Monday, 8 March 2010

Assembly of the suspension

A lot of the suspension work on 789 ERO had been done when I started the restoration 20 years ago.

Back then the Standard 10 wishbones on the front suspension were stripped and the threaded nuts checked for wear. Some of the worn ones were replaced with better ones sourced from a breaker's yard. The paint was removed from the wishbones and they were repainted with black Smoothrite.

Then I went in for a cup of tea and a Mr Kipling.

Fast forward 20 years and a lot of Mr Kiplings later
, I got back out there and cleaned off the loose and flaking paint and gave the wishbones another coat of Smoothrite (I hasten to add it was a different tin). Trimuph Spitfire uprights were fitted with new top ball joints and the trunnions checked for play (worn trunnions are an MOT failure). To fit the uprights however, they had to be modified.

I had decided to fit disc brakes from Triumph Spitfire instead of Standard Ten drum brakes, but it meant the threaded nuts had to be screwed into the outer end of the wishbones and drilled to take the Triumph Spitfire trunnion bolt. You can use Standard Ten trunnions and screw your uprights into them, but I find for ease of maintenance and reduced wear on the threaded nuts it's better to do it this way.

The trunnions were then filled with EP90 oil. Although some people fill trunnions with grease, I've found this can cause sticking and accelerate their wear and tear. EP90 reduces the risk of this happening. Finally, the stub axle was cleaned, given a coat of black Smoothrite and bolted on.

The front suspension was then bolted to the chassis and I moved on to the rear suspension.

The bushes

The Fairthorpe Electron Minor mk1 rear axle consists of a wishbone and a parallel arm (trailing arms) on either side. At both ends of the parallel arms is a Metalastik® bush, which will invariably need replacing as the rubber splits and perishes and the bolts which hold them in place seize into the bushes.

Before I went for my cup of tea and Mr Kipling 20 years ago I replaced all of the bushes as follows:

1) Those bolts that were seized were cut either side of the bush with a hacksaw. It's a bit of a drawn out job as there's no room to get your hacksaw blade in. Once cut, the trailing arms were removed.

2) The bushes consist of a steel sleeve with rubber inside which houses a steel tube for the bolt to run through. Once the bushes have been in for a few years, it's impossible to just push them out. The easiest way to remove them is to burn the rubber out using a blow torch. Once the rubber is sufficiently weakened, you can knock the centre rubber and steel tube out just leaving the outer casing of the bush.

3) To remove the outer casing of the bush, you need to use a hacksaw blade and carefully cut through the sleeve without damaging the wishbone. Once the cut is made, you can then use a small chisel and knock the sleeve out of the trailing arm.

4) The new bushes can be pushed in using a vice, and it's helpful to put some Copper Ease round the outside to help ease it in.

Doing this job meant that 20 years later all I had to do was inspect the bushes for any splitting or perishing, which thankfully there wasn't as they hadn't been used. The trailing arms were cleaned and painted with black Smoothrite, refitted and the bolts inserted with a coating of Copper Ease to prevent seizing. New Nyloc nuts were then fitted to the bolts.

The shock absorbers

Unfortunately, the shock absobers were totally shot so a large amount of money had to be prized from my fingers for a new set of four Spax shock absobers and springs. Irritatingly, Spax no longer supply springs so I had to source both the springs and shocks through a friend's nephew who regularly has springs made up for his racing cars.

When the springs turned up three or four days after ordering, disappointingly they were too short and had to be sent back. The lovely new shock absobers sat in a box staring at me. More waiting. The next set of springs were thankfully the right size and, once fitted, the shocks were loosely attached to the chassis - the back by just the top bolts as the axle had yet to be fitted, and the front by the top and bottom bolts.

This completed the suspension of 789 ERO. It was then on to the rear axle and brakes.