New projects get underway
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.