Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back to the Back

Well, I'd have been a fool not to think a large percentage of the work on this car would have been focused on getting that decrepit rear end sorted, but I had hoped to include most of it in one thread. However, I was being a tad optimistic.

Having said that, Norm and I have made a LOT of progress, and we're really getting to the fiddly details now. So, let me back-track and update you all on where we're at.

Rear Repair Redux

Once the rear end had been assembled with screws and brackets, like a giant Meccano set, each piece would need to be disassembled and the edges ground back, each side, to provide a clean bonding surface. The resulting 'clean' strip would then provide a bonding area, lay the 'glass mat down each side and apply resin. Simple.

OK, everyone out! All sections removed, edges prepped for re-assembly

We started with the centre pan, bolted to the chassis and tek screwed into position along the rear steel lip (as per original assembly procedure). Fibreglass applied over the top of the lip, once completely finished, we will remove the body and bond (love that pun) beneath.

Centre pan in position

First corner bonded in place, away we go!

After the centre plan was located, each section is screwed back into place, and bonded one at a time, starting with the left corner (easiest and least damaged).

Tape on the outside (green) prevents resin from oozing through.

Inside layer

The large gap at the bottom was filled using core-flute taped to the outside (to provide the subtle curve, tangent with the surfaces we already had). Post 'glassing, fibreglass filler on the outside added rigidity.

Outside layer

Both sides of the repair line must be done to complete the repair. As part of the process, a layer of fine weave material placed over the exterior 'glass mat, to smooth off the surface (reducing sanding mess later on). Then repeat many, many times.

Fine weave material in place. This is Norm's special technique and it works a treat

Enter sandman

The bootlid was kept handy at all times to check alignments, but with so many datums missing, we did find the going tough. However, thanks the the modern miracle of fibreglass, correct was never difficult or impossible.

More to follow!

Friday, April 22, 2011

So...What Happened?

When I purchased the car, I was not given any history. In fact, the wrecking yard had acquired the car in 2001 and listed it as a Financial Write-Off, returning the plates and destroying all documentation. Needless to say, the registration authorities were deeply sceptical until one kind chap took it on himself to research the car, finding it registered in South Australia since almost new, last registered in 1986.

I breathed a sigh of relief, I can tell you.

At this point I appealed to others for information also. A response via the Triumph Sports Owners Association of South Australia mentioned that they had seen the car for sale in the late 1990's (at that stage running quite well apparently), the elderly (original) owner claiming his wife had reversed into a brick wall at high speed!

So, that seems to be the reason for all this mess - she certainly must have been travelling!

Tanking It:

Amongst the last, but certainly not the least of the rear end damage casualties, was the fuel tank. The tank had been partially dislodged in the accident, damaging some of the mounting points and creasing the tank at several points...hence it took about 6 hours to remove it! As the tank came from a Triumph Herald Estate or Courier (Herald Van - extremely rare), there was little hope of finding a replacement laying under a tree, so repair was the only option.

After a 6 hours armwrestle, we extracted this ugly thing

The tank had an ominous looking crease at one point, which had bowed the top of the tank upwards, so that it would not be possible to refit beneath the fibreglass false floor of the Equipe (broken into pieces - another job for Norm and I). Luckily, there was no leak, but would need to be retested after the crease had been pulled out.

Being punted on the seam had buckled the top nicely. In addition to not fitting under the false floor, I'm not sure the fuel sender would read properly - I'd likely be out of fuel constantly!

My first port of call requested $800 to straighten the tank, with no guarantee of successful repair. When I had finished laughing, I had the tank blasted and etch primed, then approached some local panel beaters. No-one was super keen, and I was beginning to despair when I heard of a chap North or Adelaide who repaired motorcycle tanks. One week and $75 later, the tank came back straightened and flat again - not perfectly dent free, but given its location deep inside the boot, I was prepared to let this one slide. No leak, that was the main thing.

Not perfectly straight, but flat and safe - a giant relief

Of course, I'm sworn to secrecy over the repair technique, but suffice to say it was very clever. Very happy with the results for my meagre investment.

About 18 months on, it remains yet to be painted, but there's no rush. The sender was tested and worked fine, the whole lot sits in the garage awaiting re-assembly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Boot the Bond

Whilst all this was going on, the bootlid languished in the rear of the workshop - we'd used it a few times for reference (getting the bodywork in the correct position), but once all that was done, Norm volunteered to take it home to look at the standard of the 'glassing.

The bootlid had obviously sustained a belt in the lower right corner, probably popping on impact (as the aluminium box section housing the latch had partially de-laminated, a hinge was bent, the lower rear windscreen dropped and some cracking evident). Norm got it home and found a lot of cracking.

Star cracking...across the universe.

Hinge removed, so rear could be 'glassed.

Sanding the bootlid back, a lot of talc had been used in the production process - Norm took it back, and back, and back, stopping when he was worried there'd be nothing left! Building the bootlid back up again, a substantial amount of material was added (wait for the bodywork blog entries, they show the process quite clearly), then primed and sanded back smooth. It was a work of art...until it slid out of position tonight and crashed to the floor, taking a few chips out of the 'glass work.

Here's some pics before it hit the floor.

Beautifully sealed underneath, waiting for a fresh coat of red 2K

It has made good reference with one corner of the bodywork now in place - many adjustments to be made, but here's a sneak preview...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Starting at the Rear

Ahhh...Nirvana. A tidy butt!

The one thing that will make me feel like real progress has been made with this car, will be when the back is in one piece, primed and ready for paint. It's a mile off, but getting there. In September 2009 Norm and I made a start.

Step 1: Fuel tank out (took about 4 hours), we'll deal with that later.

Step 2: Cut away all the excess material from the damaged rear, and from the large boot floor replacement section. Removing the old fibreglass back to the steel section over the differential, allowed us to place the new section on the rear chassis members and provide a positive location.

Step 3: Bolt the new 'glass section to the lip along the edge of the steel panel (finding the rusted remains of bolts in the fibreglass, this was obviously how they did it in production too), and then through two bolt holes on the chassis members.

Done. Note the 'hatched' areas - these are the be ground clean to allow 'glass strips to be laid along the edges of the panel joints. With this section in place, we could trim and line up the two new rear corners.

Step 4: First the left, clamped in place with aluminium brackets, screwed into the bodywork.

Step 5: Now for the right. This was a lot more troublesome - firstly the replacement panel was a little short, secondly, there was some truly awful previous repair attempts to contend with. In addition to this, the impact on the right side had pushed the bottom corner of the steel reinforced gutter downward, causing some alignment issues - this will need to be bent upward back into position. Tricky.

After about 5 hours work, we finally had what appeared to be a complete rear end - amazing. Norm really knew what he was doing and made the solution sound so simple. Not so easy (or clean) though, the next step is to grind clean the hatched areas and get out the craft glue!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Doors-aster? The First Attempt at Door Restoration

With the interior ferried safely away to the TAFE college, and the vinyl purchased, the doors would need to be completed in time for the students to test fit the door trims.

Now, unlike the fibreglass/steel combination body, the doors were an all steel creation, with skins unique to the Equipe, welded to Herald frames. With the doors stripped and blasted, it was possible to see a minor amount of rust in the drivers side door (skin and inside), and a gouge in the passenger side door. There was nothing major, with a few minor dents inside to both doors.

Not as horrible inside as I thought. Phew!

With the students pending, I decided to send the doors direct to a panel beater for repair and painting. I purchased enough paint to do the whole car and proceeded to procure quotes. The first was $1000 PER DOOR. The hours and expense just did not add up, so I went to the next guy. WORSE! Surely these guys were having a lend? I was beginning to despair when someone told me of a chap who did great 'hot rod spec' work for cash.

I visited, checked out his work, and was very impressed. A price of $1000 for the pair was agreed, including re-welding the quarter vent frames (which had fallen apart on removal), and off I went. This is where my appreciation of concourse restorations really began to grow. The doors languished for months. Despite regular calls from me to look at progress, so I could take restoration snaps. The delays continued until, suddenly "you can pick 'em up".

Initially, all seemed pretty good, but I looked closer. Firstly, around 2-litres of 2K was used in the job - half of what I'd purchased to do the entire car! The dents on the inside of the doors remained untouched and a thick coat of orange peel sprayed over top. The frames were re-welded incorrectly and did not fit into the doors, or the glass. The finish outside of each doors was magnificent, except the lower edges had not been painted (or the paint had been buffed away), and holes from an aftermarket mirror remained unfilled. I have no idea what is underneath the paint - most likely bog (bondo).

"Whaddaya expect for $1000" was the excuse provided. Well, dents removed, holes filled and consistent paint for a start!

Nice 'n' shiny on the outside, and passes the magnet test, so any bog is only thin. If only they'd got the inside nicely finished and dent free. I may try a crash repairer to see if the dents can be removed without damage.

However, I'm less positive about the frames. NOTE: The upper frame is designed to fit inside the other...with the job they've done, what do you think the chances of that are??? Honestly - just check your work guys!

It became apparent that, paying and asking for a good job, being diligent and putting in the prep work, was not enough to guarantee any kind of quality, at all. Lesson learnt. It also became apparent, I'd be coming back here forever, if I wanted the job done properly. So, took my doors home and put them in storage - a nervous wait trying to keep them scratch free until final assembly!

However, I'll probably need to purchase more paint, and re-do the lot. Sigh.

Meanwhile, the glass from each door was scratched beyond economical repair, so quarter vents were polished, main glass replaced. All rubber parts were obtained through Fitch the Rubber Man (can't recommend them more highly) or the UK (thanks again to Guy, for the unobtainable quarter vent rubbers, unique to Bond), and some diligent cleaning got all moving parts working again.

Zinc plated parts are still pending, but there's no need to rush as, unfortunately, the TAFE upholstery course had only one student enrol, and they soon withdrew. I was stranded, so I collected all my parts and returned home. Sigh, again.

I now know the restoration process, especially if the work is out of your hands, is a series of wins and matter how hard you push, some things just don't go the way you want them too. However, some wins were just around the corner.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bond - The Industrial Design Link

Being an Industrial Designer, or just an all-round car geek, I have an avid interest in the (sometimes) secret design history behind the cars I've owned. I guess most of us assume our cars, no matter how 'classic' or full of character they may be, have been designed by a faceless committee or Engineering Department. Increasingly, this is the case, but more often than you'd expect, there's an interesting design story behind our cars.

The Bond Equipe GT is a good example.

The rare Invisi-Bond Equipe!

Bond introduced the 4-cylinder Equipe to its range in 1963, based on a Triumph Herald, as an addition to it's range of oddball 3-wheeler Minicar's. The car was a rather humble, if stylish little machine, designed to fill a budget fastback market niche. It continued to improve over the years, but the release of Triumph's 6-cylinder Herald variant, the Triumph Vitesse, gave Bond the chance to lift the profile of their range with a more luxurious grand turismo. So Bond called in designer Trevor Fiore.

Fiore's claims to fame were few at this stage, although he was well publicised due to his new TVR Trident concept (a car that went on to become the Trident Clipper). Bond were keen on this concept and called in Fiore to adapt the design to the Vitesse's chassis and scuttle. Frustratingly, the results seemed not to anyone's satisfaction - Fiore departed, leaving Bond draftsman (or draughtsman, if you prefer) Alan Pounder to join all the pieces together.

The Trident Clipper - never mind the gate, just look at the size of those tyres!

Alan Pounder may have felt his role in the company somewhat diminished, as he's constantly referred to as their 'draftsman' (actually officially Chief Design and Development Engineer), despite his styling, engineering, prototyping and testing roles - Nick Wotherspoon's book features a great picture of him testing an early Bond 'jetski' wearing a gnarly cable knit sweater! Fiore went on to productionize the Trident in 1967, plus styling Elva's Elva-BMW GT160 (1968), the magnificent Monteverdi Hai (1969), and the insane Citroen Karin (1980), before vanishing off the scene completely.

The result of Pounder's adaptation the Equipe...well...kinda looks like a TVR Trident stuck to a Vitesse, I'm afraid, but a unique and not unattractive end result. It was favourably received on release in mid-1967, being discontinued in 1970 when Bond Cars was purchased and wound down by Reliant (a British competitor, who purchased Bond about 12 months earlier). It featured a fibreglass/steel construction (so can rust as well as crack) and suffered from all the same afflictions as a Herald/Vitesse (yes, that perilous swing axle rear end). Unique design features were gutter-free windows (for early models, they gave up eventually) and an incorporated aerial (glasses into the rear R/H 'C' pillar).

Bond had one last hurrah, when Reliant released Tom Karen's iconic 3-wheeler, the Bond Bug (1970 - 1974). Although it was Reliant conceived (and powered), still not a bad way to go.

Behold, the Bug! Some of our friends up North don't like these babies getting out of the Kingdom, but I'll import a Bug here one day (just don't tell the missus). PS: Let me know if this is your car - any copyright infringement is absolutely unintentional!

As an aside, Bond Minicar's were imported into Australia for a short period in the early 1950's. Several 4-cylinder Equipe's are in the country, plus at least 2 Bond Bugs - if there are any more 6-cylinder Equipes, I'd love to know!

So, there you have it, the design history of the Bond Equipe GT in a nutshell.

Have a look at the Bong Bug forum HERE, with some information on Tom Karen too, designer of the Bug and the Raleigh Chopper. Woot!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Got Broken 'glass? Call Composite Solutions!

Faced with a gaping hole and no knowledge of fibreglass, I needed to work out where to go next. The parts had now arrived from the UK (via Canberra - cheers Graham, Russell and Ian), and almost covered the extensive damage, but how to stick it all back together was anyone's guess.

When I was a youngster, I used to know a chap who owned a fibreglass bodied Bolwell Mk.7, and knowing the marques strong following in SA, thought I'd turn to the Bolwell Car Club for some assistance. They pointed me in the direction of master 'glasser, Norm Clement, of Composite Solutions. Norm had a quick look, in a very sage-like manner, and agreed it could be fixed and signed up for the job. Within weeks we were to commence.

Meanwhile, the car needed to be partially stripped. Now, I must say that my intention had never been to attempt a restoration from the inside out, but circumstances dictated a unique approach. So, the interior was next.

I took up an offer from a local TAFE college lecturer (Joe Maurici) to use the car for an upholstery class, free of charge, I only need supply materials. The downside was that the job could take as long as 12 months, but I had time on my side. I couldn't leave the car with the TAFE guys for refitting, as I'd need to strip it out as soon as they'd finished! So, we decided to strip out the interior to be re-upholstered, and also provide the doors for trim fitting.

Removing the front seats, I found they were not original, but a period after-market Microcell reclining seat (with trendy headrests, which had fallen off), as later fitted to the Radford Mini Deville. The seat frames had been fabricated from wood - not quite up with ADR's, even for 1968, I'd imagine. Besides, they were in lousy shape.

A few buckets worth of mud didn't go astray either! Yuck

Ultimately, I was on the lookout for a pair of original Bond seats which, whilst they were non-reclining, looked 300% cooler.

Removing the back seat I found the steel below consisted of several thousand rust flakes precariously balanced, both below and inside the seat squab itself! Some MAJOR work required here.

A rust relief sculpture greeted me below the rear seat squab

Below all this mess are brackets for the handbrake cable, so will need to accurately fabricate the entire panel - spares are not available.

Other discoveries included, a gaping hole in the driver's side floor (accelerator pedal hanging beneath the car!), incorrect gearbox (possibly Triumph 2000), modified floor to fit said oversized gearbox, cardboard transmission hump cover all but disintegrated (fibreglass replacement purchased from Triumph Vanguard Wholesalers), Bond centre console gone (if ever present) and the cardboard dashboard fell apart in my hands (fibreglass replacement also purchased from TVW).

AM radio, now all I need is an 8-track!

The original leather wheel was falling apart, centre bezel and horn button turned to chalk, and wheel boss a chewed out piece of aluminium. Guy came to the rescue with an owners manual and console, but a wheel would require a lot of research, and a lot of patience.

I purchased some Nylex MG and Triumph basketweave vinyl for the TAFE guys to use, piled all the bits into my stylish Hyundai wagon and away it all went - with the exception of the rear seat (frame given to a local metal fab shop to make a new frame) and fibreglass dashboard (given to my dad to plane the wood insert to size - the cavity in the 'glass dash being a little undersize). The doors were removed, stripped, blasted and etch primed, ready for the panel beaters.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Deal Done...Next Move

After a few emails between Guy and myself, I'd come to the conclusion that the parts to fix the rear damage were available, so there must be a way to put it all back together. My procrastination continued after I sounded out the wrecking yard and motor reg, determining whether the car had a local history and could be re-registered after restoration. Thinking, thinking.

I'd almost forgotten the car by late 2005, when Guy dropped me a line to tell me that his brother was emigrating to Canberra for work, and the parts could be shipped with him! So, a deal was done for the parts, and the car purchased from Port Wakefield for $1000, by late the next year. Once I got it home (September 2006), I began cleaning away the average repair attempts to the rear.

Now I can see what's going on - lots of shattered fibreglass and a badly dented fuel tank. Parts on their way included a rear boot pan, rear quarter panels, rear bumper assembly (Triumph 1300) and a tail-lamp (Vauxhall PA Cresta). Getting the parts back from Canberra wasn't an issue, as I found a friend of a friend ran regular road freight through from Sydney to Adelaide, via Canberra.

We got a whole car now...10/4 little buddy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Duane's Bond - From the Beginning

Hi all, I created this blog some time ago, for my own record if nothing else, but neglected to make a start on it! Welcome to the restoration blog for my 1968 Bond Equipe 2-Litre GT, where I will cover my progress from 2006 to date. I've got a lot of people to acknowledge and thank along the way.

OK, this entry will cover the start of the entire 'adventure'.

The Beginning:

Firstly, and introduction. I am Duane de Gruchy, I live in Adelaide, South Australia. I've been a car nerd for as long as I can remember, a lousy restorer (we'll get to that later), but always a keen classic car owner.

Back in 2005, my then girlfriend (now wife) belatedly passed her drivers licence, and as a 'reward', I bought her a little 1967 Holden HB Torana (for those in the UK, a Vauxhall HB Viva) to drive. Whilst the later 6-cylinder Torana's are much revered down here, the 4-cylinders are all but forgotten. As a result, you need to search far and wide for spares. This took me to Port Wakefield, some 100kms North of Adelaide. Port Wakefield's enormous motor wreckers is quite legendary for its oddities, and whilst browsing for Torana parts, I happened across this sad Bond Equipe.

OK, it doesn't look too bad from here...

...but things were not so great from behind

Besides the obvious damage to be repaired, the open rear had allowed the car to fill with water and internal trim weather away. The hot conditions had turned everything rubber to rock. It was obviously a big job (although the car was largely complete), possibly more useful as spares, so I put it in the back of my mind.

Some weeks later I contacted the Triumph Sports Owners Association in the UK, thinking the car would be better served as spares for another owner. Speaking to Bond Expert Nick Wotherspoon (writer of the fantastic book Lawrie Bond - The Man & The Marque), who forwarded me to Guy Singleton, I was told the car appeared to be (to the best of his knowledge) the only 6-cylinder Equipe in Australia - not being any use then as spares, I began to ponder. I think you know what comes next...

Read more about the Bond Equipe here:

For further information, plus Nick Wotherspoon's book:

Join the Bond Equipe Yahoo Group here:

PS: Also, fans of fibreglass oddities, Bolwell's and other Australian cars should check out John Low's fantastic BOLLY BLOG