Restoring a 1962 Jaguar E-Type

November 4, 2007

Our first mystery!

Filed under: 1962, auto restoration, car restoration, convertible, E-Type, Jaguar, restoration, xk, XKE — Tags: , , , — Penforhire @ 5:19 pm

I got that offending front bumper bolt undone. Here is a view of the over-rider-to-cross-piece situation. The other side did have a welded nut on the bumper.


Why is it looking chewed up? Because I attacked it with this —


This is a cheap diamond grit Dremel tip, bought in an assortment from Harbor Freight on sale. Good thing they’re cheap because if you use a little too much sideways pressure and let things get too hot —


Anyway, when all was said and done I still had all ten fingers and here is a better look at the nut I was cursing —


See how it just has a round knurled edge? Children, don’t use anything like this in hard-to-reach places! I might have been able to get a grip if it was an ordinary hex-nut. So, does anyone know if this is an original construction? Or did some fool do this later?

So here’s the big mystery for this post. As I was cleaning up the newly free bumper wing I spotted what looks like an engraving.


I believe it is the letters “CL” with “494” under them, written on the welded cross-piece for a bolt that holds the bumper wing to the bonnet. It might be hand-written with an engraving tool but there is a connection to the letters, like cursive writing, that might imply a machine wrote it. I have not read about this particular mark anywhere yet. I searched at Jag-Lovers but found nothing. So the mystery is, what does this engraving mean?

Was the bumper outsourced and then shipped to a Jaguar factory at 494 Coventry Lane? Were employees paid piecework and some CL person completed their 494th bumper? Put the answer in a comment and you’ll be immortalized here! If I don’t get an answer here I’ll post the question on the E-Type board and see if anyone knows.

You might recall I mentioned one of the headlight buckets was banged up. Here’s the best view I could capture.


The wrinkling must have chipped the paint and that started rusting. I used a large punch to flatten out the wrinkled area.


I suppose a multi-ton press and some flat plates might have made an easier fix. You can see here I started sanding the buckets because I decided to repaint them. Getting all the road splooge off them revealed too much bare metal and rust.

Here they are, ready to paint.


I used a Krylon epoxy primer sold for use on rust.


Followed by Krylon epoxy gloss black.


Should look just fine under the bonnet. If you do this remember to scuff up the old paint with some sandpaper or other abrasive first. Then make sure you clean off all the dust and dry the surface before spraying primer.

Here’s the chromed rear bonnet vent. This is what the driver sees, looking at the rear of the bonnet hump.


In this case it has nasty overspray from that blue paint job. I’ve got some advice for anyone out there thinking an inexpensive paint job will make their old paint look better. Don’t do it. Your old paint looks fine from 200 yards away and a cheap paint job looks just as bad or worse close-up. Just how much effort would it have been to remove those two screws and pop off this part before spraying the bonnet? A heck of a lot less effort than it took me to clean it up 35 years later!


Looks nice now, eh? Only took hours of tedious scraping and buffing. This might be the first chromed part I cleaned up that could go back on the finished car without re-chroming. It has tiny bubbles in the chrome but you have to look close to see ’em.

I promised you a look at how I came up with my $50K estimate for this project. Some items, like paint & body, are very soft estimates. Some are straight catalog prices. Others vary depending on how much I do myself. For instance the IRS rebuild can cost less than half what I listed if I can do it all myself. These are not all sources I am determined to buy from but rather a simple pile of line items. For instance I’ll likely go to E-Type Fabs for the front frame (or use a hidden Pertronics Ignitor instead of an ugly Mallory distributor). I apologize for the column spacing. I still haven’t figured out how to transpose a spreadsheet to format properly here —

Paint & body work $12,000
Engine & heads rebuild $10,000
Suffolk & Turley interior kit, CJ’s $5,040
IRS rebuild $4,760
New front frame (all pieces), CJ $4,180
Chrome bits and rechroming $3,000
Tranny rebuild + new clutch $2,000
Tubeless wire wheels, Daytons, from CJ’s $1,700
Harnesses (all) from CJ $1,236
Tires (TBD, inc. size) $1,000
Alternator conversion $750
Instrument repairs $750
Stainless exhaust system, Welsh $736
Rubber seals kit, CJ’s $635
Aluminum radiator, fan, switch – Cool Cat $550
Replacement convertible top $550
Shocks & springs, CJ’s $500
Mallory Unilite ignition, Classic Jaguar $395
SU carb rebuild parts $300
battery $150
poly bushing kit, Cool Cat $140
spin-on oil filter conversion, Cool Cat $75

Total $50,447

Yow! Seems like a lot but it could easily grow. I’ve read about several $20K+ paint & body restorations. And I can see an easy 20+ hours of skilled labor just straightening the bonnet.

See you next time, when the mysteries are sure to deepen.

October 28, 2007

Meet Mr. Lucas

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Penforhire @ 6:03 pm

If you are easily offended by my misappropriation of British slang or my future slurs against Saint Lucas you better stop reading right now. Note Joseph Lucas started the business in the 1860’s so we’re not insulting him so much as tossers who continued his company.

The response to my restoration announcement was fantastic on the Jag-Lovers board. There are many enthusiastic E-Type owners who struggled through their own restorations and contacted me directly. Even elsewhere (e.g. Honda S2000 owners) the classic car crowd just boils out of the woodwork when the topic was raised. The BMW motorcycle crowd was helpful during my R75/5 restoration but the feeling was more lone wolf. Maybe that’s just the nature of bikes and BMW airheads in particular? The modern BMW car crowd, another group I deal with, is downright apathetic by comparison. Too many owners who are not enthusiasts. Or as Brad called it, not (Meguiar’s) “car crazy” enough.

I am especially encouraged by photos of XKE’s that were worse off than my starting condition and now look stunning. Let me direct you to one example from an owner that contacted me —

Jim has plenty of photos of his most excellent restoration but check out how it started — My car starts out pretty good by comparison. You might not notice this but his chassis number is only 104 away from mine.

Think that is close? I got an e-mail from Geoff in England whose chassis number is 878237 (he says build date Sept 26th, 1962). That’s only 19 cars away from mine! They probably “saw” each other in the factory. His was converted to right hand drive by a previous owner so the proximity of S/N confused me until he mentioned that.

On to some actual resto work!

I started by removing the front turn signals. Both lenses were busted and painted over so I have no choice but to replace them. Here’s the right signal housing —


Some more obvious screws hold it in place. The gaskets on both side of the housing (rubber under base, seemed like foam under lens) were completely shot and fell apart on disassembly. Here’s the wiring to the signal (and running light?).


This here was my introduction to Mr. Lucas. You may recall that whenever something on my BMW R75/5 didn’t make sense I blamed an imaginary design engineer named Hans. I even found some German slang words to call him. Well I’m sure even BMW’s village idiot got quite a chuckle seeing some of the designs of older English cars. If you were me you would expect those turn signal lamps to be twisted into now-common bayonet mounts with wires screwed or crimped in place. Sh’yea right.

Here’s the odd base of one of the lamp sockets, right when Mr. Lucas first said hello to me on this job —


This is some sort of particle board with a metal rivet stuck into a slot. A spring is trapped between the signal housing and the particle board The turn signal housings cannot be removed without disassembling these. Upon disassembly the particle board bases naturally convert into dust! We’ll see how much replacements cost. I can see fabricating my own with a Dremel tool and some bare G10 or FR4 printed circuit board.

Someone in England thought they were the dog’s bollocks when they designed these, eh? Wanker!

The turn signal housings cleaned up pretty well with Nevr-Dull wadding so I’m not absolutely certain I’ll rechrome them. If I don’t they will corrode quickly in the future, through small pores in the plating from prior corrosion.

Here’s the right headlight as received —


Remove the trim screws, pull off the glass & gasket, loosen the three screws holding the lamp retainer, pull the lamp & retaining ring, and you get —


Again, the trim pieces cleaned up with Nevr-Dull but have too many small pores to leave ’em as-is.

Loosen more spring-loaded screws, unhook one spring and —


I don’t actually know what I’m doing yet. My intention here was to remove the front bumpers. To do that I have to remove the headlight “sugar scoops.” To do THAT the repair manuals are awfully vague. They all talk about three retaining screws holding the scoops. I thought they meant these, under the bonnet —


Alas that did not allow the scoop to just pop out. So I dug into the headlight area to remove everything else. Not much detail there in the manuals either. Turns out those WERE the three nuts holding the scoop. There might be prior damage or else I tweaked it myself, but here is the right scoop with an arrow pointing to the trouble —


This car has definitely been worked on before. Not everything matches up perectly. The headlight adjuster on the left side has these wire retainers for the adjusting bolt heads —


The right side did not have any. Seemed to “retain” just fine though. The right side headlight bucket (the circular part covered with sludge above) has some damage that did not photograph well (so no pic for you!). The back wall is supposed to have a smooth slope but this one has a severe wrinkle. It is exposed on the underside of the bonnet so something whacked it in the distant past.

After getting the sugar scoop out here is one of the two bolts-with-plates holding the bumper.


Here’s what the pieces of the bumper look like with “over-riders” still on the bumper wings.


One of the coolest items I found so far is the emblem in the center of the “motif bar.” Hey, that’s exactly what the manuals call it!


Nice kitty. I sure hope I can find a replacement because this would be a bear (jaguar?) to restore. Here’s the retaining mechanism rusted up on the backside, a spring bar, plate, and two screws.


The bumper over-riders are held on by one piece and I forgot there is yet another bit-of-bumper held on with two screws. As shown here —


Things got really weird on one bumper wing. The over-rider is normally threaded for that big bolt (or there is a welded nut I need to check again). But on the weird side there is a circular nut holding it (didn’t get a clear picture for you). No big deal right? Uh, not true! The bolt is rusted in place and there is no room or angle to get a decent vice-grip on the round nut (has a thin knurl section). I’ve got it soaking in penetrating oil now but I may end up cutting that bolt off!

The one I could remove cleaned up pretty well. Both have dings that need fixing before any rechroming.


Here are the two bumper wings, one cleaned up.


Even though these pieces are a hundred percent better than before cleaning they all really need rechroming. I sure wish dad did not apply the equivalent of Earl Scheib’s $99.95 paint job to this machine. I was scraping off blue overspray on the bumpers for hours. And the headlight sugar scoop is supposed to be the medium grey color you can vaguely see in the edges of the photo above.

Here’s a shot of the wiring for the headlight —


I got some new toys for this restoration. Here is a vibratory bowl from Eastwood company —


I used beadblasting to remove corrosion on all the BMW R75/5’s hardware. But not only does that leave a satin finish, or rougher, but I got tired of glass grit getting in my eyes (despite using a tiny cabinet). This process promises to be less labor intensive, though it probably costs more in electricity and media.

This gets half-filled with rust cutting media, sharp green pyramids —


I decided to try a test lot to see how aggressive this process is. I ran the following parts dry, I believe I can run wet for faster action.


After about one and a half hours they looked like —


After four hours it looks like we’re ready to polish (corn cob or walnut shell media) if necessary —


Not bad. A few observations. Parts must be degreased prior to vibrating. The media doesn’t do much to soft gunk, similar to bead blasting. Eastwood claims the bowl should not “walk” because of the soft-foot base. Yeah, in their dreams. It moves around slowly, depending on the exact surface I set it on, until it gets counter tension in the power cord. The noise is unpleasant. You can’t really box it in because the motor needs air for cooling. I need to run this when I’m out of the garage or else wear ear plugs. My air compressor is more pleasant to listen to (Sears ‘Pro’ 2 HP, not the monkey-on-crack scream of typical small compressors).

And here’s a Chinese-made (hard to avoid these days) cherry picker from Harbor Freight —


This one folds up to take up less storage room. I figure to use it to pull off the bonnet in addition to the motor & trans. This hoist took an annoying amount of time to construct. The instructions were, well, inscrutable. I can imagine the manufacturer’s customer support group editing them, “no, not illegible enough yet. Defocus some more… Ahh, that’s it. That’ll make them suffer.”

Let me leave you with another shock to my system. I knew this might be the case but hands-on it still feels wrong to reach for inch-based (Imperial, English) tools. This car was built before England converted to the metric system. Darn. I have a reasonable collection of metric tools but my English set is a bit primitive. Don’t tell me I need some Whitworth size tools? Tell me it isn’t so!

October 24, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Penforhire @ 2:33 am

Hello dear reader. This blog will document the long sad tale (oh you’ll laugh, I’ll cry) of my attempt to restore my father-in-law’s 1962 Jaguar E-Type, a.k.a. XKE. It is a OTS model (Open Two Seater, meaning convertible). It is not one of the very first “flat floor” models but it is an early Series One, with covered headlights, turn signals above the bumper, and a 3.8 liter straight six fed by three SU carbs.

My father-in-law purchased it new. A minor accident, “shunt” in UK-speak, took it off the roads. It sat still in his garage for about 35 years. I figured when he retired, financially well off, he’d have a professional restore it but he seemed to have lost interest in it. I have two brother-in-laws and a sister-in-law (and her hubby) who had first pick to take it, me being the last into the family, but they never expressed interest to dad. It was some years after marrying my wife before I even knew this car existed. It lived under a massive pile in their never-seen garage.

The Series One E-type represents a sports car archetype to me. It is one of the sexiest cars ever made. Even Enzo Ferrari is said to have admired it. So you can imagine when I heard about it I began a campaign pestering my father-in-law to restore it for his own use. I’m sure my eyes glowed whenever I spoke of it. When he recently suggested selling it I performed substantial research on prices and model details. My continuous interest led to my in-law parents giving it to me, with condition that it stay in the family or else divide any proceeds should I ever decide to sell it. Sounds fair to me. Don’t let him know but I’m really looking forward to loaning it to him so he can drive it to local golf games, one of his passions.

What makes me think I can do this? I mean, these cars are very expensive to restore if most of the work is done by pros. All costs, parts & labor, have risen dramatically in recent years. Typical show-car restoration on these run over $100K with winners spending $150K or more. To give you an idea of value, top offerings, say the best sold by Barrett-Jackson, sell for $100-125K. Excellent condition cars can be found down to $50K. Daily drivers can be found down to $25K or less.

Anyway, why do I dare think I might contribute enough sweat-equity to this project? Well, my father passed away last December and I spent nine months doing a down-to-frame restoration of his 1973 BMW R75/5 motorcycle. I wrote a big blog, my first ever, on that effort (see I’m not like some mechanical guru. Mistakes are frequent in my work but I seem to enjoy the wrenching. My friends enjoyed watching my efforts in the blog, sometimes nearing slapstick humor, and not many folks post that sort of detailed information on doing the work and lessons learned. It is a big extra effort to maintain a super-detailed blog so I might play it a little looser here. We’ll see. As it happens, that BMW motorcycle restoration was a success, though I did come in at about double my original budget.

I wonder if I learned anything? Well, I expect to take five years or so to complete this XKE resto. I’m thinking I’ll spend $50K (I’ll share my budget assumptions in another post). I hope I’m more realistic on this go-around but the only way to tell is to do it. There is certainly more of a chance this machine will never be restored but rather join the ranks of basketcases in garages around the world. So this project will either build my character or explode it.

The serial number is 878256. According to Dr. Thomas Haddock’s “Restoration Guide” this means it was built September or October of 1962. The California registration says 00/00/62. Oddly to my mind, there are no actual year markings on the car. Did Jaguar not want to be locked into specifying the model year of its inventory? They certainly had no respect for running through a given model year with no changes. Dr. Haddock’s book is an attempt to track the nearly continuous changes in so many model details. I have no idea how concours judges can rate true originality since even the good Dr. mentions his findings are estimates.

Enough chit-chat. Time for some photos. Here are some pics of the car freshly flat-bedded to my garage.


You can see the shunt damage on the nose (slid under a truck). The car was originally black but somewhere along the way my father-in-law painted it blue. It was garaged in Harbor City, not on the ocean but there is widespread corrosion anyway. I’m going to become good friends with a chrome plate shop somewhere!

Here’s the rear end.


Notice the hole in the soft top at the right-rear? Yep, rats (or mice or ?). I vacuumed out quite a few rat droppings. Did you know the head, between the cams, makes a really nice rat nest?

Speaking of engine —


Hmm. I seem to be missing the intake and filter on the carbs. Have to ask dad about those.

Here’s the interior —

Dig those brown shag carpet remnants. Geez that aluminum paneling is cool!

Okay, a little more about this particular car. I believe it has 107K miles (odo says 07646). Dad replaced the tranny with a later-year item. I don’t know the ratios yet but it has first gear synchro (yay!). It has an intake camshaft from a later year (unknown details, oil passages where OEM had none) because the original snapped.

Well that’s all for now. As some of you know, I encourage you to leave comments, hopefully to help the next guy reading this blog who is wondering how to do something right. Not the way I did whatever.

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