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Project Marina, On Its Wheels

In what appears to be a trend now, here is the monthly update for the Marina.

Progress has been slow, but still ticking along. One major thing was to get the car back down onto wheels again. It’s been up on stands since a couple of days after I got the car way back in February and that’s where it sat, with the wheels off and under the car.

All the tyres on the standard wheels were poked. Ancient, with massive cracking and didn’t hold air, so no good at all.

A while back I decided to bite the bullet and get the car rolling. I had sorted the brakes and driveline now, so there was little reason for it to keep hanging out on stands. A set of five new tyres were ordered in the slightly wider 175/70R13 that the TC cars had. Sure, they are cheapies, but I figure the car isn’t going to be driven hard, and any new tyres are better than old rubbish ones.

The plan was to strip the old tyres off the standard steel wheels, clean the wheels up, paint them silver and have the new tyres fitted to the refreshed steelies.

Luckily a friend has access to a tyre machine, so after some stuffing about trying to remember how to use it, we managed to get the old tyres off all the wheels.

As you can see, a couple of the oldest tyres still had tubes in them! They are a particular prick to strip off the wheels, but we got there in the end.

You can see how badly rotted the old rubber was. I wouldn’t trust these to hold air (which they didn’t) let alone drive anywhere on them.

The whole lot got loaded into the back of the wagon, and all the rubber was generously left at the local refuse station.

I tried to clean a few of the wheels, but with the amount of rust they have in places I cant get to with a wire brush, I had to look at other options. Not having a sandblaster myself, I looked at having them blasted and powder-coated. This would’ve looked stunning and been very durable, but the total cost was about $700, which is far more than its worth just to run the steel wheels.

So, the next option was to look for some aftermarket wheels. Thankfully Trademe delivered on this and a set of 13×5.5 hotwire wheels in the correct 4×108 PCD were promptly purchased. 13×5.5 is the standard wheel size for the Marina, so no big flashy wide wheels and tyres here, but perfect for just upspeccing the car a little, still being period-correct and would also fit the tyres I had already purchased.

A quick test fit after picking the wheels up showed that they thankfully cleared the upright and brake calipers and looked cool. The standard nuts wouldn’t work though as the wheels need deep shank nuts, which the wheels didn’t come with.

Since I knew the wheels kinda fit now, the next step was to order some nuts and make 100% sure they were good before I had the old tyres on the wheels removed and the new tyres fitted. This is where another quirk of the AUS/NZ cars popped up; the UK cars have 3/8″ UNF studs, whilst the AUS cars use bigger 7/16″ UNF studs. Much like the 4×108 PCD which is shared with Fords of the time, so is 7/16″ UNF.

A set of 7/16″ UNF shank nuts in the correct size were ordered and when they arrived another test fit was in order. This confirmed the wheels fit, clear everything, and will work perfectly.

Looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.

I booked the wheels in with a place near home, which had previously done the tyres on the TVR for me, and had the tyres replaced with the new ones. The best stock steelie was also picked to have a new tyre fitted as the spare.

Once home the wheels were swiftly fitted to the car, but before lowering onto the ground I had to change the gearbox oil again.

It had been noted by others that in my previous post I had used a GL5 spec EP oil, which although is what my owners manual specifies, may not be OK for use in this gearbox due to risk of damage to the “yellow” metal parts, such as the synchros. I did as much research and asking around as I could before choosing that particular oil, but I was left feeling a little uncomfortable about the risk.

With that in mind I chose to change to the same oil the 4 speed in the TVR used, a GL4 spec EP 75W-85 by Nulon. This should be safe for the “yellow” metals, but is a fully synthetic EP oil.

With the gearbox oil changed again, I did some juggling with the jack and got the car down onto the ground for the first time in months. I won’t lie, seeing it on the ground with the hotwire wheels, made me smile a bit.

But what good is a car in the garage, on its wheels, if you cant take it for a drive up the driveway?

No good, so I fixed that. For the first time in 25 years or so, the car moved under its own power. Sure, it was running rough as anything and misfiring due to previously only being started up cold and running for short periods of time, but it ran and drove. Please excuse the annoying beeping in the video, the exhaust fumes caused my Carbon Monoxide alarm in the garage to trigger a warning.

Misfiring wasn’t the only problem, shortly after the end of the video the car stalled and wouldn’t restart. It turned out it was out of petrol 😂

I did finally manage to get some photos out of the garage, for the first time since the car arrived on the back of the truck.

As you can see from the end of the video, it did start to rain, so the car was swiftly rolled back down into the garage and tucked away for the night.

The next day I got another 20L of fuel, put that into the tank, cleaned the spark plugs and fired the car into life. It ran much better now, and when warm the engine ticked over lovely. It should sound good once I fix the hole in the exhaust.

It really needs a good Italian Tune Up, but there are a few things I need to do before I can take the car on the road for a shakedown.

Getting the car out again gave me a chance to turn it around so it faces the other way in the garage, which is a bit better as the lighting is placed for cars to be forward in, with extra lighting over the engine bay.

I think its a good looking shape. It’s a shame the paint is so ruined, but I will eventually get to sorting that.

With the car safely outside and the exhaust away from my garage, I ran the car up to temp, and the needle hovered steadily around the 1/4 mark. A bit lower than I’d expect, but at least it didn’t overheat. I still need to change the “coolant” again as it looks really unpleasant, but that will come in due course.

The engine does smoke a bit at high RPM, but it appears to be brown, so I’m guessing carbon buildup, fuel or simply just blowing the rust out of the exhaust. It’s not black and certainly not blue or white, which is good.

The brakes do work, but as expected they need quite a shove as they are unboosted. The handbrake on the other hand needs adjusting as it barely functions. No surprise since I didn’t adjust the cable and the whole braking system needs some time to bed in.

What’s next? Lots. I need to pull the front uprights apart now and replace the ball joints and bushes, that should have the car almost ready for the road. I also need to get cracking on the rust repairs, but I need to build up some confidence before tackling that as it will be a huge job. Unfortunately, we are currently in a lockdown, so I cant buy the gas I would need to start welding either.

The goal is still to have the car on the road and at British Car Day 2022 in Feb 2022, under its own power of course.

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