Wednesday, October 27, 2021

 I can almost hear the hub bub that I've aroused over  my direction with the Mark VII.

photo source: beverly hills car club
If my car's interior had looked like this, I wouldn't have bought it!

Real restorers, or a least those that claim to champion that cause, are outraged upon hearing that an owner is merely going to "fix up" their car. When I've posted on the Jaguar forum I've heard from commentators about how expensive it will be to fully restore the car. Others have advised me that if the job can't be done properly, then it shouldn't be started at all! I suppose that these old school, "Old  World" cars are mostly of interest to older enthusiasts. Maybe even older richer enthusiasts. 

I do agree that with all the acres of fancy wood work and leather upholstery to properly recreate an "as new" example would be prohibitively expensive. I've heard numbers bandied about with 59K as the median amount!

In many car stories a line at the beginning states that " the car was finally delivered to the new owner's house and a decades long restoration process was begun."

Not gonna happen! That's never been my plan.

My plan has been, that if it is at all feasible, the car will be "fixed up" into decent running order and the cosmetics will be improved a likewise amount. 

This is actually currently listed on CL. I will vote for non feasible.

What begins the feasibility assessment is the state of the car as it sits. This occurs as the prospective owner considers the car for purchase. Is the car up and running, providing occasional service, and currently registered? How good is the engine and transmission, the bodywork and paint, and the interior? Do the accessories work? 

These would be considerations if a usable, driveable, presentable, example were being considered. If a project car is being considered, besides the visible condition, are all the parts present and accounted for? 

I've already got the car and have had several years to make my assessment. 

The body is straight, carries only a couple of minor dents, with only surface rusting, and one small perforation. All the glass is intact and in place. All exterior bright trim is present, including those impressive rear spats! I located and purchased the missing right headlamp bezel. The interior and trim is all included, The seats had been re-upolstered in blue vinyl by the previous owner. sometime back in the '70s. The headliner is original! Everything is in good shape except for the front seat bottoms. 

The wood work is quite poor. It was done by the factory in a paper thin veneer that has peeled off in ribbons, exposing the base wood. But all the pieces of trim are still in place and just need to be redone. To have it done professionally would be very expensive, thousands of dollars. However it can be done by the home restorer, radio restorers do it all the time. I even did some on my 1941 Silvertone floor console radio/phonograph. It will not be done to the original design, but it will look satisfactory in the end. 

I've seen many old Jags where the owner merely attempted to stain and finish the base wood. Unfortunately this looks like exactly what it is.

I've made the exterior stabilization situation my first priority, even with our current drought, rain will be starting by the next month. I bought some new tarps to cover the car. It is most important to keep water from running inside the body through the worn out weatherstripping and rubber seals. 

My plan is to paint all the upper surfaces in flat black, preserving the current blue sides. The Rustoleum Rust Reformer will be augmented by regular flat black spray can primer on any remaining blue paint left on the top surfaces. There will be an artful curve on the rear flanks. I'm not claiming that my two tone, black primer and old blue paint job is Concourse ready, but it should suffice and make the car less repulsive.

Obviously the home of Old World Craftsmanship.

The interior will be cleaned up as well as possible/ I'll replace the carpet, preserving everything that I can.Once the car is up and running, anything and everything else can be dealt with on an extended time basis. 

Everything hinges on whether or not the motor can returned to running condition.

Saturday, October 23, 2021


photo source:
There's only five there, I need eight!

That's what I get for trying to be cute! 

I don't mean cute as in being childishly good looking, I mean cute as trying to be clever! Sometimes I will make some imaginary "connection" between two things and will be confident that I'll remember that connection later. That doesn't always work out as anticipated.

When I say "nuts" I actually mean nuts, the fasteners that we thread onto bolts. 

Progress has actually been being made on the Mark VII. The surface rust has been chemically and physically removed from the top surfaces of the car. These areas have been spray bombed with Rustoleum's Rust Reformer paint. This is kind of like a junior POR 15 product, it will bond with the remainder of the rust and protect the surface from further interaction with moisture. 

The next phase is to clean up the carbs, re install them, and prepare the car for ignition! 

I started going through the car looking for the carb assemblies that I had removed and set aside. I found those where I had left them in a box on the back seat. I couldn't find all the nuts used to attach the carbs, eight were needed. I found three. 

I had wanted to replace those nuts and washers with new hardware and just assumed that they must be metric thread, I mean if it isn't American factional inch, then it must be metric, right?


Maybe some of these are Whitworth.

There is a range of fasteners that is uniquely British, the Whitworth thread system. 

Now many fractional inch as well as metric wrenches will fit these nuts and bolts. The carb mounting nuts could be removed with a 1/2 '' or 13 mm socket, no problem. However the nuts do not interchange with those other systems. The threads are completely different. 

Now where could I find replacements? Maybe a British car or motorcycle repair shop. I had read magazine articles in the distant past about the need for Whitworth tools when working on Triumph motorcycles. 

There is actually a British car shop/ garage nearby in Campbell that I used to drive by every time I took my daughter to work. I even stopped in once long ago asking about key blanks for my XJS. Maybe the guy was having a bad day, I asked my question about the blanks, which he did not have in stock. Then I started asking about shop manuals and describing the problems that I was having with my car. I was trying to establish  a level of rapport and trying to create a channel of communication. 

He wasn't having any of that, he asked if I needed anything else, told me he was busy, and had to return to his task. It wasn't so much what he said but his brusque tone. So I left, somewhat puzzled. Why wouldn't a business owner try to establish a connection with a new customer and develop some enthusiasm for their project. If I was going to have to spend some money in the future, why not at his shop? 

I haven't been back since, and it's been almost five years, though I was feeling desperate enough to try him again! 

For some reason when I removed the carbs I didn't thread the nuts back on the studs, my usual practice. Instead I put them in a plastic bag and placed them in a drawer of my roll away tool box. I was going to try to find some replacements, but moved onto fooling with the brake system. That was over three years ago! 

I knew that they were somewhere in my tool box, but which one? 

I spent almost an hour looking through my "newer" tall box with negative results. 

Why didn't I keep the nuts with the carbs inside the car itself?

I figured that I'd be clever, and keep them where I could find them when I wanted to look for replacements.

So Today I started to look through my original short roll away, Luckily there they were, in the back of a drawer reserved for "seldom used" automotive tools.

How funny that a handful of nuts could be made from "un-obtainium." I mean they're just nuts. But they are 70 year old British nuts. Those don't grow on trees! Obviously.

It just reinforces the need to disassemble every component with care, keeping all the bits and fasteners together, and not to get ahead of myself with the process. Replacements  for any item might be difficult to source. Even old gaskets should be saved to use for patterns.

There's also no need to take something apart if I'm not ready to deal with it. 

That's why I didn't remove any of the chrome trim on the hood- yet. I plan on doing that later before I deliver the car to the body shop. Just like I don't plan on trying to remove the windshield or rear glass. The rubbers are dried and cracking but mostly intact. Luckily the channels don't look rusty like on my old Rivieras. so I'm just going to seal around the windows a bit more until I'm ready to deal with them. Truthfully, the car won't be driven in the rain, or washed with a hose, and will be covered with a tarp. I'm keeping as much water away from the car as possible. 

Just like the seats and door panels, no need to mess with them yet. 

What I have been doing is trying to get to know how the car works. How the accessories are switched on. Things like the light switches, heater switches and all those ventilator flaps!

There is a cowl vent that directs outside air to the heater, combined with two under scuttle vents that allow heated air into the interior from under the dash, There are two scuttle vents in the front fenders to channel outside air into the footwells. 

The heater has only one position for heat; on or off, The fan has only one speed. While reading a contemporary road test the writers weren't too impressed by the action of the heaters. However there were photos of the car running through snow covered areas in two Mote Carlo rallies. 

The car does have huge alternatives for ventilation. There are wind wings in the front doors, ventilator paynes in the rear doors, a sunshine roof, as well as those scuttle vents. I imagine that the air will really flow through this car!

I spent some time lubricating and freeing up their action.

My Wife came outside and caught me playing inside the car. She asked me what I was doing. I told her that I was trying to develop a relationship with the car. You should have seen the look on her face! 

If you've ever bought an old car, or even a well used modern car for that matter, you know that the car displays a lot of evidence of it's past owner and their past life. Besides wear and tear, there is often is also dirt and grime, sometimes even filth. There can be trash left under the seats and in the trunk, along with some unusual and unpleasant smells!

There is often an underlying pervasive feeling of mild disgust with a "new" acquisition. It takes some airing out, thorough cleaning, and acclimation.  

Abandoned, derelict, barn and field cars can also have evidence of critter infestation. Insect, as well as small mammal, and occasionally reptilian. Snakes!

photo source:USU Extension .com
At least these little guys are cute.

This can lead to them being considered as being quite disgusting to non enthusiasts, especially our spouses and family members. Sometimes they can be quite disgusting, even to us! This can present a real health hazard and the interior will need to be disinfected before work can begin.

Luckily my car has never been a habitat for vermin, but it was nasty enough after sitting for thirty years! 

A good cleaning of the car is the first step in clearing out the previous life. Airing it out helps quite a bit. 

The best way to develop a bond with a new acquisition is to use and drive it. As you become familiar with how the car car operates and feels, it gradually becomes "your" car. 

It's harder to do that with a non running vehicle.

Friday, October 15, 2021

 It's kind of hard to believe. but look at the difference!

There was a blistered, rusted area on top of the left fender. I used a putty knife to scrape off loose paint and rust.  Then I used a hand held wire brush on the metal. The metal underneath looked terrible, could it even be saved? 

I brushed the loose debris off then covered the area with vinegar saturated rags. I kept it wet for an hour or more, then let it sit over night. The area pictured above is on the top of the fender over the left headlamp.

The photo is actually of an area on the roof. The vinegar causes the rust
to bubble up from the surface.

The area underneath was now covered with a fluffy red crust of rust. I hit it with the wire wheel then repeated the entire procedure. After the second treatment I also hit it with a palm sander to smooth the transition edges a bit. 

This is after the second treatment. Wow! What a difference. 

Here's a spot on the sunroof.

The process works quite well. You can see dark areas on the sheet metal which is probably rust in the pores. The underlying metal doesn't look like it was ever that smooth. It would be best to have the metal perfectly clean and free of any rust, but that might take some blasting in the future. I need  something that I can do to preserve the surface, right now. 

I used a spray can treatment called Rustoleum Rust Reformer. It is one of those rust converting and stabilizing coatings that will allow you to paint over the rusted area. Yes, it is another one of those miracles in a can!

This has the general household use label, there is also another label that 
is used for their automotive product line. I was initially fooled by the picture of the chair.

Yesterday I spent hours combing the internet looking for suggestions on how to manage surface rusted panels. I ended up on the HAMB and read pages of discussions about the efficacy of POR 15 and other rust treatments. Ideally, surface rust should be removed entirely, the metal might need to be media blasted to clean out the pores. If not, then the hidden rust will likely make it's way back up through the surface over time. 

Blasting would be the answer in a perfect world and I'm not eliminating it as a possibility, sometime in the future. I wasn't trying to render the metal perfectly smooth, I was trying to remove  the majority of the surface rust and to protect the surface until it can be dealt with in a more comprehensive manner. I wasn't trying to remove all the old paint either, just give the Rustoleum product a suitable surface to stick to. 

This Rust Reformer is designed to protect the underlying surface from the intrusion of moisture, thereby preventing the continuous formation of more rust. So it should be a moisture resistant covering, unlike regular spray bomb primer. Hopefully this will protect and preserve the car's body, which is my goal after all. 

I'd used POR 15 in the past and found that it was a very good product. The POR paint really sticks to a rusted surface and is very tough. That can be a problem if the surface is something that you might want to paint with a glossy finish in the future. Brushing it on is okay for a chassis or suspension part, but it needs to be sprayed on with a compressor powered gun to lay down a smooth enough finish for glossy paint.  It isn't too easy to sand smooth after it cures. No way I would try to spray that at home, instead of in an actual spray booth, these types of paints and thinners are quite toxic and hazardous when sprayed.

In the Bay Area you are prohibited from painting your car in your driveway or garage. You cannot use a spray gun to paint your car, theoretically you could paint your entire car with spray cans, but there may be a limit on how much of the body can be painted. Spray cans are kind of a gray area. You can spray garden furniture, bicycles, file cabinets and even appliances. 

The best thing is not to come under official scrutiny. Spray can paint is quite aromatic, and using a lot of it in intense periods will be noticeable in most neighborhoods. At least to your next door neighbor. Hopefully, they are not a "Karen!" If they are the type that is "sensitive" to these type of activities, they might call the fire dept. or even the police dept. to report the use of a hazardous material episode. I'd rather not have that discussion.

At my age I'm smart enough to use a face mask ( got plenty of those around!) ) to prevent inhaling overspray, ventilation is provided by the great outdoors. 

I am not using many power tools in this project. There's my hand held drill, my palm sander, and my small shop vac. These are being used sparingly. I'm sure my city has prohibitions about running an auto repair or auto body business out of your garage, but of course some hobby activity is permitted. Again, it's best not raise any red flags, you don't want to be on the city's radar. 

It looks like an improvement to me!

As I said I'm not trying to repaint my car, I'm just trying to provide some protection to the sheet metal. There's going to be a lot of matte black areas over the car, My thought is to blend it all together with regular black primer over what's left of the original areas of paint still on the top surfaces of the vehicle. It will end up as a kind of black over blue two tone. It should look really cool, or at least it will no longer look like a "rust bucket" that inspires revulsion. ..... Maybe not.

Friday, October 8, 2021

 Rust never sleeps, at least that's how the old saying goes.

My Mark slept for 25 years, but not in the best bed. 

Looking at the decklid and roof, the lighter red areas are splotches of primer that was applied years ago. The darker red area is rust. 

I had previously washed and polished the painted areas. The top of the hood and
left fender have noticeable rust. Picture taken approx. three years ago.

Areas of rust on the top and deck lid are apparent. 

I need to do something to clean up the sheet metal, stop the further encroachment of new rust, and preserve the body of the car. If I could get the car painted or at least primered in a single color, that would be a notable improvement. 

There's a lot of intact paint left on the sides.

The sides of the car don't look too bad, it's the top surfaces that are the worst. Could I remove the surface rust, stabilize the metal and cover the areas with spray bomb primer?

I could sand and wire brush the surface and see how that works. 

That's not a bad idea, but as we all know rust seeps into the pores of the metal and can re-emerge over time. 

I thought that it might be a good idea to chemically remove the rust. I'd used plain old vinegar to remove rust from small objects like tools and it's quite effective, but trying to do large portions of a car body?

Vinegar is a safe, non hazardous, non regulated material, very cheap too. So I proceeded to experiment.

I went out to the car, selected a rusty area then rubbed on it with a vinegar soaked rag, Sure enough the rust started to dissolve  and transfer to the cloth. I kept the area saturated, and let it sit for fifteen  minutes of so. I found areas that I could rub down to bare metal.

I got a brass wire brush and scrubbed against a dry area, the surface rust layer broke down. I wiped it off then treated it to the saturated cloth, letting it set for fifteen to twenty minutes then wiped it down. This was even more effective.

Too bad that I couldn't soak the entire car in a big tank, that is a process used for professional high dollar metal prep. The stripped body is submerged in a tank hooked up to a negative electrical current, and a hot caustic chemical mix dissolves all rust, bondo, sealers, and other fillers. It leaves the solid metal unharmed. 

I remember reading in an old article in a hot rod magazine describing how brush on chemical paint strippers could be used. It recommended covering the slathered on stripper with plastic sheets to keep it from drying out too quickly and keep it more effective. I'd used paint stripper in the past and it's a dangerous, awful smelling, process that results in some terrible waste products. The smell alone would have my neighbors calling the fire dept.'s hazardous material team.

I needed to come up with a better plan.

So here's my process: 

Here's a section of the hood that I haven't worked on yet.
I'm going to scrape the peeling paint back until I find tight bonding paint.

Some of the metal that was covered by paint is still shiny.

First thing I did was to mask any trim near the area that I'm working on.
Later I'm going to try to remove that hood trim.

I'm using a wire brush chucked in my drill. The idea is to break through
the crust to allow the vinegar to more easily penetrate the surface.

First I wet down the area then lay saturated rags directly 
on the area.

When I remove the dried rags, the dissolved rust is left as a red crust.
I then wire brush the area. 

You can see that the brushed area looks pretty clean.
I plan to treat each area twice. 

I had been experimenting with the front part of the hood.
It looks pretty good. Soon I'll hit it with a sander and feather the edges back. 

This is a labor intensive operation, but it's pretty easy to do. I estimate that I'm going to need at least four or five gallons of vinegar. I can just dispose of the dirty rags in the trash, nothing hazardous about vinegar. The smell is noticeable but quickly dissipates. I don't want my neighbors calling the fire dept. over strange chemical odors. Hey! I'm just mixing up a big bucket of salad dressing!

My plan is to fully complete an area, treat it, then primer it. I'll work my way around the car in sections.

I do have some concerns, so I will use some POR Metal Prep on the area after I neutralize the vinegar and clean the area. I'm hoping the POR will clean out the pores of the metal and allow the primer to bond. I'm hoping that I won't find that the primer blisters and peels. We'll see. 

I'll have more to report in the weeks to follow. 

Friday, October 1, 2021

 What should I do with my old '51 Jaguar?

It's actually a pretty good looking car. The lower profile wheels, whitewalls
 and shiny caps are a definite improvement.

It's still hiding under what's left of that car cover 
in my sideyard.

It's been sitting there, going on three years.

The first thing that I should do is see if I can get the engine to start.

I've already changed the oil and filter. Did you know that the sump holds 12 qts. of oil?

I found that the carbs were gunked up, preventing the linkage shaft and throttle drums from moving. I should clean them up and reassemble everything. I've already got the rebuilding kits. 

If I could get the motor to fire, wow, that would really be something. Even if it just runs for 10-15 seconds.

This would also make the car so much more salable, not that I really want to sell it, but it could be a viable option. It would also be a real jump start to my motivation.

I know that the engine and transmission alone are worth much more than the entire car. Parting out the drive train could net me a little bit of profit. But that's not why I bought it. It was a cool looking old car with a good story and history. I thought that deserved to be saved, but I'd have to do it on my own terms. These terms have resulted the the car sitting for than a few more years. 

Just when I had pretty much given up hope on fixing the brake and clutch systems I received an e-mail notification from SNG Barret, the Jaguar parts suppliers.

It advised me that they had expanded their coverage of classic car parts availability. This piqued my curiosity, could they actually have parts available for my Mark VII?

I clicked on the link  and after selecting Early Saloons, Mark VII, I clicked on the brake parts and was greeted by the sight of a NEEEWWWW master cylinder! Wow! It cost 442.90, not cheap, but reasonable. 

Could it get any better? It could!

I searched through the clutch section and there was a new master for a slightly more surprising 743.99! More than I'd like to pay, of course, but still do able.

There was a new slave cylinder available for 125.00 and even more surprising, a non replica type master available for a paltry 151.92! 

I had almost given up on the idea of moving forward with my Mark.

As I've stated, I can replace components, but fabricating a new braking system was well outside my capabilities. 

Excited as I am, I'm not going to fire up the credit card and send away for these parts- not yet at least. 

Let's see if I can actually get the motor to fire up and run for a bit, so I know that it is okay. I can run a line from a gas can to the carbs, bypassing the tank and fuel pump. I'm not going to make the rookie mistake of ordering a bunch of expensive new parts without doing my due diligence.

One of the worst mistakes is to buy all kinds of new parts before you've made the decision that the project is viable. Then the car and parts are offered up at a low price when you try to unload the mess!

This new availability is some real good news for me, as it provides me with a real opportunity to move my project forward. 

Funny how things can change over night.

Now I have an option open to me. There are more factors to consider.

While I haven't made any definite choices, the decision to reassemble the carbs and prepare the motor to try to start it seems like a reasonable and affordable plan of action. 

The existence of those brand new, needed hydraulic items gives me more than hope, it gives me options. 

Funny how things can change overnight. 

So I started thinking about the cosmetics. The top surfaces of the car have sections of surface rust where the paint had peeled away. The top of the hood, roof, and parts of the trunk lid area all have this surface rust. The body only has a couple of small dents, overall it's pretty straight. But it looks pretty bad, my Daughter refers to it as "the rust bucket." Of course.

Truthfully it does look pretty sad. 

If it was painted a nice overall color, even if it wasn't a mirror smooth finish, it would change everyone's perceptions. Even an over all coat of single color primer would be a huge improvement!

I'm no Jay Leno, so funds are going to be limited. I need to find a do-able, low cost, DIY solution.

Luckily I have some ideas.