By Callum Tooey
It's February 2019 and I've finally got a few days free to work on Nutmeg. My brother came to help for a few days and together we flushed her radiator and filled her with fresh coolant, we then set about working on the brakes. With some work we were able to bleed them successfully and for the first time in my ownership Nutmeg's brake pedal was not all the way to the floor!
I then decided that I would need a key to lock the doors as none had been provided with the car, so I removed the rear boot latch and took it apart in an attempt to find the key code, this proved fruitless as no keycode appeared stamped on any parts and the tumbler was royally seized inside the mechanism. A local locksmith could not help and the car shop were unable to preserve the lock so the mechanism was reassembled and another job was added to the list.
Unfortunately all was not well as my brother stood up grim faced and said "I think she needs a lot more welding at the front there" I agreed and made a mental note to take her to be welded as first point of call.
With her now running, driving and stopping, we decided to take her for a test drive, I got in and coaxed her out of the garage, went around the block and pulled her back up onto the kerb. I spent a few minutes testing the lights and other peripherals before the engine died suddenly, and even with a few turns of the starter she refused to start back up, putting us once again back to square one.
This put me in a moral dilemma as being only a couple of months before a wedding, and being increasingly busy with work I knew that I would not be able to dedicate the time or resources that she deserves, so I made the sad decision to put her up for sale and in time was offered a reasonable PX for a 86, Vauxhall Carlton which arrived on a trailer from Devon.
After offloading the Carlton we used a combination of brute force and a trick of turning the starter whilst in gear to kangaroo Nutmeg onto the vacant trailer. I took the Carlton for a test drive immediately and found she handled amazingly well and was quite well specced (although sadly German rather than British).
As I arrived home we tried to put the Carlton into the garage, but found it was too long, our little Peugeot stole the top spot on a temporary basis and the Carlton was relegated to the kerb.
In a cruel twist of fate, the very next day a car popped up on a Facebook sales group, it was a 1983 Triumph Acclaim HLS in Opaline Green, my "Holy Grail" and the car I had been searching for years for - I even have a commissioned painting of it on my wall of my house!
Feeling glum about this, I moaned about my 'typical luck' to my fiance who surprised me with her response of "That's your car, use the savings pot and go and get it"
And that's exactly what I did...
by Callum Tooey
It's early November and my boss has just said I needed to book and take my leave before the end of the year, no need to tell me twice, I took a week in the middle of November and a few sporadic days here and there.
My younger brother found himself with nothing to do so I invited him to come and stay with me and avoid frustrations by working on my car, to my amazement this emotional manipulation worked and he was happy to come!
I told him about how work on Nutmeg had stalled due to the previous fuel issue and he asked to take a look, I figured why not and demonstrated the fact she would start on full choke only and die immediately when you tried to drive. Annoyingly he guessed this was to do with the choke not turning off correctly so after some cleaning with carb cleaner and lubricating the choke cable we had her started, running, and most importantly, driving again. Words cannot express how annoyed I was.
Still, with a car now able to be driven in and out of the garage we pulled her out into the daylight so I could show the extent of the work that was still required. My forever-optimistic brother declared that we WOULD have her on the road before my wedding in the new year (May 2019) and he was going to help me to fix her up before then.
We decided to work on mainly cosmetic items to begin with, under the bonnet was rusty and a previous owner had ripped out the headlining and rusted the roof for a 'rat look'. If this was going to be a wedding car it had to at least look presentable.
Our first task was treating the surface rust under the bonnet, I'd already ripped out most of the horrible 'shaggy carpet' insulation that was stuck to the underside just waiting for a spark to turn Nutmeg into a rolling shell but there was still bits left to do, and I wanted a good finish, so after covering the engine bay with a sheet we worked on cleaning off any remnants which took most of the day, but we got to work coating the bonnet underside with Aquasteel, this was a bigger job than it looked as there are various nooks and crannies that rust had seeped into and we wanted to make it as clean as possible.
We worked until it got too dark before retiring and letting the treatment cure.
The next morning we masked up and sprayed it black making sure to spray the bonnet hook for good measure.
Weather took a turn so we couldn't get much done for a couple of days, so during the next bout of much-needed dry weather we pulled her back out of the garage with the intention of sorting out the rather poorly operating brakes which do work but the pedal is pretty much to the floor. We took off a front wheel and checked the drums, and promptly scratched our heads.
Now my experience of drum brakes were that there was a dust cover which you remove, turn a cog with two screwdrivers and this brings the shoes closer to the drum but that wasn't the case with Nutmeg, after checking the manual we discovered we needed a tool for the adjuster screw which unfortunately, I didn't have in my tool kits. We put the wheel back on and I ordered new brake shoes and the tool to adjust them and we backed her into the garage as the weather looked to be turning.
We decided to use this time instead to make a start on the inner roof, using the rest of the Aquasteel (Don't worry, I've purchased more of it off eBay!) With enough for one coat we used it until the brushes went dry and then retired to let it cure.
We inspected it a few days later and decided it needed another coat but overall were quite happy with the result.
During this time the mesh I had ordered arrived which I was using to make a custom grill, having had no luck attempting to source a complete OEM unit. I'd ordered two boxes but quickly determined I would only require one, the mesh is black aluminium and a good thickness to be lightweight but strong and pliable.
We tested it in the gap left by the missing grill and it fitted almost perfectly, it even matched up to several holes in the body that could be used to affix it to the car.
By this point it was nearing the end of the week and I needed to take my brother back home so I left Nutmeg until a few weeks later when I had a couple more days off work. I used the time to finish off rust treating the roof, sprayed the inner roof black and attached the grill to the car.
I noticed my rear view mirror was looking rather shabby and I knew I had some silver paint I had mistakenly bought instead of black, with poor weather I made the decision to do this in the garage and used Nutmeg's bonnet as a work surface, covering her with a thick sheet to protect her...
I decided to spray the mirror with Zinc Galvanised paint as a primer before giving it a silver overcoat. This appeared to work a treat and by the following morning I had a shiny new-looking rear view mirror, I even gave the screws the same treatment so that they didn't ruin the aesthetics. I refitted the mirror without issue and admired it through the windscreen, with the sun now sparking off the stainless windscreen wipers I removed the sheet and DISASTER!
The silver paint had pooled on the sheet and seeped through onto the white paintwork underneath, square in the middle of my bonnet was a stubborn fist-sized patch of silver paint.. I pulled at my hair in desperation and anxiously picked at it but it was not coming off..
I was at a loss at what to do so I grabbed my cleaning products and got to work, a cleaner and a microfibre towel took off some remnants but the main patch remained there as stubbornly shining in the late afternoon sunshine, taunting me.
It was at this moment that my missus arrived back from their day out with the kids, she came to greet me and gave me her helpful insight "There's silver paint on there, can't you get it off?" grinding my teeth but refusing to admit defeat I told one of my kids to bring me a kitchen sponge and went to raid the metal racks at the corner of my garage. The previous homeowner had helpfully left tins of all sorts of chemicals and cleaners for general household jobs. I needed something abrasive but not strong enough to ruin my paint... and then I saw my saviour.. SUGAR SOAP.
I tested a small area and with no ill effects to the paintwork or finish I doused it and started rubbing in circles with the microfibre, small flecks of silver came off, I continued until one of my kids returned with the sponge so I tested the scourer side and this made short work of the remaining silver paint.
I wiped the sweat from my brow... Crisis averted!
To be continued...
by Callum Tooey
It's been three months since part 3, can you believe it? At a risk of sounding like a broken record, work and family life took over and Nutmeg had the occasional ray of sunshine as I started her every week but work on her had pretty much stalled.
I had a week off work but this was spent anti-fouling our boat (a small cabin cruiser that runs on a marinised BMC 1.5 petrol inboard engine) this was actually the first time we had taken the boat on a long trip (10 miles) and we were apprehensive but fortunately we got there, got the work down, and got back without any issues, but you came here to read about Nutmeg, not the boat!
So back to the car, I had plans to spend a short time at the boat and work on Nutmeg for the rest of the week but unfortunately work took longer than expected so instead I booked another week off, the final week of September and gave family and friends strict instructions not to bother me unless somebody is dying.
After what felt like an age the final week of September came and as promised bright and early Monday morning I was greeting Nutmeg and showing her many shiny bits I intended to fit.
First job was to get the headlights sorted. I had loosely fitted some new halogen units replacing the original sealed beam unit and confirmed these were working, the connectors were different on each headlight so I guessed someone had repaired wiring previously. Unfortunately when I took out the old units I discovered the metal headlamp housing had rusted on one side, as had the retaining rings and the screws holding the assembly in place, these needed replacing
I ordered some new WIPAC 7inch headlamp housings off eBay, thinking ahead I got them in plastic to prevent future rust issues these arrived on Wednesday and after some fettling I got the new units in and the front end back together.
I had hoped that the chrome ring headlight surrounds I had bought specifically for a Victor FB would fit but they did not seem to fit correctly, after asking on my owners group it would appear the grill I am missing is a five part system with a large center piece and 2 separate headlight surrounds either side.
With the headlights now done it was time for the interior, mainly sorting the welding as there was a large hole in the passenger floorpan, my dad arrived to help me and together we put together the welder and an angle grinder and got to work. We used the grinding disks to grind back the area around the hole, we then enlarged it and got a 9inch hole which now needed patching.
I noted that we now needed to cut the 1mm sheet to size to patch over the hole, not having a vice to hand we ignored health and safety and used the curb (Don't try this at home!), amazingly we got the patch cut without incident and using welding magnets to hold the patch in place I decided to try tacking it in place with the MIG welder.
I clamped the earth lead to the car and fed wire to the plate and... Nothing! No sparks, gas was flowing, wire was feeding but no arc at all! I clamped the lead to the plate itself, still nothing, I tried it on the uncut plate outside the car and still no action. It would appear my brand new welder was unable to do the very thing it was designed to do.
We checked instructions, watched a YouTube video to confirm we were using it right, the box was powered and buzzing but no welding was happening. I now had a dilemma, a car with a 9 inch hole in the floor pan and no chance of welding it up! As it was late in the day I returned Nutmeg to the garage with the magnets holding the panel in place.
In desperation I asked on a local group for recommendations on welders "Can you get it to my unit tomorrow?" Came a reply, so the next morning I drove her a short distance to a workshop on the outskirts of town, I explained my predicament and that the car needed to be done for Oh So Retro on the Sunday "Leave it with me, we'll have it welded and give you a ring when it's done".
I took a stroll into the retail park and bought some paint from Poundland, an hour or so later the car was done, I collected her ready to drive back, her fuel gauge was reading low and she seemed to be struggling a bit so I stopped off at Morrisons and treated her to £20 of the good stuff.
As I pulled up at a set of lights waiting for them to change, Nutmeg suddenly died, I laughed at having 'stalled it' and tried to restart her but she simply turned over with no chance of firing. The lights changed and I was stranded, naturally in modern British fashion the vehicles behind helped by sounding their horns at me as the lights changed back to red. I got out and tried to push the car up onto the curbside whilst the impatient drivers gawked at me, only a teen on scooter stopped to help me push the car.
After bumping up the curb I got in and tried her again, she fired straight up and I thought I'd go for it and shot off down the road. I almost made it home before she died again, this time I threw her in neutral and let her momentum bump up the curb at a bus stop. I left her to sit for a while and called the other half to explain the issue, unfortunately although I had recovery I was under a mile from home so I knew there would be no chance of rescue. After a short while I got her restarted and drove her home, the space directly outside my front door was free so I parked her up and let her sit once again.
I was positive that the issue was fuel related and remembering another members recommendation I dived into my bags of spares for the bottle of Seafoam I had purchased, I added a few fl oz to the tank as per instructions and got her started again, I was expecting to see 'white smoke' coming from the exhaust as per the videos I had seen of this product but despite getting her to idle and rev, this didn't happen. I decided to leave her to sit and let it 'work its way through' and treated the floors instead.
Enter the next product recommendation: AquaSteel. Aquasteel is a rust remedy product, Nutmegs floors had lots of surface rust which I imagine had been hidden for years under the carpet, this stuff much like other products in the market it looks like a white cream that coats the rust blue, this coverts the rust into black paintable metal surface. I liberally coated the surfaces with this and left it to dry, it was getting late though so I tried to get her back into the garage but sadly the Seafoam had not seemed to do anything and she stalled in the middle of the road, I could perhaps get her started on full choke but selecting a gear and easing off the clutch simply caused her to stall, with no help available I got my partner to sit behind the wheel and I manhandled Nutmeg back into her garage.
It was now apparent that she would not be ready to attend Sundays show, so angry and upset I made a hasty for sale ad and retired to bed, by the morning I had calmed somewhat but decided to take a day off and took my mind off it. On the Saturday I decided to finish the floors and was amazed to see the result of the rust proofing, a quick over-spray of matt black paint and the floors look 100% better than they ever did. I told myself that replacing the fuel tank and fuel lines was a worthwhile job and with some friends and families reassurances that it would 'be worth it in the end' Nutmegs stay was extended.
I also decided that despite not being able to attend the Oh So Retro show in the car, I was still going to attend, so I sold my car pass to another enthusiast with a small Fiat and attended on Sunday in my daily Citroen C8.
We were approached by two men from the show selling raffle tickets for a 'Win This Car' competition, the car was a 1 Litre Peugeot 205, not British obviously but a nicely restored car done up in classic rally livery, as it was for charity I bought a £5 ticket for each of us and thought no more about it.
That afternoon the organizer was reading out the awards and I begun to feel disheartened that Nutmeg had been unable to attend, perhaps she would have won something? As the awards came to an end it was time for the car raffle, I heard a guy behind me boast "I've bought 30 tickets, it's in the bag lads!" "Ticket number 526" says the organizer. "That's mine!" I shouted back, my other half was in disbelief, I took my ticket to the guy, he confirmed my name and said "You just won a car for a fiver!"
Well.. I guess it wasn't such a bad week after all!
by Callum Tooey
A new coil arrived quickly and I was feeling excited to finally get Nutmeg up and running again, the weekend finally rolled around and I had the idea to try the coil without actually removing the old one. Also worth noting is that in my efforts to cut out any possible 'aftermarket' fault I had swapped all of the HT leads to original spec units, the spark plugs were the same as originally fitted.
Connecting them up I was full of optimism, but my optimism was short lived as Nutmeg simply turned over, so back to the drawing board! I checked voltages across all wires, ignition wires were reading 12v, the secondary coil wire was reading 12v and the battery was reading good levels.
I checked the resistance on both the new coil and the old one, I even tried connecting up the original coil but nothing I did would seem to help, a few comments pointed fingers at the new distributor/electronic ignition, claiming there were known dead units currently for sale; So to cut out a possible issue I swapped the distributor back to the original points ignition but this didn't seem to help get her started.
I started to doubt myself severely at this point, knowing that I had changed so many parts I started wondering was it possible I had completely messed up the car? Was I positive that those HT leads were on in the right order? Was that rotor arm the right one? And more silly questions.
After yet another disheartened post on the group with pictures of my (lack of) progress, a few members suggested directly connecting the coil to the battery, thus bypassing the ignition, I wasn't very optimistic at this idea, as nothing I had tried had worked previously but figuring I had nothing to lose I decided to make up some test leads that Monday after work.
I found some wires that were designed to be used with a modern ECU plug system that had crocodile clips off both negative and positive, cutting the end of the wires I fitted a spade connector onto the bare end and connected it directly to the positive terminal and coil.
Hitting the starter whilst holding the coil lead against an earth I saw some powerful sparks arcing across, figuring what the heck I plugged the coil lead back into the distributor and pressed the starter again and she fired up on the first turn, a very unmanly high pitched triumphant 'YES!!!!' screamed out from the garage in my excitement, she sounded slightly metallic which I found was some loose cables being caught slightly by the fans but other than that she sounded great!
Knowing that the car will fire with a direct lead from the battery told me two things:
I stripped the wire back. Fortunately there was plenty of inner left to make a new join with fresh wire, I made the connection, connected it up and turned the engine over from inside the car. She fired straight up!!!
I gave the throttle a few blips, she seemed to rev strong and clean, no knocks, no rumbles, just nice smooth running. I didn't have any black pvc tape to hand so I wrapped the connection in the rather fetching green/yellow instead, happy my car was working rather than worrying about the aesthetics of the wiring system!
With the engine now running I decided to give the brakes a release and pull her out of the garage, she slid into gear softly and pulled away. Finding reverse was easy and before long I had her parked up on the kerb outside in the glorious British sunshine. I noticed some fine smoke entering the cabin, concerned I killed the engine and opened the bonnet, luckily it appeared to simply be some grime burning off the exhaust manifold, no fires!
I fetched a bucket and car shampoo and gave her a well deserved clean, taking the time to clear out the boot that was overflowing with parts that until now I hadn't had the space to look through, I found various rubber sections (both screens I believe) as well as chrome trims, wheel trims, and surprisingly the original carpet which didn't look in bad condition. My guess is a previous owner pulled it up to restore the car or fix any rust. I haven't yet made the decision whether I will keep or replace it with a different colour.
I must have done something right with her though as whilst she basked in the sunlight a neighbour made conversation and enquired about the possibility of buying her, 'Sadly...' I said 'she isn't for sale!'
Next step, let's get some locks and start on the interior!
by Callum Tooey
So we left part 1 having returned home via recovery with my first 'proper' classic (well OK technically speaking my previous '85 Reliant Rialto fit our group criteria but having owned Reliants previously this was a totally new experience). It was so late by the time I returned home that my partner never actually saw the car.
With Nutmeg now languishing in my garage, my partner spent the week constantly pulling me away from the windows where I'd be sneaking a peek in disbelief at the fact that she was actually in there. I ordered parts that I knew were needed, a new coil, airbox and paper air filter (it had a K&N fitted directly to the carb), spark plugs. The new coil arrived within a few days but due to work commitments I knew I'd have to wait until the weekend to do any work.
The weekend finally arrived and my Dad and uncle had agreed to come over and help me to fit new parts. I checked the voltages across both the old coil and the new one, they were reading equal which I thought was odd but hey, that was the diagnosis of the recovery mechanic so who am I to question it (I now know this isn't the right way to check coils).
My uncle arrived first but with limited tools (mainly metric) we struggled to remove the old coil from the car, we tried testing it by simply connecting the old coil, I was optimistic but after cranking the engine multiple times she still failed to start.
We pulled some spark plugs and they were dry, strange I thought as fuel wasnt a diagnosed fault? We checked the fuel to the carb, check, somehow it wasn't entering the cylinders, it must be blocked we thought, we decided to check the spark at the plugs, also nothing... 'Two different faults?' I exclaimed 'What are the chances of that!'
My uncle replaced the old coil with the new one, with the understanding that it eliminated the coil as an issue, my Dad arrived with two heavy toolboxes full of AF tools 'You can have these son!' He said, whilst watching me almost buckle trying to lift them out of his car boot.
With the correct tools at our disposal we had the carburettor disconnected and removed, my plan was to find a specialist who could professionally clean it. Deciding nothing more could be done with the car that weekend I removed the battery to charge it and we retired for a well earned cup of tea.
I spent the following week calling around various places to attempt to have the carburettor cleaned, one company enthusiastically told me they could rebuild it for around £300 odd and that they were the sole specialists for this however there were time-frame issues and I would need to send the carb away to be worked which, I spoke to a local firm who said they had never done one before but 'could give it a go' and to drop it off and it would be done 'whenever'. I politely declined and decided to strip it down myself to clean the jets using my manual as the guide.
Stripping it down proved to be relatively easy, in hindsight though I should have wore some eye protection as spraying carb cleaner over-zealously into every nook and cranny of the carb was enough to catch a nice spray of it in my eye which I can say categorically, stings like a b*tch.
After taking a breather and discovering I wasn't going to lose my eyesight I reassembled the carb and stored it again ready for refitting that weekend. This was a big weekend for me as I had decided to work on the car by myself, reassuring myself that you don't learn until you throw yourself into it.
Refitting the carb proved to be a slight hassle as although the right hand bolt is easily accessible, the left hand bolt was impossible to reach with a socket and I could only get a quarter turn on the bolt, I noticed that if I could refit the choke cable and put it 'on' this would move some of the obstruction giving me half a turn which made it slightly quicker.
After confirming the carburettor was refitted I refitted the battery and decided to try to start her again, I don't know what I expected to be honest as she turned over definitely but still refused to start. I tested for a spark at the points and spark plugs, nothing on either.
Becoming frustrated, my Dads voice echoed in my head 'Should have bought a Morris Minor'. "No - I will fix this" I decided, this is 2018 and we have technology now to help! Out came my phone and onto Youtube, testing for sparks the usual search terms but nothing helped.
I had bought another distributor, a new rotor arm and a new electronic ignition so I decided to fit these to the car, again under the perhaps misguided impression that they removed a possible 'reason' for the car not to start. After fitting these parts I tried once more to start her, but all this succeeded in doing was draining the battery. Light was fading now so I locked up the garage, and retired back indoors.
Needless to say, I was at a low point here, I made a disappointed post to vent on the group Facebook page, strongly disheartened by the days events and wondering if I had truly bitten off more than I could chew here. That post instead showed me why I am a member of the group in the first place when another member, Colin, offered to call me and talk me through it.
Taking time out of his work to talk me through the basic mechanics and checks I had performed, he said something that caused me to perk up 'You have checked the coil right?' Of course I have, it had voltage across it 'Yeah that's fine but what about the resistance?'
'The resistance?' I thought, Colin had to dash off for work but told me to look into it, a quick Youtube video later and I realised I'd been checking the coil wrong, I didn't need to check voltages I needed to measure the ohms! After rushing out to the garage I grabbed the old coil and checked the resistance, it was around 3 ohms for the primary circuit and around 9 for the secondary.
With my manual only stating an ohm resistance of 4.5 for the coil I had no idea if this was within tolerable levels so disconnected the new coil and tested it, the first circuit proved slightly higher but there was no reading for the secondary proving that my 'new' coil was actually a dud.. Could it really be that simple?
Well a new coil has been ordered... and I guess you'll have to wait for part 3 to find out!
by Callum Tooey
It’s a Sunday morning and I’m in the passenger seat of my dads car as we are driving to Cambridge to visit our boats when my phone beeps. ‘What’s that?’ My Dad asks whilst pulling into a supermarket to buy a drink. ‘It’s eBay, that Vauxhall I showed you finishes in 10 minutes’ I replied whilst reviewing the advert. I passed him the phone to take another look at it, ‘it does look clean’ he admitted ‘but I wonder if you could still get parts for it?’
"Good point" I said, so I took a few minutes to check eBay for various parts all of which I appeared to find with relative ease, then left to my own devices as the timer ticked down I entered a bid of the asking price, confident that I’d be outbid. As the timer hit zero, I was shocked to see the green banner informing me I had won. My dad was equally shocked ‘I thought you wanted a Morris Minor’ he said, something that I would be constantly reminded of in the weeks to come.
We arranged to pickup the car the following week. The advert said it was in Hythe in Kent and further contact gave us an address of Port Lympne which my partner said was a zoo of all places. I had visions of finding the car inside an enclosure overrun by animals all week but fortunately that wasn’t the case and the only ‘wild’ animal we saw was a woolly rhino that was being moved.
Once we saw the car we took a look at her condition and were happy she had been described correctly. I decided to name her ‘Nutmeg’ as her number plate reads ‘NMG’. I planned to drive the car home, so after a brief drive around the car park I was satisfied she was driving and stopping OK. We followed the signs back towards Maidstone before picking up the M20. I was checking the instruments and noticed the speedometer and temperature gauge were not working and she was struggling a bit with constant coughing before refusing to accelerate anymore.
I coasted her onto the hard shoulder and we started diagnosis whilst awaiting recovery. Fuel seemed good, no tools to check spark but we presumed it was an electrical fault. The recovery guy diagnosed the coil and she was loaded on the back of the truck.
Getting her home, we blocked the road with the truck whilst we tried to offload and manoeuvre her into my garage, hoping she would fit. This prompted a few of the neighbours to come and see what was happening with one running shirtless to move his car as he thought I’d called a tow truck to move it! (Parking across the dropped kerb has been an issue and metal sign stating vehicles will be towed has been put up).
We got Nutmeg into the garage with a couple of inches to spare. With the garage door shut this was the last I’d see of her for a couple of weeks until part 2 when we could start working on her.
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