John and Heather Innis

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Projects and Maintenance

Half of the fun of owning a Little British Car is working on it.  What's the other half?  I'll let you know when I get done working on it.

If you read the Story, you might have noticed that by the time I got the car home, I had only driven her about 1/4 mile, and had no keys for the car.  So my first order of business was to get the locks changed out and the car running.  I was very anxious to get this done, even though the weather was not great in the middle of an Iowa winter.  I should also mention that in buying this car, I had over-allocated my garage space.  I now had three cars, a motorcycle and all of the other stuff to be found in the garage of a suburban home.   In a two stall garage.  So my truck was sitting outside by this point, leaving Murphy safe and warm in the garage.
Picture of Murphy In the Garage
Murphy in the Garage on Stands

Murphy sharing the garage with my wife's car.
Click the pictures above for a larger image (1024x768, 340kb, 280kb).

I started off trying to get a key made at the local locksmith.  They were able to make a passable key from the trunk cylinder, but none of the locks on this car are keyed alike.  So I was reduced to buying all new locks.  I looked around and choose a full lock set from Victoria British.  Not cheap, but it also came with a set of bonnet locks that I thought I might want sometime.  While I was waiting, I started doing a more detailed inspection of the car, and compiling a list of work to be done.  I noted that both seats foams were crumbling.  The seats weren't exactly comfy, but passable, so I decided to defer this till later.  But a quick look under the carpet revealed that the floor pans were completly intact wiht no signs of rust.

Insert photo here of floor pans

Digging under the dash, I found a multitude of sins.  They seemd to be mostly a result of the DPO taking the car to Best Buy to have the stereo installed.  There was also some damage evident in the wiring for the lighter socket.  It looked as if someone tried to draw too much current through the wiring, and it melted.  They then bypassed the melted wiring to get power back to the lighter.  All of this will have to be fixed.  Fortunatly most of the damage that was dune by Best Buy is on the switch side of the ignition connector.  When the new switch arrives, it shoudl fix this.

When the parts arrived, I was a little disaponted in the quality of some of them.  The trunck lock didn't come close to matching the original, and the ignition switch was not of the correct type.  I solved the problem with the trunk lock by removing the cylinder from the new lock and substituting it into the old lock handle.  This took a little work, but it fit, worked, and looked original.  Next on to the door locks.  The process of removing and installing the door hnadles on this car is somewhat trying.  But in doing so, I found an interesting issue.  The passenger (right) side window regulator was bent.  Interesting, and I'm not sure how it could have happened.  But the window was still working, so I bent it back into shape as well as I could and finished installing the door locks. 

The ignition switch was a pain to install too.  In order to get the old one off, I had to remove the steering column from the car.  Once that was done, i had to use a hammer and chisel to remove the self-shearing bolts that hold the lock to the column.  This is baically a process of using the chisel to get a bite on the bolt, then hitting it at an angle so it starts to rotate.  These came out pretty easily.  The problem I mentioned above with the ignition switch was that Murphy has a five wire switch and the replacment was a four wire.  I could have re-used the old switch except it would mean repairing the wiring damage done during the stereo install.

Insert Pic of bad wiring

So I started looking at the wiring diagrams to determine what was no longer going to work.  As it turned out, the extra wire is a connection to the anti-run-on valve.  Since this car is running a Weber DGV, the anti-run-on system would no longer serve any purpose anyway.  I could safely do without the extra connection to the switch.  With the new locks installed, and the wiring cleaned up, the car was finallr ready to drive.  I started her up and verified that everything was working, but didn't go for a drive right away.  It was still the middle of December, and was disagreeably cold.  And I had never really driven this car.  I decided to wait till it was warm enough to walk home if she died on me.

As luck would have it we were having a warm winter, and I got to take her for a quick spin around the block less than a week later.  She ran just fine, and everything seemed as it should be.  Or so I thought.  It never occured to me at that point that the car really shouldn't be able to start and run in the middle of winter without the assistance of the choke.  This did not occur to me until much later when I was trying to figure out why the plugs were fouling when the weather was warm.  But for the time being, I was happy, and I decided to take the wife for her first ride in the car.  Murphy was evidently jealous.  About a mile from home we went over a mild bump in the road and heard a loud clunk from the rear end.  Followed, for the remainder of the way home, by a rattle from the left rear.  When I got home, I found the issue.  One of those Corvette air shocks had broken.  The top mounting eye broke right off the uppper shock body. 

Insert Pic of broken shock.

So time to order more parts.  During the brief spin around the block, I was also reminded that the speedometer was inoperative.  So I decided to investigate this as well.  It ended up being a broken lower speedo cable, but when I removed the cable from the service interval counter, I found that I was not able to trun the upper portion of the cable at that point.  It seems that the right angle drive on the service counter had frozen up and that is what caused the lower cable to snap.  I checked the right angle unit, and found that it had a screw in one side that was aparently to allow for lubrication.  So I squirted a little engine oil in and used a square screw extractor to turn the input.  After a couple turns and a little more oil, it was once again spinning freely.  Interesting though that I was not able to find any mention of this in the periodic maintenance schedules.

That mystery solved, I orderd a new lower cable and some SPAX shocks.  I debated about getting Koni shocks for the rear, but the SPAX were at that time about $50 cheaper for the pair, and I had heard that they were acceptable in terms of performance.  By this time I had also done a significant amount of reading and knew that I neede to check the end float on the crankshaft.  So I did.  Fortunatly I fount it to be within tolerence.  Well sort of.  Actually it was right at the maximum tolerence allowed.  And by this time there was snow on the ground and we were having a real Iowa winter.  So I decided to

Fixing a bad design with one that works
Weber DGV Throttle linkage

Pertronics ignition module and vacuum retard elimination
The car originally came with electronic ignition that used an amplifier attached to the side of the distributor.  These were notorious for premature failure and were often replaced with the remote amplifier version of the later cars or more recently the tiny pertronics module that fits inside the distributor.  When I bought the car it had a pertronics installed but there was a lot of extra sloppy wiring left over from the original ignition system.  I cleaned this up and removed the external amplifier and vacuum retard unit.  I locked off the plate in the distributor that allowed the vacuum retard to adjust the timing.  More on this topic later.
FInal Distributor with Ignitor
Another view of Distributor

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