by Eddy Glass
The first car to run on petrol was built in 1885 by Karl Benz. We have come a long way since then. But sadly cars of today have lost their character and soul. They are all about zero emissions and good MPG but unfortunately when they go wrong you need nothing short of a rocket scientist and the latest software to fix it, gone are the days when you could tinker with your old Ford Cortina to get it running when it wouldn’t start. Cars were mechanical machines and not computerised boxes.
Marques like Jaguar BMW Audi and Porsches are now pandering to the luxury SUV market. So gone are the times you could tell an XJS from a 635 coupe from a 911 Turbo just by looking at them. So, you see they have sold their soul. But now it is all about money and not style. I wonder if Morgan will follow suit with their version of a Chelsea tractor.
I left school at 15 and went to work in a back street garage in south London as an apprentice mechanic where I cut my teeth on Ford Capris Escort’s Minis Austin 1100s and the like. They were simple and easy to work on. I progressed and got my own body shop after and was in the motor trade for over 35 years most of which was spent as a car dealer and literally 1000s of cars have passed through my hands most of which are now classics and worth thousands but then they were every day cars worth hundreds or less. They were just bread and butter cars.
I am a petrol head and have always loved cars so I was lucky to have a job I loved. During the next few weeks I shall be covering some of the cars that have passed through my hands and hope you can reminisce with me if you are that way inclined. Are you just a motorist or are you a driver?
These days most households have more than one car but when I was a kid there were only a few cars in my road and I could tell which make and model they were just by sight from a young age, the American style rear lights on a Ford Anglia, the wood on a Morris Traveller and the sheer size and presence of a Mk 10 jaguar etc.
Now I have to look at the badge just to tell what make a car is as they all look the same. To some people a car is just a mode of transport but to many they are works of art. Some love vintage cars like the model T Ford, MG J2 and Austin 7, some like American muscle cars and some the British classics. I like the last two groups and would often be found at classic car shows admiring the work people put into these beauties. It’s a labour of love.
My era was the 80s and 90s where I had several Arthur Daley car lots, you know the ones, a caravan for an office, twenty or so old bangers and plenty of bunting to let people know we were there. You could choose from a 3.0 litre Capri for £895 a 1960s Mini for £450 a series 2 Jag for £995 and so on. They were all ‘cheapies’ as we called them and they sold like hot cakes. Of course I had more expensive cars to sell but preferred the cheapies as it was a quicker turn over. You could get a nice late mark 5 Cortina for £1500 or six bangers, I preferred the latter.
I often look on E Bay at these old bangers and let me tell you they certainly are not cheapies now. That 3.0 Capri is now £5k+ the Mini and Jag are in that post code too. If only I had kept a few for my pension! In the next article I will be discussing Jags, I will talk about the iconic E type of course but in my opinion there are better looking Jags than that and I don’t mean their new Chelsea tractor either.
By Mike Peake.
As with all old cars, the list of jobs to do wasn’t getting any smaller, but winter is the time to do them as I won’t be driving the car quite so often. It was time to crack on.
On the Isle of Wight tour, Super Enthusiast Man noticed the odd puff of black smoke from the back of Poppy and pronounced that I needed a carburettor rebuild. So, of course, the first thing I did on my return was order a rebuild kit from Burlen LTD. The kit turned up very promptly and immediately scared the life out of me.
You see, in all my years, I’ve never had to take a carburettor apart or indeed put it back together. So, to receive a bag of lots of really tiny unidentifiable bits, was a bit disconcerting. The instruction that came with it didn’t fill me with confidence either. It was just a diagram with numbered arrows pointing at lots of really tiny unidentifiable bits with the instruction “Remove in numbered order. Reassemble in reverse order.”
So I did the only thing I could do. I panic-watched “how to” videos on You Tube. The one I found was in three, 30 minute segments and was for the ES version of my carb as fitted to a GT6 he was restoring. So, not all of it was applicable to mine. In fact the only similarity seemed to be the lid.
Well I couldn’t procrastinate any longer, so I removed the carburettor from the car.
As Mrs FB had made it very clear that I was not to be allowed in the house with any more oily bits, I cleared space on the table in the bit of the garage I hadn’t turned into an office and started work with the new screw drivers I had bought specially and lots and lots of carb cleaner spray.
I removed the damper piston and undid the 4 screws holding the assembly lid in place and removed the lid. Everywhere I’d read and watched said to take extreme care when handling the metering needle because if you bend it, it can’t be saved. With this advice in mind, I decided to leave it in place as long as possible so I couldn’t bend it. I then turned the whole thing over to examine the bottom. The piston fell out of the top, bounced on the table and then onto the floor, bending the needle.
I said bad words, ordered a new needle and went to my Father in Law’s to see if he could make the lid shiny because obviously, a shiny lid will give it that extra performance boost.
The next day I was back at my workplace to finish the disassembly which went surprisingly smoothly apart from dropping the nut which holds the choke mechanism on. Of course, before even hitting the floor, the nut was swallowed by an errant wormhole which sucked it into another galaxy far away never to be found again. Not to worry though. I have a bag full of spare nuts, bolts and washers for when I come to rebuild.
Hours were then spent cleaning every internal nook & cranny of the carburettor body with gallons of spray and the new brushes and probes I’d bought specially, until not a speck of dirt was left inside. The old gasket material was absolutely horrible to remove. I had to resort to single bladed razor blades and fine wet and dry before, eventually, I had clean mating surfaces again.
However, I got bored. The dirt on the outside was really, really stubborn and even after resorting to Anita’s tooth brush and wet and dry, the outside components didn’t look as clean as I was hoping. The top was shiny though so hey ho.
Time passed. Due to the Christmas holidays, family commitments, work commitments, cold weather, fear and laziness, it was some time before I returned to the task. Finally, I could stand Simon Stock’s constant nagging no longer, so in the middle of February on an international rugby-free weekend, I was back at it and using the “plate” from the Triumph manual and photos SEM Gus Brooks took of Henry’s Stromberg (Mine didn’t come out), I began the task.
I started at the bottom and after replacing all the O rings and jet I refitted the metering jet assembly to the carb body making sure that it looked central. The adjusting screw was tightened up fully and then backed off 3 complete turns as a starting point for tuning.
I then fitted the new petrol inlet valve and the floats making sure that the pin holding the floats was spotlessly clean and smooth and then checked the height of the floats above the body. Specs said 17mm. Mine were 16.5mm without any adjusting so close enough I think. If you do need to adjust, there is a tab on the float frame that can be bent up and down to achieve the correct height. (B on the diagram)
Once all this was done I could fit the gasket and float chamber before moving onto the throttle assembly. I was in the zone now and fully concentrating on the task at hand and trying to figure out which way round the return spring went when a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses snuck up on me and made me jump out of my skin causing the spring to fly across the garage. Surprisingly, the Jehovah’s witnesses left unharmed and unaware of how close they came to being torn…. Well anyway, enough to say I restrained myself to a polite “no thank you” to their offer of a rain forest’s worth of literature and set about finding the spring which had missed the worm hole and come to rest on my socket set. I know! All praise Jehovah!
I returned to the zone and soon had the throttle assembly together. I’d fitted the new butterfly valve and shaft and made sure that I’d “split” the 2 screws to make sure they don’t fall out into the engine which would be bad, and got all the linkages fitted correctly. I’d even spotted the error on the diagram and made sure that the throttle link arm was fitted the correct way round (Item 15 on the diagram). I then spent the next 10 minutes proudly flipping the throttle open and watching it spring closed.
Next up was the choke assembly. The shaft was in place and all the linkages and springs were fitted correctly. I just needed to fit the retaining nut on the end. Yes, the inter galactic wormhole traveling nut. I dug out my bag of spare nuts, bolts and washers and found the correct size of nut. It wouldn’t fit on the shaft. Perhaps the thread is dodgy, I thought. So I found the corresponding bolt and tried the nut on it. It fitted and ran freely up and down the thread. Hmmmm. Interesting. Is it actually the correct size then? So I took the nut of the throttle assembly and tried it on the choke assembly. It fitted. I then tried it on my corresponding bolt. It fitted and ran freely up and down the thread. I have to say, I was a bit stumped to say the least. The only thing I could now do was dive down the wormhole myself and try and find the original nut. This involved emptying the entire garage to look for the nut on the unencumbered floor. It wasn’t there. Next I started to empty out all my boxes of left over plumbing bits, electrical bits, car polishing bits and leftover car bits from previous jobs.
Miracle of miracles, I found it! It was resting at the bottom of a box of floor tiles left over from the conservatory! It was quickly screwed into place and I’m still left wondering why my new nut wouldn’t fit. The only difference I could see was that the original nut had a flat face with the thread starting at the face. The new one was slightly countersunk from the face before the thread started. Never mind though. It’s all together now.
Finally, I was on the home straight. The diaphragm was fitted to the piston ensuring moulded tabs all lined up. The metering needle was then collected from its rarefied “safe place”. The endless layers of bubble wrap were removed, the plastic tube opened and the needle very carefully removed from its plastic tube. I fitted it to the base of the piston and slotted the assembly home into the carburettor body, again making sure that the moulded tab on the diaphragm lined up with the slot in the body. I then very quickly fitted the lid before I could do something stupid and bend the needle again.
Another 30 minutes was spent breathing deeply, de-stressing and admiring my handiwork. I was feeling very pleased with myself and took that incredibly complicated diagram into the house, shoved it under everyone’s noses and proclaimed loudly that “I’ve done it!” they were all suitably impressed, but my bubble was burst when my eldest daughter said “do you think it will work when you put it back on the car?” Humph! Such little faith in her old Dad!
Anyway, that was enough for me that day. My brain hurt and I was hungry. Time for a couple of beers and one of my home made Cornish pasties.
After a good night’s sleep which allowed me to recover from my mental exertions of the previous day, I was up at my lock up with a boot full of tools and a fully rebuilt carb ready to bolt it back on to Poppy’s plucky little engine. This was achieved in very short order. Accelerator and choke cables were reconnected along with the fuel and vacuum pipes. I even remembered to top up the dash pot with some fresh engine oil.
Now was the moment of truth. I turned the key with trepidation. My battery was flat so not a lot happened. Poppy was quickly connected to my Honda and I tried again. It took a while for the fuel to get there and a couple of false starts but she fired up and ran. I AM A GOD!!
As you can see from the video above she was running a little roughly and I was in danger of CO poisoning in my lock up so I disconnected the Honda and moved poppy out into the sunlight where some fiddling with the Idle adjust and mixture screws achieved a smoother engine note. The filter box was reattached necessitating another minor adjustment of the mixture screw and we were off for a test drive.
1st stop was for some fresh fuel as the stuff in the tank was leftover from the Isle of Wight tour and therefore a little stale. Then it was back home to show my family the fruits of my labour. Following another quick adjustment now the fresh fuel was coming through we were off around the green lanes to give Poppy’s newly rebuilt carb a full workout through the complete range of speeds and acceleration. She performed perfectly and even Mrs FB noticed that she now ran smoother and was a little more responsive. I knew that the shiny lid would add a little extra to the performance!
50 miles later a purring Poppy was snuggled away in her garage and we were home in time for a quick G&T before one of Mrs FB’s superb Sunday dinners with our cobwebs and cabin fever fully blown away.
Thanks for reading and we’ll be back soon. I have lots planned for Poppy this year and will keep you informed as I sink my incompetent teeth into the ever increasing “to do” list
Fatbloke and Poppy.
Filter by Author
Filter by Month