My requirement for painters was to find one with the right gear who will do an honest job. I spent a lot of time on the phone and visited a number. I wanted someone with a presentable shop, a spray booth and oven, run by people you can talk to. An oven I felt is necessary, as I understand one of the common faults in a paint job is caused by applying another coat before the previous one has cured properly. Temperature is important here and being winter the use of an oven helps to avoid causing this problem. Some shops I wouldn’t give them a child’s trike to paint, one that came highly recommended talked in numbers that were off this planet, I wasn’t about to finance his entry into the next super yacht. A number said they would come and look but never turned up. In the end I picked Wright Car Painters, The Mall, Onehunga. Their premises were neat and tidy for a paint shop, they were interested and actually suggested I call in often to check progress. The car was sent there today 16th June 2003. They say something like 2 – 4 weeks for the job so it will be interesting to see if my choice is a good one.

Tuesday 24th June 2003. A start has been made on dismantling the gearbox, First problem is I broke the main-shaft circlip, which is very strong and difficult to remove. I have ordered one from the Spares Club but the first sent was wrong, so I have sent it back and am now waiting to see if they can supply the correct one. Things noted while dismantling: whoever worked on it last used Silicon on the gaskets, it was everywhere, hate the stuff especially when there is available far better products. Next job was to fit the gears onto the new lay-shaft. I understood that there has to be a small variation on the fit of the gears, of the four sets I had made I selected the lay-shaft that was a loose fit on the gears I had borrowed to use as a gauge, the others being a tight sliding fit. When I came to fit the gears out of my box they would not go anywhere near the lay-shaft, so a start was made finding the tight spots and honing these off to get a tight fit, even the amount need to be removed varied between the three gears. The conclusion has to be that there is a big variation in the fit standard of the internal gears made in the factory, the amount is obviously very small but critical all the same. This variation could be from the heat treatment the gears receive. In the end I pressed mine on using a bottle-jack with a heavy piece of timber under a brick arch to form a crude press, it worked. I will be interested to hear how the other three get on in fitting their new gears. I’m sure they will let me know.

Fitted the needle rollers using the dummy lay-shaft and fitted the assembled lay-shaft with the thrust washers into the box to check the end-float. This was a little more that specified by about 10 thou so as I couldn’t get a thicker one, I took a chance and sweated solder onto the rear one, cleaned it off with a file till it measured correct with a micrometer, checked it again until I was satisfied. I picked the rear one as I reasoned that by the angle of the skew gears all the thrust pressure is taken on the front washer. Note if anyone is ever short of a needle rollers let me know as I now have 48 good ones to spare.

I have been over to the paint shop to look at the car and discuss progress. The agreed procedure is going to be firstly a spray with a 2 pot primer. Regardless of anything else this is a must as there is very little gel-coat left on the car. There are a couple of places where some thicker bog is needed so that is next, then the whole car is to be sprayed with a coat of Spritz, which is a spray-on bog and is needed to fill all the small holes where the fibre-glass has been repaired. Then the whole car is to be sanded with long-boards to get all the irregularities straightened out. Next another 2 pot undercoat, more sanding then, if all is OK, the final colour. Each coat to be left about a week to cure.

Made another visit to the paint shop to take over side-lights, tail-light surrounds and the grill to check the fit of these, just as well as one rear fin was a little low. Also they wanted the rubbers for the doors, boot and bonnet so a check could be made on the standard of the fit. Time was of the essence so I called in at the new “Para” shop in Carr Rd and they had the right articles. In talking to the proprietor he told me all the NZ shops are a new franchise affiliated to a large Australian group of retail shops in the same field. I asked him about grommets suitable for the thicker fibre-glass and he had one size in stock but said he could bring in any size I wanted. I had been told by other SP owners these had not been available in the past, will see what he can supply when I need them.

Unfortunately even though I wanted to get the gearbox assembled there have been other jobs for me to do so will cover all that and a full report on the paint job next time. Quite happy with the painters so far, their interest is very high as this is the first fibre-glass car they have done. Be interested to see the final cost.