Sunday, 31 May 2020

Today, the last day of May, was lovely in London.  I happened to wake at 5:30 which is not unusual in regular life yet is quite rare in lockdown life that we have been living over the past two months.  It meant the I was able to be in the grange early and I made the most of it as I was ready to paint by about 10;30.

As it was so hot I was able to paint with care free abandon in the knowledge that runs were unlikely.  In fact the  most challenging thing was to get enough pain on without it looking dry.

In what is ideal conditions the parts turned out well and I am very happy.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

A day of rubbing down and spraying primer.

As I am out of cash I am thinking that I should aim to get the car road worthy this summer and then do the interior and soft top over the winter.  Hence I decided to paint the aluminium gearbox tunnel cover.  I am not sure how successful this will be as it was covered in dried glue, quite understandably.  I also primed the windscreen pillars, bonnet catch bracket and a hole variety of other small pieces of metal that need to be Healey Blue.  The Healey Blue is tomorrow's job, with luck.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

I decided to do the driver side seat base next as it is the back that is covered in the original leather that I need for reference in the future.  I started as before by grinding it down using an angle grinder with a wire wheel attached.  Because it is so noisy I kept the garage doors shut and the picture below shows how my much dust it produces.

It was more rotten than the passenger side base and it had been repaired before whereas the first base hadn't been.  I guess it has seen more use leading to more wear?

I made some sections to weld in.

I then gave it a coat of paint and because it was late in the afternoon I hung it in the sun to see if it would dry enough for me to be able to ally a second coat, no luck.

I took the Gerry Anderson book out again and discovered that the base is only covered on the exposed edges and that means the vertical sides and I have enough material to do that which is good.
Having ordered the bits I need to complete the seats I am coming to an end on the amount I can do to them.  I welded the repair strip onto the base and painted them.

My welding was a little rusty and the painting was done without protective gloves on and now my hands are covered in POR15.  This stuff is really difficult to get off once it has dried and I should have known better.

I opened the last of my POR15 black cans so realised that I need some more but when I search for it the cost is £60 for 6 very small cans.  Not only that but they often go hard once opened, I have thrown 2 of the cans away half used because the paint in them had set.  Add this to the fact that I don't think I have anything else to renovate apart from the hood frame which should be a grey colour and I am thinking of switching to good old fashioned Hammerite paint.  My trouble is that I am short of funds again.  I have just enough to get the wheels stove enamelled and the tyres fitted and that's it.  I also need to buy the screen glass, wiper arms and blades, tonneau etc, etc, before I can use the car.  Nothing is selling on eBay either.  Damn, money.

Whilst typing I realise that I can repair the other seat base and then fit the covers to those, now that is food for thought.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

I was going to start with the washers but got distracted by the grille.  I lined it up again and realised that it is a little further out than I would like.  I also realised that the screws that hold it to the trim were not all in and when I tried to add the remaining few it became obvious that it was out of alignment so I took it all to pieces again.  You can see the edges on one side are straight but not on the other.  Naturally I just hung it on the wall and got on with the washers.

I greatly enjoyed making the washers.  It probably took less time than it would have taken me to earn £16 as well, mind they still need a coat of paint.  The first picture shows the strip of metal marked for cutting.

So, having procrastinated for a long time I got the seats out.  And boy did the fun start.  First thing I noticed is that the piping is blue and I thought it would have been white.  I have bought blue leather with blue piping but in my memory the colour is a lot lighter than this navy colour, I will have to have a look.

I had a little try and thought it was very comfy.

 The strip down revealed a very rusty seat back.

The original seats had a lot of wadding on the inside of the cover and as my cushions have none of that I hope the seat covers have.

I had a little try of the electric seat panels for size, a very good fit, but don't tell anybody.

Then I started grinding.

And I did some more and then had lunch.  Then I came back and did some more.  Flippineck I had this wire wheel on an angle grinder going for hours and I only did one seat.  And I got proper dirty.

Once done, many hours later, I set about making a metal insert for the one area that is rotten.  By the time this was done I was too whacked to actually weld it.

Now I realise that I need some more stuff.  I need the tacks which hold the leather on to the wooden strip on the bottom of the back, the rivets that hold that wood to the seat back, some wadding for the seat back and 4 bolts for the base.  This of course means I can't finish it this week.  I should have seen that coming.  I could start the second seat but every ounce of my common sense tells me to keep that intact until I have finished covering the seat I have started so I will wait.  I can do the bases though.

As an aside, have a look at the picture of the Healey next to our car.  The 100 is known as a big Healey because it was a big car and the BMW is a small 2 series.  The smallest new BMW dwarfed the biggest old Healey.

Monday, 25 May 2020

I remade the vertical panel yesterday.  I made a few adjustments to the template so that the vertices of the returns were neater at the same time and am happy with this now.  I came across the one grille mounting washers that I have and it prompted me to start to think about that.  I need 5 in total and they cost £16 which is too much for what is essentially a bent washer with a couple of tabs so I decided that I should make some.  I've found some suitable metal and taken measurements so that is going to be the next task.  Then the seats.

I have the rest of this week as half term holiday and then I am back to work which means that I need to get the last remaining big task out of the way while I have a few days in a row to do so.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

I started the day by doing some work on the aluminium screen pillars.  I used the Dremel to sand down the remains of the screws that were presumably used to attach mounting brackets for a hard top.  I rubbed all the original paint off, red and blue and then filled the holes left by the screws I had successfully removed.  The red paint makes me wonder why somebody would have gone to the expense of painting a lovely Ice Blue car red?  They did a very good job as well because the car must have been stripped completely as there was almost no visible blue paint with the exception of underside of the front bulkhead panels behind the dashboard.

Then I took the templates for the panels behind the grille that Tony Robinson sent me several years ago and started on them by using some baking paper as tracing paper to cut out and then transfer the pattern to the aluminium sheet. This made me smile as it reminded me of the day of a maths GCSE exam at work that we ran out of tracing paper and so had to improvise by running to the local Tesco supermarket to buy baking paper for the students to use; they never batted an eye.

It was quite enjoyable making the panels.  Having cut them out I bent some of the returns over using a mini anvil and a hammer but noticed that it introduced some curvature into the panel so I decided to make a clamp and see if that worked better.  I have a few sections of angle iron and by clamping them in the vice and using G-clamps I was able to secure the metal so that when I hammered it over it remained straight, great.  The floor section of the set worked wonderfully and looks great in situ.  I am rather drawn to the polished aluminium look and might not paint them after all, something to ponder.

At this stage I tried the grille to check that the panel didn't interfere with it, it didn't.  The grille looked a little ramshackle when I first picked it up but it looked wonderful on the car.  I was particularly pleased that it clamped against the bodywork really well without significant gaps, totally cool.

I posted a picture of this on Instagram and decided to use one of the colour filters they have, can you see which one that was?

When I fitted the vertical section I realised that bottom return wasn't well aligned for my car so I straightened it and then added it again but in a slightly different position which has left me with a tapered return that is frustrating.  I think I will be remaking this panel tomorrow.

I needed to add an extra slot in the floor section to get it to fit around the chassis X braces however, I wasn't sure about this so I dug out my copy of the Austin Healey 100 restoration guide by Gary Anderson to check.  While doing that I found a photo that clearly showed the vertical panel in the middle of the aperture, in fact it looks rather similar to the picture above.  It made me think because this book is rather rare now and is advertised for up to £300 and so it had crossed my mind to sell my copy and add the money to the car fund.  But having used it today I think I should keep it for a while yet.  I also noticed that the middle screw used to mount the grille sits exactly where the vertical front edge of my new panel sits so I may modify the second version to give me some space for that.  Finally when I look at these photos I realise that whilst the floor panel looks great in bare metal the vertical one doesn't look so hot where it has been hammered during productions so I think they will be painted after all.