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SR2’s 1947 Vauxhall “Rigamortice” Build Thread


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The last few months have been a bit of a blur, I started getting busy at work and then Targa time came around very quick……





I also had to invest a bit of garage time into giving my latest middle aged crisis a birthday…….



Then all of a sudden it was holiday time and I and the very lovely Mrs sr2,  our son and a bunch of his friends were packing the van to head up North to stay at a mate’s batch………



Even the view from the batches garage was stunning……….



Back home and back to reality; lurking menacingly in the garden was this……..



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The rear end was from an HR Holden, I’d filled the stud holes so as to be able to re-drill it to an HQ stud pattern and fit the larger HQ drums and backing plates. I’d built up and turned the hubs so as to make the brake drum fit hubcentric.
There has been some controversy over the years as to the safety of welding and re-drilling to change stud patterns. The fact that this rear end setup had not only covered 300,000 plus Km but had taken the full impact of a T-bone accident speaks volumes about how strong the hubs still are.....



The drums had finally come off with the judicious use of a sledge hammer, everything was seized and the right rear hub (where the maniacal lady courier driver had hit it may years earlier) was anything but straight……….



It’s often said that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ but of late I’m firmly of the opinion that combining the lack of an appropriate tool with a good mig welder and the obligatory collection of scrap steel under the work bench is the mother of many a good man-cave invention!
Problem; how with no slide hammer how do I remove a 45 plus year old, rusty & bent (that bloody girl in her L300 again!) axel from the diff housing?
Not the prettiest solution but surprisingly effective……….


At this point Rigamortice decided to remind me who really was in control and proceeded to piss oil all over my clean garage floor!



The next job was to tear it all down.
The diff head looked in surprisingly good shape; bearings were smooth and still lubricated, crown wheel and pinion showed near perfect wear marks (many years ago my dear old Dad had the patience to teach me how to set up diffs) and only the planetary gears showed a little more wear than expected (those damned “one wheeler peelers” strike again!). I made the call that that the existing diff would be fine for the time being.
I had a spare set of HD/R axels so I dropped them off at the Steel Surgeon in Manakau to be welded and turned (too big to fit in my lathe). Not only was the price less than what I’d expected they had even had drilled the new stud holes their jig; great guys, great service.
A new set of bearings and they’re ready to go…..



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  • 4 weeks later...

I still remember (although some 50 odd years ago as a child) my father taking me to the famous “Snell Springs” in Newmarket to have a set of springs made up for one of his many projects.


As you turned into a now long gone side street off Khyber Pass rd. you saw a decrepit brick building with heat waves pouring from derelict chimney and the sound of big metal hitting big metal with a regular almost hypnotic beat. With my dear old Dad well known in the Industry (maintenance engineer at Chelsea Sugar Works and night time “management and supervision” lecturer at the then new & burgeoning “ATI”) an awe-struck kid got the full tour- in hindsight they laid it on for me thick!


The sight, smell and sound of a work-blackened man with huge arms wearing a leather apron dragging strips of dull red hot steel from a forced induction coke powered forge and forming them into leaf and coil springs with a massive flywheel press, rollers, hammer and anvil stays with me still. It was a chance to have a glimpse through the gates of Hell where steel was formed, worked and hardened with heat, sweat, muscle and experience.


Problem was I was stuck with a dilapidated pair of these…….




…..and Snell’s were long gone.
With a little care, an old strong vice and some big G clamps I managed the disassembly with fingers still intact.




Next step was a week of the ‘electrolysis pickle bath” running 24/7!



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As stated earlier I’d ditched the original rear lever action shocks and replaced them with a somewhat over engineered set of angle iron brackets to convert to telescopic shocks.  (All the better for performing Rigamortice’s legendry “one wheeler peelers”!)….




On closer inspection when removed, the brackets were very rusty; steadfastly resisting the temptation to fabricate a new set I gave them a few days in the phosphoric acid bath (this is supposed to be a restoration project after all). With all the rust removed they looked not only serviceable but had a cool interesting grainy texture to them, a bit of rust proofing and they’ll live again…..




The only challenge now is to identify the shocks.
Fitted during the 70’s I’m simply at a loss to remember where they came from, (both Rigamortice and I are living proof that if you can remember the 70’s you weren’t there!).




We now offer up a free, slightly sat on chocolate fish to anyone who can identify them or suggest a suitable replacement.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally the fun part, time to breathe a little life into Rigamortice’ s much used and abused 186 X2 Holden 6…..




A little TLC with the rattle gun and Motor came to bits easily……..




As expected the tired old girl will need a full rebuild but sadly some of the exhaust valves on Rigamortice’s  Classic Vintage Yella Terra head had corroded stems from where they had been left open in one position for too long. My fault entirely, I should have been turning the motor over on a more regular basis. (Shame I can’t buy another one for $85!).






I contacted Yella Terra and they haven’t made these valves for decades, to further complicate things the valve stems are already 5 thou oversize. Any help on tracking down replacement valves would be appreciated.

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Just a big thanks to the guys at Auckland Panel and Paint who have been storing Rigamortice for the duration of the house renovations. Great to see a very modern high-tech panel shop that still has a corner for classic cars, their level of workmanship is up there with the best.




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 I’m always chasing after new “old stock” parts and never cease to be amazed by what’s still out there. I picked up these brass frost-plugs on Trademe, I’m guessing they’re early 80’s?


 What I really love is the cars listed on the back of the packet, after surviving all these years it’s almost a shame that I’ll be breaking the seal and using them.



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One of the pleasures of chasing down Oldschool car parts has to be the people you meet. I scored these timing gears off an old guy who was building a replica of the Torana he used to circuit race many years ago.

Talk about a wealth of knowledge on modifying Holden 6’s, he was more than happy let me pick his brains for an hour or so when I collected them. (Thanks Grant, you've not only earned my respect - you rock!).


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