Monday, November 7, 2011

Media Coverage

At MiniFest yesterday, I was summoned to the Traveller by a call over the PA. It was for a brief interview with a local journalist and to pose for a photo. Neither are something that I relish, but I did what I was told. There was quite a big article about MiniFest in the paper today, and on "The Mercury's" website. I think the photographer captured the Traveller's good side. Click on the image to see the full article.

I should say that I don't always wear loud shirts, but that's my Moke Californian shirt, custom made by the Moke Owners Association of Victoria. I only get it out on special occasions. The orange T-shirt is from Dean Wilhite's Dooderwear in the U.S. I have one of his Moke design and a Woody one. Click the buttons below to see the full design.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Grand Day Out

The Traveller holding Sarah's baloon
 I'm pleased to report that the Traveller behaved perfectly for the trip to MiniFest 2011. Barry, my father-in-law, followed me in my Moke as moral support and emergency tow vehicle. But it wasn't needed. The engine ran even better today, and giving it a run seemed to clear some of the cobwebs out. It was haemorrhaging oil, the exhaust was blowing and there's a lot of interior trim missing so it was noisier than it should have been, but I had a beaming smile as I drove it in. There are a few hills and a steep climb over the bridge, and it did get slowed down by them. I also realiased that I'd forgotten how to drive a 3 synchro gearbox, but they're minor issues.

This was the fifth MiniFest, the Mini Car Club of Tasmania organise the show at the same time every second year, and each time they seem to get bigger and better. The theme for the show is "Any Mini, any condition" but each show seems to have fewer rusty wrecks than the previous one, as they're replaced with shiny restored and original cars. My Traveller scrubbed up OK, but was still one of the worst looking. The paint is an old re-spray and is pretty poor, there are large areas that are flaking off and a lot of visible rust staining (although not much rust).

A nice early 850, in a traditional colour.
Its interesting to look at the cars and see how fashions have changed in restorations. A few years ago it was acceptable to paint Minis in lurid metallic colours, fit big wheels and do horrible things to the interior with weird choices in upholstery, but these days there are many more cars being repainted in their original colours and looking well kept rather than over restored. I like it that way.

The most Travellers ever seen together in Tasmania?
Two other Travellers attended, coincidentally both are green. The woody's owner recently moved to Tasmania from the ACT. It is nominally also a 1961 like mine, although there's precious little left from 1961. It has been re-shelled and fitted with the running gear from a late model injected Rover Cooper. The steel sided Traveller has been converted with all the running gear from an Australian 1275 LS, it seems pretty good mechanically, but I reckon that it really needs to be put right. James, the new owner agrees, but like me probably isn't in a position to rush it!

Mine's the orange one.
The day was unusually hot and being held in a large open area with no shade everyone got lightly toasted. It was great weather for Mokes and about 14 turned out. Barry didn't enjoy driving mine very much. The clutch is almost out of travel and he's not used to cars without power steering anymore.

The show ended with a ceremony to award a large number of trophies and I was pleased to be awarded "The car with the most potential". The guys presenting the trophies did wonder if this was a consolation prize.

MiniFest always ends with a cruise in convoy. In previous years it has been through the city, but this year was out of town on the highway. I'm not sure that it worked terribly well, and we all stopped in a very dubious location for a convoy photo, but it was still good fun. Barry and I took went in the moke, the Traveller's temporary permit didn't cover the convoy and it was further than I wanted to risk driving it.

A portion of the convoy at the photo stop. I was too lazy to walk to the front to try to get it all in.
 All in all it was a very successful event. I had a ball driving the Traveller and there was a lot of interest in it, I was photographed and interviewed by the local paper and I also got a couple of possible sources for a replacement 850 powerunit from the correct period.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

More Brake work and It Lives!

Look at that lovely stainless steel gleaming
I got the master cylinders and rear wheel cylinders back from being re-sleeved - the front wheel cylinders had been done previously. The quality of the work is excellent so they should be right to last another 50 years. I sent them off to Leon, whose business is appropriately named Quick Service Brakes. He apologised about being too busy to get to them immediately but still only took just over a fortnight to do them. We discussed what to do about the reservoirs. The two ports in the side of the master cylinders need to be drilled after the sleeve is inserted. This is usually done by drilling right through the side of the reservoir and soldering the hole up afterwards. The alternative is to un-solder the reservoir and put it back on later, but this is labour intensive and adds considerably to the price. We agreed that I'd take the reservoirs off and put them back on myself. This gave me the chance to clean them up and repair them while they were off.
Hexagon top master cylinders - looking a bit better than in the 'before' photo
 I refinished the master cylinders, not by plating but by tinning them with solder. It may sound odd, but all of my research into how to replicate the original dull tarnished light grey finish drew blanks. Everyone I spoke to said something like, "maybe its zinc", or "perhaps its some kind of cad". I consulted a local plater and he said, "I don't know what it is and I can't  replicate it". The breakthrough came when I was heating up the spare one to practice on. As I heated it, little silver beads of molten metal appeared out from under the dull grey finish. Not just on the tin-plate reservoir but from all over the cast iron body as well. I didn't have it hot enough to melt zinc, so It must have been solder. Thinking about it afterwards it does make some sense. Solder typically oxidises to a dull grey white finish over time, and the body would have needed to be tinned in order to solder the reservoir on. After a soak in my derusting bath and a thorough clean, I painted them with Kemtex B916 tinning compound and heated them until it melted. A wipe with a clean cloth and they were looking much better. I just need to work out how to encourage the grey tarnish to re-form quickly now. Soldering the reservoirs back on was a bit tricky but in the end I was pleased with the result. The reservoir from the brake master was pretty bad so I replaced it with one off a spare. As a result its much shinier, whereas the pitted clutch one looks fairly dull. Hopefully they'll even out over time.

New pistons, seals, bleed screws, stainless sleeve - better than new.
I had to solder up one of the original tin master cylinder caps. It doesn't look as good as it might, but I had no choice it was badly corroded and pin-holed in several places. Luckily I managed to get a good nearly new cap on ebay, for the brake master cylinder because the one that was on there crumbles when I undid it.

I figured new clevis were needed after seeing the one that came out
I rebuilt the rear wheel cylinders using new pistons ( a slightly embarrassing story I may reveal one day) and new seals and put the whole lot back together again. The master cylinders went in reasonably easily. I used R clips on the clevis pins which is much easier than messing about with split pins.

It was when I went to bleed them that the problems started. Firstly I discovered that the thread for the bleed screw in the driver's side front whelle cylinder had stripped out. With some tools loaned to me by the local thread repair specialist, I managed to get it working again by drilling and tapping it for a helicoil. It worked OK but weeps a little unless the bleed screw is really tight. I'm either going to have to replace it with a bleed screw insert, or get a new wheel cylinder. Once that was repaired, I discovered a serious leak where the front brake line meets the brake hose on the passenger side. It meant that the radiator had to come out again in order to tighten it up. The tube nut on the end of the brake line has been abused over the years and is rounded off, which makes it nearly impossible to tighten. When I recondition the subframe the brake line will be replaced so it looks like new tube nuts are needed too.

Gunson's Eezibleed hooked up - the black hose gets pressure from the spare tyre.

I eventually got it all bled, I bought a Gunson's Eezibleed, and it was excellent. I bled both the master cylinders on their own first, then connected them up and bled the clutch and brake systems. It was so easy, I could hardly believe it. It took a couple of goes around, firstly before adjusting the brakes, then again afterwards. They'll need adjusting after they've bedded in but are pretty good for now.

I spent the afternoon madly working to get the Traveller running well enough to drive to MiniFest 2011 tomorrow. Big  Mini shows only come around every two years here so they aren't to be missed. I had a few small problems getting it started and running smoothly, but managed to get it to run well enough to risk the trip. It needs a thorough tune up, but should be OK. The brakes are a little spongey still but aren't as bad as I expected. The Traveller is unregistered so I organised a temporary permit which covers me for the duration of the event. Today's road testing was done on my personal test track, of course.