The Saga of the Barn Healey, Pt II

This article is a continuation of Healeyman Jim’s Red Healey Saga

At last, I own the beast and can start getting it cleaned up and made roadworthy. Since the car is backed into the garage, I decided to start working from the trunk forward.

Placing the car on the jack stands, I begin by removing the luggage rack bolted to the trunk lid. It has some minor rust in the corners and is quite dull. I polish the chrome until it is shiny and use fine steel wool in the corners until all traces of rust are gone. Wax it and put it away. The trunk (boot if you will) lid is removed and a small depression around the handle is popped out. The old paint is sanded smooth and primered, awaiting painting.

Now to remove the gas tank as it smells like very old gas and varnish, and I know it will need a thorough cleaning. Soaking all bolts in penetrating oil, I let it set while I work on the rear brakes, which will need new cylinders, shoes and rubber brake hose. Everything is cleaned with a hot soapy water and a scrub brush. Tedious, but necessary. Non-serviceable parts are put in boxes and new ones ordered from Jonas.

Returning to the gas tank - the straps, gas line and filler tube are removed and the gas tank lifted out. What is left of old gas is poured off and the tank cleaned with acetone and other solvents. The sending unit is frozen in place, so it is squirted liberally with penetrating oil until it is free. All old corrosion is removed and unit is polished.

Inspection of the floor under the tank reveals a few spots where rust has built up. These are cut out and new sheet metal welded in and ground smooth. The gas tank is sanded down, fiberglass is used to prevent future rust, and then it is painted. Trunk floor is painted and the gas tank reinstalled. Straps are cleaned, sanded and painted. Gas tank is strapped back in, new filler pipe cover is put in and new rubber grommet for filler pipe. Gas cap is cleaned and polished. Trunk is cleaned with armor all – it is then cleaned and painted with vinyl paint.

Rear bumper is removed and battery area is cleaned and painted. New battery and cable terminals are installed. 51-year-old tag from battery cutoff switch is removed and stored. Originals are valuable! Bumper is cleaned and polished and bumper brackets are repainted. New rubber grommets are installed and bumper is reinstalled. That does it for the trunk area.

Now onto cleaning the axle, brake lines and trunk bulkhead. This is going to be a real messy job, so the car is moved outside onto old tarps to collect 50-years’ worth of oil, grease and mud that has hardened into the consistency of concrete. I get my scrapers and old wire bushes and begin to tackle this chore. I buy a half dozen cans of degreaser and add it to the mix of other cleaners I am using. Not easy.

While I wait between scrubbing and drying, I start to remove all the upholstery and carpet. It has 25-years of dust and dirt and that has turned the red vinyl to a shade of light grey. Hot water with industrial strength cleaner and lots of hard work slowly remove the dirt accumulation. The foam in the seats is gone, so the seats must be taken apart and new foam installed, then the newly cleaned covers reinstalled with clips or sewing them up. The carpet is removed and hosed down until most of the dirt is gone; then scrubbed at least 8 times to get all the remaining dirt out.

#AustinHealey #Restoration

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