Bits and pieces.

September 17th, 2014

Right, no major progress but I am trying to get small bits and pieces done. I cleaned up the White Lady sign and that’s looking good now.


And I started stripping down my carb for rebuilding. The outside of it looked clean but the internals are a mess. One of the throttle disc screws was stripped so I had to drill it out to remove the spindle. I found it was badly worn.


When worn like that the carbs leak around the spindle and you can never get them set up right. Once I had everything apart I discovered the rebuild kit the SU people sent is the wrong one. It has a 1 1/8 disc and spindle whereas my carb is a 1 1/4. I also had a wee accident and the carb body fell off the bench and I broke off a lug on the body.


One of those lugs is used for the choke lever pivot and the other for the return spring. You can flip over the lever as it works the same on either side. To fix it I drilled the body and inserted a small brass loop then I built up around the wire with JB Weld epoxy. I didn’t get a picture of the brass wire unfortunately.

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I then sanded back the epoxy and drilled a new hole. For added strength I inserted a small brass tube as a sleeve which is epoxied in place. Once that dries I can sand everything smooth and it should all be good again. I have ordered a new disc and spindle but not from the Burlen people. They were slow and I find their web site is really hard to navigate. It works great if you know the exact number of your particular carb. If you don’t think it is really hard to find parts on the site. So instead I am getting them from Joe Curto in the states, well known as the best SU rebuilding place in the states.

I came to the conclusion that trying to drill the body to fit the new bushes (the ones in the kit were correct teflon lined ones) at home is asking for trouble so I will get the local carb building people at CSL to do that bit for me.

One other small job was removing the cam shaft centre bearing outer ring. It’s a press fit in so I heated up the crankcase around the bearing with the oxy torch then used a suitably sized socket and long extension to carefully tap the ring out.


I also cleaned up the oil pressure gauge I got off Eddie in the VAR. That was the last gauge I was missing.


Once I got it apart it was easy to clean things then reassemble it. Since it is lit from the back as are most of the gauges I decided to modify my tachometer to make that backlit also. I cut a strip of thin perspex on the scroll saw then used the hot air gun to soften the plastic and I formed that around a glass jar. I scuffed the plastic a bit with a scotch pad to make it a bit more diffuse.

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Bulbs behind the instrument panel should now light up the gauges. I tried an experiment with a bulb and battery and it should work (but was damn hard to photograph).

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I also realised that I get a better view of the gauges with the steering wheel oriented with one spoke point up and two down. It also looks better on the car that way. All I need to do now is make a hole and mount the lighting switch then I can look at painting the instrument panel in crackle black. The back of it is painted gloss white, a trick I used on my MG. With a white back it is much easier to see what you’re doing if you ever find upside down head under the dash trying to see something.

I also looked at the long stud mod to the crankcase. I machined a point on the 5/16ths rod Glenn gave me and also machined up an old aluminum knob so I could pass the rod through the crankcase and ensure it was square to the top face.

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The idea being that with the rod square to the crankcase top I could then see where it would pass through the bottom flange where the oil strainer would usually go. The mode involves bolting a large aluminium bar on that lip that these long studs then screw into. This spreads the load across the bottom of the crankcase rather than having two short studs pulling on the rather thin top part. What I found though is the rod would actually come out into the side of the case itself. I put that aside for a bit so I could ask Ian what he thought about it.

In the weekend, on Sunday afternoon, I went over to Ian’s. There was a North Shore branch VAR club run that finished at Ian’s garage to see his projects. I didn’t go on the run but did go to the end part at Ian’s house. There were quite a few people there and quite a few interesting cars. Mostly Austins of course (being the vintage Austin register) but a couple of Morris’ too! The little blue Chummy replica is nice. I like the paperclip holding the throttle linkage in place.

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Ian took a look at my stud mod and he thinks that maybe the top face isn’t flat so the rod might not actually be square to the top of the crankcase. I need to flatten the top by grinding it on a flat glass surface. This will ensure it is flat and also make it much easier to get an oil tight seal there. He also thinks that milling a small amount off the crankcase where the aluminium bar fits will make things much easier. I can’t do that myself at home so I contacted a local engineer and will go see him to get his opinion. This is someone other Austin people have used so he understands what we’re trying to do. He’s fixed up front bearing lips and done other things for people. I will get him to look at my crankcase and also my blower drive setup which will require a few mods.

So tonight I looked at the blower drive setup and how that will work. I need to modify a front cover to provide the extra mounting lugs the Grasshopper drive has. I had a few to choose from and this one seems about right. Everything is just loosely in place for now.

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With the Grasshopper drive the blower will be much further forward that I originally planned. In fact a rear mounting lug on the blower would hit the water inlet on the front of the head. But I think I can remove that and mount the blower on a plate mounted to the proper mounting points on the drive (the two holes seen in the middle photo above).

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I also looked at the fan mount. There is just enough clearance to run a fan (the wood block is about the same thickness as the radiator) but I think I will not run a fan (since I have an electric water pump) and instead I will probably make a new fan mounting that has my idler pulley on it. To see how that would work I temporarily removed the original fan pulled and slid my V belt one on the drive. You can see how the fan spindle is mounted to block that has a shaft that’s mounted to the blower drive. It’s a bit like half a crank pin. That is how you can adjust the belt tension by rotating the fan spindle.

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I can use the same arrangement but since I am using a seal bearing on the idler pulley I don’t need the greasing point the original has. The idler is even on the right side of the belt (the slack side). I am still working out the details but I think I can see how it all works. One thing I am not sure of is what you do with the end of the cam shaft. Normally the big pulley for the fan belt drive goes there but with the Grasshopper drive there is no room for that of course. I wonder what they did on the original cars? There is some fiddling to be done with cam shaft end float so I need to work out how all that works before I go and see Brian the engineer.

And tonight, when fiddling around with nose cones, I went and found the crank handle that came with the car. That always had a horrible bend in it for some reason so I got out the oxy/acetylene again and heated up the shaft and straightened it a bit. It might still need tweaking but at least it’s not got an S bend now!

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And finally I got a new tool today. My old vernier calipers got dropped and they then never ever returned to zero the same every time you used them. So I bought some new ones. I was looking about for a while and finally found out that surprisingly RS components locally had a pretty good deal.


These aren’t fancy expensive ones like Mitutoyo but they are good enough for an amateur like me. These are dual metric and imperial (which I didn’t actually know existed) and they seem very solid. Better than my last ones (which lasted 10 or 15 years). I prefer the dial kind to the digital ones since 1. no batteries and 2. when I am mucking about on the lathe I like to see how much actual difference a cut makes. With a digital set (and digital gauges in general) you only get an indication of the actual reading at that time. Analogue gauges and dials not only give you the actual reading, you can see the difference between readings by how far the needles move. It’s why I prefer dial calipers and why I also prefer analogue clocks and watches. The changing position of the needles tell you something as well as the number they point at. I always liked how old fighter aircraft and race cars have their instrument panels arranged so all the needles point up (some gauges are rotated even so this happens) when everything is running right. You can tell at a glance is anything is out of place.

So now I have those  I can machine up the oil gallery plug in the crankcase. All these little jobs add up it seems!







One Response to “Bits and pieces.”

  1. Renaud in Brittany Says:

    Well done Simon. So many liitle things to be done all around!

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