Efter att under flera år ha letat efter en veteranbil att använda som bruksbil gjorde jag till slut slag i saken. Jag åkte ner till Malmö i början av december 2017 för att titta på ett Vauxhall Victor Estate från 1962. Det blev affär och jag bytte ut min bekväma och moderna Saab mot Vauxhallen. Resan de 60 milen hem startade dagen därpå i vinterväglag. Resan gick inte helt utan problem och tog en extra dag, än planen, i anspråk.
Tanken var först att vintersäkra bilen för att sedan kunna använda den som bruksbil året om, och få uppleva veteranbilslivet. Efter lite närmare undersökning av problemen från hemresan är nu siktet inställt på att ha den körbar igen och tillförlitlig till sommaren 2018.
På sociala medier taggar jag inlägg relaterade till bilen med #JuliaVictorVauxhall, och om du tar en bild på den får du gärna använda taggen.
Eftersom jag även skriver uppdatering om bilen på andra ställen på nätet som inte enbart är svenskspråkiga kommer de flesta uppdateringarna även här att vara på engelska. Men, det går utmärkt att svara på svenska.
Sometimes you just need to do that crazy thing. Like buying an unknown vintage car 600 km from home and road trip it back with limited (more or less non-existing) heating and summer tires in winter conditions. One Sunday in the beginning of December 2017 I found my-self in Malmö looking at a 1962 Vauxhall Victor Estate.
In the internet ad the car had appeared drivable and in ok condition. The seller first needed to change the battery, and then fiddle with the carburettor to get the engine to fire and stay running. Then it was time for my test drive, and it went fine. Only some minor remarks, like the left blinker didn't work (which I fixed later). We negotiated an exchange of my modern comfortable Saab for the Vauxhall.
The next day I started with fixing the left blinker. The cure was to press the bulb and socket back into the rear light housing. Some purchases later I left Malmö just before noon. The plan was to take the main highway to Helsingborg and from there find the old country road towards Stockholm, called "Riksettan" or R1. The plan went belly-up sooner than later...
THE OLD LOADING RAMP In Helsingborg I first set out to find the old loading ramp for the Denmark ferries, where the old road started once upon a time. I had seen a photo of it, already disused, in an old issue of Nostalgia magazine where they tracked down the old road. Unfortunately I had no luck and I was somewhat pressed for time so the search for the R1outside of the city begun.
I think I found the road outside Helsingborg and drove a bit on it, but then lost it a drove around in circles and finally admitted defeat and hit the current main highway instead. The rhythm on the highway was to fast for the Vauxhall, so I tried to once again find the old road. Since the sun now was down the cold started to creep in to the cabin and the heater didn't give any heat to speak of. I stopped and covered the radiator with a floor mat trying to captivate as much heat as possible. Almost immediately the first break-down came; the car overheated.
"Ok", I thought, "the cooling system is probably blocked since it overheats that easily." Gone was the floor mat and I put on some more layers of clothing; adding a blanket for the legs, Roadkill-style.
NO MORE OLD ROAD Now I finally ditched the idea to drive the old road, for good, and took the main highway. In this way I carried on with all other cars, trucks and semis wooshing past me until I came to the interchange near the village Skånes Fagerhult. There the second break-down came with the generator warning light coming on.
Two cases with tools were packed before the trip, but apparently I forgot the multimeter so troubleshooting was limited. The petrol station did neither have any multimeter nor any car batteries for sale, but I managed to get some tea and a biscuit. Consequently the hunt for batteries begun. I stop at every petrol station I came across (five in total); none of them did stock car batteries and it was too late for any car parts stores to be open. When the battery finally had enough I had driven 80 km since the warning light came on. Fortunately there was a motel where I had stopped, so I stayed the night.
ELECTRICITY SAVING The morning after I found a helpful garage that loaned me a fresh battery and charged mine while I drove back to a car parts store and stocked up on batteries. When I got back to the garage my battery was charged and I now had three batteries in total to get the remaining 440 km back home. Thanks to Mekonomen in Lagan for the help.
On with the heavy clothing and blanket. A more careful study of the map later I was away on the old road again. I used a minimum of electrical equipment trying to save the battery. Along the way I had to stop to wash the wind shield more often than with a modern car because the washer didn't work and the wipers weren't really up to the task of winter slush.
Lunch-time in Jönköping and from here I had an even better idea of how the old road was routed, since I've driven it several times before. All the way to Linköping every thing was fine, given the circumstances.
ROUGH RUNNING The engine was running rough and it didn't really want to stay running at idle. First I had dinner, then I changed battery (around 200 km on one battery, with a non-charging generator). That didn't help the rough running and then I spotted that some of the fuel hoses were missing hose clamps. Of course I did not have any hose clamps with me (that's what you get for altering the track day packing) and neither did the petrol station. Cable ties to the rescue! Or so I thought, nothing did change, so I just carried on and manually assisting the engine with the gas pedal at junctions and roundabouts so it would stay running.
Now I mixed the main highway and the old road and made some wrong turns along the way. In Nyköping I found a weighing bridge and with me and the luggage the car weighed 1250 kg. No wonder it's slow with 50 hp as new.
After filling up I drove on to the highway, but just after 100m, or so, the engine just died and didn't want to start again. After putting on a reflective vest and putting up the warning triangle I was about to call the tow truck, but I tried to start the engine once more first and it started so I could drive of the highway. I did a loop in the outskirts of Nyköping and it seamed fine again. Just as I was about to leave the on-ramp the engine stalled again.
CAN'T GET OUT OF NYKÖPING My feeling was that there was something wrong in the fuel delivery, so at the on-ramp I eliminated the extra fuel filter, with the cable tie hose clamps and tried to start the engine again. Still running rough, so I rigged the choke lever with a cable tie so it would stay in one position. Now the raised idle was smooth and I carefully backed up to the start of the on-ramp. At this time I had been in Nyköping for about two hours and it was close to midnight.
At the night-open hamburger restaurant I found something to eat and a person that offered to follow me the rest of the way, just because he didn't have anything better to do.
I found the old road again with help from the GPS and then it was plain sailing home, except for a second battery change on the way.
AFTERMATH So, what have I learned? Next time I'll factor in one or even two extra days for such a long trip in an old and unknown car. I will not try to slim the track day packing in regards of tools, it works fine for old car trips too, just add imperial tools if necessary.
It's was a very fun adventure, I would do it again, without hesitation, for the next car purchase.
Julia, as the car is named, is now awaiting an alternator install, carburettor and fuel pump rebuild and some general service before she's back on the road again.
I'm in the process of dismantling the carburettor and fuel pump. The plan is to wash the parts in a ultra sonic washer as the final cleaning step before mounting them together again. I'm looking for tips on suitable washing agent.
So, the generator (or regulator) had given up during the trip home from Malmö. I've had already been thinking of some modernisation that I wanted to do. Therefore the logical cure was to convert to an alternator.
I bought an universal fit alternator at Biltema (Swedish "cheaper" parts store) and some new belts i varying lengths and set about to install it on Julia.
The intention was to use as much of the original bracketing as possible. By slotting the holes in ther block bracket I could move it forward and place the lower mounting ear on the alternator between the tabs of the bracket, thereby lining the pulley on the alternator up with the crank and water pump pulleys. The only problem was that the rearmost screw didn't now really catch the bracket.
I lengthened the bracket by welding on some large square washers. I left the finish rough intentionally so I would remember later on what was done or a future owner would see what was done to the original bracket.
The lower mounting ear of the alternator wasn't nearly long enough the fill up the space between the tabs of the block bracket. So a spacer was made and the whole assembly was held together with a long all-threaded rod.
BRACKET FOR TENSION Then I turned to the tension bracket. The upper mounting ear in the alternator was far of to be able to use the "original" tension bracket. I thought a while about making a new bracket, but end up just fabricating an extension piece, with some trick features, to screw on to the alternator.
The original belt can be used, but for a bit better contact around the alternator pulley I think a longer one is better.
Voilà, the alternator is physically in, how about the electrics? I'm not that good with details of automotive electrics, but a I do know that alternator needs a signal (D+), usually from the indicator light in the dash that is earth trough the alternator when it's not spinning. A connection to the battery (B+) is also needed. The later I solved by simply running a new (thicker) cable from the alternator to the battery side of the starter solenoid.
The signal wire required a bit of head scratching and researching with a multimeter before I found which wire that was connected to the indicator light. I cut of the existing terminal, lengthened the wire a bit and put a new terminal on, suited for the alternator.
RESULT A short test run, car standing still, revealed 13,5V at the battery, not the desired 14-ish volts, but good enough for now.
When the car is up and running again the longevity test of the bracketing will commence and I will experiment with different length belts and maybe a smaller pulley on the alternator, if I can find one, to bring the charging up to 14V.
The fuel pump is now cleaned inside and out, and assembled again with new check valves, gaskets and diaphragm.
At a first "test run" by hand on the bench it seem to work fine except for a notch at the end of the rocker arm travel. So I disassembled it again and found that the spring seat in under side of the new diaphragm I've got hold of was for a bigger diameter spring than I had. I have no new spring and are using the original one. Is there several variants of springs for the same type of fuel pump? Or perhaps there a conical spring in some variants?
Fortunately I still had the old diaphragm and with a hack saw I could cut of the centre rod and free the old spring seat. With a selection of drill bits the centre hole of the spring seat was then enlarged in steps to fit over the collar on the rod of the new diaphragm. Then the fuel pump was put together again and the notch in the rocker arm travel was gone.
The reason for the notch was probably that the spring slipped on the too large spring seat and got set sideways to the edge of the seat.
ARE CHEMICAL METAL THE FUTURE MATERIAL FOR CORE PLUGS?
Well, I still believe in old fashioned real steel…
Working on the alternator conversion I noticed some strange goo on the block side just behind the generator. Maybe there is a core plug behind all that, I thought. Some time later I scraped all loose material off, and there was indeed a core plug hiding there. And also I discovered that there was an apparent leak from the rear most core plug.
SNOWBALLING Of came the exhaust and intake manifolds to gain better access. Both the middle and rear core plugs were patched with chemical metal, or similar, and my first thought was just to follow the trend and, after all loose material was gone, re-patch with the same material and then forget about it until next leak... But the better thing was of-course to replace the patched core plugs with brand new ones. And after finding universal fit 1,5 inch core plugs on Internet's favourite market place, that was what I set out to do.
With the help of a hacksaw and a pair vice grips the old plugs came out. They were completely rusted trough in the bowl. Behind, it was packed with what best can be described as rust paste. Next tool was the garden hose to rinse the coolant jackets from all loose rust. Even the block drain tap was clogged solid, and there it was even harder to get the water to flow trough, but I got there in the end.
SHINY PARTS GOING IN The last piece of this puzzle was extra insurance in the form of gasket glue around the circumference to ensure a good seal between the core plugs and the machined surface in the block side. And at last the new plugs could be taped in.
In my effort to clean the whole fuel system I've now come to the tank. After removing the multitude of different type and size fasteners, which is result of several owners mending, the bright work strips, boot floor carpet, boot floor pans and the left side card board cover came of reasonable easy.
Except for the tank I found some hay, an extra set of unused points (haven't checked if they are for the car yet) and a badly damaged rear door lock hook bracket beneath the floor. The tank then came out without a problem, but with an unmistakable rattling sound. Can you guess what I found inside the tank?
Rust-a-plenty! But first I attempted to remove the tank level sender unit. Let's say I fail to 83,3%, meaning five of six screws snapped. And the float was rusted stuck, no wonder the gauge never have moved.
The tank was flushed several times with water, and shaken about a lot. Some of the loose rust came out, but I think there is no other way then to open up the tank to get rid of all rust. What is more is that from what I could feel the top of the tank is badly corroded on the inside. For now the stuck sender unit will go back in the tank and the tank will go back in the car. I will be doubling up with filters at the fuel pump.
SUMMER VACATION I had a very intens week getting the car up and running, and I almost gave up just before the finish... More about all that work later, here are some pictures from the start of my vacation with Julia.
So, I mentioned in an earlier post that my vacation started rather intense. I think it was the longest period of intense wrenching I've experienced so far in my wrenching life. It lasted almost one and a half week, and the parole was “wrench-eat-sleep-repeat”. With my other car already on vacation, I was left (self-inflected I might add) with the bus and my bicycle to get to the garage and do part runs.
In fact it started already on the two work-week weekends leading up to the vacation. I did excavate the tank and while I was re-threading the holes (because broken screws) in the tank for the sender unit, I also was trying to dry out all the water in it, that couldn't be poured out, with a heater. Then an idea sparked and when the tank was dry inside I brought out the heavy duty vacuum cleaner and was able to suck all the remaining lose rust out of the tank. The conclusion was; water flushing isn't the greatest method for getting lose rust out the fuel tank, drying and vacuuming is far superior.
So now the tank could get in, and I even managed to unstuck the float arm of the sender unit. Some home-made gasket for the later, new sealing between the tank and floor and some McGyver-ing/Roadkill-ing of the filler neck gasket later I started re-attaching the boot floor, carpet and bright works. On to the fuel lines; where hose bulges were added at every joint and a transparent unbraided hose joining the two pieces of steel pipe with no hose clamps were replaced with a proper rubber hose and hose clamps, because who-ever put in new lines apparently didn't believe in these things.
IN THE ENGINE BAY AGAIN Now the renovated carburetor and fuel pump, and the alternator with newly painted brackets, that just been waiting for the final install, could be installed.
But wait, there was some while-I'm-in-there moments before: Firstly the smashed up rear door latch holder/bracket in the boot floor needed some, or much, hammering, riveting, reinforcing and grinding to be near straight and to be able to latch the door without using body-panel-buckling force. Then all the screws holding the boot carpet and bright work to the car was a mismatch of different heads, screw sizes and lengths, so naturally I had to replace them all with uniform screws. Then the “carpet” inserts on the inside of the rear door was held on with a few wood screws, so I replaced the nut inserts with new ones (there was some drilling involved too) and new screws, proper for the job, were fitted.
It doesn't end there, the back seat back rest is held on at the top end by two rubber pins. The left one had split between the rubber its metal base. I channeled my wood working skills and made a new one. So the back rest is now more securely attached in the upright position. Lastly I had to take the choke cable out to repair it from chafing damage (no rubber grommet in the fire wall was used previously) and mend a split between the outer plastic cover and metal sleeve holding it the instrument panel.
Back to the main task of getting the car running again. With the fuel and charging systems together again I gave the carburetor a splash of petrol down the throat and the engine started after a couple of tries. Then I went on to changing the spark plug leads, setting the spark plug and breaker point gaps. Generic ready-made leads could be used between the distributor and the spark plugs, but for the one from the coil to the distributor I had to buy two and butcher one of one of its terminal, cut the other lead and put the butchered terminal on the cut end. To finish it of, the leads were organized in a Roadkill-fashion.
DEFEATING TEST DRIVE The first test drive begun cautiously on the gravel roads around the farm where my garage is situated. After not more than 1 km the car stalled, and wouldn't start back up again. Adding to that a coolant hose had sprung a leak. Of course I had no tools, petrol, hose or coolant with me, because the garage was close. There was just one thing to do – walk the 1 km back to the garage and collect the things I thought I would need, and then walk back.
With splashes of petrol down the carburetor throat the engine would start, but not run for long. I tried putting some more petrol in the tank with no luck. The cracked coolant hose was replaced and the radiator topped up with coolant. Then I made a last attempt starting the car, and it started and stayed running enough so that I could close the bonnet and get in the driver's seat before it would stall again. I got maybe 500 m and it stalled again. Same story. I ran back to the garage getting a hand pump to use for priming the fuel pump, if it was struggling to get fuel from the tank. No luck, the hand pump bladder was just sucked in, rendering it useless.
At this point I was fed up with the car and also very hungry so I left it in the fields and went back to the garage to eat dinner. After the break I got it started again and managed to drive it back into to garage. I was ready to give it up and continue after the vacation.
Since the engine was somewhat warm I proceeded to drain the oil and then check and adjust the valve clearances. Some of the valve clearances were to tight, some too lose, but the lifter ticking I've been hearing is still there, and I've checked and adjusted the clearances twice since this first time.
In the drained oil were some bits of string and metal fragments, that's just normal, isn't it? New oil filter was fitted and new era-correct-specification oil (Rektol classic) went in.
TROUBLE SHOOTING The next day I got back to continue trouble shooting the fuel system. I soon found out that the brand new paper filter I had fitted in the fuel line before the fuel pump was super clogged with rust, and it was new, unused, before the near 2 km test drive the day before. I realized that there was no point in using the stock fuel tank any more. Just to test that there was nothing else wrong I put a petrol can in the passenger foot well and routed a fuel line through the bonnet. First short test drive was successful and I drove the car home the 15 km, or so, home that night.
It was going to be a drag constantly having to fill up the 5 liters fuel can on my way up north for the rest of the vacation, not to mention dangerous to have an open, and poorly strapped fuel can in the car for a long trip. So, I bought a 29 liters fuel tank, designed for boat use, and set up but to install it somewhat permanently in the boot and with a vent exiting outside the car. A metal strap was fabricated and screwed to the boot floor. To run the vent and fuel line under the car I had to yet again remove the boot carpet and fool. The extra fuel line was then connected to the existing one under the car. The cap of the boat tank was modified so a quick coupling could be mounted for the vent line.
Now there was “only” some service items left to tackle before I could leave and there was late in the night already. The energy to carry on this intense wrenching was more or less gone, so I said to my self: “I'm not going back to the garage one more day.” and then decided to stay the night and get it all done.
The differential lid was cleaned and then removed to drain the oil. While the oil drained a made a new gasket for the lid using masking tape to create a template. The lid and home-made gasket was put back and new oil (Rektol again) was poured in. After that the gearbox was drained and I struggled a long time with a deformed fill plug to get it out. I almost thought that that would be the end, but I managed to screw it out at last, and new oil was poured in the gearbox as well.
All four ball joints in the front suspension were then greased, and as mentioned earlier, lastly I tried to reduce the lifter clatter by checking and adjusting the valve clearances again, this time in another order than before, with no success. There is probably something else in the valve train that is worn and giving this noise. As a semi-solution I poured in some thickening agent in the oil, which resulted at least in a bit muffled noise.
NORTH BOUND I packed the car with tools and spare parts, drove home and slept the rest of the day. The next day the rest of the vacation packing was packed into the car and the apartment closed for the summer. At last me and Julia was north bound.
The rest of the summer the car have been good, and I've gotten to know it well over the almost 1500 km we have been driving together.
However, I had to attend to the carburetor twice during this time. First the throttle blade shaft was sticking giving a to high idle. That was because some fool (actually, me...) had drilled a crooked hole for the shaft renovation bushes and the shaft couldn't turn freely enough. The remedy for that was to grind some relive grooves in the shaft, and know the idle is low as it should be and it's running fine otherwise also. Then I got strand on an evening drive because, it turned out, the carburetor float wasn't no longer floating, it had axial cracks in the outer skin. Luckily I just bought a spare carburetor and I was able to use that float instead.
Even though I was very close to give up a couple of times in the beginning of my vacation, I'm now glad I stuck with it. It was worth it, I've had a really good time with the car so far. I hope to drive it as long there is no salt on the roads. Maybe I will even do a one year anniversary tour down towards Malmö in December.
WINTER SLEEP The car has hang around outside for awhile this winter. I've been using it from time to time, but less and less as the temperature have dropped and the salt concentration increased.
However, the other day I cleared the garage for Julia and tucked her in for the winter. I hope to have some time during the rest of the winter to put new seals on the doors (more about that later), fix the leaking heater tap and put in front seat belts.
DOOR SEALS FOR A VOLVO? So, door seals. East Kent Trim Supplies sells reproduction seals, but they've been out of stock for awhile. What to do, what to do... After a general search in cyber space I came across a company here in Sweden, CVI Automotive, that specializes in Volvo parts (!) and their Volvo Duett door seal looked to have smiliar profile as the Vauxhall Victor one. Without knowing the dimensions, I "put all the eggs in one basket" and ordered 16 meters, in hope it will also be usefulll on the rear door.
I've cut of a test piece and tried it on the driver's door. I think it will work great, although it's not the exact same profile. What do you think?
At last the garage is organized again, after moving to a new apartment, so I can now concentrate on the car.
I won't say it out load, but I have a special trip in mind, and before that I want the doors to be re-sealed, the heater working and possible seat belts mounted.
The driver's door is now ready to accept the new Volvo Duett door seals. Recommendations on glue to use? I was thinking of regular contact adhesive.
See the pictures and their descriptions for more details.
Self-made flat-pack shelf
The factory split in the seal is hold down by a sheet metal clip, but is pop rivet factory spec?
The seal is kind of different around the door lock
The “door lock” part of the seal saved for future reference
Driver's door after seal tear off, and cleaning
Passenger's door before seal tear off
Passenger's door after seal tear off
A lot of glue and seal residue to clean off
To get rid of the glue and seal residue I started with carefully mechanical scraping. Then the residue was treated with “gasket solver” (don't leave it to long, it will get to the paint too, ask me how I know…). As the last step the whole circumference of the door was cleaned with “brake cleaner”.
When both the front doors were free from the old seals and all glue residue was cleaned off, I started to measure out the new seals. Then I worked on a solution to space out the seal around the door lock striker. In the end the spacer consisted of two pieces of rubber mat, on top of each other, cut to fit between the lock and the outer edge of the door and extending 5-7 cm both upwards and downwards from the lock striker. On top of which the generic (Volvo) door seal then would be glued.
I brought some contact adhesive from home and set about to glue the new seal to the driver's door, spreading the glue with a brush around the door circumference and on the mating surface of the seal. At first the seal seemed to stick to the door, but as soon as I continued to the next part, the seal started to loosen from the first part. Bad glue, bad method or too cold? I don't know.
My solution was to liberally, with several pluses, apply the glue to the door and brush it out, then sticking the seal to the door, without any glue on it, and using masking tape to hold the seal in place while the glue cured.
The end result wasn't too impressive... When closing the door the seal came loose from several spots and it did not reach all the way to the body around the lock.
Now I've moved on to a more important job pending for an soon upcoming road trip I want to do. I'll get back to the door seals at a later date. Then I'm thinking of instead using part of the old seal for a spacer at the lock mechanism and using a glue made for the purpose (thanks to my garage neighbor for the tip on the later).
Cleaned seal surface.
Removing the old seal.
Crusty pieces of old seal destined for the bin.
Making a seal spacer. (Part of the old seal, around the lock, to the right.)
Seal spacer in place.
Measuring seal length.
Holding the seal in place while the glue is curing.
Seal in place, including factory clip for the seal split.