REBUILD OF BLACK TR 4 CT 14790 LO Ė PART 2 OF HOW MANY MORE?
Those who read last monthís update and story so far will remember that I am on with the suspension, and that I remarked that perhaps Tom the body man could have paid a bit more attention to the chassis. Well the chickens have come home to roost. I did the front right suspension, deliberately leaving in place the left so that I had a pattern to refer to if I ran into trouble on the re-assembly. When I stripped the left side I discovered what I didnít want to see. On the 4 there is a rubber stop to limit the lower wishbone downward travel, and this stop is mounted on a bracket which in turn is attached to the chassis by means of two 3 inch bolts running fore and aft through tubes. These tubes and their immediately surrounding areas have a lot more rust than is desirable, certainly enough to compromise structural integrity under pressure. So I started to have a better look around the area and discovered a rusty tear in the turret (low down), and the mounting bracket for the rear lower wishbone is at a strange angle. The hole at the top of the turret is an artistic shape of not round, and the round lip on the underneath of the turret which locates the springs is apparent only by vestigial evidence. Generally not good news.
I tried to find a mobile automobile welder, including a couple of guys we use at work for non-vehicle work, and nobody wanted to know. You can imagine I donít want to take it to a shop in its current condition, some suspension on, some off, some capable of having wheels put on and some not, so I called Tom the body man to see if he could recommend somebody, as he is in a trade that sometimes needs such outside services to complement his existing capacity. No chance, was the answer. Not seen a contract welder prepared to come to domestic premises for years Ė liability, insurance etc. He suggested that, as I have to take the car back to him when itís together again for its final wet buff, I reassemble the suspension as is, iffy bits and all, and he will do the welding, taking the suspension apart if necessary. Not the perfect solution but the only game in town unless I want to get it into somebodyís shop and write another dirty great big cheque.
So this week I have had a couple of days off work for the Thanksgiving holiday, which gave me a nice long weekend to (among other things) get the left front suspension on again. Having got sidetracked with brakes, corrosion etc I thought I would just need a couple of hours today (Sunday) to throw everything on again. I had already cleaned and prepared all components and in fact had gone so far as to kit everything ready. To cut a long story short I have come inside with the job not complete after four hours to avoid getting today all over my face. A couple of small illustrations, and I wonít bore you with everything thatís gone wrong. The brake calipers and steering link on the 4 are attached to a mounting plate that is hung on the vertical link. The mounting plate uses 4 bolts of varying lengths because these bolts have to accommodate the steering link which has no known recognizable shape, and the bottom pair tap straight into the plate on the vertical link rather than going through to accept a nut. A pair of locking tabs run vertically between the front and rear pairs of bolts. As is frustratingly usual with a lot of products I have procured from Moss, the tabs didnít fit without an enormous amount of filing out the eyes Ė the bodies were miles too long. Iíll bet I took out the bolts 3 or 4 times to re-file the tabs before I was happy. The last time I had to do it was because the front bolts had tried to drag their tab around and had creased it so that it was too proud of the plate for comfort. Now the curious thing is this. The front lower bolt went in finger-tight on the first occasion. It got progressively stiffer from there, and after three insertions I was so nervous about how it was behaving that I took it out again and inserted a spring washer under the tab so that it didnít have to travel quite as far before it tightened to scary proportions. I didnít bother to torque it afterwards as I thought that was inviting disaster. So why did I do that? If the next time this lot comes apart is in Tomís garage and it misbehaves there, at least he will have the gear on hand to re-tap or helicoil. Thereís method in my madness, but judging by the way today has gone there will be more mileage in this tale yet.
I will leave the story of the front brake calipers and pistons until they can have an article all to themselves. Suffice it to say that it has caused Andy and Dick to change their e-mail addresses. I donít know what I would do without those two.
So what now? Finish the suspension re-assembly when the front springs and rear dampers arrive from TR Enterprises. At least I can honestly say that they havenít held me up so far, but they will soon. Meanwhile, weather permitting, (and it is getting colder by the day but nothing that has yet overwhelmed the combination of a portable gas heater and my stupid disregard of the risks and consequences of frostbite) I will throw on the rear brakes and drums so that I have the correct positioning of the brake connections. I will then be able to bend the pipes and I should have a complete braking system in place except for master cylinder and its connection to the system, all of which must wait until the bodyís on. I can get the new handbrake cables in place ready for fitting the handbrake itself, again when I get the body on. Re-fit the steering rack after refurbishing. Good time for anti-roll bars, too, methinks. Then, body on and place new wiring loom in place, and so on. But thatís too far ahead for this note. Incidentally I didnít try to look at the rear bearings and half shaft as without the transmission in place as thereís no resistance for me to work against to remove bolts etc. Ė thatís another one for later.
Just to close this one on a slightly lighter note (and you will see thereís an intended pun in there). The instructions in the workshop manual always assume that the vehicle is in fully-assembled condition, ie engine in, body on. So when you are fitting the rear springs and you need to jack up the centre of the spring under the plate so that you can get a thread on the U-bolt, guess what? The chassis just lifts straight in the air. So what can be done about this short of waiting until the car is re-assembled? Aha. Never throw away anything that looks remotely useful, because it may have a use nobody ever envisaged. Like an 80lb bag of premixed concrete surplus from my patio-building of last summer and which Heather tried to persuade me to dispose of because slight dampness may have rendered it useless, at least as concrete but not as a dead weight. That, combined with the weight of one wife stood on the chassis, did the trick. On the instructions of my wife, who I fear absolutely, I refuse to enter into any correspondence or competitions about the weight necessary to compress the spring in its unweighted state.
Until next time, have a Happy Christmas and a great New Year.
If anyone has any comments or advice, please do let me know. I need all the help I can get.
The photo below is of a couple of the offending areas referred to above.