What is art? What is rubbish?? Now there’s a question for Taffy to answer after Gill and I having recently visited a local garden centre where amongst all the plants for sale were some bits of metal I’m rather familiar with. Old clutch plates, springs, wheel bearings etc. all individually painted in bright colours were on a display table ready for purchase. Indeed I shall now look upon the contents of my sheds in a totally different light. Even more reason not to throw anything out! As if!!
Thanks to Kim, George and the team for organising our annual National at Scrivelsby, a great site, plenty of sunshine with lots to do over the four days. But that didn’t stop a certain official from across the channel making an appearance. “You’re nicked Monsieur; you were told last month that LED bulbs are illegal” … allegedly.
There were good scenic drives from the Scrivelsby Park too visiting a small chocolate factory nearby, the owners kindly giving each of us a free drink of their amazing product plus other samples to taste. Yum! Compensation perhaps for the hairnets that folk had to wear in order to view the manufacturing process. Next day we left the campsite early to line up our cars on the runway of a local air museum where a Lancaster Bomber had been restored being now able to taxi up and down. Magnificent to see the four engines fire up one by one and then this mighty beast roared off to the far side of the museum under its own propulsion. And to finish on the third day we enjoyed a leisurely view around the Park on foot with its owner, the wife of the Queen’s Champion, a title from ancient times. Terrific stuff.
As ever at these events conversation focuses on the maintenance and repair of our cars. This weekend was no different with the age old saga of replacing king-pins, something one would prefer to do only once, coming under the spot-light. I tend to religiously grease my vehicle’s steering under every 1000 miles but top bush wear does seem inevitable particularly if you haven’t owned the car from new.
However when king-pin replacement day finally arrives … it being hard enough to change these pesky things, the trick is to ensure that regular greasing keeps the second bite of the cherry as far into the future as conceivably possible. And by this I mean securing everything after pin exchange so that grease primarily appears between the top bush and the trailing arm when the gun is applied to the grease nipple. Likewise below the arm through the spacer/thrust washer configuration.
Conversely grease oozing from the Welch plug fitted to the top of the housing when greasing up is not so good. Before ever fitting this new plug I work hard with a file etc to remove the old peenings in the housing from previous work so that the replacement cap drops in relatively easily and then sits down flush within the recess as it is meant to do. However, if you look at the underside of the Welch plug it has a sharp edge which, when the cap is flattened from its dome shape to secure, is supposed to form a grease seal. In your dreams!
To improve things I put the Welch plug on a chisel sharpening whet stone and remove this edge. It’s been suggested this can also be done by carefully holding the Welch plug against the wheel of an angle grinder. Here though, all health and safety precautions must be taken with gloves, goggles etc. being paramount. Even a suit of armour might be applicable? Why? You may well ask. Recently I was using a rather powerful petrol strimmer with 3 mm wire. Whilst working through long grass the cable picked up a large stone and bowled me out middle stump, the bread basket et al which brought tears to my eyes. As is said in the opening credits of the Gerry Anderson TV puppets show “Stingray” … “Anything can happen in the next half hour” … it did!
So now I have a flat 2 mm surface to the circumference of the Welch plug with still the expectation of a metal on metal to seal. Something else needed perhaps? Would you believe a three-quarter inch fibre tap washer fits a treat as shown? Yes, it’s far too thick but more use of the whet stone can trim this down to an acceptable size. So when I change my king-pins, a thin fibre washer goes in the top of the housing first before the Welch plug. Then the plug itself is fitted before the customary crushing/peening procedure. Indeed with this technique I find lubricant leakage from this area whilst greasing the kingpins is now almost, if not totally, eliminated.
Effectively sealing the bottom screw plug too can also be a problem. I always check before ever fitting the new king-pin that the housings threads here are not damaged and that the new plug will gently screw home properly. After the new king-pin is fitted (where lubrication was used to assist) I diligently clean out these bottom threads with a tooth brush checking again that all is well. Then to the threads of the plug I wind on some PTFE (plumbers’ tape) anti-clockwise with the intention of sealing things. However before tapping over the screw plug’s locking edge I investigate whether this has worked by putting some grease through the system. If it has, then the securing lip can be tapped over. If not, I repeat the process with a tad more PTFE until success is achieved.
I find all this attention to detail is a must for our cars. There are only so many times you can drive/press a new king-pin through the swing arm before its fixing hole becomes oval with the pin no longer held tightly in position. After that it really is “game on”.