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.
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.
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.
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.
Warwick painted the car body this week. Straight off the gun it looks spectacular. 3 coats of silver metallic grey and 4 coats of clear. Next step is to paint and hang the doors and arrange for the headlining to be installed so that I can fit up the front and rear glass.
I ordered a test wheel to check fitment before ordering all 4. I did this because when looking at my existing wheels it looked like a staggered offset from front to back would allow me to fit some bigger rubber at the back and fill out the guards better. The wheel I ordered was a Performance Superlite 15 inch x 7 inch wide. The test wheel was P14 offset and was fitted with a 195/50 Michelin Pilot Sport. When fit up the front looks perfect so I ordered another one the same. On the back that offset had about 10mm clearance to the guards and at least 20mm to the springs and inner guard. To better centre the back two wheels were ordered in P24. The second test was fitting up a 225/45 Hancock RS4. This wheel comes in both 195 and 225. I was a bit apprehensive about it fitting but it seemed to fit up well. It was a tight fit to the guard but still had plenty of clearance on the inside. My car is sprung pretty tightly in the rear so it shouldn’t rub (fingers crossed).
Lots of work over the last few months getting the mechanicals sorted. Dad and I put the engine and gearbox in. I fitted a new gear reduction starter and a new alternator designed to look like a generator. Both were sourced from Mike at Yesterford in Melbourne. I made up new braided fuel line complete with an inline fuel filter and fit the tank. Best of all the car fired up first go which is nice considering I had changed the polarity of the car and run new electronic ignition so it wasn’t exactly the same wiring as what it was when everything was pulled out. Finally the car was shipped off to Performance Exhaust at Northmead for a new stainless exhaust. The boys did an awesome job with quite a bit of fabrication required to make everything fit. The headers are Pacemakers and while they are made for Mk1 Cortina, they touched the alternator and cross member. To get some clearance required the #1 runner to be cut with a new section welded in. The car has now headed back to Warwick for final paint while I get the headers ceramic coated.
I finally got the wiring completed. Well it was about 6 weeks ago but have been a bit lax in updating the blog. The final component was fitting everything up and putting the battery in so that I could test all the connections. I had to fix up a few earths but once that was done I was really pleased that everything worked. Headlights are nice and bright running off the relays and all the new globe holders work as planned. I even managed to blow a couple of fusing when installing the interior light as the live wire is very close to the body. That was pleasing as without the fuse I would have had a smoke show. I had a couple of dodgy instrument globes so I ended up changing all of them. There are a couple of small things I would like to fix but overall very happy. I also installed most of the dash and rebuilt the eyeball vents. I had the centre piece re-chromed and the rest I pulled apart and repainted the centre and had Warwick repaint the fascia. I though riveting them back together but they went back surprisingly easy, you just need to trim the back of the rivets so that the eyeball doesn’t foul.
Been a couple of months since I posted but plenty has been happening since then. Coronavirus has meant my work has closed and so I’m temporarily out of a job until the pandemic has passed. Lots of time to work on the car which is good, but the lack of income means a couple of things might have to go on hold. I have completed the brakes and suspension as well as almost completing the wiring. I will post the wiring update in a separate blog.
With the suspension I had an issue with my track rods. The new tie rods did not move freely which would have meant a lot of issues trying to adjust the wheel alignment. After plenty of WD40 and a few hours trying to work them free I came to the conclusion that they needed to be re threaded. Lots of googling and a trip to United Fastners to determine the thread pattern and I was able to source the correct tap for left and right threads. After running the tap through everything moves smoothly and the track rods and drag link were fitted up. Next up was the rebuilt steering box. Warwick repaired and painted the firewall cover plate and everything was assembled. It was, of course, at this point that I realised that the steering tube had been assembled 90 degrees out of alignment. Fortunately it was a simple fix and I was able to unbolt the tube and clock it 90 degrees without pulling the box out. It did mean that the painted bolts will need a touch up.
The hubs were assembled with new bolts courtesy of United Fasteners and new locking tabs courtesy of Yesterford. The backing plates have been freshly powder coated and new wheel bearings fitted. New disks, brake lines and brake hoses and rebuilt callipers capped off the brakes. With a bit of help from my 16 year old the brakes were bled. Inside the car the refurbished hand brake mechanism was fitted with a new firewall grommet installed.
The pedals were installed. I had the accelerator pedal re anodised but they did a fairly average job and I ended up having to take it out to free up the movement.
Track rods needed to be re threaded
Drag link assembled
Freshly powder coated backing plates and new bolts
New bolts and locking tabs were used to fit up the brake disks. Everything was torqued to the specs in the Gregory’s manual
New brake lines into the existing fours way junction which was cleaned up
New brake lines and hoses
New brake lines were made up
The steering box installed
Springs were re-coated and hand brake mechanism re-furbished
With the wiring almost complete, I’ve started putting the car back together. First stop was to get some suspension back under it. All of my suspension pieces have previously been sandblasted and powder coated and the diff was sandblasted, rebuilt and given a fresh coat of 2 pack. Everything is being put back together with new bolts and new Superpro polyurethane bushes. Front springs are lowered King springs and the rear leafs have been reversed with an extra leaf added. They were also pulled apart, sandblasted and reassembled by Warwick. Shock absorbers are Spax adjustables with the fronts having a shorter throw so that the spring remains captive.
First step was to jack up the car and remove the front caster wheel setup. With the front on stands the cross member was installed with new bolts and new steering stop bolts inserted. The sway bar was mounted up and the control arms were fitted with new bushes and bolted into the cross member. This was a bit of an ordeal at first but a quick check with the helpful Cortina forum had me reassured that I was on the right track. The bush really distorts hard when they go in and I was sure it was going to tear first time around. Once you’ve got the knack of it, the next ones only take a couple of minutes. Some I pulled in with a bolt and washers and others I was able to press in with my wood vice. I was also sent the wrong bushes for the outside of the control arm which did cause a bit of confusion at first.
Next step was to bolt the rebuilt ball joints to the bottom of the struts. Then the springs were compressed and the struts bolted up to the car and attached to the control arm. The first side I compressed the shock by hand and then had my wife guide the ball joint in. Was a bit of an ordeal. For the second side I compressed the shock and then cable tied it to the compressed spring. Much easier and I was able to comfortably do it on my own. All bolts have been torqued up to factory specs but I won’t torque up the strut top bolts until I get it on the ground with some weight on it. I’ve gone for Suspension Concepts adjustable strut tops but have a set of originals as well if I ever want to go back to factory.
On the Aus Day public holiday Dad came over and we put the rear suspension in. We first had to get the dolly wheels and old GT springs out that had been put in to move the bodyshell around. We then re-bushed the rear springs and fitted them up. The diff was then installed and new U bolts fitted. The ones I purchased new were way to long and had to be cut down. I may have been sent ones suitable for a car with lowering blocks by mistake. For the front eye of the rear leafs the pin that came with the new Superpro bushes was too long and I had to cut about 5mm off to make them fit. With everything bolted up it was time to fit the GT tramp bars. This is where things got a little more interesting as each one was about 1mm short of fitting comfortably. After much pulling and pushing we eventually got them bolted up. I couldn’t find any suitable new bolts for where these mount to the diff so the original bolts were fitted up. I will find some suitable new lock nuts and replace those but the original bolts actually feel superior to new bolts. I will just paint the heads on them. Final step was fitting up the rear shock absorbers. All in all everything went back together really well so far and only a few pretty small marks to touch up which is a bonus.
Cross member installed
Underside of cross member
Sway bar mounts. New washers are quite soft and it’s hard to stop them spinning when torqueing up the bolts. I might make up some of my own
This is how I installed some of the bushes. You need to really distort them hard. This one is about 30% compressed and you need to quite a bit more before they practically fold in half and pop through.
Bushes installed in freshly powder coated control arms
Ball joints have been rebuilt. The new ball joints use nyloc nuts rather than castellated nuts with a split pin. I think I would prefer the split pin.
Front strut fit up with new King springs. I’m still not sure that I shouldn’t have changed the colour of the springs to black.
Adjustable strut tops. I didn’t like the big washers so have changed them to something smaller since I took this photo.
Stub axle ready to be fit with new hubs and brakes
Rear spring hangers with new bushes. I was very liberal with the grease. Bottom of the car is also a bit dusty.
Rear shocks in place.
Diff in place
U Bolts had to be shortened but I may take a bit more off.
In this pic you can see the extra leaf in the rear spring.