Monday, August 31, 2009

With a little help from your friends

Another update from Brands Hatch Restorations - with a little help from a friend.

It's hard to get a good handle on a restoration in another country, so I asked a mate to pop in and take a few photos. It helps that he's building a Herald coupe as well... but where I'm going for brute force, he's decided to be clever and fit a modern, turbo-charged engine. Once finished, the comparison will be interesting.

Anyway... the bodywork on my Herald coupe is well advanced. The front and rear track widths have been increased to improve the handling, requiring substantial modifications to the wheel arches and guards. Brands Hatch have removed the rear outer wing panels, allowing the body shell to sit properly on the chassis for the first time. Wow, she's low! Once the outer panels are modified and replaced, the wider track won't be obvious... unless she's parked next to a normal Herald, anyway.

Note the string over the left wheel. The guard must extend over the tyre to be legal. The coil springs have been removed, so the wheels are sitting at full compression right now.

Below is an interesting shot - the main chassis rails have been scalloped to allow the engine and gearbox to sit further back. This had been recommended a couple of years ago, but I didn't have the facilities and ability to do a good job on the chassis.

There's still a bit of work to do on the backbone though. With less metal in the main rails, I may yet decide to bulk up and triangulate the backbone. When you're playing with a V8 (and I'm thinking of reducing weight further by taking it to 3.9L) you don't cut corners. Well, unless it's in a Landrover, but you know what I mean.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Herald coupe update

Brands Hatch Restorations sent me an update about the Herald coupe last week. They're making good progress, but not necessarily in the direction I'd originally envisaged.

As background, I engaged them to finalise the engine and gearbox mounts, but mainly to repair the rust and alter the bodywork to fit over the braced transmission tunnel and wider track width. Bodywork is their specialty, and they have numerous restorations to their credit. A V8 Herald isn't their normal bread and butter, but they like the idea...

In New Zealand, substantial vehicle modifications have to be approved by a 'certifier', an engineer who applies strict guidelines on design, workmanship and safety before the car can be unleashed on public roads. I used to think NZ's system was a pain, but since moving to Australia, realise it's pretty straightforward. Anyway, BH sought the advice of a local certifier, who specified a few changes. The first is that my beautiful front wishbones, which provide a wider track width and mount to Cortina uprights (no trunnions!) need to be made of a thicker-walled tube. The guy who made them is p1ssed off but will make new ones.

Another change the certifier asked for was to move the engine back. BH have done this, and made the final engine mounts. For the first time, the powertrain is firmly bolted in, about 4-5 inches further back than I'd planned, but it will help both the handling and give more room for radiator and fans. The engine mounts look very firm, and mount to the chassis main rails rather than the suspension turrets. It may be possible to run a brace between the turrets to stiffen the front up further. My Dad has dropped the front pulley in, so they can make sure it doesn't foul on the steering rack. I wasn't pleased when I saw that my tubular backbone had been cut into, but that can at least be rectified later.

And this is what 46 hours labour buys...

The timing cover is now in line with the steering rack. The P6 crank pulley has been dropped in to check clearance.

The right hand engine mount. It's basically a suspension bush, so if it fails the engine won't drop far. Could transmit a bit of vibration though, so the engine had better be well balanced.

The backbone has been 'clearanced' to accomodate the new engine position. If its rigidity has been compromised I'll have to look at replacing the tubes.

A very tidy gearbox mount.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Tanks Greg

During June's camping trip to the coast with my Herald, it developed a bad fuel leak. The tank had rusted due to years of standing water, probably condensation. After I filled up with ethanol-blend, the new fuel ate through the glossy paint that was sealing the rust holes. The rust I had no idea was there...

No one in the Moranbah - Mackay area repairs fuel tanks, so when I was transferred down to Brisbane last month, I brought the tank to be fixed by Greg Stevens at Fuel Tank and Radiator Services ( It's had its bottom section replaced, and Greg added a new drain tap which will be screwed in after the tank's refitted to the car.

As you can see in the photos, the old base was very rusty. The factory drain plug's boss, by the way, protrudes into the tank, and doesn't allow the tank to be fully drained - any water will remain and continue rusting the tank. Not that the original drain plugs can be undone anyway... The new drain point doesn't protrude, so it should be possible to drain any water with the turn of a tap. It's the way light aircraft tanks are made, and the way Triumph should have done it forty years ago.