Don't let my lack of blogging send a message of inactivity and procrastination. Progress on the Nautilus does indeed march doggedly, if haltingly forward.
The mildly aquatic backstory surrounding the Nautilus was recently validated by the State of Colorado during the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) inspection process. A VIN inspection is a mandatory requirement for any car being 'newly' brought into the State of Colorado. For cars that can not be physically brought to a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office--which is still the case for the Nautilus--the local police department can be called upon to do a 'field inspection' of the VIN. So far, so good, and a police officer was dispatched last week to do the deed. During his visit, VIN/Make/Model information was collected and a achingly long trip back to the squad car ensued. Turns out that an abbreviated VIN search for the car revealed that the VIN number was already registered in the State as a watercraft! The police office informed me in a most serious tone that my car is a boat! He quickly ammended the comment with an, "Obviously it isn't", which did nothing to reassure me. All things considered, what an unpleasant coincidence. It left me in turns both amused and annoyed because the last thing I need at this point is a title transfer hassle. After all the care taken to restore the original chassis and car body. Turns out my fears were generally unwarranted. The police officer sorted the issue quickly and validation was completed. Or, so I thought, because when I presented the paperwork just 10 minutes later to the kind folks at the Department of Motor Vehicles--with just minutes left before closing time--they informed me that title transfer processing could not continue because there were a number of incomplete fields on the VIN verification form. Queue raised hackles, righteous posturing and finger pointing. Hackles or no, I was flatly denied that day. I did immediately rush over to the police department to reconnect with the very apologetic police officer who did the inspection to get the final details on the form ironed out. The return trip to the DMV the next morning was blessedly uneventful and I now hold official paper on the car. The car buying experience is now out of the way, but don't get me started on the late fees for Registration! My only remaining thought there is to be extremely thankful that they cap this value.
But now, back to the fun stuff that is car restoration.
I had Gabriel Garcia re-key the NOS door locks to the NOS rear pushbutton lock code. I also located a decent used glovebox door lock and Gabriel re-keyed that, as well. So you know, the Type 3/34 family of cars was issued with two different key types from the factory: one for the ignition, and another completely different key for everything else. As the years fly by, these very Type 3 specific kyes are getting quite a lot harder to find in their original Kolb and Huff steel forms. Along with the re-keying of the locks, I also decided to have four more steel door keys cut by Gabriel. All around, he did a phenominal job, as usual.
The craft currently has a set of five early stype wide-5 Type 3 slotted wheels mounted, which are certainly NOT correct for the car. Nevermind that you will never actually see the center disks on these wheels, the point is that I KNOW they are on there and not correct. Which galls me worse than a tight #3 rod bearing. So, very early this year I purchased a set of five proper non-slotted wide-5 Type 3 wheels from Texas and recently had then powercoated. Will get them mounted up once the car comes home. Attention was paid to not powercoating the wheel-to-brake drum mating surfaces and lug bolt holes to prevent wheel losening under loads and stress. Great information was shared on der Samba that a factory alert was issued back in the '60s detailing a problem with the paint being too thick on the backsides of the wheels and brake drums right from the factory. The remediation was to remove the paint and reassemble. Those of us now restoring cars are having to painfully re-learn this lesson. When it comes to wheels coming loose and leaving their cars, I'm a quick study in the mitigation for such things.
And beyond all doubt, I do have to say that Jeremy with Motorworks did an outstanding job on the front beam installation. And speaking of front beams, irony pounced upon the project here again, as no sooner was the ISP West rebuilt front beam installed in the Nautilus, than did a source for all of the beam bushings, seals and bearings in NOS condition appear. It's now entirely feasible to have a stock front Type 3 beam rebuilt. Funny how that always seems to be the case, what with Murphy and all his confounded laws lurking about and underfoot. Unfortunately, I still don't have a numbers matching front beam for rebuilding, but when I eventually do find the right one, we're all set. BerT3 was very helpful in getting these parts together for me, along with a rather early set of balljoints that have the provisions for grease nipples. In case you don't know it, having a whole set of this early front beam stuff in one place is exceedingly rare. I'm still happy that I had the ISP West rebuilt beam installed because it really compliments the rest of the undercarriage. Who knows? That beautiful front beam may just end up living in there permanently.
Something that's becoming increasingly clear with the pressage of years is that more than a few 'make-do' parts will have to be used on a modern day Type 34 restoration. The term 'New Old Stock' (NOS) is rapidly being superceeded by it's evil twin 'No Longer Available' (NLA). Improper storage of the NOS rubber and plastic widgetry is impacting availability by lending both time and entrophy a helping hand with an expedited demise. A lot of these delicate parts quickly fall apart in the best of conditions, but it's really sad that these parts will never actually be installed because they are literally rotting on the shelves of Type 3 parts hoarders. Even when these parts are made available, you're gambling when purchasing them. One must be careful even with the reproduction parts. For example, I've never actually seen an original and unused NOS Type 34 hood and/or trunk rubber seal, so chose to use the generic stuff ISP West is selling to cover this mandatory requirement. Remember--I actually plan to actually drive this car. In inclement conditions. Wet and/or snowy ones. Unlike everything else I've gotten from ISP West, this generic seal material is a major disappointment. Motorworks temporarily fashioned up and taped a makeshift seal into place using this material when doing the final hood and decklid alignment. Jeremy sent me some cringe-worthy pictures of where the front and rear lids refuse to sit flush with the rest of the body with the makeshift seals in place. The materials used for these ISP West seals are too firm and improperly shaped, and the two problems result in a seal that doesn't compress well enough without bending metal. Obviously, this is not a good situation, but there is a viable workaround thanks to the Type 34's little brother, the Type 14. It looks like the Type 14 hood rubber will form a great basis for both the Type 34 front hood and rear decklid seals. The major downside is cost, because four of these seals are going to be required. CIP1 is a good source for these seals in case you're in the market for either your Type 14 or 34. Another possible source for seal material is a modified early Type 3 front hood seal, but will have to test this out and note my findings later.
The Nautilus is undergoing some fine tuning at Motorwork Restorations right now and should be done by mid-January. As these pictures show, both the fit and finish of the front hood is still not quite right. Until it's corrected, I'm in absolutely no rush for it to be delivered. The longer it takes to finish, the better the finished product. All the more likely the engine will be done and ready for installation. I am still finding parts that are better than those I already have, so parts acquisition is definitely still in progress. I'm also finding the time to go through my parts stash. I've sorted them now by quality or grade, which is making it easier to decide on which ones will go on the car. Still not sure which ones will be kept as spares (if any), and which ones I can let go of in support of other Type 34 restorations. I've already been severely burned by letting two items go that I should have held on to.
In closing, I wish you all a very safe, healthy and happy Holiday Season. May your own automotive projects be fruitful in the coming year!