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.

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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