None of us is perfect

4 Jan

I write to emancipate the downtrodden and inadequate car owner who loves his/her car but cannot come up to the slick standard of those smug TV personalities who seem to effortlessly glide through vehicle reconstruction. We make mistakes, sometimes moronic, but we get it right in the end and can be satisfied that the gleaming chariot which turns heads as we drive around was recreated from the sweat of our own brow and dogged dedication. So, to make you feel better I shall bare my soul with a few of the “challenges” I have encountered so far in the restoration of TC 7045.

I spent a long time fighting to remove the brake and clutch pedal shaft. I took off the spring washer and split pin holding it in place but no movement. I whacked it with a hammer and drift through the access hole in the chassis but to no avail.

I was rather embarrassed to be told that it comes out much easier once you realize that there is a spring, washer and split pin at both ends. I just couldn’t see because it was plastered with grease. This is how it should look:

(I’ve since learned that the bracket for the brake switch should be angled down to straighten the angle for the spring) Apparently. It is recommended also that the pedals should be put through the rubber fume excluder prior to assembly, so the whole lot will have to come to pieces again anyway. Maybe I will take the opportunity of another mod which is to drill the centre of the shaft, fit a grease nipple at the outer end and smaller holes to feed the grease into the bearings.

Keep taking photos as you dismantle – but the other side of that is that you must refer back to them. Otherwise you can end up with a howler like this:

Well, in some circles they are called spring hangers. No wonder I was having problems refitting the back axle to the springs but there you go – if only I’d looked back at the old photo!:

The back axle is now in place with correct shackle alignment. Remember this: taking apart and rearranging parts which have been cleaned and refurbished takes only a fraction of the time needed when you are wrestling with inches of grime, road dirt, rust and previous damage, so correcting glitches like this becomes no great issue – you just feel a bit of a plonker!

Another smarty pants idea I had at the other end of the chassis: There had been cracks on the top of the chasis curve above the front springs, so as a loyal disciple of Mike Sherrell I decided to ask my chassis restorer to weld in boxing plates to strengthen the front end. I gave him the pictures out of the book. Back came the chassis looking absolutely straight and with sundry welding done – I was delighted – until I came to fit the shock absorbers and consider how I would insert the bolts for the front apron. There was an access hole in the boxing but it was smaller than expected.

I lost two nuts down the front of the boxing until I came up with the ploy of stuffing it with newspaper but my cat had its vocabulary enlarged a great deal while it sat watching me grovel on the floor with (too big) fingers at all angles trying to bolt on the dampers. I’m still pondering the question of the apron fixing bolts but reckon that the way forward is to drill an extra hole in the plate which, together with the existing access hole will allow me to place and grip the bolts.

Finally, a cautionary tale for those of us working alone in our garages:

Picture the scene. On Sunday morning your hero skips down to the garage eagerly anticipating a thrilling day with TC 7045 – well……… bits of her, that is. Unfortunately, my garage, like many others is a magnet for junk and I resolved to remedy not only the junk problem but also accessibility to the chassis by creating a frame upon which the part rebuilt body can sit while I prioritise mechanical restoration. (the reason for halting body work will be recounted another day) A light bulb lit above my head – that old Dexion! The design of the frame would be: a frame supported by four uprights lifting the car body to 4 feet off the ground, cross braced for stability. Out came my trusty angle grinder (one of my preferred five power tools, by the way) and all is cut to length. I stood and scratched my head – how to get the body onto the frame by myself? My half baked answer was:

1. Build the front section of the frame, bolt on the long pieces, and brace them to make a wedge.
2. Pull the body onto the wedge, and secure into position.
3. Build the back section of frame.
4. Lift up the back of the wedge (the body was still just a skeleton, so still quite light), and bolt on the back section of the frame, then finish the bracing.

It would have worked well had it not been for one thing – well two, actually. First, I had omitted to put a nut onto one of the bolts on the bracing and second, I had secured the body only by a single point at the front. Have you worked it out?

As I lifted the back, the bolt fell out and the brace fell loose, causing the frame to sag to one side. The body then pivoted round its single fixing point slewing across the frame. As this happened, and I adjusted my grip on the back of the frame to stabilise it, I let go of the ready constructed rear of the frame which fell away from me out of reach. Further, as I uttered the usual imprecations one may expect in situations such as this, all of the bolts I was holding ready in my mouth to do the final fixings spluttered out, tinkling all over the floor, again out of reach.

My, my, how amusing, I thought.

Red faced, I lowered all to the floor, started again and this time it worked well with the body fixed in two places and all braces properly bolted. Fortunately the little piece of motoring history entrusted to my tender and incompetent mercies did not suffer any harm. The greatest wound I suffered was to my pride.

There now – my manifest and multifarious deficiencies as an aspiring mechanic have been laid open for all to mock. Or maybe there are stories out there of garage grief which you are all modestly holding back?

The serious message is that if you are working alone take care and think things through – there may not be anybody to immediately rush to your aid should things not go as expected.

Chris Oswald


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2 Responses to “None of us is perfect”

  1. Paul Ireland 13. Apr, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    Thanks for the photo. I am currently re-bushing and shafting the pedals on my TC and found this very useful.

    When I bought the car in 1967, the clutch had seized onto the shaft and a very rusty shaft had been rotating in the chassis and central bearing and worn them! I have been running for the past 46 years with a bodge fix and wobbly peddles! I had fitted grease nipples to each of the pedals which has worked fine, but means you have to crawl under the car to grease them.

    I have now turned an oversized shaft and re-bushed the pedals with oversized bushes and finally reamed the chassis and pedal plates to remove any wobble.

    The reason for this comment is that I also plan to bore the new spindle and add cross drillings to allow me to grease the pedals from the outside. However, you will NOT be able to do this as you have the “outside” split pin passing through the centre of the shaft. This will either block your grease hole or the grease will escape along the split pin rather than through the bearings.

    I have chosen not to fit the out split pin, relying on a boss on the shaft to provide the outer location. I have also fabricated 4 phosphor bronze washers to fit on the sides of the pedals to avoid them having to rub against the steel centre and washer.

  2. Eddie. Greatrex 20. Sep, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    Hello, can you explain how you fitted the rubber shrouds over the brake and clutch pedals? Is it a question of brute force or is there a more professional way of fitting them?
    Many thanks for your reply, Regards, Eddie

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