Wednesday, 1 May 2013

April Progress on the Ace

1 / 2 April
The pile of old cereal packets has diminished – Making templates for under bonnet cladding! All used and only about half done – need to increase cereal intake. Spent some time setting up the front hubs. The offside one is now OK, but still don’t have enough shims for the NSF – though it turns freely enough, there’s no perceptible end float. Also got the tracking adjusted – as suspected it was miles out, and the difference to the effort required to push the car is striking. I’ll reconstruct one of my tracking gauges (made from secondary glazing extrusion!) in due course to check and adjust more precisely.
Measured the wheel diameter and the dimensions of the wheel well. The Avon Turbosteels measure 26.7” in diameter at the crown, while the wheel well is 26.5” across flats at the top, tapering to 26” at the base. An aluminium fabrication is fairly straightforward and can be made without the taper needed to withdraw the GRP from the mould. A 1200 x 1200mm sheet of alloy is required.
3/7 April
Little progress this week, Spring is almost sprung and other domestic duties are intervening. I have managed to make up the rear brake pipes, though. Took delivery of the Mini front bumpstop rubbers supposedly required for the rear axle, only to find these are treaded 5/16” UNF whereas the mounting holes in the chassis are 7/16” UNF. I’m reluctant to waste the rubbers, so I’ll make up adapters.
Took the cylinder heads in to Headshop Warrington to be fettled – mainly to align the valves with the seats. Fitting new guides, as I’ve done, loses the concentricity of the valves with the seats, and it’s a bit beyond my capabilities – and tooling – to recover this effectively.
 I’ve also taken delivery of the ‘rubber bumper’ steering UJs. I’ve yet to fit them but they’re significantly shorter than the others, at 3.5” rather than 4.5” overall. Only downside is they are sealed units, i.e. no grease nipple. Hopefully I’ll be able to fit them before too long; there again, the MoT is soon due for the Elise and some work is required …..
I’ve finally got round to ordering the aluminium needed to sheath under-bonnet areas, and to make a new spare wheel well. I’ll just have to find some room to store it!
8/12 April
Aluminium sheet arrived early Monday morning (Metals4U). Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings spent some time marking out and cutting out for the spare wheel well. Very easy with the jigsaw. A few modifications needed to the design, hopefully iron those out over the weekend, and fit the steering intermediate column if I get the chance, though I’ve more than a handful of other pending jobs to address.
Collected the refurbished cylinder heads, skimmed 3 thou, 3-angle recut of the valve seats and the valves assembled in place. Nothing to hold up completing the engine build now.
13/14 April
The spare wheel well’s almost finished, just need to complete the riveting of the vertical seams. Bought some etch primer, and some stonechip for the underside. It fits in OK. Note the clearance is quite small between the front vertical panel and the Panhard rod, about ½”.

The new steering joints are now loose fitted to the intermediate column, so now we have steering! I think the intermediate column could stand being about ¾” shorter, which would then make a neater fit into the UJs.
I’m really looking forward to getting rid of the 8’ x 4’ sheet of aluminium from the garage – it’s a real nuisance sliding it to and fro to get access to all the tools behind it, so next job will be the underbonnet plating. I’ve given up hoping to consume enough cornflakes to make all the templates out of the packets, and bought some robust lining paper from B&Q.
Thought I’d got the right union for the front brake hydraulics – but the brake light switch I have has a 1/8” BSP taper thread, whereas all four tappings on the new union are 3/8” UNF. Back to the drawing board!
April isn’t going to be the most productive month on the Ace – Our other two cars both have MoTs due, Saturday afternoon was spent with oil change and pre-MoT inspection on son Nick’s BMW, Sunday morning new rear pads and discs for the Elise – and Sunday afternoon overhauling the lawnmower and cutting the grass. Part-time working – which I hope to move to in the Autumn – is looking very appealing!
17/21 April
Finished the wheel well, painted satin black inside and stonechip externally. I did think of leaving the interior bare metal – but not much is visible with the spare wheel in place, and black fits in better with the rest of the boot interior.

The steering column’s been shortened by about 3/8” at each end, and now fits without danger of the protruding spline fouling the yoke of the UJ. This was a particular problem of the upper UJ where the angle is more pronounced. To shorten, I first fitted a yoke from the ‘too large’ I already had, reversed to allow hacksaw access to the end to be shortened. Although you can make a reasonable job of cleaning up the cut spline with a triangular needle file, knocking off the old yoke removes any residual burring and ensures the spline fits the new UJs.
I’ve made templates for all the underbonnet aluminium panelling, part cornflake packet and part lining paper. The lining paper I bought is a bit too stiff, but I’ve made the best of it. I marked the outline of the templates on the 8’ x 4’ sheet and cut out all the pieces – there isn’t too much to spare, so a little thought in laying out the templates was needed.
I’ve loosely assembled (most) of the top end of the engine, mainly to see if there were any snags. I haven’t put pushrods or tappets in at this stage, I want to fit the tappets – freshly primed – just before I’m ready to start the engine, and that won’t be for some time. The new Performer manifold and Edelbrock carburettor, together with the rocker covers which I’ve laboriously polished, look good, all sitting below the big pancake filter.
My long-awaited eared spinners arrived this week from Midland Sports and Classics. They look fine, but for now will go into safe storage, they won’t be needed until post-IVA.
22/30 April
Obtained and fitted a brake light switch with a 3/8” UNF thread, and completed the nearside front brakepipe connection to the union. I’ve been concentrating on making underbonnet cladding panels. The ‘firewall’ panel is screwed temporarily in place until I see how everything else fits up to it. I’ve made the nearside footbox panels but again so far they’re loosely in place. The panelling sounds straightforward but needs careful fettling and some thought about sequence of folding - especially to get the best out of the new folder. The alloy is white plastic covered on one side, which prevents unsightly marks and allows easy marking during fabrication. This is then peeled off after final assembly.
I’ve been distracted this last week by the need for front brakes, radiator fan and MoT on the Elise. I’m pleased to say it passed the MoT on Monday 29th, with no adverse comments. The radiator fan change involves dismantling much of the front of the car and took me a day and a half!
So now that’s out of the way I can concentrate on the next job for the Ace, which after the underbonnet cladding will be engine and gearbox installation, which I hope to have completed by the end of May.

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