I can’t remember where I got up to with the Hampshire. It’s been ages, but I’ve finally got a little bit of an update for you.
So I popped the rebuilt Zenith carb back on, and tried for a spark. Nothing at all. I cleaned every electrical connection in sight (and got pretty much all electrical equipment working in the process) but still no spark. I cleaned the points, no luck. They still didn’t look very good, so I decided to remove the points for closer inspection. They were badly burnt and had obviously stuck together at some point. I spent about 20 minutes cleaning up both sides with a small file, as the usual wet and dry wouldn’t touch the damage on there. I knew the points needed replacing, but I was eager to see if the engine would run. I was rewarded with a fat spark!
The petrol tank was full of gunge so I rigged up a lawnmower petrol tank in the back of the car, with hose straight to the rusty original fuel pipe, which I pulled off the tank. I primed the fuel pump and after a few pumps the horrible yellow petrol cleared and nice fresh stuff came through!
I knew from my churning the engine was delivering the nice clean oil to the top end well, but I had no oil pressure showing. I suspected the oil pressure gauge was seized as it never moved off 20 psi. I had a rummage through my spares and found a spare Somerset one which had the right connection. I connected it up and it showed good oil pressure when cranking.
Original stuck gauge:
Temporary one, while cranking:
The stuck valve had resisted all my efforts to free it. I managed to get it moving but it was still too tight in the guide to move without assistance from a couple of crowbars. In a moment of frustration I fired up the blowlamp and tried to get some heat into the guide, although all I managed to do was melt the stem seals and ruin and distort the valve spring and slightly damage the one next to it.
I just wanted to hear the engine run at this point, even though I knew it would only be on three. No.1 exhaust valve is stuck open.
After a bit of churning and spluttering it fired up, threw loads of soot out of the exhaust but sounded ok, and the throttle responded. Obviously I only ran it for a few seconds as I still had a stuck valve and no cooling system, but I was very pleased.
I eagerly hopped into the drivers seat and attempted to engage a gear, but predictably, the clutch is seized to the flywheel, as all I got were grinding noises.
I decided the head would have to come off, so after procrastinating about it for most of the BH weekend, I got the spanners out and had it off in an hour.
I took the water pump off, primarily to get access to the block waterways, which I imagined would be clogged to high heaven. Surprisingly, they looked pretty good.
The pump itself feels perfect, there’s no play in the two bearings and I’m going to take a chance that the seal is ok. One thing I do intend to do before refitting it is to remove the blanking nut and screw a grease nipple in so I can prolong its life a bit! I suspect it’s been replaced at some point as it’s painted in BMC green (Hampshire engines, being pre BMC, were painted blue from the factory). This engine is a Gold Seal replacement fitted in 1962. The bores looked perfect with no wear lip at all, which fits as it’s only done 10,000 miles in 59 years!
I took the head into work and used the press to push out that stuck valve. The guide on that one was full of rust, I’ve honed it smooth but didn’t want to overdo it and take metal off the guide. The other guides are all in perfect condition.
I cleaned everything up in the parts washer, and made a start lapping in the valves, the old fashioned way with a stick and paste! It’s nice working on an engine that isn’t totally clapped out, I decoked the combustion chambers and polished the mating surface with some very fine w&d. The heater valve was full of crud as was the thermostat housing, and needed several goes in the ultrasonic cleaner to get it half decent.
Look at how well that Gold Seal paint has come up!
The thermostat used on these old A70s is a very tall ‘bellows’ type which has been unavailable for many years. They’re also pressed into the housing. I watched a video by ‘Marty T’ on YouTube where he replaced the thermostat on his A70-engined Bristol bulldozer! With a modern type one as the original was fucked. It looked a right old war, he had to use all sorts of tools to chisel out the remains and then turn up a spacer on his lathe so the modern one would fit.
I couldn’t really be arsed with that, so I decided to test the ‘stat, and see if it worked.
It did! The spring extended then compressed back down as it cooled down. You’ll have to take my word for it as I only took the one photo. Anyway, that could be left alone. Fantastic. It also blocked the water flow off then released it, as it should.
I flushed out the radiator a while ago, so that’s ready to go back in. I have all new hoses and clips ready to go on, and a new fanbelt, ordered from the excellent Austin Counties Car Club. I need to place another order now, for a head gasket and a couple of valve springs. Annoyingly, the car came with a head gasket set but where the damp has got to it, the composite (copper and asbestos) head gasket has started to delaminate so I’ll have to buy a new one.
Its coming together anyway. I need to finish lapping in the valves, refit the head, build the cooling system back up and then I can get it warmed up properly and attempt to free the clutch.
I went to a small local autojumble a couple of weeks ago and there was a chap there with an impressive display of old British auto electrical equipment. My partner spent ages there with the stall holder as he went through his catalogues to find the right points and condenser for her P6. Having sorted those out, I asked if he had a set of points for an A70 Hampshire. Rather than the usual blank look, he said “quite possibly” and pulled out a much older and more dog-eared catalogue and after a while selected a set from the table and handed them to me. Cost me a tenner which I don’t think is too bad. They’re in a proper Lucas red and black box and it almost seems a shame to take them out of the box, so I’ve installed them in the glovebox for the time being.