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!
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.