Whoopee! Great celebrations, 21st November and I’ve just received news the crated body is at last on the move. Not too sure just how it is being transported, anything from a Chinese Junk to a 747, knowing what has gone before it will surely be the Junk. It’s taken almost 5 months to produce the body in a manner acceptable to the freight people, mostly due to lack of communication skills on the shipper’s part. It will be interesting to see if they can find something else to delay things.

Among the many bits and pieces that have been accumulated over the years is a driver’s side window winder that was purchased from Spares for the SP before the accident and was never fitted. Thought I had better check it out, so got the worn one plus the LH side and unwrapped the new one and find to my horror that the new one was no where near the same as the others. In fact differed in at least 6 places and in its original form would never work in the SP. After a lot of thought I decided the new one could be altered and be made to fit so set about making one out of two. This little task took over 8 hours and I was fortunate that I have a gas plant, tools etc to enable the job to be done. Either I was very accurate or lucky but I now have a good pair of matching winders. I have since been told what I had is what is available, not too sure what the new one was actually intended for. If anyone out there has a similar problem if they contact me I will try and explain what was involved.

Preparation so far has been to take the radiator into National Radiators for re-coring; the new core is going to be a later type that I’m told is 20% more efficient. I’ve also asked to have a something to divert the coolant from closer to the bottom of the RH. header tank, hope they remember to do that. All the pieces that need chroming are at North City Platers who have been recommended to me as doing a good job at a reasonable price, at least their estimate is very good – time will tell. The original inlet manifold had been butchered a bit when someone had replaced the T hoses with a mess of copper pipes and brass fittings in the process they tried to fit a screw fitting into the front, this would need a lot of welding to repair. Luckily another club member had two or three off the later saloons and I will use that instead. It has been sandblasted and is at the powder coaters to be done matt black. The water pump system has already be done black.

The gears for the gearbox have been ordered, three other SP owners have joined with me to have a set made, so a small production run of 4 is in progress. I e-mailed twice to a major supplier of Daimler parts in the UK to see if they would like to join in with this run as the price is very good for one so multiples should be a lot less. Didn’t get a reply of any sort.

I’m reclaimed my engine building stand and a start is being made to get the necessary parts that I’m needing, the heads will only need a good clean and the valves re-seated as it was done not long before the accident. I could attempt to use the old main and big-end bearings but as I’ve lost track of which are which new one will be fitted, the crankshaft has been measured and the correct ones ordered.

Mid December and things are starting to get moving, the radiator is finished but National Radiators forgot to install the deflector in the RH side so it will be interesting to see if the new core that they say will be 20% more efficient really works, if there is an overheating problem they will redo the job for free. Total cost $429.63. Their opinion is a shroud is needed to get the best from the cooling system, I’ve seen one listed in a parts catalogue, I just may have a go at fabricating one if time permits.

The heads have been dismantled, the ports cleaned, the valves cleaned all over with a wire brush in the grinder. A little tip here, I took an old small screw driver, rounded the blade and heated it with the gas torch and bent about 8mm to a right angle, this proved to be the best tool I’ve ever used for this tedious job of decoaking the ports. It scrapes going in both directions, got into all the corners. As mentioned earlier the motor had had very little use since it had been rebuilt so all that was necessary was to lap the valves in and put it all back together again.

A heap of parts now to hand so a start has been made in rebuilding the motor, new mains fitted, the clearance has been checked with Plastigauge, spot on at .0025″ to .003″, big ends the same. The crank is now in place with new locking tabs under the bolts and new nyloc nuts for the bigends, rings +.020 purchased from Johnsons Piston Rings in Penrose, correctly gapped then fitted to the pistons and installed into the block, all dry. Only the minimum oil has been applied to the crank journals to avoid any oil getting into the bores. The motor is very tight.

29th December, received word the boat with our crate on has arrived in Auckland, couldn’t have been on a Chinese Junk after all. Now we have to wait and see if MAF have to get involved.

The block, tappet gallery, timing cover and front mounts have been painted. The sump is now bolted on after a good clean, used Loctite 515 on all surfaces, expensive stuff but well worth it in the long run. I wanted to get the bottom end finished so I will have no need to turn the motor right over in the future and therefor avoid any oil getting into the dry bores. This happened on a saloon motor I did some years ago that resulted in the rings not seating, in the end I had to strip it down and start again. Screwed in all the head studs and decided to start with the RH head, the 2 rocker-shafts were dismantled, cleaned, tappet adjusters loosened off, the whole lot reassembled and held together with a tie. The gasket ( .060 thick, as the heads had been planed at least a couple of times to my knowledge) was coated with a gasket cement, everything installed in place and bolted down gradually to 40 ft lbs.

A start was then made on the LH side, exhaust rocker shaft processed then trouble on the inlet one, it was bent, not a clue as to how, but more shocks to come. Rang a good friend who I knew had a lot of stuff under his house, yes he had a full set, so off I go with the old shaft to check these out to be puzzled as none of them seemed to be the same as my one. It was not until I got home again I found that someone had installed an odd shaft the wrong way round, this puts the oil holes were in the wrong place. This would mean that oil had not been getting through to the rockers but instead would have just poured out through the springs. Thankfully, near enough is not good enough with me and this was found. Just of interest the previous engine work had been done by an accredited mechanic who probably did what I could have done which is clean the rocker shaft assembly without pulling it to pieces and therefore would have missed this mistake. As a final check I squirted some oil into where each of the banjo bolts go and put pressure on with compressed air to observe where the bubbles came out, all correct at last.

Things to watch, inlet and exhaust rockers and shafts are completely different, on some the floating trunion and that end of the shaft are not drilled for the oilways so left cannot be swapped with the right.

Left the engine for a full day, then re-torqued the heads again, adjusted the tappet clearances then to be very sure checked it all again. I will have to reposition the motor on the stand as where it is I cannot get the oil feed pipes to the heads on. My intention is to couple on the oil pressure gauge, put some oil in the sump and using a fitting I have made use a battery drill in reverse to drive the pump to check all is well in the lubrication area.

The rocker covers were a bit of a mess and, as these are a feature, they needed a lot of work to get them to the polish stage. First I put some water with a little detergent in a large tub and set to work with wet and dry sandpaper until all the bad marks were cleaned off, finishing with 400 grade. Then after drying, onto the buff on the grinder to finish off, now looking great.

Still have to fit the brake-pads, but before doing so I have purchased some 3M stick-on product that I have been assured will eliminate brake squeal, time will tell if it is any good.

Now 8th January, body and parts cleared by customs but yes MAF want it steam cleaned, more delay, bit of a worry, so intend to be sure I’m on hand while it is unpacked and processed as if it is not handled right it could get seriously damaged. Not sure if brace straps across the top of the doors have been fitted so I will take two strips of ply and tools screws etc to put some in place. The steam-cleaning could save some hard work as the flaked paint should come off in the process.

While waiting for the body I have completed another of the tasks that needed to be done. The hood bows were distorted on the driver’s side as result of the accident and required quite a bit of attention. I made up a jig to get the right width of the mounting brackets, ground off the pivot rivets at the bracket, RH side only, this needed heating to straighten, then bolted the brackets to the jig. By using the gas set in some places, lots of hammer and a flat iron and judicious use of a large sash-clamp I think it is as close as is possible to correct. Mind you, I have not a clue as to whether it was correct in the first place. Now have to replace the pivot rivets and give it a coat of paint and another job done.

It is now 14th January and still waiting to get the body, it seems that used car imports are more important than a little job like ours and when dealing with a bureaucratic outfit that has a monopoly all that can be done is to phone each day to enquire.