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1980 Austin Princess


vulgalour

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I think you might consider some simple (non-varifocal) lenses just for driving. These will be the cheapest of lenses. Might be worth asking about anti-reflection coatings designed to aid dark-driving.

Except when you are driving in dark conditions (away from roadside lighting and oncoming traffic) the headlights of the car that you are driving are unlikely to be the root of the problem.

Old windscreens, especially those at shallow angles, are buggers to see through against oncoming light because of the thousands of little diffracting scratches they have acquired over the years. Additionally, the further away from your face the windscreen is, the more the state of that windscreen affects your view.  

(Try a new 'screen in a Landrover Defender or real VW Beetle at night: flat piece of glass, near to your face.  Compared to something old and slopey at arms-length: like night and day. Literally.  God help anyone commuting a 44 year old Cybertruck through the suburbs on a rainy night...)

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I do need a new windscreen, mine is definitely past its first flush of youth, slopey, and far from my face.  Amazingly new screens are still available, £500 special order, and it is on my wishlist.

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On 11/03/2024 at 12:38, vulgalour said:

Unexpected pink car at the supermarket!

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That's my neck of the woods! As I said on YouTube all the best people live in N. Lincs!

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Be sure to say hi if you see me and totally confuse the heck out of me when I've no idea who you are :P

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  • 4 weeks later...

have you got any more outer lights? swap the inners have 4 dopped beams like a wrights geminii bus!

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Today friend visited so we could finish the work on other friend's white Rover. All done and dusted, time for it to head out and possibly be replaced with another car, we shall see. Visiting friend did mention the little oil spots all over the drive where the Princess parked and had a giggle about it so we had a look to see just what we think is leaking.

Number one culprit is the phenolic spacer on the mechanical fuel pump. These was an issue when the O Series was a new thing, many a Marina has been plagued by it. I need to pull off the pump (just two bolts, no hardship) and fit some new gaskets, going to try cork instead of paper this time to hopefully cure it. Just tightening the bolts doesn't actually cure the leak, instead it can make it worse if you overtighten especially if you managed to crack the spacer. It's not a huge leak, just one that collects in the casting beneath the pump and then leads to a hot oil smell.

Number two culprit is the gasket at the bottom of the filler neck tube. Since I have the later iteration of the O series in FWD application, I have a filler neck tube that puts the oil in at the bottom of the block instead of the filler neck built into the cambox cover. I've had to wait for enough oil to accumulate on the front of the block to highlight this one after cleaning everything down to be sure, but now I can see it's the highest point of the oil leak in that area I know what to fix. Another fresh cork gasket here should solve things for a few months to a year before needing to be replaced.

Number three culprit is less clear. Some of the waterpump bolts are a bit oily, not all, and it's not very clear where the oil is actually coming from. It's not the speedo cable or the oil filter this time, so those leaks appear to be cured. It could be coming from further up, perhaps the camshaft, I'm not sure. It also has a bit of oil collecting at the front corner of the head-to-block gasket seam but since I've still got good compression across the board and no mixing of oil and water I think this is actually leaking from somewhere else and finding the path of least resistance rather than OMGHGF.

Number four is suspected to be the sump gasket itself. However, this could also be any of the above leaks finding their way to the lowest point of the engine and making it look like the sump gasket is leaking. Or it could be both.

We also chatted about materials cost and did some rough planning for getting the paintwork done. It seems the most sensible thing is to start with the roof and satin black sections first since they can be fully separated from the rest of the bodywork with no need for blending. This also means I can break the cost down a bit, I need a new windscreen so it would be good to get the roof painted with that removed, may also remove the rear screen if we feel we can risk the rear screen seal which is fully unobtanium.

I'll also tackle all of the door shuts and probably the engine bay with good quality rattle cans because there's not a lot of surface area and again, colour matching and blending isn't vital because of the nature of the areas, most of it needs to be plain black with the exception of the engine bay which I want to be pink.

After that we can do the rest of the bodywork. Friend is keen to see it done mostly because he's a good egg who knows how much the car means to me and how hamstrung I've been to get it sorted. £500 should be enough to get all the materials and then it's down to us to do a metric poopload of prep and welding and sanding and sanding and sanding and sanding and a little bit more sanding with some extra sanding just for fun before we do the sanding.

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when i did the dicky bits on the focus a few years ago i had the luxury of a big dusty barn to use to paint in, the likes of scott at  coldwarmotors and whiteland restorations on the youtubes i found gave me lots of tips and tricks. sanding? thats the shit work, if you can, do it outside or somewhere with good extraction. or even get one of those sanders which pulls all the shite away... apologies, dont get me wrong i know you can do bits n bobs of bodywork very well. but a full car is a lot bigger a bite to take than doing one panel at a time (which sometimes isnt a bad approach)

you say the window seal is unobtainium? it must have a similar profile to other bits that are available? or at least something similar? someone must extrude a profile before its cut and shaped? is it worth talking to the local auto window fitter people? or the usa hot rod peoples?  ive seen screens with rounded corners put in and they have had to trim the seal, possibly on an mg? apologies again im sure you will have already looked into this? hopefully might lead to somethings!

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The best bit about the sanding and doing the whole car is my friend with the red Rover is taking lead on this project so I don't need to worry about it beyond doing what I'm told to do, which is nice.

The rear screen seal is definitely unobtanium and unique to the Princess.  Now I will admit that you probably can scratch build something from off the shelf parts and it will probably technically work.  However, the problem with the rear screen seal is it does double duty as a trim item and it has square corners instead of rounded ones which is much harder to get right.  The bottom edge of the seal is moulded differently so that it serves as a trim to fill the big gap between the bottom of the rear window and the top of the boot, without that bit you just have this gaping hole and because of how the boot is hinged you can't really put a different trim on there.  That said, last time I removed the seal and screen to repair the top of the frame the seal was in pretty good shape and the glass being toughened was much more tolerant than had it been laminated.  Trouble is, if I remove the glass and seal and either get damaged I'm a bit stuffed, spares simply don't exist unless you find someone breaking another car.  Annoyingly I did have a spare set from the orange car I broke a few years ago but in a previous house move they somehow *disappeared* and I've not been able to replace them since.

Window fitters I have spoken to won't even touch the Princess unless I can provide new glass and seals and even then they won't guarantee against breakages, so this is one I'll probably be having to DIY anyway.  Soap and string time.

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I'd have to build the frame up a bit because the glass is only a bit larger than the hole and you'd need more surface to bond to.

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We're getting ahead of ourselves here though, there's nothing currently wrong with my rear screen or seal so I'm not looking for a fix.

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theres a few companies that sell products that will rejuvenate rubber seals etc, i was wondering about the spares stash from the orange car and was there not another spares car or did that make it back onto the road? speaking of parts (ooh err) is there anything else that you need that may exist on another bmc vehicle? i think the blue princess for sale in torquay? was fairly reasonably priced at 1500 dispite needing a rear quarter glass and a bit of paint ( not sure if it needs welding but looks fairly complete and im guessing the front end sag is just suspension fluid release from standing? could be buggered also i guess. did you manage to keep hold of the spare engine you had?

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Considering the spare car I broke was 2 house moves and 2 counties ago, no, I didn't keep hold of the spare engine though I do have the head from it.  Buying another car is not an option either, I'm flat broke, to the point that today I applied for a part time job and will be continuing to do so until I acquire one or my income improves.  What things the Princess shares with others are easy to get hold of, there's a few bits of BL parts bin in the cabin, some classic Mini mechanical bits, but the vast majority is Princess specific and unobtanium.  The spares stash from the orange car is almost all gone now, used on my car or on others, or had to be culled with successive house moves as I've had to decide what I can and can't keep.

Better yet, in a few years I shall be moving house again and may need to cull things further if things don't improve.  Things aren't super right now, I'm managing but it's a bit of a balancing act and I'm trying not to fall off.

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Slight fright today, although I was half expecting it since things have been going so well.  Yesterday the clutch pedal felt 'off', but I couldn't figure out if it was just me being tired, or the car being cold or what, so just had to wait and see.  Today on trying to reverse out of a parking bay I couldn't actually get reverse.  Now, the Princess has done this to me before a couple of times, I know the drill.  If the gear change is notchy, that usually means the oil is getting low so I check that and it wasn't as low as it would have been to affect the gear change. Dropped a tiny bit of oil in anyway to bring it to almost the full line and it made no difference.  That means it's clutch cylinder related.  It's not the clutch, it's not slipping, I'm just not getting full travel of the arm in relation to the pedal.  That is usually failed seals in the clutch cylinder or a collapsed clutch hose.  Checked those out and both are dry and don't show signs of damage.  Checked the fluid level in the clutch reservoir and it was actually very low.  It's been a while since I've checked this and the car had been sat around doing nothing for a while, it made sense that it might have disappeared a bit like brake fluid does sometimes.  Topped it up, still no change, opened the bleed nipple to check the hose wasn't restricted and found that there was air in the system, probably because the fluid had dropped a bit too low.  Once bled, all gears back to normal and reverse considerably better than it's been for a couple of weeks.

We'll see if normal service continues, it might, or I might need another clutch hose (there's at least three different lengths, which I found out last time I tried to get one) or to rebuild the clutch cylinder again.  Time will tell.  It's a bit of a relief something went wrong to be honest, it's been a bit overdue.

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1 hour ago, vulgalour said:

Slight fright today, although I was half expecting it since things have been going so well.  Yesterday the clutch pedal felt 'off', but I couldn't figure out if it was just me being tired, or the car being cold or what, so just had to wait and see.  Today on trying to reverse out of a parking bay I couldn't actually get reverse.  Now, the Princess has done this to me before a couple of times, I know the drill.  If the gear change is notchy, that usually means the oil is getting low so I check that and it wasn't as low as it would have been to affect the gear change. Dropped a tiny bit of oil in anyway to bring it to almost the full line and it made no difference.  That means it's clutch cylinder related.  It's not the clutch, it's not slipping, I'm just not getting full travel of the arm in relation to the pedal.  That is usually failed seals in the clutch cylinder or a collapsed clutch hose.  Checked those out and both are dry and don't show signs of damage.  Checked the fluid level in the clutch reservoir and it was actually very low.  It's been a while since I've checked this and the car had been sat around doing nothing for a while, it made sense that it might have disappeared a bit like brake fluid does sometimes.  Topped it up, still no change, opened the bleed nipple to check the hose wasn't restricted and found that there was air in the system, probably because the fluid had dropped a bit too low.  Once bled, all gears back to normal and reverse considerably better than it's been for a couple of weeks.

We'll see if normal service continues, it might, or I might need another clutch hose (there's at least three different lengths, which I found out last time I tried to get one) or to rebuild the clutch cylinder again.  Time will tell.  It's a bit of a relief something went wrong to be honest, it's been a bit overdue.

If it's just a hose you need and it's a pig to get could you not just take the original to a hydraulics specialist and have them replicate it?

Last time I did this was a transmission oil cooler line on a Saab 900, and the cost was considerably less than NOS parts went for.

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The hose is easy to get, it's getting the one that's the right length that can be a bit of a lottery.  Since I know there's different ones now my chances of winning are higher, but if all else fails there's always Pirtek.

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As mentioned on the blue, the other issue could be the master cylinder seals.  Seal kits are available, the clutch master cylinder itself not so much since it's one of the unique-to-Princess items rather than a parts bin special.  Since it does work, I can't see that there'd be anything more wrong than a tired seal in there, I don't think I've done anything with the clutch master cylinder so it might still be all original.

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If it is the master cylinder, would replacing the entire hydraulic system with something else, maybe a Landrover? I know these are available very cheaply. I cannot remember how the clutch slave cylinder is mounted on these as it has been nearly 50yrs since I worked on them. It might just be possible. 

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I don't think we'll need to go that extreme tbh.

Had to do an errand to drop off a CV at a local bakery, since I'm looking to get something part time to bolster the income a bit without robbing me of too many hours from my regular artwork job.  That meant taking the Princess since it's about a five mile drive.  Clutch fluid was where I'd left it when I topped it up, so it's not leaked out overnight, and gears were working as they should.  Interestingly, on the drive there and back I couldn't get the car to do its usual dead spot thing when setting off when cold.  Clutch control at lower speeds was much better too.  This might be coincidental, the dead spot issue is intermittent and I've never actually solved it, time will tell.

Car was perfectly fine for the 10-15 miles I had to do today, we'll see how it performs over the next few weeks.  I'll be checking the clutch fluid weekly like I do with oil and water (and should have been doing anyway, really) to keep an eye on it.  There's no sign of any leaking inside the car or in the engine bay so if it is leaking it must be a very tiny leak.  One of those things where you have to wait for it to get worse before you can fix it.

As for how the master cylinder is mounted, it bolts to the bulkhead with a rod going to the pedal box.  Master cylinder is a horizontal type and has the reservoir built in half way along its length.  Looking for reference I found some from July 2020, and it looks like I did rebuild it back then.

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Many years ago I bought a 96 Mini a long way from home and lost the clutch almost as soon as I left.managed to drive 150 miles home at night without the clutch,figuring I would be on the motorway for most of it and wouldn't need to change gear. It was a loss of pedal that just seemed to be air in the system,I bled the system and topped the master up and never had a problem with it afterwards,just one of those weird one off problems.

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4 hours ago, vulgalour said:

I don't think we'll need to go that extreme tbh.

Had to do an errand to drop off a CV at a local bakery, since I'm looking to get something part time to bolster the income a bit without robbing me of too many hours from my regular artwork job.  That meant taking the Princess since it's about a five mile drive.  Clutch fluid was where I'd left it when I topped it up, so it's not leaked out overnight, and gears were working as they should.  Interestingly, on the drive there and back I couldn't get the car to do its usual dead spot thing when setting off when cold.  Clutch control at lower speeds was much better too.  This might be coincidental, the dead spot issue is intermittent and I've never actually solved it, time will tell.

Car was perfectly fine for the 10-15 miles I had to do today, we'll see how it performs over the next few weeks.  I'll be checking the clutch fluid weekly like I do with oil and water (and should have been doing anyway, really) to keep an eye on it.  There's no sign of any leaking inside the car or in the engine bay so if it is leaking it must be a very tiny leak.  One of those things where you have to wait for it to get worse before you can fix it.

As for how the master cylinder is mounted, it bolts to the bulkhead with a rod going to the pedal box.  Master cylinder is a horizontal type and has the reservoir built in half way along its length.  Looking for reference I found some from July 2020, and it looks like I did rebuild it back then.

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202007-14.jpg.23d8c812c6daf40ad8160c6b7f2badc4.jpg

Not leaking in the servo perhaps?

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Fluid leak situation update for you all.  Clutch fluid is remaining exactly where I left it with no signs of any leaks anywhere, I also still haven't been able to get the dead spot to reappear which again may be coincidental or it may be I've accidentally found the cause of it.  Perhaps that dead spot has been low clutch fluid all this time and I simply hadn't brimmed the reservoir to the correct level.

The fuel pump leak was a lot less serious than usual and I did find the bolts were not quite as tight as one might expect.  Nipped them up just a smidge did a test run and the oil leak has thus far not reappeared.  What has happened is one of the paper gaskets has taken on an odd shape though so I think I'll likely have to remove and regasket the pump anyway.
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The other suspect oil leak was proven to be so when I remove the oil filler tube.  I've had this off several times over the last twelve years and it's only ever been put back on with sealant because when I got the car it never had a gasket fitted.  It was clearly leaking when removed so I cleaned everything up and fitted a cork gasket here.  As with the fuel pump, I've not noticed any fresh oil appearing here after a run so hopefully that's that one resolved.
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The other oil leak I cannot pin down at all.  At the belt side of the engine there's a few tiny spots of oil as if it's been thrown up from somewhere else but none of it looks particularly gunky or old.  I begin to wonder if maybe I've driven through something that looks like oil but isn't because the belts do pick up stuff and throw it all over the place due to the lack of undertrays and only a minimal cover on top of the belt as standard.  I cleaned it all off and I'll see if it reappears.

Other than that I'm not really seeing any issues aside from a lot of storage grime I need to hose down and some hastily applied paint that has finally failed and needs redoing.  Would have liked to do more this weekend but I've been absolutely hammered with a cold since Thursday so there's a bit of a gap between what I think I can do and what I can actually do when I try and do anything.

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Done a few more miles so it's time for an oil leak update.

Fuel pump - seems to have stop leaking. If it is leaking it's such a tiny amount I can't see it.
Oil filler tube - no more leaking. More to the point, the oil that was on the front of the block as pretty rapidly self-cleaned off
Belt side - No reappearance of oil. However, there is an appearance of muddy water all over everything which does look and feel slightly oily. There might be a minor gasket weep for the oil filter/pump housing, but that might also be dirty road water.

Clutch hydraulics are remaining trouble free too, if I had a leak there I'd definitely expect to see it by now and I'm not losing a drop of fluid or having any gear selection woes. I've also apparently cured the dead spot issue and I have a theory on why that might be. Since the deadspot would only happen after changing gear, often when setting off, and nothing else - carb settings, ignition timing, etc - made any lasting difference I suspect I've had a bit of air stuck in the clutch hydraulics. If my theory is correct that means that most of the time the air is in just the right spot that everything works as it should, but every now and then the air is in a place where I can't get proper travel on the clutch arm in relation to the pedal, and that was causing the dead spot issue. It was a lot like the clutch wasn't engaging properly, but not a slipping clutch, and because of the intermittent nature of the problem it had proven impossible to pin down. Now, it could also be that the problem has just gone away for a bit like it has in the past so I'm not counting any chickens and that's why my theory is just that.

I am actually enjoying just having the Princess to worry about lately, it's all the car I need and it's nice not to be distracted by other project cars for the moment. I'm also looking forward to heading back down to Kent later this year to see Pat and the Lanchester and for that I think I'd like the Princess to be trustworthy enough to take me since she is cheaper than the train and takes no longer to get there and back. Might have to install some sort of tunes first, it's a 4-5 hour drive and I don't fancy that in just my own company.

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59 minutes ago, vulgalour said:

Might have to install some sort of tunes first, it's a 4-5 hour drive and I don't fancy that in just my own company.

theres always the ghetto blaster on the pass seat option, or my uncle would chuck a small portable radio on a dash shelf or behind his seat! probably a charity shop /crash converters nearby with a half decent one fir a few pounds, i may even have something if i look, i know i did take some to charity shops years ago.

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The ridiculous thing is I do have a head unit, speakers, and even the wiring in place and did have it all installed... then I restored the dash a few years ago and just sort of never put the head unit back in.

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22 hours ago, vulgalour said:

The ridiculous thing is I do have a head unit, speakers, and even the wiring in place and did have it all installed... then I restored the dash a few years ago and just sort of never put the head unit back in.

i know lol but i didnt think you wanted anything fitted fully? theres always the option of a bluetooth speaker too, and your preferred mobile cellular device then you can also use it when your doing bits n bobs on the car or wherever you are! 

 you could even get one of them 11 quid chinese bluetooth units in the glovebox or under the dash somewhere? endless possibilities, could even go as silly as making some leads to plug the car speakers into a boombox, but thats probably making it needlessly complicated.

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