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.

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Wheels off. Leaks Located.

During February I managed a weekend away to try and discover where the brake system on Reg was leaking fluids from. After working on the master cylinder I was fairly sure that there were no leaks coming from there, so that left the rest of the system to investigate. First job on the cards was to get Reg jacked up to allow easier access to the pipe work underneath and to enable us to remove the wheels to get a look at the brake cylinder inside each wheel. This was not such a major job as in the past. I think we are finally getting the hang of it.

Once up and securely on concrete blocks (we aren't planning on putting him back down for a while), we attempted to get the wheels off. Unfortunately the nuts were stuck solid. Not that surprising really considering the length of time since they were probably last turned. Luckily we had some releasing oil handy so applied this and the rear two wheel were quickly off. The front wheel proved a bit tricky due to its location in the center of the car. To remove it we had to use a length of iron pipe on the wrench in order to get enough leverage to turn the nuts.

Once the wheels were off the brake drums could be clearly seen. The top cover is easily removed by removing two bolts. The first rear wheel tackled came apart easily. Inside all was clean and free of corrosion, suggesting that no leak had been occurring from there. The opposite side proved more problematic. As we attempted to remove the drum cover, oil began to ooze from the base. When the cover finally came free all became clear. The inside of the drum was coated with oil. It looks as though the brake cylinder inside had sprung a leak at some time but had been patched up. Over time this patch has failed leading to the brake fluid leaking out. The result is that a new cylinder is needed as are a set of brake pads. The ones currently installed are to coated in oil to save.

The front brake drum also proved clear though whilst removing it another problem came to light. The bridge pipe appeared to have been snapped at some point, probably during one of its many moves across fields. Here for the first time since starting work on the car we actually found some brake fluid in a bend in the pipe. Unfortunately this ended up in my eye. At least another definitive leak source had been identified as the rest of the pipe work on the car was in perfect condition.

reliant 5.2 reliant 5.1

The next task is to get several new parts and get back to Reg to fit them. This is likely to happen at the start of the summer holidays as at present I have too much work on to fit another visit in. The shopping list currently stands as:

* 22" brake pipe from master cylinder
* 12" bridge pipe for front wheel
* 2 sets of rear brake pads
* 1 rear wheel cylinder

Sunday, 1 January 2006

Master Brake Cylinder Disassembly

Over the Christmas holiday I decided that it was finally time to have a look at the master brake cylinder off Reg seeing as it has been rolling about the boot of the Focus since my last visit. For those of you that have been following the problem was that the lid had sealed itself on, necessitating its removal as testing was impossible with it in situ. I had been doing a bit of research on the internet and have found several places that offer new or reconditioned brake parts for classic cars including Reg's master cylinder. I would like to leave this as a last resort though, as I'd feel much happier actually reusing as many of the old parts as is realistically possible. To this end I liberally soaked the lid in releasing fluid and left it to work its way into the joint for a couple of hours. Needless to say with a bit of force it came straight off. If only I had tried that whilst it had been on the car.....

On closer inspection the seal within the lid was in perfect condition, looking like it had been replaced fairly recently. Based on this and the lack of any evidence of leaks anywhere else on the cylinder I am assuming that the seals inside are in a similar condition. This all points to either the slave cylinder or one of the rear cylinders leaking fluid. I should be going back in a month or so to take the wheels off and have a good check. As for the inside of the cylinder, these all look clean and free from debris.

reliant 4.1 reliant 4.2

The next problem was that the bolt through which the brake pipe exits the cylinder had the remains of the pipe well and truly stuck inside it. This is a legacy of our bodged attempt at removal. Well what I thought was a bodged attempt but it turns out that this is a common occurrence on old cars so we hadn't actually broken anything that wasn't going to get broken anyway. Nevertheless the pipe needed to be removed as I can't imagine it being an easy job to find a replacement bolt. I left it to soak for a couple of days in the releasing fluid and with the help of a hammer managed to ease the pipe out (a job made harder by the fact that the pipes dimensions had become distorted due to previous removal attempts).

The next step is to take the cylinder back to Reg (it's currently in my bedroom), and measure up for a new length of brake pipe, as well as the aforementioned checks that need to be done. I have also found a place where I can get my hands on a flairing tool to flair the end of the pipe so fitting shouldn't be a problem. The Easter target for a working brake system is still looking achievable.