Getting ready for New Year

Posted: Jan 06 2014

December the 21st was the perfect day for a drive out for lunch at the Falkland Arms, before a drive to France for Christmas with the family.

With friends coming over for dinner, and realising I needed to get things prepped. A dauphinois needed cooking and a red left to breath.

I was almost home when I felt power was down, given all the trouble on the Welsh (see post 14 October 2013) I thought this must be the magneto again.

Fortunately I made it to just outside the house, in the normal manor started to turn the engine over by hand and heard an odd clicking noise. So took off the valve chest cover to see if this would shed some light on the situation.

To my dismay I see a valve spring broken and recoiled around its self as the image below shows. This meant taking off the cylinder head to remove the valve and replace the spring.

So in the words of the Queen of Hearts, "Off with it's Head" the valve was removed with a little trouble as it was burred up. However working is a very tight space as the image below shows.

I felt like I was working on a piece of jewellery rather than a car while trying to work in a very confined space. The picture below shows the missing valve and spring just under the high tension cables just right of center image.

 So valve in and spring replaced with a new tappet spring. I begin to reassemble the cylinder head. Tighten all the studs up, reconnect the sparking plugs and fill the radiator up.

Extremely anxious at this time as I pressurise the fuel tank flick the ignition on, fully advance the engine and tickle the carburetor to get the fuel flowing.

I press the starter and feather the throttle and the car bursts into life, my heart leaps and I quite literally jump for joy! We're are back in business!

So I let the car idle for a few minute to warm up before pulling the head down a little more to ensure we have maximum compression. This is when my joy is dashed,the center stud is leaking with water bubbling up through the head.

I drain the water out and take the head off and realise I have over tightened the stud, and ripped out the thread. Then by this time I needed to get into a modern car and drive to Beaune to join the family for Christmas.

During 10 hours on the road all I could think about was how was I going to get a new helicoil to fit the block between Christmas and New Year. After a well spent couple of days of Christmas enjoying fantastic wine and food with the Leroux family, I headed home.


I broke the news to dad that I'd stripped the thread and the car is still in bits. I was duly told where to find a replacement helicoil. Once back in Silverstone I went to garage to insert the helicoil, but alas it was the wrong thread. Undeterred I telephoned a good family friend Duncan Ricketts a man capable of turning his hand to any engineering issue. Duncan invited me over to see if he could help. 

With spare stud in hand I drove to visit Duncan, who kindly lent me a helicoil kit. After a tour of the garage to see the Challenger and some advice in fitting the coil.

Back in Silverstone excited to be so close to having the car back together. The hole in the block needed to be re tapped as image above and the new coil inserted. With the stud in and checked, the head went back on.

Once again water refilled, fuel pressure pumped, ignition on, engine fully advanced, I fired the car into life and this time waited for the celebration. Letting the block heat up and pulling the head down a little as needed. This time we were back up and running.

By this time it's New Years Eve and food and wine consumed the Celebratory bottle of champagne opened. Not sure if I was celebrating the new year or my victory with the car.

New Years day I wake at 6.30 to hear the driving rain smashing into the window, I lay in the dark for a while and decide that perhaps I don't need to leave quite as early as planned.

A slight reprieve from the rain of 30 mins I sort the car out and get on the road full of optimism, but the rain holds off for a only a few miles. Arriving at the Pheonix in Hartley Wintney for lunch 80 miles away. Joined for lunch by the Carson family, who are longstanding clients.

I head off into the continued rain enjoying the fact that every mile further was a mile closer to home an the Aga.


The above image is actually taken on the 2nd January 2014, clearly better weather.

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