Broadspeed Anglia Gearbox Fix

Published on 4 March 2024 at 08:53

With the Lotus Cortina out of the workshop and back in the museum it was time to deal with the errant gearbox on the incredibly  rare Broadspeed Anglia. I believe the car had the fault when Malc bought it and it has never got to the top  of the to do list - it  was not staying in 3rd gear and was hard to get in to reverse.

Investigation suggested the gearbox was a Ford 2000e with different internals by Howland and Wooler - this was fairly good news as the standard boxes are still common  and cheap to buy, we hoped that the gears etc were ok. I have come across Ford boxes popping out of gears before so was confident that I knew what the problem  would be, that confidence increased when Russ drained the oil and a pristine spring fell out the drain hole. The fact that the spring was undamaged told us it hadn't got mashed or mangled by the gear cluster, there was every chance that very little or no damage was done. That proved to be the case, everything looked fine in there.

We concluded that the box had not been put together correctly - there are 3 springs that press down on ball bearings that engage with the selector shafts, which have dimples in them. This is what gives the gearbox it's feel, it's what makes it clunk in to each gear. Two of the springs were correctly located, the third was the one in the bottom of the gear case. It is impossible for these springs to jump out when the top cover is installed so it must have been done wrong at assembly. It was a simple matter to put the top back on and try it out, it was then that Russ reminded me that I hadn't done any photos so I took the top back off and reached for the camera. It was at that point I realised that exactly the same thing had happened again and the spring had dropped back in to the gearbox. The look of horror on Malc's face was something to behold, from hope to despair in the blink of an eye. Fortunately removing the drain plug and fishing around had it back out pretty promptly to shouts of "thank goodness for that" and "you jammy bastard".

The lid was put back on, the lever temporarily reinserted, it felt perfect, the whole shooting match then had to go back in the car, a good couple of hours work. It had been a long day by now, a lot of undoing and fiddling about is required to get the box off and back on again, none of it is difficult but it is time consuming and it is fairly tiring working all day with your arms upwards.

We hit our first problem of the day when we came to try the clutch and realised that something was badly wrong. Somehow both of us had forgotten to check that the release arm was correctly located before we reinstalled everything, I think it was because we broke for lunch and broke our  flow, whatever it was, it caused a significant problem. We tried several times but you can't see what you are doing and getting the lever installed correctly on the thrust bearing and the pivot pin is an absolute mare. We were just about to make the decision to take it all back off again when I had an idea, With Russ using a crow bar to push the arm back and me using a hammer to tap the arm in, it suddenly went and the job was a good un. The relief was enormous, it was an awful lot of work to take it all back off again. It is a very heavy heavy clutch but it is smooth and seems to work well. 

We dropped the car down and installed the gear lever, all gears felt positive and as they should, reverse was still a problem though as the lever was hitting the high side of the racing bucket seat. We sorted that by bending the lever, it is now a Russell Thompson Racing dog leg design which is both unique and in the perfect position for comfortable gear changes. We decided we should market it but then we remembered this is probably the only Anglia of it's type left in existence and our return on investment was likely to be in jeopardy.

We had run out of time for a test drive but we thought there was just enough time to run it through the gears with the car on the lift, it was perfect. We will test it properly on Wednesday, it will get it's first proper drive in a very long time.

I have done a video of underneath the car, I am sure it will be of interest to any proper Ford fan, this is a very special car, they only made 3 with the Fiat twin cam,  I strongly suspect this is the only one left. It has a space frame front end with twin wishbone suspension, the rear is modified Ford live axle with Watts linkage. Brakes are huge with vented discs, the bodywork is mainly fibre glass, the whole car weighs in at just 700 KG. The engine is tuned to a very respectable 175 BHP, a huge number for a normally aspirated 1600 back in 1968 or whatever. It sounds great, Malc says it goes well, we should find out for ourselves on Wednesday. I can't wait. Video here -


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