Austin Champ, Tips and Tricks

(as new material is added to this page it will be at the top)
Choke cable
My Champ was not running as well as it should, there was black exhauast smoke, the plugs were sooty. Once the engine warmed up it drove reasonably well.
The fault was the choke cable that did not return the choke to the fully-off position because the wire had pulled through the locking part on the choke lever.
When the choke cable was installed a few years ago it was set so that the knob was slightly out in the fully-closed position to ensure that the choke was off, but over the years the wire cable had slipped through the locking mechanism on the cloke lever.
So the bolt and nut (the inner wire locking on the choke lever on the carb.) needs looking at. I am also going to make it rule to check the operation of the choke cable once a year.
In the picture below: blue arrow is the choke cable; red is where the inner cable is locked-onto the choke lever; yellow is the inner choke cable.

Austin Champ choke cable

Tyre valve
I found that when inflating a tyre it was easy to scratch the wheel paintwork so I bought tyre valve right-angled adaptors which makes things much easier. But make sure the adaptor is tight after inflating the tyre. On the photo is the adaptor with a valve remover tool instead of an ordinary valve cap. These are on eBay, around £4\6 each.

Austin Champ spare wheel valve

Embelishing your nuts and other parts you can reach
Some owners paint their nuts and other parts in white or red paint. There may even have been a military regulation of what should be painted and what colour but, I think of it this way, only play with a red painted part if you know what you are doing and only play with a white painted part if you think you know what you are doing.
Split rim and wheel nuts and bolts: on my Champ the split rim nuts and bolts are painted red because if split rim nuts and bolts are undone without deflating the tyre then it can kill, as has happened. My wheel nuts and bolts are white.
I must admit that my fuel cap is red because it was red when I got the Champ and it looks pretty. Some owners paint their knob, gearstick, forward\reverse lever, etc., red. I wouldn't but was it ever done in-service?, possibly\probably.
Another decoration seen is in the engine bay, of stripping the paint off the oil filler flap, etc., and burnishing the brass.
I call decorating a Champ the, 'Christmas tree syndrome' and who doesn't like decorating the Christmas tree? Is decorating a Champ, right or wrong?, who cares if it makes us happy and makes it easier to find our Austin Champ in the carpark.
Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning
As soon as an Austin Champ owner gets to a show he\she jumps out and cleans their Champ but, instead of using a bucket of water, shampoo and a sponge why not dry clean it?
There are several products for dry cleaning, just spray them on and polish off. The product I have tried, and very pleased with, is Dry Shine. It's a 500ml aerosol can - there are makes with a manual pump button on the top but this seems like hard work to me. The only place I found Dry Shine was buying direct off their website - but it may be in some accessory shops - it's not cheap but it seems to last a good time.
Glass is the best test of this kind of product. In the past I have never very good at cleaning glass with proprietory glass cleaner, especially patio doors and as soon as the sun shines through them all the smears show. Using the dry clean method and a microfibre cloth the glass is much better. On patio doors and the Champ windscreen I could feel the polish cutting through the grime on the glass and the screen and patio doors looked the best they have ever been, the same on bodywork.
There are two things mentioned so far, the cleaner and microfibre cloth - in the past I have used any clean rags but using microfibre cloths seems much better and they are not expensive on eBay. Tip: the microfibre cloths can be washed in the washing machine but don't use any fabric softener, it damages the cloth.
As you can see in the photo one cloth is getting dirty. My method is to spray the cleaner on, use one cloth for the first clean and the second cloth for the final clean\polish.
Dry Cleaning

Drain Plugs
When fitting oil drain plugs anywhere on the Champ use PTFE tape wrapped around the thread. PTFE tape is teflon and used by plumbers to seal joints and can be bought from plumbers' merchants or DIY stores.
PTFE tape around drain plugs

What could go wrong fitting fan belts?
I ordered the fan belts from a well known dealer we all know. I already had the radiator, etc. out so it was a nice easy job, then everything was to go back in over the weekend and out on-the-road with the Champ.
To fit fanbelts can be a devil of a job because the belts may not go over the pulleys and the dynamo may have to be loosened in its cradle - remember the dynamo has a stud on the bottom that fits into a matching hole in the cradle - and the dynamo turned in to get the belts on.
I got the belts on and then adjusted up, but something is wrong, one belt is tight and the other is loose. The belts should both be tight (a matching pair), but they are not. The belts have to come off. I phoned the dealer who said something like, 'They often come from the factory like that.' I then spoke to several other dealers who said that was not true.
So it's best to buy belts that are still sealed in their brown paper or, at least, still have the string tying them together in the middle and another string tied to one belt with the part number label on.
Numbers: part no. FV.144503, 2F.2813, brand 'FEROGRIP V250/9R' - I have heard that one owner went to a spares shop with this make and number and the shop had a cross-reference guide and another brand was bought and fitted. If they fitted two belts I don't know how it worked out with matching? Another alternative is to run with one fanbelt - as most cars do - and carry another belt as a spare but two things: one, the Austin Champ is not the easiest vehicle to change a fanbelt on the side-of-the-road; two, I wanted to keep my Champ original and to have the back up of two fanbelts.

Austin Champ fanbelts

Split rim bolts
The split rim nuts and bolts on the Austin Champ are the same as those on a WW2 Jeep - I got my bolts from Dallas Auto Parts at Newbury, Berkshire, UK.

Austin Champ Split rim botls

Hood straps can be made much tidier by tieing as shown below. The strap is put through the metal loop on the body and through the lower slot of the buckle as normal but, instead of putting the strap through the top slot from the outside, put it over the buckle and back through from behind the buckle, then using the metal end of the strap wind up the surplus strap inside the loop.

Austin Champ Hood Straps

These NOS (New Old Stock) mudflaps were fitted 12,000 miles ago and they were a bit dirty and dis-coloured. In the photo: the lower mudflap has been cleaned with a stiff brush and the top one has been cleaned then sprayed Deep Bronze Green, BS 224, (the Austin Champ colour).
Any good automotive paint stores will make up paints in aerosols in BS colours (the engine blue is BS 101).

Austin Champ mudflap refurbishment

When mounting the spare wheel make sure the valve is at the top so when the road wheel tyre pressures are checked it's easy to check the tyre pressure of the spare - I have seen many spare wheels where the valve cannot be seen and wonder when the pressure was last checked?
The spare wheel should be mounted with the dish toward the front of the Champ, otherwise too much load is placed on the rear body.

Austin Champ spare wheel valve

It can be much easier, if working in the engine bay, to prop the bonnet against the windscreen. But, if the bonnet is not tied up it may be a mistake that an Austin Champ owner makes only once. One owner had the bonnet leaning against the windscreen, without tieing it up, and was working under the bonnet and the wind caught the bonnet. His back was seriously injured and he spent many weeks in a hospital spinal unit and was lucky not be paralysed, or killed. He couldn't face working on the Champ anymore and sold it.
The easiest system is a bungee rubber, see photo.

Austin Champ Bonnet Tieing up

TIP: whilst on the subject of wind, this is a , 'don't do what I did'; I was going to fit a new set of points, I opened the box and laid-out the parts on the packing paper on the driver's seat and a gust of wind blew them all away.

Do you have any Tips and Tricks?