330 GT Registry

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RETURN OF A 330GT FERRARI
by R. F. BLAKE

I first saw EPH 3B as it arrived at the Jaguar works in November 1965. Looking around the car I saw that it had been shunted quite badly and I remember thinking at the time that it would be an interesting exercise to put it right again.

The car remained in the works for several months and then was placed out of doors under plastic cover where it sat in all weathers for over a year.

I purchased it as it stood in August 1967 and determined to put it back on the road again, had it taken on a trailer to my home and placed in the garage.

The engine was largely in bits in a large box whilst the block and crankcase assembly was in the boot of the car.

As a first step all the various components which were not fitted or otherwise loose were stored apart from the car for inspection and refurbishing at a later date. The interior trim, carpets and fittings on the bulkhead scuttle were also removed.

The steering column and box along with all the front end parts, wheels, hubs, etc. were taken off, cleaned and visually inspected, followed by a more thorough check and crack testing. This took several weeks since access to a standards room was limited. All the good parts were cleaned and painted with an etching primer as base. Experience has shown this to be best for parts exposed to weather and also highly desirable on all coachwork.

Having determined the full extent of the damage it was then necessary to set the car on the level and find some way to establish a datum from which accurate measurements could be made. To this end the car was raised, levelled and anchored to a concrete floor. It was then possible to take a series of basic measurements to determine the extent of damage to the chassis.

I decided that I would have to cut out the front end of the chassis at a point just back of the near side rear engine mount and just forward of the offside rear mount. Doing this enabled me to operate inside the engine bay to repair damage to the scuttle structure. It was found that the chassis was not damaged or bent behind the forward ends of the cruciform tubes just aft of the rear motor mounts.

The front cross member is a fabricated one, with the main longitudinal frame tubes passing through it and then welded.

As the suspension control arms, both upper and lower, are pivoted on shafts in plain bushes which are drilled through this member it was necessary to get the basic measurements for the geometry of the front end established. To this end a trip was made to Maranello Concessionaires, then at Bournemouth. Here I found Mr. Bishop of the utmost help in gleaning the needed information from their copy of the shop manual. The information incidentally was in Italian which had to be translated (no mean task). I made copies of drawings and dimensions which although not complete, nevertheless gave a basis from which to work.

To straighten the front beam it was necessary to cut it open as it is a box structure. By using 4 steel bars of some 24 inch length passing through the four control arm pivot points, one had a visual and accurate method of aligning these. Having got these to what I thought was reasonable for a first check, the measurements were transferred to a drawing board and the corresponding linkages swung through their arcs. This showed what final changes were needed to arrive at the correct castor and camber. By the use of heating and jacking the correct dimensions were obtained.

Now the problem of holding these accurately and firmly arose. The beam had to be welded up into a unit to be set up as a complete front end in order that it could be assembled complete with wheels and tyres on a surface table to check the geometry. The first test showed the need for a few minor adjustments before undertaking a complete re-welding of all the open sections into a solid beam once again. This was done by fixing a rigid framework with bars passing through the pivot points and bolted to the outer framework. Gas welding was used in an alternating step procedure followed by a final annealing to relieve welding stresses.

Having done that, I then had a complete front beam (axle) which I knew could be placed accurately into the car. It only remained to make a jig or fixture to bolt it into place to allow the new frame tubes to be joined to it, and the chassis ends.

As the car was level and bolted to the floor with an established datum and centre line, a fixture was made to attach to the lower pivot points of the beam and bolted to the floor in situ so that wheel base and castor was correct.

As the frame tubes (of oval section) had to be replaced between the bulkhead and front beam, a section of frame was tested for specification in a laboratory in order to determine a tube of comparable strength and quality.

Locating the material brought about a somewhat prolonged series of phone calls and correspondence before success was achieved. The ensuing time though, was used to do other work. The tube found was round and had to be shaped to an oval section on one end, tapering to fit just over the short exposed ends in the front beam and chassis. By having an overlap of 1” at each end, a neat and strong joint was obtained. With all this in place and firmly fixed to the floor, it only remained to weld the joints in such an order as to minimise the amount or effects of contraction and expansion. As the attachments to the front beam had gussets of similar tubing, the welding of that end was done first and allowed to cool before attempting to weld the back end. Thus distortion was minimised. After releasing the attaching bolts between the lower pivot points and the fixture there was no sign of any misalignment due to the welding. Next, it was necessary to make up three new engine bearer mounts and weld them to the new frame tubes. I made an angle iron frame to simulate the four motor legs in order to hold the lot in place whilst welding.

Still at the front end it was necessary to re-build the dumb irons and the tubular structures which carried the bumpers.

Having got the backbone of the car straight again, I then set about the body repairs. This entailed considerable stripping out of panels and bulkheads and jacking operations with a 'Portopower' hydraulic set. All of the nearside wing valance and the tubular engine hatch structure was cut out and damaged tubes and brackets repaired or replaced with new.

B. F. Blake’s fully restored 330 GT looks as though it has just come from the showroom. Difficult to believe that it was almost a total wreck when he purchased it.
 

Mounting brackets for a new radiator were made and welded into place. The headlight aperture and mounting plates on the nearside was cut out as it was too far gone to repair. A new section was formed by hand and welded into place as was the louvered panel at the rear of the wing. The louvres were made by hand forming on the bench.

As the radiator grill aperture was flattened I had to reform it to dimensions taken from a similar car whilst at Maranello Concessionaires in Bournemouth. Having done this I then set about making the grill and surrounding bezzle. To do this I made a base board to the aperture shape with the egg crate grill configuration on it. Upon this board I built up the grill in 14 gauge NS4 aluminium. The various parts of which were then polished and coated with a clear cellulose. The lot was then rivetted together and offered to the aperture. New plate nuts were fitted to hold everything in place. The next step was to make up the brass bezzle or surround. I altered this slightly from the original in that I have the forward flange overhanging the aperture by ” all round.

As the twin head lights in the near side wing were destroyed I decided to replace all four with Lucas ones and so made the necessary adapter rings and mounted them.

Having got the basic shape and position of the bonnet opening correct I then had the problem of the bonnet itself which was folded like an accordian and had the hinge anchoring plates torn from it into the bargain. There was nothing for it but to carefully unflange the outer skin from the inner framework and begin to straighten both. New plate fastenings were made and the whole frame hung into place in the aperture. The next step was to re-clench the outer skin, once straightened, onto the inner frame. The bonnet latch and other fittings were attached and the whole lot could then be fitted to the opening.

The nearside heater unit under the wing had been crushed and destroyed, but by cutting it into pieces, patterns were made and a new unit built up. As the heater core was destroyed, I removed the end tanks, straightened them and made a new core from a slightly larger unit cut down to suit. This, together with its brackets and air trunking, was then installed. It was necessary to make a new fan housing and trunking for the forward end. This was copied from the right hand side unit.

I then spent some time in metal finishing all the panel work of the front end of the car.

As the motor was in bits, some of the pieces had corroded from long exposure, however, all pieces were cleaned and checked for condition. This revealed that there was remarkably little damage or wear. As the left front wheel and frame had been crushed against the engine, the exhaust manifold on that side had been flattened. As it was made from mild steel it was not too difficult to cut it open, straighten it piece by piece and then re-weld it.

The cast alloy sump was badly broken and presented something of a challenge. It was argon-welded, using a 5% silicon rod. The resulting contraction and distortion necessitated some hand scraping and fitting to fit it to the block. The material though, was one which allowed scope for straightening and building up after welding.

The fan, of cast magnesium alloy, had three of its blades broken. Since it was a magnetic clutch operated unit I decided that I would keep the hub intact and fabricate some new blades. First I made up a fixture to hold the hub and its six blades in place at the correct angle. I then had the hub turned to take a thick steel ring as a neat fit. Short triangular blade roots were then welded to this ring at the correct angle. The new hand formed blades made from NS 4 alloy were then rivetted to the roots. The rivets used to hold the blades and ring to the hub were also of alloy thereby contributing towards a lightweight repair.

The cylinder heads, valve gear, etc., were stripped down and cleaned and the ports lightly polished. Valves were re-ground and then re-assembled. The valve covers were painted in a black crackle finish and the word ‘Ferrari’ picked out in yellow on each. The carburettor’s were stripped and cleaned and the intake manifolds lightly polished. The latter were then painted silver as in the original. The cylinder block and sump were also similarly painted.

I was most fortunate in that George Buck of Jaguar Cars offered to assemble the engine. Such a golden opportunity was too good to miss and it was not long before he had a large box of bits and pieces together with the block and crank assembly set up in his home shop.

The motor mount bushes, of the pot cum Metalastik type, with four bolt flanges pressed into legs cast integrally with the cylinder block, had been sheared and deformed under impact, although in so doing they had saved the block from damage. I had to make up four new ones to replace these. I had the rubber checked for density and rate and then made up new rubbers, bodies and sleeves. These were held together by flaring the inner sleeve over the outer jacket a in the originals.

I am a firm believer in the bumpers of a car being both aesthetically pleasing, as well as being structurally functional and to this end I set about making up a new set from a heavier gauge material and incorporating over-riders. These were offered up for fitting before being sent away for plating.

Amongst other incidental items to be made up were the name for the boot lid and the prancing horse for the radiator grill. Both were missing. In the case of the former, its imprint had been left on the boot so it was not too difficult to trace this and then cut it out of brass plate. The horse was also made from brass, polished and then clear cellulosed, not plated, as are the originals.

Having collected necessary parts from Maranello Concessionaires, I next assembled the running gear and that done was able to remove the car from its fixture to the ground.

The next job was the re-fitting of brake pipes and servo tanks to the scuttle, along with the petrol pipes and various other electrical wires and fittings. Joining up the forward part of the electrical harness where it had been cut was done by means of snap fasteners.

Before installing the engine complete with clutch and gearbox a trial fitting to check the positioning, etc., of the motor mounts, water pipes and so on, was made using just the bare engine. A lifting harness was made up which was attached by the centre intake manifold studs of the cylinder block. A two chain hoist was used in conjunction with ring eyes. This set up enabled me to tilt the engine single-handed. After this first trial fitting the engine was removed, the clutch and gearbox attached and the whole then re-installed.

Having got the basic car re-assembled, time was then spent to giving the interior a thorough clean out, re-trimming and replacing where necessary, e. g. the carpets and passenger seat had been badly burnt by acid from the battery which had been crushed in the collision.

Whilst the car had been stored out of doors under a tight plastic cover, the paint had suffered quite badly and it was necessary to strip the roof and boot completely. Paint colour chosen was dark blue.

The work of re-building the car began early in September 1967 and it was back on the road in time for the Easter holiday of 1968. All the work was done in my own garage.

Additions or modifications since completing the re-build have arisen from personal preferences.

I found the ride to be that of a thoroughbred race car quality and so set about trying to lessen the harshness of this.

I tried a variety of settings for the Koni shock absorbers and also experimented with tyre pressures, I found that the high rating of the springs called for a high rate of re-bound damping. Another approach was to try the latest Girling gas cell absorbers. The valves in the Girling’s were adjusted to get a card reading similar to that found to be the best with the Koni’s, To date this has been most satisfactory. The ride is still firm and positive, but the change from bound to re-bound is greatly smoothed out. Also a ‘klunk’ from the rear shocks on slight bumps has now disappeared. Incidentally this was a noise that I spent many hours tracing to its source.

Another point not to my liking, is the high noise level within the car. To eliminate this would require major changes in the chassis and engine, so I have heavily felted the interior of the car, starting from the base of the windscreen, down the scuttle inside face and along the floor under the rear seat to the back light. The inside of the boot was also felted. All this has greatly lessened the noise level and it is now I find less tiresome on long trips.

FERRARI VOLUME 2, NUMBER 1, Autumn 1969