Sunday, August 30, 2009

Time for some budgeting and planning

I seem to have gone a bit mad with the expenditure on repairs. This is what I've spent since the last payday:

Welding on Brown's floorpan - £45
Front suspension bolt set for Brown - £20 (eBay purchase including postage)
Fuel filter for Blue - £4.39
Brake pads & shoes for Blue - £28
Two new tyres for Blue - £70
MoT test fee for Blue - £40
Pair of new track rod ends for Blue - £10
Temperature sender for Blue - £12
RH bottom balljoint for Brown - £30 (another eBay purchase which also included postage)
LH bottom balljoint for Brown - £28 (bought from a TDC member in Holland which again included postage)
Lower wishbone bush seals (£8 from Rimmer Bros)

This comes to a grand total of £295.39 which is a fair chunk of my income. Clearly this cannot be sustained so like Baldrick in Blackadder I have a cunning plan. I'm going to budget for only a few items and that way I won't be overspending like I've just done. Also, as Blue now has an MoT there won't be as much money spent on that car as before. Here is my plan of action:

Brake discs, pads & shoes for Brown (priced at approx £100 including postage from Rimmer Bros)
Front suspension bushes for Brown (priced at about £50 from Chris Witor)
Front wheel bearings for Brown (£20 for both sides from ANG Triumph)
Zircon blue paint for Blue (unknown as yet. I might try Halfords)

Exhaust for Brown (£200 from the TDC)
Track rod ends for Brown (the gaiters have split despite being recently fitted. Probably £5 each from Champion Motor Spares)

New front tyres for Brown (£30-40 each depending on where I go)
Front wheel tracking (probably about £15)
MoT test for Brown (£40 if I use the same testing station again)

If I follow this plan I hope to avoid any overspending.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Suspension progress

I've got the lower wishbones back from Brian which have now had their bushes separated. I've got the bottom balljoints and a set of seals for the lower wishbone bushes which I'd ordered from Rimmer Bros. I just need the bushes and then I can start to fit my refubished suspension to Brown. My plan is to get Superflex bushes from Chris Witor.

Blue is now running like a dream. The fuel problem has now all but disappeared. I took the car for a run out to Scarborough and it didn't miss a beat. I think a good run was what it needed. I've also dealt with one of the advisories on the MoT. I wirebrushed the sills and gave them a couple of coats of rust killing primer. I'll leave it a couple of weeks then I'll rub it down and give it a topcoat (if I can find Zircon blue. Most motor factors won't stock it.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

It passed

I picked up the track rod ends and fitted them last night. This morning after work I went back to the testing station for the retest where Blue got that elusive green piece of paper (MoT certificate) so now Blue is road legal once again.

Turning my attention to Brown, I've dropped off the repainted lower wishbones at Brian's to get the old bushes out. Once I've got new bushes I can then do my suspension rebuild.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It failed...

...on a track rod end! There were a few advisories as well.

The OSF brake disc was slightly pitted
OSR brake pipe slightly corroded (cleaned up by the tester and is OK)
Both outer sills corroded but not excessive
The front brakes imbalanced but just within the limit (caused by the pitted disc according to the tester)

I've ordered a pair of track rod ends from Champion and I'll be able to deal with the advisories. The sills will be wirebrushed, rust treated (got some rust killing primer), and then topcoated. I'll waxoyl the sills to stop the rust in it's tracks. A pair of new brake discs will be fitted to deal with the brakes. A nice easy winter project. Before I took Blue in for the MoT I replaced the rear tyres as they were on the car when I got it and due to the 13 year lay-up they must have been at least 15 years old and therefore overdue for replacment. One of them looked like it had been on since the car rolled off the production line and the tread looked like it was worn to the limit. £70 for the pair is a small price to pay for total piece of mind and was one thing less to fail the MoT on. I forgot to mention that I'd fitted a replacement front bumper yesterday. The Acclaim Guru (Barry) had kept it for me and when I was fitting it I decided to clean up the front valence and gave it a couple of coats of rust killing primer. Once the primer has hardened I can topcoat it. I'll be doing the same thing with the outer sills. The only problem was when I came to remove the headlamp washer jets from the old bumper the threads had sheared. The Guru has a couple in stock but he's on holiday at the moment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Final prep

I adjusted the handbrake and jetwashed Blue and the car is now ready for tomorrow's MoT. I discovered that I'd refitted the fuel pump wrongly which could be the cause of the poor running. I've topped up the radiator with the last of my antifreeze. I'd like to get the temperature gauge working again to see if Blue's overheating.

Monday, August 17, 2009

MoT preparation on Blue

I've been working on the brakes. New pads, shoes and the fluid has been replaced and the brakes seem better. Just need to put some more miles on the car. I'm still having problems with it running but I've replaced the fuel filter and I've been spraying carb cleaner in the carbs. Maybe a bit more fresh petrol might help things. I'm still waiting for the temperature sender to arrive but I'll stick with the motor factor I've orderedit from as they're moving Heaven and Earth to get one and it is local to where I am these days.

I'm gradually getting the bits I need to bring Brown back up to MoT standard. The floorpan was welded last Friday costing me £45. I've got a nut and bolt set for the front suspension for just shy of £15 via eBay. Another eBay bargain was a bottom RH balljoint for £20 and I've been offered a LH one for the same price. The suspension refurb is coming along slowly. I've cleaned up the upper wishbones and I've even managed to remove all but one of the bushes. I'll be fitting new bushes and I'll probably get Superflex ones like I did for the tie bars. Blue will be taking prioroty but I'll get things if the opportunity arises.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Yes, Blue is up and running again. I've changed the engine oil and bled the brakes as the fluid had seen better days. I went to get some petrol and the brake fluid level went down. (the warning light came on) Shortly after putting some petrol in the car started running like a bag of spanners. I don't know why but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. I'll try some carb cleaner then. I'll also see if that temperature sender has arrived. I hope Blue isn't overheating like before.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I've ordered a new timing belt and I'm waiting for it along with the temperature sender for Blue. I'm also waiting for Brian to finish the head so I can reunite it with the block and time is running out. I'm going to end up without transport at this rate as Brown's MoT runs out very soon. I can see myself walking to work. Night shifts & public transport don't mix. I've enquired about parts at my trusty local motor factor for Brown for when it comes off the road. It might be worth getting them from there if it works out cheaper than getting them from Fitchett's or Rimmer Bros.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Getting there with Blue

No joy with Drake's. They couldn't get the valve stem oil seals so I ended up getting another head set from Bradford Grinders with the correct seals for a tenner. I dropped it in at Brian's so the head will be ready soon. I'm sure I had a spare timing belt (bought for Becky) but I can't find it anywhere. I'll probably leave it until after the MoT when I can get an air wrench on the crankshaft pulley bolt to loosen it. All the old head gasket has been cleaned off the block and it is now ready to recieve the head. I've also cleaned the mating faces on both the inlet & exhaust manifold. While I was working on the inlet manifold I noticed that the temperature sender had the terminal snapped off. I wonder if I've been getting a wrong reading on the gauge or I might have damaged it when I was removing the head. It certainly had seen better days. The outlet at the bottom looked like it had blocked up so that might have been causing cooling problems. It will be all flushed out when I put the car back together. At least I know the radiator's fine. I bought a set of NGK spark plugs & once the car's running again I'll be changing the engine oil with some cheap stuff and I'll change the oil and filter after a few hundred miles to flush out any crap. I'll be doing the same with the cooling system.

I checked into running a newer car and it is going to be too costly because I'd have to insure it separately. I was quoted just over £1500 for a 1995 Vauxhall Astra 1.4LS by Footman James so my best course of action is to get Blue through the MoT once the car is up and running again. I went to the garage where I had the brake pipe made and the guy reckons that the floorpan damage I sustained least year can be repaired for about £25-£30 and at worst it would be double that so I'll get that done on Brown before it comes off the road. The other work that I know will be required for an MoT I can do myself. I'm not much good with a MIG. The same guy knows a classic friendly place for MoT testing so I'll be looking into that.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Progress on Blue

I rang a couple of local engine builders and Drake's (who rebuilt a Pinto engine for Practical Classics a few years ago) have ended up getting my business. I called in with a sample and they'll be ordering it in so it should be in on Monday. I bought a gasket scraper and set to work on getting the rest of the gasket off the engine block. I'm also going to change the timing belt which means that the crankshaft pulley has to come off so that the bottom half of the timing belt cover can be removed. It is just a matter of removing the crankshaft pulley bolt but it is fighting me. If only I had an air wrench. It would be off in seconds so it looks like I'm going to have to remove the starter motor (easy to get to with the head off) and jam the flywheel as per the Haynes manual.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Blue's cylinder head

Brian rang me earlier tonight to tell me that the replacement valve stem oil seals were too big because they foul the inner valve springs so I went over to his place to pick up a couple of the old ones as samples so I can order replacements. I'm going to try one of the local engine building places in the morning as I need Blue back up and running as soon as possible to be able to put it back on the road. The valves needed doing and the head needed decoking which is most likely due to the low mileage (22,600) clocked up from new until the car was laid up in 1993. I consulted the Guru and all he could tell me was that he's never had this problem.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Time for an update

I've done quite a few things since the last update. Brown as had a new tax disc as it was due. The suspension problem turned out to be seriously worn bottom balljoints. I fitted the ones that were on the Sprint front suspension I had but the left one wasn't much better. I'm going to rebuild the spare suspension so it'll have new balljoints when it is done. I stripped the vertical link on the left and regreased the front hub. The handbrake stopped working so I ordered new brake shoes and fitted them. Then the rear left wheel cylinder started to leak so a new one was ordered. When I triedto fit it the union rounded off. I was eventually able to remove the wheel cylinder with the pipe still attached and separated them. I ended up getting a new section of brake pipe costing me £5 and after when I fitted it the unions were leaking. It turned out that the unions were metric so I got some replacements and when the pipe was refitted it was leak free and it is still holding up. I think I'll have to replace the rear shoes because the linings are contaminated with brake fluid. The MoT runs out on the 14th so Brown will be coming off the road to have everything done properly for the MoT including the previously mentioned front suspension refurb which I've already started.

Blue has already had some attention too. I've taken the cylinder head off and I found out where it had failed because No. 4 cylinder was clean but the others were coked up. (probably didn't help with running) Water was getting in the cylinder and it had the effect of steam clening it. The head has gone down to Brian's to have the valves reground and the new valve stem oil seals fitted. (they cam with the head set I bought) When that is done the head can go back on by which time Blue should be ready for the dreaded MoT but Blue has a better chance of passing than Brown. I've wirebrushed the tops of the pistons and the only thing left to do before the head goes back on is to remove the remains of the head gasket.