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31st January 2010

Having checked all lever arm dampers, they all seem to be in full working order. The oil is clear and they all have a full range of movement with no 'stuttering'. All that needed doing was to clean off the thick black paint, carefully mask and paint the dampers in the correct colours. All have been re-fitted to the chassis with new nuts, bolts and washers.

 

The front lower arms and spring pans have been refitted with new polybushes with all fixings just finger tight until the suspension is assembled fully when things will be nipped up and only fully tightened when loaded. This leads on to the next task, checking the hubs, trunnions and swivel pins. Upon inspection the hubs have new bearings fitted and need no attention whatsoever. That's the end of the good news!

I started to dismantle the NS swivel pin assembly and was met with both good and bad news.

 

The threads of the top trunnion and on the top of the swivel pins are in average to good order, as are the threads in the lower trunnion. However, the threads on the lower end of the swivel pin range from very poor to non-existant! I can't tell for sure about the trunnion threads until I try fitting them onto the new swivel pins - when they arrive.

Top swivel pin thread on the left, lower swivel pin thread (or what's left of it) on the right

 

To enable the swivel pin to be replaced, it has to be removed from the knuckle, this entails removing the steering arm from the knuckle first. This sounds easy and looks easy from the exploded diagrams in manuals BUT, and it is a very big BUT, all the manuals advise not to remove the swivel pin or steering arm unless absoloutley necessary. This worried me so I checked on the internet and emailed Barney Gaylord, MGA Guru. Again all information I found and the reply from Barney said don't do it unless you absolutley have to. Since I had no choice, I got on with it!

I removed the nut from the back of the steering arm and soaked the thread and taper in releasing fluid. Next step was to try to remove the arm from the knuckle using a puller - no joy. More releasing fluid was applied and eventually heat using my oxy-acetylene torch. I held the end of the steering arm, where the track rod would fit, in a vice and heated the knuckle. Swapping the torch for a hammer I tapped the back of the knuckle off of the steering arm - success! This description sounds easy buy my audience will confirm that there were more than a few panicky moments!

 

The next trial will be to check the fit of the trunnions onto the new pins and then to re-assemble the swivel pin and steering arm to the knuckle. After that there will still be the other side to do. Still, lessons learnt should make it easier.

If anyone reading this has completed this re-assembly successfully, please get in touch with any advice.

 

21st February 2010

The new swivel pins have arrived, several weeks late, but they're here and they're good. The first step was to clean the trunnions thoroughly and test fit to the new swivel pins. As expected the threads on the new pins are a little tight but with some careful work, the trunnions now spin on and off freely. Knowing that the trunnions now fit, the next step was to drive out the distance tube bushes, fit new ones and ream them to size. Fitting of the bushes went well but hand reaming did not! After trying hand reaming and failing, the reamer was not exactly in line with the bush resulting in an offset hole for the distance tube, I brought the trunnion to work and handed it to the very helpful mechanical workshop team, thanks Errol. He made a former to be a snug fit in the un-reamed bush and used this in a mill to centre the trunnion in line with the cutting head. The former was removed and the 3/4" reamer substituted. The reamer was then passed through the bush at a slow speed with loads of cutting fluid. The end result is a perfect sliding fit. Thanks once again Errol.

Next step was to finally re-assemble the hub/knuckle/pin/trunnion.

 

Upon examining the inner face of the knuckle where the swivel pin will fit, there was some scoring, not from removal of the pin but likely to be from original installation in the factory. I carefully polished the scoring and the rest of the inner faces of the knuckle as well as the mating surfaces of the swivel pin and steering arm. After several trial fits and re-polishing, the parts all fit together perfectly. The last thing before final assembly was to clean everything, a fresh coat of paint and then final assembly. If I do say so myself, I'm rather pleased with the result! The next step is to fit this to the car and then move on to the off side and repeat the process. It should be a little quicker as I know what I'm doing this time and I have all the parts to hand.

Whilst I was waiting for the swivel pins to arrive I wasn't idle, I stripped, cleaned and checked the steering rack. I'm pleased to report that all was in fine order and just needed a lick of paint, re-assembly and fitting to the car. Even the track rod ends are good. I've just got to replace the rack gaiters and the track rod end gaiters, hopefully I'll do that tonight.

 

Pictures of finished rack to follow.

2nd June 2010 - A MINI diversion

Right, here we go then. Apologies for the HUGE delay in updating the site but loads has been happening.

In summary, we've been working hard on Dom's Mini restoration. As regulars will know, Dom's Mini was involved in an accident last June when a fast moving Jaguar failed to stop and hit the rear of Dom's stationary Mini and pushed him into the rear of stationary Audi. The insurance wrote the car off as a category C - uneconomic to repair. Dom bought the wreck back and we set to with the repairs. Dom and James started the welding in November and I became involved in February. We were working to a timescale to enable the car to make it to the annual LSMOC London to Brighton Mini run on 16th May. This meant working most evenings and all weekends - apart from a visit to the Brooklands Mini day. Dom and James fitted a complete new front end, sills and rear valance. We all pitched in to prep the body for painting. This meant my V8 and Hilary's Midget had to live outside from Easter to the weekend before the Mot on the 12th of May.

Dom painted the car himself with advice and help from James. It's the first time he's sprayed a car and he's done a fantastic job. You'd not get better if you paid for a respray. The car now has a 6 point roll cage, harnesses, Cooper interior, some trick wiring upgrades and a seriously breathed on engine and gearbox. The car passed it's MoT test, along with James's Mini. I'm pleased to report that all three Mini's (Dom's, Alex's and James's) made it safely from Lingfield to Crystal Palace, the start of the L2B run and then to Brighton and back to Lingfield without missing a beat.

Well done to all for a fantastic job well done.

Before ... (The restoration, after the accident)

 

After ...

And now to continue with the MGA saga.

 

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