V8 Newsletter
for December 2005 published in Safety Fast!, the award winning monthly magazine of the MG Car Club
This month we have a reminder of the V8 Curry Night, the first V8 event in February, some ideas for Christmas presents for a V8 enthusiast, a note on RV8 starter motors, a short update on curing a misfire on an MGBGTV8, a comprehensive note on fitting PAS to an RV8 and a report on V8s at the Prix des Alpes 2005.

The V8 Curry Night is the traditionally the first event in the annual V8 Calendar and for 2006 it is being arranged for Saturday 4th February. The location is still being settled by the new V8 Curry Master, Mike Russell, as he is trying to find a restaurant or hotel which is able to provide a private room so members will be able to move around more easily and talk to fellow members. Most curry houses are usually quite tight for space and often the long tables arranged for the V8 Curry Night have involved limbo dancing to get in and out of some of the seats! See the V8 Rolling Calendar of events on the V8 Website for the latest news of the V8 Curry Night and other events in 2006. Several overseas members like Walter and Brigitte Kallenberg and John Targett attend the event together with up to 30 UK members.

Other V8 Events for your diary are the Stoneleigh MG Show and Spares Day on Sunday 19th February which is usually very popular with V8 enthusiasts and the V8 Lincolnshire Tour 2006 which is being arranged by Mike Taylor which is in September. Full details will appear next month and of course on the V8 Website.

Christmas present ideas for the V8 enthusiast are available through the V8 Website - some interesting items from the V8 Regalia range (for example the V8 paperweights), the TE Low Brake Fluid Sensor from Bob Owen at TE Electronics (possibly the most important safety device you can fit to a V8) and the 12 volt Battery Conversion Kits produced by John Targett make changing from the old twin 6 volt set up on an MGBGTV8 to a modern single 12 volt battery much easier. Another invaluable present would be an electronic batter condition sensor which keeps the battery in tip top condition when the car is idle for periods during a winter lay-up. Full details are on the V8 Website. Both the battery conversion kits and LBFS units are also available for members with MGBs and MGCs.

Sixteen RV8s in Sweden

Sixteen RV8s in Sweden for the tour. (Photo: Stephen Muskantor)
Stephen Muskantor, an RV8 and MGBGTV8 enthusiast in Sweden - reports there are now 16 RV8s in Sweden. In September 2005 they held the first RV8 meeting at the historic small town of Vadastena beautifully situated on the Shores of Lake Vattern. Nine RV8s showed up and enjoyed an interesting tour which included a visit to the Toy Museum in Vadstena, the runic stone at Rokstenen and the Motala Motor Museum all arranged by Liss and Anders Barkland and Lotta and Ulf Laurent. A copy of the full report with photos provided by Steven Muskantor is available on the V8 Website.

RV8 Bosch starter motor
After experiencing some difficulties with his starter motor, Peter Garton (Woodcote Green 1238) from Germany has produced a useful note.
The starter motor comprises two distinct parts - the starter armature with two bearings and the planetary gears and the solenoid. The starter armature has four carbon brushes and is supported by two bearings. The planetary gears are three in number, each with 13 teeth, cogs and splines. They rotate in a planet gearbox housing which has 36 teeth, cogs and splines. The three gears and the inner planetary gear are made out of a nylon/polypropylene material. The

reason for this was for sound dampening I understand. Later on, these synthetic material parts were replaced by metal units and the planetary housing was subsequently fitted with three rubber bushes to improve the sound dampening.
The starter pinion has 9 splines. Bosch have confirmed in a technical addendum to Bosch in Koblenz that it is possible to fit a starter that has 10 splines!! The splines of the 9 spline starter pinion engage the starter ring to an intermesh depth of 2.11mm. The 10 spline starter pinion is then 1.05mm further away from the starter ring splines on the flywheel which is exactly half the original intermesh depth.

The whole starter motor unit can be taken apart except the solenoid bridge contacts. This part of the solenoid is absolutely inaccessible. Therefore one cannot see whether the contacts are burned, dirty or defective. This means in reality that a new complete solenoid must be ordered. There are no new or exchange Bosch starters of this type on the market. The part numbers to note are:
Starter motor unit (complete)
Land Rover AMR 2165
Bosch 0 001 108 144
Year of manufacture eg 089
Bosch 0 331 303 168

The usual problems experienced with the starter motor unit by RV8 owners are:

o Starter motor develops the ominous "click" on occasions. This symptom indicates that it is almost certain the solenoid is defective and must be replaced. This of course assumes the battery condition is good to provide sufficient power for starting.

o Starter grinds and makes horrible noises. This symptom indicates the planetary gears have lost some teeth, cogs or splines. My Bosch dealer mentioned he had never observed this phenomenon in practice. They commented that in order to damage the starter so drastically, the engine would have to resist turning over in a serious way (for example in severe cold weather) and the starter would have to be turned mercilessly for a long period.

My Bosch service agent in Koblenz obtained the new replacement solenoid the same day thus proving there is no problem with spare parts for the unit. It also raises hopes that these items can be repaired and that a replacement reconditioned starter is not always necessary.

The copy of this note in the RV8 Workshop Notes series is on the V8 Website and has photos which illustrate quite clearly the individual parts that make up the starter and solenoid. The photos also show where the solenoid is physically located in relation to the gear opening. Any other version will not fit into the restricted space under the RV8 3.9 litre engine!

Curing a misfire on an MGBGTV8 with a pressure reducing valve
Barrie Franklin from Bedfordshire provides further information following his earlier V8NOTE328 on curing a misfire on a V8. (this note is V8NOTE335 released in August 2005)

Following a long talk with Gordon Hesketh-Jones at Silverstone 2005, I found he had experienced a misfire with his V8 which sounded very similar to the difficulty I had rectified previously on my car. Gordon worked though V8NOTE328 and then provided the following useful information. The pressure adjusting valve is a Sytec Pro-Flow Adjustable Flow Regulator (part no PR053) manufactured by Glencoe Limited. The regulator is available nationally through their stockists. The Glencoe contacts are:
01784 493555
www.fuelsystem.co.uk but note "fuelsystem" is not plural!

The fuel pressure can be varied from 0.5psi up to 5 psi. Gordon was told that if the petrol pump is delivering at more than 3psi it lifts the needles off the seat of the SU carburettors leading to the misfire. The unit can easily be made secure by using cable ties to attach it to the brake pipes or a similar static point in the engine bay.

RV8s on the 2005 Prix des Alpes

RV8 on the Susten Pass in Switzerland during the Prix des Alpes 2005 with the glacier below. (Photo: Brian & Graham White)
The Prix des Alpes is a week long annual event involving driving over some of the highest mountain passes in mainland Europe. The route changes every year but always includes roads which were used in the 1960s, the classic era of long distance rallying. The event is organized by Peter and Sharon Browning of Sportscene International and their aim is to combine splendid scenery, challenging climbs and navigation, with good quality hotels. It is a popular and social event, with some mild competition if you wish - and most entrants do. It has been running for eight years with many competitors, including my wife and I, coming back year after year. Open to classic and more modern sports cars the 42 entries for the 2005 event ranged from the 1946 MG TC of Christopher and David Shepherd to the 1999 SLK Mercedes crewed by Liz Fenner and Judy Teroy. For the first time there were no less than 6 RV8s taking part, and only 2 of them were Woodcote Green, Paul Grade's everyday car, liberally adorned with additional V8 badges and the very smart machine of Brian Cook and Kevin Garner. The others were Tony and Gloria Johnson, Nightfire Red, brothers: Brian and Graham White in a rare White Gold car, the regular entrant Dutch team of Frits Jansen and Jan Voskens in their BRG model and Fiona and I in BRG 1839. (Report from Al Barnett)

The start point was in Eastern France at Besancon, an attractive city famous for its citadel and with a tradition of clockmaking. It is a long run from Calais and there were cars arriving at the Hotel Mercure throughout Sunday in time for the event briefing and rally school. Organiser Peter Browning, also MGCC Competition Secretary by the way, gave the main brief and was backed up by former BMC rally stars Mike Wood and John Wadsworth. Old hands chatted to each other and one or two newcomers looked apprehensive. The back up team of rally mechanics, Jeff Awde and Bill Price, were already busy dealing with the multiple problems presented by the beautiful, but electrically challenged, Allard M type, which had come from the Channel Islands. Unfortunately this was the last we were to see of the Allard as it went home on a trailer, having eventually defeated the considerable skills of our mechanics. The crew, though, completed the event in a hire car.

After a champagne reception and a good dinner, which calmed, or dulled, the fears of the first timers, it was an early start the next morning for Monday's 250 km leg to Interlaken. The en route navigation test involved the now customary mixture of mountain climbs, little traffic, narrow roads, ambiguous junctions and carefully placed code boards, all designed to keep the navigator busy. Still the Michelin maps of France and Switzerland are comprehensive and accurate, not always the case with maps as we were to find later in the week. Near the Swiss border we came across a large layby nicely fitted out with

cones and white lines. Driving tests and the RV8 are not ideal partners as limited lock and heavy steering can make things difficult. Conversely the well driven TD of Malcolm and Linda Sayers showed just how maneuverable a 50 year old MG can be. As we all arrived in Interlaken you could see some members of the public doubting our sanity. We, however, watched the 2 place Para gliders descending onto the town green from the surrounding mountains and considered ourselves relatively normal.

Tuesday morning at dawn and our seventh floor room looked straight out to the snow covered Jungfrau. What a lovely way to start the day. The plan had been to take in the famous Grimsel and Furka passes but unfortunately torrential rain the previous week had caused serious flooding and rockfalls so consequentially both passes were closed. The Susten pass, however, was open and what a wonderful climb this turned out to be - 23 miles and climbing through beautiful Alpine countryside to an altitude of well over 2,000m (7,000ft). Once we had made it past a large German bus - nice to have the RV8 power here - we had a splendid run up to the site of the daily driving test set up by our resident sadist marshals. After that we continued climbing passing a spectacular glacier and eventually on to Andermatt and then over the St Gothard pass. Here for the one and only time during the week we were genuinely frightened. The top of the pass was in thick, dark, impenetrable cloud. The visibility was less than 5 metres, only just beyond the end of the bonnet. It was raining, the hood was down and there was nowhere to stop to put it up. I could just see the edge of the road and crawled along with all lights on, knowing that there were hairpin bends ahead with a spectacular drop on my side. In the next 20 minutes just 2 cars loomed out of the darkness, we negotiated the bends and one junction and finally broke cloud high above the route into Italy. We could see the autoroute, but could we get on to it - no. This was the first point where we realized that our Italian map was going to be about as much use for detailed navigation as would be a stick of Blackpool rock for dealing with a great white shark!

Some time later we found the road south and made our way to Lugano and then along the edge of Lake Como. This was our first encounter with urban Italian drivers, an interesting experience, with local Fiats dramatically underestimating the power and acceleration of the RV8s! Traffic was heavy and the narrow road to the lakeside village of Moltrasio was pretty demanding. We were pleased to see the Grand Hotel and find a cold beer. We enjoyed an excellent dinner, bought Mike Wood's book on his experiences on the Liege Rome Liege Rally, and slept well.

Wednesday was a day to remember, firstly for the Lake Como ferry crossing to the beautiful town of Bellagio. Our cars made a fine site on the deck and the Italians showed their customary enthusiasm for sporting machinery. After Bellagio we made our way down the lake to Lecco, a town seemingly devoid of sign posts and full of one way streets to nowhere. Eventually, by now leading a line of 6 competing cars, we escaped up the mountain at a sedate 10mph far behind an overloaded granite lorry. It was around this time that Derek and Simone West lost the pulley from the alternator on their MGB. They would reappear late in the evening after a 78 year old mechanic had spent 5 hours making and fitting a new pulley!

Brian Cook with his RV8. (Photo: Al Barnett)

Once away from the town the scenery improved dramatically
and all went well until the navigation test section. This seemed to involve numerous competitors simultaneously arriving at crossroads from all points of the compass, all looking confused! At one point we questioned a French speaking local van driver who looked at our carefully plotted route and shook his head, saying "no, very bad road". Once we explained it was the rally route he laughed, climbed into his cab and drove off. Hours later, hot and tired, we arrived at Riva Del Garda at the top of Lake Garda. Fortunately the Hotel du Lac et du Parc, our base for the next 3 days, was superb.

Somehow the Italians manage to combine excellent service with friendly informality and we really appreciated it. There were quite a few cars in the car park with bonnets raised as minor leaks and problems were attended to but the only competitor to encounter a terminal problem that day was former RV8 owner John Dignan who suffered catastrophic oil pump failure on his highly modified MGB. He did however do rather well from then on in the Fiat Panda hire car! We were all very tired but enjoyed a superb meal before sleeping very well.

Thursday had a fairly short navigation section, which needed very careful study of map symbols. This was followed by a car park forward and reverse test where I didn't hit the cones because I couldn't get enough lock to get near them! The rest of the day had optional trips to the Stelvio and Garvia passes. Those who had not seen these spectacular passes went, but quite a few of us who had already done both had a rather more restful day by the lake. As we were making our way down to the lake we met Frits in the Dutch RV8 heading up the mountain at great speed. It seemed his navigator had managed to identify identical route symbols on a different part of the map, and so instead of traveling 50km they had just done over 150!

Friday was the last competitive day and was a morning of Tulip diagrams leading generally north to a final driving test high up in the hills in a restaurant car park. As we completed the test the rain started and for the first time that week the hood went up. In the afternoon we managed to get a group photo of the 6 RV8s and in the evening we had a great awards dinner. My wife and I won the RV8 class and the White brothers RV8 was awarded the concours prize. All the RV8s ran well and completed the event without any mechanical difficulties. The event was won, for the first time, by regular entrants John and Jenny Hill in a TR4A. Second, a great achievement in a 52 year old car was the splendid TD of Malcolm and Linda Sayers. All the RV8 drivers said they had enjoyed the week and particularly the chance to use the RV8s enthusiastically in the mountains.

On Saturday morning, a little bleary eyed, we went our separate ways, in our case returning to Southern France over the deserted Col de Larche. I didn't check the petrol consumption during the event but on the 700 mile run back to the UK we traveled at around 80 mph and averaged 33 mpg, not bad for a 3.9 V8. Will we go next year? Well, Peter and Sharon were discussing going back to the high passes of the French Alps for next year's event. If they do, we will be there and perhaps we can get the RV8 numbers into double figures.

Anyone who wants to know more is welcome to contact me by email at alfi.barnett@btinternet.com

Power assisted steering for an RV8
Peter Garton (Woodcote Green 1238) from Germany has had a PAS system fitted to his RV8 and explains how the process went.

Doris Garton with Will Maskell who installed the PAS system. (Photo: Peter Garton)

The steering on the RV8 is really quite heavy and is really noticeable when one is manoeuvring in a car park or at the kerbside trying to get in to a parking bay. Older drivers like me really have to struggle with the wheel and deal with the large turning circle. Thus the idea of having the PAS fitted was one I considered. Although PAS was not a factory fitting, the idea of PAS for the RV8 had been considered by Rover Cars at Cowley back in 1994 when Steering Developments in Hemel Hempstead were engaged to research PAS systems for the model.

The idea of PAS had been considered by Rover during the development of the RV8, but had been dropped on cost grounds

Engine bay is packed. (Photo: Peter Garton)

The first major problem Steering Developments encountered was the serious lack of space available under the RV8 bonnet for both the PAS unit and steering rack installation with the mounting bracket. This is particularly the case with the model exported to Japan which had the additional air conditioning equipment fitted as standard. Having been to Japan I can readily confirm that without air conditioning, you die!! So Steering Developments had to find a power steering rack which had an identical pinion angle to the manual rack. They researched several alternatives from the BMW 325, Volvo 360 and the Ford Escort and Fiesta. They opted for the Ford version because of its simplicity of mounting and the optimum orientation of the hydraulic porting. It was necessary to use a left hand drive unit which they turned over to achieve the correct relationship of pinion to rack! With that unit they managed to position the PAS rack within 10mm of the manual rack. The turning circle was increased to 12.6m from the standard 10.95m with 2.75 steering wheel turns rather than the original 3.

They chose the Saginaw TC power steering pump which was driven by the standard pulley used by the air-conditioner. The oil temperature was controlled by a "trombone" type cooler located in front of the radiator. There were other modifications necessary such as re-routing a cooler hose, the removal of the rack mounting feet to permit the fixing of the PAS rack mounting bracket, the removal of the lower steering column pinion and lastly the removal of part of the radiator plastic cowling. The technical readers of this initial summary of the development work on a PAS system for the RV8 will recognise the whole system had to be belt driven. As we now know, this work was all for nothing because Rover came to the business decision that the additional costs when added to what was already a hefty sales price for the model, were beyond the limits set by the marketing team.

Deciding where to get the PAS conversion done and getting everything organised

There had been several notes from RV8 members around the World who had a retrofit PAS installed utilising PAS units varying from those fitted to an Opel to the EPAS unit fitted to the MGF. In my case I decided to go for the MGOC electronic type which does not require a belt drive. An additional factor in my decision was their people at the workshop in Cambridgeshire had already gained valuable experience with installing PAS units on RV8s as well as MGBs. As my wife had never been to Cambridge before - we live in Germany - it would also be a convenient opportunity to see the sights there while the works were in progress on the RV8. After confirming that all the parts were available, we booked an appointment with workshop and were advised the job would take around two and a half to three days all in. So we drove down to Calais from Koblenz with an overnight stop on a chateau run by Best Western and set off via the ferry to Dover the next morning nice and early. We arrived at the workshop around two in the afternoon. Work commenced on the RV8 straightway!

Close gap between the ball joint and the wheel rim needs care. (Photo: Peter Garton)

The steering rack and pump used for the conversion originate from Peugeot/Citroen (PSSA Group) and was one of the small selection of alternatives readily available on the market for the reasons outlined above. All the other units examined were too wide for the relatively narrow RV8 track! The mounting assembly for the steering rack is extremely critical and can only be achieved by using a jig which lines everything up accurately. The old rack is literally cut off and the new one welded on via three brackets. The pump is mounted up on the wing on the driver's side and is jacketed in a special material that reflects heat and also insulates the pump.

A word of warning at this point - as mentioned, the track and new rack measurements are critical which means in practical terms that the outer ball joints are very close to the inner wheel edge. We are talking of about 2 to 4 mm! If the front wheels have been balanced using the standard "knock on" weight clips, there is a serious danger that these could hit the end

of the ball joint on rotation and literally rip them off thereby damaging the ball joints. These conventional balance weights should be replaced by the self adhesive type which is positioned further inside the wheel rim. Note also the EPAS unit is not adjustable as it is not necessary.

After the job was done, everything had to be perfect because we faced a long drive back to Koblenz in Germany - around 550km in fact. Initially we had sufficient time in hand to visit Ely which is quite close to the workshops so we were not too nervous of trying everything out for the first time. The steering has certainly been transformed and is a much lighter but not too light. The pump has a light whine to it but this is not disturbing. At an extreme lock position the PAS makes itself heard, but there again so does the PAS on my Mercedes! Also the turning circle has been reduced in the sense the turning circle is now greater. The parts and installation used in the PAS conversion have a 12 month warranty which is in fact a standard guarantee for engineering components.

We were extremely well looked after by the staff at the workshop who kindly transported my wife and I to and from our hotel in Cambridge. I am mentioning a few of the names of the people involved simply because we are not all mechanics or technicians and welcome the opportunity of talking with someone who can explain things clearly and simply to the layman. Our visit and the organisation of our booking were coordinated by Roger Parker who went to enormous lengths to see that everything would fall neatly into place. Roger is not always there, as many people already know, but he is supported by Jonathan Kimber. Ian Wallman is the workshop manager who is supported by Rod Wells. Our conversion was undertaken by Will Maskell. They were polite, obliging and informative, and nothing was too much trouble. The time taken was two and a half days all in and the total cost including VAT was around £2,620. The EPAS unit was £702 and the PAS kit for the RV8 was £1,442.

How RV8 owners can remove their air-conditioning from reimported RV8s is a puzzle to me

For our return to Germany, we drove off early on the Friday morning heading down the M11 to our overnight stop in Canterbury. It was very hot and we landed fair and square in the middle of a long tail back just before Junction 9. We let the RV8 tick over for quite a while anticipating a stop and go trip to the M25. The actual stop part turned out to be 2½ hot and sweaty hours without moving! We later left Canterbury via Dover and Calais and in blazing sunshine drove virtually non stop back to German - some 5½ hours with the air-conditioning going full blast all the way. How RV8 owners can remove their air-conditioning from reimported RV8s is a puzzle to me. My wife says there is really no serious problem with leg room on the passenger side - she is not a midget by the way! With the roof up, the inside of the RV8 becomes a furnace so long distances on the Autobahn without the air-conditioning would become a nightmare. The was not the slightest sign of anything associated with the PAS conversion getting too hot which hopefully will put members' minds at rest on that potentially scary point.

For members travelling via Calais who for one reason or another find it necessary to overnight around the Calais area, will find at exit 2 on the A26 to Arras road, there is the Chateau de Cocove. It is a Best Western hotel which is located in its own quiet grounds with an excellent restaurant.

Members visiting Ely who have looked around its wonderful cathedral, can then stroll down the hill - Ely was once an island surrounded by tidal waters and was also an important port. At the bottom of the hill on the left hand side, there is the Peacock tea house which is brilliant. They serve real tea - not those horrible tea bags, I am old fashioned - and scones with clotted cream, crumpets and other tasties such as toasted muffins!!