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 Post subject: Re: 1980 Austin Princess
PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:09 am 
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Posts: 236
My sunblistered nodding tiger got a friend today. I'm now the owner of two lumpen nodding tigers. I'll be repainting the purple one again. The sun through the rear window is pretty fierce, it's bleached the black velour parcel shelf I retrimmed and stripped the original flock off the purple tiger, then stripped the paint I applied! I'm going to have to get a UV tint or something on the rear screen to resolve that so the tigers won't be going back on the parcel shelf until I have. I'd actually love to get a rear window louvre, I've seen TWO on other Princesses and I'm pretty sure they were made by Autoplas as they look that style, but I've been totally unable to find any for sale anywhere.
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The important thing to arrive today was a new speedo cable. It's slightly longer than the one that's fitted to the car but seems otherwise correct. In fact, it seems more correct than the one that broke and given the measurements of it I do wonder if the previous one was actually from a Mini since they're incredibly similar. The important thing is that it works, as I found out on a test drive to the shops tonight.
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I also found out why one of the rear brake lights was out. Somehow the bulb had come out of the holder, so I simply put it back in and all five of my brake lights work properly now. All four running lights, all four indicators, both fog lights, and both reversing lights also work fine. The really exciting arrival today was a rare bit of kit in the form of a 1700 downpipe complete with a flexi-joint that actually flexes and the stay that holds the downpipe steady against the gearbox. I'm REALLY hoping this resolves the blowing exhaust which is properly getting on my wick now. Hoping to get it fitted tomorrow if this cold I've got backs off enough to let me.
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Once that exhaust is fitted, the Princess will be in better shape than she was when she passed her last MoT, at least as far as I can tell, so I'm hoping for a clean sheet this time around. We shall see.


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 Post subject: Re: 1980 Austin Princess
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2017 7:26 pm
Posts: 236
Hey folks, update for you since the last one. It is now my daily driver and we've been chugging about getting some miles on before the MoT later this month. It's been fun getting used to her quirks again and going back to the world of manual chokes and charming gearbox whine. It's quite amazing both how many people completely ignore it and how many people stare, point and smile at it.

The new exhaust was fitted and for the first time in my ownership, the exhaust doesn't blow at all. It was a very strange experience at first, there were lots of little noises I'd never been aware of before.
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The noisiest thing in the cabin now is the blower fan, when it's on, and the whirr of the new speedo cable. Happily the new cable does the trick nicely so I can see how many miles I'm doing and how fast I'm going, which is always useful. The throttle cable that accidentally became the main earth was a little less than smooth to operate so I dug out a spare to replace that. With the old one removed it was clear that the heat of being an earth had warped the cable somewhat.
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With the new one fitted, the throttle response is nice and smooth now and we've had no further earthing issues.
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I then just used the car as much as I could and in doing so, everything has improved. Electrical items are behaving themselves, the heater no longer produces fog now it's dried out properly and the car is always willing to get up and go whenever I ask it to. I've now started fixing things that have always been bypassed in favour of bigger jobs, one of which was an oil leak. After the big clutch work I could finally see where the worst oil leak was really coming from which turned out to be the spade connector in the end of the oil pressure switch. Luckily, these switches are one of the easy things to get and available for less than a fiver delivered. It also takes less than half an hour to fit.

Black one is the new one, already fitted to the adaptor/extender piece that goes into the oil filter housing. This seems to be a solution to prevent having to run a wire around the sharp corner of the block, preventing the wire from chafing through.
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Access is a little fiddly for removal and refitting but after a few miles to test I'm pleased to report there are no leaks from this part now. I can now wait and see if any other leaks materialise, if not then this is the first time in my ownership that this car hasn't leaked oil somewhere.
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If we ever see an end to this winter I'll move on to some cosmetic work.


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 Post subject: Re: 1980 Austin Princess
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:26 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2017 7:26 pm
Posts: 236
MoT's are always a bit scary, especially when it's an older car and one that you've decided to rely on as a daily as I have with this one. I couldn't really find anything amiss so I got in the car to set off in convoy with Mike only to find the dash-mounted cigarette lighter won't power the sat nav, which is a bit odd because it didn't have a problem before. That meant convoying without knowing exactly where I was going and Mike not realising that his fuel injected straight six turbo Supra has just a little better acceleration than my carburettered straight four Princess. The drive out was a teensy bit stressful. As was rediscovering Princess blind spots, made worse because I couldn't take the time I would normally for fear of losing where Mike was going.

We arrived without drama, happily, and the weird chuntery hunting thing the engine has been doing was still happening. One look under the bonnet and Scaryoldcortina noticed that one of the spark plugs was loose! I'd checked this several times and completely missed it, when I went to tighten it up it was only finger tight. Glad we figured out what was causing the chuntering and resolved it before an errant spark plug could cause any damage. Princess went through the MoT first and decided not to play nice with Scary and not let him have gears without a fight, behaved perfectly fine once I got in. This car is a character like that.
Image20180329-01 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

I assumed I'd missed something somewhere really obvious and while I did get a mild ribbing for the Arrowspeed (circa 1992) tyre that's on because the Camac (second hand from a Porsche, of all things) for that corner has a leaking rim, she went and passed with flying colours. I was actually surprised at this, I had expected an advisory on something even though we've only done a couple of hundred miles since the last MoT because of breakages.
Image20180329-02 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

So here's to another year of happy motoring, I hope! On the drive home we did get caught in the sleet and rain, which was less than pleasant, and the whining speedo cable is pretty annoying at motorway speeds. Oh, and the hazard switch celebrated the pass by now not working, so I need to fix that. Clean sheet though! I'm really happy about that, it makes all the hard work feel like it's been rewarded properly.

Had a flash of inspiration and looked in the fuse box. I reckon I've found my issue with the non-operational hazards and cigarette lighter.
Image20180329-03 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: 1980 Austin Princess
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:56 pm 
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Posts: 236
Where were we? Oh yes, I'd just passed the MoT and found a blown fuse. It took a while to find what was causing that. It involved pulling the dashboard out again, something I can practically do in my sleep now.
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No issues were found there, thankfully, in a way. The wiring diagram was shared about, a thing I only barely understand but, it seems, understand better than I thought I did. After pulling out the passenger seat, lifting the carpet, and pulling out the centre console the wiring inside the cabin was given the all clear. Eventually I got as far as the boot and found that the problem was down to the boot light, which has never worked reliably. The switch was intermittently causing a problem when connected, so with that and the light disconnected, normality has been restored.
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More frivolously, the boot badges were refitted. I wasn't sure if I wanted them on there or the smooth rear end and with the fitted, I'm still not sure, so I need to think more about that.
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My seat covers had got really badly sun damaged so I removed those when I reinstalled the interior I'd dismantled. I'll have to acquire or make some suitable covers to protect the seats from sun damage, the rear bench has been treated to a new blanket that seems more UV resistant.
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The next job to sort out is the sagging front doors. The driver's door has been bad all the time I've had it, this year the passenger door has just started to get bad. They both catch on the B pillar, annoyingly.
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To improve that I employed the suggested method of jacking up the doors, the theory being there's some deformation of the door structure allowing it to sag. This did improve the passenger side so it no longer catches the B pillar, but the driver's side was a little more problematic when the jack disappeared up inside the door because of rot along the skin-to-frame section that I can't put off doing now.
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With some fettling of the latch and catch, I got the door to shut without catching the B pillar finally. I did, however, decide that pulling the door off to repair it would be a good idea, I've already done the rear door on the opposite side at the back and this front one needs less work. Handily I do have a spare door from another car, so I pulled the original off. If anyone has a pair of front door upper hinge pins, I'd really appreciate a pair, or just one. All my spares are for the lower hinge, which is a different type.
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The spare door I've got is in quite bad shape. I can repair it, but it needs some difficult repairs. You can't be picky with Princess parts, there's very little available, and it fills the hole which is useful since the Princess is my only car on the road at the moment so I can't very well drive it about with no door on. Even though it's in worse shape, the orange door actually fits better than the original, annoyingly. Just looks terrible.
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 Post subject: Re: 1980 Austin Princess
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:22 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2017 7:26 pm
Posts: 236
With a door now fitted that I don't need to slam a specific way to close, and more miles under the tyres in a month than I did in the whole of the previous year, I've been getting much more confident with the car. It's now at a point where I can get in at any time of day or night, in any weather, and it'll start and get me where I'm going. There's a few old-car niggles like trim rattles and the like, but nothing serious. It's nice to get out in the Princess almost every day, even if I'm not going very far. Now that I'm finally on top of the issues I felt much more confident that I could do some cosmetic improvements. I began by sorting out the beige on the doors and rear wing on the passenger side on that first really nice day of April we had recently.
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It isn't a perfect finish. Perfection can wait. I can't afford a professional paint job but I do have the skills to get a tidy finish at home on my driveway in my budget, so that's the route I'm going. The following day was just as nice so I got on with the bottom half of the same panels. There was quite a bit of unfinished filler work to do on the repaired rear door (I was rushed into finishing this sooner than I wanted, so it was never properly finished) which slowed me down a bit, and there's imperfections if you press your nose to the panel, but from 6' it's fine, which is all I need it to be.
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Paint in the shade of the house, then roll the car down the drive when I'm done so it can bake in the sunshine. Change of colour too from the purple to a nice burgundy to match the redyed carpet and beige better. It's not the conventional way of doing things, I am very aware of that, but I'm at a point now where I just want to see something finished, and having these three panels (four if you count the sill) shiny and uniform is a much bigger boost than knowing I can use the car reliably every day. I've a few defunct trim holes to weld up on the front wing before painting that and then I can pretty much call this side of the car done.
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You'll just have to imagine the whole thing looks like this when I'm finished.
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I'll work around the whole car and paint the bits I can that don't need other work first to get it looking as smart as possible. Then, as I repair things like the bottom of the driver's door, I'll paint those panels too. Hopefully this will be the year I finish the paint off on this car, at least to a reasonably tidy standard. It's not a show car, so I don't need a show car finish.


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 Post subject: Re: 1980 Austin Princess
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:30 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2017 7:26 pm
Posts: 236
Since literally a person asked for more updates, here we go. Since the last update, some more paintwork was done. Aiming for tidy rather than perfect here, but the end result was better than expected.
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Hmmm.... spats? Maybe later.
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Before very long we had one side of the car finished (ignore the C pillar).
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Was pretty happy with that.


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 Post subject: Re: 1980 Austin Princess
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:40 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2017 7:26 pm
Posts: 236
In a repeat of the 1100, it was time to finally deal with the crumpled and rust front wing on the Princess. I couldn't afford the NOS ones that had appeared (£300+), and the second hand ones I'd found were going to be no less work to put right than what I already had. I'm pretty sure this wing has been replaced before, there was a lot of filler on the wing rail, especially at the windscreen end where there was also quite a bit of brazing.
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As with many BMC/BL products, the wings on a Princess are welded on so they're a pain in the bum to replace. I'd spent a long time drilling out spot welds on the spare I salvaged from a car I broke a few years ago and spent an equally long time doing the same on this one. The only place I couldn't do that was where the wing joined the front valance because in part of rust. The plan at the time was to repair the flange on both sides and bolt through so the wing went back on with bolts instead of welding. I'm still in two minds about this, more on that later probably.
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Taking the grinder to the wing side of the join I could leave the valance intact. That also allowed me to knock most of an historic dent out of the valance I couldn't previously get to with the wing in place. To get the wing off, you also have to take the door off so you can access the four bolts on the A pillar. There's about 26 spot welds on the wing rail, several more around the headlight bucket, some where it joins the sill, and some where it joins the valance. With the wing off, the damage sprang back to a more normal shape on the car but not on the wing but that was okay, this wing was basically scrap anyway.
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Of course, I found more rust. The little hole on the inner wing is the blind side of the fuse box so I wasn't aware of it. Just as well the wing was coming off then.
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You can also see the slight deformation of the headlight-to-wing fillet here. Normally you wouldn't split this fillet from the wing, but for the parts I had the work I was doing, it proved useful.
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I then offered up the spare orange wing, which is also little better than scrap but straight and generally only rusty where the original wing is solid, and vice versa. I'm very glad I took the time to salvage it. The fit isn't too bad either, which was a relief.
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 Post subject: Re: 1980 Austin Princess
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:44 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2017 7:26 pm
Posts: 236
With the wing off I could repair the damage to the wing rail, some of which was caused by drilling out spotwelds, some by rust.
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The inner wing hole was repaired. This would have been impossible to do without removing the wing. Not the prettiest repair, but it's solid and never seen when the car is in one piece, so it'll do.
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I then spent ages cleaning off surface rust, several layers of paint, underseal and such on the areas I couldn't get to with the wing in place. Happily, it was all very solid and no further welding was required. It got doused in rust converter to keep things that way.
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I also salvaged the bits I needed from the original wing to repair the orange wing and set those aside ready to build it up when I had time.
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Out of spite, the car broke the welds on one of the bonnet ram captive nuts. Since I'm used to this sort of nonsense with this car I just sighed at it and then welded the nut back on.
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 Post subject: Re: 1980 Austin Princess
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:00 pm 
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Posts: 236
There's a reason I'd been putting off replacing this wing and the reason is that it's a huge job on a car where the wings weld on rather than bolt on. I'm condensing this into a few short posts but in reality it was several days of graft to get it all done and I'm still not finished at the time of writing this. First thing I did next was after the rust converter had done it's thing, scuff it all back down and then paint it all. This highlight just how reasonable this inner wing really is and it was a huge relief to know I wouldn't have to do any work here.
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I then checked alignment on the orange wing. You get an idea of just how many spotwelds you have to take out here. One section on this wing was damaged so that's why there's a bit chopped out. Luckily, that bit is good on the original wing so it can be put back in again.
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Then lots of patch welding. The arch was surprisingly solid, these are terrible for rusting out on Princesses, especially if they've had the factory stainless arch trims installed. I just had to weld up the arch trim holes on the arch, which was a huge relief. The lower corner was salvaged from the original wing but I'm not totally happy with it since it's patches and patches joined together. I haven't the tools and skill to form this shape from scratch and since it's easy to get to with the wing on the car, I'm making the best of what I've got and I'll redo it at a later date more properly.
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Eventually I had the wing as solid as it needed to be to go on the car and the back face of it, and the whole of the inner arch I'd painted, liberally doused in underseal. Rookie error because the next day was very hot and the underseal leaked through the welds I hadn't finished and, therefore, hadn't applied seam sealer to. I was tired so didn't think when I did it, easy enough to go back and fix later. Wing got a reasonable coat of beige just to stop it going rusty and then wait for me to have the time to get the job finished, which I've not had since getting the wing bolted onto the car. Still, it's in better shape than it was, even if it doesn't look that much better at the moment. I just need a free weekend or so to get the job wrapped up properly.
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Because the wing will need to be on and off the car for final fitment, my attention then switched to the original driver's door. My intention was to quickly (ha) repair the door, get it in paint, and get the whole lot back together and looking sharp. First job, strip off SO MUCH PAINT. There must have been five resprays on this door and the only reason there was no filler is that there was so much paint on it you didn't need filler.
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It wasn't really hiding any horrors I wasn't already aware of. The only exception was a blob I'd previously put down to bad paint. It was, in fact, filler. Hiding rust. Same old, same old. It's going to be a fiddly repair, but not impossible. If need be I'll chop the bit I need out of one my spare nearly-scrap doors so at least I have the right shape to put in there.
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Later I chopped an ENORMOUS hole in the bottom of the door...
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...made up my first patch... and ran out of welding gas.
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I haven't had time to revisit this lately but I now have welding gas and everything ready to finish repairs so I'm hoping to get back on this before the month is out.


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 Post subject: Re: 1980 Austin Princess
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:11 pm 
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Posts: 236
Daily driving continued rather than bodywork on the Princess after that initial push. Circumstances can be a little frustrating like that. That didn't mean it didn't want attention. I'd been having no luck finding a Princess specific choke cable and then I noticed that a Mini cable is practically the same, just longer, so I ordered one to try out a theory. The main reason I wanted to do this is that I need to rebuild the carburettor as it's all sorts of janky and the old choke cable stands no chance of going back in if I remove it, as you will see in a moment. First job is to undo the little bolt that clamps the cable in its mechanism.
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Then remove the steering column shroud if you want the new cable to be easier to thread, or don't, if you don't. Just pull the cable through into the cabin of the car then.
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The old cable, to use a technical term, was muntered. It's been like this since I bought the car.
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With both cables side by side I checked everything was correct. Princess cable on the bottom, Mini on the top. The old cable did lock in place better than the Mini one.
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You then just thread it all back in et voila!
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It locks and unlocks as it should, and the light goes on and off when it should. The old cable did have a habit of getting stuck just at the very end of it's unlocked travel which would leave the light on, but not the choke. The new cable doesn't do this.

Another job was sprucing up the faded parcel shelf which I did with the leather from the back of a sofa we got rid of because the cheaply made chipboard frame inside it was knackered. Seriously, these DFS type sofas are rubbish, we couldn't believe how shoddy it was inside when stripping it for useful stuff. Glad it was a hand-me-down and not something we'd spent £1k+ on! Anyway, I digress. The panel off the back of the sofa was made from several sections of leather stitched together and just so happened to be exactly the right size for the Princess parcel shelf. The lines made it look like it belonged in the car too and being leather, it shouldn't fade. New blanket on the back seat to protect the top of it too since the last one I made had been destroyed by the sun coming through the rear screen that behaves like a magnifying glass somehow.
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Then, there was the FTP.
https://youtu.be/mbJAefgntN8


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