Saturday, October 31, 2009

Botched Repair or Really Good Con!

Dateline – Oct 24th – 27th – I removed the back window to see what I really had as far as rust on the back deck. The window came out easily enough since it is held in with a seal, not glued in like modern windows.

After getting the widow out, I started scrubbing at the rust. The left side of the back deck was not too bad, with just a few small holes that can be easily repaired with some creative welding. The right side, well that’s a whole different story! At first I thought there was a lot of rust just on the deck and the more I scrubbed, the more or should I say, less metal I found. Eventually, I found that almost the entire back deck in the right corner was rusted through!

But that’s just the beginning. I then attacked what I thought was a bad repair job of replacing the left fender. There was a noticeable bump on the back panel between the trunk lid and the window frame about four inches inboard of the right fuel filler. I took a chisel and started working on this area. Soon, layer after layer of body filler started coming off until I found myself looking at a piece of metal that I thought was welded to the body, but found out was glued! After prying up the metal, I found a four inch hole going from the trunk seal lip up to half way up the fender! This whole was filled in with some sort of black foam, glue and body filler!

OK, so now I’m thinking this guy didn’t know how to weld and was just trying to get the fender replacement to look right. Unfortunately, the foam and body filler did a good job of holding water against the body, rotting it even more.

Reviewing the crease weld that is used to hold the window in, it looked like there was another piece of metal welded there and reinforced with some pieces glued to the back deck. I thought these were to help support the fender which had been replaced but that the window crease was pretty much complete.

Well, Monday night I got ambitious and decided to find out what was under the metal plates glued to the back deck. I should have gone to bed because I couldn’t have a nightmare as bad as what I found. The glued in panels hid about a pound of body filler that was used to build up the entire window frame! The metal around the crease weld was glued in and held in place with body filler. The entire section of the car was filled with filler! Once the material was removed and I could see what was left I realized that this whole section of the car was totally rotted away!

So, what I thought was a poor fender repair now appears to be a very crafty, and successful attempt at hiding a huge defect in the body by one of the previous owners! How this part of the body got so rusted is beyond me. It makes me wonder if something was left laying on the car that held water against the body to rust it through like this.

So, now what? On the good side, the metal being gone will make it much easier to get into the parts of the car where more rust may be. The bad side is that the metal being gone allowed water to run into areas that could compromise the car structurally, particularly around the C pillar and where the wheel well attaches to the rocker panel. If this area is rusted, the body is done with because the only way to fix this is put the body into a jig, cut and re-weld. Way beyond my skills, space, desires and budget!

What I have at this point is repairable in several different ways. I can find a donor car, but I suspect that they will be as rusted as this one is, I can manufacture rough body panels as replacements and weld/Bondo/lead them as a repair or I can build an armature and fiberglass them in. One of my friends suggested carbon fiber which would make a very interesting looking race stripe! You do have to laugh or you will cry!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Memoriam

Sheena – 1992 – 2009
It is with regret that I announce that our cat Sheena passed away today at 5:30 am. She was a very loving cat, who was the mistress of the house as well as the master of the dogs and us. I will always remember the way she would fall asleep purring on my chest when I laid on the couch, or walked up to me and plopped down on the floor, resting one of her hind paws against my foot, letting you know she was there, or watching her on the porch enjoying a sunny spot (and keeping the dogs from laying there while she was at it!) She had been very sick over the last month with kidney disease and the extreme pain she was in yesterday and this morning made our decision, although not an easy one, the loving and humane one. She made a warm and fuzzy bed in our hearts and that warmth will be sorely missed!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Down for the Winter

Dateline – Oct 10 – Well, I finally did it. I’ve put the car down for the winter! It is now on jack stands in the garage and in a definite “not running” state.

After getting the car off the ground, I started tearing it apart, starting at the boot lid and working forward. I removed the boot lid and took a good look at that. Looks like some surface rust where the vinyl panels were glued to the metal (good way to capture moisture to cause rust!), but most of it looks easily repairable. I then took off the bumper and started removing the gas tanks. I’ve never taken the tanks out of a Jag before, so there were a few things that were difficult, but mostly, it was getting my hands and wrenches in places they did not have room to go. Once I got the tanks out, I found various states of rust (surprise!)

One tank must have had ½ inch of flaky rust on top of it where water had been sitting and just rotting away the tank and body! Fortunately, it does not look like the rust is all the way through either tank. The prior owner said that he thought the right hand tank leaked, and I found that the breather hose was off and he confirmed that he thought that was were it was leaking too. I think my next job is the get the tanks on the bench and get them cleaned up and sealed with POR 15 or some equivalent gas tank repair paint.

However, on a more discouraging note, I also got a good chance to see the real condition of the body, and I’m worried. I definitely have holes in both back fenders which are going to need repair (I may be able to weld these closed), but my bigger concern was the absolutely terrible job one of the prior owners did replacing the back right wing! HORRIBLE!

The repair left areas for water to seep into the seams and rot the car out. Part of the fender is held on with Bondo, and there were holes in the boot lid water channel that let water run right into the boot, explaining all the rust in there! I haven’t pull the window out yet, but I suspect all the rot around the window is caused by the botched repair!

The good thing thus far is that the structural parts of the car still seem sound and I can repair most of the sheet metal problems. My decision point is this: I have rust that has worked its way from the back to the surface of the fenders, which means even if I patch/weld the holes, there is still rust behind that will eventually come through. I am going to buy some rust-repair paint that can stop the rust, but I have to get the paint to the rust, which I may not be able to do. But will I feel comfortable doing the best I can, painting the car and running the risk of it rusting through again in a couple of years?

I have four options, from least to most expensive:
1) Put everything back together and sale/donate/give away the car,
2) Do as much as I can and be happy with it,
3) remove the rotting metal and replace with new/used pieces, or
4) Pull all the good stuff off, throw away the body and buy a kit car kit!

Right now, option #4 looks the most promising! But I really like owning a Jag and I wouldn’t have that if I did option #4!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Master Cylinder Rebuild

Dateline – Sep 26 – Last weekend I noticed that my brake fluid was getting low, so I started to look around and found lots and lots of brake fluid on the inside fender below the brake master cylinder, merrily eating away at the original Jaguar paint. You guessed it! Leaking master cylinder! I ordered a rebuild kit form Terry’s Jaguar (again, very fast service) and today I did the rebuild.

The first thing was to get the master cylinder off the car. Not too bad. Things came apart easily and I soon had the cylinder on the workbench. Then the fun started. I pulled the feeds off the top of the cylinder and found a yucky, Vaseline like substance inside. Brake fluid and water mixed! NICE!

Then I discovered that there is no way to get the center plunger out without taking the “tipping valve” out of the top. This required a ½ inch Allen wrench. Who has a ½ Allen wrench? So a trip to Harbor Freight and now I own a ½ inch, ½ inch drive socket wrench mounted Allen wrench (along with 11 other sizes!). Good thing to, because it took that and a hammer to get the plug holding the tipping valve to unscrew!

After getting the guts out, I found what I most dreaded…RUST! Bad rust! The bottom of the cylinder was extremely pitted. This was not good! I got my trusty cylinder hone out (it saw a lot of use on the Spitfire) and honed out the cylinder the best I could. It is still pitted, but it would take machine equipment to get that out! I cleaned everything up, replace all the rubber with new stuff, put it back together again and hoped for the best.

I put the cylinder back on the car and tried to get the brakes to work, but could not pump up the fronts. So I had to take the cylinder back off, prime it with brake fluid, and then put it back on without all the fluid leaking out! I was up to my elbows in brake fluid and had it running all over the inside of the engine bay! What a mess, but I finally got everything installed.

Now for bleeding. This is when the inside mounted rear brakes become a real pain! You just can not get to the bleed nipples! Plus I had to replace one of the bleed nipples that had been flattened by the exhaust pipe that rubbed up against it (prior engine installation). Thanks again to Terry’s I was able to get the bleed valve. I’ve read about people building remote bleeding nipples for these cars since it is so hard to bleed them. I’m going to do this when I have the rear end out this winter! I’m not doing this again! The front brakes are easy, since you just need to take the wheels off and do a normal bleeding process.

Once everything was bled, I took the car out for a test and guess what, the pull to the right that I used to have under hard braking is gone! Even though I bled the brakes twice, I must have still had some air or something on the left hand side! I’ve also noticed a roughness to the brake peddle, which I know is the hard rubber plunger seal sliding over the pits in the cylinder. I suspect that this is going to weep brake fluid over time and I will end up getting a new $370.00 brake master cylinder at some point. But I’m keeping my eye on it, and hope it will last until next year.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fun Run

Dateline - Sep 12 - Once I got the car running well, I decided to take the car out for a fun run. All the driving I have been doing to date has been to work or to Seattle to see friends. I've never taken the car out to just have a fun drive in the back country. So in the afternoon, I washed the car, and took her out for a drive to Fall City taking the back roads. What fun! The car has never run so good, and I found some really sweet power bands in the V8. It feels like it is finally starting to break in, and the clean carb helped out a lot. Plus the sound of the exhaust being pipped through a 2 1/2 inch exhause with turbo mufflers is like music to the ears! It was 85 degrees, but I never felt so "cool"!

An interesting side note. As I was about 3 miles out from Fall City, I saw the Brown/Red XJ6 up the hill on the side of a driveway that was obviously not in running condition. I drove to Fall City and something kept nagging at me that I needed to check this car out. So on the way back, I pulled into the parking lot and the owner was sitting outside his house, just as I pulled in. I started chatting him up and found out that he was interesting in parting out this car and if there was anything I was interested in I should let him know. Well it was a '79, so a lot of the stuff would not fit, but the car has a really good headliner and a great looking back seat, the old style back seat! The leather is pretty hard, but it is not cracked and some good leather conditioner should bring it back with ease. After chatting for a while longer, he said that he would sell me the head liner and back seat for about $200. That's a deal! So I need to check to see if they will fit my car, but if they do, then I've just sourced at least two things I need for my car! It's good to listen to the voice in my head sometimes!

I Just Wanted To Make It Look Nice

Dateline – Sep 4 – 12 – Over the summer I have been parking the car in the garage when I got home and have really noticed a bad gas smell after it sits. With the new Methanol mixed gas, this smell is really noxious and that much gas vapor in the garage can not be a good thing! So I decided to rebuild the carb, assuming that there is gas leaking out of the carb into the engine, since I could not find gas leaks anyplace else.

I pulled the carb and tore it completely apart, including removing the butterfly valves and linkages. I then spent about seven hours polishing the entire carb body with aluminum wheel polish and a toothbrush, then using NeverDull to give it a nice polished look. Of course, during reassembly, I forgot how some of the linkage went back together (should have taken pictures!) but finally got it together and back on the car. Boy does it look nice (see pictures)!

The problem then was the

car ran horribly! I spent about three hours troubleshooting, adjust the floats, playing with idle speed,

mixture screws, etc., but could not get it to run well. Seems like it was either running rich on one side, or lean on the other! So, I pulled the carb off the car and disassembled it completely…again! I checked to make sure that the butterfly valves were installed correctly and closing completely (they may have been slightly off), the metering jets were in the right place on both sides (.098 primary, .095 secondary), which they were, and blowing out with carb cleaner and compressed air every passage and port on the carb. I assembled the carb again and put it back on the car, and voila, it ran like a top! Not sure what the problem was, since everything looked correct before disassembly except for the butterfly valves being slightly off, so perhaps that was it, or maybe some junk in a port that I could not see. At least it is running now and no longer smells of gas when I let it sit in the garage.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gas Pedal

Dateline - Sep 1 - I've always wanted a "Barefoot" gas pedal since I was a kid and saw them on hotrods and VW's in the early 70's. So I bought one! I figured this would be a good "period" piece. Now, I understand that most Jag owners would not have had this pedal on their cars, but most didn't have Chevy 350's in them either! Plus, it is really nice having a gas pedal instead of just a rod to push!

New Fuel Delivery System

Dateline - Aug 22 - The Edelbrock Performer 1406 Carburetor on the car has a fuel bowl inlet that is high on the top of the carburetor. With the lower profile Edelbrock Air Filter, the hose going into the inlet was being pressed down in a very unhealthy way! I didn't like the idea of this hose getting cut through and pressurized gas spilling out on hot engine parts. So I bought a chrome delivery tube at Schucks that has a banjo fitting that brings the hose under the carb. It also has a fitting that allows a pressure gauge to be attached, which I bought also.

Of course, the fun part was dealing with the existing fuel line. The mechanical fuel pump is on the front right side of the motor, and a 3/8 inch steel fuel line runs from the outlet of the pump, up the front of the engine between the timing chain cover and water pump, then up and over to the right. I then had a small piece of rubber hose, a fuel filter and then a longer piece of hose going to the carb. Of course, with the new pipe, I did not have enough room to get a fuel filter in-line, which I really wanted. So I pulled the steel hose off the fuel pump, which immediately started siphoning gas from the fuel tank out onto the garage floor. I didn't expect this to happen because most cars have a fuel tank that is lower then the level of the fuel pump. The Jags tanks are in the rear fenders, higher then the fuel pump so a siphon happened! I quickly had to pull the fuel pump inlet hose and get it above the tank level, and of course, clean up the gas from the floor and let the garage air out!

Then, I had to cut the steel hose down because it was bent and crimped and would not allow me to get a good round surface to attach the rubber hose. Finally, I got it cut to size and reinstalled. Installed the inlet hose, connected the rubber hoses, fuel filter and everything else. Started up the car and guess what, gas leaked out the of the outlet fitting of the fuel pump! Damned! I had to twist the steel hose around, with more gas on the floor, until I got it into a place that the flange seated correctly! What a pain!

This setup looks really cool and I found out that my fuel pump is pushing 7 lbs of pressure, which is higher then the carb really likes (between 5.5 and 6 lbs). High pressures can cause the engine to stall at standing take-offs because of carb flooding. I've noticed hesitation during take-off, so I am going to remove the mechanical fuel pump and put an Edelbrock pump in the trunk. There is already wiring there for the original fuel pumps, including the ability to switch the pump on and off from the dash switches. If I do this right, this would be a good anti-theft tool, since, no gas, no go!

I've also noticed a lot of gas smell when I shut the engine off and let it sit in the garage, which makes me think that I've got leaking float valves or bad gaskets on the carb. So I am going to buy a carb rebuild kit to see if that helps.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What It Will Look Like

Dateline - Aug 20th - Since I got the car, I've been toying around with how I want the interior of the car to look. I decided early on to not make it a restoration, so what I do with the interior is up to me. So, using my 3D software (Blender) and paint programs (the Gimp), I started modeling the interior for visualization. This is what I have come up with. I've reused the speedo/tack and the classic Jaguar switches, as well as some badges, center console, etc., but am going to do a lot of modifications, including a more then complete gauge set, birdseye maple dash, door and shifter console accents, carbon fiber for the center console and door inlays, new vinyl and carpets, new bezels under the dash and race seats. I think this is going to be really cool when I get done.

Tie Rod End Replacement

Dateline Aug 15th – It has been a very busy weekend and have not had much chance to work on the car, but I did get about an hour to swap out the tie rod end. The parts I ordered from Terry’s Jaguar showed up on my doorstep on Friday (good fast service, thanks again!), so I lifted the right side of the car and in about a half hour, had the old end out and the new one in. I was interested in how the car would handle, so I took it out for a drive. It is still pulling a bit to the right (probably could use a professional alignment and a brake rebuild) but it does dive a heck of a lot better! It also tracks much better on the grooved roads out here. So I’m pleased with the fix. My only issue now, do I get the alignment now, or wait until I pull the front end apart this winter to when I replace the rubber suspension bushing with urethane and lower the car!

As I side note, I helped a friend move this weekend and he had an interesting piece of luggage that is going to be in the boot of my car. It’s a small wet bar! It’s missing glasses as such, but I can get those. What a gorgeous period piece! He donated to the Jaguar! What a friend!

Brake Pulling Woes

Dateline, Aug 8th – I’ve noticed that the car really pulls right when braking. I’ve talked about this with friends and I’ve tried cleaning the left side brakes and checking for oil, contamination, etc., but nothing seemed to help. A friend suggested swapping out the brake pads to see if that makes a difference. So when I jacked up the car this weekend and looked under the right side of the car, I noticed that the wheel had a lot of play. Examination showed that the tie rod was worn! The interesting thing was that the left hand one had been replaced already, but not the right! Go figure!

Anyway, to test out my assumption that the tie rod was making the difference, I adjusted the right wheel to be significantly toe in and drove it around. Sure enough, brake still pulled right, but not as much. Time to order a new tie rod end.

Now the interesting part. This is the first time that I tried to get parts for my car locally. It’s Saturday morning, and I’m thinking that I’m going to find a place, no problem. I started calling around. NOTHING! None of the British car parts stores are open! Finally, I called a European car place just down the street and asked if they carry parts. No they said, but you can call this place that they do all their business with. I said, “Thanks! I call them right now.” The guy at the other end said, “Their not open on the weekends. We have been in this business long enough to were we don’t have to be.” WOW! It must be nice to be in a business that does not have to service customers on the weekend!

However, as I started to think about this, I realized why. First, all modern Jaguars are very reliable, much more so then the cars of old. Plus, up until the 90’s, Jaguars were always a poor-rich man’s car. Not as expensive as a Porsche or Mercedes, but not in the reach of the guy who buys the Chevet. Because of this, and because they are British, a lot of maintenance had to happen, and a lot of that done in the owners garage. Thus, parts are available. Now that the cars run in the $80,000 range, I suspect that there are not a lot of Jaguar owners turning wrenches and loosing skin on their knuckles as in the days of old! So it makes sense that the parts stores are only going to be open during the weekday. That is when the repair shops are open!

So, the answer is mail order. Thank you Terry’s Jaguar for having the parts I need!

New Battery Box

Dateline Aug 5 – An interesting thing I noticed as I have been driving the car is how much engine smell it get in the cabin. I then realized that this car had no battery box (the old one had rusted away years ago, and so the only things cover the holes in the firewall that are used gas/brake/clutch peddles for right-hand-drive cars was the battery itself! So, Also, my battery has been hold in place with a bungy cord, which is OK for troubleshooting in the garage, but not the best for quick stops at freeway speeds! So I bought a new plastic battery holder. I made sure to put a good layer of duct tape down over the holes and installed it. This is a short term fix (DUH! Duct Tape! Really?) until I get to details the engine bay. It sure did make a difference smell wise and I feel a lot better about my batter not flying forward into the radiator, shorting out and starting the car on fire!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New TV Cable, Brake Check and Speedo

Dateline July 3rd and 4th. I received the new Transmission Value (TV) cable, adaptor and transmission pressure gauge this week and decided to put it in this weekend. The TV cable required removing the carb and putting a plate under it, adding an adaptor to the carb linkage, removing the old cable and installing a new one. The carb, plate and adaptor were all easy. The cable, not so much!

First I had to get the old cable out. Only one nut was holding it in, but it took two long extension and a universal joint on my 3/8" ratchet handle to reach it. I got it loose and pulled the old cable out and realized that there was no way I was going to reach from the top to put the new one on. So I jacked up the car and crawled underneath. No luck there either, since the exhaust pipe was in the way. I had to release the pipe at the manifold and move it out of the way just to get my hand in.

Once I got my hand into the spot, I figured out that there was going to be no way that I could attach the cable to the little wire with a hook on it, put the cable housing back on and tighten the bolt, knowing that everything is still connected. So I had to drop the transmission oil pan! The pan has a drain plug, so I was able to get the oil out easily, and 16 bolts later, the pan was down. Now I could see the TV plunger and the wire the cable needed to hook to. I jammed the plunger so that the wire was fully extended and it was just a matter of treading the wire into the cable end.

After putting everything back together, putting oil in the tranny, hooking up the cable to the adaptor and plugging in the pressure gauge, I did the recommended pressure tests and adjusted the linkage. Everything works great. The linkage is pretty cool because you can adjust the shifting feel of the transmission to really tight, hard shifting and high RPM, to smooth, cruiser type shifting, all with a small Allen wrench!

That was Friday. Saturday I decided to check to see why the car pulls to the right when braking. I thought that perhaps there was something on the left hand brake pad or the calipers were not working right. I jacked up the left side, pulled the wheel and brake pads. Nothing looked amiss, so I cleaned the rotor and pads with Emmery cloth and brake cleaner and put everything back together.

Since I had the car up, I decided to check the speedo cable at the transmission since I new that the cables from there up were OK. Sure enough, the small cable segment that goes from the transmission gear into the 90 degree cable adaptor was twisted in half! So, I took a long screw and filed it into a square shaft and inserted into both ends. Low and behold, I have a speedo! I don't know how long this will hold, but it works right now!

I took the car out to test the brakes and it was still pulling. Disappointing, but I have some ideas about how to troubleshoot this weekend.

Pictures this week are of the carb adaptor and TV Cable setup.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wax Day, Driving Weekend, General Cleanup

Dateline - June 27th - 28th. This was the Greenwood Auto Show weekend ( and I wanted to see what was going on in the hot rod world. I spent a good portion of the morning finishing the wash and wax job (removing all the old sap on the body), then took a drive to Greenwood. This was the longest drive I've taken the car on, and it ran fine! Love the V8 power. I even lit the tires a little off a stop light, and I didn't even mean too! I am going to need to watch this!

After getting back from the show, I decided to put the back bumper back on, which I got installed, and did a little more cleanup in the car.

Sunday I spend about four hours vacuuming the foam off the ceiling. The head liner had been pulled out by the prior owner, but the thin foam was still partially attached. I noticed as I was driving around that parts of the foam were falling down and I really didn't think it would be a good idea to breath this stuff. So I got the shop vac out and got rid of the foam.

I also installed a hidden radio antenna, getting rid of the old one that was in the pictures from a couple of posts ago. Finally, I installed a switch plate to hold the power window switches. I'm finding that I am using the power windows a lot, and it was getting a bit hard to use the switches when they were flopping around in the center console. So I made a plywood frame to mount them on.

Bit by bit, I'm getting the car in good driving condition. I've got a transmission TV cable coming next week which should allow me to better tune the transmission performance. While I'm down there, I am going to try to figure out why the speedo is not working. After that, it is all just cosmetics!

Sealing Windows

Dateline - June 18th - Last weekend it rained and I noticed that I got a lot of water in the car. A LOT! So I thought I would try sealing around the front and back window to see if this helps. I masked off the windows and got some black RTV. After everything cured, I tried it out by washing the car. No water! So looks like I have some work to do around the windows this winter. The seal should hold until then.

Trying out some ideas

Dateline June 16th - I'm thinking about doing a really radical interior with carbon composites on the dash, center console and doors. They make a Green Kevlar and Carbon Comp fabric that I wanted to try out. So I got a picture of it on the web and printed it out with a color printer. I then glued it to a piece of plywood door skin and put think clear vinyl over it to simulate a clear coat. I'm glad I did because I'm not sure I like it. I may order some just to make sure, but I think it may be too much!

I also installed the rest of the shifter housing. Nice to have that closed in!

Doors Unlocked, Rust Rust Rust

Dateline - Jun 20th - 21st - Had a pretty busy weekend and was not able to spend a lot of time on the car. This weekend concentrated on getting the passenger front and driver back doors unlocked. This required pulling the door panels off. A little harder to do when the door would not open, but was able to get the panels off.

The reasons the doors would not unlock was corrosion. I spent some time with WD-40 and got the locks to work correctly. Both back door windows were working slowly also, so I pulled out the power windows and cleaned them up. Now they work fine. I also inspected the inside of the doors and found them surprisingly clean of rust. I was really worried that there would be a lot of hidden rot here, but the drain holes stayed clean so just some surface rust.

I did get the steering wheel installed and then started pulling out more of the old interior panels. I have a lot of rust on the floorboards, especially on the passenger side. As I was cleaning up the rust, I managed to push the screwdriver through the floorboard! Yup! rotted right through! Fortunately, there are floor panels available for this car, so now I need to make the choice of getting new panels and welding them in. or making some of my own. I have other rust issues that I am going to need to deal with this winter, so I'm going to hold off doing anything until I know more about the condition of the body. Until then, Duct Tape will keep the exhaust out! (Yes, that is a radio antenna in the picture! I'm taking care of that next week!)

Note the picture of a pile of interior stuff! A lot of rotten fabric, vinyl and carpet!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wax Day

Dateline - Sunday June 14 - Most of my day I was busy with other things, but around 5:00 pm I just could not hold off any longer. The car needed a wax job! The problem was that there is a lot of pitch on the car. LOTS of pitch! It had been on the car for a long time too and basically required a razor blade to get it off. So I worked on the roof and hood, and got both pitch free, and three coats of wax by 7:30 p.m. This car does not have a lacquer finish, or even a clear coat, so it doesn't have the really deep color, but with a coat of wax, it still looks really good! (sorry, no pictures today. It got too dark to take any decent ones!)

Steering Wheel, Shifter and Tunes, plus highway miles

Dateline - June 13th - Got the shifter installed today. Took about 7 hours of work to get the special bracket made and the shifter installed. In order to install the handle, I had to drill holes in the floor and then reach up through the special transmission cross member, between the transmission and the car body, and then slip a flat washer, lock washer and nut onto the bold sticking through the floor. There are advantages to having long, thin arms! I resorted to using grease to hold all the washers in place while I spun the nuts onto the bolts. A lot of work. I don't know how many times I crawled under the car, crawled back up, then crawled under again!

I cleaned up the wiring around the center console and got rid of the old "mobile phone" cables that where still under the dash. Then I checked out the radio. My original guess was right, the fuse was blown. Radio works fine! I installed the center console and radio.

Finally, I installed the newly finished Steering wheel (2 coats of amber lacquer, 10 coats of clear and hand rubbing! Very Sweet!) After I got everything in, I decided to take her for a ride, so I took the back roads down to Woodinville, then took the highway back home. Everything worked fine and the car can really go on the freeway. It is going to be very dangerous! Must watch speed!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Shifter Came In

Totally unexpected, my new shifter arrived on Saturday, two whole days earlier then expected (good job Summit Racing Equipment)! So today I decided to see if I could at least get it installed. Oye! One problem after another. I crawled below the car and found that the people who installed the exhaust put the pipe too close to the tranny case, which means that the normal way to install it will not work. I'm going to need to create my own bracket and run the cable from the front of the engine with the lever pointing up, instead of from the back with the lever pointing down. It should work either way, but it means that I have to make the bracket! Oh well! It is a custom car, right?

Also, I pulled the center console out the car. As with all British cars I've worked on, there are a myriad of different sized screws, blink nuts and other fun that you have to take out in order to get this thing loose. Once out, I found strands of old stereo wire that are no longer connected to anything, vacuum pipes that are used for the climate control that are just hanging around, and dirt, dirt, dirt! I ran out of time, so I was not able to put in the shifter or connect anything up. I do have a good idea of how much space I have available and am putting together some ideas for the new interior (e.g. Using vacuum controls for the floor/facia flapper vents which are currently mechanical, perhaps using a GM climate control panel to control heat, air direction, fan and rear window defroster, which would get rid of three switches on the dash, etc) .

I also found a possible reason why the stereo was not working. I thought it may have been the bad alternator, but a fuse that was buried deep in the console was blown. I still have to test the radio out, but I am holding hope.

Since I am going to be completely redoing this interior, probably this winter, I don't know how much of this I'm going to re-install. It is going to look rough for awhile, but that's OK, as long as it is drivable.

Fuel Sender

Dateline - Saturday June 6th - While I was painting the wheel, I thought I would try to figure out why the fuel sender was not working on the left take (the only one with gas in it). I started out by troubleshooting the wiring in the car, but all looked good. I then drained the tank and pulled the lower valance off thinking that I would get at the sender from there. With the valence off, I found an access hatch that you can get at from inside the wheel well (makes you think that there are lots of problems with fuel senders! "Lucas! Prince of Darkness!"). I pulled the wires and tried to see if I could get the gauge to move. It would not, so I thought it was the switch. I took one from my spare panel and put it in and it moved when I shorted the hot to ground. So all the wires are good, it must be the sender. I pulled the sender and opened it up, and sure enough, a wire thinner then a hear that run from the potentiometer to the external plug was broken! I piece of copper wire and some solder fixed it right up. Put the sender back in the tank, but before I filled the tank up, I wanted to replace the old glass (yes GLASS!) filter that was in the trunk with a new plastic one. I cut out the old filter and replaced it with a new one, which should be much safer!

Finally, I filled the tank back up with about four gallons of gass and the gauge worked. I then re-wired the original switch back in, and it still worked. Maybe a bad connection at the switch too! Pictures show the work I did, plus evidence that the sender is working!

Steering Wheel

Dateline - Saturday June 6th - One task for today is steering wheel refinish. Friday night was spent chipping the old lacquer off the wheel and sanding in prep for panting. Saturday was tape and paint day. I started with two coats of Antique Amber colored lacquer, to give it that really deep look. Then, six coats of clear. Attached are pictures of the wheel before painting. I still have a few more coats to put on, then a good rubbing out to get the really smooth finish.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Shifter Ordered and Work for This Weekend

The battery is holding up very well. I've checked it every day and the car
starts right up. I'm going to try putting the #2 fuse back in to see if
that was really draining the battery, or if it was truly the alternator
that was the problem.

I've selected the new shifter for the car:

I measured everything out and this seems to be the one that will fit the
best. It's about 1 inch taller then the handle in there now. I'm not
overly happy with the big T-Handle. It seems massive for the delicate
steering wheel/Jaguar interior. But because the handle/shaft can be
removed from the shifting unit, I may be able to "modify" the Jaguar handle
to fit! That would look really cool! But that is low on the priority list
at this point. I just want to make sure that the tranny is being shifted
correctly, at the right time, and that the car does not come out of drive
when I'm driving. That is really not a good thing to happen when you are
tromping on the throttle. A quick shift into neutral at full throttle is a
guarantee for doing serious and expensive engine damage (e.g. spun bearing,
thrown pistons, bent rods, etc.)!

I've also decided to refinish the steering wheel, so I ordered some
lacquers used for guitars from the Stewart MacDonald last night. I ordered
an amber colored clear as well as high gloss clear. I'm thinking of
putting one coat of the amber on the wheel, then stenciling "JAGUAR" across
the top of the wheel in green, then applying several coats of gloss clear.
That will look way cool.

This weekends work items:
- Pull the left gas tank to get the sender working.
- Find out what is leaking in the right tank
- Replace the glass filter in the trunk
- Figure out the Speedo issue
- Check the gauge/dash lights to figure out why most of them are not coming

The car is almost to the point were I am going to start driving it more,
maybe daily. I want to get some miles on the car so that I can break in
the engine and transmission.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Extended Drive

Dateline - May 31st - Took car for an extended drive, well as far as McClendons in Woodinville to get some string trimmer line (doing yard work today). The car did well, but it jumped out of drive on me a couple of time. The previous owner told me it did this and I realized that the shift quadrant for the car was for a three speed! The TH700R4 tranny in there now is a four speed! So it looks like I am going to need to source a four speed quadrant, or better yet, get an aftermaket shifter, like a Hurst ratchet shifter! That would be cool!

Steering and Battery

Dateline - May 30 - Bought new battery ($88) and found out that I will not be able to use standard batteries in this car because of the terminal position and the height of the battery area. Oh well! This car is 38 years old!

I decided to pull the steering column to see what was causing the dragging. This was a real chore since it required pulling the entire dash out! It was amazing just how much this car is like my old Spitfire. They even used the same blind bolts to hold the wooden dash!

After getting the column out, I took it to the bench and started taking it apart. As soon as I got it apart enough to loosen up the ends a bunch of little pin bearing fell out! I knew this wasn't good. The bottom end bearing was trashed! Were was I going to source one of these! I did some deep thinking, but had no idea were to get one of these. I went to the local parts store, even to a bike shop, but no go. I'm going to try a local bearing supplier that someone turned me onto, but until I get that, I greased the column really well and put it back in.

The good news is that I really know the inside of the dash now! And the steering is much smoother then it was before. I also took some time to straighten out the wiring under the dash, which was surprising pristine! I also cleaned up the Hazard flasher, which had corroded really bad, but now works like a charm.

Bleeding Brakes and First Drive

Dateline - May 25 (Memorial Day!) - I decided that I wanted to bleed the brakes before I drove the car the first time. Seemed like a good idea since I did not know when the last time they had been done. So I started the task by sucking the oil out of the reservoir and cleaning all the junk that had built up there.

I then jacked up the right rear of the car, taking the wheel off and climbed under the car. The first think I noticed was that the new, non-stock exhaust was sitting right next to the brakes, which are inboard on these cars. It was a real pain working around everything under the car to get the brakes bled, but I succeeded. I also took the time to clean, polish the chrome and armor-all the wheels/tires.

The left side rear was even worse the the right. The exhaust was rubbing against the bleed valve waring it flat on one side! I managed to get this one bled, but it was a chore and took almost an hour to get it done.

Fortunately, both the front brakes were pretty easy, so they didn't take long. Now I had fully bled breaks and clean wheels!

I decided it was time for the car to move. I put the trailer battery back in and started the car. After a few tentative moves down the driveway, I turned her into the street and started down the road. I noticed two things, the steering seemed to have a real rough feeling (I had the same thing in the Spitfire and suspected it was some dry bushings) and the transmission would not shift out of 1st until I hit about 2500 RPM, even with little acceleration. This would require some research, since I knew nothing about the TH700R4 transmissions. But I did drive the car a bit and put it back into the driveway (Notice the picture of the car facing the other way!)

Now I just needed to get a new battery and I'd have a real driver. Hour count: 5

I Had a Bright Idea

Dateline - May 24 - I thought about the alternator problem all night and most of the day and could not figure out the problem. I dug through the schematics and manuals that I got with the car, and the only thing I could think of was the Lucas regulator, which was still wired into the car. I started pulling wires and plugs, but nothing would stop the squeal. I was about to give up, when I though, "Maybe it is the battery". After all, if the alternator was bad, maybe it took out the battery. I started the car and pulled the negative terminal from the battery and guess what! It ran like a top! No squeals, no noise, and the car seemed like it had a large load taken from it. I took the battery out and went to Schucks. They tested it and said it was good. I was not going to buy another battery just to find out that is not the problem, so I went home kind of dejected.

I decided to try to figure out why the water drain hole on the left tank was not working, so I pulled the rear bumper and the left bottom fender valance, which exposes the bottom of the tank and discovered that the rubber hose that is supposed to exit out a hole in under the car was pushed into the fender. I ran a wire up the whole and cleared out a whole bunch of crud, then after checking that water pored right out, I fitted the fender back, but left the bumper off so that I can polish it.

I then had an idea. Why don't I pull one of the batteries from my trailer and try it. I know you should not use deep cycle batteries on cars, but this was just a test. I pulled the battery and it worked! So, I needed to get a new battery. I felt pretty good and decided to give the car a wash. I put about five hours of work in. Not a bad day!

Getting her running - Alternator was bad

Dateline - May 23 - Of course, I had to dig right in as soon as the car got there. Since the car had sat for awhile, I decided to pull the plugs and spray WD-40 into the cyclinders, just to free up any rust that may have accumulated.

The prior owner had problems with water in the left gas tank because of a plugged drain in the filler cap (typical British over engineering). I pulled the plug on the bottom of the tank and drained out the gas. Unfortunately, the tank was just about full (12 gallons), with about 2 gallons of water in the bottom. Filled up a few jerry cans but got all the gas out.

The car also had a short that needed taking care of. Started troubleshooting by removing all wiring connections, pulling fuses, etc., and discovered that there was one bad interior circuit (map lights, interior lights, Fuse #2) and that the alternator was bad. $47 later, I had a new alternator on the car.

I drained the oil and put in a new filter, put the plugs back in, put fresh gas in the tank and pored a little down the card. The moment of truth was at hand. I turned the key. The motor cranked about six times and fired right up. But at high RPM, I started getting a really bad squeal. I thought it was the power steering pump, which was light on oil. I filled it back up and started the car, but still had the squeal. It was the new Alternator! The shaft of the alternator was burning hot! I took the alternator off and took it back to the store. They tested it, but said it was good. They gave me another one anyway. I installed it and sure enough, same thing. The only thing I could think was that there as a straight short to ground pulling down the alternator.

By this time I had spend about 7 hours on the car and was done for the night, well almost. I pulled the hubcaps and polished them that night while I watched a movie! It's an illness, I know!

The Cat Arrives

Dateline - May 23 - The Cat Arrives! Since the car was not running, I had it towed by flatbed from Tacoma. The towing process was easy, although a bit costly and the car ended up backward in my driveway. My goal for the weekend was to be able to turn it around under it's own power!