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Timing Chain

Timing Chain

I have just removed the head on "Blanch", (the 120) do to the fact that when the water level is raised, her plugs foul out...etc. I am sure that some of you have been there. During the removal process, I found that the adjuster sprocket is seized and I need to locate a strong adjuster tool. My homemade tool is not working. Yes, I am pushing the spring loaded catch in but to no avail. Where may I find such a tool? - E. W. Blake, 54' XK-120 DHC

I recommend REMOVING the catch until you get the adjuster loosened. Stuff some rags around the front of the timing cover, remove the big nut and star wheel and take the catch and its spring out of its hole. This gives you one fewer thing to worry about while you try to turn the star wheel. However, loosening up the adjuster sprocket is a trivial task if you take the timing plate off the engine. Getting it off the engine is involved, but relatively safe. You wanted to change that lower timing chain anyway, didn't you? :-) - Mike Eck, '51 XK120 OTS, '62 3.8 MKII

Thank you Mike or the advice, I am still a little concerned about loosing the valve timing when I mess with the adjusting wheel. I am just going to have to study the situation until I understand it fully and gain the confidence to move forward. This all started with just changing the head gasket. Now, I find that one of the freeze out plugs is leaking, the adjuster wheel is stuck, I have antifreeze solids in the waterjackets that need cleaned out from the former owner leaving the same antifreeze in the car for twenty years and now the antifreeze is reverting back to its natural state as a solid. The thermostat bulb is broken off do to corrosion bonding it to the aluminum housing, the valves have more than 10 thousands play from side to side, the valve edges are fairly sharp and will need replaced ...etc. I keep getting deeper and deeper. I guess I will have to learn to have patience and find some enjoyment in all of this somehow. - Edgar Blake

My homemade tool, not following the directions in the XK-120 manual, is the base of an old caster, turned down to fit inside the clearance area around the Whitworth nut and sertrated plate, with tool steel pins for interacting with the serrated plate. I'd suggest fabricating one out of pipe and steel plate, with roll-pins (hardened steel) fitted to the steel plate (need to bore out a clearance hole for the Whitworth nut). Sears or Snap-On should have an adjustible pin spanner wrench (Snap-On part number AFS482 or AFS483 (would have to 'modify' the pins on the latter) would do the job. You might find a sympathetic local dealer who might loan you the tool for a weekend or evening. I also think Welsh Enterprises (see Web or Hemmings) has reproductions of later factory tools. Good hunting! - Larry Schear, Twin Cam, Inc.

These tools are easily obtained. If you take time to make one, then you have too much idle time on your hands. Ed West and Bill Tracy have offered them in the past, as have others. In my humble opinion.... - Mike Plechaty

My first antique car was purchased about 30 years ago. I still have that one - a 29 Chevy - it's been in pieces since about 1970 and is waiting for me to really retire. One of the things I learned fairly early is don't ever expect a job on an antique car to be as small as it looks at first. Frustration is the difference between your expectations and reality. What you need to do is adjust your expectations because reality is absolute. Expect every task to get worse and worse for a while and then taper off to a conclusion. Every once in a while you will be pleasantly surprised when an apparently small task doesn't turn into near disaster and the rest of the time you won't be frustrated. This will make it a little easier to enjoy the process.

I try to put almost everything that doesn't affect "good running condition" off until the non-driving season. (If you live where they don't put salt on the roads, you don't have that advantage.) Even the urgent stuff that should only take a few hours I try to start when there are at least a few days of rain forecast. That helps me "have patience and find some enjoyment" in the process.

A friend of mine who restored a bugeye Sprite told me that his wife once made the following observation: "I thought when you got this car, restroing it would be a matter of taking it apart, cleaning it up and doing some maintance, and putting it back together. Now I realize that you are, piece by piece, replacing the parts and building a new car." Well, it's not that bad but sometimes it comes close. - Bruce Cunningham, '53 XK120 OTS

Ahh, Martin, Martin, after we rescued you from the lost washer, now you're pulling off the front cover anyway? Double commiserations, my friend. Receive a virtual pat on the shoulder. /////

If your chain sprockets have really sharp pointy teeth, definitely replace them, or you run the danger of the chain jumping a tooth. My BMW had its timing chain jump a tooth, put the camshaft behind time a number of degrees, all the pistons hit their exhaust valves. It had pointy teeth and a worn tensioner. Similar enough to the XK engine that I hope you chaps will forgive my mentioning it on this list. PS:someone wrote: Now I realize that you are, piece by piece, replacing the parts and building a new car." Ha, ha, ha. My UPS driver is convinced that over the years he has delivered an entire Jaguar to my house, piece by piece. - Rob Reilly

Dear Mr. Cunningham, I can't stop thinking about what you said, " To enjoy the process, you need to adjust your expectations because reality is absolute." It may be too profound to post on the board at work, but, I may do it anyway just to see who comments on it. I can not decide weather this philosophy can be applied to todays business environment or just to retired life. Ha! Ha! I am enjoying the process... - E.W. Blake

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