Welcome to this blog which will detail the restoration of my 1961 Reliant Regal, Reg. Starting as a complete novice I hope to be able to carry out a total restoration of the car from 2011 onwards to coincide with its 50th birthday. For many a Reliant Regal may seem like a strange choice of car to restore, but for me there was only ever going to be Reg. I inherited Reg from a sadly departed friend and vowed to get it back into full working order as much as a tribute to him as anything else. Almost seven years have passed since that vow in which time I have gone through university, job hunting and house purchasing and renovation. I now finally find myself in the right position to make a start and will be sharing that journey on this blog for my own personal record and also for everyone else to enjoy. I hope you will follow along.

Monday, 1 August 2005

First Tentative Steps

It had been almost a year since my last visit to Reg, and I was eager to get in there and start restoring. I knew it wasn't going to be as easy as that but I am always up for a challenge. Fortunately for me, in the preceding months Reg had been moved from his home in the shed come stable to a nice large and dry garage which was certainly going to make things easier and considerably more pleasant. The approach I have decided to take with the car is to get it basically in running order, instead of going straight in with a full ground up rebuild as I think that at the moment this is beyond my skill level. Hopefully getting it roadworthy again will teach me the basics to allow me to ultimately do the full job that I am planning.

At present I'm not even sure if the engine runs, but that sounds scary looking at that so I instead decided to look at the brakes which haven't worked for the last three years. On initial inspection the pedal was hard down on the floor. Fearing the worst and that they had seized, I gave it a pull and to my pleasant surprise the pedal came up easily. This meant that the most likely culprit was a lack of brake fluid, though where it had gone was a problem that needed attention. First things first was to track down a suitable brake fluid from the local Halfords. My Haynes manual says to use Castrol Girling Universal brake and clutch fluid so in I went to find that it wasn't made any more. The helpful assistant asked me what car I needed to which I replied. He looked surprised to say the least! Never the less he made a few phone calls and I was presented with a bottle which "should do the job". We shall see. I also picked up a brake bleeding kit which basically consists of a piece of tubing and a valve. These obviously weren't in existence in the 60's as the manual describes a much more complicated method involving tubes and jam jars and a seemingly impossible task for a person on their own to complete. I'm glad times have progressed.

Back at the car and the first job was to find the master brake cylinder and check the fluid levels. Easier said than done. For some reason the lid pokes through a hole cut into the drivers footwell floor (which was made of wood to my surprise. See left.). The clearance here is very tight with only about a centimeter around the lid perimeter to get your fingers into. After much struggling it was clear that the lid wasn't going to come off by hand, so out came the WD40 and a monkey wrench. All that I managed to succeed in doing was pulling off the outer alloy coating of the lid. It was not going to budge. On the "wisdom" of my dad we decided the only option left was to remove it. Luckily it is located close to the edge of the car so access was going to be relatively easy, but as with anything on a car that has been stored for so long their were going to be a few nuts and bolts that had seized.

After finally finding the correct sized spanners we set about removing the two retaining bolts. They came off relatively easily though we had to use a fair amount of force. The main problem was disconnecting the brake line that leads to the slave cylinder. We didn't realise till too late that as we were unscrewing the connection, it was actually also twisting the brake line to the point at which it snapped off (being made of copper). That's another thing that now needs replacing. Still the main unit was free and all that was left was to remove the return spring connected to the brake pedal and the job was done. In terms of actual work that could be achieved this was about our limit due to time constraints.

Whilst we were there however I managed to locate several spare parts as shown in the picture, and a spare door, engine and chassis. You never know, they may come in handy in the future. As I was leaving however I happened to notice what appears to be a leak coming from the petrol tank. Good job I found a spare one of those as well.

reliant 3.1 reliant 3.2

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