It's been months since I've had any time to work on my BN1. However these past weeks saw a few more things done..
First off, I should mention that I have at least been tracking down sources for much of the parts needed for the restoration, including some of the "unobtainium" parts that are hardest to find. I have put together lists of all the various sources for the parts I'll be needing and how much things will cost. This way I can slowly work my way through the various source orders as I have the money to cover each one.
It also helps having so many friends and clients in the Healey community. Since I started this restoration I've been able to reach out to acquire and often trade upholstery work for some of the rarer parts I've been hunting.
Over the past few months I've acquired several of the rare parts on my most wanted list:
- I found a pair of original Lucas 700 headlamps from my good friend Trevor Parker - these were standard on all export Healey 100's into Canada - Thanks again Trev!
I also found a pair of original horns, and a pair of Burgess air filters from my good friend Richard Korn - thanks again Richard!
I've been able to score some of the most difficult to find "unobtainium" pieces through my friend and client Curt Arndt - Curt has been collecting parts for his own beautiful BN1 restoration for decades and now I'm honoured to be making and installing his new interior for him - in original vintage materials that he's found! - I'll be happily covering this job in detail through future posts. -
As partial payment Curt has been able to provide me with several original and rare pieces that I was needing, like a correct BN1 generator commutator end - I can rebuild my current one that has replacement ends from a BN2 to at least have the correct ends on it:
Recently I went to our local Old English Car Club restoration fair and found a few more pieces that I snatched up including: a good set of original boot lid hinges, and a correct original boot lid handle - I'll need to get a new key for it which can be sourced through britishcarkeys.com by giving them the key number which is inscribed on the inner shaft...
And a pair of original Rainbow wiper blades:
Last weekend I went down to our local sandblast "Blast-It" center and stripped a few more parts that I also primed & repainted throughout the day...
I redid the headlight bowls and cleaned and polished the chrome rings and brass nuts, I re-plated the adjustment screws too and reassembled them with my new headlights and original plastic caps on the backs of the adjustment studs - curiously my plastic caps were yellow? I've only seen them red before...
I also stripped and repainted the side screen and top frames in medium grey:
I also rebuilt the brake master cylinder using a rebuild kit and following the factory workshop manual closely. The only tricky part was finding the proper 'red' brake grease to lubricate the rubber boot. Red grease is specifically designed to be compatible with rubber parts as well as brake fluid.
The other thing I started work on was the rear axle & hub assemblies. I first took several pics of it all still assembled. and then proceeded to remove the splined hubs, brake drums & axle shafts...
I was alarmed to discover that someone has replaced the 4 wheel hub studs on one side only with new studs and nuts that are larger than the other side! I had to use different wrenches on either side just to remove the hubs and axle shafts. In fact the side that has the replacement studs also has a crack in the inner hub where the one of the studs is located:
I've also discovered that the same rear wheel has cracks in the brake drum and even shows evidence of the wheel falling off! there are some very deep horizontal gouges along the bottom edge of the back plate - ouch! - if only this car could talk! -
while the back plate might be repairable, replacing the cracked early drum might be tricky to source. Luckily I believe I found one through my good friend Michael Salter, thanks again Michael!
I also got my front hubs & kingpin assemblies disassembled.
I've already got new kingpins, seals and bushing sets ready to go, however upon further inspection I've decided I'm going to replace all 4 of the splined wire wheel hubs. I'll eventually be getting 4 new wire wheels too so I'll feel better knowing that all the splines are new.
I also cleaned up my original radiator. I thoroughly flushed it out with boiling water and then cleaned it to bare metal with a series of gentle brass wire wheels in my drill.
The rad seems to be the original one to the car and is still in great shape - no leaks and still has all the original date and manufacturing stamps:
Now that I've sold my MGB, I'm finally able to pay back the loan for my Healey which I'm very happy to have settled. I can look forward to many more months (probably years) of meticulous restoration work ahead - but thanks to good friends who've been helping me acquire these rare parts, it's already starting to shape up very nicely! Thanks again everyone!
Until next time -
A few months ago I had a client from the US contact me about his original and unrestored 1956 Austin Healey BN2. It was a Healey blue car still with its original and fairly rare Teal blue upholstery!
In '56 and early '57 the factory tried using this Teal shade of blue interior trim instead of the common dark blue trim they had used before and after.
The owner wanted me to set some things right like replacing the carpet set and the interior panels with correct ones in the right colours. His original carpets and panels had been replaced with incorrect ones at some point. He also wanted me to repair one of the original front seats, and eventually make him a second pair of seats in matching teal blue done up like 100-S style seats!
Here's what his original front seat looked like when he sent it to me - the lower pivot arms had both been worn away so tape was holding them together, plus you can see the big rip and some of the seams around the pleated section had started letting go...
To start with I had to match up the colours of the leather and the vinyl materials exactly. This proved to be more difficult than I thought! However with much trial and error, I was able to find an almost perfect match for the leather and ended up getting the vinyl custom dyed to match the original shade perfectly.
I started off by making a new armrest which nicely shows how both materials contrast against each other...
Next I made the new carpet set in the correct blue Karvel carpet and black coated jute insulation, and a complete new vinyl panel kit in custom dyed teal...
Next I got into repairing his front seat. I carefully removed the covers and unpicked the necessary seams to remove the damaged pieces. For some pieces like the main backrest surround, I backed the torn leather with some canvass material and restitched some of the damaged seams. I completely replaced the leather on the lower pivot arms & repaired the foam in a few areas. Then I carefully put it all back together...
The final task was to make a new pair of 100-S style seats that the owner could swap in for long trips. The 100-S seats have a ridged frame with vent holes in the backrest - they're not only more comfortable, they look amazing! To start, we ordered some 100-S steel frames in from Kilmarten in Australia.
The wooden cushion frames I made are the same standard design as used on all Healey 100/4's. I made all the foams in house too, and even added the correct square cutouts in the bottoms of the cushion foams just like the factory ones had.
These cutouts allow the foam to compress when you sit in it, making for a much softer/squishier feel. Unlike the re-pro foams available today that are way too hard and don't compress at all...
With the cushions done, I moved on to the backrests. These required some very tricky sewing around each of the vent holes. I made my own foams again and made up some separate vinyl covered back panels that would be screwed on from the back - just like the factory S seats had. The end result came out absolutely beautifully!
While I'm sure the factory never made any S seats in teal, it's a shame - because I think the colour is part of what makes these seats so gorgeous! - they simply belong in a beautiful sports car!
Until next time -
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.