Monday, 4 December 2017


I'm a lucky fella, I was wondering how I was going to achieve my intended list of jobs on Stella, as my garage is too stuffed with, well, stuff to be able to get around her in the garage, when an empty garage suddenly became available four down from mine.

Stella is now reversed into this empty garage and I have just enough room to work around her. So work has begun. There are three jobs to do and they are all sort of connected. The main one is to strip the engine bay of all ancillaries, but not the engine, flatten down the awful red Hammerite paint that somebody painted over the original white paint and of course respray with Rover White paint. The second job is to refurbish the front brake callipers and the master cylinder and replace all the connecting pipework and hoses. The final job is to replace the timing chains,sprockets and tensioners.

Radiator, battery, steering pump, alternator, fuel pressure regulator, servo/master cylinder, screen washer bottle and all wiring and pipework has now been removed from engine bay and stored at the back end of garage

Just the last couple of bits and bobs to remove and then I can start rubbing down the red Hammerite. I will have to wait for warmer weather before I can spray, but there is no hurry.

I have also removed the front brake callipers, so time to order up stuff in readiness, Refurb kits for the callipers and master cylinder, timing chain etc. I already have the copper brake pipes so I can start bending them to the required shape. so plenty to be getting on with, Christmas activities allowing.

Sunday, 12 November 2017


I am making the most of the good weather as I can only comfortable work on Stella in the open, my garage being too full of shelves etc. When I removed the passenger door card for spraying the sill, I saw that the door speaker had several perforations, no doubt caused by clumsy screwdriver wielding. This would account for the very poor sound quality so I decided to replace both speakers and the old cassette player radio. The top photo shows one of the new Pioneer co-axial speakers alongside the punctured one, the bottom pic shows the old Clarian radio.

I chose a classic looking, but thoroughly modern radio, a Caliber, it had Bluetooth, auxiliary jack, microphone, and a removable front cover. In fact it had everything except decent fitting and operational instructions, but I was able to find relevant instructions on line.

Getting the old radio out was easy, it was held in place by a black crackle finished fascia plate and a couple of sprung plates The hole it came from was much larger than the radio I removed, it was obviously cut for the factory fitted radio.  I had to modify the plate to fit the new unit and in doing so ruined the crackle finish, so I sanded it right back and gave it a couple of coats of satin black, there was going to be so little of it exposed, it looked fine.

Connecting up the new radio was simple, I replaced the punctured speaker with one of the two new ones and switched on to try it out. Great, even connected automatically to my phone through Bluetooth and started to play my music, sounded great even with one of the original speakers still fitted. I went for a drive to check it out on the road and all was good at first, but gradually an interference kicked in, a bit like the comedian, Norman Collier's faulty microphone sketch. Unfortunately it got to the point it was impossible to listen to the radio, even when using the Bluetooth connection to my phone it was just as bad.

As soon as I turned off the engine all was fine. I checked all of the connections to no avail and then posed the problem to the Stag Forum. I immediately got two suggestions, the first was to by-pass the old bi-metal voltage regulator that supplies 10 volts to the instruments and fit a solid state one. It only cost £11 and I bolted it up under the dash and connected up the wires, sadly the problem persisted.

The other solution was too simple to be true, maybe, it was suggested, my choke cable was rubbing up against a spark plug lead and sure enough the choke and throttle cable were coming up through the tangle of HT leads. I re-routed them over the top of the servo vacuum pipe and immediately the interference stopped, Result! just got to fit the remaining speaker and another job ticked off. Changing the timing chains is the next job on the list, that should take up most of the winter months.

Thursday, 9 November 2017


I got the left hand sill and door frame rubbed down and resprayed and the freshly polished trim all back in place and now it was time to fit the carpet. The carpet came from Coverdale and I opted for Polypropylene as the car is kept in a unheated garage which gets rather damp during the winter months, although I plan to put dehumidifiers packs inside the cabin this winter. The carpet was also having felt underlay attached in the necessary places, but when I unpacked it the top surface was rather fluffy with felt residue and I hoped this would easily vacuum off.

The front, back seats and seat belts had to be removed first and the floor pieces of carpet just lifted out, they weren't stuck down. the side and back pieces pulled away easily enough, with most of the glue being left attached to the metal work. I had to loosen the centre consul section so that I could pull out the tunnel section of carpet, now it was time for the clean up.

I eventually found that a kitchen scrub bud, one of those tangled pad of lathe turnings, cut through the old impact glue residue, although the paint did get a bit thin in a few stubborn places. After I vacuum it out I then washed down the whole floor area, mopped and rinsed and mopped again and a final vacuum.

I treated a few rusty spots with Kurust and then sprayed several coats of primer wherever needed. The main cable runs from back to front, ran in channels  set just below the door openings, so I reset the cables in these channels and gaffer taped them in place.

The first piece of carpet to be stuck in place was the rear heel board, no felt on this bit. I carefully masked off and sprayed the back of the carpet and the corresponding metal work with impact adhesive and gently positioned and smoothed out the carpet over the curves. Yep happy with that.

The next two pieces were for the sills, again no felt. I used the old bits as templates to mark and punch out holes for seat belts, I also needed to trim, no more than a centimetre from the edge to the front of the door opening. I first held the piece in place by the interior trim, lifted the carpet up and sprayed, waited a couple of minutes and pressed down, once glued, I unscrewed the trim and glued that bit down. I then replaced the long lengths of furflex trim/seal around the whole of both door openings, stood back and admired my handiwork and decided to call it a day.

The next day was still dry and warm and as before I used the old tunnel piece as a template for the various holes, handbrake, seat belts etc. I didn't glue this bit down as it would be held in place by the centre consul and seat belt fittings. It did take some tugging to get it tucked up under the consul and as you can see this bit was covered in felt residue.

One of the final bits was the centre section, that houses the seat belt fasteners and the ashtray, just visible in the photo, this was tricky, but got there in the end. all that was left was the small bits that covered the outer seat ridges and then the four large felt lined pieces that covered the floor.

The two front foot well bits did need trimming so that would tuck up neatly under the pedals on the right side and under the parcel shelf on the other side. A good vacuum and wow, it looked good, especially when all the seats were back in and as Ed China would say "JOB DONE".

Wednesday, 6 September 2017


I checked my notes and saw that it was time for an oil and filter change, up on the ramps and all done with minimal spillage.At some point I will convert to a be able to use a 'spin on' filter, but at the moment I still have to undo and remove the canister that holds the filter and give that a thorough clean before inserting the new filter and carefully bolting it back into place ensuring it sits correctly onto the new rubber sealing ring.

The bright, calm days continued and prompted me to start on tarting up Stella. I had a nasty surprise when I went to a couple of specialist car sprayers and asked what it would cost for a respray, provided I stripped all the trim, door handles, lights, bumpers etc, both estimates, allowing for a couple of wheel arch repairs were five thousand pounds. Three thousand was what I had in mind, but that was from watching two many episodes of Wheeler Dealer that were probably recorded ten years ago.

Generally the panels are OK its around the trim edges where black mastic has been used and the lower sills so I decided I would have ago with spray cans. I started on the drivers side sill, there was no rust, it just looked very cruddy and the slim stainless trim that ran the length of Stella was already starting to flap about.

 As well as this piece of trim, I removed the TRIUMPH engraved tread plate that had also been stuck down with black mastic and the stainless section that holds the carpet and fuzzy rubber door seal in place and then peeled back this rubber seal. I cleaned all the gunge away, thoroughly rubbed down with 600 wet and dry paper, filled the surface cracks and rubbed down again with 1000 grade paper.

I carefully masked up with newspaper and applied two coats of white primer. The next day I again rubbed back with 1000 grade paper, I made sure all residue was wiped away and sprayed on three coats of Rover White. I carefully removed the masking tape and news paper. I waited a couple of days for the paint to harden during which time I cleaned and polished the trim and then fitted it back into place with new clips and screws. Not bad even if I say so myself, trouble is, it now makes the other side look so much worse, but it will get done in time.

A previous owner had also used black mastic behind the door handles and as elsewhere this was drying and coming away so I decided to remove the handle and fit a proper black rubber gasket behind it. I quickly realised that I would have to remove all of the locking mechanism to get at one of the bolts holding the handle to the door skin, a deep breath and I unclipped the operating rods and unbolted the lock, hoping I woild be able to get it all back in. Handle removed and all the gunge cleaned off the handle bolted easily back onto the door looking so much neater, but it took a couple of goes to get the lock mechanism operating correctly. When I come to do the same to the passenger door it should be so much easier.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


Most of the mechanical jobs are done now, I still have the front brakes to refurbish and new timing chains to fit, no rattles at present, but just in case as a failure would wreck the engine. Really just cosmetic jobs now, but I did want to fit a relay for the Kenlowe electric cooling fan. I had found the the wiring to the overide switch on the dash got quite warm when I used it and the warning light didn't come on.

I thought fitting a relay between the radiator and front grill, where it would be out of site would be a good idea. I had already removed the air horn to this area and I knew there would be space.

I worked out how I would run the wiring and tried it out by temporarily connecting the relay to make sure it all worked, with a relay only a very small negative current would run to the thermostatic and dash override stitch, but a separate live supply would be needed for the dash warning light.

 All worked as I had hoped, so I measured out the correct lengths of appropriate cable and crimped on insulated spade connectors and connected them all to the relay switch, I then permanently fixed the relay to the other side of the thermostatic switch.

I ran the wires up to the engine bulkhead in split corrugated tubing, clipped it into place and fed the wires under the dash to the new switch and LED warning light.

Great, now I will know exactly at what temperature the fan switches on and will be able to adjust the thermostatic switch accordingly, because at the moment I think it might be coming on a bit early, no bad thing, certainly much better than overheating.

Friday, 4 August 2017


Stella and  I have been to a several local car shows this summer and good fun they are, but they can get a bit tedious and I only stayed a few hours at the last one in Chelsham, called BLOOD SWEAT & GEARS. It was in a lovely rural setting near Waringham Surrey. On the way in however I pause for a professionally posed photo and later I went to their little tent and bought a hard copy of the picture, which also allowed me to download an online copy, here it is below.

The main reason for the smile on my face is that a month ago I drove Stella up to Evesham in Worcestershire and left her for two days with a gentleman called Clive Tate. Clive removed my clunky old BW 35, 3 speed auto gearbox and replaced it with a ZF 4 speed with lockup, autobox. Clive manufactures the casting that allows this box to mate with the Stag bell housing and other parts necessary to complete the installation. The new box was a fully reconditioned ex Jaguar box and everything works perfectly.

Clive collected me from Evesham railway station and immediately I felt the difference, silky smooth changes and the acceleration up to 80 70 MPH was so much quicker. the revs at that speed were 1,000 lower than before, making for a much more relaxed high speed cruising, or would once I had the wheels balanced as a substantial vibration set in over 50 MPH. Wheels now balanced, they were considerable out and now very smooth, hence as I said earlier, accounts for my smile. No photos obviously as I had no part to play apart from paying for new gearbox, conversion kit and labour, but well worth it

Thursday, 13 July 2017


Whilst on a short run out in Stella, on one of the hottest days, I was almost home when Stella started to back fire as I was coming down the hill just before the turn into my road, I swung into the road, and realised there was no power steering and the engine had died. I was able to roll along and stop just short of my drive, well that was lucky. I first thought it was fuel vaporization, or the fuel pump had failed as I couldn't hear it clicking, but when I removed the fuel line from the pressure regulator/filter, petrol poured back from the carbs, so no shortage of petrol then. I then checked the HT lead fron the coil to the distributor and no spark. My recently fitted coil, end of March, had failed. Bless em, Robsport got a replacement one to me next day and I could then drive up the drive to the safety of my garge. Robsport immediately refunded the cost when they received the dud one back.

Confidence boosted a slightly longer run, again on a very hot day and in heavy traffic and the same problem I had expeirenced in Wales, only more often. When I  came to a standstill in the traffic, if I didn't immediately put her into neutral the engine would die, she would restart immediately, but it was a bit disconcerting to say the least.

I had done a lot of research on electronic ignition systems and to my mind the Pertronix Ignitor came out on top with relaibility and simplicity of installation. I was pretty sure the problem was point related as it must have been at least a couple of years since the points had been adjusted whilst under previous ownership. I hadn't adjusted points for probably 40 years I didn't want to start now and Pertronix Europe got a system to me the next day and it was fitted in an hour or so.

The two sets of points, condensor and base plate were quickly removed. I checked and lubricated the bob weights at the base of the distributer housing and ensured that the vacuum advance mechanism was working, I fitted the new base plate, ignitor module and pressed the circular magnet sleeve down onto the eight pointed cam. It was a snug fit but evenually it pushed all the way on.

The rotor was also firmly pushed into place and dizzy cap replaced and wiring connected, the only slight complication being that I had to run a fresh, ignition switch controlled, 12 volt suppy to the ignitor, as the original set up only supplies 6 volts to the coil and distributer, too long to explain, but I understand why that is. Stella started immediately and I went for a run to check it out and all was fine. I noticed on return that the dizzy cap was wriggling about and that shouldn't be. When I removed the cap I realised that the carbon brush had been pushed right up into it's housing, the nose of which was rubbing directly onto the rotor, which was why the cap was jiggling about.

I resolved this problem by grinding a few mm from the underside of the rotor as I realised that the magnet sleeve had raised the rotor by 2 mm.

However, as I couldn't get the carbon brush to come out of the housing, I assume that it had been worn right down, but again Robsport to the rescue and a new dizzy cap arrived the next day and now Stella appears to be once again extremely reliable with a very steady tickover. Another job ticked off.