1962 Bentley S2
Ypsilanti, Michigan

Part IV - Finishing Touches


June 25, 2010

I've been busy, but working with future cars rather than old ones.

John Donato and Don Jankowski from the X-Prize Tech Team look on as Dave Kalen from Sensors, Inc. performs a leak test on one of the Edison2 vehicles.

Friday was "public day" at the track. Team Development Director Julie Zona's son got to go for a ride in Western Washington's entry. No, he didn't drive it.

June 29, 2010

We wrapped things up today for this round of the X-Prize...

This gave me a chance to pick up the overhauled rocker assembly for the Wraith at Dexter Manufacturing in nearby Chelsea.

The shaft itself was straightened, ground smooth and hard-chromed to an oversize diameter.

The worn, egg-shaped bushings in the rockers were reamed and honed to a common oversize condition. Then the shaft was ground to give a proper clearance to the reconditioned rockers.

Finally the pads that come in contact with the valve stems were fixtured and ground on an arc to remove deep indentations that made it difficult to adjust the valves accurately.

June 30, 2010

With great anticipation, I lubricated and assembled the unit to the cylinder head and... crap. The engine still ticks as before at camshaft speed.

At this point, this Wraith has THE nicest Wraith cylinder head on Earth and I am out of ideas short of pulling the engine out.

Guess she's not going to make it to Toronto in 2-1/2 weeks. Better get cracking soon on the Silver Shadow.

I had managed to drive the Bentley once since our last installment. She ran fine, and then the generator light came on.

I needed to drop Rick Barrett's voltage regulator off at Ted's Auto Electric anyway, so I decided to take the S2 and perhaps collect some free advice on the S2's suspect Lucas RB310 regulator. On the way, she started charging again and worked well for the rest of the day.

Good thing too, Ted wasn't around.

Since good karma seemed to be returning, perhaps it was time to fill the rear shock dampers with ATF. The back end of the car is very floaty and underdamped, particularly on railroad crossings. No wonder, they must have been bone dry! I added almost 6 oz. to each one.

A mid-afternoon test drive with fellow Ypsi garage denizen Nick Holt as copilot confirmed all four corners are now properly buttoned down.

July 1, 2010

Today I changed the oil and filter again on the Bentley. This was done in order to purge any detritus churned up by the addition of highly detergent ATF to the oil.

While I buttoned things up there, Mike Reszka from Reszka Restoration helped move things along with the transmission which still had the 20-yr. old ATF in it. Things looked nice and clean with the sump removed...


...with a minimum of sludge accumulation on the inside.

Mike buttoned it back up with a new gasket and I poured in the ATF in two installments. 7.2 qts. with the engine off and then another 3.6 after the engine has run at high idle for five minutes which allows enough time for a full compliment of lubricant to pump into the fluid coupling.

July 2, 2010

With hope diminshing that the '39 Wraith will be road worthy for the RROC National Meet in Toronto, the plan for today was to figure out why the fuel pump on the Silver Shadow fails to turn off once the float bowls fill.

Turns out Dave C. assembled the one way valves on one side of the pump in reverse. After removing the pump this morning, and consulting the book and talking about it, we mangaged to put ALL of the valves in reverse. Third time's a charm: the Shadow was purring like a kitten by 4:30PM. Whew.

Dave, Pete and I did take the S2 to lunch and stopped at Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum for a photo op. The engine runs smooth and strong and the transmission is operating perfectly.

What's next? Beyond cosmetic needs, the S2 is running a bit on the hot side, so that needs to be addressed. Once she's running in the 185 deg F range rather than 205, the a/c can be put back into service. The exhaust system needs to be replaced and that exhaust manifold stud hole in the right cylinder head still needs to be Helicoil-ed.

July 3, 2010

After the open house at the garage this morning I decided to take the plunge and drive the S2 the 39 miles back to my home in Detroit. I added a bottle of "Purple Ice" which is Royal Purple's version of Redline Water Wetter® to the tap water currently in the cooling system. This dropped engine temps down to 190F which is perhaps slightly hot for the prevailing conditions (81F and sunny) but not outrageous.

At any rate no weirdness — she did just fine without skipping a beat.

July 6-9, 2010

I took an even bigger plunge and drove the Bentley back to the garage via Interstate. Much cooler engine temps at 60-75 mph. At idle, the radiator registers a huge drop in temp from top to bottom. This leads me to believe that the radiator is transferring heat well but the flow isn't all that great at low revs. To improve heat transfer further, the radiator was cleaned with Permatex Heavy Duty Radiator Cleaner three times with backflushing in between finally filling with s a 50:50 mixture of IAT coolant and water and 12 oz. of Purple Ice.

And in case anyone was wondering, the cooling system does appear to be pressurizing. However, I do not have the instrumentation to verify if it is regulating to the prescribed 7 psi.

Got a bit lazy taking photos for the remainder of the week, which consisted mainly of odds and ends. The washer bottle went back in...

...as well as the two inner fender access panels which I had powder coated in January. Makes the rest of the fender well look like Hell.

Dave C. resumed polishing and waxing the car. All that's left now is the roof.

I spent some time repairing collision damage to the front license bracket which also hides the power steering ram. Dave now has it primed and will finish painting it next week.

The to do list is getting much shorter: install a new exhaust system, Helicoil one exhaust manifold stud hole, lube the drive shaft joints, find the open circuit in the left headlamp (low beam), install new rear engine mounts, free a seized clevis pin on the brake servo, install the newly cleaned "undersheet" shown at left. After that, the plan is to go through the heating and air conditioning systems which may be a project unto itself.

I received a nice care package this week from Al, the son of the previous owner. I had mentioned to him in an e-mail that they key I had for the car was the valet key which of course does not work in the glove box or boot. After searching a bit at his Mom's place, Al found a regular key and valet key hiding in the back of a drawer still attached to the hard rubber Bentley "B" key fob that originally came with the car!

July 14-16, 2010

Working down the list, I spent a few days sorting out why the left side low beam was inoperative. As it turns out, it was not an open circuit but at nine ohms, sufficently resistant to prevent the filament from illuminating even though current was passing through it.

In order to trace the fault, I had to isolate left and right sides of the headlamp circuit which is why both head lamps are removed.

There's a three-way bullet connection on the exterior side of the driver's floor pan near the foot switch for low and high beams. This was the source of the resistance. I cleaned the contacts and remade the wire that runs from the bullet connector to the footswitch.

Glad I didn't have to pay someone to track that issue down, that was a full two day job!

I also sprayed some heavy duty wheel cleaner on the radiator and condenser matrices in order to improve airflow.

July 19-20, 2010

This week Toronto, Ontario is the host city for the 2010 RROC National Meet. It's actually at the Hilton Suites in Markham, ON.

I am also happy to report that a complete mild steel exhaust system has been ordered for the S2 from Borla East in New Jersey which should be waiting for me upon my return.

The drive is an easy 250 mi. shot up the 401 from the Detroit-Windsor tunnel.

The Shadow transported my good friends Ken, Dave and me to our destination despite multiple failures along the way, including: depleted a/c, partially burned points, a surprisingly maladjusted driver's door latch, intermittent brake lights and a broken speedometer cable.

Martinis are made to commemorate occurences such as these.

July 24, 2010

Our week of informative seminars, long lunches and dinners with old friends came to a crescendo with today's car show in Milne Park.

The rains held off until 2:00 PM at which point the field was released to return for cocktail hour and black tie banquet.

This Weymann-bodied 1923 Bentley 3 Litre was a personal highlight for me. Certainly this is a lovely car but in addition, it was driven from Nova Scotia to the meet. Now that's what I'm talkking about.
I've seen this 1954 H.J. Mulliner R-type Continental at previous meets but it never fails to slacken my jaw.
I like my Silver Shadow well enough but this 1972 long wheelbase variant with division is just lovely. It is in velvet green with tan interior and best of all — no Everflex top. Beautiful.

Fellow Motor Region member Dan Docherty's 1928 Rolls-Royce Springfield Pall Mall with RRCW coach work made it's debut. We will find out this evening if it wins the "Best Owner Restored" Trophy. Just fabulous.

UPDATE @ 1:00AM —
It did win the trophy.

Both Wraiths scheduled to appear did not and that's 50% my own doing. However, there were a surplus of rarely seen Phantom IIIs including this lovely 1938 Gurney Nutting saloon.

Mike Osment's 1989 Silver Spur suffered a failure of the right rear window lift on the judging field.

Back at the Hilton, Greg Albers from Albers Rolls-Royce Bentley (a.k.a. Bentley Zionsville) suspected a drive bushing between the motor and the lift and that was it.

My good friend Dave H., often photographed helping out at Sherbourne Mews was the first to offer a hand to Greg.


Once Greg removed the damaged bushing it was Mike's turn to slowly crank the window closed using a small wrench.

August 2, 2010

The exhaust system from Borla East arrived back in Michigan only a few days after I ordered it. I have ordered the hangers and hardware from T & G Auto Spares Ltd in the UK. They want about a third of the price for the hangers vs. the prevailing alternatives. They also can make Yale keys for most Rolls-Royce and Bentley from the key code on the build sheet. I ordered a key for the Wraith. I've gone 4-1/2 years without any keys at all.

August 3, 2010

Dave H. and I spent the day at our friend Sandy's place getting her '89 560SL running. Little used in recent years, it steadfastly refused to start.

Turns out it was a case of really "bad gas". After filling the tank with fresh fuel and purging the fuel system, the SL purrs like a kitten once again.

photo credit: Richard Vaughan

August 6-7, 2010

Dave C. and I spent Friday getting the Bentley ready for Saturday's RROC Motor Region Annual Picnic and Judging Event.

I was very honored to win the "Best Owner Restored" trophy despite the fact that the car burbled on and off the field with the old rusty 4H exhaust system.

August 14, 2010

The windshield washer motor isn't working because the armature is burned out.

Probably can't get parts for it so will have to look for an entire replacement unit. Not a huge priority right now so I put the old unit back together and reinstalled it in the car.

You may recall that I paid to have a custom extrusion die made so that I could have a new tip-out windshield seal manufactured for the Wraith Pard Enclosed Limousine with the proper cross section. It finally arrived last night via UPS 2nd Day Air.

New part is on the left. Since I own the tooling and had extra made, this item will be made available at the Sherbourne Mews online shop.

It fit perfectly, Dave C. spent 45 minutes coaxing it into the windshield frame and then he and I installed the assembly back onto the body.

As far as the Bentley goes, we're waiting for parts and then we'll hang the exhaust, replace the rear engine mounts and declare mission accomplished.

Stay tuned!

Aug. 27-Sept. 13, 2010

I realize the subject matter is a bit afield from Bentley and Rolls-Royce, but please bear with me.

I was raised in Southern New England and decided to spend a few weeks of quality time there.

Al, my roommate from WPI came down to Rhode Island for the day. He and I spent the afternoon terrorizing Narragansett and nearby Galilee. That's Al taking the photo. We luncheoned at the Coast Guard House (shown).

Most mornings, I made my way to Java Madness to secure a decent Wifi connection. The coffee shop is on the second floor of a marina in Wakefield. If you sit outside on the deck, this is the view.

At the tail end of my trip, I made my way to Fairfield County, Connecticut to visit my friend Pete and wife Christine. My timing was perfect: there was a rather excellent car show going on nearby along with a Bonham's auction.

Coincidentally, I am editing a piece on Dutch Darrin for an upcoming issue of The Flying Lady for which I have zero art work. I bumped into this photogenic 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I with Hibbard and Darrin coach work. Thank You!

This 1952 Bentley R Type Two Door Coupe Chassis no. B2 RT originally shown at Earls Court passed under the gavel at the Bonham's auction for $144,500. Nice.

Prior to my Connecticut departure, Pete took me to a fantastic breakfast spot in Norwalk, Connecticut that sells Venezuelan beach food: Valencia Luncheria. The Arepas and Empanadas are to die for.

Pete, shown by his bike behind the garbage cans, assured me that said cans are not ordinarily a storefront feature.

September 15, 2010

All of the remaining parts for the exhaust arrived while I was away. I spent a few hours this afternoon temporarily assembling the system together to make sure that all is well before I remove the old exhaust system. All is well.

Installation will begin in earnest this coming Monday.

This detail shot of one hanger shows the majority of the parts for which I was waiting.

The rubber hangers are fairly hard and formed in an L shape. Metal spacers identified by upper arrow prevent the rubber from being crushed as the fasteners are torqued down. Lower arrows show square dimpled washers captured by the 5/16-24 hardware.

I have never had a key for the 1939 Wraith.

As it turns out, T & G Auto Spares Ltd can cut replacement keys based on the Yale key code. I had them make me a key based on the code shown on the Wraith's chassis card and send it along with my exhaust hardware order. I'll be darned! It works!


September 17-19, 2010

This weekend, I drove the Bentley 370 miles round trip to Saugatuck, Michigan which is on the western shore of the state.

I enjoyed the LCC car show and sundry events whilst there. This is Oval Beach at dusk.

The car performed admirably and got 13.5 mpg. On the return trip the ignition began to deteriorate at high speed during the last 50 miles or so. I subsequently traced the problem to a loosened coil wire.

September 20, 2010

We got to work right away on the exhaust system today. Mike's using his angle grinder to cut one of the hangers.

Cunningham used a gentler technique on the rear hanger.
Next thing you know we had one big, tired exhaust system in a pile on the floor.

I would never say unilaterally that those that can't do teach. However, it seems that those who work at franchised brick and mortar exhaust shops, er... suck.

The Einsteins that got their hands on this car back in the Seventies cut away an entire body support in order to fit the wrong size muffler in this cavity underneath the car.

So we're going to have to address that. I'm wondering if I can get Tony Handler to send me a chunk of salvaged frame with that bracket on it.

I attached the new left hand down pipe but everything else will wait while we sort out the body support and repaint the parts of the frame normally made inaccessible by the exhaust.

September 21-22, 2010

While Dave prepped the frame, I removed and replaced the right rear engine mount.


It's possible to get by without one, but the job was made much easier with Mike's transmission lift.

Left rear mount will most likely be replaced on Friday.

I made a jig from 1/2" thick steel to facilitate drilling out the stripped exhaust manifold stud hole on the right cylinder head. The jig allows the hand drill to plunge in at 90 degrees to the manifold face and the masking tape is used as a mark to limit the depth.
The oversized (21/64") hole is then tapped to accept a 5/16-24 Helicoil.
Helicoil installed and repair complete.

September 23, 2010

The left rear engine mount is now installed. Dave and I made progress on prepping and painting the frame.

We got enough of the frame done to install the rearmost piece of the exhaust system.

Finally, a proper-looking exhaust tip lurking beneath the left rear bumper.

A replacement exhaust manifold stud arrived from Albers along with a replacement fastener for the one that apparently worked its way loose from the shackle plate on the rear brake equalizing gear.

Tomorrow I'll install the replacement stud in the newly helicoiled hole followed by the right hand exhaust manifold and right hand downpipe.

September 25, 2010

Here's the replacement hardware for the aforementioned shackle. I used some low-strength Loctite on the 2BA nut to ensure that it does not come loose again.

The new exhaust manifold stud went in along with the manifold itself without incident. (Stud and nut in background, far left)

The new right hand down pipe (foreground) also dropped in place without protest.

September 28, 2010

Cunningham and I installed the remaining exhaust components and then began tightening everything from front to back.

Once we got to the tailpipe it became clear that the rear hanger bracket was shortened by about an inch and a half and the remaining hole was not one of the original two.

I (yes, that's me) marked up a 3/4 x 3/4 piece of angle iron and bolted in place using the existing bolt hole. This allows the tailpipe hanger to hang as intended.

You can also see the slow progress we've made wire brushing and painting the frame.

Here's a shot of the new exhaust system as installed. We test ran it and it sounded great. You can see that the down pipe that runs across the engine sump is already starting to burn off its paint.

Looks like all systems will be go for this weekend's Rolls-Royce Owners' Club Fall Color Tour.

Oh, amd many thanks to Hollister for taking the photos today.

October 1, 2010

Ten months of hard work has come to a crescendo. The Bentley made it on its first official RROC tour. Well at least with me as custodian.

Motor Region luminaries present include Dr. Doug Wolford (l) and Bram Over (r).

From Coldwater, Michigan to Satek Vineyard in Indiana, the ignition really started to act up. At first I thought it was the coil, but it turned out to be the points, which I hadn't touched up to this juncture. They had worked themselves down to almost zero gap.

I reset them to ~0.020 while everyone else went in for the wine tasting. Once again, the car was right as rain.

October 2, 2010

Our destination hotel was in Shipshewana, IN which is squarely in the heart of Amish country. The first stop was an unexpectedly excellent Hudson Museum about three minutes away.

Our group had a nice collection of Silver Clouds and S's: a Cloud I and Cloud III plus an S1, S2, and S3.

The Museum's namesake and collector Eldon Hostetler was on hand. He was very proud of one of his most recent acquisitions: a supercharged 1927 Hudson Super Six Special.

This is a modern day creation using period parts and the level of workmanship is spectacular.

Some of us continued on to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn. This is a legendary collection housed in the former headquarters building for the company. The deco corporate showroom is something to behold.

In the foreground: Dr. Roy Margenau III (l) and Mansel "Ken" Battles III (r).

We couldn't resist stopping at Dairy Queen before weighing anchor and heading back to Shipshewana.

With 300 miles on the car since the installing the new exhaust, a few minor tweaks remain. The old points are near the end of their useful life, so we'll install new ones, synch them and set the timing.

The air-fuel ratio and idle air balance between the carbs needs to be fine tuned.

The choke is working fine, but the throttle sometimes hangs on the high idle cam, so that's on the list too.

October 4-6, 2010

In order to do an exacting job at changing the points and setting the correct gap, the service manual recommends removing the distributor from the car. This allowed me to get this neat close-up of the vernier octane adjuster. It allows you to precisely dial in any offset to the ignition timing without having to get out all kinds of test equipment.

With the new points installed and cleaned up unit returned to the engine, the timing had to be set.

Each set of points (arrows) is responsible for four cylinders. The right hand set is attached directly to the base plate and is set first by rotating the entire distributor until the contacts open with cylinder B4 @ 2 deg before TDC. The left set is on an "offsetable" plate on top of the base plate. The offsetable plate is moved until the contacts open with cylinder A1 @ 2 deg before TDC. To make matters more interesting, the car needs to be on a lift so that you can see the timing marks — they are on the flywheel!

When the engine and exhaust are cold, the tailpipe vibrates against the rear fender until it warms up. Very embarrassing. I found a pair of shims at the hardware store in Ypsilanti that lower the tailpipe just enough to eliminate the problem.


In other news, Cunningham found the source of the sticking high idle cam (arrow) to be the cam itself. This was one of the items that had been replated. Over time cadmium grows an oxide coating and this was just enough to bind with the shaft. Dave addressed the shaft and cam id with emery cloth and all is ok once again.

Cunningham and I inserted a dial indicator on each carburetor and dialed in the idle air balance. Note the fancy knurled brass adapters used to hold the indicator in place. Click here to buy a pair.

We went on to set and balance the air-fuel ratio. Finally we set the idle to 575 rpm rather than 450-500 recommended in the service manual. It just seemed a bit happier there.

Well, this is it folks. Ten months and 2100 miles later, we're done! Watch this space for a body and paint postscript over the winter.


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