Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Carbs I

I'm on a quest.  A quest to bring SU carburetion to Alice.  And I'm making progress.

The ZS carb and all the related emissions equipment is definitely a nonstarter for me.  The car runs - but not so well, and there are so many hoses and things that it just doesn't look maintainable.  So I'm going back to a simpler time, where dual SUs roamed the land freely and without fear.

I've got lots of parts.  I have most of four HS4 carburetors, and an intake and exhaust manifold to match.  For me, job 1 is to get those cleaned up, starting with the carbs.

They don't look too good at first glance.  But there's gold in them thar hills.

I have three AUD465s and one AUD405.  I have carb bodies with and without vacuum advance takeoff (I have a mechanical advance distributor, so I don't need it).  I have carb bodies with and without crankcase ventilation.  So I picked the two bodies that appeared to match up how I wanted and two dashpot/pistons that match in configuration and drop rate, and started cleaning.

B-12 Chemtool is my friend.

The result:

I still have some work to make the dashpots look nice, but all the components are clean and ready for assembly.  I now also have a rebuild kit for two carbs waiting for installation, and springs and needles and stuff too.  Fortunately, my car's dash has a blank where the manual choke would go, so my new choke cable will work out fine once I get the linkage I am searching for...

While that's going on, I got after the stuff in the car.  I removed the air pump, air rail, and manifolds.  Again, my luck holds - stuff comes apart on this car pretty easily.

I have much less stuff under the bonnet now... which will be replaced with HS4 goodness.

Next job under there is to remove the old exhaust system, which would have been replaced regardless.  I have a new Bell stainless exhaust on order to match the configuration I'm installing, and it will be glorious.

Next time: some carburetor rebuild action!

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Monday, September 20, 2021

Braking the Shaft

We had our first "nice" day this weekend - it was only 95 - and it was a perfect day for working in the garage.  So I did.  Yuck.

Not many photos this time - I was too dirty to hold the camera.  But here's a rundown of my productive day:

  • Replaced handbrake cable
  • Rebuilt driveshaft
  • Replaced brake light switch
  • Cleaned heater controls and installed heater cable

First, I replaced the handbrake cable.  This was probably the grossest operation, because it was filthy and... well, that's enough.  The cable was not frozen, but the pivot was (I fixed that a while back).  The PO just loosened the cable so it wouldn't work at all.  I ordered a new cable - so in it went.

But first, the seat came out.

That's the original carpet, folks - look at the fade on that tunnel carpet where the console goes.  It's gonna go, eventually.  I vacuumed all the crud out.

After pulling the seat, I removed the linkage under the car and then removed the lever.  It got a good cleaning, too.

There's a couple of nuts and a clip holding the cable in place, which fortunately are accessed from within the cockpit.  I removed the linkage pins and the retaining bracket, and out it came.  The new one is next to it for comparison.

Reinstallation was not difficult.  I spent more time cleaning stuff under the car.  I lubed the new cable and hooked it up, then reinstalled the handbrake lever.  The tensioner went together easily (being clean), and I adjusted it to 4-5 clicks to hold.

Clean things are nice.

Moving on - since I was under the car, I pulled the driveshaft.  I figured replacing the U-joints would be simple; I've done it a few times before, so piece of cake.  Right?


The front yoke came apart easily enough.  The retaining clips came out, and I was able to knock the cups out.  Putting the new ones back on, though, was a real bear.  I twice had the roller bearings slip and fall into the cup and had to take the cups out, which are a tight fit.  I did get the front yoke done and working smoothly.

The back yoke was a different story.  Being exposed and not covered in crud meant that it was rusted together.  The clips broke when I tried to remove them.  So after struggling and not a few choice words, I got out the cutoff tool and cut the center of the U-joint right out.  I was then able to knock the cups through into the center and remove the remnants of the broken clips.

After cleanup, the U-joint actually went together easily.  The cups were not as tight of a fit (but snug) and things lined up nicely.  After a clean, it went back in the car and all should be well.

Being tired, I decided to tackle an easy job - replacing the brake light switch.  The hardest part of that job was trying to figure out why I had no power to the switch (which was bad, so I felt better about it).  It appears the PO's mechanic did some creative wiring and moved some stuff around at the fuse block.  After sorting that out, I had a working brake light switch - and once installed, working brake lights!

Finally, I installed a new heat control cable.  I cleaned the controls so they move smoothly and hooked it up.  It's hanging there until I reinstall the dash, but it works.

My next jobs:
  1. Remove the heater box and replace the seals and the air diverter cable, which is frozen.  Then I can have heat, or not, and have it come into the car, or not.
  2. Reinstall the (new) dash wiring, test it, and reinstall the dash with instruments.  One nice thing - I can plug all this stuff into the dash before installing it, then just plug in the harness.  Finally, something smart about the engineering on this car.  Once installed, I will reinstall the header controls and have a fully sorted dash.
  3. Rebuild the old set of SU carbs I have once I can piece together two good carbs from four (A friend is bringing me a set - and I traded for manifolds).  Kits are on order.
  4. Pull the air pump, carb and exhaust system, and replace with decent stuff.  Not the air pump, mind you - that goes in a box.
At that point, the car should go and stop again, and I can work on suspension and steering.  This project is a real project, all right!
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Tuesday, September 14, 2021


 After a looong pause thanks to weather, I'm back to working on Alice.  This time, it's the dashboard.

Not everything works.  Most things do, but there's some funky behaviors that can only mean one thing- the ghost of Joe Lucas!  I decided the best thing to do was to pull the dashboard and take a look.

Boy, I'm a masochist.

The first thing I did was remove the console and center console.  Those went surprisingly easily - a few screws, some delicate maneuvering, and out they came.  The center console is pretty fragile and will require some reinforcement with glue to keep it intact until I can replace it, if I ever do...

But my fears were not alleviated when I got the consoles out... the PO didn't do me any favors...

Not all of these wires actually go anywhere.

After a little work to remove the dead wiring and a couple of easy patches, it looks much better.

All of these wires go to something.  I hope I can remember what...

On to the dash board itself.  Ugh.  This was held in place by being cobbled together, and not well.  The most difficult part is the nuts under the top of the dash that you need to be Ant-Man to get to, and one of the studs was twisted when the PO (or his mechanic) tried to install the nut and it didn't fit.  I spent two hours in various body configurations trying to get those nuts off... nevertheless, I persisted, and the dash came out after disconnecting and removing the tach and speedo.

It doesn't look so bad from here.  But it's not good.

Here's why I think I have a case of Lucas-itis.

"Well, there's your problem."

So I have a new dash harness on order.

I also pulled the heat and vent controls, and they're functional but gummed up.  At least, they were.  They work great now!  The cables don't, of course - so they're on order too.  Lots of stuff is on order.

I did get the dash dimmer switch unstuck too, but I don't know if it actually works.

Once I get the new harness, I'll test things and if successfully will reinstall the dash (properly). I will also be replacing the radio with something a little more modern, and running the speaker wires properly.  And that will take care of the interior wiring--but there's some more patch work to address under the car, namely for the fuel pump and brake lights, that I have to spend some quality time addressing.  Later.

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Saturday, July 3, 2021

Brakes Done

I made a quick trip to the Northwest to pick up some parts.

Well, the trip was a vacation… but I stopped by Tom’s Import Toys and picked up my front brake kit. Now that I’m back, they’re ready to be installed.

There’s not a whole lot to do, really. I pulled the hubs off the car (one side at a time). I replaced the wheel bearings because one side was definitely worn. Here’s a handy tip: if you don’t have a press, you can made a drift by grinding down the old outer bearing race enough to slide in without resistance, and use it to install the new race.

After that, it’s as simple as bolting on the new rotor and installing the hub back on the car.

The calipers bolted back in place easily, and new pads and hoses finish off the install.

Bleeding the system from ground zero was interesting. It took a while to pull fluid through the lines (I used a vacuum bleeder).  At one point I was sure I had a blockage. But I did finally get fluid through and then it went fine. I have a reasonably firm pedal and the car stops when I push on it.

So I went for a short drive.

It wasn’t great—something’s making noise in the right rear around corners. I’ll have to investigate. And I’m pretty sure all the tires are out of round, but I know they all have to be replaced. But she does go and stop, and that was my summer goal. I’ll fool with the dash and get the speedo reinstalled, and do a little cleanup to make more things work. Maybe I will work on suspension or steering if I get a cooler day (and buy the parts).  Anyway, whoooo!!!

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Sunday, June 27, 2021

Brakes III

More parts means wore work. Rear brakes are up!

Other than cleaning years of grime, there’s not too much to it. I started by doing that cleaning. While I would love to make everything perfect, I’m going to get Alice going and work on pretty a bit later.

I installed the cleaned up and lubed adjusters and the slave cylinder. The little clip flummoxed me until I found an old circlip pliers, and was able to spread the clip just enough to fit. One cylinder didn’t have a groove for the circlip!  So I cut one, no problem.

Time for brake shoes and new springs and retainers.

Boy, fitting those springs is a pain. I finally did it all on the workbench, including the parking brake “spreader”, and it went much more easily.

Top it off with a new brake drum and retaining screws, and that’s it.

The other side went faster, aside from having to grind down a lip inside the drum that just barely touched one of the springs. 

I also replaced the brake hose. I don’t think it had ever been done… the lines themselves look okay.

Front brakes are next, as soon as I have parts.  Then I can bleed the system and voila!  Alice will go and stop. 

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Monday, June 21, 2021


I'm a little suspicious of the mileage showing on the odometer.

I'm pretty sure that a few miles were put on this car after it was essentially rebuilt back in 2001.  Receipts for things like tires tell me that it was at least driven to get those tires installed, but the mileage hasn't changed.  So I decided to test the speedometer.  I pulled the cable from the trans and spun it with a drill, and sure enough - the needle moved, but the odometer didn't tick.

Okay.  This means I don't have exactly 43569 miles on the clock, but I don't think it is that far off given the condition of items like the brakes (which look almost new aside from years of sitting).  That means I need to repair the speedo.

The first job was to get the thing out.  This isn't exactly easy in a 1975 given the construction of the dash and the extra bracing behind it.  To get to it, you have to remove the bottom dash cowl, then the defrost control knob and control.  I found that a very specific size of 5/8" deep well socket was needed to get the control's nut free. I also found that I had to (gently?) pull the dash out while sliding the control out of the hole, because it won't just drop out.  But it did eventually work free.  Then you need to make your hand really small to get to the nuts that hold the speedo in place, manage to not lose them behind the dash, and then remove the brackets.  Finally, you can pull the speedo forward and unhook the cable and lights, and remove it from the dash.

I do not want to put this thing back in.

But here you go.

Once it's out, the fun begins. I removed the mechanism and spun it with a square bit in a drill.  As it moved, I could see a couple of things:

  1. There was a periodic dip in the needle.
  2. The odometer was not advancing when the little arm came around to push it.
  3. The gear that moved the arm was cracked, likely because the odometer itself got stuck.

The crack is slightly visible at the 6 o-clock position.

Of course, none of this matters if the odometer itself doesn't work.  So I futzed with it, and while I am not exactly sure why it stuck, I got it free and it appears to spin okay.  I hope it stays that way.

The gear needed to be replaced as it's not repairable.  Fortunately, gears are available from Odometer Gears Ltd. for Jaeger/Smiths speedos.  The gear has to be fitted to the shaft, and it's a bit of a delicate operation.  Fortunately, I have a few spare (broken) gears from Gidget's various adventures into speedometers.  I just pulled one of those and removed the gear.

I very carefully increased the diameter of the hole where the gear fits the shaft to allow a press fit with only a little effort.  I didn't want to add stress to the material.

Then, I used a little superglue (Gorilla Glue, to be exact) on the tip of the shaft, and pressed it into place making sure the gear was properly and fully seated.  I compared to the original and the heights matched, so I think I got it right.  Be very careful here, as that little knob is easily broken off.  Ask me how I know.

I installed the new gear and spun everything up.  The needle stayed stable at 70 and the odometer ticked over nicely.  The mileage has changed!

I cleaned the dial and reassembled the mechanism into the case, and now it waits for cooler weather to be reinstalled into the dash.

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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Brakes II

It's a good time to get the calipers done now that the master cylinder's sorted.  So that's what I did.

The calipers are a two piston design and very effective.  Rebuilding isn't all that hard as long as you start with good cores.  All the parts needed for a rebuild are readily available and of good quality.

Disassembling the calipers is easy enough.  First, take them off the car.

Ugh.  But this car has sat for a long, long time, so accumulation of crud is a given.

After a little cleaning, the next step is to remove the pads, and then the pistons.  These should pop out under a little air pressure.  Fortunately, mine did; that good-luck train keeps on rolling for me.

Once the pistons are free, the calipers get split apart by removing the two bolts holding them together.  Many people say you should never do this - but I have done this when rebuilding Gidget's brakes, and it's no big deal.  There is a seal that fits between the two halves, and that seal is readily available.  Here, I have done this for both calipers and cleaned the bores, which thankfully look good.

That's it for disassembly.  Now, it's time to meet Master Blaster for a good cleaning (protecting the bores, of course).  Here's a before-and-after shot.

Once both are clean and washed, a coat of caliper paint makes them pretty and will keep them from rusting.  Be careful not to get paint in the bores...

The rebuild kits include all the seals and the pistons, which unless the originals are prefect are definitely to be replaced.  The kits do NOT include the little seal between the caliper halves, so don't forget to order them!

Assembly is straightforward, but requires care.  Here's where I started.

There are two seals per piston; an inner and an outer seal. The inner seal is the solid one, and the outer is the grooved (it is a wiper seal).  The inner seal does all the heavy lifting.  The wiper seal is held in place with a retaining ring, and the two halves are joined by that little seal in the bottom of the image.

Each half gets a piston.  Lubricate the seals with a little brake fluid and insert the inner seal.  The wiper seal is tricky to install and takes serious care to keep the retaining ring from being distorted, which is way too easy to do.  My trick is to chamfer the bottom of the ring a bit to help it locate in the opening, and to gently tap into place with a block of wood just wide enough to span the ring.  If the ring does not want to seat with gentle taps on the block with a light hammer, STOP AND RESET.  With a little care, a good result is obtained.  If the ring is distorted but not badly, it can be gently massaged back into shape with a small hammer (not pliers!).

Once the seals are fitted, the pistons can be inserted.  Lubricate the pistons and seals with a little brake fluid and gently press the pistons into place.  This should not require too much pressure, so if the piston does not feel like it will go in, STOP AND RESET.  It is easy to pinch the wiper seal.

Also note that the pistons have an orientation.  The indented part faces in towards the hub, which is towards the mounting holes.  In the image below, you'll see that the indented parts face each other when oriented correctly.

Once the pistons are in place, install the caliper seal and fit them together, then bolt them up.  I used a little Loctite (blue) on the bolts since they do not have lock washers.

And there you have it.

All I need are the rest of the parts for Alice's whoa-ers (rotors, pads, drums, shoes and wheel cylinders).  These are all easy to obtain and low cost, so there's no real reason not to replace everything else in the name of safety.  I was hoping to save the wheel cylinders, but they're trash, so that's where they went.  I did manage to save the adjusters, which just needed a good cleaning.

I'll do some cleanup on the car before installation, and then it's time to bleed the system.  Stay tuned!

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