Sunday, August 28, 2016

Front End, Part 1

I've decided to get started on the front suspension.  Mainly, because they're in the crates closest to my workbench, and because I think it will be pretty easy.

First, the easy part: clean the front springs.  They took a quick bath and are ready to go.


After that, my first stop was the rear dampers (shock absorbers to us Yanks).  Fortunately, they're still in fine working order after 12 years of storage.  I simply cleaned them up a bit.  I may paint them, but it's not really necessary.  Yes, I know they're not part of the front end, but they were in the same crate.

Now, on to the front suspension.  Not much to it--a lower A arm (because it's shaped like an A), a spring and spring carrier, a kingpin and stub axle assembly that holds the front hub and brake disc, and the damper which also does double duty as the upper suspension link.  Here's everything but the stub axle assemblies; I'll get to those later, because they're in the other crate.


Yuck.  It's hard to imagine they were once clean and shiny, even though I made them that way when I installed them.

I started with the front dampers... first, a good cleaning, and then an inspection.

One was fine, but the other had almost no resistance to movement.  Something inside was Not Good.  So I decided to open 'er up, and it turns out that the lack of resistance is due to a lack of fluid.  Somehow, most of it leaked out, but I don't see where as there's no trail of fluid.  Anyhow, here's the innards.

It's pretty simple.  There are two pistons with a fluid channel between them, which is restricted by a valve.  The action of the arm turns a shaft which pushes one of the pistons down and pulls the other up.  The whole thing is filled with fluid, and in my case most of that was missing.

So, to the rescue!

This is a lightweight, 20w oil, and it's blue.  I must have done this before, as the bottle was only half full.  I don't remember that, but heck, I don't remember eating breakfast some days.

Anyhow, the rest of the damper looks OK.  If there's a leak, it will be at the shaft seal, and worst case I'll have to send away for a rebuilt unit.  They're getting expensive though, so I'd like to not have to do that.

I filled the damper up and exercised it a few times to bleed the fluid channel, and it works fine.  I checked the other one too, and it was full of fluid and is as I mentioned working fine.

A coat of paint finished it off:

That's when I ran out of paint, so I had to settle for disassembling and cleaning the A arms.

I had bought some polyurethane bushings for the A arms and upper links, and they're still in good nick.  The A arms and spring carriers are also in fine shape, and a final scrub and coat of paint will finish everything off.

Next, I'll tackle the stub axles and get them ready to rumble.

I'll have emptied enough crates and bins that I need to bring something else down from the attic.  Yay!  I'm making progress... but it's going to cool off soon (down to the 90's) and I can think about finishing off the body work.  So I want to get as much stuff cleaned as I can before then.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An Old Plate

I found this when I went to visit my parents in July.

The other one's on my MINI as a vanity plate.

Even though it's technically a '65 by VIN, it was registered as a '66.  Tell me it's not cool that my dad managed to get this as a plate!

Check the registration sticker.  It was registered for a while even after it was off the road.  When we got it back on the road, it got a new plate: STROO B.  Get it?

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Shaft. Ya Damn Right.

Can you dig it?

The driveshaft on the Midget was in sorry shape.  I say "was" because it's "damn right" now.

It didn't always look this good:

The universal joints were shot and about 25 years of crud (and 12 years of garage) were caked on.

So I took it apart, and the small bits went to visit Master Blaster.  The shaft got wire brushed.  It came apart rather easily once I could get the circlips out, which was a chore even with a circlip remover (that 25 years made it tough).


Then, a lick or two of paint:

I scored the universal joints off eBay for $20, quality stuff.  Note to all you listeners out there:

  • Check the needles before you get carried away to make sure they're all there and in place.  I found two sitting in the bottom of one of the cups, as-is from the manufacturer.
  • Pack in enough grease to have it oozing out when you smush everything together.  Then smush the excess out before you assemble.
  • If you paint, don't paint the insides of the holes where the U-joint cups go.  I made little sleeves out of cardboard to keep the paint off.

Since I cleaned everything meticulously and filed everything smooth, it all fit together easily.


The final result:

Tight as a drum and like brand new.

Oh yeah, look at that clean workbench.  I couldn't take it any more... I think I'll have to clean once a month.  I even scrubbed the surface with mineral spirits and washed the mat with parts cleaner.  It's as clean as it gets.

Hmm.. What next?  I've got a crate full of suspension parts... sounds like fun.
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Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Heat Is Still On

I finally finished renovating the heating system.

The heating "system" is only technically a "system" because there's hardly anything to it:

  1. A blower;
  2. A heater core;
  3. A damper.
The inlet to the core comes off the cylinder head (with a spigot; how quaint).  You have to go under the bonnet to turn on the heater.  There is a cockpit control that activates the blower and controls the damper, but the heat is either on or off, and when it's on it leaks past the damper, so you actually do get out and turn the heat off in the summer.  Unless it's 110 and you need the extra cooling the heater core provides. Yep, I've been there.

By the way, they don't make the control cable any more.  It took me years to find one that was any good, and it's for a Bugeye (which has the control way down on the end by the inlet behind the grille).  So I'm gonna have to chop it.  That's a bit scary.

Anyhow, here's what I started out with:


The blower is a Bakelite housing that I had painted long ago.  I really wanted to make it look original.  So once I got it apart (and I cracked it in a couple of places doing so, but it's not terminal and it will be fine) I used my old friend Master Blaster at low pressure to remove most of the paint.  I scrubbed the rest off by hand.  It came out pretty well:

Putting the blower back together was not fun.  Those bolts you see sticking up out of the housing are replacements, because I had to cut off the originals to get them out without destroying the housing.  I ended up going to Ace Hardware and buying some M5 nuts and bolts (gaaaah!  metric!), and some little tiny circlips to hold them in place.  You need to hold them in place because you can't get to the inside of the housing once you assemble one side.  The circlips worked great, though.

Here's all the pieces and parts of the blower:

And here it is being assembled:


That's the blower.  Now for the heater box.  The core is in good shape as far as I can tell, and I don't recall it leaking (or see any signs of leaks).  The box... not so good.  I had to tap out a number of dents, and then actually fill a couple of the worst spots to get a reasonably good finish.  After sanding and paint, it looks good to me.

Not much to it, huh?

Here's the assembly:


And the finished product:

Note the strategic use of candy boxes to prop up the blower.

All I need is to re-stamp the plate numbers into the new plate, and rivet it to the box.  Here's the plate.

The letters are 3/32" high; anyone got a stamper set they'd be willing to lend me?
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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sounding Off (Again)

I can't seem to keep quiet about this topic.  (Ba-dum-bum.)

Here's the finished products.  First, the original, and then the "new" horn with a bracket fabricated by yours truly.  Instead of rivets, I drilled the rivet holes out a teeny bit more and used screws and nuts.  I would have done it that way at the factory to make the horn serviceable, but what do I know.  It looks good and it works fine.

The guy I bought the second horn from, Michael Chimera (mkcim on eBay) did me a solid and refunded me some cash in the spirit of getting this horn back into use.  Michael gives me faith that humanity isn't the big turd pile people are saying we are.  Michael, thank you for your generosity!


Perfect? No.  Close? You betcha.

Happy? Absolutely.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Sounding Off

I know the car doesn't go, or stop, or anything yet, but it will be nice to let others know I'm coming.  So it's time to clean the horn.

Thankfully, the horn works when I apply 12 volts, so it's a matter of making the outside look pretty.  So far, I'm up to this:


You guessed it... I used the blasting cabinet.  How could I do that without mucking up the insides?  By stuffing a paper towel in the sound hole.  The horn still works after the cleaning (and removal of the towel), and is nice, loud and mellow..

The horn I have is a Lucas Windtone 9H, high tone (H).  These horns were used on all sorts of British road machines; MG, Triumph, Austin, and Jaguar cars, and (at least) Norton motorcycles.  They actually come in two tones (high and low).  I've always wanted a low tone horn to match my high tone horn for that nice sound and extra sound output.  So I found one on eBay for $10.  It was untested, and when I tested it... it didn't work.

You don't think that stopped me, do you?

I cleaned it up in the blasting cabinet and decided to take it apart.  What the heck, it's only $10.  There are actually lots of sites that discuss how to disassemble and repair these horns on the Internets ( is the one I referenced).  

The first step is to drill out the rivets that hold the thing together.  

I figured, why not give it one more go to see if there's anything happening?  Well, guess what.  The horn works!  It's a very pleasing tone, a third down from the high tone at concert F# (the high tone is concert B natural).  Except now I've drilled out the rivets... so I might as well take it apart.  $10, right?

Ugh.  I'm glad I did.


Separating the components was delicate work, but I managed to get everything apart without splitting any gaskets or ruining anything inside.

There's not much to this thing.  A set of points starts closed and energizes a coil.  The coil moves a plate that moves a diaphragm.  When the coil moves the plate enough, it breaks the points' contact and the whole thing collapses, closing the points, and starting the process again.  The sound comes out the sound hole and is amplified; the tone results from the shape of the cavity.  I'm guessing the points were stuck and all the vibration freed them up.  I ran 1000 grit sandpaper over the surfaces and I think they'll be fine.

Once it's all clean, it looks like this:

Now I have to find some rivets that look like what I drilled out, reassemble, adjust, and paint.  Oh, and make a bracket for the second horn.  Then I'll have a nice set that will get people's attention going down the road... someday.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Cleaning One's Rear End

Of course it's not what you think.  I cleaned up the rear differential I bought last year along with the bounce house bonnet.

I want to lower the RPMs while cruising at highway speeds.  One way to do that is to change the final drive ratio at the differential.  (The other way is to change the transmission, but that's becoming prohibitively expensive.)  With a 4.22 final drive ratio, I'm running over 4500 RPM at 70.  It sounds like a swarm of angry bees, which is neat in short bursts but not fun for 50 miles, or even 10.  So I found a 3.90 final drive differential, which should lower the RPMs by about 10% and be more tolerable.  The only problem is, it's filthy dirty having sat in a breaker yard for who knows how long.

Here's what I got.  The outside is pretty gnarly, but the innards are actually pretty clean.


I pulled the flange off the front and ewww.


After a good scrubbing and some parts cleaner on the innards, I got this.  Notice the new oil seal in the pan.

Having cleaned everything as best I could, I stood it on end and ran some synthetic oil through the bearings and gears to flush out whatever else I could.  After a couple passes it came out pretty clean, and once it's in service I'll change the oil after a few miles to finish the job.

That 10-39 number is what I'm after.  10 teeth on the pinion, 39 teeth on the crownwheel.

After sandblasting, fixing and painting the flange and dust cover, it's time to reassemble.


And now it goes on the shelf with everything else until I can use it.
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