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Working on it

Off with her head!

Fenchurch's engine was sounding a bit clattery before the trip to Glasgow this weekend, and after the 250 mile drive she was also making some odd popping and hissing noises when idling. I tried adjusting the tappets in the hotel car park on Sunday morning but it didn't make much difference. By the time I got home the idle was fairly rough but I drove to work and back today without any trouble. There was no loss of power at any point - I was still happily blatting along the motorway overtaking BMWs and things as usual. Tonight I did a compression test which showed fairly low pressures in three cylinders, so I whipped the cylinder head off and there were clear signs of partial head gasket failure. It also looks like the exhaust valves have started to erode very slightly, despite the head having supposedly been converted to run on unleaded fuel before I bought it. I'll be catching the bus to work again tomorrow, but I hope to source some new unleaded valves locally and get it all put back together tomorrow night.

ETA More technical details over here.

In other news, her gearbox is getting gradually noisier in first gear but it's still usable for now and plans are in motion for me to obtain a rebuilt one in two or three weeks' time.


oo-er missus. That doesn't look pretty at all.. and I've got through a few gaskets in my time, for one reason or another.
I don't envy you if you have to have head and block skimmed, although that is cheaper than I expected it to be.
I seem to remember hearing that there is a 'sticky' performance gasket for the A series, made for Metros.. maybe that would help if the head and block's not too bad. Why you're getting all that soot though, I don't know, although I've always found a fair amount of black in mine. Maybe if the exhaust valves are pitted they're causing a localised pocket of unburnt mixture.. (clutching at straws now..)
And how the hell do you overtake BMW's? the only thing I overtook on the 200 mile journey back from Burford was a 1970's Bedford horsebox in Milton Keynes..
Well, first you come up behind one that's pottering along at 65 or so. I usually see a few of them on a long motorway journey. Then you indicate to overtake and wait while an endless stream of cars passing in the next lane completely ignores you. I don't know if this is because they think a classic car doesn't have a right to overtake, isn't capable of overtaking, they don't understand what the flashing brake light means, or because they're all annoying gits. I don't remember ever having this much trouble getting people to let me overtake when I was driving a modern car. Eventually one of them is a bit slow off the mark and leaves a a gap, so you put your foot to the floor, nip into the gap, pass the slowcoach, indicate, pull in, and watch them disappear in your rear-view mirror. Occasionally though, you'll come across someone who is so upset at the idea of being overtaken by a 44 year old car that they insist on getting in front of you again, at which point they slow back down to 65 and you have to repeat the whole thing.
Well, yes, i was familiar with the concept of overtaking, having heard of such things while I was learning. But I never try it in the Morris due to the noise, the slender power reserve and the indifferent brakes. I used to blat around in it a lot, doing a trip to Harleston and back pretty much weekly, around the 70 mark for most of it. But after blowing a gasket on the A14, boiling the oil, and various other mishaps I tend to keep to 55-60 on long journeys, and consider myself lucky when I'm behind something slow, as it transfers the blame.
How did you manage to boil the oil?

I think 70 with a 948 diff is equivalent to about 76 with a 1098 diff in terms of engine revs. I don't usually cruise that fast on the motorway - more like 70, going up to - erm - a bit more when overtaking.