Quick Tips useful to Austin Seven owners


These tips have been extracted from our monthly SEVEN FOCUS magazine, and are based on the experiences of our members who solved the 'problem' in their own way!

 Cheap Drip Trays:    Clear a blocked fuel pipe:    Contact Breakers:    Carrying Oil in A Seven:

Dashboard fixing:    Door Lock Covers:    Dowty Seals:    Flasher Unit 6v:    Engine Lifting Eye-bolt:

Refitting the Gearbox;    Gasket making - Silicone Rubber    Head Gasket tip;   Headlamp Moisture:   

Less Oil Spillage:      Loading a Seven onto a trailer or ramps:     Lubricating Door Locks

Oil drops on the driveway:    Polishing & buffing:    Seeing In The Rain:    

Starting Handle Tip:     Cleaning Spokes:   

Tyre fitting:    Wheel Spraying Made Easier:     Ruby Window Winder Return Spring

A Cheap Drip Tray

Oil Trolly 1
I use the 2ft square carpet samples to collect drips from the car when parked in sensitive places – such as the Maritime Museum forecourt in Falmouth.  These are heavy enough not to be blown away by the wind and look attractive, and they are cheap, about 50p each.

For home use I have a longer piece of carpet nailed to a piece of ply with small wheels at each corner (see photo). This is pushed under the car on the drive or in the garage, not only to catch any drips from the engine, but also further back where the (engine) oil drips from the chassis channels.

I’ve added a handle at either end for easier manoeuvring.

This quick tip came from Sandy Croall and appeared in Seven Focus Aug 2007 p12.


.... another Drip Tray idea

I used to drip embarrassing amounts of oil everywhere I stopped.  After forgetting the drip tray for the umpteenth time and dropping oil in the petrol station and the Torpoint  Ferry I decided to fit a rear bearing lip seal whilst making some adjustments to the engine.

Full of enthusiasm I started up the engine and marvelled at just how much oil still leaked out!!


Drip tin 1Forget lip seals , instead I had a cunning plan which would stop the drips onto peoples driveways and eliminate the problem of forgetting the drip tray.  I decided to fit a small drip tray/catch tank under the car that followed me around everywhere!  A small paint stripper tin seemed to fit the bill and I cut out a large rectangular hole in the side and made a couple of brackets to hang it on its side from the bell housing bolts.  The edges of the hole were left sharp to deter thieves. 

It works like a dream!  No more oil drips, all you have to do is empty it of oil now and again, which you could reuse if you strained it.  The photo almost shows how it goes together.

This quick tip came from Steve Martin and appeared in Seven Focus Sept 2007 p10.

.... and another Drip Can

Drip can Easton
Following Steve Martin’s idea, I had the same sort of problem; oil coming from the hole in the casting under the flywheel. The easy remedy would be to plug the hole, but that would be the quickest way to get clutch slip, with the plate getting oily and slipping, with the car staying where it is even though the engine is racing.  So, like Steve, I did the same sort of thing but in a slightly different way. It’s a lot easier than taking the engine out!

This quick tip came from Mike Easton and appeared in Seven Focus Apr 2008 p27.

Contact Breakers - seeing the gap

quick 2
The 'replacement' Contact Breaker sets available for the DJ4 and similar distributors have the contact hidden within a 'C' shaped lever. To set the gap at 12 thou with normal feeler gauges I have found difficult ! It has also been difficult to see exactly when the contacts are opening as I check the timing.

Then a clever man said:-
a) "Why don't you use the original Lucas contacts"  or 
b) "Why don't you grind away the leg's away by the contact on the lever".

To my knowledge there are not many unused original Lucas Contact sets about, so I decided to try the second option, but only doing the top leg, converting it from a 'C' shape to a 'L' shape, on the basis that some strength is retained with the bottom leg and I can see the contacts clearly with just the top leg removed anyway. I also painted the bottom leg under the contact white to making sighting the contacts easier - Problem solved, it's too easy for words.

Sandy Croall

Dashboard fixing

Because the ammeter did not work on the 1938 Ruby I had to remove the dashboard to investigate and found that the battery wire had only been passed through the ammeter loop once.  Easily fixed, but then I had to replace the dashboard.  Anyone who has already done this must have the patience of Job!  It’s bad enough dealing with the oil pipe, the speedo, the starter cable and the choke – but those seven dashboard screws with their loose nuts are a nightmare to reunite, especially the top ones.  

RJ Ruby dash

It is possible to use 4BA captive nuts and the proper setting tool.  The existing holes had to be enlarged very slightly to accept the captive nuts. Now the fitting of the dashboard screws is straightforward.

  This quick tip came from Roger Jelbert and appeared in Seven Focus Nov 2014 p21


Dowty Seals

On a recent run, the familiar scent of unburned unleaded wafted into the car; the culprit was the fuel input banjo. This is a VERY delicate thread, so heaving on a spanner and crushing the fibre washers was not an option.

Fortunately, I was given something that was new to me. A Dowty seal is a washer that has a rubber sealing ring moulded into it, such that the seal is the thickest part of the whole assembly. When closed up in a joint, the rubber is compressed to form a fluid tight seal. This can be done without too much torque, and gives a very good joint. Needless to say, a couple of spares are now always in the on-board spares.

This quick tip came from Geoff Hardman and appeared in Seven Focus June 2009 p24.

Engine Lifting Eye-Bolt

engine lift bolt

This idea has been used by several of our members to lift the engine.

It is best to use a pair on cylinders 1 and 4 to spread the weight.

This suggestion was found in Practical Motorist and Motor Cyclist October 1954, p283 'Readers to Readers'




Flasher Unit - 6v

A while ago OY’s indicators went on the blink (I know, I know they are supposed to blink but OY’s were blinking continuously).  A wise old sage said ‘ere boy’ what you need is one of they Electronic Flasher Units.  From these wise words I understood that the electronic type are more reliable/longer lasting than the normal thermal units.

Flasher 6v electronic

So after driving around the internet I found the firm Auto Electric Supplies Ltd of Tenbury Wells, who could supply the very thing, being: 6 volt Electronic Relay (flasher unit), 2 x 21w capacity, 3 x 6.3mm blade terminals and c/w mounting bracket, part number 140108.

This is now fitted and working well, providing a very modulated signal/indication.

Also whilst on their site I noticed that they also supply a “proper” 6v ignition coil (not 12v ballasted) with the older style (Acorn) screw terminal HT connection + low tension 5mm studs and mounting bracket, part number 060707.

So one of these is also now fitted to OY – good quality – and whilst I have not made any tests, I feel that it provides an improved/smoother performance (and OY seems happy).

Auto Electric Supplies Ltd. Website: www.autoelectricsupplies.co.uk

NOTE: The electronic flasher unit is only available for negative earth systems.

PS: 'OY' are the registration letters of a 1933 RP Saloon.

This quick tip came from Eddie Angell and appeared in Seven Focus Apr 2008 p27.

... Flasher Unit for Positive Earth

The electronic relay above is not suitable for the positive earth Big Seven, so I used a 6V indicator relay, made by Bosch with 3 x 6.3mm blade contacts, which can power 2 x 18/21W indicators and a separate dash mounted warning lamp.  Item: 140106 also from Auto Electric Supplies.

Unfortunately, it soon started to fail after about 30 miles on a run.  I returned the unit for testing and it was deemed to be satisfactory.  However, it kept failing.

DRK Flash Unit

Due to the shape of the front bulkhead the flasher unit is mounted alongside the cut-out/regulator in the engine compartment, and I found that the unit was hot to touch when it failed.  I realised that it was being affected by the engine heat and so wrapped it with cloth; it did not fail. 

For a permanent solution I mounted it inside a plastic pot with the connecting leads entering through a hole drilled in the lid; the unit no longer fails, even on long runs exceeding 160 miles.

A quickie from Doug Castle.


Head Gasket tip

Head gasket tip

Many of us hold a head gasket in the car spares.  But how many of us keep the little hand book with the sequence of tightening the bolts?  So here is a very quick and easy solution to the problem.   

Write the information on the back of the cardboard. I have used a felt tip marker but a piece of paper carefully slipped into the cover without disturbing the protective film works just as well. (The missing number is 10.)

When tightening the cylinder-head nuts remember that they must take the strain evenly to avoid distortion, so, in the correct sequence tighten each by half a turn at a time.  Do not over-tighten as it is easy to strip a thread or break a bolt.  After a few hundred miles check and tighten a little more, if necessary.  Torque values are not mentioned in the Austin Seven handbooks.

This quick tip came from Mike Davies and appeared in Seven Focus June 2010 p13.


Headlamp Moisture

To help reduce the moisture within the headlamp, which normally appears after driving rain or when the car is washed down, place a couple of Silica Gel crystal sachets within each headlamp shell.  We get these sachets with all sorts of odds and ends, but if you don't have any then your local chemist should stock the crystals.  Then just make up some cotton bags and all is done.The sachets will absorb some of the moisture and release it when the headlamps get warm in use or as they bask in the sunshine!  This may also help to reduce the deterioration of the reflector chrome.

This quick tip appeared in Seven Focus Sept 2003 p30.

Carrying Oil in a Seven.

Use 1 pint plastic milk bottles with a screw lid.  When the oil level drops about half an inch on the dipstick you know that you need to put the whole of the contents of one bottle into the sump.  This saves a lot of time pouring and dipping to make sure that you do not overfill the sump.  These bottles are quite short and fit under the seats in the pre-Ruby Seven’s.  If you have a Ruby then a Radox Herbal bath liquid bottle makes an equally good container and will stand upright in the under-bonnet tool box and take up very little space. These are 500 ml and therefore can be treated as a Pint and used accordingly. You can actually get  a least 6 of these bottles in the tool box which is useful for long journeys.

Less Oil Spillage

quick 1
One way to prevent oil spilling (or dripping) onto the ignition wires and the starter motor etc., is to temporally extend the oil filler tube. I use a plastic Coke bottle with the bottom removed, the screwed top seems to just fit nicely into the top of the filler tube of my Box saloon and the ignition wires support the bottle too.Now I rarely spill any oil over the off-side engine area.

Sandy Croall.



Lubricating Door Locks

If your door key, or any other key for that matter, is a bit 'sticky' in the lock, don't use oil to free it off, rub the key with a soft lead pencil. Most pencil leads are made from graphite, which is a great lubricant, with the added bonus that it will not attract dust and dirt like nice sticky oil will. You can also buy powdered graphite which can be 'puffed' into keyholes.

I must admit though, I don't know where to buy it here in Cornwall. You can also rub the pencil over the latch on your door, this will make it shut a lot easier.

Lee Webster 

Polishing & buffingPolishing 1

Do your fingers ache whilst polishing and buffing the ‘Seven’? A power polisher/buffer is large and heavy, the 180mm (7”) pad does not fit into the curves of the ‘Seven’; the ideal size is a Black & Decker KA161 or Bosch PSM 80 sander/polisher. Apply the small area of polish as directed and then, with the soft foam pad attached, cover the base with a micro-fibre polishing cloth, switch on and, without pressing too much, keep the cloth moving slowly over the area to obtain a good result.  (Note: product details are mentioned for accuracy of information, other small hand held sanders may also be suitable.)

This quick tip came from Doug Castle.

Seeing in the Rain

A little tip might just help someone else.

I seem to have done a lot of driving recently in my Chummy in heavy rain and as many already know, windscreen wipers were an extra in 1925 which obviously the original purchaser of my car could not afford.  My Chummy has never had them and there is not even provision for them on the windscreen frame.

I know many of you do not use your wipers that much in rain, so my lack of them is of no real disadvantage.  However, over the years, I have discovered a tip for seeing better through an Austin Seven windscreen in the rain which might be of interest to a few.

 seeing in the rain

I once tried one of those products you can buy for clearing a windscreen of rain.  I found it worked quite well, but it left a film on the glass which attracted dirt.  It was then very difficult to wipe off without leaving horrible smears, so I abandoned the use of that.  The solution I have found the most effective however, will not work for everyone.  Like many people as they get older, I have to use spectacles for reading.  Some 20 years ago, I found I also needed glasses for long distance sight.  They were not strong specs but they just made things a bit clearer in the distance.  For the past 8 to 10 years my long distance sight seems to have corrected itself, and I no longer use glasses, EXCEPT when in the rain in my Chummy.  For some reason if I wear these glasses in the rain, the drops of rain on the windscreen go out of focus and I can see through them to the road much more clearly.  Without them, I just see globules of rain on the glass.

So if any of you have glasses for long distance sight, why not try them in the rain in your Austin Seven.  There is one situation that is impossible to solve though and that is thin drizzle or mist.  The tiny droplets of water lodge on the windscreen and seeing becomes impossible until enough has collected to allow the drops to merge and run off.  Before now, in freezing fog, I have had to drive with the windscreen open and that is an extremely chilly experience.

This quick tip came from David Charles and appeared in CA7C Seven Focus in Feb 2007 p17.


Starting Handle Tip

You know the feeling when you start that job which first requires the removal of the radiator. 'The starting handle has to come of first'.  After removing the cotter bolt it is normally tap tap (and generally ending up with a thump thump) with the hammer on the handle to try and get the blasted thing to release from the starting handle shaft. 

An easier method (this may be known to many of you but to others not) is to put the car into gear and then get the nearest or your dearest to sit in the car and firmly apply the brakes. Then catching hold of the handle and slightly pulling towards you, wind the handle off the shaft. Easy eh!

This quick tip came from Eddie Angell and appeared in Seven Focus Apr 2008 p27.


Loading a Seven onto a trailer or ramps.

If you need to put your Seven on ramps don’t try to drive it up. Its much easier to put the Car in 1st or reverse gear, depending on whether you want to lift the front or rear, and then by turning the starting handle you can “wind” the car up the ramps with very little effort.

This quick tip came from Andrew Jarmin.


Wheel Spraying Made Easier

wheel spray 1
Members might be interested in a simple jig I’ve recently made for spraying Austin Seven wheels. It consists of a discarded inner wheel hub, which has the three mounting studs still in place, together with the large ball bearing. 

wheel spray 5Through this bearing is pushed (tight fit) an 1¼" dia tube, rod or even a piece of wooden dowel (I’ve used an old post ’35 engine oil filter tube with the end removed) so that the assembly can be held in one end of a Workmate or similar vice.  Four 5/16" flat washers are first put on each stud as spacers, then the wheel can be secured in the normal way.



wheel spray 3

When spraying with an aerosol a vast improvement in the finish is obtained by pre-warming the wheel using a hot air gun.

wheel spray 6The paint dries quicker and there is less risk of runs and prevents blooming if any dampness is in the air. Ideally a nice warm, calm day is preferable as this is definitely an outside job.




After spraying, a quick going over with the heat gun – keep it moving – will dry off the cellulose.



wheel spray 4

Using this method all areas of the wheel are easily painted.



This quick tip came from Geoff Greinig and appeared in CA7C Seven Focus in Feb 2007 p22.

Cleaning spokes 

Wash spokes
Cleaning the wheels of the Seven is one of those irksome tasks that has to be done to keep up the appearance of your otherwise well manicured car.   As the image shows, the hemispherical bristle cluster of a lavatory brush is ideal for scrubbing in between the spokes and around the bends of the rims, and if you’re not allowed to use the item from the smallest room, they are available for a modest £1-00 in your favourite POUND SHOP etc.

This quick tip came from Bob Kneale and appeared in CA7C Seven Focus in April 2015 p20.

Clear a blocked Fuel Pipe

blocked fuel pipeIf blowing through the pipe or using compressed air does not work then thread a piece of Bowden cable through the offending pipe.  Scrape it back and forth to remove whatever crud comes away easily.  Then attach it to a hand-brace and spin it in an ANTICLOCKWISE direction.  It unwinds inside the pipe, spreads out and buffs the sidewalls a treat.  A final puff with the airline and all should be well.

Do not use a power drill near fuel vapour.

This quick tip came from Andrew Jarmin.

Tyre TubeTyre fitting

If you have struggled to put the inner tube into new tyre then help is on the way.   Today’s tyres have firm side walls, particularly the new Longstone 19x350 tyres, which, if delivered in a bundle, have a very close opening where the wheel fits in.

When you have put one side of the tyre onto the rim the struggle comes when you reach inside the tyre to get the innertube valve through the hole in the rim. It is very tight on the hands and as you lift the upper side of the tyre to get your fingers in the lower side lifts and covers the hole in the rim.  

The simple solution is to insert an innertube into the new tyre a day or so before you intend fitting the tyre. Inflate the tube so that the side walls of the tyre are held apart approximately 3 to 4 inches. Leave like this for 24 hours or so and hey presto! there is more room to get your fingers in to pop the valve through the rim.  

This quick tip came from Malcolm Watts and appeared in CA7C Seven Focus in Nov 2013 p18.

An easier way to refit the gearbox to the clutch housing

One of the less favourite tasks that need to be undertaken on Austin Sevens is that of mating up the gearbox to the clutch housing/crankcase.  Not only is it necessary to ensure the splined shaft clutch driven plate is concentric with the gearbox mainshaft socket, but also that  the orientation of the two components is exactly the same, since the clutch driven plate shaft has a spline missing from it, and the corresponding gearbox socket has an extra wide spline, (known as a ‘master spline’).

There is only one possible way it can be assembled.  The process of mating these two parts has been the source of much grunting and cursing, and there must be a simpler way of doing things.

It is necessary is to hang the gearbox onto the crankcase and then slide the two assemblies together once the orientation of the splines is correct.

Refit gearbox

The image shows what you need; two lengths of 5/16 steel bar about 4”  long, threaded 5/16” Whitworth about1/2” deep, to replace the two top studs in the crankcase.  (You could rethread an M8 coach bolt whose thread is approximately the same and cut off the head).

With top gear selected, the  gearbox can be placed on the studs, and the master splines aligned more easily, and then gearbox and clutch can be mated and much time and temper saved.  

This quick tip came from Bob Kneale and appeared in CA7C Seven Focus in April 2015 p19.

Door Lock Covers

Door Lock Cover
Door lock covers for the Ruby and Big Seven are notoriously brittle, especially the ones which you have to cut the slots yourself.  The newest version from The Seven Workshop is stronger but it is still worthwhile reinforcing them with 25mm self-adhesive glass fibre tape, available on e-bay.   

Lost one or more of the corner screws holding the covers to the base plate?  The long screws which fix the face plate to a domestic wall-mounted electrical socket have the right size head for the covers, so cut to size and job done.  

 This quick tip came from Doug Castle and appeared in Seven Focus July 2016 p17. 

Gasket making using Silicone rubber

Bearing in mind that the flat surfaces of the austinSeven's inner and outer hubs are unlikely to be perfectly true, a gasket made from thicker material would hopefully be enough to take up the  clearances.  The sump gasket is 26 thou thick, and as we all know leakage from that area is common.  Grease being thicker would benefit from a  gasket of similar dimensions, but ‘posh cardboard’, wasn’t necessarily the best material, so consider the alternatives.  Gasket sealants such as Hermetite or Hylomar work well because the thick film of material takes up any clearance that could be a leakage path.  What is preferable is some form of sheet material that is compliant i.e. it possesses a degree of ‘squish’ that provides a good seal, that can be cleanly separated.  A rubbery and chemically inert substance is therefore needed that is cheap enough to fabricate relatively easily.

Rubber 1That substance is – silicone rubber.  Silicone rubber in sheet form is expensive to source on the small scale that we are interested in, but fortunately it is readily available as ovenware baking mats. I obtained a 400mm x 280mm sheet that was nearly 30 thou thick for £1.75* – comfortably enough for six items.

Using an outer hub as a pattern, I first cut out the wheel stud holes and the retaining screw holes before cutting out the outer circle of the hub. By substituting the hub for a card gasket, I was able to cut the inner circle. 

A very sharp and narrow scalpel blade is essential, as is the need to work free from interruptions, for this job takes quite a long time.  

Rubber 2The gasket was fitted, the hub reassembled, and the linings and brake drum thoroughly degreased.  Over 1100 miles have been covered without a trace of leakage from the rear hubs. 

It is also possible to use silicone gaskets for the  crankcase, petrol pump, gearbox cover, and sump gasket.   

This quick tip came from Bob Kneale and appeared in Seven Focus July 2017 pp 16-18.

Ruby window winder return spring  (also works on the Big Seven)

The front side windows, especially the driver's door, on a Ruby will gradually drop down of its own accord.  Replacing the mechanism return spring with a new one, may only partly improve the situation as the window may still open quite slowly by about 12mm. It is possible to supplement the spring with elastic bands.  Top screws were added with about 10mm protruding to the rear onto which the bands were placed.  Similar screws were added to the lower arm to fix the  other ends.

Ruby Window Winder

Using strong rubber bands, approx 90 x 6mm, keep adding them until sufficient support is given. The elastic has sufficient stretch to allow the window to open wide fully.  No doubt the bands will relax or perish over time so perhaps “bungee” chord might be a better option

This quick tip came from Michael Heslop and appeared in Seven Focus April 2018 pp 17-18. 

Oil drops on the driveway

 Oil on driveway

Drips of oil from Sevens is a non-optional extra despite efforts with Dowty washers on drain plugs to reduce the probability. Oil spots are unsightly on driveways, especially block paving. The many proprietary products offered by the paving manufacturers and diy outlets are very ineffective. I have found that whilst Swarfega gel hand-cleanser is reasonably effective Jizer degreaser is the best. First blot the oil spot using a piece of kitchen roll, but do not wipe, then using the aerosol squirt onto the oil. I also brush the liquid into the oil. After 10 minutes wash away with boiling water and brush the area at the same time; spot usually gone or repeat, but seldom necessary.  

This quick tip came from Doug Castle and appeared in Seven Focus Sept 2018 p 12.