Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More NEC Classic Car Show Pictures

Richard Hammonds Ford Mustang

KTM Crossbow

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Little Jobs

The car's been working pretty decently for the last few weeks and it's given me enough time to concentrate on some of the little jobs that have needed doing for a while!

The first job was to sort out the plastic rear windows. These had suffered from careless hood folding in the past and the effects of being left out in all weathers! I heard a rumour that 'Renovo' was the best thing to use so I bought some of ebay and gave it a go. It got a lot of dirt off and removed a lot of scratches. It also easily removed the sticky remnants of a sticker that had been in the back window. There is a patch that is cloudy and slightly crazed that it couldn't sort out, but other than that the improvement has been remarkable and it makes it much easier to see the car behind in the centre mirror.

The next job was to sort out the boot stay which was getting a bit stiff. This came out and after a clean up and regrease it was working smoothly. I also couldn't resist lightening it up a bit. According to the kitchen scales I've saved around 20g, which is better than nothing I suppose!

My next job is to sort out the boot! The piece of trim that goes over the petrol tank has been remade by a previous owner in some type of hardboard which was ill fitting and has curled up, presumably after getting damp. This really needs to be replaced and then I can mount my CD changer on it with the brackets I made ages ago. Then maybe my CD's wont skip annoyingly all the time!

That's about it really! The car's been faultless for weeks now and I honestly can't remember the last time I opened the bonnet!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NEC Classic Car Show

I’ve just got back from the Classic Car Show at the NEC. This is one of the biggest shows in the calendar and this was the first time I’d ever been. Initially I was pretty apprehensive about going. For a start it was going to be expensive for two of us (£17 each plus £8 parking) and, with Top Gear on as well, the traffic was going to be terrible. After spending a little bit too long queuing on the M42, parking and walking to the exhibition halls we started looking around.

First thing that hit me was the sheer size of this show! This is a huge show. There were four halls worth of cars, traders, tools and general stuff! I thought the best place to start would be the first hall so I headed down there and took a look around. There were plenty of nice cars and plenty of Triumphs! All the Triumph clubs were in the first hall and there were plenty of fine examples on their stands. Club Triumph, the TSSC, the TR Register, Stag Owners Club and the Dolomite Club were all in attendance. The CT stand had a particularly polished example of a Spitfire 1500 on show along with a Spit 6 with Emerald EFI, a saloon and a Herald estate. There was a very interesting exhibit on the TR Register stand. They had a shell in ‘pre restored’ condition. It was held together by mole grips!

This (above) was a particularly interesting Peugeot special. The name of it loosely translated as 'hold on'! It was built along the lines of British specials with a sports body dropped on top of saloon running gear. It was very cool!

There were plenty of interesting cars from other marques too. The Meguiars stand was particularly good. There were also plenty of nice Mercedes. One I noticed had an original Becker Mexico radio which is probably worth a good proportion of what my entire car’s worth! I’m a big fan of American muscle cars and drag racing cars and there were plenty in the form of Chevy Camaros and Ford Mustangs along with various other hot rods, gassers and other drag racing stuff. I'm also a huge fan of vintage cars and Austin 7's in particular. My grandad built a special in the 60's and there were an interesting couple of specials on the Midland Austin 7 Club stand.

The ticket also got us into the MPH show hall next door. This had loads of modern cars and the Autoglym concours. There was a Napier Railton (picture below), a Ford Mustang belonging to Richard Hammond and a stunning AC Cobra entered in the concours along with a Fiat 500! The rest of the hall had the usual Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Porches. There was even a Gemballa tuned Porsche Cayenne that was finished in satin black.
There were also various cars that had been in the Gumball 3000 this year. Each were stickered up with a numerically challenged decal announcing ‘1999 to 2008 - Ten Years of the Gumball Rally’! Another car that caught my eye was the KTM Crossbow. This is a very different looking in reality compared to the pictures I’ve seen in magazines. It’s absolutely wild!

These are the pictures my mum took. I took my brothers camera and unfortunately don't have the data cable until he comes home next week so stay tuned for more pictures at a later date...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fly Off Handbrake Conversion

One of the things I've been wanting to do for a while now is to fit a 'fly off' type handbrake. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with the standard arrangement, it's just that I prefer the way the 'fly off' type works.

So I started off by looking at the options. Early Spitfires came with this type of handbrake as standard, so I could get one of those or I could modify the one I had. I took a look at http://asciimation.co.nz/pics/flyaway/ which illustrates how to convert an MG handbrake. In theory it's relatively straightforward to convert from one system to the other. The only difference is that on a normal handbrake the rod with the button attached connects above the pivot point on the pawl whilst on a 'fly off' it attaches below the pivot point.

With this in mind I took off the old handbrake to see if it would be possible to convert it. Unfortunately the Spitfire 1500 uses a linkage where the rod arrangement hooks around the pawl at the top and there isn't any way to change it.

With that in mind I set about looking for an early Spitfire handbrake. These seem to be impossible to get from my normal parts suppliers but Ebay turned up a nice but chronically overpriced example. With time of the essence I just spent the cash! A couple of days later I my neighbour came round with a package and I could finally see if it would fit!

At first glance it looked almost exactly the same as the Spitfire 1500 arrangement, the only difference being that the grip part on the 1500 goes up at a slight angle whilst the early one is straight. I thought I might be lucky enough to be able to do a straight swap but it was not to be! With the cable fitted nicely and everything else looking okay I realised that I couldn't seem to refit the pivot pin. I realised the problem was the ratchet part of the mechanism not being in quite the right position so I tried moving it about with a screwdriver and various other things with no luck. It then dawned on me that something was obviously wrong and it might not be possible to get the hole in the ratchet and the holes in the handbrake to align.

With this in mind I tried fitting just the ratchet on the pivot pin. It wasn't possible and I realised that something wasn't quite right! Comparing the two ratchet mechanisms showed up the problem.
Bizarrely, despite the fact that the two set ups are otherwise completely compatible, the hook part at the bottom on the older mechanism (on the left) is about 2mm longer than the same part of the newer mechanism (on the right). This ever so slight difference meant that the hole wouldn't line up right. After a few minutes with the Dremel I ground back the hook part to the same profile as the Spitfire 1500 one.

With that done, the rest of the assembly was straightforward with the only other slight problem being the pivot pin. On the Spitfire 1500 the pivot pin has a recess around it but, oddly, is retained by a clip that passes through a hole drilled close to the end. Sadly, the hole was drilled so close to the end that it had started to 'pull out', rendering it pretty much useless. Interestingly the older pivot pin was not drilled for a clip but still had the recess. An 'E clip' from my collection fitted securely and, apart from refitting the interior, the job was done.

I gave it a try and discovered something was not quite right. The pawl didn't seem to want to pull away from the ratchet. I greased up the mechanism but it made very little difference. It was then of course that I worked out that the handbrake didn't have a spring in it! Luckily for me the 1500 spring is a perfect fit!

There we go. With the interior back in it looks pretty good. I just need to make my mind up about what type of grip I want to fit and it'll be perfect! At the moment I'm torn between going for the early style grip, which looks more comfy, or the later style, which would keep my car looking standard. Maybe there's another car that has a grip that's even better? I'll keep my eyes out for something suitable!