I’ll probably be cursing about it in a few weeks but I’ve made a start on the bodywork.
It may not look much but it’s a bit of a giant leap when you put up the first piece of cardboard. Immediately things you fretted about fall into place – the 3-dimensional tangle you had in your head unravels and you see that it’s not as complicated as you first thought (I was concerned about the pedal travel, especially the clutch and how it might go too far into the engine bay). The other thing I was concerned about was the flow of air through the bay and out under the floor. I think I got this a bit wrong with the Austin and ended up cutting great chunks of metal out of the returns on the side panels and adding louvres on top of the bonnet. I don’t think it’s helped particularly and the real problem is more likely to be the lack of a seal around the radiator – something I shall address when it goes back together again.
I shouldn’t be having the same cooling problems with the Hillman. I pulled an old thermostat from one of the spare engines, cleaned it up and tested it. It’s an 82 degree one and I suddenly had a thought; if these engines are a bit prone to burning out valves because of cooling problems, why don’t I fit a 74 degree thermostat and it’ll open earlier…. Good thinking Batman but it don’t work like that. The engine’s still going to heat up past the 74 degree mark isn’t it? Oh, yes. I had a quick chat with Pro Alloy (the chaps who built my fabulous radiator) and they’re sending me an electric fan (the mounts are already on the core) and an inline switch for which I can cobble up a pipe and union and put between the thermostat and the radiator inlet. I did that on the Austin… I think that was one of my first pieces of TIG welding and it didn’t, and hasn’t leaked – beginner’s luck!
In fact, if the radiator is especially efficient, it might be that the engine’s going to run too cool. That’s the sort of problem you want, according to Learned Counsel.
I spent most of the weekend on detail work and finishing up jobs I’d left because there was something more interesting to get on with. You can do only so many split pins before dark thoughts begin to blur your vision….. but the job is done and the cable side of the brakes is finished, as is all the gear-change linkage.
I’ve taken the plunge and ordered the alternator I was talking about, it should arrive in the next few days. I’m also putting in the fuel line a decent on/off valve. The little brass tap I put into the Austin system is suffering – leaking a bit – because of the ethanol content in some fuels – apparently. A lot of vintage car friends are using the more expensive unleaded fuels and seem to have great success with it; perhaps I’ll give that a go with the Austin. I’ve already got one of those lead/tin pellet fandangos in the tank but I don’t know if it does any good because I fitted it from new. The Hillman tourer’s got one too and it seems to go alright.
I’m, once again, at a stage where I need to do everything else before I can get on with the bit I need to do first. That always makes life interesting.