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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The simple task of removing the body from a Suzuki SJ Part 2

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The story so far. We took one innocent and un-abused Suzuki SJ413 away from the farm it had retired to 11 years ago with the sole intention of taking it apart and discarding all the pretty bits to enable us to rebody the chassis into something more interesting, namely a replica of a 1930’s open top sports car. This is day 2 and aside from a few wires, cables and bolts the task is all but done.

The first job of the day was to get the chassis and the body separated. The theory was the six bolts would come undone with little or no persuasion and we would place chocks between the two parts, this worked a treat on the front as both chassis bolts snapped off in the chassis, the other four surrendered a lot easier but there things started to go awry. Despite a fair deal of brutality the body wouldn’t part. The angle grinder was called in to action and despite the removal of the offending bolts, everything stayed put. At this point common sense would dictate that there had to be more bolts somewhere. Unfortunately there was 1/2 a tonne of Buckinghamshire on the underside of the car. After a few minutes I was wearing most of the mud and two more bolts had revealed themselves. With some relief the body finally separated and we were back under way. The remainder of the work passed without hitch, it just seemed never ending. As lunch time arrived we were in a position to take the body to the metal recyclers. The easiest way was to strap the body down to the chassis and take it lock and stock, get them to remove the body with their forklift and return the chassis home and for once everything went as planned.

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(If only I had actually taken a picture of the body coming off then we would have something interesting to put here, in absence of something interesting, here are the pictures of the before and after.)

Once home the final job was to remove Buckinghamshire and return the chassis to the garage. We had some fun with the pressure washer and stood back to admire the results.

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(The two blue bags in the background contain the swept up mud that was attached to the chassis)

Time was getting on and Connor had a train to catch so we shot round to the garage and then we hit upon the bit I hadn’t really planned properly, or indeed, at all. Getting a now non running SJ back into a seriously uphill garage. Things started out ok, we got it squared up and it was moving pretty freely right up to the pot hole one metre before the door. Try as we might we couldn’t move it further. I tried to use the towball of my car against the chassis, which seemed like a really good idea to me. The fact that Connor didn’t think it was should have warned me of the dangers as Connor rarely thinks. Ten minutes and one dint in the bumper later, the SJ was at the bottom of the slope with my towball hooked under the chassis. After much cursing and a trip home for resources (a lump of 4×4) I was just strapping the wood to the chassis when a nice Polish chap turned up and set about manhandling the car into the garage pretty much single handedly. I couldn’t thank him enough but I am now pretty afraid of getting the car out the garage again.

As the monthly car budget has been spent, there won’t be much work done until after Easter but I do need to rig something up to get over the mountain in front of the garage. I think I will look at rigging up a winch system or for the time-being seeing if the starter motor will stand up to the task. I cetainly won’t be experimenting without reinforcements, just in case it won’t.

JC Midge MkII Build Diary

Midge MkII Build Diary part 1 (of many)

I guess this is part one of the Mighty Midge (MkII) build story. The plans arrived today. As you can see, they are very comprehensive. How it goes, only time will tell.

A fair portion of my monthly budget went on buying the plans from John Cowperthwaite at Lightning Cars and sorting out the security for garage the car will be stored in so it will be a fairly quiet month on the build. As a number of the patterns are simply reversed for each side I bought a sheet of 12mm MDF and I will cut out a templates in that and make any mistakes on the cheaper material. From there I will use a template cutter on my router table to make the identical panels in a fuss free manner.

Plans

plans

plans