Happy New Year 2018


So it’s January the first! Happy holiday! For me this is a great time to catch up on some needed maintenance and service items on the BeaXT!

New year eve day I worked on the back end of the car sucking out the old gear oil and replacing with nice new gear oil!

Up the ramps she goes!

Today was a great chance to lift up the front and go over the suspension and brakes – checking the ball joints and all the nuts and bolts under there for the start of a new year!


Jacks in place and back wheels chocked and axle stands under the front frame!


Wheels off and ready for inspection!


Murphy’s Law

I go get my grease gun and as Murphy says it will be empty!

I filled one ball joint and then nothing!

Opening the cupboard and finding spare grease cartridge – all the grease has dried out and hardened!

Then I remember that I might have another in the house! YES!

Yes fresh grease but wrong size for gun!

Cartridge is full but it’s the wrong size! So I have to scrape grease out of the new cartridge into the old one – that fits!

My favorite – ZX1!


Safety Check

Grease in!  All the ball joints looking nice and lubed and ready for action!

Now its time to check over all the nuts and bolts and cables!

Tie rod ends and brake lines!

OK all done! Apart from a  hint of wheel alignment problem all is good under the old girl and she is ready for the next big road trip! (After a visit to Bob Jane!)

A good time to remember that the car is 49 years old this year and regular service and maintenance is essential of we are to keep on cruising!

Until next time!

Get those tools out and check everything!






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Is It Brake Binding

Am I in a Bind?

Next thought is that a brake pad is binding and some cleaning and grease may fix it!

Pulling the pins!

I pull the pins and polish them and refit with high temperature copper based grease.

Copper based grease to cope with the heat!

Everything moves smoothly and cleanly so no binding here now!

Test Drive

However, another run into town it gets worse and I have to drop 40-50kph to stop the fenders bouncing off! Strangely I work out that there is a connection between engine vacuum and the degree of drag!

A chat with a few mechanics and a brakes specialist and they suggest that the brake booster may be the problem, specifically the control valves. There are two parts in particular – a one way valve that is connected to the manifold to give vacuum and the control valve that actually helps in the movement of the push rod and controls the movement of atmospheric air into the system.

I did replace this last time I serviced the brakes!

I replace the one-way valve and drive home – not much difference!

If all else fails – read the instructions!

I spend an hour or two reading the manual and studying the diagrams to try and get the key principles of the VH40! The answer must be in here somewhere!

Next day I have an idea that the problem is a leak of air somewhere!

I jack the car and pump the brakes until the vacuum is all used so to speak and wheels spin freely – start the car and check the wheels and both front calipers have locked down on the discs! Turn the engine off and wheels turn!


So it is definitely an air or vacuum issue – either the control valve is leaking (worn or broken diaphragm) or the small rubber elbow!

Keep it simple stupid!

I start with the easiest check and that is the rubber elbow.

Looks fine from above but a quick check shows a split in the rubber – I move it a bit and the sound of air escaping!

Perishing rubber batman!

Now I get it! Bumpy roads, slight movement of the hose and air leaks, drop in vacuum and brakes on! I remove the pipe and can see it has been splitting for a while – smooth Perth roads mean little vibration compared to the gravel tracks! Now to find a replacement!

I dig around the shed and find the correct size of hose and after a fight I get a piece on the booster! Not perfect but works!

I drive into town and believe it or not the brake and clutch guy has a replacement in his back shed come storeroom! $5 and the car is back to normal -probably better now that I have fully serviced the brakes and steering!

Ok I’m off to plan some more cruising around the southern roads!

Castle Rock

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Cruising South Until I’m Shaking All Over


Once again cruising down to the south west of the state to visit family and enjoy the quiet and lifestyle of farm life.

Blue Skies and 4 Degrees C!

In the shadows of the Porongurups it’s mostly cool air, rain and a bit of hail at this time of the year. However, there are many days of blue skies and dry roads – perfect weather for cruising around the coast and sleepy country towns.

The temperature gauge shows the engine spending many hours under 150degrees F and a few times below 140! The wind chill at 3-4 degrees C is pretty savage – very glad I serviced the heater before we left.


The trip south was largely uneventful – little traffic and only a few semi-trailers to over-take.
Although  1-2 drivers of buzz boxes seem to think it obligatory to drive as close as they can to the back of the classic steel – not enough power to overtake but still enough to be a pain!
A flick of the accelerator and a few car lengths are easily added to the gap! 10 minutes later they are back there again!

The roads down south are in some places rather poor and you go from pot-holes to long rolling waves of asphalt where 40 tonne trucks and trailers squeeze the life out of the second rate roads!

It was on one section of road that I started to feel a little vibration in the steering wheel – like losing a wheel weight! We pullover and a quick check finds no problems!

Not sure what the problem is I decide to get the car off the ground at some point this week and check all the nuts and bolts on the suspension/steering. Maybe the brakes are binding?


A few days later, floor jack under and up she goes to get the wheels off and brakes inspected! No obvious issues except a little play in one side of the steering gear.

Checking each ball joint and tie-rod I find a loose clamp on the left tie-rod. 1-2mm of play – not enough I think to cause our problems so check the pitman arm to find the tension has dropped on the nut also! Out with the torque wrench and adjustments all round to be sure that nothing is moving!

A test drive and all seems ok until I get back on the gravel and the vibration is back!

More on the shakes next week!

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Heater Not Heating So Well

Not So Cosy

It is that time of the year where the temperatures outside are not of the overheated kind but the complete opposite! When it’s 5 Degrees C and the wind chill is 10 or more degrees colder fogging windows become a real issue!

My BA Falcon has a broken heater and so getting out in the mornings to hook up the trailer and head off to the first landscape job is trying at best! Out with the gloves and the jumper and hi-vis! A foggy window can only be cured with the air conditioner! Yes 2 degrees one morning and I have the AC on!

Read The Instructions

The BeaXT is much more comfortable on the cool mornings but the fan seemed a little  pathetic the other day so I decided that it may be time to pull the heater box apart and see what is going on. I have two concerns, one is that the heater core is blocked or faulty in some manner and the other that I have an electrical gremlin in the system!

XR XT Manual










So after removing the glove box, I start with the dismantling of the heater box and checking the wire connections. I have a copy of the workshop manual on my IPad and can see that the wires are actually wrong way around! The red one should be on the lower plug and the yellow on the other so that the dash switch is fully down on high fan speeds!

Next I can see that the slow speed is not working and that this is a resistor problem or failure of the switch! Since I have only just put the new heater switch in I don’t want to dismantle the switching gear again this year so we will have one speed!

Get To The Heart of the Problem.

Ok, wiring sorted now to check the core! Definitely heat in the heater box – I remove the front cover, with the foam seal, off the venting system. The foam falls to pieces – I remember fitting that more than 15 years ago! Will need to visit Clark Rubber and get a sheet of foam to make a new seal. The old board around the fan is showing it’s age so I carefully remove it and strap it up with some self-adhesive insulating tape. That should solve some of the air leaks around the fan too!

Remove the Glove Box!

I now have a look at the heater core and it is red hot on top where the hose is coming in and the core is quite warm but the air moving through is cool!? Now I am confused! Everything is indicating I should have warm air exiting the box but I don’t! In fact, some cool air is moving around the core!

Mmmmmm, seems a little dirty in here actually – what if……?

I get the Dyson and vacuum the core – yep dust is flying through the pipe and I can feel the air warming as it flys into the vacuum pipe! The problem is 20 years of dust gathered in the core plates and its enough to reduce the efficiency of the water to air heat exchange! I also install a foam insert behind the core so air cannot sneak around the back of it but has to run through the core!

Surface Deep

So seems all sorted now so I will address some of the surface rust in the vent outlet with rust converter and paint and cut out the new foam seals!

Wire brush, wipe with water and brush on rust converter!

A few hours later I can paint the converted rust surfaces, meanwhile …..

Manufacturing Time

A very simple task, draw around the vent and heater box cover/ vent tube onto the foam.

Cut enough foam off the sheet and draw!

Sharp scalpel blade and near perfect circle!

Sharp scalpel does the trick!

I put the foam on the cover and then draw around the outside of the cover to get the final cut!

Looking good – just draw around the top!

One more cut and I will be done!

Now that looks like it was factory!

In fact this is too perfect – a trial fit shows it sits perfectly – however foam will shrink over time and I really need it over size – so I cut a similar design from another thinner harder foam to put under the soft one! Works perfectly – should seal the air nicely into the vent!

I now need to add new foam to the cold air vent on the base of the cover – this has perished as well after such a long working life! I give it a clean up with the wire brush and a coat of paint and then using spray glue stick on new foam!

A coat of paint and new foam!

Rebuild Time

So everything is cleaned, treated for any rust, painted and repaired! Rebuilding the heater box is the next step!

Reinstalling the cold air vent flap!

The foam seals the base of the cold air vent column so that air is pushed more strongly through the heater box. In summer this is opened to let in cool air around your feet! No air conditioner  so this needs to be in good order for summer!

Like new!

Hook up the cover (this can be tricky the first time) by inserting the left edge into a slot along the box and hinging across the fan motor. Two screws hold it in place and the Bowden cable hooks onto the flap valve! A little adjustment and then lock the cable in place!

Looking good! I should have painted the cover!

Replace the glove box and no one knows what has been going on under the dash – except that it is toasty warm and we have windscreen de-misted!

Fairmont – you get a fan forced heater. Not like my HR Holden that had nothing!

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Water Pump Failure Part 2

Water Pump becomes more than expected!

So I have solved my issues with the water pump – took some time to find a replacement as there are several varieties for the 302W – used in the Mustang, light trucks and of course Aussie Falcons – with and without air conditioning!

Left hand outlet and right hand outlet! I googled for quite some time until I found what I needed – it was 16 or more years since I last bought one so I was a little surprised it was so hard this time. I did find my original receipt and a part number, which helped enormously!

Cost me $96 last time and this time $89 with free delivery! I thought the thermostat housing should be easier!

Simple casting – yet….$$$$

No way! None of the usual car part stores carry them in stock and then there was the price! As much as $80! Oh yeah and the gasket was separate at $16! Even E-bay was around $35-50!

Can anyone see how this simple casting would cost as much as the water pump? Not me!

Luckily I mentioned the problem to my Radiator guy, Gavin, at Lakeside Radiators & Airconditioning. He was as confused as me and suggested we look in his collection – we found one – he sandblasted it and painted it so was better than new!

If you ever need cooling system parts for an old car always visit Gavin you just might get lucky!

Time for  a Dry Run

Well I had the parts in and the paint was dry – so it’s time to fire up the beaXT!

I install the old radiator and……

Looks good but I make a real rooky mistake!

I fire the BeaXT and she roars into life! (Man how I missed that rumble for the last few weeks) – however I hear water running – the radiator is not full yet!

Can you guess what I had done? Look carefully at the photo above!

Yep – 2 litres of red C4 oil all over the floor! Forgot to connect one pipe from the gearbox!

Oh dear!

I clean up my mess! Very quickly before my wife sees the mess!

Water and Fire

Ok, I fill the radiator and top up the gearbox!

Fire-up the starter and all is good! No blood spilled this time!


The old radiator leaks of course!

I bring it up to running temperature and check all the new parts for leaks! Not one in sight! Water Pump is dry and I am a happy chappy!

However the leaky radiator does have a couple of slow pressure leaks and this will prove a problem later on when I fit the new one!

Trim and Tidy

While I wait for the new radiator I decide to tidy up some trim. Starting with the light surrounds!

Light Surround masked and sprayed – a scalpel and a steady hand!

The finished job! I purchased new countersunk stainless screws and and painted them black as well!

Why stop there!? Next to the grill!

I removed all the badges and cleaned them up and this one gets a new coat of paint on the backing plate!

Rust converter and then a coat of black to preserve the surface!

Radiator Arrives!

Woohoo! Radiator is ready to be picked up! Off I go and soon back with a shiny new radiator! This one is actually of a higher quality than the usual 3-core. It has extra tubes and finning so should be a more efficient cooler!

Radiator in! Just need to tidy up the old fan shroud and we can add coolant!


Super Waterless Coolant

I am going with Super Waterless Coolant since the car spends many days sitting in the garage now between rides and cruises! The process takes 7 days to prepare the engine for the coolant – Step 1 Engine Cooling Cleaning Kit

I added Part A to the engine and old radiator. Starting the engine every day and running up to running temperature.

Then its a flush with water and Part B is added to neutralise the Part A chemicals and treat the metal surfaces to prevent new corrosion!

Then a final flush and then empty all water from the system!

So I filled up the system with the coolant and ran the car to full thermostat temperature – then I see drips of fluid! Now that we have full pressure and heat the weak spots of the cooling system are in evidence – a couple of heater hoses and clamps need replacing!

Next day – cool engine and a pan underneath to catch any coolant and new hoses and clamps fitted!

Try again – looks good and maybe I will take a drive!

All done! Coolant, no leaks and fan shroud cleaned up and expansion bottle in!

Three weeks from start to finish! It was going to be a simple water pump replacement – but as we all know with old cars it is never that simple!

Now I have my new pump but also front end rust free, fresh paint and engine bay much tidier! Many thanks for the advice and products from my various suppliers of car parts.


Liquid Intelligence

Lakeside Radiators


See ya on the road!

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Water Pump Failure

A Green Puddle Under the Car!

Parked the car at the top of the drive while I moved another out of the way when I spotted a green puddle under the BeaXT!

Clearly a coolant leak so time to find where from!

No obvious hose leaks so work my way back to the water pump and spot a little trickle from the bearing inspection hole!

So the marks there could be stains!?

Water pump is the problem so all has to come out – radiator, fans and clutch etc

Decided not to stop at Radiator, whole front off!

Close inspection after removing Radiator revels water damage and rust so I decide a good time to do some repairs and freshen up paint in engine bay etc while new radiator is made and the parts arrive!

Some rust!

Battery tray has some surface issues so out with that and found more underneath!

Treatment with rust converter etc and ready for paint!

Removed all the wiring and compliance plates as well!

Time to fill in some damage and extra holes!

Sanded and primed – spray putty finish!

Much better!

Start with the light surrounds – Fairmont green! My custom colour!


A nice black Hammer Finish with clear coat!

A few bits and pieces need touch up as well!


Everything back in its place and ready for the water pump!

Nice new pump – alloy and 30% lighter than the old one!

Water Pump In Fan back on and thermostat housing installed!


A busy week or so that was – radiator still not here so I will dig out an old one and run the car on that to check for leaks in the pump etc!




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Sanding – Filling – Priming – Base coat – Clear coat

Step 1 – Remove Boot Lid and Sand

So here we go! Not much to say really I think the photos show and say it all but the first day was all about preparation!

Boot lid off and on to panel stand!

Boot lid off and on to panel stand!

Sand off top coat and fill dents and scratches.

Sand off topcoat and fill dents and scratches.

Primer/sealer, wet and dry ready for colour!

Primer/sealer, wet and dry ready for colour!

Those curves were hard work sanding!

Those curves were hard work sanding!

Step 2 Base Coat

First coat of colour! Two more and then ready for clear coat!

First coat of colour! Two more and then ready for clear coat!

Step 3 Clear Coat

First clear coat coverage. 2-3 to go!

First clear coat coverage. 2-3 to go!

Three coats of clear and a nice gloss already evident!

Three coats of clear and a nice gloss already evident!

That’s the first two days and I have finished the painting! I think I will have time to attack even more of the boot area than previously thought!

A few chips and scratches can be sorted out as well!

A few chips and scratches can be sorted out as well!

A trailer knock when backing too tight! Gone!

A trailer knock when backing too tight! Gone!

A previous repair with a poor colour match - fixed!

A previous repair with a poor colour match – fixed!

Very happy with the final result colour match is pretty good!

Very happy with the final result colour match is pretty good!

Lid back on for trial fit and not a bad colour match across the back!

Lid back on for trial fit and not a bad colour match across the back!

A week later, trim back on and buffing pretty well done!

A week later, trim back on and buffing pretty well done!

Looking Sweet!

A sunny day to show off that gleeming new paint!

A sunny day to show off that gleaming new paint!

During the week while I waited for the paint to harden prior to buffing I took the BeaXT for a cruise with the Albany Veteran Car Club! The adventure will be in my next post!

The Petrolhead!

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Gone Bush

Working Holiday!

In August I was in the fortunate position of having to drive to the south west of the state – near Napier to be precise – to work and holiday at the same time!

A family member asked me to farm-sit while they went camping north! That’s Geraldton, Canarvon and Exmouth to start!

Packed and ready to go!

Packed and ready to go!

My mum also wanted her house repainted and garden refreshed for the spring flower season!

I saw an opportunity to get the BeaXT into a big shed with a clean concrete floor and all the toys one needs to do repairs! I can finally paint the boot and check out the new paint Autopower Car Paint prepared for me. If this proves successful then I will be doing the bonnet next!

A nice big clean farm shed!

Cruising Down the Road

Dam it's cold!

The first frosty morning in Napier!

So, with the BeaXT fully fueled (72L LPG, 65L petrol) and the trailer loaded with all my painting gear, sanders, buffer and polishes it’s off I go for the 5 hour drive! I tend not to think of it as a chore when I can take the BeaXT and just rumble down Albany Highway – Williams (near zero degrees C) – Kojonup, North Bannister and on to Mt Barker – finally the bypass road out to Chesterpass Rd and then Bakers Junction!

As usual the BeaXT travelled the whole way without a hiccup! Gas consumption was great – the air being so cold I could feel an extra few horsepower – especially on the top end!

I ran the petrol tank down to nearly empty to give the Holley a good workout! It’s nice to refill with fresh petrol after a good run. The Holley 500 carbs can really roar when pushed!

Power Spikes

It was just out of Kojonup when I had my cd player drop out and a quick check revealed that the voltmeter was reading 18Volts! You don’t need that much voltage running through your classic – 47 year old wiring won’t take too much of that! Fortunately I had installed a fusible link a few years ago to supply all the accessories – central locking and cd/radio were on a separate line.

Bouncing voltage can only really mean one thing and  that is the regulator is on the blink in the alternator! First job then this week will be to get the alternator serviced – I think that it was a new one when I put in the the Windsor so about 100000miles.

Alternator repaired, sandblasted and with a coat of paint back in the car!

Alternator repaired, sandblasted and with a coat of paint back in the car!

Talking miles the odometer is moving ever closer to the second turnover on this speedometer. I expect to hit the 999999 in September or October this year!

Not quite 100000!

Not quite 100000!

Well that was my first few days and plenty to see and do! Next up time to get the sanders out and get to work on the dodgy boot!



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New Windscreen In!

Laminated Windscreen

Well the big day arrives and I gingerly drive the car through the morning traffic to the repair shop for the big fitting of my – laminated tinted windscreen!

Every bump worries me as the lack of rubber means its glass on steel! Too big a bump and it may shatter – yes – I have insurance but the mess!

I arrive at the workshop and hand over the keys – something I am never comfortable with – unless I know the guys very well!

All goes well and the new laminated screen is in and the beast is ready once again for the road and particularly wet weather!

One drawback I have to wait for nearly 1.5hours as the adhesives set and the screen settles in! No good magazines here wither – disappointing for a car shop! I will drop in some old street machine mags next time I drive by!

New glass! So smooth and clean!

Just put the wipers back on and you would never know what we have been through this last month!

I also need some new stickers for the Steel Bumper Car Cruises!

Be seeing you on the road – really I will now!


The Petrolhead Blogger


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An Open and Locked Case!

Locked out!

Went to get some gear from the car boot and found the lock was rather tricky to open with the key! I quickly realise that it is on the way out! Solution is a new lock after 47 years wear and tear!


Finding a replacement lock is not as easy as it seems, ebay and google give me all sorts of locks and keys but not an XT boot set.

All the pieces ready to go!

So after doing the rounds, Rare Spares and various GT sites I eventually get onto

Superoo Falcon Spares and they have several locks but no keys with the best of them!

However, a good locksmith, Advanced Lock and Key,  can make up a key and we are in business.

New key and a spare!


Success! New keys – all working nicely!

Lock in!

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Leaking Windscreen?

It was on a drive back from the bush that I first spotted a little drop or two of water falling off the front trim inside the car!

Strange? I know I have not driven in rain for a while but that is not right! Solution is a new windscreen – well the old one is over 30 years old. I know this as I remember the incident where the truck threw a stone up on the bonnet and took out the screen in  the early  80’s!

Windscreen gone!

My daughter was in the back seat in a crib (the days before baby capsule and such!) and we were driving from Bunbury to Denmark.

As the truck drove past us the world exploded it seemed as the screen flew into hundreds of pieces all through the car! First thing to do is check the baby – she is ok! Then the wife and myself!

Broken Windscreen 1

We see a farmhouse a little down the road so drive to the house and ask for a moment to work on the car in their shed. The farmer was very friendly and invited us in for a cuppa!

Anyway I got as much of the screen out of the car as possible and then put up the replacement emergency plastic screen. Mmmm does not look too strong and we have 2 hours of driving ahead!

Yes, that does look like rain clouds too!

We said our goodbyes and thankyous and headed down the road.

It was not long before the rain and wind got real strong and we pulled off the road to wait for the worse of it to pass – then drove on! We got to the farm in Denmark  – but we were wet!

Today’s laminated windscreens may reduce this type of experience now so I think I will have a nice new laminated screen! Plus the old screen is so badly pitted that it is getting harder to keep the wipers running smooth over the glass!

2015 Windscreen out!

So back in the now and it’s time for the replacement of the screen and investigating the leak!

First step – remove trims and clips.

Trim off

Now we can see what needs attention!

Remove those clips and then pop the screen!

Starts with a steady hard push on the top left corner of the windscreen until you feel movement and then move your foot to the right continuing to push as you go!

The carpet on the bonnet is to catch the glass if things move too fast!

Now we are ready to find out why it leaked!

Tune in next post for the reveal!

The Petrolhead Blogger


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Water Water Everywhere!

You know that feeling when you have had 6 hours driving back from the bush and you are exhausted and yet so ready to fire the old girl up again just to hear the burbling old V8!

First though that red dust and mud from gravel roads has to come off – so out with the cleaning gear and give her a  good pressure clean underneath!

Ok, car clean, I have to go back to real life now and so the suitcases and gear has to come out of the boot!

Wet Wet Wet!

Mmmmmm, that carpet looks wet?

Oh damn it! Don’ tell me that the rear screen has leaked! I just installed the thing!

A quick look around the windscreen and no sign of water!

As I look around the tail lights I think I see daylight!

I do! There is a 1-2 mm gap between the metal and the gasket! A quick look and I can see that the rubber gasket has dried out so much it has pulled away from the car and – yep water has dropped in!

Now I know why its wetter near the taillights and not the leading edge of the carpet!

46 years of sunshine has take it’s toll on the old gaskets – ok off to the WWW to Rare Spares!

Yep they have a repair kit for the XT tail lights! A couple of days and new ones should be here!

Rare Spares Tail light Gaskets

Ok, out with the tools and lets get this done!

The power screwdriver shows it’s value now!

Lens Covers Gone


Seconds and I have the lens cover off and the mounting screws out!

That inner lens gasket is shot as well! That’s why the little bit of dust in here!

Dry Gasket

The gasket has really degraded in the last couple of years – but maybe it has been like this for a while. I rarely drive the BeaXT in the rain these days so it may have been leaking some time!

Brittle rubber gaskets!

The gaskets just break in my hand as I try to pull them off the light holder.

Out with the Old in with the New!

A quick clean and wipe and check for rust around the rear of the boot – all good! Time for new gaskets!

So much better now! A nice tight seal and no more water leaks!

New dust seals for the lenses and like new!

Just check the lights before I seal it all up!

No Indicator!

Mmmmmm indicator won’t work!?

That might explain things!

The tab comes out in my hand!

Screwdriver out again! Lucky I have …….

Yes I have all sorts of spares around the house!

So, test the lights once more! Yes – we have light!



P.S. After the next hose test the water is not entering around the tail lights anymore!

BUT what about that drip from the front in that last heavy rain storm near Kojonup?

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New Carpet and Lining


Now that the headlining is in and safely tucked and glued attention can now be turned to the bare floors!

New carpet was ordered quite a while ago and has been sitting in the office patiently waiting to stretch it’s legs! The carpet comes with underlay so once the floor is cleaned and the paint is dry I can get started.

Floor cleaned, rust treated – paint over those areas.


 I have laid the carpet out on the driveway to get warm and more pliable. It is custom made for the car but there are sometimes little production variations that will need a little more push or lift – softening the backing makes this much easier.

Step 1 Underlay

The underlay is in two pieces, one for the front and one for the back of the floor. I use masking tape to hold it in place until the carpet is in and the trim screwed back.

First piece.

The front piece needs a hole cut for the T-bar and that is about the hardest task!

Underlay to car floor

 Step 2 Carpet.

Ok, now for the carpet – basically the same task as the underlay but no room for error once you cut the carpet!

The carpet has to be alined carefully so that equal overlap is evident on the sides for the fitting of the trims. Also there are seatbelt reels and seat floor bolts to cut holes for!

Carpet centred – cut for the T-Bar and holes cut for bolts!

Getting the holes aligned for the seat bolts and seatbelts is a major task – I have learnt to insert long bolts as I cut the holes. The last thing you need is the carpet to move as you cut the other three holes for the seat mounting frame!
Some parts need the underlay removed under the carpet in order to fit the part (Inertia reel for the seat-belt a good example).

Aluminium Trims hold the carpet down along the door frame.

Back door trim.

Seatbelts in! Note plastic trim holding carpet from front to back trim!

Centre Consul

Before fitting the seats I just take moment to tidy up and re-colour the centre consul.

Consul out and ready for a cleanup and maybe some vinyl re-colour!

Seats Back In

With everything cleaned and ready for fitting seats can now be bolted back in.

Front seats in!

Rear seat is in!

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Headlining this Month

Well with the car in pieces and the inside gutted, repairs to rust all finished, time to turn to fitting all the new good stuff.

First task is the


Tools you will require are, Stanley knife, scrapper, cleaning fluid, bulldog clips, (any strong clips help), spray on adhesive, patience!

Some basic tools for getting the car ready for the new headlining!

First step is to lay out the headlining to “relax” the vinyl. Insert the rods (check the order!) by the numbers and left to left and right to right!

Here you can see the rods are in and I am just clipping and testing the fit. I bought 30 little bull clips to hold the headlining as I check fitting and also as the glue dries.

I have done the doorways so now onto the rear window. A few little cuts in the corners allow for the curve of the windscreen.

These pieces of trim go back over the headlining once the glue has dried.

The sides are well and truly dry before I start on gluing the windscreen.
The creases start disappearing as you tighten the edges – a few weeks after fitting very few left.

Here are three tabs along the parcel shelf for holding the headlining. (circled) There are a set on each side and along side the seat back as well.

Tension is added by pulling done onto these “teeth” which bend over once finished.

So front and back done sides in and trim replaced! Just leave it for a day or two to soften out the creases and then I will start on the light fittings.

Taking a Stanley knife I make 4 little cuts from the center of the light location to the edge of the hole in the panel. Must not rush this – one wrong cut and ………

Refit the globe holder and the facia and – lights in action!

Repeat for the center light and the bits of trim and sun visors!


Rear view mirror.

The visors look rather sad against the new white headlining! Will spray them later!

Finished and parked in the sun to warm and soften to work out creases!

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Out With the Old Interior

Just Rip it Out

Well the new carpet has arrived some weeks ago and I am just waiting on the headlining to arrive and to find some time between landscaping jobs to strip the whole inside of the car out.

Its here! Now, do I take on the task of fitting it myself? Do I find an auto-detailer to do it for me?
If I stuff it up that’s $200 wasted!

New White Headlining. Perforated like the original

I am doing it myself! First though have to strip out all the old carpet and fittings – seats – trim and headlining all must go!
Always the fun part!

20 Years Old and showing it!

Rods for giving tension and form to the headlining. All numbered and left and right marked!

One seat gone – one to go! Also the seatbelts and consul, trim around doors as well.

Half way there! Left side done now back to do the rest!

Old carpet sorted! 20 years wear and tear, two kids, 5 years as a landscapers work vehicle!

Now to the parcel shelf and rear seatbelts!

Screen out with no scratches so far! Cleaned up and ready to go back in a weeks time!

Ok cleaned up and stripped right down to the floor! All rust areas treated with POR15.

Some of the insulation was loose and needed regluing. You can see my new speaker cable ready for the sound system replacement. The red line is the high-rise led brake.

All the side trims are repainted. These sit under the aluminium plates. All the speaker wiring has been replaced with new cable.

Ooooh! Nasty rust found as I removed the window rubber! This is going to be a challenge!

Oops same on the other side!

After trying to find a talented MIG operator I ran out of time so opted for the epoxy, fibreglass option! It’s as strong as the metal and should give me a few years while I plan for a future repair with metal!

So a couple of days later – sealer and topcoat added – test the windscreen rubber – fitting is ok! Time will tell if we have stopped the rust and water leaks!

Window in, trim fitted, seal perfect! Have been in two storms of torrential rain and still dry in boot!

Ok! Interior gone, repairs done, rust treated and repainted metal!
Next it’s fitting the headlining – but that is another days story!

All of this is in order to get the car looking A1 for a certain young ladies wedding in September!

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Trim and Tidy

Having fixed the mad steering drift it now time to start on the other more cosmetic issues that are challenging the old BeaXT! First up the nasty nose!

Nose Job

It a few years ago that I managed to put a rather large dent in the front of the old girl – courtesy of pebble gravel, a steep driveway and a rather heavy trailer. The upshot was to either drive into a very solid granite strainer holding up a heavy gate or roll the car over the edge of the driveway!
A no brainer – the post it was to be!
Well avoided the rollover but some very nasty dents in the bumper, trim and bonnet!

I managed to do a little repair on paint and knocked the bonnet back into some semblance of straight! The trim was too bad and had to be replaced. A call to Superoo in Armadale and all done!

Clean and Strip

This process is pretty straight forward – having done it many times over the decades.
Fist off clean the car and then remove any polish or tape. In this case the bonnet had a piece of protective contact put over the nose – this was a short term fix after the bump. It held the paint in place and stopped anymore chips.

However, removing it stripped all the paint off down to the earliest primer layers from the 1980s! Nothing a little primer and spray putty cannot fix!

Primed, sanded and spray puttied and sanded again!

Add the colour after the last coat of primer!

Clear coat and then we are ready to do a little cut and polish. Not perfect but waterproof.

Next Time – the new carpet for the boot and interior has arrived!

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Rewire the Steering Column

Ok, the steering box is back in, engine starts – battery has not gone flat after sitting there for two weeks (I did disconnect the car at the battery while working on this). Now to tackle the steering column!

First problem is the the worn horn contact. The horn failed last year and it was the motivation to get on with the steering box replacement. Now I have to deal with the reason for that and it means a complete replacement of the column wire harness.

New harness

Rare Spares to the rescue on this one – I visited the store when fixing the threads on the steering shaft. The part had to be ordered from the eastern states so it will take a week to get here! No worries, I had plenty to do at this stage anyway.

Old Horn indicator wires

If you look carefully you can see that the outer pin is worn and not repairable so the whole horn and indicator switch has to be replaced.
I found a great video on youtube and watched the two guys do the same job on a Mustang – identical almost to the XT!

Wire it Right

Once you start pulling wiring apart it is very easy to forget the order of the wires in the connector so the first thing I always do is take a photo!

Plug for horn indicator harness

This is the plug from the steering column to the major wiring harness so this must be rewired correctly!

Alarm connections

This is the piggy-back setup to the alarm system to give the alarm access to the lights to confirm arm, disarm and alarmed!
The alarm wires are all black so a little tape is used to distinguish one from another!

Cut and Pull it Out!

Once the plug is cut off it easy enough to remove the wires from the column but I tape one large wire and attach it to some steel garden tie. Then as I pull out the wires the tie will move up through the shaft!

Taped end to hook onto follow wire

Follow wire threaded


All I have to do is now run some heavier wire up through the shaft pulled thru by the green tie wire so I can pull back the new harness! (That black wire is the back-up line for the automatic gearbox to turn on the two indicators when selecting reverse.)

New harness taped and ready to pull up the steering shaft

New wires in

Carefully and gently I pull the wires through and then we can start reconnecting the plug.


Remove old wires and in insert new ones carefully!

It was at this point I discovered that one wire had not been duplicated in the same colour pattern as the old one so care was needed when rejoining the plug!

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Headers back on the Engine

Clean Up the Head

Steering box is in, the engine bay clean and the old Pitman Arm is gone!

Pitman Arm Gone

So step 1 scrape and clean the face of the head without breaking any spark plugs (better still take them out!)

Clean head and spark plugs loose


Headers back in

Then all we need is a little copper based silicone and bolt ’em up!
(Permatex Ultra Copper High Temp RTV Silicone)

Pitman Arm In

So headers back in and plugs wired up! Now to check the pitman arm for clearance and bolt it up!

New Pitman Arm

Looking good! We might even try starting the motor now and check that we can even turn the wheels!

Steering Wheel test

Yep wheels turn and very obviously no play in this new steering box!
Mmmm that cut header pipe leaks a lot of engine noise – sounds like the drags!

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Getting Out The Steering Box

Square Pegs and Round Holes

So this is what faces me as I inspect the engine bay.

Ready to go!

First step is to undo the three bolts that hold the box on the frame and they come out very easily.

Retaining bolts out.

A steel brush and degreaser and they are like new!

Cleaned up Bolts















Lifting the steering box up it is clear that there is no way it is going up and out with the headers in place. Maybe with the original collectors I might have a chance but not with the Genie pipes! My reciprocating saw earns its keep on this job!

So jack up the car and cut the pipe near the U-bolt and undo the header bolts.

Header Bolts Out Cleaned

Cleaning up the bolts – very little rust – and they are ready to go back in once we have the new steering box in.

Steering Box out Headers off

An hour later and all is done!

Header gone Steering box gone











There we go, a little degreaser and the engine will be clean and ready for the new one!

The Old is Out Now for the New

First step clean up the new one – a lot easier to fit parts that are clean and not greasy and slippery!

Clean Steering box

Everything is straight forward now – reverse the procedures to remove the box and in goes the new one!

New box in

Not as Simple as It Seems

At this point I must recall a few challenges I faced before reaching this stage of the replacement of the steering box.
Once I tried to fit the steering wheel retaining nut it was clear that the thread was damaged and needed a tidy up before I can fit anything to the car. The same was true for the pitman arm connection.

I visited my local Pedders since it seemed a good place to start with all things suspension and steering. They gave it a good shot and managed to fix the lower thread but had no joy with the top one.
My next idea was to find steering specialists in the northern suburbs and found one right next door to Rare Spares in Osborne Park.
Auto Power Steering, 21 Guthrie St, proved to be the best find for this problem and I found a keen reception as the owner operator jumped at the chance to help me out. 10 Minutes later and the thread is clean and a perfect fit!

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Wires, wires, wires?

Alarming wiring!

Having removed the steering wheel we are now confronted with the components of the turn signal and horn contacts.
These are connected to the dash loom by wires feeding down the column and into the underdash area.

After 45 years of wear and tear often the loom is a little confusing – in my case two alarm systems have been and gone in the BeaXT and the loom has been piggy-backed too often!
The alarm system wires are all black so never cut them unless you have marked them somehow so you know which wire goes where!


After carefully identifying all plain wiring photographs of the loom will be a life saver later on!

I do know what goes where!

Removing the Column

Ok wiring sorted. Now to remove the base plate that holds the column in the floor and the bracket across the top!

6-7 little screws hold 2 plates and a large gasket to the floor.

Upper bracket is just two bolts and we are free!

2 bolts and the bracket is away!

Just gently lift the column up and out over the shaft and …..

At last! In one piece and no damage!

Wear and Tear

It is at this point that careful inspection of the column and the steering wheel reveals damaged from simply driving 100 of thousands of miles! The indicator/horn unit cannot be repaired easily so it is cheaper to order a new unit from Rare Spares.

The steering wheel also has some worn parts and I had ordered them a few months back so I can get on with that now!

The aluminium ring on the right is the old one and the new one is smooth and unmarked!

A couple of screws and the pieces fall out nicely!

Minutes later, the steering wheel is ready to go back in the car for another 500000+ miles!

Yes that is a genuine Ford part in the original bag from the 60’s!

Next time I tackle the removal of the steering box!
The big question is will we need to remove the starter motor? The Headers? Or lift the motor?

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Out With the Old and In With The New

Step 1 Read the Manual

Over the years I have tackled quite a few repairs on the cars we have owned and the first lesson I learned early on was to get a a good manual. By manual I don’t mean the little handbook in the glovebox of most cars. I mean the Haynes or equivalent! I have two manuals and set about reading them whilst sitting in the car so as to visualise each step as they described it. Manuals are not always perfect but at least you have some idea of where to next! I then write a short list for myself to help with overall progress in the job in question.

Remove Steering Wheel.

So first job is to remove the steering wheel inside the car – including the wiring and attachments for the horn and indicators.

Start here!

A simple push and twist (after removing the battery leads!) the centre piece is in my hands and we are ready to remove the retaining nut!

This is the part that sends the signal to the horn when you have an opinion to express!

Out with the trusty socket set and a little bit of muscle!

Hold the wheel with one hand and use the socket with the other!

Now the wheel is ready for the useful little guy the puller! The two holes in the centre are threaded and form the attachment points for the puller.

Nearly there!

Puller attached and ready for the socket again!

It takes some pressure sometimes but off it pops and exposes the wiring and contacts beneath.

At last!

Success! Photos at this stage are compulsory – if you hope to get it back in the right way when repaired!

That’s it for this update! Next time we need to get the column out of the car – tricky moments with the wiring lay ahead!

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Pump em up!

You usually think of tyres when you hear the phrase “pump em up” – not today pumping the brake pedal was needed to get me around safely!

It seems like only yesterday that I had a similar problem with the car – the master cylinder died on us!

However something was not the same as last time – there was no suggestion of brake power when the master cylinder went. This time I had good front lock up if I pumped and the pedal was not sinking all the way to the floor. After a few pumps there was a gradual drop and then it stopped. I was sure I had experienced this in the past – just too long to remember what the outcome was!

So I dive into my trusty social networks and put it out there to a few friends. Then a call to mate and mechanic (and drag racer) Mark. He has similar issue with the master cylinder idea – something just not right about the symptoms. He suggests I take the rear wheels off and look for a leak in the brake drums.

So up on the axle stumps she goes and off with the wheels!

Take a Careful Look

At first glance the brakes look as they should – so a closer inspection is needed. I look at the inside of the drum and there are marks that look like splashes of something that has dried after being spun around the inside of the drum. So I lift the dust cover rubber on the wheel cylinder and out drips a drop or two of rusty red liquid!

More than just a leak a serious corrosion and leak issue!

Look carefully at the axle and you can see how there is a damp red patch on the the right – this is where the brake fluid was hitting the edge when I pumped the brakes!

So no choice the wheel cylinder will need to be replaced so I set to tearing down the whole brake.
(Hint: I have learned a good lesson from past experiences – take a photo of the parts you wish to replace before you strip them down – especially when there are multiple parts!)

Basic tools to strip down the brakes. A pair of pliers proved very valuable to remove and refit the springs!

So, on the phone to the guys at Hi Tech Brake and Clutch Services They re-sleeved my master cylinder and have supplied me with numerous parts for the brakes over the years. It helps that most of them are petrolheads like me – owning classic metal themselves.

They have multiple cylinders for me to use and the price is so good ($11 apiece) that I grab two! Little did I know that this decision would save me a great deal of running around!

Clean and Paint

With the brake cleaned up and looking ready to go I decide that it would be a good idea to remove the surface rust and maybe add a coat of paint. So out with the faithful zinc based paint and she looks like new!

Zinc grey seems boring but you don’t see it unless you strip the brakes and it is a protection issue not aesthetics!













While the paint dries I decide to tear down the other wheel just in case there is an issue. I also received advice from a tyre specialist on the benefits of replacing both cylinders at the same time when you do a repair. It is often the case that they both go within a short time of each other and it saves the confusion of finding the source of a problem.

So I have a look and see the tiniest of fluid – I lift the dust cover and sure enough there is the tell-tell signs of rust – in fact this one is worse!

I cannot believe how bad this one is! It falls apart in my hand! Just to think this was what I was relying on to stop me.

Scarey to think that the pair of the rear wheels had failed me! I had no hint of problems in the weeks before. It is a good job that the brake system is a split system with the front and rear on separate circuits – the front brakes were doing the most work when I had the trouble start!

Close inspection shows the long term damage.













It is well over 15 years since we replaced a wheel cylinder on the rear brakes so I am not complaining – just grateful it all happened during a holiday break! The car had sat in the garage for 10 days and it was during the first drive after xmas that the failure took place!

Out with the Old and In with the New

So to work now rebuilding the brakes.

First in with the nice new wheel cylinder.

Shiny and new!













With reference to my photos on the I-pad, I rebuild the brakes.

Ready to go! Just need to repeat the process on the other side and we can bleed the lines!

Last thing to do is to connect the brake line to the back of the drum and drain the old brake fluid and replace with new!

This is what I want to see – clean and dry!













Bleeding Brakes

The last but no less important step is the draining and bleeding of the fluid through the pipes to clear all old fluid and air!

Replacing the drum I can now start the bleeding process!

The process is straight forward and I have been thru this in the past – Bleeding Brakes – so I won’t repeat the process here. I do decide to clean up the front discs as well today so I strip down the front wheels – give all a cleanup and then flush and bleed the front!

My nice RRS kit disc system still needs regular maintenance and so I check the pads while here – still a good way to go yet!













I quickly drive out to get more brake fluid and I can finally finish the job! The new fluid is considerably cleaner than the old and I can see that I am lucky to have no major damage to the brake system despite that very bad corrosion in the rear cylinders!

Clean fluid and safely back on the road!













Another note to self – dig a little deeper next time I check the brakes! Lifting up dust seals and rubbers could reveal early signs of problems before you run out of brakes!



Well what a busy day I spent tinkering on the BeaXT. Very relaxing actually – like a form of meditation! I know many would be perplexed by the statement but for me nothing is more relaxing than sitting in the garage working on the car.
The joy of seeing the job completed by my own hands and the return of function when things have gone terribly wrong.

On the purely commercial side I saved myself many hundreds of dollars – and no mechanic would willingly volunteer to clean-up and paint parts on the way. I spent $25 (inc GST) on parts and $25 on brake fluid and a single-handed bleeding kit.

A great tool to add to your kit!

If you run an old car then brake repairs are something you can attempt with a little advice and care. So invest in one of these one-man bleeding kits!
As usual I got mine from my pals at Autopro Joondalup!

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The Youngest Petrolhead

Gracie Marie at her 18month unbirthday!

I have been a grandfather for over a year now and very proud to be called “Granddad”!
The little girl that caused all the excitement is now starting to travel around and that means all the cars have to be checked for safety. Let’s face it this very valuable little package should not be loose in the back of a car! Plus it is a legal requirement now that all children be in Australia Design Standard restraints.

So the Petrolhead has to fit and secure seat anchors in all the cars in readiness for the little girls first ride! We have gone into partnership with the other grandparents to buy a seat for us all to share.

Here she is at 6 months – with her favorite car of course!

Here is Gracie’s mum – in the BeaXT in 1986!
She travelled tens of thousands of miles in the back of this old car and spent many hours driving the BeaXT to get her license as well!

Fitting a New Seat Anchor

Ok, first of all get the back seat out!

A good chance to check for rust and any damage, wear and tear on the belts.

The seat back has to be unbolted and lifted up off the top hooks.

The carpet on the parcel shelf shows a little sun damage but not as much as expected – that 3M window tint must have been effective!

I visited my friendly auto shop mates at Autopro Edgewater for two kits.
The bolts are obviously metric these days but the kit has a universal fit as well.

I just have to lift the carpet and find the old hole we used for the girls in the 80’s!
Not as easy as I thought!
Well yes, I found the hole I just cannot get my hand over the LPG tank to screw on the nut and washer. I scream for the wife, this is a two person job and we quickly work as a team and get the anchor fitted!

Success! That orange fitting is the original seat anchor we used in the 1980’s – I found it in the shed.
In the background you can see the next car to fit – the wife’s Camry – my grandfathers car! We bought it off grandma nearly ten years ago.

That was an easy fit! The thread on the fitting is a perfect metric fit so just need to torque it with the torque wrench and all done.

A good job – all done and now we are ready to take the little angel cruising – just like her mum!

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When Your Lifters Go You Dont

A Quiet Long Weekend

After a few very busy weeks my wife and I decided to have a long weekend in the bush staying on the brother-in-laws property. The property is near Pemberton deep in the south west of the state.

The trip is a good run along new freeways, windy country roads and a little gravel! I enjoy it since it does cover a range of road types and terrain. Long winding valleys and steep descents give the old girl a good workout and offers lot’s of chances to test the suspension and torque of the small V8.

Country road on a cool morning!

We left home early and set off down the Mitchell Freeway and onto the new section that runs to Mandurah and onto Bunbury.
I had changed the oil the day before we left and was looking to get a good run!
When I checked the dates on the oil filter it seems I was a couple of months overdue – that explained the rattling lifter on cylinder 8! The oil change seemed to fix it and I was sure we would be fine!

On The Road Again

We made good time down to Bunbury as the traffic was very quiet – being a cold Autumn Saturday morning!
Car ran well and we stopped for a drop of LPG and to stretch the legs.

We went through Bunbury via the outskirts of town (avoiding the city centre) and on to Boyanup, Donnybrook and then Bridgetown!
It was outside Bridgetown that the first sign of some unusual noises from the engine bay caused me alarm. By the time we got to the town the tapping noise was very loud and getting the attention of everyone on the side of the road!
I had clearly blocked a lifter and the tappet was not very happy about that.

A Bottle of Magic Lifter Free

After many years dealing with rattly tappets and lifters I have learned a thing or two so I knew that a can of Lifter-Free and Tune-Up would do the job!
For the last two years I have been battling one or two lifters on cylinder 8 and the can of the good stuff usually fixed it for 6-7 months. However, this time we were out of luck!

I figured that maybe we should just drive on and let the chemical work it’s magic on the blocked lifter.
This was my first mistake!

We got halfway to Manjimup and the noise changed – I could hear a secondary noise – a second tap separate to the lifter-tapper connection. Miles from anywhere in particular and no RAC country extended cover – I had no choice but to push on. I cut the speed back until the noise was at it’s least, about 80 kph.

Manjimup At Last

Luckily we made it into town – first thought was to pullover and check the noise under the bonnet so we stopped near the tourist bureau. I lifted the bonnet and the noise was fairly strong at the rear of the right bank of the V8. BUT there was a lot more rattling now all over the engine!

I turned the car off – second mistake – went up to the tourist shop and asked for the phone number of the local RAC mechanic. The dear old lady in the shop had his number and name! I bought a map of the town and thanked her for her help. I was hoping to drive to his workshop and get a second opinion. (Maybe I can fix this myself like I did last time – 6 years ago!)

I restart the car and boy she is rough! Clearly on 7 cylinders – something has locked up as she has cooled down! I try my luck driving out of town – third mistake – thinking I will fix this at the holiday home! We get about 300m and she is not happy I have to stop no way we are getting any further!

I phone the mechanic and he refers me to the RAC first to get a job number. Once this was done he came and had a listen to the engine – by now we had a rather loud valve back blow happening and he felt we had locked a valve open now! A seized lifter! No driving anywhere far now – we are in need of serious repairs to the lifters!

Saturday Morning In A Country Town

Well it is now 11am and the mechanics all shut shop very soon and there are only 3-4 possible workshops to try so our RAC man takes us to the first one “Rusty”. He is interested in helping but his workload is very big for the week and being alone he cannot see his way free for several days!

We go through the list of mechanics – the Ford dealer is a good chance so far – but again no way they can help today or even until early next week. The same message with all the rest so we decide to trust the Ford guys.

Nothing we can do now so we lock the old girl up in Rusty’s workshop and phone Cliff (brother-in-law) to pick us up – a long weekend in Pemberton starts now!

Monday Morning Blues

Monday morning and we call the Ford dealership – they are willing to get the car and have a go at fixing her up.
Should be ready Wednesday!

We get a room in the local hotel – a 5minute taxi ride from the dealership.

Tuesday we call in and no luck – the wrong lifters were sent in and they were having trouble finding push-rods to replace the bent ones. Might be ready Thursday!

Thursday – no luck – will be ready next Monday! Would we like a lift to Mandurah to catch a train home?
Yep – good idea – I will come back Monday with the dealership owner.

Muir Ford Manjimup
So we get a free lift home and enjoy the generous support of the Manjimup Ford dealership.

Country Folk

It is at this point that I have to say that we did not know what to expect during our week in Manjimup but we have learned one important thing. Country folk are a different breed to the average city citizen.
We received nothing but kindness and support from everyone we dealt with during this forced holiday stay.
Even store owners that we visited as we window shopped around the town were good natured and full of ideas and information. We got to know several coffee shop owners as they made our lunch or afternoon cuppa!
We had a great time and will gladly go back to spend another holiday in Manjimup! This time without the engine dramas!

2 Weeks Later

Yes, you read right! I had nearly three calender weeks without my BeaXT! Took some real effort to not miss the old girl!
When you drive the same car for 30 years and use it for business as well – you get into a certain routine – the Camry does not have the same street appeal as a 69 V8 Fairmont!

But anyway, I caught the train to Mandurah and then got a lift with Malcolm back to Manji!
We had a good drive – with a similar family and farm background we spent the time chatting about everything from engines to kids and milking cows!

Ready To Rock and Roll

We get back to the workshop and I thank the mechanics and staff for their support and a good job done!
They replaced 16 push-rods – too many bent and dodgy ones – and most of the lifters as well!
The engine is so quiet now that I can hear the cooling fan when it locks up!

I managed to bend too many of these!

I have decided to drive to Mt Barker not back to Perth since it is later than I expected. I can take the shorter run through Rocky Gully, Mt Barker and then into Albany to visit mum. I have a bed waiting for me at my sister’s farm and a nice hot meal.

The drive is uneventful other than I believe the engine is running hotter (about 10degrees) and the vacuum is reading 3-4 kg lighter! I suspect that the timing is too retarded and she is not happy. Drives fine though, just needs a little adjustment later on.
It did rain most of the way so the air temperatures were low and we have little chance of over-heating. Glad I did not go back to Perth to hit peak hour traffic!

Rest For a Weary Head

I am glad to stop at my sister’s for the night. We have a nice afternoon walk around the farm and then share a beef stew for dinner. A nice sleep and an early start in the morning back to Mt Barker and then on to Perth via Williams.

Panda is glad to see me and suggests a little game!

Weather is great – cool and damp and little traffic on the road – perfect for a steady run home.
I cover the 500km in just over 5 hours since I am not pushing the engine until I am sure she is seated in well and the lifters are all ok! I pop in to Steve’s Shed and get his opinion on the timing – he insists that he sets it right!

The BeaXT is Home

Well what can I say the car is spot on now – running extremely well!

As this video will show!

Fast Tube
Fast Tube by Casper

What had been a short run out into the country for a quiet weekend with the family has been real adventure and all part and parcel of owning an old car that has done well over 500000km, nearer 600000 now!

The lesson I have learned is deal with noisy lifters as soon as they start!

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No Oil Only ZX1

No Oil and Still Running after 16 hours

Just received this video from my mates at ZX1 – they make the engine treatment I use on all my cars and small engines.
(Lawn mower, chainsaws, edgers, brushcutters!)

Look Less Friction

This Ford 6 cylinder has no oil in it at all!

This amazing stuff can go into nearly every area of your car where metal moves on metal!

Check out the product range here! ZX1

Tell em the Petrolhead sent you!

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No Brakes

Just a quick update on the car.
Drove out of the garage Monday and had the brakes fail as I got to the end of our street!

Seems the master cylinder had failed and the seals are all perished!
You may remember I replaced a hose last August – it seems the brake fluid I used was sour and simply dissolved the seals in the master cylinder.

I get the master cylinder back today and then have to check the wheel cylinders just in case the rot has gone that far!

Will update when I have repaired the car!


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I Broke The Handbrake

I know I only adjusted the handbrake a few months ago but this month the whole thing stopped working!
The cause was a mystery until I had a very careful think about it. It was my own fault – I am fairly sure that I did it when backing down our steep driveway.

Steep Descent

How steep!
Well look.

We have had challenges with the driveway ever since we bought the house and even other people’s cars have the similar problem – most friends don’t drive down since it is just too hard. I actually cut out some of the top concrete a few years ago to get the beast down with it’s new headers. It was the only way we could safely drive it into the garage. Before that I had bolted jarrah boards to the drive to lift the side of the car up as I drove over the top – lifting the collectors clear of the drive. Read the full story New Headers For a New Year
We cut a section out and then paved it to drop the height to clear exhaust systems!

Back Up The ….

Anyway, I backed the car down one day last month to hook up the trailer. I was just a few centimetres out on the line up and I heard a grinding of metal on concrete so stopped quickly to save my exhaust. I heard a very different sound at this point and with hindsight I can now explain what it was – the handbrake cable has a large lever in the assembly near the point where the car usually hits the ground and I believe the lever was pulled backwards. This probably locked on the brakes just as I hit the brakes – the result was terrible strain on the welds on one of the mounting points for the cable.

The weakened bracket broke off the following week when I parked the car with half a tonne of sand in the trailer at a landscaping job. I heard an almighty bang as the bracket gave way – I clearly had no handbrake but I thought at this point it was the cable breaking! What a nightmare – the cable is a little hard to fit and the replacement (if I could find a new one) would be difficult.

A Little Luck

Today I backed the BeaXT up onto the ramps and expected to see the broken cable. No broken cable!
Now I am confused – no brake tension, no obvious break in the cables – then I see it, a the bracket rattling on the exhaust pipe!

This photo shows you the problem – I have already started to drill hole through the welds so I can bolt it back in place. You can see the two holes in the floor where the pinch welds popped out.

Seat Out

Once I had worked out the location of the bracket mounts I needed to lift out the back seat and fold the carpet forward.

First to go is the set and then the trims holding in the carpet.

I lift the carpet forward and locate the two holes in the floor where I think the bracket was mounted.

I find a couple of bolts in my tool box and two brass coated nut and bolt combinations look made just for the job – a new spring washer will lock it all into place!

They fit without any drilling! You beauty!

A Two Person Job

Now I can drill the bracket easily enough – if being on your back under a car, holding a pair of multi-grips in one hand and a drill in the other drilling 1/8inch steel is easy!

Ok, all done push in the bolt and attach the washer and nut. The first one is easy since the bolt lines up easily with the bracket. However, the second is much harder since the bracket twists due to the tension on the cable. I need another pair of hands inside the car – mmmmm only the wife is home – so I call for help!

With spanner in hand and a little pushing she gets the bolt through the floor and the bracket as I line it up. Success!
I now just tighten it all up and the handbrake is back in business!

Clean up

Now having the seat and carpet out of the way it’s a good chance to clean up the back of the car – sand and coins seem to always find their way under the seat!

All clean so seat back in, belts carefully threaded back over the top.
That’s my nice new 18volt drill – my last one wore out the batteries and it was cheaper to buy a new one rather than buy new batteries!

Carpet and trims back in place – everything cleaned – brakes fixed.

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Mmmmm Something Fishy Going on Here

Repairs and Maintenance

Every summer I usually tackle the age old problem faced by all metal machines -corrosion!

Basically I work my way through the Beast – doors, sills, panels and floor etc.
This year it’s time to redo the doors. I usually do it over a few weekends since it is time consuming.

I have briefly presented what I do in the following set of photos. The rust inhibitor I use is a fish oil based product that soaks into all the joints and crevices within the doors and once set repels water and keeps the air out. You may not find the Fisholene brand but any Fish Oil Product will have a similar result.

Step 1. Remove Inner Door Skin

I need my trusty socket set and a good Phillips head screwdriver.

You remove the arm rest and the door lever then the window lifter handle.

I generally take this opportunity to clean up and polish the components.

Step 2. Remove Water Proofing

This door still has most of the original 41 year old waxed paper waterproofing. The only addition I have made is the black tape to hold it in place. The original adhesive putty they used in the factory has lost it’s sticky and hardened years ago.

Step 3. Add the Fish Oil Product

This product has been a faithful inhibitor for the last 20 years and has never really failed me unless I have applied it poorly.
All that is needed is to let it all dry after replacing the handles and door skins.
I use two old dog food cans to work with since you should not use the Fish Oil container straight to the treatment area. If you do you will get oil on the screw cap thread and the can will be almost impossible to open next time.

A cheap paint brush (small one is best) works well – just remember to clean it with turps after application.

Clean Up

It is inevitable that some of the inhibitor will leak out of the doors and onto the sills. Keeps a drop of turps handy and a clean rag to clean it off. It may pay to put a rag or two under the car doors for the first night as it may also drip onto the garage floor.

P.S. Never leave damp rags with the Fisholene on them in an enclosed space since they have been known to self-combust as the product sets!

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The Right Tools for the Job

Socket Set

I purchased this set more than 15 years ago when I started the conversion of the car to V8. Basically I rebuilt the whole engine, transmission and differential using this set of tools and a handful of spanners. Oh yeah, and a good floor jack!
I have never actually seen this brand of socket anywhere else.
They are slightly different to the usual design having both hollow sockets and drivers.

Stanley Screwdrivers

Who has never heard of a Stanley screwdriver? What cave have you been living in?
I picked up this set (my third one in 20 years) about 5 years ago having worn out most of my older screwdrivers. This one had the bonus micro-drivers and has been extremely useful.

Allen Keys

After screwdrivers this has to be the most useful tool to have in your kit. Most later model replacement parts I purchase have some use for this tool. This one is most useful as the 8 keys are in a pocket knife style of holder – less chance of losing the odd key.
Allen Key is in fact a brand name they are otherwise known as hexagonal key sets.

Open End Ring Spanners

I have two sets of spanners. This is in fact the metric set since my daughters and wife drive rather more modern vehicles than my BeaXt. Gone are the days when you could pull a car apart with a half inch and 9/16 spanner and a screwdriver!
I keep my Imperial set in the boot – in the Toolbox.


The toolbox I carry is an old steel box I bought 25 years ago from Marlows. I believe Super Cheap bought out the Perth based store for $25mill in 2003. The spanners in the box probably came from there! I have a range of ring spanners and open spanners in the toolbox – all sizes from 1/4 to 15/16 inches. Plus a few wrenches and pliers – even a pipe wrench!

Breakdown Kit

Last but not least are the basic liquids and consumables that are hard to come by for a classic car these days. I carry spare fanbelts and hoses, radiator fluid, WD40, brake fluid, thermostats, hi-tension leads, gasket goo and a spark plug.

Being an automatic you cannot leave home without a set of good quality jumper leads. These have a spike arrestor in them to protect modern computers that most newer cars are managed by.
It’s not that my car needs that protection but the donor car may!


If you are going to own an older car these days you have to be fairly self-reliant since most “service stations” are not service oriented at all they are just glorified petrol pumps! More likely to buy dinner at one than a thermostat housing!
If you travel beyond the city limits and into the bush then the need to carry most likely breakdown items is even greater.

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Hot Off the Press – The Beast Is In Street Machine

The Petrolhead managed to get the Beast in his favourite magazine “Street Machine“.

Very pleased we all are here at the Woodshack. Even the wife was impressed!

I also think one Petrolhead daughter will be pleased to see her machine standing side to side with the BeaXT.

TV and Magazine

This follows on from our last public appearance on Zoomfactor TV. The post detailing the Petrolheads 5minutes of fame included the footage used on Zoom TV.

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Life On The Road

I wanted to do something different this month with a look at a classic old bus that some friends of mine have taken on as a project to take them around Australia. No mean feat since the bus they are using is a 1970 Bedford. The Petrolhead loves old machinery as you know so the bus has a certain appeal to me and a lot of charm I think!

Now the green beast is 41 years old and keeps me busy maintaining and finding parts – a 40 year old bus will not be much easier a proposition. It will be more challenging once they hit the road and wear and tear of travel starts to shake the old girl down.

Real History

The bus is a Comair VAM 70. Bedford have a huge history in trucks and vans and most of the school buses I travelled in as a kid were Bedfords.

A very English company but exports were made to all parts of the world and most of my generation will have memories of Bedford vans and trucks carrying stuff around the town. Most bands loved their Bedford Van and they were quite popular with the roadies since those big back doors opened up very nicely.

The Bedford bus is to be home for the Wood family (no relationship that I know of) 7 of them to be precise.
It is well kitted out for the journey but in need of some TLC before they leave. For more details and to follow the story go to the New Life On the Road blog.

More Power

The bus is powered by it’s originally combination of Bedford 466 motor and four speed gearbox. David has already done some miles in the bus and reports all is good with the engine and gearbox. A big fat diesel engine will have heaps of torque – a must with the bus loaded up with all of life’s needs for 7 people.

I will be interested to see what sort of mileage they get once on the open road. It would be tempting to add the LPG injection that has been designed for diesel engines to improve torque and reduce fuel costs.

Anyway I am sure that the Woods will report on all this as the journey progresses.

Name That Bus

Starting today Lisa has launched a competition to name the bus so put your thinking caps on and have a go!
Checkout the conditions on the blog.

Now if it was red we call it Bertie as in Thomas the Tank Engine fame.

I’m thinking about Woodford. A play on the Wood family name, the Bedford Brand, and the old English sound of the name.

Not all that original but the best I can do today! If I get a better idea I’ll post it here!

For now get on over and check out the blog – New Life On The Road.

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Maintenance – Boring But Essential

Not all of the Petrolhead’s adventures with the Beast are exciting and major! Sometimes it’s just plain old maintenance that takes up my time.

This week is a fine example in point.

Rust and Dirt

Owning an older car built in the 50-60’s means dealing with technologies in metal and design that were not always conducive to longevity of the vehicle. We all remember the massive decay rates of these vehicles when not treated with care – this is why they are so “Classic” today and valuable – not many remain!

This brings me to my chores this week – rust treatment and cleaning filters.

I started in the first week of September with an oil change – dropped in a new Z9 filter and several litres of the finest Aussie oil.

Yesterday I took out the air filter and gave it a clean. This is a K&N filter so I only do this every year or two!
Yes you read that right – year or two!

The filter cost me nearly $200 but I have never replaced it – having washed it and re-oiled it three times since I bought it several years ago. I have one in my wife’s Camry and that has been in there 3 years without a change or clean! I checked it yesterday and it is as good as the day I put it in – a great saving in time and money – but best of all massive air flow for both engines.

Cleaned and Oiled

I picked up a cleaning kit from my faithful backup crew at Autopro Edgewater for $20 and will be able to get two cleans and re-oils out of it. That is excellent economy when you add up the miles I will travel over the next 12-18months.

Cleaning is easy just a light tap to remove the larger bits of dirt and then a spray with the cleaner bottle and then rinse in water. Spray the oil until all the filter is evenly coloured and you are ready to refit!
Less than an hour and all done!

Something Fishy Goin On Here

My next task has been a weekly chore – stripping down each door and checking for rust and then recoating with a brush of Fisholene rust inhibitor. Smells for a few days but soon sets and continues protecting the metal for another year.

I have one door left to do next weekend and then I start on the boot and the underbody. I also have some sound deadening rust inhibiting underbody gloop to go on as well. That will be for another day.

Let me leave you with two nice, freshly cleaned Falcons!

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Diesel Engine Rebuild

My brother is a very experienced diesel mechanic and when he is not working his farm or doing contract work for hay, silage, firebreaks etc, he is repairing farm machinery. We both have a great deal of interest in various forms of machinery – a product of our early childhood on the farm and a habit our father had of tinkering with the farm machinery to save money. I often think that I would have been quite happy teaching more practical subjects at TAFE as much as the science I have taught for 30 years.

Whenever I visit there are always various machines in different states of repair around the workshop. Last week was no exception. There was a large front-end-loader, a motorbike, an air-cooled tractor and an engine block (could not see a tractor for that one!)

Air Cooled Tractor

The air cooled tractor got my attention. Like many of you I am familiar with the VW motors and Porsche hi-performance engines but I would never have suspected that a tractor would actually be air cooled! This one is not only air cooled but has a turbo charger as well.

The first thing you notice, of course, is the lack of radiator. There is a fan but this is used to drive air over the motor and through an oil-cooler. The engine is very important in cooling these engines and so an oil cooler is a necessity.

The little engine has individual cylinder heads and these are like a motorbikes in that they have fins for cooling.

The little engine punches out about 75hp so it is quite effective. How it would operate in Perth summer
temperatures I am not sure but down south it should be ok.

Re-sleeving a Diesel Loader Motor

The loader had burnt out nearly all the pistons after overheating. It was shutdown before any major damage was done to the head or the block so hopefully the new sleeves will just drop straight in. The dismantling was a big job and the motor has been on the floor for a while.

Steve had ordered the new parts online and they arrived just last week – schematics and detailed ordering of parts can be achieved over the net now, saving a huge amount of time.

The first job is to clean up the block and try the new sleeves. First time we tried this they refused to drop in – as is normally the case.

This caused some concern for the straightness of the block but we worked out that there was a little carbon on the top that needed to be cleaned off. Once cleaned the sleeve dropped straight in!

We get two sleeves in and then set about cleaning up the other two seats.

On The Level

Once all four are in it is time to check that they all sit true across the block so that we have no water, oil or
compression leaks. In this instance the sleeves in cylinder 3 & 4 were swapped over to give a near perfect finish.

There can be a slight variation between cylinders since the head gasket can take up small deviations in the face of the block. This will have to be checked again once the head and the face of the block is cleaned.

Sleeving is quite common with diesels – especially tractors where high hours of use are anticipated and the engine forms part of the chassis configuration. I think there might also be weight advantages as the block is very hollow in this case supporting the sleeves at the top and bottom with o-rings to seal.

I did not see the finishing of this engine but the crankshaft was in by the end of the weekend and I am sure the engine will be working quite nicely once it has been run in. The run requires half an hour of medium loading, then leaving to cool down overnight before rechecking clearances and torque settings.

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Helping An XR Back Onto the Road

Fords Out and About

I was out at my local shopping centre, doing my groceries at the supermarket when I spotted a nice station wagon down the hill at the bottom of the car park. Thought nothing of it for a moment but then noticed that the bonnet was up. I decided I would check him out after I had done my shopping.

So 20 minutes later I am loading the groceries in the car and can see clearly that the station wagon has not moved. I decide to cruise on by on my way out and just check if I can help out. There is generally a good camaraderie amongst classic car owners and early Ford owners are no exception.

I pull up in front of the wagon and ask the guy if he needs a hand.
He replies, “If you have a water pump pulley then yes!”

“Well, I just might have one at home!” I reply

I promise to look once I have put the groceries away and come back and let him know, one way or the other.

To The Shed

I quickly put the groceries away and go down to the shed. Now I know it will be in one of the boxes – I check the lids and sure enough the second box I pick up is the one with a few cooling parts – pulleys, hoses and the like!

Yep, there it is one V8 pulley. I don’t use a V8 pulley on my beast as I will explain later.

You Are in Luck Mate

I roll up back in the car park and tell them the good news – one pulley!
We stick it on the water pump and all looks good – except it is just a few mm larger in diameter – the belt sits in the same diameter but the rim is wider. Worse still the rim is hitting the crank pulley!

Now I can’t believe the luck of this poor couple! First the pulley tore apart in the first place (there was no fan on it since they have electric fan cooling) – I have never seen that on a street machine! Then secondly the replacement won’t fit because the engine re-builder has used a larger crank pulley (maybe).

I am not sure if the pulleys on the 289 and 302 are different but at this point it is no help to our situation. I have no more to offer but Dave thinks that maybe he can repair the old one enough to get home.

A Little Metal Work

He gets his tools out of the back and using a little galvanised steel cuts a plate to sit over the old pulley. A few cuts and drill holes later the plate is nearly ready. Oops needs a larger hole in the middle to slip over the pulley shaft!
Luckily I have my tool box in the car and find a larger drill to finish the job!

Ok, now we can fit our repaired pulley and give it a shot. Poor Dave has a injured hand so can’t fit the pulley without pain so I give it a go and eventually get it on and bolted – as good as new.
We fire up the engine and all looks good!

The engine sits at idle with a gentle roar out the back! A stroker! Dave has recently had the motor rebuilt – the 289 was stroked out to 347CI and I can hear a pretty wild rumble.

I always worry about the strokers since my engine guy claimed that the cylinder walls on the 289-302 are a little short in the skirts and prone to breaking if pushed too hard. Time will tell with this one. Another 60CI sounds mighty good to me!


I have a chat with Dave about his cars history. He had the body tidied up some time back and it is largely in good condition. Just a little rust in a door and the tail gate. However, they hope to have the tailgate repaired soon before it gets much worse.

The engine was totally rebuilt and stroked out like I explained above. It runs real nice but he has had overheating problems. Now this is a story I know all too well so I explain the design changes I had made to my cooling system to overcome the problem.

Overheating Early Falcons

I believe that the main problem is one of design in the water galleries in the heads and the exiting of air from the engine bay to give good flow-through in the radiator.
I changed my pulley size (6 cylinder pulley) down to get more revolutions on the water pump and better circulation in the heads at idle and low city speeds.
The V8 pulley is just too big for city traffic and cavitation is not really a problem even at freeway speeds.

I also added a nylon fan from an XF Falcon (fitted with an air-conditioner) – that’s a ten blade fan with a great deal of air draw!

Trouble is of course a big fan sucks horsepower – the nylon is supposed to flex a bit when you accelerate but it still draws more horsepower.

I remember many cruises over the years where the GTHO’s over-heated even on cool spring days as soon as they start dropping below a certain speed. There is little chance of driving one as a daily driver in Perth commuter traffic that is for sure. Most of these guys pick there days carefully when taking the HO out for a drive.

Be careful when cruising in your GT in summer!

Go Electric

I have used electric fans before now and they work well in winter and cruising on the open road. Around town electric fans just don’t seem to keep up with cooling the water. This was Dave’s experience as well.

I have heard that 4, 10inch fans, in a good shroud can boost performance but I am not willing to trial this on my beast. Though I may try a mock up on my old radiator one day and just test the air flow rates. If I can find a manufacturer willing to let me trial 4 of his fans I might give it go!

I hit on the better balance by using the larger nylon fan on a viscous clutch arrangement. This took some investigation and a little luck but it worked for a few years until the summer heat seemed to increase here in Perth.

Maybe I am driving more these days and that’s the cause of the cooling challenge this last few summers.
Anyway, a change in the thermostat seemed to sort that last autumn and I will know for sure after I hit the full Perth heat waves this summer.

The next possibility is to add an electric water pump to supplement the circulation when sitting in heavy traffic at low engine speeds. I am trying to avoid that since I think that the KISS principle works best on old cars. Too many electrical gadgets mean more potential problems – 40 year old electrical systems don’t need extra work!

That’s why I am replacing globes with LEDs as I can – but that is another story!

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A Valiant Petrolhead

I have a number of friends and work mates that have pretty cool cars that are not always Fords but I still love the old metal! So this week I share a classic Valiant Coupe. The owner and I have worked together for many years and have the odd chat about our classic cars. This car is a daily driver and does 60 miles a day without any problems!
This Valiant is a 1969 model – VF 6 cylinder – same year as my Green Falcon!
(The round headlights spot it as a VF and not VG!)

Classic maybe the only one of it’s kind in Perth!

Look carefully and you can see the Green Beast in the background!

Cool lines and classic look!

Even the rear looks good!

My thanks to Vince for permission to take a few photos of his old girl!

If you want to check out more Valiants then go to the NZ Mopar Registry for a starter! The first photo is an identical model to the one I drove to school in my last year of High School. Very cool to look at now!

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Brakeline Burst

Spongy Brakes

I was at a mates place last week and on the way home I suddenly found that the brake pedal was moving a little too far to the floor!
A little scary – but a quick pump and they worked. Mmmm must check the fluid levels as soon as I get home.
I get home ok and sure enough the fluid is down. Question is now where has the fluid gone?

If there is no fluid on the wheels then the only place a leak could be happening is inside the vacuum brake booster itself. I go see Steve at Steve’s Shed and get his opinion. He feels fairly sure that the booster is ok and I should flush the brake fluid and replace it. Expecially since the brakes are working ok since the scare the other day.

Bleed Them Brakes

So I buy a litre of fluid and make plans to pull the wheels off and check all the brakes thoroughly before bleeding the whole system.

Chock the wheel on the opposite of the car before lifting the axle.

Remove the rim.

Take the drum off and check for leaks around the wheel cylinder. Then clean the whole lot to check next week.

Syringe is used to suck out the old brake fluid from the master cylinder and then it can be cleaned out before adding the new fluid.

Squeeky clean before adding the new Dot 4 brake fluid.

I bought a “one man brake bleeding kit” and proceeded to flush through the new fluid to the rear brakes. I continue this until the clear fluid appears in the clear line.

Front Brakes

I repeat the procedure with the front brakes and start on the right one. Once I take the rim off I can see that the flexible brake line is damp – in fact dripping!

A small hole in the rubber is cause of the spongy brakes and requires a new line!

I remove the line and set off to find a repair.

I go to a brake and clutch store and they cannot help. Makes no sense to me since the brake line is found on thousands of cars both Fords and Commodores! Anyway, off to the next store and the next and eventually Odin Auto Parts. I should have gone there first since these guys have almost everything.

In With The New

The line is in so now to bleed the front brakes.

Here is the master cylinder – all clean with new fluid!

All done rims back and time for a drive.

Brakes are super quick once again – it is so easy for brakes to go off. Little by little you adjust without realising that they are not as good.
A lesson for the unwary!

Until next time – see you on the road!

The Petrolhead.

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Water Water Everywhere

Had the car parked in the rain at work and noticed a little bit of water on the floor on the passenger side on the way home.

Once the old girl is in the garage I have a look under the dash and could see a drip of water tracking down onto the floor.

Heater Hoses

There are number of possible causes of water appearing on the carpet and the worst is a hose leaking from the heater – I hate them since the whole heater has to be dismantled and it is a big job.

A quick look confirms that the leak is coming from the area opposite the heater! Trouble is there are electrical fuses and a cut-off switch. I get under the dash and with a torch can see all is safe the – water is missing all the electrical gear!

The most likely source is the windscreen. The screen has been there for 20 years so there may be some hardening of the sealant or rust lifting the seal. Only way to be sure is to get the trim off the screen, remove the windscreen wipers and the panel over the top of the bonnet.

First step now is to remove the glovebox and get into the area to clean it up a bit.

With the glovebox gone I can get at the leak and locate it more precisely.
Here you can see the location of the leak and the damp caused inside the dash.

Next I need to get all the chrome trim off the windscreen to get access to the screen edge.

I remove the wipers and the panel that runs over the top of the bonnet. (“cowl top ventilator grill panel” according to the manual!)

There is no obvious rust or staining so that is good news! However the sealant around the windscreen is hard and breaking off and may be the problem. If it loses its flexibility then it may allow the screen to move and lift away from the seams under the screen. A quick check and I can see that this is in fact the case. The sealer is very hard and brittle and has pulled away from the join between two panel seams. The rain has seeped through the cracked sealant and soaked through the seam.

Rust Dissolver

The next step is to clean up the base of the screen remove broken sealant and any rust. Using a steel brush I remove the rust and rubbish and then treat it all with Rust dissolver.

You leave this stuff for 15minutes and then clean it off, repeating as required.

The dissolver actually works its way through the seams that are leaking and I can see it on the inside bubbling away! Now I am sure of the source of the leak.

I repeat the whole process, rinsing in between treatments. I manage to treat the inside of the dash area as well (at the leak) – no need to have rust creeping through the dash!

All done just need to leave it for the night to dry out and then I can add fresh black sealant – I have plenty left from the repair of the rear windscreen a couple of years ago.

Time To Seal

I was up at 6:30am to get this done before work in case it was raining. The sealant was a little hard simply because of the temperature at this time of the day. However I got it moving and carefully filled the base of the screen with the black sticky gunk.

Put It All Back

Ok Repair done so the cowl top ventilator grill panel must go back as well as the wipers and water sprayers. Next the Chrome trim and all is good!

I replaced the trim clips and then proceeded to put the vent cover back after treating all bare metal with fisholene to prevent further rust.

The windscreen washer jets had to be reattached and then the whol cover screwed down.

Trim goes back on over the clips – trying not to scratch the paint! Then the wipers.

Tomorrow I will treat the inside of the dash with rust preventing fisholene and hopefully the carpet will dry out and then the floor will be dry!
I just hope we have no more leaks.

Major Overhaul

It is obvious though that the windscreen needs to be removed and the whole lot cleaned and replaced with a new windscreen and sealant. My screen is scratched and pitted after 20 odd years so it would be nice to have clear new glass. However, this will do for now.

I have plans to remove the dash and the windscreen maybe this xmas to fit new gauges and a new crashpad. That’s a big and very expensive job too.

Anyway happy driving – the Petrolhead is back on the road!

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Braking My Back

I have been slightly busy lately but have found a few hours to do some repairs and maintenance on the Falcons. That’s right we have 3 XT’s! My old girl (the original Falcon XT) and the BA and BF Falcons that my daughters have bought.
The main job has been servicing brake systems. I did drop the oil out of the Camry and add a new filter so the wife is very happy about that.

No Handbrake

The handbrake on the old XT has always been a fairly suspect device! However, over the last few months it has most definitely faded in it’s strength. So I dragged out the ramps and lifted the old girl off the ground so I could crawl underneath in relative safety. (You don’t want 1.5 tonnes of Falcon bouncing off your head!)

After a little fun getting the adjustment nut to move I managed to get a good bit more tension in the cables. Then I dropped her off the ramps and tested the handbrake – not quite there yet! So back up she goes and a few more turns of the nut.

Check it once more and near to perfect as it can get!

A Little Wobbly

Whilst I had the ramps and jacks out I decided to lift up the front end and check out the small vibration I had felt lately. I ran my hands over the usual suspects and found a lower ball joint loose – the nut had rattled loose and the split pin was actually not holding it in place!

I put some tension on the nut and adjusted the split pin so that it locked the nut on place and all is good!

I took it for a test drive and the wobble was much less but still some movement – oh well back up on the jack!
This time I find the tie rod end adjuster is in fact just slightly loose – looks to me like it may need replacing next time we do a wheel alignment. Anyway, I undo it and move it along a bit and then re-tighten it. Good as new!

Another test drive and – yep still a little wobble at 70kph – only thing it can be is an unbalanced tyre – will have to get a complete balance and alignment next week after I have rotated the tyres. Always something to do on the old girl!

UPDATE: just back from Bob Jane Joondalup – car is almost wobble free – the balancing was out a little but the main problem was a little bit of camber problem.

A Bloody Awful BA Handbrake

My youngest has always complained about the handbrake on her BA Falcon so I decided this week to buy a new set of shoes for the handbrake and have a go at fitting them.

First problem was jacking up the car – I could not find anywhere for the floor jack to lift from on the suspension without the whole lot twisting – the lower control arm is so thin I am frightened of bending it! I have to resort to the cars scissor jack and place an axle stump under the sill as well for safety.

Next problem is how to get the disc off and fit the new pad. I google the problem and up comes the solution thanks to autofix.com.
I get the wheels off and the remove the caliper and then the rotor. The rotor is like a drum brake with a disk on the outside – interesting concept but a shitty handbrake.

Anyway, I get the new pads in and make the adjustments as best I can – I test after each wheel has been done and no improvement! I will have to lift the car up on a hoist to do the final adjustments since I clearly have to be able to spin the wheels as I make the adjustment on handbrake. I have a couple of ideas where I can go to borrow a hoist so will let you know how it all goes later.

The last thing I spot is tha the rear right tyre is actually wearing unevenly and is possibly toeing in! That means that the control arms are not true. Sounds like another trip to Bob Jane for analysis.

I think my old XT handbrake is a much better idea than this bloody awful BA design. I have read a few forums in the last few hours and it is clear that Ford screwed up this design idea and handbrakes are a dirty word amongst the new XT Falcon owners.

Tyred Out

We took the BF XT in to Bob Jane Tyres in Joondalup to get a complete set of tyres.  They had sold out the Perelli tyres we had ordered but as usual they had a replacement brand (better quality) for the same price. Adrenalin Potenza RE001

You can see why I go back there time after time. Tony and the guys have helped us keep good tyres on all our family cars for the last 20 years or more and I always get the best tyres for the vehicle in question.

This is the car just before we bought it – it is now the transport of the most precious package in the family my granddaughter so nothing but the best tyres on this machine!

Here she is safe and snug in her own XT seat!

Until next time,
The Petrolhead is outa here!

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Insurance Is It Really A Necessary Evil

If you have a classic car then the last thing you want to think about is having an accident or worse still seeing your pride and joy hooning down the road and you are not driving it!
I have always bought the best insurance I can afford for my cars and for the green machine better than I can afford!
I will gladly go without a takeaway coffee or two every week if that is the difference in having the right level of insurance!

Insurance is not an evil it is the stop gap that may be the difference between having a car worth driving after an accident and not having a car. I often read stories about house fires in the winter months and the sad story often finishes all too often with the bad news that the house was uninsured! $200000 worth of property and no insurance!
Well I value my car more than a house and so I am more than willing to pay what it takes to protect that investment in passion.

Can Safe Driving Schools Really Help Lower Car Insurance Rates?

Everyone is well aware of the fact that car insurance is a necessary expense that must be included in every driver’s budget, and most people feel like they are overpaying for their coverage. Although there are many different types of discounts that may be offered to a consumer by their insurer, few people are familiar with the significant savings that attending safe driving schools can provide. Any driver that is looking for ways to decrease the monthly outlay on insurance premiums needs to consider the connection between car insurance and safe driving programs.

Angry Bad Safe or Unsafe

Insurance companies base their rates on perceived risk, so driving histories that reflect dangerous habits are certainly going to be of concern to the insurer. Safe drivers are certainly the type of customers that car insurance companies would like to have due to the fact that they cost much less to insure, so the savings can be passed on to the consumer. Every individual has probably seen the car insurance advertisements that offer good driver discounts, and virtually every company will reward safe drivers with a significant deduction on their premiums. Drivers without any type of formal training have been statistically proven to be more likely to be involved in accidents, and insurers are well aware of the correlation.

Most individuals believe that they are considered to be safe drivers if they have never been involved in a motor vehicle accident, but the simple fact of the matter is that car insurance companies often like to see more than a simple lack of claims. Safe driving schools teach a variety of different courses that are designed to help ordinary drivers become extraordinary. Defensive driving techniques and other advanced skills do not come naturally to anyone, so they must be learned from a qualified professional instructor. Car insurance companies recognize the fact that the ability to properly avoid an accident is going to prepare a driver for many different driving conditions and hazards.

The cost of safe driving schools varies based on the programs offered and the type of instruction that will be delivered, but it is important for consumers to view it as an excellent investment. Any opportunity to lower car insurance premiums should be taken advantage of and can help a consumer save quite a bit of money each and every year. Most car insurance providers offer discounts starting at 15% for a standard defensive driving course, and additional classes or courses can help provide an even greater level of savings.

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Safety First Lessons

What a week the Petrolhead has had!

This week has been a list of disasters and big lessons in safety!
It all started with a decision to deal with a noisy lifter by adjusting the tappets on the second bank of cylinders. You may recall I adjusted the other bank some months ago. Well I had a great deal of trouble since the directions in the manual were not written with the set up of the tappets in cylinder 7 in mind!

Top Dead Centre on Cylinder 1

The whole process begins by getting cylinder one at TDC (top dead centre). You can do this in a number of ways – crank the engine with a wiring setup that runs the starter without the HT lead attached. This turns the motor slowly until you see the timing mark and stop on TDC cylinder one.
You can check that the first cylinder is up by taking out the spark plug and checking the position of the piston. If the rocker cover is off you can see the inlet valve and exhaust valve closed.

I use a socket and the distribitor. Turn the motor at the crank shaft end nut (the one that holds the harmonic balancer) until the the rotor points to the cylinder 1 position, check the piston is up and there is a good chance you have TDC on 1.

Dead Centre is on Top

Well I did this but despite being careful not to touch the alternator with the socket handle my wedding ring shorted the alternator through my finger to the spanner and I copped the full wattage of the battery!
Well you can guess what happened next the gold heated up (the ring actually has two melt marks) and started to roast my finger!

I knew that the hot gold had to come off so I just grabbed the ring and pulled it off my finger before it did more harm – a rather large chunk of the skin and flesh came away with the ring!
(I found later that the spark plug had been cracked by my hasty retreat from the engine bay with the socket still in my hand)!

This is my hand the next day!

A week later!

The only top dead centre is the brain that did not remove all jewellery before working on the engine!
Let this be a lesson to all!

Sleep On It

Well after that rather impressive reminder about safety I left the car alone for the rest of the day and got a good nights sleep before attacking her again the next day.

Having carefully removed sparkplug 1 I checked TDC and proceeded to adjust the tappets on cylinders 5-8.
Cylinder 5 was fine and had the right amount of pushrod give on the hydraulic lifter – now for cylinder 6.

It seems at some point the engine re-builder has used a few washers to space out the tappets on the 6 adjusting nut instead of moving the stud that it sits on. Normally you move the stud in or out to give the tappet the correct play on the push rod. Either the stud was too hard to move, too short or someone was just plain lazy! Anyway, I made the adjustments according to the manual and the car would not start!

I listened to the engine and figured that the valves were in fact too far open on the compression cycle and no compression! So I had no choice but to reset the tappets with the engine running! First thing is to get some fire in the beast so I pulled the tappets back until they were quite rattly and then tried to start the old girl!
Success – noisy tappets but a working motor!

So now I just tighten up the rattlers until they stop rattling and give them quarter of turn more for luck!
That works a treat and we are back on the road!

I am exhausted and a lot wiser about workshop safety!

Breakdown on the road

The second upset for the week was the failure of the distributor cap to stay in one piece!

I had a trailer of prunings to take to the tip and after spending a couple of hours on the chainsaw I was looking forward to the cruise up the coast to the tip.
Just before the turn off I felt a little hesitation in the way the car was accelerating just put it down to a bumpy road. However, as I turned the corner into the tip the engine cut out!
Two lanes of fast traffic bearing down on me and I have no power and just a little rolling force left in the car and trailer! I just clear the two lanes before the cars are on top of me – I hit the gearbox into neutral and try to restart the engine – thinking it had stalled!

Several cranks of the engine told me that there was no spark – it was an electrical problem. I pop the bonnet and look for obvious loose wires – none! I lift the dizzy cap off – look inside – the carbon centre pin is gone – no way this engine is going to fire up. Question is where is the pin?

Now this tip is a very busy centre and before long I have a 20tonne truck up behind me trying to get around the car and trailer – he manages it but I can see that this is not a good place to be broken down!
I quickly remove the trailer and push it up onto the bike path and then roll the car back up and onto the road verge.

Nothing for it I need the RAC and a flat-top to take me home. I also need someone to take the trailer home as well – otherwise you pay extra for the trailer to put on the truck. I ring Jess and get her to come and help me sort the trailer.
I call the RAC and they will be 90minutes – seems everybody chose today to have break down!

Jess arrives after about 20 minutes and we take the trailer into the tip and empty the prunings – well we have plenty of time before the truck arrives so may as well use the time wisely. Jess then takes the trailer home to my place and waits for me to arrive in the truck. Well she cannot really take off the trailer – she is 8 months pregnant!
The RAC guy tells me later that he drove pass on another job as we were putting the trailer on Jess’s car! The office dispatcher did not quite get to him with our pickup and he went to Malaga first and then back to Joondalup and then to us.

Radiator Pops its Top

Well I finally get home and roll the car down the drive and park her for the night – tomorrow I will get the new dizzy top and get the car started.

Saturday arrives and I drive up to the auto shop to collect my parts at 8am. I get home and start fitting the dizzy and I see that the radiator has sprung a leak and water is all over the floor! That’s it – a new radiator and some serious repairs to the cooling system next week!

I hope you had a better week on the road then the Petrolhead this week!

Take care and safe cruising!
The Petrolhead!

P.s. RAC breakdown is worth every dollar you pay!

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Bump Steer

I Wanna Be Straight

The Petrolhead was out driving the other day and there was a little bit of a bumpy patch in the road and I noticed a little feedback through the steering wheel – felt like a wheel was wobbling! Once I got home I checked the wheels – all the wheel nuts were in place and tight, the wheels had no play, back and forth or side to side.

There was however a little bit of play in the steering just before it picked up the wheels. Nothing else for it I have to get the car off the ground and check the steering arms and ball joints.

Jack Em Up

So out with the floor jack and lift the car up to get the front wheels off the ground and repeat the tests on the steering again. Now I could feel a definite click or bump as the wheels just started to turn. Could not see anything obvious so had to turn a wheel whilst holding ball joints and various steering linkages in the other hand. Much more difficult than it sounds trust me.

Tie-rod ends were ok and the Pitman arm seemed tight. Just one more to check and that’s the idler arm.

I needed to crawl over to the other side of the sub-frame so I used the track rod to lift my back off the ground – just as I grabbed the middle of the rod the whole steering system lifted up towards the floor of the car!

Whoa something major wrong here!

The Idle Idler arm

I looked over at the idler arm as I lifted the steering system – it is no longer holding the track rod down – this was what I felt on the bumpy road – the track rod bouncing up and down! Lucky for me this is not dangerous just likely to cause bad wear on the tyre.

Ok need to get out the trusty workshop manual! I have changed the idler arm before but well over 20 years ago!

No special tools needed just a good set of spanners and torque wrench.

I now need to get a replacement – it’s Sunday afternoon 4:40 and I have 20 minutes to phone Odin Auto Parts and if they have one get down to Balcatta before they close.
Answer is yes – and I am gone!

I get to the store at 5 to 5 and get my hands on a nice new idler arm. The box shows it’s age that’s for sure – may have been sitting on the backshelf for 30 years. I get it for $50 so I am more than happy – good old Odin Auto Parts to the rescue once again!

I jump back in the beast and head home.

Out With the Old In With the New

First step remove the split pin and undo the nut off both side of the idler arm. These come off easily so I don’t need the hammer today to persuade them!

The idler drops off nicely and now I can see the problem – well and truly worn out and not very likely to hold anything “idle”.

Ok, now I just reverse the process and fit the new arm.
Out with the torque wrench and 70foot lbs should do it nicely.
Pop in the split pins and she is as good as new!

Excellent job if I say so myself! It took me an hour from start to finish including collecting the new part!

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Part 3 New Headers For A New Year

A Tack of Weld and We Are Done

The headers are in and the technician does his magic on the pipe expanders and joins the new to the old!

Pop on the U-bolts and she is air-tight and ready to start!

Here is the finished product – side view from the drivers side, tight up to the floor and looking great! No more ping down the drive!

The last job for the day is to run the motor for 5 minutes or so until hot. This allows the paint on the headers to harden and as it does this it smokes! Many a driver has taken off from the workshop and been back 2 minutes later complaining about the “fire” under the bonnet!

Sweet Note

So we have moved from this

Factory Cast Iron Ford OEM

to this

Genie 4 into 1

and finally

Pacemaker Tri-Y

with an appropriate increase in power and torque!

Lets not forget the sweet sounds of a clean V8 note!

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Many thanks to Grapnel Carline Mufflers for letting me work alongside – this system is the best I have had in decades of driving the Beast!

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Part 2 New Headers For a New Year

Part 2

So there I am with the Beast on the top of the drive and no way to get her down the hill! I have spent all night thinking about the problem and lost a lot of sleep. This is part of the petrolhead obsessiveness, you just can’t let a problem beat you when it comes to the Beast!

A Big Saw

Then it comes to me – if I can’t change the car I need to change the driveway – and to deal with concrete you just need a bigger saw than usual – like a bloody big diamond bladed saw!
I head off to the local hire store and hire me the biggest petrol powered diamond blade concrete saw!

The first challenge is to mark out the driveway for cutting and also leave enough room for the tyres when the car goes over. I move the car into the edge and crawl under each side with some chalk and draw some marks on the driveway.

I get my biggest piece of straight wood and draw out a square of concrete to remove. That’s done now we get seriously committed and start the cutting!

More Power

I hook up the water pipe (cools the blade) and start the motor of the saw.
The noise is unbelievable! Even my ear plugs are not really stopping much of the noise but I persist – this is hard work I can tell you – the concrete is at least 4 inches thick and steel reinforced!

My wife and kids are looking out the kitchen window in disbelief! Dad has lost it again!

I make several cuts and then take a break! This is hard work!

I try to lift a piece of the concrete and realise I now have a second problem: how do I lift this rather heavy lump of concrete? No choice but to cut into smaller pieces – back to the saw!

An hour later and I have several chunks of concrete of barely manageable weight. I decide that they will make handy garden edging and drag them over to the garden bed I started the week before. (They are still there by the way in my tropical garden area.)

Will It Work

Time to test the effort of the last 2 hours!
I start the beast up and slowly edge her up to the hole and slowly, slowly drive down the driveway! Success!
She scraped out some of the sand but we can drive her over the hump!
I then do the next test, backwards up the driveway!
Now worries!

I can tell you I was pretty pumped by this stage and well pleased with my effort. The wife came out to see my progress and noted that we now have a rather ugly big hole in the driveway. I don’t care, I can get my car down and into the garage -that is all that matters at this stage!

Pave that Hole

Today the hole is a talking point to everyone who comes to visit. It is a lot tidier now since after a couple of months I paved the sand once I was sure I had the levels right for the car.

The lines on the driveway are the guides for getting the car on the right angle when backing up the drive. The blue lines are for the Beast and the white lines mark the end of the drive. You have to do this since when backing up our drive all you see is blue sky as you back up! I now know how to line up the car using the bonnet vents – I line them up with an expansion mark on the driveway and as long as I am spot on there is no ping as the collectors find the concrete!

The new headers have heap s of room and go nowhere near the concrete now so the hole is probably no longer needed – but I am not pouring concrete into the hole! In fact I am thinking of ripping up the driveway and re-pouring a easier slope on the top. A few $$ for that but it would make life easier for all our cars. (Even the wife’s Camry hits the top if you have a heavy load!)

New Headers

Now all this started with me fitting new headers to the Beast after wearing the old ones out from hitting speed bumps and my driveway (if you don’t come in perfectly straight they still ping the concrete!).

I arrived at the shop at 8:15am and waited a while as a little buzz box has a new muffler finished off. Then I park the Beast on the hoist and we are up in the air in no time at all!

First thing is to cut off the pipes after the collectors and then unbolt the headers.

Using the air tools we sand the head to get the old gaskets off!

Then we unwrap the new headers!

Now are they a pretty sight or what!
I would happily hang them on a wall as a piece of art!

Anyway we bolt them in after adding a little adhesive (no gaskets)!

They clear the starter motor and fit neatly up along the block and under the gear box subframe!
I am getting back at least 3 inches of ground clearance.

The width of this collector pipe!

Next week we finish the story with the sweet sounds of a new system!

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New Headers for A New Year

Welcome back to 2010 and the new year is away with a bang!
I have new Pacemaker headers on the Beast at last!


I have waited for a year to get the dough together and the time to fit new headers. The old pipes have been fun but also a headache in many ways. It all started when I blew a hole in the old cast iron manifold over 10 years ago.

Time and the tin worm had taken there toll on the old girls original cast iron manifolds and a hole blew out on cylinder 6 – no amount of muffler putty could stop the exhaust gases leaking into the car cabin. Replacement was the only option – but what with?

The Muffler Shop

I went and visited my muffler shop guy (Wanneroo Mufflers) Peter and he said he could get me some nice headers from Genie. Left the car with him and headed on home safe in the knowledge she was in good hands!

A couple of hours later I get a call. They are having trouble fitting the new headers as the starter motor is getting in the way! I need to fit a “rat trap” style of starter motor. The car is thus taken over the road to the electrician who fits the new starter motor. The car is then taken back to the muffler shop for the fitting of the headers.

The rat trap is a smaller and more powerful motor with it’s solenoid situated on the firewall, or in my case, near the battery on the side panel. These have a gear reduction so that they have huge cranking power which on a V8 is a great advantage. This starter throws my V8 over very quickly and easily and is not working all that hard and so it lasted over 10 years (160000km). I actually fitted a new one last year

This has of course blown out the price of the whole job and I am looking at no change from $1000! I need a car and I am not going to sell it because of a minor problem so I have no choice!

Today the new headers clear the starter by a great amount so I possibly could go back to the regular starter – but why would I!

Anyway, back to the story!

An Expensive See-saw

I collect the car and drive her home, admiring the rather racy note it has acquired with the large pipes! I approach my driveway and slowly head over the top of our steep entrance – then disaster strikes. The car grinds to a halt and I hear the new collectors scraping on the concrete! The car stops and rocks up and down like a see-saw, we are stuck and sitting on the exhaust!

I get out and look under the car and cannot believe my eyes – she is not going down the drive that’s for sure. I in fact wonder if I can even back up to get her off the pipes! However, I manage to do so with a lot of noise from the dragging pipes!

So here I am with a new set of headers and all ready to roll and I cannot park the Beast in the garage! There is no way she is sitting outside on the drive every night. I have to find or think of a solution. My first thought is – sell the house and buy one with a flatter drive – I threw that idea away since the wife might have something to say about that!
Maybe build a new garage on the top of the drive? No, not enough money in the bank for that right now – and the council would not like that choice.

I decide I have to sleep on this problem and deal with it tomorrow!

Stay tuned to next weeks post – Time for a bloody big saw!

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The Petrolhead and the P76

Not so Good

Mmmm what is that smell – like melting plastic! Oh right it is melting plastic – the dash is dripping plastic onto my legs – liquid plastic! Now I can see smoke – coming up over the windscreen and … flames coming out of the dash!

Time to stop and get the hell outa here!

I pull over into a gateway near the army barracks and pop open the bonnet. Now the flames are pretty large – a guy pulls up with a fire extinguisher! Great I just might stop this – no it’s empty!

Flames really going now and the front seats are on fire – in fact exploding! We all clear out and give it the distance the fire needs – now the tyres are smouldering! BANG – they explode and she is burning fiercely now – no way we will save the old girl!

The fire brigade arrives just as we think the fuel tank must be the next thing to go! They get the fire out and all is well – except for the car! Oh yeah and my bag with all my ID, wallet etc.

Lesson for A Petrolhead

Well I am a mess now. The shock is kicking in and I am dreading the phone call to my dad to explain what I have done to his lovely P76. The police take me to my mate Grayden’s house and his mother gives me a couple shots of Whisky to settle my nerves. I phone dad and break the sad news.

Dad is great – he is more worried about me and just asks if the car is a right-off! “Oh yeah!” I tell him.
Insurance will give us enough to buy a new car.

I learned a valuable lesson about suspension and braking that day and 30 years later I still have clear memories of that experience and never brake on bumps to this day! I also always carry a full fire extinguisher in my car.

What Happened to the Car

Talking to a mechanic at the wreckers they found that the car had caught on fire because of a design issue. It seems that a major battery cable had been pinched as the car bellied and shorted out on the steel chassis. This massive pulse of charge surged through the dash somehow and off she went!

The surge initially just heated and melted the dash (thus the dripping on my legs) and then the plastic caught alight. I am just lucky that no explosive ignition took place as I was driving!

So Where Is The Gearbox

Another interesting note is that in the night after the fire the car was left on the side of the road but checked several times by the local police. However, the next week as we were doing the the insurance claim the company rang up and asked us if we knew where the gearbox was?

This was a strange question since we believed that car to be in the wreckers in one burnt piece. It seems the insurance company were suggesting that maybe my story was not in fact true and we had torched the car after parking it on the side of the road! The only reason we cleared this possible hurdle was that the police had seen the car, with it’s gearbox just after the fire.
The only explanation was that someone had stolen the gearbox during the first night! How they did it no one can explain – but we learned later that the light 4 speed box was a popular part in certain street racing circles.

Dad had suspicions about the wrecker or the tow truck guy but we never found out the truth about that missing gearbox.

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The Petrolheads Models

Project 76 Or The Day I Destroyed My Fathers Car

This week I thought I would share the latest addition to my model cabinet. “Project 76”

I am not a great collector of models but I have set myself the goal of owning a model of each of the cars my immediate family has owned and I have driven since I first started my journey as a petrolhead. Most of them are high quality produced by Trax but I have picked up a few in hobbyist stores and collectors markets.

I obviously have several XT Falcon models and a few classic muscle car classics as well (Mustang and GTHO). My father owned a range of brands so you will see everything from Dodge to Leyland.

This week I will show my newest a P76!

The Wedge

Much has been written about the Leyland P76 – most of it critical! This is a shame since it really is quite an interesting car. I loved driving dad’s 6 cylinder – lovely smooth alloy motor and very comfortable to ride in as well. I drove it few times from Albany to Perth so I did quite a few miles in it.

This is the same colour as my Dad’s Wedge! Corinthian Blue!

It was not a zippy car since it was fairly large – they were in fact renowned for the enormous boot – supposedly able to hold a 44 gallon(220Litre) fuel drum.

This was a fact since my Dad did it a few times – oh yeah and once managed to get 3 bales of hay in there! (Mum was most upset about that!)

Driving it around Perth in the heavier traffic was fine and I really enjoyed it. It was a very reliable car and basically went where you pointed it!

Heads from the 3.9 Litre 6

Country Driving

Driving it in the country was a great treat – long open roads and a very easy 4 speed manual gearbox. The torquey motor would cruise at the legal limit without much effort and from memory was a miser on the fuel for such a big car.

If you wanted it to hurry up the third gear was a must – and it would rev quite high so overtaking the road trains was no trouble – in fact a lot of fun!

Family Car

My grandfather bought a white version and the V8 at that. He had a few issues with the finish of the vehicle and had a number of repairs under warranty – problems with dash switches is one I remember. Some just fell off!

A Sad End

The P76 was not a financial success for Leyland. Very few were sold in the end and it hit the market as the first major oil crisis rolled over Australia. Big cars were being abandoned by many families and the P76 was one of the biggest – even though it had a serious weight advantage over Ford, Valiant and Holden cars of the time.

My families car actually finished it’s run in a similar fashion to the company as a whole.
Let me tell the story – a lesson in driving and suspension play!

The Day I Destroyed my Dad’s Car

It was 1979 and I had returned to Perth to collect my stuff before driving home to Albany for a break from University studies. My dad had lent me his P76 sedan and I was enjoying cruising around town doing the few things that needed my attention. She was a pretty car and always drew a few comments – most derogatory! However, anyone who rode in the car was pleasantly surprised by the comfort and tidy layout of the interior. The McPherson strut front suspension and the rack and pinion steering put it miles ahead of the average Aussie car at this stage and so she was also a breeze to park.

Anyway back to the story. I was driving though Floreat Park near the Perry Lakes stadium. Now the road I was driving on (Brookdale St) intersects Underwood Avenue – no big deal, traffic lights and all that jazz BUT some serious road surface issues. You see the road had a series of camel back humps through the intersection – locals new about them and would slow down. Not being a local I had forgotten about these large rolling, waves of bitumen.

Now I was not speeding – just cruising through the intersection – hit the first hump and – she starts to take off! A flash of memory – oh s*** I remember – here comes the second one!
Now the suspension on this car was pretty damn good – but being a young driver I panic and do the silliest and wrongest (is there such a word) thing – I hit the brakes!

Well let’s think a minute – what happens when you hit the brakes? The mass of the vehicle moves forward, compressing the front suspension as the wheels slow down – that is the way the springs work – keeping the wheels on the ground. So here I am – rising up a hump with the suspension already compressed and out of play – only one thing can happen now – BANG – she bellys on the hump!

Oh bugga that must have hurt!

I drive on a little checking steering and listening to see if anything fell off! All good! Or is it?

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Spring Service

“A Stitch in Time …..”

Each season has different challenges for your vehicle and in Australia the summers months mean hot, dry and dusty roads. The petrolhead is a strong believer in maintenance of all vehicles – new or old!

With the change in the weather it is a good idea to start planning the service update for the car. I usually change the oil on a very regular basis but this week I put the car up on the ramps and checked the underbody for rust and damage as well.
It is a useful time to top up the grease points. Being an older car there are still several grease points – I have replaced the tail shaft universal joints with lifetime sealed versions so they don’t need greasing. The steering gear still has several grease points so they need to be checked every 6 months or so.

Step One

The first step is to get the ramps out and back the car up onto the ramps – I like to start by checking the differential and brake drums for fluid leaks and any signs of wear.

I always chock the wheels – even if the car is in Park and hand brake is on!

The petrol filter is fitted right by the fuel tank, near the electric fuel pump. This pump is a push pump so it is put near the fuel tank not the engine. It is not used a great deal since the car runs mainly on gas (LPG) and I possibly change the filter every year or two. A quick visual check of the bowl is all that is needed. (It pays to check the rubber fuel lines for rubbing as well as dampness etc.)

Handbrake Adjustment

I noticed a little too much play in the handbrake this week so decide to tweak the line whilst I am under the car.

The cable is attached to a yoke that feeds tension to the two rear wheels equally. I simply loosen the locking nut and then adjust the other two until I have the tension right.

With the brakes adjusted and everything else checked – all is well so I just add a little friction modifier to the differential and prepare to swap the car around.

Step Two

Swapping the car around I now need to check the front suspension for any unusual marks or indicators of rubbing parts. All is clear so I check the various steering components.

Pitman Arm

Tie rod end

Lower ball-joint

Here is an unusual view of the fan and radiator – just a quick check for leaks and dents etc.

Body Work Check

All is well so I do a quick check of the body work for any new rust or potential problems. I decide that the bottom of the right hand fender could do with a little rust converter since a few stone chips have exposed the metal. This requires a bit of work so I spend the next 30 minutes cleaning and treating the panel.

New Leads and Distributor Cap

All done so now I can just change the oil and fit a new oil filter before cruising up to the tip to recycle the oil and run in the new friction modifier that I add to the oil and the differential.
Mmmm a little bit of a misfire! I find a lead or two shorting out (I just scored several thousand volts to my right hand!) and change the lot -that means new plugs as well! Still running rough – a new distributor cap fixes that!
(This problem took me and hour with Steve at Steve’s Shed, Wangara, to trace and fix. This guy, dare I say it, is more petrolhead than me!)

This is the big mother of a coil that keeps the spark strong and bright! A must when running on LPG – the bigger the spark the better the burn!

Well that’s it – the car has been checked from nose to tail! New oil and filter so ready for another 5-6 months of cruising!

Servicing your car is a very necessary task – especially for 40year old classics – but even your newer ones need regular checks and service. Catching problems before they get big is the best way to save money and to have confidence in your beast when on the road.

Until next time –
the Petrolhead is outa here!

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The Petrolhead on TV

Yep, you read it right the Petrolhead managed to get his classic piece of metal on the TV! The show is called Zoomfactor.

I am very proud of my few minutes of fame – the old girl looks great and I offer a great big thank you to the camera man. He managed to capture the best of the cars lines and show off the best angles!

The Story Begins

Now you might be wondering how I managed to get in the TV in the first place. Easy, actually!

A friend of my daughter told her about another friend of ours appearing last month with her lovely Fairlane and suggested that I email the host and let him know that my car is available. Well I did just that as well as sending them this websites address to see the photos on the blog.

The crew advised me that they would phone me a few days before the shoot and I would need to be ready at fairly short notice on the day. Well I took that all on board and largely forgot about it for a few weeks   until ….. the call came in early in the week asking me to attend a location on the Friday. Well I was stoked and started planning my week of work around the big event. I also had to squeeze in some time to polish the chrome and get the old girl in shape.

Not a big problem really since I love bringing the bling out in the old girl with a bit of Meguiars best!

The Big Day Arrives

Well Friday I am at home working on my blogs and vegetable garden when the phone rings and I have an hour to get down to the beach carpark in Scarborough. No worries!

I get my Ford shirt out and get myself organised and cruise on down the coast road to my rendezvous with fame! LOL

Two other cars are already there a big black Holden Ute and a pumped up yellow Commodore with enormous rims!

The guys have a fair bit of recording to do so I just chill out and wait my turn – this takes about and hour or so.

Rehearse Your Lines

Now it’s our turn and I go through a few rehearsals with the host of the show as he explains the process for the shoot to me. We do a couple of takes – one for the sound track and one for the video. Like most TV and film the finally presentation is not reality but a fusion of different cuts, angles and editing.

Well I do my thing and then camera guy spends a little while taking stills and video as the sun slowly starts to set across the horizon.  I thought that maybe the light would drop out but the final result was a warm series of shots.

Well that’s enough talk here is the video as it appeared on the TV.

A great 15 seconds of fame!.

See ya on the road!

The Petrolhead.

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Rust Repair In an Old Car

Today the Petrolhead will run you through the steps to doing a little rust repair on an old car. This is the Corolla I bought my daughter so she could learn to drive a manual. I spotted the car in a drive way with a for sale sign and decided to buy it.
It had a very high mileage on an original 1300cc motor. Not much power but absolutely great fun to drive.

The car was basically sound with a few minor mechanical issues which we fixed for about $150. I also needed to repair the rust in the boot and boot lid. This is a pictorial diary of what steps I took.

First Things First

The first thing to do is clean the car and then empty the boot.

So out with the spare tyre.

If you look at the left hand side you can see why this is the spare! The cause is another story!

Out with the tail lights.

These are so old they are perishing around the globe fittings – had to be very gentle!

Take off the boot lid.

Using a steel brush scrub the rusty areas – this usually does two things – strips off the rust and reveals that there is twice as much there than you thought!

Even the tyre well needs some grinder engineering!

Next Step Patch

The next step is now the actual repair work. I used fibreglass and aluminium sheeting to patch the holes and this was a very successful mixture.
The Aluminium gave structural strength back to the boot rim and the fibreglass sticks the whole lot together.
The red area is a finishing compound – it sands easily and gives a smooth finish.

The rest of the boot received the same treatment.

Ready now to start the paint.

On With the Paint

Mask the bumper and then prime the repair areas.

The first coat of colour goes on.

The boot lid goes back on before we start the final colour matching and blending. Need to check fitting.

Here we are all done – unmasked and ready for rebuild.

Lights Camera Action

Put the lights and boot back on and we are ready to go!

Cost = about $50. Not to mention my time!

But that’s what Petrolhead Dads do!

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Out for A Drive

The Petrolhead had to pop down to Bunbury this week for business and so had a great day out cruising down the highway on Tuesday .
The weather was foul when I left Perth but by Rockingham the wind had dropped and rain reduced greatly.

When I got to Bunbury the skies were blue and the wind still! Amazing travelling weather – the sort I enjoy.
I towed my little Erde trailer (had a load to bring back) and it was very stable with very little bouncing around (the 40kg of blue metal over the axle may have helped!)

I caught up with my friends and had a coffee and then after loading up set back to Perth. At lunchtime I decided that an emu pie might go down well so I stopped at the little store just out of Eaton.

This is a windscreen shot just before heading on to Perth – notice the clear skies!

This is a shot as I entered the Mt Henry Bridge area – I did not focus on the screen that was the auto-focus but you can see the bugs!

New Bypass Not Ready

The big disappointment was the new Mandurah Bypass was not ready! I was really looking forward to cruising along the new road!
I’m hoping the road will be ready in August when I have another trip to Bunbury.

Oil Leak

I spotted an oil leak on the way back from Albany last week so I kept an eye on the oil levels and pressure on the way to Bunbury. Today I pressure cleaned the block and will check the leak over the next few days to confirm my suspicions as to the source.

I will update progress on the Blog next week

That’s it for today – just a short update.
Have a great week!

The Petrolhead

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This week I wish to share with you the process I went through to replace a rusty door on my daughters little Colt. I have not done this on the Petrolheads Falcon since I have always tried to retain the original metal on that beast. When we had rust in the doors I had the repair done as a metal transplant not a door transplant. Meaning I found a repair guy who makes and reshapes zinc annealed steel for replacement door skins or part thereof! The special part about that is that after making the very rust resistant part he does not weld it. Why not? Well welding breaks the protection of the Zinc and reduces the life of the repair. His trick was to use hi tech glues that join the pieces! I have no photos to share since this was before digital cameras made photography so cheap!

So back to the Colt.

As you may recall this car is a long-term family member. So on presenting it to Jess I had already made plans to fix a few minor blemishes. However. as is always the case with rust, the little spot turned out to be a a nasty case of tin cancer right through the door base. A transplant was the only choice.

Ring Ring Why Don’t You Give Me A …..

So on to the yellow pages to find a wrecker who has what I want. After 2-3 calls I have found a possible replacement and so off in the Beast to collect the door! On arrival at the wreckers it seems the door is still attached to the car it comes with! Anyway the fellow takes me out to check it and it is in good order and will do the job well.

I pay the man and head home!

The removal of the old door is very easy and with the right tools it is off in minutes! I remove all the trim and swap it to the other door. Reverse the removal process and you have the new door on and ready for action.

Here it is a week later. Everything works well and apart from the colour as good as new!
I was doing an oil change and a few repairs in this photo.

Add a Little Colour and Away We Go

The next step in the repair process is the adding of a little bit of colour.

The first thing you do is remove all the trim and anything that may be damaged by overspray or sanding.

Using newspaper and good quality masking tape (cheap stuff can leave marks and interfere with the paint!).

Next I bog up (highly technical term for plastic filler repair) any holes and sand off the whole door – it is essential that no trace of the glossy top coat is left. If you dont mave a nice mat finish then the new paint may peel off!

Clean down the door thoroughly – there must be no dust or grease on the door (even on the newspaper) since both will stop adhesion of the primer and top coat.

I usually sand lightly after the primer is on and add a second light coat. This gives a slightly better finish.
Once the colour has been added (two coats) then I add a clear top-coat to really improve the shine and offer extra protection to the weather and wear and tear.

Allow the door to dry properly and then carefully remove the masking tape. (There is a trick to this and slow and steady is the best way – pulling the tape at 90 degrees to the direction of removal.)
Now just stand back and admire your handy work!

All that is left to do now is allow the paint to cure few a week or two and then I can replace all the trim items that I removed at the start. If you do this too soon the paint may come off with the trim item!

Next time I report on the Colt I will share with you how I repaired the tailgate – it also had a little rust and I gave this a renewal as well!

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Of Mice and Men…

Today’s post by the Petrolhead is a little different in that it involves my daughters car. The Colt.

One Owner – A Little Old Lady

We actually have the original log book service record of the first owner (a little old lady!).

The Colt has a long history in our family – it started out as my mother’s car and ended up as Jess’s L-Plater.  Jess drove it to University for 3 years until she bought a near new Pulsar. Then the Colt was back in my garage (no one would buy it) until Jess decided to get rid of her new car(Nissan Pulsar) and save money with the old girl!

I will be running through a few of the repairs I have done over the years as an example of the type of things you can attempt yourself. The first is the facelift we gave the paint and a rusty door.

Rrrusty Door has to go

When the Colt arrived from Albany it was basically very sound having completed over 160000kms. Most of the driving it was used for was over long country miles rather than short city, suburb driving. The Colt had been kept in a carport or shed most of it’s life and so the interior was pretty good with a few chips on the paint outside.

In the Chook Shed ….

Having said that I do remember that the last place it was stored was the old chicken shed.  Dad was building a new double garage eventually (for his 4WD and caravan), but in the mean time the old rickety shed that passed as a garage was for the old Subaru station wagon and his motorbike – oh yeah and a tractor. So the Colt was parked under the old chook shed roof. Now whilst there it became a favourite home for a family of mice.

Here is the old shed when it was new – Dad and I built it in 1999.

Now mice like a warm place to live away from the cats and out of the weather. The inside of a car matches those requirements fairly easily. Over the next 12 months of infrequent use the mice visited a number of times and eventually the inevitable happened one passed away. Now the old fellow could not just drop dead on the floor mat no – he had to crawl into the ducting inside the dash!

Here is a shot of the shed in 2003. It had been a chook shed and is now a carport!

We eventually rolled the car out and gave it a clean up and polish and of course the first day out in the heat this dreadful smell rises out of the vents! I am sure it smells like something dead! I volunteer to get to the bottom of the problem and work my way through the dash looking for evidence of the smells source.

Well after half an hour I decide it has to be in the ducting so I pull out the dash fascia and dismantle the vent system. Sure enough the mummified remains of a mouse sits squarely in front of the heater core. I remove the mouse and clean up the best I can before spraying large amounts of eucalyptus oil into the tubing. This covers the bad smell and  eventually no trace of the pong is evident in the car.

I never told Jess about the mouse for a few years since it was to be her first car and you never know how people might react when they know such details! (Like when mum and dad were not told that the house we were renting in the 1960’s, was the scene of a murder – Eric Edgar Cooke was the last guy hanged in Perth)

Shortly after all this dad bought his new Jackaroo and Caravan and so they offered the car to Jessica. We did not want to drive it all the way to Perth so I managed to get it on a back-loaded semi-trailer for $100.  A bargain, considering it would cost $200 to hire a car trailer and move it myself!

A week later the car is in the storage pens out by the airport and we drive out to get the old girl. I park it in the  carport to surprise Jess when she gets back home. She was one pleased teenager that day!

Mmmm I have got a little sidetracked! I will continue the story of the door replacement and paint repairs next post!

Until then,

Happy motoring!

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Out with the Old In with the New

One of the challenges of owning and driving around in a 30+ year old car is that the technology in many of it’s systems are old technology and often close to worn out. Plus, as every petrolhead knows, making changes to the engine and raising horsepower puts some challenges on the suspension and brake systems. A point that I learnt very quickly once the V8 was run in and the power started to kick in.

More power needs more brakes

I had come across a web site, RRS, that offered upgrades for older cars – mainly mustangs and the read how they could also be used on early Australian falcons as well. I put the idea on my wish list and got back to everyday life.

Some months later I decide to give it a go and put down a deposit on a new brake and suspension system for the beast! A few weeks later and the whole lot is paid off and the delivery is on it’s way!

The next challenge will be – can I do this on my own? I check the website and find some handy instructions and with these and the handbook I get started.

Here we go……

First step is to jack the car up high and get some stands under the chassis since I cannot use the usual jack points on the suspension – well they will be gone shortly!

Next I get all my tools out and check fittings and make sure I have a spanner or socket for every nut and bolt I will have to deal with in the next few days. Ok, all is well so lets get going!

Springs are Sprung

I take off the wheels and then loosen the retaining nuts off the top of the shock absorber at the top of the strut towers. I don’t remove them yet as I need to compress and remove the springs. This will be a challenge since these are rather large suckers.

They come out alright and so I can now remove the shockies and the retaining nuts.

Upper control arms next..

I undo the two bolts that hold the upper ball joint/control arm assembly and let it drop out from the strut tower.

Now I free this from the lower control arm  and I have everything ready for the next big step.

In with the New

Here are the new coil over shocks. They look great and are so much lighter than the items they replace!

These bad boys are fully adjustable and I hope to get some ground clearance back once they have been fitted.

I just slot them up into the strut tower and bolt them in!

Note the reinforcement plate that is added to the strut tower. There will be a little more pressure in the top of the strut tower with the new geometry in the suspension system. I can now add the new lower ball joint and the new tie-rod ends –  and the big new shiny discs!

I start to get really excited about now since everything has gone well – well apart from the very difficult lower ball joint that I had to remove – I just found a bigger hammer!

Now we add on the the new brake lines and bleed the brakes!

Disaster Strikes

I go to the shed and collect my rims and tyres. I line up the wheel studs and slide the wheel on. Something is wrong here. The wheel won’t turn! I don’t believe this the wheel is rubbing on the brake caliper! These are supposed to clear on 14inch rims and they don’t. This is one pi#### off petrolhead!

I contact RRS and we discover the slight variations that can occur on rims even if the are the same size are significant. I have to find myself some 15 inch rims!

Many phone calls later I find a nice set at Mr Mag – classic Ford rims from the 1970’s just the shot. Using the daughters Corolla I collect them and drive them back home to fit on the beast.

All done..

Here is the final deal – classic alloy rims fitted around modern coil over shock!

The stance is looking really clean now and I am rather proud of my achievement.

Here she is with the new stance and at least another inch of ground clearance!

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DUE SOUTH – Cruising with the Veterans

Show and shine the day before the reliability run!

Show and shine the day before the reliability run!

In between painting and repairing the BeaXT I heard a community radio promotion for the local Veteran car club – they were planning a cruise on Sunday! I did a similar run with them with my daughter a few years earlier and we had a great time!

Car 33! No coil-overs and no vented, slotted discs! A serious challenge on Mt Clarence!

Car 33! No coil-overs and no vented, slotted discs! A serious challenge on Mt Clarence!

My then teenage daughter was navigator and we managed to “gas-out” the brakes on the hills and get lost at one point! That night though she won the door raffle so felt much happier!

E-type Jaguar V12 Hardtop - still sits in my model display case - though the grandson takes it for a spin every time he visits!

E-type Jaguar V12 Hardtop – still sits in my model display case – though the grandson takes it for a spin every time he visits!

2016 Cruise

We are all to meet on the foreshore at Due South!

Early Start!

Early Start!

I park the BeaXT up and walk down and get my Rally Number and wait for the instructions!

First cruise with the new paint -clean but not buffed yet!

First cruise with the new paint -clean but not buffed yet!

Before long it’s 9 oclock and the first car is off!

Gentlemen start your engines!

Gentlemen start your engines!

I leave in position 5! No navigator! This should be interesting – can I improve on the 2003 result! First checkpoint is Elleker!

The second checkpoint - this is where the speed section was completed - I chose to average 50mph from Elleker to Youngs Siding!

The second checkpoint – this is where the speed section was completed – I chose to average 50mph from Elleker to Youngs Siding!

Youngs Siding – We used to live here – owned the general store/ petrol station and eventually built a few houses!

Mum and Dad's last house they built and shared until dad passed!

Mum and Dad’s last house they built and shared until dad passed!

My grandparents house - where they lived into their eighties!

My grandparents house – where they lived into their eighties!

What a lovely shade of blue!

What a lovely shade of blue!

Lunch time! The falcon and valiant were the

Lunch time! The falcon and valiant were the “newest” steel bumpers cars in the run!

Finally back at the clubrooms - I learn I am not the holder of the wooden spoon!

Finally back at the clubrooms – I learn I am not the holder of the wooden spoon!

Three decades of steel classics! A great day - the sun has been kind all day!

Three decades of steel classics! A great day – the sun has been kind all day!

Footnote: I didn’t cheat – but – many of the roads that were on the cruise were where I used to work or live or hoon around on motor bikes and cars as a kid! The old back streets and bush runs were now sealed roads and suburbs – but I know my way around these areas!

A fun day!

2017 may be the return run for the 50th anniversary of the Albany Veteran Car Club.

So see you there in April 2017 for the Albany Easter Rally!

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