Sunday, 28 August 2022

Sunday 28th August. Not another Cortina!

 Since buying the Green Cortina, I still hadn't been able to get the thought of a two-door model out of my mind. I had been keeping my eyes open on ebay and other websites and had even won one in a private auction, but hadn't met the reserve. (Plus it was in Southern Ireland and transport was a problem)

There are some good cars out there, but there are also some stupid prices out there as well. I can't justify spending anywhere near £20k and more like most people are asking, so I had to bide my time waiting for a car to come up at the right price. So, luckily for me one did, and also luckily for me I was the only bidder when the auction finished on Thursday night. Contact was made with the seller and I arranged to collect the car on the Sunday

Good friend Richard was down from Gloucestershire over the weekend and agreed to give me a lift to the sellers house on his way home on the Sunday. The car was as good as I'd hoped it was be, so the transaction was completed and I set out for home. I really enjoyed the drive back (apart from the 30 minute delay at the Dartford Crossing) and the car drives well and sounds great. (Especially in the Dartford Tunnel!) 

My dream car has always been a Mk1 Lotus Cortina, but the prices have always been about twenty grand in front of whatever I've had in the bank, so I've never been able to have one. This car is probably the closest I'll ever get to a Lotus Cortina. It's a two door and it's also got a Twin Cam engine like the Lotus Cortina has. It has a 2 litre Zetec engine fitted with electronic fuel injection, so it's bloody quick as well. A standard Zetec pushes out 142 Bhp and with the electronic fuel injection as well, it probably produces well over twice as much than a standard 1500cc Cortina engine does. There are a few small jobs that I need to do on it, but nothing major. What I do need to do now, is sell some of the others. I really haven't got the space for this many cars!

Saturday 27th August - Preparation work continues - But not on my car.

 Fellow Team Spotlight members Dave Harvey and Richard Warr were in town this weekend so that we could do some prep work on Richards car. Dave arrived on Thursday afternoon with Richard following on the Friday. Needless to say beer was involved although not too much as we had work to do. 

The first job on Saturday morning was to remove the trailing arms and driveshafts from the car so that Richard could fit his newly acquired 15 x 7 genuine minilite wheels. The offset on these meant that these wheels wouldn't fit on the standard Mk2 rear axle set up, so it was being changed to the Mk1 set up instead. Whilst I was doing this, Dave Harvey re-tuned the carburrettors as we had both noticed that Richards car wasn't quite running on song when it arrived. 

While Dave was doing his tuning, he also noticed that both engine mounts were completely broken and that the engine had moved about three inches to the left and dropped onto the steering rack as well. Not good!

I got the trailing arms and drive shafts finished off,  then after a cup of tea, we jacked up the front of the car and worked at replacing the engine mounts. This was quite hard work and at one stage I thought we were going to have to take the bonnet off and set my engine crane up to support the engine. Luckily though, after about two hours of sweating, manoeuvring, levering and swearing, we managed to move the engine back over and fit some decent replacement engine mounts. This was a totally unplanned job that had used up a lot of time, but was totally necessary. Especially with the car venturing around Europe in a weeks time.

Richard was more than pleased with the repairs and also with how the car looks on its new wheels. We had a quick photo session before ordering a Chinese takeaway and then visiting the pub to celebrate. 

Sunday, 21 August 2022

Sunday 21st August - Battlesbridge Breakfast meet

 After another long day in the garage yesterday, I decided to chill out a bit today and not do much at all. A classic car breakfast meet was on at Battlesbridge Antiques Centre, so I headed down there in the green Cortina. It's only a short journey to Battlesbridge, but it was a short but pleasant drive and the Cortina ran well.

Once there I met up with Triumph friends Peter, Carl and Gavin and also met Keith, a member of the Cortina Mk1 Owners club and who also owns a beautiful Lotus Cortina. It's one of a batch of only eight Lotus Cortina's that was sold to the West Sussex Police Force. Amazingly, five of this batch still survive. Keith's car even still has the Police radio, speaker and two-tones fitted. He also has the 'Police' roof box complete with blue light in the boot as well. 

After a few cups of coffee and a good chinwag, I made tracks around 12pm as I wanted to catch my local car shop before they shut. Once home, I changed into my overalls and carried on where I left off yesterday on the Triumph. With the gearbox oil topped up and the new oil filter fitted the engine was topped up with new oil and a new fan belt fitted as well. I then refitted the wheels and moved the car out of the garage. I'm going to take it to work tomorrow to give it a test drive and make sure everything is as it should be. 


With all of the chattering going at Battlesbridge, I had forgotten to take a pic of my Cortina with its newly painted front grille. So I had to make do with parking it in the road opposite and taking one there. I still think it looks really good. 

Saturday, 20 August 2022

Saturday 20th August - Preparation work continues.

Todays plan was to check over the Triumph as much as possible as time is now moving on. The car was jacked up front and back and all wheels removed. I started with the front hubs, brake pads and front suspension. All bolts were checked for tightness and all grease nipples were greased. 

With this done the differential was checked for oil levels and so was the gearbox. The propshaft was also greased and the exhaust was checked over. I then removed the brake drums so that I could replace the brake adjusters. These were still working but not as good as they should, so brand new ones were fitted. I then drained the engine oil and removed the oil filter in readiness for an oil and filter change when I get the parts. 

After a break for some lunch and to watch the mighty Spurs on the tele, I then painted the front grille on the Mk1 Cortina. The early Lotus Cortina's had black inserts on the front grilles and I thought this would look good on mine with it being the dark colour it is. I think it came out quite well. 

I'd also picked up an original steering wheel on Monday for it and had spent the week rubbing it down and preparing it. The past two days have been good weather wise with no dampness in the air, so I've spent a few days spraying it. I have to say this came out pretty good as well, but it still needs to be lacquered to give it a bit of protection.


Thursday 18th August. Additional Vacuum Tank

I had an early start in the garage this morning, so I started off doing a job that was reasonably quiet. When I drove this car home from Colin's I thought it was a bit 'tappety', so I had made a mental note to check the valve clearances. I'm glad I did because a few of them were looser than they should be. Adjustments were made and the engine should be a tad quieter now.

Once I've taken this car round Europe, it's also being converted to injection at some point after the event. Now, Mk1 Pi's have a huge remote brake servo on the passenger side, but Mk2 Pi's have a smaller direct servo on the driver side and a smaller vacuum tank on the passenger side to boost the braking efficiency. 

My car has the smaller direct servo, so it made sense to fit the additional vacuum tank. With all the mountain passes we are going to be tackling on the 10CR, it made even more sense to fit it before we leave for Europe! 

The tank already has a bracket attached to it that will fit onto the existing radiator mounts, so that bit was straight forward. The problem was that that space was already taken up by the radiator expansion bottle. The easy answer was to reduce the size of the expansion bottle that could fit in that gap I had left after fitting the tank. The ideal solution came in the form of a plastic drinking chocolate jar that had been sitting in one of my cupboards since the winter. Job jobbed! 

The next job was to relocate the horn that had now been evicted from its home by the vacuum tank. When I have a bit  more time, I will relocate this properly in the recess of the nose cone, but for now I have just made a metal bracket and extended the mount. All in all, a good mornig's work and another couple of jobs off the list! 

Wednesday 17th August - 10CR Preparations finally start

The good thing about my job having a 12pm start is that I can get a few hours in in the garage before I leave for work. Today was no exception and I made a start on preparing the Triumph for the impending 10 Countries in 5 days rally with Club Triumph. 

I will be running with good friend Richard Warr who's in my old Mk2 Triumph, Rusty Custard and in order to be able stay in touch with each other whilst on the move we have opted to operate CB radios. We have tried various walky-talkies in the past, but frankly they are....shit!

We had used CB's previously on the RBRR and had some good success with them, so it makes sense to run with them again. I mounted by CB just below my rally trip meter so it's out of the way and then mounted the extension speaker in the centre of the car with the microphone holder fixed to the side of it for easy reach. 

The aerial has been placed on the boot lid, but with enough free coax cable to be moved onto the roof if required. Another job off the list and a good mornings work. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Tuesday 16th August. Front suspension alterations - again!

 My visits to Gaz shocks and Burton Power Products on Monday to try and buy new springs for the green Cortina turned out to be quite unsuccessful. They can order new springs but both have a one month lead time. (Apparently Mk1 Cortina's have their own specific spring diameter and other springs from Escorts and Cortina's don't fit-which is not what the 'experts' on facebook were saying!) There are other options available, such as converting to adjustable coil overs, but they need your original struts to do that and I cant have my car off the road for any long periods at present.

So, my only option at the moment was to re-fit the cut down springs that I had taken out on Saturday! It's not an ideal solution, but they aren't dangerous or illegal, so they will just have to do for now. With my previous recent knowledge of doing this job, this time it took me just over an hour to do both sides. I then took the car for a quick spin around the block and it was looking much better without the horrendously high front suspension. 

It was a nice day with no sign of rain, so I decided to to take the car to work where I could park it in the warehouse on a dead flat floor. (Hardly any roads round my way are on the flat) The car drives really well on the different rear springs with no banging and clanking like I was getting before. It goes reasonably well too and has no issues keeping up with modern day traffic. In fact, now that I've got through most of the bodges, it's very nearly where I want it to be and is turning into a really good car. (A small exhaust issue is the next on the agenda) 

Parking it the warehouse showed that it isn't quite level. It either needs to come down an inch at the back or lift up an inch at the front. For the time being though, it'll do until I decide what I'm going to do about the situation with the front springs. I'll probably go down the coil over route, but not just yet. I've got an impending week long trip around Europe coming up in the Triumph and I haven't even started the prep work on that yet! 

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Saturday 13th August. A mammoth garage session!

 My Saturday morning in the garage started very early with me being out there about 6.30am. I had woken up at 5.20am (That seems to be my new waking up time in this heat!) and had a couple of cups of coffee before venturing out to start work on the green Cortina. Luckily my neighbours are early risers, but I started off doing jobs that weren't making much noise anyway.

My first job was to replace all of the bell housing bolts and replace them with ones of the correct length instead of the mish mash of oddities that were currently fitted.  The next job after this was to replace the interior mirror. The car does have one but is very loose and moves out place whenever you hit a bump in the road. With this done I then removed the steering wheel so I could get to the column shroud. I'd never been happy with the steering wheel on the car as someone had bodged a Steering wheel boss to make the Motolita steering wheel fit it. Although it never felt loose, or dangerous it was just something I couldn't live with once I'd seen it. 

This steering wheel was also flat as opposed to the dish type. Due to it being flat someone had moved the column shroud closer to the dashboard. To do this they had had to fit additional brackets onto the steering column, but instead of welding these brackets on, they had siliconed them on. (See below)
It's amazing the amount of bodges I keep finding with this car! With the incorrect brackets removed, I then re-attached the column shroud to the correct brackets and fitted the Mountey steering wheel that was on the estate. All was now looking good and as it should be. At least I'm safe in the knowledge now that this steering wheel has a proper boss that hasn't been bodged or messed about with and wont fall apart while I'm driving. 
The next item on the agenda was to relocate the ignition coil. It was under the battery tray which to be honest, is where it should be. However, the battery for this car is in the boot, so I moved the coil on top of the battery tray where it's away from puddle splashes and is easy access should I need to get to it. 

I then paused for a spot of breakfast before starting the next job which was going to be a massive task. I'm always weary of cars that have been lowered. Most people do the job properly, some people don't. Whoever lowered this car didn't, which isn't really a surprise considering all the other shortcuts and bodges I've found. 
Removing the front springs was straight forward as so much height had been cut off of them I didn't even need to use spring compressors! 
However, getting the replacements back in was a nightmare. For some reason I just couldn't seem to get them seated enough to get the insert to come through the strut top. Luckily, around 3pm Dave Maton arrived and within an hour we had managed to to sort out what was causing the issue. We then decided to do the other side and got that done in about 20 minutes!
With the front springs done we then turned our attention to the rears. This was a bit more involved as new bushes had to be fitted to the springs being fitted and removal of the old bushes proved to be a challenge to say the least!
We persevered though and despite stopping to scoff a Chinese takeaway that I had had delivered, we were all done by 8.30pm!
It had been a mammoth day for me and I dread to think how many gallon of water I had sweated out! Poor old Dave had the bad luck of a road closure on the M25 and didn't get home until gone half past ten!  

So, with the new springs fitted I took the car for a test drive on Sunday morning to see if the springs would settle. I must admit, when we let the front of the car down off the jack on Saturday afternoon I wasn't happy with how high the new springs were sitting. Dave had suggested that they would go lower once driven, but I had my doubts. They would needed need to drop by about 3 inches to be right and I've never known coil springs drop that much. 
Sure enough, the test drive showed that the front springs wasn't as advertised and are indeed way too high for the car. From the side view it looks like it's about to launch into orbit! The rear springs are ok, I'm happy with them, but the fronts are rubbish. 

Its also changed the way the car drives and handles. Frankly, It's awful. So Monday morning will involve a trip to Gaz shocks at Basildon and Burton Power products to discuss and hopefully buy, the correct springs. 


Friday, 12 August 2022

Friday 12th August - Gertie2 returns!

 With the 10 Countries Rally getting closer every day, I needed to retrieve Gertie2 from her storage place close to the Suffolk border and start doing some preparation work. I also don't have much room at present to store too many cars at my place, so my Cortina estate was sacrificed in the exchange. 

I had also finally got my Cortina estate steering wheel back from the painters, so this was fitted on the car Thursday night ready for the early morning drive on Friday. I have to say it looks so much better than the Mountey wheel that was on there when I bought it and it just completes the car. I'm very pleased with it.

After a beautiful drive up the A12 in glorious sunshine, I arrived at Colin Wake's place where the car was stored and after playing musical cars so we could park the estate and dig out Gertie2, we went for breakfast. 

Colin couldn't hang around too long as he needed to be somewhere else, so I left and took a slow drive to work. Due to the incredible heat, I parked the car in the warehouse away from the blistering sun. 

There isn't really a lot to do in the way of preparation, so a few mornings next week before work should see most of it done. 

Monday, 8 August 2022

Sunday 7th August. Cortina Mk1 Owners Club National Day

 Saturday afternoon saw me loading up the Cortina estate with tools and spares ready for the long drive up to Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire. However, by Saturday evening, I had changed my mind and swapped everything over into the Cortina saloon instead. The saloon has a five speed gearbox, plus a 1600 GT engine, so would be more suited to the six hours or so of motorway driving. I didn't feel that the constant hammering of the estates 1500 engine and four speed gearbox would do the car any good.  

So, Sunday morning I was awake at 5.20am and after a few cups of coffee, set out on my three hour, 150 mile journey. Filling the car with petrol was only £33 (small tanks on these cars) and the journey began in bright sunshine. I was making good time, but then the overhead gantry signs on the M40 were stating that the A46 was closed at junction 15. Bugger! This was the way I was planning to go. So instead, I turned off at Gaydon at Junction 12 and picked up a couple of lovely B roads before heading north on the A422 to Stratford. 

I arrived at Stratford Racecourse at 9am and was parked in the designated area for the 1500 De Luxe models. (Which is what my car is). Coffee was the next thing on the agenda and I enjoyed drinking it in the sunshine whilst watching other cars arrive. 

More and more cars were arriving and the club had also invited the Anglia 105E club and also the Cortina Mk2 Owners Club, so there was plenty to look at. 

There were also traders selling parts, plus club members had brought bits and pieces along to sell as well. It was a fantastic day and was very well organised. The quality of some of the cars was outstanding and some of the engineering that had gone into the modified cars was very clever indeed. I also met some great people and also got some very good technical advice for queries I had with my car. 

Around 2.15pm I was feeling quite jaded and very hot, so decided to make tracks home. I still had a three hour drive in front of me. (and that's only if the dreaded M25 was clear) Luckily, the motorways weren't too bad and I arrived home around 5.15pm. It had been a great day and my car hadn't missed a beat. It's got the makings of a good long distance cruiser similar to my Triumph, so I'm really pleased with that. I've still got a few 'previous owner' bodges to work through yet though, so work will continue. For now though, I'm pleased with how she runs and drives. The final car count of Mark 1 Cortina's in attendance was 83. A fantastic turn out.

Saturday, 6 August 2022

Friday 5th August. More bodges discovered!

 After the recent seat modification, I decided to take the car to work on Thursday to test my new driving position. This in itself was fine and I'm happy with the results. However, a nice drive in the sunshine was ruined by the constant banging from the nearside rear. To be fair, it had always been there since I bought the car, but now it was getting progressively worse. 

Once home from work I put the car in the garage and got it up on axle stands with the rear wheels removed ready for inspection Friday morning. On removal of the shock absorbers I discovered that someone had fitted an extra dished washer above the rubber that goes through the shock absorber mount. So therefore instead of the rubber bush making direct contact with the mount and thereby being cushioned, the dished washer was making contact with the metal mount and no cushioning was taking place. Hence the metal banging sound whenever the suspension travelled up and down. 

So with the extra dished washers discarded and the bottom shock absorber bolts fully de-rusted and coated in copper slip the shocks were refitted and the car was bounced up and down as a test. Excellent! I had now had no banging noise, but a test drive would have to be the real test. 

Whilst under the car, I also had another look at the exhaust. Despite fitting an extra bracket on the rear a few weeks back, I could still hear it knocking slightly when the car was on tick over. I could also see marks on the exhaust and the back axle casing where the two were coming together. Being a bit short on time I made up a temporary bracket just in front of the back axle to stop sideways movement of the exhaust and hope that would cure my irritating exhaust knock. 

So, after all my exertions, I took the car the work for another test drive. Wow! What a difference! It was like driving a different car. I was very pleased with my mornings work and also pleased that the car is now getting where I want it to be after the magnitude of bodgery that I have come across so far. 

I must be starting to like it, I even polished it while I was at work! 

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Saturday 30th July - Work continues

 With no plans for this Saturday at all I committed some time to progressing with the Green Cortina. I had already re-fitted the gearbox on Thursday morning before work, so Saturday morning was just spent re-fitting the propshaft, starter motor, gear lever etc. 

With all that done I decided to re-visit the seat mountings. I've been happy with the seats, but I've always felt too low down while driving and I feel like I'm sitting on the floor. So, on Wednesday I had been down to the small order metal company in Great Wakering and bought some 1 & 1/4 inch box section to fit between the seat runners and the floor pan. 

Fitting these wasn't quite as straight forward as I thought it was going to be though and a bit of fabrication and  welding was required. By late afternoon I had achieved what I wanted to though and my revised and higher seat mountings were complete. All I have to do now is repeat the process on the passenger side, but that can wait for the time being. (I never sit in the passenger side, so I'm not too fussed about that one)

I was happy with my results, although I haven't test driven the car yet as I've a nearside front wheel bearing to attend to. Plus, I had to pack up at 4pm and get showered as I was going to Rochford to purchase a set of wheel trims for my Cortina estate. (I had lost one driving home a few weeks back)  By the time I did that it was close on 5pm, so I decided to have the rest of the day off and go to the pub!