This story first appeared in Autumn 2016 edition of Sidelights. But I thought I would add it here as it is now part of the archives.
Our Dorset Group chairman, Rob Stanley, owns several older vehicles. A Ford Classic, which he has owned for many years. A very tidy Volkswagen Campervan and his beloved, little Black A30 saloon, Reg.
I first met Rob at our Dorset Group’s annual auction night. Rob told me about his little car that had been standing outside of his neighbour’s house for the past 14 months or so. Rob had been driving the car one day, when, all of a sudden it started running very roughly. Rob had tried all he could to get the car running, but, by his own admission, he wasn’t really sure where to start. As the next Dorset Group meeting was going to be a kingpin reaming evening in Stan Chatterton’s very tidy and well-equipped garage, I told Rob that I would pop over and take a look, before we headed over to Stan’s. Upon arrival at Rob’s home, I soon saw a very sorry looking A30. One of the tyres was flat, the bonnet was raised and Rob looked very concerned. His wife, Teresa, had told him that if we failed to get the car running and drivable, then Rob would have to sell or scrap the car. The deadline was the end of May‼‼‼‼‼ After getting the car started it was indeed running very roughly. A quick compression test showed that the head gasket had blown between number 3 and number 4 cylinder. About 20 minutes later the head was off and the gasket was indeed very second hand. Not being able to do much more without a new gasket, Rob and his family very kindly supplied some rather excellent fish and chips. During our meal, Rob and I were both ribbed by his wife and his two very nutty children, Naomi and Niall. All of them “suggesting” that Rob should scrap the little Austin. What was more worrying was the way they suggested it should be disposed of………….. We laughed them off and told them that we would get the car running. A couple of weeks later I messaged Rob to ask him how the car was running. Although Rob had replaced the head gasket successfully, the car was still only running on two cylinders. I offered to pop over and take a second look at it for him. A quick compression test showed that all was well with the head gasket. Rob had told me that he had taken the S.U. carburettor apart so I started with that. Rob soon had the unit in his hand and I removed the dashpot. I took out the piston and soon found that Rob had made the common mistake of pushing the needle fully into the piston. The shoulder on the needle should be flush with the base of the dashpot. Then I centred the jet housing with the needle. With the jet centred the dashpot gave a pleasing metal clunk as it sat in the carburettor. Undoing the jet adjusting screw 12 flats with a spanner had the basic setting for the mixture. With the carb refitted we started Reg up again. Nope. Still running on two cylinders. Seeing various coils located in the engine bay I asked if Rob had replaced the coil. Yes. So had he put the wires on the right way around? A quick check with a very rudimentary test bulb, several pieces of wire lashed together and checking with Rob that the vehicle was still wired positive earth revealed that the wires were the wrong way round. The ignition feed should go into the post on the coil marked SW and the wire connected to the CB post goes to the distributor. Arguments abound whether or not this makes a huge difference but it was marked that way for a reason. Reg soon fired into life but was still not happy. So off with the distributor cap. I was hoping to see the points opening and closing when we cranked the engine over……….. Mmmmm the points were opening but only on two of the cams in the distributor. Cracked it. The cam on the distributor was so badly worn that the heel on the points wasn’t even touching the cam at two points. Fortunately, Rob had a spare distributor. Having checked that the vacuum advance and retard mechanism was working and checking that the part numbers matched we soon had a “new” distributor built up and ready to fit. Once fitted, Reg burst into life but despite bringing out my mascot and second in command Tigger, Reg still wasn’t going to give in without a fight. But Rob was confident that he would be able to drive it the short distance to St Edward’s school the following day. I offered to bring along a new distributor cap, rotor arm, and a new set of leads and a timing light. We would work on Reg at the show. With everything fitted, the ignition timing sorted and a brief few minutes setting the mixture screw Reg had finally given in and was running very sweetly indeed. Much to amusement/amazement of many of the Dorset Club members and several of the show’s visitors. OK, so we had missed the end of May deadline but I think Teresa, Naomi, and Niall have forgiven us. Just‼‼‼ Rob now intends on getting the car through an M.O.T. and doing a running restoration. Since writing this report Rob has changed the clutch and is now hoping to get his little car to the International Rally
A few more pictures from St Edward's School Summer Fair 2016. The Dorset Group put on a superb display
Nigel and Janice's lovely A35 Convertible
Alan and Leonora's A30 2 Door Saloon
David and Elaine's A35 Van Conversion
Stan and Marylin's A35 Pick-up
Rob and Teresa's A30 2 Door Saloon
Rob and Teresa's VW Campervan