Category Archives: Engine

August 2014 – On the road again

Yes, it’s been a long, long time. I had been so good about recording things on this blog. Then, when the car came darned near completion … well, I pooped out, preferring to sit in the old thing and tinker or just listen to the engine and watch the gauges. The restoration journal never got an update.

Well, I’m back now. The interceding years — it’s been since June 2011! — won’t be covered in much detail, but I’ll do what I can do.

A first trip? To the gas station, of course!

The big news is that the car is on the road, fully licensed and insured (I went with Hagerty). It’s been legal on the road for over two years now, and I’ve driven a grand total of 110 miles. The initial voyage was about a mile up the road to the Rougemont BP. Arlene came with, and the car ran … horribly. It sounded like a tractor (related details below) and it had very little power. It also sucked gas, so it was fortunate that we went to the gas station.

In a restoration, you always do some things twice and a few things more than twice.

In the last (now ancient) update, I mentioned that I had installed the convertible top. It fit snugly and well, I thought. But I must have done something wrong, since the darned thing ripped at two symmetrical points when I retracted the top. I still do not exactly know what the problem was, except perhaps that I had installed the top too snugly or that I had attached the top to the frame pieces inappropriately. The tension points appeared in the upper rear corner of the retractible door window frame, and I suspect that this area may be installed loose? I notice now that there was a cord sewn at the end of the rain trap immediately above the window frame, and I wonder if that was actually supposed to be the attaching point for the top at some point. I have to re-read the instructions I used to see if there was something I missed or misunderstood.

I did try patching the tear, but it was not suitable, and in any case the patch came off the first time I retracted the top.

At any rate, a new top is in order, and I think that I will probably go with a vinyl top — which, I am told, is more original. My eldest son, Derek, has a Honda S2000 (very nice car, by the way, and one that I have autocrossed), and it has a vinyl top. It is quite nice — and actually much nicer than I recall my older vinyl top was on the MG I had in college.

Doing things over is all part of doing a restoration, either because things don’t go back together as you’d think or because, well, Stuff Happens. People might recall that Bill McKenna began his restoration about when I did and also chronicled his progress for all to see on the web. (He finished his car quite a while ago, and it is marvelous.) He had redos and mishaps just as I did (as with the doors). I think you have to be a bit Stoic if you’re going to take on a restoration and actually complete it, since progress gets interrupted and sidetracked.

Then, there are the torsion bars on these cars. They are the best instructors of patience, persistence, and fortitude.

Mo-Ma comes through for another delighted customer

Mo-Ma Manufacturing in Albuquerque, New Mexico ( was my choice to get the old tachometer upgraded. I had removed the tach generator when the engine went in. I recall discussions on forums about the “dog” that drives the generator being flimsy and breaking and then falling into the oil system, threatening to jam pieces of itself into the oil pump. That didn’t sound good to me. Besides, the technology has improved quite nicely, so that driving a tech off a coil is simple and accurate. Mo-Ma has a great reputation for workmanship and, as I learned, for customer service. I can’t recall the lady’s name I talked with, but we had a delightful and wide-ranging conversation. She has been in this business for years, starting off being the Smith’s representative for the Western United States.

(I did follow up a few months after I got the tach back, only to learn that Margaret had died.)

I sent the tach in, and I promptly got it back, all cleaned up and beautiful. It works beautifully.

The business of restoration has a few characters who stand out, and I have to say that the woman who I talked with at Mo-Ma is among them. I recall Mike Moore (the one in California who’s an enginer, not the film-maker) reporting that he had a nice telephone conversation with her, too.

Exhaust pipes. Mufflers. Nicely chromed resonators.

From summer 2013 to early 2014, the exhaust “system” consisted of a pair of Cherry Bomb glass packs and 2-inch conduit I had bought from Lowes and bent into shape in the old cramped garage. Or there was nothing at all from the manifold back, since I tired of the rudeness of the noise and removed the improvized exhaust system. I was set to get the Real McCoy. And so the car sat, sadly, waiting for a refresh. I bought the paired mid-car mufflers (Walkers, for those who are interested) and the resonators along with mounting hardware. I installed the mufflers and had the resonators ready, but I still hadn’t acquired the connecting pipes. I even ordered them, but found out in a phone call that they weren’t on hand. “Really,” the fellow said, “just go to a custom exhaust shop and get some made. They’ll cost about the same.”

Made sense. I cancelled the order. But … I procrastinated.

I had the fellows at REMCO Muffler Shop in Roxboro, North Carolina, do the pipes, and they did them well and with care. I actually made the decision to go with them after I learned that they had done work on an old ’50s-era DKW. I figured if they would do that well (and the customer was very satisfied), an old Jaguar might be interesting to them and that they knew how to treat on old car with respect. They did a beautiful job, and they were great fun to work with on the project.

And now there is a Garage Mahal — and maybe time for a different project?

Most of the restoration of this 1963 roadster happened in pretty cramped quarters, made even more cramped by my inherent resistance to putting things away. Of course, there wasn’t much space to put things away in! Fixed that.

We built a three-bay, high-ceilinged, well outfitted garage and kept a journal of the building on my tumblr site. Garry Whicker from Hillsborough, North Carolina, was the general contractor, and he ably rounded up the talent and efficiently executed the construction. It was great fun to see going up! And it has been a great thing to see how well it’s been used by my now grown-up sons and their friends. We have fixed our cars, we have done major work to “Maximum Oversteer” the now-junked Chump Car, and the young men (calling themselves Beast Mode Racing) have started a new Chump Car to debut on track next year. (See a Youtube video of Aaron driving Max at Watkins Glen.)

So now we have ample room, even for the dogs.

Bringing this car back from the brink has been enormously gratifying (at least when it’s not been enormously frustrating and challenging!). I now have a very fine car that still needs a tweak here and there, and that still requires some fettling now that it’s on the road and I can gauge performance under “real conditions.” I still have a couple of things to hook up, like the windshield wipers — which are, of course, useless anyway since the car never goes out in the rain now.

But I find that I’d like to start a new project and find a new challenge. I am nearly committed to selling the Jaguar E-type that I’ve had such fun with over the years. I wanted one of these cars since I first put together a model of a coupe when I was in fourth grade, and now having it, I find that perhaps my interest is really in the putting together and not in the possession. (Haben oder Sein, Erich Fromm once asked.) As a matter of fact, that little discovery may have been the most profound over the years.

So, who knows what will happen in coming months.

February 2010 – Driven

Look! No leaks! And it moves!

The alteration of the timing chain cover water inlet seems to have done the trick. The old thing has retained coolant where it should, and we’ve run the car many times without the horrible froth of contamination surfacing beneath the valve covers. Finally, we have a moving and well running car! Aaron took it out on a maiden voyage in the middle of a cold day, so the earmuffs felt good, I’m sure. This has been a cold and wet winter, and I’m afraid the yard has taken a beating (not to mention that there’s all sorts of crap out back by the garage and shed, now preserved for posterity on YouTube).

We have fastidiously checked and rechecked the oil to see if any wiff of water is leaking through, but so far there’s not been any coolant. We’ve run the car fairly frequently since, and I have been incrementally working up the electrics and getting it to the point where a car safety inspector could smile and hand me a sticker. Since the car predates emissions inspections — and perhaps any North Carolina inspection at all — I don’t expect trouble.

Home-made solid state 10-volt regulator

The water temperature, fuel level and (perhaps?) oil pressure gauges use 10 volts, not 12-or-so volts. Smiths did this in order to keep the gauges fairly accurate — or at least try. My regulator was shot, and it was interesting to do the research on the device. In effect, the old fashioned regulator was an electro-mechanical device. It basically created a quick oscillation of 12-volt power to approximate 10 volt steady power. I didn’t bother to do a post mortem on my old Smiths regulator, but I would guess that it was hopelessly corroded or seized.

I could have bought a solid-state replacement from CoolCat (here). However, Doug Lawson put together some instructions on making your own replacement of the Smiths voltage regulator, now no longer available on the web. The parts are easily acquired, and I figured it was worth doing something ingenious. I got the resistors and the LM317T chip from Parts Express, and I think shipping ended up costing more than the components. For the case, I used a housing from a discarded horn relay. It was actually too big, but I had it on hand, and I wasn’t planning on putting it where the original Smiths unit went so it wasn’t going to get in the way. Twenty minutes of soldering and a little fuddling around was all it took.

I ended up fitting the revised regulator behind the glove box. It works quite nicely, it seems. Lord knows if the gauges are actually true (I think not), but they are probably close enough. I have not yet hooked up the oil pressure gauge for the interior, since I have a mechanical gauge in the engine compartment that is easy to see when working under the hood. I haven’t yet decided to fit an electric sender unit, either. From what I can tell, they are not at all accurate. I can probably pick up a mechanical Smiths unit from somewhere, and just watch for leaks.

At any rate, I have working gauges.

The tachometer and speedometer need attention. I will be retrofitting and upgrading the tach, and I have yet to look at the speedometer. Those seem to be details for later.

Aluminum center console

I had only a few parts of the original aluminum center console with the original “dot pattern.” They were not in great shape, and the run of the original part was so brief — I think only in the 1963 model year — that replacements are pretty darned rare. (Raw aluminum with the correct press pattern is available for a dear price from Aston Martin Heritage. See the “Crosshatch aluminum” section on a previous entry.) I considered machining my own raw stock, but I figured it wasn’t worth it, especially after I had played around with some aluminum just to see what it was like to work with. Aluminum has this rich and deep shine to it, once it’s been polished, and the metal can have a lot of interesting characteristics. I made a couple of pieces of the console using a “brushed” aluminum finish, and it, too, would be good. I eventually figured that a somewhat polished finish would be really nice.

The plywood for the original center console was totally rotten, and so I had to make another one, and I used the original aluminum part to create a “buck” out of a hefty piece of plywood to make the new replacement part. Since the plywood serves as the means of attaching the aluminum to the metal/vinyl console frame, I went ahead and inserted machine screws in holes run through the plywood and countersunk. Number 6-32 machine screws went into the holes, and those went through the metal console frame. It’s sturdy, and removable, too. I did run into a problem with the console fitting onto the tranny tunnel, though, and so I had to grind off the screws that I had placed down the middle of the console. Those screws met the highest part of the tranny tunnel, making it impossible for the console to go down entirely.

I used “Goop” to glue the aluminum to the plywood, and of course the tabs folded over to make everything stable. Clothespins have been useful, though also they’ve been a bit of a problem with holding vinyl in place. As Bill McKenna noted, clothespins can leave dimples. I found that the way around this is to buffer the pins with short pieces of cardboard laid along the surface that’s being held in place. Of course, aluminum is less pliable and impressionable than vinyl, so the clothespins just fit onto this piece. A bag of a hundred pins has served me well over the years.

The aluminum was regular old flat sheet 0.032″ “5052” grade. I got a 24″ x 48″ sheet for under $20 USD, and I didn’t bother shopping around. I tried out some thicker stock, but it gave me trouble on the curves, such as where the parking brake lever goes through the console. The thin sheet worked fine with a little (gentle) convincing and pinching. Polishing took just a little elbow grease and rubbing compound. I found that Wright’s Brass Cleaner was good for the final polish, followed by a little wax to hold off oxidation.

There it is, all well fingered and smudged! I think this center piece will take a little attention now and then to keep in decent shape. I will be redoing the radio section of the console, since it doesn’t fit the shifter cover part. I have plenty of aluminum sheet left so that’s no problem. And, of course, the voltmeter is completely non-standard, since it replaced an ammeter. I figured I’d much prefer a voltmeter after the alternator replacement I did, and ammeters seem to be a bit hazardous in a cockpit to me. At least what I have does the measuring, even though it looks a little odd with the rest of the instruments.

December 2009 – Reason for coolant leak discovered

This one is for Derek, my eldest of sons, kind and level-headed. —Also more reasonable than I am, probably. It has been a great blessing to have the children Arlene and I have raised, and we both know that our lives together have been a matter of luck and work, however mixed. We count our blessings, and the first among all of them are our children.

It moves on its own, at last

I was talking with one of my colleagues at work, and he recalled when he started working with me — it seemed long ago, four or five years — and this old car was still in the garage. Actually, long in the garage, being putzed with and pampered and fixed and prodded. But it’s right on the edge of moving out to a new life on the road. Or at least that’s what I hope.

It seemed interminable, this long wait for the car to move. Here, too, there was an interruption, since my fix of the coolant leak was in fact no fix at all. But after Aaron returned from NASCAR Technical Institute in November and his tools started to pile up in the messy garage, there was in fact little choice but to get cracking on the last bits — the clutch hydraulics and the setting to rights of the brakes. Since Aaron came home, brake bleeding was not the chore it was before, but we discovered that the front brake master cylinder needed some fettling, since the play of the piston was not sufficient. I had a spacer for the master cylinder (from an old XJ or early S-type, I believe), and we installed it on the front master cylinder, which is fitted topmost on the pedal assembly. Works great now. Remember, this is due to the non-original Wilwood master cylinder conversion.

The clutch hydraulics were simple. And Aaron pushed a little by pushing the old car out into the elements so that he could fit his tool cabinets into the garage. I was not pleased that the car was under a tarp outside, but we got it done in part because I wanted to get the thing moving and back into the garage.

All was installed, and so coolant and oil went into the engine. It fired up great, and it moved on its own the forty-some feet into the garage (which by now had been cleaned). We ran the engine a few times thereafter, basically checking out the movement of coolant, the operation of the thermostat, the idle, and the like. It looked good.

I figured it was all downhill from there. It wasn’t. The coolant leak revisited the car, like some unwelcomed haunt.

Aaron called me one afternoon and told me that coolant was again in the oil, so the shade-tree mechanic “fix” wasn’t working. He had removed the oil pan enough to be able to locate the area of the leak, pressurized the cooling system, and discovered that the inlet from the water pump through the timing chain cover was leaking somewhere. A dribble of coolant was coming down the left side of the timing chain cover and into the oil pan. There was little to do but take the cover off.

It took only a few moments of looking at the inlets on the 3.8 and 4.2 liter timing chain covers to understand where things had gone awry.

Another difference between the 1963 3.8 liter and the 1979 4.2 liter XK engines

I’ve done some comparisons of the two engines that we’ve taken apart for this car: the differences of the cylinder heads and the blocks. I missed a rather important difference in the timing chain covers, though, and that was what came back to bite us. The 4.2 liter engine eventually had a better water pump installed and the passage through the cover into the block was slightly bigger and shaped to allow better flow of coolant. It was the difference of the inlets and the areas where the inlet passages were mated that made all the trouble.

Why not use the 4.2 liter engine cover? I didn’t have a water pump to fit. The XJ6 water pump I had would not clear the front of the engine bay, since it went forward beyond the “picture frame.” I couldn’t locate a new water pump either, since everywhere I looked, the water pumps were available only with core exchange or were “R&R” serviced.

A quick glance at the images that compare the 3.8 and 4.2 liter cover inlets shows the true source of the leakage problem. When you compare the two inlets (note the grey area to show the overlap), you can see that the curved sections end up severely narrowing the “kiss” of the cover to the block. And in fact the shape of the coolant inlet on the 4.2 liter engine block is even more pronounced than the cover’s inlet. Although it’s a little fuzzy, the photograph of the block inlet has “points” rather than curves at the upper and lower edges. If you look carfully, you might be able to see the place where the old 3.8 timing change cover (mis)matched the block inlet. I would bet that the leakage we saw came from the lower edge of the inlet, and that it arose only well after we had run the engine for a while, making it possible for the low pressure hot water to push the RTV out of the way.

Now the question was what to do. Obviously, the option of fitting the 4.2 cover would have been best, and I even toyed with the option of arranging a remote electric water pump. The prospect of begging for a 4.2 water pump was wholly unappealling, but was an option (and in fact still is an option now). The last option was to alter the 3.8 cover so that it would at least provide a more ample mating surface to the 4.2 block, in effect following the squared outlines of the 4.2 inlet. This was the option that we chose. The real debate was how to go about making the alteration. The initial approach was to build up the surface by welding aluminum and then machine the surface flat. I was very near pulling the trigger on that option, but the very real possibility of warping or distorting the cover made me hesitate. We could well end up with an unusable part, and we were throwing ourselves on the mercy of welding shops that would make no guarantees. The alloy of the cover was also an issue, I suppose. Lord knows how close a match the built-up metal would need to be.

Of course, there wouldn’t have been a debate without another option, and that was J-B Weld, I’m afraid. Now, I know that the stuff is broadly ridiculed, but I suspect that it’s also used more than people will admit. I’ve used it as an adhesive and filler on knobs and decorative parts of things. The bad reputation comes from people who use it idiotically, and I think that the J-B Weld marketing doesn’t help — engine blocks being “mended,” testmaments that the stuff is “better than baling wire” for farm implement repair, and the like. (As an aside, I have to hand it to the J-B Weld marketing people since they pitch their product to those who will actually buy the stuff — that is, the people who wander around Lowes and farm supply stores. They’re not pitching their product to machinists or welders.)

The stuff is tough, and J-B Weld claims a tensile strength of 3960 psi, adhesion of 1800 psi, flex strength of 7320 psi, tensile lap shear of 1040 psi, and shrinkage of 0.0%. It can handle temperatures up to about 600° F. These measures are of course less than aluminum, but they’re certainly within the range required for an area of little stress and reasonably low temperatures like where we needed to make changes. My main concern — and the crux of the debate — was adhesion. A J-B Weld alteration might hold up, but if a failure occurred it would probably be when a chunk would let loose from the filled area. A chunk falling into the oil pan or timing chain would be quite enough to ruin an engine in no time. The question of using J-B Weld has to do with where one draws the line between good use and idiocy. The application on the timing chain cover would not be stress bearing, though the area would experience temperature changes. As is the case with most adhesives (all of them?), surface preparation is the key to good adhesion.

No surprise here, I guess, about which way we went. The probability of immediate damage from welding and hypothetical (and, I think, remotely likely) failure of a J-B Weld application tipped the decision in favor of J-B Weld. Since the timing chain cover was out and easily cleaned, I went at it with all sorts of cleaners. I roughed up the area to be covered with coarse sandpaper and then scored the surface with a sharp probe tip. A final cleanup of residues and oil was all it took before I set up a dam made of masking tape. Then it was a matter of putting the J-B Weld into place. Twenty-four hours later, I brought the epoxy bumps down flush with the cover, and it was done.

By now, we have removed the cylinder head twice in search of coolant leaks. The oil pan was dropped once. The timing chain cover came off once. I sure hope this is the final chapter on this issue. It is interesting (at least to me) to reflect on the process of fixing up the old car. It is a mixture of physical grunt work, much cussing, posing hypotheses, scratching them off or confirming them with observation or test. This episode with coolant leakage was in fact as much an intellectual exercise as it was mechanical work on the car. The fact that it occurred shows the importance of documentation and keen observation, since had I just looked carefully at the differences in timing chain covers the issue would have been resolved the first time. Much oil and antifreeze would have been spared. And, more importantly, I’d be doing something more close to the finish line for this car.

On my birthday, by the way, I got a convertible top frame that David Boger located. It needs a little work, but I think the pieces I have at hand might do the trick of mending. I can hardly wait until I can put that on, toss in some seats, and drive the car around!

January 2009 – Setback and brakes

I have to apologize to the many good folks who have contacted me wondering where the restoration stands. It has indeed been a long time since I have updated the web site, though I have intended to do the work often. A mixture of other things to do and some technical difficulties (a new computer and lost digital camera, mainly) conspired to keep this year (!) of work on the car more or less secret. But things have indeed been progressing. It is likely (and a little weird) that this entry will be the only one in the sixth year of restoration.

Coolant leakage

It has been some time since the triumphant first start back in September 2008, but the time was not without events or work on the car. It turned out that somehow coolant leaked into the oil, a fact that I discovered to my horror when the oil cooler circuit broke and I saw oil squirt out with the color of well-creamed coffee. It looked luscious and rich, and it meant nothing but trouble. The first thing that I did — after cleaning up the considerable mess — was remove the oil cooler. I suspect that the lines were insufficient for the pressure, and they were going to cause trouble anyway.

But the cooler setup was not the cause of the leak inside, and so the weeks and months that followed meant considerable speculation and telephone calling. I was skeptical that the issue was a head gasket — the thing was brand new, after all — but the fact was that there had been occasion enough for something catastophic inside. The mistaken wiring caused a good deal of explosion (when the effect wasn’t just straightforward flamethrowing). And there probably was high oil pressure due to the craptastic oil cooler. So, I took off the head after many weeks of trying to avoid the job. The gasket was in fine shape, and I replaced it nonetheless. So much for premature head gasket failure.

How about the truth of the head and the block’s deck? The head was newly reconditioned, but the block was not. Both looked fine when tested with a straightedge.

Then I remembered, very vaguely, seeing a silicone worm around the timing chain cover. A search of my photographs came up with nothing, an obvious failure of documentation at the tear-down.

So, the water pump came off, and I probed at the interface of the timing chain cover and the block. I did find a point where the probe was “sticky” — as though it was poking into a very small hole. This hole pretty much corresponded with my memory of the worm. The fault must be in the timing chain cover, since I have a new block on which I fitted the original timing chain cover. I was of course presented with a situation of having to tear off the head yet again to remove the timing chain cover, or I could do what a previous owner had done. I chose to recreate the silicone worm. Next time the engine comes out I’ll be better about it.

I’ve not yet loaded up the car with fresh oil and new coolant. Who knows, I might be removing the head again anyway.

Front brake calipers and master cylinders

Assuming that the engine goes, I have to worry how to stop the rolling car. My initial plan was to recondition the original Dunlop master cylinders and front caliper setup (the original rear calipers are in place already). I had already cleaned up the originals, and I’d even plated the front calipers in anticipation of having the cylinders redone and new pistons installed. I was intrigued by the Volvo caliper upgrade, even though it went a bit against my desire to keep things pretty standard. The more I looked at it, though, the more it made sense to use the Volvo system. There is plenty of evidence that the upgrade works, there are some rather obvious advantages to it, and there is plenty of instruction on line.

“Sin boldly,” Martin Luther said, assuming that sin was inevitable anyway. So I sinned against the spirit of authenticity and adopted the Volvo brake calipers. I’ve done it boldly by painting the transgressions yellow. These calipers won’t hide, I’m afraid. But I do think they’ll stop better than the originals. The surface area of the pads and the pressure from the dual pistons will surely outmeasure the originals. It isn’t really all that bad, either, since these Volvo brakes were made by Girling, and Girlings were originally installed on many of our old E-types (just not these Girlings.)

Why yellow? Well, I’d seen a Porsche with yellow calipers and I liked it, and I do think the color makes no apologies for my “error.” I might be accused of being unrepentant!

I got “loaded” calipers — pads, retaining pins, everything — and they cost about $120 (USD). There is a bit of fuddling that is required and you have to make a decision about whether to “split” the caliper halves or not. I chose to split them and use the drill-between-the-pistons approach to unify the brake fluid input. There was no forcing required, and the caliper halves came apart quite easily. I don’t really understand the worry that some people have about splitting the calipers. As David Kerr puts it in his step-by-step instructions: “I think a lot written about brakes is folklore, people will not touch brakes simply because they are afraid of the consequences. The faces of the caliper are machined flat, as long as the matched pair are reunited, there really shouldn’t be a problem.”

There isn’t much reason to present yet another step-by-step instruction set for the Volvo caliper conversion, since this road has been well travelled before. See the following:

  • “XKE Brake Upgrade using Volvo Calipers” by Brian Ternamian [PDF] uses a “T” to distribute brake fluid to the two fluid inputs. No splitting of the calipers is necessary.
  • “XKE Brake Upgrade using Volvo Calipers and the Drilled Split-caliper Single-line Method” by David Kerr [PDF] uses the method specified in the title.
  • Modifying Volvo Brake Calipers” by an anonymous Nova Scotian presents another method, though I worried a little about narrowing the pad retaining pins.

In short, there is plenty to read and learn before even ordering a part.

The Dunlop master cylinders were pretty rough when we pulled them off the car. One had already been resleeved and the sleeves were in pretty decent shape, but they were rusted and ugly. The rubber parts needed a refresh, of course. Over the years, I’ve read about troubles with these cylinders leaking, with the rubber rebuild parts being suspect of either premature deterioration or being ill fitting to begin with. In short, I wasn’t particularly wild about putting the old ones on even after a careful rebuild. I moved from an initial plan of rebuilding on my own to sending them out for a complete and professional redo. So, I did what everybody does. I googled.

There wasn’t a straight swap for the Dunlop master cylinders, but I ran into some decent specification for a Wilwood master cylinder that could be “drop-in” along the lines of the Volvo calipers. The lines wouldn’t work without some fiddling. The mount into the pedal box required a minor swipe or two of a grinding wheel to open up the hole to accept the mouth of the cylinder. The “plunger” that attaches to the pedal assembly also required a fair amount of work — basically, the plunger for the adjustable fork had to be tapped further, and the other plunger from the original Dunlop needed to be used on the other master. This meant removing the circlip and making the swap. I bought two of the Wilwood 3/4 inch bore “compact remote” aluminum master cylinders (P/N 260-6089) from JEGS (

The Wilwoods are aluminum, so they’re lighter than the Dunlops and a bit stouter. The orientations of the inlet and outlet are also different. Where the Dunlop has the inlet coming straight out the back, the Wilwood orients the inlet vertically. The outlet for the Wilwood is shifted to point 45° forward. The threading is the same, however, so you can reuse fittings. Also, the Dunlop master cylinders orient the outlet vertically once they’re installed in the pedal box; the Wilwoods point the inlet and outlet 45° towards the center of the car. It’s worth noting that the Wilwood master cylinders are very similar to the standard-issue Girling clutch master cylinder, with the exception that the Girling is a bit shorter.

This tilt of the inlet and outlet makes for some interesting line-bending maneuvers. I decided to send the brake lines low — obviously, the line heading aft had to go low in any case, but the line heading forward could have been kept above the master cylinders. Sending it below, I think, allows more flexibility and provides some measure of vibration absorption. This meant that all the lines — inlets and outlets — had a bit of crowding beneath the master cylinders. Accommodating the inlet lines from the brake fluid reservoirs turned the lines into a well tied knot, it seemed at times. But they finally fell into place.

So, with the master cylinders in place and the Volvo plan, what’s left? Due to another unfortunate event, my air compressor needed fixing, and so the installation of the the left-side caliper was stopped. I still have to run the lines for the clutch hydraulics, too. But when those are done, the thing can run down a back road, even though it’ll be loud without an exhaust system. I told Neil Purves that they plan was to get the old car moving before the summer ended. It will run up the gravel road behind my place up to “Froggy Hollow” and back.

I just need to cordon off the time to get the last bits in place.

Buck for rear windshield

In the earlier part of the year, I finished making a buck for making a Plexiglas rear windshield for my hardtop. I haven’t tried creating a windshield yet, but Ray Livingston suggested that I use an infrared heater and heat slowly. My impatience with the process has made my initial experiments little bubbly disasters. I suppose I’ll give it a go this fall. I just have to make a wooden support for my heater. That’s about as fancy as I’ll get with the windshield. If this doesn’t work, I’m off to the store to buy one. Enough fiddling.

I’ll try to be better about updating, though I know I’ve said that before. Thanks to all of you for your emails over the past several months.

September 2008 – Engine runs!

The old beast runs!

This one is for Aaron, who is now off on his own in Mooresville. And this is the last web entry for the fifth year of restoration; the next entry will start the sixth year! Maybe the sixth year will be the year of driving the old beast.

If a picture is worth a thousand, words, I thought, why not try a video? Well, I’m sure it’d be worth another 10,000 words or so, but the camera we have is very, very old. Fifteen-second

videos is about all it can handle, and that doesn’t quite cut it. However, take three 15-second videos, and maybe you’ve got a shot at, say, the equivalent of 2,500 words. So that’s what we’ve tried here. A before the start video, a start video, and an (inadvertent) after-the-start “Woo-Hoo!” video. The actual start video, as you might note by the absence of ear protection, doesn’t quite fit the sequence. It’s actually the second start, not the first — a historic recreation, as it were.

But this was really, really fun! More fun than we’ve had with the car in ages and ages. More fun than … even spraying color (as we did almost exactly four years ago)!

There were some extraordinary requirements for this start. First, the starter button (charming thing), still won’t play well with the solenoid. I believe this is a matter that has more to do with the starter solenoid setup than the starter button. I checked out the button and all is well. The wiring diagram for the solenoid seems straight-forward enough, but I have to wonder about the “downstream” things like the coil and the mysterious distributor. It could be that the poor solenoid is expecting some downstream happenings that, well, just aren’t. The result of this confusion was that I couldn’t just press the starter button to have the engine come to life. I had to hotwire it. A simple matter of taking the starter wire and bridging the solenoid leads manually.

It works just great, and should be a lesson in how easy it is to steal a car like this. Thirty-seconds under the hood and you’re driving it.

There are also some very loose ends — quite literally — that have to do with the wiring. As the good XJ6 folks on Jag-Lovers told me, I needed to fit an amplifier to the distributor in order to get spark. I figured that it was best to make sure the system worked before making the necessary fittings for the amplifier, and so I have temporary wiring in place for the amplifier. On an XJ6 from the late 1970s and 1980s, the amplifier was grounded to the body, and I’ll need to make sure that the grounding is suitable for this piece. The wiring from the distributor to the amplifier is fairly short, probably about 10 to 15 centimeters, so the fitting needs to be in close proximity to the distributor. The leads that run to the coil are not that long either. I haven’t done it yet, but I am going to fashion a metal bracket that will hang on the left subframe forward, near the picture frame junction. The bracket will be partially obscured and hang on the engine side of the frame. It won’t be up to concourse standard, but the engine will work (and reliably, I hope).

The video of the actual start makes it appear that it was just a matter of doing the hotwiring, and after things were set that was the case. I was amazed at how quickly the old engine came to life. (The cylinder head redo probably had some influence on that, of course.) Getting to that point was a bit painstaking, since Aaron and I wired the distributor badly. We consulted the shop manual that showed the old 22D distributor in its illustration, and we took the illustration a bit too literally. We identified the wrong connection on the AB14 cap as belonging to cylinder number 6 — the frontmost one. The confusion had to do with the different orientation of the vacuum advance on the 22D and AB14 setups.

The result was that our wiring was off by one. And the result when I tried to fire thing up was a bit disconcerting. Instead of a popping, exploding coming-to-life, the engine became a several hundred pound flamethrower. Flames poured out of the exhaust manifolds, sometimes mustering a bit of an explosion. But, alas, no joy. I managed to singe the hair off my right arm in my starting attempts.

In order to set things to rights, I focused first on the carburetors, since the thing seemed to me to be set extraordinarily too rich. They seemed OK to me, though I know they’ll need tuning. Manipulation of the distributor timing just didn’t work. I then did things the right way, and turned the engine to 12° to 14° before Top Dead Center (TDC) markings on the crankshaft dampner. That orientation should point the distributor rotor toward the setting for cylinder six. And when I looked, the error was immediately apparent. We had the wires offset by one plug. Fixing that was as easy as moving wires over.

With the wires in the right place, the engine immediately came to life. Totally amazing. Wonderful to witness.

The thing is loud without an exhaust system coming off the manifolds. I can hardly wait to fit that, so the characteristic Sir William’s Six Symphony can ring around Rougemont. But the exhaust system will need to wait for a bit. I’d first like to set the things straight that are dangling on wires. There are also a couple of coolant leaks that need attention.

I wish that Aaron had been able to be on hand for the initial start, but he was able to hear the engine via a telephone connection. He’s moved to Mooresville (north of Charlotte) to attend the NASCAR Technical Institute. He said he could tune the carbs, and I believe he could, especially after he has that training behind him.

More on the ignition system

Peter Crespin mentioned on the Jag-Lovers XJ forum that he likes the AB14 distributor, and now that I’ve looked at it and read a little about the physics behind it, I think it makes sense, too. There really isn’t much to go bad — at least as far as moving parts are concerned. Aside from the parts that spin (and do so deep within the engine), nothing touches enough to do anything counting as friction. I’ve reused the picture from the previous web page to illustrate this. The star-shaped round thing spins, of course, but it doesn’t physically touch anything to its sides. The influence is little more than a purturbation of, well, mysterious tiny things or, as the physicists would have it (at some times and other times, not), waves. I don’t know, as I suppose it matters which way you’re looking at the thing … so Professor Heisenberg. The main thing is it causes spark. (If you’re interested, head to the prevous web page and click on the links associated with “reluctor” and “Hall effect.” Probably read the Hall effect article first, and don’t sweat the mathematics.)

Spark was a bit elusive, simply because I hadn’t a clue about what I was dealing with, except that the innards of this distributor didn’t look very familiar. I needed another part to complete the setup — an “amplifier” that sits between the distributor and the coil, with the two leads from the distributor heading into the amplifier and two wires out heading to the coil’s positive and negative posts. David Boger had the piece, and he shipped it to me pronto.

Sure enough, the system is the AB14. The Lucas label proclaimed it.

I hooked the amplifier up by just plugging it in, and I hoped for spark. But, nope, there was no joy, not even a little cold burst of electricity. A little study of the amplifier itself was instructive, though. The mounts on the back are quite purposeful; they’re little triangular outcroppings that convey solidity and contact. So I figured that the housing and the little triangular mounting parts were intended to serve as grounding points as well. A quick grounding wire attachment was all it took. I had ground and spark.

This was one time when I think reading the instructions would have been nice, but I got by with good counsel from the folks at the forum and a little critical thinking. I have gathered enough little bits of evidence to lead me to believe that the engine was a late 1979 year product, very likely an engine that would also have a home in a 1980 model year car. I recall that the donor car was a model 1979, but the build date might have been late. It might have sported some features that would be common in the following model year. Peter Crespin wondered out loud whether the setup I have was an early AB14, and I know when I got the replacement distributor cap, the NAPA fellow told me that it was “actually” a 1980 model cap. I suppose I could investigate with a little bit of work.

But, heritage questions of a replacement engine are much less important than the fact that the thing turns, works, and is loud without an exhaust system!

July 2008 – Miscellaneous since February

What we’ve done since February (!) 2008

This one is for Dan.

Just under a year ago, I said I was looking for a double-groove crankshaft pulley. I published a humorous email exchange at the time, and I had resolved to get a new pulley from Classic Jaguar. Funny how time flies — I had no idea it’s been a year since that time until I fished around on my website for that link. People ask me how the car is coming, and I think how leisurely the pace has been, punctuated by flurries of great activity. I have taken Mike Moore’s advice, given a few years ago on the Jag-Lover’s forum, to do something every day, even if it only amounts to cleaning tools. Sometimes, I’ll have to admit, I have been content to gaze upon the car — as if looking constituted work.

At any rate, I did get my pulley from Classic Jaguar, but I got a used part — my preference actually. And Dan Mooney was gracious, since I didn’t need the accessory pulley and bolts that he offered on his used parts listings. Dan has always been gracious and supportive through the course of this restoration, and I have used the Classic Jaguar website a lot over the years to watch the pros at work. I like to think I’ve been able to take cues, at least, from what happens in the CJ workshops, but I don’t think my toolsets quite match. Neither does my talent, alas.

I went ahead a few weeks later to pick up a used low brake fluid level switch from CJ’s used parts collection. One of the two that came with the car broken too badly to repair; the other seems workable until I get around to replacing it or can figure out how to mend it. That is a challenge since the things were put together in a way that defies taking apart, and I ended up breaking both of them utterly when I was struggling to get the aluminum canister off. See the used replacement’s innards in the picture below.

Aaron has been involved with this restoration over all of the years, and he leaves to NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina, at the end of August. He told me that he wanted to get the engine running before he left, but it looks as though that’s probably not going to happen. We have gotten the major pieces in place, and in fact we have turned the engine over for a period to see the oil pressure pop up. (It went to 60 pounds in very little time, I’m happy to report.) Getting the ignition system straight has been a little bit of a challenge, mainly because I didn’t take the time to actually look at the distributor insides. I was expecting to hook the thing up like the original 3.8 liter engine, but the new engine has an electronic ignition, so the setup is significantly different at least at the distributor. (See the pictures below for comparisons of the original distributor and the newer one.)

The fuel pump is in place, but I haven’t connected the run of wire from the “rear” harness to the cockpit harness yet. (Remember, I modularized the wiring harnesses a bit more than they already were.) The fuel tank filler hose is in place, too. I had to buy one of those little pieces of rubber from a Jaguar vendor, because I couldn’t find a hose with the right inner dimension. Not even McMaster-Carr had something suitable. But I did some searching after I got the hose and could use the printed numbers on the rubber. Goodyear offers “Fuel Fill Hose SAE 30R6” in various inner dimensions. I believe an inner dimension of 2 1/4 inches would do the trick.

Various pictures collected over the months

The fuel level sensor. Essentially, it’s a rheostat. (Er, maybe a potentiometer, but I think not. The thing has two, not three, leads.) The whole thing is quite delicate, so if you go the route of cleaning it, be very careful. The brass float that dangles into the fuel drives the blade. There are two “switches” so to speak — one that signals the variable level (the rheostat) and the other that is on-off that signals low fuel. The lid that’s removed in this photograph plays a role in completing the circuits, too. When I opened this little box up, it was quite encrusted. Cleaned up pretty well, though.

Looking down the XJ6 exhaust manifolds. I used the XJ6 manifolds that came with the engine I got from David Boger. Rather than heading straight down, the lower pipe slants backwards just slightly, and the manifold include a bolt-like bung hole plug. That plug makes it much too tight a fit against the left subframe, so I cut off the plug. The picture shows the front exhaust with plug and the rear exhaust with the plug cut off.I like the XJ6 manifolds for another reason: they include a heat shield setup that would seem to reflect heat downward. With all of the work on the paint, I really don’t want to have heat damage around the left louvres as I’ve heard some people have seen. Of course, the change in design means that the exhaust will have to be specially crafted, at least from the base of the manifolds to the front of the muffler section. I don’t think that will be too much of a challenge, though.

The engine compartment. Yes, please don’t pay attention to the mess. One of the thing I could do (but, apparently don’t) is take time to clean up the garage. It is shared, for the time being, with son Aaron, who also leaves his junk around. Working on my car includes quite frequently asking Aaron where tools are. But, aside from that, the engine compartment is coming together nicely, creating a sight that offsets some of the garbage in the background. Notably absent are the brake and clutch hydraulic fluid reservoirs and much else on that side of the engine. Since the time this photograph was taken (early July 2008), there has been some additional progress. A battery has been fitted, the heater fan assembly has been more firmly put in place, and a new starter solenoid (which still hasn’t worked right) is set up.You can see the oil cooler setup quite plainly, of course.

The rusty brake rotors need calipers fitted — and to be used — to get them clear of the red iron oxide. That, too, will come.

Lucas 22D distributor with condenser and points. This is the inside of the distributor that came with the 3.8 liter engine. It’s a Lucas 22D (note the marks) and it’s what I’m familiar with — mechanical and old fashioned with points and a condenser. I suppose I could use this one, as Glen Jarboe has on his 4.2 after he went through his engine rebuild. I’ll put this one aside, though, in favor of the distributor that came with the 4.2 replacement engine (below). If that one needs replacement, I might go with a Pertronix.

Lucas AB14 distributor with sensor. This distributor came with the engine I got from David Boger. People on the Jag-Lovers XJ6 forum seemed to think that this distributor is the Lucas AB14. It’s got a “CEI” (Something Electronic Ignition, probably) that has a sensor instead of the more mechanical approach that I’m familiar with. Peter Crespin, who knows a lot more than I do about these things, explained that the star-shaped center portion is a “normal six-point reluctor for the Hall effect pick-up coil at the side of the base plate.” This setup requires an amplifier, and David will be sending one to me. If the old electronic parts don’t pan out, I could install the mechanical 22D or put in a new Pertronix. My thanks go to Frank Anderson, Al McLean, Peter Crespin, David Boger and the Jag Lovers’ XJ6 forum.

A handy mechanical oil pressure gauge under the bonnet. I’m not terribly impressed with the track record of the electronic oil pressure gauge. People seem to think that they’re maybe accurate to within 25% (and I believe that might be half in jest). With the two oil pressure sensor possibilities on the 4.2 liter engine I got, I went ahead and installed a mechanical gauge next to the windshield washer bottle and above the fuel filter bowl. The copper tubing goes to where the on/off pressure sensor used to be. I believe that the XJ6 had an oil pressure sensor there that was attached to an engine cutoff. The electronic sensor for the gauge was broken on this engine, and so I might attach the sensor from the 3.8 liter engine. It’s old, but it might work.Then, again, I might just stick a non-standard mechanical gauge in the cockpit. Lucas ones are available, I believe, though they display a different range of oil pressure than the electronic gauges do. Having an oil pressure gauge in the engine area is really nice. I’m considering installing a tachometer nearby, too. I believe they come in the two-inch form factor

Insides of the brake fluid level switch. Both of my brake fluid level switches ended up being less than desirable. Both of them cracked when I tried to remove the aluminum canister that protects the cork float. One of them is more-or-less intact and still sits atop a fluid bottle, waiting until I replace it. The other broke into small pieces, and so I replaced it with a used part from Classic Jaguar. The replacement was really nice, and when I removed the aluminum canister, the top part came off. I took advantage of the inadvertent disassembly to clean and photograph it.The thing is dead simple. Simple enough that you’d think replacements would be cheaper. I just wish there was a way to replace the top cover and the canister without having to replace the whole part. The inset photo shows where the two contacts are hit by the metal disk that’s attached to the rod and float. One thing that might help others trying to replace a besotted cork: There is a hole near the top of the canister that is slightly pressed into the plastic of the assembly. If you take a knife and remove part of the aluminum that’s pressed into the hole, you might find removing the canister easier. It worked for me.

October 2007 – Engine in place

Engine in place

I wanted the engine to go in this fall, and it did! Aaron and I fiddled with the fit of the torsion bar reaction plate — the bane of the removal of the engine renewed in reverse! — and the next day slipped the engine into place. Here’s how it looked just after it was put into place.

The actual installation was on my birthday, so it was a very good day. As a matter of fact, I think it was my best birthday in years.

Aaron and I dropped the engine in from the top. Bill McKenna opted for the bottom, and there is some feeling that the bottom-up method is easier than dropping the whole hulk from the top. When we took out the engine the first week we had the car (over five years ago!), we lowered it and lifted the subframes to allow us to pull the engine and transmission forward. I recalled fighting with the motor mount brackets to get them to clear on the way down, so this time we put the engine in from the top. My father had warned about chipping the paint on the subframes, and so we put a couple of layers of masking tape on the frames. The tape did provide protection from the inevitable bumps.

It is a fairly tight fit from the top, and you do have the raise the engine high enough that it feels a little scary. The touchiest part is tipping the tranmission end down, though the hoist we have includes a nifty worm-geared adjustment that makes pitching the engine angle a matter of turning a crank. The process of setting the engine into place really amounted to easing it into place by gradual leveling of the engine and lowering it in steps. We did have some extra — perhaps even necessary? — wiggle room because we did not have the crankshaft pulley attached to the crankshaft dampner. (I actually haven’t bought it yet.) This meant we had a couple centimeters to play with when the oil pan was just below the top of the picture frame.

Not only has the engine changed…

It’s fair to say that the engine would still be sitting on the floor in front of the car were it not for Aaron, who worked to resolve some of the fitment issues that I had wrung my hands about over the past several weeks. Literally, I had fretted about things so much that I had avoided doing much to resolve the issues.

Well, I had actually fretted not so much about things in plural as a specific thing: that terror-inducing construct having to do with the torsion bars. As I’ve said before, I hate torsion bars. And our experience five years ago with the torsion bar reaction plate still is amazingly fresh in my mind. The thing was a beast to get off, especially since we were cramped under the car and hadn’t really too deep an understanding of the dynamics of the front suspension. The role of the reaction plate in the front still seems a little mysterious to me, since it has been claimed that the reaction plate actually imparts something between the two torsion bars, allowing them to communicate in some advanced engineering sort of way. Perhaps. All I know is that the plate goes in after the engine is in place, and the plate either fits or it doesn’t, since the fittings just won’t give.

To make sure that the reaction plate was going to fit, I actually used it to set the location of the two halves of the replacement floor (right and left), but that was before the POR-15, undercoating, primer, and paint. The coatings made enough of a difference that additional futzing was required. Believe me, it takes very little to make the reaction plate tighter than works well. Bill McKenna had to do the same, he reported, though he used a grinder to take off the excess powder coat and such. Aaron and I didn’t resort to that, but we did whack and bump a fair amount. I suspect that professionals might actually take better account of the coatings when they use the reaction plate to fit new floors. I didn’t think of that when we were installing the new floor panels.

It’s important to get all of the bolts fitted without having to contend with the engine and transmission, so if you’re doing a restoration like mine, fit the reaction plate before dropping the engine in. That little extra time will take hours off the work.

We took the tension off the torsion bars, of course. It actually isn’t that bad a job to do, but it is a hassle — seems too much a sideline in relation to the real show of the engine going in. And, of course, there’s no graceful way to get at the bolts for the torsion bars and the reaction plate once the engine is occupying all that space.

I was struck at how much Aaron has changed from the time when we first took the engine out (and he had managed to mangle a bronze bolt or two) and the time when we put the new engine in. Pictures say it all. He’s grown up to be a handsome man.

I’m now beginning to collect the parts I need to do all of the cooling and fuel and ignition work. Cooling hoses are the first thing on the list. I’ve found that bringing the old hoses into the parts shop works just fine. Gates replacement hoses are available, and Mike Frank has published a list of them. I’ll add to the options with another list in the near future. Several of the old hoses are either Jaguar replacements or (heaven forbid!) the originals. They’re in pretty tough shape.

July 2007 – Compression ratio test, email humor from a vendor

Compression ratio test

I actually have the engine pretty much complete. The value covers are still off (more on that sometime later) and I need to get a crankshaft pulley (really, a matter of ordering it, but more on that below). I figured that I had some catching up to do, and the compression ratio tests seem a good place to start.

Figuring out the compression ratio. Top picture is the tool. The four large holes are for the studs, and the two small ones are for pouring in the liquid. The middle picture is the head measurement being taken. The red over aluminum is multipurpose grease I used to seal the plastic to the head. And the bottom picture is the measurement of the volume of the top one inch of the bore. For the head measurement, I used colored water; for the bore measurement I used motor oil.

Ray Livingston has developed an easy way to find out the actual compression ratio on XK engines. There are a few measurements that are required, and a little fabrication is necessary. That fabrication consists of making a plexiglas cover for the bore and hemispherical head space. I made mine with scrap plexiglas that we had laying around.

With a nice request, Ray will supply the spreadsheet that required to interpret the results of the measurements, and the very good instructions he sends with the spreadsheet include how to take the measurements with the head in place or not. So, it’s entirely possible to chase down the pinging problem of your XK-engined Jaguar with the head in place and Ray’s instructions in hand.

The plexiglass tool serves one purpose: it levels out and holds liquids that are poured into the bore and the hemispherical chamber in the head. You need to drill holes to allow the head studs to go through (if you haven’t taken them out), and you need two holes to manage the liquid you use to measure capacities. One of these is for liquid to go in, and the other is for air to come out. I made the piece by just cutting a square of roughly the right size and then laying it on the inverted cylinder head to locate the stud holes and the two liquid-related holes. The two small liquid-related holes should be at the edge of the bore or chamber. You can use the stud holes to affix the plexiglas when you’re doing the filling with liquid, but I found that a firm press with my fingers was just easier to manage — I figured I’d spend more time making the part than really was necessary.

The principle is to measure the unknown volumes by filling them with a liquid. Obviously, the volume of the cylinder head’s combustion chamber can be altered with machining. You shave your cylinder head to truth, and the effect is that the combustion chamber shrinks ever so little. You do the same to your block, and the bores get just a little smaller in volume.

The process for me was very simple, since I had the head off. Ray provides instructions for measuring with the head on, but pay close attention to his warnings and directions.

With the head off, you need the plexiglass tool, some grease (for sealing liquids in and the plexiglass tool on the surface of the head or block), a dial indicator to measure the space at the top of the bore at Top Dead Center and to set the piston at exactly (Ray’s emphasis) one inch from the deck of the block, a “telescoping gauge” to measure the width of the bore, a vernier caliper, and an accurate measure for the liquid. Ray suggests something called a “burette” with about a 100 ml capacity, but I didn’t have anything so fancy. Instead, I got a 100 ml graduated cylinder from my friend Laszlo, and that worked just fine, though I had to pour the liquid rather steadily. If I were doing this test frequently, I’d probably find a burette. Ray suggests using mineral spirits, too.

I started with the head, and I used colored water as the liquid. (I figured colored water would be easier to see.) I put some grease around the chamber and around the valves. A spark plug was installed, too. Once I pressed on the plexiglass tool, the grease acted as a glue almost. Lateral motion of the plexiglass was possible, but lifting it off the face of the head required some effort. As the chamber filled with water, I was careful to press the plexiglass tool down against the face of the head, so there wouldn’t be (that much) extra liquid to fill any space made by the float of the tool over the grease.

Measuring the bore is a little more complicated, since you need to measure the distance from the deck of the block to the top of the flat part of the piston at Top Dead Center. A dial indicator and a mount is needed. Then you bring the piston down one inch, wipe some grease to seal the piston and bore, and do the liquid trick. For the bore measurement, I used motor oil. That was a little challenging, since it is viscous and your measurement can be confounded by the fact that oil sticks to the side of the graduated cylinder. Also, the surface tension properties make it a little tougher to read the level of the oil. You have to take the bore width measurement, too.

At any rate, I ended up taking measurements at least twice, and in the case of the head, probably four or five times before I was satisfied. To get a result all you do it plug the numbers into Ray’s nifty spreadsheet and choose a head gasket thickness. I’m using the “Payen” composite gasket (0.035″ thick), and I came up with a compression of 8.31:1. Remember, I have the 8:1 pistons in this engine.

The amusement of buying used parts

The XJ6 has different pulley styles from what I originally had. (Pages on differences of the 1963 3.8 liter engine and the 1979 XJ6 4.2 liter engine are available for the cylinder head and block.) My 1963 E-type had “double groove” pulleys, and the crankshaft pulley was entirely different, both in bolt holes and in fit. The crankshaft vibration dampners are different from E-type to XJ6. So, I was off in search of a new crankshaft pulley. People the the Jag Lovers forum suggested Classic Jaguar as a source for new, and indeed that was the case. But I wanted to check out used part sources. I have exchanged emails with “Marius” at Marguar Jag parts (an Ebay vendor), and he’s been responsive though hasn’t had the parts I’ve needed. Since he didn’t have the correct pulley, he suggested I contact Geoffrey Reis at Jag Connection. That ended up generating an amusing email exchange that I publish here in entirety.

Subject: RE: 4.2 crank pulley, E-Type, "double grooved"
Date: July 17, 2007 10:24:26 PM EDT
To: Mark R DeLong
Mark. If a phony reproduction pulley is selling for (and worth?) $95, why would the real thing, which is unreproduceable accurately, be worth less than that? It makes no sense, and actually shows me that I've underpriced my pulley. So, if you want it, take it now. The price goes up to $130 on Friday. Thank you, Geoffrey
-----Original Message-----
> From: Mark R DeLong
> Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 8:28 PM
> To: Geoffrey
> Subject: Re: 4.2 crank pulley, E-Type, "double grooved"
> Thanks for the reply, Geoffrey. I found a new aluminum pulley from Classic
> Jaguar ( for $95 plus shipping. I'd
> be willing to pay you $70 plus ground UPS. Let me know if that's OK, and I
> can Paypal or whatever.
> m
>> On Jul 17, 2007, at 1:00 PM, Geoffrey wrote:
>> Hello Mark,
>> Yes, we have a pulley with two grooves. $100 plus shipping would do
>> it. Call if you'd like; tonight is best. Thank you, Geoffrey Reis at
>> Jag Connection.
>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Mark R DeLong
>>> Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2007 9:04 PM
>>> To:
>>> Subject: 4.2 crank pulley, E-Type, "double grooved"
>>> Marius from Marguar Jags said you might have some parts, he didn't
>>> have what I needed and forwarded me to you. Do you have a crankshaft
>>> pulley that fits the 4.2 dampner and has a double groove? I have an
>>> XJ6 (1979) pulley, but it's not the double grooved variety. I need it
>>> for an E-type.
>>> Thanks.
>>> m

Well, Geoffrey didn’t get my business, but I do believe others can find a pulley from him for $130. Two weeks from now, it very likely will cost more, so it would be good to hurry. Me? I’ll be happy to get a pulley from Classic Jaguar, an item which is hardly phony and a good replacement for something that is, after all, accurately reproducable.

June 2007 – The block — 1963 E-type v. 1979 XJ6

You know you’re not in 1963 anymore when you see that drain swirl logo of British Leyland in relief on the block. It’s enough to make you think twice about your angle grinder and whether you’re enough of an artist to rub off the metal smudge. Of course, in October 1978, when this new engine of mine was cast, British Leyland — or “BL” — was the colossus astride nearly all of British automobile manufacture. At that time, Jaguar has been in the BL fold for a decade, and the conglomerate included nearly all of Britain’s formerly independent marques: Jaguar, Daimler, Lanchester, Mini, Riley, MG, Morris, Wolseley, Austin, Vanden Plas, Rover, Land Rover, Alvis, Standard, and Triumph. In the early 1980s, BL’s long-troubled history led to its unravelling. Jaguar was spun off and became independent with a stock offering in 1984. The remnants of British Leyland changed its name in 1986 to “Rover Group,” which of course has had its own history of disintegration. (At least it now is much more international, I guess, since BMW bought Rover and perhaps thought better of it. MG Rover is now Chinese rather than British.)

It hardly needs mentioning that Ford took up Jaguar eventually, spent a lot of money, and now appears to be setting the company up for the vacuum cleaners of private-equity investors.

At any rate, the logo of liquid(ity) going down the drain is on the right side of this engine block. However, the familiar “JAGUAR 4.2 LITRE” marks sit more centrally and more prominently smack in the middle on that side. That label is where it should be and where its like had been all along.

The left side has as its distinguishing characteristic the oil dipstick fitting. That feature is so undistinguished that I haven’t spent the time worrying whether it is the same as the 3.8, though I believe it will be prudent to use the XJ6 dipstick at first, just to make sure that the oil levels are correctly measured.

Differences of timing covers and water pump impellers

I was told that the timing cover was a drop in, but I was actually hoping that the water pump was instead. There are differences, beginning in 1969, of the capacity of the pump’s innards and the size of the water pump impeller. Also, the semicircular cutout for the crankshaft end was a bit wider — oddly, I thought. We actually checked the crank for signs of wear and checked for free play. But the more glaring difference was the water pump void.

Timing chain covers, E-type and XJ6. The E-type is on the left, and the XJ6 is on the right. Although the two covers are hole-identical and have identical studs, the main differences are in the water pump area. The XK water pumps after mid 1969 had larger impellers and were “deeper.” I used the original cover, since I wanted to use the old pump and its belting system. One change that we noticed, and that is still a bit mysterious to me was the machining around the frontmost edge of the crankshaft semicircle on the XJ6 cover. It was flared on each side. I believe this was be design and not from wear, though I don’t know exactly what might have been the purpose. A different seal?

Now that the 1963 version of the timing chain cover and water pump are fitted, I do have to admit that the newer design looks better engineered, with probably higher water throughput. I chose the original because I feared that the forward extension of the XJ6 water pump was too much. The later water pump is bigger overall, and the belting for the XJ6 is more complicated, but there isn’t all that much space between the front of the engine and the back of the “picture frame.”

Differences of oil pan and sump plumbing

The XJ6 oil pan is significantly different from the E-type’s. It has a blubous protrusion that extends off-center toward the right. The oil intake from the sump comes up near the rear on the XJ6, while on the E-type, the sump intake is centrally located. I wanted to keep the XJ6 sump, actually, but I was concerned about clearance in the subframes. I asked a couple of people about the fit, and Dick Maury let me know about the fit problem of oil pan and the sump intake, and he let me know of some of the adjustments that come with the changes on the oil filter mount. He has been around the block (and through some slalom courses) with his Jaguar cars, including a modified 1971 E-type.

Oil pickup pipes, XJ6 and E-type. I’m holding the pickup pipe from the 3.8 liter E-type above the setup on the 1979 XJ6 4.2 liter. You can see how much farther back the XJ6 pickup pipe goes. The E-type oil pickup is centrally located. There is a small bracket just above my thumb on the E-type pipe. I removed that before installing it.

The E-type sump intake pipe is quite a bit shorter than the one on the 1979 XJ6, which pulls oil from the large deep collector at the rear of the oil pan. But interchange is easy, since there is only one pipe to worry about, and it’s the same diameter for the E-type and the XJ6. The oil pump on the 4.2 liter engine is said to be better — larger capacity or better efficiency, I believe — but that makes no difference as far as pipe sizes. Bill McKenna’s very correct restoration of his 1963 E-type coupe included a 4.2 liter oil pump — one of the very few deviations from the 3.8 liter setup he did. Bill commented in his report that he had to make some changes to the “oil pickup pipe,” though I didn’t have to make any changes.

The E-type oil sump pipe in place. The pipe was a good snug fit, and I used the brackets from the original XJ6 pipe to fasten it. I don’t know what changes Bill McKenna had to do to get his 4.2 liter oil pump installed, but I didn’t run into anything peculiar.

It’s literally a five-minute job to replace the long pipe for the shorter E-type pipe. The original 3.8 liter oil pan is a drop-in fit on the 4.2 liter block and will fit in the car with the original oil pan, though it might not with the XJ6 pan. (An aside: I probably would have stayed with the XJ6 pan if I could, because it seemed to me to have larger capacity and the oil uptake looks to me to be a bit better thought through. It is, of course, a quite noticable deviation from the 3.8 liter oil pan design.)

Oil filter mount differences

1979 XJ6 4.2 liter oil filter mount. There are several changes from the 1963 3.8 liter engine that appear in the oil filter mount. The cam oil feed comes off the top of the mount, rather than from its own hole in the block, as is the case on the old 3.8 liter block. The pipe for the oil pan connection comes off the rear part of the mount on the XJ6 instead of at the bottom. That change means some fettling, of course, and that’s not in this photograph. And, of course, the mount is designed for modern spin-on oil filters, thank goodness. To the right of the mount you can see the holes for the XJ6 motor mounts.

The oil filters change much for the better between 1963 and 1979. The old felt filter replacements gave way to nice and easy spin-on filters. The oil filter mount on the 1979 engine is ready to accept a regular modern filter.

The old felt-insert oil filter. This huge thing is the oil filter setup for the old 3.8 liter E-type engine. There are spin-on adapters available from several vendors, but the 1979 XJ6 engine has the spin-on filter setup already in place. See the oil pressure sensor on top of the filter mount.

And beyond the simple change to spin-on filter mounting bracket come, of course, the complications. On the 3.8 liter engine, the hose to the oil pan comes right off the bottom of the oil filter bracket, and so the hose run on the old engine is straightforward — though (as many have noted) it’s complicated by different outer dimension pipes fitting to each hose end. On the 1979 XJ6, the rubber hose is only an inch or two, connecting to a pipe running to the bulge in the pan that caused me the worry about fit into the subframes, since it extends fairly far to the right. On the XJ6, this pipe heads to the rear, and so the fitting on the oil filter bracket heads toward the rear. The upshot is that the run from the bracket to the oil pan pipe mount is a little contorted when you use the E-type oil pan and the XJ6 oil filter mount. Surely it’s not a straight shot. Dick Maury told me that he used an XJ6 engine in his race car, and he took advantage of the hose changes to fit an oil cooler. It’s a tempting thought, but I don’t think I want to add a complication at this point.

On the old oil filter mount setup, the oil pressure sensor comes off the top, and on the XJ6 the sensor is on a separate aluminum block mounted to the rear of the oil filter mounting bracket.

The XJ6 oil filter mount has the connection for the cam oil feeds as well. It is on top of the mount. Dick said that it is possible to add the connection in the regular E-type location (on the lower rear left side of the block) by drilling and tapping a hole, but this XJ6 setup suited me just fine. The XJ6 block casting, by the way, is flat where the cam oil feed oil would go, so this would be a small alteration for a machine shop to accomplish.

The 4.2 liter block has some mounting differences, though the block itself was designed as a replacement option for earlier XK engines, too. So there is (mostly) backward compatibility for earlier setups, sometimes slightly ingenious ones.

Motor and other mounts

Just forward from the oil filter mount there is a significant change from the old E-type setup. The motor mounts on the XJ6 are set farther back — more or less centrally on thge block. But, this is no big deal, because the tapped holes for the old E-type motor mounts were retained on the XJ6 and used for other purposes like the power steering pump and air conditioning compressor (I believe).

XJ6 and E-type motor mounts. Just forward of the oil filter mount is where the XJ6 motor mounts go, while the E-type mounts are set right at the front of the block. The picture shows both mounting brackets in place, with the loosely fit, rusty one being the XJ6 version.

It’s really just a matter of putting the E-type motor mounts in their correct place. — A straight and simple bolt-in job. (I’ve never Ebayed a thing in my life, but I might give it a whirl with these excess XJ6 parts I’ve got.)

Old generator mount bracket won’t work. That’s my hand holding the old generator mounting bracket in the approximate place it would go. The 4.2 liter block doesn’t include the holes for the old generator bracket, so you have no choice but to upgrade to the alternator. I suppose it would be possible to create a bracket that would do the trick, but the question is why? The place for the alternator bracket is apparent — just above the bracket are two tapped holes.

However, when you jump from the old 3.8 to the newer 4.2 liter, you pretty much have to say goodbye to your generator, not that you probably wouldn’t mind that in any case. The generator bracket holes are completely missing on the 4.2 liter block. On the 3.8 liter block, these holes are placed just above the motor mount holes. On the 4.2 liter engine, the alternator mounting bracket fits much higher on the block. (See photograph on the left for what the 4.2 liter block holes look like.)

I’ve learned from a few telephone calls and emails that the 4.2 liter E-type alternator mounting bracket is pretty rare, unless you’re willing to use a bracket for cars with air conditioning. There are two part numbers for the bracket, C25158 for the Series I and C30615 for the Series II (both for non-air-conditioned cars). I called one fellow who deals with Jaguar salvaged parts, and he told me that he didn’t have any but that the brackets are available from the Usual Suspects. Then he then laughed and said, “But I bet you were trying to avoid having to use junk.”

Oh, well. I guess I might have to use junk — pricey junk at that. Or, I’ll get the part and make a non-junky replacement myself and Ebay the replacement with the excess XJ6 parts. It really depends on whether the new part I need turns out to be of lower quality than I want, I guess. The issue of part quality has been coming up quite frequently on restoration forums, and not just the forums devoted to the Jaguar marque.

The alternator upgrade (or at least “changeover”) has been well documented. It involves changing the ground from positive to negative. You don’t have to stick with a Lucas alternator, which is a blessing, I think. AC Delco alternators have been used (and it seems to me that Classic Jaguar has offered an upgrade kit using an AC Delco unit). Ray Livingston has described a way of using a Hitachi pickup truck alternator for an upgrade of the 3.8 liter setup. This requires a special bracket available from XKs Unlimited (part number 08-0399 in their 2005 catalogue, p. 316). But the same processes would work for installing a Hitachi on a 4.2 liter engine, using a standard alternator bracket. Ray’s documentation is available from XKE-Lovers (PDF).

Speaking of mounts, I got my parts from Terry’s Jaguar Parts, and I got new motor mounts, a bushing for the upper engine mount, radiator mount bushes, and a new fuel sump gasket from Motorcars, Ltd. The engine of course, is practically ready to have the transmission mounted, so this restoration journal entry is still behind the curve, so to speak. I’ll trade timeliness for some thoroughness. And there are some issues still to be dealt with — adaptations for the old (nicer) value covers, the crankshaft pulley, and of course, the alternator. So, there are still things to square up before this one runs.

June 2007 – Cylinder head differences, ’63 and ’79

The head — 1963 E-type v. 1979 XJ6

As a side note before launching into depictions of the 3.8 and 4.2 heads, I discovered in my reading that Jaguar wasn’t the first to have bored out the 3.8 (or, maybe, the 3.4) liter engines to 4.2 liter displacement. It was reported that race teams had done so well before Jaguar decided to bore the XK to the max. If that was the case, I think Jaguar’s design for the 4.2 paid more attention to cooling than a race team could have. The major differences between the 3.8 and 4.2 liter versions of the XK seem to me to concern cooling.

Essentially, the cylinder heads are the same with the expected differences from the placement of the bores for the 3.8 and the 4.2 liter displacement. It’s quite apparent that the XK block couldn’t have gone any bigger than 4.2 liter, by the way. The bores are tight. The cylinder heads differ in the way that they handle cooling, though.

On the intake side, the XJ6’s 4.2 includes additional holes for coolant to be passed to the manifold. These holes may well be in the 3.8 head, too, though they seem to have served as a way of clearing the casting before they were plugged.

The only physical alterations to the 1979 XJ6 cylinder head were plugging these coolant holes with Dorman plugs (number 555-020) and removing an emissions control device (see below). Otherwise the head looks to me to be quite close to the earliest 4.2 and 3.8 liter versions perhaps except for some coolant holes at the rear and a somewhat stouter casting in the front timing chain area. Of course the machining was also slightly different for the hemispherical chambers for the differently sized engines, but the external intake side was similarly machined to accept the intake manifolds, one piece for the XJ6 and three-piece for my SU setup.

Here, as below, the top picture shows the 1979 XJ6 head, and the bottom shows the 1963 3.8 E-type head.

XJ6 4.2 liter head, intake side. The two round coolant holes were already plugged with Dorman 555-020 inserts before I took this picture. With the exception of those open holes, the XJ6 head is machined the same as the 1963 3.8 liter head.
E-type 3.8 liter head, intake side. The holes that were later used for coolant were plugged with threaded inserts in the 1963 3.8 liter head for the E-type. Other Jaguar models using the 3.8 liter head may have used the holes for coolant, but I haven’t looked into that.

The top of the 1979 head sports six holes on the plane where the spark plug holes are located. They sit on the left side of that surface and are positioned between the holes for the left-side head bolts. These holes are for an emissions control device, lines for which attached to a manifold and had an attached heat-deflecting barrier. I’ve been told that this emissions device is commonly removed on XJ6s of the time and the holes plugged. Actually, when we removed the lines and the fittings from the head, they were hopelessly plugged with grime so I doubt they served any purpose. The holes led into the exhaust side of the head. They might simply have been intended as a means of speeding warm-up.

The three plugs on the XJ6 head were unbranded Dorman-like inserts. The 1963 3.8 head used bolts to do the plugging. I believe these holes were for clearing the cast. The 1963 head gives the impression that the bolts do some reinforcement work, and even if they did not, the process of threading the holes for these inserts (and, for that matter, for the holes on the intake side) must have taken some time and care. Certainly that required more work than inserting plugs into the XJ6 head.

XJ6 4.2 liter head, top view. No paint on this one, and as a matter of fact very little worry about appearances. Grinder marks were plainly visible. Note the plugs in the three cast clearing (probably) holes and the emissions control device holes offset from the spark plug holes. Otherwise, from the top the 4.2 head looks just like the 3.8 liter E-type head.
E-type 3.8 liter head, top view. The gold paint is a bit taken off from the head cleaning, but the polished aluminum and the paint dress up this head. Instead of pressed in plugs, threaded bolts fit into the three holes along the head. Otherwise, there’s not much besides the emissions device holes on the 4.2 liter head to distinguish this one.

Bottom’s up, the head is nice and true, just back from the machine shop. At the rear end of the head, there is a major difference from the 3.8 head. The 4.2 liter head has two coolant holes that appear in an extension of the cast, at least when it’s compared with the 3.8 liter head. The 3.8 liter head more or less has a flat rear wall, while the 4.2 liter head flares out as it meets the block. Of course, the bore locations vary between the 3.8 and 4.2 engines. The XJ6 head has twelve additional coolant holes that are inset more to the midline of the head, fore and aft. These small holes roughly meet the block where a machined cut sits between the bores. Coolant going through those cuts certainly was effective and the cuts themselves probably allowed for expansion in the metal between the bores. (I’ll probably take some pictures to illustrate this difference when I muster up the strength to move the 3.8 block around a bit.)

The 4.2 liter head also cut pairs of coolant slots in the outermost positions adjacent to the bores. I’m not exactly sure what the purpose of that was unless to strengthen the face a bit. The 3.8 liter head has large single slots in the same position. The 4.2 liter head looks a bit beefier. Walls are thicker in the front, and the hole sizes are smaller, yet there seems to be more coolant flow possible, and more directed flow at that. I’ve not weighed either head, but I’d bet the 4.2 would be noticably heftier.

XJ6 4.2 liter head, bottom view. The bottom is the most different from the 3.8 liter head, in that the coolant holes are more numerous both in real numbers of vents and by the addition of the two new vents at the rear and ten holes near the bores. It seems obvious that the engineers paid a fair amount of attention to cooling the 4.2 liter engine. In comparison to the 3.8 liter head, the aluminum casting is a little stouter, as the walls at the front timing chain cover show.
E-type 3.8 liter head, bottom view. In comparison to its larger brother, the 3.8 liter head seems simple in design. Where the 4.2 liter head split long slots into two, the 3.8 let the casting have long coolant slots adjacent the bores. The small, near-bore coolant holes on the 4.2 are absent here. The casting is a little thinner on the front, and on the back wall of the timing chain cover, a small “V” is grooved in front of number six cylinder.

XJ6 4.2 liter head, rear view. Note the bulge and the extra aluminum in the casting at the very end. This bulge is where the additional two coolant holes fit. The rear end of the cam areas are a little different.

The extra metal on the rear end of the 4.2 liter head is easiest to see with the two heads side-by-side. This extra bulge is practically unnoticeable from the top, since it only flares out from the back face of the head about an inch from the base of the head. I don’t know exactly where the coolant goes within the head itself, especially since the internals of the castings are both quite airy — filled with voids at least. The two extra coolant holes that the extra metal allows must have served the coolant needs of the head itself, however. The holes are actually quite well removed from the cylinders in the block, and I have assumed that the flow from these extra holes would have be down from the head, probably originating from areas nearer the cams than the valves.

You can see one challenge in the new head — it doesn’t have holes for the bolts attaching the tach generator or serving to block off the end of the cam area. On the XJ6, the lower semicircular void was fit with a rubber plug, and the value covers lacked any semicircular cutout. If I refit the tach generator, it would probably be merely ornament in any case, since the cam end won’t drive the generator, I believe. I might drill and tap the holes, though. I don’t know if I want to put up with a make-do plug.

E-type 3.8 liter head, rear view. No extra metal here. The head ends straight off the back. Note the threaded holes to fit the tachometer generator (right side) and the hole cover (left side). The area around the cams are more subtly cast than in the 4.2 liter head.

I have an intake head gasket from the 3.8 — it looks to me pretty much the original, since it’s as thin as could be. And I have a new head gasket for the 4.2. I have yet to compare them, except in the most cursory fashion. The new gasket is considerably thicker, with metal rings fitting the holes for the bores. I thought about asking Ray Livingston for his special spreadsheet to determine actual displacement, but I wonder if it would apply on this engine. This one has 8:1 pistons, I’m almost relieved to say. Even with some shave off the head, the compression shouldn’t exceed 9:1, and least by much, and I’ll be running premium gas anyway.

Aaron got the upper end and bottom end gasket sets for me, and when I can retrieve a few tools from neighbors, I’ll be setting things back to rights. Terry’s Jaguar Parts is sending the last bits (as far as I know) and a cam setting tool. So, we’ll soon be good to go.

I’m hoping that the next entry will do the same job on the block and its accessories. I have learned that some 3.8 E-type elements will need to be refitted on the engine, and the oil filter fitting that I was happy to see on the new engine might actually prove to be a bit of a challenge.