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Paintwork and Assembly, Part 2

11/10/02 -- I got a lot of "little" things done today, and made more progress. For one thing, the clutch slave cylinder is now installed, but I haven't run the hydraulic line yet. I also determined that I had to bolt the fuse block assembly to the firewall for the simple reason that one of the clips was broken and also because I fashioned a new gasket out of dense foam rubber to replace the original. The wiring harness is new, but the fuse block was salvaged from an old chewed up harness I found on eBay for $7.50. Unfortunately, I could only screw down one side, because the clutch M/C is in the way to drill out the other holes. But at least the fuse block is in place until I can finish the job. I'm going to try and find a longer drill bit. The fuseblock originally was just held in place by plastic clips, but Lucas marked four areas for drilling 1/8" holes on the outside corners of the block.

I also elected to route the rear wiring harness to the front a little differently than the standard layout, which places the harness directly under the front foot of the rollbar that I'll be installing and runs under the seat. There are openings in the inner sills that lead to the outer sills, so I simply routed the harness back into the rear sill opening, into the sill, where it exits in front of the cross support brace forward of the seat. This will keep the harness well clear of the rollbar. It's also worry-free in that both of these openings, as you can see by the photo, are "rounded off" with no sharp edges.

I used irrigation tubing for micro sprinklers to help the wire loom up through the sill. After feeding the semi-rigid tube through, I inserted one of the bullet connectors from the harness into the end of it, which was a nice, snug fit, and pushed with the right hand while gently pulling with the left, until the loom was free and clear on the front side.

Clean and tidy, with less wire on the floor of the vehicle. Once the routing was complete, I went ahead and connected the rear harness to the main harness. Naturally, all the wires are color coded, so finding the mates was a snap.

I also installed several of the rubber plugs that fit in the drain holes in the floor pan and boot area. I also connected the rear harness to the main harness, installed a new turn signal switch and overdrive stalk switch. My gearbox has the knob mounted switch, which I intend on using, I think, but if I change my mind, I'll have the stalk switch in place. If I elect to use the knob switch, I may use the stalk switch for something else entirely, like fog lamps.

11/11/02 -- Back to work today, connecting up the steering column wiring after installing my wood wheel. To keep the wires up and out of the way, I opted to loop the cables from the steering wheel over the top of the steering column to keep things tidy.

The only thing preventing me from ordering the carpet is the bleeding of the clutch. I need to get the hydraulic line installed and have at it. After that, I won't have any more excuses, with the exception of my looming mortgage payment, perhaps. Bills tend to slow down my progress. Funny how that works, huh?

Oh well, at least I can press on with the components that I've already put together, like the wheel arch covers and waist seals on the doors. Ah, and why not!

One of the most useful tips from Practical Classic's Spitfire Restoration manual I gleaned was to use a spare front suspension shim to install the waist seal clips, which otherwise, would prove to be a very difficult task. The Bentley manual has plans for a special tool you can fashion for the job as well, but I prefer improvisation whenever possible. Remember, I'm the guy that pounded out some dents in my car with a horseshoe!!

11/21/02 -- Finances and "honey damnits" are getting in the way of any significant progress on Mrs. Jones. You've heard of "honey dos" no doubt. When the wife says "honey, do this" or "honey do that". Well, after 19 years of marriage, when my patient wife's patience begins to wane, it's time to get the chores done around the house. My recent announcement that "maybe we should sell the house and downsize" was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. My wife has been tirelessly throwing out stuff, organizing what's left, and having me and my son help her move furniture around the place in anticipation of putting it on the market. Quite frankly, I appreciate her energy and efforts to help us get top doller for the house, but the truth of the matter is, I really don't want to move. Like everyone else, we've been hit hard by the sluggish economy for the last year and a half or more, and each month it's more and more of a struggle to stay on top of the bills. So new parts for the car have been ordered on an "as can" basis, with bits and pieces coming in here and there.

For instance, a set of chrome bullet mirrors arrived the other day from England. I was originally going to fit Lucas mirrors, but the only style I could find were fender mirrors, and they all seemed to be for the right side only! Besides, I ruled out fender mirrors and my decision not to fill the hole in the driver's door from where the original mirror was mounted, solidified that decision. I like the vintage, yet timeless look of the bullet mirrors and will fit them soon. Maybe tomorrow.

I was sidetracked with another problem I had to deal with first, though... The GT6 Mk1 heater box that fit so perfectly in place of a Spitfire heater box that I refurbished and repainted was missing some critical items -- namely -- 1 inch holes for the speedometer and tachometer cables to feed through! Duh! Even the earliest GT6's had driver's side instrument placement, negating the need for the cables to pass through the box as it had to for early Spitfires with the centrally mounted gauge cluster. So, borrowing a hole cutter from a friend, I removed the box, drilled out the holes, and tomorrow will order more grommets to seal around the cable. I'll need six altogether. Two for each side of the heater box and two for the upper bulkhead where the cables enter.

John Zissler from the U.K has kindly offered to send me the final two remaining parts I've needed before installing the seats -- the curved piece that bridges the rearmost legs of the set rails, (I have one seat rail that's missing this piece) and the clip that attaches to that curved portion and is bolted to the lower back of the seat itself.

Joe Curry came up with the best solution for my badging problems due to the repros not aligning with the original holes very well. This evening, I ground off the pins, attached the chrome lettering to one side of dual-sided automotive tape, then carefully cut around the badges with an exacto knife. It all turned out great.

One of these days, I need to get cracking on installing the door window regulators and remote control handle. Once I can buy the carpet set, things should start moving at a pretty brisk pace...

11/21/02 -- I managed to squeeze in another quick project this afternoon, drilling holes for, and then mounting, the dual chrome bullet mirrors. Reaching up inside with a 1/4 ratchet wrench to tighten the bolts was not easy and somewhat painful to my forearms, which were pressed hard against the sheetmetal opening in the door frame, but I got them in. I also ordered the retaining clips needed to install the stainless fender top trim fore and aft, a four more suspension shims and a few other odds and ends.


12/14/02 -- Progress has been slow due to holiday spending, bills, etc. I recently purchased a new choke cable, which appears to be a good 2 feet too long (?), installed it , along with the heater cable, and also the stainless fender trim fore and aft. I also replaced the pinion seal in the differential, which was leaking gear oil all over the garage.

Unfortunatley, work, familily and holiday gift purchases precludes me from getting much more done, or ordering the final pieces needed to complete the puzzle, including the carpet set. I had hoped for a January 1, 2003 street date, but it appears unlikely that I'll be able to meet that goal. No rush.

12/19/02 -- The rear view mirror that I purchased off eBay arrived the other day, and as described, the paint was pretty well shot. I sanded the paint smooth, then applied a few coats of black wrinkle paint and the mirror looked good enough to install.

The choke cable was long, but curiously, the leads for the front parking lamps were each about 3 inches too short. Strange. They are new lamp units. I unwrapped a spare wiring harness that I bought with my fusebox on eBay last year and found a clean length of red wire, stripped the ends, tinned the leads with my soldering iron, and installed new bullet connectors on the two mini extensions, and finally connected all the front wiring. To make things a little neater, I encased all the wiring at the front of the bonnet with a wiring organizer. You know, one of those long flexible plastic tubes with a slit cut into it lengthwise. It looks good. As you can see from the photo below, I still need to finish finessing the loose wires into the covering, cinch things up gently with wire ties, and bend the metal clips on the bonnet to secure the loom in place.

I also installed the heater cable, and got that all hooked up to the heater valve as well. We're definitely getting there. I'm ready to fill the radiator with coolant and water, but have decided to hold off until I put some gas in the tank and am ready to start the engine. I still have to tackle the overdrive wiring harness, then it will be time to install the dash instruments and connect all the wiring to the gauges, switches, etc. At that point, I'll FINALLY be ready to gas this car up and turn the key! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

12/20/02 -- Okey-doke. Here's the front wiring all neatly installed and secured. It's very clean and uncluttered looking now. I managed to accidentally break off one of the metal securing clips on the bonnet. No problem, I'll just sheath the rest in black shrink tubing like they were originally, and the broken one won't be missed.

1/1/03 -- I had hoped that the car would be finished and on the road by today, having missed my original goal in October. As it so happens, the weather was beautiful today. Ah well... Someday soon. I'm continuing to make progress, and that's the important thing. Over the last few days, I've disassembled, cleaned, reassembled and installed the wiper wheel boxes, the washer jets and connected the overdrive relay to the harness for it.

I also went to work on a pea-sized outward ding in the rear license plate panel that I accidentally made with the end of the ratchet wrench handle when I was installing the rear bumper mounts back in October. That ding has been bothering me every time I see it. Especially since the license plate, when fitted, would not conceal it. With my metallic paint it really stood out like a sore thumb. I had planned on having the painter address it when I bring the car back to him to resolve some other minor issues, or hire one of those "paintless dent remover" mobile units to give it a go, but I decided to save the $100 they charge and to put my panel working skills to the ultimate test -- hammering down the dent without making things worse for the surrounding area or damaging the new paint finish. It was a gamble, but I figured if I screwed things up, I'd just have the painter fix it and pay for my stupidity.

But I got lucky. Very lucky.

Using a small wooden block with rounded corners and a rubber mallet, I spent a total of probably an hour or so, gently banging on the affected area until I was able to slowly bring the affected area of the panel back into nice, flat shape. I used the wood block alternately as a dollie on the back side of the ding while gently tapping the painted side directly with the rubber mallet, and also as a tool to literally press down the ding, a little at a time.

At one point, I felt that I actually had made matters worse, but after carefully staying with it and examining my work from every conceivable angle, I managed to work the panel almost perfectly flat again, which I'm very pleased with. After I was finished with "massaging the metal", I rubbed the area out with a little polishing compound. No more ding, pea sized or otherwise! Can you spot the repair?

We had some friends over for New Year's eve last night and I invited them, and my son, to try and find the area of the original ding and nobody could do it. They had all seen it previously, but forgot where it was and could not locate it even after I pointed the area out. The toughest part for this repair was for me to "quit while I was ahead". I mean, I can still barely make out a slight imperfection, but the area feels smooth to the touch and is not easily found, even close up. It is not visible even to me from a few feet away, but I know where it is. But nobody else will though, and that's what counts. Look a little closer. Can you see it now?

All right, let's get closer still, from yet a different angle...

If you still can't spot where the ding used to be, then I'll sleep better. Actually, I just took these pictures this evening as the final "flash test". If the repair was visible, you could tell by the shading of the metallic around the affected area. The panel still looks good. Whew!

Today, I soldered a new bullet connector to the lead from the overdrive solenoid, which looks like it had been snipped off. While I was at it, I soldered a few other connections too, just for my own piece of mind, like the leads coming from the Pertronix Ignitor module to the coil. I had crimped female spade connectors to the leads, which attach to male spades on the coil posts, but I prefer a soldered contact. I plan on going ahead and soldering bullet connectors to all the leads coming off my stealth audio head unit as well.

1/3/03 -- I'm sort of getting antsy to at least have the wiring done to the point where I can turn the key and attempt to fire up the engine on my birthday, which is coming up soon. That would be a nice present. Just to hear the engine come roaring back to life without a muffler. We'll see.

I decided that I wasn't pleased with the bare metal appearance of the wiper motor cover plate and top hat, so I unsoldered the wire from the motor, removed and cleaned both pieces, sprayed with etching primer and gave them a couple of coats of Argent Silver before regreasing the gearing and tightening the plate back down. I think that it looks much better now. Silver Hammerite would have provided a better match to the rest of the metal on the motor end cap, for instance, but I like the overall appearance. I just need to resolder that orange wire.

The wiper motor paint, oddly enough seems to have helped in really pulling the engine compartment together, appearance-wise.

1/5/03 -- I managed to accomplish a great deal today -- and even managed to recover from a devastating setback late in the evening.

Inspired to be able to start the engine on my next birthday a week from today, I tackled the wiring harness and completed the O/D wiring, along with getting all the dash switches connected. I still need indicator bulbs, so none of them will be ready, but it felt good to finally have everything wired and essentially ready to turn the key.

I also got around to finally installing the clutch hydraulic line, after which I bleeded the clutch. That went quite smoothly with no surprises.

In connecting the instruments, I noticed that I couldn't seem to find the bulb holder for the brake warning light. I shrugged it off, and forgot about it as I carried on with my work. I had already attached a lead to the PDWA valve which matched the color description in my manual (or at least I must have thought at the time), and so I felt the bulb holder must have just been tucked away out of sight or something.

BIG mistake.

I wish I would have connected that wire to the coil where it belonged. Turning the key to try the turn signals, smoke poured out from under the dash. After checking the fuse block, I could see that a white wire had burned pretty significantly. Upon closer inspection, and after realizing which wire it was (coil), I took a look at the harness emerging from the fuse block and was horrified to see the neatly wrapped loom split open, and bare wire surrounded by melted plastic.


Pardon my French. What a stupid, costly mistake. I was quite depressed for several minutes, realizing that I could not afford to replace the main harness at this time.

As soon as I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I had the notion to check an old rat-chewed harness that my fuse block came off of -- an old Spitfire wiring harness. Sure enough, the lead that was melted on my new harness was still there and intact. After unwrapping and setting aside as much undamaged cable wrap that I could from the donor harness, I removed the needed wire. Fearing the worst, but hoping for the best, I removed the damaged wrap that had split open on the new harness after disconnecting everything that it was attached to on the top bulkhead (battery box ground, solenoid, voltage regulator and horn relay) and unwrapped the loom to the point where the damaged coil wire exits. Peeling away the melted wire, I was surprised and delighted to see that no adjacent wires had been damaged. After inserting the replacement wire alongside the the rest of the loom, I took the wire wrap that I had set aside, turning the old dusty side to the bottom, and re-wrapped the loom with excellent results.

After re-installing all of the connections late this evening, I held my breath and turned the key again after reconnecting the negative pole of the battery. Hurray! No parking or tail lights though. The middle fuse that handles that one keeps blowing. But I was able to rule out the meltdown as a possible culprit since I had tried the headlights before ever turning the key, to see how they looked, and noticed that the parking and tail lights were not working. But everything else checked out -- the turn signals, brake lights and back-up lights.

1/5/03 -- More good news. The shorting tail lights and parking lights were due to switched wires at the license plate light. Once I corrected the wiring, the lights are all fine now. I took the opportunity to solder bullet connectors for the license plate connections.

1/15/03 -- Another artificial "completion date" has come and gone. I had hoped to take the car out for a drive on my birthday a few days ago, but a hard disc failure on my computer threw all my plans out the window. The day after my last entry, my primary drive crashed and I spent the next week rebuilding data, installing programs, and sitting on the edge of my seat as a data recovery specialist did his best to recover my lost files (and as it turns out, he was very successful). Only trouble is, it cost me around thirteen-hundred dollars to get the data back and onto a new drive. Ouch.

That isn't to say that no progress was made on the car. With the help of my good friend "Bear", we fired up the engine for the very first time last week -- and after some minor adjustments to the timing and the carb mixture, the engine sounds great! Very exciting stuff. A really strange thing happened on the way to getting the engine started though... The starter solenoid shorted, smoking a ground wire which terminated at its' base. More specifically, the terminal that the wire from the ignition connects to is grounding out internally to the case. So we bypassed the solenoid and fired that mother up. The balancing that the shop did on the engine really shows, as it hardly vibrates at all while running!

The dash wiring is finally complete and done. I ordered a new solenoid and speedometer cable today (I accidentally ruined the first one I had during installation), and once the cable is in place, I can bolt the instrument panel in place.

2/4/03 -- Man, I can't believe it's already February and I STILL don't have this car on the road. But, slowly, we're getting there. I've been preoccupied with household repairs and getting some nagging problems ironed out in the engine compartment recently. I installed the shiny new starter solenoid, which I'm happy to report is a dead-ringer for the original -- only it isn't dead -- and it looks great.

I gave up trying to fix the secondhand heater control valve that I had been trying to use, and ordered a replacement since they were on sale. The new valve is nice, but lacking the brass mounting block/outlet tube that was fitted to the original, so I simply unbolted that piece and re-used it. It took me a few attempts however, to get the two pieces to seal properly. You can see the brass piece which is sandwitched between the valve assembly and the mounting bracket. There's a tapered O-ring inside the brass block that was no longer working, so I cut it out with a utility knife, cleaned both pieces thoroughly, and squeezed out some black Permatex Form-a-Gasket around where the O-ring had been. Pushing both pieces together and tightening loosely, I let the rubber set up overnight before cranking the bolts down and it resulted in a good, tight seal.

A false alarm with my $9 radiator led me to remove it and take it to a radiator repair shop, only to be told that there was nothing wrong with it. The lip of the filler might have been bent slightly, allowing some water to sneak past the cap. I got the radiator back in place today and started the engine again to balance the carbs. I picked up a Uni-Syn tool recently and used it to get good, even vacuum across all four carbs. I was pleased to see that there are no more water leaks and after about 20 minutes of fiddling, I feel satisfied that the carbs are indeed balanced.

I was perplexed to discover that the new speedometer cable I ordered was a few inches shorter than the sheath of the one I had previously installed and ruined. I opted to leave the first sheath in place, since routing it through the necessary three grommets is very, very difficult and would have required me to pull the heater box again. No thanks! So what was I to do? I made the decision to cut down the sheath and make it fit. Getting the metal finishing piece back on the shortened cable end was no picnic, but I managed.

My wood dash was missing one of the four mounting studs, so I created a new one by grinding the head off a 10/32 machine screw. I'm going to have to disconnect all the instruments again and pull the dash, so I can drill the hole a little deeper and glue the stud in place. I really wish I had a set of the correct dash mounting clamps, but I don't. I'm probably just going to use fender washers with one half sliced off just past the center hole. That should do the trick. After I get the dash in place and feel confident that the wiring is all secure and in no danger of shorting, I think I'm going to install the driver's seat and seatbelt and take this car for a whirl around the block to check the transmission and overdrive. I don't want to get the carpets installed, dash support, etc., only to discover that I have to take it all back off to deal with a stuck overdrive solenoid or something. I have no exhaust silencer yet, so the neighbors should really enjoy this. I also need to get going on the registration for the new Mrs. Jones.

3/6/02 -- There is little progress to report, aside from the dash mounting brackets that TTN member John Zissler was so kind enough to grace me with. The instrument panel is in, the heater registers are in, and I'm sitting here wondering why on earth I haven't gotten this car out of the driveway and onto the road! Well, I have a really good reason, actually. I've been working like a dog getting my house ready to sell and unloading things I won't have room for at the new house -- like the GT6+ project car I picked up last year. It was hard letting that one go...

I just got off the phone with Hagerty Classic Car Insurance, who handled my last Spitfire Mk3, and ran into a couple of obstacles. For one thing, as soon as I mentioned I was fitting a rollbar (for the safety of my children when they drive with Dad), I was told that would prevent a policy from being issued, because the car would be considered a "Pro Street" class. Huh? I sort of lectured the gal on the phone a little, when she asked why I would need a roll bar if I wasn't "planning to drive fast". "Because these cars are little and have no airbags or other safety features, and if somebody hits me in an intersection or I have a mechanical failure and end up in a ditch, I want as much protection for my kids as possible." The modified engine also threw up some flags. "Hey, I just want to be able to keep up with traffic!" I moaned... Pending their receipt of photos and the approval of the underwriters, I'll have this car insured within a week or two. What a hassle.

I picked up a windscreen washer pump and knob to replace the one that I already had and lost! So the dash is complete. Time to order a set of carpets and get this thing registered and on the road...

3/15/03 -- I finally broke down and ordered a carpet set, which arrived a few days ago, along with the intermediate pipe with muffler that attaches to the header pipe. I went with stainless steel to match the header.

Before I laid the carpet, I wanted to install some heat and sound insulation, which I also did yesterday. At the same time, I stretched the vinyl from the wheel arch kit over the wheel arches after letting the fabric sit in the sun for awhile to make it more pliable. Regarding the insulation, the foil side goes down in areas of intense heat, such as the bulkhead or transmission cover, and faces up everywhere else.

My interior adhesive of choice is 3M #77. It comes in an aerosol can and is a dream to work with compared to brush-on adhesive. They make a stronger formula, but I prefer this formulation. Things stay where you put them, but if you want to pull the carpet later for whatever reason, you won't be leaving chunks of it behind with this stuff. Simply spray both surfaces to be joined, wait about 30 seconds and slap 'em together. Stretching the wheel arch vinyl was a chore, but I managed to get it on with no wrinkles, except for a small area in the rear where I trimmed off too much material. Next time, I won't be so hasty.

Yesterday, I also applied the heat /sound insulation material that I picked up at Home Depot (water heater wrap) to the rear deck and the underside of the transmission cover. Originally, the rear deck had asphalt tiles for sound deadening, but that stuff is miserable to get off. This 1/4" thick material should work better and won't be a burden to future owners that might want to restore this car again someday. In addition to covering the underside of the tranny cover, I also covered the opening surrounding the gearshift lever, to further seal out the heat.

TIP: Auto parts stores sell this exact same product with the exact same 97% heat reflection specifications (and probably by the same manufacturer) for approximately 33% more than you pay for the same stuff at Home Depot. The only difference is that you won't receive the aluminum tape that's included with the water heater wrap for less money, and you won't get the automotive specific instruction sheet, which certainly isn't worth another ten bucks...

I spent today cleaning up the seat tracks, which included welding the back arched piece onto the passenger rails that had lost that part some time ago. Special thanks to John Zissler in the U.K. for also sending me that elusive part that seems to be missing from so many seat rails.

After welding the rear rail support back on, I spent some time painting the seat rails with silver Hammerite. While the paint dried, I set about installing the carpeting.

The carpet set I selected was the deep pile "deluxe" set from Spitbits, and I'm more pleased with it than I anticipated I would be. The fit is excellent on the various pieces. and the quality of the carpet seems better than the moulded set I purcahsed for my previous Spitfire at over twice the cost. With the 3M adhesive, you can mold it yourself with better results! All the pieces that should have been bound along the edges are bound. The only thing that could have been improved upon would be to apply finishing material around the emergency brake handle opening. That brings to mind another suggestion.

TIP: When installing a new hand brake boot, coat the inside neck of it with petroleum jelly so it easily slides over the handbrake handle. Saves a lot of time and effort. Just wipe off the handle when done.

After the paint on the seat rails dried, I laid them down after chasing the mounting holes with a tap, and the installation went smoothly. Then, it was time to install the seatbelts and driver's seat! It was raining all day today, which prevented me from firing the engine up and driving around the block. Maybe tomorrow! It's been a good, productive day today regardless. I actually sat down behind the wheel for the very first time after installing the driver seat. I realize now that I need to raise the steering wheel a bit... Not much room for my right leg as the wheel wants to rest right on top of it.

3/16/03 -- Lots of good progress today, but some frustration, too. First the good news. Both leather seats are in, the dash support and radio are in (but not yet connected), and the interior is nearly finished. Certainly ready enough to drive, perhaps. If it hadn't been raining today, I might have actually gotten up enough nerve to take a spin. But, common sense prevails. Now that I've got the interior nearly finished, I can take the snapshots that the insurance company requires and button up any loose ends while waiting for insurance approval. For one thing, I'm going to get more gas for the tank, get the horn relay replaced (it's new, but DOA) and get the emergency brakes adjusted properly. I also need to trim an inch or so off the carb intake hoses after discovering that the air cleaners will not clear the inner wheel arch.

The frustration came from the intermediate stainless steel pipe with resonator from Bell. It did not fit to the header properly and rather than mess with it, I'm sending it back for a refund. The exhaust from the headers back will be a custom job. I did my best to make it fit, but it's clear that it won't. When I achieved the proper insertion angle to mate the intermediate pipe to the header outlet, the rest of the pipe was pointing towards the bottom front of the left rear tire. It appears to me that the bend on the header side of the intermediate pipe is backwards.

Here, in total, are the things I need to do to compete this car 100%:

1. Purchase and install new parcel trays

2. Purchase and install lower crash pad rails.

3. Install male snaps on door tops and rear cowl for tonneau.

4. Install the B-post finishing caps.

5. Install the windscreen finishing cap.

6. Purchase (or fabricate) and install rear tank cover.

7. Purchase (or fabricate) and install rear trunk matt.

8. Install stereo speakers and connect audio electronics.

9. Correctly wire the heater fan motor switch.

10. Install and wire accessory map light.

11. Install accessory gauge pod and connect.

12. Tighten handbrake cable (this should be at the top of the list!)

13. Check rollbar for fit and install, unless it rubs on seats.

14. Purchase tubing and T for washer pump.

15. Locate and install NOS Tudor washer bottle and bracket.

16. Fabricate (or purchase) and install engine and radiator valances.

17. Fix door remote mechanism link so I can get out of the car easier!

18. Clean and paint top frame, install soft top.

18. Replace defective door fuzzy seals and install.

19. Install windows in doors.

20. Rig an actuator whether cable or solenoid, to activate choke lever on carbs.

21. Cut down carb intake tubes so carb air filters will clear inner wheel arches.

Ah, those pesky details!

3/22/03 -- I've been out cleaning the garage as a favor to my wife, particularly since we have our house on the market and someone might actually want to see the garage. I couldn't resist doing a little more with the Spitfire, like going through my tachometers to find another one that might work better, and also painting and installing the soft top lock plates that go on top of the windscreen. You may wonder why I'd bother painting a brass piece that is going to be covered with a finisher and never seen anyway. Well, it's like this: If anyone ever reverse-engineers this car again someday, for another restoration, I want them to think "wow", even when they look at parts that were never meant to be seen. A little ridiculous, I know. But from the outset, I wanted everything about this restoration to be right. Like the rest of the car, these pieces were originally painted Conifer Green. I used Eastwood Silver Argent detail paint. I like it. It seems to be a good, complimentary match to the rest of the paint on the car. I used it for the front lower valance brackets, too.

Anyway, details are very important to me. Even to the point of buying stainless steel hardware for certain areas that might otherwise be prone to corrosion -- like the bonnet latch mounting screws.

4/9/03 - Most of the items on the above list have now been completed. This past weekend, I installed the finishing caps on the windscreen and B pillars, installed the parcel trays and the lower crash rails. I also found a good use for the O/D stalk switch. I'm using it to switch beteween the tuner and MP3 CD on my audio setup. The radio has an extra wire, for which when 12v is applied to it, switches between the tuner and line input.

Unfortunately, a possible broken speedometer cable and malfunctioning overdrive require me to pull much of the newly installed interior right back out again. But before I take that step, the car is being delivered to my painter tomorrow to correct some minor defects including the respray some areas that I wasn't completely pleased with. Last Friday, before my first lengthy drive up the coast to a Triumph event in Mission Viejo, I also installed the final piece of my exhaust -- a stainless steel muffler from Bell. As with the rest of the Bell system, the installation was straightforward and the fit was excellent. The exhaust note is much tamer now, but still louder than I expected. It basically sounds like I remember a stock system sounding on these cars.

While installing additional suspension shims in the front to correct some positive camber last Saturday morning, I was shocked to discover that the PO had never installed the split pins through the slotted axle nuts, which of course prevent the nuts from working loose. Another potential disaster averted...

4/16/03 -- I brought the car back to the painter last Thursday to repair some defects in his paint job. I left the extra paint from the original spray with him last September, and he put it in "a safe place", which he has apparently forgotten. Oh-oh. I guess that's just going to make his job of matching the repairs to the rest of the paint all that more difficult. It also means he'll be buying a quart of paint to replace what he lost. I went to check on the progress of the repairs the other day and discovered that the engine would no longer turn over. Just getting a good click from the solenoid, and voltage to the starter, but nothing else. Turns out it was just a poor ground, owing to the fact that I had grounded the battery to the body, and the engine plate to the body. I should have run the engine plate ground directly to the battery ground, which subsequently solved the problem.

7/17/03 -- More progress has been made. Most of the 21 items I've listed above have been completed, including the installation of the door wndow inner and outer waist seals, window glass, door and cowl buttons and the fitment of the NOS hood cover.

The snaps and cover were fitted just yesterday, and I also applied the Triumph stickers to my seat belt buckles, which provide a nice finishing touch to the interior. Still to come though -- a reupholstered arm rest, which I'm going to have done in black leather with white piping to match the seats. Once that is back from the upholstery shop, I'm going to fit the leather tunnel cover and knee bolsters as well.

To be continued...

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Please. Always wear your seatbelt while driving -- and that goes double for your children if you have any.