Highs and lows
30th August 2004
"I'm sorry sir, but I'm afraid someone has broken into your car". A sinking feeling hit me hard followed by a wave of anger for those mindless ****wits who'd taken the opportunity to avoid the bother of earning an income like decent citizens. I was resigned to looking through a shattered rear window at the space where my laptop had been sitting not 5 minutes beforehand.
An otherwise uneventful week turned decidely sour on Wednesday when I stopped on the way home from work to pick up a loaf of bread from Sainsbury's, so Thursday morning was spent with RAC Auto Windscreens getting a replacement window and thinking up cruel and unusual tortures for those responsible.
On a happier note Penny from Pilgrim had called to say that my donor bits were ready for collection, so on Saturday morning - after dropping my car (complete with shiny new window) into the garage for an MOT - my fiance kindly drove me to Small Dole to pick them up. Much to the bemusement and disbelief of Tony and one of his staff we packed the Granda's suspension pieces, steering rack, steering column, master cylinder, pedal box, hub assemblies, calipers and four wheels (with tyres) into the boot of my other half's Ford Ka ready for the trip back. I presented Tony with my flexible friend and in return got a receipt to remind me of my mounting credit card bill and the all important V5 document for the donor car. Tony advised me to put the car into my name (even though technically I only had less than half the car in my possession!) and when I get round to buying the engine, to mark the V5 as having fitted it to the donor car. This allows the DVLA to issue a new registration when the car is finished and avoids a Q-plate. Unfortunately the excitement of my first set of bits was quickly dispelled on the way home as I learnt that my car had failed its MOT. For a three year old car I am seriously unimpressed.
To complete the week on a high, I began stripping the new bits to see what condition they are in, starting with the front calipers. The rusty pile looked daunting to begin with. Inspecting the V5 shows my Granda has lived for quite some time in Brighton and although the salty sea air hasn't helped, the bits don't appear to be too bad. Several hours with a wire brush, plenty of elbow grease and a quite staggering amount of brown dust has brought the ageing calipers up a treat. The pistons were slightly seized and took a good burst of air from a foot pump connected to the brake hose to bring them out of their housings. The cylinder linings look to be in excellent condition as do the pistons - although there is slight corrosion on the faces where the inboard pads attach. The rubber seals look almost new, just a small amount of dirt to clean out of the grooves, so I probably won't need to replace those either. All in all very good news - hope the rest is as easy! I've started painting the metal bits with some silver Hammerite and they look a million times better. You don't appreciate the effort that must go on behind the scenes on TV until you have a go yourself. Mark Evans always hands his rusty parts off camera to have them reappear two minutes later cleaned, shot-blasted and neatly painted. Two days scrubbing and cleaning has got my calipers looking presentable and I've only just begun! Still, it's all part of the build experience.
Next I will tackling be the front uprights, discs and arms, followed by the rear calipers then the rear discs, trailing arms and hubs. Finally I will tackle the differential, driveshafts and steering rack. Hopefully I will have the majority done when the chassis arrives - which reminds me, I must find out when that is going to be...