New projects get un­der­way

Classics Monthly - - Driver’s Diary -

The big Healey has fi­nally gone off to the paint shop and the big wait now gets un­der­way un­til the fin­ished job ar­rives back at my work­shop. I’ve al­ready re­built the Healey’s rear axle, gear­box and a few an­cil­lar­ies, which only leaves the en­gine to put to­gether and the rebuild has been pen­ciled in for a lads’ week­end later this year while the bet­ter half is off on a girly week­end. The fi­nal job ahead of this was to at­tend to some in­let man­i­fold fet­tling to match the new two-inch SUs.

This was a sim­ple case of care­fully re­mov­ing all the rough bits of cast­ing plus any over­lap from the ar­eas where the carbs fit. The job was eas­ily done us­ing a die grinder and was an­other task ticked off the list.

So how to keep busy in the mean­time while waiting for the bodyshell to re­turn from paint? I’ve been mean­ing to have a dab­ble in mo­tor­sport for a while and af­ter a bril­liant week­end at a re­cent Prescott VSCC hill climb, I’ve de­cided the best way of scratch­ing the vin­tage and mo­tor­sport itch at the same time was to go down the Austin 7 spe­cial route.

Given that there’s so much other stuff go­ing on, I thought the best way to go about this was to take my time and start slowly by ac­quir­ing some bits and bobs, get on the waiting list for an Ul­ster body and pick up the re­mains of a car at some point.

I know there are some ill feel­ings out there for de­stroy­ing per­fectly good 7s to build spe­cials and to be hon­est I can see this point of view, so I’ve de­cided to be a bit sym­pa­thetic in my ap­proach to the project. Af­ter a few months of pa­tient search­ing, an aban­doned project turned up. With all the body parts and in­stru­ments al­ready cast to the winds and lost, the find was an ideal rolling chas­sis and I’m now busy con­duct­ing fur­ther re­search and hunt­ing for more bits.

How­ever, that’s go­ing to be

a slow burn­ing project, so what else to do in the big wait for paint? Well you might have no­ticed from the fleet list that there’s an E-Type lurk­ing in the back­ground. While build­ing the Healey, I com­pletely pulled this apart and had the shell acid dipped. I’ll take you through the dis­man­tling part over the coming months while await­ing the re­turn of the Healey but with the weld bay clear, the E-Type has now made an en­trance.

I wanted to get the body mounted on the ro­tis­serie but via a dif­fer­ent ap­proach this time. I’ve al­ways wanted to build a frame be­tween each end of the ro­tis­serie to al­most jig the car and sup­port the weight rather than at each end, as this could cause body sag while the sills were re­moved. Af­ter a good mea­sure, the lo­cal steel stock­i­est de­liv­ered four de­cent lengths of 3”x 2” box. Next, I fab­ri­cated a rear suspension mount­ing frame us­ing a good old piece of sub­stan­tial an­gle iron fol­lowed by a fab­ri­ca­tion for the front that utilised the two en­gine frame mounts.

The jig was con­fig­ured to al­low the en­gine frames to be fit­ted or re­moved at any time, as this will be crit­i­cal when prop­erly lin­ing up the sills and the mount­ing points. The box car­rier was nicely mounted onto the ro­tis­serie and two frames mounted to the car so all it needed was a fi­nal line up and level be­fore the two bits were welded to­gether. This job only took me a day but it was an en­joy­able bit of fab­ri­ca­tion work. I used 0.8mm wire in the MIG welder, which I rarely use as I nor­mally run 0.6mm wire for thin car body­work. I keep the heav­ier stuff in an air­tight sealed tub with some des­ic­cant sil­ica in it (found in shoe boxes – do not eat!) to keep the mois­ture at bay, which stops the wire rust­ing. Cor­roded weld­ing wire will wreck the guide tube of a MIG welder and cause jumpy wire feeds and pro­duce welds that look like a pi­geon has taken res­i­dence.

I’ve de­cided the best way of scratch­ing the vin­tage and mo­tor­sport itch at the same time was to go down the Austin 7 spe­cial route

All ready to start work on the E-Type.

The mod­i­fied ro­tis­serie will help pre­vent the E-Type’s shell sag­ging.

Ex­cess ma­te­rial was care­fully re­moved from the Healey’s man­i­fold.

The fin­ished in­let man­i­fold built up and ready to go on the car.

The Healey’s man­i­fold needed some fet­tling to smooth the air­ways.

New floors and sills for the E-Type now all laid out and ready to fit.

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