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….





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!



On your marks, get set, wait…..

Its been such a long time since I updated progress on Lady Marilyn you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d given up. Absolutely not the case, just taking a bit of a breather and sorting other stuff out. Poo has gone, Herman has arrived (and new toys just HAVE to be played with – it’s the Law) plus I’ve been working for a living too – and work has been manic….

So, when we left the story the venerable lump was out and mounted on its engine stand, the head was off, the studs were all loose and everything was going well…

I took the head to W. Drake in Bradford (  for pressure testing and cleaning. Just a quick job, or so I thought. As is always the way with testing, it revealed the need for more work. The head was leaking from the core plugs, the guides needed replacing, the seats could do with updating too and… and…and…. So I took the easy (but not cheap) route and told them to fully fettle it for me.

Drakes are very good but like, Ward Engineering, you couldn’t accuse them of being quick. To be fair I hadn’t been in the zone to do much during that time and no harm was done. Then 4 months later, like the second coming, the phone rang to tell me my head had finally arrived in the dispatch bay. Was I ready for it? Was I bloody hell!


E Type Jaguar head 2


E Type Jaguar head

And so the head was duly collected. Sadly Drakes don’t do the gold paint required for the head so once again I turned to the internet for guidance.

What’s the best way to walk from the kitchen to the stairs? If you follow the internet’s advice you’d leave by the backdoor, walk to Droitwich before hailing a cab to the train station heading for Seaton Sluice (real place), taking the bus to the front door and right there you’ll find the stairs.

This is how it was when I tried to track the paint down, about a million web pages later I’d arrived at HMG paints ( who do a decent approximation to Jaguars Harvest Gold (the generally accepted shade used on the later S1 E Type heads). At least they had an outlet a couple of miles from work and I could happily collect said material in my lunchtime. So that was done and another part accumulated.

Meanwhile, back to the block and time to see what’s happening down below.

I span the engine over on the stand and whipped off the sump. To be fair there were no nasties floating around in there, but a ton of sludge had accumulated. A simple degrease was all that was needed.


E Type Jaguar sump

I put the sump back on, masked the top end and cleaned up the block ready for a fresh coat of paint. Probably the wrong sequence this, but it made me feel like I’d made more progress than I actually had….


During the rebuild hiatus I tried to convince myself I was still doing meaningful work by accumulating all the bits for the rebuild, timing chains, tensioners, gaskets, seals and new head studs were waiting for the head to come back, and waiting, and waiting and so on…

Time to play catch up, uncover the block and take a peek at the bottom end and once again all looked pretty good.

E Type Jaguar  crank 1

From what I could see of the cylinders they were all pretty good.

I pulled the big ends out and they looked good. In many ways that’s the worst thing that could have happened. If they’d been worn it would have been a black and white crank grind, but they were fine.

Interestingly it appears the shells came from Gustav Graves Diamond mine in Iceland…


Next, pull the mains. Here there was wear, so the decision became easy – off to the grinders after all.

E Type Jaguar main bearing shell

So, strip off the oil pump and pipework, remove the big ends and pull the pistons before taking off the mains and lifting the crank out

E Type Jaguar crank

E Type Jaguar block


Next pull the oil pump drive and cam chain pulley

and off to the grinders it goes, along with the fly wheel which needs skimming too.

I’d bought a bore gauge to check the wear on the cylinders to decide if a re-bore was also on the cards. Neat bit of kit, checked its calibration at a friend of mines climate controlled measuring room (all very posh – but useful too) and it was bob-on.

Assemble the necessary configuration of collars and pin and we’re ready to go.


Happily the bores show very little wear


The base line measurement at the bottom of the bore was 0.05mm, maximum measured wear was 0.04mm, well within the 0.15 specification. Finally something that doesn’t need doing and isn’t anywhere close enough to “do it anyway” logic.

Now I can get into the oil ways and have everything spic and span for when the crank comes home.

Until next time, once again its….

thats all folks

Bye, bye, baby….

Well its been a while since I’ve posted on here and much has happened, Herman has joined the fleet and, sadly, Poo has now left…

Poo managed a measly 700 miles between MOT’s in the last year, living under her cover in storage just wasn’t a fitting tribute to the car that had brought so much joy to me and my Daughters. So, with a heavy heart, it was time to send her to a new home – somewhere she would be loved and looked after.


The MOT history says it all…. In my defence there are a lot of vehicles in the fleet and only so many hours in a day. Plus I have the inconvenience of a job to go to in order to maintain them all…

A new MOT was the first step and she flew though that, as normal, with just an advisory on headlights, so I bought some new ones and fitted them. The usual issue with fitting new lights in an Elise is that the mounting brackets tend to fall off when you try. Poo, though, was playing nicely and they headlights were changed without issue.


This was followed with a damned good clean and voila,

Poo was ready to hit the classifieds. I’ve tried ebay before and there’s nothing more than a barrage of idiot questions, including but not limited to, will you take a shoe in part exchange, what’s you buy it now price (needs to be under a tenner), what colour is the blue Elise etc…


So, I tried SELOC, the lotus club website and within a couple of days a nice man from Holland emailed (whilst having a schmoke and a pancake no doubt) with some reasonable questions which were duly answered and an offer came back. I decided to take the offer and we arranged to meet at the Ferry port in Newcastle – which was oddly fitting as it was the ferry port in Belfast where I bought her originally.

The money was already in my bank, so handover was an easy enough affair and off went Poo to the wild blue yonder.

In summary, I’d had poo for around 7 years, done around 10,000 miles and sold her for £2K more than I bought her for. If only all cars were like that.

Bye, bye Poo, we had a great time together….


Break out the Acme chemistry set..

Jaguar head studs were first conceived in the heat of a S&M session, probably. A man with bulldog clips on his nipples while receiving 40 lashes had a sudden rush of something, lets call it inspiration (for want of a better word) and decided to tap the inside of the water jacket to receive the studs. Here those studs would be free to corrode to their hearts content – thank you sir, may I have another – and some poor smuck would have to free those wasted away studs from the corrosion hell of the water jacket years later – after you with the jar of bees and scrotum seal – all in all a terribly good idea, if your mind works that way.

Back to the here and now and I had become that smuck, Jaguar in their wisdom had allowed the victim, sorry, rebuilder, to see the extent of his torture be revealing what was left of the head studs via the core plugs.

On a cold and blustery day in November I find myself going down the path of whylie Coyote with my very own chemistry project. The “why” was fairly simple. As mentioned . My studs had corroded significantly and were really narrow at the point that they went into the block. If they sheared I was in real trouble, so this was an important job.

e type core plugs

I googled to find the best penetrating oil to give me a head start, among the usual suspects of PJ1 and WD40 was a thread on a Do-it-yourself formula, acetone and ATF mixed 50:50. Some testing had been done and the alleged results gave the best performance. But its flammable and explosive…

So, here I am, standing at my bench with bottles of acetone and ATF, a measuring jug and a vague urge to check the house insurance cover. Does this come under the terrorism act or the soon to be released stupidity act 2015.

acetone and atf

My mind wandered back through the decades to my first Scout camp. I must have been age 11 or 12 at the time and it was a very exciting event. Tents were erected, wood chopped and a roaring camp fire established outside our patrol tent. The Patrol leader told me to put some water on the fire. It sounded a shame to do that after all the effort to get it going in the first place, but being the patrol junior I did as I was told and out went the fire. Noooooooo shouted the patrol leader, I meant in a billy can you wazzock.

And that is the problem with instructions, you have to hear them as they were meant to be heard. So, my instruction from a faceless individual over the medium of the internet (which as we all know is 100% reliable….) was to mix acetone and ATF in a 50:50 ratio. In for a penny in for a long-stretch-in-casualty….

Happily nothing exploded, the vapour didn’t kill me and the resultant pink fluid looks mostly inert. So I dried out the previous WD40, that I’d been applying daily for more than a week, and sprayed the new concoction onto the base of the studs.

It sat this way for a day or so before I decided it was time to tackle the actual removal.

I thought a lot about how to stand the best chance of getting them out whole. The normal option would be to lock two nuts together and apply pressure. I decided to try a different route and welded one of the head nuts to the stud so that I could use the windy gun to put some shock loading through the studs.

Jaguar 4.2 head studs

Obi-Wan Preston-Ladd had suggested using a little heat as well, so I dried out the new fluid (explosive remember) and very cautiously flashed the flame over the area. To my delight, nothing blew up….

So I added more heat

xk4.2 studs

after about 5 minutes of heating (its only a propane burner after all) I took he heat away gingerly added some of the new fluid hoping it wasn’t hot enough to go bang, and fired up the windy gun…

Jaguar 4.2 long studs

a couple of minutes of rattling and hey presto! thank the lord of the internal combustion engine, the stud broke free…. Using the same technique on the other 7 they all freed off nicely..

I haven’t taken them out yet as I want to clear all the crud from that water jackets and don’t want it falling into the threads. I will be posting pictures of them once out though, just to illustrate how bad they were…

Off with her head…..

With the lump out of the car, it was time to have a poke around. first job to split the gearbox off

e type engine 4.2

Easy enough even it there are loads of bolts to undo, all of them behaved and quick as a flash….


Next came the pressure plate and low and behold, the friction plate is knackered… It was getting changed anyhow so no great shakes, what is amazing is how well it drove in the state it was in, no judders and a smooth take off..

e type clutch

The flywheel will need dressing too when I rebuild as there is some marking on the surface, but again, no great shakes.

I bought an engine stand to make life easier which is both a good and less good thing. The stand itself is fine, but as its the heavy duty version its too wide at the front to get the crane in and mount the engine, it needed a bit of swing….

e type engine stand

I needed some longer bolts to mount the engine to the stand and I wasn’t entirely confident that they’s be ok, but they’ve turned out fine. I mounted the engine and left the crane on loose while I rocked, pushed and lent on the engine and all was good. I used 4 inch long 3/8 UNF bolts, grade 10.9 to be safe, they were fine with a few hardened washers. – but I could have gotten away with 3.5″. I figured I could add washers, but it was harder to add length – god knows I’m aware of that problem.

Once all was tight, secure and generally very happy, I added some degreaser and a light jet wash, it didn’t need much, another telltale that the engine hasn’t seen much use in all its years in the car.

xj6 engine


Now for the head studs, as hidden behind the core plugs. As mentioned previously corrosion is very much evident and they need to be changed. I cleared the crud out with the aid of a dentists pick and airline and left the soaking in WD40 whilst I get on with other jobs. This part of the project weighs heavily on my mind and I’ve sent and SOS to my friend, and resident expert, Jerry Preston-Ladd of the challenger owners club for advice. If I shag this up I could be looking at a new block…

IMG_5311 e type core plugs

Before stripping the engine I’d done compression checks and all seemed fine. but the head needs to come off anyway for general inspection and any remedial work necessary, so it was out with the crane again.

Having released the tension on the top cam chain, I undid the 4 bolts per cam sprocket and slid them along the tracks to clear the head. This is a great design feature, made the whole exercise so much easier… I also tie wrapped the cam chain to the sprockets first – not entirely sure why as its getting changed anyway, but, at the time it seemed like a good idea. Unlike many of my other “good idea at the time” decisions, this one wont cost me a house 🙂

e type engine

Next I took off all the head nuts and the 6 bolts at the front of the engine and introduced the crane again. With a little load on the head and wd 40 sprayed around each of the head studs to my surprise the head began to move…

Jaguar 4.2 head removal

I’ve heard so many horror stories of the heads being corroded onto the blocks, but mine just lifted easily requiring nothing more and a gentle rocking to make sure it lifted evenly. Before I knew it I had a head off….

jaguar 4.2 head

Happy days!

There is something very satisfying about engine rebuilds, its like surgery, bringing life back to those who were losing it. I mean, how hard can an operation be? Surgeons don’t have to worry about differential corrosion, collects or cam timing…. Tish, easy life…

Just a little time left for a quick glance at the bores and pistons, and yet again, all looks good. This appears to be a low mileage engine that’s just suffering from a lack of use, so often the problems with cherished cars…

e type pistonJaguar bore

My time with this phase had run out… and it was time to pack up for the evening. Daughter Sophy decided that I didn’t need the full 4.2 litres of jaguar engineering and, apparently, daughter power trumps horse power every time.


IMG_5350 IMG_5353

I’ll see how she likes it when I connect the propshaft…..

thats all folks