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!
In other news, I also recently got my grill back from Victoria Plating!
They did a fantastic job restoring it and I absolutely love the correct 2 tone, with a smooth satin finish on the teeth and a shiny chrome surround:
Last weekend I did a bunch of work on the rear axle...
Here's some old pics of it when I originally took it apart last year:
The left hub showed evidence of some heavy trauma, there were cracks found in the drum, and the inner hub around the lug nuts...
I thoroughly cleaned and inspected the rest of the axle. I replaced the pinion and axle seals and gaskets, as well as the bearings, axle nuts, and a new inner hub...
With the axles and hubs reassembled, I then installed new brake lines, and the emergency brake rods...
Once I get my brake pads re-lined I can finish putting the brakes and drums together...
Last week I got a chance to make up the new spark plug wire leads.
I sourced the correct style of wire and end components from "The Brillman Company"
I even modified some rubber sleeves to create the short molded plug ends - I'm considering heating a number stamp to stamp the molded numbers in them like the originals had.
I also found x2 NOS 6 packs of the correct N-8 Champion spark plugs that Healeys originally had, I'm just waiting for them to arrive in the mail!
The drive-train is ready to go!
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 meantime, my upholstery business Rightway Heritage Trimming has been keeping busy with more orders for various Healey trim components.
In the past month especially, I've been mastering the detailed production of Healey 100 style 2 & 3 side curtains, seats, and boot accessories...
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 18 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.
Here is my BN1 as I purchased it from the Beverly Hills Car Club in LA in September 2018:
Some of the original Healey blue in daylight, also the original factory undercoating over the rear axle and under the boot floor...
Once apart, the chassis was delivered to Jetstream auto and Custom to be blasted to bare metal and have the metal and paint work done...
Lots of hammer and dolly work 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..
Replaced the front cross member..
The engine mount on the right side had been removed at some point and needed to be re-welded properly..
The foot wells along the firewall had also been hacked open (probably to make room for a bigger engine at some point) and needed to be closed up properly again...
The original 2 piece dash had been painted over, but the original Healey blue was still visible underneath the silver gauge cluster, with dark blue showing through the red on the rest...
Speaking of paint, I was contacted by my fathers good friend and 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:
Now I can paint my car in the exact Healey blue paint my Father came up with years ago!
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...
I completely restored the heater myself, including rebuilding the rheostat switch and cleaning & refinishing all the components...
My rebuild of the wiper motor...
Throughout the process I sandblast and re-plate all of the steel hardware in their respective finishes like zinc - here is my home zinc plating system in action...
Much of the mechanical and suspension hardware was finished in black phosphate. For this process I use gun-bluing acid which turns the clean steel black and then is finished by soaking the parts in grease..
Wire clips refinished in yellow zinc...
Door latch restoration...
Air vent and pedals..
Signal relay box..
Overdrive relays and flasher unit...
Battery switch rebuilt...
Headlights rebuilt with new rubbers, and found some original Lucas 700 headlamps, and some new Lucas 488 signal and brake lights...
Horns were sourced through my friend Richard Korn and I rebuilt them with new outer rings from Michael Salter...
I refinished the original coil and had it tested by Brian Roberts Electric...
I rebuilt the steering box with a new seal and dust cover...
One of my customers, Harry Watson traded me a full set of new wire wheels for some trim work I did...
The early spiral bevel rear axle was rebuilt with new seals...
Original radiator was flushed and re-painted...
I rebuilt the carburetors with complete rebuild kits...
The starter and generator were rebuilt and tested by Brian Roberts electric, then I refinished them...
The gearbox and overdrive were completely overhauled by Tom Munro, with donor parts I got through Trevor Parker...
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 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...
Lots of new parts along the way, all new wiring, batteries...
and a completely restored horn/trafficator assembly I sourced through Curt Arndt too.
Lots of freshly re-chromed pieces I had done by Electro-Shine plating...
Finally a few more items to complete the cars final presentation: an original owners handbook, original workshop manual, overdrive handbook, and sales brochure...
So there you have it - lots of work left to do, but things are moving along nicely!
I am hoping to get the chassis painted in the next few months, 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 -
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!
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 -
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 -
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 -
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...
Another work week has come and gone, and this past Saturday showed some more great progress on my BN1 Healey.
I had my good friend and fellow Healey owner Trevor Parker over in the afternoon to help me out with a few things. Trevor has a very original BN1 that's been in his family since the 70's and also owns a beautifully restored BN2/M, so he's been a great friend to help lend a hand, answer questions and generally 'talk Healey's with' - something I find myself doing a lot these days!
Trevor recently found a copy of the book "Healey 100 Profile" by John Wheatley. - A book
I distinctly remember looking through as a kid when my Dad owned it. In it, I was reviewing the Evolution pages of the Healey 100, where it actually lists dates and car numbers with the various subsequent changes.
I noticed that it would appear my car (chassis #150244, body 1221) was actually built in December of 1953 - not '54 like it's registered!
Also, if you notice the many changes happening at that time, it all makes sense!
- I have the earlier flat floor in the rear over the leaf springs
-one of my leaf springs is still the earlier and very thin/flimsy style!
-I have the unique 2 piece dash, but it's After they had made the change to a non-adjustable steering wheel, so the slot for the steering column was made narrower when they removed the adjustable column. In fact my style of dash would have only been seen on a few hundred cars between Dec '53- early spring '54 - when they introduced the single piece dash.
-my car would have been one of the first to get the revised hand brake lever assembly too.
-and was also of the first to have the redesigned (style 2) side curtains with the hand signalling flaps.
Neat stuff! It's so fun to research and notice these details on earlier cars as the marque evolved through the years!
I have yet to send away for my Heritage certificate from the UK to verify some of these dates, but I did get this bit of info through Randy Hicks - the Healey 100 registrar, (who took over from my Dad, Richard Chrysler when he passed away.):
It's nice to know Dad at least knew of this car at one point!
Getting back to the work we got done on Saturday, I removed the "revised" emergency brake handle and cable assembly. Interesting to find big flat head screws holding the handle in place..
I also removed all the brake and fuel lines that were left along the chassis, saving all the little clips that hold them in place..
Next, with Trevor's help and the use of some of his Whitworth tools, I unbolted the pan hard rod, the U bolts, and removed the rear axle assembly...
With the axle out, it's clear to see the inner frame work and the noticeable undercoating on the rear boot bulkhead and boot floor..
Finally I removed the rear leaf springs, as you can see I still had an early original one on the right side. It's no wonder the factory beefed them up soon after...
here you can see the earlier flat floor above the spring hanger. Later cars had a small step in the floor here to provide better clearance...
While I was busy working on the rear of the car, Trevor helped out with removing the front coil springs. He used a series of long threaded rods through the spring pan mounting holes with nuts and washers. He'd simply replace each original bolt one by one with a threaded rod and 2 nuts done up tight. Then just backed the nuts off evenly to extract the spring safely.
We finished the day by hoisting my engine up onto a proper rotisserie engine stand that Trevor let me borrow. Thanks again Trevor!
- If there's one thing I'm Thankful for, it's the friends I'm finding in the Healey community. It feels much like a family, full of good friends who genuinely seem to want to help each other out with these old cars. It's nice to be a part of, and I'm very grateful!
A few more steps were taken this week on my Healey BN1 #1221.
Firstly, I found some good used tunnel sections that I was needing through my friend Jason Stoch - these early BN1 tunnels can be hard to come by, so I'm glad to have found a good one that is correct in being the early (second) style of BN1 tunnel without the bulge near the back that was added to later BN1's.
I've continued on with careful disassembly and documentation of the car. I removed the drive shaft, noting the locking tabs for the bolts and marking the orientation of the driveshaft itself with the axle and gearbox.
Then I removed the rest of the pedals, starting with the mechanical clutch linkage:
Then the brake master cylinder, shaft, return spring and both brake and clutch pedals...
It's clear why there are little 'V' cutouts in the bottoms of the outer sills and fenders, I've noted this on another all original BN1 #1267 (only 46 numbers apart from mine) - it's to allow clearance for removal of the pivot shaft the pedals both pivot on. My car has this cut out on both sides!
On Saturday I spent the day at the shop continuing work on the car and got a lot of big steps done.
My shop has a huge steel i-beam running right over the the 2 garage bays where the cars park. It had been my intent to tie into that with a chain lift of some sort to lift anything I might want to.
So I purchased a great little 1 ton trolley for attaching to the i-beam, it has wheels in it so I can move it along the beam easily. Then I borrowed a simple ratcheting chain hoist from my friend and fellow Healey owner Trevor Parker and hooked it onto the trolley.
All set! - thanks Trevor!
I decided to remove the starter and gearbox first with the engine still in place, so I put a support jack under the rear of the engine and first pulled out the starter motor - which seems in pretty good shape..
I removed the gearbox stay rod from underneath..
Then I unbolted the gearbox, pulled it straight back to disengage the input shaft, and lifted the whole unit out of the cockpit by hand.. Here are some detail pics of the gearbox, supports and overdrive unit..
With the gearbox out I got to work on removing the engine itself.
I hooked up some chains and brackets to some opposing head studs, brought the chain hoist in, and out she came!
I was lucky I'd pulled the gearbox out first because I only had about 10" clearance to roll the car out from under the engine while it was in the air as high as it would go. If the gearbox had been on it would have hung a lot lower and on an angle.
With the engine out I jacked the car up high on some axle stands and took some good pics of the state of the metal on the chassis and frame...
As I thought, it looks like the chassis will need outer sills, lower rear door posts, a front cross member and some very minor patches here and there - not bad at all for an un-restored BN1!
The next steps will be removing all the front and rear suspension.
I've borrowed some custom made Healey brackets with heavy castor wheels on them from Jason at Jetstream. These 4 brackets will mount to the front bumper mounts at the front and the rear shock mounts on the rear frame and allow the chassis frame to remain elevated at a comfortable work height and easy to roll around - thanks again Jason!
I took some overall pics of the suspension components before dismantling...
There will be much more to come as I remove the suspension and get the bare chassis sent out for sandblasting.
Until next time -
It's been a productive couple of weeks on my Healey #1221. I've been carefully documenting with 100's of photos as I take her apart piece by piece.
With each piece I remove, I bag and tag the part and it's fastener hardware and take detailed photos of the piece and how it fit with the rest of the car. These are just a few of the hundreds of pics I've been taking...
With the interior trim already removed, I focused on removing the outer body panels next.
Here are the original aluminum door casing panels with the early narrow style of door latch and thin piping to finish the outer edge of the B pillar panel. This small bead of thin piping was usually colour coded to match with the exterior body colour of the car - in this case it was originally a light blue/grey.
These original door casings have tiny ovals in the aluminum pattern, unlike the repro's that have tiny circles instead.
With the door trims removed I was then able to remove the doors themselves and the front fenders. The big Phillips door hinge screws were a bit of a nightmare trying to get out, I managed to save most of them after many hours of penetrating oil & reasoning with an impact driver, heat & curse words. Unfortunately I had to drill out the last few of the more stubborn ones.
Here you can see a door check strap assembly & spacer.
Surprisingly both of the seem to be almost perfect! - in that they are rot and dent free. They both have small cracks where the door cord actuates the latch assembly - but these cracks can be easily welded.
The left front fender was actually only being held on by a few screws and wire, however the rest of the screws that had been previously removed were found in a pile on the parcel shelf so nothing seems to be missing. Once removed, the left fender proved to be in just about perfect condition! - no holes, no dents or distortion - a beautiful front fender!
The inner chassis structure under the fender also looks far better than I had expected which was another pleasant surprise!
I took careful notes as to the routing of the wiring and clips along the inner front fender/shroud seams...
Next I turned my attention to removing the rear fenders. I removed all the inner screws affixing it to the shroud/chassis, and the screws along the outer edge of the 'B' post.
I took note of the little rectangular clamp plates that are held in place by a countersunk machine screw along the inner rear cockpit rim on both sides.
With the rear fenders off I was pleased to find them both very intact, with only the front lower dog leg areas needing repair on both fenders. Most original cars are typically rotten here as it's a trap for water and road grime.
The inner chassis under the rear fenders reveals the extent of rot on the rear outer sill sections and the bottom parts of the rear door posts. Other than these areas though, the rest of the chassis seems very intact and structurally sound.
The front shroud is removed! she's had a bit of damage where she fastens to the lower frame members along the bottom front edge. But thankfully no metal is actually rotten or missing, it just needs some careful mending by an aluminum expert!
With the front shroud off, I turned my attention to the rear shroud removal - again lots of rivets to drill out all around and a few little screws along the upper edge of the boot opening..
And the rear shroud is off! I spent a bit of time carefully tapping out the dents and creases found in the rear where she probably backed into something.
Going back and forth working on the frame and the rear shroud itself, with the undamaged boot lid as a guide, I actually got it back about 90% of the way for it to be perfect again. The lid wouldn't even close when I first got it, now it closes with even gaps, it just needs a bit more fettling around the bottom right corner which I'll get more into later down the road.
With the body panels now removed, I got into removing the dash, heater, and inner firewall components - note, the steering column/dash support was painted body colour, as were the steering column blanking plates on the firewall.
As it turns out, the larger tachometer and speedometer gauges are ones from a BN2. I'll find a good set from a BN1 and swap them back again someday.
With the inner firewall all clear, I moved onto removing the radiator. It had some non-original Allen screws used to hold it in place, so clearly it's been out before, but it does seem to be the original rad, dated Jan, 1953.
In the boot, I noted the wiring having a noticeable fleck in the loom pattern, as compared to the totally black loom seen all over the front of the car, and it had been wrapped in electrical tape where it went along the floor area beside the gas tank and through the bulkhead - is this original tape??
I finished the week by removing the carburetors, manifolds and exhaust. Noting the throttle linkage arrangement, exhaust supports etc. It was nice to find the carburetors still lubricated and not seized inside.
I believe this could be the original exhaust too - though I cant find any Burgess logo's on it - in any case it will need replacement! When I tipped it up a large pile of nut shells came out from years of squirrels hiding and forgetting their stash!
The original Lucas coil - would have been black with a golden label around the bottom. Also the original distributor...
Lots of parts and bags of hardware to go through and restore piece by piece. Should keep me busy over the next few years at least... Good organization, documentation and labeling are absolutely crucial at this stage!
On Wednesday this week I got together with friends and fellow Healey owners Jason Stoch (of Jetstream Auto) and Trevor Parker. Together we borrowed Jason's truck and trailer and took the morning ferry over to the mainland and drove down to Blaine Washington to pick up my newest acquisition to the family - a 1954 Austin Healey 100, BN1 #1221.
She's now in my home shop and as you can see - she's a fairly solid and complete car!
This blog entry marks the beginning of many posts chronicling the documentation and restoration of this car. I'm mostly showing the overall condition and state of the car in these pics, so without further ado, let's begin with the engine compartment:
The front fenders are very solid and so too are the inner wheel arches and frame structure. Note the early multi sectioned inner wheel arches,.
Her original radiator complete with date and - batch numbers?
original distributor, starter, oil filter and even coil! - though the generator is from a later model. The foot wells on the firewall have both been hacked open and then re-sealed with a bunch of little screws - perhaps someone wanted to fit a larger engine and then changed their mind?
In the front behind the grill - lots of Healey blue paint everywhere! - she's missing some inner shrouding panels though that would normally block the view across here...
the lower front fenders still very intact with the curious "v"cutouts on the lower flanges near the pedal mounts on both sides - we've seen this on some other cars...
All the cockpit rails are intact, as is the original 2 piece dash with Healey blue showing through on the gauge cluster..
Both doors are very solid!
All the cockpit floors, frame and inner sills are intact and solid. The gearbox is complete, as is the heater....
In the rear cockpit, lots of her original dark blue trim...
The boot is also very solid - some minor holes in the floor, but overall very good!
The rear shroud has been hit in the rear center/right. The damage seems minimal and has been mostly pulled out already. You can see the right rear frame member is a bit distorted. The rear fenders don't seem to have been affected, but she has a replacement boot lid from car #4068 - still aluminum as it should be though.
And there you have it! lots of work and detailed progress reports to come -
Until next time, I'll leave you with some pics of my Dads last BN1 that was in the exact colours this one will be once it's all done...
Well I have big news! My beautiful 1964 MGB that I have worked so hard on restoring to concours spec... is going up for sale!
Over the next few weeks I'll be working with Richard Owen of Owen Automotive, to get the car properly documented and photographed to highlight just how correct, original and beautiful this car really is.
Obviously if you've been following my blog over the past few yrs, you already know. She's in tip top shape, and runs and drives like a dream. It's going to be hard to say goodbye to her.
If you would be interested in buying this beauty, you can contact me directly for more info.
The one and only reason I could ever have to sell this beauty, is that I have found my life long dream car, and I can only afford to keep one...
The dream car I've recently acquired is a 1954 Austin Healey 100-4 BN1.
Growing up, my late father (Richard Chrysler) became somewhat of an international authority on Healey's, especially the earlier 100-4's.
He was one of the founders of the National Concours comittee, and was the the 100/4 registrar for years - collecting information from the various cars still in existence around the globe and starting to really document various production changes in detail.
I grew up around these Healey's, and for me, it's always been in my blood to finally own and restore one for myself.
The car that I've found is an early (January)1954 car, It's fairly complete and looks to be in fair condition as far as "project car" goes. I think she'll be a good candidate for restoration.
It will be several years of passionate work - and blog posts - to get her all done to concours spec. I'm looking forward to every step and doing as much as I can myself.
Being a January '54 car, it should still have all the "early" BN1 features such as an aluminum bonnet and trunk lid, 2 piece dash, early BN1 interior trim, style 2 side screens, "Austin of England" badge on the trunk lid, etc, etc, etc....
- and wouldn't you know it, the cars body number 1221 happens to be my Birthday! haha
As you can see in some of the pics, she was originally painted Healey Blue with a dark blue interior. I'll certainly be restoring her back to that.
Lots of metal repair and parts will be needed, but over all the frame looks solid, the car is fairly complete, and as far as project cars go - this looks to be in much better shape than some of the cars I remember Dad restoring over the years!
Well, I'll leave it at that for now. Stay tuned for many future articles covering the detailed photo doucumentation, and disassembly of the car, as I get into her journey of meticulous restoration. I am very honoured and excited to bring this car back to life!
Until next time -
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.