That looks an interesting and useful upgrade. We had considered the alternator-in-dynamo-casing option and may still go that route eventually, though given how little electrical stuff is on the car and the use of LEDs reducing demand on the system, just that little regulator upgrade might suffice.
Which is exactly the option that I stick to on the Javelin
Had a little time during my lunch break today to crack on fitting the new rocker cover gasket. We'd ordered one since it was only a tenner and the gasket on the car was leaking quite badly. The rocker cover itself is, surprisingly (though perhaps this is more normal for cars of this era, so only surprising to us since we're new to them) cast aluminium. It's a bit of a fiddle to get it out past the heater pipes and the rocker assembly, there's a knack to it, and the radiator stay bars get in the way a bit too. Not the friendliest engine bay and also not the worst. With the rocker cover off it was a lot easier to see why the old seal was leaking, a couple of pieces of the old gasket were missing and the gasket itself had gone hard with old age. One curious thing is the electrical tape tabs on the corners, the only thing we could think those are for is to pull the corners out when aligning the gasket. The gasket had also been held on with some white sealant of some sort, though not massive amounts and it looks like the rocker cover may have been repainted at least once. Much of the paint on the top is flaking off, the temptation to polish the cover is quite high, it would probably come up beautifully.
The cover itself is bolted down with two bolts that have lovely knurled heads on them, that's the two larger holes in the middle. The other hole with the gasket hanging off goes to the air cleaner, we're missing one of the bolts (there's quite a few fixing bolts missing here and there), The large disc is the oil filler cap, it looks like the whole thing might have been chromed originally, now it's just the knob on the top and a bit underneath it, while the rest of the disc is tarnished brass. After cleaning the inside and outside of the cover as much as was necessary, I cleaned the gasket mating face off with some fine wet and dry paper before using the gel superglue provided to tack the cork gasket in place. There's no groove for the gasket to go in, it just sits against two flat faces (one on the cover, one on the engine) and without the superglue, the long sides of the gasket try and pull in and can be a bit of a nuisance to align. For the engine side, just a clean was required, the oil leak had washed away any sort of sealing material that might have been there and it was clean enough to not warrant the wet and dry the cover required.
Once I was sure that was set, it was a case of finegling the cover back onto the engine. It was now much more pleasant to handle since it didn't have oily deposits on the lower inch or so. You have to hook the rear passenger side of the cover over the rocker assembly first, easing it past the heater pipe, and then the whole rocker cover just plops neatly into place. Fixing it down is simple a case of dropping the knurled head bolts into their holes and doing them up until it feels snug. I'll recheck these bolts again since the gasket is likely to settle a little and they'll probably need another half turn or so.
A very pleasant, easy job. You can also spy our new unfinished plug leads in that last shot, we're just waiting on the spark plug and coil end covers for the leads to arrive, which they should be in a few days' time, and that should address the idling issue since the leads will actually connect properly. More on why those weren't working properly when the new leads are finished and installed. The spark leads are red because they just are (well, actually the other half wanted red ones and it was as good an excuse as any). As it happens, the spark plug covers we ordered in black were out of stock when they went to pick them and they asked if we'd like red ones instead for the same price, so perhaps the red wires were a good choice after all.
The new (to me) auxilliary lights arrived today so that meant I could get those fitted. It also meant I had a closer look under the front and found a reason why the new wiring loom is probably a good idea. There's all sorts of non-original wiring going on there, and who knows exactly why. It does look like it's been there quite a while so perhaps this was done while the car was still in use and perhaps it was the failing wiring that actually took it off the road.
For those unfamiliar with it (I know I am) here's a view of the front suspension. Overall, there's nothing I can see that's obviously problematic, some cleaning and regreasing will highlight anything that can't be seen right now.
I knew from the manual that there was a drain tap for the coolant system somewhere and was pleased to find it and find that it's quite easy to access. I haven't attempted to turn it yet, I want the car out of the garage and moving under its own power before flushing the coolant. I assume the internal thread in the drain tap is so that you can connect a suitable hose and direct the old coolant into a recepticle rather than just dumping it unceremoniously on the floor.
I did test the auxilliary lights and couldn't get any life out of them. This isn't that important since they were bought mainly for show and to fill the existing holes in the bumper infill panel. They really are perfect for this car, just the right amount of rust and deterioration to look like they've always been there and just the right size for where the previous holes were drilled. I had to open out the driving light hole a tiny bit with a needle file to accept the bolt stem, the fog light isn't fitted yet as that hole is much smaller and will need drilling out a little larger. It's an existing hole for an auxilliary light so I don't mind drilling this up a size to match the new light that's going in, we wouldn't even be fitting auxilliary lights if the holes weren't there to begin with.
I'm charging the cordless drill at the moment, I can't get to my drill bits and chuck for the corded drill because the Lanchester is blocking them in and I'm too much of a weakling to push this car up the very slight incline of the drive on my own. New wipers have been ordered from www.s-v-c.co.uk/ which were the most affordable online. Marine suppliers seemed not to stock the peg type, only the more common bayonet type wipers. SVC were the most affordable alternative I could find. I've been getting increasingly nervous about the wiper arms having no blades on them, horrible visions of scratching the screen by accident, or misplacing the arms if I remove them, so thought it best to get some new wipers to remove the anxiety and tick another item off the list.
Speaking of the list:
Wiper blades - ordered ignition leads - ordered Change oil and filter Flush and replace coolant Rebuild carburettor Full set of tyres, possibly inner tubes too Refurbish dynamo Refurbish starter motor Repair/replace wiring loom - ordered new Grease gun and grease Indicator/sidelight combination LED bulbs for front (hidden item) Indicator/high level brake light combination LED for rear (hidden item) Replace bulbs where necessary Repair/replace exhaust Door handle gaskets Boot seal Pedal rubber seals Stud/bolt for bonnet release/mascot Bolt for rocker cover to air cleaner Fixings for bonnet side panels Rear view mirror Window winder escutcheon (driver's side front door) Carpet set Tool roll (original if possible, equivalent if not) Clean out and underseal all arches Clean engine bay Polish and wax bodywork to preserve Repair seat leather Revarnish interior wood Re-scumble instrument cluster
Much of the list is standard recommissioning items, as is to be expected.
Spent some more time with hand files to enlarge the holes for the auxilliary lights, even charged, the cordless drill just wasn't cutting through the steel as quickly as the little hand files were so I kept at it the old fashioned way. The loose wires from the lamps are tidied up around the bumper irons for now, since the lamps are just for show. We'll rewire these when we fit the new loom, get them working properly. They do suit the car rather well. The auxilliary lamps are a driving and a fog matched pair from Marchal, and just about perfect for what the car is. The fog light lens is cracked and that doesn't matter either, if we find a good lens then we'll probably fit that, for now it's not important.
The other item I tackled was the front number plate. I had a suitable stiff bristled brush and some black enamel and I just wanted to make the front plate more legible without making it new . This was tricky because I didn't want to lose the wear on the plate by simply painting the whole thing black, which would have been quite easy. Instead, I followed www.youtube.com/channel/UCvZe6ZCbF9xgbbbdkiodPKQ Baumgartner's lead by filling in just what was distracting around the letters to bring the plate into better focus without making it look brand new. The new enamel should dull down to match the old so that it's not quite as obvious. The stiff bristled brush allowed for better control of the paint's texture so it wasn't too perfect, or too imperfect, next to what was there. Today's bits of work hopefully look like I haven't really done anything, because that was my goal with these additions.
I'm on my own today so I'm a little limited on what I can actually achieve. Plenty of time before work, Saturday is always a very late start and finish, which is good for tinkering. It was also fortunate that the parts that would enable tinkering arrived today, we could finally complete the ignition leads and see if we could get to the bottom of the car's running issue.
The Lanchester is running modern 'bullet' type spark plugs with the old 'acorn' style distributor cap. I ordered parts to make leads to fit both of these things since the plugs look fairly new and the cap is in excellent condition, there's no real cost saving replacing the cap to accomodate more modern leads and I've always wanted to have a go at making my own ignition leads so this seemed an ideal opportunity. The acorn type fitting is new to me, 'acorn' referring to the screw fitting that goes into the distributor cap. You trim back the sheath of the wire, feed a little brass disc onto the wires and then fan them out as evenly as you can to provide your connection. The screw fitting keeps everything very secure and while it's a little fiddly, it's quite pleasing to do. At the spark plug end, I opted for screw on caps rather than crimp on ones, I liked the look of these and it meant I could avoid crimps, which I don't really enjoy doing. As it turns out, it's quite easy to install these and in a matter of minutes I had a nice new set of matching leads.
The distributor cap was in surprisingly good condition, I don't think it's a new item as there's some signs of wear. Likewise the rotor arm and points, neither of which look like they're in need of anything at all.
The leads are on the long side, I guessed at the lengths since what was fitted before wasn't really a good template. Once I know everything is good and working I will shorten the leads accordingly, because of the acorn fittings that's actually really easy to do. The red actually turned out to be a good choice, it's much easier to see what you're doing because of the contrast they provide. Unfortunately I'd made one mistake which is I bought what I thought was a straight coil connector to match the plug elbow connectors, what I'd actually bought was a straight plug connector, so it doesn't fit the coil. No bother, I stole the king lead from the Princess which actually fit the acorn cap surprisingly well and allowed me to test the new leads.
The good news is the car cranks so much more willingly now. Unfortunately, it didn't want to play ball and the starter motor just eventually gave up and wouldn't do anything. I can't use the hand crank because, as spotted by a reader, it looks like the front engine mount is worn out because the pulley sits low, which makes it pretty much impossible to line up the crank handle. Never mind, an attempt was made and I've learned these new wires are a significant improvement over the old. Part of the reason the old wires weren't working was them having the wrong connectors at the distributor cap end, another was that one of the connectors had broken apart, and another issue was that they tried to plug one of the leads into an acorn fitting that was still in the distributor, the barest bit of old lead wire sticking out was just about making a connection. Really, it's a miracle the car ran at all.
I was going to order a new coil cap for the lead I'd done incorrectly when I had a brainwave and realised I could just salvage a crimp fitting and boot from one of the old leads, which is exactly what I did. Following the way the old lead was put together, I stripped back the lead sheath and folded the wire back so it made a good connection with the crimp, and then crimped it. The lead and boot fits the coil very snugly and should, I hope, be a good solution.
I do suspect the starter motor's issue could be down to the old wiring. We've had a few things like the lights that were working now not, and the wipers have stopped working too, which leads me to believe there's some very poor connections around the car. At least we have heard it running so we know that it does, it's just a little frustrating not to have it running again so we can carry on with the tidy up and problem solving. Speaking of the wipers, the new blades arrived, I've never fitted this type of wiper before so I just did what looked correct. They're quite wibbly-wobbly, seemingly by design, and the new blades come with a protective film you have to peel off before fitting. The blades rely entirely on a little rubber peg that you push through a hole to keep them held in the arms. It's not a fantastic design, I can see why more cars use the bayonet type.
I had hoped to test the wipers, unfortunately they're now not working which is likely down to a poor electrical connection somewhere. However, the washer jets are entirely manual, so I wanted to see if I could get those going. The washer bottle slides into a bracket screwed to the bulkhead, it was sitting a bit loose so I knew the bracket was sprained, I've seen that on newer cars. Removed the bottle, straightened the bracket, and then saw some old yellow glue that looked like it had been used to pack out the back of the bottle to fit the sprained bracket. My assumption was incorrect, the old yellow glue on one side was hiding a massive crack where someone has used too much forst on the bottle. This can probably be repaired with some care, though a new bottle would be better.
There's a little hand pump on the dash for the washers, a few pumps to prime the line and then all at once the button went quite firm and four perfectly aimed jets of clean water hit the screen. I was honestly expecting them to be blocked, or to fire out sludge, or to leak. Nothing of the sort, they just work and work exceptionally well, certainly no need for an electric upgrade. I'd love to show you the wipers in action, but sadly until we get to the bottom of the wiring I can't do that.
They're only small steps forward, but steps forward nonetheless.
There's a couple of items to add and a couple to remove from the list now, so here we go:
Service and Mechanical
Change oil and filter Flush and replace coolant Rebuild carburettor Full set of tyres and inner tubes Adjust brakes Acquire/repair washer bottle Acquire front engine mount Acquire grease gun and grease Repair/replace exhaust Tool roll (original if possible, equivalent if not)
Inspect dynamo Inspect starter motor Replace wiring loom - ordered new Acquire battery clamp Indicator/sidelight combination LED bulbs for front (hidden item) Indicator/high level brake light combination LED for rear (hidden item) Replace bulbs where necessary Inspect wiper motor
Door handle gaskets Boot seal Pedal rubber seals Stud/bolt for bonnet release/mascot Bolt for rocker cover to air cleaner Fixings for bonnet side panels Rear view mirror Window winder escutcheon (driver's side front door) Carpet set Clean out and underseal all arches Clean engine bay Polish and wax bodywork to preserve Repair seat leather Revarnish interior wood Re-scumble instrument cluster
After I'd had a bit of a read and a think about various issues that it might be I decided, on the off chance, to have another go at starting the car. A neighbour then appeared and we got (socially distanced, almost shouting) chatting, he's into Jags and such, seemed a nice sort, knew his stuff. Time rather got away with us and by the time I'd left the ignition on for about 20 minutes. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I pulled the starter knob and the car... started. It idled, it responded well to throttle. I was caught so off guard I went to grab my camera quickly and realised I'd left it in the house, automatically turned off the car before going to grab it. When I came back and tried to start the car it wasn't having it at all and I suspect it's the old wiring just being worn out so it's causing some odd issues, like the wipers not working, or the dash lights going off and coming back on. That said, I'm delighted at how well the car started, idled, and ran with the new plugs. It wasn't dropping a cylinder or more any more and it was happy to chug away on whatever it is in the fuel tank so I feel fairly confident that the problem isn't a mechanical one. Some fresh fuel and the new wiring loom should see things up and running properly.
Vulgalour, is that the original super bottle? Looks a little out of place. I guess it could be but I'd more expect to see a glass bottle or a bag even. The kind of plastic it will be made from will be awkward to glue. May be able to plastic weld it. There will be a solvent or glue that will no doubt bond it, but these things tend to be pricey for what they are. Hence wondering if the bottle isn't original, any money would be better off spent on replacement.
I did wonder if the bottle should be a glass one, or a round Tudor one tbh. Am also aware of the coil frying, I look to have got away with it this time at least, though the starting recalcitrance could be down to a bad coil or condensor of course, I want to get that new loom in before trying to chase out those sorts of problems so I've at least got one good point to work from.