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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pete's Kit's, Paint Jobs, and Engine work.......

We seemed to be moving along quite well. Kenny got the engine running after rebuilding the carburetors but wasn't happy with the engine compression. The readings were about 80 pounds across the four cylinders. Ken thought the best route to go would be to re-ring the engine as that was the only thing he could see wrong with an engine with about 26,000 miles. He theorized the rings were stuck from the long storage time and to be on the safe side, the engine should be given a thorough inspection. He recommended replacing the rings, gaskets, and any valves, and reassembling the engine. He knew a great machine shop in the area and quickly removed the engine from the car, delivered the engine to the machine shop where it sat, and sat, and sat for about 3 months or so.

In the meantime, while the engine was sitting in the machine shop waiting for the next ice age, Randy, from Randy's Collision in Great Valley , NY picked up the Jensen GT and was tasked with doing some light bodywork and re-painting the car the original color ( a metallic Saturn Gold). Kenny said he was looking for work as things were a bit slow, so he was anxious to start working on the car. Apparently, Kenny was very happy with his bodywork and paint jobs so he recommended his work highly. I have been through this before, and remembered a body shop telling me in Maine how they prioritize work. Insurance work is given first priority as it is clearly the most profitable. The last priority is non-insurance work.......... I remembered this as my car sat at Randy's collision for months with no real work being accomplished and never a phone call from them. I called them a few times to check on progress. Oh, they were working on it, but at glacial speed. I am not sure who could move faster in a race........ a starfish or Randy's collision service. I think I would put my money on the starfish.
I really wanted to get my car painted in Maine with people I knew and trusted, but my engine was completely out of the car for months on end, it couldn't move, so I didn't have much of a choice when it came to bodywork.

Well, they finished the car and I will say the paint job looks nice. If I were grading them, here is how I would have put things in summary.

1) Paint and bodywork - A

2) Communication - C-

3) Organization - F ( they broke some parts, lost some others, and really didn't seem to care as I had to pick up the tab for their mistakes )

4) Price - C ( let's just say, I am from Maine and they knew it)

5) Timeliness - D

Pete's Kits - Buying a kit from Pete Bahr is a wonderful experience. Pete is a retired engineer which automatically puts him in the RSG category ( Really Smart Guy). He also owns one of the fastest Jensen Healey's on the planet. His Jensen has all the "Goodies", which help it produce around 230 hp. During his upgrade and restoration, Pete developed and engineered some custom "Kits" which help the Jensen perform better, safer, and more reliably than stock. Pete is the type of guy who can be as comfortable in a 5 star restaurant as he can in a NY "dive" bar filled with drunks and cigarette smoke. Pictures of Pete's "YELOWDOG" can be seen here at

I had the privilege of driving "YellowDog" and must say this car is just mind blowing. This car is not for the timid as one steps on the gas, but it also has very good low end manners which is probably due to the special distributorless ignition system.

The kit's Pete sells always fit perfect, perform as stated, and are easy to install. He developed them as new parts were no longer available or redesigned parts which would perform better than the original resulting in more reliability and safety.
I bought the 5 speed transmission shifter upgrade kit. Every original getrag 5 speed unit wears within 25,000 miles. The transmission is fine, but the shifter linkage wears pre-maturely resulting in hard shifts, and trouble "finding" the correct gear. The problem is like an enlarging prostate for men...... it's not "if" it is going to happen as men age, but "when" it will happen. The only cure is the Delta Motorsports bushing Kit...... which will fix the problem temporarily, or the Pete's Kit Upgrade, which will fix the problem permanently.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Kenny begins work on the car......

Ken Day, owner of Day Auto service in Great Valley, NY started working on the car after I ordered a bunch of parts from Delta Motorsports, and across the pond. Jeff Peterson was given full "power of attoney" in my absence to make all decisions on the car restoration. He has done this three times before, so he has plenty of experience and I trust his judgement.

Brake System:

Kenny started out releasing the brakes and overhauling the Brake system on the Jensen GT. He repaired the Emergency Brake and flushed the brake lines. He replaced the front brake rotors and rebuilt the calipers. He added new high performance disc pads from Delta Motorsports. On the rear brakes, he turned the drums and replaced the drum brakes, wheel cylinders and wheel bearings. Kenny found the master cylinder was leaking badly. Instead of rebuilding the original, I elected to replace the master cylinder with a brand new direct replacement...... a TR6 Master cylinder. Once completed the car was topped off with DOT 4 brake fluid and tested. The brakes were now complete.

Fuel System:

The fuel tank was lowered from the bottom of the car and sent out for cleaning. The fuel lines were flushed and replaced where needed. The older mechanical fuel pump was removed and replaced with a new SU electronic version. The fuel filter was replaced with one placed before the two stromberg carbs.


The 2 stromberg carbs were leaking badly. The seals were worn. The rebuild kits contain about 12 different gaskets and 4 replacement parts. This will usually get them running well, and since the car only has about 26,000 miles, this should be enough. The cost to rebuild a set of carbs is about 2 hours labor and the cost of the rebuild kits. This usually runs about $150.00. If this doesn't work, the carbs have to be sent out to a specialty shop which will promptly replace all the worn items..... valves, fuel metering needles, as well as any adjusting screws, and will rebuild the entire linkage. This costs about $500.00. Usually, unless the condition of the carbs is obvious, most people try the cheaper route first.

Cooling system:

The original water pump was leaking badly and making a little noise. In a Lotus, this is never a good thing and it a sign of bad things too come. I had Kenny remove the water pump and send it out for a complete rebuild. The new water pump design really improves the cooling efficiency in the lotus. My other Jensen also has the new style pump, and I have never had a problem.

The Radiator was not as easy. The car was missing a radiator. Most people would think this is an easy thing to replace. Well, not really, as there are only about 250 of these car shipped to the United States and it is a completely different radiator than the Jensen Healey. When attempting to equip the Jensen GT with a radiator, there are only two options.

1) Go to a specialty radiator shop like, and pay them to design and build a custom aluminum radiator.

2) Call rejen across the pond and talk to Alison. She and her husband own the place and completely restore all models from Jensen motors. They have stockpiles of NOS ( New Old Stock) parts for the GT. She just happened to have a Brand New Jensen GT radiator in stock sitting on the shelf. I bought the radiator from Rejen and it arrived about 3 weeks later. It was in perfect condition, but I wanted to modify it correctly so it would not overheat as easily. The local radiator changed the internal cores from " 2 Row" to "3 Row". This will greatly improve the cooling ability of the radiator. At the same time, I had the radiator shop add a drainage tap so I can drain the coolant easily. Now, I just twist a lever and the coolant pours out of the radiator without removing the radiator hose and spilling it all over the garage.

Hoses belts and other things.......

Kenny replaced the timing belt ( which is very critical), the alternator and air conditioning compressor belts as well as most of the other rubber hoses under the hood. This car needs a timing belt replaced every 8- 10,000 miles or so. Kenny removed the original brake hoses and replaced them with custom stainless steel brake lines. It is only good maintenance practice to replace the radiator hoses, vacuum hoses, heater hoses, and oil cooler hoses.

Next up is the engine and bodywork.....

Taking Inventory for the restoration

Jeff and Laura Peterson were kind enough to check out the Jensen GT for me and arrange for an initial inspection by their trusted mechanic "Kenny" from Day Auto Service in Great Valley, NY. This would help me prioritize work and order parts before the restoration actually begins. Some parts can take months to procure but most parts can be found at "Delta Motorsports" in Arizona and the JHPS ( Jensen Healey Preservation Society) Club Store.

In the hatchback of the Jensen GT, Jim included a great deal of parts for me to utilize when restoring the GT. He put a spare windshield in the back to replace the cracked one presently on the car. This was a huge help as they are very expensive to replace and coupled with the high shipping costs from Arizona ( if they have them in stock), replacement costs alone for the part can reach about $750.00.  He included  stromberg carburator rebuild kits and all the manuals and other documentation which originally came with the car.  Jim removed at some point, all the emission engine controls, pumps, and hoses, which was great. In the mid 70's emission controls were added to cars and in the US, this was mandatory. It bogged down the Lotus 907's power. They added the stuff on to the engine without modifying it too much.  They added originally in 1976 the following things which attributed to loss of pickup and power as well as contributed to OVERHEATING and increases maintenance:

1) Catalytic Converter
2) Anti- run on System

These things were already taken off the vehicle and stored in the hatchback of the Jensen GT. I will definately will not be needing these again. Once these things were taken off, I can only imagine performance must have improved. In fact, every GT which I have seen restored, does not have any of these controls installed. Mine will not either.

The car was missing a radiator and a few marker lights on the right side. That was it. Besides minor body work on the right side of the car and some  interior refinishing ( headiner, new carpet, dash, and seat covers), the car was basically in very good shape.  Having already restored a Jensen Healey from the ground up, I am very familiar with all the hoses, belts, brake and fuel lines which will need replacing as well as all the upgrades which are now available for the engine. 

Some of the new upgrades items which are available for the Jensen Healey/GT are:

1) New improved water pump ( The original is completely rebuilt and new, better designed parts with longer wear are now available. The car is less likely to overheat as new improved bearings are used and better seals making leakage a thing of the past)

2) New improved Gear shift kit. This kit was designed by a retired engineer ( Pete Bahr). I send him the original shifter linkage and Pete rebuilds the entire assembly utilizing aluminum bushings to replace the fast wearing plastic bushings. The assembly once completed allows crisp shifts with no more trouble "finding" the proper gear.

3) Inproved Lucas alternator...... Well, it's Lucas, but it is supposed to be better than the original. It gives a little more power than the original with better  longtivity.

4) New electronic SU fuel pump to replace the original mechanical version.

5) Petronix ignition - Allows reliable starts and end the replacement of points  and condensor on a regular basis.

6) New three Core Radiator to replace the original 2 core radiator. Solves the cooling problem once and for all with combined with the improved water pump.

7) Dimmer switch and dashboard light upgrade. It took almost 30 years to come up with these but what a wonderful upgrade. The Dimmer  switch is a modified Jaguar XJ6 85-87 and the new bulbs actual put out enough light to see the instruments at night without putting excessive draw on the electrical system. Frank Schwartz, from Hendersonville, TN designed this upgrade. After this upgrade is done, the driver actually had to turn down the dimmer switch so the lights are not too bright.

8) Headlight relays..... allows brighter headlights and less electrical power going through the headlight switch.

9) Air Conditioning - Change parts for the new environmentally safe "gas"

10) Replace original "eyebrow" interior console lights with New super bright  bulbs  and red Lenses.

If I was rebuilding the engine completely, there are many options available, but a complete rebuild will not be necessary as this car has low mileage of 26,000 on the odometer.