Ultimate Detailing of Green 'B'

Octagon Newsletter April 1998

By Wayne Watkins

Last year it was pointed out to me by Mike, the Wizard, Owen, that 'Pride and Joy' would be needing a clutch pretty soon. Well, I decided that if I had to do all that work pulling out the engine and transmission to do the clutch, then that would be the perfect time to clean up thirty years of grime. The decision was made. Right after the New Years Day Burn it went into hibernation for two months, while everything came apart. Initially I thought you just whipped a few things apart, cleaned them up, threw a bit of paint on everything and bolted it all back together. Hello! ... I don't think so, Tim! Stay with me, folks - this gets good. The first thing I did with this 'do it yourself' project is to enlist the help of El Presidente's (Bob Hughes) garage, tools, knowledge, expertise and understanding.

Having left the hood at home in the spare bedroom, so it wouldn't get stepped on, we drained all the fluids and eased the motor and transmission out of the car. I must say I couldn't believe how much crud had accumulated in the areas that are usually out of sight. After we put the engine on an engine stand everything ancillary came off. Then started the cleaning. We used lots of solvent and thinners to wash everything down. "We must have no grit!" I agreed of course, and washed everything down again and again until things started looking presentable. Presentable means no grit so you can start taking everything apart even further for more cleaning to eventually get ready for paint. Turning the engine upside down for more cleaning (remember, no grit!), and looking down at my right shoe, I realized that there is always one litre of old oil left in the innards of a 'B' engine.

On to things like the heater box. After it came off we realized where the water was coming from when Lou complained of dripping water on her ankle every time we went around a corner even in the summer time. John's Knob was plugged full of needles, leaves and seeds so a lot of the water, from rain or car washing, getting in the vent wouldn't drain away. Jack Baker and Neil Fawdry went into great detail about how one lays on one's back and reaches up around the transmission to squeeze a special rubber drain hose, to ensure the excess water in the heater box area will drain away. I assure you that, even though I don't know who John was, the second half of that name is very descriptive anatomically speaking.

I also learned about spray paint. More than once, as bits and pieces were being freed of old paint, I would hear "Geez ... what is this stuff?!" I guess that black and silver Tremclad or other such 'cheap paint', perhaps isn't the best for trying to keep an engine looking good over the years. I quickly realized that Krylon paint is the best. Once proper preparation is done, this stuff really leaves a nice finish.

Many faxes to Octagon and many invoices later we have all the bits and pieces needed. I was amazed how many small rubber and metal parts need to be replaced to do a good job. Oh yes, lots of stainless steel nuts, bolts, screws, and washers. The boys at Fasterner Force One hold the door open for me now when they see me coming. Hoses yes, all new hoses including new oil cooler hoses. I shopped for all new hoses with specific instructions from Bob. "Make sure they are all black - don't come back with hoses that are rooster comb red!"

Here are some of my lessons from this experience. Lacquer thinner takes all the moisture out of fingers and thumbs so you have to wear Band-Aids to work for the duration of the job. If you need eight 5/16 national fine hex head bolts, the bin at your favourite supplier will have seven. If you think you will remember where all the clips and fasteners go without good photographs or a video, you're nuts. The boys at Abingdon took too many tea breaks when they were building my car. Everything is two and one half times what you estimate. Brent at Octagon finishes every conversation with "Talk to you tomorrow!". The side of the alternator you just spent an hour and a half detailing is the side that faces the ground. The side you spent five minutes on thinking it was the down side is the first thing you see when you open the hood.

Well, four weeks have turned into nine, but everything under the hood is back together. It looks clean and tidy. I was going to say it looks like the day it came out of Abingdon, but that would not be complimentary to all of our hard work! We finished it off with a seven pounds pressure Stant radiator cap which comes in the shape of, you guessed it, an octagon. I am certainly glad I only have to do this once every thirty years!

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