Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bulkhead panels and Megajolt

While the GT6 chassis is getting blasted (must check how that's going), I've been busy converting the shell to right hand drive. The battery box, pedal shelf and brackets are available as rust repair panels, so the old ones were cut out and new ones fitted on the other side. These are still to be welded in place.

I've also cut out the left hand drive dash frame, and will weld in the replacement right hand drive frame when the bulkhead is welded. I'll also have to make a recess in the bulkhead to accomodate the long tandem brake cylinder.

Another little project will be to replace the Delco distributor (curved for the US-spec engine) with Megajolt ignition. A trigger wheel and EDIS-6 kit arrived from the UK last week, and the Megajolt Light Jr version 4 kit landed on the doorstep today. I forsee a lot of delicate soldering in my future. included a couple of boiled sweets in the box, which I thought was a lovely touch. There was also a bag of UK air as packing. I'll release it in the car when finished to ensure absolute authenticity.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Turning point

After a few more evenings in the shed, the GT6 has finally been stripped down to the chassis. It's straight and rust-free, so will get sandblasted and painted next week. After that comes the ceremonial turning of the ratchet, when I start screwing bits together again.

In the meantime the body and mechanical components are tucked in the garage so the Herald can nest in the middle. Small cars are great - once the GT6's shell gets reunited with the chassis I'll still be able to tuck it sideways in the back of the garage and wheel it out to work on it.

With the exception of one piece of the wooden dash and the steering rack, I now have all the parts required to convert the car to right hand drive. Time to practice my welding skills.

The reassembled car will have a few improvements built in. The gearbox's magnetic drain plug held a significant amount of swarf and a needle roller. She can't have been running too well at the end! A popular upgrade is a Ford Type 9 five-speed box. Triumph diffs are known for their fragility, so I'll fit a Subaru 3.7 LSD which just happens to be sitting on my shelf. The rotoflex couplings are another weak link (see above), so the Subaru diff will be connected to Datsun sliding spline halfshafts (they bolt together).

I'd hoped to be able to run the existing engine for a year or two before rebuilding and upgrading it, but the crankshaft has about a half millimetre of fore - aft movement, signalling worn thrust bearings. I'll check their condition before making a final decision, but if the thrusts are worn, chances are the rest of the engine is pretty tired too. The engine can stay in the garage for now, though, as restoring the bodyshell is top priority. It'll be much nicer to rebuild an engine with a beautiful painted and trimmed car waiting to receive it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Stripping with friends

Over the last week or so, I've been slowly stripping the GT6 down, learning how they were built and revealing its secrets. It's suffered a few bodges in its time. The ignition lock obviously failed at some point, so it was removed from the column and an ordinary switch fitted in its place. There's the standard horn switch bypass wire, as the steering column contacts invariably fall apart with age. A strange find was a 1998 tape by Vicente Fernandez, a Mexican folk singer, found in the bottom of a door. I'm guessing that around then, the car was owned by a Mexican or lover of Mexican music. When it's on the road I'll download some of Vicente's tunes, to get something of the feel of the car's history.

So that's one new steering column needed, then!

The general condition of the car is best described as 'worn out'. The body really has very little rust, but most panels have a dent or two. The interior is a write-off - even the plywood dash crumbled as the glue holding the ply together had been cooked. Just about everything made of vinyl, rubber or plastic is history.

It's fascinating that the GT6 is only three years younger than my Herald, and yet the design is much more modern and mature. The greasy bits are the same, but the Herald doesn't have features like seatbelt warning lights, two-speed heater fan and wipers or eyeball vents. Of course, my 1969 Herald was really designed in the late fifties (bar a few cosmetic changes) so I shouldn't be surprised. But I've fallen for the new car already, seeing how well constructed it is.

Last night I was planing to strip out the back end - fuel tank, rear lights, bumper and tailgate glass, but a few friends turned up and offered to help. All my careful one-bit-at-a-time note-taking went out the window, and in a couple of hours we had the body off. Thanks to Bill, Leon (a Valiant Charger nut, he loves my 'toy' car), James and Ashley for the spanner work and lifting.

Leon, James and Bill getting stuck in.

The morning after

So, three pizzas and a six-pack (should have been Tortillas and Corona obviously) the chassis was laid bare. And the verdict? Under the dirt, it's factory fresh. You can still see the Damson overspray on the rails!

A last note, right now we're watching out for category 4 Cyclone Hamish, a couple of hundred kilometres off the coast and moving south. At worst we expect heavy rain, but are prepared with gas cooker, beer and DVDs.