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Phil's 1977 Princess 1.8 HL


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That is giving me flashbacks to 1983, where as an excite-able youth I embarked on my very first engine repair on a 1.8HLS just like that one (apart from the shiny bits).
It developed a running on three cylinders issue,
 

Pulled it apart, cleaned it up and it ran much better, my father wrote it off shortly afterwards.

The crux of the problem was actually a side effect of, lets call it valve bounce, the push rod had escaped from under the rocker whilst being driven by an excite-able youth.

 

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Fortunately these do seem to be very simple engines, nothing looks like a massive job on it.  Fortunately this one's in rude health and mechanically it needs nothing at all at the moment.  I have bought paint for the rocker cover but didn't want to get into that with no bonnet to shelter the top of the engine while it's off.  

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I still can't drive it, the sender unit's leaking where it clamps to the petrol tank.  It's one where you hammer it around to engage in some tabs that are supposed to clamp it tight the harder it's pushed round but it doesn't seem to be working, I suspect the rubber seal is too hard to be of much use and besides which I am pretty sure it's not the right sender for the car, it has to be rotated round so the pickup tube is at the bottom of the tank but when you do that, the float is on its side and can't move, as per the photos from when I first took the tank apart a couple of pages back.  

I can live without the sender unit working but I do need to seal it, any suggestions?  I might have another poke at it in the next couple of days and see if I can get it any tighter but I think I might have to resort to some sealant.  I have a tube of instant gasket, would that be OK to use do we think?

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The sender unit seal and the ring itself is the same as MGB and Land Rover Series.  I resorted to a petrol tank repair putty even after getting the locking ring on mine replaced and using a new seal, it seems the tabs that the ring is supposed to lock  into just go soft with rust/age and won't lock in any more.  I hope I never have to remove the sender, it's going to be a right war.

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Cheers, I have ordered a new MGB seal and locking ring for the heady price of £2.99 and a tube of blue Hylomar - hopefully that'll all be here at the weekend and I can get enough decent weather to see if it sorts the issue.  Especially given that it has the wrong sender installed, I don't want to seal it in too permanently if I can help it but my main concern is to make it seal.  It did before so it can again!

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The new seal and ring combined with a splodge of hylomar seems to have done the trick, no more drips.  

This is good, as it means her royal brownness is back on the road.  I celebrated by putting £20 of Asda's finest in it and then driving about running a few errands and apart from the alternator belt being a bit noisy, it behaved perfectly.  It's running superbly now that the fuel isn't 50% sand.

However,  it is a Princess so to redress the balance, the clutch master (slave?) cylinder started leaking. 

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Looking at it, I cant understand why.  It looks immaculate and totally hasn't got mouse damage on the gaitor or any obvious corrosion.

I'm hoping an MGB one will fit.  Certainly looks similar but I'll try and find some part numbers first.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/MGB-1800-CLUTCH-SLAVE-CYLINDER-PUSH-ROD-CLEVICE-HOSE-KIT-AND-FIXING-BOLTS-a3a/311974887269

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  • 1 month later...

The clutch cylinder hasn't leaked again since so I'm currently subjecting it to a long term spectrum of tests and analysis.  Or ignoring it, either way.  The electrical gremlins it had last time I drove it, with dash lights and one rear lamp not working, have randomly fixed themselves using this method so I am confident I'll get good results.

I hadn't used the Princess for several weeks so as it stopped raining today I pulled the cover off, gave it a jump start off the Skoda and warmed it up, then ran an errand and enjoyed a decent little drive around to get some of the dampness out of the interior and stretch its legs.  Still runs brilliantly, the fuel pump started sounding a bit laboured so added £20 of unleaded which solved that, really would be useful to have a fuel gauge but I will just have to keep better track of fuel and mileage.

I stopped for a random photo op with some appropriately dated architecture as the sun went down, next to the charmingly hideous Barnstaple Civic Centre.  Built to much complaint in the 1960s, empty since 2016 and not likely to be missed at all when it finally gets demolished by its new owner.  The police have recently vacated the smaller building in front as it has severe structural issues, the whole lot is well overdue for a date with an explosive charge.  

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  • phil_lihp changed the title to Phil's 1977 Princess 1.8 HL

Incidentally, someone contacted me on Twitter following one of my very infrequent updates on there, turns out he is the nephew of Pete, the chap who owned it from 1979 right through until he passed away in 2017.  He has given me a little back story on the car although he doesn't know a great deal, it was buried in the barn/garage from 1992 until 2019 as he replaced it - probably with a Sierra from what I can tell - but didn't want to part with it as it had no actual issues, it'd always run well and been reliable, in contrast to the guy's father who had a contemporary auto Princess which never worked properly, it really does seem like mine was an unusually well built one.  Perhaps he had plans to get it back out one day, I hope he'd be pleased with what's been done with it so far.

It's been nice to retain that link to its past, one day I'd quite like to take it back to where it lived most of its life over near Reading.  

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I remember seeing this on a Facebook classic cars group when it was listed for sale - the bonnet was pretty distinctive.

I'm glad to see it was in far better condition than a lot of naysayers on there and loved finding out here what's happens and how far its come along.

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On 1/3/2021 at 5:30 PM, phil_lihp said:

The clutch cylinder hasn't leaked again since so I'm currently subjecting it to a long term spectrum of tests and analysis.  Or ignoring it, either way.  The electrical gremlins it had last time I drove it, with dash lights and one rear lamp not working, have randomly fixed themselves using this method so I am confident I'll get good results.

And in the interests of retaining the correct equilibrium, the speedometer no longer works.  I suspect the cable's come loose or broken, will investigate at the weekend.  I do believe that the break/fix balance on a car like this is a seesaw, with all the work done over the summer I think I've just about found the perfect tipping point.  I now have to be very careful; the risk is if I blitz through it and fix all the remaining minor issues like the fuel gauge and clock, the gearbox will explode.

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Really enjoying this thread - I’ve had two of these in the past, both were the Mk1 1800 version like yours. I bought them for a laugh in both cases when BL tat was still pretty cheap, then I was pleasantly surprised both times by what capable cars they were and actually they were pretty well designed (if not always as well built).

The one thing I remember is how tall the gearing in 4th is: It might not have a 5 speed box but 70mph is genuinely refined and comfortable, it was one of the few classics I’ve had that didn’t want for another / taller gears, this also made them pretty easy on the juice when cruising along.

If only BL had designed it as a hatch from the start and then not buggered up it’s rep by actually building them to a high standard every time, I think they would have a much more of a winner on their hands than they did.

By the way, both of mine had teething issues which I took as a protest in being put back into regular service after lay-ups (hydraulics and fuel pumps are two that come to mind); stick at it, they are reliable once you push through this stage!

 

My plan was to do a top-end rebuild on one of mine using a Peter Burgess “ecotune” head - for £340-odd they would give you a fully rebuilt, unleaded-friendly stage 2 head that had been properly gas-flowed in a proper bench; which to me seems like good value.
With a change of carb needle on the rolling road I bet that would make it a very rewarding car to drive as it’d be able to gather pace with much more gusto (and use less fuel if you could restrain yourself). Sadly I met my current wife and life got in the way of these plans!

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