Restoring a 1962 Jaguar E-Type

November 25, 2007

Wooo, don’t know my own strength!

Filed under: 1962, auto restoration, car restoration, E-Type, Jaguar, XKE — Penforhire @ 1:57 pm

Perhaps you’ll place that line if I quote another from the same childhood TV show — “Allow me to introduce myself, Boris Badinov at your service.” Yes… moose and squirrel. Why does that line come to mind?


Let me back up a little. Since last episode our hero decided to remove the tail lights and rear bumpers next.

Here’s the right or passenger tail light —


Take off two obvious screws and you get —


Here’s more of those nutty bulb bases —


It appears the bulb toward car centerline is a dual filament, probably rear running light plus brake, while the outer bulb is a single. I’m assuming another running light but since I haven’t seen one work it could be the opposite (the double is a running light and both additional filaments are brakes).

By the way, both lenses have chips and cracks and I’ll be replacing them. Bummer. At first glance they appeared to be keepers. I’ll bet the replacements are expensive and don’t look quite right.

Here’s where I got into trouble. The rotted foam gasket under the lens hides three screws, one at the right corner and two toward the left (you can see the holes in the photo above). Those screws hold the tail light assembly to the car. The single outer screw on both sides of the car played nice. They unscrewed just fine. Those other two screws? $@+&*# !!! On both assemblies they were frozen and there is not enough exposure to get penetrating oil on them. Time for my impact screwdriver.

As some of you already know, hammer operated tools rate among my favorites. But that never stops me from pounding my hand a few times too. Ouch. Well, one of the screws snapped after turning a few times and you can see that in the photo at the top of the page. Moose and squirrel. As near as I can tell I am just fighting rust on the threads. What made this task so onerous is the length of the screw. I don’t know if these are stock but they required something like fifteen to twenty turns before backing free of the thin straps hung across the body’s hole for the lights. Do you have any idea how tiring that is when your impact screwdriver is turning maybe an eight of a turn per whack? What I don’t get is, the thickness of the straps means they only needed four turns or so to engage completely. Maybe these were just the length the factory had handy when they got to tail light assembly? Fourty five years later it sure made my day.

Might not be stock and I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Here are the wires to the bulbs —


Yep, those cloth colors are just as faded in person. But there are some splices you can see at the top of the photo. What’s on the other side of those splices?


Hey now. Those don’t look like the OEM harness, which is cloth-covered every else so far. Well, at least I know the colors now.

I skipped over something that might explain some of the situation.


See the arrow? Is that … Bondo ?!

As it happens, our Thanksgiving celebration was at the in-laws and I had a word with dad about it. A-ha! Seems he didn’t buy this car new, as I was led to believe, but rather in 1964 as a two-year-old vehicle with about 10K miles on it. He swears he did not know about the damage. It must have been from the first owner.

Oh, yeah, I still have a small length of screw stuck in that strap (seen to the right of the arrow in the photo). What am I supposed to do with that? If it sticks out I could vice-grip it but I think it snapped flush. That’s a mighty small screw extractor. I know, look on the bright side. Now I can reach the threads with penetrating oil.

But I removed the left tail light later and what did I see —


Now that looks too perfectly like the right side. Time to poke it with a screwdriver. Hmm, sort of looks like fossilized sealant, not Bondo. Maybe this is a factory job after all? I chipped most of it off and the underlying metal looks original. Did YOUR Series One have nasty goop around the tail lights?

The light housings need some serious TLC —


The chrome is pitted and bubbled. They’ll be under the grinding wheel for a while before re-plating! See those red reflectors? Here’s the backside retaining mechanism, an arm held in place by two tiny screws —


Here are the loose parts. There is a chunk of rubber tube wedged between the arm and the reflector.


The rubber chunks appear hand-cut and are not exactly the same length. The threaded stud on the back of the reflectors is only used as a post, not engaging any threads.

That’s about all the wrenching for this episode. I tend to inject various other hobby stuff in my blogs. This is my ‘Speaker’s Corner of Hyde Park’ so to speak. So you can start yawning now as I show you a thousand slides from my trip to …

It was a busy two weeks. Last weekend I went on the Southern California Motorcycling Association’s (SC-MA,com) annual Turkey Run with BMW Joe, starting and ending at Crazy Otto’s in Acton. The roads were magnificent and we got a tour of some of our recent So Cal wildfire areas. No pictures to share this time (see my bike blog for other rides’ photos).

I need a drink. What! No beer in the fridge?! What’s a fellow to do? Make his own —


Here’s the story. A few years ago I got one of those “Mr Beer”-type kits. The thing was sort of a one-step process, brewed and served in a little 3 gallon plastic fake-keg with artificial CO2 pressurizing. All the ingredients were in a single pouch and if your water was fine and you sanitized everything it was sort of idiot-proof. Maybe twelve days from shake-n-bake to cold beer. Several batches of beer tasted fine. My wife, however, objected to the space this took up in our fridge. Fine. Okay, fast-forward a few years. You might say the answer is to put a man-fridge in the garage. A “I’ll put whatever the heck I want in there!” fridge. But you also know what I’ve been up to in the garage. There was a bike restoration before this XKE and now I don’t think I have the room for a man-fridge.

Enter the pot-stirrer. My oldest friend Jamil recently wrote a book. We go back to high school and a failed business together. What book? “Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew” Look this title up at Buy it. It made me a better man. He got into homebrew competition some years back and achieved unusual success, two Ninkasi awards from the American Homebrewers Association, their top annual award. Some of his recipes were guest-brewed in pubs. So as a show of support I pre-ordered his book as soon as he mentioned it was in the works. About six months later it arrived in the mail.

So for that six months waiting for the book I’ve been brewing up (ha, ha) thoughts to make beer. What about the dragon-lady? Here’s my thinking.

If I brew into traditional bottles I can sneak them into the fridge and they’ll be camouflaged among the condiments. Hmm. A long Thanksgiving weekend and a visit to a home brew shop in Culver City? Time to make beer! Jamil recommended John Palmer’s “How to Brew” as an introductory text and there are on-line instuctions everywhere. Techniques vary so much I got a headache trying to reconcile them. I wasn’t able to get the exact ingredients for one of Jamil’s recipes so I’m trying a Culver City recipe, and mostly their technique, for an American amber ale — Munton’s light malt extract, three steeped grains (Chocolate Malt, British Crystal 135, and Crystal 40), three Cascade hops additions (at 0, 45, & 60 minutes/end of wort boil), and Wyeast amber ale II yeast. Here’s the yeast slam-pack.


That thing puffed up to at least 3x its original volume in a few hours, just like they said it would. Happy yeast!

So far the hard part is cleaning and sanitizing so much stuff. I had brain fade when I purchased the kettle. I intended to buy a 5 gallon pot to just perform “partial wort boil” (2.5 gallons after boil instead of five, dilute to five in the fermenter). I ended up with a ten gallon pot. Hey! It was marked in quarts. Sue me. Phew, still fit in the sink… barely! The rest of beer brewing is a big messy kitchen ballet (did I mention my wife was napping after Black Friday shopping?).

The first batch of Eric’s American amber ale is fermenting, unless I screwed the pooch somewhere. The recipe says starting specific gravity (Original Gravity, OG) should be 1.045. I measured about 1.041. Is that bad?


Bacteria can compete with the yeast and spoil the flavor. Keeping sanitized is rough in a home kitchen (with pet dander floating around) so we’ll see. Gary told me the story of his college-days “UrineBrau” (his name for it). They didn’t even use an airlocked fermentation vessel! Barbaric! Anyway, give me two weeks to ferment and then we’ll try the bottling step (batch sugar-prime to carbonate). After that give me another two weeks to see if it is beer or cat piss. Then you locals can try it. Jamil says anything that lives in beer can’t kill you…

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