Monday 10 May 2010

Seperated after 45 years together!

Significant headway was made this weekend as the shell was finally removed from the chassis! The night before I was incredibly restless and this was followed in the morning by sweaty palms and butterflies relentlessly dive-bombing my stomach – I guess I was just a little anxious! Oh, I would just like to say a big thank you to my wonderful assistant, Dangerman, who came down to the garage and helped me out for the afternoon (and whose poor yet infectious humour kept me going when things got tense!).

The first task was to reorganise my garage and finish the assembly of the giant saw horses. The picture below shows just how snug the fit is at the back of the garage

Confident that all the pre-flight checks had been done and the front wheels chocked on both sides with wooden wedges, I began jacking up the rear of the car. This had to be done in stages adding pieces of wood at various intervals to effectively ‘shim up’ my little trolley jack. This process was not exactly safe and I kept a good distance from the car at all times. Having a second person around at this point was very reassuring (thanks again Dangerman) and ensures that the car can be monitored from different perspectives for anything precarious!

With another piece of wood added to the top of the jack (gulp!) I was able to achieve the necessary 3 ft clearance under the rear valance to slide the saw horse underneath.

The theory was then to lower the jack and let the combined weight of the chassis and transmission pull itself free of the shell. I lowered the jack with great anticipation and ...nothing happened apart from a slight bit of flexing! I pumped the jack back up to support the weight of the chassis and after probing around the key areas of the car I identified another small patch that had been welded to an area that was previously hidden from view. No problem – a quick bit of cutting later and I was confident that nothing else would hold me back. With a confident smile I lowered the jack again and still NOTHING! I was perplexed – there was nothing visibly stopping the car separating and I hypothesized that the whole thing just need a short sharp jolt to break the 45 year old bond. What happened next was probably the most regrettable decision that I have taken thus far! I pumped up the jack as high as it would go and dropped it quick to shock the car. The only thing this achieved was to stress the body work. In the short video below you can see how the moment of impact caused massive flexing….

Oooouch! Anyway, after a lot of swearing and searching through an ocean of rusty metal flakes with a flat head screwdriver I uncovered the distinct outline of an equally rusty bolt below where the rear seat once sat (which I have circled in the photo's below).

I checked the other side of the car and found the same thing. My heart sank – if only I had found those bloody bolts before resorting to violently abusing my poor car!

With the nuts removed the car came apart without any drama. The video below captures the delightful moment(s) of separation…

Getting the front of the car up onto the saw horse was a lot more straight forward as me and Dangerman were able to lift the shell up between the two of us. I think we were both surprised at just how deceptively light the shell actually is!

Then it was just a case of rolling the chassis out from underneath....

Finally after months of planning and tinkering the rolling chassis was free!

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Fiddly (adjective): Difficult to do, handle, or use, usually because intricate work with the hands or small objects are involved

Well, since my last post I have been intermittently busy working on the bug. The reason I haven’t blogged for a while is because all of the jobs have been rather small and awkward, so I thought I would wait until I had made significant visual headway before summarising my progress.

I seem to be using the reciprocating saw more than the ratchet at the moment in order to remove the old corroded botched patches that have been haphazardly holding the car together for decades. Spot the difference in the images below:

Now you see it...

...and now you dont! Another messy chunk of rotten bug removed.

Because the car now contains less material, coupled with the fact that I am frequently discovering more corroded metal lying in wait beneath the suspicious layers of underseal, there is now less overall structural stability. Feeling slightly uneasy about the situation I decided to take vital precautions!

Using a couple of lengths of angle iron I made some temporary cross braces for the bottom of the doors to stop the shell warping and spreading as the support from those old heater channels diminishes.

It was just a simple case of drilling a couple of holes in the door posts (high enough up so that the metal was still sound)……

……Then using some self tapping screws to secure the angle iron in place.

The exciting news is that the shell is now finally ready to be lifted off the pan. Ooh, the anticipation! It is kind of funny that from what I have read in various manuals, a confident individual should be able to do this whole task in an afternoon! The reality is that this is not the case for a 45 year old car! 9 times out of 10 the old stubborn bolts just don’t want to budge, so the only solution is to douse them with WD40 and use the breaker bar for maximum leverage. The brief seconds of celebration that I feel when they finally start to turn is usually quashed by a disconcerting crunching sound. The bolt then spins freely indicating that the captive nut inside the car has broken free due to my arch enemy ...corrosion! Bugger, I sigh to myself - time to get the reciprocating saw out again!

Anyways, tune in next week for more cuts, bruising and musing!