Clock restoration

Well restoration is a bit of a strong term… the clock that came with the car is a Jaeger 8 day wind up timepiece. Except in my case it wound up but didn’t run, had no hands and was generally fairly battered. Jaeger gauges seem to cost a premium which is a bit silly really as they were manufactured by “Smiths” in France but were used on the more prestigious cars (otherwise they are exactly the same). All my Jaeger gauges have a black face which is common nowadays but was a lot more unusual back in the 30’s.

Looking on eBay, i was stunned to see how expensive they were to replace and thought I am not paying that for a clock that keeps stopping every week. But very recently I managed to but another broken one for £0.99p simply because no one else wanted it. But *I* wanted the hands and £0.99p was well worth it. Then in the same week, I managed to win a WORKING clock that had an extremely discoloured face, bad chrome work and the ‘wrong’ wind-up knob for a mere £6. Again because no-one wanted a clock that looked that bad… I however didn’t need the nasty clock face, or the case and could MAKE a much better wind-up knob…

So here is the fruits of my toil…

Note the colour of the face – its supposed to be a pale ivory colour, and that very wacky knob with which you both set the hands and wind up the clock. I had fitted the ‘new’ hands so that I could check they didn’t foul anywhere.

And this is my conversion to the correct Riley face, with the hands re-purposed in a distressed white and the brass knob I re-engineered to fit the clock

The hands are a little bright compared to the numbers and will need a little more distressing I think. Also the brass knob is better than the one that came with the clock but is a bit too slippery to use to wind up the clock. I think a knurled fitting would be more efficient so I am on the lookout for something that would work…


Fixing the Radiator

You will remember the nasty hole in the bottom of the radiator where PO (Previous Owner) had bodged fixing a mild steel pipe into the hole with a ton of lead. Thats not how I do things – my bodges are more elegant 🙂

So this is what I started with:

This is my plan… I have some old stock of brass bits and found some brass plate to patch the hole and a new brass pipe based / silver soldered in.

Step 1 – a darn good cleanup removing as much of the old lead as possible. 

The brass tank needs to be very clean so that the lead based flux can adhere properly. I then paint on the lead flux and heat it up gently until it turns to a silver colour, a quick wipe reveals a very thin layer of lead now coating the bare brass.

The brass plate was trimmed to size and adjusted in shape to cater for ‘missing’ metal and then soldered into place. I had initially thought about brazing the plate – but realised that so much of this radiator is held together with lead (old school manufacturing) that the extreme heat from a welding torch would probably melt everything in sight!

Once the plate was in place, I cut the 32mm hole for the pipe, adjusted it into the right position and silver soldered that in place too. A quick clean up with a wooden paddle coated in tallow to smooth the solder and that was it job done. I then filled the radiator with water and left it overnight. This morning I am pleased to say there were no leaks.

Below is the patch and the pipe that will be tidied up a little and then painted along with the entire radiator…

Quite a difference to the first picture… and it is brass so it won’t rust again.

Carburettor rebuild – part 1

My vintage racing carburettors are a pair of 1 & 3/8″ SUs. Nice simple carbs that are easy to rebuild and tune and are a period fitting (note there is no facility for an air cleaner!). The problem is that the set i bought had a few parts missing and were pretty tired. So the rebuild took more time than anticipated. A rebuild kit is pretty cheap as its mostly fibre or cork washers – the only expensive item is the jets and throttle plate assembly (all solid brass) but as they are the parts that wear… they need to be replaced.

Starting with the front carburettor, I found the fuel needle was missing, the bottom of the jet housing had stripped threads, the various internal cork washers had been replaced with hematite liquid gasket the dashpot didn’t fit the carburettor body properly preventing the carburettor actually working at all. In short at some time the carburettors appear to have been abused – but I guess that is balanced by the lower cost… ho hum. Deep breath – lets just get on with fixing all the problems.

The rebuild kit came from Burlen, a company I gained respect for when building the Etype carburettors + I also ordered a pair of fuel control needles as a starting point to get the engine running. Having cleared the workbench to give me some clean room, I managed to get all the components apart and set about soaking the body in de-greaser (for about 6 hours) and bead blasting any steel component that was rusty. The carburettor body itself I dont want to polish in any way – i need it to maintain its old look.

Cutting a long story short – It took all day but as you can see in the photos below one carburettor is now finished… can you guess which one?

The dashpot still has some nasty marks in it where the previous owner clearly had no idea how to polish aluminium, I will need to go over it again with sandpaper to remove them… thanks for that 😦

Antique’ing brass

What you may not be able to see is the above photo is the brass bolt that holds the float chamber lid on… the brass replacement looked far too ‘new’ with its highly polished finish and I want something that looks like it has been there for years… so time to ‘antique’ that brass and give it some patina.

My technique was to first shot blast the bolt to remove the lacquer and polished finish. I then gave it a very light polish with some  fine sandpaper, merely to smooth out the totally flat finish. Next comes the alchemy part. I dipped the brass bolt in vinegar and then held it in the flame of a propane torch for a minute or so, re-dipped it in vinegar and back into the flame… I did this repeatedly until the brass had a sufficiently aged look. Essentially all this does is accelerate the aging process and I am not totally sure I have done it enough as its still a bit brighter than all the other brass on the engine but it is certainly close to the look i was aiming for.

The photo below shows you a comparison between another new bolt and my ‘antiqued’ version. They were both bright and shiny before I started…

Chassis rail repaired

Chassis repair
The chassis is in pretty good condition and the only age related damage I can find was a small (50mm) corroded hole near the passenger back wheel

Nothing particularly drastic although a little fiddly to repair as you need to ‘let-in’ the metal rather than simply patch over the hole. The chassis is made out of 4mm steel (approximately) and my stock of metal that thick is pretty limited but luckily I had a piece I could trim to size and shape once the rust had been cut out. There were also a few smaller areas that were corroded thinner than they should be so those were cleaned up, ‘filled’ with weld and then ground smooth.

And here is the finished result:

The problem is that the repair is smoother than the surrounding metal which has a dimpled look. oh well never mind, i doubt anyone will notice once its got dirty…

Next job…. inlet manifold again
I noticed that the 1 3/8th carburettors had a larger bore than the inlet manifold, not too surprising as the learned gentlemen back in the 30’s seemed to know very little about the need for a smooth air flow. Sadly there is not much I can do with a square tube manifold that has the internal aerodynamics of a brick. Which is why they probably refer to it as a ‘log’. So I machined out the inlet ports of the manifold as best i could so that the fuel-air mixture didn’t hit a vertical ridge before entering the manifold. Its far from ideal but a lot better than the original

Radiator Surround

Lastly for today… the radiator surround was damaged by previous owners who bless their cotton socks, decided to hacksaw up the bottom (sounds nasty) and roll the metal up about 50mm. Why? I have no idea, its not as if it hits anything. But I wanted to repair it. The surround itself is made from brass which is then chrome plated. As you expect the chrome was in a pretty poor state and after a lot of buffing – it still looked rubbish and would never do. So I dropped it off to a local chrome company and asked them to strip it back to brass. This is very cheap to do and would then let me repair the hacksaw marks.

But when I saw it in its naked form, I suddenly had an alternative idea… i will leave it as raw brass, as i quite like it. The brass can age gracefully so after a subtle polish with some wire wool thats it…

A good day today.

I’ll just cure that drip…

The radiator held water but the bottom hose dripped slightly and under closer scrutiny I discover the previous owner had poured about a pound of molten lead all around the hose connector in an attempt to cure said drip. Thats not how I do things so I removed the lead to see what the problem was…

Below is a picture of the reason. The radiator is brass (because it doesn’t rust), the pipe was ordinary steel and in the picture you can see a small round hole in it. Lead doesn’t stick to rusty steel so water was sneaking its way through that hole and under the lead to then ‘drip’.

The solution is to fix that dirty great hole with a brass patch and to then braze in a Brass / Copper pipe for the radiator hose. A job for another day as I have run out of brazing rods…

And when I tipped up the radiator all this fell out…

Logically the engine is in the same state so I have filled the engine with muriatic acid to convert the rust to a water soluble solution

Manifold porting for performance

Right so… the inlet manifold now bolts to the head *BUT* the ports on the manifold are smaller than the matching ports on the cylinder head which is bad for gas flow, which is bad for performance. So I need to machine out the manifold until the exit port is the same size as the cylinder head – but how to find out WHERE to machine so that they match and align…

Attempt 1 use the paper template that I previously made to find out where to drill the head. 

This showed me that I needed to machine the holes in the manifold about 6mm wider but the paper was ragged and moved about and I needed to be precise. So I remade the template using some thick clear plastic – now I could SEE where the template needed to be machined. Using the 2 manifold mounting bolts the template was held in place and I could mark out the material to be removed.

The template was then bolted to the manifold and the restriction ground away using a Dremel and a suitable cutting bit. So now the ports match but I still need to smooth out the internal edges so that the air flow is smoother “within” the manifold.

Bolting the manifold back onto the engine, I changed my focus to the throttle linkage which would again have to be custom made but kept period looking.

Problem 1 – the throttle pedal when depressed moves a brass control bar clockwise and ‘down’ – so if I connected this to the carburettor it would ‘pull’ the throttle control on the carburettor ‘down’. The picture below shows the lever which eventually connects to the pedal

And the picture below shows the carburettor lever that needs to be pushed up. The problem is how to mount a control lever that converted the downward movement of the throttle pedal into an upward movement of the carburettor throttle arm BUT the carburettor inlet manifold is physically in the way which would prevent me putting a control arm on the back of the carburettor… 

Answer – remove the brass lever on the pedal, spin it around 180 degrees and remount it so now the shaft rotation means it rotates ‘UP’. Now all I have to do  is manufacture all the control rods so that both carburettors open at the same time from that single lever connected to the pedal… a job for another day but I have a design in mind…