A stitch in time saves nine
Ido not cover a high annual mileage in the Stag, and only did about 3000km in the last 12 months, which is less than the 5000km average annual figure in the five years since its restoration. I have always given it a major service on an annual basis around January or February each year where I change the engine oil and filter, along with attending to the other oils, fluids and grease nipples. I flush the radiator and block, refilling with fresh coolant every two or three years, much more frequently than the manufacturer’s recommendations but great for my peace of mind. Other items like air and fuel filters are checked and replaced if required.
This year’s service was a chance to utilise my new four post hoist. Prior to the work, I had fabricated a jacking beam to fit this, using five pieces of 50mm x 50mm RHS that I had laying around. They were welded side by side and their ends welded to steel angle so they stretched between the hoist runways. I fitted polyurethane pads under the angle where they contact the runway so that the beam moves freely without scratching the runway coating.
This beam also proved very useful for holding the oil drain tray close to the sump, allowing me to complete a spill-free oil drain. Whilst the car was in the air, I also checked the oil level in the differential and greased all the nipples and lubricated items like the handbrake cable.
The space between the outer ends of the subframe arms and floor was measured, as was the distance between the floor and differential front housing, so I could compare with the car that has now been fitted with the Ford differential (as detailed in the May issue). That car now has excessive rear wheel camber, and I suspect this is caused by the position of the nose on the Ford differential, which is lower and so causing the subframe arms to be at an incorrect angle.
After my car was lowered, I refilled the sump with Penrite HPR 30 oil, adding four litres initially, then topping up to the dipstick ‘full’ mark. I removed all eight spark plugs, and with the feed to the coil disconnected, span the engine over on the starter motor until I had oil pressure. Then, after waiting a few seconds for the pressure to zero, I span the engine again to ensured that the oil galleries were full and the oil had been circulated to all parts of the engine. The spark plugs were examined, and the colour appeared good. They were cleaned with a small wire brush, the gaps checked and refitted. As I have a Bosch electronic distributor, there was no need to check any points.
The oil level in the Stromberg dash pots was topped up as required, then after refitting the spark plugs and reconnecting the plug leads and coil, the engine was started. After checking oil pressure and allowing it to run for a few minutes, I could push the choke in and got out to check for any oil leaks from the filter or sump plug. I could then hear an unusual clicking or ticking noise coming from the front of the engine, the frequency increasing with engine revs. My initial
reaction was that it was from an alternator or hydraulic pump vee belt or bearing. Checking the power steering pump vee belt from above both visually and by feel appeared to confirm this belt was fine, but it was difficult to see the alternator belt, even with a torch to illuminate the area, as the small gap between the engine and the radiator prevented me from getting a clear view. However, after feeling around the belt, I could detect a small section on the outside of it that appeared to be damaged.
This is the worst belt to replace as it is on the inside of the power steering pump belt. The power steering pump had to be removed to get its belt off, then after raising the car the alternator was loosened from below and that belt removed. Sure enough, a section of rubber on the outside had broken away, exposing the belt reinforcing strands. When
I rebuilt the car, I fitted an internally cogged belt, but found it difficult to stop this slipping because the aftermarket higher output alternator has a small diameter pressed steel pulley. I thought initially that I might have to replace the pulley with one manufactured in cast iron, but then I found that fitting a Dayco externally cogged vee belt solved the problem – until now, so it lasted about six years. I was unable to obtain a replacement Dayco belt locally on short delivery, so purchased another make of externally cogged belt, along with a replacement steering pump belt so that both belts are new. The alternator belt has been fine so far, but I have ordered two new Dayco belts for my inventory, just in case it starts to slip.
As I am still not completely happy with the Stag’s brakes, checking the manifold vacuum indicated around 15in mercury, depending upon engine speed. I had been discussing an electric brake vacuum pump which a friend had fitted, and that was producing in excess of 20in, so I decided to make a similar change. A pump was purchased on the internet that when checked gave over 22in of vacuum. However, after fitting a vacuum switch, the maximum was reduced to 18in. That was still a 20% improvement over the manifold vacuum, so I hoped it would reduce pedal pressure by a similar amount.
In order to position the vacuum pump close to the master cylinder, I had to relocate the oil catch tank to the passenger side of the vehicle. The vacuum pump was piped up with an inline check valve and switch, electric power coming from a circuit that was energised from the ignition switch and then wired through the vacuum switch to the pump. I had to turn up an aluminium distance piece so I could blank off the manifold vacuum connection with the original bolt from the banjo fitting. This has given slightly reduced pedal pressure, with the vacuum pump running for a few seconds after each brake application. I now have to see how much I notice it under normal driving conditions.