Over the last few months I've been researching what the later Austin Healey BJ8's actually came with in terms of boot accessories and the various stowage bags that were made for those accessories.
As many of these bags may have been very seldom used, many owners over the years would just toss them away with no trace. In fact most of these bags aren't even listed in the Councours guidelines yet!
Having owned and restored a very original early MGB in recent years that had all of its original equipment bags in the boot, I was sure that the Healeys of the same generation and built in the same factory must have had similar accessories available.
As it turns out, after studying a factory Body Service Parts List, I was right!
The Healey BJ7's & BJ8's all came standard with a fold down top and a stow away top/boot cover. When the top was up, the boot cover came with its own long vinyl stowage bag (part number AH9489) and here's what it looked like:
In my search of local original cars, I found these 2 examples of this bag:
both made in a very thin black vynide material - (the same type of material we've found used for early tool bags that came with the Healey 100's).
One that I found had a black material backing, the other was a light beige colour.
So, much like earlier Healey tool bags, the material backing colour varied somewhat..
The top flap had some black webbing tie straps sewn to finish it off (approx 12" each side)...
The next bag I'll show you is the standard factory tool bag that was supplied with the Healey 3000's - it's pretty much the same standard bag that was supplied with all Big Healeys since the introduction of the 100-6, but the bag length seems to have changed from 19" long to 22" long,..
Made of a thin black plastic material, the bag was heat welded together rather than sewn... Here's some good pics of an original:
Note how all the seams were heat welded, including the tie straps:
The next 2 bags I will show you were optional accessory bags that were included if you ordered a tonneau cover with your car...
The first bag is for the tonneau cover itself (AHB9900):
Made in the same thin black vynide material as the top boot bag, with a similar 26" long black webbing tie strap.
Interestingly, the Healey tonneau bag is almost identical to the one supplied with MGB's of the same generation, just bigger:
Finally the last bag I will show you would also be included if you ordered a tonneau cover, that is for the 2 piece curved tonneau bows that you'd assemble when putting on the tonneau cover...
This bag was made out of a heavier Armacord material to protect the painted steel bows and surrounding equipment from them:
Again, this bag is almost identical to the MGB tonneau bows bag, except this one is made of ribbed Armacord whereas the MGB bag was smooth Hardura.
Finally I will also include the jack strap that was used to secure the little bottle jack in the boot to the left side bumper iron as it entered the boot.
This strap was 1" black webbing with a unique black metal buckle and metal tip to prevent fraying:
There you have it, the complete kit of boot accessory bags for the later Healey convertibles.
Since I've been able to properly document and pattern these original bags, I'm now offering accurate reproductions of them available for Healey owners and restorers everywhere through my company Rightway Heritage Trimming.
Until next time -
This is my complete rebuild and restoration of the original spiral bevel rear axle assembly from my BN1:
Here's some before pics of the assembly as I took it apart:
Upon further disassembly, the left hub showed evidence of some heavy trauma, there were cracks found in the drum, and the inner hub around the lug nuts.
This meant I had to source a replacement brake drum, and a new inner hub.
The brake back-plate also showed signs of being dragged, as if the wheel must have come off at some point!?
- Jason at Jetstream did a great job at repairing the slice!
I thoroughly cleaned and inspected the rest of the axle.
I replaced the pinion seal, axle seals and gaskets, as well as the bearings, axle nuts, and a new inner left hub to replace the cracked one...
After thoroughly cleaning the body to bare steel & aluminum, I gave the body a coat of gloss black 'Por15' rust proofing that gives a very strong and chip resistant layer of protection. Then I followed with finishing it in satin black enamel...
The back plates, inner hubs and axle shafts going back together...
With the axles and hubs reassembled, I then installed all new brake lines, and the emergency brake rods with new rubber bushings and white felt spacers in all the links...
I had the brake shoes all re-lined by Senco Brakes with rivets like original, they also made sure to correctly arch them so they conform to the curvature of the drums exactly...
After carefully inspecting the wheel cylinders for any scratches or corrosion, I found I was able to rebuild the original rear brake cylinders and adjusters with rebuild kits.
- (the front cylinders however showed some corrosion so did NOT pass inspection)
I assembled the cylinders with some Sil-glyde brake grease that is safe and compatible with rubber parts and brake fluids.
I installed the rebuilt cylinders and adjusters to the axle back plates, and connected the new brake lines and emergency brake levers...
Then I made sure to back off the adjusters, emergency brake mechanisms, and the brake shoe steady posts all the way as I installed the brake shoes and springs...
Then came the drums; I had all of them turned at a machine shop first so they had a nice even and fresh inner face to mate with the pads. Then I gave them a fresh coat of matching silver wheel paint.
It took several attempts to get the drums to fit on correctly!
- the adjusters needed to be backed off all the way and the shoes needed to be equally centred which took a lot of careful tapping and prising of the shoes to get right!
I also learned that the little adjuster pistons have slightly different angles on them and if you get them mixed up (top-bottom) they won't allow the shoes to compress all the way!
I finished the rear brake assemblies with fresh new splined hubs & Knock-offs ready for the wire wheels:
and there you have it! - the rear axle is all freshly rebuilt and ready to be topped up with fresh 90 weight gear oil before going back on the car.
Until next time...
Recently my friend Curt Arndt shared an article with me that he wrote, containing a proper exploded view and parts list for all the pieces that go into the original Purolator style oil filter assembly found on many Healey BN1's.
This assembly is somewhat different from the more common Tecalemit oil filter assemblies and is not even covered in the factory workshop manual.
Thanks to Curt's great article though, I was able to finally source the correct pieces I was missing in order to restore mine correctly:
While I was at it, I rolled open the big garage door and let the sunshine highlight my beautifully finished engine:
In other news I'd been trying to source some correct original Champion NA-8 spark plugs for my BN1.
Luckily I have finally found a set available - however I've also run into some interesting questions along the way!
Originally I found and purchased a NOS set of N-8 plugs that were advertised as correct for Healey and XK jags on E-bay.
When they arrived, they were not the black phosphate finish that I was expecting to see - instead they were plated shiny. Not only that, but I also realized Healeys should have NA-8 - not N-8.
So what's the difference between N-8 and NA-8 plugs?? near as I can tell, it's temperature retention.
However both N-8 and NA-8 plugs have the same modern cross reference of N5C!
Furthermore I found out through some other concours committee members that there were black finished N-8 plugs available, and there were also visible differences between various NA-8 plugs depending on if they were made in UK, Canada, or USA!
Here's some pics of the various differences and similarities between N-8 and NA-8 plugs:
On the left in red boxes are the newer N-8's I purchased online with shiny plated bases,
on the right are a vintage set of NA-8's with blackened bases:
Now here is a vintage N-8 compared to a vintage NA-8: they look and measure identically other than the number code:
Here is a really old NA-8 from 30's era England, compared to one from USA in the 50's:
- and on the right is a pic of unrestored BN1 b#1267 that was found running an older set of blackened N-8's in it (so clearly N-8's will also work just fine in a BN1)
To go along with the spark plugs, I was able to source some of the correct type of shiny black spark plug wire from "The Brillman Company" so I set about cutting the various lengths as per the concourse guidelines, and making up the wires...
I even found a set of the correct molded rubber spark plug boots with the numbers molded in them as original!
I cleaned & rebuilt the distributor with new points, rotor, condenser and ground wires...
That's all for this week,
Until next time -
This article covers the restoration of my front kingpins, swivel axles, brakes, steering levers, and lower control arms:
Upon initial disassembly, I first documented, cleaned, bead-blasted & refinished all of the components in their respective finishes.
Then I purchased new kingpin kits and installed them into the swivel axles with new bushings pressed in and reamed to size, with new spacers and seals.
- Luckily I was able to borrow my good friend Trevor Parker's king pin bushing reamer tool which is essential for this process to get a perfect fit!
It was necessary to actually cut off the upper tip of the king pin after the top nut was tightened down, because the new pins were made with a strangely tall tip that sits almost 1" proud of the top nut and will actually foul on the bodywork when installed!
- it's unfortunately so typical that most repro-parts are incorrect in one way or another and require modification to fit properly!
One other issue I had with the new kingpins was that the lower cutouts for the control arms needed some grinding away to properly clear the control arms, so they could be tightened down all the way and pivot properly without binding:..
After fixing that problem I touched up the trouble spots with some satin black paint, and eventually finished bolting them together with some fresh grease smeared on the inner pins & pivot faces.
I should note that I did temporarily bolt up the lower spring pans between the A-arms to assure that I had them aligned correctly before I tightened down the lower pivot screws. There should be .002" clearance under each screw to assure proper movement.
The last and most important part of securing the lower A-arm/King pin pivot joints is to tighten down the tapered cotters (3 each side) that secure the pivot pins & screws and prevent them from eventually unscrewing themselves!
I purchased all new splined hubs with new studs that had to be tightened into the hubs, and then peaned over on the backsides to prevent them from ever coming loose..
Then I assembled the hubs to the stub axle with new seals & bearings, thoroughly packed with fresh grease, and finished with the big nut and cotter pin, and finally the packed grease cup pushed home...
Next I installed all new wheel/brake cylinders to replace my old ones which had shown some light corrosion in the cylinder bores.
Then I offered up the new shoes and springs, and adjusted them all the way down to fit the freshly turned drums...
I finished them off by installing the new brake lines and bleed screws to the back plates, and adjusting the shoe angles and positions with the adjustment screws on the back plates...
In other news, last week my front and rear Armstrong lever shocks arrived back from being rebuilt by Apple Hydraulics in NY.
While Apple most often offers an exchange for the common shocks, mine had to be rebuilt because they're the earlier & rarer 5612 style.
They did a beautiful job on them and I promptly gave them a fresh coat of satin black paint to finish them off as original:
Now my front suspension components are all rebuilt and ready to be re-installed to the car when my painted chassis finally arrives...
Until next time -
For a while now I've been trying to source some of the correct rubber rad and heater hoses that were used on the Healey 100's.
The original rad hoses distinctly looked like they had been wrapped in some sort of material that gave a textured look to the rubber, new ones were finished with a white stamped part number.
Years ago Roger Moment used to make these for some of the more concours savvy restorers, but I haven't been able to find any available anymore.
Here's a set in my friend Curt Arndt's BN1, notice also the correct type of band hose clamps used:
So today I finally decided that I would try my hand at making some of my own:
I already had a pair of the correct size and radius rad hoses that I'd sourced through NAPA, (hose #715) - as is recommended in the Concours guidelines.
My first inclination was to just wrap it in some hockey tape, however it still wouldn't look like rubber, and may in fact start to peel off with all the heat and moisture exposure...
So I decided instead to use some very thin black fabric material that I cut into long strips about 2" wide.
I soaked the material and the rubber hose in a liquid-rubber vulcanizing solution that is meant for melting rubber for patching tubes & tires.
Then while it was still wet, I carefully wrapped the hose with the material making sure to continuously soak both sides of the material and the rubber as I went along...
The end result came out beautifully! The material is now a solid part of the rubber surface.
I even did the smaller heater and breather hoses with some long rectangles of the material to give them the same fabric/rubber texture...
Now all I need to do is get a stamp made with the correct part number in white ink to finish off the rad hoses.
I realize these details are impractical aesthetics that 95% of the population will never notice in the end, but I personally find great pleasure in getting these little things right.
Hence I call this blog "a detail enthusiast"
Until next time -
While I've been working away restoring and preparing all the parts and components for my BN1, the body/metal & paint has been farmed out to Jetstream Auto & Custom, here in Sidney BC.
Owner Jason Stoch has been plugging away over the past 2 yrs with the metal work and bringing the chassis and body back to her original specs.
While my car was quite good as far as rust and corrosion goes, it did have a lot of dents and abuse in the outer body panels.
Jason has spent many hours working them out as best he can with heat and a hammer and dolly. Inevitably the final step to making them perfect is some filler.
As I'm now at a point of waiting for the finished painted chassis to return so I can start reassembly, I asked if there was anything I could do to help out at Jetstream..
With 4 other Healeys & a handful of other classics underway there presently, Jason was very receptive to my offer of help out!
So, last week we arranged for me to come in and work a day doing some of the filling and sanding of my various body panels.
Jason taught me how to mix and apply the filler, and then how to sand it correctly with some of their specialty sanding tools designed for smoothing out all the curved panels. - It turned out to be a great learning experience, and I feel like it came quite naturally!
Here's how the aluminum front shroud and bonnet evolved from bare aluminum - primer - dent work - to filler and sanding.
The final layer of filler is actually just paper thin, and I should also point out that my car had clear evidence of some filler found on the front shroud from the factory!
In the end Jason had to remove the inner steel bonnet frame from the aluminum skin so he could properly smooth out the skin...
The front steel fenders were another story - the left one was almost perfect, while the right one had lots of rust holes in the bottom corner and loads of deep dents and abuse that needed to be worked out.
Here's the evolution of the front fenders repairs:
The doors were both quite good, a bit of rust found in the lower skins that was repaired and otherwise just some smoothing and a few cracks to weld:
The inner and outer sills were replaced on both sides, as well as the lower sections of the rear fenders and door posts. Jetstream did a beautiful job of these repairs as you can see:
Here's the front and rear sections of the inner sill repairs:
We also replaced the front frame cross-member...
The right side engine mount showed signs that it had been removed and crudely replaced at some point in the cars life.
We had to redo the repair by removing it & the plate someone added to the bottom, and then extend the bottom and weld & dress it properly..
The inner foot wells along the firewall had also been hacked open and screwed back together (probably to make room for a bigger engine at some point) So we closed them up properly again...
The front and rear wheel arches were all in good shape. My car has the early 3 piece front wheel arches, that were 2 piece on later cars:
In the boot we replaced both of the rear frame members that extend to the rear shroud edge and carry the bumper brackets.
The aluminum rear shroud and boot lid both had lots of dents and distortion to work out - but otherwise had no corrosion.
Jason carefully removed the inner frame of the boot lid and bonnet so he could properly smooth the dents in the aluminum skins.
He used a clever system of threaded rods with appropriate sized washers and nuts and some heat to correctly re-align the tail light pods:
With the body all repaired and fitted up we got into the filler stage.
Jason showed me the basics of mixing, applying, and sanding, and I got to do much of the initial filling and sanding to level out the body panels
Then they gave the body a liberal coat of filler-primer that I spent much of Friday block sanding out again to make it even more perfect...
There's lots of tweaking left to do, but we're getting closer all the time.
It's a nice feeling to be doing some of the hands on body work too, I can honestly say I've worked every square inch of the body's surface!
Now is the time to get all of the body panels fitting perfectly before we take it all apart again to paint the inner chassis. So we spent many hours adjusting the fit and line up of each panel, including the grill.
Another few weeks and hopefully we'll get the body panels finished ready for paint. - After that we can take them all off and go about priming and painting the inner chassis.
Until next time -
As a life long Healey enthusiast and passionate restorer, I've done my homework in studying the evolution of Austin Healey Trim.
Sourcing the correct materials, original pattern variations, and accurate factory colour options.
When it comes to restoring your Healey's interior, you can't go wrong by doing it right - and the proof is in the details.
We're very proud of the work that we put into each and every interior kit & component we produce and we're sure you will be too!
We offer all of the various seat styles and patterns as the marque evolved, with soft comfortable seat foams that look and feel just like the originals!
We even offer the correct embossing on vinyl BJ8 kits with the chrome piping as original.
Our panel kits, carpet sets, and armacord kits are all hand made in the original type materials and factory colour options.
Armrests available in every style option from '53 BN1's - through '67 BJ8's, and everything in between.
Factory tool bags, side screen stowage bags, spare wheel hold down straps - all hand made with detailed accuracy to pass any concours.
We offer BN1/BN2 side screen upholstery for style 2, and style 3 side screens
Our Everflex tonneau covers & boot covers are hand tailored exactly as the originals complete with the correct 'Lightning' zippers, and available in all the various pattern styles
When it comes to your interior - do it once, do it right!
Visit our website and see for yourself! www.rightwayheritagetrim.com
The 1/25th scale 'Revell' Austin Healey kit was first released back in the 60's and has been re-released several times over the decades with various different box arts:
Straight from the box: the Revell kit depicts an early 'Longbridge built' 100/6 BN4:
I decided to paint my BN4 model in the classic Healey Blue over White, with the rare Teal blue interior found only on cars built in '56/57:
The next model I built using the same Revell kit, was this 2 seat 100/6 BN6:
As you can see, I had to fill in and restructure the rear seat area to make it a 2 seater...
- I also made some interior and engine detail improvements like the later armrest, and lots of added piping and wiring details...
The next model I tackled using the same old Revell 100/6 kit, was the famous Healey 100/S, NOJ393:
As before, I had to fill and restructure the kits rear seat area to make it a 2 seater,
- I also chopped and modified the kit engine to make it into a 4 cylinder, and moved the carbs and ancillaries to the opposite sides as on a 100S engine...
- I made a new RHD dash and changed lots of details to the interior and seats...
Just like the real car, I first painted the body and chassis in the lighter Lustreen green metallic (as it was painted in 1953), then I over sprayed the outer body only in the darker spruce green (as it was re-painted in 1955).
This gave accuracy and vibrancy to the details having the lighter green on all the under areas and in the engine bay
I had a lot of fun finishing it off with a new set of decals that I found on e-bay, and making all the little details like fog lamps, the S style grill, and all the belts and buckles...
With the success I had in making my first 4 cylinder car from the old Revell kit, I decided to make another one of a standard early BN1 in Healey Blue:
I made the same modifications, filling in making a 2 seater out of the Revell 4 seater kit, and making the 6 cylinder engine into a 4 cylinder...
Lastly I added the 100/4's distinctive keystone shaped grill and folding windscreen:
- This model is just like what my own BN1 will someday look like!
Recently as my addiction to these Healey models has progressed, I found a set of decals online for the famous 100/S racer that Carrol Shelby raced and crashed at the 1954 Panamericana in Mexico.
This is one of the few 100/S's that never survived and was supposedly destroyed after the wreck instead of rebuilt, so inevitably I found another old Revell kit on e-bay and got to work modifying it to be a 100/S...
As with all of my Healey models, I finished this one off with some new etched metal wire wheels to improve on the kit details...
I proudly display my models in several display cabinets around my trim shop, this one featuring the Healey models greets customers as the come in the front door...
Until next time,...
Well as we all know now, the times they are a changin'!
It's been a rather scary month as the world has been grappling with this new COVID pandemic reality.
Thankfully, for the time being I have been able to continue working while maintaining safe social distancing and intensified regular cleaning routines with everything I do.
It helps that I work alone, and it also helps that others like me are using this temporary shut down to get more work done on their Healeys!
In an effort to stay in, I for one have been exercising ALL of my favorite hobbies lately!
Just this morning I got my freshly painted 2 piece dash pieces back from Jetstream Auto & Custom!
Needless to say I drove straight to my quiet little shop to assemble the dash!
Jason made some minor repairs and then had his painter Shaun prime and paint the pieces in the Healey blue, with a nicely matched dark blue I chose for the main dash body, as original...
Meanwhile I had cleaned and restored all the gauges and switches.
I had Nisongers do the gauges, they replaced one of the faces, and tested & calibrated them all.
Jetstream even painted the backs of the dash pieces in red oxide primer as original, and allowed the blues to over-spray - as was found on the back of my dash... of course you'll never see the back when it's in the car, but at least I know it's been done correctly!
It was the best part of my day putting together all of these beautifully restored & shiny dash components!
- the rare early style of overdrive switch I found
- I was able to reuse my original plastic/rubber gauge surround trim
- the Healey blue paint is even my Dads custom formula he researched and used on all the numerous blue Healeys he restored over the decades. The metallic in it is much finer than most you see today - just like we found on my car!
Needless to say I'm very happy with it!
As you can see, I'm eagerly awaiting the return of the freshly painted inner chassis.
It probably won't be until the summer yet, but I'm ready for when it comes!
In the evenings, I've been staying home with my wonderful partner Cat and we've been indulging in our hobbies.
Cat likes to paint, I like to build models, and we both like to play music together and watch movies.
Lately I've been working on a couple of heavily modified Healey models:
In both cases, I turned the later 4 seater car models into earlier 2 seater models by filling in the bodywork and making several new parts from scratch.
I did the blue car up just like my own BN1,
and the white over blue car is a famous 100-S racer that Carrol Shelby competed at the Panamericana Mexico race in 1954.
Surprisingly I found a decal set for it online in 1/24 scale!
With all that's going on around us, I find a lot of comfort being able sink into these hobbies and know that I'm also doing the right thing by staying in and out of trouble.
I wish everyone out there the very best. I hope that we find a cure soon and can get back to a lifestyle that's at least less fearful and able to be close with each other again.
We're in this together! Stay in, stay safe, wash your hands, and take care of each other.
Until next time -
It's been about 23 months since I started the restoration of my Austin Healey 100, and in that time I've made some good progress!
I thought I would post a general recap of photos showing before and after pics of what's been done so far;
I will regularly update this article as the project moves along and more things get finished:
Here is my BN1 as I purchased it from the Beverly Hills Car Club in LA in September 2018:
In spite of being resprayed Red at some point, the inner chassis still had its original Healey blue - including some original blue trim in the rear cockpit and boot!
I was careful to take 1000's of pics to properly document everything as I took it all apart, bagging and tagging every piece, and making notes about broken or missing hardware that I encounter along the way...
Some of the original Healey blue in daylight, also note the original hand brushed factory undercoating over the rear axle and under the boot floor...
Speaking of paint, I was contacted by my late fathers good friend and long time painter Ron Allman, Ron had painted all the dozens of Healeys Dad restored over the decades, and still had enough of my Dads custom mix of Healey blue paint that they had researched to get right decades ago. It has a much finer metallic flake in it than is even available in today's paints.
I had some sprayed out and compared it to the mix my painter had initially come up with and I think it matches even better!
Dad's is on the left, my painters choice in the middle, and some original blue from my car on the right:
Once apart, the chassis and body was delivered to Jetstream Auto and Custom
to be media blasted to bare metal and have all the metal and paint work done properly...
All new sills were installed on both sides, and lower repair sections were added to all the door posts and lower fenders...
We replaced the front cross member..
The right side engine mount showed signs that it had been removed and crudely replaced at some point in the cars life.
We had to redo the repair by removing it & the plate someone added to the bottom, and then extend the bottom and weld & dress it properly..
The inner foot wells along the firewall had also been hacked open and screwed back together (probably to make room for a bigger engine at some point) So we closed them up properly again...
A few minor repair sections and lots of hammer and dolly work was needed to smooth out all the dents in the shrouds and fenders...
I chose to hand strip all the aluminum body panels myself including the front and rear shrouds, bonnet, boot lid, front valence and the dash..
With the body all repaired and fitted up we got into the filler stage. Jason from Jetstream showed me the basics and I did much of the filling and sanding to level out the body panels
Then came a coat of filler-primer...
Which was sanded out again...
Fitting the grill in it's bare brass state so we can adjust and tweak it (and the shroud) to be a perfect fit before finally re-chroming the grill.
Meanwhile, the original 2 piece dash which had been painted over with red & silver, showed clearly the original Healey blue paint still underneath the silver gauge cluster, with dark blue showing under the red on the rest...
I stripped the dash by hand and had Jetstream take care of the prep & paint...
I cleaned up the gauges and hardware as best I could myself, but opted to send them out for rebuild and calibration by Nisongers. They also replaced the face on the Tachometer...
Jetstream did a brilliant job painting the body and gauge cluster, even using reddish primer on the back like the factory did.
I reassembled all the pieces temporarily and voila! - the finished dash board! :
I completely rebuilt, flushed out and tested the original heater, including the rheostat switch...
I repainted the body in black wrinkle finish as original, with semi gloss black on all the internals and piping, I even managed to gently clean/or paint around & preserve the original part numbers and date code printing from '53.
I replaced the missing switch knob and finished it off with a new foil logo on the front...
I cleaned, rebuilt, and tested the original wiper motor, date coded for '53..
Throughout the restoration process I bead-blast and re-plate all of the steel hardware in their respective finishes like zinc - here is my home zinc plating system in action...
While this is great when rebuilding a separate component like the heater, I still had most of the cars general hardware plating done by Electroshine Plating-
Much of the mechanical and suspension hardware was originally finished in black phosphate. For this process I use gun-bluing acid which turns the clean steel black and then is finished by soaking and baking the parts in grease..
Wire clips refinished in yellow zinc...
Door latch restoration...
Bonnet latch/release hardware..
Air vent and pedals..
Signal relay box, dated '53; thoroughly cleaned and refinished the body in zinc,..
Handbrake lever, re-chromed and then cad plated on the lower section...
Voltage regulator, dated '57! - cleaned & polished with a new warning tag..
I cleaned up the original fuse block from 1953:
Overdrive relays and flasher unit, all original from '53, cleaned, polished and I even hand inscribed the lettering back on the flasher!.
Original battery switch cleaned & rebuilt...
Headlight assemblies were rebuilt with new rubbers, and I found some original Lucas 700 headlamps (standard on all Canadian exports)!
I also sourced some NOS Lucas 488 signal and brake lights...
Original Lucas horns were sourced through my friend Richard Korn and I rebuilt & tested them, replaced the outer rings with new castings, repaired the mountings, and had the original paint colour matched...
My original cast bodied starter solenoid from '53 - cleaned up with new button rubber..
I cleaned & refinished the original coil from '53, and had it tested by Brian Roberts Electric, then finished with a new correct style Lucas decal...
I rebuilt the original steering box and idler assemblies with new lower oil seals and dust covers...
I completely rebuilt the front suspension with new kingpins, bushings, shims, seals and fulcrum pins...
I purchased new front and rear splined hubs & knock offs, and rebuilt the early steering arms with new dust covers & grease nipples...
The early spiral bevel rear axle I rebuilt with all new seals...
New brake lines, rebuilt wheel cylinders, brake shoe linings & turned drums...
The finished rear axle:
One of my customers, Harry Watson traded me a full set of new wire wheels and new set of 5 Michelin X tires in exchange for some upholstery work I'm doing for him.
While these type of radial tires weren't technically available until 1956, they are mentioned in the Concours guidelines as an acceptable period substitute for the less reliable bias ply tires these cars originally came with.
I most definitely intend to drive this car as much as I can when it's finished so for safety sake I've opted to use these over the old bias ply Dunlop Roadspeeds.
Thanks again Harry!
The original radiator was flushed, pressure tested, and re-painted semi gloss black...
Front and rear shocks were sent for rebuild with new seals and calibrated by Apple Hydraulics, then I finished them in satin black...
I rebuilt and refinished the brake master cylinder and reservoir with a rebuild kit and new decal...
I completely rebuilt the SU carburetors with new rebuild kits...
I sourced some old original Burgess air filters from my friend Richard Korn, and refinished them in black wrinkle paint with some new metal tags...
I also added new overflow tubes and clips to the inlet manifold...
I cleaned and re-finished the original throttle linkage:
The starter and generator were rebuilt and tested by Brian Roberts electric, then I refinished & detailed them correctly...
I completely overhauled the engine with all new bearings, sleeves, pistons, valves, guides, valve seats, reground crank and re-machined the head and block at Mid Island Machine...
I also went with a steel head gasket, and all new head studs as old ones often stretch..
I also exchanged the timing cover for one with a better rubber front crank seal, and replaced the water pump with a new one...
I rebuilt the distributor with new points, ground wire, condenser, rotor.
Then sourced and made the correct plug wires with moulded rubber boots as original...
I rebuilt the oil filter following a comprehensive article about them by my friend Curt Arndt. It clarified all of the various parts that are often missing, and where to source them!
Finished and detailed the engine myself...
I had the gearbox and overdrive completely overhauled and tested by our local expert Tom Munro, with some donor BN1 gears I got through my friend Trevor Parker, with new bearings and seals.
I also finished it off with a new rubber boot and an original Bakelite shift knob I got through my friend Michael Salter...
I rebuilt the driveshaft with new U joints and grease nipples...
I was able to find a perfect match for the original interior vinyl and various material colours and proceeded to produce all new complete interior components...
I made myself a finished pair of the stock pleated seats, but I also made myself a 100-S style drivers seat just in case I want it..
I made a new early BN1 style tonneau cover with the correct Lightning zipper and all original (restored) snap hardware.
I made new side screens and fully restored my original frames, chrome and hardware.
I also made a full new set of stowage bags for the boot:
I even sourced a complete and fully restored factory tool kit through my friend and Healey tool kit specialist Curt Arndt,
Curt also sold me an original jack and Michael Salter made me a set of handles. I finished the set off with a set of my hand made original style bags...
I got a new cloth woven wiring harness in from British Wiring:
A new pair of Lucas 6 volt batteries from Antique Battery, with some correct style trays from Kilmarten, and some correct brass hold down rods and hardware I got through my friend Michael Salter who made them!
As my car was missing this entirely, I sourced a beautifully restored center horn button & trafficator assembly from Curt Arndt who rebuilds these professionally...
I sourced some of the correct size radiator hoses from Napa and then wrapped them in rubberized fabric for an original look:
All of my freshly re-chromed pieces I had done by Electro-Shine plating...
As my car came with a pair of later 3000 bumpers that someone had installed incorrectly, I was able to source a correct pair of original BN1 bumpers and over-riders from my friend Curt Arndt.
Finally a few more items I've collected to complete the cars final presentation:
an original owners handbook, original workshop manual, factory parts catalogue, overdrive handbook, and original sales brochure...
So there you have it - lots of work left to do, but things are moving along very nicely!
I am hoping to get the chassis painted in the next month or so, and then I'll have loads of reassembly work to look forward to!
Until next time -
Over the past few months I've given the engine of my Austin Healey 100 a total and complete overhaul!
As you can see in the pics below the engine as it was when I pulled it out of the car, was in typical filthy rusty shape with much deeper concerns hidden inside...
Now though, it's been freshly machined and rebuilt with several new parts and fresh gaskets, bearings and finishings...
I began the rebuild back in the fall of last year, I carefully dismantled everything, making sure to take lots of pics and notes along the way so I could keep track of any issues I found and keep the parts all very organized.
What I found was a very tired engine that had clear evidence of being rebuilt in the past with several tuning "upgrades" added such as:
-.020" over sized pistons, 2 of which had different ring arrangements that the others!
-replacement 'bucket' style cam lifters and push rods
-and a significantly lightened flywheel
Many of the valves had been ground down to their limits, and the entire works would need to be properly machined and made right again.
So I started saving up for the machining and inevitable parts that would be needed to make it all right again.
In the meantime, I thoroughly cleaned and refinished all the hardware and various external parts like the oil pan, side covers, and rocker cover.
It took some careful hammer & dolly work to get the dents mostly out of the pan and rocker cover!
I was also intrigued to find that many of the original "Wiley" whitworth bolts used for the oil pan, side cover, and other various covers had wire holes through the heads - as if they were meant to be secured with mechanics wire. - I've never seen this practice on a Healey engine before, but maybe in '53 they were still using up old stock of fasteners meant for other engine applications?
I ordered all new gaskets including a new performance steel head gasket which had been strongly recommended to me by several other owners.
-I also ordered all new bearings throughout,
-a full set of new standard sized pistons and rings,
-new rubber blocks for the engine mounts,
-all new intake and exhaust valves,
-all new valve guides
-a new water pump
-replacement timing cover with a better/rubber oil seal machined into it.
-new timing chain and rubber tensioner ring
-and a full set of new head studs because originals are often prone to stretching over time..
In late Decemeber I packed up the head, block, crankshaft, camshaft, pistons and valve assemblies and handed them all to Mid Island Engine & Machine up in Duncan BC.
Mid Island were strongly recommended to me as they've done lots of Healey engines in the past and knew what they were doing.
They hot tanked the head and block to clean them back to bare cast iron and gave everything a proper inspection and full report.
We decided to re-sleeve the block because the bores were all differing measurements and the pistons were being replaced anyway.
The guys at Mid Island Machine proceeded to fully machine and rebuild the head with -new valve guides,
-new hardened valve seats,
-and a freshly machined deck that will mate perfectly to the freshly machined block.
The block had its new sleeves installed, bored and honed to original spec,
-new frost plugs were installed after the galleries had been properly hot tanked and cleaned of debris
-the deck was machined flat again,
-the camshaft was inspected and found to be true and in great shape,
-the crankshaft has its journals all reground to be perfectly round again making them now .020" under size, so I made sure to get .020" oversize bearings to suit..
Finally in early February I picked it all up and brought it home to my new shop to be reassembled. The guys at Mid Island did a really nice job and were very helpful throughout the process. I highly recommend them to anyone rebuilding a vintage engine.
With all my parts and hardware organized and ready to go, I got some fresh products to use in the rebuild process, including:
-some Permatex grey high temp gasket maker/sealer
-some Clevite heavy bearing grease designed for fresh rebuilds
-Rev-Lube XP2000 for protecting the cam lobs and tappets
-some fresh oil in a squirt can for lubing the pistons, cylinders and EVERYTHING internal
-some Anti-seize for installing the new head studs I bought
-and some rust converter for use on the exterior block surfaces that had quickly turned to surface rust without any paint on it.
The freshly machined and cleaned block...
With the help of my good friend and fellow Healey 100 owner, Trevor Parker, we got to work on a Saturday and proceeded to install the Crankshaft, Camshaft, all the new pistons, oil pump, new head studs, and finally the head.
Trevor was a great help and also provided some of the essential tools like a piston ring expander, ring compressor and of course a second set of Whitworth sockets.
The following weekend I finished it off by installing the front plate, timing chain and gears, timing cover, water pump, oil filter assembly, tappets and push rods, side cover, oil pan, rocker shaft, rocker cover, and engine mounts.
Then I thoroughly cleaned the exterior, using a wire wheel on a drill to remove all the surface rust, followed by priming all the bare steel and iron with Rust Converter.
Finally the next day I gave it all a fresh coat of new light green metallic Healey engine paint I purchased from Moss Motors.
Here is a sequence of shots showing the engine before, and throughout the rebuild:
Of course I should technically have installed the vacuum line, starter, generator and the fan belt for the final painting process - as that would have been what the factory did originally.
However I decided to leave those off for now to make it easier to install the engine in the car later on... Those components and other ancillaries and details can be installed later.
So for now, that's it!
The engine is all freshly rebuilt and I'm feeling quite confident that I've done a good job.
It will hopefully provide me with decades of smooth running and minimal oil leakage - though with these engines, that have no rear main oil seal, a little is to be expected...
Until next time -
I've had the pleasure of growing up around Austin Healey's and their restorations through my late father Rich Chrysler, and to this day they are still my favorite British sports car.
In fact just 2 years ago I finally bought a Healey of my own to restore: a 1953 Austin Healey 100 (BN1) - it's been my pride and joy researching and restoring each piece to be as good as I can make it and bringing the old car back to life.
I look forward to each exciting step ahead; getting the chassis painted, getting it back on its wheels, starting it up for the first time, and finally finishing it off with one of my beautiful hand crafted interiors.
From a young age I was taught the arts of concours level restoration, and through this I've always valued doing things right the first time. "Measure twice, cut once" became an inherited part of my inner dialogue for as long as I can remember.
As an accomplished artist, restorer, craftsman, and detailed scale modeler, I eventually learned the arts of upholstery and trimming - specifically for Healey's and other British and European sports cars. - What better way to tie all of my skills and passions together!
For nearly 20yrs now I have been working as a distinguished automotive trimmer, pattern maker, upholsterer and installer for some of the leading trim and restoration shops in the world.
My business is called Rightway Heritage Trimming, and while I've had the opportunity to trim all sorts of rare classic cars over the years, my main focus and specialty has always been Healey's.
More recently I've started producing full interior trim kits and components for the earlier big Healeys which are now available through Rightway Heritage Trimming and made to order.
Our trim kits and components are all made by hand to the very highest standards.
Having worked in a Healey upholstery factory for 10yrs, and growing up around so many Healey restorations, I've always been aware that there was room in the market for really accurate high quality trim for the Healeys.
Especially for the earlier cars that had so many distinct detail variations over the years as the marque evolved.
Many of the earlier patterns, colours and details we offer are not available anywhere else.
,After years of research I am able offer the correct factory colour options including some of the rarer colours like persimmon red, and teal blue:
For the earlier BN1's, we offer the earlier styles of boot trim, tunnel carpets, tonneau covers, and side screen upholstery - all of which had changed patterns by mid 1954...
Our seat covers are made in the highest quality European leather with the correct natural grain as the original.
If you opt to send us your seats for full trimming in house, you'll be treated with my custom made seat foams that look and feel just like the original Dunlopillo foams.
Wherever visible, the covers are hand tacked just like the factory did.
We even offer 100 S style seats with either the standard solid S frames or folding backrest frames (for cars with soft tops)
Our carpet sets are offered in original Karvel and come with the correct brass carpet snaps and rubber Austin logo heel pad.
Our Armacord is all sewn with hand rolled binding, and our floor insulation is the proper thin jute with black coating on one side...
We also offer all the various styles of 100-6 and early 3000 Healey upholstery, including all of the various unique armrests, rear quarter panels, and rear backrest sizes found on BN4's and BT7's.
Our panel kits include all new birch plywood panels, fully trimmed in vinyl with thin wadding to pad the doors as original.
We also include all the extra vinyl covers necessary to fully trim the rest of the interior like inner doors, parcel tray and wheel arches too.
Furflex is included with the earlier cars, and we offer Bristleflex door seals for the later models.
We even offer the correct tool and accessory bags for the earlier Healey models, made by hand in the correct thin vinyl with accurate snaps and tie straps.
When it comes to Healey's I've taken my time to research and source the correct types of materials and colours originally used by the factory.
I've worked with several Concours officials through the Healey clubs over the years that have helped me in verifying patterns and sourcing the correct hardware and materials for my interior components.
All of which has culminated into a range of very accurate interior components that I am proud to now produce and offer to Healey owners and restorers everywhere.
As a proud Healey owner and enthusiast myself, I enjoy writing and sharing pics of the work I've been doing through my blog: a detail enthusiast
If you're interested in ordering any interior components for your Healey or have any questions about Healey trim, I am always happy to assist. 250-813-2090
We are located in beautiful Victoria BC, Canada -
Our website is: www.rightwayheritagetrim.com
my blog is: detailenthusiast.weebly.com
Until next time -
One of the most common questions I get asked as an upholstery producer is: "How can I take care of my cars beautiful new interior?"
There are so many cleaning products out there and not all of them are good when it comes to your cars upholstery!
In fact some of the more common assumptions like using house hold cleaners & detergents can slowly strip away the colour pigments or dry out some of your materials.
There are several different types of materials typically found in a cars interior, and each requires its own special treatment when it comes to properly cleaning and maintaining it.
Of course it is always advisable that you do try to keep your cars interior as clean and free of debris, dirt and moisture as you can!
So I will get started by describing each of the more common materials found in a typical British sports car, and how to properly clean and care for them...
To properly clean and maintain your interior carpets, it is important to vacuum them regularly. I recommend using a good shop vac with a set of various wand attachments for getting into all the nooks and crannies.
A good soft brush and/or brush attachment for your vacuum is also recommended for getting into the grain of the carpet to remove any clingy bits that can become embedded like hair, dirt and dust -
If and when ever your carpets get wet, it is important to unsnap the mats if possible and dry everything thoroughly.
If you can't remove them, at least try to soak up the wet with towels and dry them as quickly as you can. Avoid using things like blow dryers or heat guns though which can quickly singe or burn the carpet fibers.
Carpet and underlay can soak up a lot of water, and that moisture can quickly cause all sorts of problems like mould, corrosion, and staining so it is important to stay on top of wet situations if and when they do arise.
If you encounter stains in your carpet from spills etc, I recommend using an approved automotive carpet cleaner with a scrub brush applicator.
Often these are foaming cleaners that work to pull the stains up from the carpet fibers. You apply it in a circular motion with a scrub brush, then rinse it off with water and thoroughly dry it off.
It is always advisable to clean up spills and stains ASAP to avoid deeper staining!
Vinyl is most often used throughout the interior on things like door and kick panels, dash boards, seat backs, edge binding and piping...
Since vinyl is a durable and generally non porous surface, it is easily kept clean by regularly wiping it down with a soft cloth.
For dirtier situations you can use a bit of mild soap and water;
suds up a cloth and gently scrub the vinyl, followed by wiping it off with a wet cloth without soap, and finally drying it off with a clean dry cloth.
Avoid using heavy chemicals! - stay right away from oil or tolulene based products like gasoline or laquer thinners as they may discolor or destroy the surface of the vinyl.
Hardura - sometimes referred to as 'Armacord' or 'ribbed Hardura', is commonly used in British cars as boot lining or lining other ares that don't need to be as plush as carpet.
It comes with either a smooth or ribbed surface texture.
It's basically a very durable vinyl surface that has a dense jute backing to it making it good for sound deadening as well as insulating.
Since it is basically a vinyl top surface you can clean it just the same as you would any other vinyl. Again, a good soft brush comes in handy when cleaning out the grain or 'corn rows' of Ribbed Hardura...
A common stain found on boot compartment Hardura is rubber scuffing from the spare tire. I recommend trying soapy water first, or using a bit of Simple Green - it's a natural and very effective cleaner that won't harm or bleach the material.
For Healey 100 owners who have ever experienced fuel spills onto the Armacord while filling up in the boot compartment, you want to soak it up ASAP and wash out the affected Armacord where the fuel made contact with it.
Some warm soapy water to neutralize the petrol followed by a good rinse of clean water and a dry off will help a lot. - Otherwise the gasoline will quickly dry out and bleach the material, making it eventually go brittle and start to shrink and crack.
Some other commonly affected spots are the inner lid of the battery compartment on 2 seater cars.. often this piece of Hardura is found stained by electrolyte and/or gasses emanating from the batteries. A routine scrub down with a wet cloth followed by a dry wipe off will help to stay on top of this area..
Leather, most often used for all the seat and armrest faces, should be treated with regular care and cleaning.
Since your seats are the most used part of your interior, care must be taken to avoid damaging them. Avoid carrying sharp objects in you pockets that can mar or damage the leather when you're sitting in it.
A regular wipe down with a clean, dry, and soft cloth is most recommended and will go a long way in preserving your seats.
It is not recommended to be washing your seats with water or soaps either.
With leather, you're wanting to maintain the leathers natural oils and prevent it from getting dried out.
For this reason it is best to use some proper leather cleaner and conditioner and avoid using water/soaps or any other cleaners or detergents.
Avoid using waxes too because these tend to create a sheen on top of the leathers surface which also eventually leads to drying out.
I personally like to use Leather Honey as it does a good job at cleaning and maintaining the leathers natural finish without wax or heavy chemicals.
However it is advisable not to over do it when using Any products on your seats - once every few months is plenty.
When you do use product, it is important to try and avoid soaking the seams and sewn areas as it will prematurely break down the thread fibers and dry them out.
Depending on what cleaner/conditioners you're using, it can also build up in those crevasses and wear the threads.
It is better to gently clean sewn seams out with a soft toothbrush and/or a tiny vacuum attachment to remove any dirt or build-up which can wear on the threads.
Then apply your leather conditioner in a light circular motion making sure to rub it in evenly and not collect in the corners.
Finally, the weather equipment: most British cars used either an Everflex vinyl or a Stayfast canvass material to manufacture weather equipment like soft tops, tonneau covers and side curtains.
Everflex is treated the same way you would treat vinyl, wiping it down with a dry soft cloth on a regular basis, drying it off after rain exposure especially before folding it down or putting it away is important to avoid creating water stains, mould, mildew etc.
If you need to wash it, avoid using chemicals and cleaners, just use mild soapy water with a soft brush, followed by a rinse and towel off.
Sunfast or other similar canvass' is a trickier material to keep clean!
Once again it is most recommended that you routinely wipe it down with a soft dry cloth or brush. Dry it off before putting the top down or away.
Avoid using household cleaners and only use approved car upholstery fabric cleaners and spot removers if you need to get any stains out.
For clear plastic windows I like to use a clear plastic polish like Novus or Meguires,
These polishes actually scrub down the surface of the plastic much like a paint polish works, and will remove minor scratches in the process.
Apply a small amount to a soft cloth and rub in a circular motion. Then come back with a clean and dry soft cloth to remove the dry polish residue and buff it out shiny again.
Always take care to avoid creasing or folding the clear plastic parts when you're folding down tops, and generally keep them safe from pinching or scuffing them when you're folding them down.
Well there you have it, a few simple tips for cleaning and maintaining your cars interior.
I hope these tips will help and encourage you to put just as much effort in maintaining the interior as you do in maintaining the body paint, chrome and mechanical condition of your car.
Until next time -
Well another Birthday, another Christmas, and another New Year have come and gone!
We celebrated my 40th this year on Dec 21st, and as I reflect back on the past year I have to say I think it was the best year yet!
I've got so much to be thankful for; my beautiful, loving and supportive partner Catherine, my thriving business, our lovely home, healthy lifestyle and great friends we've made here in Victoria BC, - and of course all the progress that's being made on my Austin Healey project: -coincidentally, my cars body number is in fact 1221 (my Birthday)
I stopped by Jetstream a few weeks ago to check out their progress, and as you can see they've been doing lots of hammer/dolly work to work out all the dents and distortion to the front fender...
I also dropped off some new rear bumper/frame members to replace the badly distorted ones on my chassis -
I also received a pair of freshly re-chromed original bumpers and over riders in the mail from my friend Curt Arndt.
Since my car came with some incorrect 3000 style ones, I needed to find some of these proper original 100-4 bumpers.
Unlike most repro's out there which are too straight, these original bumpers have the correct profile that follows the shape of the body correctly on the back bumper.
Also new in the mail, I received my new complete wiring harness that I'd ordered from Autosparks UK back in the fall.
It's all nicely cloth woven as original and comes complete with the overdrive harness, headlight pigtails and all the connector hardware
My new set of standard size pistons, rings, and all new bearings have arrived from Autofarm, I'll be ready to reassemble the engine very soon!
I started going through all my fresh chrome and silver cad plating the other day, reassembling some of the components and finishing them off as necessary. I noticed that my original boot lid stay rod has a date stamp on it of 1953:
I carefully sanded and painted the lower half of the emergency brake handle to achieve a nice fade between the chrome on the upper end of the handle and the zinc plating that was on the lower handle - this is how these looked originally, but it's hard for a chrome shop to just chrome just half of a piece, so I had to sand and paint the lower part myself before re-assembling..
For my Birthday my Mom, Lyn, ordered me a copy of the new Healey book that is set to be released this coming January.
I am very excited to read this new book as it contains lots of new details to the story, as Donald and Geoff Healey's personal archives and factory records have been released, and combined to tell the stories. - Thanks Mom!
Finally, I just picked up my freshly rebuilt gearbox from Tom Munro! Tom did a beautiful job rebuilding the gearbox and overdrive unit with all new seals, replacement bearings, and a full set of replacement gears and syncros!
Tom left no stone unturned and tested everything including the overdrive to make sure it all works properly. Thanks Again Tom! - and thanks again to Trevor Parker for selling me a second set of gears and parts to use in the rebuild!
I made up a new set of rubber spacers for the shift lever mechanism and reinstalled the lever...
I also repainted the overdrive ID tag with black paint over the brass lettering...
I got a new clutch throw-out bearing, as well as a new pivot shaft and bushings...
I also got a replacement gearbox front plate with a proper seal installed in it from Michael Salter,
I'm very pleased to have the gearbox all done and ready to go, it looks as good as new - another big step closer!
I expect to be getting the head and block assemblies back from Mid-Island Machine in the next few weeks, so I'll be able to reassemble the engine next -
Until next time, stay tuned!
When I try to remember some of my earliest memories as a kid, I have glimpses of my late father Rich Chrysler, working at his big wooden desk in our basement while I played with my toys on the floor beside him.
I remember being absolutely fascinated by what he was working on - building these incredibly detailed model trains, or scale buildings or figures.
I was always curious about what he was doing and sometimes he would set me up in my tall chair beside him so I could watch him quietly.
There was an immediate fascination with these miniature trains, how interesting and inspiring that he could build these tiny replicas of real machines and make them operate and look just like the real ones.
He often had photos spread out of the things he was building models of, that he would study with a magnifying glass, and he would show me the details he was recreating in miniature.
I would watch him work for hours with intrigue, and every so often he would let me come into his model railway room and lift me up onto a stool so I could see the miniature world he was creating.
This room was usually off limits to me and had a child proof door knob attachment so I couldn't get in on my own.
But once inside this room, there was a miniature world wrapping around the walls and furnace, with buildings and bridges, trees and people, and of course the trains themselves which would move and come to life!
Back then, Dad was modeling a fictitious branch line of the Grand Trunk Railway - set in Northern Ontario - circa 1910.
It was the most intriguing thing I'd ever seen as a child, and I learned very quickly that if I wanted to be a part of it - I must first learn patience and to keep my hands off!
Someday I would be able to build and enjoy my own...
I think it was around the age of 5 that I got my first electric train set for Christmas.
It was a basic starter set and Dad built me a 4x8' table with the track arranged in a loop with some buildings and sidings and even a bridge.
From that year forward it seemed that trains and Christmas went together synonymously. Like a tradition that had been passed down through generations - and for my Dads side of the family that was very much the case!
My Dad Rich grew up in Paris Ontario, he was the oldest of his siblings with a younger Sister named Barb, and 2 younger brothers named Roger and Ken.
He was the first of his family to get a model train set for Christmas when he was a boy back in the mid 50's.
But from then on, the Chrysler family - including their parents, Cal & Fern, would become passionate model Railroaders of their own.
Growing up, when ever our family would visit the extended families, the boys would always wind up downstairs in their respective train rooms showing and discussing each others latest modelling projects.
Sometimes we'd get together and go to model train shows or flee markets, or to see other peoples model railroads through regional open house tours.
It was our winter time hobby, it was how we all bonded, and we loved it!
Building scale models was by far my biggest hobby as a kid, my bedroom was full of model airplanes, cars, and trains that I built and displayed with pride.
My Dad was a great teacher and he showed me just about everything I know about modelling over the years.
By the time I was a teenager I was getting nearly as good as he was in my modelling skills, and I had become a fairly good artist;
I could paint back drops, and draw plans, I'd even become proficient with an airbrush and continued to take many courses in those areas
I was scratch building all sorts of structures, building lots of wood and resin kits, and continuously learning new things through Dad as we would often model at the same time together in different rooms - checking in on each other every hour or so to inspect and discuss each others progress.
Rich was a reader and a researcher, a wise historian with much more patience and knowledge of the actual prototype we were modelling than I ever did.
I remember going to libraries and museum archives with him to search for articles or photos regarding various areas of interest or structures he was trying to find pictures of.
Sometimes we'd go to old stations with giant tape measures and take measurements and detailed plans of the old structures to have them on file for future models.
He appreciated and knew great stories about whatever his subject matter was, and he was able to document and explain things in a way that so clearly illustrated 'what it must have really been like'.
He was a master modeller and would often support his appetite for new models by meticulously building and painting detailed craftsman kits for other friends in the hobby, often in exchange for new brass locomotives and other models..
By the early 90's Dad and I had decided to combine our efforts as Father and son.
We decided to start all over again with a new and much larger model railway in our home basement.
We dismantled and sold much of the old layouts, and took down the wall that had kept his railway separate from our rec room.
We even removed the unused brick fireplace in the corner to give us more room for railway.
For various reasons, we both wanted to model the Canadian National or 'CN' as it's now known, during the steam transition era of the early 1950's.
This era is known as the transition era because it was the period of time which Canadian railways were transitioning from steam locomotives to the new age of diesel locomotives.
Canadian railways were still in their post-war peaks by the early 50's, still handling all of the mail until 1957.
There were branch lines with passenger service in place to nearly every tiny town in Canada.
Combine that with all the neat automobiles, colours and advertisements of the 1950's, and it just felt like the most exciting era to model.
We decided to focus on an interesting branch line that just happened to run closest to our home in Hamilton Ontario - a line the Railway knew as 'the Hagersville Sub-division'.
This line linked Hamilton on lake Ontario, down to Port Dover on Lake Erie with many towns and division points in between.
With all of Dad's years of accumulated research of the various local towns along the branch line, he was able to draw me some basic track diagrams for all the different towns along the line.
I spent weeks one winter arranging the various track plans together on top of dimensional drawing I'd made of our basement. I was trying to come up with a way to fit at least the most interesting scenes of the branch line into our basement.
We knew that we couldn't have any track curves tighter than 28" because of running issues.
We had also been inspired by several other model railroads that had been built in 2 levels or decks to save space. This required a hidden helix of track to get from one level to the next.
With all of the information Dad had given me, I developed a two level track plan with a helix, that would include all the of the best scenes we wanted to feature:
There were connections to other lines and other railways, lots of interesting industries for switching, and some great features like the long bridge over the Grand River in Caledonia - a bridge that until it's re-structuring in 1951, could only handle the small E class 2-6-0 'Mogul' types of steam locomotives - which we already had a few of - Hamilton kept a fleet of these small outdated engines in its roundhouse specifically for this line.
The line also had to climb the Niagara escarpment from lower city Hamilton to the upper 'mountain' around Rymal/Hannon. This hill climb up the escarpment would often require extra 'helper' engines to get the train up the steep grade, which would then be cut off at the top before the train reached the bridge at Caledonia.
In the early stages of building the layout, we started with building the bench work and hand laying all the track for the lower Hamilton areas starting with the huge scene at Hamilton's James St station.
This station was a bustle of railway activity with the double track CN mainline between Toronto and Niagara passing along side, and a fan of tracks with platforms in both directions for all the various other lines.
Here it was common to see all sorts of steam locomotives big and small serving the various class trains.
There was also a huge brick express building for transferring mail from rail to truck.
While Dad did most of the bench work, track work, and electrical - I scratch built the station and platforms here in 1996, when I was just 16.
Eventually I would do the backdrop painting throughout the entire layout over the years...
From James St station the line turned 90 and headed south down the middle of Ferguson Ave in downtown Hamilton - we created this long and narrow street scene down the front wall of our house, featuring the huge Canadian National freight sheds and yards between Barton and Cannon st's.
Once again Dad did the bench work, hand laid all the track, and wired all the electrical.
He also built the huge Ferguson ave freight sheds and offices between Barton and Cannon st's
One winter in 1998, I built all of the rest of the houses, smaller buildings and partial buildings to fill out the rest of street. I had them all done in time for Christmas eve, and I set them up in place on the layout that night in time for Dad to see on Christmas morning.
I had built them all in my first apartment which was in walking distance of the actual area we were modelling. I remember going out one fall day with our cameras and photographing all the buildings we guessed would have been there in 1950.
The line then ducked out of sight briefly and into a new 'window' - we used the front fascia of the layout to create these scene windows in order to cover great distances in a small space.
The next window we featured after leaving Ferguson Ave. was our CN branch line crossing the TH&B railway with a diamond and interchange trackage. - This scene is in lower city Hamilton, at the foot of Wentworth St as the line starts it's steep climb up the Niagara Escarpment.
The next scene window was only visible from outside the main room area.
It was a long aisle we built parallel to the front wall that had the lower scene visible on one side and the upper scene visible on the other - a concept known as 'the mushroom' design.
The lower scene we featured here shows our line climbing the steep grade through the trees up the Niagara escarpment...
As this isle scene is the first scene you encounter as you enter the room from upstairs, we had to build a gate in order to get through it into the rest of the train room...
Near the top of the hill climb, the tracks duck out of sight and into the hidden helix Dad constructed to gain the extra height we needed to reach the second level.
As the line exited the top of the helix and entered the next window scene (now on the upper level), we arrive at the small flag stop of Rymal - locally known as Hannon.
Here the line crosses Stonechurch Rd. via a small bridge, and has a long passing siding that services a farm co-op, some grain elevators, and a small station...
As we leave the scene window, we cross over Rymal Rd. with some classic wig-wag signals Dad built for the level crossing:
Our line makes a 90 turn along the back wall of our house and enters the next window scene at Glanford.
Here we have another passing siding and a car siding servicing some cattle pens, a coal dealer and another small station.
The station masters house, still painted in the old Grand Trunk Railways grey and green paint scheme, is also visible across the street from the station.
- Glanford is also where the bigger helper engines would usually be cut off the train so the lighter Mogul engines could proceed with the train south across the bridge at Caledonia.
The next scene window we come to is the town of Caledonia Ontario.
Here the line crosses over Hwy 6 and interchanges with the CN's Brantford to Fort Erie mainline.
The mixed trains from each line would meet here daily to exchange mail & express, and fill up with water at the station water stand pipe.
Dad built the Caledonia station model very early on - before we had really started laying any track yet. At the time, the Caledonia historical society was in the midst of restoring the actual station he was modelling!
We went and measured the building many times and were learning all sorts of interesting details of its history as they peeled back the layers to restore it.
When they had their first open house, Dad had his model of it on display there for a few months to draw public interest.
There were passing tracks serving a mill, a big freight shed behind the station, and a Y for turning around.
As the line left the station and turned to continue south, it entered the next window which featured the long bridge over the Grand River in Caledonia.
Our friend John Spring built the bridge..
I remember hearing from an old locomotive fireman we interviewed, that the old bridge was so rickety and scary to cross, the crew would sometimes hop off the moving train and walk across - catching up with the slow moving train on the other side!
Continuing south from the Caledonia and the Grand River bridge, our line makes another 90 turn, and starts down the front wall of our house again..
The next window scene we enter is at Hagersville Ontario.
Here the line crosses over the double track mainline of the Michigan Central and has some long interchange tracks with the CN.
There's a signal crossing tower at the diamonds, and separate stations and freight sheds for the 2 Railways.
There's also some grain elevators and a co-op that the CN served.
Dad built the beautiful old CN station, and crossing tower, while our friend John Mellow built the freight shed and platform.
Continuing south from Hagersville, we decided to feature a long open stretch of single track country branch line. This stretch really captured the flavour of this region of Ontario, with farmers fields and rolling hills for miles...
Hwy 6 follows and crosses the line as it heads south past the next flag stop at Garnet.
Next our line reaches the town and Union station at Jarvis.
Here it swings west and joins onto the Wabash Railway or 'Canada air line'
Dad built the beautiful Jarvis union station based on plans he made of the real structure that still exists today. I remember going with him and uncle Roger to measure it up one day in the late 90's.
Once again, the railway also crosses Hwy 6, and services a local farm co-op, cattle pens, and a lumber yard...
From Jarvis the line heads west on a shared stretch of the Air Line until it reached the town of Simcoe Ontario.
Here we come to a station and water tower with some freight sheds, cattle pens, a coal and fuel dealer and interchange tracks...
Unfortunately we never did get the station built for this scene -
As the line swung south through Simcoe - away from the shared Air line trackage in the north part of town, it enters the next scene of Simcoe south...
As we enter this scene we come through the huge American Can Co. that the railway served, and then the line cuts along Market street with sidings serving several local co-ops, a lumber dealer and a fuel dealer as it heads south...
At the south end of town, the line branches off in two directions with a steam operated turntable in between the two branches.
To the right the line would head down to Port Rowan where it would turn around and come back,, then it would head down the left leg towards Port Dover where it could also turn around and come back on its return trip to Hamilton.
Because of our limited space we had to decide on featuring either the Port Rowan or the Port Dover branches in out basement...
In the end I decided to do a model of Port Dover, while Dad decided to make Port Rowan as a separate modular layout he could set up at train shows.
Since I had been living in Vancouver since 2002, I enjoyed coming home for holiday visits every year or so.
I would inevitably fill in scenery, structures, details and backdrop painting in all the areas Dad and the guys had been busy constructing benchwork, track and basic ground cover.
One year in 2011, I got inspired to build the final scene of Port Dover as a sectional layout I could build in Vancouver. My plan was to someday transport it to Ontario to be joined with the rest of the line in Dads basement.
I built this scene in my apartment in Vancouver over a few yrs.
The project was well documented in this article about:
Here are a few pics of the finished scene of Port Dover:
As the line entered the south end of town it served the CN Station and several different fisherman's co-ops and dealers along the warf. There was a turntable and an old engine house where the tracks terminated on the beach at lake Erie...
Toward the end of his life, Rich had turned his focus back to the starting point of the layout where the line begins at Hamilton.
He had planned to build the huge Hamilton Stuart st. roundhouse and locomotive servicing facilities.
There was to be 90' turntable, 23 stall roundhouse, machine shops, water tower with stand pipes, and a long double sided coal dock with lots of yard trackage for storing and assembling trains.
While this area was never completed, he did get much of the round house walls built from scratch.
Because half the walls were intricately cut stone walls (that the Great Western Railway had originally built in the 1880's) - he decided to make one wall section by hand and then cast the rest out of plaster...
Here are some pics of that unfinished scene of the Hamilton Stuart st Roundhouse being built:
- the older/shorter cut stone stalls are from the original Great Western building, and the newer/longer wood frame stalls that the Grand Trunk Railway (which became CN) added in later years.
To properly conclude this story, I feel it very important to include the many friends that Rich made through this hobby over the years, many of which grew to be some of his very best friends.
The list is quite extensive, so for this article I'll respectfully not to list everyone's names individually - they all know who they are!
In the mid 90's, Rich became a member of the Ontario and Eastern Railway modelers; which was a group of highly skilled Canadian prototype railway modelers who were all modelling various areas of Ontario in the steam era.
Together they shared in building a large and very high quality sectional layout that they would display and operate at various train shows.
Eventually they even started their own train show in Copetown, Ontario that featured Canadian prototype railway modeling.
Later he and some others went on to form other sectional railway groups like the E&O which modeled scenes of the NYC lines through Southern Ontario.
Dad also began building a FREMO modular scene that he was going to build into the scene at Port Rowan. Unfortunately he never got to complete much more than the bench work and some track..
The friends and family members we invited to help out through the years were all important in the building of this layout as well as our continued growth in the hobby.
For decades Dad would host and share in round robin work sessions with the guys as they would take turns working on and contributing to each others home layouts.
Through this, several of the buildings, bridges, areas of scenery, lighting and construction on the layout were done by our friends and family members in the hobby.
When Rich was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the spring of 2012, it took everyone - especially him! - by surprise.
No one ever imagined he would suddenly be gone so quickly - so young.
As one of his last wishes, he told me that he would love to show our layout to the public one last time at the regional layout tours in the fall.
Unfortunately he was to pass away in July before the fall ever came.
I took it upon myself to enlist the help of several of our mutual model railway friends.
I hosted a series of work sessions to try and get the layout as finished as we could in time for the open house in the fall.
At the time he passed away, the track had been laid from Hamilton all the way to Simcoe, but none of the scenery or buildings had been added South of Hagersville/Garnet.
Unfortunately Dad never got to see my Port Dover sections in person, though he saw lots of photos of it while I was building it out west. I did eventually move it back home that fall and joined it up to the south end of Simcoe by way of our laundry room.
The guys all really came together to get the layout looking mostly done in time for the fall open house. We ran trains all day for a record attendance of almost 100 people! making it a complete success in my opinion. Though it was an emotional time to say the least.
We took lots of great photo's and video's to preserve the legacy in that mostly finished state, before finally dismantling and selling everything later that winter.
This article is my final tribute to the Hagersville Sub that my Dad and I and our friends contributed in building. Model Railroading was one of Dads biggest passions in life and it will forever be a part of my story too.
We all miss him, but I like to believe he continues to live on for as long as his memory does.
Until next time -
As we've entered the month of December, work on my BN1 is at an all time high!
The guys up at Jetstream Auto and Custom have been making great progress with the metal work. In fact when you step into their metal fab shop now, you'll see not just one but four Healey's all on rotisseries getting the same expert treatment...
Here's a few pics of the progress on mine, there's still lots of careful hammer & dolly work ahead to work out all the dents on the outer body panels, but much has been done already as you can see -
The new front cross member is in, and both foot boxes have been restored,
- if you remember these foot boxes had been hacked open and then screwed back together - probably to make room for a larger engine at some point.
The inner and outer sills have all been repaired and replaced as well as the lower sections of the door posts, and the lower sections of the front and rear fenders.
Everything fits and lines up beautifully thanks to the expert workmanship by Jetstream!
As mentioned before, this right side especially had quite a lot of dents and damage to be worked out mostly by hammer and dolly - but it's already looking much better!
It's tricky working the bigger dents out of the steel fenders because of the inevitable stretching that's occurred and needs to be shrunk back.
In the meantime, the guys up at Mid Island Machine have been restoring my head and engine block. They've re-sleeved the cylinders to bring it back to original spec. so I've ordered a new set of original spec pistons.
The crankshaft has been all re-ground .020" under, so I'll get new .020 over bearings to suit. I ordered these components from our Healey specialist friends at Autofarm in Ontario.
The head has all new hardened valve seats, new valve guides, and all new valves.
Of course the head and block joint will be made perfectly flat and smooth again too.
It will be virtually a brand new engine when it's all done!
Tom Munro has been working away on my BN1 gearbox rebuild.
I was very lucky to have been able to buy a second set of gearbox parts from Trevor that was in much better shape than mine was.
What we quickly realized though is there are essentially 2 different sets of BN1 gears over the years (early and late) The gears are very similar in appearance but are cut at slightly different angles and will only work with gears of the same generation/angle.
So inevitably I've replaced all of my early style gears with the later style ones.
Michael Salter illustrated these differences beautifully in this blog article from a few yrs ago:
While Tom has been sorting out the gearbox, he sent me home with all its hardware to be re-plated. For this I decided to try some black phosphate re-finishing.
I used a great article about this process written by my friend Curt Arndt as one of the concours guidelines supplements.
-I first glass-bead blasted all the parts to clean bare steel, and wiped clean each piece with some isopropyl alcohol. Wearing latex gloves so as not to get any oils from my hands on the clean parts!
-I warm the parts up with a heat gun, and then I applied some Super Blue liquid Gun-bluing solution which immediately turns them black. I let them soak in this for about 2min and then dunk them into fresh water to neutralize the acid.
-Then I thoroughly dry them off and give them a healthy coating of fluid film rust protection. Fluid film is an oily/greasy film that never really dries out. It's compatible with oil, won't interfere with electrics, and provides lasting protection against moisture - it's even recommended as an invisible vehicle undercoating.
Curt's article recommends using white lithium grease instead of the Fluid-Film but I decided to try the Fluid-Film first because I was impressed with its performance in my last restoration. Time will tell how it stands up in this application -
There will be many more pieces of hardware to be finished in this black phosphate, as early Healey's especially used this finish on much of the undercarriage hardware.
On Friday last week I went and picked up all my fresh new chrome pieces from Electroshine Plating in Sydney. As usual they did an outstanding job with everything and it felt like Christmas unwrapping all the individually wrapped parts from the newspaper wrappings..
One curious detail I've noted is the different style of number stamping on my original windshield posts - normally they're seen with numbers stamped on the front flat face - visible when the windshield is lowered...
But mine is blank in that spot, and instead has numbers stamped on the underside - visible only in the door opening. - Anyone else run into this style?
There's lots of exciting work ahead as I expect to be getting my engine back from the machine shop soon and my finished gearbox - so stay tuned!
Until next time -
Well it's official and it's already just happened: Over the last 3 weeks I have moved my business Rightway Heritage Trimming into a brand new shop space!
It's a new unit building in Langford (Victoria's western neighbour) right off the Highway #1 - at 2770 Leigh Rd (unit 136).
A friend from the Old English Car Club bought the new unit as an investment opportunity and for some extra car storage.
After meeting me after a presentation I'd made for the car club about my business - he offered me the front half of the building including the entire upper mezzanine and shared space downstairs for 2 of my/or my customers vehicles.
Given the much better location and proper amenities I was lacking in my old shop - like heat, and a bathroom - I jumped at the opportunity!
After reading and signing the contract, sorting out my new license and insurance for the space, I first got to work on preparing the upper mezzanine for my business...
The mezzanine had been finished with industrial carpet tile which is not really conducive to the dust and carpet fibers I create in my line of work.
So I decided to float a new laminate floor right over top of it - using the stiff carpet as an underlay. That way it will be easy to sweep and keep clean.
So I borrowed a chop saw from my friend Bill, and installed the floor one morning with my friend Bryce.
The next thing I needed was a proper 8 foot cutting table that I could also use for laying out and cutting materials & for material storage underneath.
I drew up a simple design and built the table in an afternoon. I built a shelf and arranged all my car books and material sample catalogues along the one side as you enter the room from downstairs...
With all my rolls of materials stored under it, and good lighting right above it, it's made a very functional and organized work table - big enough to easily lay out a full hide of leather for marking and cutting jobs...
The next pieces I added were a proper steel cabinet for all my paint and chemical storage...
and then another 8 foot work bench which I made using 2 second hand drawer sets I found at the Re-Store. I just added a 3/4" plywood top to join them together and finished it off with a nice aluminum edge finisher along the front leading edge of the bench...
I moved in all my tools and supplies, hung some peg board racks for hanging tools, my Grandfathers beautiful hand crafted tool boxes and some sets of plastic drawers for all my fastener hardware, and voila! - another very organized and functional work space...
I finished the up stairs production area by arranging my wood cutting area with a bandsaw, table saw, drill press, air compressor, vacuum and mini sandblast cabinet...
And of course my big sewing table, complete with more drawers for supplies, and pegboard racks for my tools...
Of course I hung up all my hundreds of patterns along the one wall and added several banks of steel shelving for customer jobs and material storage...
Downstairs as you enter the building I moved in my old 8' work bench I had built years ago in my first shop - I refinished the top of it with some leftover flooring and added some shelving for storing all of my Healey parts. This is the bench I will employ when working on customer cars...
I wanted to make this entrance area especially appealing for customers, so I also added my glass display cabinets full of all my model cars and pics of my upholstery work on display...
Here's my first new customer car in the new space - an Austin Healey in for a tonneau cover and door panel repairs, this car has come all the way from New Brunswick! having driven to the Conclave in Deadwood this summer and then on down to California - it's going to spend the winter here on the island before making its return trip east next summer...
Of course a few more display cabinets leading back into the main shop area, past the bathroom...
The main area in the back of the shop is being shared by a few guys storing and working on their cars. Eventually my Healey will fit back where the tables and chairs are on the right.
The front area leading back from the main door is where my customers cars will park and be worked on..
In preparation for street advertising on the front of the building, I'm having a few of these window decals made for the front door and the upper mezzanine windows facing out to the street...
I also made a few new posters for to brighten up the walls inside...
mind the colours - these are tiny screen shots from the Vistaprint website, where I designed and ordered these from...
With the move into the new space complete just in time December, I'm very happy and grateful to have lots of new work rolling in.
The bright new space is warm and delightful to work in, I very much look forward to many exciting inspiring years of growth and development ahead.
Until next time -
I've been plugging away on rebuilding various components for the BN1, last week I got together with my good friend Trevor Parker to help me rebuild my king pins.
I had already purchased all new king pins kits with new bushings & seals, so it was just a case of pressing out the old bushings, pressing in the new ones and reaming them by hand to be a perfect fit to the new king pins.
Trevor has the correct reaming tool for these Healey spindle bushings, and a proper table press for removing and installing the bushings so we were able to get it all done without any hiccups. Thanks again Trevor!
Last week saw the arrival of some newly restored goodies that I had been eagerly awaiting.
Curt Arndt from California has supplied me with this beautifully restored horn & trafficator switch for the center of the steering wheel. - Just look at the shine he got on the original Bakelite! - I'll be keeping this jewel carefully packed away until the day I install it in the car!
And of course Curt also sourced and supplied me with this beautifully restored complete BN1 tool kit -
I had already made a correct set of vinyl bags for these tools, so now I'm all set!
I dropped off my starter motor, generator and ignition coil to a local shop here in Victoria called Brian Roberts Auto Electric. They're no strangers to Austin Healey electrical components and were able to go through everything and test or rebuild as necessary. Glad to report that my starter and coil were both in great health and they just rebuilt the old generator.
I gave my starter a fresh paint job, after first cleaning and masking off the aluminum front plate as was done from the factory on BN1's only...
The generator was restored with new field coils, brushes and bearings. I had them fit an earlier style commutator end that I had sourced with the early style of oiler.
When I got it back home I carefully masked and painted the unit, reassembling it with a new pulley, and finished it off with a new phenolic lock plate added to the end terminals, just like the originals had.
I was able to source the phenolic plate from my friend Michael Salter in Ontario.
My friend Tom Munro has been rebuilding my gearbox and overdrive unit.
Unfortunately mine has quite a bit of corrosion damage inside.
Tom had me over the other day to show me the extent of damage... The worst part is that the main outer casing has a small crack inside where the shift actuator shaft enters the lower bushings - both the shaft and the body around the bushing were badly corroded..
As it turns out, the 1st and reverse gears were ok, as was the lay-gear.
However 2nd and 3rd gears were badly corroded as you can see:
Luckily, once again my good friend Trevor Parker was able to sell me a spare gearbox with just about all the parts I'm needing - including the casing and these replacement gears and synchros - Thanks again Trevor, I don't know how I could have done this without you!
I'll also be replacing the friction surfaces inside the overdrive anulous ring, and the accumulator piston rings and spring...
The layshaft is worn, but still usable
I received my new reproduction Lucas 6 volt batteries in the mail, they look identical to the originals with the vents and fill caps, but are a modern battery inside requiring no filling or servicing.
They did not however come with the terminals pre-drilled and tapped for the proper helmets (as was advertised) but that shouldn't be too difficult to do later...
Finally, I just received all my gauges back from Nisonger's instruments in NY.
They did a beautiful job professionally restoring and calibrating each one.
They were able to install a better condition clock face on my old tachometer, and replaced the temperature gauge line, trip-odometer reset knob, and make sure they're all in good working order. They even cleaned up the odometer number wheels which had turned yellow with age...
This entire project has been a culmination of help and support from many friends I've made over the years through the car community. Austin Healey club members especially have often felt like extended family with their shared enthusiasm and support.
Friends like Trevor Parker, who has been my closest local friend throughout this project, helping me with specialized tools, parts, and just coming by to help out whenever I need it.
Michael Salter - who helped me initially buy this car, and has been a valuable source for parts and knowledge.
Curt Arndt who has helped me source some of the hardest and rare pieces to this project and sent me loads of valuable restoration information.
Jason Stoch and the guys up at Jetstream Auto & Custom who have been handling all the metal, body & paint work on the car, as well as some parts I was needing.
Ron Allman, who supplied me with some of my Dad's old Healey blue paint,
Tom Munro who is handling the rebuild of my gearbox and overdrive,
Mid Island Machining who are machining my engine components,
Nisonger's for my gauges,
Brian Roberts Electric for my electrics,
The list goes on and on - Thank you Everyone who has helped me along the way - I am very grateful for the support!
Until next time -
Lots of great things happening with my BN1 restoration over the past few weeks!
Jason Stoch at Jetstream has begun the metal repairs on the chassis frame!
Here you can see the new front cross member he's welded in.
We got this piece from Kilmartins out of Australia, who in my opinion supplies the most accurate & best fitting metal components for Austin Healeys.
I scrubbed clean my old steering column, dated Mar.'53
In preparation for its rebuild I've ordered a new oil seal and dust excluder for the rebuild.
Like much of the car, I found more evidence of mud from mud wasps actually inside the stator tube of the coloumn! Clearly the horn & its wiring must have been removed a long time before -
I disassembled and inspected my original interior mirror. You can barely make out the old inscribed "Eversure" "M677" identification markings.
Unfortunately the metal is so badly pitted I'm just going to buy a new one and have it engraved - like the one below.
Last week was a lot like Christmas in October! I received several orders of parts from various sources. The biggest being a huge box from AH Spares, full of all sorts of goodies we're needing for the project...
Below are just some of the bits: Valve guides, thermostat, rad cap (that I'm going to modify with the correct rivet), generator brushes, bearings, overdrive wiring, choke hardware...
I got a NOS pair of front lower side lamps with frosted white glass lenses, and a pair of matching Lucas 488 tail lamps - original and still in their original boxes! These came from Rogers Motors in MA.
We got pairs of new front and rear wire wheel hubs with new knock-offs, these are the correct 4 bolt hubs only suitable for the early BN1's,
A replacement water pump, replacement gearbox mounting rubbers, a new set of seat tracks and wood risers, and even a correct Lucas sticker to add to bottom of my original Lucas coil...
I decided to get a new stainless exhaust, which I promptly painted in flat black high heat manifold paint.
I've ordered a pair of new reproduction Lucas 6 volt batteries. These new ones come as a new modern dry cell battery inside. The old vents and fill caps are just for show, they will never need filling. The terminals are even already drilled & tapped for the original style helmets & screws. These are available through Jim's Battery Mfg.
From my good friend Michael Salter in Ontario, I got a pair of Lucas horn body rings (these are usually cracked and broken), an exchanged front gearbox cover plate that has an oil seal machined into it, and an original Bakelite gearshift knob! Thanks again Michael!
With the new horn rings in mind, I got into rebuilding my pair of original Lucas horns.
I got one apart and rebuilt with no problems at all, however the other one had major issues with several of the outer screws braking off because they had become so fused with the aluminum body!
Replacing these old broken flat cheese head screws is going to be a tricky feat of either detective work or having them made!
Internally the horns both look to be in great shape, I just cleaned them up and made some new paper gaskets.
Lucky to have the new outer rings because the old ones had broken into many pieces...
I was able to finish one of them, but the other will have to wait until I can source some new screws!
Finally, I dropped off my Gearbox & Overdrive unit to my friend Tom Munro for him to inspect and rebuild. Tom is an expert classic car mechanic who's been rebuilding all sorts of engines and gearboxes for all sorts of classic cars for decades. He even drives his own BN1 that he's been driving and maintaining since the mid 80's.
There aren't a lot of people out there with the knowledge and expertise Tom has for this stuff!
I also sent my gauges off to Nisongers in NY to be professionally rebuilt and restored. They'll be replacing some of the old faded faces and the discolored odometer number wheels.
Good piece of mind to know the gauges will be freshly done and working properly.
Lots happening and still so much more to do..
With all these new parts in I'll have lots of work to keep me busy for a long while!
Until next time -
How does one afford to restore an Austin Healey on a modest budget these days?
Well for me, I've been lucky enough to be able to trade my Austin Healey upholstery work for many of the parts I'm needing!
Over the past few months I've made some great new friends through the hobby and have been able to trade my handcrafted upholstery work for some of the essential parts needed on my BN1's checklist -
Some of the more recent additions include:
This set of almost brand new/slightly used 48 spoke painted wire wheels, with a brand new set of Michelin X tires and tubes!
- These come from my new local friend Harry Watson who has a '56 BN2 I'm honoured to be doing a complete interior on - Thanks again Harry!
I recently found this package deal available in the used parts section of our monthly Healey club magazine: an original Sept '53 Healey 100 owners handbook - originally sold through Fred Deeley's here in Vancouver!
Also included, is an original Healey 100 sales brochure, - and! ,...
- a Lacock De Normanville Overdrive handbook, and,...
- a Lucas auxiliary lamp instruction manual.
These 4 dealer items were being sold as a package deal and, when I inquired I was able to work out a partial trade for these items in exchange for installing a new top on Brian Drab's Austin Healey BJ8!
These items will look great together on display in the boot! - Thanks Brian!
Curt Arndt has been carefully restoring and assembling a complete factory tool kit for me, including all the pieces as they would have been in 1953. He recently sent me this pic to show the completed set -absolutely gorgeous Curt! - I can't wait until these arrive
In the meantime I've cleaned up and restoring a few more old parts, like these brass brake and fuel line fittings:
I finally got my rear axle put back together with a new diff gasket, and then proceeded to paint it,
- first with a coat of self leveling, corrosion resistant Por15 to protect it,
-followed by a coat of semi-gloss black spray enamel.
I restored my inner door latch assemblies by carefully taking them apart, glass-bead blasting them clean, re-painting the outer frames, polishing the chrome, re-plating the fasteners, and reassembling them with fresh white grease so they operate smoothly...
I thoroughly cleaned the driveshaft, inspected the U-joints which all seem to be in great shape with no knock or play. So I proceeded to prime and paint in black and re-greased the joints.
Finally, I've nearly completed making up all my interior components too, including the carpets, all the Armacord linings, all the vinyl panels and covers, and the tonneau and various stowage bags...
On Friday I had my good friend Trevor Parker come by and help me deliver my engine block, head, and components to Mid Island Machining to be cleaned, inspected and trued again.
Trevor has a BN1 and a BN2 and has been incredibly helpful throughout this entire restoration.
For a while now I've been perplexed by these peculiar casting date codes on the block -
My block has the correct numbers to correspond to my car on its Heritage certificate,
yet these casting dates seem odd -normally there would be a day/month/year date on the lower right here, but mine seems to have a Y for the year? - or -
Could the other number ending in '57 be the casting date? meaning this a disguised replacement block from '57??? - The plot thickens -
As you can see, there's lots of things happening again with my BN1 restoration.
I'm grateful to be continually meeting and speaking with other Healey owners, who often become clients as well as friends, sharing advise, sharing parts, sharing in this hobby together - it's a wonderful community to be a part of!
I very much look forward to the day that I can drive my finished Healey in convoy with others to National events like Conclave, which this year was held in Dead Wood, SD - Judging from all the pics it looks like it was a really good one!
We'll make it out to one soon I hope!
Until next time -
Since my last post regarding my BN1 restoration there's been some new exciting things happening!
First off, since my last post regarding the original Healey blue paint on my car, I've been concerned about finding the right colour of paint.
It's a tricky colour to nail down because the metallic in it (especially on the earlier cars) was so fine it's almost hard to make out.
Last week however I had a huge and welcome breakthrough! I was contacted out of the blue by my Dad's old painter Ron Allman from Ontario.
Ron had painted all the many Healeys that Dad restored over the decades and is a master painter.
He just happened to have enough of the correct Healey blue paint for me to use on my car if I wanted it! Apparently him and Dad had worked very hard on researching and creating the colour many years ago, with just the right amount of ultra fine metallic in it.
In fact the fine metallic they used is no longer available which is why he got so much of the colour made for future projects.
It's the same paint Dad used on all his own blue Healeys, and the same they used on the really early bodies #14, #24, & #156
To have my Dad's carefully researched shade of Healey blue on my BN1 feels like the old man is smiling down at me - I couldn't be happier!
Next, I also finally got some original keys sorted out for the car. I was able to get a pair of correct original 'Wilmot Breeden' 'Union' keys through Pete Groh of British Car Keys.
Pete also provided me with a matching replacement lock barrel for the boot lid handle, so now the same keys will fit everything.
I received my rare NOS overdrive switch that I got through my friend Curt Arndt. It's the correct style for the early BN1's with the little ball on the end of the toggle. I even found a replacement knurled finishing nut to finish it off - this is going to look like a jewel on the finished dashboard someday!
Over the past year I've been slowly collecting the materials needed to do all of my own interior and setting them aside for a rainy day.
Well, over the past few weeks we've had several rainy days in which I got to work sewing and making up some of my interior components.
I cut and made a set of interior panels out of birch plywood, including the kick panels, door panels and rear quarter panels...
I cut all the Karvel carpet pieces and bound and trimmed the center tunnel sections...
I trimmed the under-dash parcel tray...
I sewed up the wheel arch covers, spare wheel cover, and the side screen stowage bag.
- I even made up a spare wheel tie down strap based on dimensions and drawings of an original. I'll be able to produce these for clients now too -
Finally I also made my new early BN1 tonneau cover, complete with a new 'Lightning' zipper that I'm now providing with all the Healey tonneaus I make...
With summer coming to an end I look forward to spending many more evenings and weekends puttering away on pieces for my Healey.
The guys at Jetstream have assured me they'll finally be getting into the metal & body work very soon, so hopefully if all goes well I might have a painted chassis by spring?
In the meantime there's still lots of things to do!
Until next time -
Over the past year I carefully produced a complete interior for a 1955 BN1, owned by Healey 100 expert, Curt Arndt.
Curt has been meticulously researching and restoring his BN1 for the past 30yrs!
and he has contributed countless articles and information to various Healey forums, magazines, and Concours guidelines.
He's collected lots of rare original parts and materials over the years, and has become a specialist in various things like restoring & identifying fastener hardware and their finishes, restoring Healey tool kits and components, as well as restoring Healey horn/trafficator units.
Having just purchased my own BN1 project around the same time he originally contacted me, we've been able to work out a nice trade deal for getting his interior done in exchange for several "unobtanium" original parts I was needing for my own cars restoration.
Curt's BN1 is painted in a beautiful creamy Old English White with the green interior...
Unfortunately the green is a lot harder to do right these days because some of the materials originally used are no longer available in the correct shades of green.
This requires some extra expense in custom dying which is no problem in most cases...
Fortunately when Curt contacted me to do his interior, he had already accumulated most of the correct materials to make his interior with!
-He had a complete Armacord set already cut & had already been custom dyed to the correct shade of green.
-He even had a roll of the correct shade and type of vinyl ready to go!
-He'd even found an original roll of NOS green Karvel carpet - which for those who don't know, is completely unavailable in green anymore!
Having all these raw materials already sourced, he just needed me to upholster and trim it all correctly.
I did source some dark green Everflex for his weather equipment, and a good matching hyde of dark green leather for his seats.
Then I got to work sewing and making all the interior components...
I started by making his new tonneau cover:
Curt even sent me his original late BN1/BN2 style tonneau cover for reference.
Unfortunately the green Everflex vinyl used for all the weather equipment is only available in this darker shade of Everflex. The original was a much lighter 'Sage green', but unfortunately the Sage is just not available without custom dying.
As a professional I advised against dying the Everflex for risk of it cracking and flaking with general use. Things like tops and tonneaus that deal with weather & have to fold and stretch often, don't generally last long when they're dyed.
With that compromise settled I made him a new tonneau cover that was accurate in every other detail, including the correct style of "lightning" zipper -
Curt even has the original early Tenax snaps that have been carefully replated in Nickel for when we eventually install it on the car-
Next I made him a new interior panel kit: I cut new wood panels out of 1/8" birch ply with the edges sanded round as original. Then I trimmed the panels in green vinyl, using very thin coach-wadding to pad the door panels, and sewing a suede-like material to the lower insides of the panels as original...
Next I did all of the sewn assembly, and hand-rolled/binding of all his previously dyed Armacord linings for the boot and rear cockpit...
Curt sent me all his steel interior components already painted in the correct dark brown, so I could trim items such as this battery box lid...
Next came the carpet:
While Curt had miraculously found a roll of original green Karvel carpet, it turned out that the green just wasn't the right shade of green for what was orignally in his car...
-Here you can see his original carpet on the left and the NOS carpet he found on the right...
I decided to dye the Karvel, and was surprised to find only a few green options available - We decided to go with the upper/darker shade shown in the middle here:
I cut a complete carpet set from his NOS green carpet and then custom dyed it all to be closer to the original shade. Then I bound and trimmed his removable tunnel sections as original...
Here you can see all the interior linings coming together, with the dark green vinyl panels, custom dyed Karvel, and custom dyed Armacord...
Next in line was the seats; I purchased a hyde of dark green leather that beautifully matched the green vinyl and had the right natural grain texture to it. I got to work cutting and sewing the new seat covers with vinyl piping and using coach wadding in the pleats as original...
I made new seat foams by hand, adding the square cutouts to the cushion bottoms as original to make them soft and squishy like the original Dunlopillow. The covers were hand tacked as original and I even added the 'BN' scribble that was found on his originals...
With the interior components all finished and ready to go, I shipped it all back to Curt's home in California...
...5 months later as the snow was beginning to fall in my home town of Victoria, Curt invited me down to his home in sunny California to install it all in his beautiful car!
It was a wonderful and educational working holiday installing his interior and talking Healey details with him and several other local Healey owners who stopped by to visit!
Here's what I was able to get done in the 4 days I was there:
- the top and weather equipment will be added at a later date when he has the rest of the materials and hardware to finish.
I started with installing all the boot Armacord....
Followed by the sill carpets, rear tunnel, wheel arch covers and rear cockpit Armacord...
Next I installed all the jute insulation and carpets...
I added the armrest, seat belts, and underseat Armacord...
And finally, the seats...
As I was finishing up on the last day, we rolled the car outside to get some good shots of it in the sun - the beautiful creamy shade of OEW paint is spot on and it just looks elegant with the dark green interior! What a knock-out!
For a 30yr long restoration - this BN1 is almost done! It's just down to some minor details and weather equipment now.
It's always an honour getting to work on cars like this, that have been so meticulously restored and done right!
I'm grateful for the opportunity to add my part the Rightway -
Thanks again Curt and Nancy for being such wonderful hosts!
Until next time -
Last month I had the pleasure of trimming this beautiful 1953 Jaguar XK120 FHC (fixed head coupe) for a local client from Duncan - Garth Taylor.
Garth inherited the car in pieces from his late father who had owned the car since 1960. Garth had many fond memories of it from his childhood growing up. The car was owned and loved by his family for decades when his father began a full restoration of it in the mid 1990's.
When Garth inherited the project a year and a half ago, it was still apart and mostly in boxes with some pieces missing.
Garth had Alan Simpson restore the car back to its former glory while Merritt restoration did the paint. When it was ready to install the interior, Garth contacted me. He had already purchased interior kits from BAS (my former employer years ago) and needed someone with experience in the marque to assemble and install everything.
While I have lots of experience producing all the interior kit components for these in the past, and I've completely installed interiors on several XK120 roadsters in the past, the FHC was a much rarer breed.
In fact of the 12,000 or so XK120's made, only 2672 were FHC's - this would be my first time fully trimming one - and there were lots of pieces missing!
To start with I had to find and assemble a new inner wood tack strip assembly for securing the rear headliner in the cockpit. Luckily we found these components through a private dealer on E-bay. These consisted of several specifically shaped pieces of birch plywood riveted together with the body and aluminum trim strips. The wool headliner and steel headliner bows would secure to these wood tacks in specific locations...
I also had to completely fabricate all the rear storage box assembly from scratch based on photos of what it should be. All the original wood structure was long gone, but I was lucky to find enough good pics to make it all new again...
Here you can see it all coming together with the grey wool headliner and burl-wood trim around the windows now being installed too...
The rear storage box & battery access on the FHC was quite the tricky assembly! - all hinged wood panels neatly trimmed in vinyl with grey wool-cloth on the inside as original...
Here is the front carpets and kick panels going in, complete with the proper Moquette covered J-rubber door seals...
The completed door panels are installed with fresh vapor barrier behind them, and the burl-wood capping pieces and chrome hardware...
The Hardura boot floor mat and the boot lid panel were installed too -
With the interior nearing completion, it was time to restore the unique curve back seats.
I started by cleaning up and re-painting the seat frames and hardware.
Then I proceeded to fully trim the seats with all new foams, leather covers, hardboard trim panels in vinyl, and new Moquette on the backs... Creating the right amount of curve in the backrest profile on these is crucial...
With the seats all finished, I lightly greased the tracks and bolted them in the car to finish things off.
The owner still had some mechanical & electrical work left to do before the dash could be completely installed and finished, but aside from that this interior is now complete - and what a stunning addition it makes!
Jobs like this are always such a joy to do! This beautiful Jaguar has been a part of Garth's family for generations, I feel honored to be a part of its continued legacy and history. It's the history and stories that come with owning these cars that make my job feel so deeply gratifying!
Until next time -
It's been about a month since my last post, with summer in full swing i just haven't had the time to write between all the camping and outdoor adventures. However as always I have been keeping busy with lots of car stuff!
I did write and present a slide show presentation a few weeks ago for the Old English Car Club at their monthly meeting, I've also just been published for the second time this year in another magazine - this time, Healey Marque magazine - which I was featured on the front cover!
Over the past weeks the guys at Jetstream have begun sandblasting my BN1 chassis. But just before they did I got some good pics of the original Healey blue paint they uncovered after giving the chassis a pressure wash to remove all the years of dirt and grime:
Check out this Healey blue paint - yes it did have a very faint metallic in it! though it's pretty faded in these pics. Also note the black primer underneath and the areas that the blue paint didn't reach as the body & chassis were clearly sprayed AFTER it was assembled...
Here are some of the underside areas, and note the factory undercoating applied just over and behind the rear axle area...
In the meantime I've begun the process of refinishing all of the bags of original hardware for the car. I had the guys at 'Blast-it' carefully sandblast everything - bag by bag to bare metal. Now I have to go through and re-plate everything in either zinc or black phosphate as original.
For the zinc parts I have a home electro-plating system I purchased from the Eastwood Company: A battery is hooked up to a bar of pure zinc submerged in an electrolyte solution. The other battery lead hooks to a small metal colander/spoon that I put the hardware in. When I submerge the hardware into the electrolyte solution, it bubbles and foams for 5-10min and then voila! the parts are now plated in zinc! I then rinse them in water, dry them thoroughly and spray them with a clear coat to seal them and add an extra layer of protection.
- I'll be saving the black phosphate plating process for a future article, I still have to learn and experiment to get that process right, but I have a great article with good instructions in it written by my friend Curt Arndt. - so stay tuned -
Here's some freshly plated and painted parts for the bonnet latch mechanism, complete with the red stripe painted on the black latch spring as original. The longer bracket and the latch pin are listed as being bare steel in the concours guidelines, so I sealed them with clear coat and gave them a wipe with some Fluid Film to prevent corrosion:
I sandblasted, rebuilt and painted my engine mounts with new rubber blocks from AH Spares. As with most re-pro parts the new rubber blocks needed some coaxing to fit properly!
I carefully hand painted in the black lettering on these chassis ID plates, the new white plastic plate which mounts to the R/H interior kick panel will still need to have the chassis and engine numbers stamped into it...
I also cleaned and refinished the flasher and overdrive relays for the firewall. These pieces are all original and date coded for 12/53.
I wanted to figure out how to clean and refinish the flasher body without losing the already fading black lettering on it. So I ended up using a .000 size model paint brush with some thinned aluminum colour paint, I carefully painted aluminum around the actual letters and then retouched the lettering in with a .000 size black artists pen - of course this took a LOT of patients! A final spray of satin dull coat to blend it all together and you'd never know it was painted!
The wall of parts staging is looking shiner all the time!
until next time -
With summer in full swing the classic car upholstery business always slows down a bit as usual. -Tis' the season most owners are out and about enjoying their cars!
In the meantime I've had lots of time to focus on my own project. Over the last few weeks I've been working away on several projects with my BN1.
I cleaned and rebuilt my SU carburetors with a pair of new SU master rebuild kits...
Following the instructions carefully I even replaced a butterfly valve on one of them, they came out very nicely and seem to function as they should - I look forward to the real test run on the car someday.
I rebuilt my starter motor and thoroughly cleaned everything inside, the brushes still have tons of meat on them and are making good contact. The armature and field coils look in good condition and I tested the resistance with a multi-meter following the instructions in the shop manual. With no play in the bushings either, I reassembled everything with a dab of fresh grease in the bushings, and primed the outer body with a high heat engine primer to prevent any rust before I paint it with the engine later...
Next in line, I took apart the generator. I have a replacement commutator end to install with this generator. Unfortunately the pulley cracked when I was separating it from the body with a puller. The armature and field coils inside have had some corrosion build up over the years of sitting. In fact I'm not sure I completely trust the state of the armature, so I'm going to bring it in to a specialist for a second opinion. Provided it checks out, I'll be replacing the brushes, pulley, and the drive bearing to complete this rebuild...
I disassembled and thoroughly cleaned my spiral bevel rear axle. I'll be replacing the pinion seal and gaskets, but everything else checked out ok, the crown gear is straight. The bearings look almost new and are smooth and quiet, there's no play in anything and almost no backlash on the pinion when I turn it back and forth. Once the replacement seals are in I'll reassemble everything and paint the finished unit.
Last week I got right into disassembling my engine too! I found plenty of evidence of at least one previous rebuild and component "upgrades" inside...
The tappets and push rods have been replaced with these lighter bucket style of tappets with longer push rods - all good except one of the push rods (#3) is a different style than the rest!
With the head removed I found no visible cracks which is good...
I continued by removing the oil pan which had some big dents to pound out. But luckily inside the oil pump and strainer look almost new!
As are the pistons - marked .020" over, and the bearings are all .010" over - still plenty of room to reground the crank and hone the bores..
The timing chain will be replaced with a new tensioner.
The flywheel has been lightened, which I've been told could be detrimental to the vulnerable 3 speed gearbox. I might try and find an original full size BN1 flywheel if I can -
I've carefully cleaned and organized everything, and primed the external components with a high heat engine primer...
Finally, I've even started to compile the materials I'll be using for my interior! I have found a source for the correct type of vinyl used on the early Healeys, Here you can see the roll of new vinyl I got in compared with my original vinyl spare wheel block...
I put together the rest of the materials of leather, vinyl, light grey piping, Armacord for the boot, Karvel carpet, and Everflex for the weather equipment...
Lots of work ahead!
Until next time -