The Old Lady

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Vulgalour
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Re: The Old Lady

#31 Post by Vulgalour » Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:06 am

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.
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Vulgalour
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Re: The Old Lady

#32 Post by Vulgalour » Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:05 am

Good news!

This is now my daily driver. I'll do a more detailed update later.
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Re: The Old Lady

#33 Post by Vulgalour » Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:43 pm

Proper update time then. We got that new exhaust piece fitted and what a revelation! It needed a bit of a trim at the end that slots into the central slip joint under the car, but other than that it dropped into place like it was made to fit, which if you'll remember the old one absolutely didn't!
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Found and retrieved the remains of the old exhaust downpipe stay, long since snapped off in the past. We fabricated a new one out of a piece of bent steel to join the C-clamp on the new exhaust to the old stay's location. This prevents the exhaust moving independently of the engine and makes sure, in theory, that the manifold-to-downpipe joint doesn't break.
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The really astonishing thing after doing this was just how quiet the car was! The loudest thing in the cabin was the speedo cable whirring and the blower fans. Apart from a minor hiccup where I had to plug the speedo cable back in because I hadn't quite got it the first time and it came unseated, the car has behaved impeccably well. So well, in fact, that it's now my daily driver so that I can deal with any potential MoT problems before it goes in at the end of this month. It was a little chuntery on occasion but having put fresh fuel in and driven it a bit, that's gone away, so I suspect stale fuel was the cause of that.

That meant I could just use the car and any jobs I did were ones I was looking for that were non-vital. There's a minor oil leak definitely coming from the end of the oil pressure switch, so I've ordered a new one of those to resolve that. Otherwise, the only other oil leak I have is a minor weep from the distributor O-ring, which is pretty normal and a nuisance to resolve. The throttle cable that pretended to be an earth strap worked okay, but certainly had a couple of spots along its length that meant some speeds the pedal got a tiny bit stiffer. It didn't stop the car being driven safely or anything like that, I just didn't like it feeling like that. On removal, it was clear that the heat through the cable had warped it out of shape which was causing a not-entirely-smooth operation. I replaced it with a new one and the throttle is lovely and responsive and smooth now.
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Other than that, she's been out at all times of day in all weathers and not put a foot wrong. It's taken a little getting used to manual choke and waiting for things to warm up after being cosetted for so long with the Rover's luxuries and I can't always find the manual window winder on my first grab for it. Other than that, it's just been really good at being a car and being there when I need to use it. Now, if it would just stop snowing...

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Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Vulgalour
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Re: The Old Lady

#34 Post by Vulgalour » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:27 pm

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
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Re: The Old Lady

#35 Post by Vulgalour » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:22 pm

Been a while since I updated here. Since the MoT I've just been using the Princess pretty much every day while the Rover waits its turn. There hasn't been space at the unit to get on with the Rover interior swap and upgrade so I've been focusing on anything else I can do instead. The blowing fuse issue in the Princess turned out to be an iffy boot light switch and/or boot light, with those disconnected the problem is fixed. You can't really notice any difference in boot illumination with the light disconnected anyway, it's pretty poor and on my upgrades list for when I do the custom boot trim panels.

Of course, I didn't find out that it was the boot light until I'd pulled the passenger seat out, lifted the carpet and removed the dashboard. I can remove and refit Princess dashboards at the Olympic level now.
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The boot badges went back on, which would prove to be a mistake (more on that later). After finding the cause of the fuse blowing, the interior was put back together too. No radio at present, I'm still working towards the best solution for something hidding and modern, I'm nearly there with that now, I think. It'll mean taking the dashboard out again, so I'm in no rush.
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Managed to put the jack through the bottom of my drivers door because what I thought was tender was actually rotten. It's normal for Princesses (and most cars of the era, in fact) to go right where the outer skin folds over the inner frame and mine was no exception. Luckily, I have a spare which is in terrible condition but just good enough to work as a door and keep the weather out. This will allow me to repair my original door without taking the car off the road.
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When we had that really nice weather recently, I had a go at a driveway sprayjob. This turned out better than anticipated, especially since I'm just using Rustoleum rattlecans.
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Not going for perfect, just going for smart. This car has been an ugly patchwork for so long it's started to get me down. I like cars with character, with patina, but this car was looking like a mess and not at all what I wanted. It should look like it's been cared for and while it has some lumps and bumps (who doesn't as they approach 40?) it's overall a cherished old thing. Today I had time to finish off the boot lid and front wing to this same smart standard. A few trim holes to weld in the front wing before a little filler to deal with the worst of the imperfections, and then paint.
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I'm loads happier with that. What's more, now the paint is shiny I can wipe the bird poo off easier. Sodding birds.
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Re: The Old Lady

#36 Post by ROVER-25X » Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:21 am

Looks good in red. :D
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Re: The Old Lady

#37 Post by Vulgalour » Fri Apr 27, 2018 10:09 pm

It's like the upside-down antique version of the Rover now.
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Re: The Old Lady

#38 Post by Vulgalour » Tue May 22, 2018 9:50 pm

I've been driving this every day, pretty much, and it's been keeping me from sorting the Rover out since it needs considerably more time spent to get the last of the welding done before I move house later this year. I decided the Rover can wait in the meantime since the work on that is less involved and less messy, for the most part, and while it's off the road it's saving me money. I'm actually really enjoying dailying the Princess, as I always have in the past, it's just irritating to be working through a few old car niggles that come with age. Nothing insurmountable, I trust it on the motorway so it can't be that scary, and I've now covered more miles in the last 2 months than I have in the whole of the year preceding, so that's an achievement.

One job I'd struggle to do after the house move until I'm set up was dealing with the mangled front wing. New wings are hard to get hold of and when they do appear, they're expensive, like FORD expensive, so I would have to make use of what I've got. Removing the old one was a case of drilling out a lot of spotwelds and a little bit of angle grinding.
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That then highlighted a rust hole I didn't know about.
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The spare wing I salvaged off an orange car I had a few years ago - and which I was told was too rotten to be of use - was then offered up and found to fit very well.
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There then followed a lot of cleaning up of the inner arch, welding of the rusty hole, rust treating... bluh, messy horrible work.
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I also had to salvage what I could from the mangled wing I removed to repair the replacement wing.
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Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Vulgalour
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Re: The Old Lady

#39 Post by Vulgalour » Tue May 22, 2018 10:04 pm

Amazingly, the arch on the orange wing was in really good shape. These are terrible for rotting out usually, so I was happy I only had to weld up a few trim holes from the factory chrome arch trim that won't be going back on. So with that ready to go it was a case of getting some fresh paint on the inner arch bits I'd sorted, namely all the areas I couldn't get to with the wing attached. This was also given a coat of underseal after the paint had cured.
Image20180504-01 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

I'd also have to repair the wing rail on the spare wing. They're held on with four bolts and about 30 spotwelds originally and my intention was to refit the wing as a bolt-on panel, something that I'm reconsidering because of some aesthetic considerations and the difficulty of securing the wing to the lower valance tidily.
Image20180504-02 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

After a while, I'd got the repair pieces welded in. Not my best work, but it's solid and presentable and nothing some grinder and filler work can't fix.
Image20180504-05 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Image20180507-01 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

I had some issues with alignment on the wing when I fitted the front door back on so I need to pull it off and fiddle with that, which means pulling the door off again... this is a chore and my spare door needs repairing so I turned my attention to repairing that before realigning and finishing the repair work on the wing. Normally, I'd just pull both panels off and fix them together but since the Princess is my only road legal car at the moment, I have to do it this more awkward way. So, let's get the paint off the door, the paint that's so thick no filler was required. This was a horrible job. It's not in terrible shape but it does need a lot of work, fairly normal for 70s car doors really. The historic repair is actually done quite well so I've left that alone, it's not perfect but you can't see it when the door card is on and the door is on the car, so it's fine.
Image20180516-01 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Image20180516-05 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

The only filler of note in the door was hiding some rust below the latch. Fiddly to repair, but not impossible.
Image20180516-06 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

I then chopped a HUGE hole out of the bottom of the door so I could let in some new metal and then promptly ran out of gas part way through the repair, so I'm now waiting on a gas bottle refill to happen this week before I can continue.
Image20180518-03 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr

Image20180518-04 by Angyl Roper, on Flickr


That's why I've been doing nothing on the Rover. The wing and door are the last of the big welding jobs on the Princess, after this there's a couple of small pieces for the lower rear wings, one rear door corner, and the new light buckets to go in for the new Ford Galaxie lights I've acquired. As soon as the wing and door are finished I can get on with sorting the Rover out properly instead. I'd like the Rover back on the road before I sort out the new rear lights on the Princess since that's a job that ideally the Princess needs to come off the road for a few days to complete nicely. Got to have both these cars wrapped up and ready to drive themselves to the new house by September at the latest.
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Re: The Old Lady

#40 Post by ROVER-25X » Wed May 23, 2018 2:41 am

Good old tin worm battle won there mate ! :clapping
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Re: The Old Lady

#41 Post by Vulgalour » Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:54 am

Got some gas, then my back was bad for no reason, as it is sometimes, so the welding hasn't progressed. I did have a little moment of drama, so here's a little video.

https://youtu.be/mbJAefgntN8
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Vulgalour
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Re: The Old Lady

#42 Post by Vulgalour » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:06 pm

Wow, I've not been updating here for a while, things have been pretty hectic. Princess has been in daily use bumbling about doing regular car stuff, frustrating me with a few issues, but mostly just being okay. Certainly not bored of it yet. I got the door repaired and back on the car. Got the wing done too. It was a horrible job to get it all sorted.

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Replaced the old choke cable by pulling out the inner cable from a classic Mini new part and threading it back into the Princess' old sheath. This worked acceptably well. Looks factory and operates as it should.
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Retrimmed the parcel shelf with the leather I salvaged from the back of a sofa we threw out. Just so happened that the piece was exactly the right size and now it's done, it doesn't look like I've done anything. Certainly an improvement over the faded velvet from my last retrim.
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Hit this little milestone.
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Then let down the suspension on purpose for once so I could replace the rubber bumpstop that had fallen off some time ago. This improved the ride a smidge and got rid of an annoying knock from the back end.
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Spent some time faffing with panel gaps and edges and got the front wing to be acceptable for a BL car. Had to faff with the trailing edge of the front wing which was about 1mm too long somehow, once that was sorted I got the repaired door in paint and ready to go on the car.
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Got the lower rear arch repairs done on one side.
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Fitted some high level indicators to the top of the C pillar to compliment the high level brake light.
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Then fitted the repaired door, finally, which took longer than expected since I had to rebuild the whole thing. Having an opening window was bliss, I now never take this technology for granted.
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Last edited by Vulgalour on Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Vulgalour
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Re: The Old Lady

#43 Post by Vulgalour » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:14 pm

Fitted some new mirrors, again. These are better again than the others I've had on the car, offering the best compromise of function and form so far.
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Identified a knocking noise courtesy of another Princess owner as being a worn out bearing on my (fairly new) water pump, so ordered and fitted a new one. Took very little time to do and only cost £15 delivered, so I'm not complaining about that.
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Spruced up the belt cover once the new pump was fitted too. The purple accents in the engine bay are out of place with the new colour scheme, so I'm replacing them with copper.
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Then my fuel gauge packed in so the dashboard had to come out. Again. Only it didn't because the fault is actually in the wiring to the tank rather than the gauge. I now know I have a working spare fuel gauge at least and Mike tidied the dash board wiring just a little more which made refitting easier. While it was out, I decided to try my hand at doing veneer work, which turned out exceptionally well.
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Real wood veneer and three coats of satin varnish. I've ended up with a factory look that I really like. I'll be hiding an MP3 decoder behind the radio blanking plate which will itself be hinged for easy access and hide-away functionality. Then the thermostat housing wouldn't seal so I had to repair that. They're badly made and this one had been attacked before my ownership too, probably to get the thermostat out since they like to seize in place.
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That's us up to date really. Piloting a nearly forty year old car around daily gets some looks, and it can be frustrating when a new problem raises its head, but mostly I'm really happy with the old crate and it feels like my cosmetic vision for it is finally coming into focus now.
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Re: The Old Lady

#44 Post by ROVER-25X » Tue Aug 07, 2018 6:52 am

The new wood trim looks mint ! :D
ROVER-25X (2001 1.4 ROVER 25)
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Re: The Old Lady

#45 Post by Vulgalour » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:01 am

I'm super happy with it. Tonight, we went the furthest north I've ever gone to have fish and chips in North Shields and hang out with some other weirdoes from the internet with old cars. It was nice.

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Doubt I'll ever park next to a Lincoln Mk8 on German plates again.
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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