midge Mk2 build diary

I experienced my first session of car build blues over the last couple of weeks. I know it won’t be the last but as I write the latest update it is more with a sense of relief that satisfaction.
The task involved removing and renovating the front axle and leaf springs which were very grubby at best. They had been married for the last 30 years and were quite happy with their lot. Removing them was never going to be easy even with the assistance of an angle grinder.

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I didn’t even try to undo the U bolts, I just cut half way through them and the snapped them off. This was before I discovered that replacements weighed in at £60 a set. It wouldn’t have altered the modus operandi, it would just have been executed with moist eyes. The rubber bushes had melded into a compound with the steel springs and had to be part drilled, part burned to remove them. I got a replacement set for a reasonable £35 although they were cheap by virtue of being a rather strange shade of purple.

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The next step was to separate the spring leaves, should that be leafs? And then dump them in a bath of rust remover. The bath was fashioned from shuttering ply from the oddments bin at the local time merchants. I lined this with a waterproof membrane and was ready to add the remover. Now the observant reader may notice that this membrane changes colour in the pictures, this wasn’t as a result of the chemical process but because there is waterproof and waterproof. Just because a material repels moisture doesn’t mean it will contain it. I therefore advocate the use of builders membrane over tarpaulin.

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The rust removal was one again left to a Bilt  Hamner product, the Oxy C in the bath and the Oxy Gel on the bits I couldn’t get in the bath. The C makes 20 litres of solution per kilo of material. This was more than adequate for my needs. It is biodegradable and contains no nasty chemicals. The parts soaked for a couple of days and then washed off. The results were nothing short of remarkable.

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The gel didn’t produce the same level of rust removal but it was far better than I would have managed by any other means available to me and certainly once the paint was applied the finish was none the poorer.

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Armed with paint brushes and Hammerite Smooth Black I spent the next few years covering the rejuvenated parts to a satisfactory standard. It only took a couple of coats but at the same time I had decided to paint the anti roll bar and the steering box silver. As I couldn’t get any brush paint from Wilkos, I resorted to using spray and even though a little more work had to put in to masking parts off and more consideration given to overspray, I think the finished result was far better and worth the extra effort. For that reason when I do the next batch of parts I will be spraying them.

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After putting it off for a number of days I finally got on with the inevitable and rebuilt the springs and mated everything together. For no apparent reason I had a mare of a job getting the new U bolts into place, it took two hours to persuade them to play nice and the rest of the connecting up took another two hours. I am getting too old and infirm for bullying car parts but as I stood back and admired the handiwork I had to admit it was worth it.

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I will be reconditioning the swivel hubs at a later date and it makes sense to paint them when they are apart. Now that is a job I am looking forward to as I became increasingly sick to the back teeth of painting. I still have the back axle to do so I had best man up and get it done over the next week so the drive can be used again.

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