Maintenance - checking over nuts, especially the big nuts

- by Nick Beck

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Two years ago a small group of us spent a few days on the edge of Dartmoor with our Sevens. Geoff McCann had loaded an app on his android pad thingy that operated as a deceleration meter so at a convenient moment a group of us went out to a quiet bit of road to test the brakes on our Austin Sevens. They were all good enough to have passed an MOT test. My Mk1 Ruby pulled about 0.65g but skewed to one side quite a bit. On getting home I spent some time carefully adjusting the brake cables etc. to try and get the car to pull up straight. I didn’t manage to get much success so was wondering what to do about it.

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Today I was preparing said Ruby for an outing and lying under the front of the car, as you do, when I noticed that one of the big nuts that holds the radius arm in the front axle looked as though it might not be completely tight! “Unlikely,” I thought, as I always heave them up really tight with a big ring spanner. Anyway I put the big spanner on it and it was at least half a turn undone. Here was the reason for the car pulling up crooked. Also it was amazing that the brakes worked reasonably at all. I have really tightened it as much as I can now so it will be interesting to see how it handles.

I have given some thought as to how this could have happened. The nut that was loose was on the offside of the car. As it is a Mk 1 Ruby the brakes are the original types that Austins fitted and not the Semi-Girling version that were fitted to the Mk2 Ruby. Under braking, the front axle tries to twist round and this tends to twist the radius arms in the axle. On the offside if there is any movement the direction that turns tends to undo the great big nut. On the near side the tendency will be for the nut to be tightened. I have been driving Austin Sevens for years and have never experienced this happening before. So “Check your Nuts”.

I am going to think about some means of stopping this happening such as using Loctite. If I do that I could make it extremely difficult to ever get it apart so as yet I am undecided.


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