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 -
I was up to Jetstream Auto & Custom this week to drop off a few things and was pleased to find that work on my BN1 has begun!
Jason and his team at Jetstream have done several award winning Healeys over the years, several of which I've done the upholstery work for.
In fact they just finished restoring another black BN2 Healey a few weeks ago for a local client that I did all the interior for (see my article on Healey BN2 in Persimmon) -
We won the award for best debut restoration at the big VanDusen British car show in Vancouver last weekend - actually for the second year in a row! - Last year the winning car was an identical BN2 owned and restored by Trevor Parker that Jason also did the body on and I did the interior,
It was wonderful to see 2 almost identical cars sitting side by side at the show, Trevor's car being the one fitted with the M kit with louvered hood and strap, got the award for best in class at this years show as well!
Getting back to my car, Jason's crew have been working on preparing the aluminum panels over the past week. They filled in any unwanted or enlarged holes in all the panels, starting with the front shroud which had the many added & enlarged holes for fitting the splash shield along the front...
they smoothed out some of the dents and then gave it a coat of primer which helps expose the dents for more fettling...
The front and rear fenders are all going to need some typical metal repair work. They've been blasted and primed for the time being and will soon have their new repair sections welded in to replace the corroded areas...
The 2 piece dash just had a pair of holes in the center to be filled that were probably from an old badge or something. They're going to clean up the hole for the headlight switch which seems to have lost it's original shape (round with a flat at the bottom) - They also noted the crudely shaped slot for the trip reset knob along the bottom edge, however I've decided to leave it alone for originality sake...
Of course the reason I stopped by was to drop off one more piece that will eventually be getting painted body colour with the rest of the chassis - the bonnet latch bracket and assembly. Here I took a couple of pics to show how the pieces fit together, the main bracket will be body colour while the rest of the hardware will be plated or painted black...
I've been continuing to go through the my many bags of parts and carefully clean and polish and inspect each component, the other day I cleaned up all my throttle linkage..
and a few brackets and hardware for mounting the steering gear and idler arms, of course these bolts and hardware will next be refinished in black phosphate as original -
The wall of BN1 parts is looking shinier all the time!
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 -
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 -
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.