1963 AP5

1963 AP5's Valiant Regal

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So here's the plan.

Last time I pulled this car apart it was a major, it was properly broken and couldn't be used until a whole lot of stuff was fixed. This time things are different as the car is running great, has proved to be very reliable and doesn't really need anything major in order to keep it on the road. This project is all about fixing up a whole lot of little things that are bugging me and I want to starting getting the car finished to a higher standard.

The to do list:


  • My friendly WOF guy politely suggested that I should replace the upper control arm bushes and one of the upper ball joints before the next warrant check so this will be done.


  • The weather belts on all the side windows need to be replaced as they are all in bad shape



  • The side window glass is all pretty average as well and I have collected up a full set of replacement glass for the car so all the side windows will be replaced.


  • Door seals are leaky and looking very shabby so all will be replaced 



  • Door cards require some attention to repair and replace the trim clips that hold them on, a couple are held on by screws that don't look too flash.



  • The stainless trim on the side of the car also requires some renovation, a couple of them are held on by rivets so they will be removed, repaired and refitted with new trim clips.



  • There is a little bit of rust showing in the left rear guard and this will be repaired before it gets nasty.



I am sure I will discover plenty of other little things to tidy up along the way but I want it all finished before the start of summer so will do my best to stick to the plan.

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OK I actually did some proper work this weekend.

I have had these old doors sitting behind my shed for a couple of years now.


They are rusty as hell but the glass is pretty tidy so I dragged them out and set about removing the useful bits. Amazingly all the bolts and screws came loose with no problems at all so no broken bolts, screws or knuckles.


The glass all came out intact so I added it to the other bits of glass that I have collected up over the last couple of years and cleaned it all up. The glass is not perfect but it is a whole lot better than what is in the car so I am very happy. Big thanks to fellow AP5 freak and all-round GC @64vauxhall for helping out with some of this.


The stainless trim from the old doors was also worth saving so I salvaged it all for the parts hoard



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I purchased the required suspension parts this week.


The upper ball joints on these Mopar A-bodies are funky looking things, they screw into the upper control arm and the thread is more like an interference fit than a proper machine type thread.


There is a special tool available for removing and installing them however the tool costs 3 times as much as the replacement ball joint so I am keen to know if anybody has a good alternative option for competing this job.

If somebody in Auckland has the tool and would be happy to help me out installing the joint I would be extremely grateful (beer will be shouted).

The proper thing looks like this.


Please feel free to post suggestions or offers of assistance in my discussion thread



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I noticed that I was starting to wear a groove in the negative battery post by disconnecting and re-connecting the battery. I don't trust the 54 year old electrical system in the car so I always disconnect the battery when I park the car in the garage. I have decided to install a battery isolation switch and I would like to be able to operate it remotely (without opening the bonnet) to make it slightly more convenient for regular driving.

I had this switch kicking around so it will do, pretty sure it is a marine switch for a boat but it has a very high current rating so should be perfect for the Valiant.


The first thing you want to do when modifying a switch like this for remote operation with a push / pull style rod is to make things way more technical than they probably need to be.


I cut a leaver out of a piece of fiberglass sheet that I had left over from another project and glued to to the switch knob with some hard core marine epoxy.


Next I made a bracket to mount it all in the car. I had a nice piece of angle that looked like it would do the job but it wasn't quite big enough so I got brave and broke out the little arc welder. I don't weld very often so I am always stoked when I successfully stick bits of metal together.



And here it is all ready to go in the car. There is room to mount the switch below the battery tray out of sight and I plan to operate the push / pull rod through the grille removing the need to open the bonnet every time I drive it. Should be way more convenient and will stop me from destroying the battery terminal posts.


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I wasn't going to start the suspension work for a couple of weeks but I had some time this afternoon and decided to get stuck in. @Valiant was kind enough to send up his homegrown upper ball joint removal tool and I was itching to try it out.

I tried to remove the joint with the upper control arm still installed in the car as a couple of members had suggested but it was super tight and I had no hope of moving it. I think this was mostly due to the fact that I was only using a 1/2 inch drive breaker bar and a 3/4 drive adapter. It might have worked if I had a proper 3/4 drive breaker bar. 

I persevered for a while but I was afraid of slipping and damaging the front wheel arch or guard so out came the control arm and I decided to go big and get some proper leverage happening.

The control arm bushes require replacement to I ripped out the guts allowing me to pass a piece of round bar through.


Next I held the removal tool in the vice so I could hold the ball joint and had a go at turning the control arm around the ball joint. It took a couple of good swings but I heard a delightful little crack and the joint started to turn in the control arm.


Once it started to turn it was easy to remove the joint using the breaker bar and removal tool.


After giving the control arm a bit of a clean up I installed the new joint. I had a bit of fun getting the joint to screw in straight but a couple of OS members who have done this job before told me to expect this. After few false starts the new joint started to screw in nice and straight and actually went in fairly easily.


While I have the removal tool in the workshop I think I will do the other side so I will see my friends at BNT tomorrow and grab another.

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Managed to sneak in a mid week session in the garage and got the upper control arms refitted.


And there is nothing like a good comparison pic to make you feel good about your efforts.


This weekends job is to remove the lower control arms, torsion bars and radius rods.

I have never taken the lower arms out of a Valiant before so I decided to consult the bible.


I can tell that Dad never removed the lower arms or torsion bars because the pages in the manual are clean (almost like new).


A little different from the more frequently visited pages.


Removing parts that haven't been disturbed since 1963 is always fun so good times ahead!

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I thought the torsion bars would be hard to remove and they lived up to all expectations.

I love it when the workshop manual says "remove the torsion bar using the special tool" but gives no clue whatsoever as to what the tool might look like or how it is used to remove the torsion bars. I have no idea how people got by before you could do a google search! I did a little research and then set about making my own homegrown torsion bar removal tool.


Not exactly rocket science, you just attach it to the torsion bar with the u-bolts and give it a bash with a hammer to knock the torsion bar rearward. The drivers side torsion bar however was perfectly happy where it was and it took some committed bashing to convince it to move. This photo of the "special tool" post torsion bar removal tells the story better than any words possibly could.


I decided to reverse the tool for the passengers side so I had a fresh clean end to destroy. I got fully psychologically prepared for the battle ahead, crawled under the car and gave it a clout. In stark contrast to the drivers side the torsion bar popped out with no problems at all.

From there removing the lower arms was fairly simple.



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More steady progress early in the week , feels like I have a little momentum going now.

I removed the old bushes from the lower control arm assemblies. A little precision grinding was required to remove the bush sleeve from the control arm shaft but the bush was removed successfully. The old bushes were in a pretty bad state as shown here.



I cleaned the lower arms up a little and installed the new bushes. 


All ready to be refitted to the car this weekend.



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Wheel alignment was sorted today all ready for Auckland monthly met tomorrow.

I also got my battery isolation switch installed.

Pretty stoked with this, no more disconnecting and reconnecting the battery terminals.



With the battery tray and battery installed the switch is nicely hidden away from view.


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Had a good evening with the car at the OS July monthly but it was straight back into the shed this weekend to crack on with the project.

Started to work on the doors and interior tidy up.


I removed the sheep skins as they really need a clean.

I haven't seen the stock interior for a while now and man it's a whole lot of green!!


Off with the door cards 


The door cards are actually in better condition than I expected, the damaged areas are small and shouldn't be too hard to repair.



Next job is to remove all the stainless trim from the doors 

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More progress from the weekends efforts. I had a buddy round on Sat helping out so we actually got a whole lot done. We removed all the side window glass from the car and removed the old worn out weather strips.

Crusty old glass out


I removed the window regulators for checking and I am very happy that they are in awesome condition. They will benefit from a clean and a bit of lubrication but other than that they are good enough to put straight back in with the new windows.


1/4 windows removed


Turns out there is a bit of a trick to getting the weather strips out without destroying them and I didn't really figure it out properly until the last door. The weather strips that I removed first are at the top of this picture and the ones that came out last are at the bottom.


The window rubbers from the 1/4 windows are in pretty good condition so I will be re-using them. I will need to clean them up a bit as they are quite dirty and have some paint on them from one of the re-sprays that the car has had over the years. Should be able to remove the paint with care.


Got to have the car ready for the panel and paint shop next week so still plenty to do, it will be a busy week!

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Cool stuff happened this week

A local stainless steel fabricator has been busy restoring the exterior door trims for me, I got them back today and he has done a great job.


As I mentioned in an earlier post the trims were full of holes where the trim had been pop riveted to the doors, all the holes have been repaired and they look great.

Here is a comparison picture.



I have also finished repairing the rear door cards.

Very happy with how they turned out



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