You little tinker

Now Lady Marilyn is on the road and munching up the miles, shes passed from a garage project to  that Utopian state of a road going old British Sports Car – in other words she needs fixing a lot.

At first thought this might seem an odd thing to long for, but think about it, we leap into our Euroboxes for dull an uneventful transport (otherwise known as reliable) experience. In a British sports car its a sense of occasion, a sense of style and a sense that that noise really shouldn’t be there….

In the old days, when I started the rebuild every time I tried to fix something, something else goes wrong.

But now, all the hard stuff is behind me and we’re in the tinkering zone.

As the odd little peculiarities pop up we turn to the trusty spanners get stuck in. Compare this to our daily drivers where we turn to the dealer and go broke. Fixing things is joyous and the little things give us an opportunity to see immediate improvements for a few hours work.

The following little jobs have brought untold joy to Trevs garage.

Left Turn Clyde

One potential problem I discovered was an issue turning left from a standing start. This isn’t a particularly unusual thing to want to do, so reach for the spanners and have a look.

What has happening was the engine has now settled into its preferred position, in so doing the number one carb float bowl (nearest the bulkhead) has closed up distance wise to the first UJ in the steering linkage. Add a bit of engine tourque when setting off and the float bowl came into contact with the the high point of the UJ.

There’s a compromise to be reached in terms of clearance to the steering linkage and clearance for the dash pots and the bonnet. Erring on the side of caution the clearance to the bonnet took the lead. Now the engine was settled I had more than enough clearance for the bonnet so I just needed to edge the lump up a bit. I made a 5mm spacer of the RH engine mounting as a trial…

Engine mounting spacer

and this cured the problem. A neater plate follwed as a final fix.

Exhausting the options

Given the exhaust system was all newly assembled, there was a minor leak where the down pipe met the under body section. A bit of aluminium tape sealed that while the carbon had time to take up residence. However, it seemed to get worse, so another investigation uncovered a leaking manifold plug. There are two of these, on on each manifold and I have no idea what they are for, must be a test point of some sort. Anyway, one of them was blowing so I thought I’d take my strsty spanner an nip it up.

It didn’t so much nip up as fall off.

e type manifold plug

Happily the boss in the maifold is suitable to tap M6 and so a few minutes later the redundant post was replaced with a nice new screw.

Below the boss is reinstalled next to an example of the test port on the other manifold. I’m not messing with that one, its a tinker for another time.

E type manifold

On the Level

The fuel gauge hasn’t worked since Lady Marilyn was put back together. Shorting the terminals at the tank end gave a full scale deflection so the gauge and wiring were OK, the sender must be buggered.

Once or twive in the first few hunbdered miles the fuel gauge would burt into life again, for a few miles, before going back to sleep.

I checked the serial number on the sender (TB9006) and its a top mounted version that was used. These are plentyful and cheap on the web, so I ordered a new one.

Its always a game getting a new sender to read the right level so I waited until the level was low, dry fitted the sender, checked the reading on the gauges and then took it out again, readjusted the angle so the gauge read ‘E’ with a little fuel remaining. Once I was happy I fitted the sender, with Hylomar Blue to both sides of the cork gasket, and that was job done. Another easy fix…

Here’s the old sender, still in the tank next to the new fuel pump. The old pump had an intermittent fault that I couldn’t trace so I bought the facet item. Smashing pump except that it doesn’t have a pressure cut off, rather a bypass circuit, as a result it never stops ticking. I shall rubber mount it at some point as it can be annoying…

Pump and sender (2)

I pulled the sender out and used it as a template to bend the sender arm…


I then fine tuned the sender arm shape by running the tank very low and adjusting the arm until I got ‘E’ of the gauge.

new sender (2)

I sealed it with blue Hylomar both side of the cork gasket. There are differing views on this, some say a dry gasket is better. All I can say it mine does not leak using the sealant. I also put a dab on each thread when re assembling as fuel can capillary along the threads and cause a slight weep.

Word has it that there may be a customer stainless tank being designed by a club member, it this turns into a part then I’ll replace the tank and fuel line routing.

Letting off Steam.

The tick over was a little high on the triple SU’s so I decided to adjust them. There’s no tick over screw its a case of adjusting the air screw and mixture to find the sweet spot. Adjusting the air screw also adjusts the balance and it becomes a fiddly job. Still armed with copious amounts of optimism I started tinkering. The tickover did come down but became more lumpy. I eased that a little but not as much as I’d have liked…

I decided a quick road test was in order and as I backed out of the drive a cloud of steam engulfed the from of the car. Engine off, roll back down the drive and investigate.

It was quickly clear that the bottom hose had come off the stainless link pipe


and dumped about two gallons of OAT mix on the drive.

All the hoses were new during the build and there’s no bead on the stainless pipes. A quick check of the other jubilee clips found them less than tight too. So, I put the event down to the hoses settling after a number of heat cycles and duly replaced the hose and tightened up all the clips.

Its done another 700 or so miles since with no issues.

Its a good idea to go round everything with a spanner after a few hundred miles to ensure nothing else has settled in the same way – after all there were a lot of new fasteners used on the build.

Back to the balancing and I think, in the fullness of time, I’ll take her to a rolling road with a gas analyser fur a proper set up of the mixture…

More tinkering to come, but for now, thats all folks!






Incy-wincy Spiyda

When scowering ebay for new clocks to replace my miss matched items I came across a set from a MK10 which looked in decent condition, pending a repaint of the bezel. My knowedge was lacking somewhat and I assumed the tacho would be a standard type that counted the pulses from the coil.

Oh, but that would be way too easy. Instead Jaguar decided to fit a generator to one of the camshafts and use the tacho as kind of a volt meter, the faster the engine ran, the greater the output from the generator and the higher the tacho read. Later the R&D department would decide that a gearbox driven speedo was way to simple and propose a new device which unravelled a piece of knotted string with a lead weight on the end, coupled with a sundial and an abacus….


The speedo and revcounter…

So did I have to junk the new and much prettier revcounter? No, thanks to Spiyda electronics


They have developed a clever solution to convert the tacho to read coil pulses. There are two basic types, one that goes inside the tacho and one thats remote in its own plastic housing. I went for the remote system and followed the single page instruction…

Firstly srip the Tacho and identify the control circuit board. junk it

spiyda board 3

This leaves just the two wires going to the tacho movement

e type tacho

I just twisted link wires to the Tacho and the Spiyda module


and connected it back to the module as instructed.

spiyda module

add a positive and ground the attach the supplied signal cable to the computer headphones socket, one wire to ground one to the module signal feed.

This last bit is used for calibration and uses an audio file at a given frequency to set the tacho needle via a small screw that can be seen top right of the module.

I elected the 100Hz file which needed balancing to 2000 RPM on the tacho (this from a table of frequencies vs RPM depending on number of cylinders)

This dry run was to prove everything worked. next step is to properly wire and solder the leads.

Spiyda Jaguar

I soldered new leads directly onto the Tacho coil. Note – there are no other wires now, just the new leads straight to the tacho drive. I put a blob of silicone on the dial to hold the wires away from the movement and left it to set overnight.

I’d made a school boy error and snipped the old electronics from the board. The board is used to mount the drive at the rear via 2 screws and the bit i’d snipped off filled the hole where the old terminals were.

I used some duct tape (on both sides) to seal the hole and made a small hole for the leads such that they were tight to pull through.


next to calibrate the unit with the help of Spiyda’s downloadable sound file.

Then put it all back together again and put the unit back in the dash.

This conversion really is ridiculously easy, the instructions are as clear as day and theres some help videos on YouTube too.

Once re-installed it works like a dream.


Spiyda will do all this for you for a very reasonable £95, but its an easy DIY job.

Right, whats next?






All was looking good. Jerry Peston-Ladd was happy everything was as it should be and a brief road test indicated all was well.

So, the moment of truth. The greatest automotive story ever told (possibly) was coming to an end. Only one thing to do, load up and head south…

South Bound and Down

Armed with the trusty, and very heavy, transporter I headed sarf of the river, Indian country I’m told…

The sight that greeted me brought a tear to my eye. Lady Marilyn, and one of her sisters, were waiting for me to arrive.

two E-Types

No sooner had I extracted myself from the van after a 270 mile non-stop run than my lady came out of her resting place…

People who’ve built, or restored, a car will appreciate how much of a genuinely special moment this is. She’s far from finished, but she’s mechanically done.

Jerry explained the details of his work and some of the special features installed along the way.

Next we paid a visit to Jerry’s other project, the restoration of a 1917 steam locomotive no. 4253. This is another nut and bolt rebuild, but on a huge scale. Its all done by volunteers and, end-to-end, its likely to be a 10 year project.

The website is here 4253 and if its your thing, or even if it isn’t, why now drop them a few quid? There are a number of goodies in the sales and promotions section.


Back to base and time to load Lady Marilyn…

E type trailer

To be fair, this isn’t the perfect trailer for the job, so we had to adapt. The triple carb configuration requires the engine to sit a little lower and this means the sump would catch first followed by the exhaust and chassis. We unhitched the trailer used the rear stabilising legs and jacked it up with the nose wheel to get a good angle. Even then a couple of blocks of wood were required to get an extra couple of inches…

With patience and care we got there…

e type transport

Nearly time to say good bye, for now, to Jerry Preston-Ladd, without who’s help I’d still be months and months away from finishing. Jerry’s technical ability is astonishing and he knowledge of Challenger E Types unparalleled. He’s become a good friend over the past 5 months too.

Jerry Preston-Ladd

Here’s the old boy with his trademark grin 🙂

I managed to dodge the monsoons that typified this years Easter break and later that very evening she was back home tucked away in the snug (as in 2 inches clearance) garage in Yorkshire.

E-Type home

We had noticed one of the headlights had rotated in its pod. Not something we’d had off as the wiring terminated outside the pod. As the next job was an MOT it needed fettling so off came the headlight cover for a look-see.

E Type head Lamp

Here’s the final legacy of the previous owners work. The only bit of original wiring left and the final bodge. Easy enough to replace and that was done. the headlamp was secured and everything bolted back up again.

The next day was MOT day, I set off in between showers for my local testing station where she was driven onto the ramp in nervous anticipation.

E type MOT

Whilst on the ramp it was a good change to take some underside pictures.


and the front suspension

Some time later the good news came along with a pass certificate.

So she’s on the road!

I still have the roof to sort out and the internal trim to improve, but she’s now a rolling restoration.

Next bits on the list

Make the door card fit properly – currently catching on the cill

Repair the roof – its about an inch short at the rear

Interior trim panels – tidy up for now – replace at a later date

new wheels – the 185’s are period, but I prefer the 205 option tyre

Bonnet pushers – make a pair of new ones.

but mostly….

Drive the bloody backside off the car and smile like the village idiot.


Lets Recap….

As the rebuild nears the finishing post, well as much as they ever do, here’s a very, very abridged version of the story so far.

Lady Marilyn was my 50 Car, the successor to the Ferrari 328 which was my 40 car…


I’d considered a few different cars for the 50 car, it have to be something special, something that would make my pulse quicken every time I opened the garage door. The decision, in the end, was an easy one in many ways, something iconic, timeless, a true classic and achingly beautiful. There are few that fit the bill and I settled quickly on a Challenger E type.

They were few and far between, a waiting list existed for the Owners Club  “for sale” section. I managed to track one down early on, from Car and Classics website


It was a nice enough car, the chap selling it was the original builder, but there were two principle issues, firstly it was an auto and I wanted a manual, secondly and more importantly, I didn’t fall in love when I saw her.

In many ways I should have bought her, she was cheap and a go-er, but we wouldn’t chose a girlfriend that way, I’ve done that in the past and it never ends well, so why adopt that approach with a significant vehicle.

I heard of another example, a good one – or so I was told – and off to see her I went. I’d seen photos and had already done the falling in love thing before I set off.

Here are the photo’s….


well you just would, wouldn’t you? I know I would, and I did….

Now, for anyone who’s tried online dating, this experience was much the same. Photos from an earlier age, lots of activities in my wish list (like driving, braking and steering) and very much available.

Internet dating is mostly where (according to, ahem, a friend) you turn up and what looks like the mother of the girl in the photos is waiting, then you have to think of an excuse to spend the shortest amount of time possible before running for the hills. This is what I should have done… Sadly I took my rose tinted spectacles with me and even more sadly a significant wedge of cash.

A little time later we were winging our way back to Gods county with a Challenger on the back of our transporter.


The problems first started when I first started, or tried to, the engine on our return. Nothing, nada, nyet, zip, sod all happened. When we finally managed to get her into the drive we came face to face with problem number two… No brakes. It turns out you can polish a turd after all.

First things first, lets get her started. This lead to an investigation….


which led to the rebuild of the carbs.


Now she started. Time to see if I could make her stop. The brakes wouldn’t bleed but whilst trying I realised how shitty the suspension all was. So off with the front…


Replace everything that can be replaced, powder coat the rest…


Then to the IRS, out it came…


Full rebuild, new everything….


Now she could stand on her fully refurbished suspension.

Next job the engine, out with the lump…


Full strip and rebuild with all new parts, including head studs, pistons, bearings and shells, clutch, flywheel skim. The lot…








Next, with new wheel brakes all round, rip out that nasty master cylinder…


and replace it with a new pedal box…


Then it was off to Uncle Jerry’s for a full rewire and final finish.

First some custom parts, radiator, jockey wheel, bulk head panels, engine mountings…


and the masterpiece throttle linkage….



Then a dash rebuild with new parts…


Before a full re-wire


Then get everything back together….


get the old girl running….

Before bolting the new shiny bits on…


The next phase is the MOT test to get some miles under her belt, whilst I save up for an interior retrim…

I know there are lots of people who read this, they’re all three years older than when I started. I thank you for your patience and leave you with this thought….

All good things to those who wait,,,,,,,




The Engine build has been covered in many blog entries. The build wasn’t straight forward, which was in keeping with all things related to Lady Marilyn, and in order to ensure everything was tip-top it was slow going.

Drakes Engineering in Bradford did a stellar job of the machining work, thy also rebuilt the head for me. The pistons and all the bearings were all new, as were the cam chains, tensioners, guides and seals. Electronic Ignition, courtesy of Powerspark, had been added too.

That’s a whole lot of newness in one package and its always a worrying time when you come to start the engine for the first time.

There had been some considerable space between building the lump and first start, the wiring had been done, all the braking system replaced and many of the ancillaries had been on and off during trial fitting.

However, the time had come. All the bits were on the car, in the right place and ready to rock and roll.

Challenger build

The assembled engine sporting the customer designed Radiator and twin thermostatically controlled fans was in place to deal with the substantial heat output of the engine.

E Type Radiator

Belts were tensioned and ready to go

E type fan belt

and we had a fully wired in Dash to do the job properly.


The inner panels need replacing and they were just loosely placed for the trial start.

One of the issues with Electronic Ignition is that its impossibly to statically time the engine. So the process for best guess location for the distributor had been to correctly set the old points distributor and statically time that. Take a good look at the distributor orientation and replace it with the electronic distributor to approximately the same location.

This was all done and we prepared to launch the start procedure.

I should point out at this stage that the engine had already been turned over with no plugs in place to ensure we had oil pressure before starting.

So, with one pair of hands on the distributer and a nervous finger on the starter button and me hovering with the video, we were ready to go.

Here’s the result.


Then we checked the timing and did an initial carb balance to get a sweet tickover.

Much relief, the engine runs like a song. We’re on the home straight now!

Carb filters were then fitted, the coolant topped up with OAT antifreeze and attention turned elsewhere….




Weakest Link

One of the issues we spotted when trying to rebuild the engine was the carburettor linkage. The need for a solution to the original system was discussed in “suckers” posted earlier in the blog.

It was a tricky problem and one that needed a clever solution. The original installation had connected to the spindle of the carburettor nearest the bulkhead. The other side of this spindle had been used to drive the shaft under the manifold which operated the remaining two carbs.


If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the linkage to the first carb

There were two principle problems with this system.

  1. The first carb spindle carried the stresses of operating all three carbs. This had caused the spindle bush to wear.
  2. Due to the inevitable slack in the linkage the other two carbs would operate after the first, making balancing the carbs virtually impossible.

In essence we needed to find a way to use the under-manifold linkage to drive all three carbs. the solution was to engineer a new linkage to join the throttle movement to the existing linkage.

The bits of linkage were collected and some thinking followed…

Challenger throttle linkage

Jerry’s solution was as follows:-

Challenger carb linkage

This seemed just the job and so it was this design that went into production.

challenger linkage

Once installed on the engine it worked a treat.


Of course the real test would be how it worked when the engine was running. How the modulation transferred to pedal travel, for that only time would tell.

Here’s a final shot of the installed linkage from the underside on the engine once installed.

E type linkage

In this shot you can also see the installed individual carburettor return springs. These were mentioned in an earlier blog, but not shown on the car.

another job jobbed…..



Not many people realise that Joseph Lucas developed the first anti theft device, a 50:50 chance that the car would start…

Being the proud owner of a car so equipped I could marvel at the intermittent wiper and the world famous panel light modes, dim, flicker and off.  Lets not forget the self dimming headlight too.

The rebuild of lady Marilyn is, in the truest sense of the word, a nut and bolt rebuild. I do not believe that there’s a single bolt that hasn’t been out over the last three and a half years. The exception to this was the harness. The mighty electrical system and its two, yes two, fuses had served the car well. It must have done as it hadn’t burned to a crisp when I made the mistake of using the window washers with the headlights on. In fact, the harness had stopped smoking at all, which meant either topping up the harness smoke reservoir, or changing it completely.

Harness smoking

Jerry Preston-Ladd has developed a new harness for the Challenger E, this is the reason it originally went to him. This update is the story of that harness.

The old harness was stripped out of the car and any usable parts retained (such as the headlight relay) the rest of the junk was consigned to the bin.

There were some oddities with the wiring which I can’t blame on Lucas. The headlights for instance, these were “joined to” (read twisted around) the indicators. The front side lights were attached to nothing at all. The total rewire was a mandatory feature of the rebuild.

NS light wiring

What was going though their mind? I know Lady Marilyn was used as a publicity car for a time and maybe this was a desired feature, but the execution was truly pants…

The biggest concentration of harness activity happens around the centre dash. This is where the gauges and switches are afterall and this is also where the fuse blocks were located. The brown power leads went in first. The dash is wired through an ammeter so everything goes through that first before shooting off to its various locations.

E type dash wiring 1

In this picture the finished heater controls can be seen. another lovely job and the proper look for the car. As a new heater had been fitted the levers now drive a microswitch which operates an electric water valve. A neater solution than the cable operated alternative.


The signal wires went next as most of the functions are relay operated to cut down on the switched load.

E type dash connections

Connector blocks were added for the engine and gearbox (makes removal a doddle) and also for the bonnet – which needs to come off if you’re doing anything much more that peering under it.


Jerry also added a some antitheft devices to the harness. I’m not quite daft enough to detail them, but there are clever and add a degree of protection against Mr Scumbag Car-thief.

Once the wiring was in place, it could be extensively tested before being taped up for good.

There was one particularly joyous moment when Jerrry sent me a phote of the front lights. They were:-

  1. On
  2. With sidelights
  3. Controlled by a switch
  4. Not on fire.

I may have shed a tear at that point.

P1050076a (2)

So, the wiring was complete, better than the original, fully fuse protected and installed with a quality that old Joseph could only dream of. Job done, happy days.


Dashing onward…..

All the components for the dash rebuild are gathered together the original dash plate, which has the hinge mechanism, the dot peened stainless cover plate, the refurbished gauges, new legend plate, chrome trim plate, ignition switch, escutcheon and light switch and a selection of toggle switches.

E-type dash rebuild

All these parts came together to make this little piece of loveliness, I mean just look at it,

Etype centre dash

This is just perfect and is going to make the car look a million dollars.

Meanwhile, in the land of heater controls it has been decided that we’ll use a solenoid water control valve for the heater. The logic here is you either want heat or your dont. Like most people if I have a slider I go full hot or full cold and regulate the temperature with the fan.

The E-type can be described as leaky at best, from a wind point of view, and the simplicity of the solenoid system seems the best solution. This needs to be controlled by a micro switch on the dashboard lever..

e typ heater control

The parts made. marked and drilled, and then assembled

e type heater lever

this is a spot on solution thats going to work really well.

Thats about it for the dashboard now and here it is, laid out on the bench and to all intents and purposes completely new.

E type dash assembly

E type haguar dashboard

This is a genuine wow moment, every time I slide behind the wheel this is the view that will greet me, boy oh boy I cant wait….





Happy New year!

As this blog is now in its third year I want to take a moment to wish all the readers a happy new year.



The Blog is now read in 46 countries, which is an amazing result for a partly techy partly (attempted) humor blog covering my slide into bankruptcy in an effort to return A Challenger E-Type to better than its former glory.

This is the year she’ll return to the road, we’re on the home straight now my friend and technical mentor Jerry Preston-Ladd is on the case. To those who read regularly, many thanks and I hope its all worth the effort – much the same as the car really….

Happy new year!



A Dash of Style….

We’re at the stage where things are starting to go together again… Starting with the centre dash. The refurbed gauges have been fitted to the new stainless steel dot peened finish plate. The original was aluminium but this marks too easily hence the move to stainless, a far more durable solution.

The face plate of the oil pressure gauge has move a little, probably when the new bezel was fitted, so this will need aligning again. They are so fiddly to get right…

e type centre dash

what a think of beauty, especially when compared to what came off….


Theres a new legend plate to finish the job off.

The drivers dash is a brand new original part and the newly converted glove box was also re-trimmed in new leather cloth to give the whole dash the new look treatment.

E type glove box

The heater control levers seem to be an NLA item and have been on back order for a while. Jerry cured this by making a pair of levers to fit the bracket. We’ll be using one of them to control a solenoid water valve so needs to operate a microswitch. The other is just for show.

E Type heater lever

and with the lever ends in place

E type heater escucheon


The chassis was given a rub down and a new coat of paint. The paint colour was “scanned” and formulated by computer. Its not an exact match, but as its under bonnet I’m not overly concerned. Its netter to have a uniform colour than the blotchy mess that the car came with.

Challenger e type chassis

Elsewhere the upper column UJ finally turned up and was fitted to the freshly painted lower column.

Challenger E type chassis paint

The reservoirs and btacket have now been fitted tot he newly made bulkhead panel and its starting to look more complete.

challenger bulkhead trim

bulkhead challenger

The steering rack was also treated to a coat of paint. This is another part is isn’t seen, but that doesn’t mean it should be neglected. I’ll know its been painted and, in many ways, thats the reason. The car has been in rebuild phase for 3 years now, its good to make sure everything is just so.

challenger steering rack

Its all coming together nicely!