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Daily Driver Challenge
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Vulgalour



Joined: 08 May 2018
Posts: 131
Location: Middlesbrough and Kent

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 7:58 pm    Post subject: Daily Driver Challenge Reply with quote

I've been considering dropping down to just one car for a while, in part because I feel I've gone as far as I can with one of my cars and had started to grow bored of it. My other car is a very reliable 1994 Rover 414, a car I've lavished a lot of money and time on to make exactly how I want. There is nothing wrong with my Rover, it's a very good car and selling it would certainly not net me a financial return on my investment.

After some consideration and discussion, I decided that I'd like to just run my older car, a 1980 Austin Princess 1.7HL.



I've owned this car since February 2012. We've been through a lot together. However, how sensible is it really to have a car with the reputation these have as a daily driver? Indeed, as your only transport. I intend to find out. I have used it before as my only car when it was in much worse condition than it is now so I know I can do it, however I also know that its nearing 40 years old and is difficult to acquire some parts for.

On the 25th of November 2018 I decided to set myself the challenge of running the Princess for six months as my only transport to decide the fate of the Rover. Should I want, or need, to use the Rover within the six months from the 25th of November it will earn a stay of execution and remain with me indefinitely. If, however, I have no desire or need to use the Rover in this time I will move it on. Starting the experiment at this time of year makes much more sense than doing it during more clement months as it will really test both myself and the car, and our tolerance for damp, cold, conditions.

The intention is to make up my mind in the most practical way. Rather than going by opinion, I want to know categorically whether or not I really can use and tolerate the Princess for this period of time. The point of this thread is to give reports on the ups and downs of ownership throughout the six months. It won't be a build or project thread, this will solely be for reporting on what it's like to realistically use and older car with a bad reputation on a daily basis.

My budget is, as always, limited. While I don't have to commute thanks to the nature of my work, I do have to do all the repairs and maintenance myself, should it be required, so this is an extra consideration with the reliability of the car.



In this first week of motoring, the following has happened:

Reverse light - I replaced the switch before the experiment began. The new one did not come with the correct sized bullet connectors or the locking ring. The former was easily resolved, the latter not so much as I'd misplaced the old switch so couldn't reinstate it. As a result, the switch predictably adjusted itself and left the reverse light permanently lit. I've since found the switch and will fit the locking ring accordingly, in the meantime I've unplugged the reverse light and use hazards for the time being.

Hazards - The telltale stopped illuminating. This turned out to be an ill-fitting bulb. Removing the bulb, tweaking out the tines on the bulb, and refitting has resolved the issue.

Auxiliary belt - Started squealing today. At first I assumed it was the wet weather, on checking it's a little slack. I'll readjust this tomorrow when I have the light to see what I'm doing.

Headlights - The alignment is too low. A simple matter of raising the alignment, something I can do since replacing the adjuster blocks before the experiment began.


That means there's nothing serious so far, for the most part that's all just maintenance and user error which is something to expect from any car, even my reliable Rover. I shall update here as things happen, or don't, we shall just have to wait and see.
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badhuis



Joined: 20 Aug 2008
Posts: 1025
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have to say I do not like your changes to the car but like your detailed stories on RetroR (sorry Rick).
Good for you to only drive a classic! I have done so for many many years, until the children got older and the need for a boring modern became reality. Nowadays I use the modern only when it is raining or otherwise bad weather. The others in the household however always go for the modern.
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a car stops being fun when it becomes an investment
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colwyn500



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1728
Location: Nairn, Scotland

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A great idea and I wish you success with your target. You sound like someone who will promptly attend to the fault details which make all the difference to the reliability of the car. I will be watching with interest. Smile
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Rick
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 20093
Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Look forward to following the results of your experiment! I used to daily-driver old cars (A40, Spitfire, Volvo 120s etc) but it's been a while.

RJ
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Rick (OCC Admin)
Various 1920s-1960s - Austin, Morris, Commer, Dodge etc.
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Vulgalour



Joined: 08 May 2018
Posts: 131
Location: Middlesbrough and Kent

PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The styling alterations are invidual, it is true, and not to everyone's taste. That said, I do still appreciate an unmodified vehicle.

- Auxilliary belt. Retensioned using a couple of 13mm spanners. Charging improved and screechy belt noise gone, predictably.

- Headlights aim. Improved by adjusting the aim higher. I'm not entirely happy with where the headlights are pointing so I will get a local garage to set them properly for me in the MoT bay rather than make a best guess.

- Reverse light switch. Reinstalled the old switch. Reason being, the new switch has collapsed internally (broken spring?) which is the actual reason the reverse light wouldn't turn off. The old switch actually works perfectly fine, the problem wasn't with it, the problem was with a broken wire which we resolved before the experiment began. The new switch managed to last all of about 30 miles, which is frankly rubbish.

Economy - Yesterday I filled the tank after about 150 miles of entirely urban driving and have achieved just shy of 22mpg. That's perfectly acceptable, all things considered.
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Rick
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Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 20093
Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FYI Range Rover posts now split off into a new thread, to keep Vulgalour's thread on track.

RJ
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Rick (OCC Admin)
Various 1920s-1960s - Austin, Morris, Commer, Dodge etc.
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Vulgalour



Joined: 08 May 2018
Posts: 131
Location: Middlesbrough and Kent

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Rick!

This week has seen me do less miles than usual, but on faster roads, and with two other people in the car (I'm normally alone, and normally driving urban-only). The Princess certainly felt more at home plodding down the A19 and A66 than it does pottering about town and kept up perfectly well with modern traffic. I have noticed that the occasions of people pulling out on me in everyday driving is reduced drastically compared to the Rover, it does still happen of course, but with much less frequency. I feel more visible and as a result, safer, in the Princess than I do in the Rover.

Occasional Misfire - Only when the car isn't up to temperature, and only when under load/putting your foot down. At idle it's perfectly normal, and once warmed up it behaves perfectly normally. I shall go through the various ignition components and check all the settings are as they should be, my suspicion is that the timing or a gap is slightly off somewhere for winter conditions, especially since this was last checked in more clement weather and has only become an issue now that we're starting to get sub-zero temperatures.
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Vulgalour



Joined: 08 May 2018
Posts: 131
Location: Middlesbrough and Kent

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2018 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sticking to a weekly check regime, and it being Sunday that marks the end of Week 2.

> Coolant - no apparent loss
> Oil - no apparent loss
> Wheel arches hosed out, bottom half of car hosed down, including sills and under the front and rear valance.
> Corrosion check - no noticeable advancement except for one area. On hosing out the rear inner arches it looks like at some point this week I lost a chunk of old underseal and it's revealed some rust I was unaware of.



The upper circle marks where there's a small hole and some heavy pitting. The lower circle isn't crumbly, but does look like it might be flakey rust or a crack. Thankfully the area is easy to access and repair. I should be able to repair this area without disabling the car for more than a few hours so when I get the next opportunity to do so I will clean this up and sort it out. I'll also clean all the old underseal out of this inner arch and redo it. Once I know it's solid, I'll do the other side too and that should see us good for a while longer.
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Vulgalour



Joined: 08 May 2018
Posts: 131
Location: Middlesbrough and Kent

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Today I got the Princess over to the unit so I could fix the inner arch holes I uncovered. I also removed the cold air feed pipe to the air box and found that the cold running was much improved. It took me longer to clean off the underseal than it did to do the actual repair. Happily, the damage wasn't much worse than what was visible and was an easy fix as a result.


With the rear seat removed it was easier to see just how the rust had occured. There's a seam hidden under some goop under the rear seat and this had blown. The inner arch side of it was rotten, the bodyshell side was still solid enough to weld to, so the repair wasn't too bad.


I also found a small hole on the seam of the inner arch tub while cleaning off the underseal. It's a little awkward to repair since I can't get many tools in at it and will require a patch about the size of a pound coin.


After a little bit of time I got some new steel let in where required and seam welded.




Since I'm still running the experiment, I'm avoiding taking the car off the road and doing these repairs piecemeal. The bulk of the time today was really stripping everything back to see what I had to repair. Now that I've done that, getting everything cleaned back and freshly painted and undersealed will be much easier and something I shall be making time to do over the course of this week.
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Vulgalour



Joined: 08 May 2018
Posts: 131
Location: Middlesbrough and Kent

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

End of week report: Week 3

Weekly checks:

Coolant - no noticeable usage

Oil - no noticeable usage

Fuel filter - New one fitted today as the old one was looking grotty

It hasn't been a good week though. The mystery misfire/stumble has been getting worse and I'm no closer to finding the cause. I had thought it was fuel related since the fuel mixture screw has taken to unscrewing itself and, once reset, the problem seemed to go away. Then it reappeared and became worse. Today, I reset the mixture screw again, just in case, and replaced the fuel filter since it was behaving slightly like it did when the previous filter collapsed. I also checked the points gap, which was a little large, and went for a drive. It seemed much better until the car got up to temperature and then I struggled to get above 30mph. Another go through the various settings to make sure everything was where it was and on my last run I was struggling to get over 20mph.

I'm baffled at this point.

When cold, the car fires up normally with choke, as you'd expect. It runs moderately well with the occasional cough if the choke isn't just so. Once up to temperature with the choke off the car will run fairly happily for about a mile or so and, as it get closer to full operating temperature, the problems really begin. If you're really slow on the throttle you can creep the speed up but if for any reason you need faster acceleration or prolonged throttle usage - pulling out of junctions, climbing hills, etc. - the misfire/cough gets worse and worse, the car begins to kangaroo and the only way to resolve it is to back off the throttle and gently creep it up.

Once up to full operating temperature even creeping the throttle won't let you accelerate much. It's like something somewhere is restricted once the car warms up. This isn't a problem its manifested in this way before. Monday, therefore, Mike and I will go through the timing, the ignition components, the fuel delivery, and see if we can locate the problem. Fortunately my spare carburettor is with a skilled friend who is currently doing a top notch job on making it like new again and I hope a freshly rebuilt carburettor will help with some of these problems. I had hoped to drive over to see him and fit it at his place, but I can't imagine the car will be any fun to drive for two and a half hours running like it is at the moment.

At the moment this doesn't end the experiment. The car hasn't left me stranded and has always got me where I need to go. However, if I can't resolve this problem promptly the experiment will have to be restarted. At present I regard this more as a general problem, as can afflict any car of any age at any point. Until I know more about what the problem is, I'm not prepared to bring the experiment to an end.

Here's a nice picture of the Princess a few days ago, when it was running much better.
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mikeC



Joined: 31 Jul 2009
Posts: 1411
Location: Market Warsop, Nottinghamshire

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those symptoms exactly replicate those on my Lancia last year. The solution turned out to be new spark plugs; apparently, according to Tim Green at the Green Spark Plug Co, my old ones had gummed up from stale petrol.
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in the garage: 1931 Austin 7, 1953 Lancia Appia
recently departed: 1967 Singer Chamois, 1914 Saxon, 1930 Morris Cowley, 1936 BSA Scout, 1958 Lancia Appia coupe, 1922 Star 11.9 ... the list goes on!
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Vulgalour



Joined: 08 May 2018
Posts: 131
Location: Middlesbrough and Kent

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If that's the case then the spark plugs fitted have lasted a disappointingly short amount of time on fresh fuel. The last time I pulled them a few months ago they were all nice and healthy looking.
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Vulgalour



Joined: 08 May 2018
Posts: 131
Location: Middlesbrough and Kent

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After posting the above update, I had a recommendation for how to unblock the fuel jet which may well be blocked. I removed the air box and covered the intake while increasing the throttle, making use of the vacuum created to suck the jet clean of the blockage. As a result, the car is now properly driveable again, with acceleration when required and without kangaroo habits. It's not perfect, so I'll remove and clean out the carb tomorrow (it's just a little bit cold and dark to be doing it right now) to hopefully completely resolve the issue and then we shall reset everything as it needs to be.
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Vulgalour



Joined: 08 May 2018
Posts: 131
Location: Middlesbrough and Kent

PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2018 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We failed to proceed today.

I started off this morning by removing and cleaning out the carb. This revealed there was indeed sediment in the float bowl, though I'm not sure how it got in since I always run a filter before the carb, so it lends credence to the theory that the filter had started to collapse and get sucked into the carb. After a brief driveway test to make sure the car started and idled normally, I decided to take it out for a short test run just to be sure nothing was amiss.

Foolishly, I tempted Fate by forgetting to take my manual with me and inevitably coming off a roundabout the car just died. I could get it to fire up but not idle, and on opening the bonnet there was petrol just pouring out of every part of the carb it could. Not great. With my tools but no manual I wasn't really confident I'd be able to fix a problem if I found one so, since the car was in a good visible location, I stuck the hazards on and walked home.

I informed Mike, my housemate, what had happened before trekking back to the car so that I could attempt a roadside repair. I'd also left my mobile at home, so I couldn't ask him to bring the manual to me, so we had to do things the old fashioned way. Mike had a couple of jobs at home to do and once done, he headed over in his car just in case I needed towing home (I carry a tow pole in the boot, just in case). I have AA cover but it seemed a bit daft to use it since I could practically see my house from where I'd broken down.

On dismantling the carb there was nothing obviously amiss. Nothing was stuck, there was no dirt lodged anywhere that I could see, so everything was cleaned and reassembled at the roadside and a restart attempted. This time there was no fuel overflowing but without rather more choke than normal, it wouldn't idle either. After letting things warm up a bit I tried moving the car under its own power and found that any use of the throttle beyond the barest brush would make the car try and stall, so we creeped into a nearby church car park to turn around and creep home, with Mike providing cover by following me home.

On the same roundabout the car died, it suddenly got its act together and ran normally. It was like someone had flicked a switch. Normal acceleration returned and the car was behaving as though absolutely nothing was wrong. I can only surmise that there was some sediment or a component was sticking for some reason which became dislodged once the car had been running for a few minutes.

I'll test everything again tomorrow and see how we get on. I've always thought there was something wrong with this carburettor and now I'm sure of it. Fortunately my spare is being rebuilt and should be with me soon which I'm hoping will resolve this bizarre running problem.
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mikeC



Joined: 31 Jul 2009
Posts: 1411
Location: Market Warsop, Nottinghamshire

PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2018 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It certainly sounds like dirt is your problem: the flooding carb will be the result of dirt lodging in the needle valve, and the running problems sound like dirt blocking and clearing the main jet.
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in the garage: 1931 Austin 7, 1953 Lancia Appia
recently departed: 1967 Singer Chamois, 1914 Saxon, 1930 Morris Cowley, 1936 BSA Scout, 1958 Lancia Appia coupe, 1922 Star 11.9 ... the list goes on!
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