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 several months I've been carefully producing a complete interior for a 1955 BN1, owned by Healey 100 expert, Curt Arndt.
Curt has been meticulously researching and restoring his BN1 over the past 25yrs! and 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 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 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 car.
Curt's BN1 is painted Old English White with the green interior. Unfortunately the green is a lot harder to do right these days because many of the materials used are no longer available in the correct shades of green. This requires some extra expense in custom dying which works ok for some things like Armacord and carpet, but not so great for things like Everflex that have to constantly stretch and flex with use.
Fortunately when Curt contacted me to do his interior, he had already accumulated most of the correct materials to make his interior with!
-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!
-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!
Having all these raw materials already, he just needed me to upholster and trim it all correctly. I sourced some green Everflex for his weather equipment, and a good matching hyde of green leather for his seats and 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 Everflex vinyl used for all the weather equipment is only available in this darker shade of Everflex. The original Everflex was a 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 off 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 to use 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'll be shipping this all back to Curt very soon. I'll eventually be heading down to install it all on his car and finish it off with a new green top and side-curtains so stay tuned!
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 -
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.