Project Rolls-Royce

Af­ter spend­ing the past two years in a state of sus­pended an­i­ma­tion, Dan’s Sil­ver Shadow II lands at Col­brook Specialists for a much­needed health check…

Classics Monthly - - Contents - WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY DAN FURR

Dan’s Sil­ver Shadow un­der­goes an appraisal to see what needs do­ing.

“The good news,” said Colin Ayres, manag­ing di­rec­tor of in­de­pen­dent Roll­sRoyce and Bent­ley ser­vice, sales, re­pair and restora­tion cen­tre, Col­brook Specialists ( bit.ly/col­brook), “is all the prob­lems present on your Sil­ver Shadow II are typ­i­cal of the faults we’re used to see­ing on the model. The bad news,” he con­tin­ued, “is we don’t ex­pect to see them all at the same time on the same car!”

Lo­cated close to Peter­bor­ough, Colin’s com­pany is re­garded as one of the lead­ing East Mid­lands-based au­thor­i­ties on all things re­lat­ing to Sil­ver Shad­ows, mean­ing no fault or nig­gle was go­ing to go un­no­ticed when the firm’s head tech­ni­cian, Richard Mead­ows, pulled out his clip­board and gave my car an ex­ten­sive health check af­ter the large barge rolled into the Col­brook work­shop. I’ve owned the Sil­ver Mink stun­ner for four years, but the truth of the mat­ter is the car has been mo­tion­less for at least half that time while I’ve been dis­tracted with an am­bi­tious Porsche 944 Turbo restora­tion project. Sens­ing the time had come to recom­mis­sion the ‘ Royce be­fore its im­po­tent state caused se­ri­ous prob­lems, I in­structed my trusted ve­hi­cle trans­porta­tion ser­vice provider, Robin Hunter ( bit.ly/robin­hunter), to load up his trailer with my land yacht and set sail for Colin’s gaff.

Un­for­tu­nately, the car de­cided to dump its power steer­ing fluid on my drive­way be­fore Robin ar­rived for col­lec­tion! Per­haps a cor­roded fluid trans­fer pipe was to blame? Af­ter all, old cars hate sit­ting still, a con­di­tion known to cause rub­ber bush­ings, hoses and all man­ner of other per­ish­ables to, erm, per­ish. “The Sil­ver Shadow II fea­tures a power steer­ing fluid cooler lo­cated di­rectly be­hind the im­pos­ing front grille,” ex­plained Colin. “This part is miss­ing on your car. A joiner hose is where the cooler should be. It’s as though the orig­i­nal part failed and a pre­vi­ous owner sim­ply linked its in­let and out­let with a short rub­ber pipe in­stead of fit­ting a re­place­ment cooler!” he gasped.

It was this bodge caus­ing the fluid to leak. Not a great start!

Fir­ing up the car also drew at­ten­tion to its blow­ing ex­haust, a stock-spec mild steel sys­tem with a fail­ing down­pipe mak­ing the 6.75-litre V8 sound more like the beat­ing heart of a mus­cle car than a silky smooth Shadow. Per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, the first or­der of busi­ness is to re­in­state the miss­ing cooler and fit a re­place­ment down­pipe (I have a donor ex­haust which will sup­ply the re­quired parts un­til I in­vest in a full stain­less sys­tem). Af­ter these com­plaints are cured, Colin and Richard can take the car on a test drive to check the op­er­at­ing con­di­tion of its en­gine and transmission.

Be­fore we jump ahead of our­selves, how­ever, there’s the small mat­ter of tak­ing stock of the cat­a­logue of faults Richard recog­nised when ex­am­in­ing the car up close. “Is your note­book big enough to ac­com­mo­date the list?” laughed Colin. In­deed, Richard was thor­ough, itemis­ing the ‘need to haves’ along­side the ‘nice to haves’, the for­mer cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing re­quired to get the car through an MoT, the lat­ter in­clud­ing sur­pris­ingly de­tailed ob­ser­va­tions, such as the bright­ness of in­te­rior light bulbs.

The most im­por­tant jobs con­cern brakes, suspension and steer­ing. The gi­ant an­chors have been left re­dun­dant for so long they’ve seized, while shock mounts and bushes have dried and de­te­ri­o­rated, re­sult­ing in knock­ing noises over the small­est of bumps. The Bil­stein B6 heavy duty damper kit I’ve in­vested in comes com­plete with re­place­ment top and bot­tom mounts, but that’s only a small part of the bat­tle won. Here’s a peek at the faults cry­ing out to be fixed.

1 Un­for­tu­nately, SRH40385 (af­fec­tion­ately known as Pan­dora due to me fear­ing the com­pli­ca­tions ahead!) in­ex­pli­ca­bly dumped her power steer­ing fluid on my drive­way. At first glance, I was con­cerned the es­caped oil was transmission juice, but su­per- stiff steer­ing soon con­firmed the lesser of two evils.

2 Shift­ing a car of this size in and out of a tight drive­way with­out the aid of a func­tion­ing power steer­ing sys­tem means you don’t need to waste money in­vest­ing in any weight train­ing kit! Se­curely loaded atop Robin Hunter’s trailer, the large barge begins her jour­ney to Col­brook Specialists.

3 Pan­dora landed safely at Col­brook’s Stil­ton head­quar­ters, but she lost drive im­me­di­ately af­ter leav­ing the com­fort of Robin’s trailer. Echo­ing an ear­lier con­cern, low- level transmission fluid was im­pair­ing the TH400 three- speed au­to­matic’s abil­ity to slip into gear. Top­ping up with fluid sorted the fault, but leak de­tec­tion may be re­quired if the prob­lem per­sists.

4 Richard raised the car in the air in or­der to be­gin his ex­ten­sive ex­am­i­na­tion of the chas­sis parts. Hoses, pipes and mounts of ev­ery de­scrip­tion were scru­ti­nised, in­clud­ing those re­lat­ing to the car’s in­fa­mous hy­draulic sys­tem, a tech­no­log­i­cal mar­vel con­trol­ling brakes and self- lev­el­ling suspension.

6 Richard (left) and Colin (right) com­pare notes. As you can see, the list of faults found ex­tends across mul­ti­ple pages, but it’s im­por­tant to note the pair’s find­ings cov­ered ev­ery­thing from the afore­men­tioned miss­ing power steer­ing oil cooler to the health of the bon­net guide rub­bers. If you’re con­sid­er­ing the pur­chase of a Sil­ver Shadow (first or se­cond- gen), we’d rec­om­mend com­mis­sion­ing a spe­cial­ist like Colnbrook or Introcar to carry out an in­spec­tion of your prospec­tive pur­chase be­fore you part with your hard- earned dosh.

5 Caf­feine and qual­ity read­ing ma­te­rial (the lat­ter courtesy of our ex­cel­lent sister ti­tle, Rolls- Royce & Bent­ley Driver) pro­vided a wel­come dis­trac­tion while we waited in Col­brook Specialists re­cep­tion area for the results of Colin and Richard’s in­spec­tion of the large barge. Nail bit­ing times!

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