What Have I Done? Tales of a Jaguar XJS - Part 4

Tuesday, 1 January 2019  |  Admin



Part 4 - Work Begins

The long hot summer of 2018 was coming to an end, but there were a few weekends before the frantic part of our business year when free days are few and far between.  We started work...

My eldest son, Max, had just passed his driving test and was eager to help.  Being a sensible type, he had read and digested the Haynes manual before diving in.  We decided to start with the basics:  New air filters (easy), check the specific gravity of the anti freeze (easy), replace 12 spark plugs and HT leads (ridiculously complicated) and replace the four accessory drive belts (unbelievably frustrating). 

Max volunteered to re-build and adjust the throttle linkage - I lost count of how many parts there are, but on the way he fixed the seized kick down linkage and replaced all the missing and broken bushes. He then moved on to the temperature sensors: The air temperature sensor disintegrated in his hands, so he rigged up some resistors to send the ECU the correct ambient air temperature.  A replacement sensor was added to the parts list!

In the meantime, I set about the distributor cap:  A PO (previous owner) had decided to seal the cap with a bead of silicone...but unknown to him/her had managed to smear some on the rotor arm.  The wet silicone had subsequently been flung round the inside of the distributor cap when the engine was started, effectively insulating 4 of the contacts - hence the misfire.  Further Inspection of the engine bay, revealled a couple of wires disappearing into the trumpet on the right hand air box.  Pulling gently, revealed a large round electrical connector had been sucked into the inlet, very efficiently blocking 90% of the aperture - hence the rich running and petrol heavy exhaust.  Now carefully strapped in place, but still not connected to anything, perhaps we'll find a use for it in due course.

We started the engine, which ran beautifully smoothly - no misfire and a great pick up.  We were elated with our day's work. Win No.1.

Now to get under the car,,,

Checking the notorious over-complicated transmission mount, I could see that the spring was coil bound and the rubber bush had deteriorated to the consistency of a sponge.  Despite warnings of doom, gloom and bodily danger on the internet, it was with great joy, that this proved a cheap and relatively easy repair with a 79p bush and a new spring.  Win No.2.

However, getting to that point had taken the best part of whole day, mostly taken up by trying to remove the 30 year old exhaust system.  We wanted to re-fit it, so simply cutting it off was not an option.  Eventually, after grinding off all 12 bolts and much penetrating oil, twisting and turning, it was off - and just as well, as we were faced with a number of broken and bent mounting brackets needing repair. 

It was time to break out the welder from the back of the shed (the first time in 30 years).  The last time I had successfully welded anything was my Mini in the 1980s...and those welds were not a pretty sight.  Luckily none of the exhaust mountings would be visible, so I could use them for practice.

I suspected this would be the start of many hours cutting, grinding and welding metal over the next few months.  We were not going to be popular with the neighbours!

The exhaust system was in reasonably good condition, but appeared to be a mix of stainless steel and mild steel components.  Both front pipes were corroded in one small section, so a short repair section was ordered to link up with the front silencers.  I had double checked the OD of the pipe before ordering but the new sections did not fit.  At first I put it down to incompetence on my part, but it was at this point that I discovered that the system was made up of three different diameters of pipe.  I don't know if this was because of the odd mix of parts, but it went a long way to explaining why each slip joint was blowing.  Another set of repair sections was ordered in sizes that would hopefully mate these disparate pipes.

Whilst waiting for these to arrive, I cleaned the rear stainless steel silencer boxes and exhaust tips - both came up as new.  On careful inspection both front silencers were blowing along the longitudinal seam.  A failed attempt at welding and then brazing just confirmed that there wasn't much solid material along the seam, so I settled on Holt's Gun Gum for a temporary repair.  A couple of days later when I checked them over, the repair had taken well and set rock solid.  My intention is to replace the front silencers with straight through pipes, but that can wait until the car is back on the road.  There are a number of other hurdles to cross before that!

Previously I had found an alarming amount of corrosion on the front subframe (especially on a car that had a valid MOT) so I had been checking Ebay for a repacement.  Almost every subframe I came across looked no better than the one already on the car.  I had already decided that this was a make or break issue for this car:  If I could not replace the front subframe reasonably economically, getting this car to completion was going to be near impossible in my timescale of 6-8 months.


In the first few days of ownership and in a flurry of excitement, I had been in contact with Andrew Harvey of JustXJS for some advice and a spare set of alloy wheels.  Having found nothing suitable on Ebay, I contacted Andrew again who agreed to sell me the subframe he had set aside for his own car!  A few days before Christmas, a sparklingly clean and refurbished subframe arrived chez nous.  I intend to stay happily married so I am not so foolish as to spend Christmas under a car.  The subframe replacement would have to wait a while.

Obviously it makes sense to refurbish the entire front suspension and brakes at the same as replacing the subframe, so attention turned to other issues that don't require crawling around in the cold underneath the car:  First thing to be tackled was the headlining.  Having replaced this on a couple of other Jaguars, I knew this was within my capabilities.  Unlike the other (more modern) Jaguars, the backing board seemed to be comprised simply of compressed glass fibre which disintegrated into clouds of itchy particles when disturbed (just like old loft insulation).  There was nothing to salvage except the steel cant rails and the fibreboard rear quarter panels.  This was a blessing in disguise as the replacement pre-trimmed fibreglass panel was far simpler to fit.  

Before we got to that point, the rear view mirror and sun visors had to be removed.  What should have been a simple job eventually required drilling out of all the screws (carefully - so as not to puncture the roof).  Every one was solidly rusted in place.   The poorly painted underside of the roof panel was also covered in rusty pox marks.  These were rubbed down and treated with rust converter before the new headling was fitted. 

The waterlogged carpets and soundproofing had been removed weeks before for a thorough clean and dry, but years of damp had caused most of the stitching to deteriorate.  Nevertheless, the carpets were still in good condition, so rather than replace, I decided to re-stitch the binding.  Turning to YouTube for advice and to our local habadashery for heavy duty needles, thimbles and thread, the next few weeks found me sewing in front of the TV using the original needle holes as my guide.  Oddly satisfying!

More in part 5.

All the best,

Thursday, 3 October 2019  |  Admin

What Have I Done? Tales of a Jaguar XJS - Part 5

A Step Forward - Part 5 - Over Confidence Leads to Dismay

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