Friday, November 13, 2009

Removing front coil spring

Once you get used to the suspension and steering of a Mercedes nothing else will do. The Jag's suspension and steering has always felt rather vague in comparison. The steering is horrendously over boosted and the front suspension needs to be in a "good mood" if you're to get anywhere. Having tight new polyurethane bushes goes a long way in getting the big cat handling right but having the right shocks and springs is vital. Vehicle manufacturers are faced with a compromise when installing suspension components, comfort vs performance, longevity vs cost etc.. So the stock shocks and springs are good for nothing in my book.

I installed 4 new Bilstein HD shocks and H&R springs on the IRS and it totally transformed the way the backend felt. So I decided to change the front springs and shocks too. However the front suspension does not have McPherson struts and thus removing the springs from the suspension is quite a scary affair.

To do the job, you need an internal spring compressor. Some people make their own, but I bought one from Boss Tools on the basis of an article I found on Jag- Lovers. There is a simpler one for $30 on Boss Tool right now.

Removing the front springs on a Jag is likely one of the most, if not the most dangerous DIY job. I spent months reading on how to do it first.

When free time and decent weather met a few weeks ago I decided to give it a go. The job was fairly straight forward, but the most crucial part about it is to use a set of bolts to guide the spring pan down a little, before you loosen the spring compressor. No matter how tight the spring compressor is, there will always be a little tension on the inner side of the spring pan simply because of the shape of the wishbone. This is why the guide bolts are crucial.

Once the inner side of the spring pan has dropped about 4" from the wishbone, there should no longer be any tension pushing down on the pan.

As a safety measure, I left the spring and spring compressor assembly in the spring tower while I loosened the spring compressor as far as my guide bolts would allow. Then I took the guide bolts off and set it on the ground and removed the remaining few pounds tension from the compressor.

It was the first time I had ever done anything like that before, so it took me about 5 hours to remove that one spring. Now to just POR-15 up all the bits and install my new spring and shock.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back on the road - part deux

With all the talk of "clean grounding" for everything, I neglected to check the +ve wiring. After cleaning the +ve terminal from the firewall and straightening out the power cable to the starter, everything seems to be working alright again.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Starter Woes

What I first thought was an alternator issue, that was causing the battery to die after each trip, seems to actually be starter related.

The starter seems to work sporadically. One day it will work, one day it won't. I have bypassed the start inhibitor switch but that doesn't seem to help. I have tried to jump the relay manually but that too doesn't seem to make a difference. When the key moves into Start, the headlights do not dim. Therefore the starter is not getting any power. The wiring to the starter solenoid looks pretty bad, but not bad enough to prevent connectivity, so I'm pretty confused right now.

I'd like to get some photos of a starter motor and solenoid that is not installed on a car to see how its wired. Its difficult to make out much from under the car.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Back on the road

Finally, after many delays, the Jag is out of the body shop and is on the road once again. It had been raining all week and the weather was pretty dreary in general. But today, the sun decided to come out and the rain stopped. .

The skies weren't clear for long but I decided to take the big cat out for some exercise anyway. Drove to the Nepean Sailing Club and took some photos. The boat lot was closed, so I couldn't get any boat photos. But here's the result of one crazy guy, his Jag and a digital camera.

On the way out of the club, the Jag just stalled at a traffic light. Lost ignition, the engine was turning over fine, but no ignition. I thought the ignition amp had given up for good considering it had been giving trouble before, but I think it was just a loose connection between the amp and the pick-up. Once I got that sorted, we were back on the road once again :) I managed to get her up to 100mph (didn't want to push my luck on city streets), I swear that car makes me feel sinister. I just feel naughty every time I'm in the Jag. The alluring sound of 12 cylinders taunt you to push on harder and faster, its truly insatiable.

When I finally got home, the distinct aroma of burning Dunlops was in the air - a sign that I wasn't the only one who had a good time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


If you're not Indian you should know that Indian people have a problem with smiling. We either over do it, or under do it. I'm obviously the latter case. If you've ever seen photos from an Indian wedding, given in black & white, you could easily mistake it for a funeral.

School work has intensified. Endless amount of readings and case analysis. But for the first time in the 5 years of post secondary education I've done, I'm actually enjoying it.

The Jag should be back from the body shop tomorrow (fingers crossed), after having the driver's side rocker panel replaced.

Dying to go for a drive.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Enjoying the sunshine

Got the timing set and the cat is purring. However some bad news. I decided to do a compression test and we have as low as 100psi on some of the cylinders. Wet test was much more than the dry. Conventional wisdom then states the piston rings are worn out.

When I first saw this car, it had been sitting for 10 years. The fuel looked like muddy water. There were no thermostats, no vacuum hoses, no electrics. But simply with new fuel, 12 new spark plugs and a new battery, the thing started. And I even drove it home, some 20km away. It stalled right in the middle of the first traffic light I got to, but it started again and kept going.

Considering the results of the compression test and my generally low oil pressure, there should be something seriously wrong with this car. But it keeps going. It doesn't overheat, doesn't backfire, doesn't misfire (anymore) and its not hesitant. There should be clouds of smoke coming out of the exhaust but there isn't. It just seems fine. There is no oil mixing in the coolant and there is no oil consumption. It just seems perfectly fine.

Today I took the Jag out and gave it a good belting and almost like magic, I have oil pressure again. I'm getting a strong 40psi at about 40mph.

I'm just going to forget about the test results and enjoy the car. Given the car's history of continuously "surprising" me, I think we're going to be just fine.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I think all the erratic problems I've been having are due to poor ignition. There is a small hair line crack near one of the mounting screws on my distributor cap. And the adjusting screw just spins without tightening or loosening. I can move the distributor by hand with a little bit of force.

(Merv's 1971 V12 E-Type) I took a photograph of Merv's V12 E-Type's distributor in an effort to align mine identically. Not sure if the correct adjustment on his car would be the same for mine (does timing work like that?).

My 1974 V12 XJ

It seems to have stopped back firing now but its still not very smooth.


With all the excitement of plating the car and filling the tanks for the first time without a jerry can, I didn't notice a small problem developing. The little coolant line that joins both intake manifolds and T's off into the expansion bottle was rubbing against the A/C pulley belt. As you can guess the friction burnt a hole in the line and I had coolant squirting out. Considering the line is only 5/16" it wasn't much but it filled up my bucket quiet quickly when I left it parked over night.

If you know anything about me you'll know I'm not a morning person. My body physically just doesn't function properly until about 11am. I literally feel sick. So the fact I got up at 7am today to buy a new coolant hose from CarQuest, is evidence itself to how determined I am to not be defeated by this piece of British junk. Stopped at CanadianTire on the way back and picked up some 50/50 premixed coolant. Put in the new line and topped up the coolant.

The rear left carb had been leaking from the float chamber plug for quite some time now. It wasn't much so I ignored it. Today it just didn't want to stop. So I decided to remove the left carbs and install new plugs. I began taking the carbs off the car at 9am. Tiringly it took 1-1/2hours due to the clutter on the left hand side (Brake master cylinder, Brake fluid reservoir, Coolant expansion bottle) and my morning wearyness. My left arm was quite raw by the time I got both carbs off. Cleaned out the float chambers. Adjusted the float height (16mm-17mm) and installed the new chamber plugs. The carbs went back onto the car a lot easier than they did coming off. It was near 1pm at this point and my previous arrangement to have the timing adjusted at Ural's garage had been missed.

Pushed the car out of the garage (too much fuel on the garage floor) to start it. It started and the leaks were gone. Idle was very high though for some reason. Near 2000 rpm. I messed around with the idle but I just couldnt get it to come below 1000rpm. Really strange considering I used to have this thing idle at 650rpm. Merv (a chap from the Ottawa Jaguar Club) came by with a Uni-Syn carb balancing tool. We messed around with it for a bit, but couldn't get it lower than 1200rpm. It looks like the linkage has to be readjusted.

Took it for a test drive. Drove pretty badly. I knew it was ignition related so I started messing with the distributor. Turned it all the way anti-clockwise and the car didn't start. Turned it all the way clockwise and the car started but ran really rough. Slowly moved it bit by bit, and test drove it each time and managed to get it fairly nice. Seems to be driving better-than-badly right now. I can take it onto the street without scaring pedestrians too much at least. Definitely need to sort out the timing properly. But I'll have to wait till Tuesday to get Ural to look at it. He has the strobe light for setting the timing.

Rubbed a bottle of ArmorAll Leather Care into the seats. Seems to work ok for $8.59/bottle. Makes the leather soft and cleans it a little. The rear seats really needed some moisture. They would crackle whenever you sat on them. A little better now.

Parked the car in the garage. Sat in front of the computer and updated the blog. God, I'm tired.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Obituary - Born 1974, Died 1999, Reborn 2009

Born December 1974, a beautiful bouncing British racing green Jaguar XJ12L.

Driven by the dealer's cute wife until 1977 when plated and purchased by David Nolan.

Sadistically exchanged when traded in at Southbank Dodge Chrysler in 1982. Purchased by John McKendry in 1984. Sold to cousin Michael McKendry in the mid 1990s and underwent colour change to metallic black.

Roamed beautiful Halifax in 1998 and returned to Ottawa a year later. Developed cooling system fault in the summer of 1999.
Died July 1999.

Slept in deep slumber for a decade then sold to foolish 21 year old Computer Engineering student on December 8th 2008.

Underwent mechanical restoartion in the summer of 2009.

Reborn September 4th 2009.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Chiti Chiti... Bang! Bang!

A friend came round and had a look at the Jag and noticed an arching sound from somewhere near 6B or 5B. Everytime it arcs, the engine shakes and backfires slightly.

(Left to Right: 1B to 6B) As you can see all the plugs are covered in dark soot. According to the Haynes manual this is either Preignition or Detonation. In both cases electrode gap and/or timing are causes.

The Haynes manual also says these sooty oil deposits are caused by oil leaking into the combustion chamber due to worn valve guides or piston rings. That might explain the backfire, hesitation and white smoke from the left exhaust, but God I hope not.

(Left: 1A, Right: 1B) I knew Bank A was running perfectly so I decided to pull the plug in 1A and compare it to 1B. There is obviously something going on. But my lack of expertise halts any further diagnosis.

Unrequited love

I've been a Jaguar owner for 9 months. I paid CAD$1000 for a 1974 Jaguar XJ12 that was destined for the junk yard and spent the last 4 months and almost $5000 (mind you 50% of that was just tools) restoring it.

A have learned more about myself in the last 4 months than I have in my entire life. I have probably learned more about cars in the last 4 months than I would have ever learned by taking an Automotive technician course.

The last few weeks have been quite depressing, for lack of better words. The Jag spent 17 days at a garage to get its MOT safety certificate. Considering the bill was only $300, how and why I let it take that long, I don't know. This may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but in a country where the year has only 4 months, 17 days is a long long time.

The car idles nicely, revs up nicely. But once you get into gear and start driving its horrible. The power is intermittent. The car backfires so EXTREMELY loudly that it sounds like a 12 gauge round going off just behind you. The carbs are in tune and exhaust gas on both sides is smooth. However the left exhaust smoke is slightly white in colour and colder than the right hand side. I'm going to be so upset if this turns out to be a head gasket or valve issue. This car has had almost everything replaced, from shocks to brake master cylinder. The engine and body were the only things that made this project worthwhile.

The left exhaust pipe is quite moist and sooty, while the right hand side is dry and fairly clean. Which probably means the left bank is running rich. But would that cause cold white smoke as opposed to the right hand side's hot and clear?

I've put my entire summer into this car, all I want is to drive this thing for a few days before winter sets in. I hate this bloody thing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Jag Lover's Prayer

Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of rust,
I will fear no structural failures, for thou wire brush is with me,
your MIG welder and sledge hammer, they comfort me.

You anoint my ignition in the presence of Lucas electronics,
my Jaguar starts,
surely goodness and love shall follow me all the days of my life.

For I will dwell in the garage of the Lord,
Forever, and ever,

Inspired by a song called "You're nobody" by Notorious B.I.G, the 23rd psalm and my soul mate a 1974 Jaguar XJ12

1000 Visits from 37 Countries

This is just a post to acknowledge that the blog has received 1000 visits from 37 different countries since I started taking the Jag apart 4 months ago. It seems my trip into the valley of rust has been of amusement to quite a few people.

Average time spent on the site is 3:37s. 60% of my visitors don't come back, so thats pretty poor retention in marketing speak. And the average user visits 2.7 pages.

Most number of hits (49%) come from the terrorist terrorizers, land of liberty, recession causers good'ol U.S of A.

Second highest number of hits (11%) come from a country that would make living in the frozen wastelands of Mars seem like a summer vacation - my home for the last 4 years, Canada!

Third (11%), giving us Mad Max, Holden, home of things that jump around with big pouches on their bellies and a small furry bear that eats eucalyptus leaves, the one and only down-under, give it up for Australia.

Fourth (10%) is Jaguar country and home of my pen-pal and fellow Jag lover, Esta-Jane, the Blackadder, the price of darkness himself (Lucas Electronics) and Aston Martin - the United Kingdom

Fifth (5%) is Finland - Go Hakkinen! You can drive my 190E anytime man, just teach me the flick!

Then we have New Zealand (4%), India (2%), Sweden (2%), Germany (1%) and finally at 10th place is the Netherlands (~1%). The other 27 countries, which includes places like Costa Rica, Estonia, Malaysia, Latvia, Iceland, Bulgaria etc.. make up less than 10% of the hits on the blog.

With 4x more pages viewed per visit than the Americans, the French are the most inquisitive bunch of the lot.

With an average time of 47mins per visit, the Swedes are by far the most intrigued by what I have to say. But it easily could be because they don't like to close open windows.

Say hello in the comments section. Its always nice to hear from fellow enthusiasts.