My name is Geoff Chrysler. I am a lifelong Austin Healey enthusiast and a professional classic car upholsterer and restorer.
I operate my own business called Rightway Heritage Trimming, in which I specialize in upholstery for Healeys and other spirited classic automobiles from the golden age of sports cars.
All of my life I have been surrounded by Healeys.
Some of you might remember my late father Richard Chrysler.
He and my Mom, Lyn, founded the Southern Ontario branch of the Austin Healey club back in the late 70s and he was one of the founding members of the National Concours committee.
Growing up, our family vacations revolved around Healey events, Dad always had at least a few Healeys in our garage that he was repairing or completely restoring for other Healey owners.
He was extremely accurate and detail oriented in his craft, and his passion for originality and correctness inspired me from a very young age.
As a kid I was always keen to earn my keep through cleaning and painting parts and generally helping out around the shop.
When I was 13, I actually bought my first project car with my life savings: a 1965 MGB -
It was my passion project throughout my teenage years, and I learned a lot about mechanics and restoration through working on it and other cars with Dad.
Unfortunately I just wasn't earning enough money at the time to afford the requirements of a proper restoration, so I ended up selling it before it ever got put back together.
In my early 20s I decided I wanted to leave home and move out to the west coast.
Within a few years I got a job working for Heritage Upholstery and Trim in North Vancouver BC, - producing interior kits for all sorts of British and German classic cars.
At the time they had already started producing Healey upholstery and knew my Dad well.
Upholstery work seemed to come quite naturally for me. It seemed to combine all of my best talents. I thoroughly enjoyed learning the skills of the trade and I was able to exercise my detailed knowledge of the cars to improve patterns and the overall quality of what they were producing.
After 10 years of working for Heritage, my Dad and I were starting to make big plans of going into business together to restore Healeys to the highest standards, if I would agree to move back to Ontario.
He and his metal and paint specialists were already looking for the right shop to join forces in when suddenly disaster struck...
In early 2012 my Dad was suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given only months to live.
Without hesitation I left my life on the west coast so I could be with him in Ontario for his last months.
My last words to him were, that he had taught me everything I needed to know to be successful and happy. He was a great man and I would do right by him in my lifetime.
Sadly he passed away in July of that year.
That same summer I decided to launch my own business I called Rightway Heritage Trimming - since Dad's new business name had been Rightway Restorations, and I had come from Heritage Trim - the name seemed fitting.
I worked out of his old shop at home for a while and even took a job up in Aurora Ontario working for Diamond Trim.
Inevitably my heart craved the west coast lifestyle that I had left behind.
So, once again I packed up all of my worldly possessions, and I moved my life back out west to start over again on Vancouver Island.
Within my first week on the island I received a call from famous classic car restorer Rudi Koniczek of Rudi and Company.
Rudi is world renowned for his concours level 300SL restorations and had a small group of highly skilled craftsmen working full time at his beautiful home shop facility in Victoria BC.
Like one of his employees, Rudi took me under his wing and provided me with plenty of new and exciting upholstery work on all sorts of high end classic cars for my first 4yrs on the island.
Working with Rudi and his crew taught me new levels of perfection in my craft.
The learning curve was steep but, I took it in stride.
The knowledge and experience helped to fuel my passion and when he retired and sold his business last year (now Coachwerks Restorations), I pushed on with my blossoming upholstery business to where I am today.
I now have my own shop in Victoria BC and I continue to do upholstery work for several of the best restoration shops here on Vancouver Island..
I also continue to do jobs for local and international customers who send me their cars or seats for upholstery restoration, or request other concours accurate Healey trim components.
I am a craftsman who cares about the details and wants to provide my customers with the very best upholstery for their classic car - what I provide is bespoke, my passion for accuracy and attention to detail shows in my work, and that keeps me very busy.
Over the past 3 years I finally re-ignited my teenage dream of restoring an early MGB.
I bought and completely restored a 1964 B for myself which I covered heavily through this blog. I even won best debut restoration for it at the ABFM show in Vancouver last year. Getting back into full restoration was a wonderful and rewarding experience, and I look forward to more restoration work down the road...
I still specialize in Healey’s though.
My current dream come true project, is restoring my own 1953 BN1 which I aim to someday present as a concours example when it’s all finished.
Unfortunately the MGB will have to sell in order to make room for the Healey project.
In the meantime, I continue to write this blog about the research and work I do in my craft.
Some of the articles I’ve written on original Austin Healey trim have received huge response from the Healey world, resulting in more business and even a request to put together a separate book for trim guidlines within the National Healey Concours Standards.
I sincerely love what I do!
I’m grateful to have been raised around people who not only taught me their skills and passions but also helped me to find my own.
There’s a lot of value in what I do, not only in dollars but also in knowledge and appreciation of the cars and the craftsmanship.
I’m grateful to be exercising these skills and values, and to still be learning new ones -
Until next time -
I recently made a new tonneau cover for a clients late BN1.
The client was able to send me his original tonneau in the original Sage green Everflex so I could cross reference it with my patterns and re-examine the details...
While I was at it, I pulled out my original Red early BN1 tonneau so I could lay them out together and examine the differences,
Here you can see the late BN1/BN2 style tonneau in Green, compared to the early BN1 tonneau in Red:
The early BN1 tonneau pattern followed the cars cockpit rail curvature around the front, while the later style had more sqaured off front corners and used turn-snaps in the front corners rather than the Tenax snaps the earlier used...
Notice the original "Lightning" zipper used on both styles -
Both styles have the same little under flaps for turn-snaps sewn in just behind the doors...
Slightly different stitching at the base of the zipper...
Also some updated stitching details around the rear hook bars as the later style improved...
Here's one of my new early BN1 tonneau's that I made earlier this year - in correct Red Everflex, with a new correct style Lightning zipper:
And here's the new one I made in the later style for Curt -
Unfortunately the Sage Green Everflex is totally unavailable, and it's just not wise to try and custom dye a piece of weather equipment that's going to be used regularly. So we had to settle on using the available Dark Green Everflex - which still looks great!
Complete with a new correct zipper and his original Lightning pull -
Get yours through:
Until next time -
This week I made a visit up to Sydney to visit some of my fellow Healey buddies.
I test fit one of my new Tonneau covers on a friends BN1, and got to catch up and talk Healey's -
Of course while I was in the area I made a quick stop in to see my BN1 at Jetstream Auto and Custom.
Jason has the chassis all rigged up in a rotisserie and he's already cut off the old rotten outer sills, as he's preparing it for wet blasting.
He tried using a pressure washer on the underside to clean off the mud and expose the original undercoating on the rear chassis around the rear axle. - What he discovered was quite interesting!
Here's some good pics of the underside condition - the front cross-member will definitely be getting replaced! as well as the outer sill areas:
Most interestingly though, It has been found in the past that the factory seems to have applied a small amount of undercoating - by hand, to only a few surfaces of the rear chassis area:
Often under the boot floor, (sometimes including the protruding gas tank!) - and on the vertical boot bulkhead surface immediately behind and over top of the rear axle.
Most cars have shown this undercoating applied before the body was finally painted, so the black undercoat would have been painted body colour.
However, my car seems to exhibit the undercoat being applied over the paint!
There does not appear to be any undercoating under the blue body colour on my car, nor was any found under the boot floor at all!
What does turn up is black undercoat, clearly brushed on by hand, on top of the blue paint- only on the 2 bulkhead panels behind and over the rear axle.
Of course the first thing that comes to mind is when was this applied? is it indeed factory? - it certainly looks like it is and, fits the previous descriptions of location and style of hand brushing - but this ones over the paint! ?
There you have it concours guys - the plot thickens!
In other news, I've packed up my original front and rear shocks and will be sending them out east to be rebuilt at Apple Hydraulics.
Until next time -
I recently started on a job for a customer who has an un-restored 1956 Healey BN2 in Healey blue with the rare Teal blue interior.colours.
While Teal is a rare interior colour, it's one that I'm quite familiar with;
My late father Rich Chrysler had a '56 BN2 that he restored back in the early 90's that also had remnants of a Teal blue interior. It sent him on a massive research hunt for others like it so he could restore his to original spec..
With the help of fellow Healey upholstery experts Martin Macgregor and Peter Svilans, here's they came up with back in 1992:
Since then we've found several other un-restored cars with the teal interior combo appearing in blue cars and even a few white cars throughout 1956 until the end of BN2 production.
We've also found a few early Blue BN4's with the Teal blue trim combined with cream piping as late as March '57.
With this most recent job being sent to me, I've had the opportunity to take a fresh look and study how the Teal blue colour faded so differently among the differing materials of leather, vinyl and Armacord it was seen on.
Having been in the Healey upholstery business for over 15yrs now I've seen A LOT of original trim!
The key's to remember when studying original colours and narrowing down specific shades is: Exposure!
ie: materials that have spent 50+yrs in the sun and elements are going to bleach and fade in wild ways that can be very confusing for restorers to decipher.
It's important to find areas that have never seen daylight or exposure to moisture, cleaners etc...look in dark areas and under edges and seams...
In the below pic, I'm trying to match the original leather shade on the bottom of this cushion - not being fooled by the brighter colour above that it's become over time...
Here are some more pics of original teal found on my friend Richard's BN2 - again showing how the exposed vinyl faded to a greyish green, while the leather got more brilliant over time...
Notice the unexposed Blue Karvel carpet and Teal Armacord under the armrest -
Of course most Healey owners will recognize this standard shade of dark blue with grey piping. All the materials of leather, vinyl, Armacord, and carpet were in similar shades of dark blue.
This dark blue interior colour scheme was seen in cars painted Healey Blue/Healey Grey, and also available in cars painted Old English White, and Coronet Cream.
It's worth noting that this standard dark blue Karvel carpet and royal blue Everflex weather equipment remained the standard used even with the Teal blue interiors -
Here's some good pics of the standard dark blue used on BN1's and BN2's throughout production:
Notice with the armrest removed below, the original blue colour of Karvel carpet with dark blue vinyl edging - both colours faded with exposure, the carpet turned to a grey colour, while the blue got a bit lighter over time.
Moving on to the Reds:
Another colour that a lot of Healey 100 owners often don't get right, is the standard Red/Persimmon interior colour scheme offered as "Red" on BN1's and early BN2's painted Black, White, Carmine Red or even Coronet Cream!
Like the Teal scheme, the factory decided to use some high contrasting material colours together:
The carpet, Armacord and Everflex weather equipement were all in a medium Scarlet Red shade, while all the vinyl and leather were done in a very bright contrasting Persimmon shade.
Persimmon is another colour that can act like a chameleon after decades of sun and wear -
A number of years ago my father and I restored a '54 BN1 that had all of it's original Red/Persimmon interior still intact. I was given the task of carefully cleaning all the interior components and reinstalling them on the car.
What I found was the Persimmon would fade out to a bright Orange over time, though in areas unexposed I could see it started life as a very bright Red with a faint Orangy hue when compared to the darker red carpet and Armacord:
Look at the variations of colour saturation! It's evident how orange the Persimmon became over time, though it actually started a very bright red:
Persimmon was also seen used on the piping in Carmine Red cars with black trim:
At the end of 1955 as the BN2's evolved, the Carmine Red paint scheme was discontinued in exchange for Reno Red.
Subsequently, the Persimmon shade of interior was also discontinued and replaced with a slightly more scarlet looking shade of red leather and vinyl that better matched the Red carpet and Armacord.
Here's some examples of the later red that replaced the Persimmon shade after December 1955:
Notice how the upper surfaces of the seats have indeed faded to a slightly more orange hue - though make no mistake, these are a much darker shade of Red than the previous Persimmon!
The last interior colour I'm going to feature is the Green colour scheme that was offered with cars painted Spruce green, Old English White, or Black.
It used a variety of different shades of green to create what I consider to be a truly elegant interior colour scheme!
The leather and vinyl were both a dark green with only slight contrast between the 2 materials...
Armacord was a bright Emerald green with contrasting Dark Green vinyl binding...
And to finish it off, it had this Sage Green Everflex used for all the weather equipment:.
Unfortunately, Sage Green Everflex is completely unavailable nowadays, so restorers must settle for a Dark Green Everflex instead..
Black and White:
Of course there were a few more less colourful interior schemes left that I haven't mentioned yet:
There was an off White leather colour that was used with Black carpet, Armacord, vinyl and piping. This was only available for 6 months on Black BN1's only.
Unfortunately I don't have any good pics of it to show you -
Black interiors with Red piping were offered with Carmine Red and Reno Red cars, the carpet, vinyl, leather, Armacord and Everflex would all have been Black with only the seat & armrest piping being in contrasting Red.
An all Black interior scheme was also offered in 1956 with the introduction of the Florida Green paint scheme:
To finish, I'd like to leave you with a colour chart made by Roger Moment that lists all of these colour schemes by date and body number -
I have done a lot of research to source just about all of these original materials in the correct colours for reproducing Healey 100 interiors accurately.
The only materials that are unavailable in the correct colours are the Green Karvel, Everflex and Armacord, as well as the Teal Armacord - although I have found decent substitutes for the carpet and Everflex, and can custom dye the Armacords.
For Concours accurate upholstery for your Healey, come to:
Until next time -
Since my last post I've been so busy with upholstery work I haven't had time to work on my BN1 until yesterday.
In the meantime however, I was able to order in all the necessary replacement metal panels including a pair of outer sills, lower rear fender repair panels, a front fender repair panel, and a new front cross member.
Yesterday morning I had my friend Jason come by with his full sized pick-up truck. Together we were able to lift my chassis in to the box and strap it down so he could take it up to Jetstream Automotive for all the metal and paint work to be done.
The chassis just barely fit in the back of his truck which made transport really simple! - Thanks again Jason!
With my car out of the way, I can now bring in some more upholstery jobs that I already have lined up for the next several months. Including a few other Healey's!
After Jason left with my chassis, I got to work on cleaning up and restoring some more parts for my BN1...
I started by refurbishing my battery shut off switch.
I thoroughly cleaned and polished it and repainted the black upper face under the switch knob,
I also polished the Bakelite knob and repainted the off white lettering...
Next I cleaned up the overdrive relays and the original flasher unit - all date coded 12/53, they're original to the car...
To finish the day I cleaned up the original starter solonoid. Again dated for 12/53 - I'll get a new rubber dust cap to install over the push button.
Until next time - Happy Holidays!
Over the past 2 Saturdays I've had the unenviable task of hand stripping all the layers of old paint, primer and filler form all the aluminum body panels of my BN1.
While the main chassis and the outer side fenders and doors are all steel on my car. The front and rear shrouds as well as the bonnet and boot lid are made of soft/light aluminum.
The steel components I've decided will be sent out for sandblasting at Jetstream Automotive. Jason Stoch of Jetstream reviewed the process with me and explained that they only use fresh wet sand that actually contains a rust inhibitor in the liquid part.
This way, the heat/distortion is greatly reduced from the sand being wet.
The aluminum however needs to be treated very delicately. Any sort of blasting process will distort it.
So I'm left with either chemical dip stripping (which is very expensive and not available here on the island) or stripping the paint by hand...
So in preparation for the task, I first prepared my work area with some large poly tarps spread out on the floor. I rolled the car over the tarps and partially mounted the aluminum shrouds in place on the car.
I purchased some large tins of paint stripper - I recommend getting the gel type that stays wet/active for longer.
Then I armed myself with some heavy clothing that I don't mid destroying, some goggles, gloves, a respirator and some good hand tools for stripping -
I found these 3 tools to be the most effective:
-I start by globbing on the stripper heavily with a brush, I would wait about 10min for it to start bubbling the paint.
-Then I would use the big scraper to remove layers of paint.
Because my car had several layers of different colours, I had to re-apply stripper often to work my way through the layers.
-When ever I encountered any filler, I found the razor blade scraper to work best.
-Once I was down to basically the metal, I would scour the remaining residue off with the big wire brush...
Here are the results on the front shroud...
And again on the rear shroud...
and finally the bonnet -
and boot lid...
As you can see, I was quite happy to discover that all the aluminum panels are in great condition with almost no corrosion at all around the outer flanges (as often happens).
However I did find lots of dents that had been filled in with loads of filler. All the dents are going to need some careful working out.
The bonnet especially looks like someone probably laid on top of it!
Perhaps my car was once used in some publicity photo shoots with models laying across it?? - perhaps that's my bright imagination again...
Until next time -
Today I rebuilt the wiper motor and its mechanism for my BN1. This is the original one for the car dated for November 1953, and its number was even recorded in my cars Heritage build certificate.
I started by taking it apart in sub assemblies and cleaning and restoring each sub section. Starting with the wiper gear mechanisms and the long worm gear arm that connects them...
Followed by the main body and motor...
I cleaned out all the old grease, and carefully polished all the zinc plated metal parts.
Then I added some fresh grease as I reassembled the mechanical parts.
For the electric motor I simply cleaned and inspected everything. Polished the Bakelite top casing.
Finally I refinished the outer body in black wrinkle finish and reassembled everything with fresh grease on all the gear mechanisms..
I finished the day by cleaning and refurbishing the 2 smaller dash gauges for the fuel, oil and water. After carefully opening them up, I thoroughly cleaned everything. I repainted the black outer rims that were starting to flake off, and even repainted the tiny needles white as the original paint was flaking off of those too.. Fun stuff when it all goes well!
Finally this morning I finished refurbishing the brake fluid reservoir by adding the new decal to finish it off..
until next time...
Over the last few weekends I've put in some good hours on restoring some more components for my BN1. On Friday I stopped into our local 'Blast-It' center to sandblast a bunch of steel components and prepare them for re-painting.
Here's what I got done:
The fresh air duct valve, and all the pedals...
The under dash supports and bumper brackets...
The front lower spring pans,
I stripped and painted all the interior metal pieces including the tunnel sections, seat frames, parcel tray and battery box lid. The main tunnel section I had to strip by hand as it's made from aluminum that would distort if exposed to sandblasting.
All the interior pieces were primed and re-painted dark brown as original...
I also cleaned up a few cables for the hand brake, and speedometer...
and cleaned and polished all the Bakelite dash switches, and voltage regulator - many of which are also date coded and original to the car. I will need a new overdrive switch, air vent cable repair and new knobs for the wiper and headlight switches...
Today I focused on restoring the heater. I took it all apart and thoroughly cleaned and refurbished everything, carefully stripping and re-painting as needed. I even managed to mask and save the factory labels and date stamps I found on the blower motor...
and I carefully took apart and cleaned/restored the rheostat switch for the blower fan..
Finally I re-painted the main body in black wrinkle finish as original..
All that's left for the heater is to solder up a crack found near the end of one of the water lines and then source some accurate reproductions of the demister vent hoses...
Until next time...
Well now that the car is down to the bare chassis, I have several shelves and bags full of all the delicious parts to keep me very busy for quite a while. On Saturday I went in and randomly selected a few pieces and set to work cleaning and refurbishing them.
I started with the original Lucas ignition coil. I'm really hoping that this one is still in good working order! I cleaned the body using the bench grinder with a soft brass wire wheel. I used some simple green and a tooth brush to clean the Bakelite top, and some small brass wire wheel bits in my Dremel tool to clean all the contacts. I finished it off by masking the Bakelite top and spraying a coat of some satin black paint.
Next I tackled some of the firewall components like the fuse block and the throttle pedal/overdrive relay...
Again I cleaned the plastic with Simple Green and some elbow grease. I cleaned all the metal components and contacts with my little Dremel tool. I used a bit of metal polish on the aluminum relay box, and repainted the black linkage arm. Unfortunately I found a tiny broken return spring inside the relay box which I'll have to either find/or make a replacement for.
Next I tackled the flasher relay box - I cleaned and polished the aluminum body, cleaned all the contacts and screws individually and used some q tips and a toothbrush to clean around the rest...
Here's a before and after of the Smiths heater tap - it will eventually be painted light metallic green with the rest of the engine...
Last but not least, I also cleaned and polished the headlight dimmer switch...
Not bad for 5hrs on a Saturday! - I love taking my time and enjoying the restoration of each part like this, it allows me to learn about each piece intimately and it's hugely satisfying!
I'm also able to take notes on fastener hardware as I go so I know what I have and what might be missing for future reassembly to the car.
When I send all the fastener hardware out for plating later, these will be valuable notes to have when I have to sort everything out again!
Until next time -
The title says it all, this week I got the remaining parts and components off of the chassis. Now it's bare and ready for sandblasting and metal repairs..
I then finished off by removing all the remaining blanking plates on the firewall - note, the steering column plates seem to have been painted body colour on my car, but seem to have been installed after the body was first painted. I looked this up in the concours guidelines and sure enough, these plates and their screws were often hand painted body colour after installation. Check out the unexposed Healey blue under them, you can even see some of the faint metallic in the right light.
There were also a row of 4 flat head screws used to blank off the holes for mounting the solenoids on the R/H firewall if it had been RHD. These screws were black phosphate on my car and appear to be original...
Now the chassis is down to her bare bones and ready to send out for sandblasting in the next few months. In the meantime I'll start hand stripping all the aluminum shrouds, bonnet and boot lids.
Obviously the car has been re-sprayed red at some point in its life, mostly just the outer body and the main floor pans, engine and some of the firewall. They seem to have sprayed a white primer over the blue so the red would show in these areas.
It must have looked pretty bad in the engine bay because they were very messy and haphazard with it.
It's clear to see all the original Healey blue shining through everywhere though. Compared to many other original cars I've seen, mine seems to have been very thoroughly sprayed after the outer body panels were installed. The original black and in some cases red oxide primers are evident only in the areas Healey blue couldn't reach...
Yesterday I received my Heritage Certificate in the mail. As I thought, the car was built in December of 1953 - on the 28th to be exact.
Until next time...
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.