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phil_lihp

1977 Princess 1.8 HL - Saggy Brown Joy: Road Test!

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Thanks - I'm really enjoying this project, the car has been very cooperative so far and it's so simple to work on.  It's been an education too, and being at home a lot more recently has allowed me the time and energy to keep the momentum going on it which I think makes a huge difference with these things.

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A busy day of Princessing today - a mate popped round to lend a socially distant hand and we ended up spending 7 hours on the car.  First job was reattaching many things that had been taken off in the previous couple of weeks.

One new alternator.

20200628_173230.thumb.jpg.915569da3c7a49a98b5e59af6b029c29.jpg

Next job was my new old stock radiator, listed specifically as suitable for an 1800 Princess and it looked correct on the listing.  That proved to be 95% correct - it's ever so slightly different.

Old:

20200628_111620.thumb.jpg.5c9bd8a5fe8b7b8bf5186857b596ff21.jpg

New:

20200628_111659.thumb.jpg.ee434fff855894923b5c892134d601d6.jpg

Spot the differences?  They're actually upside down in these photos, the top hose connector is on the side rather than the back and the header tank feed is in a different place and is a different shape.  That unfortunately meant that neither of the correct hoses would fit.

Fortunately I had a radiator hose section which I bought in error which had a wider bit on one end.  It turned out to be suitable for this comical affair of bodgery: 

20200628_173145.thumb.jpg.0a9f8471ef9f0c2b2b5b8cffe0257f5a.jpg

Yes, those are zip ties as the jubilee clips I had weren't big enough and I had to cut one of the original hose clamps off.  The header tank joint was provided by a piece of fuel line which was a tight fit but did the job.  Would you believe that the only leak from this ridiculous setup was from the coolant temperature sensor (bottom left with the green wire going into it) which evidently needs a bit of sealant around it.  The original top pipe is attached to the radiator and the slightly brownish weird-shaped pipe is the one I had hanging around as a spare.

I should point out, this was done only to allow it to be backed off the driveway and driven up on to the ramps.  I will never drive it like this, next job is to order some more hoses and a set of hose clamps and clips to do the job properly. 

Right then, that's done and it has some water in it - time to get it up in the air.  The battery died again so I will get a better, bigger one next time I'm near the scrapyard which sells them.  Luckily with my mate in attendance he was able to help push it back off the slightly sloped driveway enough to give it a jump from my long-suffering Octavia, which is getting jealous of all the attention the Princess is getting.

20200628_144741.thumb.jpg.b575ebf8c5ac6e525efaa76dca6f113a.jpg

With some extra volts the Princess started right up, we got it on the ramps (I will never enjoy that process!) so the farty exhaust could be replaced.  The bolts on the manifold clamp sheared off - which was actually fine, as we had good replacements ready to go - and the rest were easily removed, it probably only took us about 10 minutes to get the old one off and find out why it was so loud.

20200628_160133.thumb.jpg.c582987d4ced1a3301563744d850351b.jpg 20200628_160126.thumb.jpg.bdca611d77baa9a3da53462b48ff6ce0.jpg

As I suspected, the flexi joint had broken in several places.  Time to fit my new old stock one, which fortunately fitted a treat.

20200628_160140.thumb.jpg.c27cc266d6bb09920b73d43aabd10ff3.jpg

Getting the manifold joint aligned was a bit of a mission, I realised afterwards that we should have fitted it to the manifold before attaching the rear section, it would have made it a lot easier.  It's a bit messy with exhaust paste but it has sealed nicely.

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The first start proved that it's now a lot quieter which was fantastic - however it's not quite there yet, annoyingly the centre joint which I 'repaired' before with a dollop of exhaust paste and a bit of tin can is blowing again but it's good enough for now.  When it does finally make it to the garage for suspension and tuning work, I'll get him to sort the blowing joint while it's up on his ramp.

So a few steps forward and one back, the cooling system still isn't quite there yet but we're making progress, I've also found someone locally to fit the windscreen seal for a sensible price so as soon as it's driveable it'll go over to them for that to be done too.

Stay tuned for further exciting updates in a future episode.

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Looking at the problem with the radiator fitment again, I think it might actually be for a 1700.  Reason being, this style of top hose looks like the right shape and direction:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Austin-Princess-2-1-7-2-0-1979-82-Quinton-Hazell-Radiator-Top-Hose/283842418255?hash=item421653964f:g:SGkAAOSwnXRej3xl

The only issue is whether it'd be long enough.  I've bought it anyway, worth a shot,

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The hoses I've seen on 1700s, mine included, are normally much longer than that, like so.

20120728-04.thumb.jpg.08666073908e457b8a862848734b144f.jpg

I've found a few examples of 1700/2000 Princess engines and they all have this longer hose.  However, looking at parts listed, they're all the shorter looking one like the one you bought.  Bit odd.  Anyway, that new radiator is definitely an O series one with the outlets where they are, doesn't really make any difference to performance, seems a bit of an odd revision really, you'd think making a batch of different pipes would make more sense than reworking the radiators.

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Hmm...well, I will find out soon whether the one I've got fits.  

I also found when I ran the car for the first time after the exhaust change that the squeak I thought was the alternator is still present - that's annoying as it means it must be the new old stock waterpump, so I will get another one of those in too.  The alternator was completely shot anyway so it had to be replaced whatever but I was rather hoping it was the cause of the noise.

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8 hours ago, phil_lihp said:

Hmm...well, I will find out soon whether the one I've got fits.  

I also found when I ran the car for the first time after the exhaust change that the squeak I thought was the alternator is still present - that's annoying as it means it must be the new old stock waterpump, so I will get another one of those in too.  The alternator was completely shot anyway so it had to be replaced whatever but I was rather hoping it was the cause of the noise.

Loosen off or remove the belt and fire it up to confirm first though, it would be annoying to discover it wasn't that afterward.

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I already have - it's fine without the belt on and the same noise is present with old and new alternators.  Loosening the belt just makes it slip and switches one problem for another.  Waterpumps are cheap enough, I've picked up another one to try.

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Reading over my shoulder the old man has just suggested trying some vegetable oil(a few spoons, not a bottle!) in the coolant to see if it helps; I doubt it will.

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If I thought there was much hope of any of it getting anywhere near the waterpump seal I'd say give it a try, but I'm doubtful. In any case the noise is more likely to be the bearing.

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Sorry, wall of text incoming as I forgot to get any photos but I've had a silly grin on my face for the last couple of hours because after another tinkering session this afternoon I finally managed to get out for an actual drive in it!

Today's plan was to fit replacement waterpump no.2, a NOS Unipart item which spun much easier than the last one and felt like a heavier, better quality item.   I replaced the top coolant hose with the O-series version to fit the O-series radiator I ended up with. which unfortunately was about an inch too short to reach the thermostat comfortably on the 1.8 - this was resolved permanently* by unbolting the top radiator mounts, allowing it to tilt back enough for the hose to seat properly.  I then zip-tied the mounts on to keep the radiator stable, it's not ideal but it does work OK and will suffice until I can get the right sized generic hose to fit.

My mate than popped round for another socially distant assist and we rejigged the exhaust with another tin can to seal up the centre joint.  First start showed it is now much, much quieter and you can actually hear the engine - the only issue was the 30 year old corrosion protection on the new front pipe which took a few minutes to burn off and smelled quite dreadful.

A few short runs up and down the road and a few goes at bleeding most of the air out of the cooling system all went a bit wrong when the alternator belt started squealing and it took several attempts and eventually referring to the Haynes manual to find that the belt needed to be what I would consider to be extremely tight - 1/2 inch deflection - which once achieved did shut it up.  I'm not convinced the belt on it is much cop, it appears to be new from when the car was first woken up but I will probably get hold of a spare one anyway.

With that sorted, there was only one thing for it...a cautious test drive.  I chose a route which involved back roads and lanes through tiny villages thinking it would be 'safer' for a first try than the busier main roads near my house but I had forgotten that the route was extremely hilly.  Nonetheless, she performed well, the temperature stayed cool (my new fan seems to work a treat) and eventually, after stopping off at a mate's house where his 8 year old daughter assessed it as "smelling funny" I got brave enough to hit the A386.  Much to my surprise there were no real issues, she got up to 55mph without too much fuss and drama, didn't make any particularly strange noises and in the end I looped back round and ended up doing about 15 miles.  Not bad for her first proper trip out since 1992.

So what's next?  Well, the timing and carb need proper adjustment, while it would run without choke when warmed up, it would bog down hard and popped and banged through the inlet until given all the choke, which made it idle fast but drive adequately.  It's definitely not giving its best performance by a long shot yet but now it's driving OK I can get my tame mechanic to tune it properly.  The suspension is of course very low, has very little travel and hence the wheel camber is a bit 'stanced' so he's going to introduce it to his hydragas pump - at the moment it's very bumpy and handles quite poorly, although it does go round corners well!  He'll also weld up the one hole in the floor and give it a general going over.

Now I can drive it, it can also go to a local windscreen place who are going to fit the new seal for me.  After that I just intend to keep adding the miles on, ironing out any further snags as they crop up and eventually the next stage will be sorting out the various cosmetic issues, mainly the rust holes in the C pillars and valance for a starter.

Happy days!     

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I'm not quite sure how he managed to get such a low-res video from a modern iPhone but my friend recorded evidence of its first run up and down my road after the exhaust was fitted.  This is the first time it has run without a blown exhaust and squealing alternator so it was a novelty to actually be able to hear the engine.  I also treated it to a can of BP Ultimate as I gathered that some higher octane fuel might help it out if it's still tuned for 4 star.  It definitely ran better.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Z_NufSDgSEuzHLDfzgQcswWYMTtvBgvs/view?usp=sharing

 

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Tonight's test drive report: FAIL.

Flat battery - the teeny little Lion thing that the last owner put in it appears to have died, it did start for a few seconds but by times I'd mucked around with the choke and it'd stalled there wasn't enough left to fire up again.  It's been fairly hopeless since day 1 and doesn't respond to charging very well, I think it's probably undersized as well.  The car's off to the windscreen fitter first thing tomorrow morning so an early morning trip to ECP is on the cards for something with superior CCA and the ability to hold a charge for more than a day.

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Don't write off the old battery straight away, if the wiring for the radio or rear lights has been messed about with there's a high chance you've got some random shenanigans going on that'll flatten the battery overnight, even if it's a fully charged good one.  Wonder how I know about that particular issue...

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It may not even be that old but my guess is the faulty alternator might have killed it, when it's put on charge overnight it doesn't last very long for starting the car if it doesn't go first try.  It has a date chart on the top but it's not been filled in so I don't know how old it is.  It's undersized anyway and this car seems to need a strong battery, it fires much faster with a jump start.  We'll see, I'm off to my local ECP shortly to pick up a bigger one with more electricities in it,

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Just had a phone call, my expensive new seal which came from a batch the owner's club had made up has been fitted successfully.  The windscreen didn't break and it went well.  They found a couple of small rust holes in the drainage channel but nothing serious, they're filled up with sealant so shouldn't present an issue for now.  I'm quite relieved!

After fitting the new battery the drive across town in rush hour to their workshop turned out to be stress free, even when I got halfway and realised I hadn't actually put the seal in the car and had to go back home and get it.  The driveway looks odd without the Princess parked on it, should be able to pick it up tomorrow afternoon and then it's in to my mechanic on Friday for suspension, tuning and welding.   

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I am enjoying following your progress with this and looking forward to seeing it at the correct ride height. You would not be welcome on retro rides though! Stance innit bro

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Look who's managed to complete 3 trips now without exploding!

20200708_165142.thumb.jpg.3f0b1f8fc794df7b71b78752768f86ab.jpg

I picked it up from the windscreen fitters today, they have done an amazing job, it fits perfectly and they even managed to find the correct totally not fake chrome insert - the old one was a brittle yellow thing with bits missing. 

20200708_164627.thumb.jpg.c3b60b7990f23ff293d14684fd7db44e.jpg

I am very pleased and it only cost £60 which I think is a bargain, the other quote I got was twice that.

I celebrated with a detour to a petrol station for £20 of BP Ultimate as the fuel gauge doesn't work so I have no idea a) how much is in the tank or b) how many mpgs she's currently doing - I suspect probably not many until the timing and carb are tweaked. 

20200708_163827.thumb.jpg.372b07de763e86a1229b22f5fbe0c2ec.jpg

On leaving the petrol station the fanbelt decided to go full screech on me again - it would only quieten down on a low idle but that meant dropping the choke off which made it stall on a busy roundabout.  Ooops.  Got it going again and screeched the 2 miles home.  Parked it on the road, left it idling while I moved my Octavia off the driveway to park, backed it onto the driveway and only then realised it'd got a bit hot. 

20200708_165503.thumb.jpg.6c9767cb114b58b6d7edd417c8d25420.jpg

Ooops.  I usually watch the gauge like a hawk but took my eye off it for a few minutes too long.  There was a gush of steam and lots of bubbling noises, I had visions of a blown off hose or something worse but it turned out to be just overflow out of the header tank.  It doesn't look like my new fan kicked in and I also think it might be spinning the wrong way so will have to attend to that.  I reckon it probably still had airlocks too, it's fine out on the open road but at low speeds or when stopped the temperature climbs until you turn the heating on.  It's still on the old thermostat, I have a new one to go in but the stat housing is welded together so I haven't wanted to start bashing at it yet.

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