Classics World RELIANT REGAL 3/25 DE-LUXE
With the Regal’s body away for painting, this issue we catch up on a few of the other little jobs that have been keeping us busy.
Iam using this issue to catch up on a few jobs that have not yet been covered, so hopefully you will excuse us if the exact chronology does not always match up with what you have seen before – it is a rare project that proceeds in a directly linear fashion from start to finish. So, for example, last issue we had the engine running in the rebuilt chassis, but here are a few of the other jobs that had to be done before reaching that stage.
I had always planned to totally dismantle the suspension and steering and to overhaul the brakes, but with the front radius arm on the bench, I could feel that there was absolutely no play or roughness in either the wheel bearings or the king pin. My problem then was that everything was caked in silver Hammerite, and realistically there was no way I could blast and paint the arm without contaminating the bearings, king pin or brakes.
When I took the front brake drum off, my dilemma was compounded because the shoes, return springs and cylinders were clearly new. Why, then, was the brake pipe on the backplate covered in flaking paint and looking rusty? Maybe it would clean back and look good as new, but after a cup of tea I decided that it made no sense to come this far and not finish the job. So as well as stripping and cleaning the components, I fitted new seals, bearings, kingpin, bushes and brake components – hopefully that will make the finished car more reliable, tauter and safer, which ultimately also means it will be more fun. Here are just a few of the many jobs that this approach threw up.
Alan had also painted four of the wheels in Old English White. The two extra spares and the primed bodyshell were then loaded into a rented van and taken down to Alan’s son Karl and grandson Sam in Saffron Walden to be given top coats of paint.
The Regal would have been fitted originally with 5.20x13 crossply tyres. It came to us on a mixture of crossplies and radials, all ancient and decades beyond use. Supposedly you can fit up to 145 radials, but Simon opted for a new set of 135x80 tyres.
After having the old tyres removed, he had hoped to have the wheels blasted clean, but problems with the mobile blaster’s compressor meant that he ended up doing the job by hand using a mixture of brushes, scrapers and the small Clarke blast cabinet.
Many years ago Simon restored a Regal, and was disappointed when rust streaks stained the painted wheels. So this time he made sure to run rust converter into the crevices where the rims are attached to the centres before Alan primed them.
The rear axle was also cleaned back using scrapers, wire brushes and a wire wheel in the angle grinder. As well as making the finished car look better, it is always good to know the true condition of components under all that paint.
Less specialised cleaning and painting could be continued in the barn. The leaves of the rear springs need to slide over one another as they flex, so the previously applied Hammerite paint was scraped off and the leaves oiled.
Finally, with everything reassembled and the new taper pin supplied in the kingpin kit inserted, the new welch plugs can be fitted. These are convex, and hitting down in the centre spreads the outer edges to grip the stub axle casting.
The new bushes then have to be reamed to size. An adjustable hand reamer cost £14.99. You only want to shave a fraction off the bush at a time, checking the new kingpin for fit after each pass of the reamer until it is snug but not tight.
The paint had even been applied over the grease nipples for the king pin! The pin itself felt OK, turning easily and with no discernible slack, but it had to come apart because Simon wanted to have the arm blasted back to bare metal.
Simon then drilled a small hole in the top welch plug, fitted a self-tapping screw and levered it off. The kingpin itself would not knock out, so Simon took the whole assembly to Hall’s Garage who used their press to get it out.
The diff unit is alloy, so that could be left bare. The halfshaft tubes and brake backplates are steel, so they were given a coat of black Hammerite. Simon is not sure what the factory finish would have been, but is happy with this combination.
The new kingpin kit came with the bushes and the welch plugs too. The hole in the bush needs to line up with the relevant grease nipple, which in turn goes in that hole you can see in the stub axle between the two studs.
He started by removing the steering arm, then the other two nuts holding on the backplate. This could not be removed yet, but could now be moved further onto the arm. This gave access to the taper pin securing the king pin.
The bush in the bottom of the front damper/coil spring unit was in poor shape, as shown by the bolt being offcentre. Simon ended up getting a better secondhand unit from William Jarman for £40, which saved some cleaning.
Like everything else on the car, the radius arm to which the front wheel is attached had been painted with thick Hammerite. So had the backplate to the front brake, the brake pipe, the steering arm, the stub axle...
Turning next to the brakes, Simon fitted new wheel cylinders, hoses, pipes and shoes all round, but wanted to see if he could save the original 11/16in bore master cylinder. Which, naturally, had been painted with Hammerite.
If the whole assembly is not too gummed up, the plunger will eventually pop back a little further each time, and now that it is not constrained by the retaining washer seen in step 17, it will eventually poke out enough for you to grip it gently and pull.
There are different ways of removing the plunger from inside the cylinder boor. You can apply compressed air or grease though the brake pipe union, but you can also push the plunger down against its spring a few times and release it.
It is not immediately obvious, but the spring holder is clipped to the shouldered end of the plunger in a similar way to that in which some speedo cables attach to the speedometer. Lifting the clip allows them to be separated.
Note that even the rubber boot had been painted! With that removed, the pushrod that connects to the brake pedal could be taken out – it is held in the cylinder body by a circlip, with a retaining washer below this that is now visible on the rod.
Here is the whole assembly coming out. Simon is gripping the plunger upon which the pushrod acts. Beyond this are the seals, spacers and spring, all held together by the valve stem, which is the rod down the middle.
And here are the disassembled components (together with drawings to remind Simon of their orientation). From left to right on the top row are valve seal, sprung shim washer and spacer, below them the valve stem, and on the bottom row the spring and spring holder.
The master cylinder itself cleaned up nicely once all the paint was scraped off. Fresh brake fluid was used to clean and lubricate the insides and it was rebuilt with a new seal kit which cost £11.65. All rags used were then disposed off so they wouldn’t accidentally be used on paint.
The spring will still be clamped on the valve stem because the stem’s end goes through this keyhole on the spring holder (the one that was unclipped in step 21). To release it, you manoeuvre the end of the stem to the side so it can pass through the bigger section of hole.
Unfortunately those rubber boots were in poor shape, one of them especially so. They are no longer available, and because the pedals are rectangular rather than round, we couldn’t think of any other car that could be raided for parts.
These are the brake and clutch pedals. Each one is in two halves, the cranked section that lives below the body, and the curved section that comes through the floor and into the cabin. The rubber boots seal off the openings in the floor.
Simon used an Eezibleed system that takes a feed from a spare wheel and tyre to pressurise the system. Unfortunately, although the brakes worked well, he just couldn’t reduce the brake pedal travel to acceptable limits.
So in the end, after all that work he ended up fitting a brand new master cylinder instead. These are generally only available with a 3/4in bore, but that is close enough not to be a problem, and crucially the pedal now has the right amount of travel.
With new copper brake pipes made up for the entire braking system and secured to the chassis using stainless steel P- clips instead of the original cheap- andcheerful metal push clips, the system was filled with fresh brake fluid.
So we had to rebuild what we had. First Simon applied contact adhesive across any cracks and splits. Where chunks of rubber were missing, he cut a piece off an old inner tube and glued that over the hole, much like a bicycle puncture repair.
There was more lateral thought required to attach the pedals to the chassis. The bolts that go through them are sealed at either end by a cup washer and felt ring, but the washers were rusty and the felt had been worn flat and was torn.
Simon couldn’t find new washers or felt seals listed anywhere, so decided to make his own. For the seals, he used a sheet of felt that is sold to be cut and stuck underneath chair and table legs to stop them scraping on hard floors.
After squeezing the sockets in a vice, the outside edge looked a bit like a crown bottle cap, but it straightened up with a little hammer work. The hole in the centre still needs tidying up here as the drill bit snatched, but the idea works.
When everything was dry, it was still flexible enough, but looked like somebody had sneezed on the rubbers. So Simon dug out a tin of Liquid Tape (brushon electrical insulation) that had been in his garage for about 20 years.
After brushing the Liquid Tape over the glue, the end results were perfectly satisfactory. It may not stand up to close concours inspection, but it will be hidden in the footwells and will stop cold draughts going up the driver’s trouser leg.
And this is how the washers and felt seals fit around the pedal pivot points on the chassis to stop muck and moisture from getting in. After lubricating the felt with EP90 oil, the pedals moved smoothly with no discernible side play.
He then put each new disc between two sockets, a larger one whose internal diameter matched the external diameter of the original cup washer, and a smaller one that would just fit snugly inside the raised lip of the washer.
The steel cup washers did clean up reasonably OK, but Simon wanted to see if he could replicate those too. So first of all he marked around the original washers and cut four discs out of a flat sheet of steel.