A diesel Sheerline

I have now been running a 1949 Austin Sheerline into which I have fitted a 1937 Gardner 4LK oil engine for one year, during which time I have covered over 15,000 miles, free from any significant troubles. The engine itself has not required any attention.

The first item to require attention, apart from routine oil changes and tappet adjustment, according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, may be the injectors at 60,000 miles. Exchange replacement is 10s. 6d. each. (Cheaper than spark plugs every 10,000!)

To fit the engine, substantial modifications were required to the front cross-member and bulkhead. Space between the radiator, bulkhead and bonnet hinge is less than one quarter of an inch, but accessibility to the fuel pump, dynamo and starter is good.

I used a Jaguar Mk. VII gearbox with Laycock overdrive, which combined with the use of a very light flywheel allows rapid gear-changes to be made without shock.

Since the accelerator directly controls the fuel input, response to pedal movement is instantaneous and the exponential decay or rise of power caused by the manifold volume after the butterfly on a carburetted engine is not experienced. Maximum speed is 80 m.p.h. at 3,000 r.p.m. and the cruising speed is 60 m.p.h. Flexibility is very good, 6-60 m.p.h. being available in top without snatch or vibration.

Acceleration? Compared to a Mini with only the driver aboard it is slightly less, but when compared in a laden condition, percentage weight increase (unladen weight of the Austin is 2 tons 28 lb.), is very definitely in my favour, and acceleration and hill-climbing ability are markedly superior. Peak torque at 1,100 r.p.m. also helps!

Fuel consumption averages 34 m.p.g. inclusive of at least four cold starts and subsequent journeys of 1.5 miles in a day. On a week’s tour of the Lake District (including Hardknott and Wrynose passes) 1,500 miles were covered at an average m.p.g. of 38.0. The consumption of Rotella multigrade lubricating oil is 1,500 m.p.g.

Yes, there is a snag. Due to the high thermal efficiency of the engine, the standard inadequate heater does not do its best until 10 miles have been covered.

A. G. Walford.