The Guru

Over the last few weeks I have had a lot of help from a local Riley enthusiast who appears to have a huge amount of engineering experience and knowledge about these cars. I have begun to tap into all that experience as there is no workshop manual to refer to. Recently the Guru popped over to provide a little insight into my rather seized traffic clutch whilst also offering to take me for a ride in his Riley to demonstrate how the gearbox is used on the road.

It was almost disturbing how slow his engine idled. At a mere 250 revolutions per minute, you could almost hear each piston firing… but with 1st gear engaged and feet off all the pedals – the car just sat there. Slowly he increased the engine speed and around 500 rpm the car very gently eased forward. Taking his foot off the accelerator, the engine speed dropped and the engaged gear dropped out of operation and the car stopped moving. Right then off we go he said selecting 2nd gear on the steering column. The gearbox will remain in first he said – until you press the gear select pedal. So we pulled out of the driveway and he then pressed the gear select pedal and the gearbox immediately changed gear. He now selected 3rd gear in readiness for using it and once we were at the right speed he again pressed the gear select pedal and we were in 3rd. This is why it is called a ‘pre-select’ gearbox. You can be driving in top gear (4th) traveling at 70mph with the gear lever pre-selecting 3rd, in readiness for you needing to change down. Apparently you get used to this after about 20 minutes of driving – we shall have to wait and see…

Below is the The Guru’s Riley 9

A Day Out

Last weekend I was lucky to be invited to attend a large MG gathering at Brooklands. Obviously I don’t own an MG, so the invite came with transport to the event in a 1929 MG 14/40. This is a two seater tourer with a Dickey seat in the boot lid – I cant imagine trying to get into that seat, it was hard enough getting into the front seats after opening the door. It was raining so we were wrapped up in leathers, flying helmets and Goggles, oh and the ubiquitous grin. It was a little hard to say how fast we were going because the speedo doesn’t work, nor actually do most of the other gauges but thats an aside. I now know that people in the 30’s must have been stupidly slim because there is no room in these cars. I had to keep moving my leg out of the way so that the Driver could change gear. There was also no room for my arm next to the driver so that had to go behind him resting on the back of his seat. Driving in the old days, I have decided was very sociable.

The rain didn’t detract from the journey even when it started flowing under the windscreen and into my lap. It was cold and wet and I was having a fabulous time. My Driver had to seriously work at making the car progress, the steering was clearly very very heavy, we both used our arms as indicators and I found out later that the brakes were terrible. It was great fun. I look forward to returning the favour and taking him out in the Riley soon.

Flywheel re-installation

Meanwhile back at the Man Cave – work is continuing on the traffic clutch with the re-installation of the flywheel. You will remember that it took me a few hours to remove this in order to tighten up a loose locating pin. Putting it back into position was much easier EXCEPT that the instructions from the Guru were to ensure that the flywheel was positioned flat to the crankshaft or at least no more than 3 thousands of an inch variation anywhere around the circumference. Well I can tell you 3 thou is only 0.076mm so this task is easier said than done! Remember – the flywheel is held in place with 6 bolts BUT it has to be pushed into position with a pretty hefty hammer. Adjusting the ‘wobble’ to be no more than 3 thou – therefore took me 5 hours of ‘hit-it / rotate it / measure it’ then repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat…

Below you can see the dial gauge placed against the smooth clutch surface to check for the no more than 3 thou wobble – as you rotate the flywheel it pushes against the very sensitive rod (seen at the right side of the gauge) which in turn rotates the needle on the gauge. The further the rod is pressed (or released) the more ‘out-of-true’ the flywheel is. For many hours I was miles out but slowly brought it to tolerance. I now also know why there are so many hammer dents around the edge of the flywheel. I do not look forward to having to do this job again.

We will soon see the rebuilt Traffic Clutch being installed…

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