Monday, 19 March 2012


There are times when very little seems to change on this project in spite of completing many minor tasks, cleaning, re-conditioning, painting components and making up batches of parts ready for eventual assembly.  Then, one day it all happens, it all starts to come together and makes all that effort worthwhile.  From starting work on fitting the front and rear suspension, it took very little time to have it looking almost like a rolling chassis.

Rear Axle installed.  using a hoist makes this a relatively easy job.
Note plates and spring hanger brackets added for Telescopic shocks.

Rod in place of Shock absorber sets distance at 15 and 5/8 inches
 for setting torsion bars.  Will need to be replaced with something
 more substantial before they are fully wound up.
From past experience, my preferred method for re-assembly, is to do lots of fettling, cleaning of threads and easing of bits as required, so that things generally go together easily, without the need for even mild force. Fasteners that are easily accessible are not fully tightened or torqued up and all accessible tab washers are left open. I don't therefore need to worry about what I forgot to tighten up as the answer is actually everything.  Only when I'm happy that it definitely won't need to come apart again do I systematically tighten and re-check every fastener, knock over tab washers and fit split pins.

Whilst most of the work was fairly straightforward I did hit a couple of problems. 

Fitting the front disc brake conversion turned out to be an interesting challenge and an excellent opportunity to re-assess my IQ.
I can't think of any reasonable or satisfactory explanation for the selection of parts in the kit supplied.  Perhaps the culprit had a hard night out followed by a hung over wander around the stores randomly picking any likely looking components.  To be fair, the callipers, pads and discs as the basis of the kit were correct but the remaining parts, whilst definitely brake related had little to do with a 120 front disc brake conversion.  Odd numbers of the correct fasteners with surplus pipes, brackets, nuts and bolts just added to the confusion.  The lack of documentation / parts list also didn't help. Some overnight bits from the supplier and a trip to my local nut and bolt warehouse soon got the job back on track.

Disc brake conversion looks good but only after some head scratching
Another small anomaly, only partly resolved relates to the inside bottom part of the front suspension upright and its proximity to the outer end of the lower rear wishbone lever.  With the suspension fully unloaded, (shock absorber at max length) the two parts actually foul well before full lock is achieved.  Whilst highly unlikely to ever create a problem (think rally circuit with huge bump followed by sharp corner and knackered shock absorber) it did seem odd.  I made some good drawings, took plenty of photos and dismantled / assembled one side at a time so am pretty confident its all correctly assembled with Castor and Camber shims in the right (pre-adjustment) places.  I eventually find the time to jack up my 140 to make a comparison, and find its identical.  Who knows, perhaps its a safety feature!

Suspension geometry allows fouling before full lock, when
shock absorber is fully extended
The cost of a set of OEM (Timken I think) front wheel bearings came as a bit if a surprise at over £200.00 whilst a "pattern" set cost just £52.00.  My rear axle had all new Timken bearings fitted after axle specialist Paul proclaimed "I wouldn't fit some of the re-pro bearings I've seen to a pram".  In a quandary I research the subject a little further and even consider re-fitting the existing items which look reasonably OK.  I am eventually assured by a very well respected supplier with an excellent reputation not worth loosing, that their replacement bearings are made in Japan and are of super high quality, so I buy a set.  They do feel smoother and are almost silent (spinning up a wheel) compared to the old items.

New and old bearing.  Blown up 10 mega pixel picture shows up
difference.  What would Ron Dennis think?
Wheel re-finisher and Powder coating specialist Max of Romax in Stockton yet again went the extra mile and sourced the correct shade of white for my wheels.  After stripping off the manufacturers (MWS) new paint they were treated to a superb and perfect finish then shod with a set Michelin Pilote X tyres.  Whilst the total outlay was considerable, I think the end result makes it worthwhile.

Michelin Pilote X Radial looks just right

From bare to rolling chassis seemed to happen very quickly
Note engine block and associated parts in the background of the above picture. I still have a few loose ends to sort on the chassis, but this week should see the start of the the bottom half motor build.

Monday, 5 March 2012

POST 25 - MARCH 2012 - WHY DO WE DO IT ?

New to Blogs?
If you're reading this for the first time, you might want to start at the beginning. You can use the "Blog Archive" list to the right to quickly navigate around. To find the start, click on 2010 (1) to go to the First Post. Use the "Blog Archive" list again (2012) to return to here or anywhere in between. Sorry if this is a little confusing but its just the way that blogs apparently work. The last post is always the first post you see.

Time I think for a little light relief from from the usual "whats been completed in the last couple of weeks" type of post.  Work has slowed again because I seem to be waiting endlessly for a few crucial bits.  All promised and imminent.  Just not here!  So I may as well take the opportunity to see how the project is stacking up fiscally.  Always a bit scary, especially remembering the initial cost (see first post)

Total estimate for parts including all the missing bits and upgrades stood at around £23K and that part of the budget seems to be pretty well on track with around 85% now sourced. 

New chrome parts to replace those lost.  Bumpers, side lights and
windscreen.  Possibly easier to source than bits for my Audi.
And if I was sending myself an interim invoice for the hours spent aspect of the project, including the contracted out stuff, it would probably look something like this:

Detail                            Estimated Requirement         Total hours to date
My Time - Workshop                    2500                                       800
My Time - Other                            500                                        300
Body Shop                                   700                                        300
Machine shop                                60                                          30
Upholstery                                     60                                          10

Its not hard to work out from this, that if I charged my time out at a similar rate to the average Northern specialist, I'd be well on my way to incurring a thumping big loss, even more so, I would think, if I was in the South East.  The exact virtual deficit of course, depends upon the final value of the car which in turn depends upon how good a job I make and to a greater extent how well 120 Roadster values fair in the coming year and current financial climate.

Question is, what actually constitutes an hours work?  I would have to confess that my work rate, is appalling.  Music induced snoozes, egg and bacon bun breaks and lengthy discussions with enthusiastic visitors are all included in my estimate of 'time spent to date', but it's my time and I can spend it as I wish!
It also surprises me just how much time is spent researching stuff, sourcing parts, consulting workshop manuals and generally trying to remember how things go back together.

A good quality recliner tool is in my view an essential part of
any workshop inventory.  It's many uses include planning,
plotting, contemplating, snoozing, and music appreciation.
The uninitiated (read - normal people) occasionally ask why I expend so much time and effort for potentially no monetary gain.  No single answer can hope to suffice, but here are a few good reasons:
What else would I do with an average of 20 hours a week out of 168?
Contact with many interesting, equally nutty folks and some very skilled specialists.
It's an easy and relaxed conduit to meet other enthusiasts, to share ideas and knowledge.
There's a sociable and enjoyable club scene with some excellent events, rallies and trips.
Satisfaction and pride of perfecting each small part to eventually be assembled into something admired (hopefully).  Its also interesting to note that people are rarely envious when they are aware of the effort involved.

Rain can't stop us enjoying ourselves !   JEC Rally - Newby Hall 2011
Financial benefits (if any) are a little more obscure.  With no intention to ever sell, I like the thought of leaving each of my three Grandchildren an XK rather than some £K. They'll probably flog them at the first opportunity and take a couple of years out, but one keeper out of three would be good.  Wishful thinking I suspect but 'Bobsy's' DNA from skinned knuckles thoroughly imprinted on their inheritance could make a difference.  Then again. I might change my mind twenty years from now, flog em all and take a couple of years out myself!

Grand Daughter Freyer completely at home in 140 Fixed Head
It is encouraging to see 120 Roadsters doing nicely in the classic car market.  A recent report in the JEC magazine says they've outperformed money in the bank by 67% in the past 30 months with 140 Fixed Heads trailing at 39%.  At that rate I might get a return on my time investment after all.

All too easy to be sidetracked by this non productive, non technical stuff .  Time to get back to the job in hand:
Machining of the block and crank is now completed and I plan to collect them in the next day or so.  I will shortly be spoilt for choice regarding what to do next, so my mid March post should report lots of bits being put back together.