by Mike Peake
Wouldn’t you know it! As soon as we get back from South Wales, the weather turns into the best summer since 1976 and I can’t enjoy it properly because Poppy is having a strop!
Well 3 strops to be precise. 1st, she isn’t charging despite new brushes in the dynamo and a new voltage regulator/control box. 2nd, she’s missing under load again despite the points, condenser, leads, cap and plug change, and 3rd, I have two crankshaft pulley nuts roaming the roadside wilds.
I know, I know. “Easy 5 minute jobs” I hear you greasy-knuckled folk say! Well not to an incompetent bumbling fool with work commitments, a business trip away and a family that insisted I spend some, what they called “quality time” with them. Oh and lead time on parts and then the lead-time on parts that I didn’t realise I needed and forgot to order.
Well my new crank shaft pulley nut was the 1st to arrive along with my 2nd hand 1 & 7/16” socket from flea bay. (Boy! It’s a bigun! As the actr…ahem well never mind). This was when I discovered my 1st problem. The square hole for the socket drive was really, really big. Bigger than the biggest drive I had. So I resorted to a tape measure and it turned out that I needed a 3/4” drive and I only had ½”, ¼” and 3/8”. I briefly flirted with ordering an expensive ¾” ratchet drive, but as this is the only job I would use it for, I opted for an adaptor, again off flea bay. However, Poppy had been outside on my drive in the sun for a whole week and her paint was fading faster than my will to live when forced to watch this powder puff ball World Cup. So I risked the trip to the lock up with the nut just hand tightened and I’m pleased to say it made it.
Next to arrive was the adaptor and my new coil so I was back at the lockup with all the tools I would need and incredibly, the right ones for the job! 1st job would be to secure the crank shaft pulley nut. The socket and adapter were fitted together and placed onto the nut. This was when I spotted the 2nd problem. There wasn’t room for my ratchet. The radiator and the chassis cross-member were in the way.
I was just starting to get grumpy and think that maybe I’d have to buy that expensive ¾” ratchet, when I spotted the gap between the cross-member and radiator. I couldn’t be that lucky could I? Well actually, and unbelievably, I was. The extension fitted through and slotted straight into the adaptor and I was tightening away like mad. Except I wasn’t. The engine was turning and not the nut. So, I put it in 1st gear and tried again. The engine turned over and the car moved backwards. So, I chocked the back wheels and I’m sure you’ll be as pleased as I am that t he crank shaft pulley nut is now fully tightened.
I also fitted the new coil but couldn’t test it as I hadn’t sorted out my charging issues.
Oliver Truewhisstle purists, look away now. OK, I tried, I really did. I replaced the brushes in the dynamo and a couple of hundred miles later the charging light came back on so I replaced the control box. That didn’t cure it either, so I decided to convert to an alternator. Sorry about that but as I now run halogen headlights and a 12v socket for all sorts of charging and I’ve spent hours with a multi-meter but I’m still none the wiser as to what the fault could be, I’m cutting my losses and feel that the alternator is the way to go.
I was lucky enough to be gifted a brand new Lucas alternator by a very good and generous friend ”in the trade” and it is very gratefully received. So I set about the task. The dynamo was removed and I was going to use the pulley and fan from that on the alternator. However, the gods were not smiling on me at that moment as 1. I couldn’t get the nut undone and 2. They wouldn’t have fitted anyway as the shaft on the dynamo was much thinner than the one on the alternator. I found the correct parts on Amazon and ordered them but another weekend of glorious weather passed and my car still wasn’t fixed.
While I was waiting for my new parts I had a look at the new wiring requirements. The interweb advised that I needed to join the warning light wire to the thinner of the 2 wires coming of the alternator, connect all the wires that had brown in them together and disconnect the earth entirely.
The warning light and earth were sorted very quickly but the biggest problem was going to be joining all the other wires together. Well the blogger I was reading had just twisted all the wires together and covered the ends in solder and insulation tape. A perfectly adequate and functional fix but looked a bit, well, untidy. Fortunately though, James Paddocks have published the fitting instructions on the page for their alternator conversion kit and the solution they were proposing seemed much tidier.
By joining 2 of the connections on the control box together, it magically becomes a connection box. So it was time to get out my trusty soldering iron that had been my Granddad's . (The bus Inspector not the driver.) This soldering iron is older than me and possibly older than my Dad but it has served me well through all my physics and electronics club days at school and had even helped me repair the voice box in my eldest daughters Woody doll.
However, it would appear that the piece of solid copper mains wire that I was using and the metal of the connectors acted as a much bigger heat sink than anything my trusty iron and I had attempted before. The job was done and the multi-meter confirmed that the connection was good but they are 2 of the ugliest solder joints I have ever produced and I’m really quite ashamed of them.
It’s a good job they will be well hidden when the box is back in the car. I could have splashed out on a beefier iron and got a neater finish, but it would have felt as if I was being unfaithful. I did briefly consider getting the blowtorch that I use for plumbing but decided that the plastic housing may not have coped. As I said though, job done but i'm not showing you a photo. Doing it this way should also make it a bit easier to fit a fuse box in the very near future.
My new pulley wheel and fan arrived along with a couple of spacers so I set about putting them together. Easy job eh? Yes, I thought so too. The problem started with this little tiny “D” shaped key thing that you are supposed to balance in the slot of the alternator shaft which is supposed to then lock all the spacers fan a pulley wheel via a slot cut into them. Well it turns out that this tiny “D” shaped key thingy, whilst looking and feeling like metal, is actual a new super bouncy material developed by NASAl. I discovered this fact when I dropped it. It took me a good half hour to find it across the other side of the room to where I’d dropped it.
Attempt 2 was then made. Key was balanced, 1st spacer slotted onto shaft and key. Fan slotted off shaft and key. Pulley wheel … knocked the key out. After another half hour of searching, the reason the pulley wheel dislodged the key was discovered. The slot in the pulley wheel for the key was too small! Many rude words were said and doubt was cast on the quality of modern parts.
I considered sending it back to the vendor with a strongly worded letter. However, I reckoned it could be sorted with a couple of minutes fettling with a needle file. If only I had one. … My father in law had one so I took it round there and watched him sort it with a couple of minutes fettling with a needle file. Another couple of minutes and it was all assembled and ready to be fitted to the car.
By now it was about 11am on Sunday morning and 30 degrees so I had a decision to make. Do I spend an hour at the lockup getting sweaty or do I sit under the umbrella in the garden with a large G&T?
I’ll do it one evening this week. I promise. I’ve got to because, now don’t laugh, I’m spending next Saturday helping Gar rebuild Nelson’s bottom end! What could possibly go wrong? I know. Even after reading my blogs he still wants me to help!
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