Monday, 15 October 2012


If there is one thing I've come to rely on in the world of Classic Car restoration, it's that things rarely happen when they're supposed to.  Consequently it was something of a pleasant surprise when Alex phoned to tell me my body would be ready for collection in a couple of days. 

Last time I saw the body it was clearly getting close to being
painted but it still came as a pleasant surprise to get the call.
Scheduled for the end of October it's effectively over two weeks early and I had to put in some extra time to finish the chassis prep.  Fortunately wife Angie is on holiday (again) so the only limitation was staying awake.
I was then finally faced with having to take the decision as to whether or not the engine should be taken back out.  Fitting out the engine compartment will be so much easier without it and the potential for paint damage a good deal less.  It will also make the work a great deal more pleasant.  On the other hand, I need to add a couple of days for the extra work and will then need to take great care not to cause damage re-installing it.  I've had some practise with the 140, so this doesn't particularly worry me.   On balance and against some sage advice I hoist it back out of the chassis.
Friend Geoff obliges at short notice with his covered trailer and on Friday 12th October we load the chassis and head of to the body shop.

Ready to lift the body and roll the chassis under it 

If you remember, the body was initially built up using the chassis as a jig. The various shims were fitted and panels tweaked until everything was correctly aligned.  It then had braces fitted and was transferred to a specially made frame which allowed me to build up the chassis whilst Alex finished and painted the body.

The aluminium shim sets are put back in place on the outriggers and after a brief discussion on the best way to proceed, four of us lift the body whilst one other pulls out the support frame and rolls the chassis under the body and into place. After a bit of a shuffle everything lines up beautifully and the four sets of three bolts are dropped into the outriggers. The 6Nr 1/8" reference holes I drilled in body and chassis before removing the body over a year ago are checked and are all spot on. 

How easy was that !!  Torsion bars were wound up after engine
installation so body now sits high with weight reduction.
Note bracing bars still in place.
Within an hour of arriving, we are loaded up and on our way back to my workshop.  It's odd to think that this was one of the few aspects of the project that really worried me, but turned out to be very straightforward.

Saturday morning I get to have a quiet hour or so looking at the detail and overall finish and am blown away by the general quality of the work.  White cars often look a bit flat, but this has a real depth and shine to it.  I'm also very happy with the satin black finish to the inside parts (as original) and appreciate the additional time spent to mask up the car to achieve this.  There is no question that Alex and his crew have gone the extra mile but will no doubt reap the benefit when the local Classic Car community see what has been achieved.

New home for the next eight months so precise location within
the workshop on axle stands is essential

After lining the car up exactly where I want it, I put it up on axle stands and remove the wheels giving me maximum access to all areas.  First job will be to slacken the bolts holding the bracing bars setting the door top distance.  If the body is correctly shimmed and 'relaxed' the bolts should be free to pull out.  A trial fit of the doors will follow before they are again stored on the top shelf out of harms way.

Just before I leave on Saturday, I need to do one last thing.  I gingerly fit the first piece of chrome to the body but quickly remove it after remembering Alex's strict instructions about allowing a couple of weeks for the paint and lacquer to fully harden.  The photograph below represents the start of the next and hopefully most enjoyable part of the project.

Essential temporary fit of first piece of chrome.  Strange how
the colour varies in this set of pictures, but on my computer
screen I think this shot most closely matches.

Workshop fluorescents - apparently the reflections are a measure
of the quality of the job and I am told by a man who knows a thing
or two about body work that these are "tip-top"
Electric Water Pump
The design of the new water inlet and idler pulley assembly is now complete and in a CAD format for the CNC boys. I am awaiting a quote for the initial sample. 


Tees Cottage Pumping Station
This Victorian water pumping station houses a magnificent beam engine, restored and put back into working order some years ago. The group of enthusiasts who maintain it occasionally steam it up for a day at a cost of around £400 for a ton of coal.  The annual October event includes a gathering of Classic Cars and a very pleasant and sociable Sunday Lunch at the local Pub.

1904 Beam Engine built by Teesdale Brothers with massive 30 foot beam. 
Originally commissioned to provide drinking water from the River Tees

Running at I would estimate about eight cycles a minute, the
motion is so smooth that coins can be balanced on edge on
vertically moving parts of the mechanism (next to the big nut)
The site also houses a 1914 two cylinder Gas Internal Combustion Engine, again in full working order and running from mains gas.  The oil in a drip tray under a bearing had clearly been emulsified with water, but as the engine has no cooling as such we were left wondering how it got there.  A number of fanciful and highly technical hypothesis were put forward by the gathered experts and enthusiasts when the engine operator appeared and looking up explained "roof leaks"

1914 Gas Engine believed to be the largest of its type in Europe
Dropped Valve
Went for a mid week run out to Nidderdale in the 140 and called in to see fellow XK enthusiast Dennis Wheatly.  Dennis is mid way through a Mark Ten restoration but is being frustrated by the lack of progress of his chosen paint shop.  He also has a Mark Ten spares car which had a bit of an engine problem.

Now that's what you call a 'dropped valve'
JDC and Triumph Track Day at Croft  Sunday 14th October
JDC Area 11 Hired Croft for the day and shared out the cost mainly between forty Jaguar and Triumph club members plus a few other makes.  Divided into four groups according to experience we each had around one and a half hours track time.  With no more than twelve cars on track at any time it made for a brilliant and relaxed day. The 140 performed faultlessly and the Michelin Pilot tyres continue to impress with their excellent grip then very gradual move to over-steer.  I typically made up three of four places in my group on each session,(intermediate) but was never passed.

No oncoming traffic and no speed limits, just fun!
 At 64, it's interesting to note that an extended adrenalin rush now produces a slight but not unpleasant tremble.

Next post beginning of November

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