Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Until now, for me, concours competitions have been for other people, unjustly categorised in my mind as enthusiastic owners as opposed to hard core restoration enthusiasts.  If as planned, I bring this car back to its original as new state, is there not a case to at least have a bash at the concours scene and possibly enjoy the accolades and added value that a couple of trophies would bring.
Hypocritically, I have in the past judged a couple of local mixed mark events and have been more than aware of my limited detail knowledge, in spite of being immersed in the classic car scene for something approaching half a century.  I would have to add that some of my fellow judges were perhaps even less knowledgeable, which is a bit of a worry. 
Given my competitive streak, and the aforementioned potential vagaries of adjudication, I am not sure that I could live with the maxim that 'discretion is the better part of valour' upon coming second.  Coming third doesn't bear thinking about.
Concours related decisions for me, are mainly centred around the conflict of ideally using a car almost as a daily driver for around eight months of the year.  Compromises in favour of both ideals will have to be made.  Specifically:

The paint finish for the chassis. Originally, I believe a very thin coat of semi gloss black, possibly bitumen based paint. No primer or undercoat.

Remnants of paint provide a clue to original finish
After blast cleaning back to bear metal and etch priming, the chassis was seam sealed and given a liberal covering of fine texture stone guard, followed by several coats of semi gloss paint. It was then liberally impregnated with wax oil in every orifice.  For now and the next few years, the only person to care about this will be me.  Imagine then, another sixty years from now (President Ahmadinejad willing), some future custodian enjoying the fruits of my labours with a still rust free chassis.  That's the goal!

Chassis now finished for maximum protection.
The next issue again relates to paint.  Before the move from Foleshill to Browns Lane in 1952, all cars, possibly with the exception of motor show exhibits had their engine compartments and boots (trunks) brush painted black.  After the move they were painted body colour everywhere, on rotisseries. 
Picture clearly shows black paint in boot area, but not on hinge panel.

Undisturbed black (now with blue tinge) paint.  Brush marks
clearly visible.
I can't recall ever seeing a restored early 120 where this feature has been retained, and discussing the additional work to achieve this with the body shop, I can see why.  Not preserving this distinct difference would be for me, too obvious a deviation from original, so I think it's well worth the extra effort.

Another particular aversion are seats with immaculate marbled leather, so perfect that it looks unnatural, almost plastic, no variations, creases or faults, to me, this is not a good look.    I am told that the leather is specially sourced from Germany where they don't use barbed wire, so no cuts or scratches.  Surly this should not be seen as a positive feature in any competition where originality is prized!

Spats and wheels are an even more contentious subject.  I quite dislike the look of XK's with spats.  A view I think shared by all but a few die hard purists.  I do like wire wheels, painted, not chrome.  In 1950 all XK's came with steel wheels and spats. Wire wheels weren't even an option until March 1951.  Never the less, this is one aspect of the project not open to discussion.  Body colour wires will be fitted. 
KRU600 - photo courtesy of first owner Vernon Maitland
Spats - love em or hate em! 
The original steel wheels and spats will be cleaned, sprayed with wax and properly crated so that some future owner will have the option of easily taking the car back to original spec if preferred.

In all other respects, KRU600 should be indistinguishable from new.  There will be a good many upgrades as detailed previously, but hidden away, out of sight from even the most hair-splitting concours judge.  The summer of 2013 should be interesting.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


With holidays owed from 2011 (plus 3 days from 2010!) and with my business partner firmly back in harness, it would be foolish to miss the opportunity to take some time off and get the project back on schedule. 
The next major target date is early April when I get the chassis back from Alex and should by then have the axle and all suspension parts fully refurbished and ready to fit.  With any luck, I might also have the engine built and ready to install.
Right now its all a bit messy, lots of activity, but with quite a few sub assemblies being worked on simultaneously, while I wait for parts and outside contractors to complete various specialist bits.

Its probably most appropriate (if a little boring) at this point to simply include a selection of un-themed pictures to give a flavour of the different jobs in hand.

Off Side Front Suspension ready for re-assembly with all new
Poly Bushes and Ball joints.  All metalwork powder coated
and all fasteners zinc plated.  Note new shock absorber bottom
mounting pin (RH side of pic), now with thread, instead of that
really naff washer and split pin arrangement. 

Bonnet back from Leaping Cats with 48 perfect louvres pressed in.
Problem with this is that the vee between the cam covers can
fill with water in heavy rain if parked pointing down hill. Ali plate
bonded to underside will allow fixing of a thin aluminium sheet
to hopefully drain water down the sides of the engine.
Simple fabricated ali sheets will resolve rusty spark plug problem
caused by water "ponding" in centre of engine Vee.

Rear brake parts for one side, ready for assembly.  Shoes supplied turned
out to be for a later version 120 (post Feb 52) so I had the originals
 re-shod with bonded linings at half the cost.  Unfortunately two had
the linings bonded in the wrong place so I am still waiting for them
to come back.  All too typical a parts supply saga.

ENV Diff dismantled and looking good with all bearings replaced
as a matter of course.  This was done by Gearbox and Axle specialist
and generally good bloke, Paul at Lagonda Garage, Billingham.

Another conundrum.  On re-assembling the rear axle, the clearance
for the tapered wheel bearings had increased from the specified
5 to 8 thou to around 20 thou.  Checked all the obvious causes and
was contemplating having the 62 thou shims ground down to correct
the problem when it suddenly dawned on me - around 12 thou of powder
coating had been added, instead of the usual vestige (2 thou) of Jaguar
 factory paint.  It took the best part of an hour to sand back.

All is well again.  0.13mm - just over 5 thou will do nicely. Just
enough to give a barely perceptible feeling / indication of end float.

Another "fill in" job is to sort all the bits for re-chroming.
Extreme care was needed to remove windscreen frames from
the glass,but they are in pretty good shape and should
re-chrome to perfection.

Quite difficult to see but if you look closely (enlarge the picture) you
can just make out the date code of the triplex toughened windscreen
glass, with a dot against "D" - the ninth letter of "TOUGHENED" and
one against "I" - the third letter of TRIPLEX so most likely made in
the third quarter of 1949 or just possibly replacement glass made in 59.
  As both pieces are identical my guess would be the former.  Unfortunately
the glass is quite badly scratched but may respond to the services of
a professional glass polishing operation, or may even have ago myself.

Parts ready to go to S&T Electroplating in Bristol.
S&T did the chrome on my Healey 3000 and XK140,
both to a superb standard.  Windscreen surround eventually
removed from glass with great difficulty and the help of a heat
gun to soften /melt the rubber U shaped channel to glass seals.

So - this is the view of the workshop at the beginning of February
2012.  Can't wait to get the engine parts and chassis back and start
putting things back together.  With most of the really dirty work
completed, I've even taken my "stand up by itself" boiler suit home
 for a wash.
After my visit today (Feb 2nd) to see Alex at Auto Bodycraft, he feels its quite likely that he will no longer need the chassis by early March (a month ahead of schedule) which will give me around four weeks from now to  finish the major sub assemblies, but excluding the engine rebuild.

I was given fair warning that engine machining specialists, AMAC whilst having an excellent reputation for high quality work would take a little "chasing" to have my engine parts back for the end of January as agreed, and this is now the case.  Its just a matter of them prioritising my job over somebody else.   With so many other diverse jobs to do, it isn't an issue right now, but I know from experience that it will need some pressure, which if not applied now will be all the harder to apply, say 3 months from now when the season is in full swing.  It's always the case that the very best people are always too busy.