GBS Zero Build Blog

Here is a step-by-step history of my build. Hoe I approached it. The problems I encountered and how I resolved them. I hope that you find it interesting and helpful, especially if you are also a Zero builder.

Front Suspension Refurb


The underside of the car is now clean and ready for repair and painting. To improve access I might as well remove some of the obstacles, for example the front suspension.

I need to do this anyway as the bushes look perished on the track control arm and anti-roll bar mountings. As they all look a similar age, then it’s probably worth replacing the lot. I’ll dismantle first and then decide.

The first step was to disconnect and drain the brake calliper. Followed by compressing the road spring (carefully and safely) with a set of spring compressors. With the tension released from the suspension, I could then break the taper joints on the track control arm ball joint and anti-roll bar ball joint. Releasing the anti-roll bar ball joint was quite straight forward. A couple of sharp blows with a hammer and it dropped apart. The track control arm ball joint put up considerably more resistance. In the end the joint gave up and disintegrated into it’s component pieces. One way to get it off I suppose.

I then disconnected and removed the drag strut, suspension leg and hub. That left the wheel arch free and open to complete the repairs apart from the anti-roll bar itself. With the engine and alternator in place the mounting bolts for the anti-roll bar bracket on the drivers side are a bit tricky to get to. Made more so by the fact they were initially seized. Patience, penetrating oil and brute force eventually proved over-whelming although the car did exert some revenge , by snapping a Halfords 1/2inch socket and removing the skin from my knuckles.

Disk Brake & Calliper

With the major front suspension components off the car, I could work on each of them on the bench. After removing the brake calliper it looked fairly new and the pads were hardly worn. I think this just needs degreasing and an new coat of paint.

Removing the disk from the hub should have been straight forward – after all this is a regular maintenance job. But no. Even after soaking in penetrating oil,  2 of the retaining bolts wouldn’t budge. To compound the problem my 9/16″ socket has side walls too thick to fit properly around the bolt head. So I used a metric 13 which eventually rounded the heads of both seized bolts.

What to do?

Well if in doubt Google it. Sure enough there is a readily available tool called a grip nut remover tool. After reading some reviews the best one seemed to be the Irwin brand which arrived next day courtesy of Amazon Prime. It worked a treat – plenty of penetrating oil, some heat on the hub and a pri-bar behind the Irwin socket and the seized bolts both started to move again.

Suspension Leg

I was hoping not to have to replace the dampers, but on extracting the damper from the strut, there was a pool of damper oil in the strut.  This type of damper was the original fit.   So a new set of dampers along with bushes, gaiters and insulator pads are all needed for peace of mind. Thankfully the hub bearings and stub axle looked and felt OK.

With the drivers side front suspension now stopped back to it’s main components, I could assess the extent of the new parts needed. Pretty much all of the bushes, bearings, ball joints, gaiters, nuts and bolts along with dampers and some new springs just for good measure (may as well).


De-rusting the ironwork

After placing the order with Mr J Paddock, I set about reburbishing the components I am not replacing. These are mainly composed of the heavy iron work and dust shields.

All need to be:

  • Wire brushed to remove surface rust;
  • The remaining rust treated (I use Rust Buster Fe-123);
  • Then finally a clean coat of new paint. I tend to either use Hammerite or Rust Buster epoxy mastic 121.

Both give far more protection that the new part ever had, and both also give a reasonable finish. Not as good as powder coating, but then far less expensive.

Grit Blasting

As mentioned in earlier posts, I realised that the car was not a rot free example early on. How many 1970’s Britsh Leyland cars are? But because of the thick coatings of underseal applied to the underside, the extent of the rot underneath was unknown. I could see the passenger floor panels (front and back) were holed from inside the car and to a small extent the panel under the rear seat was similar. What I didn’t know was what was lurking under the underseal.

So, once the good weather had come to an end (and there was such a lot of it this year 2018), I had the underside grit blasted at a local stripper.

I drove the car around to his yard and left it there for a few days awaiting a phone call to say that it had been grit blasted and I could come and collect it. When the call came it was a little more complex than “pick it up tomorrow”.  It went along the lines ….. “the grit blasting had ruptured the fuel tank, so the fuel had to be removed”. Oh well that’s life I’ll take a fresh can of fuel. “Oh and the brake lines are also leaking so the car is not safe to drive“.

So it came back eventually on the back of a low loader with the whole car covered in grit. Inside and out – with every crevice filled. I’m not sure what I expected but this certaunly wasn’t it.

That said, the grit blasting did what it should. All the under seal had been removed so I could see the rot holes in the underside panels.

I can see there is quite a considerable amount of welding needed. As well as replacement floor panels, and boot floor there is also some minor repair patching to be done.

Welding isn’t cheap, especially good mobile welders who can come to my garage to work on an immobile vehicle. Then there’s the issue of needing to have someone there to open up and supervise which isn’t straight forward in my household.

Anyway, I have decided to learn to weld at the local college – evening classes on a wednesday evening. Coupled with a cheap MIG welder from eBay I think I should be able to do it myself. I know it will take longer and I may regret the decision. But I am going to give it a go. How hard can it be?