Back together.

November 16th, 2014

This weekend I put the Chummy back together. Saturday was wet and miserable.

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I went to help Joss with his modern and to see how the special was coming on. The back edge is wired now.

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I also got an old scuttle tank that’s been dented somewhat but is sound. I will try to get that back into shape to replace the home made one in the chummy.

I cleaned up and fitted the switch panel I have and retaped some of the wires. That works well now. The black paint has been worn or cleaned off it but I won’t worry about that for now.

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I also had a look at the non functioning reverse gear lockout. These wear out so it’s possible to hit reverse when wobbling the gear lever about (and due to wear it wobbles alot!). Joss gave me a highly detailed drawing (on a scrap of steel) showing what an original looks like so I found some scrap brass, silver soldered it to the existing piece then filed it to shape.

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Unfortunately it still doesn’t work. There is so much wear everything is a sloppy fit and I suspect the little stop on the gearbox top casting is worn too so after all that effort the thing doesn’t work.

I refitted the front and refilled the coolant and also reset the timing. This I find confusing. Apparently you set the maximum advance by looking at a mark on the flywheel and setting the point so they are opening when that mark is reached. But I can’t work out how to even see the flywheel! I guess you have to remove the bacon slicer (starter motor). For now I just set it so that with number 1 cylinder at TDC on the compression stroke the points are just opening with the advance lever in the fully retarded position. To find the compression stroke you remove the spark plug and put your thumb over the hole then turn the engine round on the crank handle until you feel compression. When the piston reaches the top thats TDC, or top dead centre. I used a bamboo skewer in the hole resting on the piston top to see when I was at TDC.

One thing I noticed with the plug out was a small depression in the piston top!

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Obviously it doesn’t go right through the crown or there would be no compression. But some time I really must take the head off to see what horrors lurk underneath. I really don’t want to look too closely. As soon as you start opening up engines things can start getting costly. I just want to keep the car mobile for now. With the timing set that way the car starts easily without breaking my wrist and seems to run ok although I think I can give it a little more advance.

I also fitted a fuel filter so I can drive without clogging carb jets I hope. That gives me much more confidence in the car. The olive joint at the fuel tap was dripping ever so slightly. That a worry as it drips right onto the hot exhaust pipe! I used little teflon jointing around the olive and that seems to have fixed it for now. When it took it off there was some there too so obviously that was the solution used in the past.

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I also decided I better work out how to put the roof and side screens up. It’s easily enough. I did that then drove outside. When I went to drive back into the garage I realised there is zero rear visibility! Like my MG I doubt the top will ever be up. I decided not to bother carting the side screens about with me everywhere. On a real Chummy there is space behind the rear seat back to store the screens. Mine doesn’t have that so there is no where to keep them. I’ll keep them in the garage!

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With the top back down and the screens off I waited until it was after 6 or so and went for a drive to the bottle shop. Everytime I drive this car I feel like I need a stiff drink. The car went fine. I am slowly getting the hang of the down shifts. You really need a lot of revs to go from 3rd to 2nd and the other thing is a quick throttle blip isn’t enough. You have to boot the throttle then wait a second for the engine to actually pick up speed! I found doing that helped a lot. The Austin 7 engine has a massive flywheel and clutch assembly for the size of the engine so there is a lot of inertia there. Nothing seems to happen fast. I guess that’s why the racing ones all have lightened flywheels (my special does too). Oh, the not working reverse lockout doesn’t really matter since I have progressed onto changing gear without looking at the gate and I seem to now remember where reverse is and to avoid it!

The car is still so much fun to drive. Totally unlike anything else. The back end is so light it just bounces over things. It twitches about over bumps and things but not in an alarming way. The steering is, well, hard to describe. It’s very direct but it’s not sharp. It’s about 1 and 1/4 turns lock to lock. But it’s sort of like when you steer you politely suggest to the car which direction you want to go and it sort of goes there. I’ve never ridden a horse, I wonder if it’s somewhat like that? I think fixing the rear dampers so they actually do something might help with the lively rear end a little.

My every day car is my MGB which is very tight and very direct to drive. When I first got it on the road I ended up having to sell my Japanese car with it’s power steering and power brakes because it just felt so horrible and mushy to drive. Like all the controls were via rubber bands. The Austin isn’t like that even though it’s not a sports car at all. I think it’s because it’s purely mechanical so you can still feel everything that happening even if it’s not as tight as a 60s sports car. I still prefer driving it to a modern just because you feel in touch with the machine. Modern cars you drive in touch with the software and as a software engineer that scares me!

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