Despite the long gap since my last post (almost 18 months!) there has been some progress but also some set-backs along the way. The biggest disappointment was not being finished in time for the 2014 Pre-80’s show which at one stage looked probable but then difficulties in finishing off the Windscreen Frame and Side Screens meant that the target was missed. I was then not able to devote as much time to the project over the last year as I would have liked (due to all the other parts of life’s rich tapestry getting in the way) which meant that the 2015 Pre-80’s show was also missed. But, as time allowed, I did manage to progress other parts of the rebuild and to keep on thinking about solutions to the two main issues and now, finally, I’ve got some progress to report.
Before I go into detail on that, however, I think it’s worth mentioning some of the other tasks that have been completed, some in parallel with the re-wire reported on in the last post and some that have taken place after the re-wire.
With the re-wire almost complete, it was time for the car to go back to Coftons to have the bonnet refitted. You’ll remember from Return of the Tub that the tub, doors and boot lid were delivered back first since the bonnet required further repair work and the new bonnet frame needed to be glassed in (see First Sight of the New Colours). But now the bonnet was ready and waiting in the workshop for the day it could be re-united with the rest of the car (and looking good too!).
Meanwhile, the wiring had progressed to the stage where the engine could be started, most of the accessories had been fitted and tested and the loom to the bonnet lights was in position and ready to be cut to length so that the connectors could be added. All it needed was a bonnet!
So on a bright mid-March morning in 2014 (!) the car was loaded onto the truck ready to be taken to Coftons again. As (un)luck would have it the winch jammed so the car had to be driven on. I had only driven it in and out of the garage and wasn’t too sure of the brakes but Robin managed to negotiate the ramp in a fashion that had my heart in my mouth but ultimately got in on board quickly and successfully. In other words he just pointed it up the ramp and then floored it – watch it here!
A week later she was back on the drive, complete with bonnet, and beginning to look more like a car again. They had also done the final dressing and buffing of the rest of the tub so that the finish was looking superb.
Now it was time to fit and wire up the light units and then fit the front quarter bumpers and TVR bonnet badge (bought a few years back from ebay to replace the sad looking original). Quality issues with the quarter bumpers were beginning to develop into a saga of their own. When filling up from a jerry can, I spilt some petrol on one of the rear quarter bumpers and was horrified to see that it turned the surface of the bumper into a gooey mess. At first I thought that the petrol was dissolving the rubber, but on closer inspection it seemed that there was a coating on the rubber and it was this that had dissolved. A call to the supplier (David Gerald) and short discussion later, they agreed to take all 4 bumpers back and re-coat them in an oil/petrol resistant coating. Well done them for a no quibble response to their problem.
The next part of the mini-saga then unfolded as I tried to bolt them back on (having made sure that petrol didn’t dissolve the new coating). A few of the bolts were quite stiff and somehow I managed to loosen the thread inserts which had been bonded into the rubber. In retrospect, this could have been because some of the coating had got into the threads and I should have stopped and investigated before turning the inserts out. But I didn’t, so I had a few more hours work to do to fix them back in. The inserts turned out to be a couple of nuts welded together which provided plenty of edges and crevices to help in re-bonding and after a few experiments, I settled on using P40 to fix them back in.
Eventually, all 4 bumpers were bolted securely back on and looking good. This view also shows the need for further work on the windscreen frame since it had become somewhat lop-sided on the driver’s side.
The rear-end was completed by fitting the number plate and a copy of the original John Britten badge. The plates were supplied by the friendly guys at The Number Plate Centre who were able to supply a copy of the originals with the John Britten – Arkley logo as well as the BS number. They were also able to do this on the basis of my old style V5 (1980’s) Registration Document whereas other suppliers would only accept the latest V5c style.
The badge was a replica of the original enamel badge which I had cracked trying to buff up and was made by Pamela David Enamels and you would struggle to spot the difference – great workmanship but there’s a long waiting list for their time.
With the outside of the tub more or less complete there were a few finishing touches to make to the inside. The space between the gearbox and centre console had had some flimsy heat shield in there originally but which had disintegrated over the years. I replaced it with some thin fibreboard covered with heatshield on the underside and FatMat on the top side. Hopefully, that will reduce heat and noise a bit.
Then an idea that I had from Andrew G. to fill in the floor depression with structural foam seemed like a good idea. This should stop the carpets from being deformed into the hole and any drainage issues will be addressed as and when they occur. I don’t remember too many problems with damp carpets back in the 80’s and she probably won’t be taken out in the wet too often in future.
And a final finishing touch for now, also courtesy of Andrew who supplied a pair of sill plates in the original checker pattern a few years ago when it seemed like all stock of material had been used up. Here it is on the driver’s side riveted in with the same stainless steel pop-rivets used for the heatshield.
Whilst all this was going on, I was also trying to get the side-screens sorted. Coftons had modified the windscreen frame to fit the glass and had adjusted the angle to match the original side-screens but since I had told them that I was planning on getting the side-screens re-fabricated, they suggested it would be best to wait for the new side-screens before finalising the windscreen frame – so the ball was back in my court.
During this restoration, I had become good friends with Rudy M. since he was also restoring a 3000S and had the good fortune to be a skilled metal worker with his own business in Ostend. He also needed to re-fabricate his side-screens and had the capability to make the necessary forming tools for the window frame whilst the rest of the skirting and brackets required his sheet-bending equipment and welding skills. In return for helping with the re-wire of his car, Rudy agreed to make a set of frames, skirts and brackets which I was able to collect when I was over there to fit the looms I had made for him. There had been some discussion about making these in stainless but due to the difficulties of working with stainless it was decided to make them in mild steel and eventually to get them chrome plated.
Since Rudy had noticed that each 3000S had different spacing of the spigot holes he made the brackets adjustable fore-aft and to account for any lateral tolerances he supplied the spigots loose and I would need to weld them to match the tops of my doors. I would also need to grind down the profile of the skirt to match the door tops since we suspected that each door was going to be different . . .
The welding of the spigots proved to be the trickiest job – I had no welding skills so needed to find someone who could do this for me and finding someone willing to come round to my garage and weld them into position using trial and error proved difficult. In the end I found someone who was willing to tack them in position in his workshop and then adjust them later according to my feedback having tried them on the car. This wasn’t ideal and took a few iterations but eventually I ended up with a pair of side screens that more or less matched the car doors.
I was then able to assemble the frame onto the skirt with the window runner and piping strip sandwiched in between ready for Coftons to use as the reference for getting the windscreen frame at the correct angle. With the skirt seal in place they are beginning to look like the real thing.
The fit on the drivers side was about right although the passenger side still needs a bit more work. However, they are now good enough to allow Coftons to adjust the windscreen frame rake. The inner runner channels and glass still need to be fitted but I’ve done a trial fit of them with no issues and decided that it would be safer not to have too much glass in the workshop whilst welding and grinding was going on.
The next step was to book an appointment with Cofton to collect the car again and get the car fitted with all the bits they’ll need to sort the windscreen frame.
So on a fine & dry October day, the now familiar site of the Cofton low-loader appeared in the drive again and this time she was winched sedately aboard with none of the drama of last time.
Finally, progress has been made with the two major issues that have held me up for over a year now. How Coftons got on with the alignment of the windscreen frame will be the subject of my next post, which hopefully won’t be too long now (but then again, how many times have I said that already?).