Thursday, April 2, 2015

Milestone. At last.

It's funny, how a project like this progresses [or doesn't].
Wait a second. I think that's been my opening line just about every time I post anything. My creativity seems to have wandered off...
When the task is something like "cut all the little metal things off the big metal thing" or "take all of that stuff out/off/away by any means necessary," things move along really quickly. When it gets down to the "make sure this is exactly the way it has to be given a broad range of criteria," the whole thing slows down. A bunch.
There's no obvious reason for this It's really my own fault. The whole wiring thing I talked about earlier is a good example. There are really smart people who go about wiring a car in a really smart way. Make a template with clothesline, hang it up on pegboard or lay it on the ground, then go about placing all the wires the car will need on the template until there aren't any more wires, and presto! Wiring harness ready to install.
I don't do it like that. My approach is better described as 'Add each individual wire to the car one at a time until everything is connected up.' This ensures that I get maximum Upside Down Under the Dashboard time, accompanied by the requisite Dropping Crap In Your Eyeballs ritual. It doesn't matter how clean you make the inside of an almost 60 year old car. Crap falls into your eyeballs pretty much the whole time. It's also a good way to exercise your back muscles, as whenever you're not bent in half the wrong way with eyes full of debris, you're leaning waaaaay over the other way. Automotive Yoga.
The good thing about wiring my way instead of the smart way is that you can ensure that wires don't twist around one another and that they all lay nice and parallel. Wires that twist around one another look untidy and really bug me. Though I can't see them, wires that twist around one another inside a piece of sleeve also really bug me.
I finally managed to get the front brakes bled with the help of my good friend Peter. I'd managed to use a vacuum pump to get fluid to the rear calipers (much to my surprise) but this method plain Did Not Work for the fronts. The fronts and rears are on separate circuits, and given that the original format for the 140 series brakes that we're using made use of proportioning valves, we put one of those into the car, aside the transmission tunnel and in easy reach of the pilot:
If you do this, you might drill the holes a little further from the valve. It'll be a lot easier to bend the lines and get the fittings connected up than the it is with the sharp-ish bends demonstrated here.

Something I'd completely forgotten sensibly postponed was a method of keeping the hood closed. In its original form (with hinges up front), you could forget to latch it and drive all over town and not realize that the hood wasn't secured for days. With the hinges aft, though, this seems less likely. And though I have a couple spare hoods, none of them is the right color. So I don't want this one to fly open and bang into the forward end of the roof.

For LCP (and just about every other sanctioned race type event), hood pins are required. Even if you have the stock latch in place (which of course, I do not). Many cars have pretty flat hoods that rest on top of pretty flat other things, so it's pretty simple to drill some holes and thread nuts onto the pins. The pins are pretty much headless bolts with a little hole through one end. Dead simple.

Originally, I'd planned to weld the pins to the forward structure of the roll cage, which would put the pins right up through the hood (which is the idea). But the cage is a few weeks out yet, and I want absolutely must drive the car before then. So the plan changed.

The "X" is where I thought I'd drill. The hole above it is probably where I really did drill.
Normally, you'd have a hole with the pin through it; and nuts both on top and below the hole to keep the pin in place. The new approach didn't allow for the nut that goes on the top side of the freshly drilled hole - in this case, the pins have to be recessed, mounted below the surface of the car's skin such that the clips that fit into the pins themselves are less than 1/4" above the deck, so to speak.
Angle aluminum to the rescue (is there anything it can't do?). The pins are secured to these bits, which are then secured to the inner fender, inside the engine compartment:

 The fender welting was in the way of the scratch plate but I'm the proud owner of a utility knife.
There's another misplaced "X" on this side, too.
... and the pin is mounted below the hole, with just the end protruding:

The driver's side plate looks a little bent. Because it is. Because the fender came off a wrecked car and the center section was thoroughly reworked after some firefighters tried to pry the hood open with a big crowbar (they failed to do so but did manage to extinguish the engine fire nonetheless, thank you very much). The point is: this car has been bent many times and has been assembled using bent parts from other bent cars. Not everything lines up perfectly. It's all about the illusion.

You wouldn't have noticed this if I hadn't pointed it out.
Last step was to secure the hood such that it would then interface with the pins. These are made from a piece of a street sign:

See? Nicely hides the bent piece underneath.
... and the right hand side:

This isn't the way it's normally done. Normally, the pins would protrude up through the hood, and the scratch plates would be on the hood to protect the paint. On this car, the plates are below the metal they're supposed to secure. They might still protect the paint a little but after I'd put them onto the car I realized that they're probably not necessary at all. Wish I'd figured that out before drilling the holes to mount them and cutting the welting away. Oops.
Next thing preventing the car from being driven was its lack of clutch hydraulics. The 122 that had surrendered its pedal box also gave up its clutch line bracket, which is now welded into place on the 444. Thankfully, bleeding a clutch is a whole bunch easier than the brakes were.
Crappy picture makes it hard to see the super sweet stainless flexible clutch line. But it does highlight the used hardline complete with surface rust.
Then the oil vapor catch can found a home (but isn't yet plumbed):

The siren (you thought I was kidding) fits into the hole that used to be the fresh air intake for the now absent heater:

Testing these inside a closed garage is not recommended. Trust me.
And finally, the grille and foglight (we'll be using only one foglight) are mounted.

With the relays and switches already in place, getting these last couple bits functional was just a matter of adding a couple more wires and ending the day enjoying a few minutes of Automotive Yoga.

All that's left as far as electrical stuff goes is to install and wire up the horns (and the TerraTrip and a map light). Still have to get the panhard bracket welded onto the axle - but now the car is in a state that will allow us to trailer it to the welder's place and then drive it back home. Probably a couple weeks away.

And the milestone part: it runs and drives.

'til then. Thanks --


  1. Need more update! You've made me quite unproductive at work the past two days and for this I thank you. I just traded a '72 Econoline for a '60 PV544 rally car (no history known of it yet, but it was originally from up your way); my first vintage foreign car. It's a second for me this year as I purchased in February my first new foreign car ever a '88 Camry Wagon with factory 5 speed transmission. I love it, so I think I'm starting a trend here with myself. Anyway, keep up the awesome work, I'm loving this blog!

  2. Thanks very much! Glad you're enjoying the misadventures. Not sure exactly when the next update will be -- not much progress to report in the last week or so. I did manage a test drive, which was pretty cool. Steering feel and response - and ride quality - are better than I'd hoped; unfortunately the brakes are dragging on all 4 corners... so that's next. Thanks again --