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Flash's 1965 Ford Thames


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So with fan mock up number one consigned to the naughty corner, I looked at some other sizes. 13 inch fans seem to be fairly thin on the ground with only a few eBay listings, but apart from one expensive option locally the rest seem to be only available in Murica. 12 inch seem to be a common enough thing. On a 12 incher the overall diameter of the housing comes in at 310 mm.

Armed with this info I cracked in to cardboard mock up number 2.

This time things look more promising.

With a perfect gap of approx 20 mm all round between the shroud opening and the fan dimensions the fan housing clears the radiator's side mounting rails, but still clashes with the top tank. If I offset the fan slightly downwards on the radiator I'm able to clear the top tank which in turn means I can mount the fan flush against the radiator core without having to modify the shroud. Ending up with the fan not sitting perfectly spaced inside the shroud opening is going to wreak havoc with my OCD tendencies, but I'll try to live with it. 

So looks like mock up number 2 moves to the top of the class and I'm now in for a 12 inch electric fan.

Next dilemma is whether to go for curved or straight fan blades. Google tells me that curved blades are quieter than straights but are also less efficient. Now I guess when you have a 3Y screaming its tits off directly under your bum a bit of fan noise is going to be the least of your worries. Also if I do get to hear the fan over the noise of the 3Y it might be quite reassuring knowing that it has kicked into life and my engine isn't about to cook in its own juices.

All things considered I'm leaning towards a straight bladed model, but as always I'm really keen to hear the opinion of those more knowledgeable on the subject so feel free to share your thoughts. I'll hold off ordering the fan until tomorrow.   

Thanks for reading.

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Yay, yay .. it's exhaust day.

Today seems like a fine day to make a start on the exhaust.

Thought I'd start off by checking out the original Thames system which is largely still intact. First observation is that it looks to be pretty new and is in perfect condition. The front pipe and muffler are mild steel measuring 41 mm inner diameter, but the pipework exiting the muffler is stainless steel and measures 35 mm inner diameter. I had to cut off the front portion of the pipe to get the mock up engine in and the pipe stub left attached to the muffler points directly at the newly fabricated front suspension strut brace mount so that will need to change.

I had a bit of a debate with the Certifier when he dropped round for the first inspection as the rule book here states that the exhaust must exit behind the last opening door on a vehicle which would have meant that I would have had to reroute the tailpipe to exit behind the back doors. I managed to get agreement to leave the system exiting the side as this was the original factory setup. I'm much happier with that as I battled with my Bedford which had a rear exiting tail pipe and always seemed to suck in a slight exhaust smell through the back doors even although I had NOS door seals fitted.

Anyway, getting back on track, I pulled the manky old Toyota systems into the shed to check a few measurements and the HiAce pipes come in at 38 mm inner diameter from front to back. Even although the Thames is slightly narrower in the tail pipe department I'm thinking of sticking with the Thames system for now mainly due to its condition and the fact that it is already in place. I'm not building a performance vehicle so I'll happily live with any loss in power that the smaller pipes may cause.

Initial pics for your viewing pleasure.

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I decided to tackle the easiest challenge first being the clash between the front pipe and the new strut brace mount.

Due to the fact that the Thames has a wooden floor in the load area I want to stick to hanging things off the chassis wherever possible. Took a quick peek at the existing muffler hanger and I'm thinking I can replace the existing bolt with a longer version so that I can push the exhaust more towards the centre of the van. The nut and bolt look pretty fresh but I sprayed it with some WD40 anyway and it came out easily. Scratched around amongst my stash and couldn't find a bolt long enough for the job, but did find an undersized piece of threaded rod that should work for a temp mock up. Chucked it on for an instant win. The pipe now clears the strut brace and the exit pipe that crosses above the driveshaft still has heaps of clearance. The muffler is a bit on the piss at the moment but the meatier bolt with a tube spacer should hopefully do the trick for the final solution. if not I'll have to extend the bracket.

The tailpipe is now way to long but I'll give it a trim when the rest of the system has been finalised.

Next step is to tackle the harder bit which is the front piece of the pipe that mates up to the manifold.

Thanks for reading.

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I then moved on to part two of the exhaust puzzle. First thing I did was offer up the original HiAce front pipe to the exhaust manifold. Instant fail as the two pipes that exit the exhaust flange run side by side resulting in not enough space between the gearbox and the strut brace mount to get them in.

My initial thinking is to try to run these two pipes one above each other as this will fit in the gap with plenty of clearance.

I have two of these front pipes in stock, so decided to experiment with the one in the worst condition. I took to the pipework with my reciprocating saw . The original bends looked pretty oval and were at the wrong angles so I binned them and proceeded to cut a nice 90 degree bend off the tail piece of each of the HiAce systems where it loops over the rear axle. The angles on these bends look more like it and are in better shape than the originals. I think I've now got enough pieces to mock up what is required. I just need to trim some more off each of the pipes on the Y section and with a bit of luck it should all line up.

Till next time.

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I didn't feel like dragging the welder out today so no progress on the exhaust, but I thought I'd crack into one of the other items still to do.

During the pre-cert inspection the certifier asked me to weld in some RHS off-cuts between the two sections that make up the new front beam spacers, just to give the tall box like structure some additional strength. I figured I'd go one step further and get some thick wall crush tubes fabricated so I ordered these from my mate Jason at the local engineering works and got a call on Thursday to say they were ready, so I swung by and picked them up.

The two side plates that make up the box haven't been welded in yet, so easy enough to poke some holes in them.

The tubes call for an 18 mm diameter hole and since the plate is 8 mm thick its a big ask of my little battery drill. Took my time with plenty of cooling down in between and the little Ozito managed to survive the task.

I'll drill the corresponding holes in the box side already tacked to the front beam when I take the whole lot out for full welding, but at least half the job is done.

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Yesterday I managed to tack the front portion of the exhaust together before I ran out of wire. I've got a supply trip into town planned for tomorrow, so the exhaust will have to wait until after that.

Today I thought I'd make a start on cleaning up the 3Y donor engine in preparation for final fitting. One of the things I want to do is swap the sump out for the one on the mock-up engine as this one has the dodgy little oil level sender unit which looks like it is weeping. The other sump doesn't have this so less chance of leaks. On pulling the sump I've spotted more evidence that supports the previous owner's claims that the engine has had a reco. The hand painted marking on the crankshaft doesn't look factory to me ... or is it ?

Timing chain and oil pump look pretty mint too. I stuck a thin torch up its bum and from what I can see the lobes on the cam and the underside of the pistons look pretty fresh.  On the outside the welsh plugs look new and the coolant galleries look nice and clean so it might have had a dip.

It sounded pretty good when I ran it a few months back, so for now I don't plan to pull it down any further. I'm not a fan of the red paintwork on the block and the muppet who painted it coated the front timing chain cover and also managed to get over spray on part of the head which adds to the current crappy look. I'm not going to go overboard in the looks department, but I do have a few cans of VHT satin black engine paint lying around so I'll give it a general clean and then quick squirt of that to improve things.

Pics of the mighty 3Y with its pants off for your viewing pleasure.

Thanks for reading.

 

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Well that's the first version of the exhaust all welded up and it's yet another fine example of the quality workmanship produced here at Rough & Ready Restos ....... not.

In this version I've re-orientated and shortened the HiAce "two into one" front portion and then glued the flange off the worst of the HiAce mufflers onto my Thames muffler so that it all bolts together like the factory HiAce system. Using this flange allows me to easily swap out the Thames muffler for the larger HiAce one that I still have in stock if I find the Thames muffler too restrictive. I'm keen to keep the Thames muffler if I can as its smaller and lighter than the HiAce unit as well as being in better condition. I'll run it like this at first and can always change over to the Toyota muffler if I'm not happy. 

I've given the muffler bracket a bit more thought as I'm not too happy with my original plan to just extend the mounting bolt, especially if I do end up using the heavier muffler, so I'll work on an improved bracket next.

Thanks for reading.

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And that's the muffler bracket sorted. It ain't going to win any beauty pagents, but it's good and strong so I'm happy with the result. I've used the rubber hanger off the HiAce which is way more robust than the Thames hanger.

With this done I can now tick the exhaust system off the "to do" list. 

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Earlier in the week the courier dropped off my silicone 45mm to 38mm reducer pipes. Unfortunately the supplier was out of black 90 degree bends so I've had to make do with a blue one for now, but at least I can get my radiator pipework mocked up. So that was the plan for today.

Started off with the lower hose. I'm using the 90 degree reducer which matches the 45 mm outlet on the Thames radiator. The 38 mm  end is just slightly bigger in diameter than the Mitsi Express lower hose that I am using on the engine side, but should clamp up okay with a decent bead on the metal joiner. The reducer needed a slight trim at both ends, but fitted up perfectly and clears the power steer pulley nicely. I'm not a fan of the blue pipe, so will likely source a black one further down the track.

All that's left to complete the lower pipework is to fabricate the hose joiner.

 

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For the top radiator pipe I'm using an Aeroflow reducer but this time a 45 degree bend. Again the fatter end of the reducer matches the 45 mm radiator outlet. I've orientated the bend horizontally which gets me in the general direction that I need to be. To join the Aeroflow reducer to a short straight piece of 35mm hose I'm using the metal bend that I scavenged from the lower radiator pipe on the HiAce. Took a bit of elbow grease to get the smaller hose on but it fits pretty good.

All that's left to complete the upper pipework is to glue the modified neck back on to its base. It's aluminium so I'll ask my mate Jason to glue it together for me. 

Thanks for reading.

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Today was the start of the next phase of the Thames project which I am calling the Finalisation and Beautification Phase.

First step was to pull out the front cross member and suspension which is now done. I've stripped the front end down to a bare beam for final welding.

The mock up engine is chained in position for the moment, but it will be the next thing to come out.

 

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Short update today.

I spent the morning poking a few holes in each of the mounting plates that are already tacked to the front beam. Took it nice and slow as I didn't want to overtax my little battery drill. Also cleaned up the metal ready for full welding, as that's the next step.

 

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Woke up this morning feeling inspired to strip some more bits off the Thames. Thought I'd start off by doing the sump swap while the mock up engine was hanging in the air. Got that done in double quick time and then dropped the engine and gearbox onto the floor.

I can now banish the dirty old mock up bits to the naughty corner.

 

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The courier dropped off my 12 volt cooling fan yesterday so I positioned it on the Thames radiator to check clearances. Looks pretty good.

The box type uprights on the front beam are all welded up. Just need to give it a final tidy up and trim the crush tubes. The box uprights are still only tacked to the chassis mounting plates as I want to get the van on a wheel alignment machine to make sure everything is true before finalising those welds.

Apologies for the pic quality.

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Today I completed round one of cleaning of the underside. Used about a dozen cans of degreaser followed by a good water blast.

Below are some pics that I took before I started. Most of the underside was pretty dry with some areas of sheet metal showing a light dusting of surface rust. The underside of the plywood floor in the load area looks to be in pretty good condition with just a thick smear of gunge above the gearbox tail shaft and another above the diff pinion. The side walls of the engine box were also pretty oily as were the areas around the brake and clutch pedal pivots which I guess is as a result of over greasing somewhere along the line. 

It doesn't look too bad after the first round, but the smears on the plywood floor are still noticeable, so I'll give those areas another go tomorrow.

Thanks for looking.

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Spent the morning languishing under the Thames with a scraper and wire brush. I ended up lifting it a bit higher so the work angle is less awkward on my poor old back.

More scraping tomorrow followed by a second pressure clean. Hard yakka indeed, but its getting there.

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The underside of the Thames feels like the gift that just keeps on giving at the moment.

Spent the morning attacking the passenger side wheel well with a small wire brush on my battery drill. It came up pretty good with quite a bit of the original factory paint intact. Managed to make a start on the chassis rail and floor lip too.

More of the same tomorrow.

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Well, it's been a solid week of wire brushing, de-greasing and pressure cleaning and of course I picked the middle of a heatwave to get this done. Not so perfect timing, but I think I'm finally happy with the chassis and underside, so next step is to apply some paint.

In other news I picked up my modified steering column from Jason at my local engineering works. His team have done a top job of the welding and also made me an acetyl bush for the bottom of the column to keep everything centralised. Next step is to drop the inner column off for crack testing which I'll hopefully do early in the new week.

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It's a bit of a lame update today. 

This morning I finished applying the final coat of paint to the chassis and underside. Even although it is satin black the paint has a textured finish so doesn't photograph very well, especially  with my little potato camera, but I've included a shot of the underside of one of the foot wells after the first coat, just to give you an idea.

With the underside done I can now concentrate on cleaning up the various bits and pieces before final assembly. I started the ball rolling by giving the fuel tank and the rear leaf springs a bit of a scrub. The plan for tomorrow is to refurb and mount the leaf springs. I've already sourced new rubber bushes which I will press in tomorrow. I'm planning to remove the two short lower leaves that the under mounted axle bolts up to in order to drop the rear ride height by a tad. 

More tomorrow.

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