This mini resto was a surprise birthday gift for my father's 60th.
I expected this first attempt at an automotive restoration to exhaust my skill set and help develop more.
Looking back I definitely bit off more than I could chew, especially with a 6 month timeline and f/t job.
I scoured the interwebs for the right car, and ended up deciding on the Healey.
The car was chosen on the following criteria:
Affordable: It's not the car that breaks you most of the time, it's everything that comes afterwards:
Restoration costs, insurance, parts, maintenance, etc... so research research research before you click buy.
Size & Space: Whatever car you're restoring, pretend you're buying 2. That's the amount of space you'll need
The small townhouse I was living in only had 1 garage... it was a struggle just storing parts let alone working.
Timeline: If you're living with room mates or a significant other... budget your time accordingly.
Inspect and assess: Shop around for the same car, so when you find the one, you'll know exactly what areas to look for.
Cult following: Every classic car has a following of some sort, tap into these outlets. (ie: forums, communities, etc)
The interweb: From procuring vintage parts to figuring out how carburation works... www. is your friend.
At the end of the day, be realistic.
If I missed anything, you'll find it along the read, it's full of epic failures, struggles, & success.
All which are an integral part of learning.
I hope you enjoy this "ible" as much as I did the resto.
Step 1: Make Space
Not too much explanation here.
All I can say is there's no such thing as too much space.
Storage will be important. Save used boxes, bags, sandwich bags, etc.
Since I did not have much space, I mapped everything out with a floorplan before hand.
I ended up going with Option "B" as there was more space to work in the front end of the car.
The positioning of the stainless table was nice as the work surface can be accessed from 3 sides.
It became a convenient laundry station.
Reorganize everything. Knowing where everything is important.
Space reorganized, Wall & Table storage revamped and fully loaded.
Step 2: Tool Cart Build
Whilst everything on the wall storage was nice and organized.
Pic 1: Everything below it... Not so much.
Pic 2: With some old display shelving units from work, I built some tool carts for storage.
Pic 3: Bottom view of display shelving.
Pic 4: Tool cart build plans
Pic 5 & 6: Rip a channel through the middle to clear the structrual member
Pic 7: Attach casters to bottom for mobility, fasten 2x4 to the structural member.
Pic 8: Predrill all your mounting holes first.
Pic 9: Start assembling the carts
Pic 10: Flip'er over. Bam. tool cart # 1 done.
Pic 11: Organized & Ready!
Pic 12: Yes... that's about all the tools I started with!
Step 3: Accessible Power.
I found this really nice vintage pull extension cord from an antiques shop.
Pic 1: Perforated galvanized steel strapping did the trick.
Pic 2: just a quick bend with the vise and pliers.
Pic 3: Mount beside garage door opener.
Step 4: Delivery!!!
Off craigslist, I found a gentleman who restored cars to help me tow her home.
Pic 1: Flat bed in these situations are a must!
Pic 2: Loading
Pic 3: Back that up!
Pic 4: She fits as planned!
Step 5: Initial Wash & Assessment
The initial wash will give you an idea of the cars condition.
The car was resprayed at some point of its life.
But I'll take that over holes through body panels.
Pic 1: Initial wash
Pic 2: The interior was a mess, and the 6x9's in the back had to go.
Pic 3: Ughhhh... Overspray.
Pic 4: After a couple of hand passed polishes.
Pic 5: First wash completed, Back in the garage.
Cover high traffic areas to avoid damage
Step 6: Trim Removal
After the hand polishing, a random orbital polisher was a must.
Using one meant either masking the trim, or removing it.
Although trim removal takes more time, it's worth it in the end.
It makes polishing/waxing easy, and you can polish off all the chrome bits!
Trim removal can be a pain, thankfully, old cars don't have plastic bits that break.
Pic 1: Mask off all areas that are susceptible to scratching. (ie: grill trim)
Pic 2: Grill Off!
Pic 3: There is a screw on the bottom of the headlight trim. Remove to expose 4 mounting bolts.
Pic 4: Remove 4 mounting holes to remove headlight.
Pic 5: The door assembly and all its components had to be cleaned, lubed, and adjusted.
Pic 6: Fill a plastic syringe with grease to get into tight areas without causing a mess.
Pic 7: The "SPRITE" logo on the doorsill was fading
Pic 8: I laid some masking tape over the logo and traced it. (Dotting the important points)
Pic 9: Both door hardware off
Pic 10: Door hardware & chrome bits ready for polish
Step 7: Door: Bits and Pieces
Although the moving pieces of the door were operational, things were gummed up,
misaligned, and generally in unsatisfactory condition.
Pic 1: Door handle housing (Scratched)
Pic 2: Mask chrome edge & prep for paint removal
Pic 3: Door latch mechanism painted over in body color
Pic 4: Tissue box with punched holes to hold bolt heads
Pic 5: Apply paint remover to parts.
Pic 6: Remove paint with plastic brush/scraper.
Pic 7: After first paint remover application. (Still some paint left behind)
Pic 8: Door latches after 2 applications of paint remover
Pic 9: Door latch plate & brillo pad... apply elbow grease.
Pic 10: Door latch assembly cleaned and ready.
There will be some hard to reach areas, get in there with a rotary tool and bristle attachment.
Pic 11: Door lock cylinder. The build up of oxidation made it quite difficult to unlock.
Pic 12: Each pin & spring was removed for cleaning and lubing.
Pic 13: Door handle housing, resprayed.
Pic 14: Door reassembled
Step 8: Seats
Pic 1: The seat covers appeared to be quite new.
Pic 2: Slight build up of dust and grime.
Pic 3: The seat rails however, different story.
Pic 4: Sand surface rust off and spray.
Pic 5: I didn't bother ripping the seats apart. I just masked sanded and sprayed.
Pic 6: See how space is important.
Step 9: Interior | What a Mess.
Pic 1: The interior was not lookin too hot... It was in need of a major cleaning.
Pic 2: Vac, Carpet cleaner, repeat... not bad... now to take those 6x9's out.
Pic 3: Upon removing the 6x9's I uncover a ton of wiring... Messy wiring... actually wires in general = pet peeve.
Pic 4: Pulling the wiring out....
Pic 5: Followed the wire back to the dash...
Step 10: Dash Removal
Pic 1: I couldn't handle the wiring... so I pulled the dash.
Pic 2: Mask around the switches before removal to avoid scratching/marring.
Pic 3: Besides the wiring, the previous owner also did a number on the dash itself.
Pic 4: Behind the dash aka firewall. (Be sure to label everything as you take it apart.
Pic 5: Winshield fluid nozzle pump... thumb powered!
Pic 6: Oil pressure & water temp gauge face
Pic 7: phew... time for a quick nap.
Step 11: The Dash
Pic 1: The condition of the dash was terrible.... there were scratches, scuffs, and chips.
But even then I was going to just do some touch up work.
Pic 2: Detail view of the chipping dash paint.
Pic 3: Then i saw this original dash for sale... WHAT??? it's supposed to be textured paint???...
That is when I really dove in... also around the same time I said... wtf am I getting myself into?
Pic 4 & 5: So after labeling everything
Pic 6: I proceeded to apply paint remover.
Pic 7: Unfortunately... the paint remover took off about 5% of the paint... I freaked out just a bit.
Pic 8: This is after the second or third coat of the spray on paint remover... see what I mean when I say I freaked out?
Pic 9: I headed back out to the nearest autoshop to grab some Aircraft paint remover!
(Wear mask, apply remover, and cross your fingers)
Note: Aircraft paint remover is nasty stuff... wear at least 2 layers of nitrile/silicone gloves!
Pic 10: Remember... If you're living with someone...
a mess of highly corrosive mess of paint remover is .. unsightly to say the least.
At the bottom edge of the work table, hang a small tarp.
Place your work where the tarp meets the ground.
When you're done.. just lift the bottom corners up!
The tarp envelopes the work... Voila... no mess
Pic 11: After your night out...
open the tarp and wipe away the remover!
Pic 12: Detail shot... everything's almost off!
Pic 13: The Tarp can stay in bungee'd up... ready for the next messy project!
Pic 14: Finally! all the paint is off!
Pic 15: That wasn't too bad.
Pic 16: Oh yeah... don't forget the back... might as well go all the way.
Step 12: Windshield Removal
Pic 1: I knew I was replacing the windshield. it was just too scratched and pitted...
I removed the dash for this purpose... So off it goes.
Pic 2: To remove the windshield. there are 2 bolts on bottom ends of the pillars.
You will find them as soon as you open the door and look under the dash. (which is now off!)
If you look carefully... you will see some rubber left over from the last windshield seals.
Pic 3: I'm glad I took the windshield off.
Pic 4: look at all the Oxidized paint & grime... gross.
Pic 5: Use soapy water in a spritz bottle to push away any dirt....
wipe VERY sparingly when there's dirt... as you're going to mar the surface of the paint.
Pic 6: Patience & persistence beats pretty much anything.
Pic 7: Soooo close!
Pic 8: All clean...
Pic 9: Just in time for my random orbital to arrive in the mail!
Step 13: Polish, Polish, Polish.
Pic 1: Polishing the windshield scuttle.
Pic 2: Paint starting to come alive.
Pic 3: I spent quite a bit of time on the scuttle... because once the windshield goes back on... that's it!
Pic 4: Driver's front quarter
Pic 5: You can start seeing reflections in the paint!... polish more.
Pic 6: Hood before. Reflections are hazey due to oxidation of the paint as seen here.
Pic 7: Comparison. The drivers side of the hood has been polished twice... Left side is untreated.
When you're polishing a large surface such as a hood... It's good to mask of sections.
Working one section at a time allows for you to focus and avoid overpolishing.
Pic 8: First pass!... not bad.
Pic 9: Reflections are getting better.
Step 14: Windshield | Breakdown.
Pic 1: I called around to get quotes on putting this windshield in.
No one wanted to deal with putting this in... and couldn't really guarantee that in instal would be successful.
Granted it was only screws, but taking this thing apart was NOT easy.
Pic 2: The solid aluminum frame took a beating over the years.
Pic 3: Convertible latches scratched and pitted from careless closing of the ragtop.
Pic 4: Rearview mirror bracket rusted out.
Pic 5: Rearview Mirror
Pic 6: I took it apart cleaned it and was going to respray... but I just picked another one up.
Sometimes it's better to save time and buy the part... choose your battles... watch your budget
Pic 7: Using some plastic clamps.
Pic 8: I reversed the plastic bar clamp and used a piece of wood.
As you squeeze the clamp it will start spreading the pillars.
Pic 9: Me trying to push the last bit.
Pic 10: Yesssssss.... that was quite a bit of time.
TIP: Have a spray bottle with soapy water.... spray liberally into all the rubber seals.
any penetrating lube for the metal bits.
Pic 11: Bottom of the frame is off!
Pic 12: Vintage Chilton arrives!
Pic 13: Check out the transparent cutaway diagrams!
Step 15: Pressure Washer | the Things That Break Along the Way
Pic 1: The plastic piece on the pressure washer's handle decides to crack.
Don't just go out and buy another.... it's broken anyways... take it apart...
Pic 2: I noticed the diameter of the plastic piece matched that of the pressure hose.
I just removed the piece completely and ran the pressure hose line directly to the nozzle!
Pic 3: Big box of tools arrive!!! That was another agenda for this restoration.. to build up my tool collection.
They're not the best... but they'll have to do for now.
Step 16: Windshield | Frame Off!
Pic 1: passenger side A pillar off.
Pic 2: driver side A pillar Off
Pic 3: Build up of crud in the driver's side
Pic 4: Bent rain gutter and scrathed f
Pic 5: Frame apart and ready for cleaning.
I did mention you need space for this right?
Pic 6: Another angle of the bend and scratch.
Pic 7: To repair those dings I had to remove the window gutter
Pic 8: To remove the window gutter, I had to drill out the rivets.
Pic 9: Adhesive?
Pic 10: and..... now we're ready for some cleaning.
Step 17: Windshield Frame Repair
I've worked with aluminum before... it didn't turn out too nice.
if you thought 600grit is enough... try 2000grit... but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Remember... patience + persistence = win.
Pic 1: I started out with 200 grit on the deep scratch.
TIP: When you're doing any kind of sanding.... Be sure to use a block... this way you don't get any pitting.
Tip: You're probably wet sanding... instead of using a bucket of water... use a spray bottle.
Pic 2: It was deep.... I changed to 120.
Pic 3: Still a bit left.
Pic 4: Can't feel the groove anymore
Pic 5: Gone for good.
Pic 6: I chose to sand around the convertible top button...
there's a significant amount of stress on these items...
the last thing I wanted to do was replace it with a shotty rivet.
Pic 7: Initial sanding around the button.
Pic 8: With a couple pieces of foam... clamp the part securely to a vise.
Pic 9: Wet sanding gets messy...
that piece of packaging foam came in handy as it absorbed all the moisture!
Pic 10: The mess wass worthwhile.
Pic 11: Here's the pillar after it's initial sanding.
Pic 12: Not lookin bad.
Pic 13: Sadly... I'm still not satisfied with the finish.
Pic 14: That was all the time I had...
Pic15: Cleanup.... Time to pack for 2 week a business trip!
Step 18: Measurements for the Road.
I don't like to waste time... 15 hrs on a plane is sometimes nice downtime.
But not when you have a project of this nature going.
Pic 1: Before I left I took down some measurements of the gauges.
Pic 2: There was wear of the fonts over time.
Pic 3: The previous owner just shoved LED bulbs into the gauges...
burning the screen printed gauge face of the voltage gauge.
Pic 4: All wrapped up... ready to go.
Step 19: Enroute
15hr flight.. plenty of time to watch a movie...
Let's get some work done first!
So why did i take all those measurements of the gauges?
Pic 1: Vectorizing Oil Pressure & Water Temp Gauge in illustrator.
Pic 2: OP&WT gauge complete
Pic 3: Vectorizing the "Sprite" logo
Pic 4: 1/2 way
Pic 5: Done...
Pic 6: While I was at Logan waiting for my flight. I found this old british company called Dinky Toys.
Oh ebay... search and you shall find... An Austin Healey Sprite Dinky Toy!
I wanted that to be part of the gift!
Pic 7: I even found a copy of the original packaging online!
Step 20: 3 Weeks Later
I was lucky enough to tie in a trip to toyko afterwards.
Pic 1: Where I picked up some 2000 grit sand paper and 0000 steel wool!
Pic 2: Wet sand with 2000 grit!!
Pic 3: Much better... almost!
Pic 4: The button area was hard to get around by hand... so I used a rotary tool
Pic 5: Mask any completed parts right away.
Pic 6: Repeat for remaining parts.
Step 21: Wash, Wash, Polish, Polish, Wax, Wax, Wax. Repeat.
With the windshield frame completed.
Pic 1 & 2: Time to give her a quick wash.
Pic 3: Oxidation still remains... must polish
Pic 4: First pass... much better.
Pic 5: There's a difference... Seriously!
Pic 6: Reflection is ok.
Pic 7: Time for the hood. (Yes... 3rd pass... don't judge)
Pic 8: Driver's side door.
Pic 9: Rear view.
Pic 10: Rear bumper off!
Pic 11: Driver's side rear quarter (Before)
Pic 12: Driver's side rear quarter (1st pass)
Pic 13: Driver's side rear quarter (After)
Pic 14: Rear view (completely stripped)
Pic 15: Trunk lid was pretty scratched up.
Pic 16: and oxidized.
Pic 17: 50/50 shot of the trunk lid.... time to sleep.
Step 22: Finishing Up With the Polishing & Waxing...
Moving on to some fabrication!
Pic 1: Driver's side... Done
Pic 2: Trunk lid... Done
Pic 3: Rear... stripped down.
Pic 4: Gas fill tube out.
Pic 5: Polish gas filler cap area
Pic 6: Polish pad starting to get a bit dirty...
Pic 7: Rear... Done.
Pic 8: I think I'm all done with polishing and waxing!
Pic 9: All chrome trim off... apply metal polish
Pic 10: Buff to a shine
Pic 11: With some old inner tube I made some gaskets (I'm hearing the purists scoff)
Pic 12: Trunk latch gasket
Pic 13: Making a cardboard template for the license plate light mount
Pic 14: Template done... transfer to the rubber.
Pic 15: That's when I noticed a dent.... Paint remover.
Pic 16 & 17: Stripped and ready for a bit of filler and paint.
Pic 18: Some rust removal and chrome polishing out back.
Pic 19: So far so good...
Pic 20: Gas fill tube primed & Sanded.
Pic 21: Gas fill tube painted.
Pic 22: Exhaust tip polished
Pic 23: Tracing the rear panel that housed the 6x9's
Pic 24: Planning out where the new speakers would sit on the 5/8" ply.
Pic 25: Cut out the pattern.
Pic 26: Done
PIc 27: Check fitment... good to go!
Pic 28: Break out the carpet.
Pic 29: Using contact cement... Wrap the panel!
Pic 30: Long day... but the body's more or less complete.
Pic 31: I'm not that happy with how the rear panel turned out... Might have to do it over.
Pic 32: Last coat on some black parts.
Pic 33: Front Bumper.. For the life of me, I could not get the brackets off the bumper.
I didn't want to damage anything, so I masked the entire bumper and sprayed the brackets
Pic 34: To paint the gas fill tube, I made a stand using a dowel and a wooden base.
Pic 35: Brackets of the bumpers are complete.
Pic 36: Space getting scarce... Time to sleep.
Pic 37: Rear view
Pic 38: Bits & pieces start making its way back onto the car.
Step 23: Windshield Frame | Continued
So Apparently, I only did the passenger side.
Pic 1: With the experience gained from that polishing I started attacking the drivers side.
Pic 2: Pitting and grossness around the button area.
Pic 3: Sanding it all off.
Pic 4: Time consuming... but it pays off. so keep wet sanding.
Pic 5: Starting to use finer grit.
Pic 6: Polish starting to pay off.
Pic 7: Still a bit grainy in the reflection... almost there.
Pic 8: Bottom of the windshield frame.
Pic 9: 50/50 of oxidized/pitted surface vs the sanded/polished surface.
Pic 10: Turned out quite nice.
Pic 11: Drilling out the rivets for the rear view mirror bracket (Bottom)
Pic 12: Sanding the inside surface.
Pic 13: Where the rear view mirror bracket used to be.
Pic 14: Rear view mirror bracket (Top) before
Pic 15: Rear view mirror bracket (Top) after
Pic 15: Convertible top bracket before
Pic 16: Convertible top bracket after
Pic 17: Pitting from the convertible top impacting the frame
Pic 18: Almost all gone.
Pic 19: And... Done!... now to polish
Step 24: Steering Wheel Wrap
I was getting a bit tired of polishing & cleaning...
so I thought I'd change it up and do a steering wheel wrap.
Pic 1: Find an original on ebay!
Pic 2: Start removing the old wrap.
Pic 3: Wrap the hub with cloth so you don't damage it while handling the steering wheel.
Pic 4: Wrap the steering wheel with masking tape, and remove to create a pattern.
(that obviously did not work out)
Pic 5: Measure the circumference of the steering wheel and the grip.
Get some cardstock and cut a rectangle out
Circumference of the wheel = length
Circumference of the grip = width
Pic 6: I wanted the wrap to be tight even around the spokes.
I made these small sample swatches out of scrap leather and traced it onto my pattern.
Pic 7: Trace pattern onto leather.
Pic 8: Add a 4mm border as we're going to fold the edge.
Pic 9: Pattern fail!... I wasn't even close.
Pic 10: I reverted to a much simpler rectangular pattern.
If you want to fold the edge down, remember to add roughly 4mm to the edge.
I also skived the edge with a rotary tool to eliminate bulk on the folded edge.
Pic 11: Apply contact cement to the edges and fold down.
Pic 12: Punch stitch holes along the edge of the leather.
Pic 13: Stitch the ends together and cement the edges down.
Pic 14: Slip the cover on, it should be snug...
Pic 15: Start stitching.
Pic 16: There are many different methods of stitching.
I used one piece of thread with two needles.
Pic 17: Almost done!
Pic 18: Yesssss
Pic 19: Spoke detail
Pic 20: Remember when I mentioned epic fails at the very beginning?
Well between the 5-6 years of production...
Austin healey changed the steering column diameters. But kept the design unchanged.
The steering wheel I bought happened to be of a different year and did not fit the steering column.
Pic 21: Taking some measurements of both hubs...
Pic 22: Figuring out how to deal with the discrepancy of the dimensions.
In the end... I gave up and started looking for another wheel.
Step 25: Windshield | Assembly
Pic 1: A big box of windshield parts delivered!!!
Pic 2: Still not completely satisfied with the pillars.
(see those tiny surface scratches?
Pic 3: One... last... sand...
Pic 4: See the difference???
Pic 5: Now do you know what I mean?
Pic 6: Hand drill with a buffer & compound to finish the pieces off!
Pic 7: Finally... Done
Pic 8: Pretty excited about the new windshield!!!!
Pic 9: Gasket on... Top and bottom on!
Pic 10: Using a suction cup on the glass and a plastic clamp.
I squeezed the frame together.
TIP: remember to use the spray bottle with soapy water
Pic 11: Done fastening the 4 sides of the frame together.
Pic 12: Modify the rivet tip to fit into the groove of the windshield gutter
Pic 13: In groove rivet action! sweet.
Pic 14:Sliding the seals on
Pic 15: Boom... done!
Step 26: My First Toolbox.
Playschool for adults.
Since the start of this project I knew a toolbox was on the wishlist.
Pic 1: I found this one used online.
Pic 2: She was a bit dirty at first.
Pic 3: Quick clean up and wax to git'er all pretty again.
Pic 4: Unfortunately... some things had to change...
and they weren't small changes.
Pic 5: I rolled the car half way out the garage, and took everything off the shelves.
Pic 6: Took the shelves off to trim on the table saw.
Pic 7: "Mise en place"... my chef friend would always say!... it means "Everything in place"
Pic 8: OH yeah... the dash came back from the body shop... it turned out ok.
Pic 9: Putting the little chrome bits back on the scuttle.
Pic 10: All set for the windshield install!
Step 27: Windshield In!
So I spent an entire weekend putting in 4 bolts...
The windshield was NOT easy to put in.... I struggled big time.
What made it difficult were the new rubber seals.
They were difficult to compress... so aligning the bolt holes required a lot of downwards force.
Pic 1: But well worth it no? the old seal in comparison to the new.
Pic 2: I think I lost 5 pounds just in sweat trying to get that windshield in.
So I didn't get too many pics... but it's in.
Pic 3: Rewrapping the dash pad.
Pic 4: Windshield fluid tubing before
Pic 5: Windshield fluid tubing after!
Pic 6: Dash is back in!
Pic 7: So the previous owner must have lost a couple of the speedo/tachometer brackets.
(Using L brackets.. ugh.)
Pic 8: I tried making them out of aluminum at first.
Pic 9: Looked promising until I had to take a tight bend.
The thickness of the aluminum just made it too brittle.
Pic 10: I cut a few inches of the end of a metal broom stick and hand formed the pieces.
Pic 11: Sprayed them black.
Pic 12: Speedo in.
Pic 13: Rusty turn signal lever polished!
Pic 14: Repairing a crack in the steering column cover.
Pic 15: The steering column cover was painted over by the previous owner.
The paint job was pretty bad.
Pic 16: I wedged a piece of foam inbetween the plastic halves.
Pic 17: Assembled the halves and onto the painting post it went!
Unfortunately, the paint I used made the previous paint bubble.... ugh.
Pic 18: I started sanding away my work... then noticed a bit of a sheen.
Finer grit... finer grit... Polish... Voila! factory new... almost.
Pic 19: Everything back in!
Pic 20: Time to take a break and put a CV Joint into my daily driver.
Step 28: Body Trimming
There was a raw edge of metal that surrounded the cockpit that was easily prone to scratching.
I found this rubber trim on a Healey parts website that finished that edge off nicely.
Pic 1: There are holes where all the convertible top buttons are located.
Mark these holes off with masking tape.
Pic 2: Insert the rubber surround onto the metal edge, mark off where the holes are located onto the rubber.
Punch holes through the rubber at the marked off points.
Pic 3: Convertible top buttons Male end (attaches to body)
Pic 4: Grip the base of the button with the chuck of a drill.
Actuate the drill and rub the button head whilst spinning to achieve a polished look.
Pic 5: The buttons fit nicely within the punched rubber hole.
PIc 6: Chrome caps to finish the ends of the trim.
Pic 7: I had to use a rotary tool to shave off excess amount of rubber for the chrome cap to fit.
Pic 8: And... Done.
Pic 9: Overall look.
Pic 10: Seats are in!
Pic 11: Took apart the antenna for cleaning.
Pic 12: Shaped the base to fit the car a bit better.
Pic 13: Bam... antenna's back in.
Step 29: Rear Speaker Panel
Remember how I wasn't the biggest fan of that rear speaker panel earlier?
It irritated me enough to start over.
Pic 1: My goal was to have that rear panel just look clean and free of any components.
I figured rear mounting the speakers would be best to achieve a flush surface.
Pic 2: The original hole I cut was for a traditional surface mount (the speakers basket/frame drops in from the top)
Rear mounting would require me to cut enough clearance for the rubber surround on the speaker.
Pic 3: Break out that hammer
Pic 4: I popped the mesh grilles out of the plastic frames and hammered them flat!
Pic 5: Quick preview.
Pic 6: I didn't have much space left... and it was raining so I couldn't bring the saw outside.
So a little improvisation was required... (kids.. don't try this at home)
Pic 7: I cut a series of channels into the rear of the panel.
Pic 8: These channels allowed the speaker wire to fit nice and snug.
Pic 9: Little bit of duct tape to make sure it's all tied down.
Pic 10, 11, 12: Quick fitment test.
Pic 13: Wrap the front. (speaker grilles were double sided taped down around the border)
Pic 14: Wrap the back.
Pic 15: Flatten out all the high spots.
Pic 16: Quick test fit... that is the look I was going for.
Pic 17: Mount speakers
Pic 18: Wire detail
Step 30: Trunk & Convertible Top Cleanup
Pic 1: Cleaning out the trunk.
Pic 2: The ragtop wasn't bad at all.
Pic 3: Just a bit of dust... the usual.
Pic 4: The plastic on the rear was a bit hazy.
Pic 5: Polish polish polish.
Step 31: Paint Matching
To get a good paint match, I had to have a 3" x 3" area of paint to scan.
I couldn't really take the car to the shop.
Pic 1: So I took the smallest painted part off.
Yup... the door!
Pic 2: Remove all the interior trim (by now... I did that in under 15min!)
Pic 3: There are 4 bolts total holding the door.
Be very careful when you are removing the door.
Even a door this small is quite hefty.
Pic 4: I like to put towels over all my working surfaces...
Pic 5: Got too much on your mind? Draw a lil' diagram, push all the bits and pieces in their corresponding spots.
Pic 6: Give the surface a good wipe down before going to the shop.
Pic 7: While I had the door off, I started cleaning the shiny bits.
I forgot to mention that the glass in the doors were going to get swapped out as well!
Step 32: Front Valence | Strip Down
WARNING: This step is not for the faint of heart.
Pic 1: So why did I need the paint match???
When I initially assessed the car.
I noticed a ding on the lower valence.
But when I removed the bumper...
That's when I saw the crack in the body filler.... not cool
Pic 2: Knowing that the cracked body filler would eventually fall off.
I started to chip away at that corner... It was bad.
It got so out of hand that I just took the entire panel off.
Pic 3: I was a bit freaked out at first:
Is this body work going to blow the budget?
Will it be finished in time?
WTH am I going to do?
Pic 4: I knew the first order of business was to take all the paint and filler off.
Pic 5: Can you count the # of layers? I counted 4.
Pic 6: There was so much dust... I had the vac mounted beside my sanding.
Pic 7: When the valence around was when I noticed that it was off.
The entire assembly was skewed to the drivers side.
Pic 8: See that kink... not good.
Pic 9: Well the bottom of the valence was now stripped.
time for the rest.
Pic 10: Oh man... what is under the rest of the car?
Pic 11: Everything was dented.
Pic 12: I started to look for used Austin Healey valences.
Surprisingly, I found a few... but they were only pictures.
What if they are in similar condition?.. who knows.
So I stuck with the original... Time to learn how to tap out dents.
Pic 13: Have you ever poured aircraft paint remover on a body panel?
It was painful... but there's a first for everything.
Pic 14: It was beat up... I have never seen anything like this.
Pic 15: WTH?
Pic 16: This repair is going to take some time.
Pic 17: My friend and I welding some cracks in the metal. (Yes.. in shorts)
TIP: The metal in some areas were too thin...
we had the little mig at the lowest setting and it still was burning through the metal.
To remedy this problem... get a thick piece of wire and place it behind the area you're welding.
The wire should chase the heat away from the metal surface being welded.
Pic18: The top surface... Hammered straight!
Pic 19: Aftermath of the welding... time to grind!
Pic 20: Close up of the bend that used to be there.
Pic 21: Wire wheel action.
Pic 22: Things are starting to straighten out.
I found a cheapo set of autobody hammer/dollies.
Hold the dolly behind your working surface... and use the hammer to tap tap tap.
It's a bit of an art... but remember...
Patience & Persistence = Win.
Pic 23: Quite a bit better.
Pic 24: Sometimes it's difficult to see progress. Take a step back.
You've probably made leaps and bounds.
Pic 25: Back outside for more paint removal.
Pic 26: Yes... it looks bad... but it had to be done.
Pic 27: Almost done stripping.
Pic 28: Spoke too soon... I did the back as well.
Pic 29: Even with the aircraft paint remover... it wasn't easy.
Pic 30: The last legs of paint removing... I see light at the end of this tunnel!
Pic 31: It has come a long way.
Pic 32: That's about the best I'm going to get it.... next step please!
Step 33: Fill'er Up... Sand Her Down.
Enough with pounding metal.
There was a deadline that had to be met.
I got it to a point where I would just be skimming the body filler.
Pic 1: I laid it on a bit heavy... amateur mistake.
Pic 2 & 3: Quick test fit... It was a bit early for one.
Pic 4: Sand... oh yeah.. get your mask on.
Pic 5: Use a compressor to dust off.
Pic 6: Strip some more parts.
Pic 7: As you sand you'll notice that you're sanding through the filler on some spots and not on others.
This is normal for a novice.
Pic 8: At these high points. I used the sharp end of a cross peen hammer to tap in the high spots.
Pic 9: Fill
Pic 10: Sand
Pic 11: Close up.
Pic 12: Fill
Pic 13: Sand
Pic 14: Close up.
Pic 15: Fill
Pic 16: Sand
Pic 17: Holy crap... Fill
Pic 18: Sand
Pic 19: Quick skim of the top.
Pic 20: Close up.
Pic 21: Laying the piece down to check the curve... not bad.
Pic 22: Top of the valence... nice and smooth.
Pic 23: Taking a break from sanding.
Pic 24: Radiator.. off!
Step 34: Prime, Paint, & Parts Removal
Finally done with the body filler.
Onto the fun part... Priming & painting.
Pic 1: Wet sand & dry.
Pic 2: I used a combination of rust proofing primer and primer.
Pic 3: Wet sand.... Prime... wet sand... prime... wet sand... prime.
Check inbetween sanding.
Pic 4: Test fit
Pic 5: Test fit closed
Pic 6 & 7: Body panel for the the blower motor intake needed to be adjusted.
Pic 8: Bending slightly to have it fit better.
Pic 9: Last coat of primer.
Pic 10: Last wet sand.
Pic 11: While the valence was drying... I started assessing the engine bay.
Pic 12: Heater core off... Battery out... I would really like to talk to the previous owner.
Pic 13: Heater core...
Pic 14: Heater core opened.
Pic 15: Heater core stripped.
Pic 16: Radiator, Rad fan blades in the sun drying.
Pic 17: All the painting was done in the back alleyway!
Pic 18: The flat black on the heater core housing didn't look right.
Pic 19: So I got another can of semi gloss... nice.
Pic 20: Spraying the rest of the heater core housing.
Pic 21: I tried my best to remove as much surface rust off of the rad as possible before spraying with high temp paint.
Pic 22: While the rad was drying I laid down the first coat of paint on the valence!!!!
Pic 23: Close up... the valence has come a long way.
Pic 24: Set aside to dry.
Pic 25: This was how I set up my "spray booth"
2 saw horses as table legs
Clamps on either side of the table
The tarp loops onto the ends of the clamps.
Pic 26: Radiator is dry. time to paint.
Pic 27: Putting the heater core back together.
Pic 28: Reassembled.
Pic 29: Everything on the table... See what I mean by space!!
Step 35: Clear Coat.
So after several coats of red.
I started laying down clear.
Pic 1: Spraying clear coat out of a rattle can....outside.... at night.... with sub par lighting and ever so slight gushes of wind is not conducive to a good paintjob. Needless to say... streaking & hazing was happening... I wasn't a happy camper.
Pic 2: It was almost like the clear coat was forming tiny bubbles. I was inclined to think those "bubbles" were caused by the misting of the clear coat due to the wind.
Pic 3: I decided to make a booth inside the garage.
I covered the car completely.
Took apart the laundry door to cover any overspray
Brought the tarp in.
Pic 4: A look from the other side
Pic 5: Yes... I painted the valence on top of a bucket....
Pic 6: It was definitely the wind!!!
It wasn't perfect... but I was pretty happy with the results.
Pic 7: Reflection ain't bad!
Pic 8: Colour match looks to be ok as well!
Pic 9: Chrome bits starting to make its way back on.
Pic 10: Sweet!
Pic 11: The engine bay needed a make over.
Pic 12: Starting to clean.
Step 36: Door Glass
To replace the door glass you must remove the track that holdes the window.
Pic 1: Remove the scissor arm assembly through the access hole
Pic 2: Have the new window ready
Pic 3: Slowly push the window off the rail
Pic 4: Apply new rubber seals to the chanea
Pic 5: Push new window into rubber seal
Pic 6: New glass and seals.. in!
Step 37: Engine Bay Revamp.
The rust spot by the battery tray had to be fixed...
Pic 1: Yes... I should have just stripped the car down... acid dipped it...and put it on a rotisserie.
Sometimes there's this thing called a budget... and with that in mind...
I masked off the area that had surface rust... sanded the rust away... and vacuumed the debris.
Pic 2: Apply rust proofing primer
Pic 3: Apply paint & remove masking.
Pic 4: Quick test fit of heater core and new battery.
Pic 5: I didn't want battery acid to corrode the body again, so I traced out where everything was onto a template.
Pic 6: Ignition coil out...Thermostat housing out.
Pic 7: Old thermostat.
Pic 9: The old ignition coil had a ton of tape wrapped around it... and the overspray...
Pic 10: Blower motor masked... Bracket sprayed.
Pic 11: Paint brake booster.
Pic 12: Clean and prepped the head for painting.
Pic13: I got these old draftings my neighbour was throwing out.
Perfect for masking large areas.
Yes... I masked the head off.
Pic 14: Plug everything and make sure you've masked everything off properly.
Pic 15: A bit overboard yes... I really should have just pulled the motor and rebuilt it.
Pic 16: I sprayed the head matte black and then misted semi-gloss.
Pic 17: Not horrible.
Pic 18: Detail... (See the speckled effect... purists I'm sure are cringing)
Step 38: Battery Tray & Rad Cover
Pic 1: Remember that paper template I made for the battery.
Pic 2: Transfer the template onto sheet aluminum. In my case.. it was just scrap aluminum.
Pic 3 & 4: Cut out pattern.
(Yes... You can use a table saw to cut aluminum...
I don't recommend it.... if you want to try... be VERY Careful.
What you want to do is set the blade height .25mm above the table surface.
You're basically skimming the aluminum off .25mm at a time.
There... you have been warned.. Otherwise... it produces a pretty crisp edge)
Pic 5: Fold edges and check fitment.
Pic 6: To make an angled cut I screwed the sheet aluminum to a block of scrap wood.
Pic 7: run the piece through a table saw.
Pic 8: Almost complete.
Pic 9: Starting to make the Radiator cover.
Pic 10: More or less done.
Step 39: Valve Cover
Pic 1: Valve cover was due for a new coat of paint.
There was also a dent in the front edge... not cool
Thank goodness I had gained some experience from hammering the front valence.
Pic 2: Tap tap tap... all gone!
Pic 3: After stripping the valve cover, I thought looked pretty good as is.
So... I just high heat clear coated it and called it a day.
Step 40: Back In.
Components starting to make its way back into the bay.
Pic 1: Battery & heater core in.
Pic 2: Bonnet accessories in.
Pic 3: Front valence, radiator, and rad cover in!
Pic 4: Closed to check fit.... it's ok.
Pic 6: After all that... I took the intake & exhaust manifolds off.
Step 41: Back On!
Some of the chrome bits and pieces are making their way back onto the car.
Pic 1: Front bumper before
Pic 2: Front bumper after polish
Pic 3: Grill trim polished an in.
Pic 4: Grill & bumper in,
Pic 5: Won a spare tire on ebay for $20 bucks.
Pic 6: Box-o-parts came in as well!
Step 42: Intake Manifold & Carburators
I was born around the time fuel injection went mainstream.
So carburators were pretty foreign to me.
What do you mean a computer isn't controlling the air/fuel mixture? you crazy.
Pic 1: Not too sure why the intake manifold was painted.
Pic 2: All cleaned up.
Pic 3: now for the inside.
Pic 4: Just a bit of build up over the years.
Pic 5: Much better.
Pic 6: The little 4 banger uses twin side draft S.U. (Skinner's Union) Carbs
They're not crazy complicated... but finicky...
There are quite a few write-ups.
The general idea of carb rebuilding is take apart.... clean... replace worn parts... put back together.
I had budgeted outsourcing a carb rebuild. But I thought I'd at least take it apart and clean what I could.
Pic 7: The jet needle attaches to the piston (which slides up and down the piston chamber)
The jet needle plugs the jet valve.
The jet valve is connected to the float chamber.
When air is introduced, the jet needle rises with the piston, opening up the jet valve.
That's how the fuel and air get mixed..
Pic 8: The float controls the amount of gas in the float chamber.
Pic 9: Piston chamber is nice an clean.
Pic 10: So many parts.
Pic 11: Taking measurements to fabricate the gaskets.
Pic 12: Tracing it onto the gasket material.
Pic 13: Throttle linkage that connects the two throttle bodies.
Pic 14: Reassembly.
Pic 15 & 16: On to the next one.
Pic 17: Here's the spray contraption I was using to clean the parts...
You can get in real close without any splashback!
Pic 18: Just for 2 small carbs I took up an entire table....
I need MORE Space!!
Pic 19: Here's the breakdown of the second one.
Step 43: Intake Heat Shield Fabrication
The old heat shield had seen better days.
I'm guessing it would have been a fairly cheap part to buy..
But I couldn't source one... it's a fairly straight forward part... so I just made it.
Pic 1: Take measurements off the old heat shield.
Pic 2: Transfer measurements onto sheet aluminum.
Pic 3: Cut & drill the necessary holes.
Pic 4 & 5: Quick test fit!... it looks ok.
Pic 6 & 7: Carbs in and lookin good
Pic 8: Plumbing & piping back in.
Step 44: Fluid Changes
Out with the old and in with the new.
Pic 1: Up on all fours.
TIP: Make sure you change your fluids on a level surface to ensure proper fill/readings.
Pic 2: Drain transmission fluid from below.
Open access panel on drivers side and fill.
Pic 3: First time bleeding brakes... wasn't horrible.
I bought a cheapo brake bleeder. It works but I should have bought a better one.
Pic 4: The exhaust piping was a bit rusty... so I took it off.
Pic 5: Sanding the surface rust away.
Pic 6: High heat black paint.
Step 45: Gauge Faces
Remember those gauge faces that got vectorized?
Well they're getting printed finally!
Pic 1: At the printers.
Pic 2: Cut out
Pic 3: Stick down.
Pic 4: Not bad
Pic 5: Applying polish to the trim rings
Pic 6: Painting the needles
Pic 7: In!
Step 46: Door Edge & Steering Wheel # 2
The doors were missing the padding on the top edge.
Of course.. an item they don't sell or reproduce anymore.
If you've read this far... you know It's getting made!
Pic 1: Aluminum base
Pic 2: Used wood screws with plastic wall anchors.
(the plastic wall anchors click into corresponding holes in the door)
Pic 3: Apply some batting and wrap with synthetic/leather & contact cement.
Pic 4: Clip onto door edges.
Pic 5: So... Steering wheel # 2... let's do this!
The center of this wheel was pretty scratched...
Pic 6: Stripped.
Pic 7: Primed.
Pic 8: Painted
Pic 9: Another strip of leather...
Pic 10: Rotary tool to skive edges.
Pic 11: Stitching the close seam
Pic 12: A bit tight... but still good.
Pic 13: Clamping the wheel makes things much easier
Pic 14: Yesssssss.
Pic 15: Almost there... but it's still just a giant shiny paper weight.
Step 47: Deadline.
I was a week away from my fathers birthday.
At this point... five months into the build... was when I broke down.
I gave her everything I could and she didn't start.
I hit my threshold in terms of engine knowledge.
Disappointed and discouraged..
I drove home to celebrate with my family empty handed.
PIc: World's shiniest paper weight.
Step 48: S.O.S
After I got back, I posted on a few Austin and MG forums to seek help.
It was the local gentleman I bought the second steering wheel from and his friend who helped me.
I sent him my blog documenting the progress. He saw the work and wanted to see the thing running too!.
That is something I love about car culture, two complete strangers with a common passion.
I took an afternoon off work so we could meet up at my garage.
Pic 1: When all else fails.. refer to the manual
Made sure the piston was at top dead center, and adjusted the distributor cap accordingly, double checked spark.
Sprayed a bit.. well a lot of starting fluid... and sure enough... she started sputterin.
Pic 2: I drove it out of the garage for the first time!!!
Pic 3, 4, & 5: I never had so much fun driving up and down a driveway before.
Pic 6: Alan was very nice and offered to work on the Sprite at his garage.
He was also going to teach me!
Pic 7: On the road!
Pic 8: Temporary housing!
Step 49: 3.5mm Auxiliary Cord Car Stereo Hack.
Yup... hack your stereo so you can play music from your favourite device or phone.
Pic 1: Remove face plate by taking off the multiple philips screws.
Pic 2: Remove the cd player/tape deck.
Pic 3: Look for the LC, RC, GND on the circuit board.
They mean the following:
LC: Left Channel input
RC: Right Channel input
Tap into these with a soldering iron and 3 separate wires.
Pic 4: These will the go to the corresponding LC, RC, GND on a 3.5 mm jack.
Feed the cord to the appropriate place in the console.
Step 50: Jack & Wheel Totes.
Pic 1: Picked up a bottle jack for the trunk.
Traced the bottom onto synthetic
Pic 2: Stitched up a lil bag.
Punch 1/2" holes and you have a jack tote!
Pic 3: All in!
Pic 4: Spare tire + automotive carpet.
Pic 5: Cut out circle 1" longer (in diameter) than the tire.
Pic 6: Cut out a stripe 2" longer (in height) than the tire.
Pic 7: A | Fold the edge down by 1.5" and stitch down to create a tunnel along the edge
B | Stitch the edge of the circle to the stripe.Pic 8:
Pic 8: I had an old metal curtain rod that I used as a giant needle.
Pic 9: Instant wheel tote!
Step 51: Old Gas Tanks
We were wondering why there wasn't enough fuel going to the filter.
They apparently tend to build up condensation and rot from within.
So even though the exterior might be holding up... they might not be doing so well on the inside.
Pic 1 | Alan had a few on hand.
I forgot to mention... he Loves Sprites.
Since his first, he has bought, sold, repaired, parted out almost 100 sprites/midgets.
To check if your fuel sender works, there should be a fluctuation when you move the floater on the fuel sending unit
Pic 2 | Syphon the gas from the tank.
I forgot my syphon pump and ended up with a mouthful of gas.
Unbolt and drop the empty old tank
Pic 3 | When I took the tank out... I heard what sounded like sand on the inside.
Pic 4 | The rust we shook out of that tank was out of this world.
Pic 5 | Oh yeah... There's the spare tire and tote in the trunk.
Gives you an idea of how small the car is!
Pic 6 & 7 | Electrical... Bad grounds plagued these British roadsters...
We went through the entire electrical system and debugged.
Step 52: First Drive!
Step 53: Horn Button
There were 2 horn buttons.
One in poor shape, the other ok.
I used the better one and tried to save the other.
Pic 1: Before
Pic 2: There is a faint notch in the emblem.
Use a very small screwdriver to lift it off.
Pic 3: Both surfaces were pretty scuffed.
The paint on the backside had completely rubbed off on one.
Pic 4: Wet sanded
Pic 5: Polished!
Pic 6: I masked off the other.
Pic 7 & 8: Here's how the both turned out.
Step 54: Goin' Home!
Pic 1: Loaded!
Pic 2: Pit stop.
I had it dropped off at a friends house where we did a final detail.
Step 55: Surprise!
Drove it over the night before and parked her in the garage.
Pic 1: The dinky toy with a set of keys.
Pic 2: What do you mean this is mine?
Pic 3: First drive with the pops!!!
Pic 4: Book 1
Pic 5: Book 2
I also made him a couple of books documenting the build!
See them here:
Step 56: Fin
This restoration was such a crazy experience.
It was a rollercoaster ride of struggles and wins.
One of my biggest mistakes of the whole process was not getting it started at the very beginning.
But you live and learn right?
Until my next build,
Runner Up in the
Hurricane Lasers Contest