Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club Ltd. Established 1977

40th Anniversary

Golden Eggs

Have you ever had anything silly happen while using or working on your Alpine? 
If so I would like to hear from you. Send any to 

If requested, I will withhold your identity to save any embarrassment.

Holiday's Again.
Going on holiday again, better disable the Alpine in case somebody takes a fancy to it. I'll whip the rotor arm out, that should do it. Put it away in a safe place.
After seven weeks in the sun and getting withdrawal symptoms, fancied a drive in the Alpine. Won't start. Oh dear. Ah rotor arm. It took me two days to find it!!

I'm staying anonymous this time!

Hot and Bothered. (Entry for Bristol Group's Golden Egg Award!)
It's spring and time to wave an oily rag over the Alpine. Nice sunny day, I'll do it on the drive. Think I'll flush the engine oil with Wynn's first. Do what it says on the tin. Drive car until engine at normal working temperature, yes OK. Pour in flusher and increase revs. to 2000 and wait 15 minutes. No problem. I can tidy the garage for a few minutes. A little later I can't see the Alpine for steam and squirting water. Funny that shouldn't happen , what's gone wrong? 

Answer, one Kenlow fan and control box kaput. Fortunately it was only the control box that needed replacing.


Lead by the wife!
Many years ago in the days of our Alpine, the engine became unwell. Husband gave much TLC and rebuilt said engine with great care. BUT! when he turned the key it would not go. He was left in the garage to fiddle and tinker and still no go. I walked in the garage and said why not connect the plug leads ..... lo and behold one purring!!!

Nicola Rule

Which Side!
Fitting the Slave Cylinder on the wrong side of the bell housing after reconditioning it. And wondering why the clutch wont work!


What no pressure? 
I did something similar to Rod with the oil cooler adaptor under the filter base. The error is not realising it can go on two ways. I fitted the whole casting back to front, resulting in no oil pressure.

Jim B.

Windscreen Test!
I am using the car as my normal every day transport as I only do about 3,000 miles a year anyway. However, it is off the road at this very moment as I found this week that the windscreen was only being held in by the rubbers as the frame had completely rusted through. I only found this out when I was fitting a new hardtop, wound up the passenger window to find that it lifted the windscreen off the body! So, currently looking for a new/good windscreen frame.......


Cable Test! Bristol's Golden Egg Award 2008
Whenever I go away on holiday I always disable the Alpine by removing various electrical bits from the engine, making it difficult to steal. (Why anyone would want mine is beside the point!!) I also use a security cable through the front wheel (its got lock nuts) and then secure the cable around the bench and an A-Frame. 
Yes you've guessed it, I reversed the Alpine out without removing the cable which then proceeded to damage the front valance and in doing so the fastening on the cable snapped off. Bit of a waste of time then really!!


Bristol's Golden Egg Award 2007
Filling up the Alpine he got to 20 litres before spotting the words on the pump.

***Super Diesel.***

Which pipe goes where.
Having had my seized engine nicely sorted by Andy the Archive , I decided that a nice gentle Folkestone to Brighton would run it in nicely. 
Being rather deaf, I did not hear him say that the head needed re-torquing after about 10 miles. The AA man was very nice and as he dropped my car off told me it was just the Head Gasket. The following weekend and all was done except, 
I couldn't find the connection for the vacuum gauge. Now know that the engine will run at 500 RPM on two cylinders if you connect the fuel pipe to the inlet manifold instead of the carburettors.

Barry. Duh!

To much grease!
My Series III had been off the road and pulled apart for a number of years. When I refitted the gearbox I found I could no longer get reverse. I, and a number of people I spoke to, were convinced that I had messed up the selectors when I had the top cover off. So out it came again (what fun). Turned out that the selectors were fine. However, the housing for the detent spring was full and locked solid with ancient grease. Of course I could have fixed that by pulling the cover off the transmission tunnel....

Vic, Australia

Which Way!
Re-built engine and placed in nut & bolt car rebuild. Low oil-pressure, I mean 5psi. Checked pressure gauge, OK. Changed pressure relief valve. No improvement. Months of effort wasted!  Engine out again!
Duff crank/bearings? No knocking from nether regions. Planned replacement, even got set of plastigauge strips + bought replacement crank + brgs. 
Taking things slowly, checked oil pipe to rocker shaft. OK. What about oil cooler pipes/filter block? Expected gaskets to stick a bit but came off crankcase easily. Hum! Looked at lower gasket carefully, odd indent across one of the divider strips. Oh £$%^&*~@+!! 
I'd fitted it wrong way round so pressured oil from pump to filter was going straight back into crankcase. PLONKER. 
Pressure now 55psi running and even 45psi tick over when hot. 


This one's a cracker. Which way up!
Club member rebuilding his Alpine and was having trouble fitting the rear axle. After much blaspheming and admitting defeat, asked for help from another member who lived close by. After a short inspection he declared to the frustrated owner that he was trying to fit it upside down.


Not quite the owners fault but it's a good story.
One cold bright sunny morning the member decides to use his Alpine to go into town, but it refuses to start. Up with the bonnet, but with a thorough inspection of the technical bits undertaken and a good talking to, the Alpine still refuses to start. Now its time to resort to the assistance of a mechanic from the local garage, who duly arrives with spanner in hand. After checking the moving parts and a bit of wheel kicking the mechanic says he is unable to see what is wrong and will have to get it taken to his garage.  Five hours or so later it still refuses to start, so at about 4.30 in the afternoon the mechanic is just about to resort to the tried and tested means of a 2lb lump hammer when another mechanic, walking by the Alpine, leans over and says. “ I can see why that won’t start, the choke cable has come off the carburettor” The writer is not privilege to the comments made by the first mechanic.  


Starting Troubles
When refitting the dash to my car I managed to connect the ignition switch so that when you turned it to the start position it cut the feed to the coil and would only fire when you released the key. Sometimes it would start if I was lucky. Took hours to figure it out.


Left or is it RIGHT?
I rebuilt my Alpine into a LHD rolling shell some years ago. The adjustable part of my RHD steering column was seized, but the LHD one was fine, and I spent ages transferring bits between the 2, until eventually I had a complete RHD adjustable column, or so I thought. I had kind of noticed along the way that the 'corkscrew' on the bottom of the LHD column seemed to go the other way, but hadn't really considered it important, until it came to the time to push the car out of my garage, when I proceeded to turn the steering wheel to the left - and the front wheels turned to the right !!!!! Luckily the car was just a rolling shell, otherwise I shudder to think what would have happened if I was driving out on the road.


I assembled the throttle return spring backwards, which gave a very spectacular result when I started up. I think poor old Matilda's engine reached 7,000 rpm before I managed to hit the switch.

Nick USA

Flying Carpet.
I had done some work on the front seat and recently remounted it in my V6 Alpine.  I forget to resecure the driver side carpeting.  
My sister and brother in law came to visit.  He wanted to go for a ride and half way thru I offered to let him drive the car.  He’s about 8” taller than I am so he adjusted the seat before we took off, but didn’t get it completely right.  As he took off, he planted his feet and then tried to readjust the seat.  His feet forced the carpeting to slide forward, pinning the accelerator to the floor.   The car lurched forward, and the now released seat slid way back.  Now he couldn’t touch any of the pedals but had a death grip on the steering wheel. 
Fortunately the location of the key was within my reach so I killed the engine and we rolled to a stop……..   
Louis looked over at me with his eyes the size of the speedo and tach.   His only comment was “Damn this thing’s fast!”…….  The rest of the ride was uneventful… I went home and fixed the carpeting.   

Nick Arizona USA


And something to do with push rods!!  
 First, do not buy roller tip rockers from the guy in Florida that sells them on Ebay.  $80, what a deal.  Not.
The problems started while the engine was still on the engine stand.  The rockers were misshapen and it was very difficult to get a socket on the adjusting nut on about half of the rockers.  Using my thinnest walled socket, I could get it on if I used a lot of pressure.  Unfortunately, this gave a false read on the pushrod tension.  Once the engine was in the car and started for the first time, it got worse.  Some quality time on the bench grinder and the thin walled socket is setting thin wall records.  No matter.  It is still not enough and the result was that there was simply no way to get a read on the adjustment.  Add the Rhodes lifters and the noise that comes with them, and the frustration level goes off the charts.  Time for game plan B.

 I bought some beautiful aluminium Scorpion full roller rockers, $240 at the local speed shop.  I thought, “These things are almost too pretty to cover up with valve covers”.  Little did I know, this thought would come back to haunt me.  The guy at the speed shop laughed when I told him about the Ebay rockers.  Guess he had heard this story before.  The cold adjustment went fairly well.   Unfortunately, the problems started when I tried to put a stock Tiger chrome valve cover on one side and the trusty valve cover with a slot in the top for adjusting on the other.  The stock valve covers were not tall enough.  The slotted valve cover (A stock Ford item) was tall enough but would not fit between the adjusting nut on the rearmost rocker and the firewall.  Out of desperation, I removed the adjusting nut and ground about 1/8” off the hex head.  Finally, the cover went on.  The other side just had to sit there and throw oil all over my new paint.  I soon found that I had counted my eggs way too soon.  Turns out that while adjusting valve #1, the engine vibration caused the other 15 polly locks to run to the bottom.  This meant that I had to loosen each one before I could turn the adjusting nuts.  Operating in a cloud of smoke, I was forced to adjust one or two and then take a break to get clean air in my lungs.  I was still plagued by the Rhodes lifter noise and finally went to the local CVS and bought a stethoscope ($10).  It made a big difference.  Finally, they are all adjusted and the engine sounds great.  Time to throw on the trusty LAT valve covers and celebrate, Right?  Wrong.  The trusty LAT covers don’t clear the rockers either.   Did I mention the $80 roller tip rockers and the $240 Scorpions?  Add $45 for “Fat” gaskets. 

Glued up the new fat gaskets and tried to fit the LAT valve covers.  They just won’t make it between the tall rockers and the firewall.   My only option is to pull the mounts and drop the engine.  This is the second time I have had to pull the motor mounts since the engine went in but that is another painful story. 

 Motor mounts out, “Fat” gasket on, drop the LAT cover on the heads.  Still not tall enough.  Lots of not very nice words.  Get out the gorilla snot; glue a rubber gasket to the cork “Fat” gasket.  Success, I think.  Gotta wait until it is running to check for leaks and clunking noises.  Back to the lovely job of getting the motor mounts past the headers.  30 minutes for everything but  that one #@$%^* bolt and more not very nice words.  In the end, I may still have to buy some “Tall” valve covers but my crystal ball tells me that Mr. Murphy would have a few surprises for me no matter which way I go.  

Of course, while it is high and dry, I find some other things to tend to under the car.  Sooner or later, I have to surface and reinstall the generator, coil, etc. and try to salvage the paint job on the engine.  Oil is everywhere.  Maybe I should have settled for something other than Mobil 1 for the initial start-up.    Did I mention that this is starting to get expensive?   I may be headed for the most expensive and time consuming valve adjustment in Rootes history. 

Reassembled the whole mess, cleaned up and spot painted various parts, cranked it up, and:  The rockers are pounding the heck out of the baffles and the right side gaskets are dropping oil on the headers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Time for game plan C or D or whatever I’m up to by now.   As therapy, I take it off the jacks and polish the wheels.  Friends and family are getting to the “Yeah, sure” point whenever I mention that the car will be on the road soon.  

I’m actually getting pretty good at popping the motor and trans mounts in and out.  The new “Tall” chrome valve covers ($30) are the first bargain in this whole deal.  Weird setup, one cover has no holes.  Looks like I will either have to drill a hole or add oil through the same hole as the PCV valve.  I’ll worry about that later.  First to see if they will work.  At least at this point, I do not have any great expectations, just a stubborn streak that can be both a curse and a blessing.  That is the story of my mechanical life, no real skill but I just keep plugging.  My wife has another name for it. 

Tossed a coin and installed the cover with the hole on the driver’s side.  This puts the hole at the rear.  Seems weird but makes for a very clean look.  The covers slide on surprisingly well. 

The final chapter???.  Let us pray.   Motor mounts went in easily.  When I jacked the trans up to install the trans mount, I asked my wife to keep an eye on the right side valve cover to see if it was going to clear.  She took four pieces of paper and slid it in-between the cover and the firewall.  When I had it jacked up, the paper was stuck.  When the bolts were in and the jack was dropped, the paper came out but just barely. 

Got the whole thing back together, fired it up, sounds great.  The car makes its first journey under its own power in 15 years, about a mile and a half to the gas pumps and back.  Way cool.  When I start it up a while later, it is popping through the carb. 

NOOOOOOO!!! This can’t be happening.

 After massive quantities of beer, followed by massive quantities of aspirin and a cool-down period, I drag back into the garage.  Time for a compression test.  Everything checks out fine, except for a sucking sound in the carb when #3 is being tested.  Bent push rod?  No time to find out.  Rush to get a tonneau fitted to hide the fact that there is really no interior, load up the trailer and off to the show at Chateau Elan.  The car looks great but sounds like &%#. 

Every time the car is started, the engine sounds worse.  When we get home from Atlanta, I tow it to the machine shop that sold me all the parts.  The super duper head machinist/mechanic/engine whiz listens to it, revs the &%# out of it and declares “Beats the heck out of me”.  I am on my own, again.  Time for some deep thought.  

Seventy-five minutes flat to pull the engine and trans mounts, drop the engine, remove generator, generator bracket, distributor, intake and valve covers.  It’s a mess.  Four obviously bent push rods.  A lifter with the cup twisted and tiny pieces of it in the valve galley.  A very bent push rod lying in the valve galley (Did I mention the super duper head machinist/mechanic/engine whiz revving the &%# out of it?).  Five adjusting nuts have backed off.  Back to the machine shop.  $174 later, I have 5 new push rods, a new set of stock lifters, various gaskets and fluids.  At this point, I am over $650 into the operation, not counting the cost of the rebuilt heads, screw-in studs, push rod guide plates, beer and aspirin.  During a quick stop at the Food Lion for more beer and aspirin.  I suggested they change the name to Food Tiger but they just gave me a weird look.

 If you want a real challenge, try getting the rear-most push rods in with the engine in the car.  It ranks right up there with the rear-most valve cover bolts.  I think I set a new record for tightening the polly locks.  It would be interesting to put a torque wrench on them to see just how tight I got them but I probably really don’t want to know.  I had a quick heart attack when I tried to fire it up and experienced a huge backfire through the carb.  Thank God for all those aspirin lying around.  The timing was 180 out.  Fixed the timing problem and it fired the first time and ran like a champ.  Am I really done?  It runs so well that a hot adjustment shouldn’t be necessary.   Amazing how quiet it is with stock lifters. 

Since this is getting to be a lot longer than was planned, I will be optimistic and say the operation was a success.  If it falls apart again after its first drive, I don’t know what I would call the next chapter.  I have no idea how many hours were spent on a project that started out as a 30 minute valve adjustment.  It has put me back several months in the restoration project.  The tall chrome valve covers give the engine a very different look.  When I painted the engine bay black and the engine Daytona Yellow, the thought was that the LAT covers painted black with polished hi-lites would be a great accent.  The new look is not exactly what I was aiming at but to change it now would probably generate another story titled “How Not To Paint An Engine”.