Friday, 3 August 2018


Jacquie continually tells me that Stella's cracked and wrinkled back end doesn't do her any favours,  Stella that is. When Jacquie told me she was going to visit a chum up in Cambridgeshire for a few days and I had no other plans for Stella I decided to make a start on tidying up her rear.


It looked like the previous owner had probably backed into something whilst reversing into his garage as there were three dents under the rear bumper, Underseal had previously been applied up to and under the bumper, before the body colour white paint had been sprayed and the fairly minor dents had caused the white paint to split and peel off revealing the black underseal.

I removed the bumper and lowered the exhaust as much as I could by releasing the rubber hangers, With flap wheel fitted to my angle grinder I removed the paint and underseal right round to the rear wheel arches. It was very dirty work, eventually with 80 grade rubbing paper on my electric sander and then on a block I feathered in the layers of paint to the bare metal.

 I filled the dents with Isopon filler, which sets in 20 minutes. The electric sander and sanding block soon shows up the highs and the lows and it took three more fills and sandings before I felt it was ready for primer.

I masked up and gave three coats of primer again leaving 20 minutes between coats, but in the high temperatures the paint was going off almost as It hit the metal. I left the paint to harden overnight and in the morning wet rubbed it down with 600 grade wet and dry paper. Again all the highs and lows were very apparent and it took 4 more increasingly thin layers of filler, before I was satisfied that the lumps and dumps had all but disappeared. I gave the newly filled area 3 more coats of primer and called it a day.

As the day time temperatures were so high, I was up at 6am and out at the garage lightly rubbing down the primer with 1000 grade wet & dry paper. Everything wiped clean and dry, the top coat went on very quickly with good coverage, the lower air temperature was paying off. Within the hour three coats had been applied and it was time  for breakfast and to take Duggie for a walk.

The nest morning I stripped all the masking paper and tape off and rubbed down the whole area including the over spray with very fine 2000 grade paper. Done wet I was left with a very smooth but flat surface. I then got my foam pad on my electric polisher, No.1 polishing liquid dribbled onto the pad and then smeared all over the area and I started buffing away. The new paint has to be kept wet whilst buffing, but when I had finished I couldn't see the difference where the new paint overlaid the original and all now nice and shiny. I think I have almost cracked this spraying lark.

A new stainless rear bumper is on order from Harrington's in Vietnam of all places, but arrival not scheduled until November, so the old one has had to go back on temporally.

In regards to the title of this post, this comment was called out to a friend of mine, many years ago, whilst she was bent over loading the boot of her car in Dalston. She is still happy to remember the compliment.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018


We have just returned from a great time with friends at their home in East Bridgeford, near Nottingham. Stella transported us there and back in comfort and style, she more than held her own on the M11 and A1 and returned 29.8 miles to the gallon. On the return journey it took over an hour to do the last four miles up to the Dartford Crossing, a vehicle fire had reduced the motorway to one lane, but the temperature gauge stayed absolutely steady at 90 albeit with the Kenlowe fan running, but absolutely no sign of the Stags infamous overheating problems.

One of our outing was to the Papplewick Victorian pumping station which happened to be in steam that weekend, exciting and spectacular enough on it's own, but this weekend there was a Steam Punk theme. didn't really know what to expect, but it was huge fun. The costumes and machinery were amazing, I should have taken many more photos. There was Tea Duelling (don't ask) and facial hair competition amongst other activities, in all a very enjoyable time was being had by all.

I even went as far as trying on a hat, but evidently my ego isn't up to it.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018


With all the current mechanical work done on Stella it is time to get out and about as much as possible and to my pleasure Jacquie actually suggests opportunities to go for runs out.

Early in June we drove to a local park and as it was my birthday Duggie enjoyed a tub of doggy ice cream.

In the middle of the month it was the Bromley Pageant,  Stella  I were present as part of the South East Area Stag Owners Club presentation. About 30 Stags turned up and by the end of a rather chilly day I had got to know the first names of many of the members. Duggie was elected as Club Mascot and lost no time in getting petted by as many people at once as was possible.

At the end of June we had intended to have a trip to North Wales, but one of our travelling companions had been under the weather for a while, so we decided to base ourselves closer to home in the Cotswold's. As everybody knows the weather has been superb and we had four fab days following our chums in their bright red Triumph TR3a, down beautiful lane, through lovely villages, stopping off at various gardens and places of interest.

 Stella literally didn't miss a beat, never showed any sign of overheating, the only thing that went wrong was that a glass 35amp fuse for the courtesy lights/cigar lighter blew. There was several packages of spare fuses that came with the car, which I had neatly stowed away, but when I came to deploy them, everyone except the 2amp fuses were already blown and it took a trip to Halfords in Cirencester to buy a selection of replacement fuses. Strange, why would the previous owner carefully put back into the original packaging blown fuses.

The TR3a was a lusty, snorting 2 litre and  for the first time I saw the needle of my rev counter touching the 4 thousand mark as I kept pace with her and the sound of the two cars accelerating hard was magnicient. Fuel consumption was 26 miles to the gallon and I was very pleased with that.

My confidence in Stella is confirmed and we are ready for our next big trip to visit friend in Nottingham.

Thursday, 7 June 2018


I mentioned in my last post that the temperature gauge had stopped working on the Stag, so just before the end of our long holiday in the South of France I ordered a replacement one to arrive by the time we got home, so that I would loose no time in getting it fitted.

Whilst in France I like to keep my fingers busy so I built a model of my 'Born Again' motorbike, a Yahama Virago. I got busy with the glue and airbrush and you could be forgiven for thinking it was the  real deal.

Back to the temperature gauge, I got straight to work on Stella. I drained the coolant and unscrewed the sensor bulb from the rear of the left hand cylinder head. I released the instrument panel and eased it forward to allow me to free the gauge and then withdraw the capillary tube back through the bulkhead and under the dash and and out through the gauge aperture.

There did not appear to be anything wrong with the old gauge or the long capillary tube, but I put the sensor of the old and the new one in a mug of boiling water and quite obviously, for whatever reason, it was no longer working.

When I was ordering the replacement gauge I initially checked out the company who provided the original one, but they wanted £128, a bit steep I thought, so I searched on EBay and found one from an MG spares supplier for just under £80, that will do, but when I came to fit it I realised that I would need a different adaptor for where the bulb screws into the head.

A couple of days later the adaptor and washer arrived and soon it was all back into place. I started the engine and ran it up to temperature, checking for coolant leaks, there were none and I now had a fully functional gauge.

Next job is to find out why the heater control lever has stopped working the heater water valve, good thing that I can get to the valve and close it by hand as Jacquie was complaining that her feet were beginning to melt, there is always something, not complaining, that's the way I like it.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


What a glorious day for a trip to Glorious Goodwood. The sky was clear blue, but we started off with the hood up as it had poured with rain over night and the hood needed to dry out before I could lower it. I don't usually leave the car out of its garage, but we were been baby sitting overnight in Reigate and planned to drive directly to Denbies Vineyard in Dorking from Reigate.

The Croydon Rotary Club were organising this run and check in to Denbies was from 9am allowing time to collect the excellent route guide to Goodwood and for coffee and a bacon butty. With the roof lowered, we left at about 10.20, with stewards reminding us to zero our trip meter. Jacquie was a super navigator as she read out the instructions, automatically adjusting the distances as I occasionally mentioned the difference between the trip meter and the instructions. point four of a mile was the total run out after the 63 mile route.

We didn't miss a turn, plenty of other cars did, but we turned into Levant Corner at Goodwood a little over two hours from the start, having driven through some lovely Surrey and Sussex villages and waving to many other classic cars coming towards us heading to unknown destinations.

On our two previous visits to Goodwood for the Revival, the place had been rammed, so it was a little strange to wander onto the empty race track and around the paddocks, it was a little ghostly. We had a light lunch, watched a few planes take off and land and headed back to Stella for an equally enjoyable and fortunately uneventful drive back. I did have to anchor up sharply, at one point though, as a Sunday driver, not a classic driver, decided to pull out in front of me, but a satisfying squeal of rubber brought a sheepish wave of apology from the driver and a complimentary comment from Jacquie, "Stops well doesn't she". The only issue is that the temperature gauge stopped working, but that is only a gauge issue as Stella showed no sign of overheating.

All bodes well for our next big outing in Stella, which will be a five day trip to North Wales at the end of June, fingers crossed that the weather is as good as it was last year when we toured Mid Wales.

Sadly no pictures of Stella as my phone ran out of battery just as I started to zoom in, sorry!

Friday, 27 April 2018


It was a bit of a struggle getting the pipe clips into place. Lying on my back under the car I had to resort to sticking the female parts of the clips onto the back of a short pry bar with BlueTack, so that I could get them into the right position up between the twin silencer boxes and the propshaft and push them into  the holes in the propshaft tunnel. I eventually got three new clips fitted and both the brake and fuel pipes pressed securely into them.

 With the car firmly back on the ground, It was with some trepidation that I turned the ignition key. I had previously turned the engine over via the crankshaft bolt and there wasn't a problem, but had I got the timing marks properly lined up when I changed the timing chains back in January. After the second turn it started, but with a loud hissing sound. I knew instantly what that was, I hadn't connected the hose from the servo to the inlet manifold, soon sorted and I left the engine running to warm up and she sounded fine.

Time to put the bonnet back on, I had intended to rub down and respray the underside of the bonnet, but I had run out of time. I did change the hinge arrangement so that I could just withdraw two 5mm R clips and the bonnet would come free wthout disturbing the alignment.of the hinges and this system worked well and now the whole of the engine bay looked really good, apart from the underside of the bonnet of course.

The first thing I noticed when she was up to temperature was that a squirt of water was leaking out of the joint that I thought I had soldered, nothing for it, it would have to come out and go to Aaron Radiators in Thornton Heath. Good thing now was that it was very easy to remove the bonnet. Two days later I collected the rad and reinstalled it and Stella started instantly. Unfortunately I then noticed that there was no red ignition light coming on and there also didn't appear to be a charge from the alternator.

Drain the radiator again, move power steering pump to one side, remove the stainless pipe that runs from top of engine to bottom of rad and then I could remove the alternator.The main wiring block was not fully pushed home onto the back of the alternator and I had not connected a single wire as I previously had not been able to see where it went. I could now, onto a spade connector recessed into the back of the alternator. Everything now properly connected, I again turned the key and the red ignition light glowed, good news. Stainless pipe, steering pump, all refitted, drive belts adjusted, radiator filled and now with the engine running the volt meter showed a healthy 14 volts, even better news.

Just got to check the tyre pressures and we are back on the road in time for Drive it Day on the 22nd.

Thursday, 12 April 2018


Unfortunately all did not go as well as I had hoped. I first fitted the two pipes that run from the master cylinder to the PDA valve and they fitted very neatly, my bending was accurate enough. Sadly I had failed to notice that at the PDA end of the pipes the screw in connectors are different sizes and when I came to connect the pipes they just wouldn't connect. I tried to reroute them and did manage to get them correctly connected, but it looked really messy.

The old steel pipes were undamaged but scruffy and partially covered in black paint. I wire brushed the paint off and then using my bench grinder with polishing mops I got them to a presentable state and refitted them. They fitted well and looked good.

I went on to fit the pipes to each front wheel, the long pipe from the PDA valve on the nearside that ran underneath the car to the offside wheel fitted well and clipped neatly into place.

The short run, from the PDA to the nearside wheel again fitted well, but the connector to the flexible hose was wrong. After some head scratching I decided I would buy a cheap pipe flaring kit from EBay, I could rescue the correct fitting from the old pipe and awaited the kit to arrive.

For less than a tenner the kit worked well, it also included a pipe cutter, I checked out a couple of YouTube instructional videos and then had a couple of try out on my discarded pipes. When I was confident I cut off the flair and removed the incorrect connector from the actual pipe and slipped on the old  connector and thankfully got a good looking double flair onto the pipe and in no time at all it was fitted.

The difficult run was the one right to the back brakes. Crawling around under the car, I eventually managed to unclip the old pipe by mostly breaking the clips, which also hold the fuel line. Replacement pipe clips are on order, but I did manage to get the new pipe into place and connected at both end and ready to bleed.

Jacquie was convinced to climb up into the car and I instructed her how to press and release the brake pedal on my command. We started with one of the back brakes and all was going well, when I noticed a puddle on the floor under the front of the car. I dried the underside of the transmission from which the fluid was dripping from, but I could not see anywhere that the leak could have come from, all the joints were dry, so I decided to leave it for the day as I was tired and disheartened and thought that one of the pipes must have a pin prick hole in it.

The next morning Jacquie was back in the driving seat and I was underneath with my torch looking for a leak as Jacquie applied pressure to the brake pedal, nothing, nada, no leaks anywhere and I can only assume that when I jacked the car up, trapped water and degreaser from when I degreased the engine must have found a route down to the gound. The next three brakes where quickly bled and I was reasonable happy, but the pedal was a tad spongy. Jacquie agreed to help me once more and it didn't take long to whip each wheel of in turn and indeed a little bit of air was extracted and now a super hard pedal.

Just got to fit the new, dual pipe clips which have arrived, not looking forward to that job, but it is essential as I noticed that the fuel line is actually touching the front UJ of the propshaft.