By Mike Peake
The last time I wrote about my efforts to restore Poppy was about a month ago and I was in a bit of a funk with her. Well quite a bit has happened since then and surprisingly, none of them involved petrol cans, naked flames or tall buildings. It came close though, believe me.
So, I had an awful bonnet, a boot lid still in primer in the conservatory and I’d run out of paint – again. The clutch hydraulics were dry and the fuel pump wasn’t pumping. It was far too depressing to go anywhere near the front of the car but I needed to do something to enthuse me again. So, I flatted the rear deck, fins and wings and refitted the bumpers and lights.
To see things starting to come together gave me the boost I needed and I now had 2 weeks off work to crack on. I ordered another litre of paint and in the meantime, I started working my way towards the front of the car flatting, then compounding, then polishing then waxing one panel at a time.
It was going ok. Well I didn’t hate the results anyway. The panels were red and starting to take a bit of shine. That is until I got to the front off side wing where I flatted through the paint on the sharp edge above the wheel arch. I did say rude words however, as I still had painting to do and some new paint, the rude words weren’t as bad as they could have been. I could just add more coats to that wing at the same time I did the bonnet.
It was now time to address Poppy’s new-found immobility and give myself a break from bodywork. The refusal to start was due to lack of fuel getting to the carburettor. As many of you will know, after a long story, I’d rebuilt and fitted an original AC Delco pump back in 2017, so I was a little fed up that it had failed after only 2 years. However, I put this down to using an older stock rebuild kit and perhaps the rubber parts weren’t up to the 5% ethanol in our petrol now. I ordered another rebuild kit.
The refusal to change gear was due to the fact that all the dot 4 fluid had fallen out. Now, it was only 5 years ago that I rebuilt the clutch master cylinder and replaced the slave, so I topped it up with new fluid and bled it through, having completed the fiddly and time-consuming task of removing the gearbox tunnel and carpet. It didn’t work. The pedal was still very light and the clutch wasn’t disengaging. I decided that the minor scoring I’d seen in the master cylinder during that last rebuild had got worse so I ordered a new master cylinder along with the petrol pump kit. Now I know what you’re thinking. How would that cause all the dot 4 to fall out? Well I hadn’t thought that far ahead had I!
Whilst I was waiting for these new parts to arrive I had a go at removing the paint that I’d accidently sprayed the hood with. My Paint Guru with the patience of a saint had suggested it would come off with thinners. I have no doubt he is completely correct, but splashing thinners around from an open can near new paint just seemed like a recipe for disaster for a bumbling incompetent fool like me.
When casting my eye around the garage, I caught sight of the three extra cans of carb cleaner I had accidentally bought when rebuilding my carburettor. Well why not? An aerosol can is much easier to control than a 5 litre can of thinners. So, being ultra, extra careful not to get any on my new paint, I squirted a bit on an inconspicuous part of the hood and when the hood material didn’t immediately curl up and melt, I tried it on the errant paint. It worked a treat and my PVC hood is now black again
My shiny new parts arrived and I decided to start with the fuel pump. The pump was removed and all the parts quickly replaced and the pump returned to the car all in about 20 minutes. My patented hex headed bolt replacement working brilliantly on the RHS where you can’t get a spanner or socket on because of the manual pump handle.
It was all going brilliantly. So well in fact that - flushed with this success - I decided to fit the new fuel line I had, to replace the bodged rubber pipe linked one. (Yes it was me who bodged it when I kinked the pipe fitting the pump the last time.) The new copper pipe was bent into shape, quite imaginatively in some places, and it was time to fit the union and olive and screw into the pump outlet. Disaster struck - I dropped the olive which immediately vanished down a wormhole into an alternate universe never to be seen again. I gave up looking after an hour and went indoors to order another olive and have lunch.
The new olive arrived the next day and I was straight into my tent and slipping the olive onto the end of the pipe. Then taking it off again to slide the union on 1st before putting the olive back on. Disaster struck - I dropped the olive which immediately vanished down a wormhole into an alternate universe never to be seen again.
I didn’t swear too much this time as when I ordered the new olive, I enacted a canning plan. I bought 2 of them. I finally had it all secured and gave the manual handle a few pumps to fill the pipe back up with fuel and turned the ignition key. Poppy fired straight up and ran beautifully.
Now time for the clutch master cylinder swap. Another easy 10-minute job because the gearbox tunnel and carpet was already removed. Normally, 4 or 5 full pumps on the pedal is enough to fully bleed it through but not this time. At the end of every pump I still had air spitting. After 4 pots full of fluid, I gave up and concluded that my 5 year old slave cylinder was kaput and indeed, was the cause of my vanished fluid.
The pedal was quite a bit firmer so the master replacement wasn’t a complete waste of time and money, but the clutch still wasn’t fully disengaging. With much gear crunching, I did manage to get the car turned around though. The bonnet was now facing uphill and in the lighter end of the tent. I would now be able to see much better and hopefully have fewer runs now the bonnet is at a new angle.
I was ready to flat back the bonnet yet again so I immediately shut everything up and went to sit in the garden with a pint of G&T and ordered the new slave cylinder.
Next morning, I was stood at the front of the tent with 800 grit paper and a bucket of water. I couldn’t face it. So I tidied my little workshop, arranged my bottles and cans of cleaning product into alphabetical order and sorted my nut and bolt collection. Then my new slave cylinder arrived so I fitted that and bled it through, achieving a satisfyingly firm and fully-functioning clutch pedal.
I could not think of any other little jobs to do to put off rubbing down the bonnet any longer, so I settled in and set to. Many, many hours later, I decided enough was enough and went in search of a bottle of merlot.
The next morning dawned and it was time to get the spray gun back out. The rest of the car was covered in polythene sheet and the bonnet tack clothed and panel wiped. I had decided that whatever happened, this was going to be the last time I sprayed the bonnet. Life’s too short and I can’t afford any more paint. So, it was with some trepidation that I pointed the gun at the car and began. I soon found my rhythm and settled in to the job. I was going to put plenty of paint on so I knew I’d have leeway for flatting out any defects afterwards. I put 4 coats on, making sure to allow a full 30 minutes between coats to flash dry.
I then left it all well alone and went to flat back the primer on the boot lid in the back garden. Have I mentioned I hate flatting back? This hatred was further advanced when I flatted through the primer on a couple of edges which meant I needed to spray a couple more coats and flat back again. More bad words said. More merlot required.
The next day, Poppy was moved out of the tent to give me room to spray two more coats of primer onto the boot lid.
The bonnet didn’t look too bad though. Yes, it was orange peely and yes, there were a couple of small runs but I knew I had plenty of paint so yet another marathon flatting back session commenced while I waited for the primer on the boot lid to dry.
Twenty four hours later, the boot lid was flatted back and sprayed with 4 coats of red and I continued to flat back the bonnet while it dried.
I also machine compounded, polished and waxed the bonnet. It came up reasonably well and whilst saying I was pleased with it would be a massive exaggeration, I don’t completely hate it and it is definitely the best attempt yet.
So, just a matter of flatting, compounding, polishing and waxing the boot lid, removing the masking from the white stripe, cleaning up the white stripe and putting the car back together again and I’m done. Easy peasy lemon squeezey!
To be continued…
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