Had an issue with the Corsair’s brakes again, they were locking up as I found out after a short run (less than a mile) last Sunday. So I posed a question on a favourite Facebook group and most of the helpful answers came up with the master cylinder being the likely cause or to at least start at the top of the hydraulic system. I checked my (this) blog to see when the master cylinder was last refurbished and I was surprised to see it was October 2012! I had nothing to lose by investigating because the first thing I noticed when I drove the Corsair out of the garage was that the front calipers were seized on.
With the front jacked up, I released the brake pressure from the front offside caliper and the wheels moved freely. A pump on the brake pedal and the brakes seized on again. I released the pressure this time from the master cylinder output and the front wheels rotated again. Looking into the reservoir, the fluid did look a bit cloudy and with what appeared to be black flecks of dirt in the bottom. It was then that I decided to remove the brake master cylinder, so I pumped out the brake fluid via the off side front caliper to reduce the chance of spillage of brake fluid or making a mess during removal.
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.
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].
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.
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?
The Corsair had been a bit tricky to start since it’s last outing to Blandford before Christmas. Unfortunately, it let me down on New Years Day as I had planned to go to a classic meet at Sturminster Newton but it failed to start and I drained the battery in the process. A couple of weeks later, with the battery on trickle charge, I tried it again and after several turn overs I just caught it enough for it to cough in to life on minimal choke and after several pumps of the accelerator (gas) pedal.
To start the month I took the Corsair to the Hampshire Capri Club meeting at the New Inn pub/hotel at Heckfield. Where the ‘heck’ is that? Heckfield is a small village off from the A33 between Basingstoke and Reading, just inside the North Hampshire border to Berkshire. It therefore became 70+ miles each way journey for the Corsair, which drove fine with no problems and cruised happily at 60mph on the A303. I didn’t take it on the M3, opting to go through Basingstoke and negotiating the multiple roundabouts which wasn’t too daunting mixing it up with all the Sunday shopper traffic. I hadn’t lost my touch on the traffic lights either, successfully burning up a Fiesta on one occasion. The weather was glorious and warm but the hood stayed up as it was now in the winter mode (after a cooling off at the end of September) and will stay that way until after March next year.
On the Saturday (8th April) I fitted a battery to use the fuel pump to suck fresh clean fuel from a fuel can to flush through the pipes, electric pump and in-line filter into a jar. The first wave of fuel was quite dirty, the second was cleaner and then the third batch was better still. The fuel wasn’t wasted – it went straight in to the lawnmower. The original battery was fitted – as the one I initially used didn’t have enough charge to turn the starter over properly. This one eventually fired the engine to life, after a few sluggish turn overs and then ran using fuel from the fuel can still sited on a wooden block at the other end of the car. After being satisfied with the car starting and running for a few minutes it was shut down and then the refurbished fuel tank was refitted with the remnants of the fuel can put in the tank.
On the Sunday a gallon (5 litres) of Tesco Momentum fuel was added – have been “Internet” informed it doesn’t contain ethanol, which can harm old fuel lines and components. With the help of my son, the brakes were re-bled (the system had a slight leak last summer and the reservoir became empty) and another fire up loomed with a test drive.
The test drive was down an access road to a car park, just across the road from my driveway, but it didn’t go to plan and the Corsair cut out as I was about to manouevre the car around at the bottom of the car park to come back! Then the Corsair wouldn’t start, not enough battery juice, at which point my son had been sent down to investigate as my wife couldn’t hear the Corsair’s engine running. We managed to push the car out of the way in the car park and then I jogged back to get the jump leads and the Passat.
The Corsair started fine but would only run for about a minute – so adjustment to the mixture screw enabled the engine to run without dying so quickly but with a fair bit of popping through the carburetor under load or acceleration. At least I could keep it going and drive the Corsair back into it’s garage. Disaster averted, but I’m none the wiser for getting the Corsair to run smoothly.
Made some more time with the Corsair on the Sunday morning before the expected rain for the afternoon. With the right foot help of my son, we bled the brakes all round – and now they work. May need doing again, but I can stop the car without using the handbrake. Set about using my 80 grit flap wheel polisher (bought at SSR Wheels Day) on the Cragars and Cal-Chromes and it brought the inner rim up well enough for new tyres soon. I’m not going to get the outer faces of the wheels in much better condition now – though they still have some hard to remove paint on the alloy parts of the wheels. But they look heaps better than they did 9 months ago.
I took a closer look at the brake discs to see what could be done with them. They had a lot of surface rust from nearly 14 years of being idle, however I had seen on a forum and then a Youtube video about cleaning rusty brake discs with a poly-carbide disc. Unfortunately I couldn’t get hold of a disc for my angle grinder but the got one for the electric drill instead, which was OK, but I think the angle grinder version would have done a better job, so will re-order another from Amazon. The front face was quite heavily pitted after the clean up and wipe down with clutch/bake cleaning fluid. The back face wasn’t too bad, but I am hoping the brake pads will bed them in more as they get used.