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Current Restoration

2: Getting Started

Last month we led off with my first article in what hopefully will be a series regarding my efforts to restore a 1967 Jaguar E-Type. Books, magazine articles, web sites, and TV shows abound these days regarding the hobby and/or business of car restoration. I don’t think I can improve on the excellent job that some of these sites do in illuminating the finer points of old car restoration. What I hope to do is to add some of my own “color commentary” as they say in the broadcasting business and to of course point out any particular idiosyncrasies that the E-Type has that may be of some benefit to our club members.

As we ended our previous article, I had just acquired a 1967 Jaguar E-Type 2+2 and was getting to know the car. I had purchased it with some known mechanical problems, including inoperative brakes and a frozen clutch disc. I drug the car into my garage and began to look at what I could do to salvage the brakes. The first thing I found was that although it would appear that the forward opening hood on the E-Type offers good access to the engine compartment, you really can’t get much done with the hood installed on the car. So I decided to remove the hood. Here I ran into the first of what would become a recurring theme: the frozen bolt. In my case I promptly broke off one of the bolts holding on the hood!

There are several tips I can give folks regarding loosening frozen nuts and bolts. First, if there is any doubt at all that a fastener may be frozen, apply liberal quantities of penetrating fluid before you get started. I like the PB Blaster brand the best and it is commonly available. Less commonly available but possessing a very good reputation is the Kroil brand. I would personally recommend these two products over WD-40. I have found that WD-40 was originally developed as a drying agent for electrical connectors. True penetrating fluids have chemicals that attempt to break down the rust bond internal to the fastener. The next tip is to educate your right arm. Hard to do but you must learn when to back off short of wrenching the poor fastener into two pieces. This only comes from experience. Give the penetrating fluid time to work. Minutes, if not several days.

I once suspended a frozen part from a rope tied to the ceiling of my shop and doused it with penetrating fluid once a day for over a week. One day it came apart with no problem. Taking the problem to the next level requires impact. An air or electric impact wrench is great if you have one. Also available are hand impact wrenches that you strike with a hammer. These are quite a bit less expensive. If you go for the air or electric impact wrench, don’t necessarily buy the biggest one you can as I have found that the ones with a high torque rating are sometimes too large to fit into the available space. Taking the problem to the next level requires heat. Basically, what you do is heat up the fastener, which expands it, and then let it cool down. This tends to break the rust bond internal to the fastener. A small propane torch will work for this process. Be careful about setting adjacent items on fire! Finally, if you succeed in breaking the fastener off in the hole, you’ve really got your work cut out for you. You may think of the Easy Out product, which is a spiral shaft with a left hand thread. It requires that you drill a hole down the center of the bolt and reverse thread the Easy Out into the hole. My experience is that if the fastener is stuck that badly, you will most likely succeed only in breaking off the Easy Out in the hole! And since the Easy Out is made from very hard steel, you are really up against it as to what to do next. An alternative if you have a welder (or a friend with a welder) is to weld a bolt to the end of the broken off fastener, which gives you a new purchase point from which to apply force. Combine this with penetrating fluid and heat and you may just get it out. Another alternative is to very precisely drill a hole in the center of the bolt and then gradually enlarge it until the threads can be collapsed and pulled out. If you bugger up the hole, you may be forced to repair it with a Helicoil insert or similar. A Helicoil is a trick piece of engineering where you drill and tap the hole to the next larger size and insert the Helicoil, which is a spiral bit of metal with which threads into the larger hole and leaves you with the thread profile of the original hole. Very slick! They are available as a kit consisting of the drill, the tap, and the Helicoil. Finally, if you can get the part to a local machine shop, they have these and other tricks up their sleeves and most likely can get your problem resolved. In my case, I have relegated the broken hood bolt to an ever growing list of items that I will get back to later.

Getting back to the brakes, I could see that the front wheel cylinders were rusty. And I had no great confidence that the master cylinder or the slave cylinder were working either. For those of you not familiar with the E-Type, I believe it was the first production car built by Jaguar with disc brakes at all 4 wheels. Disk brakes were somewhat state of the art at the time. I believe the D-Types used them to great effect at LeMans and Jaguar wanted to transfer this racing experience to the E-Type. The system they arrived at is rather cumbersome in my opinion, in that ones foot activates a master cylinder, which feeds the fluid pressure to a slave cylinder. The slave cylinder is mounted in-line with a vacuum operated booster. The booster gets its signal from a proportioning valve mounted on the end of the master cylinder. If all goes well, the braking effort supplied by your foot is proportionally boosted to dual hydraulic circuits, one feeding the front wheels and one feeding the back wheels. Reports from the Internet Forums are that the system is quite capable of locking up the tires, when in good operating condition. But there are also a consistent stream of reports of problems, the most common being failure of the brakes to release and of the hydraulic fluid “storing itself” in the vacuum reservoir.

New parts for the braking system are becoming hard to find and are quite expensive. Various third parties will re-build your existing components, including White Post, Apple Hydraulics, Sierra Specialties, and Terrys. If you have any qualms whatsoever about you capabilities in this regard, I highly recommend that you let one of these shops do the work for you. In my case, I am a dyed in the wool do-it-yourselfer and decided to see what I could do. Next month we’ll see how the brake job came out.

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