Monday, 15 October 2012


If there is one thing I've come to rely on in the world of Classic Car restoration, it's that things rarely happen when they're supposed to.  Consequently it was something of a pleasant surprise when Alex phoned to tell me my body would be ready for collection in a couple of days. 

Last time I saw the body it was clearly getting close to being
painted but it still came as a pleasant surprise to get the call.
Scheduled for the end of October it's effectively over two weeks early and I had to put in some extra time to finish the chassis prep.  Fortunately wife Angie is on holiday (again) so the only limitation was staying awake.
I was then finally faced with having to take the decision as to whether or not the engine should be taken back out.  Fitting out the engine compartment will be so much easier without it and the potential for paint damage a good deal less.  It will also make the work a great deal more pleasant.  On the other hand, I need to add a couple of days for the extra work and will then need to take great care not to cause damage re-installing it.  I've had some practise with the 140, so this doesn't particularly worry me.   On balance and against some sage advice I hoist it back out of the chassis.
Friend Geoff obliges at short notice with his covered trailer and on Friday 12th October we load the chassis and head of to the body shop.

Ready to lift the body and roll the chassis under it 

If you remember, the body was initially built up using the chassis as a jig. The various shims were fitted and panels tweaked until everything was correctly aligned.  It then had braces fitted and was transferred to a specially made frame which allowed me to build up the chassis whilst Alex finished and painted the body.

The aluminium shim sets are put back in place on the outriggers and after a brief discussion on the best way to proceed, four of us lift the body whilst one other pulls out the support frame and rolls the chassis under the body and into place. After a bit of a shuffle everything lines up beautifully and the four sets of three bolts are dropped into the outriggers. The 6Nr 1/8" reference holes I drilled in body and chassis before removing the body over a year ago are checked and are all spot on. 

How easy was that !!  Torsion bars were wound up after engine
installation so body now sits high with weight reduction.
Note bracing bars still in place.
Within an hour of arriving, we are loaded up and on our way back to my workshop.  It's odd to think that this was one of the few aspects of the project that really worried me, but turned out to be very straightforward.

Saturday morning I get to have a quiet hour or so looking at the detail and overall finish and am blown away by the general quality of the work.  White cars often look a bit flat, but this has a real depth and shine to it.  I'm also very happy with the satin black finish to the inside parts (as original) and appreciate the additional time spent to mask up the car to achieve this.  There is no question that Alex and his crew have gone the extra mile but will no doubt reap the benefit when the local Classic Car community see what has been achieved.

New home for the next eight months so precise location within
the workshop on axle stands is essential

After lining the car up exactly where I want it, I put it up on axle stands and remove the wheels giving me maximum access to all areas.  First job will be to slacken the bolts holding the bracing bars setting the door top distance.  If the body is correctly shimmed and 'relaxed' the bolts should be free to pull out.  A trial fit of the doors will follow before they are again stored on the top shelf out of harms way.

Just before I leave on Saturday, I need to do one last thing.  I gingerly fit the first piece of chrome to the body but quickly remove it after remembering Alex's strict instructions about allowing a couple of weeks for the paint and lacquer to fully harden.  The photograph below represents the start of the next and hopefully most enjoyable part of the project.

Essential temporary fit of first piece of chrome.  Strange how
the colour varies in this set of pictures, but on my computer
screen I think this shot most closely matches.

Workshop fluorescents - apparently the reflections are a measure
of the quality of the job and I am told by a man who knows a thing
or two about body work that these are "tip-top"
Electric Water Pump
The design of the new water inlet and idler pulley assembly is now complete and in a CAD format for the CNC boys. I am awaiting a quote for the initial sample. 


Tees Cottage Pumping Station
This Victorian water pumping station houses a magnificent beam engine, restored and put back into working order some years ago. The group of enthusiasts who maintain it occasionally steam it up for a day at a cost of around £400 for a ton of coal.  The annual October event includes a gathering of Classic Cars and a very pleasant and sociable Sunday Lunch at the local Pub.

1904 Beam Engine built by Teesdale Brothers with massive 30 foot beam. 
Originally commissioned to provide drinking water from the River Tees

Running at I would estimate about eight cycles a minute, the
motion is so smooth that coins can be balanced on edge on
vertically moving parts of the mechanism (next to the big nut)
The site also houses a 1914 two cylinder Gas Internal Combustion Engine, again in full working order and running from mains gas.  The oil in a drip tray under a bearing had clearly been emulsified with water, but as the engine has no cooling as such we were left wondering how it got there.  A number of fanciful and highly technical hypothesis were put forward by the gathered experts and enthusiasts when the engine operator appeared and looking up explained "roof leaks"

1914 Gas Engine believed to be the largest of its type in Europe
Dropped Valve
Went for a mid week run out to Nidderdale in the 140 and called in to see fellow XK enthusiast Dennis Wheatly.  Dennis is mid way through a Mark Ten restoration but is being frustrated by the lack of progress of his chosen paint shop.  He also has a Mark Ten spares car which had a bit of an engine problem.

Now that's what you call a 'dropped valve'
JDC and Triumph Track Day at Croft  Sunday 14th October
JDC Area 11 Hired Croft for the day and shared out the cost mainly between forty Jaguar and Triumph club members plus a few other makes.  Divided into four groups according to experience we each had around one and a half hours track time.  With no more than twelve cars on track at any time it made for a brilliant and relaxed day. The 140 performed faultlessly and the Michelin Pilot tyres continue to impress with their excellent grip then very gradual move to over-steer.  I typically made up three of four places in my group on each session,(intermediate) but was never passed.

No oncoming traffic and no speed limits, just fun!
 At 64, it's interesting to note that an extended adrenalin rush now produces a slight but not unpleasant tremble.

Next post beginning of November

Thursday, 4 October 2012


When I occupied my workshop and completed the 140 restoration, the empty shelves were too much of a temptation for me not to take the opportunity to 'de-clutter' my garage at home.  I promptly filled half the space with various bits left over from previous restorations, mostly parts just a bit too good to bin, with the promise of a trip to the Beaulieu Autojumble one day to get rid.

With the addition of lots of 120 parts now stacked up and ready to fit, all the shelves are pretty well full.  I agreed with Alex at Auto Bodycraft some while back that I would take delivery of, and store the boot lid, bonnet, doors and rear wings once finished, and it looks as if that time is imminent.  I'm just pondering where it's all going to go and I take a phone call.
A lady in a nearby village whose recently deceased husband ran a string of XK's in the seventies and eighties has a few Jaguar bits and pieces she wants rid of.  Would I be interested?  My response ought to be - no thank you, absolutely nothing I need, but amazingly, I hear myself saying - Oh yes, most definitely, with mental images of C type heads, and sand cast carbs.  A couple of days later I find myself in a double garage full of a lifetimes collection of bits, all just a bit too good to bin!  (sounds familiar) Under the bench sits a complete XK engine, two blocks and a head, a shelf above has a mixture of not very exiting SU's.  The bench is piled high with old tools.  The complete engine LA4426 is from a 3.8 MK11 and turns over OK.  One block V7453-8 is from a 150 and the other N9961 is from a MK7 or 8.  The head, complete with cams and covers NE1364-8 is from a MK9 and looks almost new.
Again I hear this other person who is actually me, making a ridiculously generous offer, only to have it rejected!  Phew, that was close.
A week later I get a call asking if I've changed my mind and I explain to this very sweet and quite elderly lady that to pay more would simply mean that she would have all my money and I would have all her storage problems.  Oh she says," I never really thought of it that way, but seeing as you seem to be such a nice young man, I'll accept your original offer after all, as long as its cash".  Properly ambushed, I foolishly agree and collect the bits a few days later.
Now I really do have a major storage problem looming and determine that it will have to be resolved.  Mate Andy has his 120 OTS project stored in one half of a quite large, dry and secure farm building, ten minutes from my home and I enquire if the other half is available for rent.  Yes it is, its around 300 square feet and the rent is £5.00 a week.  Problem solved.  Everything non XK120 including the accidentally purchased engines etc.are transported over and I'm left with plenty of space for the 120 body work bits.

Engines and other bits occupying just a corner of my new fiver a
week storage facility. 
A momentary flash twenty or so years into the future sees some 'nice young man' in my cluttered garage having a conversation with my aged wife Angie, about the best way to dispose of a lifetimes collection of car parts, all just a bit too good to bin!

This diversion and the Digital Switch-Over has meant that I have actually achieved very little in the last couple of weeks, but Alex the body work man has made up for it.  The threat to fix a very large Count Down Clock to the wall next to my bodywork seems to have had the desired effect. I do however, suspect that Alex is in fact a consummate 'brinkman' thinking nothing of starting at 4.00am to catch up, and progress would have been the same regardless of my threatened interventions.

All seams have now been carefully sealed to prevent any
possibility of future moisture ingress

Door ready for paint.
Stone guard on bottom edge blended into face.

Inner rear wing, more stone guard, ready for paint

Very fine stone guard on underside of bonnet, will be painted
satin black as per original.  Note fixings down centre to
accommodate aluminium water deflection plates.
Photo Shoot
Another interesting development stemmed from a chance meeting at the Croft Revival event and a discussion about the problems of photographing cars.  It transpired that the man with the camera was at the end of his final year of a three year commercial photography course, and was looking for a candidate for his final piece of degree work - nine pictures on the theme of Best of British.  What better than  Jaguar XK's.  The clincher was the discovery that in addition to a nice 140 fixed head, I also had a mint rolling chassis in my workshop.   The technical aspects of this project are mind boggling, with very special (and expensive) cameras that can maintain pin sharp focus over varying distances and many different types of lighting.
For my part I have been more than happy to spare the time and generally facilitate some of the more unusual requirements.  To take the required picture of the rolling chassis, the workshop was draped in white sheets and the floor covered in white card. 

My 'snap shot' gives an indication of the preparation required
The entire chassis was carefully cleaned then rolled outside and the tyres were scrubbed spotlessly clean and had some none shiny dressing applied.  To prevent getting the treads dirty on the roll back in they were wrapped in cling film.

It may all sound a little O.T.T. but I have now seen five of the nine images in their final A3 form and would have to say that they are quite extraordinary.  Not really photographs in the conventional sense but more akin to some sort of fine art imagery.  Hopefully with the permission of Mark Johnson, the photographer, I will eventually be able to show them on this blog, but am very aware of the huge amount of time and expense incurred to achieve his goal.  I plan to have a large (48" wide) picture of the rolling chassis framed up and hung on my study wall.

Electric Water Pump Conversion
No, I've not forgotten about this, but it has become rather more involved than I intended.  Rather than butcher the existing water pump I have drawn up a new front plate with water inlet and idler pulley.  Its currently been converted to a CAD drawing for CNC machining but it's likely to go through a few iterations before it's exactly as I want it.  If it looks right and reliably does the job, I may get a few made up and sell them to recover the cost.  If not, it will be quietly abandoned.

Next Post  Mid October