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Phil's 1977 Princess 1.8 HL - Time to Say Goodbye

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1 hour ago, 406V6 said:

[Anorak mode] I remember it being launched in 1975 and Wikipedia says  26 March 1975. This was as the 18/22 series, not a Princess.  It was relaunched as the Princess in September 1975.

I remember a neighbour had an early one, I seem to remember it being a Morris 1800, it had perforated vinyl seats and a Webasto vinyl sunroof, it had the raised bonnet around the grill, like the Wolseley version which later become the HLS.

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I’ve been reading though this thread & it’s been interesting so far.

Ive had a soft spot for the wedges, probably because they were a common site when I was young & there weren’t many other cars like them.

Has it been added to the wedgister yet?

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Thanks for the offer of the corner pieces - window seals might be moving up the list, I think it's been kept outside for the last 12 months and today I have discovered some dampness in the carpets, underlay and dashboard soundproofing.  The window seals are completely perished on the side windows and windscreen so definitely not watertight any more.  It's been drying out today with the floor mats out (original rubber BL mats!) after I spritzed vinegar solution over the interior to try and kill the mould, I'll keep leaving the windows open during the day for this week while it's warm and dry outside, plan is to hoik the seats and carpets out at the weekend.

I've just ordered a few treats for it - oil, filters and some new fuel line and filters plus some spark plugs, it's running well considering it's 28 years overdue for a service but I think it's earned a bit of TLC.

I've found a couple of rot holes around the driver's side rear light - pretty typical for these I seem to recall - we'll see what the floors look like once the carpets are out.

@richard_fm yes it is on there, I think @vulgalour spotted it when it first got dredged out of its barn and put on eBay as a non-runner last year.  

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Rear screen seals tend to be fairly robust, front ones not so much.  www.leylandprincess.co.uk do I believe still have some brand new (not NOS) seals available to purchase for about £100, and my also have a rear screen seal.  At the rear, it tends to be the upper rail and the lower corners of the surround that rot out and let water in, up front it tends to be the seal going porous and the lower corners of the surround and/or a-pillars rotting out that lets the water in.   If it's leaking around the rear light clusters it might just be that the foam has dried out, @KruJoe's yoga mat and vaseline solution is a good fix for this.

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Yes I need to get a new roll of that - this car is definitely going to be seeing some duct tape in a few choice locations, temporarily* at least.  If that fails I've got an industrial-sized can of expanding foam, a fresh tube of no more nails and some leftover Isopon in the garage somewhere as well.

There's so much leaf mould and general filth in every gap and crevice - particularly the scuttle panel  - that a thorough wash will be needed before I can identify where water might be getting in.  Fortunately it doesn't seem to be soaking wet inside, only mildly damp so with any luck it's not too bad. 


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The drains at the edges of the scuttle area are rubbish and clog up with leaves and crap really easily.  If those are blocked and the water is overflowing in through the fresh air vent it wouldn't take much to get the interior all damp.  I bet the bottom couple of inches of the wing is packed with mud too, worth prising out the arch liners to clear that lot out too, shouldn't need to remove the liners fully.  Also, apologies if anything I'm mentioning is stuff you already know, do feel free to tell me to shut up.

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46 minutes ago, phil_lihp said:

Yes I need to get a new roll of that - this car is definitely going to be seeing some duct tape in a few choice locations, temporarily* at least.  If that fails I've got an industrial-sized can of expanding foam, a fresh tube of no more nails and some leftover Isopon in the garage somewhere as well.

That's the way to do it.  Fix it up with whatever you've got lying around, where possible.

MoT exemption is a joyous thing!

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17 hours ago, vulgalour said:

The drains at the edges of the scuttle area are rubbish and clog up with leaves and crap really easily.  If those are blocked and the water is overflowing in through the fresh air vent it wouldn't take much to get the interior all damp.  I bet the bottom couple of inches of the wing is packed with mud too, worth prising out the arch liners to clear that lot out too, shouldn't need to remove the liners fully.  Also, apologies if anything I'm mentioning is stuff you already know, do feel free to tell me to shut up.

I know very little - all advice gratefully received!  

What's the procedure with pumping these up?  Someone on the twitters has suggested buying a pump off eBay - I think he might be on here actually.  Will cost about £100 overall which is cheaper than getting the local place I found to do all four corners based on their quote.

@RobT There will be some element of "that'll do" I suspect, predominantly on the cosmetic elements.  Bodywork is not my forte and I would rather have a tatty but well-sorted car than the reverse.  Besides, what better philosophy for owning a mid-70s BL product?

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If you're being charged the equivalent of buying a pump to have your suspension inflated I should hope that includes the full vacuum and flush service as well.  Really, you just want a top up for now to find out what's amiss, so that's a case of hooking up a pump and pumping some fresh fluid in to get it up to height and then see what happens.

If it's all healthy after that, you need to get the old fluid vacuumed out, you then flush with something like purple methylated spirit a couple of times to clean it all up (the old fluid will likely be brown by now), and then reinflate with fresh fluid to the requisite height/pressure.  If someone is charging you £100+ for a top up tell them to jog on.

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Superb find and the same colour velour as in my dads green 1800HL. I loved it but he hated it with a passion, declaring everything forward of the windscreen was hopeless. 

Having watched DW most recent video about the Twin Cam B series MGA it would be hilarious to see of those in a Wedge. 

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1 hour ago, vulgalour said:

If you're being charged the equivalent of buying a pump to have your suspension inflated I should hope that includes the full vacuum and flush service as well.  Really, you just want a top up for now to find out what's amiss, so that's a case of hooking up a pump and pumping some fresh fluid in to get it up to height and then see what happens.

If it's all healthy after that, you need to get the old fluid vacuumed out, you then flush with something like purple methylated spirit a couple of times to clean it all up (the old fluid will likely be brown by now), and then reinflate with fresh fluid to the requisite height/pressure.  If someone is charging you £100+ for a top up tell them to jog on.

Noted, my usual tame mechanic says he has one squirelled away somewhere so will see if he can lay his hands on it before I go buying one myself.  I am not surprised the garage in question are charging too much to be honest but tricky to know what represents good value with nothing else to compare it to, the above feedback is much appreciated.

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Christ! £100 for a recharge!

I have an original Churchill dalek at work and have done a few wet mini's and a couple of rover metros  and i dont think i even charged as much as thay for a drain, flush vacuum and recharge.

Like you said though, it's difficult to know what to compare it to as there is so little call for it these days.

Ok just charge for how long it takes plus the fluid. It really doesn't take long.


Love your saggy brown wedge btw!

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My mechanic charges £20 for a basic pump up.  So yeah, robbing fuggers that lot if they're charging £100 for the equivalent.

Edit: the last time I had the Metro done it took 10 minutes.  Most of that was me agonising about the correct ride height.  Les told me "You're a fussy bugger, aren't you!".  He also told me it's better to have them under than over pumped, which I've found to be true.  The Morris is too high at the rear and tends to top out and thud over humps.  I'll try lobbing a sand bag in the back or something to see if that helps even things out.

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2 hours ago, Asimo said:

Every B-Series I've ever driven has run-on. Soon becomes second nature to pop it into top gear and gently stall it the moment you switch the ignition to off.

This. (Noting that I’ve only ever owned one B-series car.)

Has the Princess got two carbs? Balancing them used to reduce the running on slightly on my BGT. Sometimes for as much as a whole day.

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Who wants Princess updates?  I do!

I had a full day on this yesterday - hooray for decent weather.  I started by fitting some of the parts I had ordered a while back - it now sports a shiny new rotor arm, distributor cap and plug leads.  I also refitted the air filter assembly which was in the passenger footwell and put a NOS air filter in it.


The end result is that it doesn't really run any differently - fear not, I am going to keep hold of the old items even though they're ancient and a bit crusty, they did work and I am aware that modern components often are not the same quality as older stuff.  I still need to change the plugs and the oil - still waiting on some deliveries - and fit the correct mechanical fuel pump.  The electric one obviously does the job but I don't like it, it constantly runs when the ignition is on as you can hear it ticking and I have noticed a smell of petrol when it's running, I wonder if it's overfuelling the engine.

I then left it ticking over for a few minutes while I got ready for the next step and went inside the house for a minute.  I came back out and was concerned to noticed a bit of steam coming out from under the bonnet - this turned to mild panic when I realised it was not steam, it was smoke and there was a strong smell of burning.  I turned off the engine and opened the bonnet to be greeted with a smoking engine block - very odd, smoke was coming from the valve gasket and various other joints and the engine block was obviously extremely hot.  I then noticed the top radiator hose had a big split in it - however the header tank is still full of green coolant.  The engine block remained sizzling hot for several minutes afterwards, when I was washing all the leaves and muck out from the engine bay any water drops that hit the block sizzled.  I made sure not to spray any water on it to avoid any risk of cracking.

Fortunately it doesn't seem to have done it any harm (actually it's not running on so much any more so I think it's de-coked itself somewhat!) and it still runs as it did before with no horrible noises, smells or smoke, although I've only run it long enough to put it back off the road onto my driveway.  Having investigated, I think the waterpump has failed, it turns really easily by hand with no real resistance.  This might explain why the engine coolant temp gauge stayed in the middle despite it clearly being very hot.  I have a new waterpump to go on, that's now become a priority and I have ordered a set of new hoses and a thermostat as well, I don't want that to happen again.  It'll get a thorough flush through with detergent while I have it apart.  The cooling fan also did not appear to kick in and the seller did say it had stopped working, I have a video from last year of the car running and the fan was working then but that could be because there was no water in the top radiator hose, the sensor appears to be in the top of the radiator.  

Drama over, I then emptied all the detritus out of the boot - including what I think is a pair of Sierra wing mirrors (they'll be going on eBay unless anyone here wants them) and set to trying to clean 28 years of ground in filth off the paintwork.  I chose to use some very specialised detailing equipment for this first pass so I gathered up a bucket, an old sponge, a dustpan brush and some washing up liquid and got to work.  After that, I used some cutting polish and wax to see what I was left with.  The end result is...ummm...better?  It will need another couple of washes and I will dig out my clay towel to see if that helps, the paint is still rough and did not take the polish well.


I then made a bold decision and ripped off the tattered remains of the vinyl on the C pillars - it was ripped to pieces and was acting as a moisture trap to let water in but not out, so I was not surprised to find this - which actually looked a lot less terrifying after rubbing it down with a wire brush and applying vactan,


It wasn't a surprise to be honest, I could feel crunchy stuff behind the vinyl, could have been a lot worse.  I will contact a local bodyshop who have previously fixed some rust on the Rover 220SLi for me to see if they will do it.  Depending on how well the repair can be done I may or may not re-vinyl the pillars, not sure yet.  The bootlid might be saveable but it's crusty (although solid) along its bottom inner edge so I doubt it is worth the investment.  For now, some gaffer tape will suffice to keep the rain off it temporarily.  I covered every rusty scab I could find in vactan and the end result of all this skilled restoration work is that it looks slightly less horrible...the vactan had the unexpected reaction of acting like a coat of varnish so after getting as much loose paint off the bonnet as I could, I ended up covering the whole panel in it.  It has at least made it look the same colour as the paint.


This rear door is too far gone, the bottom of it is missing entirely so I will keep my eye out for a replacement.  There's some holes under the front valance and around the rear lights but overall it isn't too bad.


Last job of the day, which took forever, was hoiking out the interior so the soaking wet underlay and damp carpets could be allowed to dry properly.  I found one nasty rust hole in the passenger side floor/sill area but it doesn't look hard to repair, the rest of it is thankfully solid.  @vulgalour was dead right, the scuttle panel was an inch deep in leaf mould and other debris, once that was all scooped out and flushed through with a hosepipe water ran straight down through the back of the wings so the drains are now clear.  With the carpets out I can experiment at some point to see if water's getting in anywhere else.

The carpet smells grim and is pretty mouldy, the fibres are matted down hard in a lot of places so I don't know if it's saveable.  I will experiment at some point with ways to clean it up, I would like to save it if I can.  I refitted the driver's seat so I can move the car around.



Under the back seat I found some slightly damp reciepts and garage bills from the 80s which I'll add to the service history, including one for a suspension regas in the 80s, plus these nostalgic items.  I am not opening the tin for any amount of money, the best before date is 1994.

20200516_154803.thumb.jpg.3112b0071e5e1bbbbbc2adb1ffa4d2bb.jpg 20200516_154034.thumb.jpg.e5d937b331875ed4411a1e658aa1f120.jpg

Today I tried to find out why the hazards work but the indicators don't - my Haynes manual says they use the same relay but I don't think they do.  There's a confusion of extra wiring for the aftermarket radio and a tow bar (which I may reinstate as it's all still with the car) under the dash which is not helping, I found that there's a couple of small square relays up behind the steering column which click when the hazards are on, nothing happens with the indicators at all so I suspect this flasher relay - which is hanging loose and had a blue wire out of it which I reattached to no avail.


I am, for now, assuming that the indicator stalk is OK as the main beam selector and horn both work.  Still working my head around it, wiring is not my forte but I am learning slowly.  I will try applying power to that relay and see if it responds - it must be something like that as they did work a year ago.

Next steps are to decide what to do with the interior, change the oil when the filter turns up next week and find someone local who can patch up the holes without costing a fortune.  There's a nice new set of plugs on the way too, once that and the cooling system are as good as they can be I can see if any work needs to be done with the carb.  Oh, and while it's up on ramps for the oil change I need to find out where the exhaust is blowing.  Oh and get the suspension raised up.  And clean it a bit more.  

Oh, and drive it!




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My waterpump theory is partly due to the fact that although the header tank is brim full of coolant, the split radiator hose didn't spill any water at all so it does not seem to be circulating.  I have also noticed that it's been split all along, I can see it in the first photos I put up, not sure how I missed that.  I prised the hoses off the thermostat housing and they're clear, the thermostat itself looks fairly clean and there's no sign of any blockages.  It looks like it has been flushed through but I will do it again and change all the bits that are suspect.

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At least with an old iron block engine like a B series overheating shouldn’t have caused terminal issues. 

The rust closest to the rear side windows on the C pillars looks to have been caused mainly by the ‘Princess’ badges that were (or should have been) there. One of the holes in the N/S Pic looks like one of their mounting points. 

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  • phil_lihp changed the title to Phil's 1977 Princess 1.8 HL - Time to Say Goodbye

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