Ah the old British cars. A lot of fun to drive, and a lot of "interesting" repair issues. :-)
I too have had my share of British sports car ownership. The first was a '65 TR4A. Actually a very reliable car, but only because of its total simplicity. Very low tech, and easy to maintain. Most trouble on that was the replacement of the soft tops, and flexible rear window that got hazy very fast.
My next car was a '69 E-Type coupe. Still have it today, but it is generally "retired" and resting in the garage. Yes, the usual electrical trouble, but as an EE, those were relatively easy to fix. Also had a fuel problem similar to the author. There is a plastic "tee" on the fuel line that feeds the carburettors (British spelling). That cracked and leaked. Luckily, just bad smell, no fire. The biggest problem was the plumbing. Jag ran the engine coolant from one side to the other through steel pipes in the passenger compartment in the area between the firewall and fascia (dashboard to us Yanks). Unfortunately these rust through after some years, and need replacement. VERY difficult to get at!
But, they are fun, and hallmarks of a bygone era.
As for the electronic parking brake, that is the case on my 2011 Subaru Outback. Totally unnecessary, and likely to fail design. A handbrake would be more functional and reliable.
Haha, GTOLover, I think you are referring to my comment about the improvement in designs? Yes, I meant the car...although I think wife (or women) designs are always improving, too. Not that we need much improvement! ;)
I agree with you, Critic, I think doing away with the hand brake is a bad idea. No system is completely foolproof and electronic systems in cars malfunction or fail all the time. (Think about how the electric window system in cars is sometimes the first to go on the fritz as the car ages.) But sounds like this change is, unfortunately, inevitable.
It is so refreshing to read a post about a British car problem that doesn't involve electrical malfunctions. British cars of that era were marvels of simplicity, fun to drive and provided a wonderful opportunity for drivers to learn mechanics. I had an MGB with dual carbs and had one of the carburators float stick filling the crankcase with gasoline. First big clue was loss of oil pressure followed by an explosion which blew the hood off the car and then the fire put itself out. After rebuilding the engine, replacing some wiring and rebuilding the carburators, I sold the car. My next British experiment was an E-Type which placed 2nd on my list of least reliable cars. Looking back, I sure wish I had kept that car. What a hoot!
@GTOLover - The problem with making redundant systems is making sure that *everything* is redundant. I remember reading about an airline mishap (I don't remember if it resulted in a crash or not) caused by an electrical failure. The aircraft had completely redundant electrical systems, with duplicate radios on each bus. Unfortunately, they had done an upgrade where they added an amplifier for the cockpit audio. The audio from all the radios went through the amplifier, and it was hard-wired to the bus that went out. So they had working radios, but could not hear them.
@William K - The comment about the pump in the tank being safe because there is no air for combustion reminds me of what my dad told me about working at the Charleston, SC Navy yard during WWII. They would have divers welding on parts of the ship hulls that were fuel tanks. As long as they stayed at least six inches below the fuel level, they were OK. (BTW, I asked him how they lit their oxy-acetylene torches. He said they used a magnesium road flare, which apparently can be lit under water.) I wouldn't try this on a gas or diesel tank, though. As I recall, ships use bunker C oil (just like oil-fired steam locomotives did), which has the consistency of tar, and is probably rather difficult to ignite.
I do not believe that modern automotive brake systems are so reliable that no mechanical back-up brake system is necessary. Removing such safety systems from car designs is not technological advancement!
Many years ago, I was driving an F-150, and after I stopped at a stop sign, I realized that the service brakes had failed. The brake pedal went all the way to the floor, and there was no braking at all. Fortunately, I was stopped when the brakes failed, but at least the truck was equiped with a hand brake that I could have used to stop in an emergency.
The truck was made before dual master cylinders were implemented. It had a single master cylinder, and a steel brake line had rusted through, preventing significant hydraulic pressure and draining the fluid.
Dual master cylinders are a vast improvement in reliability (when they work properly) over single master cylinders. I still wouldn't feel safe without a backup non-electronic brake system.
I had a 1970 GTO with four wheel manual drum brakes. This is a dual circuit system (or so it appeared). No vac booster, just a pedal, master cylinder, and a good strong leg to stop this car! As I was driving vigorously one evening, I went to apply the brakes and felt the pressure 'pop' and the brakes went to the floor. I pushed and pushed but nothing! Thankfully, the light cleared and I went through undamaged. I limped the car home using the emergency brake to stop the car.
The rear brake line on the axle had rusted a pin hole in it and this let loose. However, there was nothing wrong with the front brakes. I am not sure why the front brakes did not function? Perhaps this was not a true dual circuit design, but it had all the same components: dual reservoir master cylinder, proportioning valve to equalize pressure front to rear, and the seperated brake lines for front to rear operation. I do not know and cannot check as the car was sold long ago. But I do not think the travel of the pedal and actuating rod was an issue. So my point is the issue was not fixed for over 25 years!
I had a similar experience with a 1986 Chevy pick-up. The engine started running poorly and the only way to keep it going was to keep the throttle about half open. This was an interesting stopping arraingment as the brakes had to hold the truck while holding the pedal down. I inspected the plugs and immediately realized that the carb was running very lean (starving the engine of fuel). I did the usual filter change and no difference. Replaced the fuel pump (even though it appeared to have adequate pressure, no difference. I dropped the gas tank suspecting the pick-up filter 'sock' was plugged or collapased onto the fuel tube. Tank was spotless. This truck had less than 50k on it and the engine and carb were spotless so I had a hardtime believing I had a carb issue. But I relented and pulled off the carb and opened the air horn (top of the carb). The fuel bowl was filled with black substance. Where in the world did this stuff come from? The fuel passages were clogged and the metering jets were being partially blocked. I emptied this substance out onto a clean rag and inspected it carefully. It was charcoal from the charcoal canister! The vacuum line connected to the charcoal canister is attached to the fuel bowl and is supposed to draw the fuel vapor out of the canister. This canister is supposed to have a filter in the top that keeps the charcoal in. I pulled this canister off and discovered that the filter was missing. The carb eventually pulled in the charcoal and plugged up the fuel bowl! Incredible, who would of thought? No amount of fuel filtration would have prevented this!
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