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6 cyl Bristol cars Type 400 to 406 - restoration, repair, maintenance etc

Acceptable 4 series upgrades ? (401)

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Old 20-07-11, 12:16 PM
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Default Acceptable 4 series upgrades ? (401)

Days ago I acquired a beautiful 401 at an auction , but on the way home to Somerset ....

The original brakes are scary. Pulls up straight in time so I've ordered a single line remote brake servo ... acceptable?

Er, with grim brakes the lack of seatbelts was a bit scary. What to do? Aircraft style lap straps? Whats accepted please?

The semaphore indicators are pretty .... useless really. I've heard of people fitting indicators within the tiny rear light, any advice on doing the same much appreciated, and any ideas for the front indicators?

The rear view is pretty ... useless too. I couldn't possibly drill into the beautiful bodywork but would like rear view mirrors, I dread reversing it too. Is there a style of clip on mirror that is acceptable, something to fix to the rain channel perhaps?

Ignition ... had a terrible misfire. Got home & found that one of the 5000 ohm resistance bakelite plug caps was bouncing around beside the spark plug as it no longer had the push fit clip screwed into the cap. It would seem that the cap could be screwed directly to the top of the sparkplug (if its nipple was removed) but this seems tedious if secure. Before I try to source or make a new clip, any comments re using these type of caps in the first place? I saw on a Merc website that their 50's cars should have 0 or possibly 1000 ohm resistors only, so wonder if mine is OK with 5000 ohm?

Oh, the left hand wiper quickly stopped moving, is there a likely quick fix? The wipers manage to clap hands very nicely for a bit, but their ability to clear raindrops seemed rather poor really, and at night I'd have been terrified.

Its a lovely car & mustn't be spoiled, but equally I don't want to die just yet!

Thanks, Michael
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Old 20-07-11, 10:14 PM
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You lucky man -- Any pictures Michael ?

Is it the rare metal dash 401 ? bargain !

All the problems sound minor - In fact a Morris Minor specialist could sort them all in a few hours :-)

Join BODA or BOC and get in touch with Alan Blackwood -- 401 Yoda !

very nice car.....
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Old 21-07-11, 11:31 AM
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Default Acceptable 4 series upgrades ( 401 ? )

Michael,

Iím no expert but I have made some improvements on my 403 over the past 11 years which may help you to get some ideas.

The brakes will be better with a servo, of course, but my whole world has changed with the servo plus front disc brakes. The discs are visible on close examination but originality is of no value if your car has just rammed another vehicle / wall because you couldnít stop in time !

I have normal retractable seatbelts located to the B post at roughly the level of the top of the seat squab. This nicely hides the belts when not in use but ( as I found out later ) has the drawback of pulling on the shoulder due to the retraction spring. I have cured this problem with a neat little plastic gadget called Klunk Klik, which holds the belt slightly loose once adjusted but allows full functionality.

Agreed that the semaphores are useless. The problem is that, even if they work, most drivers of modern cars havenít a clue what thay are for. The standard rear indicators are poor because a) they donít face backwards b) the reflectors are poor or non existant. I had custom built fibreglass pods made and fitted to each side of the spare wheel tray. Although not original, as with the brakes I think that it is more important not to be rammed up the back. Not to everyoneís taste, but here they are :
https://picasaweb.google.com/drdavedale/403Indicators#
My front indicators are 21 watt amber bulbs in with the sidelights and these also double up as foglights. Please see the above photos. I know of a Bristol 400 which has a dashboard switch which allows the driver to select his modern indicators OR the original semaphores to indicate his turning intention.
BTW, you didnít ask about brake lights but, for what itís worth, the same problems of angle of the rear light assembly and the reflectors apply to the brake lights. With my rear indicators now separate I have two 10 watt brake lights on each side in the assembly with the whole glass painted red with glass paint. I also have a brake light in the rear window which is fairly inconspicuous when not lit.

Rear view door mirrors in classic style are readily available which clip into the forward verical guide channels of the wind-up windows. Giving a much bigger and better rearward view than wing mirrors because they are closer to the eye, they do not interfere with the movement of the window and they look good in chrome. I suggest that you may consider putting one on the nearside also for driving on the continent.

I had the same problem with the spark plug caps falling off. Problem cured with the removal of the plug nipples and different HT lead clips which slide onto the plug threads with a satisfying push and grip very well.

The wipers are a known weak point. Several 2-litre Bristol drivers have arrived at their destinations without one of the pair of blades with which they set out. There will be others who disagree with me but I think that the chuck that grips the blade to the spindle is of a poor design and my own often need tightening. If you remove the LH blade and satisfy yourself that the spindle is reciprocating correctly, I suggest that you refit the blade and tighten the chuck. It is very easy to strip the thread so please be careful.

Good luck !

Dave Dale.
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Old 22-07-11, 01:10 PM
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Hi Greg,

I'm attaching some pics, looks like I'll need to do so 2 or 3 times. No, the dash is wood but not walnut. Thanks, am in process of joining BOC. Heck of a misfire over 40 mph & down on power at that speed, so I hope I 'just' have ignition to sort out!

Regards, Michael
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Bristol 401 001.jpg (167.1 KB, 58 views)
File Type: jpg Bristol 401 003.jpg (157.9 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg Bristol 401 005.jpg (164.4 KB, 54 views)
File Type: jpg Bristol 401 009.jpg (82.9 KB, 61 views)
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Old 22-07-11, 01:26 PM
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a couple more pics
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Bristol 401 011.jpg (130.7 KB, 52 views)
File Type: jpg Bristol 401 013.jpg (135.6 KB, 43 views)
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Old 22-07-11, 03:49 PM
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Thankyou very much Dave, really appreciate your pictures & the advice. Am in the process of joining BOC, and have now taken delivery of a single line brake servo. The intermediary from whom I bought tells me that my front brakes are alfin drums, so I hope with a servo I won't feel the need to upgrade them again.
And I bought this car thinking I could jump in & drive ... oh well. Live & fail to learn!
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Old 22-07-11, 11:24 PM
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I'm at the thinking stage of similar uprades, I have yet to buy a servo, did get one for another car a while back which was a Lockheed copy, it looked well made and worked ok but within 6 months the vacuum hose supplied with it had perished and rotted, I then discovered the little air filter that sits on top of the extenal diapragm wasn't a filter as we know them but a short plastic tube with tiny holes drilled randomly, the swarf still attached, do look out for this as the thing looked fine otherwise.
I've found that some old lucas clip in bulb holders for the 382 indicator lamps fit in the front foglamps fairly well, the rear lamps are a bit compact so I'm thinking of sacrificing or relocating the reverse lamps for indicators, maybe brighter to compensate for size. I used to have a late '80s Toyota Supra, front indicators were mounted low and not very effective, I constantly had people pull out in front of me when turning right on mini roundabouts, 50 watt halogen bulbs cured the problem, possibly something like this will allow me to use 2/3 of the rear lamps to double up on the stop / tails.
I've held various mirrors against the car trying to decide, the funny little clip on square Stadium branded ones don't seem too effective, round convex Raydot or Lucas ones seem good, but will involve drilling so it's that or install a radar system.
My plug caps are also 5000 ohm, out of interest they're the originals, if you have resistor plugs as well it could provoke trouble, tracking at the leads, rotor, coil, or they can just decide to track anyway. condensors often seem to give trouble these days, even when new.
The wipers are at best pretty lame, well up to snuff 60 years ago but with every second third and fourth vehicle now running diesel there's copious greasy, sooty, carcinogenic filth being smeared across our screens, I'll be trying to make some modern rubber fit the blades and increase the arms spring tension a tad, do check your blades are doing the 'flip-flap' thing at the end of stroke, twisting the arms if needed can make a great improvement, and make the best of it by keeping your screen very clean.
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Old 25-07-11, 07:53 AM
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Smile metal dash

Oops Greg, my lack of knowledge of these cars means that I do seem to have a metal dash model but didn't know it.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Bristol 401 1952 008.jpg (104.6 KB, 64 views)

Last edited by Michael English; 25-07-11 at 07:55 AM. Reason: Having trouble attaching a 2nd photo
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Old 25-07-11, 06:24 PM
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Default Acceptable 4 series upgrades ( 401 ? )

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael English View Post
Oops Greg, my lack of knowledge of these cars means that I do seem to have a metal dash model but didn't know it.
Michael,

Greg was possibly referring to the chrome dash 401 that I saw in 2006 when it had just been imported from the Isle of Man. Had the lovely registration 401 MN, but has since been re-registered.

https://picasaweb.google.com/drdavedale/401MNAug2006#

Dave Dale.
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Old 27-07-11, 01:25 PM
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Is is possible /sensible to replace old HT leads without replacing the 5000 ohm caps? Can the caps be put on new leads?
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Old 01-08-11, 08:18 PM
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Default Spark caps

Well, I've been told that the 5000 ohm resistance is mainly to do with reducing radio interference. How true that is I don't know. I'm sure you can screw new copper core leads into the old bakelite caps, but mine don't fit very well onto the sparkplugs, which I hope is part of my misfire at speed (40 mph) problem.

I have renewed the distributor cap, rotor, condenser & points & plugs ... starts better, revs beautifully if standing (did before) but at about 40 mph chronic misfire, backfire, lack of power too.

On order are new copper core leads and 6 crimp on terminators plus 6 long black rubber tubes to go over the lead ends & crimps & hopefully grip the plugs too. I had the choice of 5000 ohm resistance or 0 resistance and chose the latter ... we will see.

The bakelite is period, but too ill fitting for my liking.
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