From sim­ple jobs to saga

Classic Cars (UK) - - Our Cars -

This was not part of the plan. A year in Phil’s E-type life is sup­posed to run like this: spend the dark, wet win­ter months fix­ing ac­cu­mu­lated prob­lems from the pre­vi­ous sea­son; then a crescendo of late nights in the garage to get it back to­gether for spring; put off non-es­sen­tial jobs that will dis­able the car dur­ing peak driv­ing weather; re­peat.

This year I broke the cy­cle, work­ing through a list of minor win­ter jobs early. My re­ward for be­ing so or­gan­ised? A trip back from Le Mans that cre­ated a fresh job list and a re­turn to dry dock – gearchange prob­lems, speedome­ter fail­ure (again) and fuel leaks. I didn’t want to push my luck by us­ing the car fur­ther with so much wrong.

None of the faults looked par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult to fix so I es­ti­mated a week of dis­man­tling, or­der­ing parts and fit­ting them. Yes, I know, af­ter more than seven years with the Jaguar I should know bet­ter.

The speedome­ter, seized only a few hun­dred miles af­ter re­build, is easy to remove. Next I tried to ro­tate the ca­ble – it shouldn’t while the square drive at the far end is en­gaged in the gear­box angle drive. It turned. Bro­ken ca­ble? Nope – with­draw­ing it re­vealed it to be in per­fect con­di­tion, though it seemed a tighter fit that it should. Must be the angle drive unit – also pre­vi­ously re­paired. Re­plac­ing that would in­volve re­mov­ing the cen­tre con­sole and gear­box cover, which first re­quires re­mov­ing the seats and dis­con­nect­ing the handbrake ca­ble at the rear brakes. Noth­ing is sim­ple on an E-type. Sure enough, the square drive on the angle drive unit had sheared where it en­gages in the gear­box.

With the in­te­rior of the car strewn around my garage I at­tacked the en­gine bay, re­mov­ing un­der­tray, air cleaner and car­bu­ret­tor trum­pets to ac­cess the clutch mas­ter cylin­der, then part-bleed­ing the front brakes so that the pedal could be de­pressed enough to clear the cle­vis pin se­cur­ing the clutch mas­ter cylin­der rod to the clutch pedal. By the time I’d re­moved the clutch slave cylin­der from the bell­hous­ing, I had re­ceived new seal kits to re­build both cylin­ders.

Progress was look­ing good, un­til I stripped the cylin­ders. The mas­ter looked per­fect in­side, but it was from a later E-type so the seal kit wouldn’t fit. When I re­moved the rub­ber boot from the end of the slave cylin­der a flood of rusty wa­ter and brake fluid sloshed into my bench. Clean­ing out the brown sludge re­vealed a heav­ily cor­roded bore. So, I or­dered a later mas­ter seal kit and a new, stain­less steel slave to avoid a re­peat of the prob­lem.

The new clutch parts, re­paired speedome­ter head and drive, plus a new ca­ble, ar­rived the day before I was due to set off for a Jaguar run in south Wales cel­e­brat­ing 60 years of the E-type pro­to­type, E1A. I was run­ning out of time, and now I’ve run out of space. Catch you next month.

Ex­tract­ing the clutch mas­ter cylin­der was in­volved

Slave full of rusty wa­ter

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