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1922 Fiat 501 Targa Florio


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Hi Bernie,

 

Diff's are a sour talking point for most 501 owners. OnSafari is correct in saying they're the weakest link, being made of cast aluminium certainly doesn't fair well against abuse! Thankfully us enthusiasts are much more gentle when it comes to driving them, but I've heard horror stories of people Blowing the diff just by leaving the handbrake on and trying to drive off!! 

 

Mine was in several pieces when i bought the car, both the pinion, ring gear and both halves of the diff assembly. Not sure which gave way first, but the resultant mess is the same either way... I installed a 503 unit to be sure, which bumps the thickness of the weakest point from 5mm to 10mm or thereabouts. You can also drill and tap the torque tube housing amd install grub screws that secure the aluminium housing where the pinion bearing lies. This relieves some of the torsional stress sent through the housing.

 

Cheers,

Brodie

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For those that may have missed the point;  my target  is to have the Fiat restored and SOLD by this time next year.

It will only be by selling the car that Helen and I will be able to have one last trip to France.

Looking back over the past thirty five years ALL our Overseas holidays have been financed the same way. Restoring and selling a car every five years. This will almost certainly be my last restoration and our last visit to Europe.

 

Bernie j.

an impecunious enthusiast.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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No not all, it's sensible to use original serviceable parts. Plus the vintage market is softening, so one doesn't want to over capitalise. As u mentioned earlier, your direction with this project is most appropriate. Look forward to seeing the results.

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I have just had a phone call from "Paul" my Vintage friendly Radiator repair man. He tells me that the Fiat Radiator is now internally clean, water tight and ready to be collected. All I need to do is go out and rob a couple of Banks.  I should not complain, at least he is prepared to work on (almost)  100 year old radiators. 

The other good thing was that there were no leaks in the "honeycombe" core.

 

Bj

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The next thing will be to decide whether to polish the brass outer shell or to paint it. I am leaning towards painting as this is how the factory would have delivered it.

Looking again at the photograph of Madam Junek's Fiat, there is no argument, her car definitely had the Radiator painted in the body colour.

All the period photographs of the factory Targa Florio cars, also show painted radiators which makes it only "proper" that my car should also have a painted radiator.

 

Bj.

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Meanwhile, there is no shortage of work to be done, with this in mind, starting from the front I have fitted up one front spring and hopefully before today is out I will have the front axle in place. My last job  yesterday was to lift the front half of the chassis so I could move the "horse" that is supporting the chassis back to give clear access to the spring mounting points. This also involved moving the chain supporting my "chain block" forward.

These days I am simply not strong enough to support the front of the chassis with one hand while I moved the support with the other.

Bj.

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It's amazing what one person can do alone with some thought put towards the task. :)

 

About a year ago I had an automatic transmission from one of my Studebakers that needed to get up onto the workbench. 20 years ago I would have just jerked it up there but I'm a little smarter (cautious) now. After gathering all the cribbing (blocks of 4x4, 2x4, 2x6, etc wood) that I'd saved, plus a couple of plastic milk crates, I slowly cribbed it up to the level of the workbench. About 10 minutes later my neighbor showed up........oh well, it was fun to prove to myself I could do it alone.

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Hi Paul

It is a great feeling to know that you can still keep a couple of yards ahead of the Grim Reaper!

 How long is it since the Chassis and front axle looked like this?

The job is in fact two days behind. The two days I spent making four plates to hold the four bolts each to secure the front axle to the springs.The first pair of plates I made to suit the spacing for the rear axle.

While I was looking this morning in one of the buckets holding an assortment of nuts and bolts that I found the four original "U" bolts  complete with washers and nuts, all nicely held together with a length of wire. A few minutes on the wire brush and they were ready to fit. I am still looking for the (pre WW2) metric nuts to screw on to the shackle pins.

Metric nuts and bolts changed the range of basic sizes and thread pitch after WW2. Don't take my word for it ask any Bugatti restorer.

Bj.

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Hi Frank

They have to come off again to be painted, They were "trial assembled" to make sure that they were the correct ones and that they were long enough to fit. 

 

NZ CN

Like most 95 year old basket case cars there is a mixture of nuts & bolts. It is almost impossible to buy new the correct "Pre WW2" Metric". As I commented in my earlier post #130.  

About 30+ years ago I bought a Fiat roadster which was sold new with the OSCA 1500 Twin Cam Engine. It had the engine dismantled and all the nuts and bolts had been lost or thrown away. The Maserati Brothers were responsible for the OSCA marque having sold the Maserati "Name" before the war. They had retained all their Pre-war tooling so it had the earlier type metric threads. A local Bugatti restorer was able to supply me with everything I needed, unfortunately at "Bugatti prices".

Below is a photograph of the Fiat Osca in "race trim", with a Mini parked next to it to demonstrate its size. 

 

Bj.5ad7d7e7984d4_FiatOsca022.thumb.jpg.fd3855097b9a6b8ac49ba955c5a0a424.jpg

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Hi Frank

They have to come off again to be painted, They were "trial assembled" to make sure that they were the correct ones and that they were long enough to fit. 

NZ CN

Like most 95 year old basket case cars there is a mixture of nuts & bolts. It is almost impossible to buy new the correct "Pre WW2" Metric". As I commented in my earlier post #130.  

About 30+ years ago I bought a Fiat roadster which was sold new with the OSCA 1500 Twin Cam Engine. It had the engine dismantled and all the nuts and bolts had been lost or thrown away. The Maserati Brothers were responsible for the OSCA marque having sold the Maserati "Name" before the war. They had retained all their Pre-war tooling so it had the earlier type metric threads. A local Bugatti restorer was able to supply me with everything I needed, unfortunately at "Bugatti prices".

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New addition to the fold.

Yesterday my son Steve, his son Otto and I drove the 250kms (and another 250 return) to the Victorian country town of Stawell to rescue another dismantled early 1920s Fiat 501. This one part of a deceased estate has been stored in pieces for over 50 years. It appears to be very near to mechanically complete. Steve is very excited and anxious to start work on it.

 

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Not to be left out our daughter Anna has sent me the following thought for today.

Something that the Dali Lama has said.

"Our overly materialistic lifestyles are wasteful and come at great environmental cost. If we don’t change our ‘advanced’ patterns of consumption, humanity's thirst for natural resources will be unsustainable. Overexploitation of the natural environment is generating crises at local and global levels. Nations pursuing rapid economic growth must take the lead in finding new, more sustainable paths of development."

 

I absolutely agree with these principals and I believe that by conserving our old cars rather than going out and buying a new one every 12/18 months that we are all in our own way doing what we can to preserve the world so that future generations may enjoy it.

 

Bj.

 

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Hello Paul

That person in the blue  shirt is certainly Steve, he is our second son and probably the one who most takes after his father. Also in the photo is his son Otto, who poor boy, is car crazy too! You can only just see him right at the edge of the photograph. Otto is Steve's second son. Thinking about all this I am reminded that I am a second son too! I am also the one in my family who most took after my father.  

 

Bernie j.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Hi Paul

Steve's Fiat also came without a body so he will need to build something too. Knowing Steve it is almost certain that the body he is likely to build will be much more ambitious than the basic style that I intend to build but all that is a long way ahead of us, or as we say here in Australia a long way down the track (road). In the words of old WW1 song. "It is a long long trail a winding.........."

Now for yesterday's photographs. Not very much but perhaps interesting. These show the "gate" for the gearchange and hand brake and the brake adjustment. This later is very "didderent", The two opposed sections have left and right hand threads. The brass piece in the middle has  internal matching threads. as it is turned using a large spanner on the hex in the middle the two parts which have the brake cables anchored to the lug each end either move closer together to effectively shorten the cable or by turning in the other direction loosens the two cables. These cables pass through the two brake operating levers at either end of the mechanism going to either of the brake drums on each rear wheel. The two small dome headed screws at the ends of the the two sections holding the ends of the cables project into a groove machined length wise along the tube tha holds it all in place, this prevents that piece rotating but allows it to move along the tube. The brass "nut" has an internal groove machined around the centre with a matching spring loaded "peg" that permitts it to turn but not to move laterally.  All this is most ingenious and must have taken a brilliant mind to work it all out.

I am possibly a little "nutty" myself but I find that unravelling these little mysteries fascinating and that this contributes a major part of the enjoyment of  "messing about with old motor cars." Perhaps even more than driving them.

Going back over the above, it may go some way to explaining why, having completed one "restoration" I cannot wait to return to the "battle field" to rescue another "basket case".

The Photograph of the gear change "gate is intended to show a small repair to the gate. A small section about one quarter of an inch long had been broken out of the "rib" between the hand brake and the gear change. This is quite thin. To replace the missing piece I bent a short piece of welding wire into a very tight "U" so that it just filled the gap. I very carefully using my Oxy/acetelyene torch ran some bronze to hold it all in place then not wanting to risk melting the brass any further, I filled up  the surface with some solder, As there is no stress applied to this section of the gate when in use, I am reasonably confident that It will be OK.

 

If you can follow all that you are going well.

To all the "Show Ponies and Concours Queers" I am not about to start polishing all the brass to a mirror finish! It will be clean very much as It left the factory.

 

Bernie j.

 

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Hello Again

Among all the "stuff" we collected with Steve's Fiat was a smallish cardboard box containing even smaller containers, This had been up about 50 years ago the speedo. Two days later Steve has sent me the attached photograph.

 

Bj

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12 hours ago, oldcar said:

Hello Again

Among all the "stuff" we collected with Steve's Fiat was a smallish cardboard box containing even smaller containers, This had been up about 50 years ago the speedo. Two days later Steve has sent me the attached photograph.

 

Bj

image1.JPG.3d476ab81fef647dfd691a84bab8d17b.JPGOh, now that is a good looking speedo!

 

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Yes, that speedo is very interesting. It looks like the odometer is made up of separate discs that are mounted parallel to the face, as opposed to the more modern (pre-digital) rotating drums.

 

I was looking on Wikipedia at "odometer" and there is a picture of an almost identical Smiths speedometer:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odometer

 

Neat stuff Bernie! That's why I like your threads, I see stuff I wouldn't otherwise ever see. :)

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Thank you Frank

I was pretty amazed but then I had seen the little containers that were holding the totally dismantled speedo.

 

Hi Paul

Smiths speedos used that rotating disc arrangement for their Speedos for quite a long time. At least into the 1930s.

 

Bj.

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Bernie,

That speedo is pretty much identical to mine on the Rover! Little lever on the top to reset the trip? Re the Fiat Osca pic, I worked with an American in Tassy in the 70s who brought one of those with him from from the US. Failed to proceed once, took a while to find the distributor drive had sheared .

jp 26 Rover 9

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Smith's Instruments were used in quite a number of English cars, I do not know about all the other Fiat 501s but their speedo seems to have been used in a number of 501 I have looked at. I do not know any more than that. The small instruments, oil pressure and amp meter are certainly not Smiths but then I have only started looking at Fiats in the last month or two so I am a very long way from being an expert. You could say that as far as Fiats are concerned I am just a beginner. I do however try to learn something new every day.

The one thing that I can say is that they are very different in almost every aspect to anything else from the same period.

For example even little things such as the hand brake actuation and more especially the adjustment, is totally different to anything I have seen in 60 years of working on vintage motor cars.

Stay around and you too may learn something.

 

Bj.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Now another day and by no co-incidence another month. Today is the First of May and the year is passing by rapidly.

I have just returned from Crankshaft Rebuilders bring the freshly bored and honed cylinder block, newly surface ground cylinder head and four pistons and con-rods with me so these is no excuse preventing me from getting on and assembling the Fiat motor. The one thing that I still need to organise is a cylinder head gasket. If the Fiat Club spares cannot supply one I will need to organise to have one made.

My first task for this afternoon is to sort out a set of valves and to grind them in to suit the block.

 

 

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Prior to collecting the engine bits I had spent much of yesterday rubbing back the paint on the radiator surround so it is also now in the queue to receive  a final coat of paint. There was just one small area that required a little additional filler, that too has now hardened sufficiently for me to give it a light going over with some fine sand-paper.

 

Bj

 

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Bj.

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A well spent afternoon, this has seen the eight valves cleaned up on the wire brush, then lapped in with first coarse and then fine grinding paste to achieve a nice even ring of matt finish before installing them in the block.  Next job was to sort out the pistons and con-rods. Fitting the pistons and rings was a breeze as there is a suitable chamfer on the bottom of the bores that leads the rings into the bottom of the cylinder perfectly, with just a little pressure applied to the end of the rod.

It is now time for"pre-dinner drinks" so I will organise some photographs tomorrow.

First job for the morning will be to "sort out" the cam-followers/tappets and make a heavy paper gasket to go between the crankcase and the block before I can put the two together. The big-ends of the connecting rods can then be refitted to the crankshaft and the rest of the "bottom-end" assembled.

 

Bj.

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A well spent afternoon, this has seen the eight valves cleaned up on the wire brush, then lapped in with first coarse and then fine grinding paste to achieve a nice even ring of matt finish before installing them in the block.  Next job was to sort out the pistons and con-rods. Fitting the pistons and rings was a breeze as there is a suitable chamfer on the bottom of the bores that leads the rings into the bottom of the cylinder perfectly, with just a little pressure applied to the end of the rod.

It is now time for"pre-dinner drinks" so I will organise some photographs tomorrow.

 

Bj.

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That was yesterday so here they are. These should be self explanatory.............. I have one broken off exhaust manifold stud to be removed. The next trick will be to remove the other three withoutbreaking them too. But first I need to attach the block to the crankcase.

Bj.

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Oops! I have just noticed that I had left two photographs behind. The first of these two should need no explanation other than to draw your attention to the original manufactures marking on the piston top showing which way they should be facing. The other is a little more tricky, it shows the brass mesh over the "breathing hole" into the back of the valve chest. It's importance may not be imediately obvious. You will have to wait to see just what it's role in life is.?

 

Bj.

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It is a well known fact that the highly skilled engineers of the Fiat design staff were recognised not only for the innovative designs but also for their bubbling sense of humour. It was always possible for their fellow commuters to recognise the Fiat employees by their shy smiles and little chuckles as they made their way home each night.

Why was this so? Between the drawing office staff they had little daily competitions to see who could set the most diabolical trap for the young and inexperienced mechanics who would get to work on their engines.

I have just encountered "trap for young players #70975422".

It was an easy task to lap in and fit the valves with the cylinder block up on my work bench.

GOT YA! or words of equivalent meaning in Italian!

When it comes time to bolt the block down on the crankcase it is completely impossible to fit two of the nuts. To do this it is imperative to remove two valves, the very front one and the very rear one.

You can just see one of the two studs and it's nut in the attached photograph. You can just about tighten it with a ring spanner after you have ground away any surplus metal from the outside of the ring.DSCN5967.jpg.7547f81a000741dd56ad2b0799929e34.jpg

 

Smile!

Bj.

 

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Interesting info and pics Bernie. The traps you speak of...........I sometimes call them "lovable quirks" when they are on an older car. ?

 

But, on the new modern cars, I call these "traps" by other names that I won't repeat here.  They are one of the reasons I despise working on new/modern cars (and thankfully do so only infrequently). 

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Thank you Paul

your comments are always welcome.

 

Going back to #152 and the little brass mesh and more importantly, what lies beyond it.This aperture opens into the rear of the valve chest. From there the incoming air is taken across the motor via an opening between cylinders 2 & 3. (Photo 3.) and is drawn into the carburettor, taking in warm air to assist early running when the outside air is cold. This is aided by two adjustable openings on either side of the carburettor. (Photos 5) These supply air to the carburettor under normal conditions. I am still undecided as to, what to do about the damage to the brass gauze covering the opening at the rear of the block. Normally this is tucked away out of sight at the rear of the motor.

First I will try straightening out the mesh with a fine pointed "pick". Long before that I have to turn the motor over so I can fit the big-end bearing "caps" and then replace the sump. Unfortunately unless I can find an alternative supplier I will have to wait until the Fiat Club "Spares" get another supply of cylinder head gaskets.  This is not a huge problem as I think I have enough alternative "jobs" to do on the Fiat.

 

Bj.

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Thank you Mike

Here in Australia we have to be very careful, anything containing even very small particles of ASBESTOS are banned imports. Head gaskets purchased from overseas sources will almost certainly be seized and destroyed by our aptly named "Border Force". There are people here who will make asbestos free head gaskets to the original pattern. It is just that they are mainly small operations and you go into the queue and wait your turn, anything up to two or three months. I will send an email to the people you have very  kindly found for me but I will not hold my breath.

Traditionally head gaskets were made with two thin copper sheets with a layer of asbestos mat sandwiched in between. 

Bernie j.

 

 

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Bernie, I have been studying the pictures of the opening in the block with the wire mesh, and the adjustable air inlets on each side of the carb. Is there some type of thermostatic valve in the carb that 'shuts off' the air being drawn across the valve chest once the engine is fully warmed up?

 

Also, I assume that there is no type of air filtration prior to going into the carb -- under normal (engine at operating temperature) conditions the air is pulled from the engine compartment thru the two adjustable openings and into the carb venture?

 

I apologize if I am missing something really "obvious" here, but I don't know much about these late 'teens and early twenties cars. :)

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Oh Dear Paul !

You have led sheltered life, one lacking almost entirely in adventure! There were no such things as thermostatic controls or air filtration in the teens & early twenties. Manufacturers assumed that the owner/drivers of their cars were practical people who could manage these things unaided.

"Manual" was the only way to go, using your very own fingers to make these  simple adjustments even though it meant that you had to stop, getup of the car and open the "hood" to make them. There were two of the rotating shutters on the carburettors, one on each side so you could regulate the flow of air into the carburettor. Once "warmed up"and out on the road all you needed to do was to get out of the car, check the temperature by placing your hand on the top of the radiator, open the "hood" and make the necessary adjustment, close the "hood" get back into the car and drive off, Very careful people may have walked around the car and checked the level of fuel in the tank, made sure that the tires were all still inflated, given the windscreen a wipe and made sure that all the doors were properly closed before driving on. Ultra cautious people may have further checked the water temperature by placing their hand on the out side of the radiator core first at the top and then lower down towards the bottom. In excessively cold weather it may have been necessary to adjust the blind or "muff" on the front of the radiator.

 

Bernie j.

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I guess I have lived a sheltered live Bernie! :):lol:  The oldest car I've ridden in is a 1927 Ford Model T, so I've had little exposure to teens and twenties cars. They do fascinate me, however -- some are so simple, but some (like your Lagonda) are so mechanically sophisticated.

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