Saturday, May 25, 2019

Going Electric (Fan)

Well, I've had my first failure--sort of.  At about 2,000 miles the water pump bearing decided to exit the premises.  The pump didn't fail--thankfully--and I got home without incident.  But man, what a disappointment, especially since I'd just flushed the cooling system.

So out came the radiator--again.  But this time, there would be a new twist when it went back in.

While the radiator was out, I also decided it was time to change over from oil to grease in the steering rack.  I had had enough of the drip-drip-drip.  However, this grease is a little different; it's called 'corn grease' and is actually like a really thick oil or runny grease.  And it's green.  I pulled the rack (I'm becoming an expert), drained the oil, and packed the rack with a few ounces of this so-called grease.  I'm happy to report no drips after the changeover.

Back to the radiator... I installed a 9" electric fan and thermostatic control, for which I made a little housing.  Total cost: $51.  That's way, way better than the $200+ that Moss and others want.  And it works.  Temp hasn't been over 195 since I installed it, even on a 100 degree day.  It kicks in at 185 or so and shuts itself off when it drops below that temp.

The water pump changeout was aniclimactic.  Take the old one out, clean the gasket mating surface, install newly painted pump, hook everything up.  No more screech and no leaks.

So, I'm back on the road until the next failure, which may be the rear main oil seal I installed.  Ugh.
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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Topless No More

I haven't written in a while because I haven't had much to write about.  That's nice.  I'm up to 1,900 miles and all is still (mostly) well.  I find that I will need some extra cooling when it gets really warm out, but otherwise all systems are GO!

Anyhow, today's post is about my finishing up the last major item to call the restoration officially "complete" - installing the soft top, or '"hood".  Gidget is "topless" no more. :)

I started out with cleaning up the header rail and frame.  Here's the original top that I had cut out the windows from (because they were so yellow, you couldn't see through them).

And here's the top frame.  In the MkII, the frame is removable (the top doesn't fold down).

I disassembled the header rail and removed the bar that holds the top in place in the back...


And I cleaned up the frame and header rail.

I then worked to get the frame to fit properly.  The whole car had been twisted before, and the frame matched it--it no longer fit correctly.  I had to straighten things out to get it "good enough".  I made it fit, just like old times.

Some of you may recall my $100 eBay special NOS Robbins top.

It looks nice.  But it's also old, feels kind of greasy and is no longer very flexible.  My attempt to install this top was a disaster--things had shrunk just enough that the top didn't secure properly in the back at the snaps, and I couldn't get enough stretch to have it fit right and be able to close the doors.  That was not good.

So I bought a new top from Prestige Auto Trim in the UK ($299 for OEM quality vinyl).  I splurged and got the zip-out rear window (an extra $26).  This top is really nice, folks.  It's supple and the windows are perfect.  The fit is nice.

Installing the top was surprisingly straightforward, though it took a while... and you need two people.

First, I let it sit out in the sun for an hour or so.  That's easy in AZ.  That gives the top a chance to loosen up and make it pliable to stretch a bit.

Then, I fit the frame and the header rail.  I put the rubber seal in place and snapped the top clamps shut to give it its "correct" position.  Without the seal, the header rail flops around and doesn't stay fastened.

Once that was done, I installed the rear bar and the snaps.  This is where having two people really helps--mostly to transport the top back and forth to the bench.  I marked each spot carefully with an awl, then punched the hole on the branch and installed the snap or fastener.  The MkII has a Lift-The-Dot fastener and two snaps in the side, per side.  It also has a metal grommet per side which fits over a fastener inside the car to hold the bottom of the window opening in place.  This is where the details mattered--getting everything centered and fitted was a chore.  It has to be precise or things won't stay closed.


Once the snaps were in place and snapped, we fitted the front portion to the header rail.  This is done by brushing a light amount of some strong glue (3M 90 worked for me) along the rail, then stretching the fabric into place.   Too much glue runs all over the place... you can guess how I found that out.  Fortunately, it cleaned up because we got to it quickly.

The first time I did this, my dad helped.  The fabric didn't stretch a lot.  So we stretched it as much as we could and continued.

Once the glue dried, we removed the top and secured it to the header rail, and installed the seal properly.  It looked pretty good, but part of the header rail was visible along the sides.  It also had a wrinkle, and I couldn't fasten the inner snaps along the windshield pillar.


What a difference it makes, hey?

However, after letting things sit for a week, I noticed the top starting to sag.  That means it was relaxing--and I could get some more stretch.  So I removed the top from the header rail and let it sit outside a bit longer.  Then, I re-glued and stretched the top some more.  This time I got another inch of stretch--enough that things lined up like I expected.  I was able to do this by myself by stretching one side, then the other, and keeping the fabric glued in place on each side.  Maybe this isn't realistic, but I think you could do this by yourself in a pinch.

Anyhow, now the top is nice and tight, and I can still close everything up properly.  The inner pillar snaps snap and the the header rail fits (a bit tightly, but I suspect it will loosen up a bit more).  You can see the alignment of the top edge with the rain gutter on the windshield pillar, which is how it is supposed to be.  And, the header rail doesn't show at all.


It's still not perfect--but I'm plenty happy.  It will keep the rain and sun off my noggin on the rare occasions I need it.  I'll fuss with it a bit more (I left a little extra to relax it a little if I have to, or tighten up the edges).


Now, I'm "really" done.  That is, until I install the electric fan.  And the 5-speed.  But the 5-speed's for the fall... it's not cheap, and I need the accountant / boss to approve.

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

950 Miles And All Is Well

So far, so good after the fuel pump replacement.  I drove to work and back with no concerns, and I've been around, running errands and such.

I replaced my front brake pads (the rotors were fine) with EBC "Green Stuff" pads for a bit more bite on initial application.  I like the result.  The brakes have good feel and module well, and grip a bit more than before.

I did see the valve cover gasket was weeping a bit, so I changed it out with a silicone gasket made for my alloy valve cover.  I've detected no leaks (so far).

Nothing else has given me trouble--so "all is well" at 950 miles.
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Sunday, January 27, 2019

I Won't Get Fueled Again

Got the fuel pump last week.


I pulled the old pump and replaced with the new in all of 15 minutes.  It's so nice to work on new stuff.

Before I fired things back up, I also pulled the fuel tank and replaced the fuel sender gasket that was badly leaking.  (Actually, it was leaking quite well-I just didn't want it to any more.)  There was quite a bit of bubbled paint around the sender that I cleaned off and gave a shot of semi-gloss to cover before replacing the sender.  That was also pretty simple--the hardest part was dropping the half-full tank and draining most of the gas out to make it easier to reinstall.

Once everything was back together, she fired right up with a nice tunk-tunk-tunk sound and after bleeding the air out settled down to normal operation.  The new pump only ticks when fuel is needed, whereas before it would tick slowly even with the engine not running (indicating a slight internal leak).

An overnight test with a full tank proves that there are no leaks--no gas smell at all.

Once that was done, I also bled and adjusted the brakes with my daughter's help.  It was the first time she sat behind the wheel.  I should have taken a picture, but my hands were dirty with fuel and I like my phone to stay nice and clean.  I now have a high and firm pedal again after replacing the brake light pressure switch; no double-pump required.

I also did a quick checkup and everything's looking good.

Finally, I replaced one of the gears in the speedo that had cracked and caused an annoying blip in the needle.

A few drives on Sunday cleared any concern about the quality of the repair and my slight depression over not being able to drive Gidget.  Now I feel confident I can drive anywhere again.  I plan to drive her to work this week.
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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Fuel Pump (Near) Failure

I was on a joyride a few days ago.  I hadn't been able to drive Gidget for a few days due to weather, and I was getting antsy.  So, I warmed her up and went up to Lake Pleasant and back.

Well, I got back eventually.

On the way back, I was cruising at a nice 60 when all of a sudden she hiccuped.  Then, she coughed.  Next I knew, I was sputtering and slowing down.  I turned the key and she fired up--then died immediately.

I managed to pull over at a side street and roll back into the street (I was going uphill).  This was at about 8pm and a few miles from home, and I was flipping out a bit.  I feared the worst--some major ignition problem, and an embarrassing call and flatbed home.  Had I gotten over the hill, I probably could have coasted to within a mile of my house.  I wasn't going to push Gidget up hill--she's petite, but not that light!

After a couple of deep breaths, I started troubleshooting.  I didn't need much time.  I turned the key on, and instead of the reassuring 'ku-tunk ku-tunk ku-tunk' of the fuel pump, I heard...silence.

Hmmm.  Maybe I had a bad lead.  So I crawled under the car (no flashlight, though I have one in my kit) and felt around a bit.  The lead was intact.

Out of sheer frustration, I decided to employ the old "if it doesn't work, hit it with something" fix.  The something was my fist.  I gave the pump a few blows and I heard 'ku-tunk' followed by a lot of 'ku-tunks' as the pump filled the float bowls.

Amazed, I got back in the car, fired her up and drove home without incident (but with ample trepidation).

I figure the points got stuck or the mechanism is just worn out.  I had replaced the points--so maybe I messed it up.  I don't really care at this point.  We made it home.

I have a new electronic solid state pump on the way from Merry Olde England.  This pump uses a Hall sensor to detect if the "points" are "closed" and to fire the electromagnet that moves the pump diaphragm.  It's much more reliable and cost me only a few more shekels than an original points pump.  It comes from SU, so it is proper.  (For reference, it is AUF214EP).

So Gidget sits waiting in the garage under her CoverCraft security blanket (car cover) until I get the pump.  When I do, I will also drop the fuel tank and replace the sender gasket that leaks if I fill her up to the top.  I will also bleed the brakes--I changed the brake light switch to improve how quickly the brake lights activate, and there's a little air to get rid of.

As the Man in Black would say, "Sleep well, and dream of large women."
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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Holiday Driving

I had a couple of weeks off at the end of the year, and got to put some serious miles down.  For me, that was 223 miles over two weeks.  I'm up over 750 miles now.  I drove to Scottsdale from Peoria--twice--and once all the way on the 101 at 65-75.  I can keep up with highway traffic and Gidget is perfectly stable after a tire rebalance.  I topped out at 83 (per GPS) and boy oh boy what a rush.  That was "only" 4400 RPM.  I bet I could get over 90 if I were crazy.  I might end up going back in time.

I also finally fixed the clunking in the rear; it was a loose rear damper.  Now, no noises.  I do still have a teeny bit of tire rub that I'll play with when it warms up a bit.  Believe it or not, winter temperatures get down in the 30s in the Valley at night, 50s in the day; that's cold enough for me to not want to lay on the ground.

I did also break my spoiler a bit, but it's repairable with a little fiberglass mat and resin.  There's a 1/2" crack on the passenger's side where I bent it against the curb in front of my house.

I have a couple of developing oil leaks to address.  I might need a new oil pan gasket or just a good snugging down.  I did make and install a rubber seal for the steering rack pinion shaft that appears to have quieted that leak.  Everything else is holding up fine.

On the last day before my break was over, I got caught in a little rain shower.  I don't have the top fitted yet (it's a little too cold to stretch the vinyl) but the tonneau cover did its job by keeping half of the cockpit dry, just like I remember.  60 MPH was enough to keep the rain off and the sun visors worked as rain deflectors, too. :)

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Well, a bit early...

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Better Distribution

I got my rebuilt distributor last week and installed it over the weekend.  Jeff at Advanced Distributors did a great job. He also recurved the advance so I don't get as much advance at higher RPMs.  I even got rid of that annoying buzz in the radio--the internal ground wire must have been faulty before.  After a quick retune, I'm back on the road and running well.  She pulls nicely and smoothly off of idle and revs past 4500 RPM without a hitch.  I haven't gone to redline yet... I need another 100 miles on the clock first!
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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Driving to Work

Having put about 250 miles on the clock, I decided it was time for a longer trip.  Unfortunately, that trip was to work. :(

I live about 50 miles from my office, which works out to about an hour commute each way.  (I'm not complaining, by the way.)  But that makes for a nice 100 mile round trip... so last week I bit the bullet, packed a repair kit and hit the road.

I took mostly side streets at about 45-55 mph, but about 15 miles of the journey was on the freeway (southbound 101, actually) and I topped out at 75 mph.  (That's 4000 RPM, which is better than it was with the 4.22 diff).  It was definitely interesting.  The car ran really well and the ride was comfortable.  I do have a vibration in the steering wheel at 70, which I chalk up to needing to balance the tires at the lower pressure I'm running (24/22 instead of 32).

UPDATE 7 Jan 19: I am now running 26 front/28 rear and I like this configuration.  It was a tire balance issue and everything is perfectly stable at highway speeds.  I've made it up to 83 MPH per the GPS.  As Neo would say, 'Whoa'.

On the way home, I took side streets only and it was pretty decent.  The car developed a knocking from underneath (which was a slightly loose mount for the stabilizer bar and a slightly loose rear damper) and a thrumming in the steering wheel at 60mph (which I think is a wheel bearing that needs to be shimmed).  I need to look at the steering rack, too; it clunks a bit, and I don't like that.

Anyhow, here's a couple of pics of me and Gidget at work!

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

First Service

At almost 200 miles on the clock, it's time for a service.  I changed the oil and filter, transmission and rear axle oils.  The oil filter was particularly stubborn--I had to remove the spin-on adapter from the block, which meant removing the generator to get to it.  I ended up punching a screwdriver through the filter to get it off.  I don't know why it was so difficult, but the new filter is on just hand tight and shouldn't be a problem at the next change (likely 1000 mi).

The transmission fluid (actually, just motor oil) looked pretty clean with just a few bits of brass that aren't abnormal to see.  The rear axle fluid was more gray than I expected, but it had no bits in it... the axle tube may have just had some residue.  We'll see what it looks like next time.

I also dropped the oil pan to replace the cork front and rear seals with neoprene versions.  The cork seals were already leaking.  When I pulled the oil pan, I didn't see anything too scary inside--the oil was clean and there were just a few bits of residue that I think are not bad to see.  I also took a look inside the bottom end, and while there are some scuff marks on a couple of cam lobes (likely a result of the sticky valve issues I had) I think everything's OK.

Once the sump was reinstalled, I filled up the engine and transmission with Castrol GTX 20w50, and the rear axle with 80w90.  I also Tefloned the transmission and rear axle filler plugs as I noticed drips from those spots.  A subsequent drive to get lunch with my daughter shows no leaks around the oil pan or the filler plugs, so here's hoping things are sealed up nicely now.  I did check the front and rear oil seals and see no leaks there, which is great news as those are the typical leaky spots to worry about.  It seems that the rear main seal from Gerard's Garage is working well.

I did get a little eager filling the engine and managed to spill about a 1/2 cup of oil, which was fun cleaning up and got a little smelly as it burned off the exhaust header.  Next time I'll take it easy.

After the oil change I noticed that my oil pressure is much improved, though it wasn't bad before... now I pull 60psi cold at idle and about 50psi when warm, up from 50 and 40 respectively. The break-in oil was a 10w30w, so this isn't a surprise.

The car still runs well, though it is definitely running rich to compensate for timing being off while I wait for my recurved distributor.  I got up to 60 for the first time without any problems (and my new speedo cable worked nicely, too).  Aside from a couple of annoying vibratory rattles, the car is a blast to drive.  It has good power when you push the go pedal, even with the 3.9 ratio diff, and I haven't even put it all the way down yet.  It pulls nicely from idle and really picks up around 3000 RPM with a throaty exhaust note.  I'm really happy with the setup, and I expect more once I get the timing set properly.

I did take a stab at shifting the rear axle, but I am beginning to suspect that a combination of factory and restoration alignment problems (one isn't my fault) are the culprit.  I think I will have to either shift the rear spring hangars about 1/4" or make a custom set of plates to shift the centering point on the about 1/8".  Alternatively, I could admit that the axle stabilizer isn't doing its job and install a Panhard rod to pull the axle over a bit, but that's money I don't want to spend right now...

I also want to stiffen up the rear dampers a bit to prevent bottoming out over bumps.  A 30w fork oil is the first step (up from 20w), and a valve adjustment is the next if that doesn't do what I want.
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