How many years? Nah, that can't be right... It isn't 2011 already? Is it??
Well, it is 2011 and as with so many good intentions, life gets in the way. My family is growing up and my business is ever expanding and taking up all my time. The boy is growing up and he even is skiing with me now (thats a mind blower for me). I bought a larger shop and added more staff and all that comes with that and so and and so on. Life marches on and time passes by, far too quickly I might add.
A year or so ago, out of the blue comes an email from Dave "the wave" asking if I am OK because he checked this web site and didn't see any Amphicar updates. If you don't know who Dave is check out his web site and company, Midwest Amphicar, on the other page. So although I'm sure Dave's email was just a follow up to see how the car was doing I didn't dare reply and tell him that everything still sits exactly where I left it back in 2006. Its been nagging at me to get this project done for a long time now.
Then a few weeks ago my son told me I better get working on the Amphicar because he wanted to go for a ride in it. That was the trigger, I have to get going on this project. It has to get done. So to that end I have brought the Bismark from storage at home here to the shop. So now that it is in front of me every day I will get cracking on it.
OK, Amphicar purists, and those who hate change, should click back to ebay now so they can keep looking for parts for that stock bilge pump, because you aren't going to like what I'm doing.
The way I look at, this car had its shot at a bone stock and pampered life and it didn't get one. It got used instead and because it is no longer original and can never be original again (it can only be restored at this point) I'm going to do this car my way. If feel for you purists out there, and if this car was pristine with low miles then I wouldn't mess with it either, but it isn't... its in bits in my shop... so I'm going to rebuild it my way, and that means resto-mod. Resto-mod means a clean looking restoration but where original systems are sub-standard, or just plain not cool enough, they get tossed in favor of better parts, usually with modern technology. So no factory original bilge pumps and the like for me.
After doing a ton of research Amphicars and searching what people had done to make them better I did found reoccurring themes: Lack of power, Overheating, Fueling issues and such. So the plan is to address those issues out of the gate to make a car that I plan to use and drive.
So let GET GOING!
One issue is lack of power. So the stock engine is toast. C'mon, I'm the guy that dropped a Saleen supercharger on his Mustang when it was still new, you didn't think I was going with the stock engine did you? After researching the good and bad luck people have had with larger engines in Amphicars I settled on something outside the ordinary and went with a fully built up, but also dead nuts reliable 1300cc with all the tricks.
Here you can see the new 1300 going together. Instead of taking my first stab at a Triumph engine, I spoke with Chris at PRI and told him what I needed and how it was going to be used. We came up with a package that would feed my need for more power, but also work very well in the Amphicar and also add a lot of reliability.
Roller rockers and a fully flowed head might sound like overkill for some, but like I said, I want this car to work correctly and if that means a little extra to get a little extra, I'm all for it.
The new engine will solve the lack of torque issues and with the planned cooling and fuel delivery system updates a number of common Amphi-down-sides will all
be addressed as well. Now that the engine is built it is time to start getting rid of all the rust and start doing the mock up of all the systems.
So step 1 is to remove everything from the shell (or I guess it is a hull). Once everything is out and/or off, we will make a rotisserie for the car so that we can get to all the rust... and there is a lot to get to.
Engine and transaxle are out without issue. Engine still turns freely by hand and looks pretty stock. This original engine will be crated up and the Spitfire's 1300 will be going in, but its always good to keep the original take out parts around, just in case.
With the engine and transaxle out I can breath easy because when I drained the gear oil no water was present. Digging a little deeper to take a peek inside, I can see that everything looks good. The gears and bearings are all in good shape with no rusting, pits or damage. Poking around in web recently I have seen transaxles selling for more than I paid for the entire project, so I'm very relieved to know that this unit will just need a little work and not replacement.
The rotisserie is done and will make life a whole lot easier. There is rust hiding everywhere and with this tool now finished I will be able to get to all of it.
Now it is time to remove all the rolling gear and the doors. New door skins arrived today and I'm hoping they are a good fit and will not need too much work on the english wheel. New old stock front fenders arrived today as well. Those will save a ton of fabrication work and since so many panels have to be remade anything where time can be saved is a good thing.
Next up... rust, and lots of it.
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