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Sunbeam's 1973 Fiat 125


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Ooooooh, page 3!

Except for pic no.3 all the internet pics I found of 125s with CD66s ride as high as 4x4s. The smaller tyre diameter exacerbating the arch gap..It looks dark green one has had work done on the arches? I can’t wait to get my car back so I can have another measure. I found some scribbled notes in the shed from when I was checking clearances previously and I had calculated that a 7 inch rim would need a 20 offset to fit. I’m all for laying down some $ on sweet rims but I need to satisfy myself that they will 100% fit.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Cracked into the suspension bushings today, starting with the track rod bushes. The left one loosened off well. So I had a go at cracking the right. This one is putting up a real fight-one that I am losing. I’m stuck here now and it won’t move in any direction anymore. I think I need to borrow Dad’s die grinder and cut it and split it off before I do any more damage to myself or the car.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Snapped up this garage ornament. It’s a 1608cc 125 engine. Cams have rust on the lobes, so it’s definitely been sitting a while. Came with a carb (another Solex...) part of a starter motor, and a flywheel (which upon closer inspection has “Holden” cast into it) I’ll tuck it away and give it a good inspection in the future. The vendor alleges it “has good bores”. We shall see.


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  • 3 weeks later...

The water jacket is in very nice condition. No pitting, and just a light dusting of surface rust.


I have cleaned up the outside of the fuel tank too. No pics because it’s boring. I just hit any spots with signs of rust spidering under the paint with a strip disc, then spot painted with brunox. Then I hit the whole thing with 400 grit and painted it with a brush and some White Knight rust killer paint I had leftover from another project. 

Inside the tank looks like this though: that’s the back of the drain bung you can see on the right of the picture.65FD1A83-33E7-44C8-9072-4CD36173D9D1.thumb.jpeg.0f2639f5cf56f31151c08f2e941c1b8d.jpeg

Check out the tide mark.


Thoughts on how to treat?


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I got started on the engine strip down today. I was confused almost immediately (not difficult to achieve).

This is the thermostat housing, next to the new thermostat I have in stock:


The first thing I did was to take the coolant neck off the head. What I found was another thermostat!


Then I was confused. That’s my story.

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Photo dump! 

I doubt this is the O.G. gasket. Bores are well glazed too. Some marks, but can’t really feel them.


The gasket is damaged…




Underside, check out the scorch mark:


Mark on the head between 1&2 (left of following pic)


Scorch mark on block



Big end cap, bearing has faint scuff, but can’t feel anything.


Big end journal:



This is where it gets uglier. Main cap & bearing. Check out the dark marks on the edges of the bearing:


Main journals have black skid marks on them. I can’t tell if they’re damaged at this point, or if it’s deposited burnt oil.


Cam boxes are FILTHY, however the exhaust cam is quite a bit less filthy.



The cams have a lot of end float, but there’s no specs for it in the book. Crank end float seems fine. Finally, the pistons look like standard size, they have very gummed up oil rings but most worryingly they are very tight on the gudgeon pins, the rods won’t swing at all. In fact it takes a fair bit of force to rock the piston. Something aint right.  Aaaand I accidentally dropped number 4 on the concrete. Looks fine though…




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  • 2 weeks later...

Rewinding a little, I stripped the spare engine. Remember how I had written earlier that the vendor had stated it had “good bores”? It seems my scepticism was well founded!



Ooh, nice. Clearly well maintained.


Won’t turn, so soak them pistons 


Three days later, 3 pistons out, one still firmly in. I tried all sorts of brews, heat etc. Hammering with a wooden drift did not work at all, the drift was absorbing too much force. In the end I smashed it out with a steel drift. During this pounding, the head flew off my big ball pein hammer and of course it landed on the CAR!! Bounced twice, and luckily missed the boy,



Anyway, check out the mint bore66821188-1924-4834-A65C-798DD64D856F.jpeg.a5aa774940424f0864c60fc411097a05.jpeg

And piston



I will scrap this piston due to the loads I imposed on it during extraction. So I have a usable crank, head and some pistons and rods and of course the block could be used if bored out, but since pistons are unobtainium that’s academic. The cam lobes are rusted to buggery and the intake cam is rusted into the cam box and I’ve been unable to extract it.


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Rewind even further. Before I tore into the engine I needed to do something with the bumpers because they were cluttering up my work bench. They’re alright on the outside, and mostly straight but the overriders have seen better days and probably a few knocks too. I wanted to do an overrider delete anyway because I prefer the look. The insides of the bumpers were deeply rusty. I mummified the shiny side with masking tape.


Then, I spent ages trying to clean up the inner surfaces. Starting with a wire brush and then moving to sandpaper. This took hours! The end result wasn’t great, but I cleaned and degreased them and then went Brunox x 3 coats, high build primer, then 3 top coats in black.


I then needed some long bolts to replace the long studs that are part of the overriders. No bumper bolts I have seen are anywhere near long enough, so I ended up buying stainless engineering coach bolts. These are a very dull finish and have grading numbers on the heads. I ground the numbers off very carefully with my most worn out flap disc. Then I went through wet sanding by hand up to 2000 grit and then finished with Autosol. They came up nice.1D74E44B-9E5C-47B9-8B1A-FDB5E70DA6EA.thumb.jpeg.6db954800ce25a31d80ddce25f2f380a.jpeg

No wide shot, sorry due to fullness of shed, but I’m happy enough. There are some visible witness marks in the chrome mostly on the rear bumper where the overriders used to sit, but the bumpers are not the worst looking part of the car by a long way. 
I’m no further with the engine either.


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  • 3 months later...

This is basically just a proof of life post. Due to economic setbacks, 2021 did not see the return to roadworthiness of the Fiat. I’m chipping away at things though, and having a fun time with the quality (or lack thereof) of today’s aftermarket parts. 
Exhibit A.


New driveshaft centre bearing support (“pillowblock” in the book… cute name) spacing of bolt holes…


To slot or not? And an expensive piece of cheese:


this is a giubo, or “flex coupling”. The o.g. Unit is a bit doughy and cracked after 50 years. The steel sleeve pictured collapsed before getting anywhere near the specified torque on the fastener. I’m in talks with the supplier who seems to be deflecting at the moment.

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