by Callum Tooey
A new coil arrived quickly and I was feeling excited to finally get Nutmeg up and running again, the weekend finally rolled around and I had the idea to try the coil without actually removing the old one. Also worth noting is that in my efforts to cut out any possible 'aftermarket' fault I had swapped all of the HT leads to original spec units, the spark plugs were the same as originally fitted.
Connecting them up I was full of optimism, but my optimism was short lived as Nutmeg simply turned over, so back to the drawing board! I checked voltages across all wires, ignition wires were reading 12v, the secondary coil wire was reading 12v and the battery was reading good levels.
I checked the resistance on both the new coil and the old one, I even tried connecting up the original coil but nothing I did would seem to help, a few comments pointed fingers at the new distributor/electronic ignition, claiming there were known dead units currently for sale; So to cut out a possible issue I swapped the distributor back to the original points ignition but this didn't seem to help get her started.
I started to doubt myself severely at this point, knowing that I had changed so many parts I started wondering was it possible I had completely messed up the car? Was I positive that those HT leads were on in the right order? Was that rotor arm the right one? And more silly questions.
After yet another disheartened post on the group with pictures of my (lack of) progress, a few members suggested directly connecting the coil to the battery, thus bypassing the ignition, I wasn't very optimistic at this idea, as nothing I had tried had worked previously but figuring I had nothing to lose I decided to make up some test leads that Monday after work.
I found some wires that were designed to be used with a modern ECU plug system that had crocodile clips off both negative and positive, cutting the end of the wires I fitted a spade connector onto the bare end and connected it directly to the positive terminal and coil.
Hitting the starter whilst holding the coil lead against an earth I saw some powerful sparks arcing across, figuring what the heck I plugged the coil lead back into the distributor and pressed the starter again and she fired up on the first turn, a very unmanly high pitched triumphant 'YES!!!!' screamed out from the garage in my excitement, she sounded slightly metallic which I found was some loose cables being caught slightly by the fans but other than that she sounded great!
Knowing that the car will fire with a direct lead from the battery told me two things:
I stripped the wire back. Fortunately there was plenty of inner left to make a new join with fresh wire, I made the connection, connected it up and turned the engine over from inside the car. She fired straight up!!!
I gave the throttle a few blips, she seemed to rev strong and clean, no knocks, no rumbles, just nice smooth running. I didn't have any black pvc tape to hand so I wrapped the connection in the rather fetching green/yellow instead, happy my car was working rather than worrying about the aesthetics of the wiring system!
With the engine now running I decided to give the brakes a release and pull her out of the garage, she slid into gear softly and pulled away. Finding reverse was easy and before long I had her parked up on the kerb outside in the glorious British sunshine. I noticed some fine smoke entering the cabin, concerned I killed the engine and opened the bonnet, luckily it appeared to simply be some grime burning off the exhaust manifold, no fires!
I fetched a bucket and car shampoo and gave her a well deserved clean, taking the time to clear out the boot that was overflowing with parts that until now I hadn't had the space to look through, I found various rubber sections (both screens I believe) as well as chrome trims, wheel trims, and surprisingly the original carpet which didn't look in bad condition. My guess is a previous owner pulled it up to restore the car or fix any rust. I haven't yet made the decision whether I will keep or replace it with a different colour.
I must have done something right with her though as whilst she basked in the sunlight a neighbour made conversation and enquired about the possibility of buying her, 'Sadly...' I said 'she isn't for sale!'
Next step, let's get some locks and start on the interior!
by Callum Tooey
So we left part 1 having returned home via recovery with my first 'proper' classic (well OK technically speaking my previous '85 Reliant Rialto fit our group criteria but having owned Reliants previously this was a totally new experience). It was so late by the time I returned home that my partner never actually saw the car.
With Nutmeg now languishing in my garage, my partner spent the week constantly pulling me away from the windows where I'd be sneaking a peek in disbelief at the fact that she was actually in there. I ordered parts that I knew were needed, a new coil, airbox and paper air filter (it had a K&N fitted directly to the carb), spark plugs. The new coil arrived within a few days but due to work commitments I knew I'd have to wait until the weekend to do any work.
The weekend finally arrived and my Dad and uncle had agreed to come over and help me to fit new parts. I checked the voltages across both the old coil and the new one, they were reading equal which I thought was odd but hey, that was the diagnosis of the recovery mechanic so who am I to question it (I now know this isn't the right way to check coils).
My uncle arrived first but with limited tools (mainly metric) we struggled to remove the old coil from the car, we tried testing it by simply connecting the old coil, I was optimistic but after cranking the engine multiple times she still failed to start.
We pulled some spark plugs and they were dry, strange I thought as fuel wasnt a diagnosed fault? We checked the fuel to the carb, check, somehow it wasn't entering the cylinders, it must be blocked we thought, we decided to check the spark at the plugs, also nothing... 'Two different faults?' I exclaimed 'What are the chances of that!'
My uncle replaced the old coil with the new one, with the understanding that it eliminated the coil as an issue, my Dad arrived with two heavy toolboxes full of AF tools 'You can have these son!' He said, whilst watching me almost buckle trying to lift them out of his car boot.
With the correct tools at our disposal we had the carburettor disconnected and removed, my plan was to find a specialist who could professionally clean it. Deciding nothing more could be done with the car that weekend I removed the battery to charge it and we retired for a well earned cup of tea.
I spent the following week calling around various places to attempt to have the carburettor cleaned, one company enthusiastically told me they could rebuild it for around £300 odd and that they were the sole specialists for this however there were time-frame issues and I would need to send the carb away to be worked which, I spoke to a local firm who said they had never done one before but 'could give it a go' and to drop it off and it would be done 'whenever'. I politely declined and decided to strip it down myself to clean the jets using my manual as the guide.
Stripping it down proved to be relatively easy, in hindsight though I should have wore some eye protection as spraying carb cleaner over-zealously into every nook and cranny of the carb was enough to catch a nice spray of it in my eye which I can say categorically, stings like a b*tch.
After taking a breather and discovering I wasn't going to lose my eyesight I reassembled the carb and stored it again ready for refitting that weekend. This was a big weekend for me as I had decided to work on the car by myself, reassuring myself that you don't learn until you throw yourself into it.
Refitting the carb proved to be a slight hassle as although the right hand bolt is easily accessible, the left hand bolt was impossible to reach with a socket and I could only get a quarter turn on the bolt, I noticed that if I could refit the choke cable and put it 'on' this would move some of the obstruction giving me half a turn which made it slightly quicker.
After confirming the carburettor was refitted I refitted the battery and decided to try to start her again, I don't know what I expected to be honest as she turned over definitely but still refused to start. I tested for a spark at the points and spark plugs, nothing on either.
Becoming frustrated, my Dads voice echoed in my head 'Should have bought a Morris Minor'. "No - I will fix this" I decided, this is 2018 and we have technology now to help! Out came my phone and onto Youtube, testing for sparks the usual search terms but nothing helped.
I had bought another distributor, a new rotor arm and a new electronic ignition so I decided to fit these to the car, again under the perhaps misguided impression that they removed a possible 'reason' for the car not to start. After fitting these parts I tried once more to start her, but all this succeeded in doing was draining the battery. Light was fading now so I locked up the garage, and retired back indoors.
Needless to say, I was at a low point here, I made a disappointed post to vent on the group Facebook page, strongly disheartened by the days events and wondering if I had truly bitten off more than I could chew here. That post instead showed me why I am a member of the group in the first place when another member, Colin, offered to call me and talk me through it.
Taking time out of his work to talk me through the basic mechanics and checks I had performed, he said something that caused me to perk up 'You have checked the coil right?' Of course I have, it had voltage across it 'Yeah that's fine but what about the resistance?'
'The resistance?' I thought, Colin had to dash off for work but told me to look into it, a quick Youtube video later and I realised I'd been checking the coil wrong, I didn't need to check voltages I needed to measure the ohms! After rushing out to the garage I grabbed the old coil and checked the resistance, it was around 3 ohms for the primary circuit and around 9 for the secondary.
With my manual only stating an ohm resistance of 4.5 for the coil I had no idea if this was within tolerable levels so disconnected the new coil and tested it, the first circuit proved slightly higher but there was no reading for the secondary proving that my 'new' coil was actually a dud.. Could it really be that simple?
Well a new coil has been ordered... and I guess you'll have to wait for part 3 to find out!
by Callum Tooey
It’s a Sunday morning and I’m in the passenger seat of my dads car as we are driving to Cambridge to visit our boats when my phone beeps. ‘What’s that?’ My Dad asks whilst pulling into a supermarket to buy a drink. ‘It’s eBay, that Vauxhall I showed you finishes in 10 minutes’ I replied whilst reviewing the advert. I passed him the phone to take another look at it, ‘it does look clean’ he admitted ‘but I wonder if you could still get parts for it?’
"Good point" I said, so I took a few minutes to check eBay for various parts all of which I appeared to find with relative ease, then left to my own devices as the timer ticked down I entered a bid of the asking price, confident that I’d be outbid. As the timer hit zero, I was shocked to see the green banner informing me I had won. My dad was equally shocked ‘I thought you wanted a Morris Minor’ he said, something that I would be constantly reminded of in the weeks to come.
We arranged to pickup the car the following week. The advert said it was in Hythe in Kent and further contact gave us an address of Port Lympne which my partner said was a zoo of all places. I had visions of finding the car inside an enclosure overrun by animals all week but fortunately that wasn’t the case and the only ‘wild’ animal we saw was a woolly rhino that was being moved.
Once we saw the car we took a look at her condition and were happy she had been described correctly. I decided to name her ‘Nutmeg’ as her number plate reads ‘NMG’. I planned to drive the car home, so after a brief drive around the car park I was satisfied she was driving and stopping OK. We followed the signs back towards Maidstone before picking up the M20. I was checking the instruments and noticed the speedometer and temperature gauge were not working and she was struggling a bit with constant coughing before refusing to accelerate anymore.
I coasted her onto the hard shoulder and we started diagnosis whilst awaiting recovery. Fuel seemed good, no tools to check spark but we presumed it was an electrical fault. The recovery guy diagnosed the coil and she was loaded on the back of the truck.
Getting her home, we blocked the road with the truck whilst we tried to offload and manoeuvre her into my garage, hoping she would fit. This prompted a few of the neighbours to come and see what was happening with one running shirtless to move his car as he thought I’d called a tow truck to move it! (Parking across the dropped kerb has been an issue and metal sign stating vehicles will be towed has been put up).
We got Nutmeg into the garage with a couple of inches to spare. With the garage door shut this was the last I’d see of her for a couple of weeks until part 2 when we could start working on her.
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