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Current Restoration

6. Rethinking the Brakes

Restoration Article 6

As we ended our previous article, I had exposed my 1967 Jaguar E-Type 2+2 to a shake down cruise. Parts that “shook out” during the ride included the disc brake pads resulting in a less than sure stop using the handbrake! At that point I realized that I had to get serious about getting a mechanically sound car. I took a 2 year detour building a proper shop space and had just brought the car in for further work.

Getting into a proper work space was really a dream come true. Ever since I had left my parents house for college most of my car repair was performed in inadequate spaces. Finally I had a great place to work in. Well lit, protected from the elements, and plenty of space.

In the interim while I was building my shop, I had done a lot of thinking about brakes. An option that caught my eye was the Wilwood caliper conversion offered by Classic Jaguar in Austin, Texas. Classic Jaguar has a very good reputation and seems to offer some high quality products for Jaguar cars. The Wilwood Company has developed aftermarket disc brake kits for a wide variety of applications. Classic Jaguar has developed the necessary hardware to mate the Wilwood caliper to the existing Jaguar caliper mounting points. This would provide me with high quality, modern components in this key area.

When you a restoring an E-Type or any car for that matter, you’ve got to decide whether you are going to remain totally stock or whether you will consider some upgrades. This is a matter of personal preference. Certainly if you are fortunate enough to possess a truly significant automobile you may ruin its re-sale value by deviating from strict originality. And if you intend to pursue the concourse circuit, points will be deducted for most items that are “not correct”. A 67 2+2 is certainly not a significant car in terms of its Barret Jackson auction potential and the concourse circuit is not my cup of tea. My personal intent is to create a reliable touring car that might become my daily driver. So I don’t have any objections to certain upgrades that help me achieve this goal. I have several upgrades planned for this car and will mention them when appropriate.

My first action was to remove the hood. This in itself was not particularly difficult. When removing some of the bolting at the hinge points I noticed that some of the metal look a little suspicious. After I got the hood completely off and stood it up off to the side of the shop, I found evidence of major rust in the nose below the bumpers.

As I had mentioned in my previous article, the suspension felt pretty dodgy to me during my test drive. My immediate goal was to perform a R&R on the front suspension components.

Before we proceed further let’s stress that a digital camera is probably a must buy item with regard to any restoration work. I had been limping along without one up to this point but my wife jumped in and bought me one as a Christmas gift. Don’t get started without one! Use it early and use it often. The only other option is to get a notebook and make copious figures and diagrams. But the digital pictures are really the best way to go. Another piece of advice. Back all of your pictures up onto redundant media. Remember, your restoration may extend out over several years and you will be thankful to have those pictures when its time to put things back together.

Other suggestions that I have seen is to lay out sub-assemblies on the shop floor as they come apart in the rough configuration that they had on the car and take a photo. Also, get a copious supply of various size zip lock bags and use them to store parts in. Get a Sharpie marker and label each bag as you go regarding what is inside.

Professional restorers recommend that each part be entered into a spreadsheet as it comes off the car. Included would be a determination as to whether the part can be rebuilt, or must be replaced, or the fact that it was missing entirely. The idea is to come up with your shopping list of replacement parts for purchase as you go along.

For the E-Type, a parts catalog was produced by Jaguar. I purchased one from Terrys and highly recommend that you do so also. It contains wonderful exploded parts diagrams for every last part on the car, as well as a line item list and description for each part. I think it will prove to be invaluable. If someone were to ever put it into a spreadsheet form I would certainly be their first customer. Warning, the parts catalog is a little intimidating. There are literally 1000’s of parts on an E-Type. The catalog runs several hundred pages. Many of the parts vendors us the parts catalog as the basis for their own catalogs. Terry’s has done this to a great degree. They can provide their catalog on a CD and this can be very useful also.

After removing the hood I took a number of digital photos of the engine compartment from every conceivable angle. I had decided to remove the engine as part of my teardown. There are two schools of thought regarding removal of the engine. The traditional approach is to remove the engine and transmission as an assembly out through the top of the engine compartment. Apparently this is a tight squeeze and there is some risk that paint will be scraped within the engine compartment. The other approach is to lower the engine and transmission as an assembly straight down to the floor and then raise the remaining chassis enough to scoot the engine out from underneath. I decided to go this route. Either method requires that the various ancillary items be removed first. A good list of required items is given in the Bentley manual. One item that proved to be very difficult is the support member at the fixed end of the torsion bars. But I was ultimately able to get everything removed and the engine lowered to the floor. My new shop has a built in rigging beam overhead and, without the weight of the engine and transmission, it was easy to hoist up the chassis using a “comealong” device. After the engine was out, I lowered the chassis back down onto jackstands and removed the front road wheels. At this point I took more photos, with many layers of road grime and grease being the predominant color scheme of the engine compartment.

Next, I decided to remove the framework that supports the engine, known as the subframe, from its attachment to the firewall. This was fairly straight forward, as in this case none of the several dozen attachment bolts were frozen. This may have something to do with the fact that many of the bolts extend to captive nuts inside the interior of the passenger compartment so they are more protected from the elements. The subframe has a left and right halve, held together at the front by the assembly known as the “picture frame”. My picture frame was in pretty bad shape on its lower surface, as it becomes a jacking point for the unsuspecting mechanic that does not appreciate its relative fragility. It appeared that mine would require major work or outright replacement.

Next month will discuss the disassembly of the front suspension components and methods of refurbishment

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