Thursday, 7 March 2013


Finally got round to bringing this blog up to date, around a week late.
Its quite a coincidence that the fiftieth post should also record a bit of a landmark event, the car more or less in one piece being driven out of the workshop and onto a trailer for its trip to the trimmers at Shildon, about 25 miles away.  Never the less its been quite a hectic couple of weeks and things have been far from straight forward.  Making the car drivable took a week or so out of the time I'd allowed to prep it for trimming, so a little help was organised for a couple of days in order to achieve the deadline.  Trimmer John is a busy lad with a queue of work lined up and if I'd missed my slot, it would have made a mess of both our schedules, hence the need to get it there on time.

The biggest single problem was the attempted fitting of the windscreen pillars (which would allow the hood to be made and fitted). The original pillars were missing but I had acquired a set of three new ones and foolishly imagined it would simply be necessary to bolt them in place.  The side pillars are bolted through the bulkhead into threaded plates, again missing, so I made these up from heavy bar, and with great difficulty and much cussing fiddled them into place using a pull cord. After endless hassle I eventually had the side pillars bolted in place and offered up the windscreen glass to check for fit.

Trial fit of screen glass (without chrome surround)
 The passenger side was not too bad, but the drivers side was way out.  This initially looked like a major disaster until I realised that relatively small tweaks of the fixing points moved the pillar significantly in whichever direction required. The rearward slope for example could be easily changed by several degrees which probably accounts for the badly fitting side screens and loose hoods I've seen on several other XK's.
I do have the original side screens which are due to be re made at the trimmers, and will ultimately dictate the correct angle for the pillars, along with the glass and hood front frame, which will then dictate final position.  The upshot of this is that the hood will have to be tailor made later once the doors and sides screens are in place.
I can remember a similar problem with my Daimler Dart (SP250).   I eventually got around to fitting the hood just before I sold it.  In the preceding twenty odd years of ownership, I often used it as a daily driver which meant that my kids eight mile trip to school was spent scrunched up under the tonneau cover when it rained.

Fitting the engine back in went very smoothly and exactly as planned but did involve two hoists and three men.


The pictures above give a general idea of the sequence.  Using a pair of hoists gives very precise and easy control of the angles required to install the engine with the gearbox attached.  It was also necessary to temporarily remove the round tie bar that normally sits just in front of the radiator.

The conversion to a five speed gearbox meant that the gearbox cover would require some modification to accommodate it's slightly different dimensions.  Fortunately the gear stick is in exactly the same place so nothing too major.  Playing around with cardboard, I worked out the general shape of the extra bit, then cut this out of sheet aluminum. 

Gearbox cover mod ready for folding
Check for fit

Pop riveted in place and 'Dynamated'
Folded and pop riveted to the original, then covered with Dynamat, it's slightly different shape when fitted with a leather gaiter and carpeted and  should be hardly noticeable.

Floor and boot boards were cut out from 12mm Marine Ply, given three coats of exterior black varnish on the underside, then stained and wax polished on the top side.

The original heat shields between the silencer and floor boards were made from asbestos and one of them was missing.  As an alternative I used Duratec 750 Insulation Board which is a 6mm thick asbestos free calcium silicate plate. (RS Components Stock No 248-4630)  Expensive but very high spec, which it needs to be given that the silencer is around two inches (50mm) below the marine ply floor boards.

Aluminium extrusion with Rivnuts inserted to hold heat shield
Heat shield in place - sits about an inch above silencer!
So, with numerous other small jobs completed, oil, water and petrol were added.  The ignition and choke wiring was jury rigged and the flannelette sheets stripped off.  Then finally and unceremoniously, it was started and for the first time in fifty years moved backwards and forwards a few inches under it's own power.

Just needs doors fitting

Monday March 4th - Doors were fitted and it was driven out of the workshop and and a few hundred yards up and down the industrial estate road, but with great care as only the hand brake was functional.  Geoff arrived bang on 10.30am and it was ensconced safely in John's workshop at Shildon by 11.30.

JPEG from Geoff so small image
Next Post - Mid March   (won't be late!)