SS Bodywork 5: the engine compartment

I have been looking at this car for 2 years now, in pictures after sending $4500 to the seller in December of 2007, trying to come up with a coherent plan for tackling it, and since then as a sculpture of sorts, always looming in the background corner of the shop, watching me toil on other cars, patiently waiting its turn.  It’s turn is here.

Having a really snotty cold complete with a crackly sounding cough ensures your work wants you as far away as possible, and when you start feeling pretty good but your body is still in clean up mode you have to get out an do.  In this fit of new found near health I decided that since I lacked the parts to finish assembling the engine, I would start in on the body, and where better to start than the engine compartment.  It has been a hellish job, but, as with all jobs, took starting and doing if it was to be seen finished.  I guess I could have paid someone to do this, but that would have been cheating, and besides, my funds are already in arrears of the someones I will be paying for time spent exercising their skills on my car.

The starting line.  First order of business was removing the steering components, the wiring harness and some other odds and ends so this would be a long level run rather than an obstacle course.  Looks pretty bad doesn’t it.

This is cute.  Hopefully this is an abandoned settlement.

This is a pretty good indication of what I am working with.  The blackish red is a rust inhibitor that is sort of soft and rubbery.  Here I am removing the firewall grommet screw that is stuck so I can push the wiring through.  It took about 15 minutes and tools employed included a propane torch and an impact driver.  Needless to say it succumbed to my persuasion.

Quick possible digression here.  I have been thinking about this and discussing it with anyone who might have an opinion informed by experience on and off for two years.  Sand blasting has been touted as the way to go by some and others have said no way, I’ll never get all the sand out.  Paint stripper has been praised and poo-pooed in turn for the same reasons as chemical dip: you can never get rid of all of it, paint might bubble up later as chemicals are migrating etc etc.  Soda blasting has been discussed but I don’t want to spend $500 on the rig.  Sanding is not a great option as this car is full of lead and I don’t want to end up cutting off my ear in a fit of lead-based delirium.

Well, good old honest path of least resistance from a cash perspective won out and I decided I would use a citrus based paint stripper.  My logic?  I used it on the floor of a Spider I used to have and after four years no ill effects have been detected on the paint that was applied to that floor.

So here it is.  Citrus based paint stripper liberally applied to everything in the engine compartment.  I let it stand for 24 hours and upon returning I found that it worked great on paint, lifting several layers off so thoroughly an asthmatic could blow them off as if they were blowing out birthday candles.  The black rust inhibiting goo did not lift but it was softened to the point where it could be scrubbed off.  Needless to say I wore safety glasses and gloves and long sleeves and shin guards and a helmet and cup and…

A wire brush was used to scrub off the black stuff.  This was followed by a paper towel wipe down, a big wire brush scrubbing, another paper towel wipe down, wet sanding with 220, another paper towel wipe down and finally a careful going over with a razor blade to scrape off any robust hangers-on.

The result.  Clean silvery metal.  There is a hint of rust color but trust me, a camera accentuates rust in a way that makes it look much worse than it is.

Another clean area with even more of a misleading rust color.  The fuel filter/regulator bracket and coil bracket are seen here as are the engine mount slot, shock mount hole, steering idler mount holes and two mystery holes in the frame rail.

This is the lowest edge of the firewall on the passenger side just peeking up the transmission tunnels skirt.  All of the harness clamps on this car are intact and wow does it hurt when you run your knuckle into one!

And the close to finished result.  There is more black goo to remove from the lower drivers side areas, lots more wet sanding and some bodywork with a hammer and dolly to do but the lions share of the job is done.  I plan on buying the paint remover neutralizer that was on the shelf at OSH next to the stripper and utilizing it.  A powerwash with simple green will follow that, when it’s dry I will spray it down with POR 15 metal ready and finally paint it up to the upper frame rails with Eastwood chassis black.  Sounds down right easy when I just spell it out like that!

Hello, my name is AR00120*00413*.  If all goes well I will be the best known Sprint Speciale in the world.

Yesterday when I got home from doing this work I was happy to find 2 boxes from Centerline and a box from Caswell on my porch.  My 1600 piston/liner set is on hand as are all of my brake seals, my water pump, my front suspension limit cables, my yellow sport springs and my 4:10 axle seals.  I think I will finish the engine on Saturday and while doing that run some samples through my plating kit.

I have a lot of work ahead of me.  Another 6 hours down, 903 hours to go.


2 thoughts on “SS Bodywork 5: the engine compartment

  1. Matt – great blog! I am a triumph owner trying to glean restoration tips. At some point can you talk more about your shop and how you’ve come to such a hobby.

    • Aaron,

      Thanks for the praise. That’s an interesting idea to talk about my shop and how i came to this hobby. I would think both of those questions can honestly be answered by saying I am just at my present location on a slippery slope. I buy supplies/tools as I need them, figure out how to do what needs doing by asking for guidance from others who have done it before.


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