Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Restoration has Officially Started

The BEFORE photo of the Master Cylinders
My original plan with the Traveller was to spend some time collecting up the missing parts, then embark on a commplete nut and bolt restoration, all done to the highest standards. However there has been a change of plan. I always planned to do as much as possible myself so this was never going to be a checque book restoration - however the realitys of life mean that its going to be more like a shoestring restoration now. I am not prepared to compromise the quality, so things are going to happen more slowly and I will need to make do with what I have for the time being. The plan now is for a rolling restoration. Get the Traveller back on the road and make small changes as time and money become available. Luckily the body is in excellent shape, and the mechanicals are adequate for the time being. The intention now is to address the most pressing issues that will prevent it from being registered, then get it back on the road. The brakes are the biggest problem at the moment. As I mentioned in a previous posting the pedal goes straight to the floor and the master cylinder were pretty crusty - showing signs of leaking and looking a bit tired.

Brake and Clutch Master Cylinders out and cleaned up a bit
 So a few nights ago  pulled out the brake master cylinder and stripped it for inspection. It looks pretty good for something that has held brake fluid for 50 yeras and I would probably would have got away with just a hone and a new set of seals, but with the philosophy of not compromising quality I decided that it really should be re-sleeved. Having decided to do the brake m/c, I figured I should do the clutch one as well, so last night I did the old under-dash limbo and pulled it out too. I found that the piston had seized in the bore so it does need doing too. I have found a local brake specialist, named Leon, who will re-sleeve them in stainless steel for a reasonable price, but there is a snag. After the sleeve is inserted the ports from the reservoir need to be drilled through it, but the tin reservoirs cover the ports. The reservoirs can either be sweated off (unsoldered) then replaced afterwards or he can drill through the side of the reservoir then insert a rivet and solder over it afterwards. The problem is that the cost of unsoldering and resoldering more than doubles the overall cost of the work, which is not cheap anyway. These master cylinders are a special feature on the early Minis (see below) so I don't want visible bumps of solder on the side. I have arranged with Leon, that I will remove the reservoirs before sending them to him, then replace them afterwards. I am slightly worried about this, but hey, whats the worst that could happen? Once the cylinders are sleeved and the reservoirs replaced they will need to be replated try to achieve an appearance similar to original.

Tapered top and hexagon top master cylinders.
So why don't I just use the reproduction lockheed master cylinders that are available? Well the reason is that these master cylinders are different from the much more common later ones. The 1959ers had a master cylinder with a large threaded sleeve on the very top of the cylinder and a metal cap on the reservoir, these are often called nut top master cylinders. Some time around 1960 - 61, but apparently only for a short period, they changed to this style which has a hexagonal shape which echos the nut, but is just part of the body of the cylinder. These also have the metal cap. After that the style changed again (perhaps when the bore of the cylinders was reduced in size). The top of the cylinder is now tapered and the cap is plastic. The photo on the left shows the cylinder off the Traveller beside a later Mini one. You can easily see the difference.

Both the clutch and brake cylinders have a bore of 0.75". Later cars had all sorts of variations and swapped bore sizes back and forwards. The same outwards appearance could range from 0.75" through 0.70" to 0.625". There are also two variations in the main seal style. These early ones use a ring seal and a cup seal, but later they converted to two ring seals. Luckily seal kits are still readily available, although the brake one is harder to find in 0.75" than the clutch. I got mine from Somerford Spares in the the UK.

Unfortunately the metal cap for the brake cylinder is badly corroded and falling apart. These are virtually impossible to find replacements for, but are essential because they are a unique feature of the older Minis. There have been a few sold on ebay in recent times for insane prices, but luckily I managed to 'win' a single one a few years ago, that is in pretty good shape and although it was expensive was way under what some are selling for. The clutch one is a bit corroded but I think it will be servicable.

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