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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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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Sturminster Newton classics turn out

The Corsair parked up at the informal gathering in Sturminster Newton

Saturday 4th May, and I popped along to a small gathering of classics and sports cars organised by local chap Chris Spackman. I had an issue on the way down that necessitated with me pulling over at the shut down pub (the Plough) in Manston as the brakes had seized on, again. A few minutes with periodic pedal pumping and checking the fluid reservoir seemed to release the pressure on the brakes and I continued on my way. Soon, I was parked up on the pavement alongside two porches and was joined by a Landrover, Jensen Interceptor and two Delanges. A few other classics later arrived that parked on the road as well as some motor bikes, including a Brough Superior.

The engine/gearbox rattle seemed to be getting quite bad and the journey home wasn’t helped by possibly another condenser failure. The Corsair will be booked in, hopefully, by the end of the month for the engine to come out and have a the crankshaft oil seals replaced, the leaking core plugs changed and check the condition of the clutch.

One Hot Easter

At the entrance to Pythouse near Semley, Wiltshire
At the entrance to Pythouse near Semley, Wiltshire

I thought I would have a closer look at the condenser issue this month (April). The old condenser I put on at the end of last month, to get the car back in to the garage, was also faulty but good enough to run the engine on tick-over. I only found out it was dodgy because I thought I would take the Corsair for a quick spin to warm it up in readiness to taking it out to the Haynes Breakfast meet the following day. I barely got out from my road and the car was lurching all over the place under light acceleration, very quickly suspecting the condenser, I headed back for home and put the car away. A week later, after some contemplation I decided to go the electronic ignition route (Powerspark) but also bought a new coil and couple of spare condensers as back up.

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March update – Spring driving

Spring had definitely sprung by mid March and therefore no excuses for not taking the Corsair out for a good drive. The first decent run (Sunday 17th March) was to Blandford on the A350 but I was soon frustrated by a large and slow camper vehicle, so once at Fontmell Magna, I turned off to head up to the higher road and then had a hassle free swift drive until I made it to Blandford. I then took the A345 towards Salisbury, and some time after Tarrant Hinton I took a left turn off via the lanes towards the Larmer Tree to later pick up the B3081. This particular ‘B’ road is superb with a long fast section (after the Ludwell turning) with grand views across the Wiltshire/Dorset countryside towards Shaftesbury and then to go down Zig Zag Hill finished that section off nicely. It was a very pleasant run of 28 miles with no issues.

B3081, just prior to going down Zig Zag Hill, Dorset
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February 2019 Spring-time Sunshine

Ford Corsair after a quick mop with the waterless cleaning system

The first fortnight of February it was snowy, cold and gloomy and by contrast the last weekend of the month was gloriously warm and sunny with record breaking seasonal temperatures. On the Saturday (23rd), after failing to start, the Corsair was rolled out of the garage on to the road to be assisted with a jump start from the daily driver Passat. It took a while of turning over and by not using much choke the car eventually fired up. With the engine warming up there were no excuses left not to go out in the Corsair, so for the sheer fun of it, a drive was done on a familiar circuit. The A30 section to Barford St Martin was a bit slow following another motorist for much of the way, then I had trouble getting past a large, wide and bouncy tractor on the way to Dinton. Once past the big and bouncy tractor I had an open road (B3089) before me and a BMW Z4 coupe lurking in my rear view mirror. It made for a pleasurable swift drive passing through the villages of Teffont, Fonthill Gifford and Hindon with that BMW still contentedly following. Once at the traffic lights on the A350 I turned left to Shaftesbury only to join a quicker stream of traffic than I had endured earlier.

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November to December

Footman James Classic Restoration show – Bath and West Show Ground

It was a good start to the month with a run out to the Footman James Classic Restoration Show at The Bath & West show ground. The weather was gloomy to start with but brightened up by late morning and was very mild too. It was a smooth drive with a lovely brisk run from Gillingham on the B3081 towards Wincanton and then a clear run from the Hunter’s Lodge to the other side of Bruton. At the show ground in the classic parking, I was guided to a good central  position. I put up my windscreen info board and then wandered off to the auto jumble for a browse.

The Crayford badge that I had got as a recent present was painted and fitted around this time in time for the show. I think it will need a bit more work to look right, the black is a bit flat and the pewter metal work could do with more of a polish/buff.

Plenty of interest was shown in the Corsair and it was pleasure to see people reading the info board and taking pictures of it. By 2 pm I decided to leave, but the trip back wasn’t as much fun with other traffic slowing things down. The engine still seemed a little flat in places at the low cruising speeds of around 34-45 mph  and improved once average speed got to be over 45 mph.

Footman James Classic Restoration show – Bath and West Show Ground
Crayford Badge (a reproduction item obtained from eBay)

A later look at all the spark plugs showed them to be in good condition except for cylinder 2 that was a little coked up, so I’m not sure what to do about that. From there the weather for the month took a turn for the worst and the Corsair wasn’t to be subjected to the cold and wet – although when left for a while it was not keen to get started either.

December rolled around all too quickly and nearly passed me by, but with a trip required to Blandford for pet food, a DIY shop and a supermarket and with the weather being dry and mild it seemed right to take the Corsair. It hadn’t been started for a few weeks so I had the foresight to start and warm the car up the day before, which took several attempts. Come the Saturday for the trip out, starting was much the same as the previous day, by catching the fire up after several turn overs and then increase the choke to raise the tickover. I stayed local first, delivering Christmas cards to family and the drive was fine although somewhat constrained by the compulsory 50 mph speed limits and other traffic. It was great to be behind the wheel after what seemed a while and put on those miles of smiles.

October round-up

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.

Corsair at the New Inn, Heckfield, near Basingstoke, Hampshire.

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Driving and More Driving

I had a fortnight off work, so lots of opportunities for Corsair driving time. The first major trip was to take Nigel (Christmas Tipple post) and his son out one afternoon for a spin, so I took a familiar route down the A30 to Fovant and onto Barford St Martin and back via Dinton and Tisbury. The hay lorry over-take at Compton Chamberlyne was an exhilarating experience as well as a necessity due to the fact we were getting covered in hay as it was being raked off by the trees and bushes the lorry scrapped past. Once at Tisbury, I let Nigel drive the Corsair for the last part of the journey and he quickly had a feel for the car and the proper driving experience it provides.

All was OK, on later trips, I traced the hissing noise from the engine as being a pin hole water leak in a core plug at the rear of the right bank cylinder head. The radiator water was rather low and since topping it back up it hadn’t dropped any more in about 150 miles. There had been several local trips out and about before I took it to a drive-in event at Henstridge Airfield for the Wings and Wheels day. The Corsair was well received especially as it was the only Corsair there and also because of it’s history. A week later it was a nice cruise down the A303 at a steady 55mph, but in the other direction, towards Sparkford to go to the Breakfast Club Meet at the Haynes International Motor Museum. Once parked up, the Corsair drew some immediate interest for some former Seventies Ford mechanics and  again was the only Corsair in attendance among the many hot hatches, Triumphs and Jaguars.

A few more trips are planned before further work commences in replacing the leaking core plug and at the same time replacing a rear crankshaft seal as the engine is dripping oil. Both jobs will require the engine to be lifted out of the car.