Restoration of My 1948 Prefect
Chapter IV -- The Next Big Steps
As I discussed near the end of the previous chapter, the original wiring had four wires in the rear harness and my new one turned out to have ten. The final solution that actually worked was to split the rear harness and route half through each side. With that decision finally made, I completed the wiring and tested everything. When it all worked, I carefully taped each section every few inches and mailed it to Rhode Island Wiring, where I originally purchased most of the wire and connectors, to braid covers for the harness sections. This is how it looked when I got it back a little over a week later. I also purchased quite a significant amount of additional wire and other materials from British Wiring. Both are excellent sources of materials as well as advice when rewiring any old British car. This link opens a page detailing the wiring and a final diagram.
During this same time, I removed the steering box and column from the car and took it, along with
the eBay unit to a machinist friend. My plan was to mate the replacement gear with my shaft near
its center somewhere but done with something stronger than a simple butt joint. Steve examined it
and had a better, simpler idea. It turned out that the original joint was not right at the gear
as I thought but was a couple of inches up the shaft. He liked the joint and found it to be straight
and true. He decided to turn down my original shaft above the joint to the same diameter as the
later shaft connected to the gear. He then made and welded a sleeve over the original joint. I feel
this is a very good solution and still allows for simple assembly of the box and all its bearings
on the bench. My plan would have required it to be assembled in the car instead.
I finally replaced those truck tail lights with something more suitable. The Harley lights are a very similar shape to the headlights and side lights. Also, I have noticed several Prefects and Anglias in photos with similar looking lights. I'm pretty sure they were not original but they do look correct with the headlights and side lights. After finding the low-profile bulbs as mentioned in the previous section, the only problem remaining was how to mount them. The first step was to drill out the original mounting hole and thread for a 3/8 inch bolt then drill a suitable 3/8 bolt hollow to pass the wires through. This photo shows the resulting housing with the bolt installed, the old bulb mount removed and a new one installed for the smaller bulb.
Next, I needed something between the case and the car body. I decided to make a pedestal. I
began by hand forming a rough clay mount approximately the desired shape. After hardening this
in the oven, I used it to make a plaster mold. I then used the mold to cast a Bondo pedestal
which could be better shaped by filing, sanding and filling as necessary to get to the final
shape. From this Bondo mock-up, I made a final plaster mold. The original intent was to try
aluminum casting in that mold. To test it, I first cast a pedestal in structural fiberglass to
see how it would work out. The result was good, so good in fact that I now intend to use that
instead of aluminum. I cast a second copy then custom fit both to the car body; they are not
quite symetric. This photo shows one of those installed temporarily on the car. I will put
a rubber grommet between the pedestal and the car body. The final photo is how they look on the
car from the rear.
The next major step was to install the windscreen wiper system. I decided to mount the motor on the engine bay shelf, under the panel where the coil is mounted as shown here. This gave a reasonable location to pass the cable drive through the bulkhead as well as provide some physical protection to the motor.
The other photo is the drive mechanism on the passenger side of the bulkhead. The levers and rod in the upper left of the photo is original to the Prefect. The tube and cable are Lucas drive parts. The brackets, connecting rod and large thumb screw are custom made to mate the two systems. The thumb screw calls for elaboration. This Lucas wiper motor has a park function but it only pulls the blades down to the bottom of their stroke. It does not pull them fully off the glass. In order for the windscreen to be opened, they must be fully down against the scuttle. This thumb screw allows for disconnecting the wipers from the drive cable and manually retracted from the screen by simply loosening then sliding along the cable. Although not ideal, this does solve the problem. No more than the wipers are expected to be used, it should prove to be satisfactory.
To get the new wiring harness installed, I had to remove the fascia, the package shelf and the footwell kick panels. Now before it can be finalized, it is necessary to reinstall all that. Since I do not want to remove it all later and reinstall again, there is a sequence of steps to be accomplished. The fascia requires a new bead or piping between it and the body just below the windscreen. Before the shelf can be installed, the kick panels must be. But they have to be upholstered first. Then before the kick panels, the front door draft excluders (windlace) must be sewn and installed. But before they can be installed, there are wood spacers that must be cut and fit to the "B" pillar. Also, it would be much more practical, although not absolutely required, to paint the door jambs and door frames before installing the draft excluders.
In August, I met with Lance, the owner of LM Auto Color who supplied the paint and advice for refinishing the steering wheel for more advice and materials. He advised against using my remaining epoxy primer but suggested the green Deltron would still be good. This is the paint I used under the bonnet in Chapter I. Over a few days, I stripped the targeted areas then primed with new epoxy and finished with the remainder of my Deltron. When the time comes to paint the exterior of the body, he has pretty strongly advised me to use 2-stage paint. At this point, I believe I am convinced. I have been quite happy with his products, Matrix Systems and advice so that is what I now intend to use.The frames on these cars were painted along with their bodies after the two were permanently mated so they are body color. The left photo here shows the exposed frame rail painted to match the body. The next one is a rear door jamb latch area. This whole area, from the latch down had apparently been fairly badly damaged by a previous owner. The repair had been done just barely adequate for the door to close. It was done in lead though so I suspect it was before plastic fillers came into common use for this quality of repair. The retainer plate for the striker was no longer physically retained and fell down into the inner panel when I removed it. The dovetail did not align with its counterpart. This photo is, of course, after I properly repaired all that previous repair. The final photo is the front side of that same door jamb.
That's where I am in January, 2012. The vinyl for the kick panels has been cut and the draft excluders (windlace) is ready to install. The next step is to cut, paint and install those "B" pillar wood pieces and install the windlace. Then install the kick panels and the package shelf. Finally, the wiring can be finalized.