Still green under the gills,
should I restore my Sabra, or just drive it as is? Overall, my car is a
well worn original, with minimal mods and low miles (presumed to be
20K). The mostly original
interior is deteriorating but still recognizable. Seats have been redone,
top is shot badly, and there are plenty of scuffs, scrapes and
The engine is what you would expect to find under the hood of an old
driver; wires everywhere, repairs intended to get back on the road as
easily as possible, and LOTS of grunge. The exterior is an older average
repaint, with some bubbling and spiderwebs; a solid 20 footer. Some
stuff is missing, but it does appear to have most of the body tinwork.
I am having a hard time deciding if I should start over completely and
do a full blown resto, or just get it back up and running and drive it.
The hydraulics and electrics are still functional, but it
needs a head gasket. It has been sitting less than a year, and could be
resurrected into a driver with a few weeks work. Pics in the
Photo's. Any thoughts anyone? I can take it...
will contact Enford for a replacement gasket - I may buy one of both!
I will resurface the head, and deck the block by hand to locate any
out-of-true areas. I will strip the head and have the casting boiled
before machining to get as good a surface as possible. the water pump
feel tight and does not leak, but a rebuild may be wise. Here is
Wisconsin the weather is so cold a slightly clogged radiator is
sometimes appreciated, but I will give the system a sound flush to be
sure all is free and clear.
I do have one extra copper gasket that requires anealing, so will
have a backup after a little persuading with the torch and a long
kitty litter nap: I have swelled hundreds of gaskets for British
motorcycles with great success, and feel I can save this one too...
OK, wrenches have been generously applied to the ST,
and I have decided on the full restoration. The deeper
the disassembly goes, the more that has been found to
be broken, challenged, or just plain plain tired.
I have added a picture of the engine bay with the head
removed, and am still trying to get over the amount of
grunge caked on everything. One question is just exactly
what system of wrench sizes were used? I have found
fitments in British Standard/Whitworth, American, and
Metric, and some only an Adjustable will fit - sheesh.
At least my screwdrivers work!
The standard bore has .001" wear, and the cylinder walls
show long periods of sitting (ring bleed). The valve
orientation and combustion chamber shape is beyond
comprehension - who though up that mess? The modified
offset wedge shaped chamber has the valves canted AWAY
from the piston by a few degrees, and aims them at the
cylinder wall. The valve chamber is centered 30% over
the deck of the block, like a fugitive from a flathead.
This makes for a tri-oval shaped head gasket that gets a
little slender in certain areas.
All the basic components are rock solid, but in severe
need of attention. The engine presumably only has 20K
miles, and this could be the case. Much of the drive
train has been very well preserved by the thick layer
of grease, and has resisted any moisture attacks
Wisconsin weather can wage. The list grows ever longer.
Please expect glacial progress, but I will try to keep
a log as things progress. I think this car is worth
doing right, and a full re-do will be appreciated when
driving far from home on a cold night...
All nuts and bolts should be UNF some in the engine block are UNC. Spanner
and socket sizes in inch measurements most common will be 7/16 1/2 9/16 and
a few 5/8. I think UNF (unified fine) UNC (unified coarse) are American
anyway definitely not metric or whitworth. Although some sizes are close.
Call and blame Henry Ford! The progressively larger inlet valve sizes used
through the evolution of the Zephyr engine from the early '50's led them
Good stick with it.
Thank you for the info! Fortunately I have been
repairing vintage British, metric and American
cars and bikes for many years and have quite a
varied collection of fasteners, taps & dies, and
tools. Hard to believe the spanner fitment is so
sloppy though :-? So far I am not down to
original installation hardware; only previously
maintained components have been removed - likely
the reason for the descrepancies. I have found
several nuts & bolts that were dropped into
areas whith limited access, and after digging
them out of the grunge it is apparent they
eluded the previous mechanic(s).
Plan is to be as authentic as possible; the parts
car will help me achieve that end. Oddly though,
this car has a very original looking blank-off
plate over the fuel pump mount, and sports a
bogus looking electric pump. Were stock fuel pumps
weak? I wouldn't think even with dual SU's there
would be a problem.
No problem with the original
mechanical pump it has a manual priming lever
underneath and is useful if car has been standing for a time. Might have
been difficult to obtain in the USA. Best electric pump is the solid
Facit fitted at the tank end. This is what I have in the straight 6
I probably should make this a new topic; something to do with headache
pain... I am making acquaintance with the entrails of the Sabra -
the thoracotomy is well underway. The interior is a pile in the corner,
and the engine lid is hanging from the ceiling. Wood is good (OK, fair),
and other than a kazillion holes drilled everywhere, no substantial
damage or repairs are evident.
I found a very interesting protrusion (actually 2) jutting from the floor
behind the seats; looks like wimpy rollbar sockets?
Nice accurate pro-looking holes cut in the floor, but borderline
quality welds, not unlike the attached tabs for the International
Harvester manufacture seat belts; yes, I.H. belts :-?
The tubes are about 4 inches tall, 1.5 inches diameter, and have a
bolt hole in one side. They are attached to the top of the frame rails.
Previous owner states they are original rollbar mounts, but I won't
know for sure until I get the body off; and probably not even then.
I think this is going to be a fairly easy car to restore - a little more
work than a Bugeye Sprite QQ. And on a sad note, I was unable to
retrieve any change when the seats were removed - looks like I have
to foot the entire bill myself...
Somebody must have added those at some time.
Especially as you say the welds are iffy.
No car to my knowledge had a rollbar originally.
Another few hours of trying
to remove rusted fasteners, and I have found a few other interesting
mods. The front roll bar mounts were attached to the sides of the frame;
they were found under metal panels screwed to the floor beneath the dash.
The floor does have oil rot along the inboard edges, and there are a few
thumb sized holes adjacent to the seat sliders.
I hope I am missing some
linkage for the seat track lock/release. The way it is now, the seats
would act much like a rowing machine whenever you applied the clutch or
brakes; currently they are rusted solidly in position. I have found many
of those odd spring steel crowned locknuts, which indicates this is
likely the first time it has been this far apart.
It reminds me very much of
my 1960 Tomahawk fiberglass boat, and is similar construction excluding
the gelcoat. I think it will be a reasonable job to fix rather than
attempt to replace the wood floor. The dog house and drive shaft covers
are 95% solid (from what I can see), but many snaps and screws holding
them down are rusted to the point a screwdriver is useless; drilling is
Well, time to go bandage my