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 colour 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 -
I've had the pleasure of growing up around Austin Healey's and their restorations through my late father Rich Chrysler, and to this day they are still my favorite British sports car.
In fact just 2 years ago I finally bought a Healey of my own to restore: a 1953 Austin Healey 100 (BN1) - it's been my pride and joy researching and restoring each piece to be as good as I can make it and bringing the old car back to life.
I look forward to each exciting step ahead; getting the chassis painted, getting it back on its wheels, starting it up for the first time, and finally finishing it off with one of my beautiful hand crafted interiors.
From a young age I was taught the arts of concours level restoration, and through this I've always valued doing things right the first time. "Measure twice, cut once" became an inherited part of my inner dialogue for as long as I can remember.
As an accomplished artist, restorer, craftsman, and detailed scale modeler, I eventually learned the arts of upholstery and trimming - specifically for Healey's and other British and European sports cars. - What better way to tie all of my skills and passions together!
For nearly 20yrs now I have been working as a distinguished automotive trimmer, pattern maker, upholsterer and installer for some of the leading trim and restoration shops in the world.
My business is called Rightway Heritage Trimming, and while I've had the opportunity to trim all sorts of rare classic cars over the years, my main focus and specialty has always been Healey's.
More recently I've started producing full interior trim kits and components for the earlier big Healeys which are now available through Rightway Heritage Trimming and made to order.
Our trim kits and components are all made by hand to the very highest standards.
Having worked in a Healey upholstery factory for 10yrs, and growing up around so many Healey restorations, I've always been aware that there was room in the market for really accurate high quality trim for the Healeys.
Especially for the earlier cars that had so many distinct detail variations over the years as the marque evolved.
Many of the earlier patterns, colours and details we offer are not available anywhere else.
,After years of research I am able offer the correct factory colour options including some of the rarer colours like persimmon red, and teal blue:
For the earlier BN1's, we offer the earlier styles of boot trim, tunnel carpets, tonneau covers, and side screen upholstery - all of which had changed patterns by mid 1954...
Our seat covers are made in the highest quality European leather with the correct natural grain as the original.
If you opt to send us your seats for full trimming in house, you'll be treated with my custom made seat foams that look and feel just like the original Dunlopillo foams.
Wherever visible, the covers are hand tacked just like the factory did.
We even offer 100 S style seats with either the standard solid S frames or folding backrest frames (for cars with soft tops)
Our carpet sets are offered in original Karvel and come with the correct brass carpet snaps and rubber Austin logo heel pad.
Our Armacord is all sewn with hand rolled binding, and our floor insulation is the proper thin jute with black coating on one side...
We also offer all the various styles of 100-6 and early 3000 Healey upholstery, including all of the various unique armrests, rear quarter panels, and rear backrest sizes found on BN4's and BT7's.
Our panel kits include all new birch plywood panels, fully trimmed in vinyl with thin wadding to pad the doors as original.
We also include all the extra vinyl covers necessary to fully trim the rest of the interior like inner doors, parcel tray and wheel arches too.
Furflex is included with the earlier cars, and we offer Bristleflex door seals for the later models.
We even offer the correct tool and accessory bags for the earlier Healey models, made by hand in the correct thin vinyl with accurate snaps and tie straps.
When it comes to Healey's I've taken my time to research and source the correct types of materials and colours originally used by the factory.
I've worked with several Concours officials through the Healey clubs over the years that have helped me in verifying patterns and sourcing the correct hardware and materials for my interior components.
All of which has culminated into a range of very accurate interior components that I am proud to now produce and offer to Healey owners and restorers everywhere.
As a proud Healey owner and enthusiast myself, I enjoy writing and sharing pics of the work I've been doing through my blog: a detail enthusiast
If you're interested in ordering any interior components for your Healey or have any questions about Healey trim, I am always happy to assist. 250-813-2090
We are located in beautiful Victoria BC, Canada -
Our website is: www.rightwayheritagetrim.com
my blog is: detailenthusiast.weebly.com
Until next time -
One of the most common questions I get asked as an upholstery producer is: "How can I take care of my cars beautiful new interior?"
There are so many cleaning products out there and not all of them are good when it comes to your cars upholstery!
In fact some of the more common assumptions like using house hold cleaners & detergents can slowly strip away the colour pigments or dry out some of your materials.
There are several different types of materials typically found in a cars interior, and each requires its own special treatment when it comes to properly cleaning and maintaining it.
Of course it is always advisable that you do try to keep your cars interior as clean and free of debris, dirt and moisture as you can!
So I will get started by describing each of the more common materials found in a typical British sports car, and how to properly clean and care for them...
To properly clean and maintain your interior carpets, it is important to vacuum them regularly. I recommend using a good shop vac with a set of various wand attachments for getting into all the nooks and crannies.
A good soft brush and/or brush attachment for your vacuum is also recommended for getting into the grain of the carpet to remove any clingy bits that can become embedded like hair, dirt and dust -
If and when ever your carpets get wet, it is important to unsnap the mats if possible and dry everything thoroughly.
If you can't remove them, at least try to soak up the wet with towels and dry them as quickly as you can. Avoid using things like blow dryers or heat guns though which can quickly singe or burn the carpet fibers.
Carpet and underlay can soak up a lot of water, and that moisture can quickly cause all sorts of problems like mould, corrosion, and staining so it is important to stay on top of wet situations if and when they do arise.
If you encounter stains in your carpet from spills etc, I recommend using an approved automotive carpet cleaner with a scrub brush applicator.
Often these are foaming cleaners that work to pull the stains up from the carpet fibers. You apply it in a circular motion with a scrub brush, then rinse it off with water and thoroughly dry it off.
It is always advisable to clean up spills and stains ASAP to avoid deeper staining!
Vinyl is most often used throughout the interior on things like door and kick panels, dash boards, seat backs, edge binding and piping...
Since vinyl is a durable and generally non porous surface, it is easily kept clean by regularly wiping it down with a soft cloth.
For dirtier situations you can use a bit of mild soap and water;
suds up a cloth and gently scrub the vinyl, followed by wiping it off with a wet cloth without soap, and finally drying it off with a clean dry cloth.
Avoid using heavy chemicals! - stay right away from oil or tolulene based products like gasoline or laquer thinners as they may discolor or destroy the surface of the vinyl.
Hardura - sometimes referred to as 'Armacord' or 'ribbed Hardura', is commonly used in British cars as boot lining or lining other ares that don't need to be as plush as carpet.
It comes with either a smooth or ribbed surface texture.
It's basically a very durable vinyl surface that has a dense jute backing to it making it good for sound deadening as well as insulating.
Since it is basically a vinyl top surface you can clean it just the same as you would any other vinyl. Again, a good soft brush comes in handy when cleaning out the grain or 'corn rows' of Ribbed Hardura...
A common stain found on boot compartment Hardura is rubber scuffing from the spare tire. I recommend trying soapy water first, or using a bit of Simple Green - it's a natural and very effective cleaner that won't harm or bleach the material.
For Healey 100 owners who have ever experienced fuel spills onto the Armacord while filling up in the boot compartment, you want to soak it up ASAP and wash out the affected Armacord where the fuel made contact with it.
Some warm soapy water to neutralize the petrol followed by a good rinse of clean water and a dry off will help a lot. - Otherwise the gasoline will quickly dry out and bleach the material, making it eventually go brittle and start to shrink and crack.
Some other commonly affected spots are the inner lid of the battery compartment on 2 seater cars.. often this piece of Hardura is found stained by electrolyte and/or gasses emanating from the batteries. A routine scrub down with a wet cloth followed by a dry wipe off will help to stay on top of this area..
Leather, most often used for all the seat and armrest faces, should be treated with regular care and cleaning.
Since your seats are the most used part of your interior, care must be taken to avoid damaging them. Avoid carrying sharp objects in you pockets that can mar or damage the leather when you're sitting in it.
A regular wipe down with a clean, dry, and soft cloth is most recommended and will go a long way in preserving your seats.
It is not recommended to be washing your seats with water or soaps either.
With leather, you're wanting to maintain the leathers natural oils and prevent it from getting dried out.
For this reason it is best to use some proper leather cleaner and conditioner and avoid using water/soaps or any other cleaners or detergents.
Avoid using waxes too because these tend to create a sheen on top of the leathers surface which also eventually leads to drying out.
I personally like to use Leather Honey as it does a good job at cleaning and maintaining the leathers natural finish without wax or heavy chemicals.
However it is advisable not to over do it when using Any products on your seats - once every few months is plenty.
When you do use product, it is important to try and avoid soaking the seams and sewn areas as it will prematurely break down the thread fibers and dry them out.
Depending on what cleaner/conditioners you're using, it can also build up in those crevasses and wear the threads.
It is better to gently clean sewn seams out with a soft toothbrush and/or a tiny vacuum attachment to remove any dirt or build-up which can wear on the threads.
Then apply your leather conditioner in a light circular motion making sure to rub it in evenly and not collect in the corners.
Finally, the weather equipment: most British cars used either an Everflex vinyl or a Stayfast canvass material to manufacture weather equipment like soft tops, tonneau covers and side curtains.
Everflex is treated the same way you would treat vinyl, wiping it down with a dry soft cloth on a regular basis, drying it off after rain exposure especially before folding it down or putting it away is important to avoid creating water stains, mould, mildew etc.
If you need to wash it, avoid using chemicals and cleaners, just use mild soapy water with a soft brush, followed by a rinse and towel off.
Sunfast or other similar canvass' is a trickier material to keep clean!
Once again it is most recommended that you routinely wipe it down with a soft dry cloth or brush. Dry it off before putting the top down or away.
Avoid using household cleaners and only use approved car upholstery fabric cleaners and spot removers if you need to get any stains out.
For clear plastic windows I like to use a clear plastic polish like Novus or Meguires,
These polishes actually scrub down the surface of the plastic much like a paint polish works, and will remove minor scratches in the process.
Apply a small amount to a soft cloth and rub in a circular motion. Then come back with a clean and dry soft cloth to remove the dry polish residue and buff it out shiny again.
Always take care to avoid creasing or folding the clear plastic parts when you're folding down tops, and generally keep them safe from pinching or scuffing them when you're folding them down.
Well there you have it, a few simple tips for cleaning and maintaining your cars interior.
I hope these tips will help and encourage you to put just as much effort in maintaining the interior as you do in maintaining the body paint, chrome and mechanical condition of your car.
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!
When I try to remember some of my earliest memories as a kid, I have glimpses of my late father Rich Chrysler, working at his big wooden desk in our basement while I played with my toys on the floor beside him.
I remember being absolutely fascinated by what he was working on - building these incredibly detailed model trains, or scale buildings or figures.
I was always curious about what he was doing and sometimes he would set me up in my tall chair beside him so I could watch him quietly.
There was an immediate fascination with these miniature trains, how interesting and inspiring that he could build these tiny replicas of real machines and make them operate and look just like the real ones.
He often had photos spread out of the things he was building models of, that he would study with a magnifying glass, and he would show me the details he was recreating in miniature.
I would watch him work for hours with intrigue, and every so often he would let me come into his model railway room and lift me up onto a stool so I could see the miniature world he was creating.
This room was usually off limits to me and had a child proof door knob attachment so I couldn't get in on my own.
But once inside this room, there was a miniature world wrapping around the walls and furnace, with buildings and bridges, trees and people, and of course the trains themselves which would move and come to life!
Back then, Dad was modeling a fictitious branch line of the Grand Trunk Railway - set in Northern Ontario - circa 1910.
It was the most intriguing thing I'd ever seen as a child, and I learned very quickly that if I wanted to be a part of it - I must first learn patience and to keep my hands off!
Someday I would be able to build and enjoy my own...
I think it was around the age of 5 that I got my first electric train set for Christmas.
It was a basic starter set and Dad built me a 4x8' table with the track arranged in a loop with some buildings and sidings and even a bridge.
From that year forward it seemed that trains and Christmas went together synonymously. Like a tradition that had been passed down through generations - and for my Dads side of the family that was very much the case!
My Dad Rich grew up in Paris Ontario, he was the oldest of his siblings with a younger Sister named Barb, and 2 younger brothers named Roger and Ken.
He was the first of his family to get a model train set for Christmas when he was a boy in the mid 50's. But from then on, all of the boys in the Chrysler family - including their Mom and Dad, Cal & Fern, would become passionate model Railroaders of their own.
Growing up, when ever we would visit our extended families, the boys would always wind up downstairs in their respective train rooms showing and discussing each others recent moedeling projects.
Sometimes we'd get together with Grandma and Grandpa and/or my uncles and go to big model train shows or flee markets,.. or to see other peoples model railroads through regional open house tours.
It was our winter time hobby, it was how we all bonded, and we loved it.
Building scale models was by far my biggest hobby as a kid, my bedroom was full of model airplanes, cars, and trains that I built and displayed with pride.
My Dad was a great teacher and he showed me everything he'd learned over the years.
By the time I was a teenager I was getting nearly as good as he was in my modeling skills, and I had become a fairly good artist;
I could paint back drops, and draw plans, I'd even become proficient with an airbrush and continued to take many courses in those areas
I was scratch building all sorts of structures, building lots of wood and resin kits, and continuously learning new things through Dad as we would often model at the same time together in different rooms - checking in on each other every hour or so to inspect and discuss each others progress.
Rich was a reader and a researcher, a wise historian with much more patience and knowledge of the actual prototype we were modeling than I ever did.
I remember going to libraries and museum archives with him to search for articles or photos regarding various areas of interest or structures he was trying to find pictures of.
Sometimes we'd go to old stations with giant tape measures and take measurements and detailed plans of the old structures to have them on file for future models.
He appreciated and knew great stories about whatever his subject matter was, and he was able to explain things in a way that was exciting and clearly illustrated 'what it must have really been like back then'.
He was a master modeller and would often support his appetite for new expensive models by meticulously building and painting craftsman kits for other friends in the hobby, often in exchange for new brass locomotives or other models..
By the early 90's Dad and I had decided to combine our modeling efforts, change era's that we were modeling and start all over again with a new and much larger model railway in our home basement.
We dismantled and sold much of the old layouts, and took down the wall that had kept his railway separate from our rec room.
We even removed the unused brick fireplace in the corner to give us more room for railway.
We both agreed that we would model the Canadian National or 'CN' as it's now known, and that we would choose the transition era of the early 1950's.
This era is known as the transition era because it was the period of time which Canadian railways were transitioning from steam locomotives to the new age of diesel locomotives.
Canadian railways were also still in their post-war peaks by the early 50's. They still handled all of the mail until 1957, and there were branch lines with passenger service in place to nearly every tiny town in Canada. Combine that with all the neat automobiles, colours and advertisements of the 1950's, and it just felt like the most exciting era to model.
We decided to focus on an interesting branch line that just happened to run closest to our home in Hamilton Ontario - a line the Railway knew as 'the Hagersville Sub-division'.
This line linked Hamilton on lake Ontario, down to Port Dover on Lake Erie with many towns and division points in between.
With all of Dad's years of accumulated research of the various local towns along the branch line, he was able to draw me some basic track diagrams for all the different towns along the line.
I spent weeks one winter arranging the various track plans together on top of dimensional drawing I'd made of our basement. I was trying to come up with a way to fit at least the most interesting scenes of the branch line into our basement.
We knew that we couldn't have any track curves tighter than 28" because of running issues.
We had also been inspired by several other model railroads that had been built in 2 levels or decks to save space. This required a hidden helix of track to get from one level to the next.
With all of the information Dad had given me, I developed a two level track plan with a helix, that would include all the of the best scenes we wanted to feature:
There were connections to other lines and other railways, lots of interesting industries for switching, and some great features like the long bridge over the Grand River in Caledonia - a bridge that until it's re-structuring in 1951, could only handle the small E class 2-6-0 'Mogul' types of steam locomotives - which we already had a few of - Hamilton kept a fleet of these small outdated engines in its roundhouse specifically for this line.
The line also had to climb the Niagara escarpment from lower city Hamilton to the upper 'mountain' around Rymal/Hannon. This hill climb up the escarpment would often require extra 'helper' engines to get the train up the steep grade, which would then be cut off at the top before the train reached the bridge at Caledonia.
In the early stages of building the layout, we started with building the bench work and hand laying all the track for the lower Hamilton areas starting with the huge scene at Hamilton's James St station.
This station was a bustle of railway activity with the double track CN mainline between Toronto and Niagara passing along side, and a fan of tracks with platforms in both directions for all the various other lines.
Here it was common to see all sorts of steam locomotives big and small serving the various class trains.
There was also a huge brick express building for transferring mail from rail to truck.
While Dad did most of the bench work, track work, and electrical - I scratch built the station and platforms here in 1996, when I was just 16.
Eventually I would do the backdrop painting throughout the entire layout over the years...
From James St station the line turned 90 and headed south down the middle of Ferguson Ave in downtown Hamilton - we created this long and narrow street scene down the front wall of our house, featuring the huge Canadian National freight sheds and yards between Barton and Cannon st's.
Once again Dad did the bench work, hand laid all the track, and wired all the electrical.
He also built the huge Ferguson ave freight sheds and offices between Barton and Cannon st's
One winter in 1998, I built all of the rest of the houses, smaller buildings and partial buildings to fill out the rest of street. I had them all done in time for Christmas eve, and I set them up in place on the layout that night in time for Dad to see on Christmas morning.
I had built them all in my first apartment which was in walking distance of the actual area we were modeling. I remember going out one fall day with our cameras and photographing all the buildings we guessed would have been there in 1950.
The line then ducked out of sight briefly and into a new 'window' - we used the front fascia of the layout to create these scene windows in order to cover great distances in a small space.
The next window we featured after leaving Ferguson Ave. was our CN branch line crossing the TH&B railway with a diamond and interchange trackage. - This scene is in lower city Hamilton, at the foot of Wentworth St as the line starts it's steep climb up the Niagara Escarpment.
The next scene window was only visible from outside the main room area.
It was a long aisle we built parallel to the front wall that had the lower scene visible on one side and the upper scene visible on the other - a concept known as 'the mushroom' design.
The lower scene we featured here shows our line climbing the steep grade through the trees up the Niagara escarpment...
As this isle scene is the first scene you encounter as you enter the room from upstairs, we had to build a gate in order to get through it into the rest of the train room...
Near the top of the hill climb, the tracks duck out of sight and into the hidden helix Dad constructed to gain the extra height we needed to reach the second level.
As the line exits the top of the helix and enters the next window scene (now on the upper level), we arrive at the small region of Rymal - locally known as Hannon.
Here the line crosses Stonechurch Rd. via a small bridge, and has a long passing siding that services a farm co-op, some grain elevators, and a small station...
As we leave the scene window, we cross over Rymal Rd. with some classic wig-wag signals Dad built for the level crossing:
The line makes a 90 turn along the back wall of the house and enters the next scene at Glanford.
Here we have another passing siding and, a car siding servicing some cattle pens, a coal dealer and another small station. The station masters house, still painted in the old Grand Trunk Railways grey and green paint scheme, is also visible across the street from the station.
Glanford is also where the bigger helper engines would usually be cut off the train so the lighter Mogul engines could proceed with the train south across the bridge at Caledonia.
The next scene window we come to is the town of Caledonia Ontario.
Here the line crosses over Hwy 6 and interchanges with the CN's Brantford to Fort Erie mainline.
The mixed trains from each line would meet here daily to exchange mail & express, and fill up with water at the station water stand pipe.
Dad built the Caledonia station model very early on - before we had really started laying any track yet. At the time, the Caledonia historical society was in the midst of restoring the actual station he was modeling!
We went and measured the building many times and were learning all sorts of interesting details of its history as they peeled back the layers to restore it.
When they had their first open house, Dad had his model of it on display there for a few months to draw public interest.
There were passing tracks serving a mill, a big freight shed behind the station, and a Y for turning around.
As the line left the station and turned to continue south, it entered the next window which featured the long bridge over the Grand River in Caledonia.
Our friend John Spring built the bridge..
I remember hearing from an old locomotive fireman who used to work the line that the old bridge was so rickety and scary to cross that the crew would often hop off the moving train and walk across, catching up with the slow moving train on the other side!
Continuing south from the Caledonia and the Grand River bridge, our line makes another 90, and starts down the front wall of our house again..
The next window scene we enter is at Hagersville Ontario.
Here the line crosses over the double track mainline of the Michigan Central and has some long interchange tracks with the CN.
There's a signal crossing tower at the diamonds, and separate stations and freight sheds for the 2 Railways.
There's also some grain elevators and a co-op that the CN served.
Dad built the beautiful old CN station, and crossing tower, while our friend John Mellow built the freight shed and platform.
Continuing south from Hagersville, we decided to feature a long open stretch of single track country branch line. This stretch really captured the flavour of this region of Ontario, with farmers fields and rolling hills for miles...
Hwy 6 follows and crosses the line as it heads south past the next flag stop at Garnet.
Next our line reaches the town and Union station at Jarvis.
Here it swings west and joins onto the Wabash Railway or 'Canada air line'
Dad built the beautiful Jarvis union station based on plans he made of the real structure that still exists today. I remember going with him and uncle Roger to measure it up one day in the late 90's.
Once again, the railway also crosses Hwy 6, and services a local farm co-op, cattle pens, and a lumber yard...
From Jarvis the line heads west on a shared stretch of the Air Line until it reached the town of Simcoe Ontario.
Here we come to a station and water tower with some freight sheds, cattle pens, a coal and fuel dealer and interchange tracks...
Unfortunately we never did get the station built for this scene -
As the line swung south through Simcoe - away from the shared Air line trackage in the north part of town, it enters the next scene of Simcoe south...
As we enter this scene we come through the huge American Can Co. that the railway served, and then the line cuts along Market street with sidings serving several local co-ops, a lumber dealer and a fuel dealer as it heads south...
At the south end of town, the line branches off in two directions with a steam operated turntable in between the two branches.
To the right the line would head down to Port Rowan where it would turn around and come back,, then it would head down the left leg towards Port Dover where it could also turn around and come back on its return trip to Hamilton.
Because of our limited space we had to decide on featuring either the Port Rowan or the Port Dover branches in out basement...
In the end I decided to do a model of Port Dover, while Dad decided to make Port Rowan as a separate modular layout he could set up at train shows.
Since I had been living in Vancouver since 2002, I enjoyed coming home for holiday visits every year or so.
I would inevitably fill in scenery, structures, details and backdrop painting in all the areas Dad and the guys had been busy constructing benchwork, track and basic ground cover.
One year in 2011, I got inspired to build the final scene of Port Dover as a sectional layout I could build in Vancouver. My plan was to someday transport it to Ontario to be joined with the rest of the line in Dads basement.
I built this scene in my apartment in Vancouver over the period of a few yrs.
The project was well documented in this article about:
Here are a few pics of the finished scene of Port Dover:
As the line entered the south end of town it served the CN Station and several different fishermans co-ops and dealers along the warf. There was a turntable and an old engine house where the tracks terminated on the beach at lake Erie...
Toward the end of his life, Rich had turned his focus back to the starting point of the layout where the line begins at Hamilton.
He had planned to build the huge Hamilton Stuart st. roundhouse and locomotive servicing facilities.
There was to be 90' turntable, 23 stall roundhouse, machine shops, water tower with stand pipes, and a long double sided coal dock with lots of yard trackage for storing and assembling trains.
While this area was never completed, he did get much of the round house walls built from scratch which I later painted.
Because half the walls were intricately cut stone walls (that the Great Western Railway had originally built in the 1880's) - he decided to make one wall section by hand and then cast the rest out of plaster...
Here are some pics of that unfinished scene of the Hamilton Stuart st Roundhouse being built:
To properly conclude this story, I feel it very important to include the many friends that Rich made through the hobby throughout the years, many of which grew to be some of his very best friends.
The list is quite extensive and I don't want to miss anyone, so for this article I've decided respectfully not to list everyone's names out - you all know who you are!
In the mid 90's, Rich became a member of the Ontario and Eastern Railway modelers; which was a group of highly skilled Canadian prototype railway modelers who were all modeling various areas of Ontario in the steam era.
Together they shared in building a large and very high quality sectional layout that they would display and operate at various train shows.
Eventually they even started their own train show in Copetown, Ontario that featured Canadian prototype railway modeling.
Later he and some others went on to form other sectional railway groups like the E&O which modeled scenes of the NYC lines through Southern Ontario.
Dad also began building a FREMO modular scene that he was going to build into the scene at Port Rowan. Unfortunately he never got to complete much more than the bench work and some track..
The friends and family members we invited to help out through the years were all important in the building of this layout as well as our continued growth in the hobby.
For decades Dad would host and share in round robin work sessions with the guys as they would take turns working on and contributing to each others home layouts.
Through this, several of the buildings, bridges, areas of scenery, lighting and construction on the layout were done by our friends and family members in the hobby.
When Rich was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the spring of 2012, it took everyone - especially him! - by surprise.
No one ever imagined he would suddenly be gone so quickly - so young.
As one of his last wishes, he told me that he would love to show our layout to the public one last time at the reginal layout tours in the fall.
Unfortunately he was to pass away in July before the fall ever came.
I took it upon myself to enlist the help of several of our mutual model railway friends.
I hosted a series of work sessions to try and get the layout as finished as we could in time for the open house in the fall.
At the time he passed away, the track had been laid up to Simcoe, but none of the scenery or buildings had been added beyond Hagersville/Garnet.
Unfortunately Dad never got to see my Port Dover sections in person, though he saw lots of photos of it while I was building it out west. I did eventually move it back home that fall and joined it up to the south end of Simcoe by way of our laundry room.
The guys all really came together to get the layout looking mostly done in time for the fall open house. We ran trains all day for a record attendance of almost 100 people! making it a complete success in my opinion. Though it was an emotional time to say the least.
We took lots of great photo's and video's to preserve the legacy in that mostly finished state, before finally dismantling and selling everything later that winter.
This article is my final tribute to the Hagersville Sub that my Dad and I and our friends contributed in building. Model Railroading was one of Dads biggest passions in life and it will forever be a part of my story too.
We all miss him, but I like to believe he continues to live on for as long as his memory does.
Until next time -
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 -
Well it's official and it's already just happened: Over the last 3 weeks I have moved my business Rightway Heritage Trimming into a brand new shop space!
It's a new unit building in Langford (Victoria's western neighbour) right off the Highway #1 - at 2770 Leigh Rd (unit 136).
A friend from the Old English Car Club bought the new unit as an investment opportunity and for some extra car storage.
After meeting me after a presentation I'd made for the car club about my business - he offered me the front half of the building including the entire upper mezzanine and shared space downstairs for 2 of my/or my customers vehicles.
Given the much better location and proper amenities I was lacking in my old shop - like heat, and a bathroom - I jumped at the opportunity!
After reading and signing the contract, sorting out my new license and insurance for the space, I first got to work on preparing the upper mezzanine for my business...
The mezzanine had been finished with industrial carpet tile which is not really conducive to the dust and carpet fibers I create in my line of work.
So I decided to float a new laminate floor right over top of it - using the stiff carpet as an underlay. That way it will be easy to sweep and keep clean.
So I borrowed a chop saw from my friend Bill, and installed the floor one morning with my friend Bryce.
The next thing I needed was a proper 8 foot cutting table that I could also use for laying out and cutting materials & for material storage underneath.
I drew up a simple design and built the table in an afternoon. I built a shelf and arranged all my car books and material sample catalogues along the one side as you enter the room from downstairs...
With all my rolls of materials stored under it, and good lighting right above it, it's made a very functional and organized work table - big enough to easily lay out a full hide of leather for marking and cutting jobs...
The next pieces I added were a proper steel cabinet for all my paint and chemical storage...
and then another 8 foot work bench which I made using 2 second hand drawer sets I found at the Re-Store. I just added a 3/4" plywood top to join them together and finished it off with a nice aluminum edge finisher along the front leading edge of the bench...
I moved in all my tools and supplies, hung some peg board racks for hanging tools, my Grandfathers beautiful hand crafted tool boxes and some sets of plastic drawers for all my fastener hardware, and voila! - another very organized and functional work space...
I finished the up stairs production area by arranging my wood cutting area with a bandsaw, table saw, drill press, air compressor, vacuum and mini sandblast cabinet...
And of course my big sewing table, complete with more drawers for supplies, and pegboard racks for my tools...
Of course I hung up all my hundreds of patterns along the one wall and added several banks of steel shelving for customer jobs and material storage...
Downstairs as you enter the building I moved in my old 8' work bench I had built years ago in my first shop - I refinished the top of it with some leftover flooring and added some shelving for storing all of my Healey parts. This is the bench I will employ when working on customer cars...
I wanted to make this entrance area especially appealing for customers, so I also added my glass display cabinets full of all my model cars and pics of my upholstery work on display...
Here's my first new customer car in the new space - an Austin Healey in for a tonneau cover and door panel repairs, this car has come all the way from New Brunswick! having driven to the Conclave in Deadwood this summer and then on down to California - it's going to spend the winter here on the island before making its return trip east next summer...
Of course a few more display cabinets leading back into the main shop area, past the bathroom...
The main area in the back of the shop is being shared by a few guys storing and working on their cars. Eventually my Healey will fit back where the tables and chairs are on the right.
The front area leading back from the main door is where my customers cars will park and be worked on..
In preparation for street advertising on the front of the building, I'm having a few of these window decals made for the front door and the upper mezzanine windows facing out to the street...
I also made a few new posters for to brighten up the walls inside...
mind the colours - these are tiny screen shots from the Vistaprint website, where I designed and ordered these from...
With the move into the new space complete just in time December, I'm very happy and grateful to have lots of new work rolling in.
The bright new space is warm and delightful to work in, I very much look forward to many exciting inspiring years of growth and development ahead.
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 -
Over the past year I carefully produced a complete interior for a 1955 BN1, owned by Healey 100 expert, Curt Arndt.
Curt has been meticulously researching and restoring his BN1 for the past 30yrs!
and he has contributed countless articles and information to various Healey forums, magazines, and Concours guidelines.
He's collected lots of rare original parts and materials over the years, and has become a specialist in various things like restoring & identifying fastener hardware and their finishes, restoring Healey tool kits and components, as well as restoring Healey horn/trafficator units.
Having just purchased my own BN1 project around the same time he originally contacted me, we've been able to work out a nice trade deal for getting his interior done in exchange for several "unobtanium" original parts I was needing for my own cars restoration.
Curt's BN1 is painted in a beautiful creamy Old English White with the green interior...
Unfortunately the green is a lot harder to do right these days because some of the materials originally used are no longer available in the correct shades of green.
This requires some extra expense in custom dying which is no problem in most cases...
Fortunately when Curt contacted me to do his interior, he had already accumulated most of the correct materials to make his interior with!
-He had a complete Armacord set already cut & had already been custom dyed to the correct shade of green.
-He even had a roll of the correct shade and type of vinyl ready to go!
-He'd even found an original roll of NOS green Karvel carpet - which for those who don't know, is completely unavailable in green anymore!
Having all these raw materials already sourced, he just needed me to upholster and trim it all correctly.
I did source some dark green Everflex for his weather equipment, and a good matching hyde of dark green leather for his seats.
Then I got to work sewing and making all the interior components...
I started by making his new tonneau cover:
Curt even sent me his original late BN1/BN2 style tonneau cover for reference.
Unfortunately the green Everflex vinyl used for all the weather equipment is only available in this darker shade of Everflex. The original was a much lighter 'Sage green', but unfortunately the Sage is just not available without custom dying.
As a professional I advised against dying the Everflex for risk of it cracking and flaking with general use. Things like tops and tonneaus that deal with weather & have to fold and stretch often, don't generally last long when they're dyed.
With that compromise settled I made him a new tonneau cover that was accurate in every other detail, including the correct style of "lightning" zipper -
Curt even has the original early Tenax snaps that have been carefully replated in Nickel for when we eventually install it on the car-
Next I made him a new interior panel kit: I cut new wood panels out of 1/8" birch ply with the edges sanded round as original. Then I trimmed the panels in green vinyl, using very thin coach-wadding to pad the door panels, and sewing a suede-like material to the lower insides of the panels as original...
Next I did all of the sewn assembly, and hand-rolled/binding of all his previously dyed Armacord linings for the boot and rear cockpit...
Curt sent me all his steel interior components already painted in the correct dark brown, so I could trim items such as this battery box lid...
Next came the carpet:
While Curt had miraculously found a roll of original green Karvel carpet, it turned out that the green just wasn't the right shade of green for what was orignally in his car...
-Here you can see his original carpet on the left and the NOS carpet he found on the right...
I decided to dye the Karvel, and was surprised to find only a few green options available - We decided to go with the upper/darker shade shown in the middle here:
I cut a complete carpet set from his NOS green carpet and then custom dyed it all to be closer to the original shade. Then I bound and trimmed his removable tunnel sections as original...
Here you can see all the interior linings coming together, with the dark green vinyl panels, custom dyed Karvel, and custom dyed Armacord...
Next in line was the seats; I purchased a hyde of dark green leather that beautifully matched the green vinyl and had the right natural grain texture to it. I got to work cutting and sewing the new seat covers with vinyl piping and using coach wadding in the pleats as original...
I made new seat foams by hand, adding the square cutouts to the cushion bottoms as original to make them soft and squishy like the original Dunlopillow. The covers were hand tacked as original and I even added the 'BN' scribble that was found on his originals...
With the interior components all finished and ready to go, I shipped it all back to Curt's home in California...
...5 months later as the snow was beginning to fall in my home town of Victoria, Curt invited me down to his home in sunny California to install it all in his beautiful car!
It was a wonderful and educational working holiday installing his interior and talking Healey details with him and several other local Healey owners who stopped by to visit!
Here's what I was able to get done in the 4 days I was there:
- the top and weather equipment will be added at a later date when he has the rest of the materials and hardware to finish.
I started with installing all the boot Armacord....
Followed by the sill carpets, rear tunnel, wheel arch covers and rear cockpit Armacord...
Next I installed all the jute insulation and carpets...
I added the armrest, seat belts, and underseat Armacord...
And finally, the seats...
As I was finishing up on the last day, we rolled the car outside to get some good shots of it in the sun - the beautiful creamy shade of OEW paint is spot on and it just looks elegant with the dark green interior! What a knock-out!
For a 30yr long restoration - this BN1 is almost done! It's just down to some minor details and weather equipment now.
It's always an honour getting to work on cars like this, that have been so meticulously restored and done right!
I'm grateful for the opportunity to add my part the Rightway -
Thanks again Curt and Nancy for being such wonderful hosts!
Until next time -
Last month I had the pleasure of trimming this beautiful 1953 Jaguar XK120 FHC (fixed head coupe) for a local client from Duncan - Garth Taylor.
Garth inherited the car in pieces from his late father who had owned the car since 1960. Garth had many fond memories of it from his childhood growing up. The car was owned and loved by his family for decades when his father began a full restoration of it in the mid 1990's.
When Garth inherited the project a year and a half ago, it was still apart and mostly in boxes with some pieces missing.
Garth had Alan Simpson restore the car back to its former glory while Merritt restoration did the paint. When it was ready to install the interior, Garth contacted me. He had already purchased interior kits from BAS (my former employer years ago) and needed someone with experience in the marque to assemble and install everything.
While I have lots of experience producing all the interior kit components for these in the past, and I've completely installed interiors on several XK120 roadsters in the past, the FHC was a much rarer breed.
In fact of the 12,000 or so XK120's made, only 2672 were FHC's - this would be my first time fully trimming one - and there were lots of pieces missing!
To start with I had to find and assemble a new inner wood tack strip assembly for securing the rear headliner in the cockpit. Luckily we found these components through a private dealer on E-bay. These consisted of several specifically shaped pieces of birch plywood riveted together with the body and aluminum trim strips. The wool headliner and steel headliner bows would secure to these wood tacks in specific locations...
I also had to completely fabricate all the rear storage box assembly from scratch based on photos of what it should be. All the original wood structure was long gone, but I was lucky to find enough good pics to make it all new again...
Here you can see it all coming together with the grey wool headliner and burl-wood trim around the windows now being installed too...
The rear storage box & battery access on the FHC was quite the tricky assembly! - all hinged wood panels neatly trimmed in vinyl with grey wool-cloth on the inside as original...
Here is the front carpets and kick panels going in, complete with the proper Moquette covered J-rubber door seals...
The completed door panels are installed with fresh vapor barrier behind them, and the burl-wood capping pieces and chrome hardware...
The Hardura boot floor mat and the boot lid panel were installed too -
With the interior nearing completion, it was time to restore the unique curve back seats.
I started by cleaning up and re-painting the seat frames and hardware.
Then I proceeded to fully trim the seats with all new foams, leather covers, hardboard trim panels in vinyl, and new Moquette on the backs... Creating the right amount of curve in the backrest profile on these is crucial...
With the seats all finished, I lightly greased the tracks and bolted them in the car to finish things off.
The owner still had some mechanical & electrical work left to do before the dash could be completely installed and finished, but aside from that this interior is now complete - and what a stunning addition it makes!
Jobs like this are always such a joy to do! This beautiful Jaguar has been a part of Garth's family for generations, I feel honored to be a part of its continued legacy and history. It's the history and stories that come with owning these cars that make my job feel so deeply gratifying!
Until next time -
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!
My name is Geoff Chrysler, some of you might already know me, or at least may have known my late Father Richard Chrysler.
He and my Mom Lyn founded the Southern Ontario chapter of the AHCA in the late 70's
Dad got his first Healey in the mid 70's and from then on his biggest passion became the meticulous restorations, research and thorough enjoyment of all sorts of big Healeys.
In the late 80's he, and Roger Moment, and Gary Anderson founded the National Concours committee and standards.
He would become internationally recognized for his beautiful Concours level restorations of Austin Healeys.
Growing up, I was a huge fan of my Father. Being a young boy surrounded by beautiful sports cars (not to mention a huge model railway in our basement!) I couldn't help but have a huge admiration for him and especially the fascinating hobbies he was so passionate about.
Inevitably I developed my own passions for the same things. Over the years together & apart we built a massive historically accurate model railway in our basement, and together & apart we accurately restored many Austin Healeys; at least one if not several of every standard production Big Healey marque.
I say together and apart because in my early 20's I moved from our home in Ontario out to Vancouver BC. I fell in love with the west coast lifestyle and eventually found myself a job at an upholstery company called Heritage Trim.
Heritage was an upholstery factory producing interior kits for classic Jag's, MG's and of course Healeys too. While I had never done upholstery or trimming before that point, the craft seemed to encompass all of my best skills. Within a few yrs at Heritage I had worked my way up to being lead trimmer & production manager. My responsibilities included making panel kits, and trimming seats and other interior components all day/every day. Over the 10years that I worked there I saw hundreds of original Healey seats and components come through the door. I was always documenting, pushing for more accuracy, better patterns and quality - which surprisingly felt like an uphill battle sometimes.
Of course Dad was a regular customer and I made sure to take care of all his jobs myself. Every year or so I'd fly home for a visit and very often would be put to work installing upholstery on whatever cars he was working on at the time.
By early 2012 Dad and I were discussing going into business together when out of nowhere disaster struck. Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and sadly he passed away in July of that year. His sudden passing filled me with a feeling of great responsibility to apply all the good knowledge he'd taught me and follow through with my dreams.
I decided to launch my own business which I called Rightway Heritage Trimming - since his business had been Rightway Restorations, the name seemed fitting.
I eventually moved out to beautiful Victoria BC where I have been building a reputable name for my business through the greater classic car restoration community that's so prominent here on Vancouver island. Not surprisingly we have some of the best restorers in the world operating here and customers come from all over to have their cars restored here. I still specialize in Healeys and other British and European sports cars, and have been consistently producing the interiors for various award winning restorations every year since I started.
With the Healeys it has become my passion to produce the best and most accurate interior trim available. After so many years of research and experience I still get excited every time a Healey job comes along. I'm proud to be able to offer factory correct colours and materials, to be making seat foams that are soft and comfortable like the originals, and to be producing trim components by hand that are Concours correct, and feature the correct snaps, zippers and hardware. It's a culmination of details done right that other companies just don't offer.
Last year I even took the plunge and bought my own Austin Healey project: an early BN1 Healey 100 (built Dec '53) - in fact the the body number is 1221 which coincidentally is also my Birthday! It came as a fairly complete car but needs complete restoration of everything. I'll be restoring her back to original spec in every detail, returning her to her original colours of Healey blue with dark blue trim & grey piping on the seats.
Needless to say I'm thoroughly enjoying every step of the journey, I often write about my endeavors of restoration and upholstery work through my blog called "a detail enthusiast"
This is my story and when it comes to Healeys I like to think it's also a continuation of my Dads story - he's very much alive in my approach to Healey trim and restoration and I'm proud to be finding success in my inherited passion for it.
It's been months since I've had any time to work on my BN1. However these past weeks saw a few more things done..
First off, I should mention that I have at least been tracking down sources for much of the parts needed for the restoration, including some of the "unobtainium" parts that are hardest to find. I have put together lists of all the various sources for the parts I'll be needing and how much things will cost. This way I can slowly work my way through the various source orders as I have the money to cover each one.
It also helps having so many friends and clients in the Healey community. Since I started this restoration I've been able to reach out to acquire and often trade upholstery work for some of the rarer parts I've been hunting.
Over the past few months I've acquired several of the rare parts on my most wanted list:
- I found a pair of original Lucas 700 headlamps from my good friend Trevor Parker - these were standard on all export Healey 100's into Canada - Thanks again Trev!
I also found a pair of original horns, and a pair of Burgess air filters from my good friend Richard Korn - thanks again Richard!
I've been able to score some of the most difficult to find "unobtainium" pieces through my friend and client Curt Arndt - Curt has been collecting parts for his own beautiful BN1 restoration for decades and now I'm honoured to be making and installing his new interior for him - in original vintage materials that he's found! - I'll be happily covering this job in detail through future posts. -
As partial payment Curt has been able to provide me with several original and rare pieces that I was needing, like a correct BN1 generator commutator end - I can rebuild my current one that has replacement ends from a BN2 to at least have the correct ends on it:
Recently I went to our local Old English Car Club restoration fair and found a few more pieces that I snatched up including: a good set of original boot lid hinges, and a correct original boot lid handle - I'll need to get a new key for it which can be sourced through britishcarkeys.com by giving them the key number which is inscribed on the inner shaft...
And a pair of original Rainbow wiper blades:
Last weekend I went down to our local sandblast "Blast-It" center and stripped a few more parts that I also primed & repainted throughout the day...
I redid the headlight bowls and cleaned and polished the chrome rings and brass nuts, I re-plated the adjustment screws too and reassembled them with my new headlights and original plastic caps on the backs of the adjustment studs - curiously my plastic caps were yellow? I've only seen them red before...
I also stripped and repainted the side screen and top frames in medium grey:
I also rebuilt the brake master cylinder using a rebuild kit and following the factory workshop manual closely. The only tricky part was finding the proper 'red' brake grease to lubricate the rubber boot. Red grease is specifically designed to be compatible with rubber parts as well as brake fluid.
The other thing I started work on was the rear axle & hub assemblies. I first took several pics of it all still assembled. and then proceeded to remove the splined hubs, brake drums & axle shafts...
I was alarmed to discover that someone has replaced the 4 wheel hub studs on one side only with new studs and nuts that are larger than the other side! I had to use different wrenches on either side just to remove the hubs and axle shafts. In fact the side that has the replacement studs also has a crack in the inner hub where the one of the studs is located:
I've also discovered that the same rear wheel has cracks in the brake drum and even shows evidence of the wheel falling off! there are some very deep horizontal gouges along the bottom edge of the back plate - ouch! - if only this car could talk! -
while the back plate might be repairable, replacing the cracked early drum might be tricky to source. Luckily I believe I found one through my good friend Michael Salter, thanks again Michael!
I also got my front hubs & kingpin assemblies disassembled.
I've already got new kingpins, seals and bushing sets ready to go, however upon further inspection I've decided I'm going to replace all 4 of the splined wire wheel hubs. I'll eventually be getting 4 new wire wheels too so I'll feel better knowing that all the splines are new.
I also cleaned up my original radiator. I thoroughly flushed it out with boiling water and then cleaned it to bare metal with a series of gentle brass wire wheels in my drill.
The rad seems to be the original one to the car and is still in great shape - no leaks and still has all the original date and manufacturing stamps:
Now that I've sold my MGB, I'm finally able to pay back the loan for my Healey which I'm very happy to have settled. I can look forward to many more months (probably years) of meticulous restoration work ahead - but thanks to good friends who've been helping me acquire these rare parts, it's already starting to shape up very nicely! Thanks again everyone!
Until next time -
A few months ago I had a client from the US contact me about his original and unrestored 1956 Austin Healey BN2. It was a Healey blue car still with its original and fairly rare Teal blue upholstery!
In '56 and early '57 the factory tried using this Teal shade of blue interior trim instead of the common dark blue trim they had used before and after.
The owner wanted me to set some things right like replacing the carpet set and the interior panels with correct ones in the right colours. His original carpets and panels had been replaced with incorrect ones at some point. He also wanted me to repair one of the original front seats, and eventually make him a second pair of seats in matching teal blue done up like 100-S style seats!
Here's what his original front seat looked like when he sent it to me - the lower pivot arms had both been worn away so tape was holding them together, plus you can see the big rip and some of the seams around the pleated section had started letting go...
To start with I had to match up the colours of the leather and the vinyl materials exactly. This proved to be more difficult than I thought! However with much trial and error, I was able to find an almost perfect match for the leather and ended up getting the vinyl custom dyed to match the original shade perfectly.
I started off by making a new armrest which nicely shows how both materials contrast against each other...
Next I made the new carpet set in the correct blue Karvel carpet and black coated jute insulation, and a complete new vinyl panel kit in custom dyed teal...
Next I got into repairing his front seat. I carefully removed the covers and unpicked the necessary seams to remove the damaged pieces. For some pieces like the main backrest surround, I backed the torn leather with some canvass material and restitched some of the damaged seams. I completely replaced the leather on the lower pivot arms & repaired the foam in a few areas. Then I carefully put it all back together...
The final task was to make a new pair of 100-S style seats that the owner could swap in for long trips. The 100-S seats have a ridged frame with vent holes in the backrest - they're not only more comfortable, they look amazing! To start, we ordered some 100-S steel frames in from Kilmarten in Australia.
The wooden cushion frames I made are the same standard design as used on all Healey 100/4's. I made all the foams in house too, and even added the correct square cutouts in the bottoms of the cushion foams just like the factory ones had.
These cutouts allow the foam to compress when you sit in it, making for a much softer/squishier feel. Unlike the re-pro foams available today that are way too hard and don't compress at all...
With the cushions done, I moved on to the backrests. These required some very tricky sewing around each of the vent holes. I made my own foams again and made up some separate vinyl covered back panels that would be screwed on from the back - just like the factory S seats had. The end result came out absolutely beautifully!
While I'm sure the factory never made any S seats in teal, it's a shame - because I think the colour is part of what makes these seats so gorgeous! - they simply belong in a beautiful sports car!
Until next time -
It's been a very busy year so far for Rightway Heritage Trimming, especially when it comes to Austin Healey trim!
In doing so many of the 4 seat Healey 100-6/3000 roadsters back to back recently, I've had the opportunity to verify patterns, as well as documenting interesting details I've noted time and again in the trimming methods and evolution of parts over the years..
When Austin Healey released the 100-6 in 1956 it featured a larger cockpit with 2 rear seats just big enough for a couple of children - suddenly Healey was becoming a real family mans sports car!
For the first few years of the 100-6 BN4, production continued at the Longbridge factory as it had done with the earlier 100-4 models.
However in 1958, production of the 4 seat BN4's was halted for several months so they could focus on the production and release of the new 2 seater 100-6 (BN6)
When production of the BN4 finally resumed, they were relocated to the Abingdon factory which also coincided with several production detail changes.
For the purposes of this article I will just be focusing on the interior details as they evolved on the 4 seat "roadster" models from the early 'Longbridge' BN4's, through the later 'Abingdon' BN4's as well as the BT7 models.
The 2 seat BN6/7 models will be featured in a separate article!
To start with lets look at the front foot wells and kick panels:
Similar to the earlier 100-4 models, the toe boards and inner bell housing were first covered in a layer of 1/4" jute with a black textured coating on one side. Then the jute was covered with Karvel carpet.
The kick panels were made of Masonite panel board trimmed in a thin vynide type of vinyl.
-Vynide was the standard type of vinyl used on Healeys throughout the years, it was quite thin, had a matching colour backing and a fairly pronounced 'leather' grain to it. (eventually later BJ8 models used Ambla instead of vynide)
On the right hand side only, the kick panel had a large D shaped cutout with a separate piece of vinyl glued to the body behind it which provided a bit more toe room for RHD cars.This R/H foot well detail was standard on all 100-6/early 3000 models regardless of what side the pedals were on.
The panels were held in place using 3/4" #6 phillips oval head trim screws and countersunk cup washers - these screws and washers were the standard used for all Healey interior trim panels.
It should also be noted that it seems to have been common practice for the factory to hand paint several specific areas of exposed metal throughout the interior in whatever colour matched the interior vinyl. For example - the front lower edge of the door opening was painted red on this BT7 - in fact the entire flange around the door opening that the seal would press onto was hand painted red before trimming so as to hide any exposed metal. The edge of the inner door pocket opening was also painted:
There was a neatly trimmed steel parcel tray under the dash on the passenger side. It was trimmed with a sewn vinyl cover that covered the entire bottom and front perimeter edge, and had a piece of Karvel carpet glued in on top of the tray. There was also a round cutout for the washer fluid bottle and bracket to sit into...
Moving back from the toe boards, the inner sills were covered with Karvel carpet. These sill carpets would have been the FIRST pieces of carpet to be installed, having approx 1" overlap onto the floors and toe boards. Then the toe board carpets would neatly overlap the sill carpet in the corners to prevent any gaps.
The main floor pans were first covered with a thin layer of black tar paper, followed by some more black coated 1/4" jute under the front mats only, and then the Karvel floor mats which were snapped in place over the jute mats. The drivers side mat had a rubber heel pad sewn to it with the "Austin" logo in its center.
More Karvel mats continued under the seats with slotted cutouts for the seat tracks. They were all unbound and used 3 prong brass carpet snaps.
There was a separate curved steel panel that formed the front tunnel bulkhead. This panel had a rubber seal riveted to it that hung down and sealed around the gearbox. Like the toe boards, it too was covered in a layer of jute, followed by Karvel carpet that was trimmed around the edges of the panel. The panel was held in place with #6 trim screws and washers up either side and into the floor...
On 100-6 cars, the main tunnel body was similar in shape to the earlier BN2 models. It was painted black and held in place with screws into the floor and the forward bulkhead.The side shift 3000 cars were basically the same again, but slightly wider at the front. There was a vinyl cover over the front lip of the tunnel body where it met the forward bulkhead panel. The Karvel cover was sewn with a longitudinal seam. There was a 5/8" binding around the shift opening and some more 3/8" binding around the handbrake cutout. Jute insulation was glued to the underside of the carpet cover and the entire cover was snapped in place over the tunnel body - extending all the way to the rear bulkhead.
On later center shift BT7's, the tunnel body was made of fiberglass. It had a vinyl cover glued to the body over the shift hump. And its Karvel carpet was sewn with a few seams and darts to loosely conform to the shape of the body. Once again the jute insulation being glued to the underside of the carpet on these center shift covers - the carpet then being snapped in place over the tunnel body, with the center shift hump protruding through a bound hole in the carpet. There was also binding around the handbrake cutout and a vinyl cover glued to the rear tunnel body around the handbrake lever...
There were several different styles of center armrests that eveolved over the years of Healey roadster production. The first style seen on early Longbridge BN4's from 56-57 was a very similar design to the previous BN2 design, with a length of 15.5" It was a saddle design with 3 leather pleats on top and vinyl sides that extended to the floor:
The second style which turns out to be quite rare, was a similar 3 pleat design, but with sides that only extended down a few inches on either side. This style has appeared on BN4s during the Longbridge/Abingdon transition era of late '57/'58.
Finally they decided to go with this 3rd style armrest that was used on late BN4s and all BT7s (-as well as 2 seat BN6/7's and later BJ7 models). It was a smaller tapered rectangle design with 3 leather pleats on top, the center pleat being larger, and piping with vinyl edging. This armrest was actually sewn directly to the carpet: (note, ignore the repaired/recovered seats in both of these pics):
Moving on to the dash and dash top, as an added luxury on the Healey roadster models the dash was now fully trimmed in vinyl rather than being painted like the previous BN1&2's.
On the earliest Longbridge BN4s, the vinyl was simply glued around the edges,
then almost immediately the factory started adding small clips to the bottom edge, and by late '57 they had a thin C shaped edging that pinched the vinyl around the lower edges and gave it a finished look. This edging was painted to match the interior vinyl colour.
As production moved to Abingdon around 1958 we saw this edging replaced with a fuzzy snap-on trim that also matched the interior colour:
There was also a padded dash top panel with a D shaped padded crash rail along the rear edge. The panel was made of 1/8" birch ply with a tapered 1" thick lip along the rear edge that the D rubber was glued to. The entire panel was trimmed in vinyl with contrasting piping on either end to finish the edges where they met the scuttle seals. There were 2 aluminum demister vents in the dash top that were painted to match the interior colour. and the entire panel was held in place with a pair of trim screws, and turn snaps at either end, and the rear view mirror in the center...
The door panels were trimmed in a layering of vinyl covers and panels. To start, the factory often hand painted the exposed metal edges around the inner door pocket opening. Then there was a vinyl cover glued to the upper structure that would be overlapped by the cockpit rails and main door panels later.
There were 3 inner door panels trimmed in vinyl that all fit inside the door pocket area. They consisted of a larger lower panel that was stitched around the lower edges. followed by an upper panel that fit above it and overlapped it. Finally there was a smaller curved panel that wedged into the bottoms of the door pocket area to finish them off.
Then with the inner door panels installed and the upper vinyl cover in place, the main door panel was screwed in place over top. The main door panels were 1/8" birch ply with a very thin cotton padding on them covered in vinyl. The backs of the panels had more vinyl to cover the lower portion of the panel. then the entire panel was sewn with a stitch line about 1/2" in from the edge of the pocket opening. It was attached to the door with trim screws and cup washers and finished with the chrome door handles, latch finishers and side curtain anchor points.
The seats on BN4s are another thing that went through an evolutionary change through production. The earlier Longbridge cars had the exact same seat design as the previous BN1&BN2's, they had wooden seat cushion frames, and wooden tack strips used on the backrests to secure the leather and vinyl covers along the bottom edges. The easiest way to spot these earlier style seats is to note the direction of the piping as it follows the outer edges of the backrest all the way down around the lower pivot arms:
Then as production geared up to introduce the new 2 seat BN6 model in early 1958, we saw this new style of seat appear which had all the wood and tacks replaced with steel and clips. The seat cover design had changed a bit as well, with the characteristic piping now being diverted down to the base about 10" short of the pivot arms. The pivot arms now had separate sock-like covers instead of piping and hidem. Notice also the shorter angle iron style of seat base frame - the earlier style had a much taller frame design:
The cushions were now made with a steel frame instead of wood. The pleats were pulled under the frame and glued & snared on little hooks in the frame. The front and sides were held in place with little clips pushed onto a flange edge. There was also an air hole on the bottom of these early steel frames which made the bottom of the 'Dunlopillow' seat foam clearly visible:
The next small detail change to come with the seat design was the addition of mesh being added to the large cutout on the bottoms of the cushions. Presumably to prevent the foam from collapsing too far through the hole when sat on. This mesh was seen added to seat frames in mid - late 1959 and lasted at least until mid - late 1960. It seemed to also correspond to a change in the Dunlopillo foam design being changed from square waffle cutout in the bottoms to smaller round cutouts.
Not too long after, at least by late 1960 - the cushion frames had solid steel bottoms without any large cutout. This style frame would continue on until the end of production:
Moving to the rear seat cockpit area, the 4 seat roadsters all had a pair of these small tractor seat style seat cushions: They were a shaped steel pressing with a combination of horse hair pads covered in layers of wadding and a sewn vinyl cover with contrasting piping. The each had 4 pleats and the pleated section was actually hand stitched to the steel base pan. The heavy gauge thread that remained visible on the bottom of the pans has often been found taped over to protect it from road spray from the rear wheels.
The rear backrests could easily be lifted out or folded down for stowage of the soft top. The earlier Longbridge cars had a slightly deeper top panel - measuring 6.5" at the widest/center point. Later BN4/BT7s were slightly less at 5.5" This was to accommodate the different style top frames used on the earlier cars.
The assembly was made of 1/4" Baltic birch plywood, with 1" square wood rails glued and screwed together. It was trimmed front and back in vinyl with 10 pleats across its front face and contrasting piping. Upholstery tacks were used to trim the covers in place.
The rear quarter panels and wheel arches on the early Longridge cars looked as follows: The wheel arches were first trimmed with a sewn vinyl cover. Then some angled hardwood pieces were screwed in through the outer rear door post.
The rear quarter panels were made of birch ply and trimmed with a sewn vinyl cover with contrasting piping. The panel was screwed to the hardwood sections at the front and to a small welded bracket at the rear. Finally another vinyl covered finishing panel was screwed on top of the hardwood sections to finish it all off.
The Longbridge BN4 door seals consisted of some polished aluminum strips screwed to the outer door trims containing some corresponding rubber seal strips. Here you can see the door seal details on this original early BN4:
At the front edge of the door opening a strip of furflex draft excluder was also installed to the front inner edge under the kick panels and tucked under the windshield posts:
Notice also the strip of black piping used to finish the outer edges of the rear door post trim. All 100-6/3000s used black piping here regardless of the interior colour.
The early Longbridge BN4s also had these small vinyl trimmed panels tucked in above the rear wheel arches to finish those seldom seen areas, the entire rear bulkhead behind the rear backrest was also trimmed with a large vinyl cover glued directly to the painted metal bulkhead panel.
On later BN4s and BT7s, we saw a new style of top frame that was able to fold down even smaller. The rear backrest became slightly less deep and the rear quarter panels were redesigned to look like this:
Behind the rear backrest, some sections of Karvel carpet were used to finish the corners, however they stopped trimming the rear bulkhead in vinyl.
The boot linings of all the 100-6/3000 roadsters was done in Armacord. Early Longbridge cars saw the Armacord in matching colour to the rest of the interior. While later BN4s and and BT7s they decided to switch to all black. The spare tire was wedged between 2 vinyl covered wood blocks and held in place with a securing bar and natural leather belt strap and buckle. The fuel neck was concealed by a grained panel board and the 12 volt battery was clamped down on the right side with a black vinyl cover over its top.
The tonneau cover on the 100-6/3000 4 seaters seems to have remained the same design throughtout production. The tonneau bar however came as either a single piece or in 2 pieces. The rear section had a series of 5 bars that slotted into corresponding sewn pockets providing stiffness and giving it a clean look. The tonneau featured a 'Lightning' brand zipper and used a series of Tenax snaps as well as turn snaps in the four corners infront and behind the doors.
The top and top frame designs changed a few times over the years of production.
The early Longbridge BN4s had a folding frame that remained attached to the car.
When folded upright, it had a little hook that snapped into a rubber clip and gave it some support while the top was unfolded and snapped in place.
Later BN4s had a separate removable top frame that was a similar design to the earlier one, but would be inserted into corresponding sockets over the rear wheel arches when erected.
The tops themselves had a few slightly different pattern style changes corresponding to the 3 different frame designs. These design differences are illustrated clearly in the Austin Healey Concours guidelines supplement on tops - I highly recommend any restorer have a set of these guidelines as they are an invaluable source of original spec photos and information.
The BT7 style of top frame was a simpler and heavier style of frame that remained separate from the top and removable from the car. Again it slotted into corresponding sockets over the rear wheel arches.
There was also of course a factory available hard top available for all 6 cylinder models. They came painted in either matching body colour, Old English White or Black. It was made of fiberglass with a molded plexiglass rear window, aluminum trim, rubber seals and a came finished with a nice cream coloured patterned vinyl headlining:
The last thing I haven't mentioned in this article is of course the side screens, unlike the earlier BN2s, these were not upholstered and instead were made of plexiglass with an aluminum frame.
They were stored in a neat protective bag with a divider sewn into it so they wouldn't scratch each other. The bag could be stored in the boot compartment when not in use.
And there you have it! everything you need to know about Healey BN4 & BT7 interior trimming.
Of course if there are any of these trim components you're needing for your Healey you can contact me through Rightway Heritage Trimming. or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are now producing all of the interior trim components for Healey 100/4s as well as these series of 6cyl roadsters - in all the right colours and materials.
For further reading on the evolution of the 100-6 & 3000, I highly recommend the website:
Until next time -
My name is Geoff Chrysler. I am a lifelong Austin Healey enthusiast and a professional classic car upholsterer and restorer.
I operate my own business called Rightway Heritage Trimming, in which I specialize in upholstery for Healeys and other spirited classic automobiles from the golden age of sports cars.
All of my life I have been surrounded by Healeys.
Some of you might remember my late father Richard Chrysler.
He and my Mom, Lyn, founded the Southern Ontario branch of the Austin Healey club back in the late 70s and he was one of the founding members of the National Concours committee.
Dad’s first Healey in the early 70’s was a Maroon BJ8 with purple shag carpeting!
At the time he already had an MGA and an MGB and the Healey quickly became his favourite car.
He ended up doing his first ever full engine rebuild on it in his parents tiny garage.
He had just started dating my Mom and they spent many evenings sorting through nuts and bolts and re-assembling the engine together. That was 1975, British Leyland was on strike, so many weeks went by before he could buy the necessary parts to put it all back together.
As new members of AHCA, they found out about an event being hosted in Detroit and were able to meet Donald Healey at a dinner hosted by the then President Walt Blanck. That weekend established their connections with the National club and they decided to try to get a club going closer to home. Over the next year they started leaving leaflets on the windshield of every Healey they encountered around their home area in Southern Ontario. Eventually they met enough enthusiastic owners to start the Southern Ontario club chapter.
The BJ8 was written off in an accident later that year and was replaced with a blue BT7 tri-carb. He gave it a cosmetic restoration, repainting it with 2 tone Healey Blue over White. Detailing it and freshening the interior etc.
They also bought a Bugeye sprite and fixed it up. Mom even redid the interior. Clearly they had fallen in love - with each other and the Healey lifestyle!
By the time I came along in the late 70’s, they had sold the Sprite, but our family car and winter driver remained a ’67 MGB-GT until the mid 80’s.
Dad had started doing a lot of Healey repair and restoration work for others and started a small business on the side, in addition to his regular 9-5 factory job.
He found and bought a huge Healey collection that included several rolling chassis’ and a huge trailer full of old parts.
He ended up selling his BT7 and started his most researched and highly detailed restoration yet of a ’54 BN1. He gave it the LeMans kit upgrades and painted it Healey Blue over White.
While Dads specialty was in the careful mechanical, electrical and detailed components restoration of the Healeys, he would enlist the skills of Mike Lewis and Colin Bailey to handle all of the metal work, and Ron Allman became his painter. All were seasoned masters of their crafts and gave consistently outstanding results.
Throughout the years he also called upon the very best upholsterers around for his restorations - all of whom specialized directly in Healeys.
Through the 80's and early 90's it was Martin Macgregor who had actually started his upholstery apprenticeship at BMC in the 60's - Martin was top notch when it came to British upholstery and went on to develop other top quality upholstery products like his own Bristleflex door seals.
Dad also enlisted the skills of his good friend Peter Svillans throughout the years. Peter had actually apprenticed for MacGregor in the early 80's, in fact together they had trimmed the famous Goldie back then! Peter became the upholstery specialist within the concours committee and would often come by to help when Dad needed a top installed or some original upholstery to be carefully restored or documented.
That first BN1 went on to be one of the first cars to be judged for concours at a national Conclave in Ontario in 1988.
I remember being there as an 8yr old… Dad took Geoff Healey out for a drive in his BN1 to attend aTV interview. When they returned, Dad promptly cleaned the ashtray that Geoff had emptied his pipe into. Some teased him about leaving official Healey ashes in there for good measure! I believe I entered a scale model Healey into the craft contest at that show.
Eventually, the BN1 was sold to a keen buyer and he immediately purchased a new project car: a ’56 BN2 that was originally Healey blue with evidence of a rare Teal blue interior!
This car was quite rough and required a great deal of metal work. He enlisted the skills of Mike Lewis and Colin Bailey of M&G restorations to do the metal work on this car and, like his BN1 before, they made it as good as new if not better in every detail. Colin would remain my Dad’s metal fabricator and Ron Allman his painter.
The car was of course painted in Healey Blue over White and sent to MacGregor again for its new Teal upholstery.
This car was a piece of art! I remember driving in it with Dad all the way to the International Conclave at Breckenridge, Colorado in 1992.
There the car was judged and got its Gold, and also captured the attention of it’s soon to be next owner from Yokohama, Japan. I remember we had to empty the fuel and run it until it starved in order for it to be shipped across the ocean. Our family all watched her sputter to a halt in the driveway the day they took her away.
In the years after that, Dad continued restoring many Healeys for other people. He always had at least a few project cars on the go. Always insisting on concours level standards, he openly shared information, published 100's of articles, contributed to the concours standards development and enjoyed helping others and answering questions about Healeys.
He helped find and restore some of the earliest discovered BN1s like pre-production #14 and production car #1, car #156 which he restored and owned, not to mention the unique BN3 he discovered in Ontario in the 80's.
I don’t know exactly how many big Healeys Dad restored in his lifetime - at least one or several of every Big Healey marque (except 100S) - enough that I stopped counting. I do know the garage was always full and a typical restoration would take 2-3yrs.
Growing up, our family vacations revolved around Healey events: Conclaves, Fall wind-ups, club rally’s, even local cruise nights. As kids we were usually given the option to come along if we wanted - I usually liked coming along if it meant I could get a ride in the Healey! I fortunately had a really inspiring relationship with my Father, I fell in love with both of his biggest hobbies: Austin Healeys and Scale Model Railroading - you'll have to look up the model railroad section of this blog to see some of that stuff!
Dads passion for accuracy and originality in his modeling and his restorations inspired me from a very young age. As a kid I was always keen to earn my keep through cleaning and painting parts and generally helping out around the shop.
When I was 13, I actually bought my first project car with my life savings: a 1965 MGB -
It was my passion project throughout my teenage years, and I learned a lot about mechanics and restoration through working on it and other cars with Dad.
Unfortunately the car was so far gone I just wasn't earning enough money at the time to afford the requirements of a proper restoration. So I ended up selling it before it ever got put back together.
In my early 20s I decided I wanted to leave home in Ontario and venture out to the west coast. I arrived in Vancouver BC and within a few years I got a job working for Heritage Upholstery and Trim in North Vancouver.
Heritage was a manufacturing company producing interior kits for all sorts of popular British and German classic sports cars.
Heritage had already started producing Healey upholstery and knew my father well as he was trying to help them improve their patterns. They hired me on as a general helper around the shop, but within a few months I started learning the basics of upholstery trimming - within a year I was doing seats. Upholstery work seemed to come quite naturally for me. It seemed to combine all of my best talents. I thoroughly enjoyed learning the skills and tools of the trade and I was able to exercise my detailed knowledge of Healeys and other British cars to help revise and improve their patterns and the overall quality of what they were producing.
After 10 years of working for Heritage, my Dad and I were starting to make big plans of going into business together to restore Healeys, if I would agree to move back to Ontario.
He and his metal and paint specialists were already looking for the right shop to join forces in when suddenly disaster struck.
In early 2012 my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given only months to live. Without hesitation I left my life on the west coast so I could be with him in Ontario for his last months. My last words to him were, that he had taught me everything I needed to know to be successful and happy. He was a great man and I would do right by him in my lifetime. Sadly he passed away in July of that year.
That same summer I decided to launch my own business which I called Rightway Heritage Trimming. Dad's business name was Rightway Restorations, and I had come from Heritage Trim so, the name seemed fitting.
At first I worked out of Dad’s old shop at home for a while and even took a job up in Aurora Ontario working for Diamond Trim - just to see what working for a really big upholstery shop was like.
Inevitably my heart craved the west coast lifestyle that I had left behind. So, once again I packed up all of my worldly possessions, and I moved my life back to BC to start over again, this time on Vancouver Island.
Within my first week on the island I received a call from famous classic car restorer Rudi Koniczek of Rudi and Company. Rudi is world renowned for his concours 300SL restorations and had a small group of highly skilled craftsmen working full time at his beautiful home shop facility in Victoria BC.
Like one of his employees, Rudi took me under his wing and provided me with plenty of new and exciting upholstery work on all sorts of high end classic cars for my first 4yrs on the island. Working with Rudi and his crew taught me new levels of perfection in my craft. The learning curve was steep but I took it in stride. The knowledge and experience helped to fuel my passion and when he retired and sold his business in 2017 (now Coachwerks Restorations), I pushed on with my blossoming upholstery business to where I am today.
In addition to upholstery, over the past 3 years I finally re-ignited my teenage dream of restoring an early MGB. I bought and completely restored a 1964 B for myself which I covered heavily through my blog. I even won best debut restoration for it at the ABFM show in Vancouver last year. Getting back into full restoration is a wonderful and rewarding experience, and I look forward to more restoration work down the road.
I now have my own shop in Victoria BC and continue to do upholstery work for several of the best restoration shops here on Vancouver Island. I also continue to do Healeys for local and international customers who send me their cars or seats for upholstery restoration, or request other concours accurate trim components.
Like my Father, I think Healeys are one of the most beautiful cars ever designed - especially the early 2 seat 100/4 models. For me working on them feels like I’m working with my Dad again., and I love the pedigree and interesting history of the Marque.
I currently offer the most accurate interior components available for the earlier big Healey models - and I'm slowly but surely collecting accurate patterns to cover the later models too.
My current big restoration project is restoring my own 1953 BN1 which I intend to someday present as a concours example when it’s all finished.
In the meantime, I also continue to write a blog about the research and work I do on my Healey and other cars called “A Detail Enthusiast”
Some of the articles I’ve written on original Austin Healey trim have received huge response from the Healey world, resulting in more business and even a request to put together a separate supplement for trim guidelines within the National Healey Concours Standards.
My Father mastered the art of concours level restorations of Austin Healeys.
I feel privileged to have been raised by him as a Father and close friend, and to have inherited his passions for accuracy and detail.
I sincerely love what I do! Especially the pride and satisfaction that come from a job well done.
There’s a lot of value in what I do, not only in dollars but also in the knowledge and appreciation of these cars, their history and the craftsmen who built them. I’m grateful to be exercising these skills and values, and to still be learning new ones!
Until next time -
I recently made a new tonneau cover for a clients late BN1.
The client was able to send me his original tonneau in the original Sage green Everflex so I could cross reference it with my patterns and re-examine the details...
While I was at it, I pulled out my original Red early BN1 tonneau so I could lay them out together and examine the differences,
Here you can see the late BN1/BN2 style tonneau in Green, compared to the early BN1 tonneau in Red:
The early BN1 tonneau pattern followed the cars cockpit rail curvature around the front, while the later style had more sqaured off front corners and used turn-snaps in the front corners rather than the Tenax snaps the earlier used...
Notice the original "Lightning" zipper used on both styles -
Both styles have the same little under flaps for turn-snaps sewn in just behind the doors...
Slightly different stitching at the base of the zipper...
Also some updated stitching details around the rear hook bars as the later style improved...
Here's one of my new early BN1 tonneau's that I made earlier this year - in correct Red Everflex, with a new correct style Lightning zipper:
And here's the new one I made in the later style for Curt -
Unfortunately the Sage Green Everflex is totally unavailable, and it's just not wise to try and custom dye a piece of weather equipment that's going to be used regularly. So we had to settle on using the available Dark Green Everflex - which still looks great!
Complete with a new correct zipper and his original Lightning pull -
Get yours through:
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 -
I recently started on a job for a customer who has an un-restored 1956 Healey BN2 in Healey blue with the rare Teal blue interior.colours.
While Teal is a rare interior colour, it's one that I'm quite familiar with;
My late father Rich Chrysler had a '56 BN2 that he restored back in the early 90's that also had remnants of a Teal blue interior. It sent him on a massive research hunt for others like it so he could restore his to original spec..
With the help of fellow Healey upholstery experts Martin Macgregor and Peter Svilans, here's they came up with back in 1992:
Since then we've found several other un-restored cars with the teal interior combo appearing in blue cars and even a few white cars throughout 1956 until the end of BN2 production.
We've also found a few early Blue BN4's with the Teal blue trim combined with cream piping as late as March '57.
With this most recent job being sent to me, I've had the opportunity to take a fresh look and study how the Teal blue colour faded so differently among the differing materials of leather, vinyl and Armacord it was seen on.
Having been in the Healey upholstery business for over 15yrs now I've seen A LOT of original trim!
The key's to remember when studying original colours and narrowing down specific shades is: Exposure!
ie: materials that have spent 50+yrs in the sun and elements are going to bleach and fade in wild ways that can be very confusing for restorers to decipher.
It's important to find areas that have never seen daylight or exposure to moisture, cleaners etc...look in dark areas and under edges and seams...
In the below pic, I'm trying to match the original leather shade on the bottom of this cushion - not being fooled by the brighter colour above that it's become over time...
Here are some more pics of original teal found on my friend Richard's BN2 - again showing how the exposed vinyl faded to a greyish green, while the leather got more brilliant over time...
Of course most Healey owners will recognize this standard shade of dark blue with grey piping. All the materials of leather, vinyl, Armacord, and carpet were in similar shades of dark blue.
This dark blue interior colour scheme was seen in cars painted Healey Blue/Healey Grey, and also available in cars painted Old English White, and Coronet Cream.
It's worth noting that this standard dark blue Karvel carpet and royal blue Everflex weather equipment remained the standard used even with the Teal blue interiors -
Here's some good pics of the standard dark blue used on BN1's and BN2's throughout production:
Notice with the armrest removed below, the original blue colour of Karvel carpet with dark blue vinyl edging - both colours faded with exposure, the carpet turned to a grey colour, while the blue got a bit lighter over time.
Moving on to the Reds:
Another colour that a lot of Healey 100 owners often don't get right, is the standard Red/Persimmon interior colour scheme offered as "Red" on BN1's and early BN2's painted Black, White, Carmine Red or even Coronet Cream!
Like the Teal scheme, the factory decided to use some high contrasting material colours together:
The carpet, Armacord and Everflex weather equipement were all in a medium Scarlet Red shade, while all the vinyl and leather were done in a very bright contrasting Persimmon shade.
Persimmon is another colour that can act like a chameleon after decades of sun and wear -
A number of years ago my father and I restored a '54 BN1 that had all of it's original Red/Persimmon interior still intact. I was given the task of carefully cleaning all the interior components and reinstalling them on the car.
What I found was the Persimmon would fade out to a bright Orange over time, though in areas unexposed I could see it started life as a very bright Red with a faint Orangy hue when compared to the darker red carpet and Armacord:
Look at the variations of colour saturation! It's evident how orange the Persimmon became over time, though it actually started a very bright red:
Persimmon was also seen used on the piping in Carmine Red cars with black trim -
Black interiors with Red piping were offered with Carmine Red and Reno Red cars, the carpet, vinyl, leather, Armacord and Everflex would all have been Black with only the seat & armrest piping being in contrasting Red.
At the end of 1955 as the BN2's evolved, the Carmine Red paint scheme was discontinued in exchange for Reno Red.
Subsequently, the Persimmon shade of interior was also discontinued and replaced with a slightly more scarlet looking shade of red leather and vinyl that better matched the Red carpet and Armacord.
Here's some examples of the later red that replaced the Persimmon shade after December 1955:
Notice how the upper surfaces of the seats have indeed faded to a slightly more orange hue - though make no mistake, these are a much darker shade of Red than the previous Persimmon!
The last interior colour I'm going to feature is the Green colour scheme that was offered with cars painted Spruce green, Old English White, or Black.
It used a variety of different shades of green to create what I consider to be a truly elegant interior colour scheme!
The leather and vinyl were both a dark green with only slight contrast between the 2 materials...
Armacord was a bright Emerald green with contrasting Dark Green vinyl binding...
And to finish it off, it had this Sage Green Everflex used for all the weather equipment:.
Unfortunately, Sage Green Everflex is completely unavailable nowadays, so restorers must settle for a Dark Green Everflex instead..
Black and White:
Of course there were a few more less colourful interior schemes left that I haven't mentioned yet:
There was an off White leather & vinyl colour that was used with Black carpet, Armacord and piping. This was only available for 6 months on Black BN1's only:
To finish, I'd like to leave you with a colour chart made by Roger Moment that lists all of these colour schemes by date and body number -
I have done a lot of research to source just about all of these original materials in the correct colours for reproducing Healey 100 interiors accurately.
The only materials that are unavailable in the correct colours are the Green Karvel, Everflex and Armacord, as well as the Teal Armacord - although I have found decent substitutes for the carpet and Everflex, and can custom dye the Armacords.
For Concours accurate upholstery for your Healey, come to:
Until next time -
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.