Restoring a 1962 Jaguar E-Type

October 19, 2008

A Tale of Two Rust Removers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Penforhire @ 1:47 pm

Ladies and gentlemen. In this corner I present the reigning staple of my garage, Evapo-Rust. And introducing the challenger in the opposite corner, D-Rust-It!

You may have noticed recent comments from Lee Johnson at rustdepo.com . In the interest of full disclosure he did indeed send me a free sample of D-Rust-It, shown in the photo above. I’m happy to get any contributions I can for this project and I told Lee I would give his product a fair comparison right here.

The first thing I noticed is D-Rust-It comes as a concentrate. That is intended to save money in shipping costs. That container dilutes 3:1 with water to prepare one gallon of working solution.

The second thing I noticed is the solution is perfectly clear, where Evapo-Rust has a yellow tint reminiscent of a certain body fluid. Both chemicals work on a chelation principle that goes after iron oxide but is friendly to most (all?) other surfaces and is supposed to be non-toxic and sewer-safe. If you want me to drink some to prove that point you’ll have to pay me MUCH more!

Hmm, where do you suppose I can find some equivalently-rust parts to compare? My XKE provides and endless stream of such. Here are two sets of rusty parts from the seats I recently removed.

I didn’t need a gallon of D-Rust-It to compare so I used a graduated cylinder to accurately prepare a 3:1 dilution. The Evapo-Rust is shipped in ready-to-use concentration. Here are the solutions, ready to rumble. I kept everything consistent so the D-Rust-It samples remain on the left side of each photo. The baths sat next to each other to ensure temperatures were identical. In my garage it was high-70’s degrees during the day and dropped into the 60’s overnight.

*referee looks at the D-Rust-It* You ready?
*referee looks at the Evapo-Rust* You ready?
Let’s get it on!

Hmm, slowly some bubbles form but I’ve had more fun watching paint dry. So let’s come back in six hours.

Looks like they’re both just getting warmed up. Let’s give it over night, a full 24 hours.

Now we’re cooking with gas! Time to remove them and wipe both sets. Both solutions form a dark residue where the rust is converted and it seems both chemicals show how used-up they are by how cloudy the solution gets. Here’s the end result after 24 hours and a wiping with a cloth —

Both sets are pretty good, maybe a little rust yet to go on each. You might say the Evapo-Rust parts look ever-so-slightly cleaner but my personal opinion after fondling both sets is the fight is a draw. The degree of rust can vary and rust is a notoriously difficult thing to measure.

To tell you how I feel, next time I need to buy rust remover I’ll check out the total price of each, with shipping and any tax, and base my choice entirely on that.

If anyone thinks of some other way to compare these or how I was unfair I’m perfectly willing to put them back in the ring for a rematch. I would see what capacity each solution has but I find in my use that I spill and evaporate more than use it up chemically. The turbidity of both solutions is now similar so I’m extrapolating similar-enough bath life.

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October 5, 2008

Irresistible force

Filed under: Uncategorized — Penforhire @ 11:22 am

I had no idea an original seatbelt could have that much value (see Patrick’s comment on last post)! I would gladly sell mine to expedite my restoration but I don’t think mine have the markings Patrick indicated.

Here’s the flip side of the latch and the ink stamp on the belt weave.

The buckle has no other stamping than shown in the last post and the ink text on the weave, barely discernable, seems to say “Merchandisers & MFRS. INC MODEL + 75.16” The drivers’ side belt is the same but even harder to read. I am just planning to bin these belts.

I was looking closely at the foot pedals after I soaked them in solvent for weeks. They still seem to have some sort of corrosion on them, partly rust, partly something else.

Here is one pedal after soaking the end in rust remover.

Note the clean dividing line, so rust was part of the issue. The remaining black looks like an oxide coating from the factory. Maybe porosity allows corrosion over the years. Anyone know what the original black coating is supposed to be? It is too tough to be paint.

The driver’s seat rear nuts continued to resist my charms since my last post. Here’s one of them. You can barely make out a nut in that pile of rust.

I happened to be at Sears when one of their “bolt-out” kits was on sale. And I thought I’d try a “Gator grip” socket as well.

That $10 Gator socket on the left is one of those as-seen-on-TV products and looks cheesy. However they claim it’ll withstand over 100 ft-lb of force and that’s a lot. And, um, I always wanted to play with one of them. Unfortunately the nut was not clearly enough defined for this to work.

The bolt-out sockets on the right have a helical reverse edge in them that grips damaged bolt or nut heads to extract them. Seems like a fine idea and this kit was only $10 on sale! Unfortunately I had no joy with those either. When I got enough grip they just shaved the rust instead of turning the nuts.

Heavy sigh. I had tried soaking the areas in rust remover but I couldn’t keep them wet enough for long enough. I applied penetrating oil when they first indicated they’d be stubborn.

Gary suggested the chisel technique, thinking to split the nuts off the bolt. That worked on one nut. It started turning before I had chiseled all the way through it. See the nut on the left in the photo below.

The other nut resisted enough chisel pounding that I threw in the towel and got out a Dremel cut-off wheel. I would not recommend this if your seat frame is okay but mine is a total write-off for rust so a little cutting wasn’t going to hurt anything. And I was careful enough to not damage the stud, which might get replaced anyway. See the nut on the right in the photo below.

Success! It only required some irresistible force.

September 13, 2008

Take a seat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Penforhire @ 11:30 pm

Apparently the early E-types did not come from the factory with side mirrors. They were added by dealers and owners in America for safety. I sort of like the idea — what’s behind you is not important. But that also means there is a range of authenticity for side mirrors. There was a good-looking mirror made by Lucas bolted to my fender.

Unfortunately it needs rechroming too. I am thinking to try a small mirror that clamps onto the window instead.

Next I thought I’d pull the interior out of the car before trying for the engine or rear end. This way the body shell will be as light as possible when it needs to be self-supported.

The seat cushions just lift out. Like flotation devices on commercial airplanes.

Here’s the underside of the cushion.

Here’s the seat that remains after lifting out the cushion.

Here’s one missing nut, meant to hold the seat onto its rails. The back studs were both very rusty. I got lucky with the other side since a vice grip was able to turn the lumpy-shaped rusted nut.

Here’s one of four hardware stacks that are supposed to hold the seat on the rails.

Here’s what the underside of the seat looks like.

You find all sorts of weird stuff in and under the seats of an old car. In addition to copious rat droppings and moldy smells I found this.

A Long Beach municipal golf course scorecard, unused. The reverse side says it was printed in 1973.

Here’s the seat belt hardware.

I can’t get the other half of the belt off its stud. The stud, must be a bolt, turns in place. I assume I can find the head under the car to hold it but I haven’t looked yet. If I recall correctly, these seatbelts are another American-only item. You can see these particular belts are made in the U.S.A..

The seat rails are held to the floor by two bolts. You have to slide the rails front-and-back to expose them. Here is the front one. Note the heads are for a plain flat-head screwdriver.

Here’s the hardware on the bench, including a spacer that fits between the rail and the floor.

I was amused by a patent notice on the back of the seat rails.

Who knew you could patent a single tooth-on-lever engagement lock to position a seat rail?

When you look over my past work you might be surprised to know that most of my wrenching sessions are six hours or longer and I put in at least a day each weekend, often two. Yes, I’m a bit slow. I do like to review the shop manual and parts diagrams whenever I can figure them out. And I like to clean things up as I go, if I expect to reuse something. Sometimes I just sit and stare.

Why do I bring this up? Because my XKE blog entries are going to continue to have larger-than-expected gaps in time between them. I’m not shelving the project or the blog but I am slowing way down. It is entirely emotional, at least for the continued disassembly phase.

Since my last post I had a family medical crisis that instantly consumed literally years of the funding I was expecting to put into this rebuild, call it half the total budget. While that should have no effect on my continued teardown I find myself demotivated. I was expecting to spend whatever cash was necessary as I went along, such as sending out the chrome as soon as I had it all gathered. Now that is not reasonable and I’m a bit deflated. Sort of like the difference between smiling while you work and frowning. Today I removed the seat shown above and that was that, rather than being about half the work I should do today. And I have no idea if I’ll go wrench tomorrow.

We’ll see if my attitude improves before my slow teardown catches up to my funds but no promises. I was most afraid of disappointing my father-in-law. He’s not so young and might not be around to see or drive this machine after it is restored. But I talked to him and he understands completely. I hope you do as well.

August 15, 2008

What’s the news?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Penforhire @ 11:34 am

I decided to start up a personal junk blog to reduce off-topic nonsense here. Some of you dig my side reports (Ed TV?) and some don’t. Now you can have my cake and eat it too. Or not even look at it if you can’t stomach it.

My new junk blog now resides at http://www.rovingi.wordpress.com . As an experiment, I’m only using WordPress’s iPhone application to create it and only the iPhone for photos and writing. So my text and photos aren’t at the level as my other blogs. I’m still deeply in love with the mobile aspect of it.

You may say the super-secret project (discussed in my junk blog) superceding my E-Type resto progress is frivolous and/or juvenile. You’re right but that’s me. It is taking much longer than I planned (hey, that’s me too!) so I won’t get to E-Type wrenching for another couple of weekends, soonest. Sorry for the delay.

July 27, 2008

Lap dog

Filed under: Uncategorized — Penforhire @ 4:16 pm

Last episode I showed you the sorry state of my R75’s charging rotor and crank end. Time to fix that. A trip to Irv Seaver BMW found the new crank seal and a trip to NAPA got me a jar of water-based valve grinding paste.

Here’s the rotor bolt that backed out twice and a custom sized pin used to remove a properly installed rotor.

I added that tape note when I stored the pin because after a few years it’ll look like any other piece of scrap in my specialty tools bin! The pin is inserted before replacing the bolt and the threads inside the rotor are used with the original bolt to force it off the crank. Oddly enough, I had to use this when I removed the rotor this time. Seems that last on-the-road fix was holding just fine.

Here’s the tap & die I used to clean up the threads.

Indeed there were a bunch of metal filings mashed into the bolt and crank threads. Joe reminded me to use some cutting oil and work the tap gently back and forth when cleaning out the crank because those are threads you just can’t afford to mess up!

On the other hand, using oil also meant I had more clean-up to perform before Loctite might be expected to work. Here’s another view of the stator.

And here’s a look in the middle of my lapping the crank to the rotor.

I thought better of my idea to run the motor to lap the two pieces. It seemed destined to end in tears and a trip to the emergency room. So I settled for working the rotor back and forth by hand. I had visions of working though my other rubbing and polishing compounds to get a nice shiny crank surface. But that plan was abandoned after an hour or so of working just this coarse grinding paste. I worked it until my arms were sore and while I could tell the fit was improved it was nowhere near “polished.” As my dad used to say, good enough for government work.

Here’s the old crank seal pried out. I had to be very careful to avoid getting that grinding compound past the crank end when I cleaned it up. Note the main bearing right there!

When I reloaded the rotor I used an excessive amount of blue Loctite and also cranked on the Allen-head bolt as much as I dared. Snapping that off would REALLY make my day.

Then I changed the engine oil. I confirmed I was down about 3/4 quart (out of 2 total, if filter is not changed). The old oil didn’t look too abnormal. I fired up the engine. For a few seconds I was concerned because there was a slight scraping noise at the stator. But it immediately quieted down. Must have been knocking down some burrs. There isn’t much clearance between the rotor and stator.

Hmm, seems to be running fine. I went through two heat cycles looking for any oil leaks. I revved it to redline a couple of times. Nothing strange happening at the front, and no odd noises, so I buttoned it up.

If it explodes you’ll be the second or third person to know about it. Now I won’t feel guilty messing around with the Jag.

I cleaned up those bonnet hinges.

But even after removing the dried gunk they did not turn freely. So I resorted to some sandpaper and after I noticed deep scoring inside the pivots I tried a Dremel stone that happened to fit nicely.

I got the passenger side side working smoothly but the driver side still binds a little. It was not the rod because both rods were smooth in the passenger side. I think I found the root cause though.

Note the tweaked box of the driver side pivot. The same shunt that put this car out of service and dented the bonnet nose probably did this. There must be a slight bow in the pivot that I can’t detect by eye. I worked on it a bit more and got the action okay but not great. There is still a little resistance. I’ll have to decide if I need to replace it later.

What next? Well I see this ugly box on the passenger side of the firewall.

If I identified it correctly, this is what the parts manual calls the “control box.” It seems to contain most or all of the electrical signals coming from the cockpit into the engine bay. Here’s a bundle of a half-dozen bullet connectors clamped next to the box on the firewall.

Once again the colors are generally too faded to identify. Let’s hope the replacement harnesses match up color-for-color. A couple of wires split off the the end of the passenger-side camshaft, presumably a sensor? At least these colors are clear.

The Control Box remains attached to some linkage that must be accessible from the passenger compartment so I’ll come back to this after I start pulling the interior apart.

Now I was feeling flexible so I squeezed myself into the pedal area to see if I couldn’t free up that darn pedal box. Holding a ratchet I could just barely reach the forward-most nuts. My cheap air ratchet was very helpful here because otherwise I would have pulled a muscle working a wrench with my fingertips constantly extended in a kneeling fencer’s lunge. After removing six nuts, oddly two different sizes, I was able to remove the pedal box off the firewall. You have to remove the foot pads and turn the whole box sideways to remove it (to clear the two pedal arms through the opening in the firewall).

Success! Here’s a look at the firewall with the box removed.

I think I’ll need a new pedal box gasket.

The linkages inside the pedal box look about as complicated as the throttle linkage!

I took more photos as I pulled it apart but I’m still worried about reassembly.

There is one actual bearing insert in the pedal box.

This one is about as frozen as a bearing can be! I’ll have to try some solvent on it later. If it won’t free up I’ll need a replacement.

Here’s a cool hand-engraved tag that was loosely wrapped around one of the hydraulic cylinders. The writing is visible after some scrubbing with Simple Green.

I assume this is the sort of thing you concours guys go nuts for? I look at it and see one more thing to rattle in the engine bay.

After cleaning up the pedal box bits I discovered why the two spring pieces in that earlier photo looked so wrong.

They’re supposed to be one piece!

Here’s where the battery-to-chassis connection goes, above the battery toward the firewall. Note this is supposed to be the positive wire! I’m pretty sure I’ll convert the car to negative ground. From what I read it is not difficult and seems like a safe move for a non-show car.

I’m not sure what this next widget on the driver side firewall is. I already disconnected the other end of that hose. I was thinking heater control or vacuum something? Can’t seem to locate it in the parts manual. Please post a note if you know.

Now I figured I’d photograph the run of the rear brake line. I added red lines in the photos to highlight the run. It comes up from the bottom of the car on the passenger side, just below the control box.

Then it crosses the firewall right at the bottom.

Then it comes forward along the driver side top frame rail before looping under.

And here’s the end loop formed at the hydraulic cylinder.

Might as well do the same for the front brake line. Here’s the run to the front frame cross member.

There is some sort of sensor right above the tee to the driver side front wheel. What is it?

Following that tee straight down, it loops into a flex line coupling.

The flex line runs to a similar fitting on the wheel, back to rigid line just before the front brake.

Hmm, what next? How about those ugly rusted exhaust manifolds. I already cut the exhaust off at the flex sections but the manifold-to-exhaust has a little issue.

The arrow points to the only one of eight studs that is not broken off! Technically the front exhaust should be falling off. I can assure you, after trying a punch and hammer on the stud tops, it isn’t. Sigh. That means I have to pull the manifolds off the block and see if I can’t sort them out on the bench.

There are eight nuts per manifold. Six of them are cake to remove. The two middle-bottom nuts are NOT. The manifolds themselves prevent any socket and they are too close on the sides for even a plain 12-point box wrench! You can only work an open end wrench over a short arc. Just like so many fittings on this car. Good thing mine weren’t frozen because there is just no leverage in their awkward locations. One of them even required the manifold to come slightly off before it’d clear the nut off the end of the stud, trapped between the stud and manifold!

Here’s a look at the front exhaust ports with the manifold removed.

And here’s that manifold on my bench.

Here’s the detail on the dipstick bracket, mounted to the rear manifold.

Even on the bench the exhausts were a pain to remove. My impact wrench socket would not fit over every nut. So here I am pounding a box end wrench with a hammer to free a couple of them. The studs never moved, despite not having any heads on them!

And, finally, here’s the fruit of my labor. The exhaust-to-manifold detail —

I am likely to replace the manifolds with one of several stainless headers-and-exhaust combos in the aftermarket. The original cast iron manifolds are heavy as heck and I read about difficulties keeping any type of cosmetic coating on them. But I’ll hold onto the originals in case I change my mind.

Now here’s a big shout-out to another E-Type enthusiast, Dick Maury, who noticed my blog and sent me a copy of his resto photo CD. This is a great collection of annotated photos from a fellow who did all his own work, including body, engine, and upholstery on his show-quality restoration. I can never have enough photos because it always seems like my views are not what I need later! He sells this collection of photos for a nominal fee along with other hard-to-obtain parts at http://www.georgiajag.com . I’ll add this to my link collection.

Dick was a Jaguar mechanic but mentions he had no prior body or upholstery experience. He sure picked it up though. It does not surprise me, looking at his after-images, that Dick’s early 3.8 (like mine!) placed 3rd in American JCNA competition last year with a 99.97 average score!

Dick had a significant amount of major body repair, complete planels that needed replacement. Among his many images, his views of the seat restoration stand out to me. I also liked seeing the complete original tool kit and that is apparently where some of my “Jaguar” hand tools originate from. Dick’s “after” photos look like a layer of grime and corrosion was lifted off all my parts. My stock phrase still applies; It makes me ache to see Dick’s work and pristine results. The difference from what is, to what can be, physically hurts. As if the effort required to accomplish it instantly races through my synapses just from seeing the end result. Must…keep….nose…to…grindstone.

I just got another great link from gTr, a fellow S2000 enthusiast. Check out http://www.leifs.com/ferrari/index.html . That isn’t Jaguar work but it sure is appropriate. This professsional shop is restoring a wrecked 2004 Ferrari 360 Spyder and the cool part is how they post videos of their weekly efforts. We’re not talking about just a little work here. They are down to welding together pieces of the frame and the all-aluminum construction makes it a real challenge. I’ve thought about giving you guys some video clips of my techniques (when they succeed) but that’s just an insane amount of extra work. This is a pro shop and I assume they expect some payback, new customers. Me? The most I can hope for is “nice car” from random pre-teens walking by and some internet notoriety. Gifts from readers are graciously accepted but that’s not why I’m doing this. Yeah, I really should put up some annoying click-me ads on this blog.

Now I must warn you my next blog post will be a longer wait than my usual two-to-three weeks. I want to dedicate some multi-weekend time to other work and I side-track you enough with my R75/5 and home improvement follies. Do not fear. As general MacArthur once said, I shall return! Although in my case it is a shame the Japanese don’t occupy this vehicle until then…

July 13, 2008

Black Rain

Filed under: Uncategorized — Penforhire @ 1:32 pm

I started pulling off other components in the engine compartment. Here is some sort of relay box under the battery tray.

And here’s the back side of the box.

Like much of the wiring, these cloth coverings are so faded I can’t easily tell what the colors are. That’ll make replacing the harness more difficult!

Here’s the brake vacuum assist bellows.

I began randomly disassembling stuff on the hydraulic cylinders and booster. The pieces cover up however the pedal box (on the engine side of the firewall) is mounted. Here’s a large pivot for one of the cylinders.

Here’s the linkage at the end of the vacuum bellows.

Here’s the odd stack of parts holding on a side bracket in the pedal box. The whole region is sort of a Chinese puzzle to me. There isn’t enough room to swing a wrench very far and none at all for sockets. Slow and tedious work.

Got the bellows out —

Always satisfying to finally hold parts that resist my efforts —

There are a couple of throttle pivots nearby —

A close-up of the upper —

And the lower —

Here’s some of the upper pivot disassembly detail —

And the pieces behind that —

At this point I started to wonder about what was holding the pedal box in place on the firewall. The parts book didn’t show it but I could see studs or bolts at the corners coming from below. A little contortionist twisting showed me this.

Yep, there are bolts down by the driver’s pedals. Hmm, I’ll come back to this after I either pull the seat out or I’m feeling more flexible!

Going back into low-hanging-fruit mode. Here’s the gas filter bowl.

Say, isn’t there supposed to be a filter in there? M.I.A. I guess. The bowl is also supposed to be clear but a couple of days soaking in parts cleaner fixed that and the grunge shown on the lid here.

Here is a close-up of the filter bracket mounting–

The part it bolts to is held in place by one of the main front frame bolts.

Here is the vacuum accumulator or reservoir on the passenger side of the engine —

It is held on by four bolts. Once again there is no room to swing a wrench or fit a socket. What an amazing pain in the rear this car is to wrench on! The name of this post, Black Rain, is not an allusion to a Michael Douglas movie but rather what happens to me every time I have to roll under the car to wrench on something. The grime and grease just showers me as soon as I vibrate anything. Nasty!

Here it is on the bench —

And after I started to clean it —

Now I’m worried that after cleaning it up it won’t hold vacuum. I think grease is holding this entire car together!

Hey look, a patented one-way vacuum valve —

Now what do you imagine was so special about this one that they deserved a patent? You mean it isn’t just a leather flap or similar archaic nonsense?

Here’s a bracket on the passenger side of the engine compartment. I have no clue what purpose it serves yet. But I removed it anyway.

I believe this is the windshield washer fluid bottle holder. But I’m not certain, not having a bottle.

Here’s the upper bracket assembly detail —

Here’s lower bolt. Well the pieces that would make a bolt if the head hadn’t sheared off! Give me a break! I happened to be using a tiny 1/4″-drive ratchet at the time. Grrrr.

Here’s the bonnet latch on the passenger side —

And the driver side. Yes, missing a bolt —

Here’s the exploded view of the parts.

My shafts had just about welded to the pivot with grease turned to stone. Very hard to turn or remove.

Here’s that other latch-related part, a receiver for a pin or some such on the bonnet.

Here’s a widget that is over the battery. And the positive battery cable comes from it. Maybe the regulator? By the way, I have no idea if dad converted to negative ground, and he doesn’t remember, so don’t take my wiring as gospel!! But a red cable from the regulator makes me think he might have.

Here’s a collection of black wires to a lug on the side.

And here’s the widget on my bench with its bracket. It is held to a frame member, like many things in the engine bay.

How about some non-Jag stuff?

After that last 300 mile ride on the 1973 BMW R75/5 I decided that maybe a small windshield would be a good idea. The highway miles on that 110 degree day were harsh! I didn’t want a whole-hog period-correct frame-mounted Windjammer fairing. Some other /5 owners reported good results with the smallest Maier screens sold by JC Whitney. These are handlebar mounted and there is a risk of instability on short wheelbase /5’s but mine has been ultra stable so far. I’ve got more risk of going insane on my next all-day ride if I don’t try something! One week after ordering, voila —

Seems to be just the ticket. Took it out for a maiden voyage to the highway for high-speed testing and as soon as I hit the road it cracked —

I heard a noise like a brief metal-on-metal grind as I was accelerating. I started to panic over a possible transmission or starter-to-flywheel issue. Nope. Just the sound of acrylic shattering. Sigh. The instructions warned me not to over tighten (while not providing any torque value). The screen is held by two bolts, with rubber disks sandwiched between same-size plates. I used Loctite as suggested and tried not to apply excess torque. But we know I am a monkey-with-a-stick. Guess we’ll see how good JC Whitney’s return policy is.

Had better success in the guest bathroom. Remodeling is complete!

I would have been fine with ceramic tiles but for whatever reason she-who-must-be-obeyed wanted natural stone. So what you’re looking at is WAY more expensive than it had to be and, to me, doesn’t look any better. Jacuzzi tub, check! Weird contrasting wall colors (not in photo), check!

Hey, back to the bike. Just finished the SC-MA’s Bare Bones ride with Joe. Not quite as hot as the sun. Gary didn’t come but we found a nice fellow named Bill who rides a ST1300. So if Gary doesn’t come along soon… he can be replaced! I had, um, a spot of trouble on this ride. As Joe and I are pulling up to the start, a Harley Davidson dealer in Fullerton, I’m hearing an awful howling racket from my R75/5. I mentioned to Joe I’d been hearing a noise on-and-off this last week but it was a momentary metal-on-metal grind and it’d stop. It was all-quiet when Joe and I left from my house. But when I pulled into that HD lot the sound was a constant grindy howl.

I had been thinking maybe something backed out in the clutch area, touching the disk, or possibly the starter pinion not fully retracting. Joe thought it was coming from the front end on the engine. So I whipped out my tools (never leave home without ’em!) while Joe went looking for the doughnuts and coffee. Lots of other riders stopped by. Everyone likes an old bike. Heck, I like OTHER peoples’ old bikes. And everyone like to watch OTHER people turn wrenches.

Geez, that airhead engine retains a lot of heat! I popped off the front engine cover and we found the problem. My alternator’s rotor was not turning in the stator. But it was sort of trying and causing that gruesome howl. The crank bolt that retains the rotor was backed out.

Here’s the front end with the rotor pulled off —

And here’s a closeup of the engine crank end, showing a galled surface —

That’s supposed to be a polished conical end! I had a bitch of a time getting the original rotor off it, shown somewhere in my R75 restoration blog.

Here’s the mating rotor section, possibly even MORE galled —

And gosh was THAT a hot potato to handle too, even after fifteen minutes of letting it cool! I replaced the old charging system with converted Ducati parts, sold as the EnduraLast system. All the newer BMW riders there got a kick out of me having Duc parts on this bike.

The rotor was also galling up its larger O.D. and the inside of the stator. Fortunately none of that damage looked terminal. Well, what are we to do? It seemed that we couldn’t get the crank bolt to hold the rotor tightly enough. So Joe found a too-large washer somewhere and we used a multi-tool wire cutter to cut it into a few pieces that we could slip behind the crank bolt’s washer. I cranked the bolt down while Joe held the rear brake on and a quick start verified we were functional!

So off we went. I left the front cover off just in case we needed to work on it again. That cover just prevents shorts and keeps bugs out of the system. It is vented for cooling in later years but my ’73 cover is solid.

We tagged along with four other guys on modern BMW’s (R & K-bikes) and Goldwings. We were lazy and figured they’d work out the route. Turns out those guys ride, um, fast. We had a lot of highway miles to cover on this ride and I still didn’t have a fairing. Grrrr. Turns out the R75 was plenty stable at 90 MPH. Who knew? Of course, I was wind-blasted back to the stone age. It also handles pretty well in corners and they didn’t pull on me in the twisties, just on another stretch of relatively straight back road where they must have wanted to shake me!

One of our checkpoints, about 130 miles after the start of the ride, was the Hidden Springs Cafe. Here’s the photo I took here. Nice adventure travel stuff eh?

As we’re pulling into the gravel lot everyone comes over to point to the oil spurting out of my crank seal, dripping on my exhaust cross-pipe, and threatening to end my ride right quick! More Black Rain!

The crank bolt had backed itself out far enough that the rotor not only stopped rotating but also pulled forward. The rotor sleeve is part of the crank end seal so naturally oil was spurting. There was no warning grinding noise this time, must have loosened fast. Probably all that redline RPM I was running to keep up with the big dogs. Nice to see I had oil pressure though. Heavy sigh.

Here’s what the front end looked like.

You might be able to see how discolored my stainless cross-over is and if you look close you can see the crank bolt sticking out of the rotor. Should be about flush with the end of it!

So out come the tools and I tighten it down again. Check my oil and it looks like I’m a quart down. Lucky we had a stop there! Did I mention that my oil pressure light is the ONLY instrument lamp I never got working? I’m quite paranoid for the rest of the ride. I keep “hearing” that grinding noise so I have Joe ride next to me to look at it, “is it still turning?!” “Yep.” About a half dozen times. Until I got it home.

Phew! You realize this failure is a double-whammy. Not only would I be losing oil, my bike’s lubricant AND coolant, but I also would be running solely off the battery, getting no charge. Talk about broke down and busted! Here’s the pin I have to show for the effort.

Time for a bottle of ale!

I need to work on that crank end and rotor. Probably won’t get to it until next week. I have to remove all that galling on both parts and clean up the crank bolt threads. It should not be backing out like that. I have to be careful not to ruin the concentricity so maybe some lapping compound put between the parts? I might grind the end of the rotor 10-20 mils so I can be sure it is seating all the way on the cone. That back edge isn’t critical and maybe it is slightly long. Running the motor with a fine grit against the cone sounds like a good idea, sort of a lathe action, but oil is going to spurt on me if I do that! We’ll see. But I should fix this better before returning to XKE destruction.

Look out, monkey with a stick!

June 25, 2008

WordPress just poked me in the ye

Filed under: Uncategorized — Penforhire @ 8:20 am

WordPress (where this blog is freely hosted) just did something funky. They updated “image alignment classes” and just a day ago they decided to update my ‘theme’ with this change. No warning and no choice. Totally screws up my image word wrap. Now we have text spilling around my photos on the right!

I complained but their answer is to edit every image in every post I ever made. I’ll try to figure it out in new posts but I’m leaving the old as they are. Sorry about that!

June 22, 2008

Riding on the sun

Filed under: Uncategorized — Penforhire @ 12:40 pm

I’ve got something neat-o to show you on my the BMW R75/5. Ever heard of black 3M Scotchlite tape? It is something I’ve used before, nearly invisible during the day but lights up like the best silver reflectors at night. I put some on the rear of the saddle bags. Just maybe it’ll save my life some day. This is what it looks like during the day.

But shine some directed light on it from a headlight or, say, a camera flash and you get —

BMW Joe and I went on the SC-MA’s “Dog Days of Summer” ride on June 21st. This was the first serious ride for my R75/5 after only circling within 20 miles of home. Here’s Joe’s K1200RS and the R75 at the start, Cycle Giant in Lake Forest. That’s Joe and another BMW fanatic looking at the R75.

It would have to be on one of the hottest days of the year!. D’oh! We rode all the way down to Julian, over Palomar, and back up to Temecula Motorsports. We stopped in Julian for apple pie, something they’re famous for, and they didn’t have any! The pie shop is closed for a week.

Not having a fairing on the bike makes highway riding tiring but the >100 degree temperatures were a killer. I had a 70 oz Camelbak in my tank bag that I consumed on the move but I still got a leg cramp in the twisties despite drinking all of it PLUS a couple of bottles of water. Not to mention sunburn on my face despite wearing sunblock. How hot was it? We didn’t have Gary and his thermometer with us. It got to where the breeze was painful not helpful. That usually starts around 105 degrees for me and news reports suggest it broke 110. My cell phone battery discharged even though I kept it OFF! Also my Kenwood GMRS radio battery died and it usually lasts the whole day. My feet felt like cannibals were roasting them in a pot all day.

This day was over 300 miles in the saddle. We hit the road at 7:30 and didn’t get back until 4:30. The bike performed okay even over a 5300 foot pass, though I could tell I was down on power and had to downshift unexpectedly. I think I’ve got a small fuel leak because a five gallon fill only lasted 150-odd miles until I was on reserve again! Couldn’t find a drip but the day was so hot it could just wet the fuel lines and evaporate.

The ride pin was red this year. How appropriate!

My father-in-law found a few of our missing E-Type parts. Here is a corroded but undoubtedly expensive air filter housing.

And here is an original service manual. Even though I have a new reprint this has the too-cool vintage patina you just can’t buy!

I’d like to show you all the progress in the garage but… er, there isn’t any to show. I’m saving my lamest excuses for later in the blog but look at the guest bathroom’s demolition last weekend.

Apparently in addition to a never-ending XKE restoration our home improvement tasks will also be never-ending. Honey, what do you mean, jaccuzi tub?! Here’s the new tile floor just after laying it down.

Sadly, much more to come. Sigh.

And I had to spend time breaking in a new ride. You could say I don’t have enough patience to wait for the XKE so I bought what I consider one of the best modern incarnations of it —

The Honda S2000. I owned a 2001 model but gave it up after too many warranty issues. Yeah, I was racing it on-track regularly but that’s not the root cause of my issues. In the years since, Honda improved some weaknesses (transmission & clutch), added useful features for a street car (e.g. stability control, less twitchy suspension, torque from stroked motor), and only slightly dulled its edge (redline lowered to 8K) over the years. They’ve also produced enough now that Honda service departments have caught up with training, something sorely lacking back in 2001. I also like having a glass rear window versus the older plastic one.

So why do I think of it as a modern E-Type? It certainly owes its proportions to the XKE and Ferrari GTO, not to mention the BMW 507 which predated BOTH of those. It is also affordable and barely refined, just like the E-type in its day. Some folks might point to the Miata as a spiritual successor but it doesn’t have the balls for it. Porsche Boxster or BMW Z4? Too refined and too expensive. I’ll give you the Lotus Elise if you insist but you have to crawl around on the ground to get out of it AND it is too expensive.

That’s it for the past couple of weeks. I’ll get back on the Jag wrenching soon, I promise.

June 7, 2008

Crazy like an Airhead

Filed under: Uncategorized — Penforhire @ 5:29 pm

I attacked a few more targets of opportunity in the engine bay.

Here is the radiator cap. I doubt it is original but the seal-side is trashed anyway.

Here are some nasty hose clamps from the radiator hoses.

Why mess with cleaning these up? Because an original Cheney clamp is supposedly worth its weight in, oh, silver!

Something like $15 – 25 each?! That’s nuts. I’m not making a show car so brand new stainless clamps are going back in.

Here’s the top box on the radiator.

And a look at the bolts holding it down.

Here’s one of the top straps to the radiator and fan shroud.

Here’s the fan switch that mounts in the radiator top box. I understand these are troublesome temperature switches. Another wonderful Lucas design?

Here is an odd welded seam of my top box. Is this original or a later repair?

At the bottom of the radiator a single long hose goes from the radiator to the water pump —

A peek at the parts manual suggests this is NOT the original design —

While this multi-part contraption seems Rube Goldberg-ish it does route the hose OVER the front frame rather than under it. Guess I’ll be buying these parts from scratch.

Here’s the other top bracket section related to the radiator —

Here’s a look at the bottom of the radiator and a flap of metal that ties straight out ahead of it, after I finally wrestled it all off. I assume that flap is an air dam of sorts, directing some air into the radiator? It was already twisted up quite a bit (it is thin). I didn’t do that, honest!

Here is a close up of one bottom bracket, the air dam is off to the left here.

Here’s the bottom mounting hardware from the radiator. This is the sort of thing the parts manual does a poor job of showing in enough detail. You can see a rubber doughnut but the hardware stack is just a blob in the book.

Here’s the hardware on the radiator bottom brackets. Nicely bent bracket, eh?

There is enough corrosion that the nuts are all a serious pain to get off the bolts. Here’s one of those “whoops, I don’t know my own strength” results. Or as I like to say, a Bullwinkle moment.

Here is one bottom stud of the radiator, with a sleeve or long washer on it.

Here’s the hardware mounting to one of the top straps I showed earlier.

As I’ve noted elsewhere, this car’s been worked on by monkeys before me. Here’s the hardware stack on the OTHER top strap. No way that stack of washers is, um, correct.

Some of the parts, like the largest top bracket shown above, seem to be painted with a peeling silver-gray color (or is that peeling cadmium plating?). I don’t know if that’s original but I suspect it is.

Here’s the state of the front end now. Check out that pathetic excuse for a fan. The Wright Brothers would never have gotten off the ground if their propeller design was that bad!

Speaking of the fan, here’s its mounting —

And its wiring. Got to capture as many colors as possible to make rewiring go smoother! In a few years, “so where does that black and green wire go?” Yeah, the schematics also work but with odd color abbreviations it can be tiresome to trace every wire.

Here’s the mounting hardware.

Next juicy-looking target? How about the rotted-out heater box?

This shows the water connections and the outside-air flap control.

And a close up view of that flap control wire —

Note the lovely condition of the water feedthrough on the bulkhead. At least it is a bolt-on part. Or bolt-on rust in this example.

Say, why the heck is ANY hot water going into the passenger compartment? Is there another heat-exchanger besides the one in the heater box?

Here is the bulkhead feedthrough for the flap control cable, adjacent to part of the throttle mechanism. Tell me that throttle pivot doesn’t look DESIGNED to bind and cut the flap cable!

Here’s the wiring to the blower motor (underside of heater box). It also shows one of the clamps to the frame, supporting the box. It does double-duty, also clamping a hose at the bottom end.

This wiring is funky. I had to cut it away because it was all spliced-in and I suspect it is not fully original. There is a load resistor visible and THAT is riveted in place. I guess the Coventry boys never had a power resistor go bad on them?

Here’s the hardware holding the blower motor & fan to the heater box.

Here’s the blower fan. Some sort of “squirrel cage” design.

You have to remove this side panel to get to the heat exchanger.

And voila! One beyond-repair heat exchanger. There are some pads around it, probably to keep it from rattling? Might also direct air through it. Those mostly turned to burnt-toast powder as I removed them. Due for replacement, you think?

At this point let me vent about the heater’s air flap. As you can tell, the whole thing is rusty as heck. It needs to be bead blasted and black powder coated (hey Bryan, I got your first pc job right here!), gloss black based on other cars I see. Anyway, the flap itself is welded to its pivoting shaft. That wouldn’t be a big deal but the outside control arm is ALSO welded to that shaft. I can’t get the flap out of the box without grinding off a substantial weld at the end of the shaft! What? A press-pin or set screw wasn’t good enough?! A simple clamp onto a shaft was good enough for the throttle links at the carbs. Is the heater box air mixture more important than the carbs?! Aaargh! What clowns!

Sigh. Stick-and-move. Here are the hydraulic fluid containers for the brakes and, I believe, the clutch. They are right in front of a big heat shield because just behind THAT is the exhaust manifold!

Here’s a look at the hose unions beneath the bottles, joining them to hard lines with a short length of hose.

Another heavy sigh here. One of the clamp sets is facing toward the heat shield so not even a 90-degree ratchet micro screwdriver could access them. So off comes the heat shield before I could remove all the bottles!

This has a metal frame and, unless my guess is wrong, asbestos insulation. Don’t breathe any dust from the asbestos if you work with this shield! I assume there are new safer replacements. I heard something about a ceramic shield but I also heard they crack in a few years?

Here’s the hardware stack that holds the brackets on the heat shield. The brackets are clamped to frame rails at their bottom.

Here’s the set of brackets that holds the fluid bottles. These are mounted to the heat shield.

Here’s the area under the bottles after removing them plus a top view of the same area.

Here is one of the fluid level sensors. These assemblies are built into the caps. Note the cork float. How quaint. “Honey, the float’s not working. Break out another bottle of bubbly and save the cork.”

My sensor tops literally crumbled at my touch so we get to peek inside and see the mechanism.

The disk on the cork’s vertical shaft just lifts off two contacts to interrupt the circuit. If the fluid gets low the disk settles on the two contacts and the circuit is closed. This looks like a decent idea if all the contacts were gold plated, although the disk will never make great contact just resting on the arms by gravity. Based on the corrosion I see gold plating is not evident. So, ah, lame idea.

I had a hard time getting my camera to focus down into the fluid bottles but some of them have a sac of some sort inside, at the base. Coarse mesh filter? But odd that not all bottles had them.

I noticed round bottles on all other cars I see and in the parts manual. Was that just a change in never years? The bottle bracket would also have to change.

Now for a short motorcycle blog update —

I started riding the 1973 BMW R75/5 more often. But right away I was bothered by the stalk mirrors. They gave me a poor view of what is behind me. My shoulders are too wide for their placement. What to do? Bar end mirrors, very retro in concept —

Also note the groovy sheepskin seat cover I added. That seat was hard on my rear.

These are CRG’s Hindsight LS mirrors with an internal bar adapter. My handgrips are too short to give away any length to a direct-clamp on the bar. I paid a little more for these versus a “Napoleon” or “Albert” mirror design for one hugely important feature.

They fold easily and return to a detent position! Riding in California, we need all the lane split clearance we can get. And this can save room in the garage when I stow the bike.

So having spent a bunch more time on this bike and getting comfortable with it, I decided to put my FJR up for sale. I hadn’t been riding the R75 enough. The FJR is too much of an effortless magic carpet ride. So it is in Cycle Trader and Craigslist as I write this. My riding buddies will think I’m crazy. Yeah, crazy like an Airhead!

May 24, 2008

Muckenthaler Car Festival

Filed under: Uncategorized — Penforhire @ 5:17 pm

There was a very good showing at the annual Muckenthaler Motor Car Festival, maybe 150 for Sunday’s concours. It was beastly hot though. I got out of there before noon and it was already about 94 degrees!

The LA Jaguar club did not disappoint. There were eight or nine E-types! Unfortunately the earliest was 1964 and none had aluminum-faced interiors. I’ve got more pics than I’m showing here. These are just the highlights. I did closely examine a top-condition 1964 OTS though.

Check out the super-clean engine. Hey, he polished up his bright bits too!

I even rolled around on the ground.

Here are a couple of others in the same group —

I even got to chat up some of the owners. The cross-section of people was interesting. That black ’64 I crawled around was supposedly restored by a team of three pros working for over a year. I don’t imagine restos get much more expensive than that. At the other end of the scale, that green FHC’s owner did most of his own work and we chatted about part suppliers, rechroming, 5-speed trannies and such. He dove into it without really researching anything. He had learned only recently that the Amco bars were not original Coventry items. His end result still looks bitchin’.

Overall I’d say the owners were my age or older, with just a couple of younger guys.

Here are some of my other favorites from the show, in no particular order. How about an orange Z28? I don’t think I captured this retina-burning color well enough.

This here is a Shelby GT500, the real deal. Not one of those kit cars or the embarassingly expensive and incapable new model.

Here is a Group 4 Pantera. You have no idea how much I lusted after the similar Group 5’s back in the day!

Here’s a nice group of classic Datsun Z-cars, known as Fairlady Z’s overseas.

This Porsche 917 looked a little out of place, too close to public streets! I’d still like to take it for a spin.

How about a hard core Mini Cooper? Check out the spare tires on the roof rack and the rally lights up front. Not one of those yuppie Mini’s now produced by BMW. This one has hair on its chest!

Here’s a gorgeous Packard Custom 180. I have no idea if that was the original model or if that means it was customized. But this one stood out from a gaggle of other art deco cars.

This ’59 Caddy El Dorado was as big as a whale! Lanes must have been wider back then?

And the obligatory gaggle of vettes —

There was so much more to see and the rolling hills of the museum grounds were great. Check it out next year!

Here’s another bright spot since my last post. My stepson Brian passed the California Bar exam! It was his second attempt but I wasn’t worried. I got him Lamy’s understated yet exotic Dialog 2 pen in anticipation of his passing. Ordinarily he’d get sworn-in in a group ceremony but the law firm he’s working for needed an esquire ASAP so they arranged a ceremony during a superior court session. The judge was nice and allowed photos —

Back in my garage, I did promise you some polishing and I always deliver. Here is the left side valve cover and I think I’m done.

No, it is not perfect. Especially compared to those show cars I just saw. But these are easy parts to revisit later if I decide to refine my work.

By the way, Joe and Bob both agreed the best solution to the cracks in the valve cover is probably to have it welded on the top side and then grind it back to proper shape. I’ll probably do that down the road. Patrick’s comment on my last post must be correct that whoever cracked it just didn’t use new copper washers. They are difficult to re-use without leaking. I need new acorn nuts in addition to the washers. I cleaned the rust off my nuts but they appear to be chrome plated. The missing and pitted chrome is obvious.

I may or may not get more work done this holiday weekend so we’ll post this as-is because those cars sure stand on their own! See you next time.

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