Now the restoration (or, to be more exact, reassembly) started.
One initial decision involved the driver's door; the PO had been
part-way through fitting electric windows before he died and I had to decide
whether to continue with this or revert to manual. I decided the latter;
it was more original, was one less thing to go wrong and saved a (little!)
bit of weight. But removing the power window driver was easier said
The major task was to get the engine complete again. Found and refitted
the two SUs, inlet manifold, air cleaner and also a new air cleaner element.
Bought a new battery, replaced some fairly ropey aftermarket wiring and fitted the two braces going over the engine bay
. Finally came the big day to fit the bonnet
and that lovely grille
I also reassembled the centre console and started on other parts of the
interior, and replaced perished seals on the fuel tank drain plugs and the
One problem was a musty smell that wouldn't go away. I'd found the
odd mouse dropping inside the car, so pulled the rear seat out and then the
carpets when I found that it must have been a favourite mouse house during
its long lay-up, a cosy haven during those cold Southern Highlands winters.
Apart from masses more mouse droppings I found two mummified mice!!!
At least I now knew I had a cat that could kill mice! Kermit
smelt much better after that.
Decided to change the oil before
attempting to start the engine. Easier said than done; the 420 sump
has the drain plug on the side! I wanted to drain the car on the level,
so did not want to jack it up. Ended up having to assemble a c. 1
metre long series of extensions on my 1/2 inch ratchet to undo it! The
car has an eight litre sump. I put what I thought was my eight litre
oil try under it. Next morning I found that I'd actually put my six
litre tray underneath, and the other two litres had spread over the garage
floor. Exxon Valdiz comes to suburban Canberra! Eventually I cleaned
the mess up with Sue's assistance, but the evidence is still there.
Came the big day that the car appeared to be ready to start, after replacing
the worn rotor button, fitting new plugs and leads and training myself in
the long-forgotten art of setting up a contact-point-based ignition. Noticed
when I was replacing the leads that the connections to the distributor appeared
to be one cylinder out so I connected them to what should have been the correct
lobes. Poured 20 litres of petrol between the tanks, turned the ignition
switch, and .... nothing happened! The engine cranked over and that was all. No petrol was reaching the engine...
Next job was to remove the two SU fuel pumps. For those who haven't
come across them, these infamous devices are an electric diaphragm pump
used in many British cars in the past and notorious for suddenly stopping
working. Fortunately these two only needed cleaning and adjustment
before they worked. Trickier was finding a means of mounting them;
the original orange rubber mounts had largely disintegrated with age. After
drawing a blank locally trying to find suitably dense rubber a Jag specialist
I contacted in Sydney suggested using a pair of Series III fuel pump mounts
either side, so I got them to send some down. And they work!
now I had the characteristic chatter of an SU fuel pump for the first couple
of seconds after turning the ignition on. Time to try starting again,
and still no go. Karl came around to help, and found that the engine
could indeed be made to fire but was massively over-advanced. I decided
I had to check the ignition timing from scratch. To do this I needed
to be able to turn the engine over manually, via the bolt on the harmonic
balancer. There are two sizes of Jaguar XK engine harmonic balancer
bolts: 1 1/4 inch and 1 5/16 inch. The former (and its 32 mm
metric equivalent) are readily available and cheap. Guess which size
my engine had! Having exhausted all nearby car parts places, a search
for 1 5/16 tools led to a special order for a 3/4 inch drive socket of that
size from Belconnen Metal Centre. Too bad; it didn't fit between the
engine and radiator when I fitted a 3/4 inch adaptor to my 1/2 inch drive
ratchet. Next try was Canberra tool specialists Fisher Discounts the
other side of town in Fyshwick, who had a suitable goose-neck-type double-ended
spanner off-the-shelf. That was the good news; the bad news was it
cost over $50 (on special!) but I didn't have much of a choice.
was at last able to test the timing. Removed number 6 plug (the front
one on a Jag six!), dropped a wooden dowel down it, and rotated the crank
until the mark on the harmonic balancer was in the right place. And
the dowel was way down! Kept turning, and turning, and turning, and
eventually the dowel came to TDC 120 degrees after the timing mark!!! At
the time it was a total mystery, but later Dunsters told me that being a
420 block the timing mark was on the bottom of the block, not on the side
as in XJ6 engines. All is explained...
The result was that all the ignition leads were precisely one cylinder out.
Corrected that, then tried to start it again. The odd cough
and splutter, but no start. Bought some Aerostart; still not quite
there. Karl came around one evening, and we jointly set to work. After
some time the engine finally started with a metallic clang and Karl saying
(the event is immortalised on video) "What the f*** was that?!". We
switched off, then took ages to get it to start again, and finally away
she went. After running for some minutes we shut the engine down.
Kermit had come back to life... (although I'm not sure which of his nine lives this one was!)
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