First real drive.

November 1st, 2014

Today I got up extra early and went for a drive to Bunnings. After a mis-start when I forgot 2nd gear isn’t up and to the right I got going OK. I avoided the motorway and went down Hillsborough road instead. The car went fine. The gear ratios are a bit odd. The jump between 2nd and 3rd is large so going up hills I would have to change down to second to avoid labouring the engine. But then it seemed to be revving a lot. I was doing about 40mph and only later realised that is actually about 65kph, a little quick for 50kph roads! I did wonder why the other cars seems slow. At Bunnings I bought a small fire extinguisher to keep in the car.

The steering is very direct but also odd. It’s hard to describe. You can feel the oversteer when you corner fast. The rear springs bend as the car rolls and since they have a positive arch the outer spring flattens which makes it longer. That pushes the axle back which effectively makes the back axle steer into the corner even more! I also experience the liveliness they are well know for when I went over a bump and the back end jumped sideways! It didn’t feel unsafe though. No synchros on the gearbox so double clutching is needed up and down. Up si no trouble, can do that fine. You just take it out of gear, off the clutch, pause a bit, back on the clutch then into the next gear. Down shifts are trickier though. You have to do that and blip the throttle in the middle. I am used to doing that in the MG so I know the technique. Just getting the revs right in the Austin is tricky, you really have to rev it a lot to drop from 3rd to 2nd due to the long ratios. Practice will help.

On the way back the car started losing power and actually stalled a few times at lights. Most embarassing! When I got home I only just made it into the garage. I had a pretty good idea what it was having been warned about it by Joss and Ian. The problem is the jet in the carb blocks so you have no fuel going into the engine. The jet is a little screw in piece under a small brass cap. You can see the thread it goes into to the left of the paperclip. Of course that’s right above the exhaust pipe and when you undo the jet a little fuel will spill out. Hence me thinking a fire extinguisher might be a wise accessory! A rag catches most of the fuel.

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Above you can see how it blocks up. To clear it you blow through it hard. I should probably take the fuel tank out and give it a good clean. A filter might be a good idea too. I carry a small box spanner and a screwdriver now so I can unblock it when needed.


Today I did some small jobs on the car. I drained the engine, gearbox and diff oils. They were all filthy. I had a hard time getting the gearbox plug removed as it’s totally rounded. In the end I had to use vice grips. No sockets or spanners would fit. I want to replace that before refilling the box. I really hate buggered sump plugs. They are a real pain, especially for something you need to access fairly often. I found I couldn’t refill the engine or gearbox anyway. I thought I had a 4L thing of oil but when I went to use it realised I had used most of it up the other week in the MG. I can use the same oil, Castrol 20W50. Can get it anywhere and it’s fairly cheap and will work fine in the Austin.

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The great thing about a Chummy is the thing is so tall there is plenty of ground clearance. No need to jack it up! The rear axle plug was fine and came undone easily. It is hollow and was full of muck in the bottom of it. Looks like a lot of metal dust in there. And a gear tooth was stuck in the middle of the muck! I think it had been there a while. I literally had to dig it out of the plug.

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I took the cover off the rear of the diff. This time there was a well rounded bolt to deal with (I replaced it) and amazingly enough the car was in just the right position to see the broken tooth on the crown wheel

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I am not going to worry for now so I refilled the diff with 140 oil. Penrite stuff especially for vintage cars. You have to make sure you use an oil that won’t affect brass and bronze parts like some modern oils will.

I also replaced the steering arm with the one of the special. It is one of David Cochranes remade arms. I will get a new arm from David for the special later as I want to get a sports one that will better suit my lowered axle. Can get that sent to Jodi so I can collect it on my UK visit and bring it home with me. I wire brushed the old arm and I think it is cracked. I tried using my crack detection spray but I never seem to get that stuff to work well. I think there are two cracks in the existing arm. I put the old arm on the special for now, just so it can be wheeled about. I sprayed it bright red to remind me not to use it on the road!

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Interestingly the old arm has had a flat ground on it for some reason.

I also had a look at the switch panel. I will clean up the nice one I have and replace the one in the car. I am also going to replace the advance/fuel controls and the horn button with a nicer set I have too. I need to resolder a wire on the horn first though. The wiring all needs redoing as well really. I did notice, when I disconnected the battery to work on the car, that it’s chassis negative. I am not sure that’s actually correct for this year of car. The wiring si non standard so needs some work.


The other thing I did since it was a nice day was try repainting the instrument panel for the special again. It was a little cloudy today but the sun came out now and then.  I gave it several overlapping coats then just forgot about it. The paint looks very wet and smooth when you first spray it but over time it starts to wrinkle. It takes quite a while to get evenly wrinkled. In the past I have tried using a heat gun to speed things up but not think just leaving it in the sun for longer to naturally wrinkle is a much better way.

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I really did forget about it for a few hours and it actually came out great. I need to redo the white on the back but the front came out perfect.


It’ll be a while before it goes in the car so the paint should get a chance to really harden first.

Tomorrow is the car clubs Chelsea hill climb so I will go over for that (in the MG as the Austin isn’t back in one piece). I can get more oil when I am out so I can refill the engine And I will order a new sump plug for the gearbox from the local spares. I can’t refill the gearbox until I have that. And there is no point putting the bad one back as you can’t replace it easily without losing some of the oil! I did look at the spare gearboxes I have on the special but they all has buggered plugs too.

I still need to adjust the brakes and look at the rear shocks (which don’t seem to be doing anything much). I also need to sort out a good set of wheels and make sure all the spokes are good. I noticed today that the spare, even though it has the thick spokes, was actually missing one altogether! I am also going to get a new set of tyres from the UK. Marcus in the club has kindly organised bringing in a large shipment of 19s so hopefully I can get some in that order too.




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