The Annual Inspection

MOT for the Corsair
Annual MOT Inspection Jan 2020 at 5 Square Motors, Shaftesbury.

How time flies, and the annual MOT inspection was due at 5 Square Motors, Shaftesbury. Technically in the UK, cars over 40 years old do not require an annual vehicle safety check. But for about 45 minutes of an inspectors time with the car up on the ramps and myself being there to assist, it was worth being done for the peace of mind. On the day the car was booked in for the test, a storm was looming and I had chosen potentially the wettest afternoon to take the Corsair but at least the wipers and lights worked as they should. The Corsair passed with an advisory, as per last year, but this time I’ll need to change the front damper inserts within the front struts over the coming months. The rear nearside brake cylinder was also something to look at aswell judging by the results on the brake tester.

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New Years Day car run 2020

Sturminster Newton New Years Day car run

The Corsair was still a ‘pig’ to start, but a fresher battery meant I had plenty of cranks to get it going. The morning was cool, foggy and a bit damp but I had a good drive down to the Sturminster Newton New Years Day car run. I was reasonably early and directed to park in a good slot near the front of the starting pack. I was soon accosted by one of my neighbours who had come down to see the cars and we had a brief chat. Later, I also caught up with Chris and Bob from the Saturday meets at Sturminster as well. There was also a very nice Mk2 Cortina 1600GT (in Lotus colours) that was a Crayford conversion, and the owner knew of Hugh F-W and seemed pleased to know that the Corsair was still about. I decided to give the driving tour a go and registered to get my bumper tags. The car park in Station Road, Sturminster Newton was packed by 10.30am with all manner of classic cars, trucks and military vehicles. Watch the Youtube video further on down, the Corsair makes an appearance with a drive-by at 3.37.

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End of year round-up

At the beginning of October I attended, for an hour or so, the Sturminster Newton Saturday morning vehicle gathering, after which I took an errand run to Gillingham before heading home. Earlier that morning I had bled the brakes and they felt firmer and much improved to the very spongy feel I had the previous week on the New Forest Tour.

Towards the end of October the weather had deteriorated to rain and more rain, so I tried to start the Corsair up just to keep it turning over, but it was stubborn to the point that I flattened the battery. I tried a few more times after re-charging the battery but to no avail and the bad weather continued through November to December to be too wet to take the Corsair out. Later in December, I ordered a new battery (UK spec 038 – 45aH 330 CCA) and finally fitted it just before Christmas and it fired up the car almost straight away. Which leads me to this write up, as I rounded off the year with a spirited drive on Sunday 29th December. The Corsair took a few turns to get going but once on the road I had a fairly clear run all the way to Sherborne along the A30 and then, on the return trip, once clear of Milborne Port it was a swift drive with other modern traffic home.

To round off the year I have ordered two type s of fuel additives that I hope will aid starting the Corsair but also because the unleaded in Dorset now has 5% ethanol content (E5) and as the car sits unused for a few weeks at a time I felt the additive will help preserve the quality of the fuel and also for my lawn mower. I use the premium unleaded (Tesco Momentum or Esso Super) mainly for the higher octane and better performance, so time will tell if there is a noticeable improvement for me to let you know.

The First Car Tour

I really thought I wasn’t going to make this, my first Car Tour with the Facebook group, Enthusiasts of British Motor Vehicles Built Before 1985. I had it in my diary for several months and plenty of time to get the Corsair ready so was keen to take part.The calipers I sent away to BCS Automotive a couple of weeks earlier hadn’t turned up by Thursday (26th) but by the evening I had an email notification of their dispatch and due for arrival on Friday. So, thankfully the all day rain on Friday had stopped by 6.30pm in fading light for me to get on and fit the new calipers, and when I say new, they looked like new. All was going well until I had the problematic nut that wouldn’t undo on the nearside caliper which ended up in typical fashion, rounding off. Luckily I still had some spare parts from a few years ago, so I ended up having to re-fabricate a new section of pipe and fit new unions and flare the ends. I was a bit miffed about this as it was only 3 years ago that I re-did all the brake lines [see blog post].

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CCW Fame

The Corsair made another public appearance, this time in Classic Car Weekly, a UK newspaper for the classic car market. I was curios as to the value of the Corsair so contacted CCW a few weeks ago and it seems I wasn’t far off from my estimate according to the article.

Valuation article from Classic Car Weekly (11/09/2019)

New Brake Discs

The other weekend I got around to fitting the new brake discs I bought from Burton. They were discs for Mk1 Cortina/Mk1 Escort/Mk1 Capri but assured they would fit. I took it steady removing the hubs without rushing to ensure I didn’t miss anything along the way.

Fitting the new pads revealed that the near side caliper may be the cause of the brakes locking on. As I prised the pistons back to fit the new pads I noticed they stayed back and didn’t creep back out to take up pressure on the discs. On a test drive after sorting out the points and poor running issues, the brake pedal started to get firm again so I put the Corsair away. I then thought about and dug out the old calipers I replaced on the Corsair some 18 years ago and never sent back on exchange for the then new ones.

The next day I made enquiries with automotive brake refurbishment companies, and the only one to get back was BCS Automotive in Nottingham. After a few email exchanges to clarify on details I sent them my very crusty calipers but somehow doubt their estimate will remain the same.

Rusty Corsair calipers
Original calipers, removed in 2001 and sent away for refurbishing

August Summer Driving

Changeable weather for the month reduced options for driving the Corsair as I hoped to take it into work for a decent long run. However, the brake seizing problem was seemingly cured (weekend 10/11th) by replacing all the brake fluid in the system with new DOT4 fluid, my grown up helper assisted with pedal pumping and fluid top ups. Thinking about it, the fluid was last done 3 years ago and quite probably had ‘gone off’ with water absorption which reduced the fluid’s pressure tolerance. A 20 mile test drive around the lanes of Hindon to Tisbury was a good try out which didn’t reveal any problems.

Another bonus this month was my success at winning a hotly contested Ebay auction for a rear view mirror. Original, good condition mirrors for the Corsair and Mk1 Cortina are quite rare to find because the plastic becomes brittle, crumbles and the silver mirror backing often deteriorates just as per mine. Saturday morning (17th) I had a decent run out to Westmoors, 40+ mile round trip, in the Corsair and it was a good run with me chasing the traffic rather rather being stuck behind part time drivers and no problem with the brakes. Later, I fitted the mirror and what an improvement that was. Later drives with the new mirror in place was that it didn’t wobble as much as the previous one and I did have better general view as well.

A drive out one Thursday evening brought back the dreaded brake seizing issue again. it was brisk, spirited drive up Zig Zag hill an then along the back lanes towards Cashmoor and the ‘Gussages’. However, I had another event of slamming on the brakes was required after a near head on with a tractor. This may have upset things a bit with the brake system, because on the way home and going back down Zig Zag Hill I could the feel the pedal become more firm and the further I went on the steering vibrated more as the brakes seized on again. I just managed to get the car home without a forced stop. The next day I re-bled the system just to ensure it was air free and took it for another drive to Sturminster and Durweston then home anlong the A350. Again, after about 22 miles the brakes became hot and the Corsair became difficult to keep going. I pulled over about a mile from home and checked all the wheels for heat. The rear wheels were fine, but the front wheels were very hot, not just the discs but the rims too! I have ordered new brake discs and pads, as the current discs were rusty and pitted and could be binding therefore causing heat to build up and thus raising the brake fluid pressure in the system?

3 Events and an Alternator

When I got the Corsair back on the Friday (26th July) my main goal was to get it to the local classic and bike show at the Barton Hill Recreation ground, on Sunday. There was an existing problem that I had forgotten about which was the ignition light staying on and glowing brighter with more revs. I spent an hour or so on the Saturday diagnosing it to be a failed alternator. The Barton Hill show wasn’t far, and I sensed the Corsair had enough battery life to at least make it to the show which I had missed for the last 3 years. The show was a peaceful informal affair, with a few people taking an interest in the car.

Barton Hill, Shaftesbury 2019
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Engine Work

Corsair empty engine bay
The Corsair’s empty engine bay.

Earlier, back in May, I got the Corsair to John Midwood’s for some long over due engine work to be carried out, as the oil leaks were getting worse and the nearside cylinder head, rear core plug needed replacing. In readiness, I had got new core plugs and crankshaft seals (front and rear) on eBay, but then needed a bottom end gasket set available from Burton Power which also came with crankshaft seals and ‘O’ rings. Also, John advised I got a gearbox front oil seal which I purchased from Bearing Kits UK but ended up getting a gearbox oil seal set just in case.

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How the hood goes up

Short animation showing the process of putting up the hood. You’ll understand why it comes down in March/April and goes back up in September.

The Corsair will be going away for some engine work (core plugs and oil seals) and to ensure it keeps the weather out or away from the car I decided to put the hood up. I also trial fitted the new car cover I bought on Amazon for £25 as for additional protection and then discovered the source of the rattle that had me most concerned for the past few weeks. The rattle that I was thinking was clutch related turned out to be a loose bumper, yes, you read it right a loose bumper! Thankfully the chrome bolt was still in situ but the nut and washer were long gone and the bumper just rattled about on its mounting bracket. So, I dug out a washer and another nut from a tub of old Corsair bits and then took the car for a test drive. No rattle! Though I still seem to have issues with my ignition circuit as the car still ran with a miss-fire under load.