Perhaps the most difficult thing about restoring a J Type is that the club does not have a technical branch or a spares list. This means that any restorer is forced to do a hell of a lot of research to source parts...and it is a very long winded process. Thank goodness for the internet!
The problem is not helped by the fact that none of the parts numbers are now relevant...or recognised by anyone. So reassembling anything on the van involves tracking down parts, one at a time, from disparate suppliers...and then waiting and waiting for them to arrive (which, this week, has involved a lot of stress).
I took my shopping list to the autojumble with its mythical 35 stalls (yeah, right!) and came away with nothing, except that I bumped into Martin who gave me the hot tip that the oil seals I was looking for could be bought in Ipswich from East Anglia Bearings, so that solved one problem at least.
Yesterday I went with a mate, John (himself a knowledgeable technology bod), to Suffolk Fasteners and the chap there was absolutely incredible; we were both very impressed. He can just look at any nut or bolt and before he has even reached for gauge, tell you with some certainty what size it is, what its pitch is, etc. He took the mick a bit about odd-bod amateurs like myself who only want one or two bolts at a time, when most of his clients want large orders, but he was patient and attentive, all the same. He has photos around the shop of various amateur projects: racing cars, tractors, vintage cars etc....and reminded me as I left to bring in one of my project.
I most heartily recommend this company, especially the branch we visited in Ipswich. He supplied me with some cold rivets for putting my leafsprings back together.....and helped me identify several tricky threads. It was from them that I bought the allen bolts for fixing the panels in place in the cab a few weeks ago. I shall definitely be going back.
Today I leapt out of bed, possibly straining my back again, to receive a parcel from MG Services, Heathrow, containing 4 wheel cylinders for the front axle, which I purchased on ebay for about £100. They look the business.....John will be irked; he and I spent a lot of time getting the pistons out of the old ones in the belief that we had no alternative but to restore them. It is such a relief having new parts. You can get pretty sick of endlessly dealing with ropey, rusty, seized and worn old parts, thinking you have no alternative.
I am planning on doing a list of suppliers on the right, rather as Truman has done on his blog.