My restoration (to date !)
The car had various nuts and bolts rusted solid, so judicial use of angle grinders and hack saws, combined with brute force and ignorance usually produced effective results. I aim to replace every nut and bolt. I don't think that one bolt was even vaguely lubricated - they all creaked. And don't you just love rusty cross head screws ? You know, the ones whose Philips/Pozidrive crosses shear and stubbornly refuse to move at all, even after you've heated them with an industrial strength blow torch. One of the more serious problems was my inability to turn the engine over manually - probably due to the piston rings having rusted to the sides of the bores. I reckoned that I had nothing to lose by trying the starter motor and turning the engine over. I checked the valve clearances that I could but wasn't able to make any timing adjustments as I couldn't crank over the engine with a spanner. Liberal doses of penetrating oil (very kinky !) and fervent hope and prayer followed. I reasoned that either the engine would a) turn over and explode in a pretty green-grey haze; b) make a hideous metal grindy noise and blow the starter motor up; c) do absolutely nothing, being rusted solid - my oil and prayers had been futile; d) turn over, fire up and run, whereupon I would go weak at the knees. My best guess was c. Buy hey, what the heck - I could always put a V8 in after the smoke had cleared. A friend and I (electrics are not my strong point) rigged up a very makeshift electrical system for the engine bay, including a big kill switch if the engine attempted to explode spectacularly. The moment of truth came and I attached a very big battery, whereupon there was a big.....nothing. Hmmm. The starter motor was making a healthy clunk, but the engine was not turning. Several things went through my mind, but the only sensible one was to try again. Clunk. So I felt the timing belt and did it again - the engine was definitely trying to turn, but couldn't. I tried one more time, before resorting to a hammer and....the faintest sign of movement from the belt. Again I tried and there was a bit more movement - then a free spin and then the piston rings were loose. I was right - there was a very thin film of rust where they had been sitting in the bores for so long. I was ecstatic - the engine actually went round ! More penetrating oil went down the bores (and yes I had checked that the engine had oil in it - unlike some enthusiasts I have heard of who rebuilt their cars, cranked the engine and promptly seized it due to forgetting engine oil in their excitement.)
Next step was to see if we were getting a spark from the distributor. a bit more temporary (read bodged) wiring and another engine revolution later - yes, the spark plugs worked. Onwards and upwards - rig up a temporary fuel tank, reattach the carbs (not in that order of course !) and......would it RUN ? Well, sort of. It spat and farted like an angry cat and I started to think about valve guide seals, head warping, carburettor problems - I couldn't work out why the thing was running like a pig. Until someone asked me if I'd checked the timing. I felt like a bit of an idiot, but I'd been so close (and so relieved when it started) that I hadn't considered the obvious problem. 15 minutes later, all was much better - the spark plugs were now dusky brown instead of jet black and only a few pops could be heard. Air filters would probably sort that out. I also learned later that the vacuum retard on the distributor should have been capped off and advanced 3° so that helped too.
Back to restoration index | Back to Top