Editors Note: This is the second article in a series written by longtime XKs Unlimited customer Lois Knudsen of Nevada, who completely restored a 1964 E-Type -- by herself. But lets let Lois tell the story
The Vagabond So there I was, in another of a long line of pickles. My car and I were officially outdoors. My bosss best-friend opened her home to me for a couple of months, and, to add a cherry on top, her garage was virtually empty and she had no problems with me wrenching on my car there. It was there that I was able to remove the Ford C4 automatic transmission and learned what happens when you flip a torque converter over to take a look at the other side: as my curiosity was satisfied, my sneakers filled with automatic transmission fluid. It was also there that I learned about Bondo. It is amazing stuff. The amount of Bondo applied by the folks at Earl Scheib somehow missed being recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. The free-standing horizontal protrusion from the nose of the bonnet not only defied gravity but the imagination as well.
This was also about that time I wrapped my hands around a copy of The Complete Official Jaguar E. What a Godsend that book was! It introduced me to a new language (hood=bonnet; firewall=bulkhead; generator=dynamo; ground=earth, etc.) and it showed me all the special Churchill tools that I was supposed to be using. Just in case you are wondering, one cannot find Churchill Tool J.11 at Kmart, or anywhere else this side of The Pond for that matter. Turns out I had been unwittingly making my own versions of the Churchill items with my little ProTek tools, a roll of duct tape, two hose clamps, a chunk of 2x4, and the Thor hammer I found in the boot. I carried that poor book around with me everywhere and cannot tell you how many times I read it cover-to-cover because A) it was fascinating but mostly B) I had no idea what the hell they were talking about. I figured that one of two things would happen: I might catch on or I would end up memorizing the procedures. Either way, it would get me going in the right direction.
After those two months, I found an apartment to share but it had no place for the Jag. My boss persuaded our company to let me park the car in our parking lot. He told me it was a temporary measure and that I would have to buy a cover to help disguise the cars condition. But by the end of the week the rear quarter window was smashed. If it was thieves, imagine their surprise when they lifted the cover and found a half-primered car with a rotted interior filled with boxes of junk and an old manual transmission! From the company parking lot, the beast was towed to another co-workers garage. The initial arrangement was that I could keep the car there as long as I wanted but I was not allowed to work on it. After about two weeks and a lot of innuendoes, this co-worker (actually a manager) cornered me in an empty hallway, grabbed my arms and said he could make a better arrangement if only and he tried very hard to kiss me. Arrgh!
The next day I found a garage for rent and had the car towed there immediately. All this towing was costing what felt like a small fortune and I was living on the 99 cent mustard-dog-and-small-Coke specials at Der Weinerschnitzel to fuel my new obsession.
The Trash This new garage was attached to a residence and not totally mine. My area was a little less than half. It was here that I removed the rear suspension unit. To this day I cannot get my head around the fact that the whole thing is basically held in by just eight smallish bolts. The engine came out as well. As I searched for a shop that could rebuild the engine, twice I was told there was this guy who lived in a motor home outside of his machine shop. Both times I was told that he did the best rebuilds on XK engines and both times I was told that he would give me half price if I came and lived in his motor home during the rebuild process. Hmmm, tempting but NO! Come on, I mean really?
Thankfully, I ended up finding Rebco Automotive. They treated me like a normal human being and did terrific work. I remember it taking days for them to hammer out the frozen pistons. The technician confided later that it took a fight with his girlfriend and an air-chisel to finally break the pistons into pieces. Knowing that I was on a long journey with the restoration, the shop owner, Randy, even went so far as to guarantee the work one year from date of initial start up. Again, I dont know what weird logic I had whirling around my head that made me think I could actually pay for the work. I guess I thought that I could scrounge the money, or take out a small loan. (A minor detail I am sure.)
Meanwhile, my co-workers Lisa and Paul and I had become the best of pals. They had been hearing about my trials and tribulations with the Jaguar and I invited them to come take a look at my beautiful beastie.
As we pulled up to the front of the house, I saw an enormous pile of garbage out at the curb. There were no cars out front and the curtains were all missing. On one side of the trash heap was a large gray trough filled with boxes and tires andoh my Godthose are my wire wheels and that big gray trough was my bonnet! The ground was scarred where the bonnet had been dragged -- upside-down -- with the wheels and boxes of parts in it. It had been used as a sled! I rushed to the front windows and saw that the house was empty. I ran to the garage door and my padlock had been replaced. Where was my car? Was it still inside? Where did everyone go? When was the garbage truck scheduled to come?
Find out what happens in the next installment!
The Move (the differential)
The Wiring (no more beers!)
Second show (kit car)
Blast from the Past
Loved the article.
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