Monday, 2 March 2015

Time March-es on....

Well, here we are in March..........

The March of Time?

Where did the last two months go?

Well, the last five weeks have been spent fettling the Alvis.

It is now round at my friend Roger's place and has been since  the last week of January.

I've been using up some annual leave and also been working on the thing in almost every other unsequestered moment.

So far, (with Roger directing operations and generally providing the brains while I heave on heavy things and grunt....), we have built up the engine with cylinder head in place, torqued down to 35 lb/ft, and got the push rods and rocker gear all on and working nicely.

We have cleaned, checked and fitted the distributor, renewed the plug leads, polished painted and repaired the entire ignition side of things (including the manual advance and retard).

We have filled the sump with Morris of Shrewsbury's best SAE30 Running-In Oil, fitted the starter motor and battery, and had the engine turning over like a good-un.

We have removed the chassis irons onto which the rear bumper fixes.

(This involved a broken Riley Nine half shaft, copious quantities of WD40 and some proper straining of the nadgers, but we got them out in the end.)

The inside of the rear of the chassis was then purged of rust flakes and grot by careful application of a Patent Witts Device. This piece of lateral thinking comprised of a large bottle brush shoved in the end of about six feet of rubber hose. It pushed all the crud down the inside of the chassis box sections and out through the holes in the chassis where the wiring loom enters and exits. The cleaning job was finished off with by blowing through with compressed air. The inside of the chassis was then Waxoyled to within an inch of it's life.

This particular job left me filthy and aching all over.........

Myriad broken parts have been repaired (switches, senders, change-over valves..... Roger spent four hours alone on tinkering up a working ignition switch from a bagful of woebegone bits....... the list goes on...).

Some parts which have sadly gone adrift as the car has scudded between Bournemouth, Wisbech, Cottenham and The Parish have been replaced. This involved a trip up to north Norfolk to spend a thoroughly enjoyable day in the company of Alvis TA14 expert and spares man, John Wheeley. Losing those bits was a blasted nuisance, but the pleasure of finding their replacements and in  making Mr Wheeley's acquaintance more than made up for it: this visit deserves a blog post all of it's own....

We have stripped the replacement stainless steel fuel tank out, cleaned and painted a bit of the chassis that I had missed in 2006,  got the fuel changeover valve working, repaired the fuel sender unit and re-installed the tank with spiffy new rubbers on the newly cleaned and painted tank-straps.

Oh and installed a complete new wiring loom from Autosparks.

None of this takes long to say, but bu@*er me, it takes some doing.......

The new dashboard is in, as are the instruments. It's not bolted up 'proper job' yet, as there is still more loom work to do, but it's hanging in place with all switches doing what the manufacturer intended.

We have fitted the fuel filter (a lovely thing with a glass bowl filled with a stack of cleverly fashioned brass washers through which the petrol flows....), the new Burlen Fuel Systems ethanol-proof S.U. fuel pump, and we've replaced the corroded steel fuel lines and random bits of horrible plastic pipe on the bulkhead with copper.

I fitted the manifolds and carb. Roger machined up parts to take up the slack where we've removed the now redundant  anti-run-on device that formed part of the ignition switch set-up.

Victorious after last night's success getting the fuel change-over valve to work, today we topped up the cooling system with water preparatory to nipping out for a gallon of go-juice to see if the thing would actually fire-up.

Of course, water pissed all over the floor.

This is not supposed to happen.

A major leak from the blocked-off hoses I'd made to close the cooling system where there should have been take-offs for the heater was soon fixed.

And with remarkably little in the way of profanity........ (all that was required was to lean harder on the winding-irons when tightening up the Jubilee clips....)

The steady drip from the bottom of the timing chain case was not.

Water is absolutely NOT supposed to exist in any quantity within (or indeed, issue forth from) this component. (One might reasonably expect a tiny little, almost post-nasal, drip of oil, but no more.)

The world went very dark as I considered the possibility that we might just have spent the last year and hundreds of pounds reconditioning a fatally flawed engine block.

At times like these, the temptation to wash your hands, close the garage doors, and walk away is very strong.

However, such temptations were overcome. The engine was supported on a trolley jack, and, with the radiator removed, was jacked up enough to facilitate the removal of the front engine mounting bracket.

This allowed us a proper look at the front of the engine from the timing chain cover up to the water pump.

Even though the radiator and block had been drained, a driddle of water was still leaking out of the bottom of the water pump to cylinder block joint. Even better, it tracked perfectly down the front of the timing chain cover and IN through the hole for the crankshaft pulley and starter dog (these were removed to give a clear view.....), whence it then leaked out through the nut and bolt at the lowest point of the chaincase cover........

So we have a bastard of an incontinent water pump joint, but at least the block isn't terminally forked......

I hope......

Watch this space.



  1. How is Pippin doing nowadays? I hope you haven’t encountered any other problems with the valve and such. Anyway, it’s great that you managed to get those things settled right away, so you could avoid any further damage. Thanks for sharing!

    Boyd Caldwell @ Hays Hydraulics Ltd

  2. Any one else of the opinion that the above comment is computer generated?

    What a load of hydraulics......