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The Start

 

April 2

I need to replace the wiring harness for the rear of the Riley  The harness is quite long and travels from the left side just forward of the firewall to the very tail end of the car.  It incorporates  the reverse lights, brake lights, trafficators, interior light feed, fuel tank sending unit, tail lights and stop lamp. To all this I wanted to add wirers for turn signals and a power feed for a rear mounted fuel pump( if I should ever feel the need).  Now I could simply order a harness from any number of venders who I'm sure would produce a great product.  However as any who has read any of this site knows I didn't do that.  I chose to make my own.  For the wire I ordered the correct colors and tracer in PVC.  I could have gone with original looking braided wire but no one can see it under the car and PVC is much less expensive. For the braided cover I got some expandable braided plastic wire loom with a gold tracer.  The wire for the fuel pump is white and the wires for the turn signals are the same colors as the traficators but with spiral tracers instead of straight.  I made a list of all the items I would need and it turned out quite long. Still it was about 1/2 the price of buying a pre made harness.

 

April 4

Ordered the wiring harness items from the nice folks at Rhode Island wiring. Under the workbench in the back I found the drive shaft and intermediate shaft.  Oh no, more things to paint and fix.  I disassembled the U joints and intermediate shaft center support bearing.  The bearing can only be removed after undoing a large nut and pressing off  the U joint yoke.  The process was difficult and I wondered if it was really necessary.  Of the 3 U joints 2 were original and one a replacement.  After digging on the web I found the part numbers and as they are common to many cars ( 74-85 Volvo DL among others) I could get them at my local auto parts store.  The part number listed for the center support bearing listed in the club spare parts was not a match for the bearing I removed.  I used the number found on the old bearing (88506)and to my surprise it was available from a local source.

 

April 5

More work on drive shaft today.  I wire brushed and plated the nuts bolts and other hardware. I powder coated the other parts except the long drive shaft which will not fit in my oven.

 

April 6

I powder coated the long drive shaft by doing 1/2 at a time letting the shaft stick out of the oven door.  I used aluminum foil to seal the gaps and keep the heat in.  Next I installed the new U joints.  I had some problems with wayward needle bearings- but got them all done.  I am missing 4 bolts and nuts from the gearbox to drive shaft connection.  I remember plating them months ago,  but where are they?  Shock absorbers are heavy and I didn't want to have them shipped all the way from England so I tried to find some locally.  Surprisingly no shock manufacturer lists a 53 Riley in there application data.  Most manufactures do however have fitment diagrams and measurements.  After a lot of looking I found Saab 99 front shocks would fit the Riley and the rears would match to a Nissan Frontier 1998-2002.  For the record I used KYB (KG 4524 front and KG 4026 rear)  They have the correct rubber mounts and are close in their open and closed dimensions.  I have no idea if they have the correct dampening rates, time will tell.  The drive shaft sliding joint uses a cork washer to contain the grease,  mine was broken upon removal.  I made a new one by gluing 6 layers of sheet cork together to get the correct thickness.  To cut each layer I made a punch from an old bearing race sharpened on the lathe.  At the end of the day I made a list of things to do on the Riley.  If you are ever tempted to do the same for your car take my advice and have a stiff drink first.

 

April 7

The material for the wiring harness arrived yesterday and today I started making it.  The first step was to stretch out the old harness on the work bench.  I used nails driven into the bench to keep everything in line.  I laid out new wire over the old and recreated the harness one wire at a time.  For the ends I used new wire bullets soldered on. After it was all bundled up I slipped the braided wire loom over the wires and used heat shrink tube to secure it in places.  I am happy with the result. Moving to the lathe I made a new clutch rod.  I would have purchased ready made threaded rod but I can't get BSF threaded rod here in the USA. On the lathe you can make any thread you want.  The day was going great until I tried to pressure test the brakes.  I used air from the compressor attached to the brake reservoir line to test the brake system for leaks. I could hear air escaping fro the rear bleed screws. No problem I'll just tighten them.  Starting with the right side I tightened the screw. The leak was diminished but not eliminated.  Just a little tighter, maybe just a little more,  What! why is the screw loose again, noooo I striped the threads.  Nothing to do but remove the cylinder and see if it could be fixed and why wasn't that darn bleed screw making a seal.  I think the bleed screw wasn't making a seal because the old style bleeder ball distorted the aluminum seat at the bottom of the threaded hole.  I fixed the stripped threads by making a brass threaded insert on the lathe.  A sort of homemade helicoil. The bleed screw seat was re-contoured with a drill bit and a delicate touch.  Problem solved,  time for the left side.  This time I took the cylinder out first thing and fixed the bleed screw seat.  

 

 

April 8

The rear fixed I pressurized the system and used soap to look for leaks.  I expected leaks in the flares I made in the new tube but found none. I did find leaks in the bleed screws for the front wheel cylinders.  Working on the right side I applied a small force to tighten the screw and.. Well you know.  This time there is no fixing the cylinder, not enough aluminum left to tap to the next larger size.  I will have to buy a new or good used cylinder.  The shocks arrived and I installed them they fit fine.

 

April 11

I fit the new bearing for the drive shaft support.  In a continuing trend it did not go well.  With everything assembled there was about  1/8 inch clearance between the drive shaft yoke and the bearing. I took everything apart and measured all the components.  The new bearing was the same size as the old.  After some head scratching I made a spacer to take up this clearance and now the bearing is clamped tightly between the yoke and the end of the shaft. I installed the drive shaft and job done.  I wanted to install the wiring harness but I needed those metal clips that hold it in place. The old clips were too rusty to use so I made some new ones from stainless steel sheet and installed the harness. A lot of digging on the web reveled the RMF front brake cylinders are the same as those for the Austin Healey BN4-BN6 with steel wheels and are available from multiple venders for about $60. Part #{17H4004 (3)}

 

April 12

I ordered all new front brake cylinders today.  That should solve the problem.  Bent some flat stock to make another exhaust hanger.  I zinc plated the hanger and the clutch shaft as well as some nuts.  Looking around the garage I spied the steering shaft and its cover.  I dented the cover when I removed it so using a socket wrench that just slipped inside the dents were forced out.  I sanded the cover and prepared it for powder coating. The bushing at the top that supports the steering shaft was worn.  It is available in bronze from the club but I decided to make my own.  I had some oil filled nylon I thought would be just the thing and it was until I got carried away on the lathe and turned it too small. Ordered more nylon stock to finish, moral get the club bushing. 

 

 

April 14

Powder coated the steering shaft cover. Nylon arrived and I made the new steering bushing. Only took two more tries.

 

April 15

Put a coat of paint on the gas tank and some of the floor boards.

 

April 25

Installed the new front wheel cylinders today.  They look to be of a good quality and would take a standard rebuild kit.  I made a tool to square the brake shoes to the drums and adjusted them.  After that, I made the master cylinder brake reservoir supply line.  I attached all the brake fittings (extended bleed screws for the back) and pressure tested with air.  I used soap to check the connections and found no bubbles... YEAH!!!!!  Later in the day, I discovered that I should have sanded the primer on the gas tank prior to painting.  The paint did not adhere well and will have to be sanded off.  

April 26

I am waiting for the silicone brake fluid to arrive.  In the mean time I zinc plated many miscellaneous parts.  I also powdered coated the radiator steady rods.  

April 29

I sanded the paint off the gas tank and repainted.  I started bleeding the brakes.  I gravity bled each wheel cylinder.  Tomorrow I will try bleeding with the pedal.

April 30

I bled the brakes with the help of my dear wife and got lots of air out.  They seem pretty good but I think one more bleeding will be in order.

May 4

I installed the gas tank today and tried to put in the sender unit.  However, while wire brushing the 4BA mounting screws it was shot across the garage never to be seen again.  I will have to add it to the growing list of things to order

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