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Heater Core

Heater Core Replacement

The heater core (what the Brits call a "matrix") for my 120 is a write-off and I have been unable to find a reasonably priced replacement. One fellow I talked with, David Laughton in Urbana, VA., suggested that the heater core from a Rover is the same diameter but is constructed with one extra layer of fluting and heater plate that could be removed. He said the price of the Rover core is about $50, a good sight better than the $250+ I've seen elsewhere. Anyone have any experience with this item? Has anyone managed to resurrect a rusted original with new fluting? - Nick Saltarelli 1954 XK120SE OTS 1968 E-type OTS

Hello all again: the subject above is of particular interest to us Canadian types up here in the in the blowin' snow, does the possible solution mentioned re: Rover (Land Rover?) heater matrix apply to the XK 140's? - John Morgan

Nick, I, too, have fought the heater core problem. Most of my friends who have restored 120s and 140s have blocked off the heater pipes so as to avoid the problems associated with a leaking core. As you know, there's no way to drain the core and its manner of construction makes it very susceptible to leaks and a short service life. I believe that some failures result from possibly using a greater than 4psi radiator cap. The heater core tries to inflate like a balloon and the seams on the water passages split. I have examined several old cores and find that the water passages have often expanded and crushed the fins.

I have also tried repairing a couple of leaking cores with lots of solder but only limited success. Wanting to have something of the original size, more durable, and yes, possibly even functional to put in my 120 I decided to wind a coil of soft copper tubing (3/8"?) inside a container I made from the top and bottom of an unrepairable core. I used strips of brass for the sides and cut several oval holes in them to allow the air flow. I used a couple of right angle (reducer) fittings to make the turn from the coil up through the inlet and outlet holes and to increase to the 1/2" diameter for the normal hose attachments. I also used some fiber separators to keep the coils slightly apart, again for air flow. The coil was not particularly uniform.

Now for the anti-climax...I haven't used the heater. Here in Southern California heaters are not really a necessity unless you live in the mountains. I suspect that it won't put out quite as much heat as the original but it will certainly be more durable.

So, if you have an old core and nothing else to do.... - Dick Cavicke

The air conditioner (heater) core in my 120 is leaking. Does anyone have a good used one to sell or a recommendation for repair? - Bruce Cunningham, '53 XK120 OTS

Bruce, Heater cores are available new from a number of UK sources including Guy Broad Spares Tel No: 44 1676 541980. - Roger Learmonth

Bruce, This isn't a repair suggestion but according to the Dec. flyer from Guy Broad, they have a replacement for the early Smiths heater matrix that is 30% more efficient than the original. Their quoted price is £124.50, roughly $200. I wouldn't mind having 30% more heat in Tennessee. God knows you need it in Vermont! - Regards, Jim Voorhies

Yes ! try this one: extract from an Jaguar internal memo:

>From : Mr Wilkinson                                    EXPERIMENTAL DEPARTMENT
To : Mr Heynes,                                         14th May 1962
Copy to : Mr. Baily
EXP/2094/WW
3.8 L. LIGHT ALLOY ENGINE.
Herewith performance curve of  3.8 Litre Aluminium engine prepared for
Light Weight "E" Type Car.Engine No. E5033 "E" Type Dry Sump.... etc.....
External water leakage was noted from cylinder block/head face, which the
addition of Barseal ultimately cured. The cylinder liners were fitted dry,
but the precaution of using  Barseal prevented any internal leakage. -
Michel Gosset

Thanks to all who offered advice regarding repairing or replacing the air conditioner core for the 120. My friend Tivvy Shenton found a complete pristine heater unit in the attic of his shop. It was removed from his 120 from California that he uses for racing and he offered it to me for a price I couldn't refuse. Now I have an extra motor, fan, and air duct assembley if anyone needs them. - Bruce Cunningham

IF all you're going to get is 30% more heat, I suggest you save a lot of money and just buy a warmer coat, or, if you are of the bald persuasion, a warmer hat. You'll save money and no doubt be warmer to boot!! Its been my experience that an XK heater (especially in the roadsters) are of so little use as to be just extra weight, so there, remove the damn thing, use the money to buy warmer clothes, and, if you shop carefully, can reduce the all up weight of the car sos it will be faster too!!! - Dave Drenzek

Bruce, I live in the UK and I can assure you that it hardly ever rains, (particularly in Scotland,) and the tempreture rarely falls below 70. The government issues XKs to all deserving cases and we drive them, hood down and heaterless, all year round. Ho ho! - Roger Learmonth

I agree with the basic argument regarding warm clothes vs. 30% more heat. The water line to my heater has been disconnected for some time now and we drive with the hood down in temperatures as cold as 15 degrees. The reason I'm fixing it now is we are planning on taking the car to XK50 and then drive around Scotland for a few weeks. Driving the 120 in the rain with the hood and side curtains up leads to lots of fog on the inside of the windscreen and the defroster will be nice to have on the rainy days that I have heard happen in the UK from time to time. - Bruce Cunningham

Got any old bridges for sale, Roger? - John Morgan

If you have any questions or comments send e-mail to: ted@jag-lovers.org
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