Friday, 5 July 2019


Hooray, the garage called a couple of days later to say it was all done and it was being road tested, after the tracking had been adjusted, following the fitting of the new steering rack. I was walking our little dog when I received the call, so I extended the walk down to the garage. I paid the bill, first time I had paid a bill for labour for Stella, collected the MOT pass page, it is such an insignificant document theses days, can't really call it a certificate.

A few days later, we drove down to Dover to visit the Castle. It was my birthday and the sun shone brightly, it was more than warm enough to have the roof down all of the way and even at motorway speed with the Breeze Breaker fitted behind our heads,  there is very little wind buffeting in the cockpit.

 There is so much to see at the castle, as much underground as above, we are certainly getting our monies worth from our English Heritage membership this year. The weather stayed beautifully clear, I have never seen the French coast so clearly before, but eventually it was time to head back to Surrey and our favourite pub for a birthday dinner.

We headed up the A2, planning to bypass Canterbury before joining the M2. The sky was still and clear, but Jacquie did notice the magnificent white towering clouds ahead of us in the distance. As we left the M2 to cross over to connect with the M20, the clouds disappeared from sight and memory, until we turned onto the M20 and there they were again. Not white now, but black and heavy and we were almost underneath them. I manage to turn off the motorway, park and get the hood up and promptly rejoin the M20. I thought for a while that we might skirt around the rain, but I was so wrong.

Thank God we had put the roof up, the rain bounced off the road, roof, windscreen, fortunately most of the other cars on the road slowed down, but of course some idiots continued to thunder past. There was a flash of lightening and an instant clap of thunder, which made us both jump, as everything eventually ground to a halt, at which point an extremely cold jet of water streamed in from the top right hand corner of the windscreen on to my right thigh and down between my legs. I dragged a large micro cloth from the parcel shelf to absorb the flow, but fortunately as soon as we started to move again the rain stopped coming in.

The good news was that Stella never missed a beat during this torrential downpour and apart from the one leak the cabin and Jacquie was dry. Initially the heater steamed up the screen, but that quickly cleared and by the time we reached the pub the rain had stopped and my trousers had dried out sufficiently not to cause embarrassment. A great day and the contrast in the weather has made it all the memorable.

Friday, 24 May 2019


I was right, the off side repairs were easier, well in part, I'll get to that in a minute. The offside hub was soon on my bench and I had realised when I had cleaned all the old grease from the other hub, that there were two indents, opposite one another on the inside of the hub, allowing more room to access the back of each outer bearing ring with a punch, which made driving them out much easier and quicker. You can just make out in the photo the cutouts, now the outer bearing ring has been removed.

The new bearings, pictured below, were just as quickly lubed up and pushed into place and the hub fitted back onto the stub axle and brake calliper re-fitted.

OK this is where it all became a little more difficult. the track arm ball joint was easily separated with my big ball joint separator, but the new track arm ball joint is a press fit into the track arm, but first the old one has to be removed and both processes require a 10 ton press, which not surprisingly I don't possess.

I phoned my MOT garage and asked them if they could do this for me, 'No Problem' was the reply. I dropped off the track arm and new ball joint and a few hours latter received an apologetic call to say that there was a mistake on the MOT failure notice, it should have said 'Steering rod ball joint' not Suspension rod ball joint. As I suspected there was nothing wrong with the Track arm/suspension rod ball joint.

I collected the arm and refitted it to Stella and got the wheels back on and had expected to be finished with the front end, but now it seemed I was going to have to sort out the inner ball joint of the steering rack and I was running out of steam and time.

For the first time I contacted the garage and asked if them would sort this one and at the same time fit the new hand brake cable, again the answer was,'No Problem' .

The above photo is of Stella abandoned on the garage forecourt this morning. I have already had a call to say that the problem is actually in the rack and would I order a replacement steering rack and have it delivered directly to them. I have been on to my usual supplier and it should arrive at the garage tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019


It has been rather quiet blog wise, as Stella has performed faultlessly since the new coil and ignitior was fitted. Drive it day, or more precisely, Drive it Weekend, to Portsmouth was a great success with six Stags and a TR4 IRS courtesy of the South East London Stag Owners Club, but when nothing goes wrong there is not much to write about. Sadly HMS Victoria looks a bit sad with most of her masts missing, but the signs say that the mast and yards will return.

Picture below, show the last four Stags to leave the car park, after we had visited the Mary Rose on the Sunday. What an exhibition that is, it took the whole morning to take it in! well worth the money.

However it was MOT time and with great confidence, having at last got the hand brake to work efficiently, (the only thing she failed on last year) I took Stella to my specialist MOT tester and relaxed for the 45 minutes or so, for the Pass Certificate. Imagine my shock when I was told that both front wheel bearings were dangerously loose, to the point of disintegration,. The boot dust covers on the track control arm ball joints were split and the offside front track control arm ball joint was excessively worn. All the ball joints and obviously their covers had only been fitted a couple of years ago, so that did surprise me. Finally the hand brake cable was frayed, that didn't surprise and I should have replaced it last year.

All of the parts have now arrived and I can get on with the repairs. I started with the near side, removing the hub after lifting the brake calliper out of the way and then the track control arm.

Actually before I removed the hub, I tightened the castellated nut to remove all play in the bearings and it felt fine, rotated freely with no rumbling, but I had decided to replace them anyway. I used a selection of punches to drive out the outer races from the hub.

I cleaned it all up with brake cleaner and and gently and squarely drove the new outer races back into the hub. With the new roller bearings generously lubed up and in place I pushed in the new grease seal, all was now ready to fit back onto the car and then reattach the brake calliper, that bit was easy peasy.

A new dust cover was fitted to the track arm ball joint and it was time to connect everything up, only I couldn't. With the track arm located on the cross beam and connected to the drag strut, the ball joint was way above its location point on the vertical link and try as I might I hadn't the strength to depress the assembly far enough to get it to locate.

After some head scratching, I decided I needed to compress the main coil spring which would, in turn raise the vertical link. A quick visit to Machine Mart and I returned with a set of coil spring compressors. I only needed one of the three clamps, even then it was difficult to locate, but I did eventually and then slowly tightened it up

 Firstly I disconnected the track arm from the crossbeam  then it was easy to fit it's ball joint to the vertical link, with some downward pressure on the drag arm I got it to connect to the track arm and finally the track arm to the hip joint, no no,  don't be silly, back to the cross beam. All bolted up, just got to tighten to the correct torque and put the wheel back on Wow! got there in the end, but it certainly was a bit of a struggle, got to do the offside now, but hopefully getting all connected should be easier the second time round.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019


I obviously did not cross my fingers firmly enough, as despite fitting the new Pertronix 12V Flame Thrower coil, Stella refused to start.

Before I called for the breakdown truck last week, firstly to determine that I did actually have a supply of petrol at the carburetters, I loosened the little jubilee clip to the petrol pipe just before the fuel filter and as I slipped the pipe of the spigot to the filter I was rewarded with a healthy spurt of petrol. Fuel pump definitely working, but I couldn't get the jubilee clip to re tighten,

Also, whilst I was waiting for the truck, a classic car friend pulled up behind my flashing hazard lights and offered his help. He held a screwdriver up a cap of one of the spark plugs and close to the engine, whilst I cranked the engine and then we confirmed my suspicion, No Spark. In fact at least four people stopped to ask if they could be of assistance, I don't suppose one would have stopped if it had been an anonymous modern car with its hazards flashing,

on Sunday, when I got under the bonnet, the first thing I did was to replace the clip. The last place you want a fuel leak is under the bonnet and right on top of a hot exhaust manifold.

The new coil was a piece of cake to fit, loosen the two bolts that secures the clamp that holds the coil and having pulled off the wires, lift the clamp and coil clear. Fit  the new coil in the clamp and bolt it back onto the engine, simples.

The cables are re-connected as before, except the new coil is 12 volts rather than the 6 volt old one and it needs an ignition switch controlled 12 volt supply, When I fitted the Ignitor back in July 2017 that also needed an ignition switch controlled 12 volt supply, so I hacked into that supply and ran a cable to the + side of the new coil and tucked the now defunct cables out of the way

All done and double checked, but sadly, although the engine turned over eagerly, she would not start. A new Ignitor is on it's way, so everything crossed that with a new Ignitor fitted, Stella will spring back to life.

Sorted!, the replacement Ignitor module arrived complete with new base plate, which I decided not to fit. I eventually found a small enough spanner to undo the two little nuts that hold the module to the plate, unthreaded the cables through the hole in the side of the distributor and removed the old module.

The new one bolted down into place, but it was rather fiddly getting the tiny washers and nuts into place, but using tweezers and a small spring claw recovery tool I manage without loosing anything.

All connected, distributor cap back on, go back and check all the wiring connections are correct and turn the key. Instant start, the very first turn, brilliant!

Just got to find out why my recently replaced electric aerial, just like the Duke of York, is neither up nor down, just stuck half way. Ho hum.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019


The Stag badge that sits proudly on the front grill of Stella, was in a disgraceful state and new ones have been as rare as hens teeth. the last time I had the grill off the car I realised the badge was loose, I removed it tarted it up and securely stuck it back into the chrome surround, but it was still cracked and tatty. However at the end of last year, re-manufactured ones were being offered for sale by the usual Stag suppliers, well done the Stag Owners Club.

Having removed the grill again, I prised the old badge out, and with a small chisel removed the clumps of Look no Nails from the inside of the surround. I then polished the surround and finally cleaned it with white spirit. I removed the protective paper from the adhesive on the back of the new badge and firmly pressed the new badge into the surround, I decided to leave the grill and badge in doors in the warmth for the adhesive to cure fully.

There was another small problem with the grill. There are four small brackets in each corner so that the grill stands proud of the metal work, only the two top clips had disappeared leaving a couple of metal blobs where they had been soldered/welded onto the grill. I bent up and drilled a couple of replacement brackets from 30x2 mm ali strip. I decided to glue these brackets to the grill using Gorilla Glue, I ground off the blobs of metal and sanded clean the back of the grill before gluing and left it a couple of days before reattaching to the car. Unfortunately at the first wriggle when screwing the grill back on, both brackets came unstuck, useless. I considered pop riveting them on, but that seemed a bit brutal, so I ordered a tube of PU18 polyurethane bond/sealant and re glued them, success, they are now really stuck fast.

The little plastic squares that the screw are protruding through are cut from a marg tub and keep the screws in place when the grill is being offered up to the car for re-attachment.

With that job done I thought  I would like to attach, to the front of Stella, my MAC (Midlands Automobile Club)  badge that Jacquie bought me at the Goodwood Revival for Marjorie, my Morgan Three Wheeler build. (Mac being my name of course) The perceived wisdom is not to attach anything else to the grill and restrict the airflow to the radiator, nor to drill into the front bumper to fit a badge bar.

I decided to make a bracket from the ali bar that I used for the grill and fit it to the bumper bracket. It looked good, but I like symmetrical and decided I needed another badge for the other side, a STAG OWNERS CLUB badge, that'll do it.

Having bent the brackets to the correct angles I was not happy with the dull grey finish, so although the brackets will hardly be seen I decided I would polish them. However they were very resistant to polishing, the strip of aluminium has obviously been coated with a very tough covering, which I had to scrub off first.

I used my electric drill first with a flap wheel to get rid of this coating and then I could use the polishing wheels on my bench grinder to get the finish I required. Both pieces of equipment clamped to my workmate.

That's better, both brackets nice and shiny and ready to mount on the the front of Stella. The first photo shows the difference between polished and unpolished and the second photo they are both done.


I think the 'Stag Owners Club' badge needs to stand about an inch higher to match the MAC badge, so I will probably make up a new bracket at some point.

At the moment though, I have a slightly more urgent job as Stella had to be rescued and piggy backed home the other day, as she failed to proceed. I was only a mile from home, but suddenly after a couple of hiccoughs she just stopped. No spark! A new coil is on its way and hopefully that will sort the problem, but the very helpful guy  at Pertronix said it is possible that the failed coil might have taken the Ignitor with it, in which case a new Ignitor will also be required, fingers crossed.

I have to say that the breakdown service provided by my classic car insurance company 'RH' was excellent. They kept in touch whilst I was waiting for the truck to arrive, ensuring that I was safe and OK. The breakdown guy not only got us home, albeit a short distance, but got her up the drive and helped me back Stella safely into her garage, I couldn't ask for better.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019


When I fitted the new clock and dual oil/water gauge to the dash some while ago, I accepted the mix of chrome and matt black rims.

Now I suppose the Stag purists would say that I should have applied matt black paint to the rims of the new gauges, but as is widely known I do like shiny! So what did I do, I started to scrape off the paint from the speedometer and underneath was lovely chrome.

I decided to do all of the gauges and continued to use one of the two little probes designed to release the radio from the dash, the metal was soft enough not to scratch the chrome and the size just right for the rims.

Well that's it, all nice and shiny, even the warning light cluster.

Sunday, 16 December 2018


At the end of the first week of November I received an email from Thao in Vietnam, to say that Harrington's had their current batch of Stag stainless bumpers ready for distribution and did I still want a rear one. Yes I certainly did, I transferred the money by PayPal and a week later an extremely well wrapped and protected package arrived.

 I was immediately in the garage unpacking it and assembling the three sections. The finish was superb and it came complete with all the necessary nuts and bolts and rubber strips for fitting the over riders.

I took the following photos just before I removed the old bumper, showing the crumples on the side blades, the rust on the over riders and the dent in the centre section.

It was easy to remove the old bumper just four bolts, but then I needed to take off the thick steel fixing brackets that were still attached to the bumper. This was easier said than done as their nuts and bolts were rusted solid. I resorted to my angle grinder fitted with a cutting disc and cut away the old rusty over riders to give access to their bolts.

Once the brackets were removed I knew I couldn't refit them until they had been cleaned up and repainted. I resurrected my old cardboard spray booth and hung the four bits inside, but this time I just gave them three brushed coats of Smooth Hammerite. Not a perfect finish but more than adequate for where they were going.

All bolted back together and refitted to the back of Stella. I had to order two longer M10 bolts to fit the metric captive  nuts welded to the side blades, and a little trimming with my electric file to the flange where the right blade and centre section bolt together to allow the bracket to sit square.

Not the best of photos as I didn't want to start the engine just to back it out of the garage for photos, but there it is, no dents or blemishes and it will never go rusty, a major improvement combined with the filled and  sprayed back end. What next?