We recently decided to grab a couple of job lots of old spanners in a mixture of sizes, theory being that something is better than nothing and we should be able to make at least one useful set even if it's not matching.
Today's plans went mostly as we wanted them to. The first job was to drain the old fuel out of the tank. There's a handy, easy-to-access drain plug on the underside of the fuel tank, as is the norm for older vehicles, which makes you wonder what the point of the locking fuel cap really is since it's no hardship to get to and undo the bolt at which point the fuel gushes out at quite a rate. We got a bucket and a bit of old fuel out and while it was quite yellowed and varnish looking, there wasn't much in the way of actual sediment and bits. You couldn't see more than about an inch through the fuel in the bucket, all the same.
The drain plug was refitted and a couple of fresh cans of fuel poured in, then the system was primed and the sediment trap cleaned out a couple of times until the fuel went from this yellowy-brown colour back to the almost-clear of fresh fuel.
The sediment trap has a mesh disc filter in it, which is the first fuel filter in the system. The second filter is in the mechanical fuel pump and is another mesh screen type. There was a small amount of particles on this which cleaned off quite easily, not much to speak of actually in the fuel pump. The primer lever on the fuel pump does seem a bit weak so we wonder if the spring or diaphragm are tired and due a replacement, we believe there are rebuild kits out there so it's something to look into in the future.
The third fuel filter is a mesh screen tube around the banjo bolt that goes into the carburettor, so there's not really any need to add any more filters to this system. by the time it gets to the carburettor there's not really anything to catch. Our next issue today was the spark plugs fouling really quickly with sooty deposits, as though the car was running much too rich. We tried resetting the fuel mixture, the idle, not using the choke, and every time we were finding the same result so we headed out to try and find some generic replacement plugs and ended up getting some ridiculously fancy four-point Bosch things since they were the nearest match. Not massively expensive, the NGKs it came to us with, and the Bosch ones we've now fitted.
Before starting the car again we opted to change the oil since it was warmed up now and that would make the job a lot easier. Access for doing the oil change is actually superb, without even jacking up the car, you can get straight to the sump plug and even fit the oil pan under the car. The long tube to the left is the oil filter, and while we could undo the drain bolt on the bottom, the bolts that hold the filter housing in place are so tight we couldn't shift them so we've saved that particular job for another day. We'll be doing another oil change very soon anyway since the oil we put in is mostly to clean up what's in there without being too aggressive about it.
What we weren't expecting was the rate the oil in the car would gush out, hitting the oil pan at such a rate it splashed straight out of it, and all over the drive. The oil was incredibly thin, like water almost, and while we did at first thing maybe it had got fuel in it from repeated attempts to start it by us and previous owner, it didn't have any petrol smell (either the old fuel or the new) at all. It also had no signs of water contamination, it was just incredibly thin oil. The other peculiar thing is that when it came to cleaning the oil up, there was barely any rainbow sheen from it and it didn't really seem to repel the water that much either. Our theory is that someone has seen the SAE 30 on the oil filler cap and assumed it takes modern SAE 30 which is very different to what Lanchester would have specified back in 1951. The modern SAE 30 is much thinner and more watery in consistency than the modern equivalent to the SAE 30 of old. Since doing the oil change and fuel change we haven't had the same sooting of the plugs so that's a good thing. We haven't taken the sump off at this point, and won't unless we have to for some reason, but it was reassuring to see no bits of note in the oil that came out, there were a few of the usual tiny blobs of old oil, but nothing any larger than a small pinhead and nothing hard or metallic.
That done, and a short drive later, we discovered that the radiator is only getting hot right at the top so that's probably blocked. Ran out of time to do the coolant flush today, so we'll see if we can unblock the radiator tomorrow, a job which we're expecting to escalated into having to remove the radiator and possibly replace the radiator hoses. In the meantime, it was time to sort out the headlight gaskets and learn that there were more items that have been done in a not exactly factory way. To replace these rubbers, you will first need to jack up the car and remove the wheel, this will give you comfortable access to the one bolt you will need to undo, you can do it without removing the wheel but it's not much fun if you do. With the car securely supported, you then unclip the fastener on the bottom of the headlight bowl trim ring and lever the ring and lens out from the bottom.
Unless, like us, you're missing the clip entirely on one side, in which case ease a screwdriver into the gap between the trim ring and the bowl and twist it to pry the housing open carefully.
Inside the bowl you'll find three wires (on the assumption you're on the original reflector bowl and bulb set up, rather than an upgrade), one connects the bulb to the bowl, the other two connect the bulb to the wiring loom. Disconnect all three so you can remove the ring and lens and place them out of harms way. You can then pull the two wires through the headlight stem and into the inner arch.
With the wires removed, you can then fit a socket on the nut. In our case it was what looked to be the original brass nut of 22mm on the passenger side, and a totally random steel nut of 19mm on the driver's side. We also found some of the wiring was original, some was new, and some was a combination of old wiring with new connectors.
With the nut undone you can then lift out the headlight bowl completely. Refitting is reversal of removal, the wires are very easy to thread back through so just put the nut and washer back on the headlight bowl thread first to save accidentally stacking the parts on the wire in the wrong order. Before you do refit the headlight bowl, you'll want to prise out the old grommet, especially if yours looks as bad as ours does.
With that out of the way, clean up the surface if you need to and then ease the new grommet into place. A screwdriver can help on the grille side where there's not much space between the wing and the headlight bracket, just for easing the lip of the grommet home. Aside from the fiddly access, this isn't too bad a job.
These aren't vital really, we could have easily opted to leave the crumbling old ones in place, it's just nice to make the weather proof items good when they're available, especially given how specific a shaped thing these are. Very happy with the fit on these and they're a sensible price.
All that done we decided to give the car one last short run with the new oil to circulate it all. Happy to report that the new oil and new spark plugs have made the car incredibly willing to fire up (providing the starter motor behaves, that's another item on the shortlist) so we ventured out onto the street to find out how bad the brakes really were. The answer is that the brakes are really quite terrible and barely stop the car at walking pace, so we're glad they're quite high up our list of items to address since they're clearly well out of adjustment, even with a good shove the engine is overpowering them quite easily.
The only other issue of note was the car bogging down under throttle to the extent that in the little video above, it's at barely more than idle since that's all it would tolerate. We suspect this is a blocked jet in the carburettor so we'll pull off the float bowl that contains the jets, remove and clean everything, and then reinstall it. It doesn't take much to block up a jet and it doesn't take much to clean it out. We are getting a healthy spark and good fuel delivery at idle and the carburettor isn't getting warm even when the engine does (that home made heat shield does its job really very well) so the usual suspects are pretty much ruled out. If you're careful you can very gently ease the throttle on, but try and sustain it and it will start to bog down again until you drop to idle where it's quite happy indefinitely.