About Me

New Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Name: Todd Russo Location: New Hartford, CT, USA

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Long winter is finally over!

This past winter arrived late then overstayed its welcome. Old Biddy sat in “The Shed” waiting for me to do something with her, but I could not get out to her. While waiting for warmer weather, some interesting things happened.

I sold both of my tractors and continued to sell stuff on the auction site which gave me a little spending cash. I watched the US dollar to British pound exchange rate.  When the value got below $1.25 per pound sterling, I bought a set of roller foot joint kits from England. I saved about $35 from the last set of these I bought four years ago!!

And, I sent back the incorrect hydrolastic displacer unit rubber boot covers to Seven Enterprises (who had great customer service) for a full refund, which then went to purchasing these…the correct ones from Earlpart in the England. The set from Seven Enterprises is for a Mini hydragas suspension unit even though they have them listed as the same part number 21G1496...BIG difference!!

When the weather finally warmed up, the front subframe was brought outside and painted. I am pretty happy with the results!

But I am not sure if I will rebuild it or leave it as is. If so, I need a short list of parts that I cannot justify buying right now.

I also took some of the tractor money and decided to  bring the remaining seats ( both fronts and the rear bottom) to get reupholstered. I brought them to Noreen, the same person who did the back of the rear seat in August 2012…five years ago. I will be getting them back in ten days because she has to special order the material. I am fine with that as Old Biddy will not be going anywhere in the next week anyway.


Thanks for visiting.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Winter updates...spare front sub-frame and new parts.

As winter rolls on this year, I have been selling “stuff” on that auction site. It is a win-win for me. Stuff that I no longer need or want is leaving my cellar and going into the hands of people need or want it. And, in the process, it is funding some purchases of bits and pieces I need for Old Biddy and items around the house that need repair. But to get to the stuff to sell, I had to pass by the rusty, dirty spare front sub-frame that has been sitting on the floor since I got it!

First, let us discuss the spare front sub-frame. Since last year when I cleaned up the other rusty, crusty, smelly parts, this “thing” has been calling me to give it some attention, too.

The sub-frame itself was in very good condition. It just needed love and a "spa treatment".

There were just a couple spots that needed more pampering than others. Those areas received the usual process of removing a couple stuck bolts and some caked on grease, but nothing too difficult.

As with all my parts, the sub-frame was sanded down, then thoroughly cleaned and primered.

I am just waiting for a warm spring day to take it outside to paint it black. After spraying the primer, the fumes stunk up the house for three days. Due to the cold weather we were not able to open the windows to air the house out!! But at least the sub-frame is protected from further rusting for the next three months.

I received a new voltage regulator (read my last post about why I think the one installed in Old Biddy  is bad), and a new coolant temperature sensor for Christmas this year. It was brought to my attention that the one in Old Biddy now may be either faulty, or may have been damaged when the car was overheating. When I replace it we will find out if that was why the temperature gauge was reading high.

I took a little bit of my auction site profits and treated myself. I bought four new rubber hydrolastic unit dust covers (part 21A1496) from Seven Enterprises. But when they are compared to the old original one (on the right) the center is much different than the original. I know that these rubbers were also used on the hydrogas units as well. When I have the patience, I will try to fit them. I do not know if they will work. We will see. No one anywhere in the world has the original design rubber dust covers, that I know of. If anyone knows, please let me know!

As stuff from my cellar leaves our house and disappears around the world, it is looking much cleaner down there. I still have things to buy to repair stuff upstairs. Afterwards, I will collect more parts for Old Biddy as spares, and I would like to finish rebuilding some of those “almost done” projects.

Thanks for visiting.



Saturday, November 19, 2016

Overheating issue found

It has been a while, I know. Partially because of shame, and partially because of life’s busy-ness. But now that Old Biddy has been put to bed for the winter, the embarrassing story can be told.

When we left off last, I was trying to figure out why the car was overheating. At first I thought it was because the radiator filler strap was not installed. I sewed one together out of two strips of denim (on my grandmother’s Singer Model 66 “red eye” that I inherited) and loosely fit it in to place. After re-measuring and trimming it, we went for a test drive. The missing strap was not the problem.

Another issue I found was the new thermostat (from Moss Motors). When I opened the radiator cap, the water was not circulating. It was found to be opening at 198*F instead of 180*F as it should when I pulled it out and tested it in a pot of water.  It was swapped out with a high flow Mr. Gasket 180*F, which circulates the water properly now… This is the old faulty one.

The day I was troubleshooting I took many short two mile rides up and down our hill. The temperature gauge needle kept reading “H” although the thermostat was swapped and the strip was installed. I began to get frustrated. I thought that maybe the short 35mph short drives were not circulating enough air. On what was to be my last test drive of the day, I put the hood (bonnet) down and decided to see what would happen if I drove the car at 55mph.We drove down hill to the main road and began to speed up. When we hit 52mph the hood suddenly flew up and hit the windshield blocking my view. Since the road had no traffic, I quickly pulled over to assess the damage. The hood itself was fine. The cowl got bent up and dented by the corners of the hood on both sides.

As I closed the hood in frustration before the ride, it became apparent that I did not push it down to latch it all the way. Thank goodness the windshield is fine as well. Just the cowl got buggered up.

Whenever I had the engine revved up above 3000rpms, the temperature gauge would rise and read “H”. Whenever the engine slowed down to idle, the gauge went back down into the “normal range” I also took a glance at the rest of the instruments connected to the main “green power wire” (oil pressure, voltmeter, fuel). They all behaved the same way!!

Therefore, the conclusion is that the brand new Lucas RB340 voltage regulator replacement (from Moss Motors) is either faulty or needs serious adjustment. Some suggested that the problem could be the voltage stabilizer (located behind the speedometer). But if it was, only the temperature and fuel gauges would be affected…not the others.

Electrical issues aside, it was a historic year! Old Biddy became an official registered motor vehicle, and she is drivable!! She has been driven nearly fifty miles, although twenty five of those miles are test rides. As she sleeps for the winter, we can concentrate on and look forward to next year’s punch list; fix the electrical glitch, get the seats reupholstered, get the cowl repaired, and the perpetual…get the car buffed out! At least the list is shrinking.

As you can tell, Moss Motors has sent me a few unreliable, poor quality products lately. I wish they had better quality control, if any at all. Or they should just stop buying junk from China!!

Thanks for visiting.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Initial Grace Period

As with 90% of all vehicle restorations, there is an intitial grace period in which problems arise and need attention. Old Biddy is no different as expected. Things always need adjustment, or fixing, or there is always one thing on the punch list that was forgotten. She has been driven close to 40 miles since she has been deemed roadworthy. Yes, other issues have developed since I left you with the oil leak cliffhanger in my last post.

First, the oil leak culprit was discovered to be that the tappet cover canister had a pin-hole leak in the bottom of it. It was removed, cleaned, welded, and then soldered over to strengthen and reseal the thin bottom cap. It worked! Since this repair, when she is parked after each of our few short rides, there have been no oil spots on the (cardboard on the) floor.

The next issue was that the red ignition/voltage warning light on the dash stayed on even after the car was running and the voltmeter never measured over 11.5 volts. In fact, the readings kept dropping the longer the car stayed on. It turns out that the voltage regulator was no good. I purchased a new one, installed it, and the problem was fixed.

I just have to swap the new cover with an original "Lucas RB340" one to keep the original look. The two mounting holes will have to be drilled out to 3/16” on the new regulator mounting plate before the old cover can be installed.

Remember how I mentioned that shifting gears was sloppy and it felt as if I was stirring a pot of spaghetti? It turns out that this plastic cup was cracked and so worn out that the ball on the shifter would not clip into it to seat properly. The “balls” in the remote housing also were worn with flat spots. They were re-glazed with brass and reshaped. Now, shifting is precise and excellent!

Chris performed the three above operations at his shop. After he was done with what he had to do, he took the car for a test drive to check his work. His work was fine. But as he was driving home, smoke started bellowing from the dashboard and the voltmeter steadily dropped from 14 to 11 volts. He pulled over and shut the car off. After the smoke cleared, he looked and found that the white wire that connected the dashboard ignition/voltage warning light to the white wire in the tachometer ignition/voltage warning light (that I installed), jiggled off the light socket and shorted to ground. This triggered the quick “frying” of the outer plastic wire covers from the ignition switch to both lights and the ignition switch. Luckily, the damage was limited to only those white wires and the rest of the harness was unscathed.

Chris repaired the wiring and we decided that the tachometer warning light (although cool looking) was redundant and unnecessary. It is no longer connected in the circuit…for safety.

The last issue to date happened last week. I wanted to get the car running to at least 50-55mph for about eight miles to test the oil leaks, electrics, and other adjustments that were recently made. I took a friend along for the ride and everything worked great for the first three miles. But then, the temperature gauge started to rise. She was running hot. We made it home with no problem (except for my jittery nerves) so I popped opened the hood. I think that the radiator was not cooling properly because I have not yet installed a “duct strap” to fill the gap between the radiator and the wheel well vent/ air intake. I will have to make one out of heavy fabric since the old original one has long disintegrated. It just takes time.

I would like to leave this post on a happy note…a sidebar, if you will. Last year at this time, we went to my in-law’s house on Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts. I took a picture of the day beacon in the bay (see post from August 2015). This year we took his boat out a bit further to another famous navigational marker that I have been staring at from shore for twenty years…the Nyes Ledge buoy. This green lighted bell (#1) buoy marks the entrance to Mattapoisett Harbor. It has been listed and mentioned in countless marine navigation charts and guides for many years. But to my knowledge and research, it has never been pictured in literature nor on the interweb. So here it is…the first picture on the internet of Nyes Ledge buoy!! I wish it would get restored!!

As problems arise, and issues appear and are repaired, and progress continues, updates will be posted. Readers have e-mailed me to ask how the car is doing. I do not intend to make this a “driving diary”. This blog will continue to stay focused on the restoration saga. Once school starts, life will get back into the groove again and posts will become more frequent…but hopefully not, if you know what I mean…depending on the car. Stay tuned!!

Thanks for visiting.



Thursday, July 21, 2016

She's official!!!

It has been three and a half months since I last posted. Yes, it is uncharacteristic of me to have such a gap but there was a reason. I was bored of me saying (and you probably were, too) that I still have to have “Old Biddy” color sanded and registered all the time and it never actually happened.  I waited until I had good news and real progress before I posted again. Here is the good news, bad news…bear with me.

First, I wanted to get the car roadworthy in case there was going to be a Dept. of Motor Vehicle (DMV) inspection on her. Therefore, she needed a couple things buttoned up. One thing was that I had to have rear view side mirrors installed. Holding true to my goal of keeping “Old Biddy” the same configuration she was when she arrived ten years ago, I put them on the front fenders (wings). This seems to be a love/hate thing with British car enthusiasts. Whatever anyone else thinks, I bowed to her original condition.

The car had no title when I bought it out of state in New York. To make a long, long, long story short (which is one of the reasons for not posting in a while), here are the papers I ultimately needed for the State of Connecticut to officially register the car. A Q-1 form (in lieu of a title and bill of sale), her insurance documentation, and a registration application that they wanted me to fill out each time I went to the DMV (four to be exact). Then they finally issued me a temporary plate which gave me permission to drive the car to the shop get her Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) inspected.

After all that…She was finally issued her license plate!!! This, too, is temporary as I will be getting vanity plates in the fall.

Last week when I drove her to get the VIN inspection done (with her temporary license plate in the back window), the ride was only a 6.2 mile round trip. At a top speed of 58mph @ 3800rpm she ran great. Four days later, the same evening when she got her permanent plate issued, I decided to go for a longer ride to bond with her and do a “shake down” cruise. All went well, except that the next morning I noticed she was leaking oil out of the front of the engine. We will need to investigate.

There is still a punch list of things to do. One item on the list is to modify her spare tire hold down clamp. The screw is not long enough to thread into the bracket. The tire was clunking around a bit in the trunk which made it sound like the wheels were falling off! It should be an easy fix with a big enough drill bit.

That is the good news…and here is the annoying news.

Al, the guy who did all the bodywork on Old Biddy, was already paid to color sand and buff the car a few years ago, has not returned any of my calls since I started to contact him last summer. I have decided to take Old Biddy to a local fellow who has been detailing cars for thirty years to do the job instead. He is very honest, and is a great professional at what he does. He is excited to help me out any way he can as he loves cars and takes pride in what he does. I have all the receipts and invoices and paperwork needed to go to small claims court if I do not receive a refund from Al. How can people do business like this and go to bed with a good conscience?
Thanks for visiting,

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Rear brake drum/hubs

This week’s project was the final project for this winter…cleaning up and inspecting both spare rear brake drum/hubs.

I would like to thank everyone who responded to my question a couple months ago! I asked what color everyone’s 1100 drums were. The answers ranged from them being bare cast metal, to black, to having separate hub and (non-painted) drum parts (in the later 1300s and Austin Americas). My book of “highly exalted words” illustrates the unit as Part no BTA375 (which is also stamped on the drum). They were originally painted red outside and black inside. So-be-it, they shall be that again.

Mine were both rusty and caked with fifty years of grease and grime.

But the braking surfaces still have a good bit of material left on them although they will have to be “turned” to smooth them.

The inner bearings (MoWog part no. BTA373, or in the real world 14LJT 7/8) are common “trailer” bearings. They are in good condition and only need to be cleaned and regreased.

The outer bearings (MoWog part no. 13H113, or real world MJT25) are a total loss and need to be replaced. Check out the grooved balls!! Of course, it figures that these are the more expensive and harder to find part!

I decided to just clean the drums up and paint them for now.

I am happy with the outcome besides the fact that they need to be turned and need new outer bearings. If I ever decide to sell them or need to put them on Old Biddy, I will tend to those issues then.

At least my three winter projects ( the radius/trailing arms, the hydrolastic diplacer units and the brake drums) are completed and I know what each of them needs for parts to “finish” them when the time comes. But warmer weather is arriving and my attention shifts back to getting Old Biddy color sanded and registered.

Thanks for visiting.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Hydrolastic displacer unit clean up

Since spring seems to be coming quickly this year, I have to hurry up and finish my winter projects of refurbishing the spare parts that I have. My ultimate goal of organizing our cellar depends on it.

This week I concentrated on the hydrolastic “bags” that came off of the spare car. They are in very good condition with no leaks and the hoses and couplings seem solid. They are just rusty and crusty. There are quite a few sites that explain in much detail the inner and outer workings of these units. I will save you from ad nausea.

One point that the sites never really explain is the only difference between the front and back units. It is the flexible hose to steel hose connectors. The front has the air bleed valve, also known as the Schrader valve.

And the back ones do not have this.

One minor issue I had one of them was that the lower rubber was distended. Not a big deal to fix. Just used one of the piston cones to push it back up, and then I had to clean up the workbench where the hydrolastic fluid squirted out.

To save all the gory details of showing you the sanding (with wire brush and drill wire brush), primering and painting, I will just post the final “money shot”.

The only thing needed is a set of displacer rubber boots, Part number 21A1496. In Britain, they sell for between 7 and 9 pounds which calculates with the conversion rate to only $11 - $12. Here in the States they run from $18 - $25. A set of four would cost about $80 with shipping!! Right now the priority is putting that money towards getting Old Biddy registered.

Everyone one around the world has told me to keep these as spares and not sell them as they are growing rare. I have seen a set of four selling for $750 and up. Tempting but not persuading enough!! Next up is the final project of the winter…the rear brake drums, an interesting tale indeed.

Thanks for visiting.