Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:36 am Post subject: 1948 Alvis TA-14 DHC
I'm copying my story from another forum. I hope you haven't all read it before!!
My girlfriend's step-father gave me this car in this condition in 2005.
He had done an amount of work on it when he bought it in the mid 80s. some of the ash frame had been replaced and all the old paint had been stripped off and the aluminium protected with primer.
Nothing had been done with anything else though. the car had been laid up in about 1986 by him, but not been used regularly ince 1965. Apparently it was running before it was parked up.
I started by stripping it bare down to the chassis.
There was a small amount of obvious cutting and welding to be done towards the rear off side
The next idea was to get it dipped and coated by Surface Processing in Dudley. That way, the internal sections of chassis would be as clean and protected as teh external. The old Mondeo was elected as transport for both round trips Dundee to Dudley and performed admirably!
The coating people damaged two of the outriggers. It looked like they used them to lift the chassis with. both were bent significantly. a small discount was offered, but I'd rather have got it back in the same condition I had left it off!!!
Once I got it back in the garage, the stripping had revealed a couple of thin areas that needed patching.
Once I'd patched up the holes that showed up during the stripping process, I got on with painting the bare chassis. The coating from the surface processing guys is impressive, pretty hard stuff and very well stuck! Electrophoeretic coating they call it. Paint is attracted to the metal by electricity in a similar way to chrome plating. It was not my choice of colours though, nor particularly traditional! So, I painted it all black.
A guy on Ebay was making stainless box fuel tanks for kit cars etc. my tank was rotten, and WAY to expensive to get a replacement from Red Triangle, the guys that supply "new" parts for Alvis cars. I asked if he could do roundy tanks, and he said he'd give it a go. He did a great job and made it perfectly to my (incorrect) drawing. Once I realised my mistake, he took it back and adjusted it for me!
I spent an awful lot of time cleaning and painting components. It's a mechanically simple car, but the brakes are operated by mechanical rods which adds significantly to the list of bits to clean and paint. I found the rust removers from Bilt Hamber to be fantastic! everything I took off was scrubbed, de-rusted and painted. They have gradually been stuck back onto the chassis.
Axles were next. The most expensive thing so far was the king pins in the front axle. I had to give it to a guy to do because I don't have a press. It turned out to be a good thing to do because he found that each side of the axle was a different size. He had to machine one of the pins to fit. Anyhow. all done now and shiny looking!
Rear axle was another mission. I took it on myself to re-align the crown-wheel and pinion. This was necessary because the pinion bearing was shot and the pinion was flopping around in the housing which had destroyed the oil seal. So, re-alignment took me weeks! The adjustment is made by adding and removing shims on the pinion shaft which meant pressing the bearing out to make each adjustment. To say my methods were Heath Robinson would be an understatement. Home-made pullers and a big hammer! Much swearing, sweating and disbelief that one little shim was going to make much difference later, all looked good and it was stuck back together. I had both axles shot blasted and plasticoated as they were too big for my Bilt Hamber baths! Time will tell if it's any good!
The 'Blue' marking ink is an appropriate colour considering the profanities directed at this piece of equipment!
Axles back on, and back on 4 wheels, wohoo!! (the original tyres and tubes are still holding air, if only for a few weeks!)
Some info on the car.
Alvis made the TA-14 as their first production car after the factory returned to normal business after the war. This means that is is made from whatever stuff they could lay their hands on from pre-war production and really a little out-of-date in the technology department for 1947 when the first models were sold. Rod actuated drum brakes all round. Cast iron cylinder head push-rod engine, seperate ladder style chassis, Marles worm gear steering box, Armstrong shocks and leaf springs on all four corners. Plywood floor just doesn't seem right!
On the plus side, this makes it easy to work on. They made about 3,000 of them. 2,000 were bodied by Mulliners and Carbody coachbuilders. The remaining 1,000 were sold as a bare chassis. They ran and could be driven. I think they came with front wings, bonnet and radiator grill. Not sure about the dash-board, but instruments seem to be the same for all of them!
Mine was bodied by a company called Benson's in Birmingham. An ash frame with aluminium panels. This has meant that the body (at least the metal part) is not rotten! The steel front wings are bad though and extensive work is required there.
I have a fairly good service history from the second owner in 1959, at 90,000 miles, but nothing before that.
I'm approaching the end of the work I can do cheaply myself and am almost at the stage of having to stop due to lack of funds! There are 3 major jobs that I don't dare do myself for fear of ruining all the good work so far: chrome, body painting and hood manudacture. I guess I'll just have to save up!
A boot full of bits that were too big to fit in the plastic window-box I used as a de-rusting bath. I took all of this to be blasted. Some of it was plasticoated, the rest just primed and I painted it.
This is some of the brake mechanism all cleaned up and reassembled. The pedal is behind the chassis member, the rod on the left activates the front brakes, and thereís a rod that connects in from the right that works the back ones.
Front axle brake rod arrangement.
Engine and gearbox on the floor. I cleaned the crud off the gearbox, but the engine was very awkward to move around, so I decided to clean that up once it was mounted back in the car.
I havenít done anything mechanical to either engine or box. Everything Iíve read suggests that the gearboxes are pretty bullet proof (although there is slight play on the output shaft).
The water jacket on the engine was full of a terrible amount of muck. Hereís what it looked like when I took the end plate off.
And hereís a pic of some of the stuff that I shovelled out of it!
To finish cleaning it out, I used heat-shrink to fit a thin plastic pipe to the narrow hoover attachment. I let the block dry out and then sucked out the rest of the gunge having loosened it up with bits of wire and bottle brushes!
My service history says that it had new pistons 20K miles ago, so Iím just going to start it up and see how it is. I canít really afford to have it all stripped down and machined just now. Iíve cleaned out the sump and oil filter gauze as well as I could. Iíve also done my best to check that oil is travelling around as many internal oilways as possible.
I fitted a new clutch plate. I actually found it at my local motor factors from an old tractor catalogue. Whatís even stranger is that they had 2 on the shelves from the 80s! Fifteen quid for it seemed like a bargain when a spring-shackle bolt from Red Triangle cost me 25!
Engine and box re-united and about to be dropped onto lovely new rubber mounts.
I then wheeled it all outside so I could clean up the engine without destroying my garage floor any more than it already is!
Pulled off the head as compression was non-existant really
It looked like there wasn't much of a seal on the very small amount of 'land' betwen 1&2 and 3&4. At least that was what I was pinning my hopes on! I'm no engine expert, but otherwise, things didn't look too bad. It's definietely worn, a little lip at the top of the bores where the rings come to I guess. No nasty scoring on the bores though. Just a bit of carbon to be dealt with.
So, I set-to with the wire brush on the end of the drill and cleaned up the head. This was the worst cylinder with slight recession on the inlet port and pitting on the exhaust. This photo will probably be too small to see it!
Here's the head all cleaned up and ready for a lick of paint.
Valves re-ground and placed back in the head.
I painted the block and head seperately. Also got carried away once everything was shiny and stuck loads of bits back on without taking any step-by-step photos
Now, I posted a question in the Technical Help section on another forum about how to re-fit my head with a copper gasket. The consensus was that sealant should indeed be used and it should be red or blue "Hylomar" I think it was called.
Red was purchased. It sounded easy, a thin smear on head and block, gasket in and stick it all together. Well, It was a nightmare (or else I was way too particular about it!). The stuff seems to go semi-congealed after about 15 seconds. If you don't have it spread evenly by then, it doesn't spread right at all!
Anyhow, after about an hour per surface, I reckoned I had a relatively even coating and went for it, crossing everything that I'd done it right!
So, I tightened it all up and left it for a week. I work away from home, wo that was easy to do. I didn't want to spoil my chances by putting the red stuff under pressure before it had time to set or do whatever it does!
Came home, gave her a whirl on the crank handle and hey-presto, 100psi in all 4 cylinders! Phew!!
Then I was so excited, I stuck all the bits back on. Loads of photos here, no commentry required I think. Engine porn:
Because of the whole house moving thing, the Alvis budget has been completely aboloished for the time-being
This means I'm not even allowed to buy ignition leads and a battery to see if it runs!
Work at the moment revolves around making it as much like a box as possible so I can load it up with what my girlfriend affectionately refers to as "junk" that needs to come with me to Ireland some time in September.
Almost a year since I posted anything proper on this!! How time flies, eh! I have a job now, and am managing to squirrel away some (don't tell the missus how much) money for this project. So here's the update!
Prior to moving back from Scotland to Ireland, I assembled the car as much as made sense so I could transport it all in one piece and fill it up with bits at the same time!
I fitted the bulkhead, pretty straightforward, 8 bolts onto the chassis outriggers.
I also reunited the body tub with the chassis. It was a bit of a struggle on my own with only an engine crane for assistance, but finally fitted without any damage.
I reckon the chassis has been bent slightly upwards behind the rear axle (by up-rated springs and a lack of bump stops!) as the doors are about ĺ of an inch too low when I attach them. I hope to rectify this with an RSJ, a bottle jack and some strong straps. Yikes!
So, I trailored it to Ireland (note garage door under car for fitment on arrival) and it has sat in the garage without love until a few days ago. Iíve finally got enough jobs done around the place to allow myself some more Alvis time. I had a guy come and look at it with a view to painting it. His quote has motivated me to get the damn thing ready for him!!
I have now trial fitted the front wings (they are slightly different shapes as they are spares from two different cars), bonnet and radiator grill so that I can see what needs doing before itís all cleaned up and painted. Itís very encouraging to see the car like this!, I feel like I really might be getting closer to the finish line! Sorry for the poor photo, I took it with my phone.
Hello all, some bits of progress being made again at last!
I spent an obscene amount of money getting some of my brightwork re-done. There's more to do but I'm way to poor at the moment. Here's a before and after of the radiator cowl, I love it!!
I had one final structural piece of timber to fit across the rear of the body, behind the back bumper and under the boot. I made up a couple of brackets to attach it with, cleaned and painted them up.
I was waiting to fit this until I could get a couple of cracks in the aluminium welded up. I also needed to fit a plate over the hole someone had cut to fit a tow bar!
You can see the black timber which I made up sitting on the chassis rails in the photo below
So, I got one of those Duraweld kits which turned out to be relatively successful. The cracks were welded, the timber fitted and the chassis re-united with the body for what will hopefully be the last time!
Attention has now turned to painting. It's way too cold to do it without added heat, so I have decided I'll do whatever prep I can, beat out and fill the dents, prepare and prime everything. That way, when the weather gets a bit warmer, I won't have so much to do to get things ready for some colour! A few patches were welded into the wings, then I got stuck into stripping the doors back to bare metal as I figured these would be an easy way to start and pick up some skills before I move onto the complex curves!
Thatís it, much more stripping, filling and priming to follow, then hopefully when the weather warms up a little, I can decide on a colour and go for it! Thanks for reading!!
I've been a bit rubbish at photographing the stripping and painting process, but here's what I've got! I wanted to take everything back to bare metal just so that I'd know what's under the paint. So far, there have been no nasty suprises. The bonnet and front wings are made from steel, the remainder of the body from aluminium. The Alloy sections have some filler on them (not sure at what stage it was applied) and this is covered in a primer which has been on there for about 20 years.
My tactic with the alloy is to strip it using paint stripper. This is slow, but effective. I started with the boot door and number plate surround, but didn't remember photos. Then I did both doors.
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