Down to the wires #1965
/ Martyn Goddard / #Austin-Healey
WHILE SHOOTING ‘The Power of Four’ story for Octane 155 I was much taken by the snazzy powdercoated wheels sported by the restored ’Healey 100. The wire wheels on my own 171 YNO have had almost zero attention apart from the odd clean since 1987 when I bought the car.
So I bit the bullet and booked the 3000 into JME Healeys to have all five wheels restored and coated. It was also good to visit ‘The Cape’ to have the car checked over and adjustments made after the engine bay restoration last autumn, as I was planning a long road trip for July – more on that next month. It’s now a routine drive to Warwick, which demands a 4.45am start to circumnavigate London on the M25 before striking north.
Chris and the JME team didn’t take long to whip the wheels off before removing the tyres. I photographed the process before Dan Everard and I loaded the wheels into the company van and headed to Redditch Shotblasting. There I could document the shotblasting and preparation of the wheels for a coat of non-standard gunmetal powder coat (I like slightly darker wheels on the white car).
On arrival Dave Joynes was keen to show us around and explain the blasting and coating process. The company work is split between motorcycles, cars and antiques, and it was interesting to identify the numerous motorcycles in bits awaiting treatment. My first wheel was being blasted in a booth from which emerged loud hissing and whirring sounds, the grinding noises made by the pipes and conveyors carrying the blast material adding an aural backdrop.
While waiting in the coating shop I noticed a set of Ferrari Testa Rossa cylinder head components, sporting a new red crackle coating and hanging on a rack after being fired in the oven. Later, in the blasting area once the shot had settled, I was greeted by a Star Wars character swathed in protective helmet and suit holding a pristine ’Healey wheel. Once all five rims had been blasted they were taken for coating next door.
On my return to The Cape ten days later, Andy had my ’Healey jacked up ready to fit the refurbished wire wheels. A nice touch was that he had balanced all the wheels and fitted the lead weights on the inside of the rims. This kept the visible part of the wheel pristine. I was pleased with the finish, the darker hue working well with the ice-white car.
While at JME the car had its pre-summer check-up and gained a clean bill of health for the summer road trip. The drive south was an uneventful cruise home on the motorway. I stopped for fuel at the Thanet Way service station. At the till the teenage cashier complimented me on the Austin- Healey. ‘Smashing tidy motor,’ she said. My thoughts exactly.