Oct 312016

Earlier in the year the E-Type Club had announced the inaugural Round Britain Coastal Drive in aid of Prostate Cancer UK. The 3,600 mile event making a clockwise tour around Britain, using the most coastal roads available. The route had been split into 18 daily stages starting from The Goodwood Estate and finishing, two and a half weeks later, back at Goodwood with a lap around the race circuit.

The aim was to get as many E-Types involved to make a visual impact along the route, with the flexibility of entering just single legs to the whole event. I had, rather unfairly, a perception that these types of events might be a little too cliquey and stuffy for my taste and so hadn’t taken much of an interest.

It was only after a chance meeting with a fellow owner, at a remote country pub tucked away on the Surrey/Hampshire boarder, that I was persuaded to reconsider. It was for a good cause after all. So I ended up registering for the first stage down to Lyme Regis, starting the day after the Revival meeting, and re-joining for the last two legs.

The starting leg would be the first prolonged test of my car, with the round trip covering around 450 miles in a day. Despite leaving plenty of time, the drive to Goodwood was fairly stressful due to numerous traffic problems and we only just managed to arrive 15 minutes before the planned start time.

The Goodwood estate provided a perfect location for the start Around 75 E-Types started, including a few Eagle E-Types It was an impressive sight as everyone waited for the start

I must admit it was an impressive sight with around 75 E-Type amassed in the grounds of the Goodwood estate, headed by Philip Porter’s 848 CRY (of The Italian Job fame) and including a number of Eagle E-Types. Rather fittingly a Spitfire flew over Goodwood House as we set off up the hill climb.

The aim wasn’t to travel in convoy which was just as well. Within only a couple of miles after leaving Goodwood we were down to a group of about 10 cars and within 15 minutes down to five cars. The organisers had provided an official route to import into GPS devices but this was clearly interpreted differently depending on which make of Sat-Nav each owner used. So there appeared to be a somewhat random nature to the event as cars criss-crossed their way down to the coast.

The first stage from Goodwood to Lyme Regis

The tendency was simply to follow the lead car in the group rather than the Sat-Nav which did end up with one amusing detour. The lead car had missed the correct exit at a roundabout. Realising their mistake, they turned into a supermarket to get back on track … only to be followed by all the other E-Types following it.

The route only became interesting once we’d cleared the dull suburbs of Portsmouth and Southampton, reaching the New Forest and beyond. The Sandbanks chain ferry to cross Poole harbour provided an ideal opportunity for several cars to re-group and head to the picturesque Pig of the Beach in Studland for lunch. Our getaway was captured by some drone footage kindly taken and shared by Guy Cribb, another participant in the event ….

It was surprising how long the route had taken to the lunch stop. Partly due to the rather lethargic pace of the group of cars I was with and partly due to deviating from the official route on a number of occasions (read getting lost!).

Parked at the finish, next to a
£700k Eagle E-Type and 848 CRY

So the latter part of the day became a spirited dash to the finish at Lyme Regis golf club, with superb views along the Jurassic Coast. The car behaved faultlessly apart from a slight hint of a dragging brake towards the end of the day.

The downside of only doing a single leg was that we then had to retrace our steps, turning the 180 mile leg into a 450 mile round trip. It was the first time I’d driven the car at night so I hadn’t got used to fumbling around the dash for the full beam switch.

A slight oil leak!

However it was only whilst preparing for the final two stages that I found I had a rather alarming oil leak. Leak? …. it was more of a stream!

I had only just changed the oil before the first stage but the oil level had already fallen to the very tip of the dipstick. It was quite disappointing as it hadn’t been dropping any oil until now but more importantly, if it wasn’t fixed, I wouldn’t be able to take part in the last stages of the event.

The oil was only leaking from the oil filter side but I couldn’t trace the problem. I had assumed it would be very easy to locate where the leak was coming from. All traces of oil were wiped clean and the car taken for a spin before returning to stand over a pit. There was no trace of any oil leak!

Yet when the car was started from cold, a trail of oil was laid on the road. I could even trace my route to the local petrol station several miles away by the oil trail left behind! It appeared that the leak was only occurring when it was cold. The garage’s view was to take part in the final legs but take a 5 litre can of oil, keep an eye on the oil pressure and check the oil level whenever we stopped.

The penultimate stage from Maldon to Folkestone

Two weeks later it was an early start to get to JD Classics in Maldon for the start of the penultimate leg down to Folkestone. JD’s showroom had some stunning cars but alas at even more stunning prices! It was however a fitting place to start, with plenty of their mechanics on hand for any final tweaks. Such as one owner had discovered fuel pouring from a leaking cork gasket from the top of the fuel tank.

848CRY covered the whole route The RBCD event mascot ….
obviously lost, as we often were!

The drive down to Folkestone was pleasant enough but rather bland and the convoy of cars soon disintegrated into smaller groups. Although it was good to re-group at the white cliffs of Dover and, by chance, another Spitfire provide a fly past. I got the feeling the most picturesque stages were up the west coast of England and Wales and those in the Scottish Highlands.

Gathering for an early start on the final leg from Folkestone to Goodwood

The final day was an early start and another spirited drive to allow time to visit to CKL in Battle to look at their historic racing operation and cars in their charge. It made JD Classics showroom look rather ordinary by comparison with 3 of the remaining 11 lightweight E-Types, a couple of D-Types, a Knobbly Lister, a Ford GT40 Mk3 and a few other racing Jaguars in their main workshop.

Over in the ‘shed’, as they termed it, were numerous other XK140s, XK150s, E-Types, an XKSS and a few Bentleys for good measure. I need to upgrade my shed! Whilst the space in the bodyshop was being shared between an Allard J2, being repaired after a huge crash at this year’s Le Mans Classic, and a split-screen VW campervan!

The organiser’s had asked people to arrive at the Goodwood circuit by midday for a planned media opportunity, where all 70-80 cars would make a tour of circuit during their ‘quiet’ hour. The result was the roads started to fill with E-Types as we closed in on the circuit. Fortunately the front bringing heavy rain in the morning had passed and the windscreen wipers were no longer needed. The event was rounded off by a meal at a nearby country pub making for an impressive car park.

It was the second time I’d driven the car in the rain and it’s not a pleasant experience. Terrifying at times! The wipers are worse than useless and visibility was only possible due to the application of copious amounts of Rain-X.

All in all it was a cracking event and the E-Type Club have plans to repeat the event in 2018. Next time I’m planning to do the entire route!

Aug 142016

A work colleague is a member of the Goodwood Road Racing Club and suggested I should take my car down to one of their Breakfast Club meetings. They’re held throughout the summer months, excluding the periods around the Festival of Speed and The Revival, with each having a different theme.

They are free to all to attend and if your car is ‘on theme’ you can register it for inclusion, with August’s theme being ‘Thoroughbreds’. Not entirely sure what classifies as a thoroughbred, I registered my car for the event. It’s a first come first served basis and those cars that are accepted are parked along the circuit’s start/finish straight.

The organisers confirmed my car had been accepted a couple of weeks before the event. This brought an urgency to completing the variety of jobs still left to do to complete the car. The most pressing were the door cards and B-post trim panels. Suffolk & Turley had suggested leaving these off and they would fit them when they did the hood. So I was slightly disappointed that this hadn’t been done when I collected it.

I just about managed to get away with the appearance of a completed restoration but there are still numerous niggles to address, which will be covered in a separate post. The organisers suggest arriving by 8am although cars start turning up from 7am onwards, to secure the prime area on the circuit rather than in the pit area.

Plenty of E-Types where on show

Plus a variety of other classics

On the way down the A3 we soon picked up a Sunbeam Tiger, and old 911 and a Morgan all heading down to the event. The roads a quiet at that time in the morning, so good progress was made. The event was well attended, both cars and people, and there were numerous other E-type on display. They’re obviously relaxed about what is considered ‘on theme’ as there was an immaculate Mini Woody Clubman and a VW camper van, but welcome all the same. It was an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning and thoroughly recommended.

New v old extinguishers

One of the garages in the pits was taken up by Fire Tools UK who offer an alternative to the typical foam and powder fire extinguishers. Their aim is to offer something similar to the now illegal Halon extinguishers.

I’d been carrying a 1 Kg powder extinguisher until now but have never been keen on them due to the mess they leave … although that will probably be the least of your worries in the event of a fire.

The main difference is that it isn’t under pressure and can therefore pack in more fire suppressant in a smaller volume. It contains a flameless solid fuel which is chemically ignited to produce a high volume of gaseous suppressant that doesn’t leave a residue.

So I purchased one of their middle sized unit which is equivalent to 4 of my larger 1Kg powder extinguishers. It fits neatly behind the passenger seat.

Fortunately I still had the keys,
otherwise I might not have seen it again!

The day was rounded off by catching up with friends for a country pub lunch. By chance, a fellow S2 owner just happened to be there at the time (it’s a small world!). After chatting about our cars he suggested I ought to do a leg or two of the E-Type Club’s Tour of Britain.

I had initially discounted the tour as I’d want to do all of it. But now I think I just might sneak in a couple of legs …

Jul 152016

I’d been lucky to have an opportunity to drive an unmolested E-Type while on my recent travels (Sydney in an E-Type) and wanted to return the favour when the Christopher was next back in the UK. Not least because he would be able to give valuable feedback, good or bad, on how the two cars compare.

Crossing the Sydney bridge in an E Christopher’s original S2 FHC

I had experienced slight gear selection issues with mine when changing from 2nd to 3rd and from 3rd back down to 2nd – something I might cover in a future post. Although these were more due to being used to modern gearboxes and resolved by adopting a more sympathetic technique changing gears.

I had decided to keep reasonably close to the original spec. The most noticeable differences are the EDIS electronic ignition system and the Mangoletsi cable throttle linkage. The EDIS system hasn’t been properly mapped yet so the only real difference between our cars was the throttle linkage.

Christopher’s visit coincided with the car’s trip up to the trimmers to fit the hood. It had been up with Suffolk & Turley for a lot longer than expected and so the only opportunity for a drive was on the day he was returning to Australia.

This would have been fine had the MOT not expired while it was up at the trimmers. It had been there so long I hadn’t had an opportunity to organise a test since getting it back and now the speedo had seized. It might be possible to get away with a broken speedo on a modern car as the MOT tests are all static and the brakes tested on rollers.

However due to the limited slip differential, the E-Type had to be tested out on the road whilst travelling at 20mph. Braking efficiency is measured using a calibrated decelerometer. Therefore it would be glaringly obvious that the speedo wasn’t working. So it was a race against time to get the car road legal before he left. No pressure then!

To make matter worse, I’d noticed the ignition warning light wasn’t going out indicating the battery wasn’t charging. I had a matter of days to resolve both issues and get the car through the MOT. Things weren’t looking too promising, especially when I contacted Speedograph Richfield as the speedo hadn’t turned up as expected. I had specifically asked for a 24 hour delivery but they had forgotten, sending it out 2nd class and without the ability to track it. Aaaaaah …. and relax!

I was more concerned about the charging system since I had modified my alternator to a more modern design. This eliminates the 3AW and 6RA relays so the only two things that could be wrong were the 4TR voltage regulator or the alternator itself.

Modified alternator doesn’t need 3AW
and 6RA relays … less to go wrong!
Three additional diodes (trio) have been
added to self-energise the field coil

A failed 4TR regulator is fairly easy to diagnose. The unit is simply removed and a jumper lead used to link its connector’s F and – terminals together. Essentially this just puts the full battery voltage across the field winding and removes the feedback loop.

Alternator components

As the alternator starts spinning it’s output voltage increases. Without the feedback, the increased output increases the current in the field coil which, in turn, increases the alternator output voltage.

It would quickly reach a run away situation and burn out the alternator coil. Therefore, as soon as you’ve registered that the output voltage is increasing, you need to immediately switch off the engine.

I had pre-ordered another 4TR unit as a precaution but it wasn’t found to be faulty. It was the alternator. The modifications I’d made to the internal electrics and external wiring give it a ‘soft start’. The voltage across the field winding starts at approx. 1.5v rather than the full 12v battery voltage.

This is because the battery voltage is applied across the ignition warning light bulb (approx. 300 ohms) in series with the field winding (approx. 4 ohms). Hence the lions share of the voltage drop is across the bulb rather than the field winding.

The measured voltage without the engine running was 2.74v which seemed a little high. I incorrectly deduced this would result in an increased current flowing in the field coil, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. Once the engine was started, this voltage only rose to 6.36v rather than the expected 14.4v.

The rotor field coil voltage was
higher than the expected 1.5v
With engine running, the field coil
voltage should rise to 14.4v

A reduced output typically points to failed diodes in the rectifying bridge. This became my main focus. The bridge needs to be removed from the 3-star stator windings in order to test the diodes. So the alternator had to be taken apart and it revealed some interesting problems.

The AL post’s insulating piece had disintegrated. I wasn’t able to source a new one and had to rebuild it as best I could, with araldite making up for the missing bits! Not ideal but it should do for now.

Pulling the pulley wheel AL post insulator had disintegrated Temporary fix – rebuilt with araldite

The original slip rings piece was found to be cracked so I had replaced it when the alternator was rebuilt. The replacement has raised sections between the rings but, as the brushes sit either side of them, I thought nothing of it.

These raised sections had been in contact with the brush holder and had worn a groove in the nylon housing. The slip rings looked clean enough but I gave them quick polish with wire wool.

Difference between slip rings Signs of rubbing on raised sections Groove worn in brush housing

My multimeter has a diode checking function so it was easy to check the diodes once the bridge had been removed. My suspicions were that one or more of the additional three diodes I’d added for the alternator modification had failed. They hadn’t and all the diodes were fine.

Removing the rectifying bridge Diodes can now be tested

The other standard checks were made; the resistances of the rotor field and stator windings and the insulation between the rotor coil & rotor and the stator winding and stator laminations. All were fine … and I was stumped.

The alternator was rebuilt and put back on the car to test but there was no change. The ignition warning light stubbornly refusing to go out. I was getting fairly despondent. It was lunchtime, the alternator was in pieces on the bench yet again, there was no sign of the speedo, the car had no MOT and Christopher was due to turn up first thing the following morning!

For some reason I decided to measure the combined resistance of the rotor field winding and brushes. The rotor winding should be around 4 ohms. With the brushes included, I would have expected something in the order of 5 to 10 ohms (max). It varied between 30-40 ohms depending on the rotational positon of the rotor. This was way too high and would result in a significant reduction in the current in the rotor winding and therefore the output of the alternator.

Slip rings required light sanding Checking coil to rotor insulation

As a last resort and even though the slip rings had initially been cleaned with wire wool, their surfaces were sanded down with a fine wet and dry sandpaper. The combined resistance dropped to only 7 ohms. The alternator was quickly rebuilt and tested. Eureka – it was working!

I’m fairly sure the cause was due to the slip rings impacting the nylon brush housing. The resulting friction had melted the nylon to form the groove and some of the molten nylon had formed a glaze on the slip rings. The sharp points of the multimeter’s leads would penetrate the glaze to give a false impression of the resistance seen by the brushes.

I was expecting an initial voltage across the field winding of 1.5v rather than the measured at 2.74v. The higher voltage was due to a high combined resistance of the field coil and brushes compared with the 300 ohm bulb.

Refitting the alternator
… for the 4th time!

In total I had removed the alternator, taken it apart, tested each component, rebuilt it and retested it four times to get it working!

It was such a relief to get to the bottom of the problem and things started to look up when the postman arrived clutching the speedo. The garage kindly rescheduled things and its second MOT was passed late in the afternoon.

The following morning Christopher and I headed off for a drive and dropped in on his parents. His father had also had an E-Type years ago so it seemed fitting to vacate my seat so he could also go for a spin.

The feedback on how the two cars compared was positive too. The driving experience was very similar which was pleasing as there’s always a fear a restoration could change things for the worse.

Chris takes his father for a spin

One item that got the thumbs up was the PD Gough exhaust which has a lovely throaty roar from 2,500 rpm.

Something I can thank the administrator of the E-Type forum for as his advice was to stick to the standard cast manifolds, avoid the big bore systems and fit 1.75″ tubes with straight through silencers and straight through resonators.

Jul 052016

The joy of finally having the hood completed was short lived. I had hoped for at least a reasonable period of trouble free motoring. Alas, as the speedo had packed up on the way to the trimmers, I now found myself having to take things apart and rather urgently. Its 2nd MOT is overdue.

There are two issues to address; firstly to investigate why the wretched thing has stopped working and secondly to have it re-calibrated. It was reading a mere 56mph whilst following a lead car travelling at 70mph – 20% too low. The suggestion from the E-Type forum was to send it to Speedograph Richfield for the recalibration. So that left just tracing why it had stopped working.

The cable was detached from the back of the speedo in order to see whether the inner cable was rotating whilst driving. It was not. So this pointed to issues at the gearbox end. Most likely a failed angle drive, which is a known weak spot if everything isn’t operating smoothly. I didn’t want to contemplate if that wasn’t the cause. The only other option would be the speedo driven gear, which would require the engine & gearbox to be removed due to the lack of clearance.

Location of angle drive. Unfortunately the trim
had been put back in place since this was taken
A faulty speedo driven gear needs engine &
gearbox removal, as it’s removed sideways

Even so, accessing the angle drive is not easy, let alone getting it off once you have! The transmission tunnel is so close, the gearbox needs to be levered to the left side in order to withdraw the angle drive. The two options are from above, removing the seats, radio & centre consoles and gearbox cover or attack it from underneath.

It was almost possible to get at the angle drive from below with a very small pair of mole grips when the rear was raised on ramps. However the grip’s handle impacted the gearbox mount. At least it confirmed that it should be possible from below.

Exhaust was lowered to gain
access to the angle drive

The plan hatched was to lower the exhaust by undoing the mountings rear of the front downpipes rather than removing this whole section of the exhaust. The gearbox would be supported in order to remove the gearbox mounting.

In my haste I’d completely taken leave of my senses. Even though I had supported the gearbox, I’d forgotten that the supporting spring in the gearbox mounting was still under considerable compression.

I merrily set about undoing all the rear mounting bolts a bit at a time. As soon as the third of the five bolts was removed, the spring suddenly ‘let go’ with an almighty bang, pressing the gearbox mounting against the bodywork on one side and the dropped exhaust on the other.

Fortunately there was no damage but it was quite a shock and I was cursing myself for not reading the manual first! By trying to cut corners and not remove the rear exhaust section, I had created another issue. I now had to find a way of pushing the rear mount back into position in order to remove the last two bolts. However the exhaust was in the way and was now supporting one side of the rear mount that had been pushed down by the spring.

By chance I found a thin block of metal which fitted in the narrow gap between the silencers, enabling the bracket to be jacked back into position. Phew, but it was a nervous time removing the last two bolts. The angle drive was then unscrewed with mole grips and removed, while levering the gearbox over a few millimetres with a short length of 2″x4″.

Supporting the gearbox while
trying to jack the gearbox mount
to compress the support spring
The driven shaft from the gearbox had
been pulled out of the faulty angle drive
Note: round shaft, squared at one end

On initial inspection the angle drive did appear to be broken. The square shaft that engages with the driven gear in the gearbox was detached from the angle drive. Although this could have been caused during removal. This shaft looks a though it is made from a very tightly coiled wire which gives it some flexibility and is squared off at the output end. The internal end is left rounded and is simply held in place by an interference fit and it was this that had failed.

SNG Barratt didn’t have any in stock and wouldn’t for several weeks. So I called Speedograph Richfield to see if they had any available. They didn’t but during this conversation I found out that not all angle drives are equal. The correct one for E-Types has a ratio of 1:1.27. Other makes and some other Jaguar models had a 1:1 ratio. Externally they are identical so I needed to make sure I sourced the correct ratio.

Searches on angle drives in the E-Type Forum confirmed the variations. Hmmm …. could it be the angle drive causing the low speedo readings rather than my speedo needing to be re-calibrated? The test reading of 56mph multiplied by a ratio of 1.27 gives 71mph. Too close to the speed indicated in the lead car to be a coincidence.

Sure enough, the ratio of the old drive was found to be 1:1. A rolled up Post-It had been inserted into the old angle drive to check the rotation of the output drive for one revolution of the input shaft. The same test was repeated on the new angle drive to confirm a correct 1:1.27 ratio before it was installed on the car. The replacement angle drive had a shorter drive shaft so it should be easier to fit as it won’t require the same amount of clearance.

Checking the ratio of
old angle drive
Exercise repeated for new
drive before fitting
Newer drives have shorter shaft
– much easier to fit!

I still hadn’t got to the bottom of why the old angle drive had failed. Did it just fail or was it caused by other components? The cable was removed from the car and all appeared to be in order. There were no kinks and it was operating reasonably smoothly by hand.

It was a good opportunity to clean and re-lubricate the cable and the inside of the sheath. I wiped the cable with some silicone lubricant as some advised that grease can cause binding problems further down the line. Grease or oil will also have a tendency to migrate up the spinning cable which acts as an Archimedes screw, potentially causing damage to the speedo itself.

The cable was reattached to the speedo to check it could still rotate freely and not bind. It couldn’t be turned at all! The speedo’s input drive had seized. This explains why the weakest link in the chain had failed – the interference fit of the round shaft into the angle drive.

The conclusion is the seizure in the speedo would have stopped the cable from rotating. This in turn would have stopped the output of the angle drive from rotating. With the angle drive locked and the input shaft still being driven from the gearbox, the round end of the input shaft would have failed rather than the square end.

With the cause identified, the new angle drive and cable could be fitted back on the car. The exhaust was removed first so the gearbox mounting bracket could be easily jacked into position. It was also a good opportunity to finally fix my wonky tail pipes.

Something I should had done at
the outset – remove the exhaust!
Access to the gearbox mounting
bracket is much easier
Jacking the mounting bracket
into position to fit the bolts

All the instruments and gauges had been professionally restored many years ago and safely put in storage until needed. So I was rather disappointed the speedo had failed after only 500 miles. It will now have to been sent off for repair.

The input drive into the speedo performs two tasks; i) driving the needle and ii) driving the odometer/trip distances. At the internal end of the input shaft is a worm drive and an input disc containing permanent magnets.

The worm drive simply rotates another gear wheel which then drives gears for both the odometer and trip distance mechanisms.

In close proximity to the input disc is a similar sprung disc containing magnets to which the speedo needle is attached. As the input disc starts to turn, its magnets attract those on the needle disc causing it to turn. The faster the input disc rotates, the greater the torque on the needle disc due to the magnetic attraction.

Brass worm gear turns nylon gear
that drives odometer/trip distance
Input disc rotates within the
needle disc

A hairspring on the needle disc counters this rotational force, stopping the needle disc from free wheeling. The amount the hairspring coils is proportional to the rotational force and therefore road speed.

Speedograph Richfield can either calibrate the speedo back to the factory settings or calibrate it to your specific vehicle. I’m fairly sure the new angle drive will resolve the fact that it was reading 20% too low and so the factory settings would be fine. However I’ve also provided the measurements for it to be calibrated to the car, so they can determine if there is a discrepancy between the two.

To do this, they need to know the type of tyres in order to calculate the rolling circumference and the number of revolutions of the speedo cable for 6 revolutions of the driven wheel. The tyres were checked to ensure they were the correct pressures and a chalk line put on the rear tyre to aid measuring exactly revolutions.

To help count the revolutions of the speedo cable, I cobbled together a pointer made from matchsticks which slid onto the square end of the cable. All very high tech! The car was pushed forward with one person counting the wheel revolutions and the other the cable pointer. The average of three measurements was 8 full turns and 290 degrees (+/- 5 degrees) for six revolutions of the rear tyre.

Mark to accurately a full revolution My matchstick speedo cable pointer!

It is now with Speedograph Richfield who have indicated it should be returned within the week. A pretty good turn around. So fingers crossed this will be the end of my speeding troubles.

Jun 282016

The car was delivered to Suffolk & Turley in early June for the hood fitting. Hurrah! Just before it went, a fellow restorer, John, and his son dropped in and we had a very pleasant natter about our respective restorations and the problems encountered. He was over in the UK all the way from South Africa. I take my hat off to him as he’s currently restoring both a S1.5 OTS and a S2 FHC.

John’s primrose yellow S2 FHC – it makes me want to do another one!

It’s bad enough securing parts while based in the UK, with incorrect or poor-fitting parts often being delivered. Planning a restoration from so far afield from the usual parts suppliers must be a logistic nightmare. By chance I’d accumulated a couple of spare parts which John was looking for.

The delivery to Suffolk & Turley was not without incident. One thing I hadn’t done since it passed its first MOT was to confirm the speedo was calibrated correctly. Travelling in tandem enabled various test to be made en route. The plan was to have the lead car sit at various speeds (50mph, 60mph & 70mph) while I matched their speed and checked my speedo reading. Using a GPS would be more accurate due to the inaccuracies of speedos but it would be sufficient for now. Speedos are typically calibrated to read between 0-10% higher than the true speed, with most around 5% over.

However the results were quite alarming – following at 70mph, my speedo was only reading 56mph! Reading 20% lower than it should, so travelling at an indicated 70mph would equate to almost 88mph (ooops!). I had always thought it felt quite a bit faster than it was indicating and had put this down to a similar feeling driving my Elise. Being so low to the ground heightens the sense of speed. At least now I know to factor in the inaccuracy until it can be calibrated ….

…. that was until a few miles from their workshop on the outskirts of Nuneaton, when a whining noise started coming from the gearbox immediately followed by the speedo packing up completely!

Dropping the car off at Suffolk & Turley for hood fitting Brand new Robey canopy need fixing first, it was that bad Gaps at each ends but front of middle section is too curved

I had given up trying to trial fit the new Martin Robey canopy as it was so far out. Luckily RS Panels are next door to Suffolk & Turley and were given the task of fixing the shape of the canopy.

They had to weld an additional 1″ strip to the leading edge of the canopy, re-profile it to the shape of the windscreen’s top chrome and then repaint. There’s no way I would have been able to get this ‘brand new’ canopy to fit without their expertise. Another issue was the canopy didn’t have any mounting holes for attaching the wood bows. Pretty poor really.

Additional metal tack-welded to canopy Wood bow pre-fitted to aid fettling Re-profiling canopy to windscreen chrome

After the re-worked canopy was trial fitted it was taken off to get trimmed in the standard light sand covering. I had provided S&T some tacking strips but these didn’t pass muster due to the poor fit. Replacement tacking strips were attached to the rear hood channel and covered with matching red vinyl.

Final trail fitting of the canopy before trimming Rear wooden tacking strips covered in vinyl

A few pictures of the trimming of the hood canopy. They’ve done a fantastic job:

Covering the rear wood bow Awaiting the various fixings Front clamps & tilt warning added
Tie down strips will pass through chrome escutcheons Tie down straps clip to front wood bow when not in use Completed hood canopy ready for fitting

The canopy was then reunited with the hood frame ready for the hood canvas, in dark navy blue. Photos covering the fitting of the canvas:

Canopy refitted to frame Rear is attached to tacking strip
Rear is nailed to tacking strip and covered with chrome trim The front edge is bonded into thee rubber seal channel The drop glass was adjust for alignment and maximum height

The final touches were added to the hood – the front and rear finishing chrome strips:

Finished rear with hood envelope hooks Front finishing chrome

My intention wasn’t to create a ‘trailer queen’ to be cosseted and polished. At the same time I don’t expect to be testing its watertightness too often. I certainly hadn’t expected to test it so soon after collecting the car. The trip back was peppered with downpours, some torrential.

First watertight test!

It was quite possibly the most scary drive I’ve ever had! The woefully inadequate wipers merely smeared rather than actually wipe so I couldn’t see anything. The springs on the wiper arms appear to be too weak to actually compress the rubber against the screen.

I certainly don’t want to repeat that experience and so will be applying some Gtechniq Clearvision. It’s similar to the Rain-X product although (hopefully) harder wearing. It leaves a hydrophobic layer on the glass which causes the water to bead and simply roll off the windscreen. In theory it’s possible to drive in rain without needing to use the wipers.

I’m also going to see if a slight bend can be put into the wiper arms to apply sufficient pressure to compress the rubber.

I would like to report that the hood is completely watertight but it’s not! There was a slight leak on both sides at the top of the A-post. Although this was largely my fault for cutting the A-post rubber slightly too short. I should have left rubbers with a generous excess for Suffolk & Turley to trim back when they fitted the hood.

It’s not a disaster as I should be able to detach just the length running up the side of the windscreen and stretch it to fill the gap to the hood rubber.

May 272016

The opportunity to go travelling for six months, neatly avoiding the whole of the UK winter, was too good to miss! The finishing line of the long running restoration was tantalisingly in sight, with only a few minor trimming tasks to complete before taking the car up to Suffolk & Turley to have the hood fitted.

The final few months of last summer was spent desperately trying to arrange for the hood to be fitted but circumstances were against me and time ran out. Still it’s a good excuse for yet more gratuitous holiday snaps to explain the lack of progress:

  • Che Guevara, Plaza de la Revolución Havana

While travelling, I had at least managed to come to an agreement for Suffolk & Turley to schedule the hood to be fitted towards the end of May. I would take the hood frame up as soon as I returned to the UK at the start of May so they could address the canopy issues. The car would follow a two weeks later to have the hood fitted at their workshop, weather permitting!

It will have been a long time coming, the car has been hoodless for almost a year since it was MOT’ed. The two weeks would give me enough time to complete the few other trimming jobs beforehand. Suffolk & Turley had suggested leaving off the door cards and a few of the vinyl-covered metal panels as it’s best to fit them after the trimming of the hood.

I was pondering whether to fit the chrome hardtop mounting brackets as they might get in the way while fitting the hood. These brackets have a Tenax fastener stud for securing the hood envelope. As the envelope was missing when I got the car, I became side-tracked trying to understand how the envelope fitted over a lowered hood.

Tenax stud on hardtop mounting bracket Operating manual show stud positions

It then dawned on me that I’d forgotten to fit the other two Tenax studs which are mounted on the rear bulkhead to attach the hood envelope straps. The studs pass through the bulkhead vinyl and are secured by a nut and washer within the boot space. The realisation soon turned to a sinking feeling – getting out of this pickle was a cyclical conundrum of my own making.

Spot the deliberate mistake
(no – not the missing seat!)
These tiny Tenax studs should have
been fitted through the bulkhead Hardura

I had spent some time trying to make the installation of the inertia reel seat belts as neat as possible … and I must admit I was quite pleased with the outcome. However it had now come back to haunt me. Needing to retro-fit the studs had created quite a dilemma. It was now impossible to locate the holes for the studs in the bulkhead since it and the boot space had now been covered with Hardura.

The only option was to remove the Hardura trim in the boot to reveal the mounting holes. However I had mounted the seat belt inertia reels over the boot trim in my quest for neatness. So the reels would have to be removed before the Hardura. However the removal of each inertia reel is via a single bolt passing through the bulkhead from the cabin. Again the bolt heads had been covered by the bulkhead Hardura to keep everything neat and tidy.

Inertia reels were mounted
over the boot Hardura trim
… and secured by bolts which
were then hidden under Hardura

Therefore I would also have to remove the bulkhead Hardura too … but I needed the bulkhead Hardura in place to mount the studs!!! Hmmmm ….

After some thought, a plan was hatched to lift as little as possible of the bulkhead Hardura. Just enough to provide access to the bolt heads. The difficulty was the studs are located quite close to the inertia reel mounting bolts. In addition, I’d been rather diligent in making sure the bulkhead Hardura had been well and truly stuck down in the first place.

The internet can be a wonderful source of information at times and a suggestion was to use Zippo lighter fuel to weaken the contact adhesive’s bond. This worked a treat and had the benefit of not damaging either the Hardura or paint work and evaporated fairly quickly.

Bulkhead Hardura was carefully lifted Lighter fuel reduces contact adhesive bond Both boot Hardura & Dynaliner were trashed

Although it was a very slow and messy job. One that I hope never to repeat! The lighter fuel slowly dissolved the contact adhesive which enabled various implements and fingers to lift the Hardura without pulling off the jute backing. However it soon evaporated causing said fingers to stick together and to anything else they came in contact with. The reinforced tape used to cover the anti-drumming/strengthening indentations was a great help in lifting the trim and enabled large areas to be lifted quite easily.

Unfortunately the same could not be said for the trim in the boot. Both the Hardura and Dynaliner underlay were destroyed when they were removed. Fortunately I had enough left over of both to re-trim the boot. I decided to repeat my ‘tidy’ installation because the lifting of the trim, whilst messy, hadn’t been as bad as I had feared.

So the order of re-fitting was:

  • Fit the two Tenax studs to the bulkhead!
  • Re-trim the boot Dynaliner and biscuit coloured Hardura
  • Fit the boot side boards and mount the inertia reels
  • Stick down the lifted bulkhead Hardura
  • Refit the seat belt webbing and boot release cable

Once the boot trim had been removed, a needle was pressed through the holes for the studs to indicated their positions from the cabin side. A drill bit rotated by hand was sufficient to create the necessary hole in the layers of trim into order to fit the studs. With the Dynaliner in place, the Hardura was bonded to it with spray contact adhesive. I found it easier to bond the middle third first before tackling each end.

Position of Tenax stud located! Dynaliner fitted and masked for bonding

After the inertia reels were bolted in place, the top of the bulkhead was re-covered with the reinforced tape. This was initially done to stop the indentations showing through over time but has the added benefit of making the trim removal easier in future. Heaven forbid!

Plenty of reinforced tape was laid down before bonding the lifted section of Hardura

The seat belt webbing was then fed through the bulkhead and connected to the inertia reel. It’s not a job I enjoyed as it’s fiddly, hard to get at and there’s a potential to ruin the reels. The spring in the reel has to be at it’s most coiled state when the end of the webbing is fed through the centre of the reel. There’s a real risk of accidentally letting go of the centre which needs to be held against the spring pressure. If it’s allowed to uncoil freely then the spring becomes unseated and breaks the internal mechanism which is sealed.

Laying out webbing to avoid kinks Apart from a final clean, all sorted

After rectifying the stud problem it was rather disappointing to find out that they still can’t take the car to fit the hood. It has now been delayed until the start of June. At times I wonder if it will ever have a hood!

May 162016

The trimmers, Suffolk & Turley, suggested that it would be useful to trial fit the hood frame before bringing the car up to fit the soft top. The only two adjustments I could find were moving the mounting brackets fore and aft and adding shims underneath the bracket to raise the frame away from the body. So it shouldn’t be too difficult …. I really should know better by now!

Parts problems
S & T had inspected the hood canopy and condemned it to the scrapheap but, by chance, Martin Robey had just one remaining in stock. It was purchased on the spot to avoid any further delays, despite the eye-watering cost. When it failed to turn up several days later Robeys received a chase up call. It was only then that they admitted they didn’t actually have any in stock. It would be several weeks before a new batch were manufactured. The new canopy eventually finally turned up some two months later. It was very frustrating, although worse was to come …!

The ‘complete’ hood frame bolt set (SBS9069) from SNG Barratt wasn’t much better! The one thing you could say about it, it was anything but complete! Some smaller washers didn’t fit any of the bolts in the kit and all the brass washers (2x BD541/22 & 2x BD541/23) were missing for the pivot joint between the links and the front canopy.

Their bolt set appears to be just for the parts to attach the folding links to the hood frame sticks. The four ‘special’ bolts and brass washers securing the frame to the chassis need to be purchase separately; the bolts pivoting the main sticks (BD19160) and the bolts fixing the control link to the chassis body (BD19393).

The SNG website suggests 8 brass washers (BD541/30) are required for these four special bolts. However the bolts have different diameters, so I found it required only four of these larger washers for the pivot joint for the main sticks. The control link bolts require four of the smaller washers, BD541/23.

To be fair to SNG Barratt, the parts of their website had been taken from a parts lists produced by a third party which I suspect is incorrect. SNG even supplied the missing/incorrect pieces free of charge which was a nice gesture. However the toing and froing added yet more unwelcome delays.

Trial fitting the hood frame
The first task was to loosen the various pivot points in the frame links which had been locked in position by the powder coating and re-tap all the screw threads. A sharp blade was sufficient to break the paint seal on the joints to allow a light oil to be worked in, until they were well lubricated and operating smoothly.

The hood sticks pivot on the special bolts which pass through the chassis mounting brackets. It was a tight squeeze inserting the brass washers that sit either side of the pivot points to aide rotation. A screwdriver was needed to prise open the brackets to insert the second washer. Fortunately the bolt has a tapered shoulder which helps pull the final washer into alignment.

Shouldered pivot bolt screws
Note: lubrication hole for pivot joint
Two brass washers are fitted per side.
Brackets are handed & bolt heads face inwards
So far so good – the hood sticks fitted! Shims may be needed under B-post brackets

The two folding mechanisms (or links) are attached to the hood sticks by two bolts each side. A further bolt secures their control link arm to the chassis, on inside of the B-post. Again brass washers are fitted to each joint. One thing I’ve noticed on most cars is the control link arms rub against the vinyl covered B-post trim, causing unsightly wear damage. When I have more time, I plan to investigate whether a spacer can be fitted, to lift the control link away from the trim.

The cantrails are simply bolted to the folding mechanisms and don’t have any adjustability.

Folding mechanism in place Cantrails and canopy link added

A watertight seal between the hood and drop glass (don’t laugh!) is created by sections of rubber moulding attached around the cantrails and the vertical main pillar posts. A lip to receive the rubber is created by small angled brackets which are just riveted to the cantrails (the lip is integral to the main pillar pieces).

There was some evidence that these brackets had been repositioned as there were several sets of drilled holes. I had assumed this was to fine tune their alignment with the drop glass. However, rather oddly, only one set of holes matched those in the cantrail. So I’m a bit mystified what had gone on in the past. I do know, from the bodging of the canopy, the hood has been apart at some stage.

Riveting brackets to cantrail rubbers

The range of travel of the canopy is limit by a stop stud attached to the link mechanisms. From the closed hood position, the front of the canopy can be raised slightly, until the stop studs are reached. At which point, pushing the canopy further up causes the link mechanisms to start folding.

New & old hood stop studs

Unfortunately both studs were rusted firmly in place and so the only option was to carefully cut each nut off with a Dremel. The remains of the studs were then used as a pattern in fabricating replacements in stainless steel.

The studs have clearly been designed to allow for a small degree of adjustability because the threaded section is not concentric with the main body of the stud. Rotational adjustment is made via the screwdriver slot. I’ve not been able to work out why this is needed.

Finally the hood canopy was fitted. As the strengthening wood bow still needs to be fettled to fit the canopy, it was only possible to fit the outer two hood retaining clamps at this stage. The fit of the brand new Robey canopy was truly shocking. It wasn’t even close.

The curvature of the front of the canopy is all wrong. The front centre section bends downwards too much so it is in hard contact with the windscreen chrome when the clamps are engaged. Also the outside corners protrude too far and there’s a substantial gap to the same chrome trim. I’ve had trouble with some replacement parts but this is about as worse as it gets.

The new Robey canopy fitted Fit along windscreen is atrocious
Daylight through the gap Each side also protrudes too far

The fit is so poor I had to abandon thoughts of completing the trial fitting and called Suffolk & Turley to discuss my options. It will take extensive sheet metal work to rectify. Fortunately RS Panels are next door to S&T. They will be asked to undertake the panel work to obtain a good fit before the trimming of the hood canvas.

It was not the first time they had come across this problem with Robey canopies. Something that really shouldn’t be necessary on a new panel, especially when charged such an extortionate price. I suspect they just churn them out thinking if they look about right they’ll have got away with it. By the time the customer finds out, it will probably be too late. There’s no excuse for it.

The impact was that it hadn’t been possible to have the hood fitted before heading off travelling for six months. I had hoped to arrange for the hood work to be done while I was abroad, so I could return to a completed car. However the logistics and available slots in people’s calendars meant it wasn’t to be.

Feb 092016

I could get used to this travelling … as I currently write this sailing off the Whitsunday Beach. Although the down side is it’s been three months since heading off from the UK and therefore being without my E-Type ‘fix’, either tinkering or driving. Completely by chance, the stay in the lovely Llao Llao hotel in Patagonia coincided with the start of the Argentinian 1000 Millas historic race. The organisers were using the hotel as their race control so the car park started to fill with all sorts of exotic cars including a number of E-Types.

  • The eventual winner, 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS

However last summer, Chris, a fellow E-Type forum member and S2 owner, dropped by to have a look at my restoration progress while he was over from Australia, visiting folks at home. Unfortunately I was still addressing a few teething problems and finishing the trim so we weren’t able to take it for a spin.

Sydney is now Chris’ home town and not surprisingly was one of the key destinations whilst travelling in Australia. So I dropped him a note to see if I could drop by while in Sydney to have a look at his FHC. His suggestion was better than that, to head up north to drive some of the twisty Old Pacific Highway. This was once the main link between Sydney and Brisbane further up the coast. It has since been replaced by a modern motorway and so, without the volume of traffic, it’s an ideal driving road.

Chris and his S2

It was a offer I couldn’t refuse! So we arranged to meet in central Sydney and head off for a three hour drive. It has always surprised me how small even an E-Type looks compared with modern machinery. This was even more evident as Chris turned up amongst the Sydney traffic, where there seem to be more larger SUV type vehicles than in the UK.

Chris pointed out a few of the historic parts of Sydney before heading over the Sydney Bridge to the northern suburbs. Not a bad mode of transport for my first crossing of the iconic bridge!

Sydney Bridge in an E-Type

It was great to compare notes on our E-Types, especially as Chris’s is pretty much as it left the factory. Except for sensible changes such as an oil pressure gauge with a direct feed from the engine to give a true pressure reading. It was interesting that his standard cooling system keeps the temperature running at the normal level, even in the Australian heat. Confirming there’s no need to meddle with the standard S2 set up.

Once on the twisty section of the Old Pacific Highway, Chris pulled over and asked if I would like to drive. A brave man, as this would be only my second E-Type that I’ve driven! It was reassuring that it felt largely the same as mine. At least what I can remember of it from when I last drove it in October.

Me behind the wheel

The only slightly perceptible differences were a possibly smoother gear change and a different feel to the throttle. I had been having issues with my gear changes but this was mainly due to the incorrect orientation on the various washers and the resistance offered by the reverse plunger. The throttle difference was not unexpected as this was one change I had made from the original set up, fitting the Mangoletsi cable throbbed linkage.

As Stephen mentions in his comment, a classic case of spell checker thinking it knows best …. the above should read “Mangoletsi cable throttle linkage”!

It was an excellent and very enjoyable morning out and I was grateful for Chris’ hospitality and sparing the time. It was also great to have the opportunity to chat with a fellow car enthusiast. He mentioned a potential trip to the UK so I will be able to reciprocate and enable Chris to compare driving the two cars.

I will be redoubling my efforts to get the hood fitted ….

 Posted by at 2:21 am
Nov 062015

An opportunity to take a career break to go travelling for the duration of our winter was too good to turn down. So the fitting of the hood had started to become quite urgent!

My intention was to put it into the care of one of the car storage companies that specialise in classic cars. Most store the cars in cocoons in a temperature controlled environment and offer additional services such as tyres shoes (something I didn’t know existed!) and to run the car periodically. Obviously all at a cost.

Numerous phone calls had been made to Suffolk & Turley in a desperate attempt to get the hood fitted before I departed. I didn’t want to pick up next year in the same position waiting for a slot to trim the hood.

With only weeks to go it became fairly obvious that it wasn’t to be. To be fair to them, the issue is that the hood required a new metal canopy as the original one had been butchered and was rusted beyond repair. The fit of the new canopy supplied by Martin Robey was so shocking, it would require extensive panel work (shaping and cutting) in order to get it to fit. Only then could they start to fit the hood.

The specialist metal work is not something they are able to provide although they farm out such work to RS Panels, who luckily are just next door. RS Panels main line of work is producing high-end, bespoke bodyshells and body panels. Unfortunately a healthy order book has ruled out being able to take on any small one off jobs like mine in the near future. So I will have to wait, most likely until the new year.

It was therefore going to become a logistics exercise while overseas, arranging transportation to and from Nuneaton, once dates were confirmed.

Numerous offers had been received to ‘look after’ the car whilst I was away. I think (hope!) mostly in jest. The lack of the hood and having to arrange transportation could become a real problem, especially if put into commercial storage. It would also be preferable to be driven rather than just turned over every couple of weeks or so …. and be relieved of the best part of £1,000 for the privilege!

It didn’t feel right to be paying for it to be bubble wrapped rather than being enjoyed. I mentioned my dilemma to John, who’d helped with putting in the IRS and resolving numerous other issues during the restoration. If he could clear out enough space in his garage and I was sure of entrusting it in his care, he might be able to re-home the cat!

A tentative plan was coming together and it was fitting John would have the first opportunity to drive it after all the help I’d received, admittedly being limited to dry days due to the lack of hood. The other advantage would be another pair of eyes to critique the restoration and suggest any improvements. Something I soon came to regret ….

A trip to its potential new home was organised, so the garage could be measured up for size and the garage clearing task assessed. Although really it was just a good excuse to take it for a spin. The deal was done …. but not before John had pointed out my shockingly poor tail pipe alignment!!

It might also be possible with his contacts to have the ignition mapping done while I was away. After the garage re-homing reccee, it was taken back to the local independent Jaguar specialist who finally got the engine running smoothly by correcting all the valve clearance shims. They had suggested putting 1,000 to 1,500 miles on the clock before doing so, which was sensible advice so I’ll leave that until next year.

I had a long list of small tasks to complete before I went travelling. The mudguards and torsion bar guards had been trial fitted but still needed refitting, one of the radius arm bolts needed nipping up as it was causing a slight knocking on acceleration and to gather all the bits and pieces for the hood.

While struggling under the car, cursing the near on impossible contortions needed to get spanners onto the bolts for the torsion bar guards/mudguards, I happened to glance up at the passenger footwell. To my horror, the whole of the front end of the sunken section had been push in by several inches. Distraught didn’t come close.

It was so near completion and, at that moment in time, in my (somewhat moist) eyes, the whole restoration ruined. I started retracing where it had been driven but it hadn’t been out of my sight and it would have been some impact to cause that much damage.

It was some time before I could even face getting back underneath to assess the damage. But when I did, something was odd. There wasn’t any hint of paint damage and the paint layer was still intact. It must have been caused by compression from below rather than an impact while driving …. and then it dawned on me. I’d visited the garage when it was in having the engine issues resolved and it had been hoisted up a couple of feet using a two post lift.

Damage to the passenger footwell Similar damage on driver’s side The only possible cause …..

They’d used the floor pans, rather than the jacking points, to raise the car. By chance I’d taken a photo for the blog while it was on the lift, which confirmed this could be the only possible cause. The pads on the lift arm must have has some dum-dum like substance on them as they had left a round shaped deposit on the now buckled floor pan.

I was mulling (read raging) over how I would tackle the garage the following morning when I noticed the driver’s footwell was similarly damaged. I was far from a happy frame of mind and it was heartbreaking after all the care and effort put in. With only a couple of days before I flew off on my travels, it had the potential to ruin that as well. Although it categorically pointed to lift damage.

I abhor confrontation but in this case I was up for giving them a piece of my mind and some! It was just as well I was able to sleep on it, anger wouldn’t solve anything, so I went to the garage with the approach that accidents happen (no matter how amateurish) but I wanted it resolved.

To give them some credit they initially put their hands up, accepted liability and agreed to do whatever was necessary to rectify the damage. So I felt reassured it could be resolved while travelling. Discussions are on-going so I won’t add anything further at this stage.

Speaking to people from the E-Type forum and Hutsons, this type of damage is apparently becoming an all too common occurrence as mechanics who are used to working on older cars are becoming harder to find. They also suggested that, even though it looks awful now, a good panel beater can reverse the damage so you’d have difficulty telling. We’ll see.

The intention has never been to have a ‘trailer queen’. I’d rather have a car that I’ve restored to the best of my abilities and then have the enjoyment of driving the car, accepting it will pick up the odd scar here and there. I just hadn’t expected major surgery so soon.

The final task was to deliver it to its ‘snug’ new home and hand over the keys so it can hopefully have a good few runs out while I’m away. Although track days are strictly off limits!!

Shocking tail pipe alignment.
Ooops – how did I miss that!
A snug fit in its new home … Hopefully it can get a few
trips out while I’m away

As the UK disappeared from view, I’ll sign off until next spring …. unless there’s progress on the hood front. Fingers crossed!

 Posted by at 10:00 pm