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Springs! And Collars

I had driven 1,000 miles since my engine was rebuilt, in 1992. Most of those twenty-three years the engine had sat, unused, in the chassis, waiting for the body and interior trim restoration to be completed.

I was pleased with the engine and was more concerned with the brakes, interior and suspension. The car started easily and ran quietly. My mechanic always remarked that the engine was quiet. Visitors to his workshop, who were intrigued to see an ‘old’ car, were also impressed by the quiet engine of this ‘Gentleman’s Carriage’.

In February, 2015, returning from a forty mile run, there was a sudden roughness in the engine and I nursed the car home the last two miles wondering if my oil Pressure was down; was the exhaust damaged; was my water pump seized?

I phoned my mechanic and he called to inspect the car in the evening, en route to two other breakdowns. (A good Mechanic is kept busy!) Clint, my non-cowboy mechanic, listened, removed spark plugs and tested cylinder pressure and expressed his initial diagnosis that he would need to return another day and run more tests before he could make a decision.

I knew that Clint was always busy with ‘real’ motorists who needed their cars immediately for work or family. I knew that his next visit could be delayed for weeks rather than days. I phoned the AA.

My AA man listened to the engine and offered to tow the car to my choice of specialist garage where the classic could be checked out and repaired. I phoned the company who had rebuilt the engine and asked for advice. They gave me two phone numbers. One was my mechanic, Clint, the second was the ex-Foreman who had supervised the rebuild of the engine 1990-1992. I phoned Stanley!

Stanley drove the forty miles from his home to see the car that night! I was impressed!
He listened; checked spark and cylinder pressure; then removed the rocker cover to expose the problem. The Number One cylinder had a valve stem sitting down lower than its neighbours. The valve collar had fractured. Were the pieces on top, or was some fragment in the engine?

Stanley matched the pieces and determined that he had recovered everything. The photograph below shows the comparison of an intact collar and two-piece cone (or Collet, as Stanley called it) with the fractured collar, on the right.

CollarsI ordered twelve valve spring collars and pairs of cones from the Stores. Nick had them delivered a few days later and I took them to Stanley for inspection, as there was some surface rust on them.
On Saturday 28 March 2015, Stanley arrived with shining valve collars and an air compressor. I had purchased a valve spring compressor from Amazon for less than £9.00 but Stanley had his home-made Lever which was faster in operation.

The photograph below shows Stanley's adapter in the cylinder two spark plug position ready to support the valve when the spring is removed. The air compressor was connected to each cylinder in turn and the compressed air supported the closed valve when the spring was removed to allow the new collar fitting.

The entire process was approximately two hours long with lots of chat and craic. We were delayed by the discovery of a broken inner spring on cylinder five. This resulted in another order from Nick and a new inner spring was fitted in minutes on 10 April 2015.Engine with VSC

Stanley adjusted the rocker adjusting screws by ‘feel’ and did not use a gauge to set the clearances. The engine started and we watched the oil gently run over the moving springs and rockers until Stanley was satisfied.

I drove the car to Stanley’s workshop on Friday, 01 May 2015, for a complete oil service. He meticulously checked and cleaned the engine oil filter body and eased the spring plate under the filter, he inspected each drain plug for evidence of silt or chipped teeth. (The gearbox drain plug had a sizeable sliver of gear tooth.)

Spring is almost over - Summer is coming.

Posted in Restoration on the 30th July 2015 at 9:01pm.