Member Only Area.

January 2012 Magazine.




                                                                                              January 2012.

 Happy Christmas and New Year.





WEDGE WORLD is the magazine of the
Princess & Ambassador Owners Club.


Treasurer / Secretary: Harry Parker, 20 Maxstoke Close, Dosthill,
Tamworth, Staffordshire. B77 1NP

If you have a general query /enquiry please send an SAE.

Archivist/ Editor: Open Position �all copy to

Web site:
Club Email:
Member�s area access. User name: member, Password. grapefruit

Club Phone:
07801 445189. (Please respect Harry�s time when calling
as he is responsible for many aspects of running the club).

The Club hold a nominal selection of popular spares, if this does
not forefill your requirement contact Terry Miller on
01775 767999. If Terry
can not meet your needs then try the internet, you like us may be surprised
as to the strange things that come up for offer especially on Ebay.

This club and its officers reserve the right to edit or not print Articles
submitted to the magazine, and website forum. Content of articles is not
necessarily endorsed by the club and officers but is the license of the article

 Next Rally: 7th Annual Pride of Longbridge
Rally � Cofton Park, Longbridge, Saturday
14 April, 2012






Contents for Edition 48           January 2012.

3. Editorial.

 5. Interesting Emails Received - Peter Mann and others.

 7. Wedge Watch.  (Wedges offered for sale on Ebay).

 8. Coverting to Electronic Ignition. Peter Laursen.

11. Why Princess?  John Miller.

15. Wedge Mart.


Very many thanks to peter Mann, Peter Laursen, and John Miller for their contributions to this edition. Please forward your stories, with photos to

No New Members this time.

 Membership Total,  64.

Front Cover image:  A Christmas Greeting.

Rear Cover Image: Tom Turbull�s Blue Princess, now awaiting shipment to Western Australia.





NEC Classic Motor Show 2012.
It�s five years since the club had display space at the November NEC Classic Motor Show, although the club has been contacted by the organisers on a couple of occasions asking if we would care to exhibit. Historically our members have not shown any great interest in this annual event, either by visiting, or displaying, perhaps due to the cost of accommodation for the show duration for displaying members, or the admission and parking cost when visiting. Members who frequent the club website forum will have see that some members have recently expressed an interest in displaying their cars on a club display area in November 2012, so perhaps we should give this some thought. To this end I have made contact with the organisers, who will be letting us have application forms for 2012 when they become available. So, if you would like to be involved, please let us know. Before we apply, we would need to have four mint condition (or near) cars at the ready for display, and volunteers to man the display area from Friday to Sunday. Cars for display would need to be at the NEC from Thursday (set-up day) until Sunday evening, when the display area is cleared. Obviously it would be less costly if displaying members lived within easy travelling distance of the NEC.
Pay Pal.
Mainly for the convenience of members who live outside the United Kingdom and don�t bank in Pounds Sterling, the club now has a Pay Pal account.  To use this, please make your payments to, using your normal Pay Pal account. We would ask you please to increase the amount of your payment by 5% to cover Pay Pal charges, making membership renewal �15.71, and �20.90 initial membership opening fees. Your payment will go directly into the Club bank account. Hope this makes payments to the Club easier
Front Suspension Displacers.
Probably the biggest headache we have is finding replacement front displacers to replace failed units. No doubt you will all be aware that no new displacers have not been manufactured since production of Ambassadors ended in 1982/3, and since then we have had to rely on used displacers removed from cars being dismantled by car breakers. Some ten years ago I had the good luck to buy 19 new Ambassador displacers from a guy living in Coventry, who worked for Dunlop during the early 1980s, but these have now all been sold on to members to replace failed units. Hopefully members who have been with the club for some time will have a small hoard for their own future use, but, if any of you have any you would be prepared to sell to help keep the cars on the road, will you please let us know. Likewise, if you should come across any Wedges in breakers yards, or being broken for spares, then please let us know so that we can try to get our hands on these very vital parts and prevent them being destroyed.
On this same topic, some years ago, a company by the name of Maniflow produced a replacement spring / damper unit which completely replaced Wedge displacers, and improved handling properties. I have recently been in contact with




this company to ask if these units were still available.  Unfortunately, they no longer have the necessary jig to produce them.

Right-- Standard Hydrogas Displacer
 Left � new Suplex canister, containing the new 
coil spring

As reported in a recent edition, MGF owners are already experiencing similar displacer supply difficulties, and their owners club have worked with Suplex to develop spring units to replace their already difficult to find displacers. However, MGF owners have hit the huge problem of cost.  Firstly, Suplex are asking for an initial order of several hundred units (sets of four) before they approach their German based head office for finance to carry this project forward, and have requested a show of interest from MGF owners for this, at a likely cost of around �800 for four units.  It will be interesting to see where this ends up.

 At this point it�s worth a mention that several years ago I asked Dunlop if a remake of displacers was a possibility. Their answer, yes, but it would cost serious money.
As we don�t have serious money, where do we go from here? Might it be possible to re-furbish hydrolastic displacers? Do we have any inspired engineers in our midst? Please will you give this problem some thought, and give us the benefit of your thoughts or ideas for publication in future editions of Wedge World.
Wedge World by email: I am pleased to say that thanks to you guys accepting your copies of Wedge World by email, considerable cost savings have been achieved.  The last full edition which was printed and posted to all members cost almost �165, compared to �54 for the later November edition.  Thankfully, this has removed the need for an early increase in membership fees.
Ethanol Additives:
The FBHVC advise that their testing of fuel additives became contaminated.  New test were promptly started in October. The results of these should be available before the end of January 2012. Watch this space for details.
Club Meetings � 2012.
As usual, the first club get � together for 2012 will be the Pride of Longbridge Rally on Saturday April 14th. I suggest a PAOC National Rally � held at a central venue (maybe Avoncroft Museum) late May / early June, and obviously Peterborough in early August. Again will you please let us have your views on this It would be great if our Northern members could organise a Northern area rally at some time during the year.  If someone would care to suggest a date and venue for publication in the next edition of Wedge World.
Princess and Ambassador Buyers Guide.
Look out for this in March Edition of Practical Classics, out January 25th 2012.





Emails Received.
Just to let you know that my son, David, black Princess as featured on page 16 of the wedge magazine has now been sold to a guy, John Kingsford, of East Lavant, West Sussex.   David was contacted after the ebay auction finished (with no sale) and the chap was quite prepared to pay the �399 reserve figure David had put on the vehicle.   We intended to deliver the vehicle during the first week of October  after bringing the car off SORN.

However, a day or two before the car was to go the petrol pump failed. Condensing the tale, we purchased a new mechanical pump from Terry Miller and fitted that rather than disturb the existing arrangement, more so as Terry warned that if the tank lugs that hold the pump and fuel gauge sender broke, a new tank would be necessary and they are rarer than hen's teeth! pump, instead of the factory fitted electric pump.

John was quite happy with the fact that the car would have a mechanical fuel pump, instead of the factory fitted electric pump. After driving the car for 20 or 30 miles to check out that the fuel pump was working correctly we went back to David's lock up, only to have the brake pedal go straight to the floor. 

Condensing the tale, the brake master cylinder had failed.   We sourced a new one from Past Parts of Bury St. Edmunds, as our usual source of such parts, Powertrack, now showed the master cylinder as being obsolete in their catalogue.   We fitted the new master cylinder, but could not get the system to pressure up.   When we went to bleed the back nearside wheel, no fluid came out, well a dribble may be. The n/s flexible pipe may have collapsed internally.   Condensing the tale, we undid the various sections of bundy piping from the wheel back to the master cylinder and blew out the lines with an airline.   Absolutely, no blockage at all.   We then turned our attention to the master cylinder and noticed when we pushed the rod in fluid came out of one port as expected, but the second port just dribbled and frothed.

We took the unit back to Past Parts for checking.   They were superb, they checked the unit and confirmed that it was indeed faulty, but could not understand why as it was a new Lockheed cylinder, not a remanufactured or reconditioned unit.    More than that that they then refurbished the unit and established it was functioning as designed.   All this, while I waited, with no charge.   They are a very






pleasant bunch indeed.   I did email Nigel Wigg thanking him for their great after sales service, and that I would be singing their praises whenever possible.   I would thoroughly recommend this company for anything to do with the hydraulics.   They can even reconditioned existing units with stainless steel bores to give extended life.   This is the link to their web page

Well, we fitted the new cylinder, bled the brakes and everything, fortunately, was back to normal.   John was kept abreast of the various disasters that beset us, but still said he would take the car.   So, on Saturday October 29th the car was finally delivered to him and the transaction completed.   After the cost of the pump and brake master cylinder were taken into consideration there was very little cash left from the sale, but that was not important.    David did not want the car scrapped, and John said that, having now seen the car, that he intends to save up a few quid and bring the car up to scratch.   Let us hope so, it is one more car saved!
Purely for interests sake, David will probably remain a club member when his subscription expires.   He loved both the Ambassador he briefly owned, and the Princess.   It would not surprise me if, one day, another wedge turns up on our driveway

All the best to you, Peter Mann.



Ebay Wedges.

Princess 2.2 HLS automatic 1979, located in Bagillit, N Wales.First appearance early November. Asking price �1500. No bids, no sale on 6 November. Re-listed on 18 November marked re-listed due to time waster. Again, removed from sale 19 November with no bids. 
Finally bought by Club Member Tom Turnbull on 21 November for export to Australia. Watch this space, and see rear cover.

Princess 2.2 HLS, with 48K miles, MOT to May 2012. Asking price, �1,600. Auction ended 6.November, with no bids, and no sale.

Princes 2.2 HLS. Manual Transmission, with only 25,000 miles recorded. Again, denim blue, and based in Penzance, Cornwall.  Asking Price -  �2,995.

One offer made.  Looks like it�s moved on. Auction ended 9 12. one offer.



Princess 2.2 HLS. 1979. Lives in Halifax, West Yorkshire. 58,000 miles. No tax or MOT reported.  Asking price, �1000.

December 8.  Sold for �1,000





Converting to Electronic Ignition.
Having four classic cars, I thought I would reduce the time needed for servicing the cars by installing electronic ignition, which is maintenance free. I have three cars with the B series engine, and I started with these. On the internet I found a British supplier, who had very competitive prices. The conversion is straightforward and uses the original distributor and coil. The total operation time for one car was about 30 minutes including a minor correction of the stroboscopic timing.

I then turned to the six-cylinder engine. This turned out to be a little more challenging. At that time a kit similar to the 4 cylinder one was not available. From the same supplier I therefore bought a complete distributor and a coil for electronic ignition (still at a very competitive price). The installation was again straightforward, but ignition timing was far away from where it should be. This could of course be corrected, but it took quite a while. I had expected a nice stable idle, but instead it was very rough. And worse: At low rpm the engine stalled. A time-consuming fault finding followed. It showed, that at the time when a spark was generated, the rotor position would be between the contacts in the distributor cover.

This meant that sometimes no spark would reach the spark plug. You cold think that this occurred because something could be wrong with the installation, but this was definitely a fault in the distributor. The photo of the distributor removed from the engine shows the position of the rotor when a spark is produced. It will be noticed, that the rotor is between the contact points in the cover (marked with red and arrows). Unfortunately I was not able to convince the supplier. I gave up.

In the meantime a kit similar to the 4 cylinder engine had become available from the same supplier. I bought one as it could be installed using the original distributor and coil as before, and I knew that it worked with points. A piece of cake I thought. Alas! I got exactly the same problem as before: Again the rotor was between the contacts in the distributor cover. This meant sometimes double sparks and sometimes no sparks. But this time I could solve the problem: I had to move the kit to a position which would produce the spark in the




right moment. The new position is seen in the picture: One arrow is pointing to a white dot. This is where the screw originally was positioned. The other arrow shows the new position of the screw.

At last idle is perfect, no stalling, and the car runs like a dream.

PS.: It is claimed, that you can save petrol by using electronic ignition. My experience is: Yes and no. On the 4 cylinder cars one is impaired by 2%, one is improved by 2%, and one is improved significantly by 9%. This probably depends on how well the points worked. I have no data on the 6 cylinder engine, as the change is quite new.

 Peter Laursen.


Two Further Interesting Emails Received.
We have received several emails from Charles Lyell in South Africa. About problems he is having finding parts for his 2.6 E engine.  Below is the latest.  I never knew BL made a 2.6 E Engine � did you?

Hi Harry
The Austin 2.6 engine is a 2.2 that has a longer stroke.  Even when I order a new head gasket on the gasket set there is written Austin/Land Rover 6 cyl, 2.6.  2800 in-line 2.6 litre.  The Rover SDX in South-Africa had the same engine.  The Payen gasket number for re order is cw930. Made by Payen Kontich, Belgium.

That is why I contacted you guys as parts for these engines in S.A is getting very difficult so if I want to keep the vehicle original. I also have ordered carb parts from Burlen fuel systems, the land rover uses the hu if6 carburettors and I am not trying to pull the wool over your eyes. As you can see the photo's that I send you it is the same engine.

The story I could gather is that in 1979 Land Rover UK have stopped making 2.6 L-block engine which the 6 cyl Land Rover used. So they had to came up with a plan as the v8 3.9l was not available for export, and with S.A vehicle building laws, they had to come up with a plan, so at the time New Zealand had thousands





of these Austin Princess vehicles standing but were not selling. They say they even started painting the new vehicles windows white to protect the cars. So Australia and S.A. took those engines and re-worked them and made the stroke longer. The Land Rover series 3 stage 1 was available so the longer Austin 6e engine was no problem to fit in the engine bay.

They made about 3000 of these R6 Land Rovers as they were called but by 1985 the new v8 and coil sprung body Land Rovers were available, so they stopped making the R6. It is not to brag but there are very few of these vehicles are left in original condition, as the engines with the higher compression were prone to cracking if they were not looked after. The engine I got was the last one at the breaker yard that they had, so I don't know what will happen if this engine goes, then I must look to another type engine, but with God's grace I was fortunate to find the spares for it so far. But I can�t find a new oil pump, that I am going to have to import from the U.K at some time. They also brought out a diesel version that used a Perkins 236 engine, good engines but my Land Rover has the wrong diff gearing other wise I would have gone the diesel route. 

Thanks for the reply,
Charles Lyel.

PETROL TIPS - info!! (MUST READ)  Thanks to Tony Cooney and Friend.

With Petrol expected to reach �2 per litre by end of 2011 these tips that I received from a friend might come in handy

I don't know what you guys are paying for petrol.... I am paying up to �1.35 to �1.50 per litre




My line of work is in petroleum for about 31 years now, so here are some tricks to get more of your money's worth for every Litre

Here at the Shell Pipeline where I work , we deliver about 4 million litres in a 24-hour period .. One day is diesel the next day is jet fuel, and petrol, regular and
premium grades. We have 34-storage tanks here with a total capacity of
16,800,000 Litres.

Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground
temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the petrol, when it gets warmer petrol expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening....your litre is not exactly a litre. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the petrol, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other
petroleum products plays an important role.

A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business.
But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.
 When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode
 If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. You should be pumping on low mode, thereby minimizing the vapours that are created while you are pumping

All hoses at the pump have a vapour return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some of the liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapour. Those vapours are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank, so you're getting less worth for your money.

One of the most important tips is to fill up when your Petrol tank is HALF FULL. The reason for this is the more Petrol you have in your tank the less air
occupying its empty space. petrol evaporates faster than you can imagine. Petrol storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the Petrol and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Unlike service stations,  here where I work, every truck that we load is temperature compensated so that every litre is actually the exact amount.

Another reminder, if there is a petrol truck pumping into the storage tanks
when you stop to buy Petrol, DO NOT fill up; most likely the
petrol is being stirred up as the Petrol is being delivered, and you might
pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.




WHY PRINCESS.  by John Miller.   Part 1.

Some thoughts and car market history from John Miller in New Zealand.
On the cover of the last magazine Harry was kind enough to feature my Princess.  I think it is a very special car as it is probably the lowest mileage and most original example left from the 1,908 built between August 1979 & February 1982.  These followed 2352 1800 models built between July 1977 & August 1979.

Off line at Nelson November 1981 and sold December 1981 in Nelson it has just turned over 56,000kms and I am the 4th owner.  The original took it to 32,588 kms before her death in 1997.  It then passed to a family member who offered it to me in late 2008 when it had travelled 52,000kms.  I was unable to take the car at that time so found it a home in Christchurch for the next 2 years.  In December 2010 this gentleman offered me the car and this time I was able to say yes (it had now covered 55,150 kms and in the intervening years I had built  a new shed  so at last had space for it).  On 17th December 2010 I flew south to Christchurch and drove the car the 400kms home.  The 2 years away from my sight had not been as kind to the car as I had expected and much deferred maintenance has now been done, with all now being as it should be.  In the future some attention will need to be given to the paint on the bonnet but as it is not allowed to get wet or spend much time in the bright light this is not an urgent matter.  It is very clean underneath and has  still got the part number label stuck to the rear crosstube in a legible condition.  I have the sales agreement from new and can tell you that the trade-in was a 1974 Leyland Marina 262 (a BL Australia concoction with a 6cyl engine).  The full price including mudflaps, drivers monsoon shield, and registration was NZ$12973, with a $4000 allowance for the Marina.

To explain why I own a Princess it is necessary to look at my past. I spent most of the period between 1972 and 1993 in various roles at the Nelson assembly plant.  This plant began life as a Cotton Mill but the venture never got cracking and the abandoned shell was purchased by BL NZ Ltd and converted into an assembly plant opening in late 1965.  It was regarded as the specialist vehicle plant and in the 33 years from 1965 until  closure in 1998 assembled a total of 160,406 vehicles comprising;  Leyland light commercials & heavy trucks, Triumph 2000,2500,Triumph Herald 1200,13/60,Toledo, Jaguar XJ6 series 1 & 2, Rover 2000,3500,SD1(2600,3500), Landrover 88, 109, 110, NZ Army 109 V8, Princess 1800,2000, Mini 1000,1000LE, Honda Civic, Honda Accord.  Honda assembly had begun in 1980 with the second generation Civic and in 1988 NZMC sold most of its its interests to Honda Japan and we continued building only Honda vehicles. By the time of closure much investment had been made and the facility was regarded by Honda�s own audits as world class.

Returning to my involvement with wedges, the Triumph 2000/2500 range was on runout in UK and NZMC (New Zealand Motor Corporation) had picked Princess as a part replacement in the NZ market for the much loved Triumphs...mistake number one perhaps.  By the time planning for Princess assembly was beginning I was a




Technical Assistant in the Technical Department.  My first sight and short drive of one was in 1976 when we received our first pilot car from UK.  It had been built prior to the relaunch of the 18/22 series as Princess and was a Tahiti Blue Austin 1800 deluxe manual with the trapezoidal headlamps and Mink Beige vinyl interior. Since the arrival of the Peugeot 504 I have always thought that this headlamp arrangement looked more upmarket and futuristic than the four lamp style.  In my opinion the marketing bods in NZMC made a mistake by opting for the four lamp style.  Anyway, our first 1800 was clearly an indicator of the troubles within the BL system....identified by its grill badge and headlamps as an Austin, the boys on the UK line had still managed to let it leave with a Morris badge on the boot trim panel!! My impressions of driving the car at that time were not good...I was used to peppy responsive things and the Princess felt like �a tank with very high gearing, stiff gearchange, and heavy low geared steering�.  We have to bear in mind that I was 23 at the time!  The next pilot car was a Princesss 1800 HL Auto in Sandglow with Sorrel cloth interior.  It was obvious that this car was very much better built than our first.  This car was stripped and reassembled many times to develop assembly fixtures and for staff training and ended up going onto the Head Office fleet in Wellington.

their wisdom the marketers had picked the Rover SD1 as the other replacement for the Triumph market.  With the benefit of hindsight this was probably mistake number two.  Launching in May 1979 we built 3500 & 2600 versions but these cars were perceived as too expensive in their segment so were not as popular sellers as had been expected.  Princess was not well received by �the masses� either as Kiwis liked large 6 cylinder rear wheel drive vehicles and had become very attached to the Triumph range.  Holden Kingswood and Ford Falcon were perfect for towing and the market looked on the Princess as too small, different and delicate to do the job (Kiwis had never really taken to larger front wheel drive cars), and the Rovers are too expensive. 

Remember that when Jaguar XJ6 Series 2 assembly finished in December 1978 the final cars were around $27500 and at launch of SD1 the 3500 V8 was almost $24000 with fewer features.  Inflation had a lot to do with this but there are many





who feel that the Princess 2200 HLS model should have been in our range with all options and plush interior.  We will never know if this would have been a better

option.  As a consequence of these marketing choices and the tougher time British vehicles were having on the NZ market as Japanese vehicles increased their share of sales we often had vehicles in storage at the plant.  There are photos in my book showing paddocks of Princess  & Rover waiting for buyers.

I guess as in UK the Princess is an under rated car except amongst those who have persevered with and owned them.  It is easy for those �not in the know� to criticise and rubbish the cars for all sorts of daft reasons; �they look funny� when in truth they were the most adventurous styling attempt BL made.  We all know they have their weaknesses in line with all other BL products of the time





and now as they are ageing, require more intensive looking after, but on a not too windy or bumpy road in top gear at cruising speeds not much beats them for comfort and economy.  They surely have style.

To review the title of this article �Why Princess� I can only confess that even though I was not that taken by the car initially it grew on me and many kms travelled worked their magic.  Since recording the history of the Nelson Plant I decided to preserve and protect those vehicles we built which were special to me.  In my time in the Technical department I was involve in two personally significant model introductions.  So, I have the Princess in the shed and it keeps company with the 48th SD1 V8 Auto we built which is also a low mileage vehicle at 68,000 kms.

Regards, John Miller.

Wedge Mart.
Princess  2000HL.  90K miles. No MOT or Tax ; Metallic Bronze.  New rear exhaust, steering rod, clutch & radiator 2 years old.  Body, carburettor & awkward spark plug needs attention. Lack of space forces sale. �150.on  Aldgate, London.  Contact Paul on 020 7377 8817

Ambassador Vanden Plas
. 1982 75Kmiles, 4former owners.
 Many new parts including clutch, rebuilt
engine & manual gearbox, all new brake pipes hoses,
suspension ball joints etc. Twin carb with choke conversion.
�900. Tamworth Staffordshire. Call Pete on 07817 151030

Princess HLS .Automatic.  In excellent mechanical condition.  Very good body.  56000 miles. MOT to June 2009.  Red with Black Vinyl roof. Harrogate, N Yorks.   Contact Mr Alton  - 01423871007

Princess 2200HLS, 1978 Brooklands Green, 83K, Ziebarted from new in
 good condition will need trailering, Yorkshire, Mr Lance Barker on 07926683295






Club Spares for Sale.

Ambassador Front Disc Pads
Princess Front Disc Pads
Princess and Ambassador Rear Brake Shoes
Rear Cross tube Mountings
Front Suspension Lower Arm Rear Bushes
Cover Sills (RH Only)
Ambassador Rear Brake Cylinder Repair Kits.
Princess Rear Brake Cylinders (VECO)
Front Suspension Steering Ball Joints (QH)
Thermostats (O) Series 88 Degrees.
Ambassador Twin Carb Air Filter Elements
Cambelts for (O) Series Engines
Ambassador rear Brake Cylinders (VECO)
Front Brake Discs
Factory Recon Outer CV Joints
Lucas CB Points
Lucas Condensers





Rear Cover.













                           TomTurnbull's Princess2 HLS - awaiting export to Western Australia.