Breakdown Spares and Tools

First a warning: In the event of a breakdown think road safety; have you got a hi-visibility jacket for yourself and passengers, if so wear it.  Can you place a warning triangle, or a person safely, back down the road, but make sure you collect the triangle and person afterwards.

Every time you take your 'Seven' on the road you should be carrying some spares and tools; those which cover most of the common problems that can be fixed at the roadside.

The most important point is that EVERY car should carry it's own spares at ALL TIMES.  It is not an acceptable excuse to say "I don't carry any spares because I wouldn't know how to fit them."  If you are out on a Club run there will always be someone who can fit them and whilst they will be very willing to help it is unreasonable to expect them to provide the spares as well.  After all they may need them a few miles further on if they also have a problem.

If you are out on your own and you have a breakdown, when the friendly man in the recovery van arrives he may be able to identify the fault but is extremely unlikely to carry any spare to fix an Austin Seven.  Show him your cache of spares and hopefully you may soon be on your way.

Carry your own spares; don't rely on someone else to do so.

What should you take with you?

Club runs
The minimum requirement is to carry two types of spares:

  1. Non-specific spares that could be used to fix, or overcome, a problem to enable you to get home where a permanent repair can be made.

Insulating tape;    Duck tape;    Baler twine;    A length of soft wire for binding;    Selection of cable ties;    Gasket cement;    Epoxy putty;    Selection of fuses;    Selection of split pins;    Emery cloth;    Radiator sealer;    A length of petrol pipe;    A length of HT lead;    A selection of fibre washer;    A selection of 1/4", 5/16" and 3/8" BSF & BSW nuts, bolts and washers;    A 2m length of electrical cable with a crocodile clip attached to each end;    Also useful is a diagnostic lamp in a short length of electrical cable with crocodile clip at the each end;    a spark plug tester.

    2.    Spare parts that can easily replace faulty parts.

A complete working distributor, including cap and drive gear;    A carburettor bowl, including jets and float;    A fuel pump diaphragm;    An ignition coil;    A set of new spark plugs;    A full set of light bulbs;    A set of core plugs;    A half shaft key;    A head gasket.

In addition you should carry spare oil and water, some rags and a pack of Swarfega hand wipes or similar.

Weekends away and Club Holidays
Some of the suggestions might seem odd but they are based on 'real life' events when the availability of the spare, fitted on the roadside, would have enabled the journey to be continued. The minimum requirement is:

Half-shaft and nut;    Usable second-hand king pin;    Pair of brake shoes;    Pair of brake springs;    Footbrake rod;    Gear lever;    Inner tube;    Puncture repair kit;    Dynamo brushes;    Fan belt;    Radiator hose and clips;    Front and rear spring U-bolts;    Valve and spring;    Working dynamo (if you are travelling as a group one between all should be sufficient).

And Tools
As a minimum all 'Sevens' should be carrying the tools which should enable most roadside repairs to be carried out.

Jack;     Wheel brace;    Plug spanner;    Small and medium screwdrivers with a good blade;    BSW spanners - 3/16 x 1/4; 1/4 x 5/16; 5/16 x 3/8, 3/8 x 7/16;    Adjustable spanner;    Pliers;    Hub puller;    Valve spring compressor;    Small hammer;    Jet key (up-draught carburettors);    Hacksaw blade;    Small knife;    Torch + spare batteries;    Mole grips.

These suggestions are a minimum; if you have fittings which are specific to your 'Seven' then do make sure that you have the where-with-all to remove and re-assemble them.  Not many of us have 'Metric' fastenings but if you do make sure that you have metric spanners.

If you wish to carry other items, and have the room to stow them safely and securely, then do carry them at all times. 

A hi-visibility jacket is a good item to carry, in addition to spares and tools.

Driving Abroad
If you are intending to drive your 'Seven' in Europe then do check the legal requirements, of the country you will be visiting, regarding spares, tools, paperwork, first aid kit, warning triangle, hi-visibility jacket etc - they vary from one to another and from our own.  There are several useful websites covering the topic.

However, always carry out routine maintenance regularly and make the basic checks before leaving home.  Even so, we all experience problems now and again; just be prepared to deal with it, with the help of others, when necessary.


This article, written by Andrew Jarmin, originally appeared in CA7C Seven Focus in Mar 2004 pp8-9 and April 2004 p8.


See also

Fuel starvation - Cause of Breakdown

Roadside Electrical Breakdown