Teething problems

Decided to head out for a cruise on Sunday afternoon with the wife, got about a kilometre up the road, was pulling up at a set of lights and the clutch went to floor and the car shuddered to a stop stuck in second gear. I managed to wrangle it into first gear and fired it up on the starter in gear when the lights went green. Luckily I was able to pull it into a car park where a quick look under the bonnet along with the pool of hydraulic fluid confirmed that I had blown out the hydraulic clutch line. It was always sitting a bit close to the headers for my liking and even though I had wrapped it in heat shield it had somehow shifted to be touching the headers and had melted a small hole. Quick call to my towie and we were back home hosing out the engine bay. The offending hose was removed and the next day my father picked it up and we have had a nice braided hose made up about 10cm shorter than the original style hose. I’ve test fit it and it looks good so will fit it up next weekend. After parking the car up, the next day I noticed a petrol smell in the garage. I looked under the car and there was petrol on the ground. With the car jacked up I could see that my brad new tank is leaking from the fitting that the sender goes in. Of course I have a full tank of fuel. So I pulled off the fuel line and drained about 20l out which is enough to stop it leaking so next weekend the tank will also be coming out so that I can have someone properly solder up the outlet. Kind of glad I found that one early as leaking fuel is never a good thing.

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The Finish Line

Well I finally got the last couple of jobs done. I got the grille fit up, which wasn’t quite as easy as it should have been. With a new front valance there were no holes for the mounting pins so I had to figure these all out from photos and trial fitting. With everything bolted up I finally got the car outside where I cleaned the dust off it and gave it a few test drives across the driveway. The great news was that it drove straight and stopped. Stance is perfect at the back and hit my number on the button. The front is approx. 20mm too high but I’ll get to that later. With that sorted the car was booked in for an inspection. First drive to get the inspection was nerve wracking as it was the first time the car had seen the road in nearly 20 years. It drive really nicely and sailed through the inspection. Yay. So after nearly 5 years I was able to take the family on a few test drives around the block. Next steps will be to run in the engine, get a proper wheel alignment and just generally sort through the lots of little things that I either want to change or tidy up. Oh and a full detail and then show it off a bit.

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One step forward two steps back

Thanks to the ineptitude of our state and federal governments I’m still stuck at home without any meaningful work. That’s good news for the Cortina as it continues to go together. The front windscreen has now been fitted with a new rubber from Rare Spares. This time around Mark got the moulds and window in. It’s a laminated windscreen from Glass for Classics. Fit I would say is average, the corners are nowhere near as nice as the original but hey it’s legal and it’s the best available at the moment.

My boot and bonnet are also back and have been fit up. The boot went on OK but the lock was not working properly with the cam not activating the latch. Weird because these were both parts that came off the car. More fettling to come. I got the interior in and finished. Unfortunately after getting everything together I struck a hurdle when the car started blowing fuses. I spent the morning chasing the issue and it was the wiper. It worked on the bench and worked in the car but putting the wipers on is giving it grief. This meant that the full interior that had been carefully installed had to come out so that the wiper could come out. Everything tested OK so I pulled it down for inspection. What I found was that everything was just really worn which is making it work way harder than it should and drawing more power. It’s nice to know the fuse box is doing its job. I have been able to source a reconditioned motor so hopefully that works.

I finished reconditioning my boot GT badge too, which has now been repainted in Humbrol 20. I’m really happy with the result. Fiddly but rewarding and much better than the repro badges that are available.

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Door Check Straps

I put the door check straps in today. It was a bit of an ordeal so I thought I would write a post in case I ever need to do it again or if someone else ever needs some advice. Firstly, original ones of these are a nightmare. Pretty much all of mine were broken and the ones that weren’t broke when we tried to refit them. I tried to find some good originals second hand or NOS but no luck. In the end I ordered a new set of repros from the Cortina Club which were painted up to match the car. When fitting I got a few scratches on the first one unfortunately as I worked out how best to squeeze them in but after that everything was good. I also had my locking straps re-plated and used new hardware so everything looks as good as new now. Instructions on the photos.

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Interior Finished

The past week has seen the interior fitted up. First step was fitting the carpet. All of the crevices were filled with reproduction timber infills. I bought a 9 piece carpet set from Aldridge in the UK and picked up some underfelt from a local supplier. I cut pieces of underfelt and glued them to the back of the carpet, which was the painstakingly fit in the car. At the front I used carpet buttons but for the rear I glued it in so that it wouldn’t shift underfoot. Unfortunately I damaged one of the pieces so have ordered some extra carpet to repair that section as well as make some custom mats from the same carpet. Next I fit new inner sill boards and from inner kick panels. All with new hardware. I fit up a set of new scuff panels using the original scuff panels as a template to drill the holes. I was really impressed with the scuff panels. They were a perfect match for the originals. New pinchweld was installed before my recovered seats were put back in the car with my reconditioned seat belts. While I’m waiting for some new door trim clips to arrive, new plastic vapour barrier has been installed in the doors. I chose to cover just the holes so that if I need to fettle with the door handles I don’t need to pull all the plastic off, just the part I need.

Outside the car I’ve been tweaking the rear bumper…again. I think I’ve had it off and on about 50 times and still I need to work on it more. Under the bonnet I added some heat shield to a couple of hoses that were very close to the headers. All the trim is on and I’ve been tweaking the fit on some of it. The rear quarter die cast were a poor fit so I have been carefully heating them up and bending them to shape. The first one i didn’t heat and cracked the chrome so it will need to go back for another go in the future. I have also wheel aligned the car. This was the first time I’ve done this but it was relatively straightforward, especially with nice reconditioned parts that turn easily. Unfortunately at this point I worked out that the shifter wasn’t engaging reverse gear so out with half the interior and after a few times adjusting the shifter the car now goes backwards and forwards.

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Windows and Interior

Getting close to the business end now. I organised Mark from Top Mark to install the front and rear screens. The rear screen is the original glass which was in good condition. I cleaned and polished it and came up really good. The front glass is a new laminated screen purchased from Glass4Classics. The stainless moulding was polished by Jarrod at Concourse Moulding. The rubbers were purchased from the UK Cortina Club. The front moulding was very hard but seemed to fit the screen well. Unfortunately the mouldings would not hold in the rubber on the corners. Mark is a patient man and spent a lot fo time trying to get them to fit. In the end we decided that the mouldings needed tweaking to get the angles better aligned. I also decided to look for a softer rubber. We set the new screen against the car and it is only an average fit so the soft rubbers will help get it in. Unfortunately there are not any other options for new front glass so we will need to make it work.

Next was onto the rear screen. The rubber was not a great fit here. Baggy around the top and tight across the bottom. Mark spent a lot of time but eventually got the stainless trim in and the window slotted in nicely. The rubber is pretty average on the corners but it will do. In hindsight I regret purchasing the rubbers from the UK Cortina Club. I assumed that they would be high quality coming from the Home of the Mk1 Cortina but our local product appears superior in most options.

With the back window in I have been getting to work on the interior. It’s slow and fiddly. The rear parcel shelf has been installed and a new divider piece. I had to mask up and spray a number of small areas in satin black as well. I put my centre console back together as well. All the aluminium pieces have been polished, the console powder coated and I covered it in sound deadener before it was reupholstered by Brent Parker. It looks a million bucks. I put the brackets back in the car and test fit it all and everything looks first rate.

All new door rubbers were fit. This is the second go I had at the door rubbers as the first one I tried from the UK Cortina Club was a terrible fit. I purchased a set from Doug at the Rubbershop next which fit perfectly. These have nice mitred corners. I fit them using 3M Weatherstrip adhesive which seemed to work well.

Inside I’ve fit the glove box and radio blanking plate.

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Trim Fitting

Unfortunately NSW went into Covid Lockdown again at the end of June, which meant I was stood doiwn from work again. The good news is that I’ve been able to spend a bit of time on the Cortina. We’re now down to the last stuff, lots of fiddly bits with an hour here and there adding up to a lot of time. I have finished fitting up all of the side trim. Lots of holes to drill and lots of little nuts to do up with my arm wedged up inside a door frame. The result though is spectacular and the trims are laser straight and all fit snug against the car. Best of all, if I ever need to take them off it’s relatively easy. I also fit up all of the window moulds and gutter trims. These were not so easy and unfortunately I got quite a few little dents in what were perfectly straight polished trims. Very frustrating but they fit tight, there was little I could do and they are very fragile. I also finished installing the last two side windows. The passenger window is very tight in the new rubbers. Hopefully it will settle a bit and start to go up and down a bit easier. The vent windows also need to be carefully opened and closed in the new rubbers otherwise they go metal on metal.

I managed to source a perfect front bumper that had been chromed years ago and then put in storage. It’s a perfect fit. I have new stainless bumpers but I think I will sell these as the originals are so much nicer. The rear bumper still needs a bit of work on one side. I sourced new rear bumper irons but my old ones are still better and I have manipulated them to get a nice tight fit to the car.

The rear vents have also been installed. I had dismantled these and had the outside re-chromed. The inside was blasted and painted in a colour that closely resembled the unfinished original look. From factory they were held together by locating lugs that were peened over on top. As these had been ground back, to put them back together I used epoxy over the top of the lugs. They were a tight fit anyway so this should hold nicely. One of the downsides of getting things re chromed is that the threads in the die cast items can get damaged. After my troubles with door handles I checked everything thoroughly this time and helicoiled a number of threads before using new bolts. I made up a new gasket to fit them up but in the end I decided to use some window gasket material that I had to provide a nice watertight seal.

I have also fit up the GT badges and Ford badge. Because the lower section of my front guard had been replaced I had to drill new holes to fit the Ford badge. Another friendly Cortina owner provided the original measurements and after checking against my photos the holes were drilled and it fit. I used starlock nuts to hold them on but I might also add a small dab of silicon.

I fit up some reproduction GT badges for the back. These will do for now but I have a stack of original badges that I am just playing with to work out the best way to refurbish them. When I have that sorted I will re chrome two originals as they are much much nicer.

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Bits and Pieces

It’s been a few months since my last update and I’ve now got the car back home and it’s going back together. It’s been slow progress as I’ve also been working on a pretty big landscaping project at home. I’ve fit up the glass to two doors. Unfortunately I had some issues with the other two and had to painstakingly remove my new glass from the runners on two windows. I also fit the door rubbers to one door only to find that they were complete rubbish so I’ve had to source some better fitting rubbers but have yet to fit these up. After fitting the gearbox the first time round we realised that I had no clutch. After speaking with the engine builder it was determined that they had supplied the wrong throw our bearing and that because I was using essentially an escort clutch I required a different bearing and bearing carrier. So it was out with the gearbox, carefully measure everything, fit up the bearing and hope for the best. The good news is that I now have a clutch. It was a prick of a job because everything is freshly painted so it took way more time than normal. All the electrical has been completed and lights fit up. I also spent a bit of time fiddling with bumpers. Unfortunately the new rear stainless bumper is a terrible fit so I sourced a pretty good original bumper and it has been sent off for rechroming. My painter and I came to the conclusion that fitting the stainless trim up using the tucker rivets was a terrible idea and we would never get a god fit. We looked at other period cars and I worked out that a system used on a lot of cars with a bracket sliding into the trim with a threaded end would be better and would allow me to adjust the trim for a snug fit. I sourced and ordered 100 Holden trim clips and spent many hours on the bench grinder trimming them down to fit. A quick coat of black and a test fit confirmed that the system works perfectly. Anyway, I should be getting back into the car again shortly and plan on getting all the glass in and door rubbers on so that I can get the car sealed up so that the interior can go back in.

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Off to the trimmers

So we’re off on what is hopefully one of the last few trips on the back of Glen’s tilt tray to Brent Parker to have the roof lining installed. It was also the first time I’ve seen the painted car out in the sun and the colour is spectacular. Not long now until it’s back home for good and I can get onto final assembly.

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Doors and Locks

The doors have now been painted and put back on the car. All the hinges were sandblasted and painted first. Two of the check straps were fractured and one was completely broken so four reproductions have been ordered from the Cortina Club. The door strikers and lock mechanisms were installed today. I spent a bit of time cleaning and polishing up the strikers a while ago and other parts were plated. The only part I didn’t touch was the inner mechanism so it was just given a clean. All the doors close nicely and will be re-adjusted when the rubbers go on.

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