Feb 092016

I could get used to this travelling … as I currently write this sailing off the Whitsunday Beach. Although the down side is it’s been three months since heading off from the UK and therefore being without my E-Type ‘fix’, either tinkering or driving. Completely by chance, the stay in the lovely Llao Llao hotel in Patagonia coincided with the start of the Argentinian 1000 Millas historic race. The organisers were using the hotel as their race control so the car park started to fill with all sorts of exotic cars including a number of E-Types.

  • The eventual winner, 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS

However last summer, Chris, a fellow E-Type forum member and S2 owner, dropped by to have a look at my restoration progress while he was over from Australia, visiting folks at home. Unfortunately I was still addressing a few teething problems and finishing the trim so we weren’t able to take it for a spin.

Sydney is now Chris’ home town and not surprisingly was one of the key destinations whilst travelling in Australia. So I dropped him a note to see if I could drop by while in Sydney to have a look at his FHC. His suggestion was better than that, to head up north to drive some of the twisty Old Pacific Highway. This was once the main link between Sydney and Brisbane further up the coast. It has since been replaced by a modern motorway and so, without the volume of traffic, it’s an ideal driving road.

Chris and his S2

It was a offer I couldn’t refuse! So we arranged to meet in central Sydney and head off for a three hour drive. It has always surprised me how small even an E-Type looks compared with modern machinery. This was even more evident as Chris turned up amongst the Sydney traffic, where there seem to be more larger SUV type vehicles than in the UK.

Chris pointed out a few of the historic parts of Sydney before heading over the Sydney Bridge to the northern suburbs. Not a bad mode of transport for my first crossing of the iconic bridge!

Sydney Bridge in an E-Type

It was great to compare notes on our E-Types, especially as Chris’s is pretty much as it left the factory. Except for sensible changes such as an oil pressure gauge with a direct feed from the engine to give a true pressure reading. It was interesting that his standard cooling system keeps the temperature running at the normal level, even in the Australian heat. Confirming there’s no need to meddle with the standard S2 set up.

Once on the twisty section of the Old Pacific Highway, Chris pulled over and asked if I would like to drive. A brave man, as this would be only my second E-Type that I’ve driven! It was reassuring that it felt largely the same as mine. At least what I can remember of it from when I last drove it in October.

Me behind the wheel

The only slightly perceptible differences were a possibly smoother gear change and a different feel to the throttle. I had been having issues with my gear changes but this was mainly due to the incorrect orientation on the various washers and the resistance offered by the reverse plunger. The throttle difference was not unexpected as this was one change I had made from the original set up, fitting the Mangoletsi cable throbbed linkage.

As Stephen mentions in his comment, a classic case of spell checker thinking it knows best …. the above should read “Mangoletsi cable throttle linkage”!

It was an excellent and very enjoyable morning out and I was grateful for Chris’ hospitality and sparing the time. It was also great to have the opportunity to chat with a fellow car enthusiast. He mentioned a potential trip to the UK so I will be able to reciprocate and enable Chris to compare driving the two cars.

I will be redoubling my efforts to get the hood fitted ….

 Posted by at 2:21 am
Nov 062015

An opportunity to take a career break to go travelling for the duration of our winter was too good to turn down. So the fitting of the hood had started to become quite urgent!

My intention was to put it into the care of one of the car storage companies that specialise in classic cars. Most store the cars in cocoons in a temperature controlled environment and offer additional services such as tyres shoes (something I didn’t know existed!) and to run the car periodically. Obviously all at a cost.

Numerous phone calls had been made to Suffolk & Turley in a desperate attempt to get the hood fitted before I departed. I didn’t want to pick up next year in the same position waiting for a slot to trim the hood.

With only weeks to go it became fairly obvious that it wasn’t to be. To be fair to them, the issue is that the hood required a new metal canopy as the original one had been butchered and was rusted beyond repair. The fit of the new canopy supplied by Martin Robey was so shocking, it would require extensive panel work (shaping and cutting) in order to get it to fit. Only then could they start to fit the hood.

The specialist metal work is not something they are able to provide although they farm out such work to RS Panels, who luckily are just next door. RS Panels main line of work is producing high-end, bespoke bodyshells and body panels. Unfortunately a healthy order book has ruled out being able to take on any small one off jobs like mine in the near future. So I will have to wait, most likely until the new year.

It was therefore going to become a logistics exercise while overseas, arranging transportation to and from Nuneaton, once dates were confirmed.

Numerous offers had been received to ‘look after’ the car whilst I was away. I think (hope!) mostly in jest. The lack of the hood and having to arrange transportation could become a real problem, especially if put into commercial storage. It would also be preferable to be driven rather than just turned over every couple of weeks or so …. and be relieved of the best part of £1,000 for the privilege!

It didn’t feel right to be paying for it to be bubble wrapped rather than being enjoyed. I mentioned my dilemma to John, who’d helped with putting in the IRS and resolving numerous other issues during the restoration. If he could clear out enough space in his garage and I was sure of entrusting it in his care, he might be able to re-home the cat!

A tentative plan was coming together and it was fitting John would have the first opportunity to drive it after all the help I’d received, admittedly being limited to dry days due to the lack of hood. The other advantage would be another pair of eyes to critique the restoration and suggest any improvements. Something I soon came to regret ….

A trip to its potential new home was organised, so the garage could be measured up for size and the garage clearing task assessed. Although really it was just a good excuse to take it for a spin. The deal was done …. but not before John had pointed out my shockingly poor tail pipe alignment!!

It might also be possible with his contacts to have the ignition mapping done while I was away. After the garage re-homing reccee, it was taken back to the local independent Jaguar specialist who finally got the engine running smoothly by correcting all the valve clearance shims. They had suggested putting 1,000 to 1,500 miles on the clock before doing so, which was sensible advice so I’ll leave that until next year.

I had a long list of small tasks to complete before I went travelling. The mudguards and torsion bar guards had been trial fitted but still needed refitting, one of the radius arm bolts needed nipping up as it was causing a slight knocking on acceleration and to gather all the bits and pieces for the hood.

While struggling under the car, cursing the near on impossible contortions needed to get spanners onto the bolts for the torsion bar guards/mudguards, I happened to glance up at the passenger footwell. To my horror, the whole of the front end of the sunken section had been push in by several inches. Distraught didn’t come close.

It was so near completion and, at that moment in time, in my (somewhat moist) eyes, the whole restoration ruined. I started retracing where it had been driven but it hadn’t been out of my sight and it would have been some impact to cause that much damage.

It was some time before I could even face getting back underneath to assess the damage. But when I did, something was odd. There wasn’t any hint of paint damage and the paint layer was still intact. It must have been caused by compression from below rather than an impact while driving …. and then it dawned on me. I’d visited the garage when it was in having the engine issues resolved and it had been hoisted up a couple of feet using a two post lift.

Damage to the passenger footwell Similar damage on driver’s side The only possible cause …..

They’d used the floor pans, rather than the jacking points, to raise the car. By chance I’d taken a photo for the blog while it was on the lift, which confirmed this could be the only possible cause. The pads on the lift arm must have has some dum-dum like substance on them as they had left a round shaped deposit on the now buckled floor pan.

I was mulling (read raging) over how I would tackle the garage the following morning when I noticed the driver’s footwell was similarly damaged. I was far from a happy frame of mind and it was heartbreaking after all the care and effort put in. With only a couple of days before I flew off on my travels, it had the potential to ruin that as well. Although it categorically pointed to lift damage.

I abhor confrontation but in this case I was up for giving them a piece of my mind and some! It was just as well I was able to sleep on it, anger wouldn’t solve anything, so I went to the garage with the approach that accidents happen (no matter how amateurish) but I wanted it resolved.

To give them some credit they initially put their hands up, accepted liability and agreed to do whatever was necessary to rectify the damage. So I felt reassured it could be resolved while travelling. Discussions are on-going so I won’t add anything further at this stage.

Speaking to people from the E-Type forum and Hutsons, this type of damage is apparently becoming an all too common occurrence as mechanics who are used to working on older cars are becoming harder to find. They also suggested that, even though it looks awful now, a good panel beater can reverse the damage so you’d have difficulty telling. We’ll see.

The intention has never been to have a ‘trailer queen’. I’d rather have a car that I’ve restored to the best of my abilities and then have the enjoyment of driving the car, accepting it will pick up the odd scar here and there. I just hadn’t expected major surgery so soon.

The final task was to deliver it to its ‘snug’ new home and hand over the keys so it can hopefully have a good few runs out while I’m away. Although track days are strictly off limits!!

Shocking tail pipe alignment.
Ooops – how did I miss that!
A snug fit in its new home … Hopefully it can get a few
trips out while I’m away

As the UK disappeared from view, I’ll sign off until next spring …. unless there’s progress on the hood front. Fingers crossed!

 Posted by at 10:00 pm
Feb 252015

The installation of the fuel tank had taken a number of fitting attempts and required the enlargement of one of the mounting holes. The toing and froing had inevitably resulted in a couple of light scratches inside the boot space. So I decided to remove the tank for a final time to paint the exposed metal in the mounting hole and touch up the scratches.

The tank was completely wrapped in sheets before extracting it to avoid further scratches. As it was being lifted clear the sheet snared on the corner of the flange for the boot boards, stopping the tank in its tracks and putting me off balance …. the tank came down on the rear wheel arch!

Even though it was the lightest of landings, the weight of the tank was sufficient to put a dent in the wheel arch. It was less than a 1cm long but, as its on a double curved surface, it stood out like a sore thumb. Absolutely gutted!

Even though it’s a small dent, your eye is drawn to it The irony of it all: it’s hard to photograph!

The only saving grace was the sheet had offered some protection and the paint wasn’t damaged. I’d seen companies offering a paintless dent removal service. It had to be worth a go so I contacted a guy operating under the name Dr Dent.

His toolkit appeared to consist of a vast number of levers in all shapes and sizes which are used to press out dents from behind. A couple of minutes later (most of which was spent chatting!) and he was out with the polisher – job done! Even right up close, I can’t find where it was dented. Needless to say I would thoroughly recommend him if you’re equally careless!

Good as new! Chuffed!
Sep 202013

There wasn’t time to investigate why the bonnet wouldn’t shut the last few inches, so I had a chance to sleep on it. The problem was that it’s not possible to see inside the bonnet area at the point its travel begins to be obstructed.

Only the engine and radiator has been installed so it shouldn’t be too difficult to work out. I remember reading somewhere on the E-Type forum that the Series 2 had an extra spacer somewhere in the engine mountings. Although I thought this only affected the carburettor clearance but these were still to be fitted.

Some off-cuts of the foam rubber Dynaliner were place strategically on all the high points. I was aiming to lower the bonnet to the obstruction and then inspect the Dynaliner. The foam would take a little while to return to its previous state so the indentations of any impact would remain and be easily traced.

The radiator support struts had been fitted at a jaunty angle so this was almost certainly the cause of the problem .... or was it?A couple of attempts still didn’t reveal an area of compression in the rubber …. more head scratching. It was definitely not the engine as this was almost entirely encased in Dynaliner.

It finally dawned on me – it must be the radiator support struts impacting the vertical sides of the air intake channels. When they were first installed, it was mentioned whether they should be fitted on the inner or outer side of the damping rubber grommet.

With hindsight, they did look angled when mounted on the outer sides. The brackets were removed and the bonnet was lowered to prove the theory. Spot on …. the bonnet reached the landing rubber without being obstructed.

The struts were reinstalled but this time on the inboard side of their grommet. The bonnet was lowered, having finished the job, only the problem was still happening!

I thought I'd found the issue had been caused by the radiator struts. Re-fitting them differently resulted in a gouge in the paint workHowever this time, when the bonnet was raised to investigate, it revealed a 4-5 inch scrape in the paint on the air intake duct. Gutted.

The strut positioning was only part of the problem. They were causing the ‘springiness’ of the impact because the bonnet edge was hitting the strut and just pushing it aside.

Once it had be repositioned and was out of the way, it allowed the bolt head, securing the strut to the radiator, to take a gouge out of the paint work.

The bolt head was sitting too proud because I’d used a washer between the radiator and the strut and one between the strut and the bolt head. Without them, it would probably have been ok. However I’m going to remove all the washers, fit a thin-headed bolt and reposition the radiator on the bottom mountings to try to centralise it with the bonnet.

 Posted by at 8:59 pm

Bonnet storage

 Miscellaneous Ramblings  Comments Off on Bonnet storage
Sep 022013

One of the main problems during the rebuild was the lack of space to store the bonnet out of harms way. It was therefore safer to kept the bonnet on the car and only remove it when absolutely necessary.

It made the fitting of some of the engine bay components slightly more tricky although my limbo-dancing skills have improved no end!

When I was visiting Hutsons, I noticed how they had stored a bonnet while it was off the car. At the front they’d used a steel bar through the eyes of the hinges and then supported the bar on axle stands. Lengths of angled steel were bolted in place of the side bonnet catches to support the rear.

This seemed an ideal solution for the temporary storage of the bonnet and would no doubt be useful in the future. I had some left over ‘L’ shaped stock fence supports so cut these down to size for the rear support legs and purchased a metre length of 3/8″ steel bar.

To give it more rigidity a length of timber was drilled to slot over the support legs. The steel bar is a bit too thin and needs the axle stands to be place adjacent to the hinges to avoid it bending. At some stage I’ll replace it with a 5/8″ bar.

May 022013

I’d hoped to get to a rolling chassis as soon as possible so it was easier to move out into the open to work on. This has became more urgent since the near-disaster when it almost fell off the axle trolley. The front wishbones still need to be machined to accept the modern ball joints so I decided to crack on installing other items that had already been refurbished. Although I was wary of adding too much weight because I was planning to install the engine from below.

I’m leaving the bonnet on for as long as possible. It’s a bit inconvenient but it should hopefully be the safest place. I’d read that it’s possible to fit the radiator with the bonnet in situ as, without the gas strut fitted, it can be opened much further to give sufficient access. The radiator and cooling fans had been ready for some time so I decided to put these on.

The two struts securing the top of the radiator are bolted to small 90 degree brackets on the picture frame. These brackets are held in place by the upper outboard picture frame bolts. What I hadn’t realised was that these bolts can’t be withdrawn because they foul on the front subframe. The bolts and subframe have to be removed together which would require the bonnet to be removed!

Hmmm …. some replanning is required. Once the bonnet and front subframe are removed, it’s only a few more bolts and the picture frame can be removed. The engine could then just be wheeled into position on its trolley and the subframes built back around it.

The prospect of not needing to install the engine from below is very appealing. The main drawback I could see was that it would probably have to be done out in the open for access and I’d need to make sure I could get to a rolling chassis over a weekend.

I’m quite relieved that the wishbones weren’t available earlier. I would have been blissfully unaware that the strut mounting brackets needed to be installed earlier rather than later. I’d only have found out once the engine bay was almost complete. The refitting of the radiator was one of the last engine bay components I would have installed.

I’ll now have to focus on getting as much work done up front as possible, such as fit Ray Livingstone’s Megajolt kit and reuniting the engine and gearbox, leaving the weekend just to:

  • Remove the bonnet, front subframe and picture frame
  • Roll the engine/gearbox into place through the opening
  • Refit the subframe and picture frame …. oh and the brackets!
  • Install the front suspension
  • Fit the radiator
  • Raise the engine onto its mounts
  • Set up the front suspension
  • Refit the bonnet

I suspect I’ll need several pairs of helping hands!

 Posted by at 12:51 pm
Apr 012013

The benefit of having the chassis on axle trolleys is that it can be rolled out into the open to provide much better access as well as natural light. So the car has been wheeled in an out at every opportunity, weather permitting. So much so that I’d become rather blasé about moving it around.

The Easter weekend gave an excellent chance to make some more progress with the wiring. As I was wheeling it back in for the night, catastrophe nearly struck ….

… stones had worked their way between the ply boards being used as a base creating a much larger step than normal. Not realising what had happened, it was given the usual extra push needed to get the wheels up the step. However the extra height was too great and it almost brought the whole rear end crashing down onto the axle trolleys.

The sooner I can get the car back down on its own wheels the better!!

 Posted by at 9:01 pm