Category Archives: Interior

May 2017 – Nylon turn signal clip 3D printed and installed

Pretty much, the Youtube video does the trick.

I do think that the process of 3D printing will become increasingly important for parts distribution and replacement. There’s no wonder that UPS has taken big steps to integrate 3D printing into their business, since, after all, they’re into logistics. And logistics can benefit from the speed of digital distribution, so long as the products get made at the endpoint. And the ability to craft parts that are no longer available for old cars will be a boon to the amateur restorer. Right now, only plastic parts are do-able, though the 3D printing field is advancing very quickly, so other media may become more affordable to use in the near future. It’d be great to be able to do metal objects as easily as plastic objects.

I expect that I’ll be doing other 3D printing projects, perhaps to create molds for my little modest aluminum castings. Plastic parts, like the one I did for this fix, are relatively easy. And, for the next guy, it’s really just a matter of downloading a 3D model, and finding a place to print it. (Maybe that’s as close as your local library!)

By the way, my 3D model of the turn signal clip is freely available from Thingiverse:

The video:

Sketchup is a free download (, and if you’re serious about 3D modeling, you can purchase the professional version. For my part, I just used the regular old free version, and it worked great. A very useful Sketchup plugin was “Solid Inspector” that allows you to identify and even automatically fix (sometimes) extraneous lines and surfaces in your model. Those extra things get in the way of having a clean and uninterrupted surface. And if you don’t have a clean surface, you can’t create a model of a solid object. That sounds a bit difficult to understand, but Sketchup just allows you to create surfaces, and in order to have a solid, you have to use the surfaces to enclose an area completely. Sketchup then can calculate a volume. You can then use the tools for your printer to convert the model into something that the 3D printer can use.

For printing, I used 3DPrinterOS (, which has partnered with Duke University. It’s amazingly simple to use. I had no instruction on how to use the tools, and yet I was able to printer my part in PLA (polylactic acid) with only one failed attempt. (See links below for more information on where you might be able to get access to 3D printing services. They might be as close as your local library.)

The nylon part that I printed fit in perfectly, though the little arms were a bit too loose to hold the turn signal post firmly in place. I think I might try reprinting the piece in ABS if the thing becomes too annoying (unlikely, since it’s working all right, if not optimally, and nylon is pretty durable).

If anyone else ventures into 3D printing for parts, I’d like to hear about it.

Some links relating to 3D printing:

Thingiverse ( where you can find 3D models of all kinds to explore and print. (My turn signal clip is there, too.)

UPS’s involvement, and maybe there’s a place near you:

Five Best 3D Printing Services” ( A surprise: your local library might let you do 3D printing

Duke is leading the way among universities in the democratization of 3D printing: “Duke University Churns Out Thousands of 3D Prints per Month with Help from 3DPrinterOS” ( I’m very much indebted to the good and talented staff that support the really impressive 3D printing setup that Duke has pulled together.

May 2011 – Top and seats


David Boger (proprietor of got a convertible top frame in a deal for some old Jaguar parts back in fall 2009. I picked up the frame from him on my birthday in October, and I fetched it months later (the end of March 2010, as a matter of fact). His business and his place have really expanded, so the XJ6 crowd is now especially well served. He had (and still has) some E-type parts, too. I picked up the frame with the understanding that it was lacking one of the bows, the front one specifically — or so we thought. Since I had pieces of the original top frame, I figured that I would be able to fashion a new bow or otherwise get one. However, it turned out that the top frame was intact and was merely an early example. The early top frames didn’t have three bows, but rather just two. I’m not exactly sure when the third one was added, and Thomas Haddock is silent on the additional bow, as far as I could tell — which makes me a little wary of the truth of the matter. But on this top frame, there was no means of attaching a front bow, and there was no violence done to the tubing where a bow would have fit. The front pan-shaped metal edge of the top frame fit perfectly, and so the whole kit must be there.

I removed the old Jaguar grey and resprayed it, cleaned up the chrome bolts and supplied the few that were missing, and then I set it into place. Tops are easy to get, and I got mine from an eBay vendor. I decided to go with the canvas-like material called “Stafast.” Instructions for installation are on the web, and I went with the ones that were put together by “Andyzak” and published on E-type Lovers ( at Follow the instructions and everything goes fine. The only trouble I had was affixing the front chrome trim at the ends, where the curve of the front seemed to work against the clips. It took some wrangling, but I got it on.

Interior (including heretical seats!)

The interior project has gone on for years, and I have an entry that goes back to “Fall/Winter 2005/2006” when vinyl and moquette were applied. As with everything in this extended restoration, I have thought and re-thought, decided and re-decided (and then decided yet again!). The interior probably best exemplified the consideration-reconsideration dynamic. Some, I suppose, would call it waffling.

I waffle on leather and commit heresy.The car seats are a case in point, and the waffling arose from the greater context of this restoration — a couple other cars. The old E-type wasn’t the only Jag in stable, so to speak. I owned until recently an XJ8L, and my daily driver is an XK8, which of course, I bought because it takes design cues from the E-type. Both have leather pretty abundantly. I found that I am not a really big fan of upkeep of leather. The XJ8L interior was nice, and the leather was supple and soft, but I noticed over just a few years that it discolored in wear, probably because colors or dyes wore off? The driver’s seat got a bit of this crumply look, too. And the interior seemed to need babying that we frankly couldn’t easily do, since our vehicles have to trek off to the barn and suffer from the insults that just come with living out in the toolies. The state of the leather in the XK8 is, to put it in a word, awful. (Now, admittedly, this is a daily driver that sometimes hasn’t had the leather conditioner applied as often as might be necessary.) I have gotten to the point that I have re-dyed the front seats, after making an attempt to repair cracks and holes in the driver’s seat cushion. The repairs have held up, mostly, and the color is … er, OK. But, in fact, I hate the leather seats in the XK8, and they’re coming out for a recover when I retire the car from daily use. My wife Arlene thinks I should just get rid of the XK8, but I have grown fond of it despite its deficiencies.

As an aside, I note, with some dismay, that the leather interior of my eldest son’s VW Passat (an older car with higher miles) is in great shape. I don’t think that’s all a matter of exquisite care, either.

This is all to say that I was less than enamored by leather due to my experience with other cars. The original plan was to get leather seats for the E-type and have them installed by a professional. I got shaky on that decision, though. I don’t want to futz with leather and just watch it degrade pointlessly, as seems to have been my experience. And, though many people get all Ricardo Montalbon about leather, I have no trouble at all with good vinyl. Not the chintsy brittle stuff, mind you, but the “pure Corinthian vinyl” that graces luxury cars — and holds up better than the leather.

So, yes, the seats are heretical vinyl. Not leather. Thank God, I might add.

A second consideration was that my seats had to be special, with green piping. This is actually not too much of a problem, it would seem, since the leathers are not mass manufactured and then piled up in some warehouse somewhere as inventory. They are cut and sewn to order. But the piping issue introduced a level of complexity to an order that wasn’t welcome — at least as I interpreted the conversations I had. And, when I broached to topic of would-it-be-possible-to-use-high-quality-vinyl … well, that was too much. One well intentioned seat provider said, “No.” That was the end of the matter.

Now, I might be demanding, but I do strive to be courteous. I didn’t get the feeling I could get what I wanted from the Usuals on the West Coast. At least my interactions didn’t inspire confidence. So, I figured, I’d go with the locals. There are two promising upholsterers in the area, and I visited them both. One has a great reputation for late model cars. Aaron highly recommended them, saying that they were quick and the work they did met or exceeded expectations. Probably so, but there was no enthusiasm for doing seats on an old beast like a 1963 Jaguar E-type. Kits only, the fellow said, and be sure that you show up with molded seat cushions. Otherwise, no go. No cutting, no sewing. The other upholsterer had done 1950s and 1960s American cars, and his work seemed quite good. I met him in front of his shop, and as he emerged from his car he carried a large pot pipe, which didn’t exactly inspire confidence. Still, he and his group seemed competent, and they were working on the Saturday I visited. We went through vinyl sample books together, and I thought there was a possibility. Alas, things moved toward the nebulous, and I didn’t want to be stuck with an unending job and interminable waiting. I’d gone through that kind of thing before.

So, I asked myself, what about doing it myself. I had most of the templates, the seat cushion notwithstanding. I never done this kind of thing before — heck, I’ve never run into trouble with this kind of project before. What could possibly go wrong?

Seat cushion templates and “visual aid.” Actually the seat cushion was a problem, since I really had little idea how the pieces all fit together. That problem, of course, was resolved with a faint and flexible cousin of the cardboard used to template many of the body parts that had rusted away. Regular old “craft paper” from the paint section at Lowes served as a template substitute for the vinyl. Certainly the stuff isn’t as flexible or forgiving as quality vinyl, but handled with care it does the job. I took a bunch of the stuff, after having built up the foam I felt was appropriate, and a little duct tape (it does everything that WD-40 can’t!) and fashioned rough panels that served well as templates for the vinyl pieces.

It was a matter of slicing up the paper after the fit was about right, and then using the paper pieces as crude templates for the pieces. Now, I wasn’t that confident that the process would actually work. (At the time I was doing the craft paper work I had expected to ship off the templates to the upholsterer who was then going to be the pot smoker.) In order to see that a real cushion would come from the templates, I used some old black vinyl to create a cushion cover that would show the viability of the templates. I had intended to deliver the vinyl test to the upholstery shop, as a matter of fact. It worked quite well — better, in fact, than I had expected. I had not put in the piping, though I drew in the seams where piping would be placed. The key question in my mind was the method of separating the front foam bulge from the back part of the seat foam. There is this piping that runs laterally about midway between front and back, and it is slightly lower than the face of the cushion. A depression, actually, running along the offset join of the two levels of the cushion’s plywood frame. I accomplished that by creating a tab that could be stapled to the plywood, drawing the lateral lower. I had split the cushions in my design into a front cushion and a back, so attaching the tab was easy.

The chintzy black vinyl model was actually a nice visual aid, but it also turned out to be a good dry run. As time went on, and my doubts mounted about upholsterer option number two, I pondered doing the work myself. My wife and I were talking about the next steps with the seats one evening, and I told her what I was thinking, half to test the thought with her. She said she was wondering the same thing, especially after she inspected the cushion I had hand-sewn as a test.

So, I dumped upholsterer option number two, and took the task on myself.

Back arch foam and the back inset piece. My original plan was to deliver the raw vinyl material and the two seat shells completed with wood strips. Foams for the cushions I had planned to do, but the foams on the seat backs I was going to leave to the upholsterer. I used the remnants of the wood strips on the old seat shells as a guide, and I fashioned the strips out of 1/4-inch plywood. I glued and riveted the strips onto the shells. A piece of cake. Foam for the cushions and for the arch on the seat shell was fashioned from two-inch foam, with the cushions made from a stack of two of these for a total of four inches of foam. I used batting material as a cover over the foam, which makes it easier to get the surface of the vinyl smooth — besides adding a bit of comfort. The foam arch that I took off the old seat had been curled over a felt core that was laid in the center of the arch on the seat shell. Basically, the foam was glued on each edge, and the edge had been tapered so that the face of the foam arched over the felt core. Looked a little putzy, I thought. I just used contact cement to glue the square-cut foam to the seat shell, and then I cut an angle off the outside edge along the seat shell’s arch. The foam was thus crudely tapered toward the edge. Batting and the pressure of the vinyl rounded things out in the end. The back insert that fits behind the cushion uses one-inch foam.

The back insert piece has a plywood backing to which the foam and vinyl or leather is attached. The “skins” are stapled into the wood with the foam pieces floating beneath them, unglued from the wood. I riveted an aluminum tab at the top that slips between the moquette and the felt behind the seat. The tab holds the top of the insert in place. I believe that people must have attached the low end of the insert as well — probably to the curved piece of wood that is behind the bottom part of the insert. I chose to let the cushion hold the piece in place, so for all practial purposes it’s “floating” in place. I believe Classic Jaguar uses a plastic sheet of some sort for the backing, and that makes some sense. The inset has to be somewhat pliable, since it curves on both sideways and vertical axes — a bit tough to accomplish with plywood, since the laminations are grained and will complain one way or another. I ended up cutting three slits in the lower half of the plywood backing, and that allowed the part to conform to the shapes more easily.

The other stuff. I deviated a bit from the layout of the wood strips that are at various places on the seat shell, too. The lowest attachments on the seat shell — basically, anything attached to the inside of the seat shell that was below the seat cushion — I glued. So the curved wood strips along the inside bottom edges of the seat shell are absent. The strips there didn’t seem to have much of a point in my view, and contact cement is easy to apply and use.

Assembly is quite easy once you figure out how everything fits. I think a few pictures will do most of the explanation.

I got the vinyl from World Upholstery again. Although they offer leather that is Connolly-like in grade and feel and match with suggested Jaguar colors, I didn’t go that route. I chose instead a Mercedes-Benz vinyl, number 349 in their catalogue. Once again, the World Upholstery folks have been helpful and responsive. Here are the codes, but note thatn the “dark green” didn’t come from World Upholstery. I got it locally, and I suspect it’s a regular old whatever-is-in-the-warehouse brand.


Vinyl (Jaguar or Porsche, width 60″) Tan 4004
Vinyl (Mercedes-Benz, width 60″) Bamboo 349
Moquette (body cloth) Tan 262
Vinyl Dark Green unknown


Piping is actually interesting stuff. For the core of the piping on the aluminum console, I used a stiff polyurethane product — basically, weed-eater cutting line. For the seats I used the Real McCoy that I obtained at the regular old fabric store in Durham, nearby. It is just loosely braided cotton rope, specified to width. I got the quarter-inch stuff, and it was very easy to work with.

February 2010 – Driven

Look! No leaks! And it moves!

The alteration of the timing chain cover water inlet seems to have done the trick. The old thing has retained coolant where it should, and we’ve run the car many times without the horrible froth of contamination surfacing beneath the valve covers. Finally, we have a moving and well running car! Aaron took it out on a maiden voyage in the middle of a cold day, so the earmuffs felt good, I’m sure. This has been a cold and wet winter, and I’m afraid the yard has taken a beating (not to mention that there’s all sorts of crap out back by the garage and shed, now preserved for posterity on YouTube).

We have fastidiously checked and rechecked the oil to see if any wiff of water is leaking through, but so far there’s not been any coolant. We’ve run the car fairly frequently since, and I have been incrementally working up the electrics and getting it to the point where a car safety inspector could smile and hand me a sticker. Since the car predates emissions inspections — and perhaps any North Carolina inspection at all — I don’t expect trouble.

Home-made solid state 10-volt regulator

The water temperature, fuel level and (perhaps?) oil pressure gauges use 10 volts, not 12-or-so volts. Smiths did this in order to keep the gauges fairly accurate — or at least try. My regulator was shot, and it was interesting to do the research on the device. In effect, the old fashioned regulator was an electro-mechanical device. It basically created a quick oscillation of 12-volt power to approximate 10 volt steady power. I didn’t bother to do a post mortem on my old Smiths regulator, but I would guess that it was hopelessly corroded or seized.

I could have bought a solid-state replacement from CoolCat (here). However, Doug Lawson put together some instructions on making your own replacement of the Smiths voltage regulator, now no longer available on the web. The parts are easily acquired, and I figured it was worth doing something ingenious. I got the resistors and the LM317T chip from Parts Express, and I think shipping ended up costing more than the components. For the case, I used a housing from a discarded horn relay. It was actually too big, but I had it on hand, and I wasn’t planning on putting it where the original Smiths unit went so it wasn’t going to get in the way. Twenty minutes of soldering and a little fuddling around was all it took.

I ended up fitting the revised regulator behind the glove box. It works quite nicely, it seems. Lord knows if the gauges are actually true (I think not), but they are probably close enough. I have not yet hooked up the oil pressure gauge for the interior, since I have a mechanical gauge in the engine compartment that is easy to see when working under the hood. I haven’t yet decided to fit an electric sender unit, either. From what I can tell, they are not at all accurate. I can probably pick up a mechanical Smiths unit from somewhere, and just watch for leaks.

At any rate, I have working gauges.

The tachometer and speedometer need attention. I will be retrofitting and upgrading the tach, and I have yet to look at the speedometer. Those seem to be details for later.

Aluminum center console

I had only a few parts of the original aluminum center console with the original “dot pattern.” They were not in great shape, and the run of the original part was so brief — I think only in the 1963 model year — that replacements are pretty darned rare. (Raw aluminum with the correct press pattern is available for a dear price from Aston Martin Heritage. See the “Crosshatch aluminum” section on a previous entry.) I considered machining my own raw stock, but I figured it wasn’t worth it, especially after I had played around with some aluminum just to see what it was like to work with. Aluminum has this rich and deep shine to it, once it’s been polished, and the metal can have a lot of interesting characteristics. I made a couple of pieces of the console using a “brushed” aluminum finish, and it, too, would be good. I eventually figured that a somewhat polished finish would be really nice.

The plywood for the original center console was totally rotten, and so I had to make another one, and I used the original aluminum part to create a “buck” out of a hefty piece of plywood to make the new replacement part. Since the plywood serves as the means of attaching the aluminum to the metal/vinyl console frame, I went ahead and inserted machine screws in holes run through the plywood and countersunk. Number 6-32 machine screws went into the holes, and those went through the metal console frame. It’s sturdy, and removable, too. I did run into a problem with the console fitting onto the tranny tunnel, though, and so I had to grind off the screws that I had placed down the middle of the console. Those screws met the highest part of the tranny tunnel, making it impossible for the console to go down entirely.

I used “Goop” to glue the aluminum to the plywood, and of course the tabs folded over to make everything stable. Clothespins have been useful, though also they’ve been a bit of a problem with holding vinyl in place. As Bill McKenna noted, clothespins can leave dimples. I found that the way around this is to buffer the pins with short pieces of cardboard laid along the surface that’s being held in place. Of course, aluminum is less pliable and impressionable than vinyl, so the clothespins just fit onto this piece. A bag of a hundred pins has served me well over the years.

The aluminum was regular old flat sheet 0.032″ “5052” grade. I got a 24″ x 48″ sheet for under $20 USD, and I didn’t bother shopping around. I tried out some thicker stock, but it gave me trouble on the curves, such as where the parking brake lever goes through the console. The thin sheet worked fine with a little (gentle) convincing and pinching. Polishing took just a little elbow grease and rubbing compound. I found that Wright’s Brass Cleaner was good for the final polish, followed by a little wax to hold off oxidation.

There it is, all well fingered and smudged! I think this center piece will take a little attention now and then to keep in decent shape. I will be redoing the radio section of the console, since it doesn’t fit the shifter cover part. I have plenty of aluminum sheet left so that’s no problem. And, of course, the voltmeter is completely non-standard, since it replaced an ammeter. I figured I’d much prefer a voltmeter after the alternator replacement I did, and ammeters seem to be a bit hazardous in a cockpit to me. At least what I have does the measuring, even though it looks a little odd with the rest of the instruments.

March 2006 – Door handle details

Winter has been mild in North Carolina, though cold enough in the deep winter months to keep me out of the garage. March usually is the transition month — a month of teasing warmth and, when cold, a month of yearning for spring. This March has been warm. So warm, in fact, that this weekend I opened the front door of the garage to let air and sun in. This is what the car looked like on 11 March, just before the left door handle was put into place.

Please excuse the mess. Winter blows leaves through the cracks beneath a side door, but the rest of the disarray is my fault. I am always amazed to see pictures of other fellows’ neat and tidy workspaces. I’ve never been that organized, and I have kids who use the garage and the tools as well.

This entry might be a little too detailed for most folks, but I found that I spent an inordinate amount of time just figuring out how the door lock/latch mechanism works. I initially thought that some parts had been pilfered, since there seemed to be too much “air” in the middle of the section covered by the can-like “retaining case.” There is a plunger-like piece that slides freely in the rear section of thetumbler piece, and it slides freely when the car is locked, and is held in place when unlocked, so that the plunger is forced out the back end of the retaining case to activate the latch mechanism in the door.

I got a new retaining case from XKs Unlimited. The cases are sided, and so this one fits only the left side. (A tab is labeled “LH” for “left hand.”) The retaining case frequently will fail at the rear end, as mine had. The part was virtually identical to the original, except for the fact that excess metal from the casting had not been trimmed off. This mainly was an issue for the hole at the rear (pictured). Ten minutes of sanding with some 220-grit sandpaper made everything clean and correct. Fit was not good on a small tab that slides into a slot on the door handle, but this was a matter of a little more sanding to bring the tab down to size.

Neither of these were big issues. It is, of course, much better to have too much metal than too little.

This lock and the one on the right side door had apparently been lubricated with oils and perhaps a little grease. They were both caked with grime. I took everything apart and soaked everything in kerosene (aka “paraffin”) and scrubbed with an old toothbrush. This is the usual drill I go through with parts, as I don’t have a fancy parts washer. I’ve decided to use a dry graphite lubricant on the locks.

For the most part, the pictures to the right and their “tooltip” captions, which you get when you mouse-over the pictures, tell the story in excruciating detail. The pictures themselves are probably the most useful of the explanations. Nothing in the disassembly or reassembly requires any special tools, just a needlenose pliers, a couple of screw drivers, and a fairly strong couple of fingers. The springs are not tremendously hard to compress, so you can easily squeeze the parts with one hand.

How the mechanism works perhaps becomes apparent from the pictures. The important piece that manages the locking is the small linkage piece that slips into the slot at the rear of the retaining clip. When the door is locked, this part offsets the plunger inside the tumbler and allows the plunger to slip between the fork-like sides of that section of the lock tumbler. The seventh picture from the top shows this linkage piece in place; the ninth and tenth pictures show the plunger functioning in unlocked and locked settings.

One thing I did that might be an addition, though a small one, was to place rubber seals between the door handle and the two points it touches the body. I don’t have any record of a seal in that position when we disassembled the car, but that doesn’t mean that the original cars wouldn’t have had seals. I cut mine out of rubber from a car inner tube. Worked nicely.

I’ve finished installing the chrome I got back from Ricardo.

More than you ever wanted to know about locking mechanisms

New “retaining case.” I bought a new retaining case from XKs Unlimited, pictured on the left (of course). On the right is the torn off rear section of the original case, with the inside portion of the case visible. See the excess metal on the new casting. I had some sanding to do.
Exploded lock/latch mechanism. This is what the parts look like, more or less as they fit together. Above the central line-up is a small brass pin to set the lock tumbler in place. Below the line-up are a small compressed spring (for key lock rotation) and a washer that sits between the small spring and the large extended spring (for the latch push button). The right-most item below the line-up is the linkage setup for the lock. This slips into the retaining case.
Lock tumbler and the latch plunger. Vocabulary fails me, but I think I got the tumbler named right. The “plunger” slips into the slotted rear section of the tumbler. This part confused me, since I didn’t see how the plunger would be fixed in place to push the latching mechanism inside the door. It works, trust me.
Lock tumbler and the latch plunger. Vocabulary fails me, but I think I got the tumbler named right. The “plunger” slips into the slotted rear section of the tumbler. This part confused me, since I didn’t see how the plunger would be fixed in place to push the latching mechanism inside the door. It works, trust me.
Brass pin lock the tumbler in place
The picture is a bit out-of-focus, but the brass pin is shown extending from the hole into which it slides. When you take your lock apart, this hole will likely be obscured by the general gunk of the part. After cleaning, the purpose of the hole is clear. This was an easy slide into place, just a couple of taps did it.
Washer and spring inserted. A special washer fits onto the chromed cylinder and then the spring that provides the resistance for the push button on the handle fits over the cylinder end. Pretty straight-forward.
Lock linkage in place. In order to get the spring-tumbler-cylinder assembly into place, you have to stick the lock linkage into place. It fits in the slot at the read of the retaining case, and you sinply position it so that the hole into which the plunger fits is 100 percent clear. That is the unlocked position. The picture is shows the correct position. By the way, the tab with the two holes shows the “LH” meaning left hand, and the tab opposite that was the one I had to sand to fit the slot on the handle.
The keylock assembly reassembled. Compress the spring into the retaining case with the plunger extended, so that it fits through the hole at the rear of the case. Then take the bolt/nut and screw it into the end of the plunger, until the nut on the bolt fits against the rear of the retaining case. The nut can be adjusted so that the bolt end of the plunger hits the paddle-like part of the door latch. This is a minor adjustment that you do after the door handle is in place.
The push pressed in UNLOCKED position.Notice that the plunger is extending from the end of the retaining case. Also notice the position of the lever at the side of the case — part of the lock linkage.
The push pressed in LOCKED position. Contrast this picture with the one above. Note that the plunger remains in its “unpushed” position. This is because the plunger slips between the forks of the lock tumbler casing. When the push is pressed, the plunger will not activate the latch mechanism.
Lock fitted into door handle. This picture shows the latch tab in unlocked position. Really the only two things holding the retaining case in place are the two small machine screws.
Original door hardware. The original hardware for the lock-latch mechanism and for affixing the door handle. The small screws are 4-40’s, probably 1/4-inch. They attach the retaining case to the door handle. I replaced them with 3/8-inch lengths. The door studs are 10-32s, with a black anodize washer (I originally thought it might be rubber). These were rust-bound. On the original, the threaded stud would be screwed into the door handle and then fitted to the door panel. I just used a number 10 machine screw with a nut screwed on to tighten everything up. It worked nicely.
Door hole clean-up. I cleaned up the holes for the door fitting with a drill bit.
Rubber seals. Rubber from an old tire tube served as raw material for the rubber seals the fit between the door panel and the door handle. I do not know if there was such a seal on the original, but it seems like a good idea to put them in place. There should be less chance of leakage and the paintwork is protected. You can see my paper templates in the baggie, too. I cut the rubber a generously, since I wanted to trim it to fit exactly.
Trimming the rubber seal. This was easy. Just press the handle against the seal, and outline it with a ballpoint pen. Remove. Trim to the line. Done.
External view of the installed handle. Nice to see it in place!
Inside view of the installed handle and lock. The (rusty) clip hold the linkage in unlocked position, and you can see the 10-32 screw with nut that hold the door handle in place. This is a good clean installation. The clip, despite its rust, is sound. Besides, I coated it with grease to inhibit further corrosion.


January 2006 – Interior

I know. Many will wonder why in the world I would start on the interior before having the greasy bits installed. The answer is (mostly) straightforward. First, I’m a little impatient. Second, I’m not quite ready to have the Big Mechanicals go off somewhere. I don’t have a clear plan for the engine and the transmission, and I’m torn between being my own “general contractor” or using a reputable engine rebuilder to just do the job from beginning to end.

So, the interior sits there waiting, and I can do it. I’m posting this report well before I’m finished with the interior, but it’s been a long time since I’ve updated the site. I figured this epic of interior installation should be begun in medias res.

Vinyl & cloth. For me, probably the most excruciating part of the interior was settling on a color. I had always intended to install a standard color for the interior, in spite of intense lobbying from my sons to go with black which was not a standard interior color with Opalescent Dark Green for the 1963 E-type. The “correct” colors for the interior were Beige, Tan, Light Tan, and Suede Green — and those colors were constant over the life of the Opalescent Dark Green body color (from 1961 to about September 1967, as I interpret the data). However, other colors could be special ordered.

I gathered samples of the various colors from different vendors, and I settled on using World Upholstery & Trim as my source. They had provided the vinyl covering for the dash and instrument panels, and I was impressed with the quality of the vinyl (and that, I have learned, can vary widely from source to source). They have also been easy to work with. They also do E-type interiors to order. This is important because I am not willing to try my hand at doing the seats, and I wanted to make sure that the vinyl color and the eventual leather hides for the seats would fit well together. Also, I had planned to have the moquette (aka “body cloth”) consistent on the seats and on the couple of sections where it covers the interior. I ordered all of the vinyl, moquette, and carpet from World Upholstery, and should they eventually do a seat kit for me, the materials will be consistent. If I have someone else do the seats for me, I can get the materials from World Upholstery and maintain the consistency nonetheless.

My color choice? Tan. The specifics of what I ordered from World Upholstery follow.

Vinyl (width 54″) Tan 4004 4 yards*
Leather hide Tan 4104 Not ordered
Moquette (body cloth) Tan 262 1 yard
Carpet (backless, width 60″) Palomino 5113 2 2/3 yards

* I could have used another yard of vinyl, just to make it easier.

Costs of the products vary, with the vinyl coming through around USD $35/yard, the moquette about USD $75/yard, and the carpet around USD $65/yard. Quantities of the materials are of course based on where it all goes on the car, and this seems to have changed through the history of the Series 1 roadster. The crossmember on later Series 1 cars had carpet, while earlier cars had vinyl covering. For 1963, as far as I can tell, moquette was only on seat backs, behind the seats on the “lower rear bulkhead,” and on the wheelwell arches. Carpet covered the upper sections of the rear bulkhead, but I have also seen Series 1 cars with vinyl (or perhaps hardura) covering that area. I decided to use vinyl on the floors below the seats, though I have seen hardura, carpet and moquette in that place. Vinyl, I think, will be easier to keep clean (and is, in any case, obscured from the view of people who might care about such things). Vinyl covers the crossmembers on this car, as I believe it came from the factory.

I decided not to differentiate the vinyl from the hardura sections of the interior. This means that the “outside-facing” section of the “scuttles” and the area surrounding the chrome bonnet releases have vinyl installed rather than hardura. I wasn’t impressed with the fit of the hardura that came off of this car when we dismantled it (though, given the state of the car when we got it, that’s probably not saying much). Hardura in the scuttle area needs to wrap around a 90° corner, and it is stiff enough that it doesn’t do that very well. The hardura panels were rounded over the corner, and the sections adjacent to the corner pooched out. At any rate, you’ll see that there’s no hardura on my list of materials. I do think that World Upholstery stocks it, if you want it.

Felt & padding. In winter 2004, I lined the interior with rubber-backed foil, with the exception of the inner sills above the groove for wiring and the wheel well arches. Atop that lining, I cemented 1/8-inch thick felt pad that has a Mylar-type plastic face on one side. It’s actually flooring product made by Armstrong. I also used regular old felt found in fabric stores for the facing pieces that extend from the doors to the rear interior light. Thickness of that material isn’t much more than a millimeter or so. Padding for the wheelwell arches and the windshield post (the A-post) was 5/16-inch foam. This material has a cloth facing and is actually sold for headliners. I also have half-inch foam previously used on the dash. I used it as the foam for the top portion of the door panels.

Hardboard door panels. Well, the product comes from Lowes and it’s used as a chalkboard. Exactly the same thickness as the door panels that came off of the car, one side has a painted coating for marking up with chalk (the green board). A similar product is available for use with special whiteboard markers. The product I got is from Georgia Pacific labelled “G. P. Chalkboard Wainscot.” I redid the panels for the trunk/boot with the same product, though with a smooth white coating for whiteboard markers. You can cut it with a razor knife. The 48″ x 32″ sheet cost well under USD $10, and after cutting out the door panels I still have extra for use on other projects.

Fasteners, glues, and cements. Certain sections of the interior are fastened to the body with clips. These originally were spring steel. I chose to use nylon “push” fasteners instead. For the facing on the “B”-pillar I’ve used Ford-style 1″ (or thereabouts) fasteners and for the “A”-post facing, I’ve used GM-style half-inch (or thereabouts) fasteners. I haven’t fitted the door panels yet, but I believe the 1″ fasteners will work there as well. If you plan on reusing door panels, you probably won’t be able to switch from the original fasteners, since the holes for the original fasteners are slightly offset, perhaps by as much as a quarter inch. I could use the new nylon fasteners because I have had to redrill holes for the fasteners in any case, since I made new panels. The original clips seem to fasten well, but they also appear to tear up the hardboard of the panels.

Some people used spray-on contact cement, but I haven’t had altogether wonderful experiences with it staying well glued. Instead, I’ve used the “gel” formula of Weldwood contact cement. The gel formula is easier to use than the “regular” paint-like formula, especially on surfaces like foam, where you want the cement to remain on the outer surface. The gel formula is not as easy to apply as a spray, but it works with a little practice. I’ve also come to appreciate hot-glue guns, especially for attaching vinyl tightly to make smooth curves. With a squirt of hot glue and a bit of pressure, the vinyl is attached quickly and neatly.

Armrest repair. The plastic sections of both armrests were cracked, one of them quite badly. I figured that I would try repairing them before ordering reproductions. They’re actually quite complicated structures, with internal passages for fastening the armrest pads (which are secured on metal frames) and for fastening the armrest to the door. Two plastic “ears” sit between the door panel and the armrest pad sections, and these are just really designed to break off, since they sit in a place where any upward pressure on the armrest will pivot and press on the thin plastic walls. All of these “ears” were cracked and broken on my armrests.

The pictures on this page show the repair process and the extent of the breakage. I did the repair in two steps: a thin coating of polyester body filler for the outer portion of the armrest and a reinforced fiberglass coating for the internal structure and reinforcement of the repair. If I were to do the repair over, I would not use the polyester filler, even though it shapes nicely. The filler didn’t bond well to the plastic, and I suspect that over time it will fail. The fiberglass reinforcement is a little harder to bring into nice shape, but it bonded well and did a good job of reinforcing the whole structure. Since the channels are the weak points of the plastic molding, I went ahead and reinforced even the channels that had not (yet) weakened or cracked.

Color is a question. The armrests that came on my car had been painted a semigloss black, and I was suspicious about the color. The plastic was a neutral tan-grey color. I suspect, though I’m far from certain, that the armrests were originally fitted without painting. Jaguar may have had a couple of colors (black and this tan-grey color, perhaps) that they used for the different interior colors. I tried to find period pictures of a tan interior, but I discovered what other people have already noticed: even Jaguar’s own brochures recycled pictures from earlier models. The brochure I looked at from 1963 included interior shots that seem to be of earlier model years. The pictures don’t include armrests at all; and that, I’m told, is a hallmark of very early year models of the Series 1 cars.

At any rate, I matched the color of the plastic — believe it or not, Krylon “Camouflage” (flat) with a clearcoat over it. I’ll continue trying to find original pictures as time allows. The color is all right with the tan vinyl, and I think it’s truer to the original color combinations than a sprayed color exactly matched with the vinyl.

Carpet and pad. A little note on the carpet and what lies beneath it. I used quarter-inch felt as a pad under all carpeted surfaces, and the cutting of the felt provided the basic templates for the carpet itself. Areas on the body that I expect to be sources of noise (such as downward-facing surfaces or cavities like the IRS section) had the aluminum/foam covering, the felt/Mylar covering, and the felt pad covering. Together, these pieces make up about a half-inch thickness.

The surged edge of carpet I sewed using our trusty Kenmore sewing machine. The edging is vinyl. I was wondering if the sewing machine would work on carpet as well as it did on the vinyl pieces that needed a surged edge. It did, so I didn’t have to go to an upholstery shop even for that little bit of work.

Wrong style grab handle! Yikes! I don’t know if I’m going to try to find a more “original” replacement in any case, since I actually like this style better. But, that variance from the original just doesn’t sit well with me still. I might try to find someone who’d be willing to trade. Now, where is Stephan Roundy’s email address?

August/September 2005 – Windshield, right door

This entry ends the third year of restoration work on the car. It’s been a long haul.


The Cat Cage in Rougemont had a visitor from Oklahoma in early September. Wallace DeLong, also known as “Dad” and “Grandpa,”visited for a couple of days, and I set him to work in the garage. The right side door needed its insides put back into place. The left side door was enough of a challenge that I figured it would be a good weekend project for us. And we got rolling along and decided to set the windshield into place as well.

It was good to see Dad again, and he was able to see some progress on the car from the last time he was here.

The windshield is the original Triplex clear laminated glass. When we removed it we did not take off the chrome finishing strip that sits on the top edge of the glass. The glass shows some reparable scratches from the windhsield wiper frames that must have rubbed the glass a bit over the years. This can be buffed out, since the scratches are indetectable with a fingernail, except for a small section on the left side. Cleanup was quick — some 409 cleaner followed by the “Cerama Bryte” glass stove top cleaner took small scratches and the accumulated crud off quite nicely. One puzzling note: We noticed a dark blue deposit on the paper towel that we used to rub off the Cerama Bryte. This was only on the outside-facing side of the windshield and the right-side door window. It may have been a chemical reaction of some sort, though it might have been as simple as some ancient blue overspray from a body shop somewhere a long time ago.

I’m going to try the Cerama Bryte on the wiper scratches. I did a little hard rubbing on the left side blemishes, and the relatively gentle grits in the stuff seemed to work to make the scratches less visible. I figure a buffer might do a good portion of the job, gently applied.

I got the windshield seal from Classic Jaguar, and the first thing we noticed was that it was apparently intended for a “FHC” — Fixed Head Coupe. The seal was circular, so it was intended to go completely around a piece of glass. I figured there were two possibilities: the seal was mistakenly sent or there was a trick to doing this. I wrote to Dan Mooney, and within a half hour he replied that the seals for the convertible are no longer available and the seal I had on hand could be trimmed to fit nicely.

We looked at the seal in order to determine where the corners were, a task that wasn’t quite as easy as you might think. The seal is molded, but because of the corner curves, it twists in packaging. So you think you find a corner, but it turns out to be a deceptive twist. And then, of course, you need to find upper and lower curves, too. The whole thing moves as you search, so getting a clear idea of where you are on the seal is not so easy.

I tried to mount the seal without cutting it, but I found that was nearly impossible. So I went ahead and cut it in a place I figured (wrongly) was somewhere in the middle of the top edge of the FHC windshield. It turns out I was extremelyclose to the top curve on the right side — about two inches of rubber from cutting into the seal I needed to preserve!

Despite this little near ineptitude, the seal went on well.

One thing that I noticed is that it is best to do the final trim after the windshield is completely in place, because the seal naturally moves down the “A” post as the glass moves downward into position. I initially cut the left side what I thought was rather long, but it turned out to settle down to just barely long enough. My suggestion: trim above the upper curve, and then cut it to size after the windshield is completely in place. The curved seal on top won’t get in the way.

Setting the seal starts in the middle, and setting the chrome strip that’s nestled inside the seal starts in the middle, too. You do get better at alignment as you go through this process. Be careful to get the chrome finishing strip right in the center, because you won’t want to take it out to reset it. The Jaguar shop manual shows a bent wire tool that’s used to set the rubber around the glass and the chrome strip. I didn’t use it, but I found a bent coat hanger to be very useful even though it might have been better if it were a little thinner. The picture below shows it sitting on the car in front of the installed windshield.

Right door insides

I took on the left door earlier this summer, and it was a bit of a job. For the most part the tough part was rediscovering the order of installation. First, do the felt or sound deadener and the water tube. Second, install the lock mechanism. Third, install the window slide frame. Last, install the window and the slide mechanism. A movie would really do the trick to show how these (sometimes big) parts slip into that little slit at the top of the door panel. You just need to think about many angles. For getting the windows and the riser into place, at one time we had the window perpendicular to the flat of the panel. You might be tempted to bend the slit a bit wider, but you don’t need to.

We cleaned up the glass with the same stuff, and we noticed the same dark blue residue on the outside face of the window. Strange. Be careful with the flat connection from the door handle to the latch mechanism. It’s easy to pinch in the anchor for the window rising mechanism (the thing that is firmly set with four nuts). I managed to do that on the left side door, and Dad and I repeated the error on the right door, too.

Dad and I have different philosophies about grease. I am liberal and he’s a conservative. We both ended up looking as though we were liberal with grease, much to Dad’s dismay.

I figure it’ll delay rust; he thinks it’ll just get on the windows. I bet we’re both right.

July 2005 – Dash covering, “crosshatch” aluminum

Dash covering

I got a yard of black vinyl from World Upholstery & Trim. It comes in 54-inch widths, and a yard is more than sufficient for the dash. In fact, if I had not been so paranoid about cutting too small, I may have been able to do two sets for this and earlier cars at least, since the center instrument panel was still trimmed in aluminum. Later models used vinyl in the center as well, though there is considerable confusion about when the switch from aluminum to vinyl actually took place. Owners of cars produced from late summer to fall 1963 report various trim configurations, and the factory assembly may have been a bit unstructured and haphazard during the transition to vinyl.

I think it was an obvious “upgrade” in the mid-1960s to hide the crosshatch aluminum beneath a vinyl covering once the aluminum had shown wear. That, in fact, was probably encouraged when newer models of the E-type used vinyl — the vinyl covering looked like the newer models, after all.

We took off a tan vinyl covering that had been added by a previous owner, and beneath the tan vinyl lay the aluminum. With some considerable luck we might have been able to clean up, re-anodize, and reuse the aluminum, but it had been drilled, scratched, and otherwise violated. The aluminum surface is easily damaged, and so I can understand why Jaguar might have wanted to switch to vinyl. It’s durable and resilient to bumps and scratching, and — probably the overriding factor — it’s undoubtably cheaper.

It’s worth noting that vinyl comes in a huge range of qualities, and I easily found much cheaper vinyl than what I got from World Upholstery. The cheaper products were obviously cheaper for a reason: backing was flimsy, thickness varied, vinyl toughness was marginal, and often the embossed pattern lacked depth.

A note about vocabulary: “dash” often refers to the top, facing up toward the windshield, and the three vertically facing pieces that house the instruments and access to the glove box. I try to be specific, though I’m sure I slip up and use terms interchangably. (As someone usually says at this point: “Can’t you see my hands waving?”) I have seen the central portion of the dash — where the ignition and smaller dial instrumentation is located — referred to as the “minor instrument panel.” I’m assuming that the panel immediately forward of the steering wheel, whether on the right or the left, would be the “major instrument panel.” I’ve also heard the central (or “minor”) instrument panel referred to as part of the console. Pictures are, indeed, worth a thousand words of explanation, I’ve come to learn.

The top of the dash has a foam backing laying beneath the black vinyl covering. The other sections of the dash — the major instrument panel and the glove box access — do not include foam, but are simply black vinyl glued to the steel. On models after 1963, and on some transitional portion of the 1963 year cars, the minor instrument panel is covered with black vinyl as well.

My car, it turns out, was made at the beginning of the transition. Unfortunately, it was modified by a previous owner, so it’s well nigh impossible to figure out the original configuration of the minor instrument panel. The tranny cover console, and the forward “radio” or “speaker” console have crosshatch aluminum panels beneath the vinyl. It’s tempting to do the black vinyl over the minor instrument panel, but the fact of the matter is that I like the aluminum and want to see if I can scare up the correct crosshatch for it and the other sections.

Crosshatch Aluminum

The 1963 E-type had a crosshatch pattern on the aluminum facing for the center console and the central instrument panel. That crosshatch is really hard to find, though it seems to be available through the Aston Martin Heritage services. (The link is Mac OS X Safari will not work, incidentally.) Dan Mooney at Classic Jaguar was able to get sheets at a dear price that he didn’t specify.

Here’s what it looks like at about 15X:

I wrote to Aston Martin about the crosshatch pattern, and the correspondence itself was an interesting example of specialized vocabulary, some of which no doubt arose from the working history of the company. I inquired about the crosshatch design that appeared on the DB4/DB5/DB6. I got the response that it was indeed available and that I could view the product in a PDF attachment. However, the pattern was called “polka dot” and the picture had insufficient resolution to see the pattern at all. Thinking I hadn’t made myself clear about the pattern, I asked for confirmation.

Sure enough, “polka dot” is also “crosshatch” according to Aston Martin. Or, perhaps more correctly, “crosshatch” is really “polka dot.” Mark Hewitt of the Aston Martin Heritage division sorted it out. “Sorry for the confusion,” he replied. “Polka dot is an in house name we use but it is indeed cross hatch design as used on DB4/5/6. This is to the original design and look.” It is available only through Aston Martin authorized dealers, part number 695288. It comes in sheets sized 1250 x 410 millimeters (49.1″ x 9.8″), and, no, I don’t know about a salvage at the edges. On the Aston Martin cars, this aluminum pattern was used for door and sill trim.

To fashion the central aluminum sections for the 1963 E-type interior, you’d need to get two sheets. If you don’t do the minor instrument panel, you might be able to do the job with one sheet, though it would be tight.

I am hoping that Classic Jaguar might make the crosshatch aluminum trim available again.

Foam and vinyl covering of dash

Dash top. The whole metal frame for the dash interlocks nicely. The steel pieces are covered with black vinyl, and the copper plated center section is covered with aluminum — this model year sported a “crosshatch” pattern that is really difficult to find.

Getting the foam onto the dash was quite easy. It’s really just a matter of laying out the foam (I used 1/2 inch thickness) and then tracing the vent holes and outlining the entire dash with a generousborder. Then, cut the foam vent holes about 3/8 inch broader than the outline. The rest is a matter of applying contact cement to both the foam and the metal. I found that the “gel” formula contact cement was easiest to use, since it isn’t as easily absorbed into porous material, like vinyl backing or foam. It is prudent to check to see whether the contact cement formula reacts with either foam or the vinyl. Do a test, since you don’t want your materials to melt away before your eyes.
Apply the foam to the metal, beginning with the center vent hole, moving outward to each vent hole, and then finally moving “back” to face of the dash. The key is to get the vent holes aligned right. If you have cut the foam generously, you can adjust quite easily. The last part is cutting the outlined edge. I cut the edge as if to bevel the edge slightly.

Contact cement goes on the back of the vinyl and on the foam and in the exposed metal around the vents. One caution: Carefully apply the contact cement to the foam, especially. If too much of it is applied, it can seep into the foam slightly, even though the foam cells are supposed to be sealed. If that seepage occurs, the foam can begin to stick to itself internally, causing a depression on the surface (and in your psyche, too). Using a gel formula contact cement helps avoid this, simply because the cement is so thick it doesn’t spread or seep as easily. Light and quick strokes of the brush help.

When affixing the vinyl, I think it’s best to begin with the vents at the front of the dash. As with the process of setting the foam on the metal dash, begin with the center vent and then move outward to the vents at the edges. At this point I didn’t bother wrappiing the vinyl around the metal. I just worried about getting the top surface smooth and wrinkle free. After the forward (vent) edge of the dash was firmly fixed, I moved toward the back edge of the dash — the edge that faces the car’s interior. When you apply the vinyl be sure to avoid uneven tension of the vinyl, since that can cause the dash to become wavy. Take your time and watch carefully.

You can see the final product emerging, but you can also see how generous I was with the vinyl. I trimmed a good four inches (ten centimeters) off the back edge of the vinyl by the time I was done. Appearances are a little deceiving here, though. The picture makes it look as though I had already wrapped the forward edge of the vinyl around the metal. This was not the case, but the vinyl had curled around the forward edge because of the gentle stretching that I did while applying it. At this point, I hadn’t even put contact cement on the underside of the dash.

I decided to make edges of the vent openings fold to the underside of the metal. This meant applying contact cement to the underside areas and slitting the center of the vent. Note the “dart” at each end of the vent hole. You can actually cut a little closer to the metal edge. If I were to cut this again, I believe I would have made the dart a little longer, since it’s easier to attach a longer piece to the underside. You can see that I had wrapped the edges of the vinyl already.
Now, the vent opening can also be cut open flush with the metal edge. Since the outside surface has a bronze fitting to outline the vent hole, the metal will not be visible, and the chance of a peel-back of the vinyl is minimized.

The original setup may have had the duct inserted up through the duct hole before the vinyl was cemented in place. I don’t know. I do know that the setup I took apart was flimsy and it most assuredly was a redo from the original, since the vinyl I took off wasn’t black but tan. The original metal pieces that trim up the vent holes are made of bronze and painted black. They were probably originally attached with sheet metal screws.

I chose to do the attachment of the duct from below using aluminum clips and contact cement. Not only did this make the trimming of the dash a little easier, but I think it would make eventual replacement of a duct piece easier.

The clips holding the duct in place are attached with a machine screw and nut which replaces the original sheet metal screw. The edges of the duct not covered by the clip need to be glued, so they don’t wander into the hole or otherwise separate from the surface.

The clip was a simple matter of cutting with snips and a little shaping with pliers. The aluminum is 0.040″ thick. Note that the bends of the feet-like tabs are made to exert some pressure when you tighten the piece in place, though remember that aluminum isn’t great as a spring metal. If you go this route, you’ll need to make ten of these things, but you don’t need to alter the design for the corner vents that are rounded. The clip isn’t long enough for the curve to matter on those.

Glove box. The glove box and the major instrument panel in front of the steering wheel are also covered in black vinyl, though unlike the dash top they had no foam backing. The vinyl just goes on the metal, and the trimming is quite easy.

I decided to make a paper template for the dash pieces, since they have an angled surface as well. You can see how much I made the cutting wide, mainly because I wanted to have too much material rather than too little. Since I had a full yard of the vinyl, I had plenty to work with.

The vinyl having been cut from the template and the surfaces covered with contact cement, it was really just a matter of laying the metal piece onto the vinyl and then methodically affixing the vinyl with finger pressure. I started applying pressure in central areas (though there isn’t much of a central area on the glove box hole!). Then I worked toward the edges. This picture shows a little innovation using clothespins. I clipped the perimeter where I have wrapped the vinyl over the metal edge. It’s probably useful to do this only on surfaces that are hidden from view, because the pressure of the clothespin can flatten the texture of the vinyl. Indeed, the clothespin trick might not really be necessary at all, since contact cement, once pressed into place, sticks pretty well.

The choke control is in place, and I just laid the glove box piece into position and set the dash on top of it. Though it’s obviously not in final position, the image gives an idea of what the parts will look like when they’re completely installed.

November/December 2004 – Various and sundry

Interior insulation and sound dampener

From the outset of the restoration, I’ve been planning on insulating the interior and inside the trunk, especially below the spare tire storage and fuel tank area. I’ve kept an eye on products that would do the job well. I found two good candidates — Dynamat which is available through Classic Jaguar in Austin, Texas, and Fatmat which looks to be a less expensive Dynamat knock-off. The products are very similar: basically a laminate product with a flexible rubber-like substance laid over an aluminum or perhaps mylar substrate. Thicknesses vary, and the products include their own adhesive backing.

I felt that the Dynamat and Fatmat products were overpriced, since the technology doesn’t look that revolutionary. However, the Dynamat products look like they are textured to optimize sound deadening, as perhaps are the Fatmat counterparts. They do have the advantage of being sized and packaged for automotive use. Since I’m not planning on putting a huge subwoofer in my car (as a matter of fact it won’t even have a radio!), I won’t need optimal sound deadening. I’ve looked around for similar products, and I ended up with a good match in an HVAC duct wrap. It’s made the same as Dynamat/Fatmat and ends up being about a quarter of the price. Physical properties are similar, though the sound deadening properties of the duct wrap has to do with absorbing vibration on the foam side. The aluminum sheet is not perforated or otherwise adapted for sound deadening.

I used two differenty types of mat, actually. The predominant type was the aluminum covered foam, but I did use a purple foam mat as well in the front of the footwell. It is actually a foam pad used for softening the floor for exercise, but it is tough and will absorb vibration and sound well. Since it is durable, I’m thinking about using it as a backing for the “hardura” covers of the door sills and the floor of the trunk. The only concern I have (and it is not inconsiderable) is that the purple mat also has a “nubbly” texture that could (most certainly would?) show through the surface of vinyl. That said, this purple stuff is more durable than the aluminum foam. It would perform well in areas where there would be little other padding (felt or otherwise) and where constant crushing might be expected.

On the installation: I wanted to make sure that the foam would stay in place. Even though the aluminum foam was designed with an adhesive backing, I decided to cover the panels with contact cement so that the foam would stick with more vigor. The purple foam, of course, required full contact cement treatment, since it had no adhesive backing at all. I also used aluminum tape to cover all the joints, and those joints were prepped with contact cement as well. Things stuck very well, and there shouldn’t be any loose edges anywhere for a long time. When I fitted the mat, I cut away to leave bolts or holes exposed so that I can get to them later more easily. I also cut away foam from nuts that would otherwise have become lumps in the surface. The mat will even those out a bit.

Redoing air filter canister assembly

The air filter assembly consists of a large cannister and a triangular-shaped top that directs clean air from the cannister to the intake manifolds. A replacable air filter sits inside the cannister. The canister was especially rotted with rust in the base, and the round retaining plate that holds the filter in place was also badly rusted. I really don’t know why this would have been so badly rusted, since I would have thought that it was fairly protected from moisture. The inside of the canister may not have been painted — at least that’s what I’d suspect from the condition of the parts.

The canister was especially bad at the base, where there is a “false floor” with four round holes showing the real floor of the cannister about an inch under the false floor. I suspect this doubling was an attempt to baffle the air flow and even out the circulation of incoming air. The space between the floors would also serve to capture grits and larger objects so that they wouldn’t blow around near the filter.

I did the POR-15 treatment on these badly rusted items, and I rebuilt a small section around one of the canister floor holes that was enlarged by depleted metal. In order to get the coating to cover inside the section between the doubled floors, I poured some POR-15 into the cavity and shook it around until I was convinced that the inside surfaces were covered. I used basically the same prep as I did with the fuel tank, except that I had a much more accessible area to treat. The round retaining plate was treated in the same manner, and there I had to repair a hole or two with mesh and POR-15. It wasn’t pretty even after the treatment, since the surface was so badly pitted, so I used a bit of filler to smooth the surface a bit. This was cosmetic and probably a waste of time, since the piece is completely obscured and only sees the light of day when you change the air filter. I painted both that round piece and the inside of the canister a metallic, so it looks a little too silvery to be real metal, but at least it’s got another protective coat of paint on it.

The cannister is supposed to be black, at least for the 1963 model year. There has been some disagreement about this, since some cannisters apparently are hammered silver/grey in their current incarnation. The pictures I consider to be authoritative all show a black cannister with a hammered silver/grey triangular air filter manifold. So, I sprayed the outside of the canister and its clamp-on top gloss black.

They look pretty good — better, in fact, than I was thinking would be possible when I first looked at the rusted cannister bottom.

The air filter “plenum” is a triangular shape. Early 3.8 E-types also had a smooth top of the plenum, but they also had flanges that extended outward at the seam of the two shells making up the part. My plenum is smooth, too, though it doesn’t have flanges. Also the inside of the top shell has three grooves that roughly correspond to the grooves that later appeared on the tops of plenums beginning sometime late in the 1964 model.

I didn’t use a stripper on this piece, because paint strippers will also attack the fibreglass resin. To prep the surface, I sanded the old finish and removed any paint that was flaking or loosened with age. The metal pieces for mounting the manifold to the intake are attached with pop rivets, four on top and four on bottom. I removed the top rivets before repainting, but I left the bottom ones on. They are for all practical purposes invisible, and I wanted to lessen the risk of damaging the painted surface when I riveted. The top pop rivets were replaced with new.

Parts for repair and replating

Once you get paint on a car, having to wait for the trim becomes increasingly unbearable. I lessened the strain by quickly putting on the chrome surround that marks the edge of the license plate recess on the back of the car. And, of course, I dragged out whatever chrome I could find to see if there was some piece that was acceptable at least to hold against the body just to see chrome gleam against body color. Alas, my chrome isn’t in very good shape, and so I have to ship it off to have it repaired and rechromed.

I suppose that the taillights are the worst of the chrome pieces. They had suffered the elements most directly. The exterior door handles were probably the next worst. So, those were the parts that were packed up and sent away to a small chrome business in California. The fellow has some experience with 1963 Jaguar parts, and a fellow Jag restorer in the area said he would inspect the repaired parts before they would be sent off to the chroming shop. I’ll provide more information (and, I hope, a nice plug for the refinishing shop) when I get the parts back. I gave up finding a plater in North Carolina. While there are commercial platers around, they want sizeable and regular orders. The single “one-off” plater I found in Fayetteville, North Carolina, turned out not to be very responsible and so I rescued my suspension parts and did them myself. I don’t want to mess with chroming, however. It’s more of a challenge than I want to take on, especially when it comes to replating pot metal.

If things go well with the taillights and door handles, I’ll be sending the same California shop my bumpers for the treatment. They’re not as pitted as the pot metal, of course, but they need some attention.

The front sidelights turn out to be in acceptable shape. Whatever imperfections are on the chrome are small and they are tightly nestled against the bonnet in any case. I will need to work those a bit to get them to fit on the bonnet correctly, though. I’m not going to do any grindiing until the bonnet is sitting pretty on the body, since the shape of the bonnet seems to be fairly fluid until it’s actually in place. The interior chrome, for the most part, is also in good shape. The inside door handles are right at the tipping point for new chrome, and the chrome post that holds the rear view mirror is a wreck. I think it’s due a replacement, not a repair. The various escutcheons and ornaments on the dash and in the interior look good. With a cloth buffing, they’ll be nice.

IRS is next

While I had the entire male crew around, we lifted the IRS onto a work table. It’s going to get the attentions of mid-winter garage work.

September/October 2004 – Clearcoat, boot lid, steering column, sundries

This entry begins the third year of restoration work on the old car.

Clearcoat and boot lid installation

The car body was completely sanded smooth with 800 grit sandpaper, and ripples and “orange peel” areas were smoothed out. The surface was then degreased and coated with another double coat of clearcoat. This final clear coat will undergo the “color sanding” process and then finally be buffed to a fine shine.

We painted and clear coated the door exteriors and the trunk (boot) lid, too. The boot hinges were painted some weeks ago, and they had been awaiting reassembly. I had a number of boot hinge springs that had broken, and I replaced those with new ones using a modification of the methods that have been described by George Cohn (on the Jag Lovers forum) and Classic Jaguar. They are good descriptions and entirely predictable, in that there aren’t very many ways to do the job. One thing I did do that wasn’t listed in the directions was grease between the individual springs. Although the springs don’t do an incredible amount of rubbing, I did notice evidence of wear on my old springs (which were not greased). I figured that adding a smattering of grease probably would alleviate a little friction over time, though at the expense of introducing grease into a storage area. I suspect that the original springs were not greased simply because Jaguar drivers didn’t really want luggage and storables stained with grease. And that would be a hazard of greasing boot lid hinge springs.

The E-type is not a remarkably wondrous vehicle for transporting much other than two passengers, so I wasn’t going to worry about an occasional grease stain.

Once you install the hinges and attach the lid, you almost have to install the latching mechanism. E-types have a release fitted on the rear bulkhead in the car’s interior. There was no lock on the early Series I cars — that was introduced, I believe, with the late 3.8 liter cars or with the introduction of the 4.2 liter engine. On my car, you just pull the knob and the lid pops up. As far as I can tell, there isn’t an easy way to release the trunk lid if the cable attached to the knob and the latching mechanism fails. You’re basically stuck, or you have to be very adept with needlenose pliers stuck through the holes for mounting the rear license plate.

My latch required little more than a good cleanup and a little black paint. The part of the latch that attaches to the lid itself was in exceptional shape, with the cadmium plate in fine polish. After all, it was protected from the elements and had been painted body color at some time.

Once the latch was fitted, the trunk could close and reveal some of the fine shape of the E-type. I couldn’t help myself — I had to attach the chrome surrounds for the license plate recess, just to get a little better picture of the rear. The doors, you might note, also are temporarily hung in place. I needed to get them out of the way, and the body shell seemed a good place to store them!

Steering wheel

Most car restoration, it seems to me, involves some form of rubbing. You can’t get away from it, even after having put in your time rubbing and sanding the body before and after painting. Even the steering wheel took its toll on my elbows, or at least required a bit of attention from my cloth polishing wheel and some compound.

The horn button comes off of the steering wheel by loosening three set screws. Once these are loosened, the horn button comes right off. Dissasembling the steering wheel from the “boss” (the aluminum cylinder that attaches the wheel to the column) means drilling out aluminum rivets. I do not plan on re-riveting the wheel to the boss, so I’m replacing them with screws and bolts. (This is a very common practice, I have learned.)

All of the aluminum on this car has some severe aluminum oxide corrosion, and the steering wheel seemed especially to suffer from it. I used 800-grit sandpaper to remove the bulk of the corrosion, and then I used a cloth buffing wheel with coarse grit to get the remainder cleaned. A single attack on the aluminum portions of the wheel was not enough. I had to go at the whole thing again with 800-grit sandpaper and buffing before things were in shape. Thet pictures of the horn button, by the way, show the wheel in mid-restoration, not final. I’ll update with other pictures, probably when things move along with the steering column and dash assemblies.

The steering wheel itself had some fairly severe cracks, and for the most part the varnish had deteriorated to the point that it had completely flaked off. I was thankful for the residues that remained, but it wasn’t entirely clear at the outset whether the wood sections of the steering wheel would be salvagable. At least the wood was very nearly complete — though a splinter of wood about four or five inches long and about an eighth-inch wide was missing between about 10 and 12 o’clock on the wheel perimeter. In this section, the aluminum steering wheel substrate was exposed. That section I chose to fill with “mahogany” wood filler, and the jury’s still out on what it will look like completely refinished. (I’ll post a picture when I get the polyurethane applied completely.)

For the crack repair, I used an approach that was suggested on the Jag Lover’s Forum: using cyanoacrylate filler to bond and fill steering wheel cracks. It worked nicely, and I just used the glue that I found at Lowes. Unlike the “Super-Glue” adhesive, this stuff was thicker than the watery stuff I’d used before as a cement. It flowed well enough into cracks, but it did bead up after I reapplied it to an already filled crack. The watery “Super-Glue” would just have spread. Because the adhesive bonds very quickly, I clamped the crack as tightly as I could before applying the glue. Even when the crack virtually disappeared under pressure of the clamps, the glue found and soaked into the crack quite easily. Because cyanoacrylates use hydroxyl ions (in water) to begin bonding, I used my breath to add moisture to the wheel before clamping a crack and applying the glue.

Sounds a little weird, but it works. (Arlene and my daughter thought it was strange for me to blow into the steering wheel.)

Cyanoacrylate is exceptionally tough stuff. It quickly soaked into the cracked wood and bonded. The areas that built up some glue were devilishly hard to sand down. After the sanding, I applied a coat of clear polyurethane, followed by light sanding and a reapplication of polyurethane. As of this writing, I’ve applied three coats of polyurethane in this fashion, and I believe that one more will be required. I’ve inserted a picture of the entire steering wheel, with the horn button laid in place. (Since it’s a large picture, I lowered the color palette, and that makes things look a little botchy.) The aluminum still needs a little work (already started, to judge from the scratches that are visible), and the wood needs sanding and another coat. By the way, the void that I had to fill is on the reverse side of the wheel, thank goodness.

Steering column and indicator switch

The steering column lacked a couple of items, and the indicator light switch was faulty. Beyond that, the indicator switch lever was badly corroded; what was originally chrome had become little more than a rusty stick with flakes of chrome loosely hanging on it. The larger picture shows the indicator switch — such as it was — on the steering column. It’s attached with a bracket setup that wraps around the outer tube of the column. The old switch clicked into place for left turns, but the right turns would not hold, making it necessary to hold the switch in place. The trouble was the nylon fitting that was cracked on the side that affected the right. We completely disassembled the switch and discovered some pretty badly burnt points and worn plastic (Bakelite?) housings. In short, the indicator switch is pretty much junk. It’ll be entirely replaced.

The steering column consists of two major parts: an outer tube and the shaft. The shaft is held in place by two bushes, one at the top of the tube and the other at the bottom. The bushes are available in felt or plastic. I went with the plastic versions, in spite of the fact that the originals were felt. The felt bushes are sandwiched by washers and held in place by a wire circlip that snaps into holes on the top and bottom sides of the outer tube. The plastic arrangement is much simpler, since the plastic ring simply snaps into place in the holes. (The holes for the upper bush are visible in the picture on the left.) The two bushes have unequal inner dimensions. The lower bush is smaller than the upper one, since the shaft tapers in stepwise fashion from top to bottom.

When we picked up the car, the steering column shaft was noticably shaky in the tube. This was because a previous owner didn’t bother to replace the felt bushes but instead rigged up a plastic arrangement. This “bush” was mounted centrally on the column (a great pivot, of course), fashioned from a plastic bottle cap, and affixed with electrical tape. In order to reduce drag, I suppose, the entire shaft was smeared with grease. It is actually amazing that the shaft didn’t bind firmly in the tube, because the electrical tape easily unravelled.

I took pictures of the plastic replacement bushes, but (alas) they are stuck on my digital camera. The dongle has disappeared from the household, and of course no one has any idea where it is. When it reappears (soon, I hope), I’ll post a photo of the bushes.

‘Til then….