Home Up Stripping the Chassis

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With the body painted and mounted on a trolley so that it can be wheeled around the garage at last there is the opportunity to start work on the chassis which had been left with suspension, steering rack and pipes for brakes and fuel intact. There is also a small amount of the wiring harness which is threaded through the chassis members. This feeds the fuel tank sender, the fuel pump and brake switch.

Although this could all be re-installed when the main wiring goes in, I took many photographs of what is left on the chassis and how it is routed so that I can build it up in the reverse order of dismantling. (As time passes, I am getting more and more worried about the routing of the main wiring harness as I have started to forget exactly how it was installed).

Having made a preliminary inspection of the general condition of the chassis, it is obvious that some work is going to be required. There is rust perforation on both sides of the rearmost sections and the area farther forward near to the fuel pump is also suspiciously soft. The front looks OK from a rust point of view having benefited from Jaguar's integral anti-corrosion system so I was not expecting to have to do any work in this area. This turned out to be not completely true as I will explain later. On the positive side, the chassis looks straight and true. I cannot find any evidence of repairs so I am reasonably confident that the car has not been in a major accident. I do need to check the dimensions but the look of it is encouraging.

The rear end showing signs of rust damage made me think that it would be difficult to undo the shackle pins and spring hangers so I started here by spraying on a large amount of penetrating oil. I just use an ordinary bulk purchased product by Comma. XK-Lovers list members in the US recommend KB Blaster but I can't find it in the UK and KB didn't answer my emails.

Before starting the dismantling process, I got five large, stackable, plastic containers. I labeled one for each 'corner' and one for the rest of the chassis fixtures. After soaking for a week or so I knocked back the lock tabs and tackled the bolts, which to my surprise came undone without very much trouble. I didn't break anything and I made sure that all the bolts turned but didn't remove them at this stage because I wanted to leave the rear axle in position to facilitate the removal of the rear hubs. 

Next the rear brakes were dismantled and the main thing to note for future reference is that it is much easier to undo rusty brake pipe nuts if you leave the banjo fittings on the wheel cylinders until you have got the brake pipes off. Another note is that however long a car has been standing, there will still be horrid brake fluid in the pipes and it runs out all over the place.

On both sides, where the brake pipes pass over the axle tube they had been crushed flat, so completely on one side that no operation of that wheel cylinder could have been possible. This was confirmed when I took the cylinder off as I could scoop out solid corrosion.

Moving to the front, the next job was to take off the front suspension starting by removing the torsion bars. This looks a complicated job but it isn't. I scribed a reference on each end of the bar and centre punched a mark on the forward muff and the reaction lever. A blob of paint helps to locate the marks. Then, counting and noting the number of turns until the long brass nuts were undone far enough to be flush with the bottom of their bolts, all the torsion is removed and the suspension can be dismantled as described in the shop manual. I expected 50 year old splines to be rusted up solid but experienced no problem whatsoever. The bars are handed and it is worth winding gaffer tape around the splines to protect them.

The worst part of the job until you come to remove the bottom wishbone is getting the split pins out of the castellated nuts. The way I do this is to take an old centre punch and grind it into a very small, sharp cold chisel. Then tap up the spread ends of the split pin trying to avoid dirt getting trapped as this spreads the pin. If you are lucky the pin will go back straight and you might even be able to tap it out (vary rare) but usually the pin distorts. If this happens, I break off one of the legs by bending it backwards and forwards, then attack the head with the mini-chisel trying to unfold it a little until you can grab the end. I find that you can then usually get enough purchase with a pair of side cutters to grasp the end and lever it out using the flat of the nut as a pivot. Well, this works for me. If that fails, I chop through both sides of the pin with the cold chisel, wind off the nut and re-drill the hole later.

The general condition of the suspension on this car was poor with a great deal of wear. It still had the original brass bottom ball joints which on one side had disintegrated. These are replaced with an improved nylon type.

The bottom wishbone mounting bracket is fixed with four bolts each side. Two of these are special shouldered bolts to locate the bracket accurately. These not only get very rusty but their heads are awkward to reach so getting the brackets off took some time. To reach the bolt heads isn't that easy with the body ad engine removed, so must be extremely difficult on a running car. On one side, these bolts had clearly not been tightened sufficiently and the shouldered bolt holes in chassis were worn very oval. Not only that but the looseness had caused the chassis itself to be distorted and bulged outward. All this will have to sorted out before the suspension can be rebuilt. From other things that I found on that side, it was obvious that a previous owner had been aware that there was something wrong but had not got to the root of the trouble.

The only other problem at the front end was that when I removed the bump rubber, one bolt on each side is screwed into a blind fixing in the bottom of the suspension tower and one of these fixings became detached. This is a minor problem but will have to be sorted out.

Taking off the steering rack completed the removal of everything from the front. Here again, the fixings are cumbersome and awkward to get at and one of the Metalastic mountings had parted company. All in all, when you consider that this is a two ton car with a 3.5 litre engine the general condition of the running gear must have made it a real dog to drive.

And now to the rear axle. Unfortunately, in spite of the application of great force, a large amount of whacking with a club hammer and the application of considerable heat the rear hubs could not be removed with the tools available. They have a reputation for being very tight and my puller is of the three leg variety. These bolt to the wheel studs but on a five stud hub it is impossible to spread the pulling force evenly. What happened was that I distorted one hub and bent it out of true. At this point I decided to leave this particular job to the company that was gong to overhaul the differential. I have never seen the proper tool but I expect that it bolts to all five studs and provides and even distribution of the pulling force. I considered hiring the tool from JEC but the economics of the situation pointed in the direction of leaving this job to the professionals.

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Jaguar XK 140 Restoration