Sunday, 31 December 2006

Seconds out...... Round Two

Well that’s the rear finished now – all I need is the reconditioned parts back from Wards and I can commence re-assembly. I suppose in theory this is a minor landmark – but it doesn’t feel like it – there still seems plenty to do before I have enough parts to start assembling onto a chassis. I suppose this is no big deal as my chassis won’t be ready until end of February / early March.

I’ve dug out all the parts for the front near-side ready for cleaning and painting – as you can see there doesn’t appear to be as many as for the rear. Some parts are not required such as the steering arm (this is replaced by a Gardner Douglas item as the steering rack is in front of the wheels as opposed to behind as on the Jaguar). The anti-roll bar mounting is not required either as the chassis is being constructed without. Advice from GD was that this is not really needed unless some serious use on track was planned. However it can be retro-fitted at a later date should I feel it’s necessary.

I am re-conditioning the front hubs myself as these are relatively straightforward compared to the fancy preloaded bearing efforts on the rear hubs. Stub axles, inner and outer wheel bearings are being replaced and new powerflex bushes will be fitted to the wishbones. Not sure if I’ll be able to fit these myself or if I’ll have to “borrow” a press?

Here we are at the end of one year and the beginning of another. I wonder how far on the build will be at this time next year? I have always had a rough programme of 2 years but without going into any detail. I have steered clear of having a strict build programme – mainly to avoid disappointment I think! I would hope that this time next year as a minimum I would have a complete rolling chassis with running engine and should be just starting work on fitting the body out. Now this may not seem like much – but I’m trying not to be overenthusiastic whilst remaining realistic with regard to budget.

Friday, 29 December 2006

On the subject of Colour......

Thinking about body colour (again) today. I have already decided to opt for a "gel coat" finish for two reasons:

1) Going to the expense of painting seems unnecessary given the quality of the finish that can be obtained with GD's gel coat - many mistake it for a conventional "paint job" apparently.

2) The "gel coat" has an appreciable thickness which means that stone chips do not tend to reveal primer (as would be the case with a conventional paint job). It's also a lot harder wearing - in fact Andy Burrows recommended "gel coat" if Track Days were to be on the agenda - which I think they may well be!

It has been said that using gel coats limits the number of available colours - obviously you can't have metallic or pearlescent etc - only solid colours. GD can supply a body shell in any RAL colour. Below is a picture of the full spectrum of RAL colours - in my book I wouldn't call it limited!

I have a copy of "COBRA The First 40 Years" by Trevor Legate (excellent book by the way) in it there are some excellent pictures of "39 PH" painted in the Team Willment Colours. I think this is what I'll go for - red gel coat and the stripes can be done with vinyl (but not by me if I want them straight!).

"39PH" is pictured here fitted with it's Le-Mans Hardtop - but you get the idea - haven't made my mind up about the white roundels on the sides yet though? Just need to identify the appropriate shade of red now.

Thursday, 28 December 2006

More Painting

Painted all the remaining components for the rear-nearside today in one go. It gets a bit tricky over coating black on black to ensure complete coverage- especially when the existing coat has quite a high gloss. I had solved this problem with a cheapo LED head torch this shows up the fresh coat you are applying quite nicely.

So that's all the components for the rear refurbished and painted. I'll leave the paint to cure for a couple of days - remove the masking tape, fit new grease nipples and pack away with the parts for the offside. All I need now are the reconditioned and new parts back from Wards and I can start re-assembly. I must remember to ring them next week and find out how they are getting on - they did say at the time that no news would be good news - but no news at all?

I suppose now I need to prepare myself for tackling the front suspension and hubs - I don't think there will be as much prep and painting although there are more, but smaller, parts - probably end up being a bit fiddly. I also need to get all the old grease out of the hubs - nice.

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

No Man's Land -

You know the place - that time between Boxing Day and New Year. Thought it was time to crack on with the prep and painting for the other side of the rear. Had already painted the lower wishbone but decided I was gonna paint all the rest in one sitting to save time (and paintbrushes - don't seem able to get them clean so it's new ones each time) Just before Christmas I had stripped all the parts so today it was a matter of final cleaning and degreasing.

I use hot water all the time now - mainly it means that all the parts dry pretty quickly with being warm - it also means that the passivation process from the acid etching doesn't take so long either. But perhaps more importantly - as it's about zero degrees in my garage at the minute it's much more bearable on the hands! Which reminds me - I best leave the prepared parts in the house overnight to warm up ready for painting tomorrow - it's just a little too cold for the paint.

I've also been tinkering with the blog and added some more links (needed to set up my own website as a repository for all the info). I've also added a webcam! not bad for a net-virgin. At the moment it aimlessly stares out of the study window - It will be moved into the garage and the plan is to provide a time-lapse animation of the build. Perhaps a little ambitious? ...... we'll see. It's either going to be a looooong USB cable (which might not work) or a wireless webcam (which might not work either)!

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Dreaming of Engines................

Today is the first day of the Christmas Break!! However half of today has been wasted by recovering from the "Christmas do" last night. Didn't feel up to much so I wasted some more time thinking about engines. I haven't even got a full collection of refurbished donor parts yet never mind a chassis so engines are a long way off - but then again - engines are the exciting bit!

From the outset I was always going to use a Chevy 350 (0r 383 as these are 350's with a stroker crank). After the unbelievable test drive in the GD demonstrator (a 400HP LS1) I had again made an instant decision that approx 400 HP was what I wanted. The general motors LS engines have a lot going for them - but at the end of the day they just do not compare to a 350 Chevy on looks - I've said before that this project isn't necessarily about sensible decisions!

So... spent some time on the 'net and came across pro-performance unlimited .... you would not believe what treasures lie await on this site!!. Just to whet your appetites and to give you a feel for why Chevy 350 (383) over GM LS - then have a look at these video clips courtesy of pro-performance unlimited:

PS. Don't forgrt to turn up the sound!

OPTION 1 CHEVY 350 - 420 HP


OPTION 3 - CHEVY 383 - 450 HP

Should have spent some time filling in the blanks to get the blog up to date - but I think you'll agree this was more worthwhile! - However this is a monumentous occaison as it represents my first REAL TIME POST!

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Here we go again.

Now it's time to start all over again with the other side - not wishing to bore everyone with a repeat of the previous side ..... Here's some hot painting action instead!

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

One down.... loads to go.

That's all one side of the rear finished - all packed away ready for building up. Took the opportunity to fit new grease nipples to the lower wishbone. Didn't fit too well - looks to me like it needed a washer but none was present when I tripped it - more vanishing bits? Not to worry I took the old nipples off the universal joints I had junked and cleaned up the alloy domed washers of them - perfect.

Sunday, 10 December 2006

The Beginning ...... After the Event!

This in reality is the first post in this blog. I thought of blogging this project some time after actually starting it! So I’m gonna have to spend the next few days recreating what’s happened so far. I’ve set up a couple of links to a photo gallery and slide show (free hosting at to avoid getting aggravated it’s best to right click on the links and “open in new window” – otherwise you browsers “back button” may wear out!

Saturday, 9 December 2006

More of the Same.

More Cleaning, stripping and painting. That's all the components for the rear offside suspension and drive-train done. Just left them all hanging up for a week whilst the paint fully cures before putting them away to await rebuilding. It's all a little time consuming but well worth it, I'm more than satisfied with the results.

Also phoned Wards today. they aren't going to get the bits back to me before Christmas - no big deal as I've got nothing to bolt them on to! - Although I was looking forward to having some shiny new bits.

Had difficulty getting the remaining nuts off the rear shock shafts - no joy. Tried the nut splitter and eventually got the nut off but the threads on the shaft were goosed - explains why it wouldn't budge. Didn't bother with the other shock shaft as on closer inspection whoever last assembled it seems to have hammered it in and mushroomed one end.! That'll be two new ones then.

Called SNG Barratts but they had none and they had been on back order for a few months. So I called John Gordon's - he didn't have any either but said he could lay his hands on some no problem. Whilst on the phone to SNG I order some miscellaneous washers which appeared to have disappeared some time during the life of my donor?

Having some difficulty lining pictures and text up in the blog - seems like the preview window is just an imaginary concept!

Monday, 4 December 2006

Factory Visit

Went down to GD today - got off to a bad start as the A1 was shut at leeming lane due to an accident - if it wasn't for sat-nav I think I'd have been stuck there all day. Met Andy Burrows and his wife Meena and had a look round the workshop. It was a bit smaller than I expected but crammed full of delights none the less.

The best bit was when Andy took me out in the LS1 powered (400 HP) demonstrator - words fail me. I used to ride supersports bikes but somehow this thing seemed even faster. The acceleration was relentless. There was a story from back in the 60's that reckoned that Carol Shelby used to put a 100 dollar bill on the dashboard and if a prospective customer could reach it whilst he was accelerating they could keep it - I can believe that!


Right click and open in new window

I don't think I needed much more convincing. The only real choice was which body style to go for? GD give you the option of a MKIII or MKIV body. The MKIII was in effect GD's own interpretation of the Cobra shape. The MKIV body has been produced from a plug taken from the Orignial Superblower CRS moulds. The MKIV has slighlty more muscular arches but the main difference is in the position of the scuttle. This is further forward than the MKIII resulting in longer doors, more distance to the dash and more height below the dash - particularly with the more original flat bottom dash panel. I'm nearly 6'4" but there was going to be plenty of room.


Asked a lot more question but mainly in a daze now. Anyways the deal was done and a chassis was duly ordered and the deposit paid. Allowing for Christmas shutdown my chassis should be ready end of February / beginning of March - this should fit in nicely with the refurbishment of the donor parts.

Haven't ordered the body yet as I've not fully made my mind up on my build sequence - plenty of time for that yet

I forgot my camera - Doh! - Sorry.

Thursday, 30 November 2006

Bite the Bullet

I'm pretty pleased with the way things are going and I don't think that the refurbishment and re-assembly is going to present too many problems. So... it was bite the bullet time. I phoned Gardner Douglas and spoke to Andy Burrows - really helpful guy. End result - I'm going down to the factory in Nottinghamshire on Monday to have a look around - ask some questions - any maybe order my chassis!!

Monday, 27 November 2006

Cracking On.

Time to crack on - drive shaft components this time. Using boiling / hot water for rinsing speeds the process up a fair bit. Again the cleaning process turns out to be pretty straightforward - the

two components you see here only took about an hour and a half to prep ready for the acid bath.

Painting again proved no problem
apart from the wait between coats - maybe I should prep more parts beforehand and paint more in one go? Bit of advice - get a decent respirator that will filter fumes - this POR15 stuff is pretty nasty - And wear gloves - once it has cured on your skin even the solvent won't get it off! - you'll have to wait a week for your skin to shed. Oh - and and if using plastic containers check with a bit of paint / solvent as they seem to dissolve quite a few things!

Sunday, 26 November 2006

The First Painting Steps...... of Many

Here we go - decide to start with a rear lower wishbone casting. Cleaning and remove all the accumulated c##p wasn't as difficult as I thought - it took about an hour to to get to this stage - Which I thought was pretty acceptable - I don't think you would have got much better with blasting? I did end up with a few nooks and crannies that were difficult to get into - but I found I had a small stainless steel wire brush for my Dremel - so that was them quickly sorted. It was surprising how well the parts came up - as the lower wishbones are cast they don't have a tendency to corrode to ant significant extent. The accumulation of filth mad them look in a much worse condition than they actually were.

Having cleaned and degreased the next stage was to use the POR "Metal Ready" solution. This essentially comprises a concoction of phosphoric acid and zinc salts. It will dissolve any small areas of rust you either missed or couldn't get to and then etches and coats the surface with zinc phosphate ready to receive the paint. The destructions indicated 15-30 minutes was required (all you do is keep the surfaces wet - hence the spray bottle). However this would appear to be at normal temperatures - i.e. not my garage at the end of December! Maybe if the final rinse was done with boiling water the piece would warm up? would also dry quicker.

Next it's time for the paint - this proved to be a bit of a commitment. Any over coating must be done before the previous coat has cured. If it has then you will need to abrade it or use a tie-coat primer. Essentially this means don't start painting unless you've got at least the next six hours spare - it takes 2 to 3 hours for a coat to become dry (slight finger drag) before you overcoat. The careful degreasing and treating with "Metal Ready" seemed to be worthwhile as the paint covered exceptionally well. The photo shows the wishbone after one coat. It will probably take a week for full cure but by then the paint should be rock hard. All in all - I felt quite satisfied with my first efforts - I tried not to think of how many pieces I had left to do!

Friday, 24 November 2006

The end of Dismantling?

It has been a while but that’s it – everything dismantled – all the bits for Wards boxed up and waiting for the courier. Finished my big list of required parts. There are a lot of parts here - however I see no point in saving a few bob by re-using bearings or other parts with an unknown history. It's gonna be a little frustrating if a few miles down the road it all has to come apart again becasue I re-used a dodgy old part! The ilst was sent off to Wards for them to send back with re-conditioned callipers, rear hubs and diff.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006


Got my order from Frosts today - that was the easy bit - now time for some mess!

Friday, 17 November 2006

Time to Clean.

Sent off an order to Frosts today for all the stuff I'm going to need to clean, prep and paint all the components that I am refurbishing myself. The planned process is:

1) Clean / degrease

2) Strip all old paint / rust (stripping discs - wire brushes in grinder / drill)

3) Clean / degrease

4) Prepare by acid etching (convert any remaining rust / etch surface ready for painting)

5) Two Coats of POR15 rust preventative paint

6) One Coat of POR15 Chassis Black

The POR15 paint system appears to be a moisture cured urethane and if it performs only half as good as the manufacturers claim then it should be excellent.

Now some people would advocate grit / bead blasting followed by plating / powder coating. This would still require some prep - a lot of masking off and paying someone else! However, this was going to be one of the key stages and I really felt it was something I wanted to do myself - I had the bizarre notion that I would find it satisfying and therapeutic? - I also hadn't got as far as committing myself to ordering a chassis yet. If I could get through all this and end up with a fully refurbished set of suspension and drive-train components then my thinking is that the rest of the build shouldn't be too daunting.

Monday, 30 October 2006


The front suspension has been proving troublesome, plenty of penetrating oil and plenty of care. Slowly but surely my collection of disassembled parts has been growing. I’ve also been busy compiling a list of all the replacement parts required together with those parts to be reconditioned by Ward Engineering. Wards will be taking care of the diff, rear hubs and callipers. A full car set of reconditioned (including high and low pressure testing) callipers - front four pots, rear two pots and separate hand brake callipers at 245 quid in return for my own units as exchange seems like a particularly good bargain compared to the amount of work required to do it yourself – or am I just being lazy?

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Front Suspension Strip

Whilst the rear hub was being abused by messers Thompson I had been busying myself with dismantling the front suspension. This is a bit more of a hassle, many of the fastners appear corroded fast and have been requiring plenty of penetrating oil over a few days to come free. After having broken one bolt in the diff – I didn’t want to break any more.

However the lower shock bracket bolts were stuck fast – time to break out the angle grinder (grinding has turned out to be particularly therapeutic) followed by a drift and lump hammer.

Having discovered the pleasure of aimlessly grinding metal – It was pleasing to find that the lips worn onto the edge of front discs were preventing the callipers (pads frozen in) from passing. 10 minutes of showering sparks – sorted.

Friday, 6 October 2006

Satan's Rear Hub - 5 - Good Triumphs over Evil

Sorted – Hub removed and only charged a tenner – big thanks to Tony at T Thompson and Sons.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Satan's Rear Hub - 4 - The End is not so Nigh!

Following the application of 20 tonnes over 24 hours the driveshaft was still refusing to part company with the hub – I was assured that the application of a “gas spanner” (an acetylene torch to you and me) would sharp sort things.

Monday, 2 October 2006

Satan's Rear Hub - 3 - The End is Nigh

Found a small family run Automotive Engineers close to where I work – took the stubborn rear hub in and was assured that it could be removed no probs.

Sunday, 1 October 2006

Breaking Things

One of the last things to do is to remove the lower wishbone inner pivot brackets from the differential housing. These seemed to be particularly stubborn but came out after a few days of soaking with penetrating oil. However after 3 out of 4 came out the last one snapped off with no warning – this was probably due to the application of too much force on my part.

A quick phone call to Ward Engineering who will be reconditioning the diff assured me that the broken bolt could be removed easily - simply by me paying them an extra 25 quid – better than having to find a new diff casing.

Saturday, 30 September 2006

Satan's Rear Hub - 2

Still not decided what to do next with the offending article!

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Potential Boredom

Having dismantled most of the Jag Independent Rear Suspension I spent a fair bit of time dismantling Universal Joints – Haynes recommended tapping the side of the UJ yoke with a rubber mallet and the bearing would work itself to the outside and could then be removed by hand. This seemed too easy – it does work they just don’t tell you that it takes about 45 minutes per bearing – 4 per UJ – 4 UJ’s in total – that’s gonna be 12 hours!!!. Having done the first couple of bearings I realised that as I was going to replace all the UJ’s I didn’t need to remove them carefully – as long as I didn’t damage the Yokes. I then quickly devised a fairly brutal method involving the direct metal on metal application of force. Result….. less than 5 minutes to dismantle a complete Universal Joint.

Not sure what to do about the stubborn rear hub.

P.S. I have been noting the position of all the camber control shims removed from either side of the inboard discs – hopefully this may make getting the correct camber on re-assembly easier – although I have a sneaking feeling that I may have to start from scratch with this.

Thursday, 7 September 2006

Satan's Rear Hub - 1

A quick foray on Ebay results in me being the proud owner of a Haynes Workshop Manual and a Haynes Restoration Manual – having digested the contents I was ready to start stripping my pile of junk. First job is to remove the rear hubs. Ahh…. First job is to purchase a hub puller. A bit of brute force is required but ultimately the splined drive shaft is driven out of the hub. It then becomes a relatively simple task to remove the shocks, wishbones and drive shafts.

The other hub however came from a world were thread locking compound was obviously given away free with breakfast cereal and had to be used in copious amounts! Result – what I thought was the shaft “popping” out of the hub was in fact the hub puller snapping!

A visit to Machine Mart armed me with a hub puller on steroids – only this time the only thing I was going to break was my arm! – the more leverage I could apply the nearer I came to a nasty accident.

So I removed the hub complete with the entire drive shaft and universal joints – I need to think.

Saturday, 26 August 2006

Differential Paranoia

The main cause of my paranoia at the moment is the thought that the differential may not be serviceable – I can wait no longer – out with the socket set and off with the diff back plate. Fortunately the diff is in good condition – full of oil, no wear or rust and apparently no excessive backlash between the crownwheel and pinions – I’ll have to find something else to worry about now!

Thursday, 24 August 2006

Expensive Scrap Metal?

I spend some time looking at what I’ve got for 200 quid – it doesn’t seem like much!

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

I think we're gonna need a bigger garage!

Time to get the Donor Parts – only they are in the West Midlands and I’m in Newcastle upon Tyne – (Couldn’t find anywhere closer!). So more internet and phone calls secured a cheap hire for a transit pickup.


S for S###E

“I’m sorry but we don’t appear to have your booking” I only made it yesterday and you confirmed it to me!!!

So I find myself armed with a 7.5 tonne shed on wheels – I’m sure Roy Shneider in Jaws said “I think we’re going to need a bigger garage!”

So following an uneventful (if somewhat lengthy and boring) journey at 60mph and what appeared to be 6mpg I find myself the proud owner of a heap of scrap metal and a V5 for a Daimler Double 6 – this is perhaps the most important thing as it will avoid ending up with a “Q” reg – I will be able to retain the donor’s registration.

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

In the Beginning - was there Light?

So where to start? – With an attempt at explaining why!

I am a Chartered Structural Engineer currently responsible for the Bridges and Structures stock at a Local Authority. It is unfortunate in my chosen profession that career progression entails increased “management” activities which increase to the detriment of hands on engineering. The hands on engineering bit was the challenging bit – that’s not to say my current position is not fulfilling – but I have had to accept that I can’t spend the rest of my life designing bridges – we all have to move on.

Therefore in a desperate attempt to avoid the onset of dementia I needed to find a project to keep the “engineering” parts of the old grey matter working.

I remember a few years ago looking at the possibilities of building a kit car but I think I managed to sidetrack myself by taking my bike test and then wasting all my money on motorbikes!

So kit cars were revisited and then I remembered about replica AC Cobra’s (try this wikipedia link)– and before a conscious thought could be formulated – a decision had been made! There then followed a period of research – browsing magazines and the internet. I didn’t need much more convincing, all I had to do was choose a manufacturer.

To me (and my engineering brain) there appeared to be only one option – a Gardner Douglas 427 – I’m not going to go into an in depth discussion of the pro’s and con’s of various manufacturers – there’s plenty of that to be had elsewhere on the net! – and in any case this is very much a personal thing, common sense does not necessarily apply!



THE PLAN? - Reconditioning the donor components (front and rear axles, suspension, differential and drive shafts) appeared to be the most b*ll aching task to me - so the plan was to get through this without totally pi##ing myself off - if tis was the case then I would go ahead with ordering the chassis and continue with the rest of the build.

First thing you need then is a donor car – I was planning to build the Jag based version of the GD 427 so I was gonna have to find a Series II or III XJ6. However on second thoughts I didn’t think the domestic authorities would be too taken with me dismantling an XJ6 on the drive (wouldn’t fit in the garage) – plus how do you get rid of it once you’ve taken all the running gear off?

Quick whiz on the net – followed by a phone call secured a front and rear end off a Series III together with a choice of V5! - all for 200 quid (guaranteed fit to be reconditioned) – too good to be true? Only time (or blog) will tell…….

The first posts up until the 10th December will be just be catching up with what has happened up until the 10th as that was the date I decided to write a blog – possibly to just record events for myself – although there may be someone out there that finds this interesting???

P.S. I think I may end up using my own blog as somewhere to organise all my info and on-line resources!