At present, 541s registered before 1960 are MOT-exempt, along with almost 200,000 other UK old cars. Now, the Department for Transport has announced that classic cars more than 40 years old will also be exempt from MOT testing, with owners voluntarily electing for an MOT if they feel their car needs one. All 541s will thus be exempt; indeed, all Jensen Motors cars will be exempt. (The cut-off now matches that for free road tax, which has a 40-year rolling cut-off).
Oil Leak fix
Austins - and many other British cars of the 1950's - have an irritating design flaw and the Jensen's DS5 is no exception.
Oil is prevented from escaping through the rear crankshaft bearing by a spiral groove on the end of the crank, which at high speed draws
the oil back in (using the principle of an Archimedes screw) and hurls it back into the sump. Unfortunately, when parked it is
completely ineffective and, worse, leaks badly if the car is parked on a gradient.
Modern technology and oils means that even a 541 can now be retro-fitted with a more conventional seal, which should be completely drip proof under all circumstances.
The firm that has grasped the opportunity to market a kit aimed at 541 owners is Denis Welch Motors.
In their own words:
When fitting this kit it will require some machining to the crankshaft and cylinder block so therefore can only be fitted during a total engine rebuild. Although full instructions are supplied it is recommended that this kit is fitted by us or a qualified engineer.
It is worth spending the money as, when fitted correctly, it really does stop those annoying oil leaks!
Motoring TV star and journalist Fuzz Townshend has finally got his 541 on the road. When I spoke to him at the NEC's Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show in March, he said,
Now it is on the road I really need to get some miles on it to sort out any problems with it. Maybe with better weather coming... The ride height is still not right, and I'm wondering if the springs will have to be changed again. I intend keeping this car now it is finished, although I have had to sell cars in the past when I need money for a new enterprise."
Making it Clear
There has been talk recently of Pilkington Glass, the major UK vendor of classic car glass, dropping the rare models from its range. Although its small classic car glass factory on the Isle of Sheppey has closed, all operations have been moved to new premises in Finland. I can confirm that the screens for the 541/541R and the wider 541S all remain in their stocklist.
How are they made?
Two thin sheets of flat glass are cut to the required outline and the edges are ground to ensure it is safe to handle. Next, they are heated to more than 500°C and laid in turn over the jig. Once cooled, one of the now correctly curved sheets is placed over the other with an opaque polyvinyl butyral (PVB) plastic layer in between. The edges are sealed together and the screem is placed in a pressurised autoclave oven, where it is cooked for 2.5 hours at 1455°C and 10bar of pressure.
After this, the PVB is both clear and bonded to the glass, and once the edges are smoothed the new windscreen is complete.
Check out our attractive and clear Events planner on the Forum to see what is on offer over 2018
I'm away for a while over Easter and may not be able to access Internet. Apologies for the lack of extra items in this column - I'll add more on my return.
LONDON CLASSIC CAR SHOW big success in February
There was a major club presence at the London Classic Car Show in Docklands.
James Elliot, respected journalist and Group Editor of "Classic and Sportscar" magazine, said,
The stand was magnificent and a credit to the club. Well done.
Among the cars on display was the magnificent disc-brake prototype 541 of Bernard Tominey.
I expec there were some other Jensens on the stand, but I didn't really notice!
JOC INTERNATIONAL WEEKEND 22nd - 24th June
Just to repeat the reminder of the 2018 International Weekend: the premier UK meeting for Jensen enthusiasts.
Reserve the weekend Friday 22 June 2018 to Sunday 24 June 2018.
This year it will be at the Abbey Hotel, Great Malvern.
Events' Diary at the Jensen Owners' Club for more information
(opens in New Window)
The hotel can be contacted via
this link but all bookings should be through the Club.
1950s COMMERCIAL UPDATE: JENBRO TOOLS
A while back I was lucky to see a very original 541 that had what looked like a bespoke set of Jensen tools. Each Whitworth spanner proudly bore the markings "JENBRO Tools - Made in England". Had the Jensen Brothers set up a production line to make their own tools? The tools appeared to come from Wolverhampton, so it seemed geographically possible.
Further investigation led me to the discovery that the name actually stood for George Clement Jenks and Reginald Jenks, who founded the business in 1912.
The JenBro name was apparently frequently seen on tools for Vincent motorbikes.
The company established British Tool and Engineering Co, known as Britool, and then more recenly there were a series of mergers with James Neil, Facom, Stanley and Black & Decker. You can still buy Britool to this day.
So, a rather negative outcome if you were hoping to find original Jensen made factory tools, but if you come across JenBro spanners the (Britool) company was the major supplier to the armed forces in WW2, and seem a very appropriate choice for a 541. Has anyone any evidence of them being original equipment? The handbooks all suggest King Dick was the supplied brand.
TECHNICAL UPDATE: THERMOSTAT HOUSING
The thermostat housing on the 541 can, like all castings subject to water, corrode badly. It is a very difficult part for which to find a correct replacement. There has been a lot of supposition that parts will fit from the Austin Atlantic A90, the Austin Champ, the Gipsy, the A40 Somerset, Metropoliton, various Big Healeys, lorry engines and Austin Sheerline/Princess A125/A135. None of these will work. Below are some examples of correct fitments, and also the incorrect designs!
Click on the images to enlarge them.
Here is an example of the orignal fitting on a 541S - same for all 541 models.
And here it is on an EARLY Austin A70 Hereford. Note that, very unusually, there are four bolts holding the housing on. Later A70s had just three bolts, in common with those on 99% of other cars!
The first car introduced by Austin after the war was the 1945-49 Sixteen BS1, with a 4-cylinder 2199 cc OHV engine. This has the right housing, but the car is now far rarer than a 541!
I recently discovered that the PETROL version of the Austin FX3 taxicab has the right component. I have not been able to find a vendor for these parts.
The Austin A125/A135 Sheerline and Princess models have four-stud fitments, but the main hose exit is vertical, as the radiator under their high bonnet line is way taller than the engine itself. The lorry versions are also like this.
The A90 Atlantic has a casting in common with the Healeys, which is much flatter than the correct shape and has no exit hose.
MORE 541 DISPLAY PANELS No more boring manuals
18 fascinating posters dealing with restoration
More of Brian Galpin's amazing pictures of his 541 rebuild in "Graphic Novel" cartoon panel style - well worth a viewing.
He is no longer running his own website, so he has agreed to let them be featured
on this site until he needs them again. There are 18 panels in all;
click below for the second six.
Due to their extreme size, they may take a while to load.
This is a car that was well know in the UK for a while, on steel rims, before being shipped to the US a few years back and immaculately restored by Lou Louchios.
Credit: Vintage Sports Car Inc.
CAR OF THE MONTH:
...this month - freshly restored 541S.
An "S" advertised for sale recently in Ireland, with seemingly every worn part replaced. I've a weakness for painted wire wheels, so it has earned its place here. (See usual classic cars sites if you want to see if it is still for sale).
... previous featured car pictures are stored in an Archive page. Go to the "Toolbox" tab to find this.
PART OF THE MONTH:
...the 541 has many interesting and unique parts... here's one of them...
Foot operated dipper
Item # Lucas 31284. For hands-free dipping of the headlights. Ther are still Lucas "greenbox" originals on sale for this item.
Come back next time for another obscure part!