The first car show of 2020 (for me anyway), which took place last Sunday 16th 2020 at Stonham Barns in Suffolk. It took me about twenty five minutes to get there at a gentle pace. I arrived at about nine fifteen and the sky was grey. Forecast was forty six percent chance of rain, I figured it was worth the gamble, I had to go. I parked up with the Bury Retro Car Club whom had a club stand on the tarmac and not grass which is always nice. As I always do when I park up, I wiped the little ol’ lady down with some quick detailer, paying particular attention to the windscreen with glass cleaner. I think the glass had collected more than its fair share of insects for the short trip.
I decided to go and get some photos before the promised rain was due to arrive just after lunch time. With no particular order some cars that took my interest as I wondered around. the sun even showed it’s face for a few minutes now and then.
A while ago I did a little article on the Ford Capri being the UK Mustang here, these photos show the comparison next to each other which was rather nice.
There seems to be a growing trend in the UK for half cars to be the trailer:
More Mustangs including this red ’69 done to concours standards.
VW were out in force and the patina on the beetles was a little extreme, when it’s flaking off.
The rest of the cars I liked:
There was a number of stalls there too, nothing to fancy just the usual auto jumble, which was on the grass just behind the club stand.
Bury Retro Car Club stand:
I thought mu car was quite a long car, when compared next to a stretched Caddy – It’s tiny. The front of the cars lined up more or less level.
You can just about catch a glimpse of me chillin out and chatting cars just behind my car.
I took a few pics while sitting in my chair of the new wax I have been using. I did notice the clarity of the shine while sitting there.
I thought I would play around with the colours a bit on this one, black & white with a little hind of car colour.
I left at three in the afternoon an hour before it was due to shut, the wife had text me to say there was thunderstorms at home. I wanted to get home before the car got soaked.
The clouds were blackening up as I did a very quick wipe over before I covered the car up in the garage. As I got out the car in the garage the heavens opened and it chucked it down. That’s what I call perfect timing, literally thirty seconds from rain.
For once I went to a car show and it didn’t rain, I was well chuffed. What could be better than than? I know – a pic of me in the review view mirror of the Jag XJ6 next to mine! I didn’t move the chair to take this pic I just happened to look up and there I was.
I needed that car show. I just had to get out and catch up with friends again, grab some fresh air and look at cars, lots of cars. I had two offers to buy my car during the day, one which was some bloke takin the p!$$ or trying to wind me up I’m not sure which, the other guy gave me his card just in case I wanted to sell, after asking me some good questions about the history of the car.
There are two more scheduled car shows this year that I have booked in to attend. Will the rain hold off for me so I can get to them? I hope so, with all the rain I got caught in last year, it’s the least mother nature could do for us considering the pandemic we have endured so far.
As virtually all the car shows have cancelled or postponed this year due to the Covid-19 running riot there is a slight chance that two are still going ahead. Pre-booking has been essential and due to obvious reasons they have been over subscribed with people wanting to show their cars, or just get out for the day to look at cars. With this in mind I decided to give my little lady a check over as I always, tyres, levels, leaks etc. When I opened the hood there was a strange and a rather ‘funky’ smell. After each car show season has finished I take out my water washer bag, or colostomy bag as they are often referred to and empty it out and put it back to stop the water going bad. The reason being this is a breeding ground for bacteria, the engine bay gets hot, then cold, then hot again. The end of last year I forgot to empty it out and clean it. So, when I opened the lid on the bag it wasn’t good news.
I disconnected the bottom pipe from the bag, quickly put my finger over the drain hole and took out the bag to the drain where it was emptied out. There was some black algae in there, which needed lots of rinsing, some citrus cleaner and more rinsing in order to clean it out properly. It took a while, but in the end it ran clean and smelt a whole lot better.
The back of the bag also showed some signs of being dirty. I started to clean it and thought I would share it with you, so this is sort of a third of the way through it. I started then general wipe down with some Meguiar’s multi purpose cleaner. Spray on let it dwell, then with a brush work it into the bag. Rinse and repeat a few times.
After a few applications it came back to white again after being dried out.
The bag is now empty and waiting for a refill before the next show. I do add screen wash to the bag which stabilises the water a bit. If I have to use the screen jets I don’t want any of the mixture running onto the paint and leaving a stain which I would have to buff back out again. After all the screenwash has a mixture of chemicals in the product to cut through the dirt and grime. Also in order to help avoid water spots or marking I only use de-ionised water, it’s cheap enough and the de-ionised water is also much better for your car’s cooling as well. I always keep a litre of de-ionised water in the trunk, just in case.
While I was waiting for the cleaners to dwell on the washer bag, I decided that my valve caps were also dirty. I didn’t realise just how bad they were. Only one of the caps here has been cleaned and waxed. Yes, I do indeed wax my valve caps too.
With the hood up I thought that the underside looked a little dull, so I waxed that as well, just because I can. I also think it’s quite a cool picture too.
What turned out to be an hour or so quick check up turned into a few hours of cleaning. Not that I mind really, just a bit disappointed with myself that I forgot to do it. It must be my age 😦
Will I get to a car show this year? Will mother nature be cruel and rain on the day that one of the only car shows is due to take place next Sunday? Watch this space and find out!
Today is my car’s birthday. This day fifty four years ago on the 11th July 1966 my car rolled off the Ford production line at Dearborn, Michigan. USA.
Speaking of things being built, I was bought a model kit a while ago which was the LEGO GT500 kit, which I reviewed here. I thoroughly enjoyed it of course and wasted a good few hours making it. For my birthday (which was a good few months ago), I was bought another kit from my wife. I think it was to keep me quiet to be honest. This time it was a Technical kit which can cost between £75 and £150 depending on where you buy it. This kit is not an official LEGO kit but is pretty much identical to the real thing. I have done a full review of this kit here.
The kit is based on the official Hoonigan v2 made by LEGO with 3168 pieces. Model kits of this type differ in the fact it doesn’t rely on bricks, it relies on pegs and holes to fit together.
There is an option to be powered by motors and remote control which are purchased separately. An option I didn’t want to go for.
In the box was fourteen bags of parts, none of which were numbered like the Lego kits. There were bigger bags, the wheels, sheet of stickers, and then there were smaller bags of the pegs or fixings of different sizes and colours.
The instructions are not brilliant due to the fact that the print colours did vary a bit and the difference between the light grey and brown was difficult to spot on some pages.
There is a distinct pattern for the build as its cleverly build in a modular style. The smaller build part instructions are clear enough with arrows of what goes where. With the modular parts being added to the bigger build, it can be difficult to see where some bits are fitted together on the complex diagrams.
The model starts from the inside out, you build the differentials and gearing for the rear of the car. The diff then gets added to a bit of chassis which is ready for the next bit and so on.
As you build a part you can check the movement and operation. Little cogs marry up and are held by splines in part holes to allow it to move.
The rear suspension was fun and the way the whole section moves is very clever indeed. What starts out quite flimsy then with more parts it’s bolstered up and quite solid.
With the tunnel section completed in the middle the floor pans are added and all of a sudden the scale of the model becomes clear.
The build of the engine block has working pistons for you to see running off their own cam shaft.
The front suspension is complex and perhaps the hardest part of the model for me. Lining up the mini half shafts and gearing was a bit fiddly with my big hands. The curved sections are a long flexible spline that has tubes slid over it and the ends plugged into a termination point. Things like the headlights look great but can be easily dislodged, a little more on that later.
The fenders are built up to complete the look with the hood. The hood has a large cut out in the centre and does the frame of the hood a little fragile. Silver parts are added to the engine for the turbos and exhaust pipes.
The bag of silver parts some of which were obvious for the engine parts, the rest were for the seats sides and head rest. The steering wheel inside the car could in theory move the wheels, but it’s not strong enough for that and jumped a tooth or two on the cog, I had to jump it back again to centre the steering back up. But if you move the steering rack the steering inside the car will move fine.
The seats fit well into the car, but you have to be careful of the dash area not to dislodge the delicate steering joints.
The rear quarters are added and the wheel arches. Again these are twin flexible splines where the tiles are slid over and have to be even spaced out to look right. The fitting is plugged into termination pieces at each end and has to bend like a rainbow shape to fit. Give them a knock and they will come off which is very annoying.
Behind the seats is reinforced with more building. There is a silver part of the interior roll cage behind the drivers seat that attaches one end and just left to flap about inside.
This aggravated me and with some bits that were obviously going to be left over I made a little mod and attached it to a spare hole and attached it properly. Seen below with the left hand elbow joint. Also adding a little more stability.
The doors were straight forward enough, with a complex hinge mechanism which allows the door to open wide. The attachment to the rest of the car was more awkward as the one of the rubber bands that holds the doors shut pinged out of place which resulted in a deconstruction to refit the bands. Terrible idea I think as the band will perish and break leaving the doors to flap around at a later date.
The back of the car’s light panel gets built with lots of red and black thin bricks to make the tail lights. The result is a very effective and convincing light panel. Although no lights work on this car at all.
The trunk opens and closes with a hinge idea the same as the front hood.
The roof using the last of the long flexible splines threads the roof panels for the A pillars.
The front wheel arches are based on the same principle as the rears were and fitted into place, again not to a very secure fitting. But it does give a nice gentle curve with flat bricks.
The wheels were required to be fitted about two thirds of the way into the build. I kept knocking them off while turning the model over and around to work on different sections. So I fitted them as the last things on the car.
Once the model is built it does look really good and a pretty good representation of Ken Block’s Hoonigan v2.
Grievances I found with the model:
Wheel Hubs: A critical part of the ‘movable’ model. The wheel hubs; they are terrible. The wheels are held firmly in place to the hubs (brake discs) by three pegs. When you try to push the wheels into place the suspension moves and the tiny part of the UJ (universal Joint) that also has two little pins to turn the wheels from the gears pops out and there is no drive. If you are to power this model I promise you that the drive hubs will break loose on the front due to single point of fitting a UJ. This has to be the case as the wheels turn for the steering, rotate for the movement (using the two pins to stop it spinning within the hub), and to move up and down for the suspension. A three-way movement ball that is only a couple of millimetres wide at its widest part. I had to deconstruct the front end (twice until I learned my lesson), and some of the steering section to refit the part back onto the spline. The problem is that the spline is not long enough and allows a backward movement from the hub which should never happen. You could get round the spline movement by a blob of superglue to the UJ fitting end onto the spline.
Motorised Option: During the build for the suspension and the steering the motors instructions are an option. This will require a few tweaks to the construction. The motors will drive the rear wills via a diff and the front wheels via the second diff. The problem is that that the splines and cogs are a bit to delicate for my liking.
There is a super clever option to allow the car to ‘drift’ under it’s own power by a configuration of the diff. I have no idea how fast these motors are supposed to go. But guessing there is a drift option it should have a fair amount of speed to move the model.
Decals: These are cheap and obviously don’t say the correct branding due to the copy right. It’s very clever how the use of fonts and slight rearranging of characters can lead you to misread it as you know what it should say. The decals are not the water based style which leaves very little visible evidence of the background or clear parts. These stickers are self adhesive and clearly show on the black bricks of the model. The air bubbles are a nightmare and ruin the smooth outline. The decals are not cut correctly for some parts that go over some raised surfaces, such as the ford logo on the front, a sharp scalpel to cat the deal to allow it to lay flatter makes a big difference. An option is to even leave the stickers off the car. It will still look great.
These cheap decals seriously lets the model down for me unfortunately.
Tyres & Rims: The just slip over the rims and can be moved on the rims once fitted. I suspect that a bit of serious drifting will dislodge the tyres on the rims. This can be cured of course by a few well placed blobs of super glue to hold the tyres to the rims. But if you scrub the rather thin tyres out it will become a nightmare to replace them. The rims themselves don’t actually look like the real car! Something to do with copyright maybe I don’t know. But it’s a bit of big ‘error’.
Doors: The hinges are helped to stay shut via twisted elastic bands. Give it time like I mentioned above the bands will perish and the doors won’t stay shut if under it’s own power. They will probably fly open and shut depending on where it goes I guess.
Build Quality: Some of the parts will be knocked of and dislodged fairly easily, such as the headlights, front air splitter, the turbo parts of the engine and wheel arches in particular. Nothing which a bit of superglue wouldn’t sort out.
There are two options for the model and the static option looks great in a cabinet for display. The model is large and heavy. Trying to push the vehicle along will hear all sorts of teeth jumping and the engine pistons (which you can’t see anyway with the hood down) in particular getting stuck.
If you are going to motorise this then you need to beef it up with some superglue! The wheel hubs will dislocate from the centre of the wheels, this can be easily done by just pushing the car along, or trying to turn the wheels on steering lock.
The underside of the car has cut outs for the cogs, this allows for dirt and debris to contaminate the meshing of the cogs and will cause problems.
As the sales blurb says itself; “It is not really a toy, but rather a model for the showcase”.
The majority of the car is a real fun build and took me many hours to complete. There were no parts missing and all the parts fitted together correctly. The kit is indeed a challenge to build and I liked that. It sounds like a I had a downer on the model, but I actually don’t. If the model is left alone it will look great.
Now I have completed this model I need to look for the next one, quite where I’m going to put them is a challenge as well. The model is a lot of money and I hope it gives a rough idea of what it’s like as a model and to build it before maybe buying it.
I have been asked if I have any technical diagrams of of Mustang glass fitting. I used these to help with my restoration. These technical diagrams are for a 64-66 Mustang Coupe/Fastback. The 67-68 model is pretty much the same with only slight differences.
After last week’s post I had some great messages left for me and couple of nice emails too, so thank you. It was pointed out that I hadn’t actually posted a pic of the Krooklok in the car. Yep, I missed out one of the main points of what it looked like in the car. So to make amends here they are;
I don’t think it looks out of place either. Those with eagle eyes will spot that the pedal end of the lock is not shiny. Correct and this is something I eluded to in the last post. The metal end will damage paintwork on the pedal so i wrapped a little wire loom tape around it. This is a cloth tape and will cushion the metal on metal. On modern cars where the pedals are pretty much out of sight I wouldn’t need to do that. But as the Mustang pedals are clearly visible from outside the car chips in the black paint would look rather nasty. Also the cloth tape blends well to the pedals too.
While I was in the garage I had a little clean up under the hood, nothing special just a quick detailer wipe over to get some dust off. While I was at it I decided to change something that has been annoying me for quite a while now. This was the Negative battery cable terminal.
OK, so it doesn’t look wrong considering this isn’t the original wire, but a replacement cable for some reason or another. But, it looks sort of period correct so I left it, until now. I sourced a much more stock looking terminal and set about swapping them over.
The old terminal was a simple two screw squash the cable idea, simple enough to remove and will allow for corrosion for the exposed ends of the cable.
The cable separated easy enough and I cleaned it up with a wire brush to get it clean as possible. With the cable cleaned up I got my gas powered soldering iron out to prep the wire ends with some solder. As I was dealing with solder I put the heat resistant pad on the battery to stop any hot drips marking the plastic. The “Tinning” (a pre applied application of solder to aid in the final solder), had to be build up until a nice coating was all the way round the wire. I even cut back the sheath of the cable to expose some fresh wires. I slid a heat shrink tube over the cable which I would use later to give the finish a much cleaner look.
The next step I had to skip a little as I had one pair of hands to take the pics and do the work. I inserted the cable into the new terminal and clamped it in place with the two nuts on the top. Some stray long strands of wire were snipped of flush to the end of the terminal. With the cable in place I used some long nosed mole grips to hold the terminal up so I could fill the gap in the terminal with more solder.
This would give that neat finish I was after and make a great connection to the battery. My Dremel mini sanding discs were used flatten down the end as solder is a soft metal. With the end nice and flat the heat shrink was moved up to the terminal to cover any any gaps from the terminal and wire. Now the cable looks much nicer and neater and more importantly, the original stock look I was after.
I was able to refit the tightening bolt to the terminal and reconnect back to the battery.
The only remaining part now is to put the battery tag back on. I really am looking for things to do on the car now that don’t really need doing – just so I can do it. It only took about two hours from start to finish with the whole thing being cleaned and polished up. Well worth it as the wife was writing lots of lesson plans for her school. I was best out of the way! I think I may tidy up the other cable as well now. Also clean up the mats as they are pretty dirty too.
One of the simple little jobs was to swap out the interior bulbs for the LED equivalent. These included the footwell courtesy lights, and the rear centre console lights. They had the standard tungsten filament bulbs which gave out a warm glow. Not that I disliked it by any means, in fact that was the stock lock, I just wanted the more modern subtle look of a bright crisp white illumination.
The interior LED’s give out about three times as much light and shows of the internal colour scheme a bit better too. The pick above right was taken inside my garage and not outside in the sun.
What’s the next little job? I will think of something. 😉
I started driving and passed my driving test at the tender age of 17. On that day when I returned home my dad gave me a car which was worth nothing to be honest at the time. The car was a 1977 Audi 100 LS a similar colour to this in red, faded red, orange and various shades of rust and sun bleaching.
His logic was that it had big bumpers and stop minor accidents. The car was also due an MOT and road tax, he wasn’t stupid. As an apprentice in my first year at the time it cost me a few weeks wages for some welding and a number of parts including an exhaust to get it through. It would have been cheaper to buy a newer car of my own in fact. The head gasket went six months later and it was then towed to a scrap yard! The ol’ man had his second car a Mercedes that he used from there on in. I then bought another Audi, a 100 5E Avant this time.
Anyway the same day he dumped sorry gave me the car he also gave me a Krooklok which was my mother’s father’s. My grandad gave it to my ol’ man when he stopped driving due to illness. He said I was to have it one day when I started driving as I was there when he gave it to him. Luckily he kept my Grandad’s wishes and he gave it to me.
My maternal grandparents had nothing. They rented all their lives, lived in a flat in Battersea, London. The flat was a stones throw from Battersea park. I spent many treasured school holidays living with them, I loved it there and them. I remember going out with them as a young kid with my Grandad driving his Ford Anglia and then his Ford Cortina, he would park it up and use the Krooklok as well. Grandad was a Ford man through and through.
I kept that Krooklok and treasured it in all my cars except the last two as I lost the key when I moved house and couldn’t use it, I was gutted. But, I kept it safe as it is pretty much the only thing I have of my grandparents. I hoped that I would find the key one day.
I was speaking to Adam at Mustang Maniac who told me to give it to him as he knew a locksmith who would make a key for it. Sure enough, a few weeks later I had the lock back and now it was working. The plan now was to put it back in the Mustang as it was from the same year, almost. So I thought I would post about my restoration of the lock and little history of the company, “Krooklok”.
I have tried to find as much information on the brand and the company as I could, some of which may be subjective based on the tiniest pieces of information from the internet. (I would be delighted if somebody could give me some more accurate details and I will acknowledge your corrections.)
“Krooklok” is the brand name and originally made by a company Johnson and Starley Ltd. who were based in Northampton, UK. There is virtually nothing online about the company or who owned it. I have tried to find out with little success, a company of the same name in the same area is now a heating supplies company.
In 1964 the company designed a lock that was in effect a telescopic bar with a hook at each end that was linked around the steering wheel and the other end hooked either round the brake or clutch pedal. In the centre of the bar was a locking barrel that locked a sprung loaded ball bearing into a recessed top part of the bar. With the key locked design the telescopic mechanism couldn’t be extended to release from the steering wheel. This was a visual deterant to stop thieves driving of with the car. The design would stop the pedals from being depressed or turning the steering wheel. The thief would have to remove the lock before attempting to drive off, potentially exposing themselves to what they were doing. Let’s face it, security in the 60’s wasn’t great and these Krookloks exploded onto the market. This was not a little company release but advertising at top sporting events mostly car oriented, Formula 1, rallies and amateur classes of motorsport.
Advertising was quite widespread and appeared in many magazines and a number of football programs. The earliest advert I could find was from 1965 from the Halfords catalogue.
The cost was fairly hefty 47 shillings and 6 pence. That worked out at roughly £2.37 at the time. In todays money that is around £37.50 in modern day money allowing for inflation over the fifty odd years. The price wasn’t exactly at the cheap end of the market but was a substantial lump of metal to have in the car.
A selection of more adverts from the early days in the mid 1960s to the early 1970s just after UK currency decimalisation in 1971 where the prices show the new money GBP.
In 1968 it looks like Krooklok ventured across the pond to the USA and applied for and was granted a Patent for the “Krooklok”.
For the UK I cant find an actual date that they were stamped on the locks, but it looks to have been granted around 1965 or 1966 at the latest. On the back of the barrel section is the trademark and the patent numbers. The registered design for Krooklok is 914608.
On the left is my own personal Krooklok which was made before the patents were issued, making this a very early and rare example. On the right is a slightly later dated Krooklok with the granted patents applied.
Over the years the design changed. The first itteration was a metal bar with a vinyl sleeve at the lock end in order to stop the metal hook marking the steering wheel. This sleeve was a nondescript grey colour and not really visible when fitted. Again a picture of my own restored lock with the original grey sleeve.
From outside the vehicle the “visible deterrent” wasn’t very visible especially at night. After the feedback was noted Krooklok introduced a new improved bright red sleeve that replaced the grey.
Moving on around a couple of years, the red vinyl sleeve was added at the opposite end of the lock for the pedals. This was to give more visibility and to protect the cosmetics of pedals. Early models came with plastic sleeve packaging, later models came with cardboard boxes.
Much later variations replaced the the nice chrome lock tower with a matching red middle section. The design also took a distinctive “twist” (literally) and the “hooks” changed from the facing each other on the same plane, now they were being set at right angles. This was intended to make fitting easier and stop the twisting of the original design to make it fit. This twist was down to the fact that as safety improved on vehicles the pedal design and steering wheels made some fitting to some vehicles a little more awkward.
My Krooklok on the top with the polished chrome lock tower, and the latest design at the bottom. The red locking section didn’t last long and was replaced with a contrasting yellow locking section, but this was just a cosmetic change. The steering wheel end has also seen a further modification to add plastic wings at the side hook to make it even more visible.
The pedal end was simply double indented or punched both parts together on one side and not the other. As the material construction is hardened steel this seems to be adequate but not ideal. This design hasn’t changed over the years and was hidden with the later pedal sleeve cover mentioned above.
The locking design was quite ingenious with a simple spring loaded ball bearing. The ball bearing is then locked into one of a number milled recesses that matched the diameter of the ball bearing. My lock before and after the cleaning to remove 50 years of grime.
Sliding the center section out to allow for a generous length of adjustment makes a very solid clatter as the bearing lifts and is sprung back into the next hole. The unit feels very strong and sturdy once fitted.
As the krooklok became more popular a couple of years later the advertising was added to the car window which stated that the vehicle was protected by “Krooklok”. The design saw a few variations of a the window sticker design, size and colours that warned potential thieves of the fitted Krooklok. The design started with a simple red warning design to more eye catching multi colour designs.
As time marched on Krooklok made other products, like locking wheel nuts, wheel clamps & tow bar clamps.
The Krooklock success still continues today with other companies making similar designs with similar sounding names to jump on the band wagon. Companies like, Stoplock, Disklok, Autolok, Xlock etc. The designs vary from pedal to steering wheel locks, to the more common bar through the steering wheel design.
After all the years the “Krooklok” still remains a strong brand name that started and set the standards of third party vehicle security.
Click here for a link to my own Krooklok that I restored for my own vehicle. The best part is that this particular model is period correct for my ’66 Mustang.
This Krooklok is 55 years old being made in 1965 from what I can work out. It had never been cleaned in all that time and needed some serious pampering to get back to its original condition. The state of the lock was rusted and the extension was very stiff and not free running. The rust was so bad on the back I couldn’t see any marking and wondered if it was an original Krooklok. The original coating was a dull steel colour but that had been replaced by rust and oxidisation.
The first thing I decided to do was to apply a little metal polish to see what happened.
Some serious rubbing and multiple applications removed some of the grime, enough to show me the marking on the back of the chrome locking tower. But, it wasn’t man enough to remove the pitting. I got out the Dremel and attached a nylon buffing pad to the base of the locking tower which removed plenty more before it eventually disappeared to nothing. When I saw the markings were there and the “Pats Pending” I realised this was a rare early model.
I started to buff the rest of the shaft and although it came up better it still wasn’t good enough.
I now started to move up the aggressive scale until I found something that was just enough to do the job back to bare metal. This is usually the wrong way round of course as you start aggressive and then work back to finer grades to remove the previous marks. I settled on a light buff of 180grit sand paper to take the worst of grime and rusting off, then followed with 240grit.
I could see that the steel would buff to a really nice shine. Although this wasn’t original I kept going. Starting with the Dremel 240grit sand paper discs which are very fine and took ages to go over the whole thing, using only the lightest pressure as the discs were much smaller and delicate. I then used 320grit to 400grit by hand to finish the look.
Once the sanding had finished it was back again to metal polish and the Dremel felt buffing pads which would flick the polish everywhere when I used too much.
The Metal bar both inside and outside started to polish up like the chrome and looked great. I had to keep working the notches with the Dremel and a small pointed buffing pad to clean them out.
A number of passes would bring the steel almost to a mirror finish. Which pleased me and saddened me at the same time. The cleaning also took the patina away from the lock and it’s age. Due to the rusting and pitting there wasn’t much choice. The item will never be worth a lot of money so it’s not as though I ruined it. As the inside of my Mustang has a lot of chrome brightwork inside it wouldn’t look out of place, but would even compliment it.
The steering wheel end sleeve was very dirty, I allowed a citrus cleaner to soak a rag in order to loosen a lot of the grime off. This was done by wrapping the damp citrus soaked cloth around the hook. Once that was wiped of after a few minutes the heavy duty cleaners were applied and the handle came back to its almost original colour. The chrome locking tower only needed a little metal polish to bring that back to its former glory.
The completed item gets more buffing and an application of wax to prevent the atmosphere tarnishing the metal again.
The only thing left to do was lubricate the mechanism, a thin application of light oil to the sides and drop into the first few holes. I worked the lock in and out a few times and some dirty oil ran out. I cleaned the lock up again and repeated until the oil was clean. Now the extension moves in and out smoothly. The lock remained free and little squirt of Gibbs in the lock for the tumbles allowed the key to slide in effortlessly, turn and remove just like a good lock should do.
In total it took me around 4 hours to clean and buff to a shine. I am well delighted with the lock.
The lock will now be with me in my Mustang at car shows. I can now think how proud my Grandad would have been to see my restored Mustang and his Krooklok sitting in it looking all sparkly and shiny.
After all, I’m now Classic Ford man through and through with my Grandad’s blessing.
Last week I posted about the replacement gearbox and how it jumped the queue for the next post. The post that knocked down the pecking order is this one. It’s about the technicalities of fitting a carburettor spacer or replacing one.
Do you need a spacer, what does it do and what types are there? I aim to answer the questions as well as showing you how to do it. Regardless of this spacer being fitted on a Mustang, the principles are the same for most carburettor based cars, all be it the connections may vary a bit.
Why did I do this in the first place? Well it’s because I can’t go to any car shows, i had cleaned the car and I wanted to do this little project for a while now.
Types Of Spacers:
To work out what spacer style you want you need to understand if you need one in the first place. I have a problem when I sit in traffic in hot weather where the car runs erratically on idle when the temperatures gets real hot. So my research tells me that I needed a thermal barrier to replace the aluminium one I have currently.
There are usually two main reasons to fit a spacer between the carb and the intake manifold.
1) To increase horse power.
2) The carb is experiencing fuel evaporation when the engine gets hot. This causes the engine to run very erratic at idle with possible poor starting when hot.
3) Not really a reason, but fitted just for looks or bragging rights.
Spacers can come in a variety of sizes and styles depending on application.
Wood, the best heat insulator, but it’s porous and will need to be replaced fairly often. Cheapest.
Phenolic Resin. The second best heat insulator. Expensive.
Polymer. Third best insulator and lower budget compared to the phenolic option.
Aluminium. No heat insulation at all. These are very durable and the only type allowed for racing.
There are two basic styles of spacer.
1) An open plenum: This style of carb spacer is ideal for maximizing horsepower. Their design will increase the intake manifold’s total area to build more mid-range, high-RPM power. This allows as much air fuel mixtures into the cylinders at medium to wide open throttle as possible.
If you decide this is the type for you, these can easily be stacked to multiply their effect.
2) A 4 hole plenum spacer: This type of spacer will increase the velocity of your vehicle’s air-to-fuel charge by creating a vortex to mix the fuel and air. This means you build up low to mid-range torque and a better throttle response. This style of spacer is most effective when it’s made from phenolic resin or a polymer. Both the phenolic resin and the polymer spacers can also be stacked in the same way as wood or aluminum spacers. But you should check the bore sizes are the same.
If insulation and durability are both priorities, then Phenolic would be a good bet.
Variations of spacer:
There are many types of spacer that can fitted, mostly a variation on a theme. These have slight design tweeks to help the engine at certain power bands or torque curves. These are generally aimed at the specialist tuners and can ramp up in price and complexity.
Sizes & Colours:
The thickness of the spacers can vary from the standards of, 1/4″, 1/2″, 5/8″, 1″, 2″. Of course mixing of thicknesses or stacking can be fine tuned to individual requirements, or even get a custom one made for you. The bigger the spacer tends to increase the horsepower within reason of course.
If you do stack the spacers you will need to be careful with clearances under the hood.
Colours can vary, but are mostly black for the plastic styles, wood is the colour of the wood and metal can be brushed or polished etc. Sometimes the colours can denote the insulation or particular property of the material.
I can’t tell you what to fit, that would be based on your needs and what you want it for. I will go on the assumption that it’s a standard style, either open or bored and what ever material or thickness you go for, they are all fitted the same way.
The gaskets can also vary in cost, but I seriously recommend that you get some top quality gaskets as you don’t want fuel or air leaks.
Is there enough clearance under the hood to add a spacer or stacking of spacers?
Are the studs long enough from the intake to go through the spacer AND the carb? If there has been no spacer(s) before you might have to replace the intake studs for longer ones.
Adding a spacer will give you more horse power, but if you have a restricted air flow into the carb itself it may not be worth it!
When you stack spacers, you are actually improving their insulation properties, and at the same time you’re getting more horsepower.
The total costs can vary depending on material used for the spacer; metal, phenolic or even wood options all have their own unique properties. I have seen options anything from £10 to £100, choose wisely.
What’s in the pack:
If you buy a kit, make sure the spacer fitting will match with the carb, Holley, Edelbrock, Autolite etc. The chances are that you may have to get the gaskets separately as well. If you are lucky some kits come with longer bolts for the intake manifold.
I prefer the low down torque improvements and feel of the power delivery (throttle response) that the 1″ spacer provides.
The spacer I had that came with the carb was an aluminium one with it’s own PCV recycle input. This worked faultlessly when moving, but when the engine got hot queuing to get in a car show on a hot day, the heat traveled from the engine manifold up the spacer to the carb body. The carb in turn also got hot and started to vapourise the fuel before it had a chance to enter the intake channels and cylimders. Hence the engine ran erratic, having to slightly rev to keep fuel flowing, this just got the engine hotter. The colder the fuel and air mixture that gets into the carb the better.
My personal choice was to keep the low down torque power but swap the metal spacer for a phenolic equivalent. The phenolic spacer is a special material, a little bit like a brittle plastic or simlar to the old school bakelite material by feel. This material stops heat transfer from the block to the carb. In theory this will act as an thermal insulator or heat barrier between the engine and the carb. Having a good heat barrier will also aid in hot starts of the car as the fuel shouldn’t evaporate during standing.
1) Take plenty of photos of what goes where for your own sanity before you pull it apart!
2) If in doubt don’t mess with it. Failure to refit the carb correctly could cause fuel to pump out where you don’t want it and be a potential fire hazard on hot exhaust manifolds. I won’t take any responsibility for any of that. Get a mechanic to help?
3) If this is the first spacer you are fitting you may well need to adjust the carb to run correctly. Get a mechanic to help? If this is a swap out all should be the same, but I had to have a litttle tweak on idle.
Removing the carb:
This is obviously how the Holley 600CFM carb is removed and refitted. But the principle is the same, wether it’s a Holley, Edelbrock, Autolite or any other manufacturer. The fuel connection, electrical connection (for electic choke if fitted), vacuum advance (if fitted), PCV recycle connection, air filter pan and the throttle fitting.
Removing the air filter:
Unscrew the air filter top and remove the filter and mounting pan. This is exactly the same process if you were just changing the air filter. Most of the time the filter is held to the carb via centre threaded bolt. Once this is removed it will expose the carb and fittings. There should be a gasket that fits between the pan and carb, which needs to be removed, shown on the right hand pic.
Removing the PCV pipe, if fitted.
This small pipe takes excess hot oil vapours from the top of the valve cover and pipes it to the carb to be reburnt as part of the air fuel mixture. Most of the time the PCV valve is just pushed into a grommet on top of the valve cover, the other end is usually connected to the back of the carb or spacer in my case. The end connected to the carb (spacer) may just be a push fit, or held in place via a clip of some sort. Either way remove from the carb (spacer) and pull out from the top of the valve cover.
With the PCV pipe removed check for any damage, splits, perishing or cracks. If all is well, clean out the pipe if it’s clogged ready for refitting later.
You may prefer to do all the cleaning in one go with everything disconnected and removed, but that’s a personal choice of course.
Disconnect the vacuum advance, if fitted.
Disconnect the choke if fitted.
This can be done via a number of variations most common are, manual, water (heater) pipe and electric connection.
Manual choke: This is (usually) a single cable coming from inside the cabin through the firewall to the carb. The picture borrowed from Holley is the white cable on the lower left side of the picture. The cable is either a pull and twist to lock in place, or simply a push pull idea to hold the choke plate in place. The fitting is usually a single screw holding a steel cable which needs to be released. Make a note of where the fitting is secured. A possible way to do this is with a permanent marker or wrap a piece of tape around the wire to mark the location of the original positioning.
Water heater pipe: The hot water pipe from the heater matrix runs alongside the carb to heat a bimetallic strip that in turn opens the choke plate. This can be identified by following the heater pipes coming from the firewall across the top of the engine block, and is held close to the carb’s round choke housing for the bimetallic strip by a clip.
Electrical connection: This is a wire going to the bimetallic strip. A small 12v current is feed to the strip and heats it to rotate the choke plate. This can be adjusted by rotating the housing if you need it more or less aggressive.
Disconnect the Throttle linkage:
The throttle is linked to the carb in a number of ways, most of the time it’s a rod or cable that attaches to the carb’s throttle linkage. If an automatic transmission there could also be another wire that goes down to the transmission box for the kickdown function. This again will need to be disconnected.
In my case there is a rod from the top of the pedal assembly which attaches to the top part of the throttle linkage. In order to make the throttle return to idle there is a spring. In my case there is two springs, one inside the other for safety reasons. If the throttle sticks open you could be in a ride with an accident about to happen. Unclip the springs. Picture below on the left.
The throttle linkage can be held in place by either a nut, split pin, R-clip or similar. Remove the retaining fastener and the throttle rod will be able to be pulled from the throttle mechanism. Two pictures on the right.
All other fittings should now be disconnected apart from the fuel. (If not disconnect them).
The fuel is usually connected via a rubber hose to allow for some movement, and which is connected to the carb by a flared fitting and some sort of clip. In my case I have a “bango” fitting on the corner, where I don’t need to remov the fuel pipe from the fitting. Place a rag or similar to catch any spilt fuel under the connection. Undo the fuel line to the carb slowly in order to catch any excess fuel if removing the fuel line.
Depending on your fitting or option how the fuel is fitted to the carb; the fuel line could be held in place by a number of fittings, single ear clip, double ear clip, jubilee clip or variations there of. If there is no way to disconnect the fitting from the carb itself, you may have to remove the fuel line itself as I mentioned above. Plug or clamp the fuel line to stop any more fuel leakage.
The other option is that the fitting can be removed with the fuel line still attached with my example of the “bango” fitting. A center bolt with a hole for the fuel to travel into the carb, can be removed and the fitting is removed with the fuel line as one section from the carb. The fitting for the fuel entry into the carb sometimes have some form of filter within it. Undo the nut slowly as there should be a small rubber/synthetic seal an “O” ring ans possibly a filter. Bottom right shows the small O-ring being removed.
Check if there is a filter, which may still be inside the fuel bolt opening. Left picture below shows the filter which pushes into the bottom of the special bolt with the hole in it. The right picture shows the O ring inplace. The hole in this bolt corresponds to channels within the banjo to allow to allow the fuel in through the centre.
At this point they can be cleaned or do it at a later date. Pay special attention to the wire gauze filter to remove any debris or blockages.
Removing the carb itself:
With everything now disconnected there will be four bolts one in each corner. They will have washers under the nuts. In one corner near the throttle rod there may be a fitting where the rod, cable mount, spring holders could be held for the throttle. In my case the spring fitting, main pic on the left below. Make a note of the location and remove all the nuts, washers and fittings if any.
Place more rags around the carb as close as you can get it. The carb will hold an amount of fuel in the bowls depending on the carb size, float chambers, double pumper etc. The fuel may spill out when the carb is tipped.
The carb will undoubtedly be stuck in place due to the gasket(s) being being stuck between metal to metal. The tolerance for the bolts through the carb is tight and the carb will need to be lifted up evenly. If it’s stuck a small flat implement to prize up or a gentle tap to dislodge. Don’t whack it with a hammer, common sense. A leather or light rubber or plastic hammer tap could help to start it moving.
If there is a spacer already fittd there remove the carb, then the spacer. If there is no spacer lift the carb up. Picture below shows the gap opening up.
If the gasket comes with the carb so be it. If not, you will need to remove it after the carb is safely out of the way. Place the carb on a surface, with more rags. (Optional).
With the carb off the car there will be a large hole, a divided hole, holes (depending on design), where the air/fuel mixture gets sucked into. Keep this clean. DO NOT let anything go down this intake hole. Anything in here will go down the cylinders potentially damaging the engine. Place a clean lint free rag down the hole to block it it, or cover it with masking tape. If using the masking tape remember to remove it before refitting the carb!
Remove the spacer and all gaskets carefully.
The main gasket to the intake manifold could well have fuel or oil or both on it like mine here. Be careful when removing that nothing goes down that intake.
That’s carb off and now time for the clean up and prep. I seriously recommend that new gaskets are used when refitting. You can buy these or make your own like I did depending on your level of skill and confidence. If in doubt – buy them. You can see the distortion of the lower gasket above. The chances of this fitting back together again exactly without leaks just won’t happen to be honest, especially if adding a spacer for the first time. You will need two gaskets for the spacer. One between the top of the intake manifold plenum and the bottom of the spacer. The second on top of the spacer and the bottom of the carb.
Before refitting clean the intake plenum surface to remove any contamination or stuck gasket. Work away from the intake hole towards the outside. Below I used a sharb blade scraper to get it cleaned. Then cleaned the surfaces again with degreaser and a lint free cloth.
Once cleaned thoroughly and the surface should be dry and smooth. Don’t gouge chunks out of the metal!
Now get to cleaning the bottom of the carb to make sure that is also clean ready for the new gasket. Watch out for fuel spillage if tipping the carb up onto it’s side.
While the carb is off the car check all the rubber fittings that block off the additional connection points have not perished or split. Any leak into the carb will compromise performance and introduce poor running.
The spacer should also be clean and smooth on the upper and lower faces before fitting. Make sure the bore holes are clean and free from debris.
Refitting the Carb.
Double check that what ever you are going to clean has been cleaned. Now is a good time to clean all those moving parts on the carb before refitting back onto the engine as it’s much easier off the car and to allow you to see what you are doing. Lubricate the throttle linkage, lubricate the choke plate pivots. Check it all over.
Place one of the gaskets onto the intake manifold. Make sure that it’s fitted the correct way round. The spacimg of the studs is not exactly symmetrical. There should be no ripples or taught sections and should lay flat.
Below is a comparison of the metal spacer with the Phenolic black spacer on top. The black spacer has a very slightly larger diameter bore holes than the metal one below. Most of the spacers have a single way to fit them. The open side is the underside to lay on the gasket. Underside of the spacer is showing here in the pic below.
Place the spacer onto the gasket. The smooth side (top) of the spacer should be facing up as in the picture below.
Now add the second gasket on top of the spacer, making sure it too also fits correctly with no tears, ripples or stretched areas.
Now you can take your carb and gently lower it onto the spacer and gasket. Lower the carb evenly in order to not dislodge the gasket position.
Note of observation:
The old metal spacer had the PCV valve breather attacher to it under the carb itself. With some of the phenolic spacers they may do away with the breather port and use the carb’s own intake port. Below is the comparison of the spacer on the left and the carb fitting on the right. Both connections are still situated at the back. Those who are eagle eyed among you will see that the carb is a slightly smaller diameter and will require a little more tightening to get a good seal. This is fine as I used a jubilee clip as before. The carb uses a flanged end so a push fit should be possible depending on the internal hose diameter itself, but I want to make sure it stays on so I use the clip just to make sure.
Now you will need to secure the carb to the engine intake. Tighten the fasterners and washers finger tight into each of the corners. If you have a spring bracket then replace that as required. Tighten fully with the correct torque settings for the carb in an opposite corners sequence.
How you reconnect the all the linkages and fittings is up to you of course. But, with the throttle linkage out of the way the PCV pipe is much easier to fit.
Refit the mechanical throttle linkage to the carb throttle linkage and refit the springs. Check that everything moves without any snagging or any of the moving parts being hindered under the full motion of travel.
Lubricate any of the fittings that need it with the correct grease or oils. In my case the self locking nut will need a little white grease behind the washers to avoid any sticking, marked with the arrows.
Next up is fitting the electrics back to the choke, this is the single 12v wire.
The fuel fitting (banjo fit) needs to reconnect, ensure that the filters are cleaned and seated correctly when refitting them. Failure to do so could allow debris through or not allow fuel to flow through at all in the worst case scenario. Check that the O-ring is in good condition, not split or perished or you could be introducing a fuel leak. Below is the O-ring seal in place and the cleaned carb internal metal gauze fuel filter.
Vacuum pipe should be a straight push onto the carb if it’s fitted or required.
Finally check that all the connections are in place and secured properly. You can either start the car with the air filter off to see what is going on, or put it back together again.
With everything in place you can start the car. I would suggest cranking the car over for a few seconds to make sure that there is no fuel leaking after the fuel has been pumped up to the carb and fills the carb bowls.
Once you are happy there is no leak and everything is OK, then start the car normally.
1) If there was a spacer there before, you shouldn’t have to adjust anything – as long as it was the same size of course.
2) If this is a new spacer you will probably need to adjust air fuel mixtures and idle for the carb.
3) In rare cases you may have to make some minor timing adjustments.
Two hours with all the cleaning.
Like I said at the beginning it was after replacing this spacer and going for a test run that I noticed the noise in the gearbox. The two are completely unrelated and didn’t cause the gearbox issue. But there is an improvement in the car’s performance.
This is definitely a worthwhile project if you are having issues in the heat with fuel evaporation, or warm starting problems. If you want a little more power then this is a quick win for relatively little money. However as you have to take the carb off the engine this isn’t for the faint hearted. It’s a straight forward enough procedure, but you need to put things back where they should be. The fact you are playing with fuel lines tells you that you will need to take care of course.
This week has been a very stressful week for me as my pride and joy has had to go and get some serious repairs. During this Covid lockdown like many of us we are finding things to do and pamper our cars. I have been no exception to that of course, with a LED upgrades going on, carb spacer swap out all of which I have to post about and will be coming soon. But this update jumps the queue. I said when I was restoring my car I would post about the good, bad and everything else. This is one of those gone wrong posts. Mustang Maniac may cover my story this weekend as well, to help each other out we have swapped some photos between us. 👍
Background is that I had a mini project to replace a carburetor spacer from the old metal 1″ style to the new phenolic spacer. This meant that I ‘had’ to test drive the car t make sure all was OK, while on my way to take some exercise of course. During the shortish journey of ten miles round trip or so the car started to make a whine noise, almost like a super charger. This annoying noise was coming from the gearbox area. The car started to make a significant thud when selecting reverse or drive gears from park or neutral. I called Adam at Mustang Maniac to explain what was going on. He listened to my explanation and said that he would open a slot for me at their yard.
I drove down on the Monday morning very gently I might add and the whine was getting worse. I knew something was wrong and hoped it was an adjustment somewhere. When I arrived and was greeted by Adam and Yogi, both said to put it straight onto ramps when they heard it. Within a couple of minutes Yogi had listened, diagnosed the problem and said gearbox was trashing itself, and probably the torque converter too. This was bad, real bad. The decision was made to drop the gearbox out to investigate after the dipstick for the gearbox was checked and was covered in foam.
The oil was drained out and the proper dark red colour was a foaming mess of pink slop.
While the “liquid gold” as Adam calls it, was draining out the prop was removed, the speedo cable, handbrake cables, and the exhaust split from the headers.
A conversation was had with Adam and I was given the option of what gearbox I would like and he went of to get it from his secret stock. The sound of expensive parts arriving in the trolley was sad sound to hear. Adam returning with the parts.
Yogi and Stuart jacked up the gearbox lift up to the gearbox to support the weight while it was lowered out.
These C4 gearboxes were clever for their time in the fact that they had cooling pipes that ran from the gearbox, up to the front of the car, which were then in turn connected to the bottom of the radiator. The pipes in the bottom section of the radiator shares the cooling with the engine block’s coolant. The cooled oil returns back to the gearbox ready to reapeat the process. The cooling pipes have their own entry and exit fittings to the radiator. It was here that the problem was caused; the internal loop of pipe within the radiator had failed somewhere. The water pressure from the radiator had forced water into the oil cooler channels because the gearbox oil is under less pressure than the engine’s coolant.
With the gearbox down on the floor the investigation could begin. Yogi had an airline on the cooling pipes which were still on the car, with a jet of air the water was expelled at a high pressure, confirmed water (and anti-freeze) was in the gearbox.
The bottom of the C4 gearbox has a removable pan that allows access to a serviceable filter to protect the delicate interior. The filter had done its job and stopped all sorts of debris and was getting near to clogged. The gearbox tension bands, seals metal on metal parts had indeed started to disintegrate. By feeling the gunge on the filter there was some swarf or tiny metal particles. Yogi was right, the gearbox was starting to eat itself, and it was very hungry.
The torque converter was removed and checked, draining the contents more swarf was found inside. With the oil pan emptied more traces of fine swarf were found at the bottom. The expense was starting to ramp up.
The water had in effect contaminated the oil and strated to break the oil’s properties down and failed to lubricate the gearbox along with the torque converter, thus unable to keep it all cool. The end result was the bands were slipping in the gearbox and the engine coolant had caused the gearbox to overheat. I was told I was a lucky boy as it could of just let go, dumping the contents of the gearbox on the side of the road leaving me stranded. The radiator was low and topping it up gave us an idea of how much water had got unto the gearbox. The top up was almost one liter.
The new gearbox was a genuine 1966 date coded C4 green dot fully rebuilt gearbox. This was a rare part, let alone to have a choice of them straight out of stock.
The new torque converter was screwed into the bell housing and the careful alignment to refit back into place. The gearbox was lifted up into place and little magic the gearbox was roughly in place.
With the gearbox now bolted into place, the finely tuned machine that is Mustang Maniac had a gearbox out and back in place within a day. Yogi was pleased with the day’s work, it was time for me to go home and leave my very poorly car on ramps for the night.
The next day I was back at the yard in the afternoon. Yogi had completed the rest of the refit and and all was back in place.
The next problem was the radiator the proximate cause of the problem. Again Adam asked me what style, cooling performance and look that I wanted. I went for the upgraded three row (which I already had) from the standard factory two row, with the OEM stock look. The expenses were ramping up even more.
Yogi pressure tested the old radiator and it had indeed failed in the oil cooler loop. A rare failure by all accounts that had catastrophic consequences on the gearbox. Why it failed we can’t be sure, perhaps a failed weld, or rusted out or crack? Without cutting the radiator open we won’t know.
The engine block had to be drained and flushed before the new radiator could be fitted and more fluids replaced.
The rest of the plumbing was reconnected and filled up. The car fired up and the gearbox whine was gone. Selecting a gear; there was no thud and the engine didn’t stall out.
The engine idle on the carb had to be reset and a road test. The was a little more dark art of carburettor fettling going on after the road test, the tuned ear of Yogi jumping from one screw adjustment to another and back again.
My drive home was a different car altogether, it was again effortless and a joy to drive. The joy of owning a classic car can be bitter sweet. I have had some wonderful sweet treats, and then this week the very bitter pill of a transmission failure. There you have it, a very big downer for me with things not going to plan. I was lucky that I got to Mustang Maniac how and when I did. Keeping it quiet is not what it’s about for me, this blog shows the good with the bad.
A huge “Thank You” to all at Mustang Maniac.
I have some mini projects coming up and detailing product reviews too, I will be posting them soon. But, first I have an excuse to clean the car engine bay again as it got a bit grubby after all the work being done on it. Many wouldn’t notice anything to be honest, as it was cleaned up pretty well. But I’m just pleased my little lady is back home and I again can pamper her and give her a nice clean up. I’m lucky to own a classic Mustang so I can’t complain. I don’t thrash my car so perhaps that helped me in getting down to the yard without a breakdown. If you own a classic car these things can happen, but not to often I hope!
During this lockdown I have been asked a number of questions about car detailing, which surprised me a little as everything I know is self taught, trial and error, research with an empty wallet as a result. I love detailing the Mustang so the questions are a pleasure if i know the answer. These questions are probably being asked because like me they can’t get to car shows, so they clean their cherished vehicles instead. I had been working on a little something a while ago and decided to finish it off for todays little article.
So what is the question that is often asked, but never really answered; is there a difference between big name brands and the much more expensive luxury hand poured waxes?
Just quickly before I answer the questions; a little while ago I had done a comparison test of ten products from the top manufacturers to find out what is the best. The results were not quite what I expected to be honest. You can read my comparison test here.
This article will not be a repeat of that testing, but more of an explanation why some waxes cost more than others due to their ingredients, performance, processes and of course that all important name on the tin, bottle, spray pot or what ever you bought. There’s even an amount of snobbery if should be so bold to say that.
I must state that trying to find out exactly what’s inside the products from anybody is a closely guarded secret, for obvious reasons. Although I will not be mentioning brand names, as in who has what in which product, the following information is from various sources that I have managed to find out about and collate myself with phone calls and research. I may not be 100% accurate, but it all makes perfect sense in a bigger picture.
Firstly a little about the main product used for car waxes; Carnauba.
Most car products contain some sort of carnauba percentage within their products, unless it’s fully synthetic of course.
Carnauba is also known as Brazilian wax and palm wax. Carnauba is a wax from the leaves of the palm Copernicia prunifera, a plant native to and only grown in the north eastern Brazilian states of Piauí, Ceará, Maranhão, Bahia, and Rio Grande do Norte.
Carnauba is also known as the “queen of waxes” when in its pure state it usually comes in the form of hard yellow-brown flakes.
The wax is obtained from the leaves of the carnauba palm by collecting and drying them, beating them to loosen the wax, then refining and bleaching the wax. It’s also used as a food additive, its ‘E’ number is E903.
Fact 1: Did you know that raw Carnauba can be harder than concreate.
Fact 2: Carnauba is used in many other products such as; candy (yes you can eat it, but the body can’t digest it), medication coatings to aid swallowing, dental floss, hair crème, leather to aid in waterproofness and is also used in explosives like TNT. For the ladies carnauba is used in many cosmetics formulas where it is used in eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, foundation, deodorant, soap, to thicken lipstick, various skin care preparations, sun care preparations, etc. It is also used to make cutler’s resin and adhesive.
Fact 3: Carnauba wax is sold in several grades, labelled as; T1, T3, and T4, depending on the purity level. Purification is accomplished by filtration, centrifugation, and bleaching or not as the case may be.
Fact 4: It is practically insoluble in water, soluble by heating in ethyl acetate and in xylene, and practically insoluble in ethyl alcohol. (More on this as a percentage in the base carrier notes later.)
Fact 5: Carnauba’s Melting point is 82–86 °C (180–187 °F), among the highest of the natural waxes, considerably higher than beeswax which is 62–64 °C.
Fact 6: There is no synthetic equivalent for carnauba.
So to have a product based on say half carnauba, it would be incredibly hard to apply. Carnauba needs to be reapplied due to the natural product. The synthetic wax products have a longevity advantage and will adhere to the surface better, due to the chemicals designed just for that job. In fact it would be virtually impossible to have 100% carnauba product.
Big Brand Shop Wax.
Most of these products are price based and to keep the cost down there is one main ‘base’ ingredient. This carrier (base) is petroleum based usually Kerosene or paraffin or a combination of both. (I will just call it kerosene from now on). Other chemicals are added to the ‘base carrier’ in order to make it pliable, UV protecting agents, spreadable and even maintain a shelf life. Ever noticed that old wax tend to dry out and crack? The quickest way to tell the product is kerosene based is the smell. Some have that quite distinctive petroleum based smell, but most of the time that potent smell of paraffin, kerosene or aviation fuel or heating oils, an additive is used to disguise that base smell and make the fragrance much more appealing to the user, such as vanilla, apples, mint, roses, coffee or chocolate etc. What ever works best for various manufacturers. Often the fragrances are used to sell the product, but in actual fact the artificial fragrance is a disguise. How’s that for marketing?
Percentages of the product;
Most of the time base carrier tends to be around 70% (maybe more maybe less), and the rest made up with the actual performing ingredients for the product. For the majority of time the remaining 30% can be made up of Carnauba, beeswax, silicon, acrylic additives, cleaners etc. Now this is where things go a little bit fuzzy and grey areas appear should we say. The remaining 30% could be made up of 50% carnauba. Now that carnauba 50% is of the remaining 30% which will leave a remaining 15% for other additives which I will get to in a moment. The label stating that it has 50% or 54% Carnauba and so on for the carnauba content is not necessarily 50% of the total product by volume! In other words a 200g tin of product is not necessarily 100g of carnauba. But, this is open to interpretation should we say. What is the “50%” actually of within the product? Is that 50% of the total of waxes used with the other 50% being beeswax for example?
The remaining percentages can be beeswax, or silicon or microscopic aluminium particles for cleaner pastes, colourings, fragrances etc. Messing around with the mixture’s formula will obviously give different properties and products. The remaining percentage apart from the ‘base’ could then be made into a synthetic formula if no carnauba is used, replaced with the silicon content which could be increased, dyes for the wax, maybe fillers to hide minor swirl marks.
To make the liquid version of the product (see ‘Fact 4’ above), the base needs to be blended with other chemicals to make it pourable as you would expect. The original 70% may now be 40% / 30% mix of kerosene / ethyl acetate for example, or what ever the formula mixture requires. However, the carnauba content will still be the same as in the paste equivalent to keep the product performance the same. In fact Meguiar’s told me there is “no difference between their wax paste and liquid variation of the same product”. By pure definition there may not be a difference with the product ingredients formula as such, but the base carrier has to be different as one is a paste and the other is a liquid or crème as they prefer to call it.
The application from a tin is fine application to spread thinly. The main reason being the chance for the base to evaporate and leave the product behind on the paint to do its job. This evaporation is also known as the “flash point”. The flash point could be speeded up or slowed down depending on the requirements of the product. The haze or white misting of the product is what is left after the evaporation or flash point. In order to check the product has ‘cured’, or ready for buffing is the wipe of a finger across the product technique. If nothing is left behind then the product can be buffed to a shine removing the haze which in turn leaves the carnauba behind, which will leave behind the gloss shine you want.
Have you noticed that if you apply heavy layers of wax onto the paint it becomes a nightmare to remove it? This is due to the fact the base is unable to evaporate properly and you end up pushing around the base kerosene with the buffing cloth which will cause drag on the cloth. The principle is simple; the smoother and even layer the product can be applied, the better light will reflect from the paint surface, giving a better finish, impression of depth and overall clean look.
These are predominantly more silicon based still using the carrier base which also gives a great shine and various additives to make the product bond to the paint. There is also a growing trend to use ceramic hybrids which provide exceptional hydrophobic properties and some nice gloss. The principles are the same for the base carrier, but obviously the formulas are heavily altered to make sure the ceramic, silicones and base carriers all stick together. Notice how you have to shake the product as they separate out when left standing?
The cost of the base carrier is much more affordable than the high end products (which I will get into later). The variations of the remaining product such as scent, carnauba content, colourings, fillers, cleaning agents, gloss enhancers, silicon etc. will all determine the cost of the raw materials. I am not including the marketing or the R & D in this, just the basic ingredient costs.
The better the quality of carnauba T1 or T3 etc. has the overall bearing on the costs.
These products can vary in costs wildly, from a reasonable £50 to £1,000 and more. The main difference here is that these products are naturally occurring oils base. The carrier base oil maybe something like melon oil or a coconut oil, maybe a mixture of both. Here is a view of natural Kalahari melon oil in the top picture and raw coconut oil in the picture below.
The remaining ingredients are then mixed into the base oil product for its desired results, gloss, filler, longevity etc. The most basic of base blend carrier of a premium ‘wax’ can be made from three base oils. The more complex blends having a formula of around twenty to thirty five ingredients.
To find out what’s in these products is very difficult due to the secrecy involved. However, I have it on good authority that these premium hand blended car waxes also have a lot in common with the beauty industry as well.
Carnauba has a naturally sweet smell, and it can be said that candy and carnauba smell similar.
You will notice immediately when you open these products that they feel very different. The wax feels greasy as you would expect from an oil and they smell very different. Very little fragrance is used unless a particular oil doesn’t smell to good, but could be great for reflection or a filler for example. Some oils when blended can thicken the formula and add shelf life or natural UV filters.
Again application is very much ‘little and often’, the more purest of waxes are almost clear on application and can only really be seen when the light catches the applied product on the surface of the panel. It’s sometimes recommended to use these waxes when they are warmed up slightly in the sun for a little while, which will allow softening of the wax and oils to aid in ease of application. These premium waxes can feel like spreading a soft butter with very little effort. The main difference between these natural products and petroleum based product is the ‘flash point’. The premium waxes and oils as such don’t tend to evaporate leaving the product behind in a haze. In fact the applied product is the majority of the product you buff to a shine. Again carnauba can be treated, reduced, added to or thinned out maybe, whatever the specification for the product needs to do in order to achieve the consistency and required formulas. I have been told (from my very reliable source), that there are better oil combinations for gloss than just carnauba alone. The down side is they are extremely difficult to harvest and cultivate and a single fluid ounce can be extremely expensive, much more than any precious metal comparison.
The flash point of the premium waxes could by design be a little carrier evaporation. So in theory, the longer these premium waxes are left on the car to ‘cure’ and bond to the paint, the more time they have to settle into the microscopic pits and troughs to form a smooth even barrier. It’s recommended to leave these premium waxes to cure for at least an hour. If you can apply in the morning and remove in the evening that would be ideal, or even overnight. However this may not be ideal depending on atmospheric conditions with dust and pollen flying around.
The carnauba used for the hand blended product tends to be the top percentage of the T1 classification for raw carnauba. filtering and decontamination is the highest priority as is the quality control. As I mentioned above the product you apply is the product that is applied to the paint, as there is very little if any flash point. So if for argument sake it is noted that the carnauba content is 30%, that is still potentially double that of the shop brands by volume in the example I gave above. Other ingredients could be added to make the oils last longer on the paintwork, hydrophobic properties, gloss, wetness, warmth of colour, or the other way around to make the exceptional gloss for car shows, but it may not last very long. So a balance is often dialled into the mix for the blend depending on the market it’s aimed at.
Some small fragrances like Jasmin can be used, just for the user’s experience or perhaps just to add a bespoke brand product fragrance.
For something extra during a hand blend there is the option to add some random ingredients such as gold or silver particles to give that glittery look. Some additives are used which can enhance the metallic fleck in paintwork.
The raw materials being a natural product, and only found or created in very small quantities drive the cost of these products. Some of the ingredients are very rare and sometimes unavailable for what ever reason maybe seasonal etc. The oils used tend to be super filtered and again the best of the best purest oils used.
Due to the availability and quantities of a number of the ingredients, some hand blenders make extremely limited batches or bespoke “pours” to order. In fact some of these top branded waxes are only made in a single 200g batch per year.
Additional points for waxes:
No mater what you choose the waxes are better when they are layered. This is especially true for the premium hand blended waxes, but the whole process of layering a premium wax and curing can take a long time for the reasons I mentioned above.
If you have a great quality paint job, and use the cheaper market brands the wax could in fact reduce the gloss refraction of your paint. Just as you can’t make rubbish paintwork glow with premium wax, but you will protect it.
So the fact of the matter is that most of the time, off the shelf or big name brand products are more than capable of doing their intended job. A great shine and longevity to protect the paint finish and there isn’t much to choose between them as I found out.
However, if you want to use the best of the best it’s all in the prep work. Cleaning, decontamination, correction, sealer and then the wax, then a couple more wax layers to get the very best results. Big name products tend to do most of the hard work for you, especially the cleaner waxes or the all in one products from multiple suppliers.
When paying big money for a top quality hand blended product, you may be disappointed if you don’t put in the prep work and blame the wax, it about the time and effort to get the rewards.
Is there a difference apart form the obvious price banding? Well yes, I have noticed the difference after a single application of a hand blend. The cost is the downside, but the results are visible and from my point of view, the money is worth it. I enjoy the whole car detailing thing so I want results from my products I use.
For a daily run around, then big name products are perfectly acceptable. Even some hand blends made with predominantly silicon can be used for a daily. But if you have a show car, classic car or something you cherish, then perhaps treat yourself to some quality hand blended products. Work out what you want from your wax, gloss, beading, protection etc. before making your purchase.
I hope that answers some of the questions, and I learnt a bit from the research as well.
During this lockdown we can’t go out in our much loved and pampered cars to any car shows. We can start them up and clean them. Something which I have been doing a lot of recently as well. As time has gone on my love for my Mustang has never waned or faltered ever! Since the car has been on the road technology has moved along in respect of the lighting on cars. DRL or Daytime Running Lights have become the norm as has LED headlights. LED technology has taken over where the HID bulbs left off. The HID had to have a massive current draw have their own relays etc. LEDs don’t have that problem. So I had a word with Adam at Mustang Maniac and he has been researching for me and came up with a little prototype pack. This is the story of the pack which consisted of two lenses and two sets of LED bulbs. Both sets were similar in specifications, but different fitting styles.
My brief to Adam was that I wanted the replacement bulbs to be like the original standard ‘sealed beam’ style which I had refitted back on my car with correct Ford logo lenses.
These are the proposed replacements with optional side lights.
The side by side comparison of both bulbs, Ford on the left and the proposed replacements on the right. Not to bad at all and I certainly didn’t want the clear type lenses.
The replacement halogens looked great and provided a nice upgrade compared to the fillament ‘candle’ power of the originals.
All the lightbulbs on my car are LED, and I just wanted that super white look on the headlights and of course the increased night vision and visibility to other road users.
Adam always comes up with a solution and asked me if I wanted to trial them for him. Of course I jumped at the chance. So here is the walkthrough of that process.
Removing the headlight.
The headlight doors are held in place by four screws, one in each corner.