Fixing the irreplacable - Faine 450

By: Jon Faine

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jaguar etype engine bay jaguar etype engine bay
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Wreckers got a good laugh when I told them what I needed

Last time, I confessed to ruining the power steering pump on my E-type Jaguar by running it dry. The Series 2 six-cylinder cars with power steering are incredibly rare, and finding a replacement pump is proving impossible. Glenn Olsen, who has worked almost exclusively on repairing and restoring E-types for more than 30 years says in all his time he has only ever seen two six-cylinder cars with factory PAS – my car and one other. There must be only a handful in this country. Anyone else seen one? Not many were made at all and most of those were left hand drive and sent to North America.

Once I was given the bad news that my pump was cooked, I scoured the local Jaguar restorers faintly hoping for a spare. The pump is made by Holburn Eaton, who also supplied pumps for Rover and Lotus. But this type of pump selected by Jaguar for their first foray into PAS is an orphan, unloved and unwanted, and different to any other in its internals as well as its external housing.

To start with it has an external reservoir for the fluid when most other PAS pumps of the era have an internal or integral reservoir. Secondly, it has unique bracketry and squeezes into an improbably tight pocket between the motor and the E type scaffold frame that holds the entire front together.

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The E-Type’s most prized component

When I got the bad news that mine "is dead, not working, snuffed it, this is an ex-pump" (apologies to Monty Python), the first call was to the biggest local supplier of spares, JagDaim. Astonishingly, upon me quoting a part number from the factory parts book, they claimed to have one in stock. I gleefully bought it over the phone and paid for it to be delivered to the power steering specialists, who promptly called and told me it was nothing like my pump at all. Their theory was that it was from a 12-cylinder E type. Ooops. Start again.

Jaguar wreckers all got a good laugh when I told them what I needed, and various suggestions were made most of which were "have you thought of converting it to electric steering?" or " just abandon the power steering and install a standard rack". But this car is special because it has the rare factory PAS so it must be retained, somehow.

| Read next: Faine - Jaguar E-type blown fuse

Inquiries through the Jaguar Car Club drew only well-meaning but obvious suggestions like "try Ebay USA" or the big UK Jaguar parts people, all of whom I had already emailed and none of whom could help.

Gary Ayre has a reputation for being able to fix Jaguars when no one else can, so I went to the outer Eastern suburbs of Melbourne to show him the pump. "We can fix just about anything" he promised, and then proceeded to break the sad news that my pump was irretrievable. "Chuck it in the bin" his top engineer said, and I started to sweat a little.

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As my mood soured, a mate suggested a lateral approach and recommended that I get a second opinion from different power steering specialists on whether the pump could be revived. Active Power Steering in Dandenong were recommended and I spoke to Tony.

His response was priceless. "Mate, I’ve been fixing power steering pumps for thirty years and there’s never been one we couldn’t fix. I don’t think yours will be the first". I rocketed out to see him just before Christmas and spread the offending components on his workbench. Within a few minutes he invited me into the workshop and started to hone a few surfaces, making promising grunting sounds as he worked. "I reckon we can do something here…" was his optimistic note.

After Christmas, I swallowed hard and rang for the verdict. "It’s fine under speed, but when it drops to idle there is a bit of back-pressure so we will only charge you half" was the answer. I offered to pay the full quoted $700 but Tony refused and I duly went to collect my precious lump of steel.

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Classic look bluetooth radio..

Installing the pump a second time was harder than the first because the rack and radiator were already in place. Working from inside the bonnet, I had to remove heat shield, splash guard and various other obstructions to then lift the pump in from underneath the front suspension wishbone and twist it through the tight available space. Neurotically checking everything five times before starting the car, the relief when the power steering worked properly was palpable. Relief became elation once I went for a drive. For the first time since I bought the E-type eighteen months ago, I could confidently cruise and not worry about leaks, strange noises or breaking down.

And what a fabulous car it is. Now I need to fit the stainless steel exhaust sitting waiting in the shed, fit the new "classic look" Bluetooth radio and then…drive it and drive it some more.

 

From Unique Cars #450, March 2021

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