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Thread: Berlinetta build and restoration

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  1. #1 Berlinetta build and restoration 
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    This is the story of my Marlin Berlinetta. It was originally built in the early 1990's. Registered for the road in Dec 1993, it was my only car until the late 90's when other hobbies such as motorsport took all my spare time and money, and the Marlin was parked in the garage where it has been ever since. However I have rediscovered my enthusiasm for my Berlinetta and a total restoration is underway.

    My Berlinetta is one of approximately 17 to use the Sierra as a base, as opposed to the usual Cortina. For Marlin spotters the chassis No. is 1515SBV8.

    I had built a Dutton Melos in the early 1980's and used it as my only transport for four years. The lack of creature comforts eventually took its toll and it was replaced by a production car. However I was soon bored and after a couple of years I hatched a plan to build another kit car. My years with the Dutton had changed my priorities though, this time it had to have a proper roof, proper doors with wind up windows and a good heater. All the better to survive the wind, rain and snow. And that's just the summer! But it was important that it still stood out from the crowd.

    The Marlin Berlinetta seemed to fit the bill, so I took a trip to the kit car show at Stoneliegh to see one in the flesh. I think this was about 1989. I saw the factory car on the stand and a few cars in the owners club area and I liked what I saw. Back home the next step was to find an owner that would take me for a run. To my surprise there was someone living two miles from me!

    Impressed with the test drive I was very close to taking the plunge. The next thing that happened was that Marlin announced that the Berlinetta had been developed to use the Sierra as a base. This was the final piece of the jigsaw. Production car levels of comfort, stunning looks and now bang up to date running gear, what more could you want? Well what about a V8? Outrageous! I knew the V8 had been an option on the Berlinetta for a while and I asked Marlin what was involved. They told me it was a bit more work but within the capabilities of a competent DIY mechanic. This turned out to be very optimistic, but more of that later.

    The kit was ordered and while I waited for it to be made I sourced a Sierra minus the engine and box in the local scrappy. I also got hold of a Rover SD1 with a V8 and 5 speed manual box. The Sierra suspension was removed, cleaned, some parts renewed and painted. The Rover engine was removed and stripped down. Armed with a Haynes manual and lots of parts from Real Steel it was rebuilt.

    Soon the kit was ready for collection. It was a 1000 mile round trip to Plymouth but I was in high spirits and it was straightforward. This was about 1990, in the autumn.

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  2. #2 Re: Berlinetta build and restoration 
    frequent forum contributor Club Member Mike's Avatar
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    Love the sepia!

    Looking forward to this.

    Mike
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  3. #3 Re: Berlinetta build and restoration 
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    I don't have a scanner , not even sure what one is! So in the tradition of the kit car builder, use what you have got. I used my phone to take pics of the original photos then sent them to my laptop. Gives the pics a period look!
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  4. #4 Re: Berlinetta build and restoration 
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    The chassis was supplied in bare steel so the first job was to paint it. Marlin advise against using enamel paint such as Hammerite as it is brittle and will chip and flake off. They suggest metal primer followed by household exterior paint. So two coats of red oxide primer then three coats of Dulux is what it got. Later when the car was ready for the road exposed parts of the chassis and the inner wings got a coat of rubber paint, bought at a car show.
    In this pic the chassis looks bent but I can assure you it's just the camera and the cross members are straight!

    2.jpg
    Last edited by scott h; 10-04-2013 at 08:43 PM.
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  5. #5 Re: Berlinetta build and restoration 
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    Next was the front suspension. The Sierra uses a Mcpherson strut which is no use on the Marlin. So Marlin supplied an adapter that clamped to the stub axle in place of the strut. This has an internal thread into which is screwed a Metro ball joint. Then a top wishbone is attached. A coil over shock unit is then mounted on the top wishbone. This means that the forces on the Sierra hub are acting in the same direction as in the Sierra. A simpler way would have been to mount a coil over on the bottom TCA, as in the Dutton that I previously built. The problem is that the TCA was not designed for these loads. So full marks to Marlin for doing the job right.

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    When the car was finished the springs supplied were found to be too soft, they were almost coil bound. They were changed for others twice, third time lucky!
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  6. #6 Re: Berlinetta build and restoration 
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    The whole rear suspension including the horse shoe subframe from the Sierra is used. I fitted the standard springs to start with but the car sat too low. So I ordered new longer springs and fitted them. The rear wheels had too much camber, not as much as the camera makes it look here, but needed sorting. When I jacked the car up the camber came right. I thought about having yet more springs ordered. In the end I extended the collar that the spring locates in at the top and put donuts made from plywood in, I soaked the plywood in preservative first. This worked a treat but perhaps the car was a wee bit high. Now that I come to rebuild the car I plan to remove the donuts and adjust the camber using shims where the hub bolts to the trailing arm.

    By the way I got the wheels from Marlin as they said they were a special offset and standard Sierra offset wheels would be too wide. I like them and plan to get them refurbished during the rebuild.

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    When it came to brakes I decided to use standard Sierra brakes. I reasoned that they were designed to stop a Sierra with four adults on board so should be ok for the lighter Marlin. I fitted new calipers and discs to the front and new wheel cylinders but the original drums on the rear.
    Last edited by scott h; 10-04-2013 at 09:30 PM.
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  7. #7 Re: Berlinetta build and restoration 
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    I fitted the bulkhead and transmission tunnel and next up was the bit I had been looking forward to, trying the engine and box in for the first time.

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    The mounts lined up perfectly, but from here on it was a very different story. There was little or no room for some vital components. The shaft where the fan mounts actually protruded past the radiator grille, the alternator would not fit in the original position, the steering column wanted to go where both the exhaust and the engine mount was and there was no room for a brake servo. When I placed the bonnet on it touched the carbs. So I phoned Marlin. They told me that I needed a water pump from a P6 rover which was shorter. They also had a bracket to relocate the alternator. They suggested that a different exhaust manifold may clear the steering, but were not sure about the engine mount. I asked about a radiator and they said they had one made for the rover engine in the Cortina Berlinetta but were unsure if it would fit the Sierra based car.

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    So I trawled through some car mags looking for a supplier of a P6 water pump, remember this is the old black and white days before the interweb, and came up trumps. I also got Marlin to send a bracket for the alternator. I fitted the new water pump and it was shorter but not enough, it was inside the grille this time but left no room at all for a radiator. I also fitted the alternator using the Marlin bracket. This moved it from the top of the engine to low on the nearside, only problem was the drive pulley was not in line with the crankshaft pulley. So another call to Marlin and they were not sure. It turns out the guy responsible for developing the V8 fitment in the Sierra Berli had left and no one knew much about it! Reading between the lines a good few months had passed by now and Marlin had shelved the Sierra based car in favour of the new Cabrio, so it looked like I was on my own. Marlin did say if I brought the car to them they would take a good look and try to suggest answers, but it's 500 miles away so that was no use to me. So began much head scratching and months of trial and error to solve each problem on my own.
    Last edited by scott h; 16-04-2013 at 11:19 AM.
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  8. #8 Re: Berlinetta build and restoration 
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    fab work! I love how people use their ingenuity to squeeze impossibly large engines into these chassis! THese build diaries are quite addictive!
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  9. #9 Re: Berlinetta build and restoration 
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    So the first thing to tackle was the cooling system. This was make or break, I mean a radiator is sort of essential! From memory it went something like this. I compared the SD1 water pump and the P6 water pump. The P6 was shorter but had a large cone shaped boss, presumably a fixed fan went at the front of this and a drive pulley went on the rear, wider part of the cone. The SD1 was longer with an even longer shaft to mount the viscous fan. This was what had protruded past where the grille would go. But I spotted that the drive pulley on the SD1 was pressed steel mounted on a small cast boss and separate from the viscous unit. I had a light bulb moment when I wondered if the bosses were interchangeable. So the SD1 pulley was fitted on the P6 pump leaving a sizeable amount of shaft which was then cut off and hey presto almost enough room for a radiator. Things were looking up.

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    This is a recent pic taken during the strip down. You can see the water pump and the small space left for the radiator.

    I found a local radiator repair company who could make one off radiators. I measured up the space and they made a three core radiator to suit.

    130.jpg

    Another recent pic. I had originally fitted a fan with a slim motor that I found on one of my frequent visits to the local scrappy. This was changed for a more powerful one that you see in this pic.

    I was not convinced that this radiator would do the job but it was all the space available. So I thought about fitting a second one at the rear of the car. There was just enough space under the boot, in front of the half shaft. So I got some aluminium tube, chosen for its good heat transfer, and lots of universal radiator pipes and plumbed the car for the second rad. It occurred to me that perhaps the additional coolant capacity and cooling afforded by the pipe work alone may be enough without the second rad itself. So this was plan A with the option of plan B, the second rad.

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    Once the car was on the road I was not entirely happy with the cooling. Even discarding the thermostatic switch for the fan and having a manual switch so it was on most of the time was not really the answer. If I used the power of the V8 the engine temp soon climbed, so it was on to plan B. This helped and I left it like this for a year, but it all looked very exposed and liable to damage from stones etc. So after a year it was back to plan A. I thought about fitting cooling fins to the aluminium tube and also an oil cooler fitted under the steering rack, but as you will learn this is when I got sidetracked and I never tried the fins or the oil cooler.
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  10. #10 Re: Berlinetta build and restoration 
    frequent forum contributor terryreed1664's Avatar
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    Like Cameron I think these Build Diaries are brilliant, cant wait for the next instalment.

    Terry
    I had one like that and the wheel fell off.
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