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Buying an Imp

From: Dave House
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 1999 22:37:59 +0100
Subject: [imps] Fw: Imps

I know this is a bit out of the blue, but I have sent a few messages over the past few months to imps@onelist and was wondering if anyone could help. I am now ready to buy an imp and have seen one advertised in the local rag. I've phoned the bloke up and he says it hasn't been on the road for eighteen months, its got an 850 engine and some rot around the sills. His ad said sensible offers (and now comes my first question), what's sensible ?
Secondly I don't want to spend loads on an old heap so what should I look out for with regards to terminal signs/major expense ? I would be grateful for any help.
Sorry if this isn't your cup of tea but you've been very helpful in the past.

From: Simon Creasey
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 1999 18:24:48 PDT
Subject: Re: [imps] Fw: Imps

Here's what I'd recommend you check thoroughly before you buy (these are what have cost me the most to fix since buying my Imp 2 years ago)! I think this about covers most of the most major trouble I have had with my Imp. Happy Imping!

From: Tim Morgan
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 08:54:02 +0100
Subject: Re: [imps] Fw: Imps

850cc engine? I don't think so... 850s were built for circuit racing to fit into the Mini formulas and were screamers built to rev to astronomical heights, and were pretty expensive to build. George Bevan's car (the yellow one) springs to mind, but I doubt if that is the sort of car that you've been offered.

Sills rotten... hmmmm. It depends upon how far they've rotted and what you want with the car when it's finished. If you want it as strong as the original car, count on huge sums to get it right. If you just want a runabout, bung on cover sills and enjoy it until it falls apart again.

My personal feeling is that a car in this condition is almost worthless. The guy who's selling it will not even be able to call a scrap dealer to take it away... he'll have to pay them (believe me). So the thing to do is to add up the value of all the good bits, subtract the cost of getting it home, subtract the cost of removal of a rotten shell (about 30 here in Hertfordshire), and subtract a bit of cash for the aggrovation. I.e not a lot... (£50-£100 max)

A better bet will be an Imp that's running, MOT'd and on the road. You can still find these for about £300-£500, as I get offered them all the time. Try the Loot web site, and put in a search for Hillman Imps.

If you want something to restore, get a more 'interesting' base project, as you won't loose so much money. I do know of a K-Reg Stiletto near Heathrow, that's complete and available... should be able to get if for about £100-£150.

Final word of advice... taking on a project is great fun (I know, I've done it more times than most), but it can and will take far longer than you expect. When the sun is shining, it's fine, but as soon as that rain starts and the cold turns your fingers into bunches of blue bananas hanging from your wrists, it's no joke. I'd far rather be driving that working on them now...

Best of luck (and I hope I haven't put you off too much), if you want details of the Stiletto, or any of the other cars I'm aware of, let me know.

From: Tim Morgan
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 09:22:16 +0100
Subject: Re: [imps] Fw: Imps

Did you buy your car in the dark, mate:-)
Couple of points...

Rust around the gearstick... what? Never seen that one, 58 Imps and I'm still learning. I'd say that's pretty unusual.

Decklids... do you mean the rear hatch? These are available new from Bob Allan (not cheap though).

Rear wheelarches - Mr MOT man will not pass them if they are breached but bubbles are ok and he isn't allowed to poke it around, no matter what he may think. If the arch breaches of it's own account, then it is a failure. However, get some carpet-tape and tape over the top and he has to pass them, as there are no protruding sharp edges. Either that or head for the filler tin.

Rear wishbones - these rot under the springs too.

Waterpumps - are you using a fanbelt that's too tight? Waterpumps are fragile but can (and do) last a lot longer than you say.

Rot in the inner wheelarches - hmmmm. Yes well, you can buy a repair section if the H bracket is duff too, but far easier and cheaper to cut it out and turret the front suspension - won't rot like that again.

Timing chain - beware cheap chains (French ones that are no good). More usual problem on high mileage engines is a worn slipper on the tensioner.
Easier to substitute another s/h engine, usually.

I'm not enirely sure what you mean by the 'backs of the bottoms of the inner wings', but I agree that the floorpan is the most important place to check.

All I can say is, well done Simon if your car was this bad originally :-)

From: Gary and Carol Henderson
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 22:44:43 +-1200
Subject: Re: [imps] Fw: Imps ,- waterpumps

The famous waterpumps...this topic was hammered about 18 months ago, but as it was an infamous source of unreliability I think it deserves a re-run...
  1. 1) The fanbelt - overtension was strongly warned against by Rootes. I have some doubts as to just how critical this is - a Mitsi fanbelt needs to be tensioned so you can play tunes on it... but the specified 1" slack for the Imp gives easily enough driving friction, so why take the chance?
  2. 2) Give your new/newly-recon one a twirl by hand before it ever sees water; after fitting run it a few days with the pressure-cap cracked loose. Once the seals are bedded in, there's less likelihood of water getting past & into the bearings.
  3. 3) Once in service, if you ever have to take it off for repairs to other items, DON'T DON'T DON'T ever lay it face-down , resting oh so nicely on the fan-cowl. Be organised beforehand, with some simple setup (such as a 6" nail in the garage wall) so it can be stashed in roughly normal operating orientation. Otherwise, water will get to the front bearing while it's off the car.
The above applies to all versions. Unless you have a pump of the 'good' version (circa 1970) with deep watergrooves between seals and bearings at both ends, I think an extra vent-hole, about 20 mm around from each weep-hole, will reduce the chance of water build-up affecting the edge of the bearing-seals. This works because letting air in by another path helps the small amount of water to fall out of the weep-holes. (That's my theory, and a resurrected Mk1 1964 original waterpump has now served me for almost 10 years.) I know that I stuffed my 'good' pump by leaving it on its face during an engine-out. It stuck slightly afterwards, and then was into terminal decline.

More radical surgery - the Q-H pump has the appropriate meat in the castings, which would have allowed the big grooves to be formed inside. If you have access to a mill or boring setup, they could easily be machined. It also has an internal C-clip instead of an abutment in the casting, to further ease the path for water to reach where it shouldn't.

If a youngish pump has a bearing failure due to failure to practice any or all of the above religious observances, the bearings SKF 6202 RS1 are about the cheapest sealed-unit you can buy - about half the price each of sealed skateboard bearings! Also used in Lucas generators, Honda ATVs etc etc. Cost in NZ; About $20. With careful handling, the seals might be OK. The later pressure-balanced seals in my good pump were PIONEER 5305.

When dismantling, remember that the bearings are dirt cheap & easily procured, whereas the other parts are not. Best to heat the housings when pushing bearings out.

If a pump sticks slightly after lack of use, it'll be a bearing - change them both. They don't stick on the carbon seals, as commonly thought.

From: Simon Creasey
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 19:07:24 PDT
Subject: Re: [imps] Fw: Imps

My car has had to have everything done in that list (excluding changing the H-brackets on the inner wheelarches, but I know a bloke who had to have that done), and it's had to have the floorpan welded up where the crossmember which the wishbones bolt to bolts to the floor.
Believe it or not, the car has spent about five months in garages since I bought it having welding done, most of which was at a much reduced rate (I knew a bloke who worked in a local garage), and the work cost about £1200 in total. It's had to have absolutely loads done to it; but then, I wanted the challenge. The cost of getting the car back on the road has been a fairly astronomical £2500 ish (including insurance, etc.).
Sadly even though it's had so much spent on it, it still looks a right mess. I know I could have bought a much better car for the money - my parents are always reminding me - but it's taught me a hell of a lot about fixing cars and spanner rash, something an Imp in good condition wouldn't do. The car is, however, exceedingly solid (well, most of it is new!), and grabs a lot of attention (being in about seven colours as it is!).

I had no idea new decklids were available - I had to look for ages to find one when I bought my car.

My waterpump saga has cost me a fortune; the last most major failure occurred on the M6 around Stoke at 11:15 pm. It cost me £90 to get recovered, and I didn't arrive home until 6:10 in the morning. The pump had only been on 6 days, and was a recon pump from Speedy's. The impellors came away from the shaft, and the pump obviously would not pump. The car boiled, but thankfully did not warp the head (in six boil ups, it's never once warped the head! (Touch wood)). That was about a fortnight after Easter.
Since then I've had another pump go. (Split casing). I've heard about running them slack on the fan belt, and mine always has about 1-1.5 inches of spare. The fan belt is new, and it's a power train fan belt. After having so many fail, I've discovered the cause of the failures. The car had a duff waterpump on it when I bought it. I got a new one, and pulled my pulley off with a pulley puller. This put bends in it, which set up a slight vibration in the shaft of the new waterpump, and wrecked it. The same pulley has destroyed loads of pumps, and now I'm sick of it. I've got a new pulley, and two new waterpumps-one for the car, and one to carry around in the car so that the next time it goes, I can change it again without having to be picked up and carry on my journey.

The rot around the gearstick base turned up where the contours of the floorpan run from between the seats, to the front bulkhead. The rounded corners, and parts of the sides of the tunnel had rotted through. This had to be welded, and meant quite a lot of work.

Is this the worst condition Imp De-luxe to have made it back to the road????????

From: Gary Henderson
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 15:37:19 +1200
Subject: Re: [imps] Fw: Imps

OK, log another way to kill waterpumps, for posterity!

In my polemic on the subject, I forgot one other ju-ju which may have helped longevity...

When reassembling, put a fine smear of gasket-putty around the centre-hole of the concave 'slinger' washers, which go just inboard of the bearings.
Stops water getting past in a place where it can head straight for the edge where the bearing-seal slides on the inner race.

And when assembled to the car, before adding the belt, give it a twirl to make sure the fan-blades are not fouling the cowling - if the misalignment across the rubber sleeve to the radiator is too great, it deforms the cowling enough for this to happen which can't be a Good Thing. (The fertilizer impacts the ventilator - literally.) Check for balance as well.

You must have enough bits by now, to assemble a couple of good ones for the cost of bearings only.

Better luck...

From: Tim Morgan
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 18:31:18 +0100
Subject: Re: [imps] Fw: Imps ,- waterpumps

Interesting that you don't recommend storing them like that. I've never thought about that... then again I've never had a problem either!!!!

Maybe I've been lucky :-)

From: Tim Morgan
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 09:06:22 +0100
Subject: Re: [imps] Fw: Imps

Hi Simon,

All I can say is well done......

The claim to worst Imp that's back on the road is open to debate... personally, I would have broken a car that bad (as I'm sure most would), but at least you've kept another Imp going.

Waterpumps......your fan belt adjustment sounds perfect. For what it's worth, I've heard a lot of moans and gripes about the recon units that Speedy's sold. They were done by an outside contractor, and gave them no end of grief, so they have stopped doing waterpumps, period.


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