Thursday, February 28, 2013

A special texture: Reproducing coolant tubes

One of the items we needed to reproduce were the coolant tubes that are in the engine bay and transfer coolant to the engine from the hoses that run down the center of the chassis originating at the radiator. Our original tubes were intact but had been welded many times over the years to repair them. Correct replacements are not available anywhere as the dimensions, finish, and construction materials are not correct. To this end we needed to make our own.

The first challenge came in finding metric tube. The large diameter was not terribly hard but the smaller tubes had to be machined from scratch from thicker wall steel stock. Next came finding someone to bend the tubes and bead the ends. Unfortunately this came in the way of two separate shops one that formed and welded the tubes and another that beaded the ends for us. Lucky for us we found very good shops to do both jobs quickly on the first try.

Lastly came the peppered finish that the original tubes had. This has been a stumbling block for more than one restorer who just could not get it right. Paul had other ideas and he ended up in a specialist shop that shot blasts military airplane wings. There he found the right people to perfectly blast the tubes to the correct finish.

The last step which is not pictured here is a thin plating of nickel to give the tubes their distinctive colour and some corrosion protection. We are most proud of the result and are happy to have been able to replicate the original tubes so faithfully.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fun on eBay: Period Michelin tire stem tool

Part of the fun of restoring an old car is looking for parts. With eBay this is much more organized than in years gone by with an amazing amount of exposure worldwide for buyers and sellers. While looking there are always items out there to tempt you and I recently stumbled on this little tool from Michelin for removing and installing the cores from the tire stems.

While not specific to the Dino it is a tool distributed by Michelin to their dealers around the time our car was new. We thought it a cool little addition to our car and a cheap way to have some fun.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A hint of blue causes a heap of trouble: Re-manufacturing the instrument plate to perfection

I know lots of our restoration tales talk about how a particular job was much more work than we ever anticipated but re-manufacturing the plate that the instruments mount to was never going to be one of them....or so we thought.

The original plate was old and tired and needed to act as a model for colour so it would be necessary to make another. Early Dino's had a plate with no brush marks (like the later cars) and were a very particular shade of silver/grey with a hint of blue.

Off to the laser cutter we went and the first task went as easy as we planned. It was then that the real work started. The original plate was made of aluminum with an anodized finish. When anodizing the part needs to be PERFECT or the slightest mark is magnified. Despite being brand new the aluminum plate has a mill finish that needs to be removed. In order to do this perfectly we spent hours with ultra fine sandpaper lubricated in oil sanding the part to perfection. Raw aluminum is incredibly soft so we had to take great care not to make the slightest mark on it or the sanding started all over. Once done the part was given a light frosting and then packed like crazy to protect the surface.

Then it was off to anodizing where the real mountain began. Perhaps it is the constant exposure to harsh chemicals or maybe we just had bad luck but the anodizers we dealt with were just a difficult bunch. No one could clearly explain the process and even fewer cared to spend any time to get it right. You see colour matching in anodizing is very much an art. Alloy, temperature, batch concentration and pH all play a role requiring someone who REALLY knows their craft.

After dealing with several anodizers the Gods finally felt sorry for us and landed us with a most holy man who asked to remain nameless (although I'm sure he has a cousin named Jesus). He clearly understood our project and spent the time required to experiment with various techniques until the colour and finish were a dead match to original. We could not thank him enough and only wished we found him sooner.

Now with the plate finished we can mount the instruments in preparation for fitting to the car.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A broken back: Seat backs re-manufactured

As we continue with the seat restoration attention was given to the seat backs. The original ones were cracked and warped so we decided to make new ones using the old ones as a mold. The photos will show the basic procedure that yielded a pair of brand new seat backs ready for a fresh coat of leather.

The project was not terribly hard or expensive but did consume the better part of a full day of work to yield the final product.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Can I tilt your chair? The seat rail restoration was anything but comfortable.

As the title suggests this is the tale of another one of those assemblies that look simple but ended up being a mountain of work. Right from the start we knew that the seats did not slide back and forth very well so some investigation was required. In the end it was not one problem but a number of little ones that contributed to the seats not gliding as they should. Most notable were some minor bends in the track and pitting due to lack of proper lubrication.

The photos will tell most of the tale but essentially the following is what was done:

1. Remove rails and inspect their operation
2. Chemically strip assemblies
3. Fully disassemble and categorize everything. Photos were key here
4. Straighten and re-machine tracks
5. TIG weld one of the adjuster arms that showed a hairline crack and polish the weld to make it seamless
6. Re-assemble spring and arm assemblies
7. Powder coat all parts
8. Polish all hardware and acquire new ball bearings in various sizes (mixing metric and standard to achieve smaller variations between balls)
9. Re-assemble mixing and matching ball sizes to fine tune the operation of the rails. Test until it operates perfectly.
10. Press the assemblies closed
11. Install plastic end knobs

It was in the final step that Paul really came through. Wet sanding, polishing, and using infinite patience he removed 40 years worth of marks and scratches and polished the ends to a perfect finish. If you were not told you would never know the age of the parts.

We are looking forward to mating these rails to the seats and now know that when it comes time to set the seat position that we will be met with a smooth ride to our most comfortable position.