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My 1951 Jaguar Mark VII, The Empire Strikes Back!


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I thought that I would start a thread about my car so I won't inserting myself into other discussions. I'll start with the pictures that were in the CL ad. This was in June of 2017. The uglier (?) car was the parts car, which I had to pass on.

Initially some other items were part of the deal, a set of tri bar headlights, original tool kit, and a spares kit. The car is one owner , sold by estate, run by the owner's Sons. They shared stories about the car, bought new by their Dad, which was in constant use until 1991. The only other valuable component is the XK120 head which replaced the original item. I told him that I would let him keep the other items and got the car for 900.00 It is a four speed, bucket seat car that I was assured should turn over, (it did!)

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I'm going to post updates a couple of times a week. The sedans don't have a strong following, but this car is sort of like a four door XK120 fixed head. Stock, they would run a bit over 100 mph. The Mark VIIs had quite a racing history. Placed sixth in '52 Monte Carlo rally, overall winner in 1956! Quite successful in contemporary saloon racing with Sir Sterling Moss and others behind the wheel. It's a great connection to Jaguar's glorious racing days of the 1950s. It's the only one that I can hope to afford. I've got two more later model Jags that I'm working on at the same time. The car had the front wheels locked up but the tow driver placed it in the right spot. y all the tires were inflated and held air.

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The Mark V model has a real timeless elegance to it. Parts availability is the real problem for early Jags. I was stymied because there was a lack of parts to fix the brake and hydraulic clutch system. The way they are deigned makes them difficult to disassemble once they get good and rusty. They have a threaded plug  at the closed end of the master cylinder. Once it's stuck it's hard to get out. I have been unable to free them, despite soaking, heat, and even an impact wrench. Just recently SNG Barrett has made new master cylinders for the brakes and clutch available. I am cleaning/repairing the carbs right now. The motor turns over easily. The seller's son told me that the engine had been rebuilt once, in the past. I'm going to test run it with a gas can supply and make the decision before I invest over a thousand dollars in parts. The pistons were seized in all the wheel cylinders and masters, not by rust, but by the encrusted remains of the brake fluid. Kind of like dried mucilage. Repeated soaking in WD 40, liquid Wrench and Kroil, had no effect. Air pressure could not dislodge them. I drove the pistons out with a grease gun, delivering the grease through a fitting in a line port, blocking the other open port. Worked like a charm and non destructive. 

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Beautiful car.  Will be looking forward to seeing your restoration of it.

 

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It's hard to believe but all the tires held air once they were inflated The sidewalls were all cracked but I wouldn't have driven them further than up or down the driveway. I started pricing authentic replacement tires and they were pretty expensive. I have never liked the looks of those narrow bias ply tires and decided to find a set of modern wheels with tires to use as " rollers." I had read that the lug pattern was the same as GM big bodied cars, such as Buick or Cadillac. I had a wheel left over from one of my Rivieras, it was for a '77 or '78 with disc brakes. This wheel fit the brakes as well as having deep enough backspacing to allow it to fit under the rear spats. I kept my eyes open but didn't find any wheels around on the cheap. Finally on CL I found a set of four wheels with tires but they were up in Petaluma. I made a quick 170 mile run, after work. I measured the back spacing, and they were not as deep as my newer wheel. They were from a '64 Buick Wild Cat with drum brakes. They would not fit deep enough on back to allow the skirt to fit.  The price for the four with decent tires was right, so I bought them. I figured that I could find a better set in the future. The tires are 215/75 R15 and I like the thin white wall. I had to trim a bit of the rear quarter lip to let the wheel fit without interference. The skirt will cover the cut. I have a set of Buick Wildcat hubcaps that I will use on the car. 

Oh don't worry, I'm saving the original wheels and hub caps for the next owner!

 

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I cleaned out the interior, then washed surfaces down. That helped. The interior had been redone in blue vinyl some time back in the '70's. The rear seat and door panels were okay only the front seat bottoms were torn. The wood veneer was peeling on most of the trim. I tried gluing, re staining and conditioning the instrument panel but I think I will replace the veneer later. I have restored a '1940's radio/phonograph console so I have a bit of experience.  I ended up removing a lot of the damaged veneer then smoothing and re stained the base wood, just to make it look a bit better. I know that you can't refinish base wood but you see a lot of cars where the owner tried to do that. The prior owner had added an FM radio/cassette player and a couple of speakers under the dash. He also added a couple of switches, one is probably for the starting carburetor. The head liner is original and still intact. My efforts were a small improvement, but disgust is in the eye and nose of the beholder. I don't find it disgusting or even sad. The car has escaped the crusher.

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Certainly a big improvement!  The 3D veneer can be a bit of a challenge but there are some videos and sites that talk about the process.  Have you looked at Moss Motors?  I know they now carry MarkVII parts including full interior kits.  I was looking at getting one of these cars and was looking at the cost of redoing the interior.  I think the interior kit was $9K, seats were around $2K to $3K.  

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My goal is always preservation. My plan is too repair the front seats and replace the carpets. The original owner used the car until the upholstery was worn out then had it re done. I will post the highlights of my experiences with the car until I am caught up chronologically. 

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I was able to rebuild the wheel cylinders with new seals, but I was unable to remove that threaded end cap from either master cylinder. From what I've read on the re-sleeving service websites, they request that the masters are sent in disassembled. I removed the carhs to clean them and found that a part was broken on the front carb. I was pleasantly surprised that parts are available from the SU company and ordered what I needed. I was at a loss at what to do about the master cylinders, my vision of a low buck recommissioning was rapidly fading/ New replacement masters were not available at this time. I considered replacing them with items from another later Jag or with an after market part like Wilwood. This was all exceeding my capabilities. I could repair and replace original parts, which was easy, like with my '70 Mustang. Devising a custom engineered system with modified linkages and components was something a race shop or dedicated hot rod shop could handle. My enthusiasm waned at this point. Honestly, I wasn't that dedicated to this car, and if it got too expensive then the car would have to go. I had other cars and priorities, so the car sat. We had some home renovations going on so my garage was needed for storage. The carb parts had arrived and I stored them someplace "clever." I don't know why I just didn't put them in the car with the carbs.

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Edited by Rivguy
poor proof reading (see edit history)
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Since progress had come to a stop I decided that I should move the Mark from the driveway. The garage was unavailable at this time but I have a ten foot wide sideyard along the garage. Perfect to hold a car, I've rotated several cars through that space, lucky for me, most had been driven in there. 

 

I used a long tow strap and my truck to pull the Mark up my down sloping driveway and out into street. I did this on a day when I knew that my Son and his Wife were coming over for dinner. Instead of singing for their supper, they did a little grunting. We pushed it from the street into the sideyard. 

 

That was almost three years ago. I've kept the car well covered. Not much else has been done but's been protected and I'v held onto it. This almost brings the story up to date.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have been getting e-mail notifications from SNG Barrett over the years, but they didn’t have the things that I needed. I was recently notified that they were offering some new items in their vintage saloon series. I clicked on the links and found that they were offering new master cylinders for the brakes and clutch, as well as the clutch slave cylinder. They are not cheap, but they are new and available. They are made out of the rarest of alloys, "unobtanium! "  The total or those three components will be well over 1,200.00. With this new info I might be able to move forward with the car. Believe me. I will proceed very carefully from this point before spending that kind of money.

 

I was so excited that I decided that I would make a concerted effort to see if the engine would fire up and run for a short period. The engine turns over easily, so I am hopeful. I gave up on finding the misplaced carb parts and just finally re-ordered them.

 

Then I decided to do something constructive with the body work.

 

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Edited by Rivguy (see edit history)
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I wanted to preserve the car better and stabilize the exterior sheetmetal, which has surface rust on the top surfaces. The car had been covered up over the years, but as you can see by the photos, the top surfaces have rusted. The prior owner did paint on some primer over some of the car before storage.. I decided to remove the surface rust on the un primered areas then to paint them with Rustoleum Rust Reformer. 

 

I had initially thought to use a wire wheel or palm sander to remove the rust but decided upon another solution. I took a rag soaked in vinegar and rubbed a section of the body. The rust began to dissolve after a lot of rubbing. I came up with a better plan. I first used a hand wire brush on the area, just to break up the surface crust.  Then I laid a vinegar soaked rag on top of it. I kept the rag wet for several hours then let it sit overnight.

 

The rust had dissolved and dried into a raised soft crust. I used a wire wheel to remove the crust and then neutralized the surface using baking soda and water. I would repeat the process if needed, but it would usually work with one treatment. After it was fully dry I sprayed with the Rustoleum product. This is like a junior grade POR 15 that will protect the surface from moisture and further corrosion much better than spray bomb primer alone. Not the perfect answer but it’s an improvement over what it was like before. I decided that I would paint the entire top surface by filling in the untreated areas with regular spray bomb primer, making the car a black primer over blue two tone. I made an artful curve along the trunk line maintaining a fine coach building tradition. 

 

The photos illustrate the process of dealing with a section located above the left headlamp.. It’s covered by a black cloth. The second shows the area after I scraped the loose paint off abut before I did the light wire brushing. After soaking overnight with the vinegar the rust had dried to a crust. I removed it with the drill wire brush then neutralized the area. After washing and drying I sprayed the Rustoleum treatment on. 

 

No illusions here, but this coating will offer more protection than plain spray bomb primer.

Now to work on those carbs. 

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Nice work.  That's such a beautiful car.  Will look forward to more updates.

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Thanks, I know that this is just a temporary band aid and the paint will have to be addressed properly someday, but not Today. The carb parts arrived from England and I'm going to try to find some time to re-assemble and re install them. Then I'll get things ready for the test firing. I'll keep the updates coming. Happy Holidays to Everyone! 

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 I haven't found the carburetor parts I had ordered over a year ago so I reordered just the minimum to complete the repair.  A couple of days ago I started in on the carbs, the weather has finally turned wet so I will wait for a dry spell to put the carbs back on. Hopefully I can get them installed before Christmas. "All I want for Christmas is my two SUs, My two SUs,... My two SUs!"

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Double your pleasure, double your fun? Or was it more like headaches squared?  Thanks for the pictures. Did you finish the cars?

 

The Mark IV is an aristocratic looking car. I checked some inernet photos and I don't think that the bumpers are original. I'll bet that they are more effective.

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9 hours ago, 8E45E said:

This earlier Mark IV(?) showed up at the annual swap meet for a visit in Red Deer many years ago:

 

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That is actually a Mark V. Here is an internet picture of a Mark IV. It was made up through 1948 and was essentially the same as the pre-war models. It came with 1 1/2, 2 1/2 or 3 1/2 Liter overhead valve engine. The Mark V, which was introduced in September of 1948, used the same engines. Both models were beautiful cars.

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3 minutes ago, pmhowe said:

That is actually a Mark V. Here is an internet picture of a Mark IV. It was made up through 1948 and was essentially the same as the pre-war models. It came with 1 1/2, 2 1/2 or 3 1/2 Liter overhead valve engine. The Mark V, which was introduced in September of 1948, used the same engines. Both models were beautiful cars.

 

Thanks for the clarification.  It's a 1950, which makes sense that it is a Mark V.

 

Craig

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  • 2 months later...

It's been a while since I posted any updates, I plan to install the carbs sometime next week. I've finished up several home projects and a few on the Mustang. Now I can turn my attention to the Jag.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I finished up the carb installation today. I hooked up a battery and spun the motor over just to check that it turned over easily. I checked for spark before I gassed up the carbs. There was no spark. I cleaned the points but that didn't cure it. I've got check all the connections for the ignition wiring, the car has sat for over twenty years and some look kind of grimy. I'll just have to perform basic trouble shooting and make sure that electricity is getting to where it should. The previous owner added a transistor ignition system so there are lots of extra connections to check. I will probably disconnect the system for now, as it may no longer be working. 

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Rivguy,

 

Good luck with your ignition system. I smiled when I read that your previous owner had installed a transister system. I did that myself, years ago. I found that there was one major problem: When it failed, it failed catastrophically. However, when the standard system failed, I could always recover by doing the usual things - checking and cleaning connections, cleaning and adjusting the points, replacing a condenser. Now my preference is always to make the original system work correctly, and maintain it. That said, I still suggest some slight changes below.

 

I have found that neither OEM nor new condensers are particularly reliable. I recommend you take an original condenser, hollow it out, and embed a small ceramic one. It can look original, but will be far more reliable. I found the idea and its description here:

 

https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/mog-group/566a5785-576d-4c5d-9c5a-28a6ccc787cd%40googlegroups.com

 

And here is a link where you can buy them:

 

https://www.digikey.ca/en/products/detail/kemet/C350C224KDR5TA/789646

 

My MK IX (and, I think, your MK VII) had the twin fuel pumps mounted under the floorboards behind the passenger seat. Once the points oxidized a little, they became unreliable. A small hammer or a block of wood was commonly carried by those of us who had these cars. A light tap on the fuel pump usually got it working. The more permanent fix for this problem is to install a transil on the fuel pump points. The transil minimizes the arcing of the points and makes them last much, much longer without requiring attention.  I purchased mine in 2017 from Peter Cole. I’m not sure if he is still supplying them, but here is his email address:

 

pcoleuk@gmail.com

 

If he isn’t supplying them, he might be able to provide the specifications.

 

Phil

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Thanks for the suggestions. The ignition still uses breaker points so I don't see a reason that I can't just disconnect the transistor set up. I believe these systems  would run a different point gap since the points only triggered the system. I'm sure that I'll figure out whats wrong when I  methodically check the flow of electricity through the system at each connection. 

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  • 1 month later...

The Great garage massacre, (Peter Egan's term) has started. I just sold my XJ6 to an online car buying service, CarVio. I reached out to a Jaguar wrecking yard in Stockton Ca. Jaguar Heaven, to see if they wanted to buy my '51. They were interested, especially at the price that I quoted them. I will be coordinating with the tow service in the days to come. This will be the close of this episode in my car adventure. I will hold onto my Jaguar XJS, at least for a while. 

 

I'm kind of disappointed that I'm divesting myself of this project, I guess that I just couldn't cope with the scarcity and high prices of replacement parts. Well, that's part of it. I know that I just stretched myself out too thin. I enjoy working on cars once in a while, but not every day. I've still got plenty of cars in my fleet to keep me busy. 

 

The final report will follow soon.

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1 hour ago, Rivguy said:

I'm kind of disappointed that I'm divesting myself of this project, I guess that I just couldn't cope with the scarcity and high prices of replacement parts. Well, that's part of it. I know that I just stretched myself out too thin. I enjoy working on cars once in a while, but not every day.

At least you were able to quit while ahead both dollar wise and mentally, and actually realized it had to go.  You can't be disappointed at yourself, especially as you are not going to let it rot outdoors at your place by putting effort into locating a new home for it. Many won't do that.

 

I can't tell if I don't want to work on cars every day anymore, or because I can't do as much bull work as I once could.  I am on my 3rd rest break today trying to get the gas tank back into my unregistered old Jeep snow plow CJ that I had to buy a couple years ago, as it is physically easier to plow my driveways with that, compared to keep using my old tiny garden tractor.  I'm only fixing the Jeep now in Spring because I don't know if I might be less physically be able to do that work by waiting until the coming winter.  I took the tank out to replace the cracked/sunk ($6) gas gauge float because a good gauge is better than wondering if it will run out of gas when I have to back out onto the busy main road when plowing.   I'm doing these things because I got the wake-up call about ageing limitations.

 

The old wisdom of "figuring out the difference of what you want, and what you really need"

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  • 4 weeks later...

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