The car was running but far from complete. There are tons of small projects that needed to be done. People don’t really realize that restoring a car is not just one large project, it is actually several hundred small projects. There were still a ton of tiny projects that needed addressing on this project. After learning how to use the sandblast cabinet I soon began searching for small projects to start and complete. This, of course, is a slippery slope when it comes to restorations. We also had quite a large amount of parts just sitting around just waiting to be installed.
I started with installing the running lights and blinker assemblies. I purchased new rubber and new lenses from Sunbeam Specialties. The assembly wasn’t in the best shape but I soon learned Sunbeam Specialties carried new assemblies. I will eventually replace them with a new pair.
A member of the California Tiger Club gave me a tip on how to restore and make the window mechanism work like new. He had worked at a Sunbeam shop years ago and the owner of the Sunbeam shop always soaked all of the door hardware in motor oil and said it always worked great. I decided to give it a shot. The hardware was functional and the galvanized metal wasn’t rusty at all. I let the hardware soak for a couple of weeks since I had to alternate flipping the hardware to ensure everything was soaked. More on the window install in later posts.
The other window guides had a go round in the sandblast cabinet. I ended up spray galvanizing the guides because that is originally how they came. The guides have a felt liner that is glued on that I picked up from Sunbeam Specialties. After much trial and error and fighting with the 3M glue, I got both sorted.
We decided to powder coat the trunk hinges. Once we picked them up, we installed them but they still need to be slightly tweaked in order for all of the holes to align up properly on the hood. The car needed rearview mirrors. We had a set of bullet-type of mirrors that were way past their prime. There are two options for Sunbeams. There is a bullet style and a long-arm style. We wanted to get the most practical option available. However, any stock option for rearview mirrors is equally useless. We ended up going with the long-arm rearview mirrors since they gave us half a chance of being able to see out of them.
It was at this point of the build that the reproduction heater valve decided to give up the ghost. This is a well-known weakness in the reproduction valves. They all separate at the outlet part of the valve. The fix for it at the moment was JB weld, but eventually, I happened upon a heater valve that might remedy the problem. There will be more on this solution later in a later post.
The car was running but I really had no idea how hot the engine was running or if I even had oil pressure. I did some digging and discovered I did not have the right temperature sending switch. I ended up using a Sunbeam Specialties temperature switch but somehow I was still getting the wrong temperature readings. The 2.8L engine liked to run above 200 degrees and the temp gauge was way higher than it should have been. I was soon digging through forums and doing a ton of research on how the voltage worked on Sunbeam Smith Gauges. I finally discovered the gauges essentially needed to have a voltage stabilizer which lowered the voltage to a steady 10 volts.
The old mechanical voltage stabilizer was long gone and when I checked Moss Motors’ website, they had a modern solid state version that is perfectly suited for what I needed. The part number at Moss Motors is SKU:131-555. The install worked perfectly and the temp gauge started showing in the middle of the gauge.
The next gauge I needed to work on was the oil pressure gauge. The original Smith gauges utilized an oil feed from the engine to the back of the gauge. I spent some time on Summit Racing, I landed on a braided line. The hard part was finding the right adapter from the block to the back of the gauge. Summit had a kit that also supplied adapters. I ended up running the line up the fender and once I get the placement finalized, I’ll secure it some p-clips. Once installed I started up the engine and it settled on 50-70 psi. This gave us a ton of confidence to keep driving the car knowing the temperature and oil pressure was optimal.
There was a glaring problem with using a modern transmission and an older speedometer. The speedometer ratios were all off. The solution was to purchase a speedometer ratio adapter. We picked one up from Performance Automotive Transmission Center. We went with part #55RA with a slow down of 28%. We also bought a few gears to use to adjust the speedometer for finer adjustments. We bought 19, 20, and 21 tooth adapter gears. The ratio adapter also prevented transmission oil from leaking out the side of the transmission. We purchased a stock speedometer cable to give to the gauge shop to adjust when we were ready to hook up the speedometer. The cable would need to be trimmed and the adapter to hook up to the ratio adapter.
We were also concerned about the ride height of the front and rear end. My contact from the Tiger club asked around about how to help lower the front end. The ultimate conclusion was to simply cut half a turn from the front springs and remove the oversized shocks that were on the car.
I ripped apart the front end and got the spring out. With the guidance of the Tiger Club member, we cut the spring and got them reinstalled. We also replaced the shocks with a set of KYBs from Sunbeam Specialties. The shocks that were on the car were way too tall which contributed to how high the car was sitting. While we were in there, we decided to lower the rear end too. I picked up a set of 1″ leveling blocks from Summit Racing and my dad picked up some lengthened U-bolts and the leveling blocks went right in. The car sat much lower and there wasn’t a huge fender gap as before.
The Sunbeam was starting to turn a corner. I was looking more and more like a car with each project wrapping up. The suspension was level, the engine was running with oil pressure and at the right temperature, the mechanism of the window was part way restored, and the speedometer was almost complete. At this rate, the car would be registered in no time. Motor on.