View Full Version : Rant #2...more stupid designs

Matt B
08-08-2001, 12:39 AM
Mmmm kay....don't get me wrong here. I'm not complaining about my car, the company that made it, or the good folks that put it together.

What I am complaining about though is the **** engineers that actually thought their stinkin' disigns would work.

Stinkin' design number one has already been mostly covered in rant #1..that being the hydrolic brake lines and lack of a way to properly bleed them (an issue that I'm still having troubles with after a week and 3 good bleeds and about a half gallon of brake fluid so far. Gets a little better each time.) In rant #1, I said there weren't nothing wrong with the drum brakes. Well, I guess I was wrong...which brings me to rant #2.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with drum brakes. I was right when I said that. But Jaguar XK120 drum brakes suck! The rear drums are OK...simple single piston that pushes the manually adjusted shoes into the the drum. Thats all fine and good (except that you can't bleed the cylinder)....but the problem(s) lie in the front. OK...there are two pistons per wheel (one per brake shoe), which is fine. But...there is this self adjusting setup that looks to me like it belongs on a kids doll stroller (not safe enough for an actual baby stroller). Two stinkin' little arms with little sixteenth inch ratchet teeth, and dumb little ratchet springs that go over them...and some ridiculous shims and washers to hold that all in place. Granted, I suppose it works when all the parts are new and you never see a gravel road....but....

Well...one of the last times I drove that car last summer was over about 20 miles of gravel road. When I got home, I had a somewhat mysterious squeak in one of the front brakes. No biggie I thought...just a little piece of dust. Well...after not being able to fully bleed the brakes after the new master cylinder, I decided to pull the drums today and have a look see...lo and behold...one of the front brakes had pretty much disassembled itself. Oh...the brake shoes were still in place, and were still working, but the adjustment bits had fallen off, and were subsequently not adjusting worth a ****! Luckily, I found all the pieces and re-assembled it with better cotter pins (that was the culprit...two sheared off cotter pins). I used some nails this time. I reckon they won't break as easily.

So anyhow, the brakes are working as good as they can be expected to...with the exception of air in the lines. But I can stop the car without pumping the brakes again...which means I'm almost on the road...except....

Stupid design #3. Lower ball joints.

If you've ever had a lower ball joint fail in any type of car, you probably know that it sucks. The ball comes out of the top of its socket, and the car falls on its lower A-arm, and you lose control of one of the wheels...causing you to die a horrible death unless you happen to be going less than 20mph.....which fortunately was the case both times it happened to me.

No...that didn't happen in the Jag, thank God. But, having been through the experience of losing a ball joint, and knowing that the lowers in the Jag were a little loose, I opted to get some new ones....

Now we all know that the whole weight of the car (or at least a quarter of it) hangs off the ball joints. That weight isn't supported by the ball joint....the car hangs off those suckers. Which, of course, means that the weight of the car is suspended by the top of the actual ball, which is held in place by the socket. So...if the ball joint breaks, where does it separate??? At the top of the socket where its all worn out from carrying all that weight for years. Right? Of course.

But if you want to rebuild your XK120 ball joint, what do you get? You get the lower part of the socket, and a new ball. The top part of the socket that carries all the load and wear is a big chunk of the car, and with no replaceable ball joint socket. Granted, replacing the lower half of the socket will keep it all nice and snug, but thats all. Its a stupid design.

I guess the folks a Jaguar simply put all their efforts into making a cheap car that looked great, and had one of the best engines ever created under the hood. Still amazes me that folks still are tearing out that wonderful masterpeice of a motor and slopping V-8s under bonnets...when the real problems of the cars are almost everything EXCEPT the engine!

Like I said...I ain't mad at my car. Its obviously the most beautiful thing I've ever driven (duh...what could be prettier than a XK120 coupe), but there sure were some problems in the engineering department.

I'll keep y'all posted when I find more....or more like...I'll keep y'all posted next time I'm into another stupid design again...and again...

Happy motoring all...
I will be soon.

-Matt B

08-08-2001, 01:26 AM
You have great rants Matt, very informative. Hope you have many more days of happy motoring than dealing with problems, but then it is a nearly 50 year old Jag.


Matt B
08-08-2001, 10:38 AM
In all honesty, when I first got the car, I went through the engine, brakes (excluding the master cyl.), and anything else that looked like it REALLY needed attention, but I blew off these problems I'm having now...and only because I knew full well they would have me tearing my hair out (literally when working on the ground under an oily mess).

But after I got it on the road the first time, she ran flawlessly for about 10,000 miles. Never let me down once...and still hasn't really, since I've always known about these problems.

So I can't complain too much. It really is a good car, and soon enough I'll be able to make a post that starts with a smiley face.

-Matt B

08-08-2001, 06:29 PM
How long have you had your 120? What kind of shape was it in (did you have to do a total restoration or just fix a few things?)


Matt B
08-08-2001, 10:41 PM
I bought the car in November of 1995. Pretty much the only reason I bought it was that it was only about 10 minutes from my house! It was a tow away basket case, but mostly complete. I had it towed home, and the fellow I bought it from followed us. Within an hour, my brother and I had it running for the first time in about 20 years. That was a real rush. We'd done lots of resurrections on old Volvos, but never expected to do such things on an XK.

It would only idle on 5 cylinders though, and a tear down of the engine quickly revieled the problem....The rings in cylinder #1 (closest the the firewall) came out in little 1/8" chunks...and rings in other cylinders were broken as well. We were amazed that it ran at all!

So I bought the MK7 engine from my neighbor, as it was a much better candidate for a quick rebuild, and installed new pistons, rings, bearings, timing chains and a new cylinder head. All of the major parts were found locally, which was surprising... Goes to show what sorts of strange things pop out of the local scene when you get a silly British car!.

By April, I had the new engine back in, and had also done a rebuild of the brake system (all except the master cylinder, of course) and I drove the car all summer still in the ugly rusted faded chipped paint. That was lots of fun. Took it to several shows, ran a couple ralleys, and basically just had a ball in an ugly XK120 (if there can be such a thing...)!

Early January 1997, I started taking paint off...figuring that I could have the body done and re-painted by summer. Not! Try again! I finally had the body work good enough for my content...and by no means great, but I wanted the car back. I had her painted 2 years behind schedule in spring of 1999.

I've basically just driven her since then...havn't done much else. Oh, I replaced the rubber seals, a couple broken windows...but not much else. Just drove it. Then last winter, the brakes went dry, and it was confirmed that the master cylinder had given up the ghost....so...well...thats pretty much brings us up to present.

I'm hoping to have the interior done soon. I've got a new interior in boxes, but the wood is all trashed, so I need to get some wood, and some new floor panels. Past that, I just need to drive it.

I never intended (nor do I plan to) make a show car out of it....I buy cars to drive, and thats exactly what I plan to do. At some point, I'll be doing a conversion to disc brakes (at least up front), and a few other appropriate modifications. I'm just trying to build a reliable driver without spending more than the car is worth.

One of these days, I'll get a scanner and post some "before" pictures...but for now, I just need to get the **** thing back on the road!

My other car hobbies have always been old Volvos....some of which can be seen at the following...

1971 Volvo wagon:

1964 Volvo piece of junk:

And my piece of junk 1941 Dodge 4 wheeler:

and of course...the dog:

I still gotta get some pictures posted of my most reliable, trustworth '65 Volvo 1800...that has about 750,000 miles (honestly!)....thats to come later too.

-Matt B

10-24-2001, 02:26 PM
Matt, regarding bleeding the brakes, have you ever tried the Mighty-vac bleeding system? I use one on my E and believe it to be the best design for bleeding, check out Eastwood or Checkers for the system, about $40 and I thing a real deal.
Mike Goodwin

10-25-2001, 03:55 AM
Originally posted by koolkat:
Matt, regarding bleeding the brakes, have you ever tried the Mighty-vac bleeding system? I use one on my E and believe it to be the best design for bleeding, check out Eastwood or Checkers for the system, about $40 and I thing a real deal.
Mike Goodwin

You mean those things really work? I always thought it to me a gimmik, but had never tried one. Tell me about it...are they really effective (and easier than doing it the old fashioned way?)