My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

If you have a long-term project and would like to share/document progress, this is for you.

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adamwilkes
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by adamwilkes » Sat May 16, 2020 6:53 pm

I lost my previous cherished old thing (a Renault 4 F6 van, 1983) to a careless driver carrying on at a give way junction in September 2019, and subsequently my partner regularly nagged me to get another car to play with and stop sulking. After a period of mourning, getting over the shock of being rammed sideways and collecting some insurance payouts, I considered my options. I have always liked Scimitars and drove one 25 years ago; I wanted something 'interesting' and either very practical (hence my last little van) or something more exciting (previous to the van was an old Porsche). We both browsed for suitable victims, and my partner came up trumps with my purple SE5a, from Burnham-on-Sea, North Somerset.

The car was bought on Christmas eve 2019 as a 'garage find' for a whopping £450 - it had been dry-stored since it was MOT'd, probably in 1992/3 (road tax ran out March 1993). So 27 years without moving - although the owner said he started it up occasionally - last time was 5 yrs before I bought it (probably 2014 then). A man-and-car-transporter was scheduled :P
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This is a 'new' bonnet to replace the sagged one that was on the car (I suspect that stuff had been stored on it for some years) :shock:
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New bonnet.JPG
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Adam Wilkes
Scimitar GTE 5a 1973, kinda Highland Purple; after months of work, still a ruin!
I can't help myself - I have to ask questions and find out why. Why ? Dunno :shock:

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adamwilkes
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by adamwilkes » Sat May 16, 2020 7:06 pm

Seized brakes, a flat tyre - and all of them dating from pre-1991 - meant that a large rubber-bits bill was inevitable. I started shopping :lol:

All water hoses (rubber ones from Queenbury Road Garages), rear wheel cylinders, rear shoes, front pads, rear flexi hose, front flexi hoses, calipers refurb (I sent them away for that), HT leads, dizzy cap, rotor arm, contact breaker, spark plugs, oil filter, oil, antifreeze, 'Otter' switch for radiator fan, thermostat, brake master cylinder, brake remote servo, petrol hoses, ah the list goes on :roll:
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The alternator and water pump were howling like banshees, so new versions were found - I went mad and fitted a 75A alternator to make sure the new battery would stay happy :mrgreen:
Of course, the one corner of the car I couldn't really see when I viewed the car (left front) had a flat tyre and broken spring :( More shopping for Spax adjustables :wink:
broken ns front spring.JPG
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Adam Wilkes
Scimitar GTE 5a 1973, kinda Highland Purple; after months of work, still a ruin!
I can't help myself - I have to ask questions and find out why. Why ? Dunno :shock:

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Old and Slow
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by Old and Slow » Sat May 16, 2020 7:21 pm

Plenty to keep you busy during these quiet days!
Good luck with the refurbishment.


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Ashley-bodied TR3; '54 Ford Consul; '55 AC 2-Litre Saloon;'65 850 Mini; '70 Ford Zodiac MkIV; XR3i
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adamwilkes
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by adamwilkes » Sat May 16, 2020 7:34 pm

The PO said that he had sprayed the underside with old engine oil during his ownership (from about 1978) - an understatement as I later discovered, scooping grease from the chassis rails and trying to clean out the oiled-up radiator fins (can't complain though :lol: ). As a result, rust was amazingly short in supply, although I eventually found work to be done in the usual areas. Front chassis corners and roof-strengthening hoop all needed some new metal. Of course, being a Scimitar it's not that easy as the body keeps getting in the way. Options: 1: remove body, or 2: cut out pieces of the body either on the inside or the outside to access the rusty bits. Since the paintwork was 'in need of attention', I decided to massacre the outside anyway :boxer:


Rear roof-strengthening bar rustiness:
chassis repairs april 2020 (5).JPG
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Front outer chassis holiness:
chassis repairs april 2020 (2).JPG
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Followed by:
chassis repairs april 2020 (15).JPG
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and more (after cutting some more unneccessary bodywork away):
chassis repairs april 2020 (17).JPG
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The last photo shows the repair to be pretty rough - actually it is, but made to look worse by the clotting zinc-rich primer I laced on with a spoon :wink: Strength was a priority, with a channel-section welded behind the remaining good sections of tube and a plate welded across the front to close the box.
Last edited by adamwilkes on Sat May 16, 2020 10:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.


Adam Wilkes
Scimitar GTE 5a 1973, kinda Highland Purple; after months of work, still a ruin!
I can't help myself - I have to ask questions and find out why. Why ? Dunno :shock:

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scimjim
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by scimjim » Sat May 16, 2020 7:42 pm

That chassis is pretty good :D


Jim King

SECURE DRY STORAGE FOR YOUR SCIMITAR

Current: SE5 (8Ball), 1400 1600 1800 Zetec ST170 powered SS1 (G97), 2.5TD SE5a (diesel 5a), 6 x random other SS1s.
Previous: SE5, 3 x SE5a, 2 x SE6a, 3 x SE6b, GTC, 2.9i GTC, 3 x 1600 SS1, 1300 SS1, Mk1 Ti Sabre, Mk1.5 CVH Sabre, TI SS1 (snotty), 1600 SS1 (C686CCR).
Chief mechanic for: 1400 K series SS1 (Megan3), 1400 CVH EFi SS1 (Grawpy), 1300 SS1 (Number One) & Sarah's coupe.
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adamwilkes
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by adamwilkes » Sat May 16, 2020 7:42 pm

Now, you may be thinking "that's a lot of missing bodywork!". Yup, that's what I thought as well. It took a few days for me to muster up the courage to even cut the bodywork, but the forums kept on about it being alright so I carried on regardless :D

As it turned out, I needed to get even further down the rabbit-hole on the driver's side, as the rot had reached further than the roof reinforcing hoop. The floor had to be aerated!

A little trim from the top, sir? :w
chassis repairs april 2020 (13).JPG
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Actually, apart from the usual horrific itching dust created when slicing grp it wasn't too bad and after the hole was made, access to the rust was better than I am used to with tin-foil in the shape of more modern cars. I am hoping that the dust will gradually blow away from the rest of the inside of the car :oops:

I don't seem to have taken a photo of the repaired metal, so here's another view of the wee hole:
chassis repairs april 2020 (14).JPG
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Last edited by adamwilkes on Sat May 16, 2020 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Adam Wilkes
Scimitar GTE 5a 1973, kinda Highland Purple; after months of work, still a ruin!
I can't help myself - I have to ask questions and find out why. Why ? Dunno :shock:

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adamwilkes
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by adamwilkes » Sat May 16, 2020 7:50 pm

This is April 2020 now and the weather is being most favourable, after a shite beginning to the year which left me wondering if I should build a garage against the garage on our tiny driveway. On a slope :roll:

Anyway, back to work :) Those holes don't fill themselves! GRP is something I have gotten high on before, having spent a few years making boats out of it in my idiotically energetic yoof. As a result, I had to re-learn all I had forgotten but it gradually came back to me, and I splodged along merrily.
chassis repairs april 2020 (11).JPG
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And the floor being thrown back in (no-one will see it :wink:
chassis repairs april 2020 (10).JPG
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Yes, I didn't see the creeping-thinness of the outer chassis rail so I needed to cut a bit more floor :D
Those eagle-eyes out there will see the G-clamps along the sill . . . gluing the outer sill back together. More about that later!
Last edited by adamwilkes on Sat May 16, 2020 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Adam Wilkes
Scimitar GTE 5a 1973, kinda Highland Purple; after months of work, still a ruin!
I can't help myself - I have to ask questions and find out why. Why ? Dunno :shock:

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adamwilkes
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by adamwilkes » Sat May 16, 2020 8:24 pm

Of course, for the floor to be cut out, the seatbelts needed 'removing'. WHO in pete's name invented those half-height-head rapid-to-rust seatbelt bolts ?! :w Angle grinder to the rescue again. And new seatbelts :P

My poking around blindly wondering where all the metalwork was hidden revealed a bulging passenger sill/step bit at door front and rear. Research on this forum suggested (correctly of course) that the metalwork underneath was exploding, so the angle grinder (still warm) and multi-tool came back out. After it was out, and I was looking at the remaining GRP I wondered why the metal bit was put there; the whole area is sat on the outer chassis, so is plenty strong enough :shock: So, I didn't replace the metal :!: I figured that if the metal was there to support the bodywork when it was off the chassis (or when being pulled from the mould), it could stay out this time. The body isn't coming off the chassis as far I am concerned, and it'll probably be ok anyway considering I packed the area with good solid grp all the way up again anyway.

How it showed it's ugly self (upside down for some reason):
chassis repairs april 2020 (4).JPG
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And how it then was repaired:
chassis repairs april 2020 (12).JPG
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The clamps are to hold the bottom lips of the grp sills together - they had peeled apart somewhat so a solution of Sticks Like Sh*t and lengths of wood to clamp the lips shut seems to have worked wonders. If it fails again I will look at some grp but I reckon the sticky stuff is likely to be as good in this situation.

While I was armed with a paint-brush and matting I jacked up the front of the body (not lifting the chassis much, after taking the plate off the chassis where I was glassing) and after a few creaks and cracking sounds as it straightened out, I sorted out a crack in the inner wheelarch behind the battery. Seems like the bodywork doesn't quite cope with the battery & wings bouncing up and down on the suspension top mountings. The other side is ok, but I am watching carefully :evil: Maybe I should check the front support framework :oops:

Inner wing after grp repairs:
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Last edited by adamwilkes on Sat May 16, 2020 11:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Adam Wilkes
Scimitar GTE 5a 1973, kinda Highland Purple; after months of work, still a ruin!
I can't help myself - I have to ask questions and find out why. Why ? Dunno :shock:

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adamwilkes
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by adamwilkes » Sat May 16, 2020 9:01 pm

That aftermarket air filter has been replaced with a genuine original, partly because the aftermarket one was full of string :shock: Sometimes logic fails me.

I figured that the original filter and housing must have taken some thought and experience for Ford engineers to design and choose for the Essex engine - probably a lot more than was taken when choosing this aftermarket filter. The original filter takes air from low down in the engine bay, and although a more restricted intake, this air will be cooler and more oxygen-dense than that taken from the just beneath the bonnet. Arguments abound about whether warm air (with easier flow) is 'better' because it reduces pumping losses hence increasing economy, or cold air (albeit more restricted) is better because more power is then available. I look at inter-coolers and rest my case.

The aftermarket filter, including string:
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Last edited by adamwilkes on Sat May 16, 2020 9:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Adam Wilkes
Scimitar GTE 5a 1973, kinda Highland Purple; after months of work, still a ruin!
I can't help myself - I have to ask questions and find out why. Why ? Dunno :shock:

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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by philhoward » Sat May 16, 2020 9:04 pm

To be fair the front end bodywork is OK as long as the bits of steel work which make up the spare wheel support and radiator duct are still in good order.. :mrgreen:


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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by adamwilkes » Sat May 16, 2020 9:21 pm

After all that glassfibre-itch on the body repairs, I ended up grinding/sanding down the excess grp, lightly filling the unevenness and painting with some 2-pack epoxy primer. The car is gradually looking worse and worse, so progress is being made :lol:

The sill after a bit of sanding and filler plus 2k epoxy primer:
13 April 2020 (1) sill repair.JPG
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Roof strengthening hoop covered back up :D
chassis repairs april 2020 (6).JPG
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Adam Wilkes
Scimitar GTE 5a 1973, kinda Highland Purple; after months of work, still a ruin!
I can't help myself - I have to ask questions and find out why. Why ? Dunno :shock:

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adamwilkes
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by adamwilkes » Sat May 16, 2020 9:45 pm

As ever with old and long-left cars, there are five things to do that are found every time one job is tackled. I've probably missed quite a few out so far, but everywhere there were things to be removed, de-rusted, chemically treated, primed and painted before replacing gaskets, bolts and belts that I took off just to get to a screw for something else. The cabin air duct behind the engine was seized, but was easily freed using thin oil etc - but the fixing screws were rubbish and the little tray under the vertical vent was full of . . . pencils, screws, nails, bits of wire, shavings. All the stuff I wouldn't expect :lol: I guess that's the price of spending so long parked in a garage acting as a useful surface to plonk things on!

The tappets (valve clearances) needed looking at, since they are often neglected. The rocker covers came off and those were of course cleaned, de-rusted & painted. The tappet clearances must have been set after the engine was taken out for a crank regrind about 30 years ago (no idea why - the PO was a bit unsure). Interestingly, the clearances were all zero on the NS bank, and all correct on the OS bank :lol: I can only imagine that the work-experience mechanic went off for a coffee-break and came back minus his brain to adjust the other bank of tappets :shock: New gaskets will hopefully stop the stream of oil.

Lots of forum-reading later and more shopping - to replace the fibre/iron camshaft gear-train with alloy & steel versions. It's not cheap and the bills are mounting up :roll: The front crank oil seal went in the bin, and the sump was pulled off to replace all the lower gaskets. Seeing that 'mechanics' took the engine out and reground the crank only a few thousand miles ago, the silicone and entirely-crushed sump gasket was a disappointment. Especially since a tenner fixes it! Obviously the sump was cleaned, de-rusted and painted at this time :P

This is an automatic - is the bell-housing dust-cover supposed to be on there? Mine isn't.

The crank gear isn't fully home in this photo, but they are correctly aligned:
26 march 2020.JPG
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By the way, I found the gears easiest to fit by mating up the dots and offering them both up to the shafts at once, holding them meshed in the right place all along. It's a fiddle, but less confusing than fitting one and then having to rotate a shaft to mesh the other, since they are skewed gears that can't slide straight into each other from the front.
Last edited by adamwilkes on Sat May 16, 2020 10:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.


Adam Wilkes
Scimitar GTE 5a 1973, kinda Highland Purple; after months of work, still a ruin!
I can't help myself - I have to ask questions and find out why. Why ? Dunno :shock:

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adamwilkes
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by adamwilkes » Sat May 16, 2020 9:56 pm

The steel cooling pipes were horribly corroded at the ends - although they looked ok at a first glance when still on the car. I stumbled at the price of stainless ones, so decided to be stupidly labour-intensive and replace just the last two inches off each end of each pipe to make them good again, since the rest of the pipes are sound. I happily found that some old garden-trampoline tubes were the same size and sturdiness as the water pipes, so I cut as required and carefully welded onto the fresh ends.

I am guessing that they rust at the ends when tiny air bubbles are trapped around the pipe/hose joint and let rust carry on in the air/water interface.

The original pipes have a small flare at the end to help stop a hose popping off, and to help the sealing. In line with my 'hang-it, I'll spend all day on these tubes' attitude, I decided to braze some copper wire around the ends of the pipes to make a 'swelling' to replicate the flare-action. Seems to work, and no leaks yet. Obviously they needed a good sanding-down, chemical treatment and painting :D
IMG_2660.JPG
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Just to complicate things, the bottom water pipe that bolts inside the right wheelarch didn't fit - I think it must be from a SE5 or SE6 - after all that painting I needed to cut and reweld the pipe in two places to get it to fit properly. Then paint it again, of course.

The radiator was in good shape, and just needed cleaning, de-rusting and painting after a quick flush. The 'Otter' switch for the radiator fan was broken (never switched on even suspended in a boiling kettle), and originals are unavailable. The new version is easy to fit but doesn't use the original clip. Although the new switch seal is probably bullet-proof, I am a bit nervous about water leaks so a cable-tie to back it up helps me sleep at night.

To wrap up the cooling system repairs, the header tank had a leaking little joint that takes the hose to the top of the thermostat pipe, so after a lot of cleaning up and lots of molten solder in the tank, it was reattached in good order. It was soldered, not brazed on from new - I guess because the brass tank is paper-thin and wouldn't take that sort of heat. The old thermostat went in the bin as a matter of course, and with cleaning etc the new one fitted with gasket.


Adam Wilkes
Scimitar GTE 5a 1973, kinda Highland Purple; after months of work, still a ruin!
I can't help myself - I have to ask questions and find out why. Why ? Dunno :shock:

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scimjim
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by scimjim » Sat May 16, 2020 10:25 pm

The radiator that has sat for 27 years was “in good shape” - I hope this doesn’t come back to bite you in the bum :D


Jim King

SECURE DRY STORAGE FOR YOUR SCIMITAR

Current: SE5 (8Ball), 1400 1600 1800 Zetec ST170 powered SS1 (G97), 2.5TD SE5a (diesel 5a), 6 x random other SS1s.
Previous: SE5, 3 x SE5a, 2 x SE6a, 3 x SE6b, GTC, 2.9i GTC, 3 x 1600 SS1, 1300 SS1, Mk1 Ti Sabre, Mk1.5 CVH Sabre, TI SS1 (snotty), 1600 SS1 (C686CCR).
Chief mechanic for: 1400 K series SS1 (Megan3), 1400 CVH EFi SS1 (Grawpy), 1300 SS1 (Number One) & Sarah's coupe.
CURE THE FAULT - NOT THE SYMPTOMS

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adamwilkes
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My Purple Project - SE5a 1973

Post by adamwilkes » Sat May 16, 2020 10:44 pm

The heater valve was leaking quite badly (driver's footwell, on the left), but a repair kit was easily and quickly available (£34 from QRG or Graham Walker). Fitting it was a right fiddle though - the clamp-down clip seems to have a mind of it's own but on about the fifth attempt (and four wet footwells) it clamped successfully and worked smoothly. It's a clever and simple idea, perhaps too clever for me :lol:

When I replaced the water pump and gasket, I noticed that one bolt tightened a bit 'softly', not bottoming-out as expected. I took it back off and found that I had pinched part of the block with the pump by mistake - it would have leaked badly, so best to check that one!

At about this time I decided that there wasn't a great earth to the engine (although it had started up just fine by now), so I welded a bolt to the chassis just ahead of where the fuel line pops out from under the engine, and fitted an 8" braid to the engine block. Handily, the original negative battery cable was red, partly painted black, and the positive cable was black :shock: So with new cable going straight from battery negative to the welded-on bolt, a great engine earth connection is assured :) The new positive cable needed the old Lucas multi-connector soldering onto it, which is a faff but seems to be fine.


Adam Wilkes
Scimitar GTE 5a 1973, kinda Highland Purple; after months of work, still a ruin!
I can't help myself - I have to ask questions and find out why. Why ? Dunno :shock:

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