Betsy's Blog
Rants & Raves About Life With A Farina

(With special thanks to my friend Peter who helps with the oily bits!)


March 2009

Another MOT due but nothing major to be done. The brake lamp switch was a bid dodgy and needed a hard press of the pedal before coming on. Changing the switch involved loosing some brake fluid so I thought it would be a good idea to combine the job with a brake service. We removed the drums to make sure nothing was leaking and drained all the brake fluid.
The new switch went on with no drama and we refilled and bled the fluid.
The brakes needed a couple of goes at adjusting before feeling tight – but she sailed through the MOT!


June 2008

Last couple of major jobs to tick off my To Do list – propshaft universal joints & gearbox mounts.
I’ve sat on the parts since last year, when bad weather ruled out any dry mornings to tackle the jobs.
Anyway, Peter was free to get stuck in, so we took the propshaft off first.
It came apart OK but there was some wear in the yoke mounts. Peter used a few tricks of the trade to tighten them up and the job was done within 2 hours. However, the gearbox mounts weren’t as easy.
We didn’t really want to remove the exhaust so struggled to get the cross member off and then the mounts. These were very worn and distorted; subsequently the gearbox needed some persuasion to line up with the new mounts. 3 hours later we were done! 
The biggest obvious improvement is no more “clunk” when the drive’s taken up.
One downside is an occasional knock from the exhaust on some potholes – another job on the To Do list!


April 2008
Well, she's let me down in style.
The ironic thing was that I was on my way to Peter’s, to investigate a cold start problem. She's struggled for a few weeks to start from cold, but was perfect when warm.

She started to stutter a bit at traffic lights - then cut out on a zebra crossing!
Pushed her to the side and fiddled with a few cables - she restarted but 1 mile down the road cut out for good.
I was on the main dual carriageway into Wigan, under a railway bridge and just had to hug the kerb for safety.
I've got breakdown cover but realised I wasn't far from friend & Forum member Mick Berry.
A quick call and 15 minutes later his Austin Healey Sprite appeared in my rear view mirror!
We narrowed it down to either a dodgy coil or bad wiring between coil and dizzy - but under a dark bridge and in a freezing cold wind wasn't the place to fix it.
So Mick and I staged our own mini Classic Car show for the folks of Wigan as we waited an hour for the recovery truck. (If only we had some deck chairs ...)

Despite telling them it was a rear wheel drive automatic they sent a pickup truck so had to call for a flat-bed loader!

The new coil arrived a few days later and I installed it along with new wiring and condenser.
But she still wouldn’t start.
Finally I had to call Peter for help and he soon found that the HT lead between the distributor cap and coil was broken! This was new 18 months ago so I never suspected it.
I’ve learned my lesson now, and carry a spare distributer cap and leads in the boot!

March 2008
Weather’simproving so time to cross another few jobs of the list.
The heater hoses were hard and starting to crack, so this was a relatively easy fix and good opportunity to re-flush the cooling system and put fresh anti-freeze in.
Next, to check the tappets which had not been adjusted in the time I’ve had the car.
Fortunately the rocker cover and old gasket came off easily and I gave them a good clean whilst Peter adjusted the clearances.
A quick check on the timing and a compression check reassured me that all’s well internally.

February 2008
My first proper breakdown!
After a short run she stalled a few times as I reversed into the garage. I thought nothing more about it until the following week when she cut out just as I was getting her out of the garage.
I was stuck, with the driver’s door being level with the garage door frame. I couldn’t get out nor move the car. A few beeps on the horn and my wife came into the garage for a laugh and then pushed me out!
I couldn’t figure what was wrong – petrol pumped Ok, spark at the coil etc.
I posted a plea for help on my Forum page and fortunately a local chap was able to come around and help. He soon found that the distributor clamp bolt had come loose and the ignition timing was lost. This was swiftly corrected and I was back on the road again!

October 2007
A few jobs to do before the weather and short days draw in.
Both engine mounts were cracked and perished. Peter was able to fit the new ones without too much bother and the engine now sits about ½” higher than before.
This has induced some shakes and rattles in the interior that weren’t there before.
I need to go around with a screwdriver and hammer to sort them out!


June 2007
Summer’s here and nothing too major needs doing, so time for a bit of fettling.
Betsy had original BLMC mud flaps on the back, but they were split, tatty and hanging on by a thread. Finally one came loose and I had to literally rip it off the final screw.
I was loathed to throw them away and they sat in the garage for 18 months, until last week when I had a flash of inspiration. I was browsing around a branch of Motor World and found a pack of plain mud flaps with fixings, for £7.99. When I got home I took the old BLMC flaps and cut out the logo with a Stanley knife. I had recently bought some Gorilla Glue – claimed to be the “strongest glue on the planet”, so after a bit of whittling and sanding off the rough edges, I glued the logos onto the new flaps.
The flaps looked pretty good, but I had an idea to pimping them up. I bought a small pot of white enamel and painted the embossed BLMC logo.
The finished product looks pretty much authentic 1970’s and all for under £10 !

April 2007
Whilst changing the throttle linkage we noticed that the automatic kick-down cable was very frayed, and only just hanging on.
Unfortunately renewing the cable involves removing the auto sump and draining the fluid.
This was done and everything was spotlessly cleaned before reassembly. Final tuning of the kick-down operation has to be done with a pressure meter, but for now things are a lot better.
One advisory note from the MOT was slight play in the nearside draglink bar. (This part can be referred to a track-rod end, but that in fact is a different part altogether.)
On the Series VI the n/s draglink is a fixed length and the o/s variable. However fixed bars are harder to come by and I was advised the o/s variable would work fine. Either by luck or good manufacturing, the bar arrived pre-set to exactly the right length!

March 2007
MOT’s due this month and the exhaust has started to blow. I had intended to get a stainless steel system at some point so I guess now’s a good time.
Earlpart make systems to the BMC factory standard. A full system with fitting kit cost £203 delivered. It arrived by next day courier, very well wrapped and really is a quality piece of kit. It fitted perfectly without a hitch and both sounds and looks fantastic – highly recommended.
The whole throttle linkage assembly was very worn and sloppy. I started off by changing the bulkhead bracket – but that was only half the story. The swivel arm was also very worn.
NGC supplied the parts (very quick delivery) and after a bit of fine tuning the throttle response is 10 times better than it was.

December 2006 – Ever tried sawing a car radio in half?

I've just wasted hours of my life on a cunning plan that I was sure would work.

Betsy's got no radio - well none that's wired up anyway.

The one I have just sits in the hole and looks pretty - and I didn't fancy drilling a hole for an aerial and fitting suppressors etc.

So my bright idea was to fit an old 8-Track cartridge player - authentic period and no need for aerial, plus good for a laugh.

I found one on eBay - £15 delivered with 4 tapes.

Beautiful bit of kit but sold untested. I had to buy a speaker for £5 because I've got none lying around and hooked it up to a battery charger to test it.

The drive belt was perished and after 2 days of hunting I found an elastic band of the right size to fit the pulley and drive wheel, but very little noise came out of it.

I suspected duff tape heads - the only thing I've got to clean them is brake cleaner! But after a few squirts and a rub with a cotton wool bud, good old James Last makes an appearance - but only for 10 minutes then dies again.

So I reckon the unit's duff - but not to give in I have Plan B - convert the 8-Track into an MP3 player!

Tesco's knocking out an MP3 player and travel speakers for £15 - the player is so small that I reckon it'll fit in the end of an 8-Track cartridge.

So I spend an evening disassembling James Last and whittling away at the case until I have the MP3 player snugly clipped into the end of the cartridge.

The plan is to install the 8-Track player as a shell and stick in the cartridge with the MP3 controls accessed at the tip - run an earphone wire out the back and into the speakers on the parcel shelf.

I whipped out the old radio and immediately saw it wasn't as deep as the new one, and there was no way the new one was going to fit - it fowled against the ventilation hoses.

Enter Plan C - the old player is only there to look nice and hold the cartridge - I can chop off the excess at the back.

Have you ever tried to saw a radio in half?

Well - I did it with the help of a vice and metal saw, masking off the sharp edges at the back with good old Duct tape.

Now when I offered it up to the dashboard - the holes for the knobs and dial just don't line up with the pre-cut aperture in the dash!!!!!!!!!

I admit defeat - I'm not going to start cutting and filing the dashboard.

Enter Plan D - put the old radio back in the hole and put the MP3 player and speakers on the parcel shelf under the steering wheel - easy to get at to use, the sound is loud enough to fill the car and the whole lot hides in the glove box when I park up – easy!


Does anybody want to buy half an 8-Track player and one speaker?

October 2006 – Waxoyl Stinks!

Winter’s approaching and the days are getting damper, so I decided to have a go at Waxoyl’ing underneath.
Halfords seemed good value, so I bought a 2.5 litre pressure can with pump and spray nozzle.
It recommends warming the can for 30 minutes before use, so I stood it in a bucket of hot water whilst I put Betsy on the ramps and lay down a dust sheet to catch the drips.
I pumped the can to build up pressure and set to work under the front valance – the nozzle clogged within a minute! I persevered with my technique but the stuff was coming out like candle wax and when it did spray it was drifting everywhere. I completed about a third of the car and the can ran out! I had no idea how far it was supposed to go, but reckoned 2.5 litres should suffice - how wrong I was.
I cleaned myself up and went back to Halfords for a 10 litre refill can. Before restarting I spent a few minutes on the Web researching the best way to apply the stuff, then armed with a little more knowledge I set to work again.
This time I thinned the Waxoyl with 10% white-spirits and after warming for 30 minutes in a bucket, I gave it a good shake before pressurising the can. I then decided to leave the can in the bucket of warm water as I worked my way around the car. This produced a nice strong and fine spray. I covered everything I could see underneath and up inside the wheel arches, trying to avoid the exhaust. Next I tackled the doors. I’d bought an extension probe to stick up the drain holes, but when I tested it outside the car I wasn’t too impressed with the coverage. However, I pushed it up as far as I could and let the Waxoyl run down and out the drain holes. At this point I’d given up on trying to stop drips getting on the driveway and resigned myself to jet washing it when I was finished!  If I was to be completely thorough, I should have lifted the carpets and covered the floor, but the smell was so strong that I couldn’t face doing it and having to live with the aroma for months. The nearest I got was covering the inside of the boot lid and petrol cap area.
I cleaned up the mess (white spirits shifted the worse) and took her for a spin. The smell was quite strong, particularly as it burned off the exhaust, and the stuff continued to ooze out of the drain holes for a few days.  All in all I used 10 litres of Waxoyl thinned with 10% white spirits. 
Two weeks later and the smell’s subsiding a bit!

September 2006

I went to my first rally a few weeks ago – The Festival of 1000 Classics @ Malpas in Cheshire.
Decided to go down the M6 – M56 then pick up the A49. The plan went well for 15 minutes on the motorway, and then I noticed her getting hotter and hotter. I decided to make an exit just as steam was showing from the bonnet.
There was no obvious signs of what caused the problem, although I knew that the water pump had quite a bit of wear in it. I topped her up and continued at a sedate pace along the A roads.
She was fine for the rest of the day, but a week later she boiled again on a short 10 minute journey.
I decided a complete overhaul of the cooling system was in called for, so ordered a new pump, hoses, thermostat (82 degrees) and fan belt. (Why do they still sell parts without gaskets? If you forget to ask – you don’t get and it delays the job!!)
Then it was off to see my mate Peter for fitting.
There were a few snags – neither coolant drain plug worked so could only dump water from the bottom hose. The casting on the new pump was thinner than the old – so new bolts were needed.
The thermostat housing was well and truly stuck in place and no amount of penetrating oil would shift it.  Peter has to resort to extracting the studs to break the seal, before prising a VERY old thermostat from its housing.
Finally the radiator was removed and given a thorough flush – even when we thought nothing else could come out, a slight tap dislodged more gunk!
When everything was reassembled the cooling system ran perfectly and is now one less thing to worry about!

June 2006

New distributor went on without too many problems.
The vacuum advance connector was different, so we had to fashion a temporary one from rubber hose until NTG could supply a proper adapter.
When I started her up there was a distinct knocking sound - rather like a tappet, which wasn't there before?
We put the old cap back on and the noise went away!
Closer investigation found that the new cap had a miss-shaped brass terminal - the rotar arm was snagging against it and causing the noise. Gentle filing with a Dremel soon had it reshaped and running sweet.

May 2006

Time for a summer service. In fact I've done nothing to the engine since getting her 14 months ago, and relied on the previous owner’s testimony as to what had been done.

One niggling problem had been a grinding noise inside the car whilst in motion. It had been there since day one and was getting worse. It seemed to come from around the steering column.
I finally tracked it down to the Speedometer!
The Speedo had always been a bit erratic, wavering +/- 10mph from true speed, so I guess either the cable or Speedo itself was worn.
The cable was the cheapest and easiest to replace.
Peter had plenty experience of renewing Speedo cables on Mercedes, and was deftly able to do it by touch with his hand up inside the dashboard! The grinding noise and erratic needle were cured in one go.
I did find by trial and error that the angle that the Speedo passes through the bulkhead is important, as a few days later the noise returned because the fixing had slipped inside the engine bay.

Although she's running well I thought I'd renew plugs, points, rotor arm, condenser and set the tappets.
The oil change was fairly easy and with 4.5litres of 20W/50 for only £4.00 it was inexpensive!
Problems began when we opened up the distributor cap - there was a LOT of free play in the rotor arm and whole dizzy unit back plate seemed loose.
We also found that the vacuum advance wasn't working.
Peter concluded that it although she was running OK, it was just on basic timing and it would be a waste of time trying to adjust a worn distributor.
I contacted NTG and ordered a new distributor unit, with vacuum advance. While I was at it, I thought I may as well get a new distributor cap and set of HT leads.
This lot came to £135, which I think is reasonable, and arrived a week later (slight delay in getting the cap).
Now just waiting for a convenient time to get together with Peter to fit it all.

Not knowing much about the history of my car, I do spend a lot of time guessing which parts are original.
Certainly the brown Lucas distributor cap and leads do look very original and it's a shame to replace them with modern materials, but I'd rather go for reliability than concourse originality!

 March 2006
MOT Time!
There were a few things that needed addressing before the MOT.
Anti-roll bar bushes, tyres and steering idler box.
The bushes were a completely different shape to the existing ones, but fitted a treat and a made a real difference to ride and handling.
The steering idler was well worn. Inside - the oil filler was just a grey paste.
The tyres weren’t worn, but have age cracks in the rubber.
My local branch of ATS replaced all four @ £33 each - who says classic motoring is expensive!
I wanted to find a "sympathetic" MOT tester, and Peter put me on to a bloke who he'd used for many years.
The test went very well, with no problems or advisory notes.
I did learn a few interesting things - such as testers aren’t allowed to remove any underseal, or poke anything through it, to check for underlying rust. So some owners and garages simply plaster the stuff on to hide a multitude of sins!
So with my new MOT in my hand it was off to the Post Office for my FREE Road Tax (classic cars built before 1973 are exempt!)