HE Chassis Here I offer my first piece of advice based on my first mistake: photograph everything, good or bad, and measure whatever is measurable before you begin to dismantle. Measure the width of the mudguards, the width of the dashboard, the length of the bonnet, the door-opening. Measure the position of holes, the angle of brackets, clearances from mudguards to shackles. If in doubt, photograph it from another angle, and measure it again. I didn't do enough of this, and it is still sometimes a problem. You can always take a rule to club meets and measure outside dimensions, but even the most enthusiastic owner won't let you take the skin off his pride and joy. THROW NOTHING AWAY, no matter how rusty or rotten. I am still surprised how often I want to find the exact location of a hole, or how bits were fixed, even on the wrecked left-over bits.
When the chassis is fully stripped, examine it carefully and decide what work needs to be done, and how to do it.
Mine had some distortion and major damage to the front dumb-irons (due to the buses?), and some rust due to the leaves. I thought this was beyond my abilities, and I looked for a chassis specialist to straighten and repair the damage, including new front dumb-irons. Nowadays I think I would probably have attempted it myself, although given the risk of tempering the steel or distorting it while repairing the rust, discretion might still have prevailed.
Choose your specialist carefully, and explain exactly what you want done. Tell him you'll want to see it after repairing and before painting, and ask to measure the diagonals before he goes on to the next step. If he won't accept that, find another specialist.
In my case, the rust was repaired well: the damaged bits were cut or ground out, and new sections welded in and ground smooth and flat. I had the chassis painted in two-pack enamel: I would have had it done in powder coat, but for the difficulty of finding a big enough oven to bake it in. I brought it home to my nearly-new garage, and proudly showed it to Margaret. She took one look, and announced "Its still twisted". It was, too, though barely discernible to my eye, even when she pointed it out. I took it into tech and checked it with their laser aligner: it was right at the limits of tolerance, as specified in the Manual. For this reason the chassis-man wouldn't take it back, although I think if I hadn't taken it away he would have had another go. This caused huge difficulties later in refitting the body. I found later that the holes in the dumb-irons for the radiator cross-member were also made in the wrong place. Very disappointing, especially considering that the chassis repair is still the single most expensive item in the restoration! Moral: don't talk to strangers unless your wife is there to look after you!
The engine comes out for the first time in about twenty years, and is destined to stay out a lot longer. The rebuilt chassis, straight off the trailer. The space around the car is beginning to fill up: there's a lot more to come.
One of the obscure facts I've recently learnt is that the definitive chassis number is stamped on the outside of the dumbirons at the front of the chassis, on the lefthand side beside the steering rack, where it's usually obscured (or partly obscured) by the mudguard. The chassis plate on the bulkhead is not the definitive mark, but just a copy for convenience. In my case the definitive stamp is either fully obscured, or filled in with paint, or was stamped on one of the bits of chassis that were ground out and replaced, because I can't find it. If I ever have to take the mudguard off, I'll try to remember to look for it, but I'm not optimistic (without wanting to tempt the gods, I think that absent a good reason such as major panel beating, I'm unlikely to take the left hand mudguard off, because the engine steady rod goes on the right side of the engine, for which reason I've already R&Rd the right hand mudguard).
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