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Flash's 1965 Ford Thames


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With everything in place I gave it a quick whirl.

Success !

The action is nice and smooth now, but there is one last issue that I need to resolve.

The original 4 speed Thames gearbox only had two gate selections with reverse selected using a "pull - push down and rotate" action on the handle. The factory Thames column shift defaults to the gear 3 and 4 plane when in neutral with a pull up on the handle for gears 1 and 2. This is achieved by a spring in the column that pushes the mechanism fully down at rest.

The Toyota 5 speed obviously has 3 gate selections and on the HiAce the neutral position is controlled by springs contained in the side casing on the gearbox.

But now with the HiAce gearbox connected to the Thames column the setup defaults to the gear 5 and reverse plane when at rest. This is not ideal.

Best scenario would be for the selector to default to the gear 3 and 4 position at rest with a pull up on the handle for 1 and 2 and a push down for 5 and reverse

So I'm thinking that if I remove the spring in the Thames column, with a little bit of luck the springs in the HiAce gearbox may take over control of the neutral position.

It's worth a go I reckon.

Well now that I've put you all to sleep with all of this useless detail, all that remains is to show you a schematic of the Thames column and the offending spring that I intend to banish from the land tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

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Well it's been a bit of a frustrating week here at Rough & Ready Restos.

In my last update I mentioned that I was going to have a go at getting the column shift to rest on the 3rd and 4th gear plane when in neutral. Sounded easy enough at the time, but boy was I wrong.

Each day I've tried a different approach to achieve a consistent result and each day it has ended in tears. I've tried endless cable adjustments and multiple combinations of springs in various lengths and strengths both inside the shift column and outside on the gearbox arms but to no avail.

The crux of the matter is that the HiAce gearbox uses gravity to return the gate arm from the upper position to the middle setting when at rest. This works fine with the standard HiAce rod shifters, but with the conversion to cables there seems to be a bit of residual force left in the cable that works against gravity. I've  spent hours and hours fine tuning the slack in the cable in an attempt to overcome this residual force. Climb under the van, adjust cable, climb back into the cab and try again ... over and over again. Not fun.

With the week feeling like something resembling the plot from the movie Groundhog Day, by Friday morning I'd had a guts full and decided it was time to change tack.

So I rummaged around the pile of discarded parts stored in the back of the Starwagon and came across the floor shifter that I had pulled out of the newer Express van. The Express has a factory fitted 5 speed cable shift gearbox, so I thought it would be interesting to see how this shifter would work with the HiAce gearbox.

I positioned my little portable work bench next to the Thames and clamped the gearshift housing in the vice, chucked the cables in gave it a whirl.

In a nutshell it is absolutely brilliant. The mechanism itself has a return spring attached to the gate cable which returns the shifter to the gate for 3rd and 4th gear perfectly every time. A bit of fine tning of the cables and I was able to get a smooth and consistent change over and over again. I even got Mr's Flash to give it a go and she was most impressed.

So the dilemma now is do I change tack and go with the floor shifter permanently, or keep trying with the column shifter.

Decisions ... decisions.

Pic of the Express floor shifter below.

Thanks for reading.

 

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Okay, so the jury is still out on whether to use the Express floor mounted shifter, but I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise investing a bit of time to mock the thing up inside the van.

First off I needed to find a way to temporarily route the two shift cables inside the cab without drilling ruddy great holes in the floor.

So I removed the insect mesh and hinged lid off the state of the art fresh air intake and routed the new cable through the gap. Sadly the other cable isn't long enough, but that's okay as I've got a longer one on order anyway.

 

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Since the shifter installation is a temporary arrangement for now I didn't want to drill any mounting holes in the pristine front tunnel, so I figured out a way to fix a temporary mounting bracket using some existing bolts holes on either side of the tunnel. 

I then fashioned a bracket out of some old plywood off cuts. Not the prettiest looking thing, but strong enough to hold everything in place for the moment.

With the shifter mounted to the temporary bracket I set about proving the following:

  1. When fully raising the forward hinged engine cover will clear the new gearshift mechanism.
  2. The gear stick will clear the column mounted handbrake lever when the handbrake is fully engaged.
  3. The final height of the gear stick combined with the stick movements will not clash with the dashboard.
  4. The proposed location of the gear stick is easy to reach from the driving position and the stick movements are easily executed.

So with a tick next to each item above, all that is left to do is to chuck in the new cable when it arrives.

I plan to leave this temporary arrangement in place until I have successfully completed a road test.

If we do decide to retain the floor shifter I'll then happily drill some through holes for the cables as well as mounting holes for the shifter. It should be easy enough to fabricate a neat little console to cover the ugliness underneath.

Thanks for reading. 

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While I've been waiting for my new shift cable to arrive I thought I'd turn my attention to a few other items that need ticking off the list.

First up was some additional work on one of my gearbox mount brackets. I've now incorporated the chassis rail strengthening plate requested by the Certifier and a holding bracket for the outer sheath of the gate shift cable. It looks pretty bulky but with the gearbox in place it slips nicely down the gap between the gearbox casing and chassis leg and then bolts into position. Just needs a final tidy up and a lick of paint and I'll call it done.

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Another item on the list is the upgrading of the original Thames windscreen wiper motor. The wipers are currently powered by a vacuum system that was connected to an additional port on the Thames fuel pump. Local certification rules call for a dual speed wiper. I cheekily mentioned to my Certifier that the existing vacuum system was multi-speed, but he didn't buy it for some reason.

Anyhoo, first step was to pull out the original system in its entirety.

The pipe with all the white over spray on it is the one that was connected to the extra fuel pump port. The shorter looking pipe is actually a little pull cable that activates the mechanism when the dash mounted switch is turned.

Talk about a fine example of leading edge technology:

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I'm planning to retain the spindles and arms and will replace the vacuum system with a dual speed electric motor. 

As a Starter for Ten I thought I'd give the HiAce unit out of donor van number one a try as I'd already pulled it out a few weeks back before that van met its untimely demise.

Looking closely at the HiAce wiper motor I noticed that it has 4 wires feeding it. First step is to figure out what each wire does, so I grabbed the spaghetti that is number ones old wiring harness and proceeded to separate out the wiper and windscreen washer wires. Attached to some of the wiper wires is an interesting looking little electrical box that is labelled "wiper control", I'm guessing it either controls the intermittent wiper speed - if the HiAce has such a feature, or if not maybe it controls the short wipe cycle when the windscreen washer bottle is activated.  I've harvested it anyway and time will tell what it actually does.

I'll use the original HiAce wiper stalk to test everything, but ultimately I'll connect the wiper up to a dash mounted push pull switch for that period correct look.  

More tomorrow.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The saga of the windscreen wiper upgrade continues and its been a bit of a learning curve for me to be honest.

Turns out the original vacuum power pack only turns 180 degrees before reversing the cycle whereas the drive on the 12 volt HiAce wiper motor turns a full 360 degrees, so my plan to use the HiAce motor with the original Thames mechanism is not going to fly. Bugger.

So I rummaged around my parts bin and set my sights on using the HiAce rear screen wiper motor. Hooked it up to a car battery and sure enough the little gearbox built in to this unit reduces the drive turn to the magic 180 degrees. I managed to temporarily attach the motor to the Thames mechanism and sure enough it works like a charm.Only issue is that this unit is a single speed job, so from a cert perspective here in Straya it's not going to fly.

Potato pick of the single speed rear unit so that it has its moment of fame before being consigned back to the parts bin.

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A famous man once said "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" :

So I cracked straight in to Plan C which was to see what else I could find amongst by donor fleet, the focus being on the two Mitsi vans. Since they are a similar vintage to the HiAces I figured they would also be using 360 degree wiper motors so I focused on the rear windscreen setups. Again two fails as both units are single speed. Double bugger.

Plan D - I briefly toyed with the idea of sourcing a new universal cable driven setup that are popular amongst the hot rod building fraternity, so looked it up on the Google but they are pretty spendy and besides where is the fun in taking the cowards way out.

Plan E - I checked out the cable driven factory unit fitted to Mrs Flash's Moke, but she wasn't having a bar of that, so I swiftly moved on to Plan F.

Plan F - so whilst checking out the Mitsi donor fleet I noticed that the spacing between the two wiper knurls (yes .... as part of the Google exercise I added a new word to my vocabulary) on the older Starwagon looked suspiciously similar to the same spacing on the Thames. Grabbed my trusty measuring tape and took a few readings and ... yes ... who would have guessed that the spacing is identical. Now its at this point that I started to get excited and raced ahead with a cunning plan.

First step was to get a closer look at the Starwagon mechanism. Grovelling under the dash is for pussies so I grabbed my trusty grinder of angles and did the front of the van a quick mischief in true Rough & Ready Resto's fashion.

Pulled the arms out and quickly chucked them under the Thames dash - no grinder this time though - and the next surprise was that I didn't even have to open up the Thames holes to get the spindles to fit.

With reference to the second pic below the wiper motor attaches to the shorter arm so will fit snugly under the passenger side of the steel Thames dash.

So far so good with Plan F.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

A minor operation and the arrival of a new pup have kept me out of the shed for a few weeks. With my stitches now out I managed to sneak in an hour on the Thames in between puppy sitting duties.

Earlier in the week I received a small parcel from the UK containing a few bits and bobs, so I thought I'd fit the new rubber grommet for the fuel tank neck.

A relatively small step, but it looks heaps better so I thought it was worthy of a post.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Life has been getting in the way at the moment, but today I managed to sneak in a quick hour on the Thames.

First thing I wanted to check out was the new lower control arm inner bushes. These have been an absolute mission to source. A bit of background to puut you to sleep:

The factory original rubber units were pretty flogged and I couldn't find anyone who supplies replacement units in rubber so I ended up ordering some aftermarket ones from Whiteline. The first set delivered were too small despite the supplier being adamant that they were the correct ones for the SD series L300. I ended up having to remove one of the originals to take some accurate measurements. With the dimensions confirmed I spent a bit of time nosing around on the Whiteline website and discovered that the bushes listed for the newer SJ series L300 are the correct dimensions. Ordered them in and test fitted one a week or so back, but I discovered that there is a bit of sideways play between the steel inner tube supplied and the original factory through bolt. I posted a query on the Tech Forum asking if this play was normal, but didn't get any response. So today I thought I'd chuck a vernier on the inner factory tube. Turns out the diameter is the same and a test fit shows an equal amount of sideways play on the through bolt, so I guess this is normal. I'm hoping that fitting the caster rod will firm things up. Time will tell I guess.

Thanks for reading.

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Second task of the day was to replace my faulty floor mounted headlight dipper with a NOS unit that arrived from the UK in my latest parcel.

It looks a bit shop soiled but works like a charm, so that's another thing ticked off the list

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  • 2 weeks later...

Managed to grab a few hours in the shed this morning, so using my mock up engine I quickly whipped up a basic 6mm mounting plate that enables me to bolt the L300 power steering bracket to the side of the Toyota 3Y engine.  

In the past its always taken me a few goes to get the correct length drive belt needed, so this time I thought I'd try a different method. Not sure how sound my reasoning is. Time will tell I guess

So, in a nutshell I had a new 4PK825 belt lying around. Its way longer than needed but I was able to swivel the pump far enough over to tension this belt up. With the pump under tension I pulled the crank pulley off which allowed me to remove the belt without moving the pump. I then chucked a string around both pulleys. String length measured 810 mm compared to the factory marked belt measurement of 825 mm. I then swiveled the pump back to its correct position and clamped it up. Using the same string I then got a measurement of 740 mm.

To my simple brain if a 810 mm string equates to a 825 mm belt then the ratio of string to belt is somewhere around 1: 1.0185. Using this formula a 740 mm long string should equate to a belt measurement of 753.7 mm.

I've taken a punt and have ordered a Gates 4PK750.

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So with the belt on order the next step was to bolt the pump onto the engine in the Thames to check clearances.

The good news is that there is adequate clearance between the pump and the chassis leg.

Top view:

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Next step is to figure out a good place to mount the fluid reservoir and I can then work out the pipework needed.

I grabbed the pressure pipe from the Mitsi donor van and hooked it up to the pump.

It's way too long, but at least I can re-use the fittings on either end.

I've puzzled more or less what I need as shown in the marked up photo below, but I need to test mount the radiator to double check clearances, before I start modifying the pipe.

My neighbor Lane earns a crust making up hydraulic hoses and should be home this weekend coming, so I'll call on him for a hand.

Thanks for reading.

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First task for today was to mount the radiator and shroud as I figured the radiator and the power steering pressure pipe might be fighting over the same real estate. Looks like I should just manage to squeeze everything in with enough clearance to keep my cert man happy.

While I had the radiator in position I thought I'd trial fit my new upper radiator pipe. Its one of those flex jobbies. I'm a lot happier with this than I was with the two part hose setup that I was previously running. 

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I've had one of those brake pipe flaring tools lying around the shed for many moons, but have never given it a try. A few weeks back I thought I'd have a go at modifying the clutch line in order to mate the HiAce slave cylinder flexi hose to the Thames master cylinder hard line.

My first attempt ended up leaking on the new flare and at the time I suspected user error, mainly due to the fact that I had trimmed the hard line with a hacksaw. So I went online and ordered one of China's finest mini pipe cutters which arrived last week.

Cracked into it after morning smoko and I now have what appears to be a working clutch with no dribble.

A sneaky peek at my precision tools cause no one likes a picture less update.

 

 

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The next item on the agenda is to sort out a fluid reservoir for the power steering, so I ambled over to my trusty old Mitsi donor van and managed to relieve it of this likely looking candidate.

What a grubby girl that Mitsi is ... typical backpacker van. Nothing that can't be fixed with a bit of de-greaser and wipe over with a rag though. Then I just need to figure out where I can squeeze it in.

Boy, the old Thames engine box is getting to be a busy little office.

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