It has been quite a climatic end to 2018 for the Rusty household as, a mere seven months after being delivered on the back of a low loader and limping into my garage on three cylinders, the Beast has finally emerged from the shadows and has once again been able to enjoy the slightly prickly feeling of the South Australian sun on its back, dulling its paintwork and crisping up its vinyl components.
This means that I’m finally able to share some photos with my hoards of over-excited readers which haven’t been taken in the 3 foot gap between the car and my garage wall.
So, without further ado – behold the white car:
The car was surprisingly dusty considering it had been tucked up in a sealed garage so it was treated to a wash and hose down – the water from which remaining largely on the outside of the car (a nice little bonus). I think it looks pretty good for a 40 year old car which was picked up from a scrap dealer.
Yes, there are a few little bodywork issues which will eventually need to be addressed – there’s a small amount of bubbling around the right hand end of the rear panel seam, a small hole in the rear valance and a suspect bottom lip at the front end of the driver’s side sill – but ultimately it scrubbed up very well and has proven to be more presentable than I remember from when I bought it and quickly ensconced it safely in the garage/hid it from the wife.
The slightly mismatched driver’s door (presumably replaced at some point in the past) looks ten times better now that I have added pin stripes – sourced from eBay and a very good match to the stripes on the rest of the car in terms of width, although they are a subtly different shade of gold so I will most likely re-do the whole of the driver’s side when I get a spare hour or two. The door also sits a little too far forward (i.e. the gap between the door and the front wing is smaller than the gap at the B pillar) – but I have some laser-cut hinge spacers which should sort this out. I replaced both the upper and lower hinge pins a while ago and this has levelled the door up quite nicely so it no longer drops at the latch end. The old pins were quite worn, especially the top one, so replacement was long overdue.
Replacing the hinge pins is relatively easy – with the door removed they can be driven out of the hinges with a punch, although they have one knurled end of a slightly bigger diameter which cannot be driven through the hinge so it has to be determined which end of the pin is knurled before it can be driven out successfully in that direction. If it’s not coming out fairly easily then you’re probably going the wrong way. In my case both pins were fitted with the knurled end upwards, although on my parts car one needed to be driven out downwards so your experience may vary. It is also worth replacing the two washers which sit either side of the door portion of the hinge – these wear with age and will cause further door drop if not replaced. I used some relatively unworn washers taken from a rear door of the parts car but obtained some new hardened hinge pins via Chris Witor.
Buoyed by the overall internal and external presentability of the car, the next logical step was to make it actually work. With some fresh 98 RON petrol in the tank and new 20W50 oil in the sump (along with the spin-on filter and adapter from the blue car), the rebuilt carbs at their base setting (jets wound down 12 flats from being level with the bridge), the static timing set at 10 degrees and the valve clearances, points gap and spark plug gaps all set as per the manual, the engine fired up quickly and ran smoothly, with the oil light extinguishing almost immediately – a promising start and at least confirms that I wired the coil correctly. There is a little bit of tappetty noise from the top end but at this stage I am putting this down to the engine having not been run for several years and am hoping it will quieten down once the oil gets flowing through some regular use.
However, before I could proceed with setting up the carbs and timing properly, it was obvious that there was a significant exhaust leak which would need to be addressed. Looking at the sooty deposits on the existing exhaust, it was easy to see where it was leaking from – the front silencer on the middle section was in the process of parting ways with the adjoining pipe, with a big split between the two.
Furthermore, the rear section’s silencer had a small rust hole in one of its ends, and the horizontal part of the front section was more oval than round – presumably due to contact with something hard at some point in its life. The system was essentially scrap. This is where having a parts car becomes an absolutely godsend, saving time and money in procuring new parts. Whilst the exhaust from the parts car was not shiny and new, it was very solid and dent-free. It seemed like a sensible choice to swap them over.
As a rule I don’t like removing or fitting exhausts. It’s dirty, fiddly and rather boring. However, I didn’t really want the hassle of finding a garage or fast fit place that would touch a used exhaust, plus I’m a tightwad. I therefore spent a not particularly enjoyable couple of hours on my back doing it myself.
Removing the old exhaust from the car wasn’t too difficult – the rear section is removed first, and is supported by two rubber mounts, one near each end of the section. A bit of wiggling, pulling and persuading with a mallet saw this separated from the middle section without too much drama. Removing the middle section from the front section was less successful, partially due to the limited room to apply a decent amount of leverage. I instead opted to unbolt the front section from the manifold and, with the gearbox supported on a trolley jack and axle stand, remove the front and middle sections together by dropping the gearbox mount and cross-member.
Seeing as I had gone to the trouble of removing them from the car, I thought it was a good idea to replace the gear box mount and the cross-member bushes with the new items I had previously bought for the blue car – a genuine Australian-made Mackay rubber mount (the only ones worth buying by all accounts) and a set of SuperFlex polybushes for the cross-member fittings. To be honest, despite being covered in oil, the old ones on the car didn’t actually seem to be in too bad a condition – the rubber and metal portions of the gearbox mount had not separated and the cross-member already sported polybushes, albeit squashed and tired ones. I replaced them anyway as a precaution.
Fitting the replacement exhaust was undertaken in the the reverse order of the removal process – although the front and middle sections could be fitted individually as they had already been separated. As well as a new downpipe to manifold gasket, I used some exhaust gum on the joints to ensure they were gas-tight. Annoyingly I did manage to shear off one manifold to downpipe stud upon reassembly, but luckily enough remained protruding for me to remove the remains with a pair of mole grips and I had a spare on hand from the parts car. A 30 minute diversion from the task in hand, but it could have been a lot worse.
To finish the job, the perished rubber mounts for the rear section of the exhaust were replaced with some new ones which I had in my stockpile and the rebuilt gearbox mounting hardware was returned whence it came.
Firing up the car again produced an exhaust note much nicer than the chuffing previously emitted, confirming that the replacement had been a success and that I could finally get round to tuning and hopefully even driving the car. But, as excited as I was to get out on the open road, whilst the car was up on ramps it made sense to address the gearbox and diff oil levels in order to cross another couple of items off from the whiteboard list.
The gearbox has both a drain plug and a filling plug – the latter of the two on mine proving particularly difficult to remove. It is located on the side of the ‘box and access is fairly limited due to its proximity to both the side of the gearbox tunnel and a lip in the cast gearbox casing. It was also one of the square head variety of plugs, meaning that I was limited in terms of tools I could use to remove it. Naturally, after draining the gearbox of its oil, I found the filler plug was stuck tight and my repeated attempts at removal with an open-ended spanner were fast rounding off the corners. Luckily, my trusty mole grips came to the rescue and I was able to remove the plug, albeit at this stage in a rather mangled condition.
Whilst I do have a couple of new square headed plugs lying around my garage, I wasn’t hugely keen to fit a part which would likely be equally as difficult to remove in future. Luckily, the broken gearbox which I had previously removed from the parts car had a brass plug with a more sensible hex head. I fished it out of the pile of bits and pieces strewn around the interior of the parts car and fitted it to the white car’s ‘box.
Filling the gearbox with EP80 oil was a fairly slow affair – it needs to be filled via the aforementioned hard-to-reach filler hole until the oil reaches the level of the hole (i.e. it spills back out down your arm). I used a large plastic syringe with a length of rubber tubing to do this as it made the job a bit cleaner – but also slower given that I could only add 100ml of the viscous, slow flowing fluid at a time.
Technically, I could have drained the litre or so of old oil from the overdrive unit by dropping its sump – but seeing as the drained oil was fairly clean and as I did not have a replacement sump gasket to hand I decided to forego this step. I can always come back to it later if required.
Filling the diff was less eventful – the drain plug, although square headed, was easy to remove and the unit only required the smallest of top ups of EP80 to bring the level back to where it should have been. The diff on the white car has certainly not been anywhere near as leaky as the one on the parts car – hopefully it will stay that way as my garage floor can barely absorb any more oily fluids…