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Jessie The Jeep

My Flying Control Jeep

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I also wanted to convince myself that the 'Motorway Grade' magnetic plastic wasn't going to blow or fall off with all the bouncing around a Jeep can do. I'll probably still end up storing them inside the Jeep for longer, fast trips as I wouldn't want to loose one going to an event.

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Posted (edited)

March 18th - Starter Motor Overhaul

The new batteries still didn't improve the starting problems, with the starter motor struggling to turn the engine past compression when the engine was cold. There wasn't much else to check other than the starter motor. I was concerned I was going to have to splash out £285.00 for a new starter. Whether the motor was repaired or replaced, it was going to have to come off the Jeep.

Hotchkiss crammed a lot more equipment into the rear corner of the engine bay, over the starter. The coil, voltage regulator, distributor, rear battery and alternator all made access difficult compared to the Ford or a Willys Jeep. After a struggle, I got the Jeep started and warmed through. This would hopefully allow starting via the hand crank to put the Jeep back in the garage, as I didn't know how long I'd be messing around with the starter motor.

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The first thing to be removed was the battery leads, followed by the voltage regulator. This was the main obstruction to reaching the starter.

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Edited by Jessie The Jeep

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With that out of the way, the starter could be seen. The various cables to the starter and solenoid were labelled and then removed. The mounting bolts were next, but still difficult to reach with spanners of sockets.

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Finally the starter was freed and removed from the Jeep, then it was time for lunch.

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After lunch, I began to strip the starter to look for any obvious signs that there was something wrong. The end cap opened about half an inch and stopped; the brushes wires weren't long enough to allow the end cap to lift pass the studs.

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After unfastening further bits, circlips and pins, I finally got the thing apart. That revealed a very dirty commutator. I suspect the starter hadn't been serviced since the French Army engine rebuild in 1987. The windings appeared to be ok, and there was plenty of life in the brushes, but the commutator really needed attention.

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31 years of crud had built up, effectively insulating the contacts. That prevented the power going to the coils, and so the motor wasn't able to turn over the engine.

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After a good clean, it was looking much better. I then started to re-assemble the motor, lubricating the moving parts where necessary. Getting the end cap back on was a nightmare, as it needed to be almost fully on to get the brushes in a position to lift clear of the commutator against their springs. However, with the end cap almost on, it was very difficult to get at the brushes! The other problem was the brushes wires, which once again weren't long enough to get the end cap over the retaining studs.

It was a fight that I eventually won, but I did wonder whether I should have just spent the £285.00 for a hassle free life!! The motor tested on the two old Jeep batteries first, then fitted back onto the Jeep. I then tested it again with jump leads directly onto the Jeep batteries, and it turned the engine over. 

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With that test done, I then connected up all the wiring again and refitted the voltage regulator. With everything back together, it was time for a proper starter button motor test.

I set the choke and a little hand throttle, pressed the button, and Brrrrrrrruuummmmm!! The engine burst into life. The starter turned over much faster that it had previously, and had no problems turning the engine over past compression.

It was stopped and restarted a few times and all seemed well. The real test will be tomorrow when I'll try a cold start when the oil is thick. For this test, the engine and oil were probably still a little warm from the morning run.

The video below shows a couple of the start up tests from late afternoon.

 

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Posted (edited)

March 21st

After a small distributor adjustment yesterday, the Jeep had a good cold start today. It was driven out onto the drive, the tools all put away in the locker and the sides fastened on. While the Jeep was out, I measured up the trailer for a set of magnetic RAF markings.

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The rear right reflector was in the way of the roundel a bit, but an 8 inch disc would cover most of the star, leaving only two small points showing. 

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Edited by Jessie The Jeep

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A 6 inch star would hide the side stars completely.

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So far, both the red  and blue have had two coats of paint while the white has been left the matted off plastic. Once fully cured tomorrow, I'll see whether they need any further painting. On the left side of the rear panel are the letters USA, so I've made a rectangle panel with RAF on to cover that up.

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On ‎18‎/‎03‎/‎2018 at 7:21 PM, Jessie The Jeep said:

It was a fight that I eventually won, but I did wonder whether I should have just spent the £285.00 for a hassle free life!!

Would the engine have started any better with a £285.00 starter motor? Also, just think what you can now spend the £285.00 on.

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2 minutes ago, MatchFuzee said:

......just think what you can now spend the £285.00 on.

Not that I really have that amount to spare, but about 2/3's of that will be due shortly on my MV insurance.

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March 22nd

The paint on the roundels baked in the airing cupboard overnight and the Jeep and trailer brought out this afternoon. The Jeep was difficult to start again, turning over but not firing. I did a bit of swapping and testing, and I'm still a little lost as to the trouble.

Jessie is a 24 volt Hotchkiss with a ClassicHeads electronic ignition unit and a 24 volt coil. I disconnected the coil and ignition unit, and fitted a spare 12 volt coil and points, with the coil wired directly to one 12 volt battery. After a little jiggling of the distributor position, I got the Jeep to start on the 12 volt system.

I connected the original 24 volt coil to the points and the Jeep started up perfectly again. I then connected the 24 volt coil back to the electronic ignition ( the way the afternoon started ) and the Jeep fired up perfectly once more!! Arrggggggg!!!

I'm now contemplating whether a faulty ignition switch or poor contacts at the coil is to blame. It was still odd however that on previous days, I didn't mess around with any contacts and it would always start when warm, but struggle when cold. Next time it won't start, I'm going to bypass the switch and power the coil straight from the battery and see if that makes a difference.

However, despite that little distraction, the markings were applied to the trailer and it was all put away again.

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March 23rd - Ignition Problems Hopefully Sorted

I think I've finally sorted the starting problems. There have been a number of things along the way that needed attention like the batteries and starter, but there have also been some red herrings. Over the last few days, I've worked on and tested a number of components. I even swapped to points ignition and a directly wired 12 volt coil, then using the points with the original 24 volt coil and finally back to the 24 volt electronic ignition!

Every time I've pulled the plugs to check the spark, I was getting a good spark and when the engine was running, it ran perfectly. I suspected a possible intermittent fault in the ignition switch or wiring to the coil. It would seem that it was all down to oxidised spade connectors on the ballast resistor before the coil. They were given a good clean and a light tack solder joint and now a number of starts across the day have been almost instant on the button.

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I'll try another cold start tomorrow and hopefully all will be well. The batteries are charging at a nice safe 27.7 volts at cruising RPM and the engine idling smoothly at 1200 rpm.

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After I'd finished tinkering with the ignition system, I fitted a four point seat harness in the back of Jessie, like I did with the Ford. Daughter and I are planning some camping trips with just the two of us this year, and only Jessie and the Dodge are wired to tow the trailer. After that was done, I took the Jeep and trailer for a short drive around the block to get some photos of the Jeep and trailer both with their new RAF colours.

Only three weeks to go until the first event.

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March 26th - Ignition Problems - Finally A Cause?
 
Over the last few days, I've continued to test start the Jeep. Some days it started first go on the button, other times it turned over but just wouldn't fire.

There was obviously an intermittent fault somewhere in the ignition system, but there weren't many places left to look. I had a gut feeling and checked the ballast resistor with my multi-meter. No problems when previously checked, but this time it varied from resistance to open circuit.

I did a brief test by using a jumper wire to bypass the resistor and the Jeep burst straight into life. Switched straight off, I then unbolted the resistor from the firewall to take a closer look.

It was fractured, and sometimes made contact while other times it didn't. I'm wondering whether the load when working, warmed and expanded the metal slightly, ensuring good contact, but when I switched off and it cooled and contracted, broke the circuit causing the starting problems. Anyway, two replacements have been ordered.

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March 29th - Ignition Problems Fixed
 
The ballast resistors arrived in the post about 11:30 today. I was keen to see if that really was the root cause of the starting problems. During my other checks, the plugs were also quite sooty, suggesting the faulty ballast resistor has been limiting the output of the coil and so not burning the fuel mix properly. The Jeep has also felt down on power for some time, which backs this up.

So after I made some spade terminals, it was bolted to the firewall and connected up. The engine was primed, the starter button pressed and in less than a second, the engine fired into life. I stopped it shortly after and performed another two cold starts, both ok.

I then took the Jeep for a drive for a few miles to warm the engine up and when I got back, did a hot start which also worked without problems. The school run followed, again without problems until I came to put the Jeep away. That start was a bit more difficult, but may have just been flooded. It started a minute later.

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1 minute ago, Jessie The Jeep said:

March 29th - Ignition Problems Fixed

All sorted in the end, well done.

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Another job I've been wanting to do for ages is a rain cover for the rear window. I often seem to end up parked with the back of the Jeep facing into wind on days when it then starts raining after I arrive. The sides and doors keep the worst of the weather out, but the back seat often gets wet.

However, this job has been on hold as I lost the canvas I was going to use. That was found in my workshop yesterday while looking for something unrelated. The attachment is very simple. The end of the canvas was wrapped around some 3/8 dowel and was glued and stapled. The canvas was waterproofed with some tent sealer.

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The canvas slots down between the Jeep roof canvas and the STOP/GO light box, with the dowel preventing it from falling straight through. The loose end then hangs down over the open rear window. It rolls up and is stored behind the rear seat when not needed.

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After a few days away in London, I tried the Jeep with another cold start. All was well, firing up straight away. 

Following the fitting of the new batteries and adjusting the voltage regulator, I decided a way of monitoring the charge voltage was needed. There wasn't anywhere an analogue voltmeter would fit, and I couldn't find a small unit in the correct voltage scale. That left a digital voltmeter. I didn't want the modern readout visible, so fitted the meter into the base of the radio tray and made a small metal flap to hide it. It runs from the same power supply that feeds the 24v to 12v converter hidden in the dummy radio.

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April 9th - Test Drive

With a big drive to York on the 15th, I wanted to have a bit of a start/stop test drive and also monitor the battery charging under normal driving conditions.

I had a few jobs to do, including dropping in at the dodge yard for a new key and filling up the Jeep with fuel. Since it was still school holidays, took my little mechanic in the back seat to monitor the voltage gauge. The voltage was fairly consistent and within a sensible range - unlike before the regulator was adjusted.

It was a nine mile round trip with several stops along the way where the engine was shut down. The engine restarted without any problems, so I'm happy that I've finally laid the starting troubles to rest.

It was a chilly start to the morning, but got out to be a pleasant warm Spring day.

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April 10th - Rear View Mirror

With the first event of the season only five days away, there was one more small job I discovered needed attention. Over the winter, my suction rear view mirror lost its suck and refused to stick to the Jeep screen. I didn't want to spend on a new one and didn't want a permanent fixture, so set about adapting the broken one. I cut the sucker off and made a steel bracket that slotted behind existing bolts in the screen, left over from the French electric wipers. The bracket had a slot cut in the centre that would allow the mirror arm to slot into place when required.

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Hate it when a sucker doesn't suck.....OK, I'll get me coat.:(

 

Your solution is a good one. Goes to show how a bit of creative thinking and tinkering solves a lot of these issues.

It looks like it was designed back in Ww2.

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