Following the last installment I emailed my brother (Geoff) nicely and asked if he could come over to give me a helping hand removing the body. He did better than that, not only did he turn up but brought a collection of tools that would make any garage proud including the jewel of the crown, a 140psi air compressor with a multitude of air tools. There was I struggling away with spanner and my little socket set from Halfords when Geoff slapped on a 7/16 socket onto one of the air tools and said try that. I placed it on the bolt and after a quick noise that sounded rather like a robot passing wind the bolt was released. “Wow, this is fantastic” I said. I crawled under the jacked up car and Geoff sat inside the car calling out which bolts he was working on. A few windy robots later it was done, all the bolts holding the body on had been removed. As I stood up covered in bits of rust and lumps of dirt I warily peered into the engine bay. There was 4 bolts, two either side holding the body onto the chassis. As my fingers bent up double trying to blindly undo the bolts, Geoff faced a bigger task as on his side the wiper motor blocked his access. My side came off first so I crawled under the front of the car and sounding like Homer Simpson, suddenly shouted out, “DOH!”. Rather than struggle the bolts were easily accessible from underneath.
With all bolts removed the body was ready to be removed, Geoff stood at the back of the car with the rear door open as I placed my hands under the front of the car. I then said to him, “You do realise that most people I have spoken to say that it takes four people to remove this body” He strugged his shoulders and said, “That or two big Payne brothers”. After three we lifted with all our might and suddenly the body lost all cohesion with the chassis and broke away. I lifted and lifted and after about 3 feet nothing seemed to happen. The expression on my face suggested that perhaps two big Payne brothers wasn’t enough, but as Geoff lowered his end, he investigated and discovered that we had missed out one clip that was holding the hand brake cable in place. Resting the body I looked in the car and sure enough, right at the end of the gear tunnel way was a screw. We then unscrewed this and with another almighty effort the body was free at last and we placed it away from the chassis. I have to confess it took two of us to remove the body but I’m hoping for an extra pair of hands when we put it back on again.
With the body removed we could see the chassis and it looked fantastic. The side runners were in great condition and it looked totally sound. Before going any further we then set about the engine. After cleaning the plugs, cleaning the contact points and digging out a new coil we attached it all to a battery and the engine spun over a few times before the battery died. So pulling up my Rover, out came the jump start leads and we tried again. Suddenly petrol came spurting out of the petrol pipe, so with a repair job that wouldn’t pass an MOT I wrapped electrical tape around the fuel pipe and we tried again. The engine spluttered, then coughed, then burst into life at exactly 3:37pm March 6th. Geoff and I both burst into laughter but as I peered at the engine the carburetor blasted out a cloud of dirt splattering my face. I let go of the throttle lever and after putting on goggles we tried again. Instantly the car fired up and we kept it going for about a minute, they was no rattles, thumps or unevenness at all. It may be possible that the speedo is correct and that the car has only done 32,000 miles. As I fetched my camera Geoff revved it and the engine sang away quite happily. Better still the exhaust sounds intact as well so we should be able to clean that up and use it. As there was no water circulating round the engine we switched off and a small whisper of white smoke floated out of the exhaust and top of the engine. This, I hope, was just the engine drying itself out.
Content that we now have a good engine we proceeded to remove everything from the chassis. As the project has to live outdoors we have, for the moment, got to leave the wheels on it so that we can work on it easily. With the chassis bare we attacked it with a sand blaster which had a good affect but then Geoff tried a descaling tool on the compressor. This thing was seriously noisy and made your ears ring, but did a fantastic job of removing all old paint and rust. Better still it gave the chassis a pounding so you know if it didn’t go through that it was good metal. One really strange thing that we found was that every orifice of the chassis was packed with grease proof paper. It was everywhere, I’m not sure if the last owner did it prior to putting the car up or if Reliant did it themselves during the build. Whatever the case it had possibly saved a lot of dirt getting into it. With the chassis derusted it was then blasted with compressed air that removed any remaining particles and flakes left.
Whilst the chassis was upside down the descaling tool managed to find a lot of rot on the A frame and on the cross member right at the front of the chassis. It’s a shame. The rest of the chassis is perfect apart from this. Geoff however said that with his mig welder both the A frame and front of the chassis can easily be repaired. As the project is going to live outside we then decided to treat the whole chassis with Tetra Schults to stop it rusting. This we sprayed on but we left the front of the chassis until it has been welded. We will then treat that and in addition give the whole chassis an additional coat.
When this has dried we can then take off the rear wheels, springs and brakes etc and get those cleaned up. The rear shocks will need replacing as they are totally shot. The A frame will also need taking off and welding up. This will also need need bushes as will the front shock absorber.
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