Smoke in the Wires Jan 2016

mcherry

Here is the long-anticipated January Smoke in the Wires in snazzy e-magazine format. Enjoy!

surface. So I proceeded to sand down all the rust and old paint, vacuum, spray it with a rustprevention

treatment, and then seal it with undercoating compound to protect the metal from further

damage. Then the new carpet went in.

The day before I started my Christmas leave in 1989, the carb of my Toyota broke and I could not

fix it in time to travel to Mom’s house, so I decided to drive the Spitfire. It was a nice drive there for

Christmas, but it didn’t make it back. About an hour into the return trip, the engine started banging

loudly, so I pulled over and opened the hood to check for damage. I saw no obvious external

damage so I had to call for a flatbed tow truck to take me back to Mom’s house from Gulfport,

which was expensive. I was forced to return to Jacksonville without my Spitfire! Fortunately, my

sister was returning to Orlando, so she brought me back to Jacksonville first.

My Spitfire sat in Mom’s garage for a year until I switched to the Naval Reserves. Then my friend

Tom and I were able to pull the engine and remove the oil pan. We discovered that one of the

piston connecting rod bearings was damaged from that night after Christmas. Since I had no

knowledge of internal engine repair, we brought the engine to a professional in New Orleans who

only charged me $150 in labor cost in addition to the parts and machine shop cost, all total $930.

After installing the engine back in the car, I was back in the Spitfire’s saddle with a rebuilt engine.

I moved to Pensacola, FL for my second college experience and had to leave my Spitfire again in

Mom’s garage for a few years while I attended classes and worked part-time three weekends a

month and Navy Reserve the fourth weekend a month. As a financially-struggling university

student, I had no money and no time for the Spitfire. I needed reliable everyday transportation so

my Toyota Corolla served me there (with a few breakdowns too), but I never gave up on my

Spitfire!

After I graduated from UWF and rented a house with a carport, my friend Tom used his Buick to

tow my Spitfire to Pensacola. There I used tarps on the side and front of the carport to protect the

Spitfire from bad weather. I worked to recover it from the time in storage by first rebuilding the

brakes, then the fuel pump, and worked on the electronics. Then I drove it on a long trip from

Pensacola to Seagrove and back with no trouble. I joined the Panhandle British Car Association

and had fun going to shows and learning from the experienced guys.

But going to shows made me realize that my car needed new paint. I also realized that I was tired

of renting, so I looked for a house to buy with the Spitfire in mind and found a place that had a

large shop behind the house. After moving in, I took the Spitfire apart. I removed the engine,

transmission, bumpers, tail lights, turn signals, door handles, and everything from the engine

compartment firewall. I also removed the interior and rolled the body onto a trailer to take it to the

body shop. There was a lot of bondo on the right rear quarter panel from the original owner's

accident, so I decided that since this was a restoration job the quarter panel needed to be

replaced.

When I brought the finished body back from the shop, it was only two weeks before PBCA’s annual

show in 1999 on Pensacola Beach. So I worked every night before the show to put it back

together. I had the engine back in but not running yet and I also had trouble with re-connecting all

the other wiring correctly. So I trailered it to the show and received 2nd place in the Restoration

class.

Smoke in the Wires January 2016 Page 20

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