Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Brake Box

I finished painting the brake pedal box and reassembled it.


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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wiping My... Windscreen

Since I was going through the box with brake stuff in it, I figured I'd just empty it out and see what else I had there.  I found my windscreen wiper motor.  Ugh.  Another thing I'd never taken apart and that had 50 years of gunk on it.

I figured, what the hell.


Time for cleaning.  Blasting cabinet, to the rescue!


Fortunately, there aren't a lot of things to clean.    It's pretty small.

Once all is clean and painted, it's time to reassemble.  I painted the top cover even though it wasn't originally.  I figured it would be best to have some sort of rust protection there, and I like the look.


It works, too.  Surprisingly well.

I have to clean and rebuild the wiper cable, but that's trivial.  I have new wiper wheel boxes that I bought on eBay long ago.  The end of the cable fits into the arm that attaches to the gear, and as it goes back and forth the wheel boxes turn on a worm gear, and the wipers do their thing. Simple and effective. 
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Rear Brakes

I decided to tackle getting those rear brake cylinders today.  They're on the rear axle, which is on a shelf, so it's not the most convenient place to work.

It wasn't too hard to get the drums off.  Loosen the adjusting screws (that wasn't easy), then unscrew both retaining screws (forgot about the second one), then separate the drum from the axle (by prying gently, then less gently, then prying while hitting it with a hammer to break it loose from the axle), and it's just that easy.


The drums are pretty well shot.  I'm kind of surprised by this.  I only put 10,000 miles on them.  I think I'll have to replace them and the rear brake shoes.  Bummer.

Once the drums came off, the brakes came apart pretty easily (really), and the wheel cylinders unclipped and came free. When I got them to the bench, I couldn't budge the pistons, so I figured they were junk.  Why not wrench on them and see how bad they are?  Well, they actually came apart easily, and didn't look bad at all.  A little work with a scrub pad and the brake cylinder hone, and I think they're good enough to rebuild.  So I'll order rebuild kits.  They're the expensive Lockheed cylinders, so yeah.

I also disassembled the pedal box.  It wasn't as nice as I thought it was.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Front Brake Refurb

With the master cylinder ready to go, it needs something to pump all that not-leaking fluid to... like calipers and drums.  I dug the front calipers out of their crate and got cooking.

I had rebuilt the calipers not too long before I took the car off the road, but 12 years of sitting doing nothing couldn't have been good for them.  I bought rebuild kits and seals and got busy.

First, disassembly.  I started with these...

Cracked them open...

And extracted the pistons.  A clamp to hold the outboard piston so the inboard piston could be removed with air pressure worked like a charm.

Once I got one apart, I did the other one.   Finally, both are disassembled.  As you can see, they look pretty good inside, but there was a bit of gunk. The rebuild kits are cheap, so it would be silly not to rebuild these.

I had used some paint that ended up turning sort of rubbery after so long.  I don't really remember what it was.  But I cleaned it all off, then ran everything through the blasting cabinet, then cleaned everything twice to get rid of any glass beads.  I stayed away from the interior of the caliper so things would still work.  I didn't blast the pistons because they were like new (heck, they were new 12 years ago) and they wouldn't work if I did.

Then, everything got painted with caliper paint.  My daughter told me that black would look best with green (the car was and will again be BRG), so black they are.  I was real nice about where not to paint.

Here's all the parts you need to make a caliper.

First thing: seals.  There is an inner 'fluid seal' and an outer 'wiper seal'.  The wiper seal is grooved like a windshield wiper... go figure.


Next: pistons.  The pistons have an orientation.  There is a cutout that goes either up or down.  I forgot which, so I was lucky to get a clue from the old pads (which are so good, they'll be used again... I think they had 1,000 miles on them, tops).  For the record, the cutout faces down (inward).

Getting the pistons past the new seals is a bit of an adventure even after lubing them up with brake fluid.  I had to use the clamp again to squeeze them into place.  It worked great.

Oh, and don't forget the little seal that fits between the calipers (top left of the bottom half of the second picture).


Then the two halves go together, and voila!  Pads get installed with new cotter pins so I don't lose the parts.


Here's the result!  This really didn't take too long... maybe 4 hours (including painting).

Oh, and I painted my master cylinder too, because I didn't want to see rust there ever again.

Next time: rear brakes and the pedal box.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Master of Puppets

Now that the transmission's done, I'm going to start working my way through the rest of the car's systems to replace or renovate whatever I can.  First up: the braking system, specifically the master cylinder.

In the older Midgets and Sprites, the master cylinder is a single unit that has two bores sharing a common fluid supply.  For early cars with drum brakes, it's a 7/8" bore; for cars with disc brakes, it's a 3/4" bore.  I've got the right one for my car, but the bores were pretty pitted.  I bet that's why I always had a little brake fluid seeping from the unit way back when it was a functional car.

I bought a brake cylinder hone and did some work, and I think I cleaned things up enough to work.  I mic'd the bores and they came out at 3.77" instead of 3.75".  I think 2 hundredths of an inch won't matter.  The important thing is that the bores are smooth.  It's hard to see in this picture, but there's just one little spot in each bore that I think isn't a big deal.

Time to reassemble... All new parts, except for the original top and cap and screws and pistons.

First thing is the springs and the check valve for the brake line.  The check valve keeps just a little pressure in the brake line to keep you from having to mash the pedal to engage the brakes.  It's not the same as in the drum brake unit but it's there... at least, it was in what I took apart, so it goes back.  The thing is, the new springs are not quite the same as the originals.  The new springs are tapered at each end and the originals are tapered at one end, which allows the check valve to fit the other end.  So after a bit of digging, I learned it's ok to widen the end of the spring to make the check valve fit.  So I did.


Now, time to fit the new seal on the pistons, and assemble the springs and pistons in the bores.  A little brake fluid does the trick to lubricate the rubber and the bore.  The order of fitment is the spring (with check valve in the brake bore), a rubber seal, a washer, and then the piston with its seal.  The piston goes in with the hole in it facing out (where the pushrod will go).



Then, the gasket and the front plate.  The plate goes with the flat part up and the gasket matches.


Finally, the top and its gasket, and the cap, and that's the way it is.

Next, I plan to clean up the pedal box (it was pretty good, so I don't even think I'll repaint it) and work on the calipers and rear wheel cylinders.  I bought a rebuild kit for the calipers, which I have done before but given the time it's been sitting will probably need redoing.  I bought a clutch slave cylinder because they're so cheap.  I may just buy new rear wheel cylinders but we'll see.  They might be ok and just need new seals.  Once they're done, I'll need new brake lines and hoses, and that's the braking system in the bag.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016


If you're old enough, you get the title.

Finishing up reassembly...  First, the gearbox extension.  I cleaned it up nice.

The extension doesn't have too many parts:

  • The linkage connecting the shifter and the selector forks;
  • The rear oil seal and driveshaft yoke bushing;
  • The speedo drive;
  • The filler plug.

I installed the linkage.  No problem.

Then, I reamed out the new propellor shaft (drive shaft, LOL) bushing.  The bushing has to be reamed so the yoke will fit into the housing over the end of the third motion shaft.  I'm a bit nervous.  Not because I think I did a bad job, but I'm not sure there is enough surface left on the bushing for the long term.  I had to take a lot off.  The original bushing was bronze (or copper, but I think bronze) and the new one is bronze plated steel.  I can see a bit of steel on the edges of the bushing.

It turns out a 22mm deep well socket and 1 1/2 wraps of 80 grit PSA sandpaper makes a perfect size to ream the bushing.  After I got it close, I polished it up and it is exactly the right size to allow the yoke to fit without binding or being sloppy.  But it's close.  

Anyhow, I fitted the bushing and the rear oil seal.  The old seal was hard like a rock.  This won't leak now.

Then, the speedo drive. I replaced the oil seal inside the drive.  This was not easy to remove, and I had to Dremel it out without damaging the housing.  But I did it.

After all that, it's a matter of fitting the gasket and attaching the extension.  All that pickiness in lining up the bearing plate paid off; it fit first time and bolted down like I had never touched it.

Last, but certainly not least comes the remote control unit.  I did not disassemble this one, just cleaned it up.  It has plugs on each end I'd have to punch out to remove the shaft, and it wasn't worth messing with it.

So I installed the little plastic cup that connects the shifter extension to the linkage (it fits on the ball on the left in the above picture), installed the gaskets (with sealant as required), and bolted it on.

The remote housing has two anti-rattle plungers.  I guess it rattles.  I cleaned them up, too.  Here's where they go in the housing; one in the upper right, and the other in the lower left hole.

That does it for the back of the gearbox.

One last chore--fitting the release bearing.  The bearing arm has a bush that I replaced, and it's like a two-pronged fork that holds the bearing with these really interesting clips that allegedly allow you to replace the bearing without removing the arm.  I've never had luck with that.  Besides the arm, there's some rubber bits for the inspection hole, a blanking plate where you'd install the release bearing arm on right-hand drive cars, and the boot over the release bearing arm.  Oh, and the ring, cup and spring for the shifter arm, too.

It's pretty easy to install the bearing arm.  I installed the rubber boot first, and used some WD-40 to make it easier to push the arm through the hole in the boot.  I found that you have to fit the release bearing over the input shaft first, though.

The result is an empty parts box...

And a fully assembled transmission.  According to Haynes, "The gearbox is now ready to be refitted to the car."

No, that's not the same picture as when I started all of this.  It used to look like this:

See the difference?

Now, all I need to do is find the shift lever.  Dammit.

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