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Daily Driver Challenge
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Vulgalour



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

PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

End of Week 19 report.

Not a lot to report, the most exciting thing I did this week was vacuum the cabin and order parts. I've got new front brake discs and pads, I'm going to rebuild the spare calipers so they're good as new, a pair of lower ball joints are on their way and a new wheel bearing kit is heading over for the driver's side which has started grumbling.

I had a trip to York to do today, about 120 mile round trip, and while I trust the Princess could do it I didn't want to tempt fate with that grumbling wheel bearing given the distance and the higher speeds I'd be travelling at so I chickened out and got a lift in the housemate's Range Rover. This turned out to be a good idea as I wasn't feeling too well on the way home so it was nice not to have to do the driving.

The trip to York was to collect a few interior bits for the BX and if I'm feeling better tomorrow, I'll be working on that for a little bit. Princess is still doing my regular duties, I'm just avoiding any sort of 50mph+ long drives until I've done the wheel bearing.
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Vulgalour



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

PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

End of Week 20 Report

Coolant - no noticeable usage
Oil - 400ml required. This is likely down to the motorway mileage done recently, does tend to consume a bit when doing higher speeds.

This week some goodies arrived. New brake pads, new discs, pair of lower ball joints, and a correct wheel bearing kit. Delivered, this was around 120, so a fairly big spend by my standards. The discs are one of the most expensive items to acquire, and one of the most needed.


I also had a look at cleaning up my spare gear selector box. The one on the car has had a bolt in place of one of the pins all the while I've owned it and you need to periodically tighten said bolt if you want to keep gear selection. I was hoping I could simply clean down the spare and swap it over.




Here you can see the pins that push into the casing. These are used to locate the bayonet-slot cup that holds the gear level ball and spring in place. The pins had a reputation for snapping off and while it's not terribly difficult to put another pin in, most folks seem to have bodged whatever they had to hand in there instead.


One thing I noticed on my spare was that the base plate had been whacked from the side. I'm not entirely sure how you'd manage to do this other than perhaps hitting it with forklift arms when moving the car around, so perhaps that's what happened.


Unfortunately, when I finally cut through the thick layer of gunk on the casing I found that it's very badly damaged with several cracks. It's realistically beyond repair and certainly not suitable for swapping with my original so I'll just have to look at getting the original repaired properly with a new pin when I have an opportunity to take it all apart.


The other thing I wanted to find was a new steering column bush. Thankfully, Beiderbecke of the www.leylandprincess.co.uk club had the part number available (along with those goodies at the start of the post) and I've since learned the same bush is used on a variety of BL stuff and is still readily and cheaply available. I can get the bottom bush too. This was an advisory on the MoT and I'd like it not to be on the next one so I'll get some new replacements since they're only a couple of quid. Fortunately my spare steering column helped me see what parts I needed without taking my car apart.


Today, I tackled the wheel bearing that couldn't be done at the garage because one of the kits I'd bought was wrong. I'd been told the job is fairly easy and it is, especially when the garage has already undone everything and put it back together again, so it was really about as pleasant as any job with your head in a wheel arch can get.


The most difficult part was getting the old oil seals out, the rest of the job was very straightforward. The old bearings felt a little bit gritty once removed and the noise it had been making made it clear it was ready to be done.


I would have liked to do the ball joints next but I didn't have a socket that was the correct size, all the imperial and metric sockets I had access to were just a little too big, or just a little too small, so I'll have to go and buy a socket just for this job. That's fine, more tools is good. Instead, I turned my attention to the spare front hubs and removed the calipers ready to rebuild them. I noticed that the caliper on the car that was on the warped disc is sticking a little as suspected, so the new brakes are going to sort that out before it becomes a bigger problem any time soon. The front flexi hoses looked in reasonable condition so I'm hoping I don't need to replace those since I'm not sure I've got a set of fronts, just rears. I noticed that one of the spare calipers looks to have barely used pads in and one caliper is much cleaner and newer looking so I wonder if the car they came off had brake work just before it came off the road in the 90s. Don't worry, I won't be re-using the old pads, it's merely an observation.


The drive home revealed all the bearing noise is now gone. Now the loudest thing is the noisy speedo cable, (I have been given a suggestion on how to improve that which I'll be trying soon), the tyres, and the wind noise from the driver's door window seal, so I'm getting down the list. I even found the reason for the tyre rubbing on the arch liner, which is that the liner had cracked around one of the fixing screws and the screw had fallen out, so the liner isn't sitting as far back in the arch as it should. There's always jobs to do, they're just not big scary jobs any more.
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Mog



Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Posts: 621
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a vibrating noise in the dash and thought it was the speedo cable . I pulled the dash out and squirted oil down the drive cable . It did not fix the problem , most annoying . Pulled the dash out again and sprayed all the plastic gears in the speedo head with WD 40 . That fixed the problem !
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Mog



Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Posts: 621
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not a good idea to use petrol for cleaning , I have done it but when you think about it, it is dangerous ! Not legal, but to get rid of old petrol tip it out over some waste ground . Most of it will evaporate and little will remain in the ground .
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Mog



Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Posts: 621
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nearly got badly burnt with petrol 3 times !
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Vulgalour



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

PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Petrol is excellent for cleaning things providing you take care. Generally, I use it in very small quantities in a jam jar, give the gunky parts a swirl for a bit and they come out shining like new. Sensible safety precautions should always be taken, of course, and as with any material of its sort, safe disposal can be tricky. Petrol is like the sea, as long as you treat it with respect and aren't foolish, no harm should come to you.
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Vulgalour



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

PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2019 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

End of Week 22 Report.

I forgot to do an end of week report for Week 21, so I've rolled the two together.

On attempting to rebuild the spare calipers I've got, we learned that 3 of the 4 pistons in each caliper are completely stuck in place. We also learned the old brake pad retaining pieces are rusted away, like so.


This is an ongoing issue, so far we've tried putting 300psi of pressure into the calipers and the pistons simply won't budge so it may be a job I have to farm out. I'm loathe to dismantle the brakes on the car in case something goes wrong and I end up without the car, so I've basically done nothing with the brakes since fitting the skimmed disc to solve the warped disc issue. This is fine as a short term solution, but not as a long term one and it's annoying to have the new parts to go on the car, but not quite be able to fit them because I want the calipers rebuilt to make the best of the job I possibly can. I don't want an old sticking caliper or similar to ruin a set of brand new discs and pads.

The massive socket I ordered arrived so I could do the balljoint that was advised at MoT. I re-used the old shim which seemed to be the correct size, fortunately. I've not done pre-load balljoints like these before so I'm hoping I did it right, time will tell of course if these wear out much sooner than they should. The passenger side wasn't advised but I wanted to do it anyway, I was thwarted by simply not being strong enough to undo the balljoint that's fitted, even with very long poles. It could do with being on the workshop lift, but that's been occupied for quite some time by a Rover 75 so I just decided to leave that side alone for now. Here's new and old parts. I did have to swap the spring-type o-ring from the old balljoint boot to the new one because the new balljoint boot had a rubber o-ring that wasn't strong enough to hold the boot in place.


Next MoT item was the upper steering column bush. This is fortunately an easy part to get, shared with a plethora of BL vehicles. Removal is somewhat involved, requiring this scene to happen again.




Eventually I had the inner column out of the outer sheath and had the old bush removed. It was very clear to see where the play was coming from once it was removed, the whole thing had shattered.


I couldn't find a replacement bush for the lower end of the column but given how tight a fit the existing one is and how fiddly it was to reassemble everything as a result, I doubt that's going to be a problem. Unlike other BL stuff, the Princess has a narrower bush at the bottom of the column of a different design to the top one, and I couldn't find that part, so I'm glad the one on the car was okay. Assembly was fairly straightforward and I've now got rid of an occasional dashboard squeak and a dashboard rattle I couldn't place, so that was a happy little bonus. Steering feels more direct, and also heavier at lower speeds, the latter is less welcome than the former.

The other item I wanted to resolve was the interior light. I'd had a problem with the old festoon bulb melting the holder, which is also integral for the rear view mirror. I had a spare, and that too had obviously suffered the same issue since it had a partially melted spot where mine had a melted hole. To resolve this I ordered a warm white LED - this was a pain to find, ended up going to my local motorfactors and special ordering it - since I hate ultra bright LEDs in cars. The light quality isn't as nice as the old incandescent bulb, but now it never gets hot so I'll never have the melted holder issue.


Next up was to try and identify the cause of the minor oil leak. Normally, I'd just take this opportunity to wave my hands in the vague direction of the car itself. However, I wanted to be a little more methodical so I started by giving the engine bay a quick clean down.


That highlighted that the wiring that runs across the front of the block needed to be re-wrapped. The old electrical tape someone had used has gone brittle and isn't sticky on the inside any more so it just flakes off. This had been hidden when the engine was much oilier on the outside than it is these days.


The main oil leak at the front is the O-ring for the distributor shaft. I've had recurrent problems with this as finding an o-ring that's the correct size is surprisingly difficult and after a while, they seem to stop being effective which means it weeps oil all down the front of the block, into the spark plug wells, and onto the floor. You can see from the cleaner portions where the oil has been seeping.


The other oil leak was a surprise. The engine used to be very oily on the passenger driveshaft side and I'd assumed this was the driveshaft seal. It's not, the oil is actually seeping up from the speedo cable. Another o-ring here should fix that and might even fix the rattle it has.




Happily, the rebuilt carburettor is staying spotlessly clean, never sweats fuel, and never gets oily.


I gave the fluids a check too. Brake fluid isn't terrible, though will be changed when I do the brakes. Coolant has gone from being quite blue to now being very pale blue, the gunge in the bottle is just residue on the bottle itself, I could do with chucking the whole bottle in a dishwasher really. Oil is getting ready for a change, it's not terrible, but it's due June/July time anyway.






The underside of the engine used to always be slightly greasy looking. Now it's mostly dry apart from the aforementioned leak points. This is a huge improvement over when I bought the car and I'm happy about it.


Another irritation has also been solved which was something rubbing on a tyre on full lock and certain suspension articulation points. Turns out, one of the arch liners had got broken and an edge was catching the tyre. I trimmed that back and the problem is now gone. Shown here is the good side and the now-trimmed broken side.






Other than that, the only problem its thrown at me is that the alternator is sporadically charging incorrectly, not at all, or too much.
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Vulgalour



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

PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2019 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Daily Driver Challenge - Conclusion.

I decided to end the DDC at the point that it was clear the BX I acquited at the start of this year would be distracting me from using the Princess every day now that it's fully road legal, and it didn't seem fair continue the experiment if I wasn't using the Princess as my only car. The DDC took place from late November 2018 until early May 2019, a time of year when most forty year old cars are bundled up safe and warm waiting for the show season to begin again. It was the least ideal time to be using a classic car and likely to be the most challenging, certainly the best way to get a fair estimation of the car's abilities and reliability over that period of time.

The short version for the 24 weeks of the DDC goes like this:

13 weeks of trouble-free boring motoring

1 failure to proceed: warped brake disc. AA less than useless and refused recovery because I'd had the temerity to break down on the road outside a garage that was closed.

1 failure to proceed that was repaired at the roadside: carburettor issues

Various servicing and minor repairs.



The long version is that overall, a car with a reputation for being incredibly unreliable and being asked to drive in all weathers, at all times of day, including in the snow at night, proved itself capable of getting me where I needed to go whenever I needed to go there. Had I needed to use the car for long distance commuting, I would have done more to prepare the car for use than I did. Instead, I was asking the car to do between 50 and 100 miles a week, and to be able to go out whenever I needed it to almost every day. The majority of the mileage was urban only, though there were some longer distance motorway runs and faster A road trips taken as well. It was used in rush hour on occasion, late night runs, and got caught up in school traffic several times, all of which it coped with perfectly fine.

Repairs were needed. Mostly this was simply down to parts wearing out, as parts do. Before the test, a new main earth wire was fitted along with brand new tyres for reliability and safety. I also used the DDC to highlight any issues I may have overlooked when the car was being used much less, and that meant quite a few small items were replaced that didn't absolutely have to be, things like the reversing light switch (which collapsed after a handful of miles and saw me refitting the original after cleaning it up), the oil pressure switch to cure a minor oil leak, an in-line fuel filter, a new carburettor gasket, a steering column upper bush, and new CV boots. More serious items required were a lower ball joint, the front wheel bearings, electronic ignition (failed condenser also saw badly burned points), a brake disc, a rebuilt alternator, and some welding to a rear inner arch. Other than that, a little oil was required since it consumes a small quantity.

Overall, I don't regard the items replaced as being that out of the ordinary for any car of this age and mileage and most of the items were quite old and had done quite a few miles. At the close of the DDC, the only outstanding issue is the brake rebuild and the reason that hasn't been done is simply a matter of finding the time to strip down and rebuild everything. I've never done anything with the front brakes in the seven years I've had the car, other than bleeding them, and I imagine previous owners were much the same, mostly because nothing needed to be done until this year.

Would I recommend using a forty year old car every day? Generally speaking, no. The problem with an old car is that it's an old car. Unless you've gone through the whole thing and replaced every consumable item with good quality new, or as good as new, items, you're going to have a bad time. Parts wear out and you need to be aware that when you press an older car into service you running a greater risk than usual of cascade failure. I took the chance with this car because I've owned it for a long time and I thought I'd ironed out all the problems I was likely to face. Many of the parts I've needed have been awkward to acquire, though rarely expensive, and some of the parts have been incorrectly described. So if I was relying on the car to get me to work and back every day rather than just run me around on my errands most days, my attitude in closing on this experiment would likely be very different.

That said, if you're of the mentality that you want to experience this sort of thing, then go for it. Just have contingencies in place. If you're going to use a classic every day for a protracted period of time, it's wise to have a back-up car or someone with a back-up car, that can help you out if you do get stuck. Also, approach pressing an older car into service like going into a really slow endurance race. Replacing things like filters and hoses, ignition components, and making sure all your electrical stuff is in good order is very sensible. Carrying tools and fluids in the boot is also very sensible and, if you can, having spares such as ignition components and belts, is very sensible. One thing I've learned is that breakdown cover does not always mean breakdown cover, so you have to give yourself a fighting chance of repairing your car yourself to a standard that will get you home.

One positive of the DDC is how much more aware of other road users it's made me. When you haven't got the driver aids of blind spot monitors and electronic ignition, parking sensors and ABS, you find your driving changes. You look for and anticipate behaviour you might not otherwise notice. It makes the act of driving somewhat more tiring as a result because you're concentrating so much more. However, there were plenty of times that I found myself able to predict bad behaviour from other road users and prevent myself getting into trouble and those are skills I'll be carrying forwards. I'm not saying driving a classic car will make you a perfect driver, it won't. What it will do is make you more aware as a driver. Older cars are less insulated from the outside world too, so I did find I was much more aware of folks on two wheels, and generally speaking people are nicer and behave respectfully towards you.

Now that I've completed the DDC it has proven that I have absolutely no desire to part with the Princess (not that there was any doubt) and that it is quite capable of doing everything I need it to do. It's proven that I don't need a newer car, that I don't even need a radio, and that it's an affordable form of transport that makes me happy. If I had to, I could use the Princess as my only car and this experiment has allowed me to get the car in really very good shape overall. It's not perfect, it's not about to win any shows, and that's fine. It's a car I can use and that I enjoy to use, and that's all that really matters.
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Rick
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Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 20093
Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2019 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been following the series with interest, and very much appreciate the time you've spent updating us all with the trials and tribulations of using an oldie as a regular driver. Good stuff!

RJ
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Farmer John



Joined: 18 Feb 2010
Posts: 158
Location: Manawatu NZ

PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2019 11:31 pm    Post subject: Daily Driver Reply with quote

I appreciate your diligence, this has been a worthwhile exercise to follow. The condition of the car is improving all the time, a year or two and it would be in really good nick reliability wise.
You get an A+ for the carb rebuild. Well done.
John
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Vulgalour



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

PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take no credit for the carb rebuild, that goes to my good friend in Lincolnshire who does classic spannering for a living and is an all round good egg.

I'll continue to improve the Princess, hopefully be sorting out the brakes next Monday (schedules permitting) so the story isn't exactly over, just this brief experiment.

The one thing that probably surprised me the most was how uneventful the majority of the time was, after the inital hurdles it really was just a case of getting in and driving. I imagine if I'd spent more time preparing the car it would have been a very boring read because nothing would have happened.
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