Sorting the 170 Pursuit - Mick's Workshop 455

By: Mick McCrudden

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The mighty 170 Pursuit and other mysteries solved


Mick's workshop 

Brake tech

I got a bunch of promo stuff from Repco the other day, talking about their Radial Chamfer Technology for brake pads. Hot new stuff, eh? Well, not exactly.
The idea is the leading and trailing edges of your disc pads are chamfered a little, which can help to reduce brake squeal. Well, they must have been talking to a 60-year-old mechanic, because people like me in the trade were doing this decades ago. Which isn’t to say it’s a bad idea, as it does work.

Back in the day when discs first becamse widely-used, the pad technology was way behind where it needed to be. The compounds really needed work to fine-tune the compromise between longevity and grip. Believe it or not we had similar problems with drums over the years.

This might sound familiar: a cheap component in this area will often deliver bad results. Given the minimal cost premium, I’m keen to use known reliable brands in a brake set.

If you’re doing disc pads at home, everyone carries on about having a perfect surface on a disc rotor, but truly it’s not that important. The odd groove is nothing to stress over. If they’re shiny and looking a little glazed, hit it with a bit of emery.

While you’re in there, clean out the calipers.

And yes, the chamfered pad designs do work. You hear all sorts of alternative theories on elimninating squeal, such as using a tiny amount copper grease behind the pad, but I’m not a fan of that. It doesn’t work, and nor does the alternative theory of using a bit of silicone.

Since we’re on the topic of brakes, let’s talk about doing a simple fluid change to celebrate the coming of warmer weather. It’s not actually a huge job, and brake fluid does absorb water which eventually causes trouble.

So, the simple meathod is pop the top off your master cylinder, and remove as much of the old fluid as you can (a couple of throw-away rags will do), then top it up with fresh stuff.

Place a hose and catch bottle on the bleed point furthest away from the master, open the bleed nipple and have a cup of tea. Gravity and atmospheric pressure will do the rest.

It will take a while, and make sure you don’t allow the fluid in the master reservoir to run out. Stop when you start to see fresh fluid coming through.

Then you repeat for the remaining wheels. Simple! There’s no need to pump pedals, or bleed the system, so long as you keep an eye on it.

Generally, for older vehicles you now use DOT4 fluid. Don’t be tempted to try DOT5 as it’s not compatible with the earlier fluids.

You can switch an old system to the later synthetic fluid, but you will need to change all the seals. Really, DOT4 is fine and I’d be happy to leave it a few years between changes. Five tops.

If you want to keep an eye on the quality of the fluid, you can do that by getting a cheap fluid meter from your nearest Bursons or Repco or similar, and that will tell you how good or bad the water contamination is.

Last tip, place some damp rags under the master cylinder, to catch any unintentional spills. If you do spill some on paint, use heaps of water to wash it off and throw away any clean-up rags.


Belt up


This will sound very old school, but I’m a fan of carrying a spare fanbelt, assuming your car still uses one. While you’d also be smart to have roadside breakdown membership, there’s no guarantee that the little van which turns up will have the correct part. Hoewever if there’s one in the boot, you’ll be on your way in no time. And if you’re ordering a spare, get the numbers off the existing belt.


Knockers and Collectors


A mighty Commer complete with knocker

Dave Morley’s recent menion of the Commer Knocker raised my brow. I drove one for a short while.

Back when trucks were not as big or as powerful as they are today, they ran these interstate. However I just drove one around town.

It had a unique two-stroke engine running two crankshafts, the pistons came together in a reverse boxer set up forming their own combustion chambers.

Unlike the lovely bellowing howl of a Detroit ‘Jimmy’ diesel, the poor ol’ knocker had a raspy note which sounded more like a sort of fractured fart.

With no syncros, if you missed a gear on your double de-clutch that engine would scream when you hit the go-pedal and let everyone around know what an idiot you were. Very embarrassing situation. I’m talking from bitter experience here!

Incidentally what’s wrong with Hillman Hunters? My mate had a GT Hunter which seemed to be classier than the Cortina and was just as fast. Also my brother in law had an Arrow which, despite being rather basic, was still quite comfortable. I think their relatively higher prices might have stifled sales a bit.

Aussie Salder

G’DAY AUSSIE, I remember the ‘knockers’ very well. They seemed to be everywhere, but these days the only place you’ll see them is the odd truck show. I wonder what happened to them – that’s a lot of scrap metal!

As for Hillmans, there’s still a passionate tribe out there and I‘ve worked on a few. They were a pretty simple thing to deal with, even the performance variants with the twin Strombergs. The Hunter’s name was really ‘made’ with Andrew Cowan’s incredible 1968 win in the London-Sydney Marathon. His co-drivers were Colin Malkin and Brian Coyle.

And who can forget the Australia-only Hillman Hunter Hustler? They were a wild-looking thing out of the Chrysler/Rootes Tonsley Park outfit and you’d be very happy to have one in the shed these days.

We have a couple of good Hillman Hunter stories online – search in ‘News & Reviews’ at


Light Me Up

I read about Ed Guido’s BMW and how it was showing a brake light fault when all three lamps were working. I had a similar situation in a Fairlane.

So here’s my tip: if the vehicle has three stop light globes, remove two of them, turn on the ignition and put your foot on the brake pedal until the warning light failure lights up.

Turn off the ignition replace the globes and test.

This can reset the resistance in the cluster for the light globe failure.

The same thing can happen when you have faulty trailer plug wiring as well. Hope this helps.

Ian Jeffs

GOOD ONE, Ian. Globes are one of those things that often cause more trouble than their worth. A few more tips: always use quality globes, where there’s a choice – the cost difference is microscopic; If you replace one, replace the set, as you can be sure the others are on the way out; Make sure they’re all the same wattage and the correct type of bayonet.

You’d be amazed at how often someone will force the wrong globe into place (usually buggering up the socket at the same time), because they can’t be stuffed going to the nearest auto store. I can maybe understand it if you’re in the proverbial Timbuktu, but most of us live in or near a big population centre.


Daimler Shift



This Daimler, complete with Turner V8, was recently sold at Shannons

G’day Mick. I’ve got a 1967 Daimler 250 V8, with the Borg Warner three-speed auto, which has been a little clunky with its gear changes. I was advised to change the transmission fluid from the modern gear to Castrol Transmax Type F, which is specifically for those old Pommie BW boxes from the sixties and boy has it made a difference.

I’m told that it will get even better when I do a few more oil changes, and all the residue from the modern stuff is cleaned out. So I look forward to that.
I already use non-synthetic engine oil in the sweet little Edward Turner-designed 2500cc V8. But I was wondering if there are any other areas, like the diff, where I should be using the old lubricants?

The only modern modification I’ve made to the old darling is I’ve installed electronic power steering, made by a Dutch mob called EZ Steer (Oz distributor Cummins Classic Cars, NSW), which has made a huge difference to the driveability of the car. Though I have had a few purists tell me I’ve ruined her. But it’s my forever car and neither of us are getting any younger. So bugger ‘em!
Love your work.

Gary G Smith

A DAIMLER V8, eh? As a motorcyclist and a bit of a Triumph fan, I have a soft spot for any Edward Turner design and that particular engine is a gem. Yes, you should be using non-synthetic oils designed for that period car – no question.

One of the pioneers of making sure these old machines were properly looked after was Jack Dymond, of Penrite. That company has a pretty good online lubricant selection guide, which is worth checking.

As for your clunky transmission, make sure the bands are adjusted correctly. The Borg Warners are basically a good thing.

I’m with you when it comes to the power steering. The fact is a power tiller can make or break your enjoyment of a car – you might notice we did a conversion on the Ed’s Kingswood last issue. While so-called ‘experts’ or ‘purists’ will express dismay, making it more driveable has to be a good thing, unless you’ve decided to give up and turn it into a museum piece. Let’s face facts: it’s your toy and you can do what you like with it!


Pursuit Power

Hi Mick. I’ve got an XM Ford hardtop with a 170 Pursuit engine in pretty much original trim. It’s never going to win a race, but that’s not the point. It’s easy enough to go out buy a faster car.

Anyway, the engine has near enough to 200,000 miles on it and it’s getting tired. It still starts, but it’s smokey, using a bit of oil and I’m guessing a fair few of the horses have escaped.

It should be okay for a rebuild, despite the age and mileage, shouldn’t it?

John Clark

I SUSPECT if you opened up that engine, you’d find very little wear other than in the cylinder head. Believe it or not, even the pistons might not be showing too much wear – that’s just how they were built. As tough as old boots.

It will depend on how far you want to go, but even the full birthday won’t be too punishing. You could probably get away with a top-end rebuild, with most of the effort and expense going to the head for fresh valve seats and guides.

Personally I’d go the whole way with six new slugs and bearings.

If you love the car, do it all. That is, linish the crank journals, fit fresh bearings, plus hone the bores and fit new pistons and rings. You could do much of it at home and just send the head out to a specialist. If you’re sending out the whole job, look for someone who understands old engines. In any case it won’t cost a million dollars and it will outlive all of us. It’ll do another 200,000 and the parts are readily available.




Chevrolet’s Impala, which was weirdly named after an antelope when it was the size of a house, was the first car to sell one million units in a year. That joyous occasion was in 1965 and, so far as we know, the record still stands.

Got a problem:

Want some advice on a build or a potential car purchase. Heck we’ll even tackle long distance diagnosis. Drop MIck a line at



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