took much longer than hoped due to a very healthy backlog of restorations. It was shame really as I’d have preferred to rebuild it myself and would have had ample time to do so. Several months after dropping the parts off, Alan had completed the IRS and even drove over from Essex to drop it off. At his suggestion Gaz adjustable shock absorbers were fitted in preference to the Koni Classic ones I’d supplied.

Also at his recommendation was to rotate the larger radius arm bush through 90 degrees. The rubber section has two elongated holes which are normally orientated so they are front and rear. Rotating the bushes so the holes are at the sides marginally increases the fore and aft stiffness, which is in the direction of forces through the radius arm. I subsequently found out that this is common practice.

The IRS unit is quite a heavy unit so I knocked together an amply sized trolley using two sheets of 22mm chipboard. Great for moving it around but the down side of its generous proportions was that it bent significantly under the weight.

Building up the front suspension

 Front Suspension  Comments Off on Building up the front suspension
Aug 152013

The plating didn’t go quite to plan as I hadn’t expected (or asked!) for the parts to be yellow passivated so the final look wasn’t really what I had in mind. The photos below show the ‘oil slick’ appearance that comes from the yellow passivation. Another lesson learnt – don’t assume anything and be explicit in your requirements!

I’m sure they used it with best intentions, as it provides slightly greater protection, or it’s the default colour but I’m kicking myself now. Still a number of people have advised on painting rather than plating for a more durable finish – now I’ll have the best of both worlds!! Anyway the aim is to drive the car rather than polish it for show!

The bracket faces that are in contact with the engine frames and the fulcrum shafts were masked to avoid any clearance problems later on. All the suspension parts were then given three coats of aluminium Epoxy Mastic 121. The parts were left for a couple of days to allow the paint to fully cure and harden.

It was also time to come off the fence as I needed to decide on whether to use the standard rubber bushes or install ‘upgraded’ polyurethane ones, such as Superflex. I’d fitted polyurethane bushes on my Elise but after several years the bushes would squeak going over even the slightest road imperfection. I think this was probably largely due to the garage not applying the correct grease (if any!) when they were installed.

In the end I’ve decided to keep to the standard rubber bushes, which were fairly easy to press in the bushes using a vice and liberal amounts of washing up liquid.

Standard rubber bushes were used in the end rebuilt wishbones and uprights ready to go on Sealed for life XJ40 lower ball joints were used

I’d been toying with the idea of buying a hydraulic press since the start of the restoration but, each time I’d needed one during the rebuild, the job was farmed out. I couldn’t justify the cost of a press now, at such a late stage, and so took the front uprights, hubs and a print out of the suspension section of the manual to the local garage while I built up the wishbones.

I hadn’t felt the need to state the obvious, that the hubs have different handed threads, because they were clearly labelled ‘LH’ and ‘RH’. Sure enough, when I picked them up a couple of days later, they had put the hubs on the wrong way round! What was that about not assuming anything and being explicit in my requirements!

I thought it would be easier to sort that out once they’re on the car and set about finishing off the simple task of putting the upper and lower wishbones together.

Finally the sealed for life XJ40 lower ball joint units were fitted to the uprights. Far easier than the original set up which required shimming. The suspension parts are now all ready to be bolted on next weekend.

The plan was to install both the front and rear suspension, steering, the engine and gearbox and all the engine bay components with the aim to get the engine running. Unfortunately I’ve not managed to sort out the dreaded fuel tank yet so the testing of the engine will have to wait.

Aug 122013

The dismantling of the front suspension was by far and away the hardest part of the stripping down. I suspect it had never been apart since it left the factory and hadn’t seen much in the way of maintenance.

The only parts that could be removed were the two upper wishbones. It took some fairly heavy blows with two club hammers to get the ball joints to split it. The rest of the suspension had to be taken off the car in one piece so it could be soaked in penetrating oil for many weeks.

Front suspension had seen little maintenance Dismantling was easiest off the car Axle carrier limited access to the lower ball joint

Even after that time, it hadn’t made the slightest bit of difference and all the bushes and bolts were still refusing to come off. I tried to press out one of the shock absorber bolts that also hold the two wishbone arms together. However all I succeeded in doing was to bend the bolt!

Progress was painfully slow and often I would get to a part that wouldn’t budge no matter what I tried. So I’d put it to one side and come back to it in a week or so, with renewed vigour. Eventually, over three months later after applying everything from penetrating oil, heat, cold, fire and a lot of frustration, it had been dismantled into the individual components.

Upper ball joint is prone to wear Lower ball joints will be replaced with sealed for life ones Suspension parts ready for shot blasting

The plan was to get the upper wishbones machined to accept a modern ball joint and then shot blast the parts before re-plating them. The lower ball joints will also be replaced with more modern XJ40 sealed for life units. Nowadays most people seem to Nickel plate the suspension as the original Cadmium is no longer available. It’s generally limited to aviation components now due to the toxicity of the plating process.

I’m not a great fan of Nickel plating as I’d had my Elise suspension plated a few years ago and it hadn’t lasted very long. The main problem is that it isn’t a sacrificial coating like Cadmium and Zinc. Once the surface is damaged it corrodes from beneath. It’s also quite difficult to get rid of when it will inevitably need redoing and requires special Nickel stripping.

After a lot of research I found the best alternative to Cadmium was Zinc-Nickel. It also has the benefit of having a duller finish and so is a lot less blingy that bright Zinc.

Several others recommended just painting or powder coating, although this is somewhat frowned upon by the purists. Also a more flexible paint coating can hide stress fractures until it’s too late! I’d played around with spraying some of the zinc plated bracketry with a satin lacquer which produced the best compromise. It provided a ‘toned down’ plated look but with the added benefit of more durability. Decision made!

Not many companies do Zinc-Nickel plating and generally don’t take private work from individuals. Fortunately I was able to arrange for my parts to be Zinc-Nickel plated as a favour. However, without asking for it, they had yellow passivated them so they had an ‘oil slick’ appearance which I think would have looked awful on the car.

So to plan B – rather than adding a satin clear coat as planned, I would paint them in aluminium Epoxy Mastic 121. The combination of the plating and Epoxy paint should mean they keep their appearance for many years to come.

Prop Shaft Refurb

 Transmission  Comments Off on Prop Shaft Refurb
Aug 122013

As the prop shaft’s spline joint is sealed for life, the refurbishment of the prop shaft is limited to replacing the UJs and tarting it up with a lick of paint. A member of the forum has suggested Epoxy Mastic 121 for a tough rust-resistant paint that is applied to bare metal and as an alternative to POR15. So I purchased both black for the various brackets etc and aluminium for the backs of the bumpers.

The prop shaft and yokes were then wire brushed back to bare metal and then given several coats of black Epoxy Mastic. It’s a lot easier to work with that POR15 although the finish isn’t as smooth, having a noticeable orange peel effect. Oddly the aluminium paint did provide a smooth finish.

Everything was going smoothly until the final UJ when I allowed one of the roller bearings to fall into its cup. Fortunately it was fairly easy to press out and start again. To seat the new UJs the prop shaft was mounted onto the rear axle and the prop shaft given a sturdy tap with a wooden mallet in each of the four directions of the UJ. The aim was to push the UJ cups hard against the retaining circlips and loosen the stiffness in the joints.

 Posted by at 6:41 am

Steering rack woes

 Steering Rack  Comments Off on Steering rack woes
Aug 042013

There wasn’t too much wrong with the steering rack, apart from some splits in the ball joint rubbers and bellows, which could be expected for the age of the car. Externally it looked a bit tatty but there didn’t appear to be any significant wear in the rack and pinion. There was only some very minor pitting in a couple of the rack’s teeth.

Therefore the aim was only to re-grease the internals and re-paint the housing. The pinion end of the housing is fixed to the picture frame via an attachment plate and beneath that is a pinion retaining plate. The profile of the pinion is such that there is a middle section that has a smaller diameter than the outer ends.

The retaining plate has a machined slot in the shape of two overlapping circles matching the two pinion diameters. The larger of which is off-centre. The plate slides over the end of the pinion through the larger hole before it can being centralised once it has reached the narrow section. Therefore the three studs must be removed to enable the retaining plate to be withdrawn.

Pinion attachment plate Pinion retaining plate Removal of sprung plunger

A sprung plunger is used to remove the free play in the rack and is held in place by a cover and circlip. Similar sprung plungers are used to provide sufficient resistance in the movement of the tie rod ball joints in their retaining housings.

Tie rod ball housing Rack, pinion and housing

Unfortunately there was a considerable break between the dismantling phase and finally getting round to rebuilding it. Sufficient time for the rack to be misplaced while in storage and numerous searches failed to locate it.

With time running out, I had little option but to bite the bullet and purchase a new rack and pinion from Kiley-Clinton engineering. I knew I’d probably find the original rack shortly afterwards but the knock on affect of replacement would also be a full rebuild of the steering unit.

The profile of the pinion changed during the production of the Series 2 cars and with it the size of the larger of the pinion bearings. Naturally I had the later type and the replacement rack and pinions are only available in the earlier size. So I would need to replace the bearings to suit and, in a case of shipwright’s disease, it made sense to replace the brass bush pressed into the housing at the same time.

The removal of the brass bush proved rather tricky without access to proper presses. As it’s fairly thin walled it’s difficult to get a drift on to it and I had to resort to a cold chisel to get it out.

I thought it best to get the local garage to press in the new bush and bearings to avoid any further mishaps. How wrong could I be!! They had pressed the outer pinion bearing in as far as it would go until it had reached a shoulder in the alloy housing. This resulted in the bearing protruding into the main shaft and stopping the rack being inserted.

A bearing pressed too far!! Resulting in a protruding bearing

It would have to be re-done so I carefully ground down the bearing casing until it could be removed. With hindsight I should probably have sacrificed the smaller end bearing which would have given access for it to be drifted out.

The brass bushes are made slightly oversized and so it needs to be reamed in order to insert the rack, which should be a snug fit. I had to rely on the local machine shop as I didn’t want to purchase an adjustable reamer for a one off job.

Just as all the components were ready to be rebuilt, I was searching for the gearbox breather when I stumbled upon the long lost original rack. Aaaargh!

Copious amounts of grease was applied during the rebuild. The only two points of interest were the need to shim the sprung plunger to give the correct end float of 0.15-0.25mm in the rack and obtaining the correct resistance in the tie rod ball joints.

The service manual recommends using a spring balance to check that the tie rod only starts to move under a load of 7lbs. It was a rather fiddly process as a large change in clamping force is achieved by a very small rotation of the ball housing. A process not helped by my Heath-Robinson replacement for the spring balance – kitchen scales weights and a bag of flour!