Saturday, July 15, 2017

I guess you could say that I'm a glutton for self punishment.

Replace that whip with a spanner and you get the picture!
photo source:  atomic archive

I recently finished up replacing the transmission on my XJS. That was very tough. A couple of months back I changed out the control arms on my '96 Mustang. That was no picnic. Actually neither of these jobs were. Now, on the heels of those two triumphs, I need to change out the suspension bushings on my XJ6! There was a lot of controversy about what spring compressor to use, my own experience has taught me that it does make quite a difference.

I also need to rebuild the front suspension on the XJS, (Surprise, Surprise!) So lessons learned will be quite applicable.

I priced out the Jaguar spec compressor available from JagBits and really couldn't get excited by spending five hundred bucks. I had seen another compressor available that was around one hundred and fifty, although one of the forum members had used it, I got the impression that it still didn't make the job as easy as it could have been.

Several members had described how they built their own tools: actually it looked fairly simple.  I called my local guy at Jaguar Specialties, to inquire about the compressor and he told me that best thing is just to make your own. So that's what I decided to do.

I also plan on using that outside, mounted  u-bolt secured spring compressor that I used on the Mustang in conjunction with my home made tool. Several members also like to run some all thread through the spring mount plate as added insurance, so I might do that too.

Awhile back I posted about the author Henry G. Felsen. I decided to re-read "Boy gets car".  It's still my favorite, although it was a bit embarrassing seeing my self as the naive youngster Woody gushing over some old heap. (Although I just discovered another old heap to gush over!) The ultimate truth is that once your friends abandon you, you are alone with that old wreck. And that clutch ain't gonna change itself! In fact. nothing is going to fix itself, by itself. It comes down to grabbing those wrenches and undoing one part at a time.

So I got off my haunches and cleared out the garage, again. I bought the supplies and started making the spring compressor. I drilled out the rod, taking my time through successively larger bits, then smoothed out the area round the hole with a rotary stone and a hand powered tapered hone. Reduce those stress points! I found a slightly domed, circular pipe mount flange that will work as the bottom compressor plate.

Doing that drilling by hand reminded me why I used to have a drill press. I liked and used it, but the motor quit after a bout a year. I wasn't too upset, it had been pretty cheap, from HF of course, where else! I'm going to get another one because they are so useful and it makes your home garage workshop look more like an actual repair shop.

Only 80.bucks on sale. Hopefully this will work as is. If not, fairly detailed plans for improvement were found in the review section. photo source: Harbor Freight Tools.

I had gone down to Harbor Freight Tools and bought a bench top 6 ton hydraulic press. Hopefully it will be big enough to handle the job. I assembled it all by myself without any problems. Several reviews of this product described how difficult it was to assemble. I'm used the little landing of the concrete garage steps as my workbench area during assembly. I figure I can use this same spot when pressing out the bushings. If that doesn't work out I've still got the front porch steps.

All this work is being put off until I return from vacation. But all plans are subject to change!

I came back from vacation and what  did I do? I found another old car to drag home. So now my priorities have changed. Since my garage is currently being used by my Wife to "organize" her stuff there is no chance for me to put the XJ6 in the garage for the suspension overhaul. When the Mark was dropped off in the driveway I had it lined up so that I could roll it directly into the garage, Even if there were space in there I would be loath to place it in there. That Mark was a field car for a long time, no telling what kind of critters had been hiding inside, usually spiders and such. I hadn't seen any indication of mouse infestation and those tell tale signs are easy to detect, droppings and the unmistakable odor of mouse urine. I also haven't seen any sign of rodents chewing up the wiring, the harness under the hood looks quite well preserved. I cleaned out the debris that were in the car and vacuumed it thoroughly especially under the seats and in the trunk. I've looked under the car and haven't seen any indication that there is a nest of black widows under the car. I've looked every day so far, but this really hot weather we've had might show something.

I once bought a '67 Riviera that had been sitting in a driveway for several years and put in the garage right away. The next day I found a rather large spider in my foyer and went into the garage to investigate. I found another large spider hiding under the air cleaner and those thick Black Widow webs under the car. That's when I pushed it up and out of the driveway into the street, I was much younger than! I did the bug bomb thing.

I haven't seen any reason to bomb the Mark, but I have sprayed Ortho under the wheel wells. I'll probably spray the suspension behind the wheels when I go through the brakes.

Since I know that the motor will easily spin, I have to go through the fuel system and carbs, change the oil, check the radiator, electrical system, rebuild the brakes, clutch hydraulics, and see if I can get the motor to actually run. It should be quite exciting.

While the interior of the car is still a little dirty, I cleaned all the windows. What a difference! It looks so much more inviting. The car has that funky old car smell, it kind of reminds me of the old Cadillac smell. I can't say that I find it repulsive at all.

The biggest problem aesthetically with the car are the large areas of surface rust. If the car was a solid dull color of paint it wouldn't look too bad. Actually the paint on the front half is pretty intact, just dull. I wonder if the front half was shaded as it sat out side for years. There was red primer or paint brushed on the car, I imagine to protect it from rust. I used a shop vac to knock all the flaking paint off and keep it off the driveway.

If I was a real restorer I would just drop it off at the body shop and have them strip the body down to metal, repair the sheetmetal and have them do a complete respray. Well that is the plan, but I'll be doing it the Better Beater way. I've got to keep costs down. Just replacing the tires is going to run close to a grand! I have a more frugal plan. Since the car will probably stay out side the rest of the summer I just can't sand it down to bare metal and keep it in the garage to cut down on flash rusting.

Miracle in a can? Yes,

I plan to use an  electric palm sander with 60 grit sandpaper and strip one section at a time. I have a rust dissolver and metal prep treatment that I will treat the section with. I will then brush a light coat of blue Rustoleum enamel on. This will protect the metal from rusting but should be easy to remove later on. It will also make the car pretty much the same color all over, a real improvement. As I encounter heavily rusted areas I will treat them with POR paint and epoxy putty. The idea is to preserve the car and protect it from further damage. Luckily there is no real collision damage but there is a dent on the top of the left fender like some thing heavy fell against the car. Not in a hurry to fix that. I will be very careful not to scratch or otherwise damage the brightwork. I'll put a couple of layers of masking tape on the trim before I start sanding. I might hit exposed nuts holding on the trim with Liquid Wrench so removal can be possible later.

Harbor Freight to the rescue

After I've sanded the whole car and it is a patchwork of brush stroked enamel, then I will put the car in the garage and sand all that blue Rustoleum off, just before I deliver it to the paint shop. I hope to document my progress here for all the world to see. In many ways that Mark is going to be the ultimate Better Beater. I've had responses to my forum post about the car where I am being warned that the car will cost a fortune to properly restore and then will be worth quite a bit less then I will have spent.  I've replied that I don't plan on restoring the car. As I told the seller, I'm just going to fix it up, get it running and have an economical respray done. Just like I said about that XJ6 in an earlier post.

Can this really be done? Will this result in something that I am satisfied with, and can actually be a little proud of? I think so. It may shock, appall and offend those that have the money to spend, but I hope that it will cheer those who don't.

And I've still got two cars lined up after that.

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