Monthly Archives: May 2015

Preparing for new dash stuff… of course everything gets complicated.

Decided to tackle the trim rings and bulbs tonight, since they needed to be done before the woodwork anyway. As usual, the part I figured would be difficult was the easy part, and the part that should have been easy… well, you know…

Pulled the steering wheel and cowl off, and undid the screws that hold the top of the cluster in place. Of course, that didn’t allow me to remove the cluster. After looking at it under the dash for a bit and contemplating different ways of prying the rusty center pin loose, I decided to take a chance. Reached up behind and undid the speedometer retention nuts, and pushed it out through the cluster. Popped the bulb out and disconnected the cable, allowing me to remove the speedometer completely. Now I had a place to grab the center of the cluster… reached in through the vacant speedometer hole, got a good grip on the center of the cluster, and gave it a yank… and it popped right out. Whew. I wasn’t looking forward to fighting with that rusty spike from underneath.

Disconnected the oil line and the two harness plugs, and out came the cluster to the kitchen counter (the missus is getting used to seeing JH parts in the kitchen). From there, it was pretty simple to remove the gauges and replace the black trim rings with the chrome ones, cleaning the glass inside and out in the process. Reassembled everything, and the cluster was ready to go back in. At this point, I had spent maybe 45 minutes on the job. Moving along nicely.

So, after supper, I went back out and laid the cluster on the steering column stub, reconnected what needed reconnecting, and decided that before I put it all back together I should probably make sure everything was working right. Tried the dash lights and the new bulbs are a HUGE improvement. So far so good! So, I turned the ignition key to “run”…. and nothing. No movement on anything. Hmmm. OK, must have a bad connection somewhere, right?

So, I checked all the connections… they all seem good. Still nothing when I tried it again. So, just to make sure there wasn’t more mischief afoot, I started her up. She started right up, but still nothing on the gauges (other than the oil gauge of course which is purely mechanical). Well, this isn’t good…

About this time I notice that the radio didn’t come on either. A HA! Must be a fuse!!! So, up went the bonnet and sure enough the #2 fuse was blown. I’m guessing that maybe the cluster wiring touched something it shouldn’t have when I had it loosely lying there. So, I pulled the blown fuse and put in a new one. Turned the key back to “run” again, and this time the voltmeter moved up and the radio lit up. OK, progress.

So, I start her up again. This time, the voltmeter and tachometer behaved as they should have. Feeling a little better about things, but I’m still wondering why the temp and fuel gauges aren’t moving. While I am pondering this, checking connections AGAIN, she starts to misfire. This CAN’T be good!

So, I shut her off, think about things, check connections under the bonnet (maybe I damaged the coil somehow? Who knows) and then start her up again. Harder to start, and she was not running right at all. After about 10 seconds, despite my efforts to keep her running, she died and I could not get her restarted. By this time I am seriously freaking out, wondering what I could possibly have damaged. I’m already paranoid after changing her timing belt, and I went to the trouble to get her at TDC and check the cam marks just to be sure the belt didn’t slip. Fortunately, that’s all good. Whew.

So, I get back behind where the wheel would be if it wasn’t lying on the floor, and I tried to start her again. Still nothing, just turning over but not catching. As I’m doing this, a little bulb goes off in my brain… “you know, I am not hearing that lovely noisy fuel pump clicking away…” OK, now I have something else to troubleshoot! So, up goes the boot lid, and a quick test with my Fluke meter reveals that I am only getting about 2V at the pump. OK… so, after consulting the wiring diagram in the owners manual, I go back under the bonnet and idly wiggle and spin the fuse I replaced in the fusebox. Then, back to the boot, and now I am getting 12V at the pump. Much better. Reconnected the pump wiring, got back behind the missing wheel, and she started right up. Huge sigh of relief. Apparently the fuse wasn’t properly seated in the fusebox. I guess I should go in there and clean things up.

So, the mystery of the misfire now solved (basically, she ran out of gas) I could go back to pondering the nonfunctioning fuel and temp gauges. After doing more testing with my Fluke, I established that there was no voltage on the “I” side of the voltage stabilizer. That would explain why those gauges aren’t working. To confirm, I moved the wires on the stabilizer so that they were basically just a jumper (both wires on the “B” terminal) and the gauges moved right up, though obviously not accurately since they were now getting much more than the 10V that the stabilizer provides. Apparently, whatever caused the fuse to blow also took the stabilizer with it.

So, after Googling around a bit (the club store doesn’t have them that I could find) I found a replacement solid state voltage stabilizer at Moss Motors (which means I get to look forward to getting all kinds of catalogs and email offers for the MG that I don’t own). Since I was ordering one, I ordered two (I like having spares of hard to find items). Good thing I wasn’t planning on driving her for the next week… they should arrive before I get back from vacation.

The fun continues… and maybe my Madera Concepts woodwork will arrive about that same time…

Dash upgrade ordered.

Decided it was time for a completely unnecessary upgrade, just because I’ve wanted to do this for some time. Placed 3 orders with 3 different vendors:

1. Madera Concepts for a full dash wood kit, including the gauge panel surround, because it looks sooo nice.

2. APT Instruments for replacement trim rings for all the gauges. Stock was black, but the new ones will be chrome. I’ve seen pictures and the chrome rings just make the gauges “pop” in the woodwork.

3. Delta Motorsports for 6 new 5W gauge bulbs, so I can actually see the gauges at night. Figured since I had to pull the gauges to install the trim rings anyway…

Also ordered from Delta a new windshield washer nozzle (I wrecked the old one when I stripped her bonnet down, and I’ve been driving around with a hole in the bonnet ever since) and a new shift boot to replace the 41 year old rather ripped up one she has now. Appearance is everything (plus I already had the other stuff coming so the shipping was covered).

Pictures when it’s all done… Madera figures about 3 weeks for the woodwork.

Exhaust is complete, and new timing belt is finally installed.

Hey guys… it’s been a while since I posted any updates. Ms. Jenavieve is pretty much past the “project” stage now I suppose, though there is always more to do on these little cars, right?

Anyway, let’s see if I can get caught up.

As I outlined previously, I got the new Delta 4 into 1 header installed, and then took her over to the local muffler shop to have them do some magic. Because of the way things lined up, they ended up having to custom bend an offset pipe to mate up from the end of the header to the front of the resonator, along with a flex pipe. Not quite original, but her exhaust is now pretty much brand new from the engine all the way to the exhaust tips (or less than a year old, anyway). And I have to say she sounds absolutely fabulous. It’s a nice change to have all the exhaust noise coming out of the exhaust tips and none from under the bonnet.

I also did install the new cam cover gaskets from the JHPS store, and cleaned up the cam covers while they were off. They are almost shiny now. Reinstalled with the “Jensen Healey” logo right side up and the oil filler at the back of the engine, instead of the front. Nothing too exciting in this process, went very smoothly.

While I was still in “getting ready for spring” mode, I also finally joined the ranks of “official JH owners” with the rite of passage of installing a new timing belt and tensioner bearings. The old belt, from the records I got when I bought her, was changed about 9000 miles ago… but also about 12 years ago, so I figured I’d put it off long enough. The approach I used (got the idea from a friend who’s a Lotus afficianado) was to set the engine at TDC with the 110 marks lined up, then take a bottle of WhiteOut and mark each gear (both cams, crank, and ignition) with a mark on one slot, and mark the old belt with a corresponding mark on the tooth in that slot. Once I had done that, it was a simple matter to remove the belt, line it up with the new one, mark the corresponding teeth on the new belt (counting the teeth between the marks to be sure) and then pop the new belt on in the appropriate location. Worked just fine, the whole process took maybe 3 hours from start to finish… I was in no hurry and I am sure it would go faster the next time since I now know exactly what has to be removed to get at it.

For posterity, here’s the order I did things (I used Greg’s guide as a, well, guide, but there was more to be done than he had outlined:

1. Disconnect battery and coil wires, just because.

2. Remove top half of belt guard (I have the two piece guard)

3. Attempt to remove bottom half of guard. Grumble because it won’t come out at this point, too much stuff in the way.

4. Loosen alternator, remove belt. Remove fan and pulley. Skin knuckles a bunch because of proximity to radiator.

5. Look down and realize that the lower guard still isn’t going to come off.

6. Remove crank pulley. This went way better than I had expected… put a 19mm socket on my ratchet, put a pipe on the handle, and had Mrs. Answerman stand on the brake pedal (since I’ve never had a functioning hand brake) while I first hit my knuckle with a rubber mallet (ouch!) and then the pipe a few times to break it loose. Moved engine BACK to TDC since of course it moved during this process.

7. Now I can remove the lower belt guard. Did so.

8. Got my bottle of WhiteOut and marked one tooth/slot combination on each of the 4 gears.

9. Loosened tensioner and pulled belt off the gears. Loosened upper radiator hose clamp at top of engine, pulled hose off the fitting, and snuck the belt through there. Old belt is off!

10. Removed tensioner (that actually came out fairly easily).

11. Took tensioner to bench, followed Greg’s process at to disassemble tensioner and replace the bearings. The old ones seemed fine, but since I went this far I didn’t see a compelling reason to NOT replace them.

12. Put newly assembled tensioner in place, loosely.

13. Take new belt, count teeth and make new WhiteOut marks corresponding with marks on old belt.

14. Put new belt on. Take belt off, put on again because I was one tooth off on the crank gear. Triple check all marks and deem it good.

15. Tighten tensioner till the belt tension seemed about like it was on the old one (was able to twist it about 45 degrees between the oil pump/distributor gear and the intake gear).

16. Think about it for a while and decide that I am going to be one of the 12 JH owners that still has the belt guard in place. Put the lower section back on.

17. Reinstall crank pulley and fan/pulley.

18. Reinstall alternator belt and tighten.

19. Reinstall top half of belt guard.

20. Reconnect coil wire and battery cables.

21. Say a little prayer, get in, and turn key. Starts right up and seems to run as well as she ever did. Whew.

It really wasn’t that bad of a process, though with all my careful planning I must have been “off” by a tooth on the distributor gear, because after a day of trying her out I found that she wasn’t quite right. She ran just fine, but was hard to start (especially when hot) and didn’t want to idle (again when hot, which led to a few frustrating restarts at traffic lights). So, off to purchase a timing light (which I’ve somehow gotten this far in life without) and checked her timing. Obviously there were no corresponding marks, but I would guess that her ignition timing was at about 15 degrees ATDC. Yes, that is AFTER TDC, not before. Well, that would explain things. Loosened up her distributor and gave it a little twist and after a few stops and starts got it set to about 15 degrees BTDC (with the vacuum hose attached because, well, I forgot to detach and plug it). Amazing difference in how she runs now, for the first time in forever she actually idles right (though a bit fast, can’t get her idle down below about 1200 RPM) and is much smoother on takeoffs.

Now it’s time to shine her up and drive, because, well, that’s why I have her, right?

Ms. J has a new hat!

I decided to go ahead with something I’ve been thinking about since last fall… a couple of weeks ago I made a phone call, drove over to look, and came back with a nice hardtop for her. The guy who had it had originally approached me at a show last fall and asked if I was interested, and I told him that I would think about it. Finally got back to him, he still had it (and was about to put it on eBay) so after a bit of haggling (with me in the drivers seat on the transaction since I was the guy in his driveway with cash and no need to ship this crazy oversize thing) we agreed on a fair price. And the top, while not original (it’s an aftermarket from Custom Hardtops in California) is almost like new. He bought it new with the can back in 1974, it stayed in the garage most of the time, and for whatever reason when he sold the car, the buyer didn’t want the top. Good for me, though. Actually drove her around for a week or so with the top on before I took it off for the summer.