When I swapped the Bayliss Thomas tourer…
for the Hillman 14…
… it was a bit embarrassing because at the moment of exchange the BT suddenly decided that with the engine running, it wasn’t going to engage a gear – the general consensus was that something had gone twang in the clutch. I would pop back and investigate as soon as poss. As I drove away in the Hillman I realised that it too had similar problems though not so acute.
Well, it took almost exactly 5 years for Counsel and me to ‘pop back’ to investigate but at least we now had access to a ramp, making the job so much easier.
To take off the gearbox and bellhousing, the propshaft had first to be removed and for that, the rear axle was released from its mountings on the leaf springs and pushed back far enough to allow the centralising cone on the front of the propshaft to drop out of the flexible coupling. Brake rods and other bits and pieces had also to be disconnected.
The gearbox and bellhousing came out easily enough once we’d untangled the brake and clutch pedal from the chassis rail, following which, a loose bolt fell from the bellhousing giving us our first pointer.
It was plain enough where the bolt had come from but where was the nut and spring washer? The nut, we discovered, was wedged between the outer casing of the cone and a flange on the clutch retaining plate thus preventing full disengagement, which is why it was possible to engage a gear with the engine switched off and then drive away, though subsequent changes would be impossible. We could only hope that the spring washer escaped through the bellhousing drain hole because there was no sign of it in the clutch bay.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) the Hillman 14 belonging to Counsel had clutch problems which prevented smooth and silent engagement of gears and I had the gearbox and clutch in and out of ‘KW’ 5 times (Learned Counsel pitched in for the last couple of goes) in an effort to sort it out. So when I got the tourer home, I got it to bits straight away. I can’t remember exactly the nature of the fix but it seemed to be contrary to a period factory advisory that was meant to cure what was obviously a common problem. I recall vaguely that the clearance and alignment of the friction and pressure plates was critical.
I began the construction of a heat shield (actually, this is No.2; I called an attempt on the first go as in hammering out a swage, the metal split) in the hope that this might go some way to curing the fading problem on the Hillman Special.
As I cut more and more away to accommodate the various rods, levers and bits that got in the way, the less effective it was going to be and what’s more, the shield wasn’t really addressing the supposed problem at source but merely treating the symptom. So why not get some of that racy exhaust wrap, reduce the engine bay temperature by a zillion degrees and never have to think about it again?