|This is Brian Holmes' story of a long term restoration of a Mk II Grantura (7/B/265) which has been documented in the annals of Sprint since January 2002. Recently, Brian, in consultation with our Editor Derek Smith, has asked that the articles also be published on the web for new members who may joined since the series began so that they too can read what he has done to the car. It is hoped in time to link to pdf files of the original articles in Sprint.
The Grantura as it appeared in 1975
Part 1 - WORK (slowly) IN PROGRESS!
Since the introductory article in January 2002, the car has been totally dismantled, with all the bits being individually labelled, sealed in food bags, and 'filed' in various cabinets and drawers in the garage, the engine/gearbox being securely wrapped in polythene sheeting and undercover, outside.
I cut the body away from the chassis and sent the latter away to a local engineering firm for replacement door sill tubes (rusted at the ends) and a revised 'front' section. The lower front torsion bar tube had split on the nearside after the internal fibre bush had broken up, which resulted in the trailing arm grinding both itself and the tube into replacement mode. A previous owner had converted the steering to what I believe is Triumph Herald rack and pinion but the added structure to hold it looked awful.
Day 1 of the current restoration, May 2001
Anyway, the chassis has been sandblasted, hot metal zinc primed and powder coated in silver grey, which looks magnificent now but will eventually be mostly lost to view when the body is put back on. Having made and fitted two new floor panels, I'm now at the stage of putting back some of the mechanicals.
The 4.55 to 1 diff. was treated to new 'silent bloc' bushes before refitting and the next job is to rebuild the suspension units. All the trailing arms are worn, through apparent lack of lubrication, because in the past a number of the original fibre bushes had been refitted the wrong way round (the groove in them is not full-width). David Gerald's have been able to provide the replacement polyurethene ones where necessary and having got myself into 'ferreting' mode, it's a very satisfying activity (when you have success).
I found Mega-Bug, the VW Warehouse in south east London, 0208 317 7333, who can provide the pre- 1964 VW Beetle upper and lower trailing arms at around £20 each (you'll have to get the three-quarter inch BSF thread cut into the arms to accept the set pin) and torsion bars for £30. Neither are obviously new but they're as good as and beggars can't be choosers! I also found Tony Pounder, 01225 835565, who sells body spares for Standard Tens, which includes the door handles and their little 'shoes'. I bought two, including the locking drivers door version, for £10 the pair. The number for the lock is stamped on the end of the barrel, which made it relatively easy for me to pick up two keys at the Beaulieu Autojumble - the prefix is usually FP. Although they were in pretty good condition, he advised me, if I wanted a first-class re-plating job, to send them to Derby Plating Services, 01332 382408, which I subsequently did. They are now superb and probably look better than new, although they did not make a perfect job of totally blanking out the little BA holes on the back. Cost? £35 per handle.
Whilst 'playing' with the doors, I thought I'd try to search for replacement locks and striker plates. I eventually found that the type fitted to my Mk II were originally equipment for the front and rear doors of the Mk I version of the Ford Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac, 1951 to '56. However, Ian Massey-Crosse has slightly different versions of lock and striker plate fitted to his Mk IIa, Mk III and Griffith, some of which are almost certainly from the Mk II versions of the Ford cars listed above, or even the Ford 105E Anglia or Consul Classic. Arthur Jerome, 0208 932 4524 can provide spares for the Mk II version of these Ford Cars, whilst John Blythe at Golden Days, 01603 881155, can provide replacements for both Mk I and Mk II. I've checked with John, who confirms that the locks were fitted to both the rear and front doors - he prefers to provide those from the rear doors as they have obviously been used a lot less. I suggest you send them the actual item, or a diagram/photo, to make sure you get the right version. The cost of a new lock is around £30 and a very good, second hand, striker plate is £10. I hope the above will save someone a long search.
Meanwhile, my restoration has slowed almost to a halt at the moment. The kingpins, or swivel pins, whatever it's called, in the front swivel axles need replacing. Consequently, so do the bushes in the swivel axles. I know that the axle assembly was originally fitted to the pre-Farina Austin A55/A60 (which also provided the fuel tank) but the king/swivel pin, like the brass top and bottom kingpost units and the curved alloy strut that joins the two were manufactured by TVR - not any more, obviously. I've tried a number of the appropriate Austin Car Clubs and found that both N.T.G. Motor Services Ltd., on 01473 406032 and Earlparts, on 01773 719504 are potential sources of the steel-backed split bronze bushes - and they'll do the replacement job for you. Copper bronze or oil retaining bushes are apparently also an alternative.
After sending emails to numerous contacts enquiring after the kingpins, none with any positive solution, a 'phone call to Roger Cook has resulted in him sending me a copy of the original TVR specification for the things, in great detail, which has enabled me to pass them on to my local engineering firm to make up a pair. Obviously, it's an item that is very prone to wear and essential to be in good order to get through an M.O.T. so if you need the info for yourself, I'm quite happy to fax it to you. Wheelbearings and oil seals have been readily available from my local stockist. I have the original part numbers but they merely needed to look at the old items to confirm what their superceded parts list suggested. Whether the new ones will last forty-odd years, remains to be seen!!
Part 2 - WORK IN PROGRESS (continued) (first published Sprint May 2004)
Having now brought you up-to-date with what the Grantura's been subjected to over the past couple of years, I’ve now got into an almost regular routine of reassembly and forays into the unknown. I've continued with the rear suspension/upright assemblies and contrary to what I once read in a previous Mk II-related article, there are no such thing as 'sliding wheel cylinders' - not on mine, anyway. They’re held in place with what I am told are 'Thackery' washers under the nuts on the three stud fixings. If anyone knows if they’re supposed to be fully tightened, or to allow any movement, I’d be grateful for the advice - my contact details are in the Helplines box.
I obviously needed to replace all the seals and dust-caps and in the certain knowledge that the drum brakes were originally fitted to the big Austin Healeys, one would logically assume that would be the case with the wheel cylinders. I telephoned Austin Healey Parts, on 01926 817181, quoted the casting number from the cylinders, diameter of the piston, described the three fixing points onto the back-plate - but they'd never heard of it.
When all else fails, read the instructions. I fished out my copy of Rob Titherley's Lucas/Girling Replacement Part Data booklet (1972) and the guy was right. Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire, Aston Martin, big Jaguars, Auntie Rovers - even Alpha's, all of the late fifties, had them - but not Austin Healey. A 'phone call to an unbelievably helpful Julie at Past Parts (01284 750729) confirmed what Rob had written and she put a complete set in the post the same day. They didn't, however, have any of the odd-shaped rubber dustcovers that go over the handbrake lever mechanism that protrudes through the back-plate. But she gave me the name of a man who might - Henry (or his mum) at J.E.M. Vintage & Classic (01455 230626). "Just look up the part number for you, sir - Ah, yes, G64224957/58 and it says 'as fitted to TVR Grantura' as well as the big Jaguars. You'll need the pair, as they're 'handed'? Right, I'm afraid they're a tenner - each." They, too, arrived the following morning. I'm not sure I can continue to take all this excitement in one go.
Both the rear assemblies have now been refitted, with new drive shaft bearings where necessary. The brake shoes were perfectly O.K., as were the drums, and everything has been put back together using copper grease where required. I’ve fitted braided brake hoses from Goodridge in Exeter, which cost me around £24 each. Whilst they may not be as original, I’m not too concerned about that and they certainly look much neater and stronger than the old rubber ones.
Lateral thinking is a must in this project, if not logic. I read an article in Sprint, back in the 70’s, about the gap, of whatever size, between the shoulder of the trailing arms and the end of the torsion bar tubes. The problem is the one of keeping the majority of the grease inside the tube to lubricate the arm, whilst at the same time keeping the salt, dirt, grit and other nasty substances out. O.K., the grease may not be necessary if there are modern polyurethane bushes fitted but the muck problem still applies. Anyway, the guy that had written the article had come up with a solution, which he said should last for at least five thousand miles. He suggested winding a medium thickness cotton string around the gap, in layers, tying the ends then soaking it with oil. Cheap, effective and very simple to replace when necessary. I’ve taken his advice - time will tell.
Looks impressive - but it's wrong!
I obviously can’t insert the locking bolts for the set pins until the whole car is assembled and the suspension and torsion bars are ‘under load’, and at the right height. Also, there’s a bracket that fits on the inside of the back-plate, which grips the sleeve of the handbrake cable. It acts rather like a chastity belt for everything protruding from the back of the wheel cylinder – the bleed nipple, the brake hose fixing, the handbrake lever and the rubber sleeve that goes over it. I’ve seen two different versions of these brackets but there’s no way I can do any work on anything behind it once it’s fitted, especially as it holds the rubber dust cover in position. As I see it, it’ll have to go back on after the braking system has been installed and bled, when I put the handbrake system back in place.
I’ve recently started work on the front suspension, now that my friendly local engineering firm have finished making the new king-pins and inserting new bushes. They’ve made a super job – almost – but they’re not so good on their admin, because they’ve delivered the bits but not the bill.
Part 3 - WORK IN PROGRESS (painfully slowly!)
What do they say about a picture's worth a thousand words? I received my May 'Sprint' on Saturday 8th, and by 3.00pm the next day, two people had contacted me to tell me I'd assembled the rear drive shafts incorrectly. The yokes should be 'in line' - not opposed but 'in line' - otherwise there is likely to be a considerable vibration problem. It took me thirty minutes to correct the error - a lot less than if the car had been 'on the road', I would think.
And another two people have also contacted me with regard to the Thackery washers - ideally tightened to a gap of around 20 - 30 thou between the flats for holding the rear wheel cylinders in place, although, as it was pointed out, there is no need for two-pistoned cylinders to move. So a very sincere 'thank you', guys - you know who you are - and your instant advice is exactly what one-make Car Clubs are all about.
On re-reading the articles I've submitted so far, there are a couple of things I should bring to your attention. The first is that I said that the curved aluminium bar that holds the front top and bottom kingposts in position was made by TVR. Now that I have found a casting number on it, BA 78042, it's probably a dead cert to say it wasn't, so I checked around and found that according to sources 'in the know', it certainly was not of TVR manufacture - but nothing else. Someone, somewhere, knows the car for which it was made - please tell me and I'll tell everyone else. The second point was an omission on my part. Whilst I was dismantling the rear near-side suspension, I found a very crudely-made loose-fitting spacer ring inside the aluminium upright, behind the large bearing. I thought no more of it until I dismantled the off-side, which didn't have this seemingly 'afterthought' fixture. And the reason then became obvious. The bearing in the off-side upright had either been fitted incorrectly by a previous owner or it had moved afterwards, because its outer surface was completely covering the hole for the flow of grease from the nipple on the upright. And as the bearing's supposedly a tight fit, no grease will get in and the handle on the gun will be rock-solid. I made a couple of new spacers quite easily, so that's another potential problem eliminated.
Now, where were we? Ah, yes. New kingpins and bushes. Make sure if you have to go down this route yourself, there are the little grooves inside the new bushes to take the flow of grease. They were there on the original ones, so it's my view they should be there on the replacements. Otherwise you'll have to utilize your Black and Decker 'Wizard', as I did. I've been told that one of the major reasons for problems with this part of the car is because copious amounts of environmental muck get washed down between the kingpin and bush - the main reason for squirts of grease on a regular basis. Another of my old 'Sprint' cuttings relates to someone who fitted a piece of split rubber hose tightly around the visible length of the kingpin and the shoulder at the bottom, to resolve this particular problem.
Note the heat shrink wrapping
As my assemblies were totally dismantled, I've used the appropriate length of heat-shrink electrical tubing (black) to cover them. It looks good and will, hopefully, be totally effective, although slightly larger 'spacers' had to be made to fit between the steering bar and the stub axle assembly, which leads me to another little problem.
I've been reliably informed that the steering rack fitted to my car is probably the type that was originally fitted to the early Triumph Herald. One of the numerous previous owners had obviously decided that the factory-supplied Ford 101E steering box, which I believe was the 100E, left-hand drive, fitted upside down, was not for him. Anyway, although he had made a bit of an unsightly lash-up with the mounting for the Herald rack, I can vouch for the positive performance of the 'new' system, in spite of many contradictory articles in the past on the subject. However, it does have a flaw, which affects another 'non-standard' part of my car. It is, again according to those 'in the know', one of the last Mk II's to be produced and because the IIa versions were to be fitted with disc brakes at the front, some of the very late II's also had them. Including mine. And when I dismantled them, I found holes in the bottom of the splashplates behind the discs. These had been caused by the disc grinding on them when the car had been on full right or left lock, because there appears to be nothing to stop the excessive steering, other than the bottom set pin and bush in the lower brass kingpost, crushing the splashplate. I've repaired the holes but if anyone has the same steering and had a similar problem, if you can tell me how to overcome it, I'd be extremely grateful - my contact details are still in 'Helplines'.
I've painted and re-assembled all the front off-side front bits and pieces, with new discs (eleven and a quarter inch), bearings and seals for the hubs from Austin Healey Parts (01926 817181), who have also supplied the new pistons, seals and dust cap rubbers I needed for the brake callipers. The latter were well and truly seized in place, probably because the car has been laid up for the past twenty two years and I've had to ask my small local garage to get them out for me, with a hammer and flat-ended screwdriver, I would imagine, as a last resort. The callipers themselves are O.K. and I'm now in the process of giving them a meticulous, clinical clean-up.
The channels that hold the piston seal and dust cover were extremely filthy and not the most accessible, so I carefully used a small piece of a broken engine piston ring, my 'Wizard' with a mini wire-brush attachment, a smoker's pipe cleaner, the local garage's air-line and a dentist's disposable plastic mirror to check I'd done it all properly. And after sitting staring at it for ten minutes, to work out just how to re-assemble the seals, pistons and dust covers without ruining them, liberal amounts of rubber grease on the various surfaces worked wonders, in a fraction of the time it took to get them out.
Here's another little tip you may like to add to your list. The callipers for mine, and presumably the IIa's, are Austin Healey 3000 Mk I, 1959-61. Both the near-side and the off-side have specific part numbers, both it and the type number being cast, one above the other, onto the dome-like structure of the calliper on the input/bleed nipple side. Mine are Type 14, with a part number 64325049/50, the lesser of the last two characters being the nearside fitment. All Type 14's have the same size pistons, seals, dust covers, etc. - the later Type 16's were bigger in all respects.
I've had another of my 'ferreting sessions. This time, it was for the source of the track rod ends that are fitted, in pairs, to each of the REAR suspension assemblies - one with a left-hand female thread and one with a right-hand. Mine have 'Lockheed' specified on the rubber grease-retaining cap, an 'angled' grease nipple and the female threads are nine sixteenths BSF, with 16 threads to the inch. The casting number on all the ends, both L/H & R/H, is J5908-9. I've read, and said myself in the past, that they are 'all probably from the Riley 1.5 or Wolseley 1500, 1957 - 65'. My current investigations suggest that this might not be true. These particular Riley/Wolseley track rod ends, the Riley Club tell me, would have had a UNF internal thread - and would only have been right-handed. I've checked with many parts-suppliers, for cars produced in the late '50's/early 60's, all of whom apparently have ends that look similar to mine but are nine sixteenths UNF, with 18 threads to the inch. David Gerald's say they can order the correct left and right-hand threaded ones to fit mine (they only sell them as a pair) but Doug Elwood was unable to tell me from which car/s they were originally fitted. Paul Hunt, at Powertrack (01753 842680) however, categorically says they were originally fitted to the 1948-54 Wolseley 6/80 but although the ones he has are technically exactly the same as mine - inner threads, taper size, grease nipple, etc, they do not apparently have the same casting number or the small shoulder at the end of the taper. I have to assume mine haven't been changed before in their lifetime, so there's obviously more than one design of the things out there.
There's a very senior citizen (he's eighty-odd) living in the village, who has quite a museum of old cars, bikes and other motorabilia in a large barn at the bottom of his garden. He still restores old vehicles, especially Morris Minors, so, still on the case, I took one to show him for identification purposes. "Ha, no problem - it's off the steering of a pre 1959 Morris Minor - not the ones after that, because they had a larger diameter rod. There's a drawer full of them over there." And there was, the big and smaller ones, the latter being absolutely identical to mine in all respects. They were all right-hand threaded, being the only ones fitted to these cars. And as there seems to be a Morris Minor restorer in most parts of the country, these particular ends should be readily available. The left-hand threaded ones remain a mystery. Has anyone got information as to the original source? I'm still on the case, (sad, isn't it?) but I'm not sure where to go next. Don't forget, I'm searching for information on the REAR ones, like mine with the grease nipple. I haven't got around to looking at my front ones yet - especially as I have a 'rogue' system. More in a month or two - and if I've made any more mistakes, I hope someone will have the time to tell me!!
Part 4 - More Work in Progress
The front nearside disc brake calliper proved something of a problem for the local garage. The guy had had a real struggle getting one of the chromed pistons out, to the extent that he had to weld a long bolt to it in order to achieve any movement at all. Anyway, re-assembly now finished and I've performed another successful clinical clean-up. I thought I'd treat myself (and the brakes) to some new bleed nipples. Again, Past Parts (01284 750729) were able to supply the relevant ones for the disc callipers at the front. Those for the rear wheel cylinders, which originally had a small ball bearing to seal the fluid hole, pressed firmly into place by the flat-ended bleed screw, are said to be no longer available but they were able to supply an alternative.
I'm sure there are other people who have been down these paths before but have not told anyone of their success. And there may well be other suppliers of the bits I'm looking for but if I tell you those that were able to help me, it might save you the search. Anyway, another simple hunt, this time for the round-rubber-disc engine mounting blocks, with three-eights UNF threaded studs on each end, one of which screws into the chassis mounting. They're available from Moss Europe, who have outlets all over the U.K. According to TreVoR, they were originally supplied by Metalastic, along with the suspension bushes, but are now manufactured by Quinton Hazell. Owen, at Moss Bristol, says they were used on the Triumph TR4 (Aug. '61 to Jan. '65) & TR4a, (Jan. '65 to Aug. '67). It's possible/probable they were fitted to something else prior to 1961 - but the ones he sent me are identical to mine and cost £9.87 each, inc. VAT, so at least you know what to ask for if you need a pair. Their (Moss's) part number is 130985.
I've now come to some defining moments in the Mk II's restoration. Everything has been put back onto the chassis, except for the afore-mentioned rear track-rod ends, which would get in the way of fitting the body back onto the floor-panels. I've also got to re-design the mounting brackets for the top rear torsion tube, which will be the upper of the three-point seat-belt anchorages (having made the decision to install them), because the ones that were first made for the job would have meant cutting away overly large and very unsightly holes in the 'parcel shelf'. A pity I didn't realise that at the time.
Flared wheelarch cutaway
So, I now need to turn my attention to the body and the engine/gearbox. As I may have said before, the car's previous owners used it quite extensively for competition and one of them decided that flared rear wheel arches would help. I think they went about constructing them rather like opening a can of sardines without the little key or ring-pull, because I've spent considerable time and effort under the car-port, grinding away the nuts, bolts and rivets that were holding numerous bits of sheet aluminium, that in turn provided the base for the odd tin or two of P38 filler on each arch. Ian M - C has provided me with the two new moulded rear arches I need to bring it back to its original shape and by the time you read this, I will have dramatically used my jig saw to fit them into place, rather like making a piece for a puzzle. I'm finding that using an inch and three eighths wood chisel is ideal for shaving away all the filler which has made the old contours incompatible with that of the new arches........
When I've needed a break from the dust, fibres and chisel, I've turned my attention to the engine, which is the original 1588cc MGA version supplied with the car when new. Having split it from the gearbox, I treated myself to one of those stands you see advertised in the periodicals. I had to buy a length of threaded rod, to enable me to screw sections of it into the block and subsequently bolt these onto the stand. It's been ideal for me to manoeuvre in and out of the garage as and when I need, although I assume like most people not 'in the trade', I've taken some convincing that those four lengths of threaded rod will hold all that weight - but they have. I took the cylinder head and valves along to Autoservice & Spares, in Exeter, because I've chosen to have it converted to run on unleaded fuel. I also took along the flywheel, which is a lightened version made of alloy with the steel starter ring and a steel centre section for the clutch plate, the latter held in place by large copper rivets. This centre section was badly 'grooved', so they skimmed it back smooth. For fitting the new exhaust valve inserts, a de-coke, refacing all the valves and seats, a slight skim of the head and for the work on the flywheel, they charged me £206, including VAT, which I'm told is very reasonable. Bob or Terry are the people you need to speak to, on 01392 273429. They are highly recommended.
It should be MG Maroon - it really is MG Maroon!
Which is why I shall be calling on them in the next week or so, because I have now totally dismantled the block and I need someone with experience to tell me what needs doing to it. The crankshaft looks O.K., with no scoring but some evidence of lightening in the past. None of the lobes on the camshaft are the same size (I think it's a high-lift version), two of the thirty-thou over-size pistons are badly damaged above the top ring groove, presumably because the rings have broken up, which has resulted in one of the bores being slightly damaged. Otherwise, no problems. I've put the new garden shed in place, on a new concrete base and I'm still trying to stop rain leaking through the garage roof. Retired? What from? More in a month or two - and if I've made any more mistakes, I hope someone will have the time to tell me!!
Part 5 -
Yes - you've guessed it, more work in progress!
No, I haven't left the planet but I have had a considerable amount of recent experience with Star Wars. I told you in February that I had started work on the body of the Grantura, especially to replace the flared wheel arches which had been fitted at some time or other during its competition days. This was part of my removing all the paintwork, because having been standing around for the past twenty years or so, pristine it isn't. It's difficult to describe, either the task or what I found. It would have been so much simpler to have thrown the body away and got a new one made from moulds, which I'm sure are around somewhere.
I tried scraping the paint off, sanding it and using a hot air gun on it. The hot air gun was the easiest but the many different contours of the body ensured I had to use all the options at one time or another. I had been advised not to use paint stripper, for a number of reasons. Whether this is right or wrong I don't know - I have had no experience of it before on fibreglass and I've not heard or read from anyone else on the subject, although tales of not being able to remove it completely from the fibreglass afterwards spring to mind. There are star and stress cracks everywhere and an apparent severe shunt damage at the offside front wheel-arch seems to have been 'repaired' with P38 filler. There are stress cracks around the door frames, bits chipped out on the lips where the front and rear screens are held in place, holes right through the roof where the interior mirror was fitted(!!??) and obvious signs that the manufacture of fibreglass bodies in the late fifties/early sixties was nothing like as skilled and accurate as it is today. Consequently, the whole task has not been one I have been anxious to spend every minute of every waking hour working on, in my 'forensic scientist' outfit of white dust-proof overall, mask and goggles, during the past six months. The angle grinder, sander, Mouse and Wizard have produced dust in immeasurable quantities - the neighbours are being extremely understanding - but it has to be done and I now realise why many restorations take forever to complete.
The new rear wheel arches have now been fitted and I'm quite pleased with the result. I mentioned cutting the old ones away in the February issue. Having ground out all the star cracks, on both the inside and outside of the body, I've repaired them with layers of chopped strand mat and sanded them back smooth. I'm now left with just the chips and drilled holes to fill (with P40, which is wonderful stuff), before my next task of covering the whole body with fibreglass tissue. No, I've never used that before, either. And then I start the whole process again with the bonnet and the doors.......
I've not had the 'respite' of spending time playing with the mechanicals. I mentioned before that I'd stripped the engine and because of the damage to the cylinders, they've now been bored out to sixty-thou oversize, which I'm assured is O.K. Quite how much bigger that makes a 1588cc original, I haven't worked out.
As regards the balancing of various bits, you couldn't make up a story like this. The recommended guy who was going to do the job was working in his garage during a particularly bad storm and a large tree crashed down on it (and him), causing some very severe injuries. He's consequently been convalescing for quite some time and obviously has a backlog of previously scheduled work, let alone mine, so, not being in any particular hurry, I've not worried too much. But alternative work would be a pleasant change.
On the plus side, I have had a few 'helpline' 'phone calls from people who don't actually have all the parts to build up their Grantura, so things could be a lot worse for me. The garage roof, however, is still leaking (have you ever tried to tie down a builder during the summer months?) and with autumn and winter not far round the corner, I can't continue to work under the car-port indefinitely. And it's been steam train excursion time in this part of the world recently and you have to remember that some of us wear other anoraks as well........
Part 6 - WORK IN PROGRESS
Yes, I know - it's been a long time coming. It's not that I've been idle, or hibernated for the period since I wrote in October of last year. I'd just got so bored with rubbing down paintwork and fibreglass that I turned my hand to anything else that would give me more or less an instant sense of achievement. Including tying down a builder to rectify the leaking garage roof.
You'll perhaps remember me referring to the rear wheel brake cylinders in February '05. I said then that the bleed nipples with the ball bearing seal were no longer available. They are - Practical Classics magazine has since highlighted the subject and you can get them from Powertrack (01753 842680) or Norman Motors (0207 431 0940). They were fitted to the Jaguar Mk 7 & 8 in 1954-59.
Anyway, to bring you up-to-date. I've had various bits of the engine balanced to compliment the rebore and, having purchased a number of new components, including head studs, rev counter, oil pump and distributor drives and a Piper cam, I've almost completely rebuilt the engine. Not that this has been without problems. The remains of a snapped head stud had been removed from the block and a 'helicoil' inserted to tidy up the thread. Unfortunately, when it came to tightening down the head, the helicoil pulled out with very little effort. So the assembled lower half of the engine had to be returned to have a steel insert fitted instead, which has solved the problem completely. Bearing in mind it'll be some time yet before the engine goes back into the car, I've sprayed it with the original M.G. maroon paint and made a small trolley so I can wheel it out-of the way in the garage. A great boost to morale and confidence.
So much so, I had another look at the fibreglass body. The fine weather's here and with it still removed from the chassis, I've completed all the repairs to cracks, chips and other deformities and made a much tidier and sturdier area under the dash for fitting the windscreen wiper spindles. Another little tip for those who dabble with small fibreglass repairs. I know you can buy rolls of acetate film for making moulds and using as a smooth surface for wetting chopped strand mat but if you nip down to your local printers, they'll be extremely happy to give you sheets of their old, used negative film. They have to dispose of it via the local council, who normally charge an arm and a leg because it's landfill waste as far as they are concerned. The trip might save you money and you won't need to go sparingly with it - there's always a pile of it awaiting collection. Anyway, whilst I can still get to awkward bodywork places easily, I looked at the problems of fitting an original fresh-air heater. Do you sense another saga coming on?
Two types of heater were available as 'optional extras' in 1961 - the Fresh Air type, which used ducted air from the front of the car (and cost £22 0s 3d) or a Recirculating one, which used the air from inside the car. A photograph I have of what was Peter Scott's MkII, which was manufactured three weeks before mine, shows the fresh air type fitted next to the battery on the bulkhead. It's a Smith's but that's all I have been able to find out about it. Despite an article in Sprint, a request for info on the website, numerous 'phone calls and looking under the bonnets of prospective cars at classic shows and scrap-yards, no-one seems to know to which standard production car they were fitted.
It's worth remembering here that back in 1961, TVR was 'just another kit-car manufacturer'. There were many others at that time and their target customers were people who were prepared to spend around £1300 for an assembled vehicle or £880 in kit form (which most of them presumably were). Consequently, it's extremely unlikely that any two cars of the kit version looked the same in respect of trim or the fitting of the various switches, wiring or piping. So, with that sort of scenario, when I bought my Grantura in 1973 and it was heater-less, I looked around for one that would fit. Anywhere. The smallest and most efficient I found was from an Austin J2 van, in a scrap yard near Uxbridge. It was/is 8 inches square by 7 inches deep, has little doors that open and shut to allow/restrict the air flow, two of which are easily adapted to provide demister outlets. And it had nestled above the transmission tunnel, very neatly behind the dashboard, since I first installed it.
Why then should I bother to try to find 'an original'? So I've gone back to Plan A. I've revisited scrap yards and found a couple of very nice demister vents to fit under the top of the dash (from a very early Riley Elf) and I'm currently making up 4 inch diameter fibreglass ducting for the air flow from the front of the car (using sewage piping as moulds from a local builders merchant). The butterfly flap I can get from Moss, as was fitted to early M.G.A's. And I tell you what. It's going look a lot nicer than the 'optional extra'.
Air intake trunking to heater matrix
Herself' says she will not even think of getting into the car unless it has seat-belts. We haven't come to blows over it but as I don't want to go down the route of fitting a full roll-cage, it hasn't been easy working out how to fit an anchorage behind the seats, as I'm sure other torsion-bar Grantura owners will understand. However, an ex Porsche technician/mechanic from Denmark we met at our first Le Mans, who visited us last Christmas, came up with an idea that local Dulford Automotive are currently working on. It basically consists of a pair of 2 inch by 1 inch lengths of box-section steel, held in place between the upper and lower rear torsion bar
tubes by U bolts, and which will fit tidily next to the rear wheel arch through the 'parcel shelf'. And the eyelet will be at shoulder height. There has been a problem finding eyelet bolts with a sufficient length of thread but if you visit any boat chandlers, you’ll find a numerous assortment of stainless steel ones on the shelves. Any scrutineers out there who think there might be a problem??
When I've sorted these last two activities, I'll be in a position (I think) to put the body back on the chassis. I've decided to put the fibreglass tissue on the body once it's back on the chassis - but I'm told the engine compartment and under the rear wheel arches ought to be sprayed in the final colour before it goes back on. My local engineering firm have repaired the door hinges and made modifications to them to ensure they don't continue to act as funnels for rainwater into the footwells. My next task, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, will be dismantling and stripping the paint from the doors – with, presumably, more fibreglass work involved. Anyone know what ‘standard production car’ the opening quarter-lights come from? I’ll need at least one and the rubber surrounds to go with them. And what about the window winding mechanism?? Just in case the existing ones are beyond repair. I know about the rest of the fitments but any tips or advice would be most welcome, please.
I heard recently that a number of Club members in the region are running a book as to how long it will be before the car is finished. I'm not sure I believe this but I'll tell you what, guys. It'll be fifty years old in April, 2011, if that gives you a clue.
Part 7 - WORK STILL IN PROGRESS
I've had plenty of time to ask around for recommendations for someone to professionally prepare and spray the body, before it goes back on the chassis. Having decided on one in particular and seen the workmanship on the Taimar and Sprite he was currently working on, he came round one afternoon to have a look over the bodyshell. He inspected what I had previously done in the way of repairs and said, in his view, it didn't need tissuing as I had planned. He told me what he would do to make it a first class job, as far as he was concerned, and roughly how much it would cost. I was suitably impressed and one afternoon in August, they arrived with a trailer and took it away.
With the body out of the way, I turned my attention to the doors. I dismantled the passenger door first, for psychological reasons. I figured that as it probably hadn't been used as much as the other one, the internals just might be in a fair condition. I digitally photographed everything as I took it apart - very carefully, because wafer-thin rusted metal is sharp. Almost every nut & bolt inside the door had to be cut away, especially those holding the window frame adjusting bracket to the door, with my Black & Decker 'Wizard' - I'd have been lost without it.
One of the more ingenious previous owners had come up with the idea that in order to stop the window rattling, a pair of mole grips to flatten slightly the chromed brass window frame was the best idea. In three or four different places. The bracket assembly that holds the frame to the door was the item of rust, but very easy to re-manufacture via my local engineering workshop. The quarter-light window rubber, which is almost certainly the original, was very like charcoal and broke away at the slightest touch but everything else - namely the window winding and door locking mechanisms - were in excellent working order and needed merely a very good cleaning.
Before the body went away, I had checked the neatness of the doors fitting within their apertures. Not a flush and tidy fit is an appropriate description, so I was aware I might have to 'enlarge' them in one or two places. Having removed every fitting from the nearside door, I decided to sand away the paintwork. This highlighted an area around the door handle, about 9 inches/230mm high and about half that wide, made up almost totally of filler - another 'quick fix' by a previous owner. There are signs of a hastily-installed piece of fibreglass matting on the inside to hold it in place.
With the certain knowledge that the driver's door would probably be worse, I started on that one. Every item I removed mirrored exactly that on the nearside, except for the window winder mechanism. The teeth had completely worn away at the point where the window is just below the very top of its travel, so it was impossible to wind it completely up, or down at all. At this point, I was in the mood for a ferreting exercise, so, having sent both window frames away for repair and replating, I started investigating locks, quarter-lights and internal mechanisms. A very interesting exercise - if you've got the time.
Having discussed the lock/striker plate situation with Ian Massey-Crosse, you might find the enclosed picture helpful. These fitments were originally fitted to either a Mk 1 or Mk 2 Ford Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac. The fitting of them to your Grantura was, it seems, something of a 'mix and match' process, so you'll have to compare yours to those in the picture to establish which ones you have. The operating mechanism within the door is that from the 1950-'56 Mk 1 version of these cars.
The window winding mechanism, like the interior door handles, is from the early Wolseley 1500/Riley 1.5, 1957-'65. The mechanism from the later versions is exactly the same and will fit, but the fixed securing nuts are fatter than the early ones.
Opening quarter-light windows. Hen's teeth and the Holy Grail are easier to find. Nobody, it seems, has any idea to which production car they were originally fitted, - or if they do, they're not telling. I've inspected every car I've seen at Classic Shows, studied pictures in the relevant Magazines, contacted the early manufacturers, one-make Car Clubs, spoken to people at the Factory, even TreVoR - absolutely nothing. But all is not lost. I reckon it would be quite simple to get the glass made, if needed, from a pattern any one of us could provide. The top metal fixing is almost identical to that fitted to the 1953-'59 Standard 8 or 10, although you will have to carefully flatten it slightly. The bottom fitting, which is the catch to keep the window shut or opened, is also from the same car but there are two versions of the catch handle - one is curved, the other, like mine, is 'flatter' in appearance. The fitting of it into the Standard door frame is very slightly different to the Grantura, but easily adapted. The rubber surround, to fit into the Grantura window frame, has beaten me. I know of 'one of us' who has made his own, using numerous pieces of different shaped rubber moulding and sticking them together with superglue. Again, I've searched for any that could be adapted and I think I might have cracked it. The ones fitted to the 105E Ford Anglia, 1959-'68 look promising and I'm in the process of trying to source them. If they can be adapted, I'll let you know.
If there's someone out there desperately willing me to divulge the sources of the above items, and the Editor's got space, here goes. Some of these are businesses and some are private individuals, so you might have to try contacting them during the day-time or evening:-
Outer Door Handles and Quarter-light Fittings (not the glass), (Standard 8 or 10) - Neville Thomas, 01269 831628 (South Wales), Arthur Hough, 02392 584443 (Hampshire) or Richard Sandilands, 01480 891613 (Peterborough). I found these guys much more 'available' and much cheaper than Tony Pounder now, who is the official 'supplier' of Standard spares. Please tell them it was me who gave you their number.
Window Winder Mechanism and Interior Door Handles - Andy Bradley, Wolseley/Riley 1500 Spares, 0208 393 2194. I bought a later version from him.
Door Locking Mechanism, Lock and Striker Plates, (Ford Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac) - Goldendays Motor Services, 01603 881155 (Norwich). You'll have to tell him exactly which one you want, identified from the picture included with this article.
Meanwhile, the body shell has returned home. It arrived one dark evening in early October, on the same trailer that took it away. And it brought a story with it. We live in a rural area and farmers around here tend not to wash their tractors or equipment as often as we do cars. So when they've finished spreading slurry onto their fields, they're quite casual about driving home along the lanes, hoping the rain will help in the cleaning up. Consequently, when the Land Rover arrived, towing the body on the trailer, the body was organically splattered and aromatically enhanced. As was my clothing when I helped lift it off. So the following morning, the newly sprayed Signal Red paint had its first wash - and it looks great. Only three or four coats of it so far to seal the filler/primer but it's home and I'm well pleased. Oh, and by the way, so are the repaired and re-chromed window frames from those nice S & T people in Yate, near Bristol and as good as, if not better than, new.
Part 8 - YET MORE WORK IN PROGRESS
You haven't heard from me since February, when the Grantura body had just arrived home from the paintshop. Splattered in slurry, remember? The main reason for having the body sprayed at that time was because it was much easier for them to get into the engine bay, without having chassis tubes in the way. Anyway, prior to attempting to reunite body and chassis, I treated the underside of the body - transmission tunnel, inner rear wheel arches and underside of the petrol tank/parcel shelf area - with a coat or two of Signal Red pigmented resin. It covers a multitude of sins and is easily touch-up-able at any time in the future. So in theory, it was ready to bond it back on to the new floor panels and chassis. On a nice sunny day, with a couple of other guys and 'herself' as Director of Operations, we carefully lifted the pristine body onto the chassis. And it didn't fit.
I had previously done repair work to the undersides of both the spare wheel well (to stop rain water pouring in) and to the parcel shelf (a previous owner had made a mess of accessing the top torsion bar Allen screw adjusting fitment and the petrol tank sender unit). Consequently, these repairs had resulted in additional thicknesses of fibreglass mat, which, when lowered onto the top rear torsion bar tube and the thin strut under the spare wheel well, would not allow the door sills to line up to the same level as the floor panels at the rear of the car. A slight bending downwards of the thin struts solved the rear-most problem but on advice from Ian M - C, I cut through the wheel-arch edges of the parcel shelf and partially across the section over the torsion bar tube to allow the body to sit just that small amount lower when the re-shaping was finished. Frustrating but necessary. I made some minor modifications to the outer seat belt anchorages prior to securely fitting the sills to the floor, boxed in completely the thin strut under the spare wheel well and now that the body is bonded back everywhere it should be, I'm pleased with the result.
Next job was the cutting of holes in the parcel shelf to allow for the fitting of the rear-most seat belt anchorages, as mentioned in the article in Sprint, November '06. Once these were cut, I could consider fitting the petrol tank. I seem to recall back in 1976 I fitted a 'new' second hand tank without too much dismantling of the hub assembly but as a result of my amendments to the rear shelf, I decided this time to remove both the top and bottom near-side king post set pins and move the whole assembly forward slightly to allow the tank to slide into place. I have to admit to having had to put a shallow dent in the tank above each of those thin struts to avoid rubbing and it's now fitted snugly in place, with all the fixing bolt holes sealed against the entry of water into the spare wheel well. I've fitted the rear seat-belt anchorages, sealed their passage through the parcel shelf and refitted the kingposts. All very satisfying and I've pictures of the exercise if anyone wants to see them.
I next discovered that the new 'A' posts I had had made, to bolt onto the new lugs welded to the outer chassis tubes, were not quite wide enough. I wanted to make sure that the holes for the bolts holding the door hinges in place went through steel as well as the fibreglass body, so rather than bolt the posts to the inside of the lugs, I would now have to bolt them to the outside and use the additional thickness of a spacer in between. Having previously ensured that any rainwater running into the hinge-boxes would have nowhere to go other than to run out again, the relevant cut-outs on the 'A' posts were marked and cut, the edges painted and they were then ready for fitting. This is where you find it is an advantage to have fingers and wrists that bend though ninety degrees in all directions when it comes to putting in place, and tightening, the bolts and nuts that secure the posts and the hinge-boxes to the bulkhead, top and bottom. Another very satisfying job now it's finished, with the assemblies making those parts of the chassis/body an extremely solid construction. The door sills where then filled with expanding polyurethane foam and I've even painted the fibreglass-covered chassis tubes along the transmission tunnel, in the same colour as the powder coating.
I've just finished the process of re-shaping the passenger door to fit the hole it's supposed to fill. I'm not so sure the door frame hasn't changed shape since the car was last in one piece. Bearing in mind the work I've had to do on the parcel shelf, not to mention replacing both the rear wheel arches and the fact the body has been sitting unsupported for most of the past twelve months on its door sills, perhaps this is not surprising. I've had to extend the length of the passenger door face by quite a few millimetres in one corner, in addition to grinding out the total thickness of non-fibreglass filler in the door handle area and removing large star cracks in other areas, as well as tidying up the top edge. And there's no less work to do on the driver's door, which has always stuck out 10mm too far in the bottom rear corner, when in the closed position, But hey, it's summer - what better time for this sort of work? And at least the rain keeps down the dust.
Part 9 - EVEN MORE WORK IN PROGRESS
I thought it was about time I put quill to vellum again, following on from my last report, back in October. Since then, I've finished repairing and re-shaping the passenger door, which had been damaged back in the mists of time. Although the driver’s door had not been damaged, it was an even worse fit in the body than the passenger door. The bottom rear corner of the driver’s door had always stuck out 10mm too far from the sill in that corner, when in the closed position. In addition to this, I'm now of the opinion that the aperture for the door may have changed shape, albeit slightly.
I suspect this may have happened when the body was removed from the chassis and was left sitting on its door sills for most of the previous twelve months. The result was a large variation in the width of the ‘shut line’ around the door. Also, over the years, the top of the door had bowed inwards, along the slot for the window. I’ve almost totally eliminated the bow by cutting through the top of the door, under the quarter-light, prising the two surfaces apart and filling the gap with fibreglass filler. A layer or two of matting along the inside and top section of the door, to extend it upwards to bring the gap for the window back to its correct width, has made a very acceptable ‘repair’. And there’s more! Have you noticed that gap behind the top front corner curve of the doors, which makes a superb scoop for collecting wiper-cleared rainwater from off the screen? I think I’ve successfully reshaped them to prevent that happening in future. I’ve built up the back of the curved corner with the filler and sanded away some of the outer surface to make a smoother line, looking at it from all angles. I’ve not finished it yet – some misplaced ‘lips’ have taken priority, as you will see.
It was during one of my ‘trial fits’, to make sure there was an even gap at the front and rear edges of the driver’s door, that I noticed something I hadn’t been aware of before. On peering inside the car, with the door in place, there seemed an unusually large gap between the inside face of the bottom of the door and the lip that holds the rubber door seal. This excessive gap continued at the bottom of the ‘B’ post part of the doorframe but at the top, the inside of the door was touching the lip, leaving no room at all for the door seal. Fortunately, the gap going up the ‘A’ post was almost O.K. I couldn’t see how this was correct and contemplated various ways to overcome the problem. On one of his semi-regular visits, Ian M-C said that he had the very same problem with a Mk 2a. He thinks it was possibly a fault in the mould of these early cars that was never corrected at the factory. Perhaps anyone else who has had the same problem could verify this.
Anyway, his advice was not what I wanted to hear. Mark out where the lip for the door seal should be, cut off the original lips, including the vertical, inner part of the door sill, and mould new ones. You’ll remember the body has already been re-sprayed and I can assure you cutting, grinding and sanding it seemed extremely masochistic. But I’ve nearly finished and at least I’ll know it’s been done properly, so that there will now be a uniform gap all round for the door seal. Hopefully, that will mean no draughts and a very satisfying ‘clunk’ when the door shuts…………
I have had some extremely good fortune since I last wrote. My car had, in its racing past, been fitted with those rubber strap thingy’s on either side of the bonnet to hold it down (the proper bonnet locks being discarded to ‘save weight’ presumably). Consequently I spent many hours looking, rather like for the quarter lights, for the production car to which they were originally fitted. It seems the 105E Anglia is almost the source, although the ones I’ve seen don’t have that little saucer-shaped disc on the top of the catch. Mark Keith heard of my search and very kindly sent me two that he had spare (which needed the little discs, made and fitted perfectly for me by Ian). So Marshal, in North America, if you are going ahead with getting some made, I’m afraid I won’t be one of the customers you thought I might be! Sorry!
Part 10 - FINAL WORK IN PROGRESS - The Replay. (after extra time, same venue)
Doors. The ones spelt with two 'o's, rather than with just one, the latter being a much more attractive proposition in my youth. You'll remember the rather triumphant 'I've finished repairing and reshaping the passenger door........' line in my previous article. Unfortunately, when I started working on the drivers side, I realised after a short while -confirmed with that awful feeling in the pit of the stomach - that I had made what I shall politely call a cock-up.
Let's get this in perspective. I'm aware that of the total membership of the TVR Car Club in the U.K., there are very few of us with cars that are around fifty years old. And even fewer who are in a position to work on their car whenever they like, within reason. Consequently, I imagine I have a very limited 'audience' for these articles, although a number of people have been in touch to ask various questions and professional repairers will appreciate the problem. So, unless you are a Granny owner, or are just intrigued with the story, the following detail will be meaningless.
I have explained that both doors from my car were a very poor fit. One of them had suffered damage, there were signs of awful repairs to both - by previous owners - and I'm not even convinced both are original...... So, I bit the bullet. Two 'new' locks/catch plates and door handles, re-chromed window frames and one new catch and a pair of rubber surrounds for the quarter lights. All I had to do was repair and reshape the fibreglass.
I'd been told to investigate all the potential problems before I started but if you don't really know what you're doing, you don't find them until they happen. What I should have done was sit down and draw up a list of every possible eventuality. With hindsight, it would have been something like this:
(1) Make sure there is sufficient thread of the hinge arm to protrude though the front box section of the door.
(2) Ensure the distance between the rear edge of the box section and the 'B' post allows accurate fitting of the lock/catch plate.
(3) Ensure the door handle, when fitted correctly, will operate the lock.
(4) Ensure the slot on the top of the door is positioned to accurately site the window frame.
(5) Ensure the accurate positioning of the adjustable bracket that holds the base of the window frame securely to the door
(6) Ensure the gap between the inner door and the lip on the body is equi-distant all the way round.
(7) Ensure the gap between the leading, trailing and bottom edges of the door and the surrounding body look equal.
(8) Finally, (I think) ensure the curved shape of the door matches that of the front and rear wings. I do realise there are such things as window winders and door handles to fit inside the door but I'm hoping if everything else is right, fitting these will be comparatively simple - unless you can tell me otherwise. Anyway, the cock-up was the fact there was insufficient space for the lock. It's irrelevant which of the seven I got wrong but I am currently in the process of re-doing everything on the passenger door except for the curved shape.
A mitigating circumstance might be the fact that I have refitted the door locks outside of their original placement. In my view (and obviously Ian M-C's, because he resited his a long time ago), because of the thickness of the box section from where the lock used to protrude, only about half of the little star wheel would engage with the catch plate on the 'B' post. Now, with the lock bolted to the inside of an aluminium plate, which itself is fitted to the outside of the box section, both the star wheel and the shoe above it fully engage with the door pillar plate. Not original, you may say - but then, arguably, neither is the rest of the door.
Another task on the horizon is the fitting of the quarter light rubbers. You may remember I told you previously that after searching for an identical match at classic car shows (and failing), I decided the ones fitted to the 105E Anglia could be adapted to fit. Anyone who has had experience of this task, with whatever rubbers, would be very welcome if they gave me a call - my number is 01884 34111. Back to the doors.........
Brian Holmes. 17213 (although back in 1973, I used to be a 100 and something - there were only 205 members then.)