Monday, 14 April 2014

Front suspension complete - kinda.

Mark and I finally got round to completing the front suspension after a break of about three weeks.  I bought some lovely stainless steel stone guards for the front disks from Moss Europe in Stockport.  Unfortunately the special four-pot callipers are slightly larger than the stock MGB items, so we ended up cutting these to make room for the callipers.  At least I got to use my new mini angle grinder - great fun - lots of sparks!  Reminds me of my days with a chain saw in a friend's house in France.  You can't beat a power tool!

We had to take a fair bit off the guard to accommodate the brake calliper.
We also coated the threads/collars on the shock absorber/springs with copaslip - even using a toothbrush to apply this it was a very messy job.  We then went around tightening all the nuts on both sides - none of these are torqued to their final settings yet - just tight enough to got some resistance.

We bolted the disks to the hubs and spent about three hours getting the shims right on the front right bearing.  I bought a dial gauge to check the end float, but we ended up just taking off shims until the wheel stopped turning and then added one back on.  Lots of trial and error, but we're pretty happy with the result.  I'll get my local garage to check this later when they set the wheel geometry.  We've set the camber as neutral as we can by sight.  Similarly we've set the steering using guesswork for now.  Needless to say, there will be quite a lot to check/adjust once we get the engine and gearbox in.

Over three hours to get the hub onto the stub-axle - left side took less than an hour.
The brake callipers needed spacers on the bolts into the stub-axle to get them them to align the disk centrally between each side of the calliper.  I'll need to check this is OK - I'll also need to check the orientation of the callipers themselves.  I have them with their nipples down, which I think is correct, but I've seen a picture with the nipples at the top.  The six-pot callipers on my Merc has them at the bottom, but I can't really see that it makes any difference.  I'll ask Gerry just to be sure.  At this point we couldn't resist putting a wheel on and checking all was OK with nothing fouling anything else.

One wheel on - just three to go!
We did the left front hub/brakes next - much quicker this time!

Not sure why this is out of focus - I'll do a retake sometime.

Very pleased with ourselves we decided it was beer o'clock!

For info, the wheels are 15" Hawk Brand FIA replicas - 6.5" front and 8.5" rear.  The tyres are Avon CR6ZZ 215/60VR15 and 245/60VR15 - and I think they look great - even without paint!

Gotta love the wheel and spinner.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Front Suspension - week 2

Didn't really do much on the car this week.  A combination of parties and late nights meant not much time for suspension.  Hopefully next week will be better.  This is what we did do:

I was a wee bit concerned that we didn't put grease on all parts of the polyurethane bushes for the front suspension, so I've taken each of them apart and greased them up nicely.

Hawk Special Tubular front right suspension complete with stub axle
We were missing one half of the polyurethane bushes for the wishbones, so I called SuperPro Europe and they very kindly sent one in the post.  It arrived the next day.  They were very apologetic and happy to help.

SuperPro also pointed me at Moss Europe who supply MG parts in the North West.  I took a trip there to buy two metal dust seals for the lower end of the stub-axle assembly and for some help in determining which of my two steering arms is left and which is right.  Felt a bit of a twit when the guy said "it's stamped on the part", but it did take a magnifying glass to read it.  So finished off the assembly of the left front suspension.

Front left suspension and stub axle
We then fitted the anti-roll bar and the steering rack using the spacer blocks between the chassis and the rack.
Front suspension/steering, with lots of bits left hanging
Lets hope we get some time on this next week...

Monday, 10 March 2014

Front Suspension - week 1

I've promised Mark that we will only work on the car at weekends and evenings when he can join me.  Unlike me, he works for a living!  The plan is for him to do most of the work and me to "supervise" - so far, so good - at least it gives him a reason to get up on a Saturday/Sunday morning!

Drilling out snapped off bolt
Progress has been slow this last week as we hit a couple of snags.  First off, we struggled to understand the nuts and bolts we had for the original MGB suspension and the modified tubular suspension kit, but Gerry put us straight on this.  I then managed to snap one of the bolts that hold the swan-neck upper wishbone pivot to the chassis.  We didn't get that drilled out and re-tapped until the weekend - Mark did a brilliant job on re-tapping the threads and we were able to get a bolt back in.  We tried screwing the bolts holding the lower wishbone into the blocks as suggested, but managed to strip the threads torquing this up, so decided to go for through bolts and nyloc nuts - works a treat.  Finally, Mark spent 3 or 4 hours restoring the threads on one of the reconditioned stub axles.  He used a combination of small files, hacksaw and turning the nut slowly up and down, but eventually got it sorted - again a star performance!  It looks like the threads had been damaged by dropping the stub axle - maybe blame the delivery man.

We now have the off-side (right) suspension assembled, but "Not Tightened!".
Mark's handiwork - including refurbished thread.

Next are the hub bearings, but never having reassembled an MGB hub I just need to be sure we're doing it right - so I'll seek some advice.  This is how I think the bits go onto the stub-axle (maybe bearings the other way round):

My interpretation of MGB workshop manual
We started on the nearside suspension, but had to stop as one (half) of the wishbone bushes was missing.  Got the pivot assemblies, upper shock absorber bolt and upped wishbones on:
Upper wishbones and top of shock attached
 Final task for the weekend - paint the anti-roll bar and steering levers
Beware - wet paint!  Not much room in this garage!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Body and Chassis Arrive

5:00am Saturday 1st March 2014 and Mark and I are on the road.  We've got the small trailer I used to transport the Caterham hooked up to my son's Shogun and the back of the car is full of ropes, straps, sheets, blankets and a duvet for padding.

10:00am and we're at Hawk cars in Frant and Gerry and his laminater (sorry, forgot the name) are helping us get the chassis and body onto the trailer.  It's a tight fit as the trailer isn't really long enough  - maybe we'll need a new trailer sometime!  OK for the shell, but probably not up to carrying a whole Hawk 289!  Gerry has lent us a set of trolleys attached to the chassis, which makes the job of wheeling around the car a lot easier.  We were all amazed to get the roof into the back of the Shogun - apparently it doesn't fit into a Land Rover Disco.  So loaded up with parts and all strapped down and ready to go...

You can just see Gerry's trolley under the car - two pieces bold directly to chassis.
Back on the road at 12:00 noon and after a couple of stops to check all the straps - yes, they did need tightening - onto the motorways.

Mark posting pictures on Facebook
Home for 5:00pm and car wrapped up for the night.  Sunday we got the car off the trailer into the garage - quite a tight fit!  This is going to be tricky.

Isn't she lovely!
Tuesday night we got help from Dean (Mark's mate) and took the body off and tucked it away under cover on pallets on the trailer.  I suspect it will be there for a while!  Then put the chassis back in the garage on axle stands and bundled up the trolleys to send back to Hawk.  Thanks Gerry, they made the job so much easier!  We couldn't quite believe what the body weighed - much heavier than we expected.  I guess that's testament to the quality of the Hawk.

              Now we can get to the chassis                                                         Body nicely wrapped up for a while
Inventory time for all those parts, nuts and bolts etc.  A few bits missing, which Gerry popped in the post and we got the next day.   Now for the front suspension...

Sunday, 23 February 2014


Back in 2008 I was sat with a few friends talking about cars and I mentioned that I had always wanted to build an AC Cobra.  At the time I didn't know a 289 from a 427, but someone said "If you're going to build an AC Cobra replica, then it has to be a 289 and it has to be a Hawk."  We then spent the next 30 minutes looking at Cobra's on the Internet and I was convinced.  Stuart, if you're reading this - It's all your fault!

My only experience of building cars was a Caterham 7 I assembled back in 2000.  I say assembled, because everything was brand new, supplied by Caterham and the instructions were so detailed it was difficult to go wrong.  I sold the car in 2006 and after all these years a guy less than 10 miles away from me bought it from the Caterham showroom, tracked me down and brought it round for me to see.

Caterham 7 in 2006 (built in 2000)

Having settled on a Hawk 289, I took a trip down to Frant to meet Gerry at Hawk Cars.  What a brilliant place!  I must admit I was totally smitten by the 289 FIA, and Gerry is so helpful and understanding to a non-engineer like me.  So, I left with a plan to build an 289 FIA forming in my head.  I managed to find a Ford 302 engine and then things slowed down - well, stopped really.

Engine in 2009 - and it still looks like this today!
Fast forward to 2013 and my employer made me an offer I couldn't refuse and I took early retirement.  A couple more trips to talk to Gerry and I ordered the body/chassis.  The spec for the car is:
  • 289 FIA with bonnet scoop and Le Mans roof.
  • Ford 302 engine.
  • Hawk tubular front suspension with uprated brakes.
  • Jaguar IRS with outboard brakes.
Body/Chassis ready end of February...