The Australian Motorlife Museum

The Australian Motorlife Museum is located in Dapto, about 90 minutes south of Sydney.    Visiting this museum has been on my to-do list for some time.   Last Sunday I participated in a drive day with the Topklasse forum, which had the Motorlife Museum as its destination.

The meeting point for the drive was an oval near the start of the Royal National Park.  While the fastest way to get to the Motorlife Musem is down the M1 freeway, the best way is via the Grand Pacific Drive.   This takes you through the Royal National park and across the sea cliff bridge.

The Royal National park drive is picturesque and features winding roads and no traffic lights.   On nice days it can get very crowded, but on an overcast day like Sunday it was pretty good.   Speed limits are very low (mostly 60kph) and heavily enforced.   This meant the best car for the drive was my Traction Avant.   The Traction thrives at 60-90km/h and is fun on twisty roads at these speeds.   Driving a more powerful car like the 450SLC or E-Type on this road is far less interesting.    I had not taken the Traction on a long drive for a while, it it always responds well, seeming to perform better once really warmed up.

The Motorlife Museum is well worth the drive down and very different from the Gosford Museum.   It contains mostly pre-war cars and also has a large collection of memorabilia.   It is also nice to see that many of the cars are registered and are used from time to time.   In addition to the cars, there is also a large collection of motorcycles.   Being focused on Australian Motorlife, the museum catalogs some of the cars that were on the road in Australia 80-100 years ago.

Probably the highlights for me were the two Minveras and the Vincent Black Shadow.   The museum also had used automotive books for sale at very good prices and a few people in our group grabbed some nice titles.

300SE Odometer Repair Update

Back in early 2017 I fixed my broken odometer.  The 300SE odometer repair was successful, but there were two things I needed to follow up on.

  1. The odometer was reading 10% low.
  2. I could hear the gears, especially in cold weather.

In addition, some time after I repaired the odometer, one of the bulbs that illuminates the instrument cluster at night failed.   The fix for all these things required the removal of the instrument cluster.  The procedure to remove the cluster and the speedometer is covered in my previous article.

The low reading was attributed to having the wrong gear.   There are a few different gears based on the different W126 odometer units.    The standard gears for a KM/H cluster are both 12/48.  (12 notches on the inner gear and 48 on the outer).   On closer inspection, one of my gears was 13/48.

300SE Odometer

The 13/48 gear is the green one.     It was a simple matter to replace the inner gear that I installed back in 2017 with the green one.    The replacement gears are made of a much harder material than the original VDO gears.  This means they should be much more durable.   The downside is increased noise.   My hypothesis is that I can lubricate the plastic gears to reduce this noise.

300SE Odometer

I used a little rubber grease on the gears.  I’ll have to see how well greasing the gears reduces the noise.    While I had the speedometer out, I was able to change the bulb, which are contained in housings beside the speedometer.

300SE Odometer

Over time, the markings on these speedometer units fade.   With the speedometer disassembled like this, the original colour can be seen in markings between 50 and 60.   The needle is also supposed to be this colour.    Some people choose to repaint the needle while the speedometer is exposed.   Since all the markings are faded, I chose to leave it as is to keep them consistent.

I have not yet checked the accuracy of the odometer, but it is working and I can’t hear it so far.  I also have proper illumination when the headlights are on.

Citroen DS under bonnet insulation

As my DS has a NOS bonnet, I did not want the hot engine to damage the paint.   The Citroen DS under bonnet insulation not only protects the paint, but also reduces noise.   I was also told that I was missing two brackets that help hold on the insulation.

I was able to purchase a good used pair of the brackets and have some help to get the bonnet off to install the insulation.   It comes in three pieces so is quite easy to install.   As can be seen in the picture, it does not cover the whole bonnet, as the engine is very far back in the DS.   The un-insulated section is above the spare tyre and radiator chute.

Citroen DS under bonnet insulation

The most common way of attaching the bonnet is to use contact adhesive.   I was advised that sikaflex would more likely hold it in place with all the engine heat.   This isn’t something i’ll ever want to remove either.   With the bonnet off the car, it was very easy to install the insulation.   With the right brackets and screws, the securing plates went on quite easily as well.    I understand why my car was missing them, as they are probably not necessary if the adhesive is good enough.   Nevertheless, I am glad I have purchased them, as I would prefer the car to be correct and as designed.

It was easier to remove the bonnet prop to fit the insulation as it is one bolt.   Not pictured here are the hoses for the windscreen washer.   These hoses push through two holes that need to be made in the insulation.   I was quite impressed with the quality of the Citroen DS under bonnet insulation.   The insulation on my old bonnet was in poor shape and coming apart.   While I was doing this job, the suspension boot on the front passengers side was being replaced.   As a result of this fix, it should stop the LHM puddle under the car each time I drive it.

E-Type radiator fan failure

Unlike most cars of its era, the E-Type uses an electric fan rather than one driven by the engine.   This was probably due to room in the engine bay, as other Jaguar models of the era used engine driven fans.   True to form, Jaguar used a very cheap fan (actually a windscreen wiper motor) with two blades like a propeller.  This fan was barely adequate in the UK in the 1960s and is completely unsuitable for the Australian climate.    When I purchased my car, it had been upgraded to an aftermarket fan, but not a great one.   I replaced it with the CoolCat fan, a popular upgrade on Series 1 E-types.

On the way back from the British Car Show, I noticed after I got off the freeway that the temperature was steadily climbing.   It was not a particularly hot day, nor was traffic a real problem for me.    Once the temperature reached 110c, I pulled over to see why.

On examination, I found my problem, E-type radiator fan failure.   This left me with a problem – I needed to drive through a high traffic area, so a working radiator fan would be essential.   Unfortunately while I had a tool kit, I didn’t really have much in the way of electrical supplies.   What I did have was a set of jump leads.   I was able to use a jump lead to test the fan directly from the battery and the fan still worked.  As soon as I applied 12v, it sprang into life and started to drop the temperature.    Running this for a few minutes got the temperature down to 70C.

E-Type Fan

One must be careful to not get the cable caught in the little fan for the alternator.  I did and I was left with two halves of the jumper cable.   This was actually ok.  I was able to use some masking tape to connect the fan wire to the severed end of the cable and limp the car home.   The masking tape also allowed me to properly insulate the 12v source.

The learning from this is that it is probably wise to carry some electrical tape and wire in the toolkit in each car.   It also shows that while older cars are less reliable than modern ones, if you run into trouble you have a much better chance of making a temporary repair to limp home.    I have not properly troubleshooted the issue, but I suspect either the temperature sensor or the fan relay.   Regardless of the problem I need a new relay.  I broke the current one trying to disconnect it from the fan.   This is unfortunate as I suspect it is the sensor.   In the meantime I can wire up an always on solution until I get new parts.

2018 British Car Show, Sydney

The 2018 British Car show was held on Sunday at the Kings School.   This is probably the best car show of the year in Sydney.    As usual all the British marques were there.   Also as usual was the lovely display of cars.    Overall it was a great day with excellent weather and interesting cars to see.   Having said that, the Kings School made some changes this year that were not for the better.

This year the Jaguars were moved from the top paddock to the middle one.  This pushed clubs like Rolls Royce and Daimler down to the bottom paddock.  In itself this isn’t so bad, but it has a few flow on effects.   Firstly, the Jaguar display felt a bit cramped and smaller in numbers.    There was a nice line up of E-Types and MK II’s, but other models were in smaller numbers.  Secondly, all cars had to use the same entrance which resulted in traffic gridlock.   I’m surprised there were not more cars overheating trying to get in.   My engine fan was to fail later in the day, but luckily it was still ok at this point.   What was worse was that the cars needed to move over a series of about 5 speed humps that scraped the exhaust system on my car quite badly.

They made better use of the bottom paddock to account from going from three to two, but I’m not really sure to what end.   Instead of the Jaguars on the top paddock there was a food truck and some stands for car dealerships.   It was a bit of a nothing use for a great space.

I can live with the two paddocks, but if they keep up the same route into the event, it would force me to stop bringing my car.   I did have my car on display this year, and ideally would at future events as well.

The two displays I was most impressed with this year was the Triumph display, which had a great turnout of all sorts of interesting triumph models.   And of course perennial favorites Rolls Royce.   This year they had a number of older vehicles that were in stunning condition that I had not yet seen before.  I think a couple of them were Silver Dawn’s, but I am not an expert in 50’s Rolls Royce.    Even though it was at the shannons display, I got to see a Derby Bentley too!  As a coupe, they want serious money for it at the auction coming up in November.

For the first time since I can recall, 3 litre Rover P5’s outnumbered v8 P5Bs.   The P5 was eclipsed by the P5B, and its nice to see the P5 survivors.  There was also a great little MG from the 50s with a dolls house style caravan.   Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a photo.   In the Daimler section there was a very impressive older Daimler, I think from the 20s, with a sleeve valve engine.

I also spent some time trying to see if I could find a match for the interior light in my Traction Avant in other British cars.   I’m sure it would have been a standard part used in other cars but I have not yet been able to identify it.    In summary, the 2018 British Car show was a great event and hopefully I will be back in 2019.

2018 OzBenz National Meet

The OzBenz forum is one of the online resources I use to maintain my Mercedes-Benz’s.   The forum has evolved over a 15 year period, starting with the Mercedes Veterans mailing list, branching off to the OzVets mailing list.   This became the OzVets forum and then later the OzBenz forum.    I joined very early on and found this a great set of resources to attempt small jobs on my then 230E W123.   This included things like troubleshooting the central locking myself, quite a saving as a university student.    Over the time I got to know a bunch of people, some of which I have met over the years and some I have not.

This Saturday, John Green, proprietor of MB Spares & Service and one of the original instigators of these websites arranged a national meetup in Canberra.  I was quite keen to go after participating in the forums for so long.  The event coincided with the ACT Mercedes Concours on the Sunday, which I was unable to attend.        The plan was to attend the lunch and cruise Saturday afternoon, then head over to MB Spares for the dinner event before driving back to Sydney that evening.

I was able to join up in a convoy from MBCNSW, which was a nice way of heading down.    I took the 250SE as it was a while I had taken it on an extended road-trip.    It was a lovely day and I was able to drive all the way down with the top down.

MBCNSW Lineup

We were accompanied by a W108 280SE 3.5, a W123 230E, and W126 420SEL and 560SECs.      We also saw a W111 230S going down at the same time but that driver did not seem to be interested in convoying with us and was really flying.  This was a nice selection of cars for the drive.   My favorite was probably the 280SE 3.5.

The drive down was uneventful and the 250SE performed well.  One thing I did notice is that it is probably getting time for a steering box rebuild as the steering wanders at freeway speeds.   After an estimated 450,000km  it is probably due.   We took our time on the drive and made a couple of stops which made the drive more enjoyable, bit it did cause us to miss the start of the OzBenz cruise!    The upside was that it gave us time to have a break before the BBQ at MB Spares.

I had never visited the workshop, even though the 250SE carries its share of parts from the recently closed parts side of the business.   The workshop was a lot bigger than I imagined and it was good to see some of the major restoration projects under way.  Amongst them was a brake booster change for John’s 280SE Coupe.   I saw this car a couple of years ago at the 2015 ACT Show.   This car was likely the motor show car of that year and would look great next to my 250SE Cabriolet.   Sadly (for me) the owner is rather attached to it and is not going to send it up to my home for wayward Benz’s.

280SE Coupe

I parked next to an immaculate 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet and it was good to compare the two cars.    The 280 was white with red leather and had some great period accessories.

Pair of Cabriolets

At the workshop we were also able to see some other great cars including a few being prepped for historic rally duty – a W123 with a v8 and a 250/8.    It was also interesting to compare two almost identical W123 230Es, one from Victoria and one from NSW.  They had both travelled for the OzBenz meetup.  As well as the W123’s there was a 250SL from Queensland, a 250SE Coupe, a nice 450SLC and more.   230E's

It was then time to return back to Sydney, and the 250SE performed well on the return journey as well.   It did manage to pick up its own fair share of the insect life on the way back.   I was lucky the 250SE has a loud horn as I was almost forced off the road by white van man!

250SE

Overall it was a great trip and I would do it again if I could.   It also proves what great cruising cars these 60’s Mercedes are and what a shame it is that more of them don’t get as much use.   I know there are a reasonable number of W111 Coupe/Cabriolet in Australia but it always seems like comparatively few get active use.

Citroen DS front end wiring – part 5

After all my hassles with the DS wiring, I wanted a better solution.  Not only were the existing bullet connectors old and brittle, but their colours had largely faded.   Instead of replacing the bullet connectors with new ones, I decided to use multi-wire plugs.   In this case, Deutsch connectors.   Instead of eight wires on one side and six on the other, there would be a couple of simple connectors to unplug each time the wings are removed.   On the DS, the wings are removed for many service jobs, so they come off every year or so.

 

Wiring in progress

I had to be careful to label each wire as I added it to the connector.   Getting one wrong would mean starting again.    The passengers side had 8 wires, so has two four wire connectors.  I had meant to wire them so they could not be mixed up (i.e. female/male on one side and male/female on the other).   However I used the wrong connectors and so they are both the same.    They should not get mixed up as the wires are different lengths.    The drivers side will use a single six wire connection.   Some of those wires are actually redundant as the headlight wiring in this care is non standard and goes through relays on the drivers side.

DS connectors

While not strictly correct, the connectors are a much better solution.  Neater, and will be much easier to use each time the wings are removed.   To protect the paintwork on the wing, I had all my tools laid out.   It looked like one of those backyard surgeons you see in mob movies.

Tools

The front wings will be coming off soon, as the front suspension boots need replacing.   This wiring upgrade should make it much easier.    A quick test showed all the front end lights/accessories working correctly.

250SE Battery disconnect switch

I like to fit a battery disconnect switch to all my cars.  It ensures the batteries don’t run down and prevents fires.    Fires are a real risk from cars with old wiring.   I had put one of those cheap on terminal switches on the 250SE when I got it a few years ago.   Of late it had been playing up and was difficult to reconnect each time.   I also wanted to close the bonnet on the car when connected to the trickle charger, but the alligator clips were too large.

Most of the battery disconnect switch models available online were quite ugly.    They also required holes to be drilled to mount them.   I wanted to come up with something that is:

  • Completely reversible, with no holes or modifications to the car.
  • Unobtrusive
  • Provision for a quick connect for my battery charger
  • Added security

I figured that I could create a housing for a switch that would sit next to the battery.   Summit racing had one online that is operated by a key and could be mounted inside a small housing.   I also bought a Ctek comfort indicator which is a charge port for the Ctek chargers that also incorporates a battery charge indicator.   I didn’t want to cut the factory battery cable, so I crimped another.    The plan was to connect the new short one from ground to the switch, then the factory one from switch to battery.

Battery disconnect switch components

The first step was to drill the necessary holes in the housing.  I purchased a housing normally used for computer parts.   It is plastic, but it is not near the hot engine so should be ok.  The housing came from ebay.   I needed holes for the Ctek adaptor, the actual switch and the two battery cables.

Battery disconnect switch housing

The components needed to be fitted in order.   First the switch, then the Ctek indicator then the battery cables.   The ground cable for the Ctek indicator can connect to the battery side ground post.   the positive side needs to connect to the battery.

battery disconnect switch components

The unit looked reasonably neat once it was fully assembled.   battery disconnect switch completed

I had originally planned to mount the unit black side out.   However it worked much better the other way.

battery disconnect switch mounted

Overall I am pretty happy with how it turned out.   It would have been better if I could have attached it to the side of the battery, but the mounting post was in the way.   The good thing is that the solution is completely reversible.    The key operation will provide a little added security, although a dedicated thief could bypass it with their own ground cable.

If I find this works well for me, I will build a similar battery disconnect switch for the DS.

2011 Coldwater Car Show

One of the last car shows I attended in Michigan was the Coldwater Car Show in 2011.    As the Coldwater Car Show is held in May, it is quite early in the season.  I left Michigan in early July of the same year – this was probably the last decent road trip I did in my 560SEC.   The SEC was a great road trip car and I put a lot of miles on it in the roughly three years I owned it.   The drive was about two hours, a nice distance in that car.

At least back in 2011, this was a smaller regional show.   Looking at the website, it appears bigger now.   The bulk of the show in 2011 was American Muscle cars and Hotrods.  There were two rather rare cars at this show:

  • Pontiac GTO “The Judge”
  • 1971 Dodge Challenger 426 Hemi

The 426 Hemi was equipped with the pistol grip shifter made famous by the moving ‘Vanishing Point’.    It was quite cool to see one in the flesh.  It is much more common to see a 440 Challenger than a real Hemi.

At the time I attended this show, I did not have this website.   This is the last of the USA shows I attended that I had not uploaded.   Had I not moved away, I probably would have attended this show again if I was free on the day.

The Gosford Car Museum Revisted

I first visited the Gosford Car Museum a bit over two years ago.   Back in 2016, the Museum had recently opened.   Since it operates as a hybrid dealership/museum, the collection slowly turns over.   This means a return visit two years later provides a lot of new cars to see.

I would estimate that at least 50% of the collection has turned over since that visit.    It is still a very impressive museum, although the collection is now 10-15% smaller.   In addition, there are probably fewer jaw dropping cars than before.   For example last time in the Mercedes Benz section there was a Gullwing, a 300Sc, 300SE Coupe etc.   This time there were a couple of Pagoda SL and a LHD W111 Coupe.

Some of the highlights for me:

  • An Aircraft engine car with a 10L De Havilland engine.
  • A Chrysler 300F
  • A Rolls Royce 20HP with a sleek tourer body
  • The Bentley 4.25 liter

The Gosford Car Museum is a great half day trip.  I got lucky today as the museum was having a free entry day.   I went in my brothers E63 650i, which really came into its own on the old Pacific Highway.   If only there were fewer packs of cyclists that ride 2-3 abreast.

I will probably go again in a couple of years to see if the collection has changed further.