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Current Restoration

5. Mr Toad’s Wild Ride

This is the next installment in a series of articles about a 1967 Jaguar E-Type 2+2 that I am restoring. As I discussed in my last article, I had rebuilt the components of the brake and clutch hydraulic systems and had installed them back into the car. But I was still faced with a clutch disc that refused to release. So I decided on the ultimate solution.

The ultimate solution was not totally original. A search of the JagLovers Archives had revealed the ultimate solution to me. The ultimate solution is not without its risks but is almost guaranteed to free up your clutch disc. The ultimate solution involves driving the car, with the clutch pedal depressed, until the heat and torque combine to wrest apart what have been corroded together! Of course, unless you are fortunate enough to reside on your own private estate, it involves travel on the public motorways.

I chose the early hours of a Sunday morning for my plan. I live in a rural area. Traffic is very light, if not non-existent at that time of the day on Sundays. First I had to drag the car out of the garage and get it pointed in the right direction in my driveway. Next I started up the car with the transmission in neutral and got the engine good and warmed up. Next was the painful part. I killed the engine, put the shift lever into first gear, and hit the starter button. The car lurched a few feet and then fired right up. Off I went.

My first decision point was at the end of my driveway. Knowing that turning right would lead me by the house of a Wake County sheriffs deputy, I had already planned for a left hand turn. This quickly led to my next dilemma. A stop sign! I left the car in first and cruised as slow as I could towards the intersection. As soon as I cleared the trees lining my road, a quick look left and right revealed a clear road. I performed what is commonly referred to as a “rolling stop” and entered the main road.

With my last sports car, the Porsche, I had always loved to practice clutchless shifting. It’s really not that hard. You just have to match the engine speed through judicious use of the throttle to that of the drivetrain and you can quite readily shift up and down through the gears. Now I got to put my past experience to good use and I am proud to say I was able to upshift all the way to 4th gear without incident. At this point, being on a back country road without any stop signs or worse, I sort of settled down to enjoy the ride. Albeit with my left foot jammed down on the clutch pedal, waiting for the blessed event.

I believe I made it about 2 miles before poof, the engine revved up, and the clutch was free. All right! Mission accomplished. My left leg was very relieved to be able to let up on the clutch pedal. I shifted up and down a few gears to confirm that everything was working right as I continued my drive.

Contrary to my expectations, this first ride in my E-Type was not the transforming experience that I had imagined it would be. The engine was running well enough but didn’t have much zip. And the suspension and steering felt heavy. But I imagine that for a car that had been laid up for several years these perceptions were not unexpected. I continued on my way and charted a course back for home.

As I turned into my driveway, which runs downhill for about a 100 yards, I realized No Brakes! What the hell? Fortunately there was no need to stop suddenly and I applied the emergency brake as I neared the garage and came to stop.

After shutting down the engine and climbing out, I popped the hood to see what I could see. After some examination, I realized that the disc brake pads were totally missing from one of the front calipers! As I mentioned previously, the use of Volvo brake calipers is not a perfect fit in that the brake disc is a little larger in diameter than it should be. Apparently, the disc had managed to come in contact with the retaining pins for the brake pads and saw them in two. From there, the calipers fell out with the obviously deleterious effect on the braking system. I’m glad that I didn’t have to make any panic stops!

After due consideration, I came to the conclusion that I needed to get serious and perform a proper restoration on the mechanical parts of the car. Or get myself killed! So I decided to go back into the garage and do a proper job.

The details are a little hazy but at this point in my saga. I got pretty involved with my day job as an engineer and the E-Type was pretty much ignored in the garage. During this interval, interest rates on mortgages began that wonderful race to the bottom that was good for borrowers and bad for folks living off their investments. In my case, I was meeting with my banker with an eye towards re-financing my home mortgage when he asked did I possibly want to borrow a little extra, to go on a vacation or fix up my house. Fix up my house, as in build that detached garage that I had been dreaming of? Well, before I knew it I was cashing out some of the equity in my house and had a pile of cash ready to turn into a new garage. A proper place for my gearhead activities has been a lifelong dream. What resulted were plans for the “Garage Mahal”. There were two bays for the family cars and two bays for my Jag shop. The E-Type was moved out to an outbuilding while construction was performed. Did I mention that I am a compulsive do-it yourselfer? I built the garage myself and it took over 2 years (See Link to my Garage Construction page). But finally it was done and I was able to move the E-Type into one of the bays.

Now I had room to move around, room for shop equipment, room to stash hoods and doors and tires, room for everything associated with a good and proper tear down of the car. Next month: The Teardown Begins.

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