Light at the end of the tunnel . . . ?

Whilst the tub and bonnet have been away, I’ve managed to get a few things sorted on the rolling chassis and get the engine running smoothly. First step was to get the fuel drip from the carburetor sorted. The carb was supposed to have been reconditioned by the engine builder but the steady drip of fuel from beneath the accelerator pump diaphragm said otherwise. A strip down showed that all the rubber seals were original (stiff and perished!) so a new gasket/seal set was ordered and deployed.

Next up was the exhaust system. This is a stainless system that I bought back in the early 80’s from JP Exhausts and I always had a problem getting it clamped up properly and had resorted to getting the joints tack-welded together. The years had taken their toll on the tacks and once I had removed it, I again had 7 separate pieces! I managed to get the bits cleaned and polished and then had the mangled front tubes replaced with some SS tube from the ‘bay courtesy of a pipe-welder friend. Starting the engine with a gas-tight exhaust isolated what had sounded like a nasty knocking noise but was now clearly a blowing manifold. Closer inspection revealed that I had mis-fitted the centre gasket on the near-side – the top bolt went through the gasket but the bottom bolt had missed the gasket hole completely leading to a mega-blow. A few minutes work and the gasket was back in place resulting in an immediately sweet running and sounding engine – with no fuel drips – and quite an encouraging burble from the tail-pipes.

It still sounds a bit tappety but that may be because it doesn’t have the body round it yet to deaden the sound. I did check the gaps and they were all OK except that one adjuster was loose enough to be turned with the fingers. I eventually discovered that each adjuster nut should be slightly peened at the top end to provide the grip. Hitting the offending one with a hammer/chisel combination didn’t help so I resorted to a more studious squeeze in the vice which seems to have had the desired effect.

With the points gap set correctly and the dynamic timing looking OK on the strobe I then had a go at setting up the carbs by trimming the idle mixture screws. This carb obviously hadn’t read the book on how to be adjusted properly so I might need to call in some outside expertise to be fully happy that the carb set-up is OK.

Meanwhile, back in the body shop . . .

The windscreen frame saga seems to be drawing to a close! They have spent quite some time getting the shape right both for the frame and the top of the scuttle. It was obvious that the angle of the new frame didn’t match the angle of the ferrule inserts so the spigots were cut off in preparation for a realignment.

The old screen glass was then trial-fitted into the new frame and this showed that the bottom rail needed to be “adjusted” to match the curvature of the glass. This involved cutting and shutting at several points along the lower rail. Even with the lower rail now matching the glass, it still didn’t sit properly on the scuttle. The original frame had always had a much larger gap at the outside than in the middle and this hadn’t changed with the adjusted new frame. The only solution was to reshape the top of the scuttle to match and this was duly achieved using some matting and filler to get a smooth contour. At the same time, the door shut lines were perfected and blended into the quarter panel and scuttle lines.

With the scuttle re-shaped and the nearside rear repaired it was time to tape it up and take it to the spray booth and give it a low bake again (50C) for a few hours before first coat.

The first coat is an “adhesion” coat to give a good base on top of the sanded gel coat and filler as well as giving it a homogeneous coating to show up any imperfections such as pinholes and unevenness.

Next step is to work on the imperfections and get the surface perfect before applying the primer. In the meantime, the tub is standing in the bodyshop to slowly harden up before further work and this is how it looked this morning.

Meanwhile, the bonnet is also being prepped but is proving a bit more of a problem. On the nearside there was a large gel crack over the wheel arch behind the headlamp and a lot of filler along the “trough” between centre section and wheel arch whereas the offside was fine. The bad areas are outlined in red marker in these photos:-

In the region forward of the nearside bonnet latch there was a particularly thick area of filler which seems to have been applied over the primer coat. The gel coat was in a bad condition here and will need to be ground down and re-laminated. Since this damage didn’t happen on my watch (she was a year old when I bought her) I can only imagine either this was a factory “fix” due to a mould issue or there had been some “event” during the first year.

So a few repair jobs still to do before the spray job can start in earnest but, although I was hoping for completion by the end of June, progress is solid and there is definitely an end in sight. An end, that is, to getting the body back on. After that there will only be the re-trim, re-wire and re-commissioning (tracking/suspension set-up) left to do.
Only . . .


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