Whilst waiting for the engine rebuild to be completed, there were still plenty of jobs that needed doing. I have gradually been stripping the last few bits and pieces still attached to the tub and procrastinating on the two major tasks that are likely to tax my skills (or lack of them) the most. The windscreen frame removal is still going to have to wait a few more weeks but I decided to practice my fibreglass skills by removing the old bonnet frame and glassing in the new one. The old frame looked very rusty and the expansion effect of the rust had partially de-laminated the front edge bonding. On top of this, I had sheared off the hinge pins when trying to remove them so a new frame was in order. I started off the removal process by using an angle grinder to cut through the laminations that held the frame in place behind the bumper and along the lower front lip. A bit of care was needed in case I cut too far but once I’d got the hang of it the frame came out fairly quickly. It certainly needed replacing since the front outer tubes had rusted through completely underneath the laminations.
The new frame is not an exact match but a trial fit in the bonnet showed that it fitted and could be aligned to the same measurements that I took off the old frame. Before I refit, I plan to blank the ends of the frame in an attempt to slow down corrosion from the inside. The new frame is finished in POR-15 so rust from the outside shouldn’t be an issue.
The above composite photo (pun intended) shows a close up from both sides of the areas just behind the front bumpers that will take the frame. The old laminations still need to be ground down flush with the bonnet shell so that the new laminations can grip the frame and have a good flat area on the bonnet to adhere to. Some time ago, I tracked down a copy of Mile Wilkins “bible” on fibreglass repairs and that has been bedtime reading for the last week or so to make sure that when I get round to glassing the new frame in I have the best chance of it holding in and not de-laminating at motorway speeds (or even autobahn speeds!). I’ve had the bonnet catches undo and pop the bonnet up in the past which is an interesting experience but I imagine that the whole bonnet disappearing over the windscreen will be slightly more of a brown trouser job.
In parallel with this, the only thing missing from the completed rolling chassis were the brake and fuel lines so I set about making up the lines from Kunifer pipe. The 3/16″ brake lines were fairly easy to form and bend using the simple bending tool that I bought. I was able to form the requisite type of flare using a low cost Draper flaring kit without wasting too much pipe on experimenting to get the right technique (thanks go to YouTube for some very helpful videos on how to do this – but why are they all narrated in an American accent?!).
The 5/16″ fuel line was a slightly different story since the same pipe bender (on the 5/16″ setting) managed to kink the pipe presumably since the bend radius was too tight for Kunifer. Not all was lost though since only a few bends were required and I found out that, with care and patience, I could do this by hand. The factory had tie-wrapped brake and fuel lines directly against the chassis but this didn’t seem quite right so I searched for some suitable spacers/clips that would keep the pipes off the chassis. I managed to source some plastic clips that claimed to fit pipes from 3/16″ to 5/16″ but these were too large for 3/16″ and too small for 5/16″ until inspiration told me that I could cut out the central part quite easily with a Stanley knife. This left me with a spacer that could be used for the 5/16″ lines and an open cylinder that would keep the 3/16″ line off the chassis. Unless I find anything better before the tub goes back on then this should do the business.
The original fuel return line looked like standard clear tubing but the various sources that I found for this did not guarantee fuel compatibility. Eventually I found a tip on a kit car site that Tinley Tech supplied 6mm flexible hose for LPG installations (Faro Polypipe) so I bought a few metres of this. It looks good and should withstand most fuel types likely to be used.
Notice also the round engine mounts compared to the original rectangular type. Although the original metal spacers don’t fit on these round ones, the height of the new ones is the same as the old ones with spacer so ground clearance of the sump should be the same (all other things being equal).
Whilst working on the fuel lines I noticed – horror of horrors – that the rubber seal on the trunnions had perished! These were brand new items from Rimmer Bros so very surprised to see the condition they were in without even getting on the road. So now I have an unscheduled strip down of the front uprights just to replace some manky rubber bits – Jeez! But then that leads to the thought – where do I buy some replacement seals from that aren’t going to perish in a few weeks? Answers on a postcard please!
And as already discussed with Frank, I hope the rear drive shaft gaiters and dust covers last somewhat longer.
Finally, the phone call that I had almost given up hope on arrived and the engine was on its way back!
Like any good re-birth it had taken a good nine months to arrive but it was looking good. It will be a while before it can be fired up and there are still a few things that need to be done to get it looking its best but it’s a major step forward in the project and the rolling chassis is beginning to look a bit more interesting now. Then engine mounts fitted perfectly on the new round engine mounts so no dramas there – at least they’re not making themselves evident yet.
The steering wheel has been jury-rigged so that I have some means of steering the rolling chassis as I move it in and out of the garage. This entailed getting the new steering column bush in place since the original had been fried with the chassis during the powder-coating as I didn’t know it was there. The new one bought from Adrian@ seemed way too large to fit and was also sloppy on the steering column but a couple of email chats with Adrian clarified that the material was designed to squeeze into the bush housing and give a good fit on the steering column. It required quite a bit of force (courtesy of a lump hammer) to get it in but eventually it was home and fitting snugly around the steering rod.
Now that the engine is in, there is really no excuse for not getting the bodywork sorted so that I can consider getting it resprayed and back on the chassis. Still a fair way to go but glad that steady if not spectacular progress is still being made. Do I really have to do the windscreen frame next?