Dreaded Unleaded 

Is my Panther the first it has struck?

Attending the Old Timers Grand Prix at Nurburgring, Germany, I had to fill up with unleaded petrol and within 100 miles the engine died on me. A spare plug on a removed HT lead confirmed it sparked O.K, then I detected a strong smell of petrol from the rear of the car. The unleaded petrol makes rubber hoses super slippery, like an eel! and the fuel injector pump had pushed the connection off. Fortunately one of the hundreds of spares I carry was a length of petrol tubing and some jubilee clips, so the engine was up and running again in ten minutes. One of the many reports on unleaded quoted many classic cars in New Zealand catching fire under the bonnet after they had changed to unleaded. It was suspected that the unleaded fuel rotted rubber petrol hoses, but I think the pressure of the petrol pump can push the connectors off between the pump and the carburettor causing petrol to spray on to the hot exhaust manifold. As all Panthers are now over ten years old change all flexible fuel connections in 1999 ready for the 1st January 2000, unleaded only. While you are at it change all water hoses and spark plugs if five years old for reliability and carry the old ones for spares. Also clutch cable and exhaust mountings and rubbers.  



2.8 Engines - Valve Clearances


Correct valve clearances must be maintained to maintain peak engine performance and to prevent damage to themselves and/or their seats. 


Their adjustment is a fairly straight-forward task which I have carried  out once on the 2.8 Kallista (Ford ‘Cologne’ engine) - just prior to last year’s ‘blow-away -the-cobwebs’ session at RAF Wyton (maybe that’s why B24 JRC was the fastest car there - or perhaps it was just the lead boots and lack of any common sense?!). 

I have also carried it out several times before on Ford 3-litre Essex (3.1 litre ‘grenade-type’) engine in my Scimitar GT (SE4a) days - a very similar process.


Firstly, here is the data you will need to proceed:


Inlet Valve Clearance (cold):            0.014” (0.35mm)

Exhaust Valve Clearance (cold):      0.016” (0.40mm)


Valves Rocking

Valves to Adjust

No. 5 cylinder

No. 1 cylinder

No. 3 cylinder

No. 4 cylinder

No. 6 cylinder

No. 2 cylinder

No. 1 cylinder

No. 5 cylinder

No. 4 cylinder

No. 3 cylinder

No. 2 cylinder

No. 6 cylinder


The table applies to both inlet and exhaust valves. 


No.1 cylinder is at the front left of the engine when you face the front of the car.

No.6 cylinder is at the back right as you face the car.


The engine should be cold before making valve clearance adjustments.

  To start the job the air filter box and rocker covers must be removed, exposing the rockers.  The spark-plugs should also be removed to reduce compression, allowing the engine to be turned over easily (and without the risk of accidental starting!).

  At this stage, I find it useful to draw a quick sketch showing all the inlet and exhaust valve positions of each cylinder (ticking each of these off when adjusted) .  If unsure which is the inlet and exhaust valve for each cylinder, this can be determined by looking at the relative positions of the inlet and exhaust manifold channels to that cylinder.

  I normally put the car in a high gear with the hand-brake off and gently pull it forwards to rotate the engine until the appropriate valves rock, allowing the corresponding valve to be adjusted (as per the above list).  However, this is only advisable if you have sufficient flat space to move the car forward without getting run over.  The preferred way is to put a spanner onto the crankshaft pulley bolt and crank the engine round (forwards) by hand (with the car stationary and hand-brake ON!).

  Using the appropriate feeler gauge and a ring spanner, turn the adjuster nut clockwise to decrease and anti-clockwise to increase the clearances.  The adjuster nuts are self locking, so no worries about torques, etc.

  When all the inlet and exhaust valves are done, the rocker boxes can be refitted (renewing the gaskets if necessary), followed by the air filter box , spark plugs and HT leads.  Then check for any oil leaks.

  Job done? … well, now that you’ve got your hands greasy you might as well go on to service the rest of the car at the same time!?

  If you have a 1.6 CVH engined Kallista then you have hydraulic tappets which don’t require valve-clearance adjustment - lucky you!  I’m not sure about 2.9s though!

  Hope this helps someone, somewhere, sometime






Here are a few hints when it comes to changing the cam belt on a Panther Lima.

Slacken off the alternator and remove fan belt (if the alternator is mounted under the engine and is close to fouling the front subframe you may need to replace the engine mounts).Remove fan assembly, remembering that the viscous fan fixing bolt has a left hand thread. It may be difficult to remove the fan due to the close proximity of the cross member just behind the radiator, don’t worry, it will come out, you may just have to lever or ‘jack’ the engine back a little.Using a ¾ AF spanner, rotate engine until timing marks are lined up, check that No.1 piston is at top dead centre by removing the sparkplug and carefully inserting a long thin screwdriver or similar.

Remove crank pulley and timing cover, remembering where all the spacers go for re-assembly.

The cam, crank and auxiliary pulleys should now be in the correct position.

Using a ½ AF socket, slacken off the timing belt tensioner. Move the tensioner to the left of the engine away from the belt. Carefully remove the belt ensuring that none of the pulleys are moved.

Having made sure that the pulleys are in their correct positions, carefully fit new cam belt, ensure that there is no play in the belt between the crank pulley, cam pulley and auxiliary pulleys. The ‘floppy’ part of the belt should be to the left side of the engine as seen from the front.

Move the tensionor back towards the engine, re-tighten the bolts. Now check that there is the correct tension on the belt-twist. The belt at its longest point should be easy to turn through 90 degrees but no more. Adjust tensioner as necessary to achieve this.

Turn engine over a few revolutions with a spanner to ensure that all is OK, e.g. correct tension maintained, all teeth located.

Replace timing cover and crank pulley in correct sequence.

Replace fan assembly and fan belt, adjust and tighten (not too tight or you will overstress the bearings on the water pump and distributor.

Replace spark plug in number 1 cylinder, make sure the timing is set correctly (best using a strobe light). If all is well the timing mark on the pulley should be at 9% BTDC at the correct idle speed (750 rpm).

The above assumes a certain degree of competence, if not it should be left to an expert.