The main aim this month was to breath life into the engine again but before we could there was the matter of the broken bolt in the water outlet branch. This time I had the extra benefit of my brother’s tools and so whilst I unscrewed the petrol tank sender unit, he set to work drilling out the broken bolt. As this new hole was right next to the hole I drilled in the wrong place last month, we decided to fix in a stud using J.B.Weld rather than rethread the hole. Finding a suitable stud and nut seemed to work really well and with a stud in place the J.B.Weld was left to set overnight and it did a superb job of holding the stud. This enabled the water outlet branch to be attached and along with the water pipes. The heater hose, we attached to the water pump outlet branch and just put a bolt in the end of the hose with a jubilee clip until the heater unit is in place.
As mentioned I removed the sender unit again. I was not happy with it before as the screws I used did not allow me to tighten it fully. Having acquired actual screws made for the job proved much better as they screwed right down really tight. Better still my brother had his multimeter, so whilst the sender unit was out we tested it. As we moved the float the resistance on the multimeter display changed. It seems that the sender unit does work fine.
The clutch rod assembly was all reconnected though we did not have any idea where the clutch return spring fastened to from the clutch and so drilled a small hole in the engine mount and fastened it to that. Luckily my brother had a new Reliant Robin steering arm that fitted the Regal perfectly and so that was also attached along with the steering column etc. Fitting the fuel pipe from the pump to the carburetor seemed quite a challenge as the fuel pipe has to bend at a 90 degree angle as soon as it comes from the pump. The pipe got kinked a bit as we bent it so whether this will have any effects, we are not sure. Next the grease gun came out and everything that had a nipple was greased (luckily Geoff kept his shirt on!!) and then engine oil, gear box oil, steering box oil and axle oil were all added and the radiator filled with water. Finally the brake system was bled and with the exception of a couple of joints that needed tightening and a bit of brake adjustment, the process seemed to go really well - especially considering the whole brake assembly is new.
With everything in place it was time for the big test - starting her up. We placed a battery on the chassis, along with a coil and a petrol tank at the back with the petrol pipe going into it. We do not want to connect the petrol tank just yet as without the Regal body it does not have an air tight lid. So it was time, with one wire going from the coil to the positive terminal and an earth strap on the negative terminal we just tapped the lead from the starter motor onto the positive terminal of the battery. The starter spun round and the engine turned, but there was no sign of life. After a few attempts we wondered if fuel was getting through and so my brother disconnected the petrol pipe from the carburetor and sucked the petrol through. With a splutter and a contorted expression he said, “yes, there is petrol there”. He then said, “did you check the gap on the points?” I said blankly “what gap?”. So after removing the distributor cap and resetting the points we poured a bit of petrol into the carburetor and tried again. There was a splutter and a wisp of white smoke floated up from the carburetor. As we tried again the engine coughed and then suddenly roared into life like a sports car - and I mean roared. We gave each other a “high five” and marveled at the sound of the engine. I said, “it must have delusions of grandeur and think its an MG or something”.
As we revved the engine we realised it needed tweaking a bit as it would not rev too well, but then after a tweak it just ticked over quite happily. I’m not sure why but just by cutting 5” off the end off the exhaust and welding a stainless steel Triumph Stag silencer on to it seems to have turned it from a Reliant into something that sounds quite sporty. We think the Triumph Stag tail pipe has a resonator in it that is changing the sound.
We left the engine ticking over for around 5 minutes and then once cooled down, checked the water, it was as clear as before. We then decided to try a maiden voyage. So using a piece of cloth we strapped on the battery and petrol tank to the chassis. I then got one of the old Regal seats and tied it to the chassis. I couldn’t find the steering wheel though but a pair of mole grips made a great steering wheel in almost an invalid car type of way. The initial plan was that I would drive it up and down the drive first whilst my brother took photos. However, as there were no pedals as such, just stumps, I had my feet balanced over the clutch and brake stump, one hand holding the mole grips, sorry steering wheel and gear stick, another holding me on and ... oh dear ... I’d run out of hands for the accelerator. So my brother jumped on the chassis on the other side. Luckily my girlfriend (Sue) was on hand to capture the occasion on camera. We shouted, “contact” and started the engine. My brother revved the engine slightly as I dipped the clutch and slipped the car into first gear. It went in with ease. As I lifted my foot off the clutch the back wheel very slightly span on the gravel and we were off. For the first time since owning the car and who knows for the first time in 24 years, the Regal trundled happily down the drive under its own power. We were ecstatic and took it in turns to have a go probably clocking up just over half a mile. At one point the neighbour was getting into his car as we drove past. He looked at us in disbelief probably thinking, “what the hell is that?”. I just said, “Hello” and following it up with a huge smile said “We are building a car”. Quickly and with military precision he jumped into his Mercedes and closed the door tightly behind him. Once inside the look of relief on his face suggested that his car offered protection from the mad people outside driving a 3-wheeled car that doesn’t have a body.
Go to page 2