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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