1980 Austin Princess
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Author: [ Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1980 Austin Princess

oh, in that case you need a bottle of 'reverse water'


Author:  Vulgalour [ Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 1980 Austin Princess

I'll put it on my shopping list along with those skyhooks, metal planks of wood, and the bucket of steam I keep meaning to get. Oh, should probably get a round tuit while I think on ;)


Today has been the longest day ever. It was so long Mike ordered pizza to enjoy at the unit instead of going home and cooking food and it's STILL not finished. Most of the jobs remaining I could do myself but Mike's help was invaluable faffing about with the engine mounts. With those secured I could work my way through the many items still to fiddle about with and get reinstated.
Image20180125-01 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

I removed, cleaned and repainted the clutch slave cylinder before fitting it with a cable tie for the rubber boot since it didn't have one when we removed it. I haven't been able to find a gaiter the right size, I got close with some tractor parts, but not quite close enough to actually fit in the hole so I'm using the old one for now, turned around so the better looking side is to the top since it's too fragile to even clean. I also removed, cleaned out and repainted the oil catch can/breather and replaced the pipe that runs from it to the carburettor since the pipe was completely blocked.
Image20180125-02 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

The original air box - which I'd refreshed a year or two ago and still looked fine - was reinstalled along with some salvaged ducting, I'll be replacing the ducting with new eventually. Also refitted the cam cover and bracket and improvised some grommets so it doesn't rattle. I've been unable to find any of the original conical shaped grommets in the size I need for this so I'm hoping my improvised approach is sturdy enough to last a while. Carburettor, heatshield and cables all reinstated. Rotor arm and distributor cap refitted. Oil dipstick cleaned of yet more brush paint too.
Image20180125-03 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

There was a little hiccup when installing the battery when the thread on one of the clamp rods stripped. Luckily I had a spare, unluckily that was destined for the 1100 so I'll have to source another clamp rod for the 1100 now. Did my best with the wiring around the battery, none of which is attractive, and added a band of electrical tape to the coil so it actually fits the clamp properly now. Plug leads aren't plugged in yet, that's a job for next time. Popped the front wheel covers back on too, they were taken off when we thought we might have to remove the driveshafts.
Image20180125-04 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Image20180125-05 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Image20180125-06 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

With the engine bay all tidy, got the plastics reinstalled and that was it for today. Doesn't sound like a lot but because of all the up-and-down and fighting with bolts and all that, I invested about 6 hours work in this today. The engine bay looks pleasantly complete now. The indicators need new bullet connectors, the gear selector rod seal needs replacing, the oil pressure sender needs resealing and then it can be filled with oil and water, tested for leaks, and fired up once all is good.

Author:  Costafortune [ Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1980 Austin Princess

The transverse B and O series units really did have beefy drop gears!

It was a very well engineered installation really, and caused very little trouble compared to the Mini.

Author:  Vulgalour [ Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 1980 Austin Princess

I've never heard of anyone killing one of these gearboxes, they seem to be pretty robust things.


Today should have been a simple case of a couple of minor jobs, fresh fluids, and a test drive.  Easy peasy, right?  WRONG.
Let's start with the good updates, we can get onto the frustration later.  I bought a replacement air compressor since my old Italian one stopped working for reasons unknown.  We thought it might be the brushes and while they're worn, they're not failing to do their job.  Doesn't matter what you do with it, it's like the compressor can't put enough air out to make more than a pathetic dudududu noise and the tiniest of squeaks from the horns.  Luckily, you can take the whole thing apart so I'll do a full inspection on this at some point.  For now, I ordered a cheap compressor online and now have working horns again at least.  Mike also redid the indicator connectors and I did a bit more wire tidying with some loom tape, so that's good too.  Here's the inside of the Italian compressor from the top, there's two bolts underneath that release the base plate which should allow me to check out the motor internals/windings which I  planned to do today, but the Princess had other ideas about my time management.
Image20180128-01 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
The other small successful job was removing, cleaning and thread-locking the oil pressure switch.  I still suspect this is leaking out of the plastic bit that the spade connector goes in, now everything is clean I should learn whether or not it is pretty quickly.  If it does leak where I think it is, I'll try sealing it up with some suitable sealant first and if that doesn't work I'll get a replacement.  It's quite difficult to remove and refit without taking belts and pulleys off, but you can do it with a little patience and an old fashioned spanner.
Image20180128-02 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
With all the small engine bay jobs now done, attention could turn to the last really big job, which was the gearbox selector rod seal.  You have to remove the lower stay bar (big black one running the width of the car in the following picture) for the best access and then undo the nut and bolt holding the gear selector stay rod.
Image20180128-03 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
Push the little rubber caterpillar back and you've got two roll pins to knock out of the gear selector rod bush, one running horizontally that you can see here, and one running vertically that you can't.  Both come out fairly easily.
Image20180128-04 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
Image20180128-05 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
That allows you to unbolt the gear selector box which is just two nuts on the bobbins under the gear lever, unplug the reverse light switch wires and lower the whole assembly out of the car.  Pretty painless procedure really.
Image20180128-06 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
In the gearbox side you can see the black seal that needs replacing.  These are exactly the same as those available for the classic Mini, plentiful and cheap.  The kits you get sometimes come with a metal bush and a rubber caterpillar but neither is suitable for the Princess, you only need the small black O seal providing your caterpillar is in reasonable condition.
Image20180128-07 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
The old seal in mine was very hard and leaking and one of the main causes of oil drops under the car.  Yet another job I've been putting off for years since it has to be done in tandem with an oil change and there's always been lots of other jobs ahead of it on the list.
Image20180128-08 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
Princess caterpillar on the left and Mini on the right.  The overall diameter of the Mini one is too small to go over the Princess selector rod bush.
Image20180128-09 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
Normally, you'd pull the old seal out, push the new one in, bolt everything up and you're done.  However, Mike was convinced we needed to inspect a bush (that doesn't actually exist, so I'm not sure what bush he was thinking of) and we ended up taking the end plate off which, normally, would be unnecessary.  In this instance it highlighted a problem I never knew I had!  Behind the end plate are your gear selector fingers/butterflies.  Part of the assembly is a rod that the selector rod bush goes over, connecting your gearbox to your gear lever, effectively.  I'm not describing this very well, I'm aware, it's been a LONG day.  Anyway, that rod that operates the fingers/butterflies also keeps a top-hat shaped pin in place which is quite important and prevents the selector rod just coming out.  You insert the top hat through the hole and then the rod to lock it all together.  When we pulled this out, the top hat was inserted from the other side with nothing locking it in place, how it never fell out is a mystery.  Luckily the manual highlighted the issue and we could rectify it and I now have a better understanding of why the gear selection makes the very specific noise it does because I've seen inside the gearbox a little more.  Top hat indicated here with a blue arrow.
Image20180128-10 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
From the outside you can see the round peg hole that the top hat sits in.  It's now impossible to move the selector rod too far and, incidentally, the gear selection itself seems less vague... though still vague-ish because Princess.  One thing I do have now is a more definite Neutral zone in the gear selection and less of a pudding stirrer.
Image20180128-11 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
With all those bits sorted, gasket material cleaned off and new gunk applied you can bolt it all back together and jobs a good un.
Image20180128-12 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr
After that was all done we filled up with oil and water, nothing leaked out, and we fought with the exhaust for far too long.  The exhaust on this car is a NIGHTMARE.  It's so bad that when it starts blowing at the manifold joint I just leave it because the design is so bad it usually leaks worse when you try and fix it.  Now why, you might be wondering, was the exhaust off?  Well, when that little gearbox selector end plate thingy was  removed, to sort out the problem we had to remove the exhaust to sort it out, because access is impossible otherwise.  That meant the dreaded job of disconnecting the manifold-to-downpipe join.
The exhaust seemed, as it pretty much always does, to change shape for the brief time it was off the car and no amount of fighting, swearing or cajoling would see it sitting comfortably.  We just about got it lined up and when the car was fired up found it was blowing the worst it ever has.  That's because one clamp had completely missed the downpipe flange, something you can't readily see because of the unique way in which this exhaust system is arranged, and now it all has to come off again to be redone.  That wasn't a problem, I have no qualms about driving the car home with only half the exhaust attached since I know this can be sorted on the drive at home at my leisure.
Fine, one problem isn't a big deal.  We seem to have no leaks, electrics seem to be working, car starts and runs happily (if noisily) so let's take it for a test run into the yard once we've bled the clutch hydraulics.  That went well ... a little too well perhaps... go for a gear *PAINFUL GRINDING NOISES*.  Bugger.  Furiously pump the clutch pedal and try again *LESS PAINFUL GRINDING NOISES*.  Double bugger.
At that point I was done.  Because of the stupid exhaust and the extra gearbox fault to fix Mike and I were there for getting on 7 hours today and we'd both had enough.  Ideally I'd like to throw a new clutch master cylinder, slave cylinder and clutch hose at this but my Google-fu is weak tonight and all I've really been able to find are rebuild kits and classic Mini slave cylinders that look similar to what's fitted.  I'll try again another day.
In closing, since the MoT in April I've managed to drive a grand total of 196 miles in this car.  What an almost-year it has been.

Author:  Vulgalour [ Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1980 Austin Princess

Managed to not have something to break today. I've been looking, without success, for a design of mirrors that was both period and a very particular design. In the meantime I've been using the black wing mirrors because nothing else has been as good or made me as happy. Those black wing mirrors have been a love-hate thing so I know some of you will be glad to see them gone and some will be disappointed. I found the new mirrors while I wasn't even looking for any, fairly cheaply, and in the right sort of condition for the rest of the car. They arrived today so I wombled over to the unit to see if they fit the way I hoped they would.

Mike was there, which proved useful when taking off the black mirrors and dismantling the replacement mirrors so a couple of grub screws could be replaced with small bolts. The new mirrors are a clamp fitting and are clamped to the door frame, but the grub screws were inaccessible because of the way the door frame is constructed. A bolt allows you to use a spanner to tighten up the clamp brackets. The new mirrors are also quite subtle.
Image20180131-01 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

I quite like these new mirrors, they're not too blingy and don't look too out of place. They're also a lot bigger than the original Tex mirrors the car came with and slightly larger than the black wing mirrors so they offer reasonable visibility.
Image20180131-02 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Image20180131-03 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Having the mirrors on the door frames instead of the gutters does have the benefit of hiding the clamps and fixings from view. They're produced by Stadium.

Author:  Vulgalour [ Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1980 Austin Princess

Let's have another crack at these clutch hydraulics. First thing we did was take the slave cylinder off again to inspect it. Immediately noticeable was that the piston was stuck, so that wouldn't be helping matters, and there was some obvious gunge around the the piston. No corrosion to speak of, it just look really dirty. The seal was still nice and pliable and the spring was still in good shape too.
Image20180202-01 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Using the tiniest soft wire brush in the dremel-a-like, the bore was cleaned of all the crud. Don't worry, we didn't leave those stray wires in there. Everything was then washed through with thinners to clean out any swarf and debris and then brake fluid. Piston etc. was lubricated with brake fluid and popped back into place too and full movement of the piston was restored. Bench tested and it looked to be doing exactly what it should.
Image20180202-02 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Put it back on the car, bled the system through until no air came out and the pedal stopped feeling floppy and tried again. Some grindy noises and no gear selection. We then rebled the system using the MG B method of furiously pumping the pedal and holding it as you bleed, this evicted some air and the gear selection was marginally improved. Because we couldn't improve it further we employed the low-pressure vacuum bleeder which highlighted there was absolutely no air in the system at all and didn't improve the pedal feel.

If you depress the clutch pedal as normal, it won't select gears, it comes close but can't quite manage it. If you instead furiously pump the clutch pedal, you can get gears. Since the slave cylinder appears to be clean and in good order, the next thought would be an internally collapsed clutch hose (new one ordered as of tonight) or potentially master cylinder failure. It's like the system has a restriction on fluid flow somewhere, which would point at the clutch hose being at fault, I expect. Now I just play the potentially expensive game of replacing clutch hydraulic components until we find out which one has actually failed, with luck it will be the £7 pipe I've ordered.

If I'm unlucky, I'll need a new slave and master cylinder, those aren't cheap and are difficult to find. The only master I've found is listed with Past Parts as a Dodge 50 item on a repair-and-return basis and is about £120. The only slave cylinder I've found is listed for an Austin Westminster and is £160. The slave seems difficult to find but the master looks like it was also used in the Allegro, I've yet to find any suitable rebuild kits or parts listed accordingly, nor any for the Ambassador. If it were a 2200, parts would be much easier to acquire, they're more plentiful for some reason.

This is the master, the bolts to the bulkhead are in line with the reservoir so I can't use the similar looking MG item which has an offset flange.
Image20180202-03 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

The slave is a particular design, it's larger than the ADO16/Mini one and different to just about every other BMC/BL offering.
Image20180202-05 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

The hose seems Princess specific, though it may also be the same as the 4ltr Princess R.
Image20180202-04 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Author:  Seamist Green 1100 [ Mon Feb 05, 2018 4:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 1980 Austin Princess

Most seals are usually quite generic. If you can get onto a good brake specialist they will probably have them on the shelf.
Flex hoses can often be made by a hydraulic service.

A friend in America is working on an early 70s Ferrari and the quote for genuine hoses was through the roof but he got a local place to make them for about $40 each instead of $160 each.

Author:  Vulgalour [ Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1980 Austin Princess

Trouble is, I've found a few things on the Princess that should be generic sizes, aren't. It gets to be a bit of a headache now I'm getting into more unusual problems and being faced with a lack of parts supply.


I tried the cheapest, easiest solution first of wedging the clutch pedal down overnight (actually nearer 24 hours in this instance) and then attempting to bleed the system. The net result of this is that no air came out and the pedal feel was not improved over previous bleeding attempts in the slightest. That's a disappointment, I was hopeful this would work given the reports of success of this method. I didn't attempt a reverse bleed as I don't have suitable hose to do so.
Image20180210-01 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Move on to the clutch hose next then since I had a new one that did look identical to mine and was listed as "Princess 1975-1982". Apparently, it's not suitable for this Princess, it's too short to reach the connecting points. Furthermore, I haven't the materials in stock to extend the clutch hard line or the bracket that holds the clutch pipe and hose in place so this was a no go.
Image20180210-02 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

On a slightly optimistic note, air flow through the old pipe is partially obstructed by something and fluid flow is very poor. This hints that perhaps it is just the hose that's failed and is the root of the bleed issues. I'll see if my local Pirtek can make me a new one, it shouldn't be hideously expensive providing the end fittings are standard sizes since it's a fairly low pressure pipe this time and quite small. If a new pipe doesn't resolve the issue then it'll be time to take off and inspect the master cylinder for failed seals and if that doesn't appear to be the problem then I don't know what I'm supposed to do.

Yes, it is baffling that this is becoming such a difficult problem. Yes, it is frustrating. Yes, I am annoyed by this car.

Author:  Seamist Green 1100 [ Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 1980 Austin Princess

Just think, the brake hoses are probably the same age as the clutch hose....

Author:  Vulgalour [ Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1980 Austin Princess

Quite probably... but they seem okay at the moment. I do have spares and have inspected the hoses and *touch wood* no problems there. Let's not go looking for problems :lol:



The new clutch hose arrived, this time longer than the original by about the same difference as the last one I bought was shorter. Very odd.
Image20180216-01 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Too long is less of a problem than too short at least so I got that fitted and Mike and I bled the clutch hydraulics.
Image20180216-02 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Initial signs were very promising with a much better feeling clutch pedal this time around. Started up the car and.... GEARS! Hooray. I then found out just how worn out my old clutch was because on trying to set off I instantly stalled the car. The blowing exhaust wasn't helping that much there either, I'm sure. Next was to noisily pilot it into the unit to see if we could improve the exhaust situation. Mike cracked on with that while I did some other jobs.
Image20180216-03 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

To save the old wing mirror holes from snagging on cleaning cloths and clothes and anything else, I fitted some little rubber grommets. I'll weld these holes up eventually, for now this will do.
Image20180216-04 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

The trim under the glovebox was finally secured. I don't have any of the relevant fixings in stock at the moment so I improvised with some tiny black cable ties, again for the short term. It works, looks tidy, and makes the parcel shelf accessible again.
Image20180216-05 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Image20180216-06 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Trimmed down the bolts for the door mirrors so they sit more securely. They're not bad to drive on, as it happens, the driver's side mirror has a magnifying mirror and they give a reasonable field of vision.
Image20180216-07 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

The exhaust decided it didn't want to stop blowing at all. We got one side sealed for a few minutes, and then it just started blowing again. I'm giving this job to somebody else to do who I will give money because tbqh I've done faffing about with this stupid design, it's never sealed properly for very long in all the years I've owned it and it's an absolute chore to resolve. Giving it to someone who does exhausts all day for a living will hopefully seal it better. I suspect the exhaust is a cheap aftermarket one that doesn't really fit properly because even by Princess standards mine has been appallingly bad for continuing to blow at the manifold-to-downpipe join.

That aside, the drive home was noisy but actually a bit of a revelation. The clutch change has utterly transformed the way the car performs, there's no longer that awkward balancing act when setting off, good progression through the gears and a generally more responsive car off the line even with a badly blowing exhaust. In fact, it's such an improvement I was nearly caught out when I forgot that it's not the Rover and has no power steering, poorer brakes and is, generally, a bigger and older machine. In some ways, I wish I'd done the clutch change when I first got the car, it's clearly needed doing for my entire ownership of the car.
Image20180216-08 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Now just to work through the light bulb niggles and book the car in to get the exhaust sorted out by someone else. It felt good to actually drive the car again, allbeit only for a few short miles.

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