Thursday, May 12, 2016

Getting down and greasy, not exactly the kind of thing I enjoy the most anymore. Especially when I combine that with working on my back, with the car jacked up , giving me maybe 18 in. of working room. Add the final touch of working in my sloping driveway in the full view of my neighbors who probably wonder why they paid darn close to a million dollars to buy a house next door to a greasemonkey. My neighbors haven't commented on the situation, which is good because local municipal regulations prohibit doing car repairs in public, that disable the car for more than twenty four hours. My newest neighbors are all nice, middle class, tech industry Indian immigrants who probably don't relish doing a lot of their own physical labor. Back home they probably had servants who would do that kind of work for them. While I come from a different background I sometimes also find myself wondering about why I am doing it.

It's because it is part of who I am, and how I see myself as a car guy. When I was young I was pretty broke and I worked on my motorcycles and cars to keep them running. I always wanted to own something that was bigger and better in my eyes than what I could comfortably afford. So I would always buy something that "needed work". That way I could "stretch " and have something that I thought was really cool. Luckily I was always interested in things that were a bit out of the mainstream so they weren't commanding the big bucks. Then, as now, I believe in looking for the low hanging fruit. This is not to say that I have never had something that was nice or seen by others as desirable, I mean I'm old, I've been messing around with cars and bikes for over forty five years. So I've had a few nice things over the years. But I've never been in a situation where cost is no object, believe me cost is always an object, even with all my scheming to find those odd ball objects of my desire. Right now, my financial circumstances are mildly put, kind of tight. Paying off my kid's college expenses as well as keeping everything up and running means I am quite limited in my choices. Still it's not that bad, or I wouldn't be messing around with any kind of hobby/project vehicle. But choices have to be made, and one of those is that I have to do the work.

Doing the work means just that. Fixing what goes wrong and then catching up on items that have been the victims of deferred maintenance. Then finally restoring the cosmetics and interior or making some custom modifications. I think that an enthusiast should learn the ins and outs of his favorite vehicle and become something of an expert. I like to learn the history, development, and current situation of my hobby vehicle. I like to learn the common problem areas, and how to effectively repair them. The internet has been a real boon to the enthusiast. There are forums that cover every car and every aspect of the vehicle. There is so much valuable information from knowledgeable members and there is the fellowship of belonging to a like minded group of people.

I do the work because that is the only way that I can afford to have the car I want. If I had a lot of money I would just buy a new or later model car. Maybe even an already restored car. I don't play the game that says: "it's not really yours if you didn't build it". Hell, I didn't build my house either, but it certainly is mine. I do the work because how can any car guy not be a wrench? How can you have a hobby car and run to the mechanic for every little repair? If you're going to spend that kind of money, why not just buy a new car? I do it for the challenge. I like the satisfaction of overcoming the obstacles and driving a car that needs my involvement to survive.There is an undeniable satisfaction in being "hands on" with your machine, especially when it rewards you by working properly afterwards.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. It all sounds so noble. Most of the time it can, and will be, a real pain. When you find yourself in the middle of a repair that is frustrating, taking much longer than you anticipated, or  you find that you need a specific tool or part that you neglected to buy before you started. We've all been there.

Be Afraid, Be very, very Afraid! Thank God that is not my car!

So what did I accomplish? I pulled the vacuum modulator, tested it with my Mity Vac. It worked okay. I pulled the modular valve out, cleaned it and reassembled it. It appeared to move freely. I wanted to pull the governor but there is no way to remove it without dropping the transmission. Kirby's book relates that there is an access panel on the rt.side of the transmission tunnel that can be removed from the inside of the car. Not so for my car. I had a good view from underneath and it's all solid metal. So I dropped the pan to check the pressure control valve on the transmission pump. I even cobbled together the tool described in the Session's book. It worked. I removed the valve and cleaned it off. It was already pretty clean looking. Actually the whole tranny seemed pretty clean inside. I reassembled the valve using the tool, which was still kind of difficult, then added a new gasket and filter. I added a drain plug to the pan, this should make things easier in the future. Jaguar has a wonderfully complicated rear transmission mount that involves a large spring, a rubber spool and a bracket that connects to two rear pan bolts to the rear extension housing. This bracket has to come off every time you remove the pan. Why? Why not?

General Motors, the company that designed and built the transmission itself,  just uses a solid chunk o' rubber which bolts to a conventional crossmember. Jaguar engineers this complex little number for their pride and joy. It seems like overkill but there appears to be a valid reason. The XJS is capable of a top speed of between 145 - 150 mph. In Europe this car would be able to cruise at an easily maintained speed of one hundred miles an hour, or more. In the event of a severe frontal collision, the mount is designed to allow the rear of the transmission to drop down and allow the motor to be driven back beneath the car, hopefully giving the passengers a little better chance of surviving the horrific event. At least that is what some people believe.

Maybe. " Can you hand me that 12mm and 13mm wrench?"

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