Monthly Archives: May 2006

Santa Pod – not quite a wash out!

It rained.

All day.

We still went to Santa Pod.

We still had a few runs.

We still drank a few beers.

We still had a barbeque.

We still had a damned fine time!

The great thing about Santa Pod dragsters is, the more glitzy the paint, the more shiney the chrome, the more splutteringly loud the engine, the bigger the wheels….. the more likely to blow up at the start line!!!

Three Astons turned up – but only two raced, CQ’s DBSV8 and Astonchaps’s DB7. Yet despite 30 years difference in age, only 0.4 of a second seperated them.


CQ, Rick & Astonchap

After the racing it was back to the farm for a BBQ where we had great fun burning Malcolm’s furniture…

Burning Malcom's chattels.

And my old friend Graham got cracking with the cooking…

Terris - dressed to impress

And we all had a jolly time drinking beer and wine and high octane drag racing fuel…

Don't ask me, I didn't invite them!

Thanks Malcolm for a great weekend – and I promise never to hit ROJ with a hammer before 6:30am ever again!!!

Aston Martin Parts

Previously when I’ve tried to order Aston parts from an Aston dealer they’ve asked me to call Mark Hewitt from AML Heritage to confirm the part numbers so they could order the bits for me.

I decided I was being lazy so borrowed Nigel’s parts book and looked up a number for myself. But the number had changed so the dealer was confused.

I phoned Heritage, but instead of an ever helpful Mark I had an answer phone message suggesting I contact a dealer. I could see an endless loop here.

I ordered the new fuel pipe from Puddleduck.

The entire car seems to be built around that fuel pipe, so progress should continue quickly once the pipe is installed. Even more progress if I could bolt in the wheelarch liners with screws that I can’t find (doesn’t anyone make affordable 1/2 inch no.10 UNF hex screws any more?) Edit> picked them up from Namrick but oddly they seem to be getting scarce.

The 70s – a personally significant decade

Several things happened in the early 70s – Those fine chaps at Newport Pagnell built the car that I now own, I arrived in Australia for my last two years of school – and fell madly in love with my English teacher Miss Hardcastle. I was also nearly drowned learning how to surf, but most importantly, my love of motor cars really began to coalesce as did my appreciation of music.

Living where we did overlooking the Pacific Ocean we were not short of beaches to visit along Sydney’s north shore. Nor were we short of neighbours with very smart motors – RR Corniche, MGTC, Cadillac Seville, Ford Mustang….. One particular Sunday I got a lift down to Avalon beach in the Mustang – roof down and some of the most amazing music I had ever heard on the eight-track.

“What is this?” I asked, “I’ve just got to get a copy.” And so I bought my first ever Santana album – Abraxas – I played ‘Black Magic Woman’ so often I wore out the track! Since then I’ve collected nearly all his LPs and recently CDs.

In all my travels round the world I have never had the chance to see Santana in concert – until last Saturday. I could not believe that Carlos Santana had obviously heard it was my birthday and arranged to play at Wembley Arena. Wow oh wow. There he was not 30 feet away playing Black Magic Woman, Oyo Como Va and more.

Problem was, I got so carried away I forgot about my dodgy elbow – which now aches horribly!

When ROJ is on the road Carlos will be foremost on the CD changer…

Painting Progress

I had a few issues with painting other than the colour match. I started to get surface crazing where I’d feathered the original paint. According to the book this can happen when spraying over paint that’s 0.3mm thick or more. I think Aston managed 0.3mm when they originally painted the car, and the ’80s respray was even thicker.

It was possible to get around it by spraying very light coats. I’ve lacquered the A pillar so that further painting can be done with the door in place. At the very least the whole side of the car will need painting to disguise the colour matching.

An immaculate Oscar India visited the farm today, fresh from a very high quality bare metal respray. That’s the way these cars should look. I’m going to get some quotes as there is no reason why this OI can’t look just as nice (other than the cost of bare metal resprays obviously).

(The colour match isn’t quite as bad as it looks in the photo – the front wings are in shadow, and they haven’t been lacquered which changes the way light is reflected. The front of the rear wings represent the new colour more accurately.

Poor metallic colour match

First colour coats

Take care of that elbow Nigel.

Having worried for weeks about blending in metallic paint I finally read a book. It’s called “Vehicle Painters Notes” and was written by an Aston guy – Peter Child, who worked in quality control at Newport Pagnell while they were still building V8s. (ISBN 0-632-01873-9)

Turns out blending metallic is easy. Metallic paint consists of base coat followed by a couple of coats of lacquer. For blending in you would mix metallic 50:50 with the lacquer and spray slightly further than the edge of the repair with the metallic base coat. Then mix 25:75 and spray a little further into the rest of the panel. Finally mix 10:90 and spray the whole panel.

Metallic is less forgiving to spray than solid colour. I was having problems with solid colour a couple of years ago, then took a long hard look at my old spray gun (with the damaged nozzle). It went into the bin and I bought a new gun that was actually suited to my compressor output. Great results with solid colour since then, but it’s been a while since I sprayed metallic.

The metallic finish was good, but the colour was wrong!

The Aston was resprayed (badly) in the ’80s. The colour is nice, but it’s slightly lighter and not quite as green as the original Tourmaline paint. That’s annoying.

Options from here are to blend in some special paint matched brew from the paint shop, or to return the whole car to the original colour (probably the job of a paint shop as I wouldn’t be confident with metallic over a large panel area).

First colour coat

On the plus side even I can’t see the join in the aluminium wings.

Tennis elbow

What a stupid name. Tell someone you’ve got it, and they kinda smirk as if you’ve been up to something naughty… In fact Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is caused by tears in the tendon caused by over use – such as turning out rusty bolts and hitting bits of metal with a big hammer…

Apart from being bloody painful, the real nuisance is that it may take weeks to heal. There are some jobs i can do left-handed on ROJ, but it’s awkward and slow. And just as I was really getting somewhere!

Aston in Primer

I’ve already sprayed self etching primer onto the aluminium wings (nothing else would be likely to stick), and have sprayed a couple of coats of high build primer. This will be sanded down with a guide coat, and depending on how that goes we might see some colour soon.

Results so far are pleasing with the location of the welded join in the wing undetectable.

Aston Martin masked and primed

Rain stopped play this afternoon, so I finally decided to sort out the fuel vaporisation on the MGA by making some new heatshields. It very embarrasingly conked out yesterday in a multi-story car park, thankfully just at the top of a ramp so I could push it out of the way and let it cool down for half an hour.

An Aston Unclad

(Personally Malcolm – I think you did a smashing job!)

As a boy in Nairobi I was hooked by the Bond movies into anything spy related. I used to play at being the Man From Uncle with my blond friend Peter as Illya Kuryakin (Peter’s father Tony Harthoorn was the vet who looked after Joy Adamson’s lions and inspired the TV series Daktari).

One Saturday night Peter’s mother announced she was taking us to the drive in cinema to see a spy film. Fantastic, we thought. Derek Flint or Harry Palmer or, dare we be so lucky James Bond.

Imagine if you will , the horror of two eight year old boys on discovering that the promised spy movie did not star some hairy chested tough guy but a saccharin sweet blond bimbo called Doris Day and a short arse aussie called Rod Taylor (who was actually brilliant in The Dark of the Sun). And to top it all the film was called “The Spy in Lace Panties” eeyuck!!!

In homage to all the hairy chested tough guys – here is “A Spycar in Boxer Shorts”

Yes, while Malcolm has been replacing fuel tanks and differentials ROJ has been stripped, sand blasted, angle grinded, whacked, welded, sworn at, whacked and welded some more, stregnthened, straightened, zinc coated and hammerite coated, undersealed and oiled until you see before you the Terminator of Aston Martin chassis. This car will never rust again!

ROJ in black

..looks more like a prototype Batmobile than Bond-mobile


exhausted engine
I think i’ve got enough exhaust pipes now – including the new SS ones in the barn.

body in boot
…Ah yes, a body should fit in here nicely!

In a previous entry I mentioned the problem with rusty bolts and screws – many of which broke while trying to remove them. The most troublesome was the wishbone bolt that sheared off
broken bolt

Malcolm had a whizzo idea – weld a head back onto the stub and then turn it out. bolt head

A far more ambitious trick than I would have attempted, and one from a person who certainly does not lack confidence in his own artistry!

bolt weld

When we first fired up ROJ the fuel we put in went straight through the holes in the bottom of the tank (at a £ a litre I was on hands and knees soaking it up witrh a sponge!) Note the brand new tank behind the car.

So there we have it – all ready to start bolting the oily bits back on. In the front view you will see I have left the corner of the front chassis member unpainted – this is because the chassis number is stamped there – a photo of which will go into the restoration record with the concurrent engine number.

Later this month we are off to Santa Pod to watch fellow Aston Martin club members race their cars – next year perhaps ROJ will be among them.

Sadly My friend Peter Harthoorn died in his early thirties. He was remembered in a piece of music ‘Elegy for Peter Harthoorn’ by Australian composer Carl Vine.

The Psychology of Aston Restoration

The Oscar India project has been through it’s ups and downs (and as a result has taken far too long). I think much of the delay is down to the psychology of car restoration.

The chassis welding on the OI went quickly as I have a lot of confidence in mild steel welding. The biggest delay was down to welding the aluminium wings back on. My thought was “Oh my god this is an Aston Martin and I can really screw this up if things go wrong”. It took a couple of weekends to learn to weld aluminium, but it must have taken me a couple of months to build the courage to weld the wings back on. But it all turned out OK in the end:

Front aluminium wing welding

Another mental block of mine is blending in metallic paint. That’s a job for this week. Fortunately in this case I have a backup plan – if it doesn’t go well we can take the car to a paint pro for a full respray (which would also help with other parts of the car that have a little bubbling or dents).

I’ll have to paint the door shuts whatever happens so may as well attempt blending in paint over my repairs. I’ve nothing to loose. And that’s the thing. It’s something that has to be done, and it’s not a problem if I screw it up, so it happens quickly.

I’m not sure of the answer to this car restoration psychology issue. For the most part it’s good to treat the Aston like any other car – after all it’s got MGB door handles and steering column so why not pretend the rest is MGB?

The other way around is thinking up back-up plans for when things go wrong. For chassis welding it’s no problem – you can get better at welding and then try again, scrap the bugger, or send it to someone else. For visible repairs it’s a bit more of an issue, but again for the most part you should be able to give it a go and if it doesn’t work there is bound to be someone else who can sort the mess.

Really there is no reason for anyone to share my psychological issues. I’d encourage any owner or enthusiast to get stuck in. Nothing can go wrong – you’ll most likely get things right with a little research beforehand, and if anything does go wrong there will be someone who can sort it out.