Thursday, June 10, 2010

That’s Right. Keep Movin’, Pal

Well kids, you know entirely too much about CA license plates, and you’re wondering what’s next? Getting back into it, we’ll revisit our checklist:
- Top: Removed
- Hood: Removed
- Trunk Lid: Removed
- Windshield: Removed
- Interior: Removed
- Gas Tank: Removed
- Engine/Brake/Clutch Controls: Removed
- Wiring: Almost
- External Lights: Almost
- Grille: Later
- Bumpers: Later
- Fenders: Later
- Doors: Later
- Carriage Bolts: Later

I neglected to include an important checklist item: Removing the carbs/intake. We’ll take care of that lickety-split and then get started on the wiring.

Eventually, the body is going to be lifted straight up off the frame and anything in the way could either get damaged, do damage, or prevent the body from being removed. The carburetors pose a potential hazard because they ride right above the passenger wheel well. Since you have dual carbs, it’ll be better to keep them mounted on the intake manifold(s) and remove everything in one big heap. Remove the gas line and oil breather tube from the valve cover (choke and throttle linkage should already be gone) and you may need to remove the air cleaners for clearance.

Inspect the surrounding area to make sure nothing’s in the way and start unbolting the retainers around the intakes. Undo and remove the two nuts and clamps underneath first, then the four across the top (leave the two outer, lower nuts because they only hold the exhaust and don’t support the intakes). Once all the hardware’s out of the way, you can jostle, shake, wriggle, or otherwise muscle the assembly to remove it. Shove some rags in the exposed intake holes to keep debris out.

An added bonus of removing your intakes now is that it provides unobstructed access to your generator and starter. While you’re in the area, g’head and remove the wires from the generator and then move on to the starter.

Prepwork for the wiring harness should be mostly complete since the bulk of it is associated with your dash. You should be at a point now to disconnect the wiring connectors for the tail lights and license plate lights, located in the trunk on either side of where your gas tank used to be. This will free the remaining anchors on the wiring harness south of the firewall. Once the wires are free, bend the hold-down tabs along the length until you reach the bulkhead and have the rearward wires accounted for. Go to where your master cylinders were and disconnect the wires for your brake switch (if not already disconnected) and the wiper motor too. Feed those wires through the firewall and into your cockpit and then do the same for that wire connected to your started solenoid. Your voltage stabilizer, turn signal repeater, and hi/lo beam foot switch should be the only remaining connections on the inside – disconnect them. Now, you can undo the retaining tabs and collect all internal wiring on the passenger floor. The only ‘connection’ that should be left at this point on the interior is the harness passing through the pass-through hole into the engine compartment. Now move on into the engine bay.

Tip: While bending the hold-down tabs for the wiring, save the protective rubber boots for reuse. They clean up well with some acetone and provide the protection needed to prevent tabs from cutting into the wires. If you don’t know already, the Brits are World renowned for faulty electrics – we can only help to improve an imperfect situation.

Taking account of what’s needed north of the firewall can look a little overwhelming but they’re just wires, man. Starting from where your steering column is, we’ll move clockwise until we reach the harness pass-through, collecting wires as we go. The first connection we see should be the (+) connector on your ignition coil – disconnect it and move toward the front of the engine. Next will be your left horn and temperature sending unit at the water neck on your cylinder head – disconnect them. Now, there should be a grounding connection on the inner fender that’s connected to your left-side headlamp, parking, and turn lights – undo that and undo the connections for your front markers on your grille. The headlamp wires will need to be cut, so make sure you leave enough room to splice the wires later (3-inches minimum). You should now have all of the wires free for the left side of the engine bay and you can disconnect the supports going across the front grille support. Now, repeat the process for the lamps and horn on the right side – the harness should be taped to the support member – go ahead and free that up. Your generator and starter should already be disconnected, so only the fuse/regulator connections should be left.

Here’s where pre-planning helps. Mark the wires connected to the fuse block and the voltage regulator BEFORE removal. I use masking tape and a simple numbering scheme, but you can do something more elaborate. The point is to mark the wires only for a short time because once we pass the harness through the firewall you’ll want to reconnect the wires before forgetting where they go – better to store that harness for safekeeping.

Do a double check that all wires are disconnected.

Storytime: Sometimes you get impatient and do something that you know is a bad idea but, for whatever reason, you proceed. Instead of undoing all the connections under the hood (primarily because those voltage regulator connections scared me), I chose to pass the wires from the interior through that little hole into the engine bay. The interior wiring is much thicker in places and it still had gauge bulbs and other accessories attached. It was possible to get that mangled mess through, but to say the least, it was like trying to pick your nose through your ass. It is much more advisable to go the other route and pass the engine-side harness through into the interior.

That being said, do so. It’ll be a little tricky at times, but you’ll get there. Once you have the harness intact, find a safe place to store it along with the voltage regulator, fuse block, connectors, etc.

Side Note: If, during the process, you do not get frustrated, irritated, or otherwise heated, think about this: Not only do all of these wires need to go back through that teeny hole, they need to go through an even teenier one too, namely the rubber grommet that you’ll be replacing later. You may be tempted to just cut that harness, but be prepared for a much larger headache when figuring out how to reconnect those wires.

As I said previously, these cars are rife with suspicion when it comes to anything electrical – don’t tempt fate to save a little frustration. Mildly-humourous enthusiasts have dubbed Lucas the ‘King of Darkness’. Lucas is the company who made most of Britain’s automotive electrical components to include lighting and the ‘King of Darkness’ moniker comments on their perceived reliability. Oh, snap. But, if you get into any trouble, here’s a map:

While we’re talking electrics, kings of darkness, and lights, you can start removing all of the external fixtures:
Headlamps are easy enough to remove. Your TR4A should have chrome trim rings around each light – get rid of them to expose the headlamp retainer that’s affixed by way of three screws. Once the retainer is removed, the lamp should easily come out of the ‘bucket’ and you can disconnect the plug to completely remove the headlight. Each bucket includes an adjustment mechanism for headlamp alignment so it may be a little confusing, at first, to determine which screws to unscrew to remove the bucket assemblage. If you’ve made it this far, I think you can figure your way out of this pitfall.
Sidelamps need to be removed from the back, in the front wheel well via two nuts (#54 pictured below). It might be easier to turn your wheels out to create some clearance for your tinkering. Since you don’t have a steering wheel anymore, you can just manhandle the wheel. Or, if you’re not manly enough to handle it, jack the front end up and it’ll make your job easier – just be sure not spill any wine cooler on your skirt in the process. Before you remove each sidelamp, be sure to disconnect ground wires from inside the engine bay and feed the wires through into the wheel well.
Front Flasher Lights can be removed now or can be left on the grille for later retrieval. Whenever you’re ready, just remove the lens and your path will be obvious.
Tail Lamps are held in place by two small nuts (#105 in the picture) that are accessible via the trunk. Since the wiring should already be disconnected, tail lamps removal should be a breeze.
Plate Lights are integrated into the rear bumper overriders, so at this time you only need to fish the wiring from the trunk through the space between the rear fenders and the main body. There’s a grommet just above where your tail lights were – just pop the grommet through the hole and feed the wires in. We’ll get to the plate lights later when we talk bumper.

I think that’s it for now. We’ll continue our saga next time. Thanks for looking.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Work is the Curse of the Leisure Class

Hi all. It's been too long since I've posted updates on this restoration and if wasn't for my darn job, the car would be completed and this blog would only serve as historical reference.

In real-time, the car is looking good with its new paint and interior. It's been started, but runs rough and it's real hard finding a new or reconditioned windshield wiper motor - ya know anyone who's got one? The last few items to wrap up are: wiring, windshield glass, top, alignment, recondition the grille, tune the carbs, door windows, and a number of other little things.

In blog-time, the restoration is approaching the apex of the teardown phase and approximately coincides with mid-April 2009. As I am hoping for a short lapse in my workload, I expect to crank out some posts here to get everyone closer to events as they occur.

Stay tuned...