If it wasn’t for bad luck…

… I’d have no luck at all. That’s how it seems sometimes, anyway. The old mojo has been at a pretty low eb for the last month, as evidenced by my lack of posts on here. This was largely brought about by some knuckle dragging halfwits breaking into my workshop and taking all my tools, followed by another attempted theft the following weekend. Apparently I live in a “low crime area”. Hah!

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Mrs Ratdat seriously injured her hand whilst helping me sort things after this second episode, which required specialist surgery, five days in hospital and probably around three months off work. Surely, that’s got the be the bad luck quota for the year all used up?

Anyway, after dispelling the “why do I bother” feelings, I got things back up and running enough to make some progress with the van. After forcing myself to work on it during the recent artic weather (though admittedly it’s toasty warm in the workshop), the mojo has recovered a little. Progress pics shortly…

PCD Checker

If like me you’re keen on fitting tasty wheels to everything in sight, then you might want to get yourself one of these handy, telescopic PCD measuring tools. This is a dead handy thing to have when you’re at a swapmeet, or down the scrapyard, as you can instantly check the PCD of any 4, 5 or 6 stud rims. In some circumstances you can also flip it over and use it to measure the studs on a hub, but only if the hub centre doesn’t protrude too far. I picked this up at the NSRA swapmeet for a fiver but you can go to Bialbero Racing and order one online. There’s more info about this neat little tool there too.

Blast It

I recently scored a new weapon to add to my arsenal of workshop equipment in the shape of this funky Clemco blasting cabinet. I’ve been looking at getting some kind of blasting cabinet for a while, but it seemed that to usual DIY ones didn’t seem to offer much for the money. This used Clemco one is a proper industrial unit and was considerably cheaper than a new DIY type unit, so I jumped at the chance when it came up for grabs. This is still a vacuum fed system like DIY cabinets but has a benefit of a full extraction system to draw out dust and debris from the media. It’s largely made of some kind of blow moulded plastic (ABS maybe?) and has a drawer at the bottom to collect dust which doubles as a dead mans switch to control the air supply to the gun (you just press your toe against it). I’m not sure what the round black knob on the front does yet, but the rest of it is pretty self explanatory. The window into the cabinet seems to have had some thought put into it as it’s a curved, horizontal affair, designed to prevent to media from hitting it and etching the plastic.

Continue reading Blast It

It’s about time…

…about time I posted something! Hey, I’ve been busy okay? The weather’s been pretty hardcore for the last month, with plenty of snow and freezing temperatures, but thanks to some home made heating, my workshop has been toasty warm, enabling me to get on with some work. I was heating my workshop with a propane powered “space heater” but it not only made it really stuffy in there, it was also expensive to run. The workshop never got really warm with it either. Figuring I could get plenty of wood for free, I decided to make a wood burner from an old gas bottle I had lying in the undergrowth round the back of the shed. A bunch of scrap bits of metal and three days of tinkering later and I had myself a cracking wood burner, that keeps the workshop at about 22C on a low burn even when it’s below freezing outside. Open the vents on it and it’d probably get hot enough to glow red hot but I haven’t dared let it do so, for fear of burning my workshop down! Best of all, if you chuck a little bit of coal on it before shutting up shop for the evening, it’ll still be going the next morning. I might post a “how to” on the construction of this thing soon if there’s any interest.

Bath Time

Today i treated myself and bought a shiny new parts washer. No more scrubbing oily parts in a bucket of thinners for me! Mind you, the water based ‘degreaser’ that came with it doesn’t actually seem to be capable of dissolving oil in the slightest. I might as well have filled it with just water. I hate all this non-toxic, eco-friendly crap! While I appreciate the need protect both health and the environment, the product still needs to actually work! I think I’ll order some proper industrial stuff from Chemodex. Parts washer itself seems decent enough, although the legs it stands on are pretty flimsy…

Black Again

It’s satisfying when you strip something old and worn apart, refurbish it and paint to look like new. But it’s really disappointing when you have to re-fit or re-assemble stuff with manky old nuts and bolts. You could buy brand new fasteners of course, but invariably you can’t get them exactly in the style you want. For example most Japanese cars use M8 bolts with 12mm heads rather than the usual off-the-shelf M8 bolts, which have 13mm heads. Manually cleaning them up is very time consuming and doesn’t replace the original finish. Painting them is not really an option, so what to do? Recently, I tried out a method for restoring fasteners, and the good news is that it not only looks great, but is quick and easy to do as well. The method I used is metal blackening. This imparts the black finish that many new fasteners come in. It can be done at home and doesn’t require any special equipment. Industrial metal blackening kits are pretty expensive (£800+) but Frost do a small DIY metal blackening kit for just £35, and if you prepare the items correctly, this will give a professional looking finish.

Continue reading Black Again


Overhaulin’ the yard that is. All projects and car work were put on hold back in August when an unexpected phone call provided the opportunity to buy 50 tonnes of road planings, albeit at somewhat short notice. Road planings are the crushed up scrapings of tarmac removed from a road before resurfacing it. It is a loose material, but packs down into a pretty hard surface with use. The day after I received the call, three huge 8 wheel tipper trucks arrived carrying my planings and dumped them in a heap next to my workshop. I had long wanted to resurface my yard and increase the parking, however up to this point I’d not actually made any plans on how to go about it… but it seemed the time to do it had been thrust upon me. Fortunately my neighbour owns all manner of machinery, and kindly lent me a big, all wheel drive telehandler and a tracked 3 tonne mini-digger with which to shift the materials about. I literally had to cease work on anything else to get this job done as it was a pretty big undertaking…

Continue reading Overhaulin’

Violet SSS Project – Windscreen Surround

I had been hoping that I wouldn’t have to remove the glass from this car, as the front and rear screens are bonded in. There was only one tiny rust hole just above the screen on the right hand side, but closer examination with a torch revealed there was rust visible under the bonding inside the screen, so unfortunately it had to come out. With the stock original glass, it’s not to much of a trauma to get the screen out, but this car has had the original glass replaced with a laminated screen. These are a lot harder to remove without breaking them, especially as it seems many glass fitters tent to go overboard with the adhesive, making it harder to cut through. I only have one spare screen and I wouldn’t expect to have much joy finding a new one, so I really needed to remove this one without cracking it!

Continue reading Violet SSS Project – Windscreen Surround

Violet SSS Project – Rear Valance

This was a pretty simple and straightforward panel replacement. The new valance is Nissan part number 79121-K2430. The original valance wasn’t actually rusty, but it was badly damaged in two places, and there were signs of rust starting in the seam where it’s attached to the boot floor and back panel. The first job was to remove it, which was done by drilling out the spot welds from below, across the horizontal seam, and by using a die grinder on the vertical seams at the ends. The spot welds on the horizontal seam were drilled right through the three layers….

Continue reading Violet SSS Project – Rear Valance

Violet SSS Project – Rear Wheel Arch (LH)

The left rear quarter is the area of the body that needs the most attention, as not only do I have the rusty wheel arch, sill and lower rear corner to deal with, bit it’s also somewhat dented too. Some of the dents were straightened by hand whist doing the rust repairs but a lot of careful prep is going to be needed to make this part of the car look good under black paint. Before I could think about that though, I had the rust to deal with. The left rear wheel arch only looked a little bit worse than the right to begin with, but actually turned out to need considerably more work. As on the right hand side, I had a new inner arch panel (part # 76713-K0130) and a rear quarter from a late 710 saloon (part # 78113-N7430) to help make the repairs, but even with these to help me, a fair bit of fabrication was still needed…

Continue reading Violet SSS Project – Rear Wheel Arch (LH)