Charge of the light bri­gade

Classics Monthly - - Staff Diaries -

For a lit­tle while the Rover 2000 has been crank­ing slowly from a low bat­tery which Id put down to lack of use and had taken to us­ing a main­te­nance charger, but as the car has been in a garage with­out mains power this is a con­vo­luted ef­fort in­volv­ing a good bat­tery and an in­verter to power the charger, so one Satur­day when I’d for­got­ten to top it up and it wouldn’t start I wasn’t sur­prised.

Af­ter a jump start I set off to a P6 club cars and cof­fee meet with my young son, but af­ter a fuel stop the car again re­fused to start and this time jump start­ing didn’t work, so it was a call to the nice peo­ple in yel­low vans.

The AA man ar­rived quickly – he’d been help­ing an­other driver at the same petrol sta­tion – and started the car from his van, ini­tially sus­pect­ing a worn-out bat­tery but fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed a kip­pered al­ter­na­tor. As the bat­tery is new, a recharge had been enough to run the car for short jour­neys and mask the prob­lem. He also no­ticed the ig­ni­tion warn­ing light had burned out, so no warn­ing from that ei­ther.

With the Rover home, I got the old al­ter­na­tor off and a re­place­ment or­dered. As be­fore, the new one needed the pulley to be swapped from the pre­vi­ous

unit so it fits the drive belt

spac­ing. I don’t have fond mem­o­ries of the last time I tried this, since try­ing to hold the ro­tat­ing parts still while un­do­ing the nut ended up dam­ag­ing the fan so this time I wanted to do it prop­erly and clamp it still.

Over Christ­mas I treated my­self to a proper work­shop space in the garage, and now with a de­cent work­bench I can at last bolt down a de­cent vice so or­dered a Draper BV150/L from drap­er­, with 150mm jaws it’s big enough and solid enough to clamp the al­ter­na­tor pulley firmly while I piled on enough force to undo the nut, which came un­done in sec­onds, un­like the age of forc­ing and swear­ing last time, and then re­peat with the other al­ter­na­tor.

I gave the old pulley a quick spray with black enamel to smarten it up and once it was dry popped it on the new al­ter­na­tor and into the vice to tighten up. I don’t know if there is a phrase about the right tool mak­ing a tricky job easy but there re­ally should be!

Fit­ting it back on the car seemed to be an aw­ful lot harder than tak­ing it off but with it bolted back in place the bat­tery is charg­ing again as it should, and a new bulb in the dash should let me know if it’s not.

With fresh en­thu­si­asm to get tit back on the road I gave the MR2 a gal­lon of fresh fuel and bor­rowed a bat­tery but for the first time since I’ve owned it, it didn’t start.

Nor­mally it fires on the but­ton and I shuf­fle it around the drive to keep it fresh, even us­ing it to tow non-run­ning cars up the slop­ing drive now and then!

The plugs look a bit ropey but a test showed they are spark­ing a bit, and there’s a strong smell of fuel so I’ll have to run through the ba­sics over the next few days and find what’s not happening. Mean­while, thanks to www. drap­er­ for sort­ing me out a good deal on the vice.

I gave the MR2 a gal­lon of fresh fuel and bor­rowed a bat­tery but for the first time since I’ve owned it, it didn’t start

The new al­ter­na­tor was clamped in the vice... the pulley could be un­done.

Swappng the pul­leys over didn’t take too long.

Tight­en­ing up the new pulley on the shaft was easy.

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