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Phil's 1977 Princess 1.8 HL

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Change "pristine NOS" to "solid but needs a small repair around the sender" and you're pretty much there...I am going to wait on my repair chap's opinion on my tank as it's potentially an easy enough repair but if not, I've been offered a tank which is available for the cost of a 4hr round trip which is do-able.  We'll see.

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I’m with Mr B on this one, as long as it’s solid I’d be happy to refit that panel. Looks to have been done quite well. Presumably the access hatch has been cut to either access the fuel pump (when it had one) or to clean the rust out of the tank. It all looks very clean and has actual paint so I’m going to say it hasn’t been like that for long. Maybe done by the bloke you got it from?

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Could have been done by the previous owner, but the tank didn't appear to have been disturbed in a long time.  The sender may have been rotated while it was on the car, there was a miniscule leak around it and it's possible it was removed or fiddled with to try and stop that, causing it to be rotated incorrectly.

The leak where a small part of the seam is rusted can be repaired so I have been told so I will let my bodywork chap sort that out and see what he thinks of the 'lid'.  I get both schools of thought, frankly it was working fine like that so as long as I find an appropriate product to re-seal it hopefully it'll be OK.  It will make cleaning the tank so much easier having that much access.

On that subject, anyone got a suggestion on the best way to clean it out?  I was inclined to just hose it out with water now that it's empty and dry inside, then get rid of any rust patches, would something like this be a good idea to finish it off?  https://www.rust.co.uk/product/slosh-fuel-tank-sealer-7   I am in the unusual position of being able to brush it on!

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I had one with a leak on the seam and around the sender unit and made multiple attempts to repair it, I was lucky that I managed to get an almost new tank from another wedge owner at the time although he didnt really want to sell it.

It may not be a cheap solution but I would get a new one made from s/s or ally there are quite a few people making one off fuel tanks and radiators now. 

Is your car a 2200 as they have mechanical fuel pump on engine and not the in tank pumps used on the smaller engined cars. Good news is these pumps are plentiful and cheap.

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It's been quiet on the Princess front for a couple of weeks but I did spend a couple of hours on it yesterday.  I've fitted new braided fuel lines and another fresh fuel filter, the old lines looked ancient and rotten but turned out to have a 2016 date stamp!  Very confidence inspiring, nonetheless I'm glad to have got rid of them all and it now has proper fuel line clips rather than jubilee clips and zip ties too.

I tried fitting my new generic coolant hose that runs between the top of the radiator and the thermostat housing but frustratingly, no matter how I routed it and how long or short it just kinks instead of curving, really not sure what to do about that as the standard hose is too short owing to the mix of 1700 radiator on an 1800 engine.

Then on to the fuel tank, frankly I have no idea how this car was running at all.  I scooped all this out by hand.


I then washed it out thoroughly, filling a bucket with brown water before it ran clear and all sediment had gone.  I dried it out with some cloths and got to this stage.


What's the general opinion?  I have no experience here but feel like this is just going to carry on rusting and flaking if it's not sealed with something, however I do have to be careful not to use anything that will just dissolve in the petrol and cause issues of its own.  Someone has clearly been here before, going by the scratches, so I think the previous owner may well be responsible for the odd modifications as I'm fairly sure no-one else has touched this car before last year.

Last thing, the sender.  Once out on the bench it turned out to be a very simple device and easy to dismantle, as it's held together with a simple spring arrangement.  For once, well done BL for making this serviceable.




It was dirty inside but didn't look too bad, I cleaned it with plenty of electrical contact cleaner and connected it back up to the gauge wire underneath the car, which I have previously confirmed is fine, but no dice.  I need to have another poke at it as I suspect it's not making a good enough contact inside.  Incidentally, on the above photo, the longer contact is the one that meets with the curved bit inside the unit but the shorter one doesn't seem to have a purpose, any thoughts on that?

The bonnet is still away being painted, I should hear back on that this week as he's been delayed due to workload.  Once that's done he can have the fuel tank to repair and then the car is back on the road again pending the next bit of bodywork.  It needs to go undercover soon as, frustratingly, the carpets are wet again after all the recent rain.  No idea where it's coming in now, it's mostly the passenger front footwell but a winter outside will not do it any good so I have enquiries underway about some indoor accommodation.


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"Incidentally, on the above photo, the longer contact is the one that meets with the curved bit inside the unit but the shorter one doesn't seem to have a purpose, any thoughts on that?"

My thought: one of the wipers contacts the coil of resistance wire, the other wiper contacts the plate that closes the sender unit. Have a look for witness marks from the contact wiping. This plate is earthed via the tank. So the petrol gauge responds to the varying resistance to earth as the wiper connects varying length of the sender coil to earth.

 So to test the sender, the fuel pipe / sender body part must be earthed.

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17 hours ago, Asimo said:

"Incidentally, on the above photo, the longer contact is the one that meets with the curved bit inside the unit but the shorter one doesn't seem to have a purpose, any thoughts on that?"

My thought: one of the wipers contacts the coil of resistance wire, the other wiper contacts the plate that closes the sender unit. Have a look for witness marks from the contact wiping. This plate is earthed via the tank. So the petrol gauge responds to the varying resistance to earth as the wiper connects varying length of the sender coil to earth.

 So to test the sender, the fuel pipe / sender body part must be earthed.

I thought that might be the answer but the smaller wiper is pointing downwards into the plastic body of the unit where there's nothing for it to touch.  I have re-tested the wire under the car and it no longer works, the gauge used to go to Full when the wire was earthed but it doesn't any more, when I tested voltage on that wire it was massively inconsistent, going up and down all over the place with no obvious cause so I will need to look into that - the sender might therefore be OK but can't tell yet.

18 hours ago, bunglebus said:

Can you use one of the rust removal solutions to get rid of the rest, get the seam repaired then the tank sealant stuff on the inside?

Possibly, I am thinking wire wool and then a tank sealer, as using vactan or similar might be a bad idea if it reacts with the petrol.

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For the leak in the passenger footwell,there's a couple of ways it can get in, the usual one is the corners of the windscreen surround which do rot out on earlier cars more commonly than later ones.  This can also take the top corners of the bulkhead, and all of this is usually hidden by the dashboard.  Sometimes the A pillar rots out behind the front wing, if it's gone at the top it usually appears as blistering at the bottom of the A pillar you can see, if it's gone at the bottom it might not be so obvious.  If you pull out the arch liner and unbolt the wing at the door edge you should be able to ease things out to get a look if you can't easily find the leak elsewhere.  Hopefully you don't have to go that far because fixing that is usually a wings off job and that's no fun since they're mostly welded on.  Blocked drainage for the central scuttle panel and the edges where it's supposed to go down into the wings can also make water back up and come out of the fresh air vents in the footwell.  Sometimes a bad door seal can let water in, as can a window if it has a habit of dropping due to a worn regulator, it really doesn't take much on either of those.  The heater matrix can fail on the seams and hoses too, though that's unlikely to be your issue since you've said it leaks when it rains rather than when its running.  If you're getting wet or damp carpets when you drive it that points at holes in the inner arches and/or floors, sometimes they can let water in while the car is parked in heavy rain too, though generally not that much.

Get the carpet out, and the foam underneath it, and then poof some talcum powder around the footwell and up the bulkhead, then just wait for it to rain.  You should see tracks in the powder and it should help you trace it back to the source.  The key thing is getting things as dry as you can first and stripped back as far as is reasonable.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I know you're all dying to know what I've done with this of late.  Well, nothing, mostly.  But there is news.

Fuel tank: Being repaired next week

Passenger side floor: Soaking wet

Driver's side: Mostly dry

Bonnet: Due back from the painter in a day or two

Car cover: Fitted, I ordered a decent one off ebay and took a gamble on the size, it turns out the medium one I ordered is a perfect fit, it really couldn't be a millimetre better.  Will hopefully keep it dry for a few days, I'll pull the carpets out again soon and dry the floor out.

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Today's seen some useful progress.

Fuel tank has been repaired so I refitted the lid with some fresh sealant, sprayed the top in waxoyl and spent a while muttering and getting covered in underseal refitting it to the car.




It's since had a coat of waxoyl underneath the tank as well.  I've also reinstated the tow bar which the previous owner had removed, it just seems right.


In between those jobs I also pulled out the passenger side insulation and mopped out the puddle underneath, dried it out through the day and gave the rusty bits and the welded patch I had done a few months back a coat of vactan followed by a coat of waxoyl paint.


I've cleared some dirt out of the scuttle panel but still none the wiser on how the rain water gets in, although as I now have a car cover for it that's no longer such a big issue.

I 've refitted the correct top hose for the radiator and charged up the battery so it could be woken up with the aid of a can of fuel and put up on ramps for the fuel tank refit.

I also fitted the new cork valve cover gasket as it was leaking, no surprise given the state of the old one, which was rock hard and came off in pieces.  I cleaned up the surfaces and refitted the new one.  Everything looks ok under there to my untrained eye.


All that remains now is to get the bonnet back on and its back on the road,  I'm hoping that will be very soon as I've had a photo of it in primer so it's getting close.  He's working on it in his spare time so it's a slow process and it turned out to have a lot of issues hiding under the ruined paint but it's all fixed now and on the home straight.


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  • phil_lihp changed the title to 1977 Princess 1.8 HL - UnSaggy Brown Joy: Paint!
  • phil_lihp changed the title to Phil's 1977 Princess 1.8 HL

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