1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

All Princess models specific items.
Vulgalour
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:28 pm

Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Mon Mar 25, 2019 5:37 pm

End of Week 16 - Unidentified noise finally identified when wheel bearing play was found. At the same time, it was discovered one of the CV boots (on the opposite side to the problem wheel bearing) had split. Parts ordered.

End of Week 17 - couldn't undo the hub nuts because they're on far too tight for any of the tools and people I have access to. For the first time ever I've had to book the car in at a garage to have work done and, since the MoT is due at the start of April anyway, decided to get it all done in one go. Car was dropped off on Thursday and I've been without personal transport since.

I don't know whether or not to regard this as the end of the 6 month experiment. We've done four months and this is the only thing I haven't been able to sort out myself. It's also the sort of repair job even much newer cars require, so it's not like it's a strange Princess-specific failure, or even an old-car-specific failure.

I'll keep logging the weekly reports (when I remember) until the six months are up and then do a review, assess things on balance at the end of it.

Vulgalour
Posts: 1683
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:38 am

End of week 18.

Oof. This week. As I reported previously, the Princess was booked into an actual garage to have the repairs done and the MoT, since I couldn't do the former due to the hub nuts being way too tight, and could do the latter because I'm not an MoT tester.

The hub nuts I really genuinely wouldn't have stood a chance with. The passenger side one came off eventually so that the wheel bearing and CV boot that side could be done. The driver's side, however, put up much more of a fight and took some tools out along the way. Annoyingly, of the two wheel bearing kits I'd bought only one was correct, and since there's nothing wrong with the driver's side bearing, it made no sense to damage it if possible since it was only boot replacement on the driver's side that was required. Fortunately, the garage knew what they were about and drilled the castle nut off after acquiring a suitable direct replacement castle nut and then the job went okay. This side will need a lower ball joint replacing, there's enough play in it to warrant an advisory, not enough for a fail, and had the part been more readily available it would have been done along with the rest. Instead, I need to track one down, which I'll do in due course.
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Tools broken, new parts fitted, car back together, all good. MoT passed with an advisory on the aforementioned ball joint and a little play in the steering column top bushing/bearing which again, is an advisory rather than a fail and unlikely to get worse. I'll replace the problem part when I can find out where to get one. All that done I could get a lift over and drive the car home. My next job would be brakes since I had a verbal advisory - wasn't serious enough to warrant an MoT advisory, but I do like to know about things that might be a problem soon so I can address them in plenty of time, keeps the car in the best health possible that way and focuses my attentions on what needs it - on one front disc which was a bit off, but not bad enough that it could be considered dangerous.

Set off home and all was well at first. Then the brakes started to feel very odd. When the work had been done, since the calipers had to come off to do the boot, the usual thing of resetting the pistons etc. was done before reassembly and it seems this highlighted a problem I didn't know about, or rather, did know about but couldn't pinpoint. I've never done any work on the front brakes other than bleeding them in all the years I've owned this car but recently I've been having a sort of thumping sensation through the pedal that we thought was the worn out wheel bearing, since the two things happened about the same time. Here's a video to explain in full:

https://youtu.be/YQ-DbWR688M

NOTE: Fixed the video with a re-upload.

Mostly it's a video of interest to me because I never see myself driving my car, for obvious reasons. Anyway, after a while the brakes felt very strange, the thumping had gone but they just didn't feel right. Sometimes they'd work really well, sometimes it felt like they weren't doing anything, after a few miles I pulled over, we called the garage and took it back to find out what was wrong. A quick look underneath showed a very hot disc which was also obviously warped.

Presumably, resetting the caliper meant it was working properly but the disc was already warped, unknown to me, so it just made matters worse very quickly after a few miles. Because the garage wasn't really open today, only for me to collect the car, it couldn't be fixed and since I had broken down, I called the AA. Rarely for me I lost my temper on the phone. AA wanted to send someone out to investigate the problem before recovering me, even though they wouldn't repair the car at the roadside and even though it was already diagnosed. That seemed a waste of time but fine, whatever. Then, because I was on the street outside the garage where we'd inspected the problem they determined I was 'at a place of repair' and wouldn't recover me home. The parts I needed to fix the car were at home, not on the street outside the garage. I had, or thought I had, suitable cover to choose to be taken to a place of repair or home. But because of some daftness with terms and conditions, they flat out refused to recover the car. Great. Suffice to say I've dropped them like a hot stone because over the years I've been with them I've called them out 3 times, of those only once was I recovered (head gasket failure) and they wouldn't dolly the car because they didn't believe it weighed as little as it did so they faffed around with relay instead, which took FOREVER. I'll just use whatever my insurance offers, because it can't be worse and it's way cheaper. So much for the fourth emergency service.

Anyway, the car was left at the garage, the parts will be collected/delivered to fix the brakes - fortunately I have spare discs so I don't need to fork out for new ones - and once fixed it'll come home. I'm surprisingly not angry about this, it's a thing that happened, fortunately I was with friends that could keep the car safe and get me home safe, and it'll sort.
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On the plus side, since fitting the new carburettor the emissions look very good, and overall the car is behaving itself so apart from this minor annoyance, we're still good.

Vulgalour
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:43 pm

Addendum to the Week 18 update.

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Got the call from the garage to collect the car. A test run had been done to make sure the brakes were behaving properly and all systems seemed good. A good run back of about 40 miles or so. After a few miles it was very clear the brakes were indeed much improved so I decided to see just how much the Princess really would let me put the hammer down once we got onto faster roads. It was quite blowy on the A1M so it was a bit of a handful at 70mph, and clearly the car is happier in the 55-65mph bracket so I dropped down to that after a short time. It also became clear that the driver's side front wheel bearing will need replacing soon, at higher speeds it's just started to make the same sorts of noises the passenger side one had. It would have been done at the same time as the other one had the kit I bought not been incorrect, so I'll order a new kit and DIY now I stand a chance of getting the hub nut off. There's also a slight vibration at 70mph that feels like one wheel is slightly out of balance, which is either that or the wheel bearing that I'll need to replace.

Certainly, no real causes for concern on the way home and it was nice to be able to drive it again. One quirk I didn't realise the car even had was when it was mentioned to me that it was a bit awkward going from second to third gear, sometimes requiring a double de-clutch. I paid attention to my own gear changes on the way home and it turns out I automatically knock the car briefly into neutral when going from second to third, because if you try and force it straight from one to the other, it doesn't want to. I tended to have issues going from third to second, turns out I don't automatically drop into neutral between the two when I do that. I'm not really sure what could be causing this, perhaps something synchromesh related, but it's not a problem for me and certainly not something that makes the car dangerous in any way, so I'll leave it as is.

The used spare discs I had were perfectly servicable once skimmed. I would still like to overhaul all of the front brake components and get them in the best health all the same, I just have a bit more breathing space on that now since it's £150 minimum to get the parts needed to do it all. Once shown the disc that was causing the problem, it was very easy to see the issue and clear that it was indeed warped as well as having a small piece missing just at the point of the warp.
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It's nice to have that sorted properly and it gives me a bit of education on what a warped disc feels like to drive with, and what it looks like, should it happen again.

beiderbecke
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by beiderbecke » Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:21 pm

Good news the brakes are fixed - dodgy disc that. Any parts you might need for the brake overhaul we might possibly be able to supply. We're here to help.

Vulgalour
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:46 pm

I need to figure out what parts exactly I have and what I need. I do have a spare pair of calipers I can rebuild and I believe I have a rebuild kit too. I would like a pair of new discs and a full set of new pads. I'll also need a front wheel bearing kit, a lower ball joint (is this the same as Metro?), and an upper steering column bushing/bearing which I'm hoping is shared with something more common.

Made a crude little video of the drive home, making use of housemate's dashcam.

https://youtu.be/TGH1eoVUYVc

Princess1800s
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Princess1800s » Tue Apr 02, 2019 5:08 am

There’s a front wheel bearing kit on eBay if you need it.

Vulgalour
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:59 pm

End of Week 19 report.

Not a lot to report, the most exciting thing I did this week was vacuum the cabin and order parts. I've got new front brake discs and pads, I'm going to rebuild the spare calipers so they're good as new, a pair of lower ball joints are on their way and a new wheel bearing kit is heading over for the driver's side which has started grumbling. Thanks go to Beiderbecke for the help with the parts.

I had a trip to York to do today, about 120 mile round trip, and while I trust the Princess could do it I didn't want to tempt fate with that grumbling wheel bearing given the distance and the higher speeds I'd be travelling at so I chickened out and got a lift in the housemate's Range Rover. This turned out to be a good idea as I wasn't feeling too well on the way home so it was nice not to have to do the driving.

The trip to York was to collect a few interior bits for the BX and if I'm feeling better tomorrow, I'll be working on that for a little bit. Princess is still doing my regular duties, I'm just avoiding any sort of 50mph+ long drives until I've done the wheel bearing.

Vulgalour
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:45 pm

End of Week 20 Report

Coolant - no noticeable usage
Oil - 400ml required. This is likely down to the motorway mileage done recently, does tend to consume a bit when doing higher speeds.

This week some goodies arrived. New brake pads, new discs, pair of lower ball joints, and a correct wheel bearing kit. Delivered, this was around £120, so a fairly big spend by my standards. The discs are one of the most expensive items to acquire, and one of the most needed.
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I also had a look at cleaning up my spare gear selector box. The one on the car has had a bolt in place of one of the pins all the while I've owned it and you need to periodically tighten said bolt if you want to keep gear selection. I was hoping I could simply clean down the spare and swap it over.
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Here you can see the pins that push into the casing. These are used to locate the bayonet-slot cup that holds the gear level ball and spring in place. The pins had a reputation for snapping off and while it's not terribly difficult to put another pin in, most folks seem to have bodged whatever they had to hand in there instead.
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One thing I noticed on my spare was that the base plate had been whacked from the side. I'm not entirely sure how you'd manage to do this other than perhaps hitting it with forklift arms when moving the car around, so perhaps that's what happened.
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Unfortunately, when I finally cut through the thick layer of gunk on the casing I found that it's very badly damaged with several cracks. It's realistically beyond repair and certainly not suitable for swapping with my original so I'll just have to look at getting the original repaired properly with a new pin when I have an opportunity to take it all apart.
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The other thing I wanted to find was a new steering column bush. Thankfully, Beiderbecke of the www.leylandprincess.co.uk club had the part number available (along with those goodies at the start of the post) and I've since learned the same bush is used on a variety of BL stuff and is still readily and cheaply available. I can get the bottom bush too. This was an advisory on the MoT and I'd like it not to be on the next one so I'll get some new replacements since they're only a couple of quid. Fortunately my spare steering column helped me see what parts I needed without taking my car apart.
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Today, I tackled the wheel bearing that couldn't be done at the garage because one of the kits I'd bought was wrong. I'd been told the job is fairly easy and it is, especially when the garage has already undone everything and put it back together again, so it was really about as pleasant as any job with your head in a wheel arch can get.
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The most difficult part was getting the old oil seals out, the rest of the job was very straightforward. The old bearings felt a little bit gritty once removed and the noise it had been making made it clear it was ready to be done.
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I would have liked to do the ball joints next but I didn't have a socket that was the correct size, all the imperial and metric sockets I had access to were just a little too big, or just a little too small, so I'll have to go and buy a socket just for this job. That's fine, more tools is good. Instead, I turned my attention to the spare front hubs and removed the calipers ready to rebuild them. I noticed that the caliper on the car that was on the warped disc is sticking a little as suspected, so the new brakes are going to sort that out before it becomes a bigger problem any time soon. The front flexi hoses looked in reasonable condition so I'm hoping I don't need to replace those since I'm not sure I've got a set of fronts, just rears. I noticed that one of the spare calipers looks to have barely used pads in and one caliper is much cleaner and newer looking so I wonder if the car they came off had brake work just before it came off the road in the 90s. Don't worry, I won't be re-using the old pads, it's merely an observation.
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The drive home revealed all the bearing noise is now gone. Now the loudest thing is the noisy speedo cable, (I have been given a suggestion on how to improve that which I'll be trying soon), the tyres, and the wind noise from the driver's door window seal, so I'm getting down the list. I even found the reason for the tyre rubbing on the arch liner, which is that the liner had cracked around one of the fixing screws and the screw had fallen out, so the liner isn't sitting as far back in the arch as it should. There's always jobs to do, they're just not big scary jobs any more.

beiderbecke
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by beiderbecke » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:15 pm

;) Thanks for your kind remarks and to say the balljoints fit either top or bottom arms.

Never known the pins in the gear selector housing to break. Might be a good idea to use roll pins instead? Just a passing thought...

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Gasman
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Gasman » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:09 pm

A shame about your spare gear selector casing. As you say, very odd damage and I can't think of any other explanation other than your supposition about it being forklift damage.

As you so rightly say, with a classic car there's always something to do...
Martin
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Vulgalour
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:44 pm

The selector pins are something that family members that experienced cars with that told me had a reputation for breaking. That said, other folks have said they never had a problem. Perhaps there was a bad batch. I have seen one where the bayonet cup had sheared a locating tang off completely and couldn't figure out how you'd manage to do that.

Today I was hoping to get the brakes and balljoints done and have been thwarted by having to order things to get the jobs done. Things like the correct size socket which nobody carries in stock locally, and the brake pad shim/plate/anti-rattle things that I thought I already had, but didn't.

Lots of bumbling about today as a result, trying to find stuff and not getting very far. Car is behaving very nicely, it's probably entirely imaginary, but it feels like it rolls smoother than it did coming to a stop, and of course it's nice not to have that odd noise worn out wheel bearings make going on all the time. It's a jolly thing to trundle about in.

beiderbecke
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by beiderbecke » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:51 pm

I have some anti-rattle clips...and the balljoint socket is a deep 45mm

Vulgalour
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:34 am

Both acquired and the massive socket has already been used in anger.

I'll do a proper end of week report later, but since I'm here I can tell you that the advised balljoint is now replaced, I had to swap the neverending spring from the old balljoint to the new one, because the bigger O-ring on the new balljoint wasn't strong enough to hold the boot in place. I'll do the same when I do the other side. Ran out of time to do the other side today before I had to be at work because it's in really tight and I need to fight a bit with it. Other side wasn't advised, but I like to do things in pairs on suspension if I can.

Distributor O-ring has failed again which is doing a great job of weeping oil down the front of the engine which I'm not thrilled about. That might go some way to explaining the apparent increase in oil useage and the slightly larger oil spot under the car recently. It's not pouring out and it's not fouling the plugs, but it's something I'll have to replace yet again, I've been having trouble finding a thin enough O-ring of the relevant diameter, usually I have to use one that's ever so slightly too thick because the next size down is too thin to seal.

Alternator/charging issue wasn't an earth issue as I'd suspected, it's the alternator itself. The reason I've not been able to pin that issue down is because the alternator is intermittently not charging correctly, we had to leave the tester hooked up with the car running for a little while before we saw the problem. The alternator is putting out normal charge most of the time, and then occasionally dropping to very little charge and even less occasionally providing too much charge. I'll get a new alternator. The one on the car was fitted just before I bought it since it was believed that was the cause of the other electrical issues at the time which were actually almost all bad earth issues.

Having done the balljoint and the steering column bush has helped tighten things up a little and got rid of some minor noises I couldn't pin down.

Feels like I'm having a bit of a big spend at the moment. It seems a fair few older components are just reaching the end of their life so I expect I'll probably have to do the upper ball joints next. I know I've got to do the oil and coolant soon too, they're almost due, and the brake fluid will get done when I get the spare calipers rebuilt. It's difficult to find the time to do it all while I'm using the car and while work has suddenly picked up a lot, so my free time is usually at this end of the day, which isn't exactly ideal, thanks to my odd working hours.

Vulgalour
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Sun Apr 28, 2019 6:09 pm

End of Week 22 Report.

I forgot to do an end of week report for Week 21, so I've rolled the two together.

On attempting to rebuild the spare calipers I've got, we learned that 3 of the 4 pistons in each caliper are completely stuck in place. We also learned the old brake pad retaining pieces are rusted away, like so.
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This is an ongoing issue, so far we've tried putting 300psi of pressure into the calipers and the pistons simply won't budge so it may be a job I have to farm out. I'm loathe to dismantle the brakes on the car in case something goes wrong and I end up without the car, so I've basically done nothing with the brakes since fitting the skimmed disc to solve the warped disc issue. This is fine as a short term solution, but not as a long term one and it's annoying to have the new parts to go on the car, but not quite be able to fit them because I want the calipers rebuilt to make the best of the job I possibly can. I don't want an old sticking caliper or similar to ruin a set of brand new discs and pads.

The massive socket I ordered arrived so I could do the balljoint that was advised at MoT. I re-used the old shim which seemed to be the correct size, fortunately. I've not done pre-load balljoints like these before so I'm hoping I did it right, time will tell of course if these wear out much sooner than they should. The passenger side wasn't advised but I wanted to do it anyway, I was thwarted by simply not being strong enough to undo the balljoint that's fitted, even with very long poles. It could do with being on the workshop lift, but that's been occupied for quite some time by a Rover 75 so I just decided to leave that side alone for now. Here's new and old parts. I did have to swap the spring-type o-ring from the old balljoint boot to the new one because the new balljoint boot had a rubber o-ring that wasn't strong enough to hold the boot in place.
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Next MoT item was the upper steering column bush. This is fortunately an easy part to get, shared with a plethora of BL vehicles. Removal is somewhat involved, requiring this scene to happen again.
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Eventually I had the inner column out of the outer sheath and had the old bush removed. It was very clear to see where the play was coming from once it was removed, the whole thing had shattered.
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I couldn't find a replacement bush for the lower end of the column but given how tight a fit the existing one is and how fiddly it was to reassemble everything as a result, I doubt that's going to be a problem. Unlike other BL stuff, the Princess has a narrower bush at the bottom of the column of a different design to the top one, and I couldn't find that part, so I'm glad the one on the car was okay. Assembly was fairly straightforward and I've now got rid of an occasional dashboard squeak and a dashboard rattle I couldn't place, so that was a happy little bonus. Steering feels more direct, and also heavier at lower speeds, the latter is less welcome than the former.

The other item I wanted to resolve was the interior light. I'd had a problem with the old festoon bulb melting the holder, which is also integral for the rear view mirror. I had a spare, and that too had obviously suffered the same issue since it had a partially melted spot where mine had a melted hole. To resolve this I ordered a warm white LED - this was a pain to find, ended up going to my local motorfactors and special ordering it - since I hate ultra bright LEDs in cars. The light quality isn't as nice as the old incandescent bulb, but now it never gets hot so I'll never have the melted holder issue.
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Next up was to try and identify the cause of the minor oil leak. Normally, I'd just take this opportunity to wave my hands in the vague direction of the car itself. However, I wanted to be a little more methodical so I started by giving the engine bay a quick clean down.
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That highlighted that the wiring that runs across the front of the block needed to be re-wrapped. The old electrical tape someone had used has gone brittle and isn't sticky on the inside any more so it just flakes off. This had been hidden when the engine was much oilier on the outside than it is these days.
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The main oil leak at the front is the O-ring for the distributor shaft. I've had recurrent problems with this as finding an o-ring that's the correct size is surprisingly difficult and after a while, they seem to stop being effective which means it weeps oil all down the front of the block, into the spark plug wells, and onto the floor. You can see from the cleaner portions where the oil has been seeping.
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The other oil leak was a surprise. The engine used to be very oily on the passenger driveshaft side and I'd assumed this was the driveshaft seal. It's not, the oil is actually seeping up from the speedo cable. Another o-ring here should fix that and might even fix the rattle it has.
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Happily, the rebuilt carburettor is staying spotlessly clean, never sweats fuel, and never gets oily.
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I gave the fluids a check too. Brake fluid isn't terrible, though will be changed when I do the brakes. Coolant has gone from being quite blue to now being very pale blue, the gunge in the bottle is just residue on the bottle itself, I could do with chucking the whole bottle in a dishwasher really. Oil is getting ready for a change, it's not terrible, but it's due June/July time anyway.
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The underside of the engine used to always be slightly greasy looking. Now it's mostly dry apart from the aforementioned leak points. This is a huge improvement over when I bought the car and I'm happy about it.
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Another irritation has also been solved which was something rubbing on a tyre on full lock and certain suspension articulation points. Turns out, one of the arch liners had got broken and an edge was catching the tyre. I trimmed that back and the problem is now gone. Shown here is the good side and the now-trimmed broken side.


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Other than that, the only problem its thrown at me is that the alternator is sporadically charging incorrectly, not at all, or too much.

Vulgalour
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Mon May 13, 2019 6:11 pm

Right then, the Daily Driver Challenge got derailed somewhat by a BX but that doesn't mean I haven't used the Princess at all. I'll be collating the info and experiences from the experiment today and will have a write up on that a bit later. For now, it's alternator time. Shiter Danthecapriman very kindly sent me his old Capri alternator to use on the Princess. We were unsure as to whether or not it was correctly handed but knew it was otherwise a suitable swap. Worst case, we could always use the good bits from one to fix the bad bits on the other. This was going to be a little How To on doing the repair, my camera had other ideas unfortunately, so you'll have to use your imagination a little bit.

With both alternators on the desk we could see one was left handed, and one was right handed. This is to do with where the pivot bolt and adjuster bolt holes are on the casing, they're otherwise identical. Fortunately, if you unscrew the bolts holding the casing together you can dismantle the whole distributor and swap the casings over. You also have to desolder three wires that connect the regulator to the commutator ring. The intention was to use all of the internals from the Capri alternator and just the outer casings from the Princess alternator, this changed when we inspected the various components and ended up Frankensteining one alternator out of the two to make the best of the components available.

This is the Princess alternator internals, and you can see at the front the three wires with white-with-green-dots wire that are soldered to the regulator. On the Princess alternator, most of the componenents were in reasonable condition, but it was the regulator that was shot. We cleaned up the commutator surfaces, checked the bearings, and decided against splitting the commutator ring from the casing since it was in better shape than the one in the Capri alternator. The bearings in the Capri alternator weren't quite as good either, though that's not too surprising since the Princess alternator dates from about 2011, where the Capri one is from the mid-80s, so had a fair few more hours clocked on it.
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The Capri regulator design was slightly different. It was the same where it mattered, it was just the quality of parts of soldering, etc. was better overall and the regulator on the Capri didn't have a condenser added on, presumably because there was no need for it as there was on the newer Princess one. To make things extra confusing I've made sure that this part is photographed from a completely different angle to the Princess one above.
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Now I have no more alternator rebuild photographs because the camera ate them all. Essentially, we used the commutator ring, the main spindle, and the metal casings from the Princess alternator, with the regulator, and Lucas branded plastic cap from the Capri alternator. We also used the best of the various bolts from both units in rebuilding the new Frankenstein. The net result is that the alternator now works properly, which is what this was all about. So a bit thank you to Danthecapriman for providing the spares, and to Mike for basically cracking on and doing the magic soldering work.

With the alternator off the car, I could address a couple of jobs I'd wanted to do for a while and hadn't had a good excuse to get done. First up was the alternator bracket which has always been a bit crusty looking. Treated it to wire brush and black caliper paint, it should bake well since it does get quite hot being bolted straight to the block. Cleaned up the bolts for the bracket, and the wiring loom, while I was in there. I also cleaned down the grease that had been hiding behind the alternator.
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With the wiring loom removed I could unwrap the brittle old electrical tap and use a few cable ties (cheers for that idea, Project Binky!) to keep things where they needed to be for when I re-wrap it. I also degreased it so the new tape had the best chance of sticking.
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Typically, found another bodge in the form of a half-cut wire under some electrical tape that had been added after the rest of the loom was wrapped. This is the only bit of the wiring loom I've not had off the car (that I know of), so it's hardly surprising there was yet more damage to it. Mike splice the wire back together with fresh solder and new heatshrink since we didn't have suitable connectors to remake the whole wire.
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Again, I'd show you progress but the camera ate a bunch of illustrative images. Fortunately there was exactly the right amount of loom tape in the drawer to wrap this section, and not a millimetre to spare. I repainted the steel P-clips that hold the loom to the front of the block and we extended the electronic ignition wire with a new piece so that it could be more tidily incorporated into the loom. The wiring on the front of this engine needs all the help it can get when it comes to being tidy.
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With all that reinstalled, we started the car and tested the alternator to see what it was doing. We now have a reliable, steady, predictable charge that will keep up with system demands as and when required. It was good to get everything cleaned up a bit too, removing all the historic grime really helps keep everything look much nicer and means I can see when there's a problem that much easier. The Lucas branded end cap on the alternator is quite pleasing for reasons I can't explain.
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Didn't have time to crack on with the brakes today. I'm not in as much of a rush to sort those as I was since the BX can pick up the slack. Mike and I are hoping next Monday can be brakes day, providing our schedules don't get all clashy.
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Vulgalour
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Mon May 13, 2019 7:40 pm

The Daily Driver Challenge - Conclusion.

I decided to end the DDC at the point that it was clear the BX I acquited at the start of this year would be distracting me from using the Princess every day now that it's fully road legal, and it didn't seem fair continue the experiment if I wasn't using the Princess as my only car. The DDC took place from late November 2018 until early May 2019, a time of year when most forty year old cars are bundled up safe and warm waiting for the show season to begin again. It was the least ideal time to be using a classic car and likely to be the most challenging, certainly the best way to get a fair estimation of the car's abilities and reliability over that period of time.

The short version for the 24 weeks of the DDC goes like this:

13 weeks of trouble-free boring motoring

1 failure to proceed: warped brake disc. AA less than useless and refused recovery because I'd had the temerity to break down on the road outside a garage that was closed.

1 failure to proceed that was repaired at the roadside: carburettor issues

Various servicing and minor repairs.



The long version is that overall, a car with a reputation for being incredibly unreliable and being asked to drive in all weathers, at all times of day, including in the snow at night, proved itself capable of getting me where I needed to go whenever I needed to go there. Had I needed to use the car for long distance commuting, I would have done more to prepare the car for use than I did. Instead, I was asking the car to do between 50 and 100 miles a week, and to be able to go out whenever I needed it to almost every day. The majority of the mileage was urban only, though there were some longer distance motorway runs and faster A road trips taken as well. It was used in rush hour on occasion, late night runs, and got caught up in school traffic several times, all of which it coped with perfectly fine.

Repairs were needed. Mostly this was simply down to parts wearing out, as parts do. Before the test, a new main earth wire was fitted along with brand new tyres for reliability and safety. I also used the DDC to highlight any issues I may have overlooked when the car was being used much less, and that meant quite a few small items were replaced that didn't absolutely have to be, things like the reversing light switch (which collapsed after a handful of miles and saw me refitting the original after cleaning it up), the oil pressure switch to cure a minor oil leak, an in-line fuel filter, a new carburettor gasket, a steering column upper bush, and new CV boots. More serious items required were a lower ball joint, the front wheel bearings, electronic ignition (failed condenser also saw badly burned points), a brake disc, a rebuilt alternator, and some welding to a rear inner arch. Other than that, a little oil was required since it consumes a small quantity.

Overall, I don't regard the items replaced as being that out of the ordinary for any car of this age and mileage and most of the items were quite old and had done quite a few miles. At the close of the DDC, the only outstanding issue is the brake rebuild and the reason that hasn't been done is simply a matter of finding the time to strip down and rebuild everything. I've never done anything with the front brakes in the seven years I've had the car, other than bleeding them, and I imagine previous owners were much the same, mostly because nothing needed to be done until this year.

Would I recommend using a forty year old car every day? Generally speaking, no. The problem with an old car is that it's an old car. Unless you've gone through the whole thing and replaced every consumable item with good quality new, or as good as new, items, you're going to have a bad time. Parts wear out and you need to be aware that when you press an older car into service you running a greater risk than usual of cascade failure. I took the chance with this car because I've owned it for a long time and I thought I'd ironed out all the problems I was likely to face. Many of the parts I've needed have been awkward to acquire, though rarely expensive, and some of the parts have been incorrectly described. So if I was relying on the car to get me to work and back every day rather than just run me around on my errands most days, my attitude in closing on this experiment would likely be very different.

That said, if you're of the mentality that you want to experience this sort of thing, then go for it. Just have contingencies in place. If you're going to use a classic every day for a protracted period of time, it's wise to have a back-up car or someone with a back-up car, that can help you out if you do get stuck. Also, approach pressing an older car into service like going into a really slow endurance race. Replacing things like filters and hoses, ignition components, and making sure all your electrical stuff is in good order is very sensible. Carrying tools and fluids in the boot is also very sensible and, if you can, having spares such as ignition components and belts, is very sensible. One thing I've learned is that breakdown cover does not always mean breakdown cover, so you have to give yourself a fighting chance of repairing your car yourself to a standard that will get you home.

One positive of the DDC is how much more aware of other road users it's made me. When you haven't got the driver aids of blind spot monitors and electronic ignition, parking sensors and ABS, you find your driving changes. You look for and anticipate behaviour you might not otherwise notice. It makes the act of driving somewhat more tiring as a result because you're concentrating so much more. However, there were plenty of times that I found myself able to predict bad behaviour from other road users and prevent myself getting into trouble and those are skills I'll be carrying forwards. I'm not saying driving a classic car will make you a perfect driver, it won't. What it will do is make you more aware as a driver. Older cars are less insulated from the outside world too, so I did find I was much more aware of folks on two wheels, and generally speaking people are nicer and behave respectfully towards you.

Now that I've completed the DDC it has proven that I have absolutely no desire to part with the Princess (not that there was any doubt) and that it is quite capable of doing everything I need it to do. It's proven that I don't need a newer car, that I don't even need a radio, and that it's an affordable form of transport that makes me happy. If I had to, I could use the Princess as my only car and this experiment has allowed me to get the car in really very good shape overall. It's not perfect, it's not about to win any shows, and that's fine. It's a car I can use and that I enjoy to use, and that's all that really matters.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by beiderbecke » Mon May 13, 2019 9:38 pm

:) Good show Vulgalour. I admire your tenaciousness in overcoming all the problems that your wedge threw at you.

I don't think I would use my wedge as a daily driver - although it has been reliable (I've had it 12 years now) it has failed to proceed just a few times (lack of fuel, electronic ignition malfunction, flat battery) things easily fixed so it hasn't caused me much grief.

As you say, a classic does have to be driven with awareness of the capabilities of your car in today's traffic and some drivers seem to think because it's an old car it can't get a move on. I daresay we have all had near misses with some misjudging the velocity of a car made with proper metal (especially the bumpers on wedges!).

Keeeeep on driving!

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Mon May 13, 2019 10:52 pm

Having the patience to work through the problems has ended up with me having a much better condition car than I did... there's a glass half full statement if ever there was one :lol:

A lot of that assumption about old cars being slow comes from the way some classic car owners drive them. I can't really stand dodderers. Fair enough, if you're in an Austin Ruby, even when you put your foot down you're not going to be going that fast, but once you get into cars from the '60s there's not really any reason for you to be a rolling road block.

I don't think I'll use mine as a daily driver again now, as satisfying as it was to do this challenge, I reckon the car has proven itself and its worth and can enjoy semi-retirement and I can enjoy working through the ever diminishing list of jobs. I reckon we'll drop down to once a week treks now and let the BX take the strain for a while. After all, BXs love driving and hate garages.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Mon May 20, 2019 7:28 pm

Right then, these brakes. Princess started no bother as has become the norm, and we trundled over to the unit. Dismantling everything was actually surprisingly easy, in large part because Mike did that instead of me, but also because things weren't all rusted solid which made a very pleasant change. The old brake pads still have loads of meat left on them and aren't particularly badly damaged really. Even the pins and anti rattle/squeal plate things looked like they could be reused (they won't be). Before disconnecting the hoses to the calipers, Mike stuck a bit of wood in them while I operated the pedal and most of the pistons popped free.
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Annoyingly, 2 of the 8 pots are stuck, so Mike did battle with those on the bench while I dealt with that bit of flaking paint around the side repeater. It is not my finest painting hour, I must say, at least the rust and bare metal are dealt with and that's all that matters at this point.
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Removing the old discs was delightfully easy. In fact, none of this brake job has been a war especially, which Mike and I were both surprised about. To remove the discs you have to remove the split pin and hub nut, then clamp the disc in the vise to unbolt the outer hub part from the disc itself. I haven't yet torqued up the hub nuts or refitted the split pin, the new discs are just in place until we're ready to put the calipers back on.
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One of the brake caliper piston seals and retaining ring fell off which demonstrated the need for a rebuild (I have the kits, it's a job that will be done before reassembly) and the passenger side disc has started to warp with a very similar section of damage on the surface to what the driver's side had. Both calipers are ready for a rebuild, perhaps past ready, and while they don't leak and the brakes do meet the legal requirement, it's clear they've not been working as well as they should for quite some time. At least now we can fix that. There wasn't enough time to finish faffing with the calipers today and Mike's said he'll get the sticky pistons unstuck this week so that everything can go back together. The hoses and hard lines all look in good shape, which was nice to see, and while the calipers are scruffy they're certainly not in need of massive amounts of remedial work, just a quick tidy and new seals really.
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The Princess can enjoy a little indoor break for the time being.
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Vulgalour
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Fri May 24, 2019 12:34 am

Had a bit of a disappointment with the brake calipers. Mike managed to get the pistons out but, in the process, one of the bleed nipples decided to strip its thread when everything was under pressure. Some years ago, we had issues with this bleed nipple not wanting to go back in properly when bleeding the system. Mike did the only sensible thing and retapped it to take a new, larger thread, bleed nipple.

With that problem down, the new problem is that the pistons are all badly pitted. The calipers themselves are fine, it's just the old (presumably chrome plated steel) pistons that are the problem. It looks like the outer seals had perished and this in turn had led to the pistons sticking and then corroding. I already have all the seals and parts for rebuilding the calipers so I might as well order a set of the stainless steel pistons that are available. Trouble is, I've just forked out for the timing belt kit and fluids for the BX and learned I'm moving house by the end of the year, so cash is a tiny bit tight at the moment.

The other nuisance is that the driver's front displacer is a bit firmer than the other three displacers (I don't have the interconnection pipes, which is why I know which corner is at fault) so I suspect that's getting low on gas. It's not bad enough that I expect imminent failure but it's bad enough that I'm also saving up for a regas on the displacers I do have. I know the regas proceedure isn't 100% effective, but it's better than not doing anything at all.

Who needs money anyway? :lol:

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:04 pm

24th June 2019
Huff.
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While the Princess has been at the unit waiting for brake parts, someone has been snooping around everything and snapped the door mirror off. Fortunately I can repair it. I had initially thought the weld between the original arm and the new threaded portion I had to attach is what had broken, it was actually part of the weld itself which had a weak point. That said, the amount of force required to bend the mirror forwards to snap the weld must have been considerable and deliberate so I'm not particularly thrilled about it. I'm just relieved it didn't do more damage, had the weld not failed it could have put a nasty dent in that panel, or worse. I'll repair the mirror stem when I do the rear door, which I'll be doing over the next few days, since it seems a bit daft to haul the welder out just to do one little blob on the mirror stem.

In other news, the brake parts arrived so we could get on with that. Mike had already stripped down, inspected, painted, and baked the caliper bodies as well as retapping one of the dodgy threads to a slightly larger size to accept a slightly larger bleed nipple. There's three bleed nipples on each brake caliper on the Princess. The old caliper pistons were difficult to remove, some had stuck, and several had corrosion and pitting bad enough to render them scrap. Fortunately, the corrosion hadn't attacked the bores which are nice and clean, it was limited to the part of the piston that should be protected by the dirt seal, much of which had disintegrated on both pistons. I bought a set of stainless steel pistons from eBay so this shouldn't be an issue in the future.
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I've never done calipers before so Mike was talking me through how to do them. Much simpler than I expected in all honesty. We then encountered a problem when we realised that both of the O ring seals needed to be fitted before installing the pistons because otherwise the metal locking ring thing won't seat. It's just as well we did have to remove the pistons, one of the seals we'd installed broke up as the piston was removed. All of the other seals are perfectly fine and these are brand new seals, there was no fighting with assembly of the parts, it was all as snug as it should be, so we think this was just a defective seal and nothing more. A new set of seals has been ordered so the brakes will have to wait a little longer for those to arrive before we can complete reassembly.
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At this point I've spent more money trying to rebuild these calipers than it would have cost to just buy a new pair. Unfortunately, I'm invested in the rebuild to the point that it wouldn't now be cost effective to buy a new pair, so let's hope nothing else goes wrong.

Today, 26th June 2019

The seal kit and bleed nipple dust covers that I ordered arrived today, much sooner than expected, so Mike got busy rebuilding the calipers and now they're all done and looking lovely.
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Bleeding process went very smoothly and everything was going well. All that needed to be done was nip up the last bleed nipple and put the dust caps and wheels back on. The last bleed nipple is the one that had to have the thread retapped. The last bleed nipple did this.
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Great joy. Fortunately, the spare calipers haven't sold so we're pulling those off sale and hoping we can dismantle them to give us the bits we need and that they're in good enough shape to be rebuilt. At least I've enough spare components to do this after having to order the other seal kit. If we can't salvage things this way then it looks like all this effort to rebuild the front calipers, and the money invested, as a waste of time and I'll end up having to buy new calipers. Oh well, that's just the way these jobs go sometimes.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:59 pm

We finally got the brakes sorted today. Another bleed through and we found the rear passenger side drum was a bit recalcitrant until it spat out a blob of some gungy black stuff, presumably that's been floating around in the system for quite some time since I have bled the brakes on this car at least twice in my ownership and it's not done that since the first bleed through. The pedal feels very different now, in a good way, so I'm looking forward to actually testing the brakes properly, which I'll do when the car isn't blocked in by a recalcitrant P38.
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Yes, we did go to the trouble of fitting bleed nipple covers all round. That's the first car I've ever had with a full compliment of those, they'll likely all ping off in a few months. The only other job I could do today was repair the mirror, a simple case of cleaning back the broken weld and rewelding it with more heat. Went back together no problem and, with the brakes done, we could get the car back on its wheels.
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My list of jobs is quite small, though some are a bit expensive:

Re-gas displacers - driver's front especially in need and I have no spare front displacers

Rust repair and repaint of rear driver's door

Rust repair on rear arches

Repaint front valance and, maybe, bonnet

Fit new windscreen seal - To be done before the weather turns again, now it's finally warm and dry I stand a chance of getting it done.

Proper respray - I really do want to get the car properly resprayed. Realistically, I'm expecting a minimum £5,000 investment on this which is a massive spend for me. To me, the car is totally worth the cost, I'm not in this game to make any money (just as well, really, given my choices) and if it costs nearer £10,000 that's okay too providing I've got it. Luckily, £5,000 is going to take me ages to save up because right now I've got about a dozen different colours I like that I can't choose between so it gives me time to make up my mind. Or find more colours I like.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Gasman » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:24 pm

Your brakes look really smart. You should notice an enormous improvement in the ride when you get round to re-gassing the displacers. SMG was enormously improved when they were re-gassed although it still doesn't have the same absorbent ride as KWacKers.
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Oldest known surviving wedge, hand-built 15th Pre-Production Wolseley in June 1974
Last Ambassador down the line in November 1983, Austin Ambassador VDP

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Tony c » Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:03 pm

When I had mine re-sprayed I took out the windows, engine, lights etc etc etc and did some of the prep work, I gave the guy a 2 month window and he charged me £1500, it’s not a perfect job but saying that I’m VERY picky but I think the job is decent enough and 4years on it still looks ok, £5000 should buy you a VERY good job in my opinion.
Tony

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:37 pm

I'll find out just how good the brakes are shortly, the Range Rover decided it wanted to cooperate today so the Princess is just waiting for me to collect her.

The problem with the respray is that the body is going to need quite a lot of work to get a decent standard and that will push the price up. My welding repairs are reasonable and sturdy, but not the finest, and some painters will likely want to redo things which of course puts the price up. The driver's door bottom (the first door I ever repaired) is not an attractive repair and I want to redo it. Both rear arches need a little work, the front wings aren't great... and so on. If I were going for a quick blow-over then £1500 would do it no problem, but the current bodywork issues wouldn't be dealt with and it'd be money wasted. £5k should resolve the worst of the remaining problems and get a reasonable finish with imperfections. I'm not going for concourse and I like some of the imperfections, so that's okay.

As the car stands right now, if I delivered it to a body shop (interior etc. removed first, of course) I think the remaining rust repairs and panel rectification, plus the repaint, would likely set me back nearer £10k for a good job.

The bigger problem than all that is deciding on a colour. I know I won't be keeping it beige and I also know there's far too many other colours I like. For example, here's just the tip of the iceberg of indecision:

Cadillac - Rose Mist
Jaguar - Heather Pink
Rover - Nightfire Red
British Leyland - Mirage
Studebaker - Flamingo
Lotus - Moonstone Silver
Vauxhall - Sapphire Black

There's not even a common colour theme there. The only thing I do know is that I probably don't want to go beige, white, green, or yellow.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Gasman » Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:27 pm

Interesting variation of colours. Out of that lot I would undoubtedly go for Nightfire even though Black does really suit the shape. As our tastes are so poles apart that's obviously 2 you can cross off your list....
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Oldest known surviving wedge, hand-built 15th Pre-Production Wolseley in June 1974
Last Ambassador down the line in November 1983, Austin Ambassador VDP

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:25 pm

Nightfire is a strong contender, one of the best metallic reds there is, and would compliment the black and orange interior nicely. The black might be a bit much because of the black interior. We shall see.

---

Drove the Princess home today, finally. The brake job was just one of those jobs where it was plenty of little things going wrong and then waiting on parts and so on. That said, it was well worth doing. All the while I've had the car until very recently the brakes have never felt inadequate and have always met the legal requirement so apart from general bleeding there never seemed to be any need to investigate further. How wrong I was! The brakes are so much lighter and more responsive now than they've ever been, it really has been something of a revelation. It's difficult to explain it really, it's almost as though the brakes feel like they're off a newer car, just not an over assisted car with a dead feeling pedal. It's like there's more fine control on the braking progression and I don't have to brake as hard or as early to slow the car down. This isn't really that surprising given that everything is practically brand new up front now and all 8 pistons are working in the calipers rather than just 2.

Now to enjoy driving it for a few weeks before disabling it again to get the front displacers re-gassed. At least that's a fairly straightforward job.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Thu Jul 04, 2019 5:25 pm

Had a surprisingly easy time of swapping the rear door for my (fairly rotten) spare so I can repair the one I took off and finally get it painted to match. This will make the door repair much easier since I don't have to disable the car or work to a tight schedule (or really any schedule) to get it done and ready to go back on the car. Rear arch repairs are less vital and much smaller than the door bottom replacement so it makes sense to do the door first. Eventually I'll replace that rear Allegro hubcap with a Princess one.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:53 pm

On a whim I bought some clear indicator lenses and amber bulbs for the front to see if I preferred it to the original amber lenses. I like both, as it happens, I don't really have a preference. The advantage of the clear lenses is that they make the units look less like they're off an MG B and a bit more like they've always been intended for this car. Now I've got both types of lens and bulb, I can swap them around easily at whim, just like I do with the wheels and trims.
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:22 pm

Princess has also been getting some attention since I finally had the time and motivation to get on with stripping the paint off the two doors I want to put on the car. The spare orange front door is actually in better shape than the one on the car so I'll repaint it. The front passenger door on the car has been repaired before but is good to go again so I'll be keeping that back as a spare rather than worrying about repairing it really nicely. The rear door I removed from the car was quite laborious to strip the paint off because there was so much paint on it, easily the worst of all the panels I've had to tackle. The rust isn't as bad as I expected, thankfully, what's going to make this a bigger job is that the door has a historic corner repair that's caused more rust than its cured, so I have to undo all that. The spare orange rear door on the car is comprehensively rotten so I'll be stripping off what's useful and then scrapping the remains. It could be repaired if you really wanted to rebuild the bottom 12" of it, and the top 2" of it, but I don't.
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The other thing that's been bugging me for ages is the plastic trims on the front of the car have always been slightly off so I spent some time realigning those to fit more evenly. I need to make some new pegs on the bottom of the headlight trims (these always snap off) so they hold into the centre rail properly, it sticks out on the bottom outer corner of the driver's side and makes the outer headlight that side look like it's in completely the wrong place.
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Because I'll be doing some more painting soon and remedying the bits deemed less important when I started the last round of welding repairs I took another look at the front end colour split and after some experimentation have settled on this. Black was too much and the beige has always been off and it's taken a while for me to find something I like. Keeping the thin beige outline around the grille helps balance it out better than just wrapping the side split straight around and makes use of an existing bodyline. The red (in digital sketch at least) seems to really help tone down the jutting chin and take out some of the visual height of the front of the car. Since I can't really bring the front to a lower, sharper point, this is the next best thing.
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:42 pm

Got the two doors I'm repairing almost completely stripped down now. To get the glass out of the rear door you have to remove the quarter light, it's a bit of a faff. On inspecting the frame properly, all of the rot in this rear door seems to be caused by repairs over old rust that has simply rotted through, it won't be too terrible to repair, looking at it.
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The front orange door has given me a bit of a quandary. Most of the door is in excellent condition, especially the usually rotten bottom edge which is very nearly like new. The problem is at the top. Inside the door skin there's a separate sheet of steel that I assume acts as a brace for the weather stripping since it spot welds to the door skin and the edge the weather stripping pushes on to. On this door, that brace has rotted through across the entire length and you can't get in to repair it because of they way the door is built up. What it hasn't done is rot through the outer skin except for one small spot. To repair it, I'll have to remove the door skin from the frame and the brace from the skin and then rebuild it. That's an awful lot of work. The beige door on the car is in much better shape in this area but needs attention to the bottom where they normally go again, due to historic repairs of varying quality.

So do I strip the orange door down and repair it, knowing it's then going to be in excellent condition, or do I chop off the problem section of the beige door and replace it with the excellent section of the orange door? It's probably more proper to dismantle, restore, and rebuild the orange door because it's in much better condition overall and it probably won't realistically be more work to do things this way. Either way, what was going to be just a 'quick repaint' now isn't, and that's a bit annoying.
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Did a fluid check and topped up the screenwash and a little bit in the brake fluid now that a few miles have been done and the system has settled. No leaks found on the braking system anywhere and now that things have bedded in they feel very good.
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While doing the check I spotted a wet spot on one of the water hoses. Wiped it away and the spot reappeared, with an occasional bubble. That'll be a pinhole in the pipe then. 24mm OD heater pipe is out of stock everywhere locally it seems, so I'll have to order a length in since Mike and I don't have any in stock.
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Finally, the cold idle hunting issue cause was found. The weather suddenly turned while I was driving which prompted the need for headlights and wipers. Queue all the electricity falling out. Weather cleared as quickly as it went bad so no harm done and Mike and I could check things over at the unit. Throttle cable was a bit warm, but so was everything under the bonnet, but my suspicion was a problem with the earth. Went through all the various points and nothing looked amiss until checking the main body earth. It wasn't the best connection any more so we beefed it up with a bigger bolt and cleaned the corrosion away. Instantly improved everything electrical and smoothed out the idle so hopefully that's all that problem was. Incredibly easy fix too, which is the best sort. I should have twigged it was this a few days ago when I had to use the horn in anger and it just sort of went phweeee rather than PAAAARP. 
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:01 pm

No good deed goes unpunished.

Replaced the heater hose that had started to go spongey and after topping the coolant back up and making sure any air was bled out, went out and did my errands. Nothing untoward while out but I checked the fluids etc. when I got home and found the coolant was very low. Initially assumed it was just a bit of air that had burped out on the errand run so topped it up to see what happened. Coolant started to get bubbles in, and oily deposits, then started to steadily drop while the car was idling. Occasional spits of coolant out of the exhaust too. It looks like its blown the headgasket and I've fortunately caught it very early.

I'll be taking my spare head to the local machine shop to get it checked and skimmed if necessary. I think I already have a head gasket set in stock, and it's not a difficult job to do so it should be sorted fairly quickly. Interesting that its done this without any particular trigger, I don't imagine replacing the heater hose was the cause, merely coincidental.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Gasman » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:40 pm

Oh dear. Well spotted but what is it on O series engines that gives problems with the head gasket? Hopefully the head won't need skimming. There's always something...
Martin
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:08 pm

At least it's an easy engine to sort out when it does go pop. Thankful it's not a complex K-series type job to sort out.

----

A proper picture update on this, since I've made some progress today. It all started when we noticed a pinhole in a heater hose, simple enough to replace it once I'd acquired a relevant pipe online after finding all my real world suppliers were out of stock of what I needed. Easy peasy job, quick top up of the coolant and everything was back to normal. The old heater hose had gone all spongey and weird and was steadily disintegrating from the inside out. I checked the other hoses and they all seem okay.
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After that I did my errands for the day and nothing untoward presented itself. Because we'd done a few miles and got the system circulated I checked the coolant when I got home to see if it needed topping up and the contents of the overflow bottle were not good.
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Before I set off to do my errands, the coolant was a nice pale blue so something had definitely gone wrong while I was out. Just in case, I topped it up and let the car idle for a bit. Very quickly started getting bubbles in the expansion bottle, an oily film on the top of the coolant that was steadily dropping in level and the slight smell of coolant out the exhaust along with the occasional spit of water/coolant too. Strangely, the oil hasn't appeared to emulsify so perhaps I caught this early enough that there's not been much mixing of fluids. Suffice to say, I see no point doing a compression test on this, it wouldn't tell me anything I can't already see.

The last time it popped the head gasket it went coolant to exhaust and the water came out fast enough that it would expel it faster than you could put it in. At the time, I removed the original head and fitted the spare I had from a '79 car and it's been running on that with no bother since. I've decided to have the original head tested and rebuild that if it's good (it should be) so that I can deal with a couple of other issues it has a bit easier without totally disabling the Princess. This way, if I need to move the car a short distance for any reason I still can. The head is incredibly easy to strip down on these since they're only 8 valves.
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Everything is numbered as it's removed. I also knocked out the old waxstat housing which, predictably, snapped in the process. This is no great loss, the top of it is badly damaged with a big piece missing and it has heavy pitting in several places. I do have a spare housing to go in if need be. I am planning to replace the old waxstat housing with a straight pipe instead and have a modern thermostat in a housing in-line with the top radiator hose. This should work fine and be a lot easier to maintain. I've always filled from the overflow bottle anyway because of how fragile the waxstat housing is, so it's no hardship to modify the system this way. Camshaft and bearing surfaces still look really clean with no noticable wear and all the bolts that needed to come out did without any fight.

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The head on the O-series is slightly unusual since it serves as a camshaft box as well and has no separate rocker cover. It's a very lightweight and robust unit. This one has been given a bad coat of silver paint as part of that bad historic restoration, and I'll be stripping that all off back to bare alloy before it goes away for testing and skimming if required. I only have one item left to remove and that's an old exhaust manifold bolt that's had the head sheared off well before I got the car.
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There's nothing of obvious concern in any of the parts I removed. No excessive carbon build up, scoring, or other obvious damage. I'm hopeful it will return from the machine shop with a clean bill of health. Rebuilding and installation is incredibly easy on these heads, it's pretty much impossible to get it wrong. I haven't had a lot of free time lately so I'm snatching an occasional hour outside of work to do this, I'm hoping I make much better progress on it all over the weekend.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:32 am

Right, well, Princess update then I guess. I got the head tested, cleaned, and skimmed (6 thou removed) so that's now almost ready to go. They couldn't install the coolant pipe I wanted in place of the thermostat housing so I took it to the other local machine shop who said they could, 5 weeks ago.

Today, I stopped in at the machine shop and he's still a man down and work is piling up, as it does, and he's not been able to do my pipe. He's asked for another two weeks and honestly, what am I going to do? I don't know anywhere else locally that I can take it to that'll do it. Now he tells me he's having to make the pipe so... okay. Two more weeks it is I suppose. That'll take us to 7 weeks on this job and I have to say I won't be surprised if I go back in two weeks time and he needs more time so... we shall see. I know I said I wasn't in a rush and I know it's shitty when you end up short staffed, especially when you're self employed, so I'm not going to get upset about it. Things happen, he does good work, sometimes good work takes a ridiculously long time for whatever reason, that's life.

In better more progressy news, I got the door I was working on welded up. Not my finest work, I must have rushed it a bit because I clearly got it too hot in a couple of places. No oil-canning, thankfully, it's just not as nice a job as it could have been if I'd slowed down a bit more. Filler and paint will make it presentable enough, as will getting the better hammer and dolly on that lower edge to sharpen it up a bit, I just ran out of steam to really finish this off nicely. I'm happy it's not rusty at any rate, that was the goal after all.
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It's certainly no worse than the front door on the same side so it'll do. I was surprised at just how much I needed to replace on this door and it'll need more work once I fit it on the car because the trailing edge isn't quite the profile it should be, but I can't sort that until car and door are in the same place. It's another job off the list at any rate.

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Tony c
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Tony c » Tue Sep 03, 2019 2:55 pm

Keep up the enthusiasm which is sometimes difficult, I suppose the term slowly slowly catchy monkey is appropriate(you’ll get there) well done!
Tony.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:16 pm

The BX is helping a little since it's a nice place to be, though I am missing driving the Princess at the moment. Once the head is done I've got to get the front displacers re-gassed, at least that should be a quick turn around and I've nearly got enough saved up for it now. Then the battle to free the rears, save up, and get those done.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Gasman » Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:20 pm

Tony C says it all. Keep it up & well done.
Martin
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Oldest known surviving wedge, hand-built 15th Pre-Production Wolseley in June 1974
Last Ambassador down the line in November 1983, Austin Ambassador VDP

Vulgalour
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:40 pm

We're still chugging along, we'll get there. Stopped by the machine shop again today since it's two months since I dropped the head off. The other member of staff looks to have recovered so well from his broken limbs you'd think he never broke them, so that's good. I was also told the job had been started today, which I find hard to believe, and that it'll be ready on Wednesday, which I also find far fetched. I suspect that the staff member that hasn't been there for a couple of months is the one that does the practical work and that's the real reason no progress has been made, but who knows, perhaps I'm just being cynical and it really has been a string of unfortunate events and poor time management?

Anyway, the upsde of this is if the head isn't ready on Wednesday I do at least have a back up plan which involves giving the head to my brother who lives in Derbyshire because he knows and has used an engine shop that should be able to do this job in 3-7 days. On the plus side, I did have to move the Princess while all this delay has been happening and I was surprised that she started with no bother and the brakes hadn't even stuck on, which is quite an improvement. The head is still blown, obviously, so we didn't go more than a few feet since it was a driveway shuffle to accomodate the housemate's new daft supercharged purchase, but it was nice to know the car is still behaving pretty well even after a protacted period of idleness.

The other good news is that a house move looks like it might be happening very soon as we've finally been able to sign the paperwork on a property and that, so far, has gone very smoothly. I'm not counting any chickens yet, it's been three years of being messed about trying to purchase a house, so there's still time for it to go wrong. However, I would like the Princess back in tip top shape in time for the house move so engine shops taking months to do a job that should take days is really not on.

Here's hoping things improve very soon. Oh, and I'll be sending my front displacers off for regassing after the engine is sorted because that's needed, the rears don't seem to be problematic at the moment and I do at least have spare rears, but the driver's front is certainly not as happy as it should be and since I have no spares, I am a little concerned that if I don't regas it any attempt to pump up the suspension on that corner could lead to sadness via deflating suspension.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:09 pm

I finally picked up the head today. I'd been given so many different conflicting stories about where the pipe had come from that I really didn't believe it was sorted, and while I did get a sincere apology for the owner of the shop losing his rag at me for putting too much pressure on... well. Let's just say it's a shop I shan't be using again. I'm not going to name-and-shame either, I don't believe that's necessary in this particular instance. I got the head back, I got the job done, and while it has been frustrating it's just one of those things. Everyone is human and honestly, I think I've run afoul here of someone whose personal life is causing problems with his professional life. The sincere apology was enough to convince me that he knew he crossed a line, professionally, and there's no need to go any further with that. We're only human, after all, and I can certainly empathise with where he seemed to be, I just hope he gets it all straightened out.

All that said, I'm not entirely happy with the work done. I paid for the pipe that was made, that's only fair, but the pipe has no flange on it. The pipe itself is a custom turned piece and fitted to the head with weld-seal, I think that's what he called it, much like Porsche do with their coolant pipes. The lack of flange doesn't worry me too much as the radiator hose we temporarily repaired likewise has no flanges and hasn't leaked or fired off so I'm moderately certain just double-jubileeing the hose to the pipe will be sufficient. If it isn't, well, we'll have to figure out what to do about it I suppose. It was £45 for this and, honestly, I'm not sure how to feel about that. The job is technically done and £45 isn't a lot of money BUT it was a war to get it done and that's left a bit of a sour taste over the whole experience.
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Still, at least I can move on with this now. The next challenge is finding time when my friend over in Lincolnshire is off at the same time as I am so we can rebuild the head properly. I picked up an oil filter today - local motorfactor had one on the shelf, which was really useful - and I'll be getting some fresh oil, coolant, and a flush to make sure everything is nice and clean when it's all put back together. The Princess will ride again soon.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Mon Oct 21, 2019 6:43 pm

It's been nearly a month since my last Princess update, so how far along are we with this job? Well, clashing schedules haven't much helped on the speedy repair front but everything is now lined up and this weekend I'll be off to my friend's place so we can extra double check the shims are correct before final assembly on the head. I've no real cause for concern on the shims, but since my friend has spare shims and the suitable tools for checking, it seemed silly not to do it and it's always nice to visit friends in far away places. Before I got all that underway, an impulse purchase saw me snag a couple of Princess hubcabs online so I now have a full compliment and a spare. I've also got a spare Allegro hubcap (pictured) if anyone fancies it, it's in reasonable shape and would suit a not-show-car vehicle. Here, you can see the difference between the Allegro (on the left) and Princess (on the right) hubcaps.
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On the engine front, it was the tedious job of valve lapping mostly. They didn't need a huge amount of work at least and Mike had already cleaned off the deposits on the stem side for me so I didn't have to faff with that, so it was just a fairly straightforward process of twiddly stick and grinding paste followed by plenty of cleaning.
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Once they were nice and matchy-cleany again it was time to reassemble. It's a bit awkward to do but not really difficult. New valve stem seals on the valves that needed it, as per the book.
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Once all the valves and springs were in, it was time to refit the shims and buckets. Again, this is straightforward. There's no noticeable wear (to the naked eye) on the components, or on the camshaft, so I suspect that when we check all this on the weekend we'll change nothing and just button it all down.
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I replaced both camshaft seals, tightening the camshaft pulley to torque as per the book after replacing the big seal. Then I loosely bolted the cam box top half down so nothing comes out of place and popped the whole thing in its box ready for the weekend.
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I can't wait to get this back on the car, it looks so nice already!

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:46 pm

The theme tune to this sodding job.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_47KVJV8DU

So, let's go back a bit before I contracted [insert melodramatic illness here] after visiting my friend over in Lincolnshire who had volunteered to help out with setting the valve clearances on the head before reinstalling it. After an horrendous drive that took nearly five hours to travel nearly 150 miles, and then getting punted off onto unlit country roads I didn't know and finding one of my headlights was way out of alignment, and hitting flood water I couldn't see, and having to emergency stop to stop a suicidal pheasant from obliterating bits of my wobbly plastic French car... destination was achieved. Then I learned the really good pizza shop had shut down, so there wasn't even traditional really good pizza to be had. Disaster. Anyway, the following day was more enjoyable, involving a few errands that got me a look at a lovely bare-metal Riley special. I digress. First up was to measure the valve clearances and they were all over the place. The ideal is 12 thou and of the eight valves, only one was what we wanted.
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To measure the clearances you need a feeler gauge and something to clamp the camshaft down with. Fortunately, my friend had the special O-series tool for the job which is essentially three blocks of alloy that bolt down over the bearings and have little nylon blocks that screw down to clamp everything in place. This means you can get in at the gap between camshaft lobe and bucket with the feeler gauge and find out what the gap actually is. He also had a wide array of shims on hand so we'd hopefully have enough to sort the clearances properly.
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After a lot of maths, and a few rounds of removing the special clamps and camshaft, lifting buckets to replace the shims, clamping everything down and remeasuring, all of the tolerances were brought up to a much more acceptable and even measurement across the board, as close to 12 thou as we could get. This was all done after I'd already lapped the valves in properly which, of course, affects your clearances since material is being removed. What I had thought was a machined circle on one side of the old shims was actually wear. In this next image you can see the special clamps and, to the right, the micrometer for measuring the shims. I'd go into more detail about the facts and figures and how we actually did all this but I've forgotten, which is why I normally do the write ups immediately.
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I then came home, not in a particular rush, and made the same journey in about 2.5 hours instead of nearly five, my wonky headlight fixed when we found which adjuster needed repair, and I had every intention of getting on with the rebuild and sorting this all out. Then I got ill, and I stayed ill, and am still ill. Undeterred, I bullied myself into reassembling what I could of the head and quickly found out that yes, I am still ill and perhaps I should wait a little while longer before trying to do the head swap. I reassembled the two halves of the head with assembly lube on the rotating surfaces and some Wellseal on the joint between the two halves of the head. The Wellseal is good enough for sealing a K-series head and it'll be good enough for this, it's also a nicer job than using the recommended generic sealant as I've done before. I installed the end plate with a new paper gasket, and gave the cam a few rotations to check everything is as it ought to be. I'd already installed the new seals at each end of the camshaft too. I can't fit any of the other components to this head until I remove them from the head on the car, things like the mechanical fuel pump blanking plate, the bracket for the belt cover, and the distributor.
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Another item I ordered was an in-line radiator top hose filler, it took me a while to find a UK supplier for this and what turned up is really very nice (no picture, you'll see it later no doubt). I made a measuring mistake and bought one that takes a smaller cap than the one on the car, but I've found that the pressure rating of the car's coolant system is close enough to MX-5 systems that I should be able to use a cap from one of those with no bother. The bonus here is that MX-5 components are plentiful, and affordable, so should I need another cap for any reason, it should be easy to replace. The new hoses and clamps I need have also been easy to source since Mike has left over stuff from other projects that are suitable. I have everything lined up ready to do the head and fluids swap, the only thing holding me up now is this wretched virus or whatever it is I've contracted, so as soon as I'm well again, I'll get this job done.

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Gasman
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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Gasman » Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:03 pm

Well, first things first, I hope you recover your mojo soon!

Secondly, I have not shimmed an O series so it had never occurred to me that you can't shim it without the camshaft being held in place which requires the cam cover to be in place.... Seems a barmy design to me along with the non-replaceable cam bearings! How do you manage it if you are not lucky enough to have a friend with the correct BL tools, I wonder.

Get well soon.
Martin
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Oldest known surviving wedge, hand-built 15th Pre-Production Wolseley in June 1974
Last Ambassador down the line in November 1983, Austin Ambassador VDP

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Vulgalour » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:00 pm

If you were handy with bits of metal, you could make the tool, it's not that complicated and there is a diagram for it in the manual. I suspect most people just didn't bother. At first, this design does seem somewhat short sighted, what with the bearings being done the way they are, but it does seem quite robust and up to the task. I'm yet to hear of anyone having an O series that has worn out the bearings in the head, I imagine it must have happened to someone, but it's not a criticism I've yet seen levelled at them.

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by beiderbecke » Wed Nov 06, 2019 7:42 pm

:( 'Tis indeed unfortunate you are a bit Moby Dick at this time. But it's all looking good.

I have a set of the O series camshaft clamps purchased with a job lot of wedge parts years ago - might come in handy at a later date as both Kev and Martin have both got the 4 cylinder engines...

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by Gasman » Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:32 pm

Oh! That's good to know, Beiderbecke, that I have a friend with the requisite tools!
Martin
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Oldest known surviving wedge, hand-built 15th Pre-Production Wolseley in June 1974
Last Ambassador down the line in November 1983, Austin Ambassador VDP

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Re: 1980 Princess 2 1.7 HL

Post by beiderbecke » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:37 pm

:) They are available for your perusal at any time.

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